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Friday, September 22, 2017

SOUL ON A STRING -- DVD Review by Porfle

Beautifully photographed in the Himalayas, the story of Chinese director Yang Zhang's SOUL ON A STRING (2016) is often overwhelmed by the sheer sweep of its sumptuous visuals--the sometimes confusing multi-faceted plot is easy enough to lose as it is. 

But when it focuses on its three or four main characters and their metaphysical journey of enlightenment, the extremely leisurely pace and lack of a conventional storyline ultimately lead the patient viewer to a rather satisfyingly cathartic resolution.

It all starts when Tabei, a reclusive mountain man and inveterate bad boy, kills a deer and discovers a sacred stone in its mouth.  After being killed by a bolt of lightning and then revived by some local monks, Tabei is given the sacred duty of traveling to Palm Print Mountain, the sacred home of the Lotus Master, and delivering the stone to its rightful place.  In doing so, he'll  be given the opportunity to "cleanse his heart" and make amends for his former sins. 

During the long, grueling journey by foot, Tabei acquires two unwanted companions--Chung, a love-starved young woman eager to escape her current circumstances, and Pu, a mute feral boy with apparent psychic abilities.  Though surly and abusive at first, we pretty much know that Tabei will eventually find the two to be a civilizing influence as was the case in THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES when the title character began to amass a surrogate family and, through them, learn to regain his humanity.

The trouble is, Tabei is being stalked not only by thieves who covet the stone but also by two brothers out for revenge after the long-ago killing of their father by Tabei's own father.  Needless to say, the film will have much to say via these characters about pointless quests for revenge and needless violence in general. 

In the meantime, though, Tabei's run-ins with these dogged pursuers will supply the story with one of its main sources of tension as several scenes seem to be leading up to some kind of gunfight or swordplay (Tabei even makes a stop at a retired swordmaker's house a la KILL BILL).

Surprisingly, no such action ever takes place.  SOUL ON A STRING isn't that kind of adventure--it's story for story's sake, not just as a lead-up to periodic bursts of kinetic violence.
After awhile, I actually found myself hoping that such clashes would be avoided in favor of just getting on with the story, which, after a slow first half, starts to get really engaging.  Tabei's journey becomes much more than just getting from one place to another as he begins to discover the true meaning of life and the importance of things he once overlooked.  His slow-burn love story with his surrogate family also becomes quite engaging after awhile.

Yang Zhang spares no effort to make all of this as gorgeous as his incredible locations will allow, as he shoots in places that would make John Ford green with envy (invocations of Monument Valley abound).  He infuses SOUL ON A STRING with a myriad of visual and thematic references to such genres as Italian and American Westerns, samurai films, and fantasy quests (as in the LORD OF THE RINGS series). 

Bringing the Western feel into focus is the presence of a tall, mysterious man in black who looks like a gunfighter out of a Leone film but turn out to have an altogether different motive for tracking down Tabei. It's part of the film's heavily metaphysical underpinning, one which also includes the jarring juxtaposition of the ancient world with the modern in what makes it seem as though the story takes place on the very edge of some strange rift in time.

The DVD from Film Movement is in 2.35:1 widescreen with 5.1 and 2.0 sound (Tibetan with English subtitles).  As a bonus, there's a compelling short film by Oalid Mouaness, a political parable entitled "The Rifle, the Jackal, the Wolf, and the Boy."

Like a candle slowly burning and getting brighter as it reaches the end, SOUL ON A STRING begins as a pretty but flickering diversion and ends with a richly illuminative glow.  It has the breathtaking locations of a conventional epic, yet amidst that splendid backdrop is a human story that I found haunting and effective.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

"THE LEGEND OF 420": The Evolution Of Marijuana in Mainstream Society -- In Theaters Oct. 6


Directed by Peter Spirer
Opening in Select Theaters October 6, 2017

Available on VOD and iTunes
October 3, 2017

THE LEGEND OF 420 explores the controversial use of marijuana and the evolution of mainstream society. From a dangerous narcotic, listed as a Schedule 1 Drug substance since the 1970s, to the rush to decriminalize it today. What has changed and why? Has the Government made the war on drugs a war on people? Cultural icons and experts will weigh in, contributing their own personal stories, discussing the impact of cannabis on the zeitgeist.

In Northern California, we will follow the growers. What does it take to produce “quality stuff?” What is the difference between one plant from another. What are the true medical benefits? Why are people serving life sentences for marijuana convictions? What will the Cannabis Industry look like in five years?

