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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle



The thing about "talking heads" documentaries is that you really have to be interested in the subject for it to work.  Although I'm a lifelong fan of older comics (the Bronze Age is pretty much my cut-off point), I never saw an issue of "2000AD" and so must depend on a compelling story and presentation for the documentary FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD (Severin Films, 2014) to be of any interest to me. 

Unfortunately, I found it to be bland at best.  One talking head after another take turns expounding on various aspects of the comic's history ranging from drawing and writing concerns, which I found somewhat diverting, to business and technical stuff that tends to veer into snooze territory.

These interview segments are augmented, rather sparsely, by snatches of artwork from the comic itself as well as clips of various movie projects inspired by it.  While this may suffice for viewers who are longtime "2000AD" readers, others will likely find themselves wishing for a more dynamic presentation. 


The comic itself, we learn, is a weekly sci-fi anthology created in the late 70s and featuring groundbreaking artwork and stories that challenge the social and political norms of its British audience with such characters as Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, Halo Jones, and the ABC Warriors.  Management and staff have changed over the years amidst much internal strife which we hear about at length, mainly from outspoken co-creator Pat Mills. 

Mills, in fact, is the film's key figure and whether you find him fascinating or insufferable will be a major factor in your reaction to FUTURE SHOCK!  He is, if anything, passionate about his baby--to hear him and his colleagues tell it, "2000AD" was the genesis of almost every major fad and/or movement in both sci-fi comics and films from the 70s onward. 

To an extent this is hardly deniable, as we're shown how the comic's main character, Judge Dredd, was a virtual blueprint for ROBOCOP, and the way Richard Stanley's cult classic HARDWARE seems to have "borrowed" much of its plot from one of their stories. 


Mills waxes especially resentful when recounting how the comic eventually became a jumping off point for British artists and writers hoping to get on at the big American companies such as DC and Marvel. And some of the talent we hear from definitely regard this as a dream come true, even though some claim eventual disenchantment. 

This leads to the usual chest-swelling by Mills and others about British superiority in comics, movies, and pretty much everything else, which I found off-putting--these guys don't realize how full of themselves they sound when complaining about how full of themselves Americans can be.

Also a bit heavy-handed are the nods toward social justice, of which they fancy themselves anti-establishment crusaders, and the inevitable charges by aspiring female comics artists that "2000AD" is a "boys' club." Which, quite understandably, it is.


The documentary picks up some steam in the second half when we learn about a new "Judge Dredd" movie with Karl Urban which seems poised to wipe away the memory of the earlier Sylvester Stallone travesty. 

Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon are among those chiming in during interview segments, as well as members of such heavy metal bands as Anthrax who have been influenced by the comic over the years. 

The Blu-ray from Severin Films is in 1080p full HD resolution with English 2.0 sound and subtitles.  Bonus features consist of:

EXTENDED SEQUENCES--
2000AD vs the USA
Dredd 2012 – True In Spirit
Judge Dredd Extended sequence
Cheap Entertainment – The appeal of comics

BEHIND THE STRIPS--
Bad Company – Peter Milligan
Future Shocks
Rogue Trooper – Dave Gibbons & Cam Kennedy
Slaine – Pat Mills
Strontium Dog – Carlos Ezquerra

PRODUCTION EXTRAS--
Art Blast – Jock & Henry Flint
Blooper Reel
Pat Mills Visits Kings Reach Tower
Soundtrack – Behind the Scenes
Festival Teaser Trailer
UK Release Trailer

EXTENDED INTERVIEWS--
Grant Morrison
Karen Berger
Pat Mills
Neil Gaiman
Dave Gibbons

Without the bonus supplements, we learn surprisingly little about what actually makes "2000AD" such a great comic save for passing glimpses of artwork and dialogue, and much about the behind-the-scenes business and personal conflicts.  This will be of interest to the comic's most ardent fans, but for me, watching FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD was a little like attending a lecture that I knew I'd be graded on later. 


 
Buy it at Severin Films

Release date: May 30, 2017




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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle



It sounds like they put all their eggs-ploitation elements into one basket with the title VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST (aka "Vudú sangriento"), but this wonderfully awful 1974 Euro-horror potboiler, now available on Blu-ray from The Film Detective, is actually pretty short on exorcism (there isn't any) and black people (two of them are actually white actors in dark body makeup). I guess VOODOO WHITE NON-EXORCIST just didn't have the same ring to it.

They didn't skimp on the voodoo, though--the opening flashback sequence, which is revisited several times throughout the film, was filmed in real Caribbean locations such as Jamaica and Haiti, and there's a frenzied voodoo ceremony during which the beautiful Kenya (Eva León) is beheaded.  After everyone tosses her noggin around like a beach ball at a rock concert, her lover Gatanebo (Sergio Leone regular Aldo Sambrell) is entombed alive as punishment for their illicit love. 

Kenya turns up again centuries later, reincarnated (sans body makeup) as Silvia, assistant and mistress to archeologist Dr. Kessling (Alfred May).  As fate would have it, the newly-unearthed mummy they're traveling with via cruise ship is none other than the undead Gatanebo, who not only stalks the ship killing descendants of those who buried him alive, but discovers his lost love right there on board with a new identity and complexion.


It's pretty much a shipboard retelling of THE MUMMY but with voodoo instead of Egyptian curses.  The buff, bald, and now inexplicably Caucasian Gatanebo passes for normal most of the time but occasionally reverts back to mummy form with a makeup job that resembles crinkled papier-mache', whereupon he either murders people or pokes them with his golden asp-ring to make them his slaves. 

He kills a bartender descended from the man who beheaded Kenya, then leaves the guy's head on Silvia's pillow for her to find, Godfather-style, when she wakes up.  (He's like a cat bringing home a dead mouse to its master as a present.)  Later, he intercepts a visiting professor at the airport in order to assume his identity, squishing the poor sap under a steam roller.

Production values for this low-budget Spanish effort are fair to poor--direction and camerawork are slipshod at best (but with the odd flash of style now and then), the script is half-baked and filled with howlers ("In infinite time, what must happen happens"), and much of the acting and dubbing are below par.  SPFX and makeups are fake-looking but fun, including some man-to-mummy (and vice versa) transformations.


The Caribbean locations are nice, and the cruise ship is actually at sea during the on-deck exteriors, adding much to the film's ambience.  (Is it just me, or does the recurring island musical theme sound just like the first bars of "Ferry Cross the Mersey"?)  Animal lovers will find the killing of an actual chicken during the voodoo ceremony distressing.

The cast of characters can be a real hoot, especially an excitable lady named Mrs. Thorndyke who reads cards and tells the future (her visions about what's happening aboard the ship are totally accurate yet nobody takes her seriously).  Some of the exchanges between her and henpecked husband Alfred are hilarious:

"Alfred! I would like to get a sarcophagus like this to rest in eternally."
"I'll do my best, honey."


There's also an exotic dancer who's the very definition of "overripe" (I mean that in a really good way) constantly being courted by a world-famous hamburger tycoon, and a portly police inspector who makes like he's Hercule Poirot by deducing that since the first murder occurred at sea, then the culprit must be someone on board the ship.  "It's a shame," he opines after the hamburger guy is killed.  "The best hamburgers in the world."


After more mindnumbing mayhem, the finale has the inspector and his dangerously callow assistants tracking the mummy and the kidnapped Silvia to a cave where they manage to cause more chaos than they avert, leading to a startlingly abrupt ending that slams a sarcophagus lid on the whole shebang. 

The Blu-ray from The Film Detective is widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.35 and Dolby digital sound.  English captions are available.  No extras.  The film itself is "in HD with a brand new 2K scan from a rare 35mm archival print.”  The picture quality is likely the best this film has seen since the 70s, although there's still a lot of blemishes here and there which I assume couldn't be helped. 

To be fair, many will find this film about as boring as...well, actually being a mummy.  But for those hardy souls who seek out bad movies to willingly subject themselves to, VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST may prove as pleasantly entertaining as it is woefully inept.


http://www.thefilmdetective.com/

Buy it at Amazon.com

Release date: May 23, 2017

(Stills used are not taken from the Blu-ray disc)



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Saturn Awards Special Achievement Citations Unveiled -- Lee Majors ("Six Million Dollar Man") Among Honorees



Lee Majors, Akiva Goldsman, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, KJ Apa and Heavy Metal Magazine                    
Special Honorees at The 43rd Annual Saturn Awards!



LOS ANGELES – May 23, 2017 – The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films today announces special achievement awards to be presented at the 43rd Annual Saturn Awards in June along with the best and brightest in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror motion pictures and television.

This year the Life Career Award will be presented to TV’s legendary “Six Million Dollar Man” himself, Lee Majors.  In this era of omnipresent superheroes, Lee Majors’ Colonel Steve Austin was ahead of his time, The Fall Guy continued his Hollywood bounty hunting, and his star power continues to shine on the hit Starz TV show “Ash Vs Evil Dead.”

Writer/director/producer Akiva Goldsman is recipient of this year’s Visionary Award.  Goldsman has written such blockbuster films as: “I, Robot,” “Cinderella Man,” “I Am Legend,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Angels & Demons,” “Insurgent,” the Oscar-winning “A Beautiful Mind” and the upcoming “The Dark Tower” and “Firestarter” (as director).   On TV, he’s worked on “Fringe,” “Childhood’s End,” WGN’s original drama series “Underground,” and the upcoming “Star Trek: Discovery” and Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment live action drama series “Titans.”


The Filmmakers Showcase Award will be bestowed to the dynamic writing/producing team of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.  Together, they’ve worked on such successful genre films as: “The Hand that Rocked the Cradle,” “Relic,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Jurassic World,” and this summer’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.”  Upcoming is Disney’s live-action “Mulan” and “Avatar 3.”

The Breakthrough Performance Award goes to KJ Apa, who stars as the iconic Archie Andrews on The CW’s hit show “Riverdale” from Berlanti Productions.   KJ’s “Archie” brings a whole new dimension to the classic Archie’s Comics character and opened up its pages to a new generation of fans. 

Receiving the Special Recognition Award will be Heavy Metal Magazine.  Celebrating its 40th Anniversary, the name “Heavy Metal” has become synonymous with cutting edge stories and art, and continues to be the world's premier illustrated magazine for science fiction, horror and Fantasy for the new millennia and beyond.

The Academy was founded in 1972 by noted film historian Dr. Donald A. Reed to honor and recognize films often overlooked by mainstream awards.  Over the years, the Academy has expanded its reach to include recognizing excellence in television and home entertainment, as well as other genres, including adventure, thriller and action. 