There are now CBD infused dog biscuits, Bud and Breakfast hotels and professional cannabis cuisine and soon there will be cannabis-themed malls & amusement parks. Will it retain its integrity as a homegrown industry or will it capitulate to Big Business? “Fruity Pebbles” themed cupcakes for the “holiday” at the local baker? Yep…must be “420.”

THE LEGEND OF 420 is directed by Peter Spirer and written by Michael Andrews. The film is produced by Kelly Bevan and Peter Spirer. Executive producers are Phil Hunt and Compton Ross. Cinematography is Eric Anderson and film editing by Ryan Bloom.

RT: 87 minutes


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE" -- A True Hollywood Mystery, Coming 10/3

Part Detective Story, Part ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’…”


In 1982 He Heard About an Ancient Egyptian City Buried in the California Desert…For 30 Years He’s Been Fighting to Dig it Up

The Mystery Debuts on Digital & VOD – October 3, 2017!

Los Angeles, Calif. – September 2017 – Leading independent cinema distributor Random Media and Lost City Productions debut a Hollywood detective story that will thrill any fan of movies and history -- THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE on Digital and Video-on-Demand on October 3, 2017!
A fascinating documentary that pays tribute to Cecil B. DeMille, one of Hollywood’s most innovative and commercially successful filmmakers, it is the story of a more than 30 year quest to unearth from the sandy coast of Central California, the remains of one of De Mille’s most monumental undertakings: the Egyptian city constructed for his first spectacle, 1923’s The Ten Commandments.

Watch the Trailer:  

THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE follows the decades long quest of Peter Brosnan, who first heard rumors of the burial of DeMille’s City of the Pharaoh, a huge set encompassing 20 sphinxes and four 35-ton statues of Ramses, in 1982.  Too daunting to be constructed inside a 1920’s-era studio soundstage, DeMille and his production staff found their “faux-Egypt” on the beaches of Santa Barbara County.  When they finished shooting, rather than leave the sets to be repurposed by second-rate hacks hoping to steal a little of his thunder, DeMille had the sets buried in the sand, counting on time and coastal elements to eventually destroy them.

Fascinated by this bit of movie lore about “the last of the great sets” and optimistic that much of the set may have survived, Brosnan and film-school friends Bruce Cardozo and Richard Eberhardt set out to arrange for an excavation and make a documentary.  What followed was decades of on-again, off-again excavation efforts, as the project faced seemingly insurmountable funding stumbles and bureaucratic obstacles.  

What an extraordinary story… a rare combination of film and cultural history.” --  Leonard Maltin

THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE documentary is the story behind the excavation, highlighting Brosnan’s multiple agonizing years of starts and stops, as funding, red tape and weather halted the well-publicized story that wouldn’t die, even when Brosnan was ready to walk away, over and over again.  It concurrently interweaves the history of famed director DeMille with fascinating firsthand accounts from dozens of people who were involved in the groundbreaking 1923 production, including studio executives, extras, spectators and the filmmaker’s granddaughter Cecilia DeMille Presley.

A fascinating documentary about the 30+ year quest, against funding struggles and bureaucratic red tape, of filmmaker Peter Brosnan to unearth from the sandy coast of Central California, the remains of one of Cecil B. DeMille’s most monumental undertakings: the Egyptian city constructed for his first spectacle, 1923’s The Ten Commandments.

Have you seen “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston?  Did you know that in 1923 Cecil B. DeMille made a silent version of the movie?   Because Egypt was far away from the studio and estimated to be much too costly, DeMille shot the film in Santa Barbara County, California, about 150 miles north of Hollywood, and built an enormous ‘City of the Pharaoh’ set, literally taking over the economy of the surrounding community and creating a fantastic spectacle.  Designed by Paul Iribe, the “father of Art Deco,” it was the largest set in motion picture history.

When filming wrapped, the city mysteriously vanished.

In 1982, Peter Brosnan was sitting in a bar when someone told him that there were ancient Egyptian Sphinxes buried somewhere in the California Dunes.  It sparked his imagination and he embarked on what turned out to be a thirty year battle to prove the existence of these Sphinxes and the discovery of the Lost City.

After searching in the California desert, Brosnan located what he believed was the site of the 1923 filming. Over 33 years in the making, “The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille” is an extraordinary tribute to a director whose innovative and fearless style continues to inspire modern day filmmakers, almost 60 years after his death.

THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE explores the spirit of a man, Peter Brosnan, who walked away from this project three times in frustration, only to be called back a fourth time. The result is an iconic tale of a reluctant hero, who finally surrenders to his destiny and accepts that he was chosen to follow this quest and tell this story.