This year’s Saturn Awards will be presented on Wednesday June 28, in Burbank.  For a complete list of nominations and more information about the Academy, visit www.saturnawards.org, www.youtube.com/c/OfficialSaturnAwardsChannel, and @SaturnAwards1


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"GILBERT" -- Gilbert Gottfried Documentary Acquired By Gravitas Ventures and Submarine For September Release



GRAVITAS VENTURES AND SUBMARINE DELUXE HAVE ACQUIRED ‘GILBERT’ FOR A SEPTEMBER THEATRICAL RELEASE AND FOURTH QUARTER RELEASE ON DEMAND AND DVD

Iconic Comedian Gilbert Gottfried Profiled in Neil Berkeley’s Documentary Which Recently Debuted At The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival


NEW YORK (May 23, 2017) — Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to Gilbert, the wildly funny and unexpectedly poignant portrait of the life and career of one of comedy's most iconic figures, Gilbert Gottfried. Coming off its critically acclaimed showing at the Tribeca Film Festival, they have slated it for a theatrical release in September as well as a VOD and DVD release in 4Q. Gottfried is joined throughout the film by a who’s who of comedy icons including Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Belzer, Lewis Black, Susie Essman, Arsenio Hall, Anthony Jeselnik and many more.

Legendary comedian Gilbert Gottfried has had quite the career. Rocketing to fame in the 1980s, he was thrust into the public consciousness almost immediately thanks to his brash personality, unique worldview, and off-kilter comic timing. Now, foul-mouthed and unapologetic after decades of flying solo in both his work and in his personal life, Gilbert has shockingly reinvented himself…as a family man.

Gilbert reveals an unexpected side to the iconic comedian. The film peeks behind the larger-than-life persona at a more personal story about growing up in Brooklyn and becoming a husband and father late in life. Gottfried’s singular outlook on life and his ability to bring humor to even the darkest situations has, at times, gotten him into trouble. Still he soldiers on, an expert craftsman at bringing his audience to the edge -- and sometimes pushing them over. Gilbert strips the comedic character away to reveal the man behind it,.

“With Gilbert, Neil Berkeley has given us access to a side seldom seen of this comedic icon,” stated Gravitas Founder and CEO Nolan Gallagher. “Watching Gottfried out of ‘character’ is surprisingly refreshing and relatable.”


Berkeley shared that "Gilbert is a labor of love made by a very small group of passionate people.  For a film like this to find a partner like Gravitas is a real thrill and we're very excited to be working with them.  Our hope has always been to make a movie that shows the world an unexpected side of Gilbert and we think Gravitas Ventures is the perfect team to help make that happen."

Gilbert is the third film from Director Neil Berkeley (Beauty Is Embarrassing, Harmontown). Berkeley produced with David Heiman, Maggie Contreras and James Andre Leche, with whom he also co-wrote. The Executive Producers are Eddie Schmidt, Clay Tweel and Bart McDonough

The deal for Gilbert was negotiated by Nolan Gallagher on behalf of Gravitas and by Josh and Ben Braun of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.

ABOUT GRAVITAS VENTURES

Gravitas Ventures is a leading all rights distributor of independent cinema. Founded in 2006, Gravitas connects independent filmmakers and producers with distribution opportunities across the globe. Working with more than 500 content partners, Gravitas Ventures has distributed thousands of films into over 100 million homes. Recent releases include Elián from Academy Award® winning Executive Producer Alex Gibney, Katie Holmes’ feature directorial debut, All We Had, Jonathan Hock’s Fastball, Colin Hanks’ All Things Must Pass, Being Evel from Academy Award  winning director Daniel Junge and producer Johnny Knoxville, Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, and For The Love of Spock from Director Adam Nimoy.

For more information, please visit gravitasventures.com, and sign up for the e-newsletter, follow @GravitasVOD on Twitter and @gravitasventures on Instagram.

ABOUT SUBMARINE
Submarine Entertainment, based in New York City was founded in 1998 by twin brothers Dan and Josh Braun, has become one of the leading sales, distribution, and production companies for independent documentaries and feature films. Submarine has been involved in the sale and distribution of 5 Academy Award® winning documentaries — Citizenfour, 20 Feet From Stardom, The Cove, Man on Wire and Searching for Sugar man.

Titles sold by Submarine include Weiner, Life, Animated, Tickled, Mavis!, Dior & I, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Muscle Shoals, Miss Sharon Jones!, The Music of Strangers:YoYo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Presenting Princess Shaw, Troublemakers: the Story of Land Art, Burden: a Film about Artist Chris Burden, Finding Vivian Maier, The Wolfpack, Meru, Yayoi Kusama: a Life in Polka Dots, 3-1/2 Minutes, Best of Enemies, City of Gold, Batkid Begins, Tangerine, Nas: Time is Illmatic, Blackfish, Danny Says, Last Man on the Moon, Houston We Have a Problem, Accidental Courtesy, Lo and Behold, Zero Days, Lovers and the Despot, Cameraperson, among many others.

Submarine includes theatrical releasing & DVD imprint, Submarine Deluxe; genre label, Torpedo Pictures; a German distribution imprint with NFP Film called NFP Submarine Doks; and Submarine 360, a museum distribution imprint, and a pan-Scandinavian imprint Non-Stop Submarine. Submarine principals also represent comic book libraries Creepy and Eerie, which are being developed across all platforms. www.submarinedeluxe.com

ABOUT FUTURE YOU PICTURES
Future You Pictures is a Los Angeles based film and television production company founded in 2009 by producer/director, Neil Berkeley and executive producer, Bart McDonough.  The documentary Gilbert (2017) is the company's third feature length production following the Emmy nominated Beauty Is Embarrassing (2012) and Harmontown (2014). The company is currently developing several television and film projects.


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Universal Pictures Unveils "DARK UNIVERSE" With Name, Mark, and Musical Theme For Its Classic Monster Series of Films



UNIVERSAL PICTURES UNVEILS “DARK UNIVERSE” WITH NAME, MARK AND MUSICAL THEME FOR ITS CLASSIC MONSTERS SERIES OF FILMS

Brand Logo to Debut in Theaters on The Mummy with All-New Musical Theme Composed by Four-Time Academy Award® Nominee Danny Elfman
 

Oscar® Winner Bill Condon Confirmed as Director of Bride of Frankenstein, the Next Dark Universe Film, to be Released in February 2019

Dark Universe Reshapes Enduring Cinematic Characters for Today’s Audiences


Universal City, CA, May 22, 2017—Universal Pictures announced today that its series of films reviving the studio’s classic monster characters for a new generation will be known as “Dark Universe.”  The motion logo for the new initiative features a musical theme composed by Danny Elfman and will debut in theaters preceding The Mummy, which will be released on June 9.  The announcement includes details of the enterprise relaunching Universal’s iconic characters into modern cinema, as well as confirmations of superstar cast and that Academy Award® winner Bill Condon will direct Bride of Frankenstein. 
   
Dark Universe was begun by core creatives Alex Kurtzman, who also serves as director and producer of The Mummy, the inaugural film in the new classic monster series, and The Mummy producer Chris Morgan, who recently saw The Fate of the Furious, the sixth film he wrote for the Fast & Furious franchise, claim the biggest opening in history at the global box office when it opened on April 14.  Also joining the enterprise to inspire and entertain a new generation are such visionary talents as Oscar winner® Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible series, The Usual Suspects) and David Koepp (War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park).
 

“We take enormous pride in the creativity and passion that has inspired the reimagining of Universal’s iconic monsters and promise audiences we will expand this series strategically,” said Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures.  “The enterprise masterfully developed by Chris and Alex will allow each subsequent chapter the right time to find the perfect cast, filmmakers and vision to fulfill it.  As we launch Dark Universe with Danny’s provocative theme before The Mummy and collaborate with a brilliant filmmaker like Bill to weave the story of a very modern woman in a very classic tale, we feel confident we’re off to a tremendous start.”

“When Universal approached us with the idea of reimagining these classic characters, we recognized the responsibility of respecting their legacy while bringing them into new and modern adventures,” said Kurtzman and Morgan.  “The studio and our fellow creative collaborators have championed and challenged us as we’ve begun to spin the web of Dark Universe.  It’s our hope these movies will engross longtime fans and spark the imaginations of brand-new ones.”

From his first score on Tim Burton’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and his iconic theme for The Simpsons—not to mention his collaborations with filmmakers including Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Sam Raimi, Rob Marshall, Guillermo del Toro, Joss Whedon and Peter Jackson—four-time Academy Award® nominee Danny Elfman’s inimitable compositions have vaulted him into one of the most versatile and accomplished composers in history. 

“I grew up on monsters,” said Elfman.  “Monsters were my life, and these iconic Universal monsters were almost like my family.  I simply wouldn’t be the same without them.  When I got the opportunity to compose a theme for the Dark Universe logo, of course I jumped at it.  What could be more fun than connecting to this world that has always been so deeply imbedded in my psyche?  I tried to find something that was new but still had some connections with the past—the origins—at least in a subtle way.  Something that was looking forward to a creative, fertile, imaginative future that Dark Universe will enter, and at the same time saluting the heritage of the tragic heroes (or anti-heroes) of my childhood.  To the Monsters!!!!” 

In another exciting development, Oscar® winner Bill Condon will follow his worldwide smash Beauty and the Beast, one of this year’s biggest hits—which crossed $1 billion at the global box office and became the most successful musical of all time—by directing Bride of Frankenstein, from a screenplay by Koepp.  The next film from Dark Universe, Bride of Frankenstein will be released on Thursday, February 14, 2019. 

In a related move, Universal announced that it will not release a Dark Universe film as previously planned for April 13, 2018, and that Bride will instead be the next chapter in the unspooling series of movies following this year’s The Mummy.  The actress chosen to play the lead role in Condon’s version of this timeless story will be announced soon.

“I’m very excited to bring a new Bride of Frankenstein to life on screen, particularly since James Whale’s original creation is still so potent,” stated Condon.  “The Bride of Frankenstein remains the most iconic female monster in film history, and that’s a testament to Whale’s masterpiece—which endures as one of the greatest movies ever made.”

Dark Universe films will be distinguished by performances from some of the most talented and popular global superstars stepping into iconic roles, as well as electric new talents whose careers are starting to break through.  While previously announced, the stars of both imminent and future Dark Universe projects are gathered for the first time in the attached photo: The Invisible Man and Frankenstein’s Monster will be played by, respectively, blockbuster icon Johnny Depp and Academy Award® winner Javier Bardem, who appear together later this summer in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.  Those actors join superstar Tom Cruise as soldier of fortune Nick Morton and Oscar® winner Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll, who lead the all-star cast of The Mummy, along with Sofia Boutella, the actress who embodies the title role in that film.  The print-ready version of the image is available here.