Director: Peter Brosnan Screenwriter: Peter Brosnan Producers: Peter Brosnan, Daniel J. Coplan Executive producer: Francesca Judge Silva
Presented by:  Cecelia DeMille Presley
Co-producers: Bruce Cardozo, Richard Eberhardt
Director of photography: Alessandro Gentile Editor: George Artope
Still Photography: Kelvin Jones
Time Lapse Photography: Michael DeLavallade Composer: Steve Bauman Running Time: 88 minutes
Produced by: Lost City Productions
Distributed by: Random Media

About Random Media:
Random Media is a content company that acquires and distributes films on a worldwide basis through movie theatres, conventional brick and mortar retailers, digital platforms, cable and satellite companies and television networks.  Random Media's library includes such acclaimed films as Escape From Tomorrow, The Visit, Meth Head, Desert Cathedral and Killswitch: The Battle To Control The Internet.


"SUPERMAN THE MOVIE": Extended Cut & Special Edition 2-Film Collection available on 10/03/17!

Superman The Movie: Extended Cut & Special Edition 2-Film Collection available on 10/03/17!

Available on Blu-ray™ and Digital for the very first time, Superman The Movie: Extended Cut can now be enjoyed in widescreen high definition, along with the Special Edition in one collection!

Superman The Movie: Extended Cut, the TV version of the film originally aired in 1982 as a 2-night special in the U.S., includes nearly 40 mins. of extra footage not seen in the 1978 theatrical release.

The legacy continues in the Special Edition, a captivating version of Superman The Movie with 8 mins. of extra footage, specially directed by Richard Donner.

Extended Cut: 
Three-hour long TV version, now in widescreen high definition
Available on Home Entertainment for the very first time
Nearly 40 mins. of extra footage not seen in the theatrical release:
   • The pay-off of the subplot of a Kryptonian security officer being sent to capture Jor-El
   • Lex Luthor  sings “ You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” while he has Otis drop Eve       Teschmacher into the lions’ den
   • After Superman saves Lois at the end and flies off, he's seen rescuing Eve Teschmacher from the lions' den
   • A little girl who sees the teenage Clark Kent running faster than the train is revealed to be Lois Lane

Special Edition:
Features 8 more mins. of footage not in the 1978 original theatrical release


T2's Robert Patrick Stars in True Crime Thriller "LAST RAMPAGE" -- Opens this Friday, Sept. 22


Friday, September 22, 2017

In the summer of 1978 convicted murderer Gary Tison (Robert Patrick) and his cellmate Randy Greenawalt (Chris Browning) staged a daring escape from an Arizona State Prison, with the help of Tison’s three teenage sons. Their murderous rampage through the southwestern desert shocked the nation with its brutality. While Sheriff Cooper (Bruce Davison) hunted them down, Tison’s wife (Heather Graham) vehemently defended her family in the press.

LAST RAMPAGE features a chilling tour-de-force turn by Robert Patrick as Gary Tison in a terrifying story about the dark side of family loyalty.

Director Dwight Little’s true crime thriller is based on James W. Clarke’s bestselling book, Last Rampage: The Escape of Gary Tison. The script was penned by Alvaro Rodriguez (“MACHETE”, “FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES”) and Jason Rosenblatt. Produced by Eric M. Breiman and Robert Patrick. Executive Producers are Dwight Little and Alex Hertzberg. Music by Richard Patrick and Tobias Enhus.

Robert Patrick, Heather Graham, Bruce Davison, and Chris Browning star in LAST RAMPAGE, which is distributed by Epic Pictures.

Established in 2007 by Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson, Epic Pictures Group has grown to become one of the most creative and dynamic independent studios, focusing on filmmakers’ vision driven projects, shaping them from script to launch via its domestic distribution division Epic Pictures Releasing.

Throughout the past 10 years, Epic produced many genre cult hits including the 2015 Sundance premieres “ENTERTAINMENT” and “TURBO KID” and all-star horror anthology “TALES OF HALLOWEEN”. More recently Epic produced the psychological horror “THE LODGERS,” sci-fi thriller “RADIUS,” action horror “REDCON-1,” and the adventure thriller “THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT” starring Sam Elliott.