For your use, Universal has also attached a rendering of the new Dark Universe logo, while the print-ready version is available here.  Both the graphic and the motion logo were created by five-time Academy Award®-winning visual effects facility Weta Digital (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Avatar). 

At its organizing principle, Dark Universe films are connected by a mysterious multi-national organization known as Prodigium.  Led by the enigmatic and brilliant Dr. Henry Jekyll, Prodigium’s mission is to track, study and—when necessary—destroy evil embodied in the form of monsters in our world.  Working outside the aegis of any government, and with practices concealed by millennia of secrecy, Prodigium protects the public from knowledge of the evil that exists just beyond the thin membrane of civilized society…and will go to any length to contain it.  To learn more about Dark Universe and Prodigium, visit www.DarkUniverse.com and www.WelcometoProdigium.com.

Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters.  Welcome to Dark Universe.

About Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com).  Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal.  NBCUniversal is 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 networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks.  NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.



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Friday, May 19, 2017

ON THE ROAD, SOMEWHERE -- DVD Review by Porfle



Three boys graduate from high school and into real life in the pleasantly diverting road-trip story ON THE ROAD, SOMEWHERE, aka "Algún lugar" (2015).  That is, they think a lot about "real life" and what they're going to do with theirs. 

Oliver (Arnold Martínez) initiates the journey because he wants to travel to where his girlfriend Veronica is visiting her grandmother before moving to the United States.  The plan is to get there in time to say goodbye and spend one last bittersweet evening with her.

His friends Moises and Hemingway come along for the fun.  Moises (Javier Grullón) wants to be a photographer so he looks forward to getting some great shots during their trip through the countryside. Hemingway (Victor Alfonso) aspires to be a writer and wants to record their story in colorful prose.


Setting off in Oliver's broken-down station wagon, they criss-cross the Dominican Republic in a slice-of-life kind of adventure that's so low-key and true-to-life that, for awhile, it seems as though not much is really happening. 

They cut up, enjoy the view (the film is very picturesque), snap photos, and meet interesting people.  Their conversations never get much deeper than the ones any of us had at that age, although they do have their pensive moments in which the future seems like a dense fog of uncertainty.

Complications arise, not through tortured plot twists but from the expected everyday stuff.  There's engine trouble, of course, and the boys find themselves hitchhiking or taking public transportation from town to town, bringing them into contact with people both friendly and hostile.
 


Inevitably, relations between the boys themselves become strained as their circumstances become more difficult.  Beneath such tensions is the growing fear that they'll never realize their potential and their lives won't ever go anywhere.

All of this, however, is presented in such a natural way, devoid of the usual melodrama and contrived situations or dialogue, that I found myself getting caught up in it all and rooting for them to make it to where they were going.  (I mean that both literally and, like, symbolically.)

Director Guillermo Zouain and his co-scripter Wendy Muniz have a knack for an easygoing kind of realism that gently holds our attention even during the scenes when watching the road trip starts to feel like being on a road trip. 


Zouain also has a good eye for choosing pleasing shots, just as Moises aspires to do.  The film is consistently easy to look at, and clearly the work of someone with an artist's taste and sensibilities. 

The DVD from Indiepix Films is in widescreen, Spanish language with English subtitles.  Extras consist of a teaser and a trailer.  Running time is a short-but-sweet 71 minutes.

Not exactly the sort of party-time viewing that some road trip flicks are, ON THE ROAD, SOMEWHERE is best watched while in the kind of pensive mood that strikes our heroes when they realize that they have their whole scary, uncertain lives ahead of them.  We don't exactly see them "come of age" here--instead, we witness them beginning to realize that, sooner or later, they're going to have to.

Buy it at Amazon.com



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Saban Films acquires U.S. Distribution Rights To “SPEED KILLS” Starring John Travolta



Saban Films acquires U.S. DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS TO “SPEED KILLS” STARRING JOHN TRAVOLTA

CANNES (May 19, 2017) – Saban Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights from Hannibal Classics to John Luessenhop’s (Takers, Texas Chainsaw 3D) Speed Kills, which will star Academy Award® Nominee John Travolta (Pulp Fiction, Grease), Academy Award® Winner Mira Sorvino (Romy and Michele's High School Reunion), Katheryn Winnick (“Vikings”), Jordi Molla ( “Blow” ), James Remar and Kellan Lutz (the Twilight franchise).  The action thriller will be produced by Richard Rionda Del Castro for Hannibal Classics, Blue Rider Entertainment and Oscar Generale.

Penned by Luessenhop and David Aaron Cohen, Speed Kills follows the true story of speedboat racing champion and multimillionaire Don Aronow (Travolta), who leads a double life that lands him in trouble with the law and drug lords. The film will begin principal photography at the end of the month in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Saban Films’ Bill Bromiley said: “John Travolta has the uncanny ability to transform into true, larger than life characters. This high octane, high end action thriller is the perfect showcase for John's profound acting prowess.

Hannibal Films’ Richard Rionda Del Castro said: “We have a long history of success with Saban as our Domestic partner and we anticipate a runaway hit with Speed Kills”.

Speed Kills marks Saban Films’ third collaboration with Richard Rionda Del Castro of Hannibal Classics following USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, starring Nicolas Cage and I Am Wrath, which also starred Travolta.


Ness Saban and Bill Bromiley negotiated the deal on behalf of Saban Films with Richard Rionda Del Castro on behalf of Hannibal handling Worldwide sales.

At Cannes, Saban Films just announced acquiring U.S. distribution rights to Brian Smrz’s upcoming thriller 24 Hours to Live, starring Academy Award® Nominee Ethan Hawke, Chinese actress Xu Qing, Paul Anderson, Liam Cunningham, and Golden Globe® Winner Rutger Hauer.

Saban Films also recently acquired the North American distribution rights to: Ric Roman Waugh’s Shot Caller starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Lake Bell; John Stockwell’s Armed Response starring Wesley Snipes and Anne Heche; Alexandros Avranas’ True Crime starring Jim Carrey; Small Town Crime starring John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, and Octavia Spencer; FilmNation’s sci-fi film Kill Switch starring Dan Stevens and Bérénice Marlohe; and Roland Joffé’s The Forgiven starring Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana.

About Saban Films
Saban Films, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group (“SCG”), is a film acquisition and distribution company which acquires high-quality, feature films to distribute in North America. Focusing on commercial, talent driven films, the company looks at projects in all stages of production for release across multiple platforms, including a day and date theatrical/VOD release strategy. Based in Los Angeles, Saban Films was established by Haim Saban, SCG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and is led by Bill Bromiley who serves as president, Shanan Becker, Chief Financial Officer and Ness Saban, Director of Business Development.

Since the company’s launch in 2014, Saban Films has released 23 films.  The 2017 Saban Films slate includes: John Michael McDonagh’s War on Everyone starring Michael Peña, Alexander Skarsgård, Theo James, and Tessa Thompson; Colm McCarthy’s critically acclaimed apocalyptic thriller The Girl with All the Gifts starring Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine; Walter Hill’s The Assignment starring Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub, Anthony LaPaglia; Jonathan Mostow’s The Hunter’s Prayer starring Sam Worthington and Odeya Rush; and Sean Penn’s The Last Face starring Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem.

About Hannibal Classics
Hannibal Classics, founded in 2010 by Richard Rionda Del Castro, specializes in the production, financing and distribution of feature length Theatrical Motion Pictures with large budgets.

Its most recent films include Vengeance: A Love Story, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, I Am Wrath and Heist. Upcoming projects include the $60M budget disaster epic Tsunami L.A., the action films Red Squad, Zander, The Old Rifle, The Quarterback and a reboot of the 1997 cult French film Dobermann entitled Dobermann: Cops’ Blood Never Dries. 


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Horror Film "TRUTH OR DOUBLE DARE" Makes the Game's Stakes High



Horror Film Truth or Double Dare Makes the Game's Stakes High

Atlanta, Ga. (May 18, 2017) – A high-stakes game of truth or double dare centers around a 10-year high school reunion as a backdrop of a new horror/slasher film baring the same name – Truth or Double Dare. Fans of pop culture horrors and slashers will not be disappointed. They can expect to be kept on the edge of their seats as old grudges from the past come to light.

Truth or Double Dare follows four friends -- Claudia, Egypt, Alex and Rashad -- as they return to their hometown for their high school reunion. They reunite with old classmates Jonathan and Michelle where they find themselves playing a harmless game of truth or double dare. Because of old buried secrets, someone at the party makes the stakes high. Now it's a game for their lives.

The film is produced by Atlanta-based independent film company L.O.U.D. Films and stars a diverse cast: Austin Chunn (Oxygen's Snapped: Killer Couples), Gina Hiraizumi (Investigation Discovery's Deadly Sins; ABC's Castle; FOX's Quintuplets), Maia Kavchak(go90's RePlay) and Drew Stephenson (BET's The Quad; CW's Vampire Diaries). Truth or Double Dare also features Caleb J. Spivak (FOX's 24: Legacy; TNT's Good Behavior) and Alyx Libby (BET's Being Mary Jane; Oxygen's Snapped: Killer Couples).

Watch a sneak peak of Truth or Double Dare here:
 


In the preview, actor Drew Stephenson, who plays Rashad, explains the rules of the game to friends Jonathan (Caleb J. Spivak) and Michelle (Alyx Libby) as an old childhood friend Alex (Austin Chunn) gets a refresher course.

Truth or Double Dare is executive produced by Marcus Collins and produced by Jamal Mcwhorter and Shaquita Smith (CBS' NCIS: New Orleans; VH1's Daytime Divas), who also serves as director. This production marks the directorial debut for Smith, as she is the latest director to bring new blood to horror films.

Truth or Double Dare is expected to be released later this year in October 2017. So grab your invitation and get ready for a reunion that's to die for! Are you ready to play TRUTH OR DOUBLE DARE (TODD)?



Photo Credits courtesy of LOUD Films: (top) Austin Chunn with Gina Hiraizumi; (middle) Maia Kavchak; and (bottom) Alyx Libby with Caleb J. Spivak in Truth or Double Dare.