RT: 93 minutes / Rated R



Frida Cinemas -  Anaheim
Galaxy Highland 10 - Austin
Apple Cinema - Boston
Patio Theatre - Chicago
Texas Theatre - Dallas
Sie Film Center - Denver
Premiere Renaissance - Houston
Laemlee Music Hall  - Los Angeles
Sonora Cinemas - Phoenix
Paradise Valley - Phoenix
Monroe 12  - Seattle
Digital Gym  - San Diego
Colonial Theater - Sacramento
Village East Cinema  - New York
Main Street Cinemas - New York
Movieland Coram -  New York
Icon 10 San Angelo  - San Angelo


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trailer/Theatrical Release of Western Drama "JUSTICE" starring Stephen Lang & Quinton Aaron from Open Road and Universal Home Entertainment



Los Angeles, CA – Chasing Butterflies Pictures has set a theatrical release for JUSTICE as Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will debut the film on Digital as well as On Demand on the same date. The all-new Western drama stars multiple-award winning Stephen Lang (Avatar, Don’t Breathe), Robert Carradine (Django Unchained, Revenge of the Nerds), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos, Entourage), Jackson Rathbone (Twilight), Nathan Parsons (True Blood), and Academy-Award® nominee Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side). Rounding out the star-studded cast is Ellen Hollman (SIX, Spartacus: War of the Damned), Lesley-Anne Down (The Bold and the Beautiful) and former UFC Champion, John Lewis (Check Point).

It’s 1870 and the Civil War has been over for three years. An old, abandoned mine is now being transformed into a military stronghold by a corrupt mayor (Stephen Lang) and his band of outlaws led by the bloodthirsty thug Reb (John Lewis) hell-bent on reigniting the war. When a U.S. Marshal (Nathan Parsons) comes to town only to learn from the local teacher (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) that his brother, the town priest (Jackson Rathbone), has been murdered, his search for the killer leads to an inevitable clash that becomes a life or death struggle for a much greater cause.


Directed by Richard Gabai and produced by A.J. Perez, Niko Foster and John Lewis, based on a story by Shawn Justice, JUSTICE is packed with action and embodies the timeless battle between good and evil, and the moral struggle between selfishness and selflessness, in an often unforgiving, lawless world.

Producer A.J. Perez says: “The hardest part was getting the story right so it made for a lot of long days with our writers. The amazing work from our dynamic duo, Richard Gabai and Scott Peck (Director and DP), our incredibly talented cast and a dedicated production crew made my dreams come true and we made something really special…”

Actor Nathan Parsons echoes the sentiment: "Growing up in Texas, the mythos surrounding cowboys and the old west permeated my childhood, so working on Justice truly was a dream come true."

Director Richard Gabai says: “As a fan of Classic Westerns from Howard Hawks and John Ford, I wanted to incorporate the elements we love about those films, but with a modern edge, and though our story is set in 1870, the themes are as relevant today as they were back then. Our brilliant and dedicated cast, crew, and stunt team were a joy to work with, the magnificent locations a dream to shoot."

Actor Stephen Lang, who plays Mayor Pierce, says: "I love a good Western, always have. The creative team who have brought JUSTICE to the screen…have done true justice to the genre. I am honored to be a part of this film, and I hope and trust it will find favor among all who love a good ‘oater’ as much as I do."

JUSTICE is a Chasing Butterflies Pictures and Splash House Pictures / Check Entertainment Production. With Universal Pictures Home Entertainment distributing on Blu-ray™, DVD, Digital HD, and On Demand. JUSTICE is out now in major theatrical markets and VOD.

Twitter @JustceMov2017 Facebook

About Chasing Butterflies Films:
Chasing Butterflies Pictures is a Film and TV production company founded in May of 2015 by Niko Foster and A. J. Perez. The company was founded originally started as a conduit to provide on-demand product based on the market's needs. First production was the controversial film about homegrown terrorism and Veteran soldiers dealing with PTSD, Check Point, Starring Kenny Johnson (S.O.A., The Shield) , Bill Goldberg (Former WCW/WWE Champion), William Forsythe (The Rock, Once Upon a Time in America), Mindy Robinson (Range 15, Sharknado 4), Fred Williamson (Dusk Till Dawn, Hammer) amongst others. Based out of Dallas, Texas, Chasing Butterflies Pictures is targeting 2 to 3 films per year.

About Universal Pictures Home Entertainment:
 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE – is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios. Universal Studios is a part of NBCUniversal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.



This list is for big-screen feature films only. If it included TV movies then "Lonesome Dove" and several Tom Selleck/Sam Elliott movies would be on it, too.