Social Media:
Instagram - todd_film
Facebook- Truthordoubledare
Hashtags - #TODD; #TODDthemovie

About L.O.U.D. Films
L.O.U.D. Films is an independent film production company founded in Atlanta, Ga. by three cinematic visionaries. Marcus Collins, Jamal McWhorter, and Shaquita Smith formed the company in 2014 as a platform for their unique film ideas. L.O.U.D. (which stands for Living Out Ur Dreams) specializes in dramas and comedies that feature compelling characters and intriguing stories. As a collective, the team has experience in film production, music production, screenwriting, casting, directing, and distribution. To learn more: http://www.loudfilmsinc.com/



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"THE MUMMY" -- IMAX Zero Gravity VR Experience



IMAX, TOGETHER WITH UNIVERSAL PICTURES, PRESENTS
THE MUMMY ZERO GRAVITY VR EXPERIENCE AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2017

DEBUTS EXCLUSIVELY ON VOYAGER, THE WORLD’S FIRST FULL-MOTION CINEMATIC VR CHAIR

AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER,
BALLROOM B
MARCH 10 – MARCH 14
AUSTIN, TX


WHAT:    IMAX, together with Universal, presents THE MUMMY ZERO GRAVITY VR EXPERIENCE , which debuts exclusively at South by Southwest.  Attendees will be transported to the set of THE MUMMY , alongside Tom Cruise & Annabelle Wallis, as they perform a thrilling stunt in Zero-G four miles above sea level. 

THE MUMMY will be the first cinematic VR theater experience to debut on Voyager, the world’s first full-motion chair designed for cinematic VR, created by technology studio Positron.  Twenty Voyager units will have their motion choreographed together to deliver the ultimate behind-the-scenes Zero Gravity experience.  Proven to also eliminate motion sickness, Voyager delivers a completely new level of immersion in VR by providing a comfortable, fully integrated personal VR theater that incorporates motorized rotation and pitch motion, haptic feedback (with physical audio powered by Subpac), 3D audio, integrated VR headsets, and specialized seating.

WHERE:        South by Southwest 2017
        Austin Convention Center, Ballroom B, Austin, TX
        Sign up at www.themummyvrexperience.com
       
WHEN:        Friday, March 10 - Tuesday, March 14
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Daily


                                       Watch the Latest Trailer
 
 About THE MUMMY
Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: THE MUMMY. 
   
Thought safely entombed in a tomb deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.  

From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters. 

Cruise is joined by a cast including Annabelle Wallis (upcoming King Arthur, television’s Peaky Blinders), Jake Johnson (Jurassic World), Courtney B. Vance (TV’s American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson) and Oscar® winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator).

The creative team on this action-adventure event is led by director/producer Alex Kurtzman and producer Chris Morgan, who have been instrumental in growing some of the most successful franchises of the past several years—with Kurtzman writing or producing entries in the Transformers, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible series, and Morgan being the narrative engineer of the Fast & Furious saga as it has experienced explosive growth from its third chapter on.  Sean Daniel, who produced the most recent Mummy trilogy, produces alongside Kurtzman and Morgan.     www.themummy.com

About Positron and Voyager
Founded in 2014, Positron is a technology studio based in Los Angeles that delivers engineering magic.  The team includes mechatronics engineers, designers, software developers and artists who collaborate together to create VR experiences and products that have never been done before.  Voyager is the first full-motion chair platform designed for cinematic VR. Integrating beautiful design and high-end engineering, it reflects a passion for VR storytelling.  Voyager delivers a completely new level of immersion in VR by providing a comfortable, fully integrated personal VR theater that incorporates gentle motorized yaw and pitch motion, haptic feedback (physical audio powered by Subpac), and specialized seating.  Its unique software and hardware technology integration enables nuanced motion and haptic tracks to be encoded along the featured content’s visual and spatial audio tracks.  The chair precisely guides the viewers’ attention to points of interest in the experience, while also allowing a viewer-controlled motion mode. Voyager units are available now for select theaters, hotels, concerts, and events that desire to provide a premium VR experience.  For Voyager images please visit Positron Media.

THE MUMMY arrives in IMAX® and theaters nationwide on Friday, June 9, 2017.
http://www.themummy.com

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE -- Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD Review by Porfle



Whatever you may think about Vin Diesel's brand new chapter in the "XXX" series, XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (2016), it does serve a vital purpose. 

Namely, to give my DVDs of all those cool hardcore action flicks from the 80s and 90s a breather.  You know, back when they knew how to make kickass, uncomplicated, manly action epics that delivered the goods without taking themselves too seriously.

That's exactly what this--what's that word--"high octane" blast of damn-near nonstop action does from the very first minutes when Vin's Xander Cage character, whom we thought was dead but merely faked his death, starts out doing something wildly unbelievable which we know the movie's going to have to top.  And which it most definitely will, repeatedly.


With Xander's former boss Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) currently indisposed, it falls to icily efficient intelligence exec Jane Marke (Toni Collette, THE DEAD GIRL, THE SIXTH SENSE) to recruit the reluctant ex-agent to help stop a plot in which a stolen remote control device called "Pandora's Box" is sending satellites crashing into cities with devastating effect. 

Eschewing the brawny military types assigned to him in the most exquisitely dismissive manner imaginable, Xander gathers his own team of badasses, each with his or her own special skills.  They'll need them, too, because they're going up against an equally insane group of adversaries which includes the likes of both Tony Jaa (the ONG BOK series) and team leader Donnie Yen (KILL ZONE, IP MAN). 

Needless to say, this paves the way for some of the most intense, mind-blowing action sequences in years, with excellent fight and stunt choreography, and direction  (by D.J. Caruso, THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM, DISTURBIA) and editing that make things snap without using too much Shaky-cam or incomprehensibly quick cuts. 