"MAMA'S FAMILY: THE COMPLETE SERIES" -- One of TV's Original Dysfunctional Familes in a Value-Priced, Slipcase Edition on 10/14




There's Never Been a Better Time to Add the Irascible, Indelible Mama to the Family; the 22-Disc Set Features All 130 Hilarious Episodes from Original Broadcast Masters

Street Date: October 14, 2017
DVD SRP: $39.96

Everyone's favorite indelible and smart alecky small-town matriarch is back - and, she's brought her whole crazy family with her!  After breaking out from "The Family" sketches on "The Carol Burnett Show," Thelma "Mama" Harper's home-spun humor earned its own well-loved sitcom which debuted on NBC and ran for six knee-slapping seasons.  This October, Time Life invites all classic TV aficionados and sitcom lovers to spend some quality time with one of television's original dysfunctional families in MAMA'S FAMILY: THE COMPLETE SERIES!  Packaged in a handsome slipcase, the 22-disc set includes all 130 episodes from their original broadcast masters.

Set in the fictional city of Raytown, MAMA'S FAMILY revolves around the eye-opening escapades of the Harper clan, headed by formidable matriarch, Mama Harper, a fiery-tempered no-nonsense woman who does not suffer fools gladly.  In fact, she makes everybody suffer a little with her patented snappy retorts that truly put the "diss" in dysfunction. 

Across 130 episodes spanning six seasons, viewers are treated to hilarious - and sometimes heart-warming -- family comedy of the highest degree.  Adding to the unforgettable mix are Mama's journalist sister, Fran (Rue McClanahan, The Golden Girls), who lives with her; her youngest son, Vint (Ken Berry, F-Troop), who moves in with his two teenagers after he is evicted; and Naomi (Dorothy Lyman, All My Children), who marries Vint by Episode 4.  Mama's extended family includes her two daughters, highfalutin' Ellen (Betty White) and high-strung Eunice (Carol Burnett), as well as Eunice's husband, Ed (Harvey Korman).


Format: DVD (22 Discs)
Running Time: Approx. 3315 mins.
Genre:  TV/Comedy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Stereo


Monday, September 18, 2017

GLORY -- DVD Review by Porfle

Sometimes you don't quite know what to make of a movie after you've seen it, and that's one of the things that make it worth watching.  The 2016 Bulgarian drama GLORY (Film Movement) is like that.  The ending doesn't really leave you hanging as much as it makes you feel like you've already been hanging for an hour and half and just landed in an awkward position.

From the start, we're never sure if we're watching a sad comedy or a lighthearted tragedy. Tzanko Petrov (Stefan Denolyubov) plays a shy, stuttering recluse who walks the train tracks looking for bolts that need tightening.  To say he lives a lean and humble existence is an understatement.  His main concern in life, like that of Lenny in Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men", is to make sure his rabbits are well tended.

When Tzanko finds a large amount of cash on the tracks and turns it in, Mrs. Staykova (Margita Gosheva), head of public relations for the Ministry of Transportation, sees it as a great human interest story to offset current scandals of misconduct.  What she doesn't foresee is that Tzanko's unflinching honesty and almost childlike innocence in the face of lies and deceit will bring her and the ministry more trouble than she can imagine.

Both actors are fine in their roles, with Gowsheva bringing particular spark to her portrayal of a woman so caught up in her professional life that she conducts it by phone while her doctor and husband try to get a word in edgewise about the in-vitro egg retrieval procedure they're in the middle of. 

She's all about public image as she herds a confused Tzanko into a joyless ceremony in which the minister gives the new media hero a cheap watch as reward for his honesty.  But first she takes his old watch--a precious heirloom given to him by his father--and, having no thought or concern for its worth to him, promptly loses it.

And such is the hook upon which we'll hang until that final drop.  Tzanko's dogged and seemingly futile attempts to go against a bureaucracy that holds him in little to no regard, just to get back his watch, will eventually become a series of tragic, humiliating, and even life-threatening events for him. 

Denolyubov plays it all with a deadpan puzzlement that only hints at Tzanko's growing indignation.  At first, he's often funny--the incident with the pants  had me thinking GLORY might lean more toward comedy as it went along--but he never plays it that way.  And, until the very end, we're kept guessing just how much the pressure's building up inside him.

The DVD from Film Movement is in 1.85:1 widescreen owith 5.1 stereo sound (Bulgarian owith English subtitles).  Bonus features include trailers and an Academy-award-winning short, "Helium."

Directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov shoot everything in a casual, almost documentary style that rarely betrays the thought that's gone into it.  It's quite effective in keeping us off-guard when the really dramatic stuff starts to happen to both of the main characters.  Tzanko gets pushed to his limit and we're not sure if he'll survive.  Mrs. Staykova, on the other hand, finds a flicker of humanity within her cold exterior, but it may be too late.  GLORY ends on the most awkward note of all and we land with a thud, dazed.