The plot, which manages a few interesting surprises here and there, moves briskly along with few slow spots and a pleasant balance between "serious" and "comedy."  Vin, of course, is an old hand at this sort of thing and, knowing a good thing when he's in it, makes the most of this chance to be the ultimate Mr. Cool once again.

This means we might as well go into it knowing that (a) Xander is going to be unbelievably, superhumanly cool and able to do anything, including jumping out of a doomed airplane without a parachute, and (b) the situations and dialogue are going to be totally over-the-top and, at times, a little bit dumb.  But you know what?  Sometimes dumb is fun, and vice versa.

So okay, XXX is the toughest, the most badass, the most virile (he plows his way through a whole group of sex-starved babes and leaves them all slumbering contentedly in the morning), the most insanely resourceful S.O.B. when the chips are down--basically, the most everything. 


What makes this acceptable is the fact that the film knows it's over-the-top and even kind of silly, which it totally works like crazy because, in addition to being a straight action movie, it's also basically a giddy-fun, spoofy exaggeration of straight action movies. 

I'm sure some less enthusiastic viewers will be glad to point out all the ways in which this movie is unforgivably dumb.  As for me, I love the gritty, highly improbable action, the rogue's gallery of fascinating characters (played by a terrific international cast), the dazzling fight choreography, the amazing stunts, the Bond-level gadgets, and the cool special effects (including, fittingly enough, some "iffy" wirework). 

Mostly, I like XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE because it's just plain fun, and will make a worthy addition to my roster of "go-to" old-school action flicks.

-----------



Tech Specs 
 
This Paramount feature comes in a combo pack with Blu-ray and DVD discs along with a code to download a digital HD copy.  The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. 

The DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Bonuses on the Blu-ray consist of the featurettes "Third Time’s the Charm: Xander Returns", "Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast", "Opening Pandora’s Box: On Location", "I Live for This Sh#t!: Stunts", and a gag reel. The DVD contains the feature film in standard definition.

Street Date:            May 2, 2017 (Digital HD)
May 16, 2017 (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD)   
U.S. Rating:       PG-13 for extended sequences of gunplay and violent action, and for sexual material and language
Canadian Rating:    14A violence, language may offend

http://www.ReturnOfXanderCage.com/
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReturnOfXanderCageMovie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/xXxMovie
iTunes: http://j.mp/GetxXxNow
Amazon: http://j.mp/OwnxXxMovieNow


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PARADISE CLUB -- Movie Review by Porfle



They say if you remember the 60s, you weren't there.  But Carolyn Cavallero was there, and she remembered it well enough to write and direct the incense-scented, psychedelia-laced paean to the era, PARADISE CLUB (2016). 

Probably not coincidentally, much of this cinematic recollection looks and plays as though related by someone who experienced it through a haze of drugs, confusion, and/or naiveté.

This describes Cavallero's fictional surrogate, young Catherine (Elizabeth Rice, ODD GIRL OUT, "Mad Men"), a nude dancer in San Francisco's Paradise Club in 1968.  Catherine yearns to join her generation's search for freedom and enlightenment, although this consists mainly of expressing herself by dancing naked for strangers and contemplating beat poetry and free-thought prose (her narration sounds as though she's solemnly reciting pages from her diary).


Her two fellow dancers are Tabitha (Tonya Kay, CREEP VAN), a tough chick with a good head on her shoulders, and the wispy Tulsa (Nicole Fox), a gullible waif blown about by any ill wind that comes along. 

They work at the Paradise Club, one of those movie-fantasy nudie clubs where men regularly come to gaze longingly and reverently at their favorite girls as they perform languid interpretive dances to current songs. 

Here, they live their lives in the womb-like environment of the club, acting out their micro-dramas and personal traumas while the outside world rages on around them.  Unsurprisingly, the sight of two soldiers in the club sets off the sensitive Tulsa, who has an anti-war freak-out onstage and tearfully flashes peace signs at them.


All of this occurs under the wing of paternal club owner Earl Wild (Eric Roberts), who loves his club because he also finds it a haven against the world.  Although for him, "the world" consists of a money-grabbing ex-wife and an even more demanding coke dealer whom he's into for tens of thousands. 

Eventually, the fate of the Paradise Club and those who inhabit it will mirror that of the era itself as it heads toward harsh reality and self-destruction.  Accordingly, various characters degrade themselves sexually, seek solace in hard drugs, or betray one another.  Not everyone makes it out alive. 

Much of this is conveyed visually, in long, sometimes surreal montages set to contemporary music (It's A Beautiful Day's "White Dove" is especially well-used). 

Naturally, there's a lot of drawn-out nude dancing sequences intended to express the characters' inner feelings.  Sometimes this works, sometimes it seems just a little too free-form and indulgent (albeit not unlike actual films of the time such as THE TRIP).  Needless to say, fans of nude girls will have no complaints.


Performances are good, particularly the endlessly wonderful Eric Roberts (THE DARK KNIGHT, SHARKTOPUS) as Earl. Evan Williams is suitably bland and spaced-out as Ben, the arrogant pretty-boy rocker who threatens to sweep starstruck Catherine out of Earl's life. 

Production values are good, and, for better or worse, the film does have something of an authentic late-60s feel similar to the works of Roger Corman or Dennis Hopper.

PARADISE CLUB isn't an all-encompassing statement about the 60s, but it doesn't try to be.  Cavallero is simply telling tales about her own experiences, perceptions, and emotions, and what life was like in her own small corner of a turbulent world. 

Official website




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