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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"DON'T LET HIM IN" from Image Entertainment -- coming to DVD January 3rd

FROM IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT: WHEN TERROR DARES TO STEP OVER THE THRESHHOLD… "DON’T LET HIM IN"

Crossing onto DVD January 3, 2012


Chatsworth, CA – A quiet weekend getaway in the country becomes a nightmarish race for survival! On January 3, 2012, Image Entertainment releases Don’t Let Him In on DVD. Premiering at this year’s BAFTAs®, Don’t Let Him In is already creating a buzz amongst the horror community on this side of the Atlantic. SRP is $27.97, and pre-book is December 6.

Paige (Sophie Linfield, Mrs. Palfrey at The Claremont) and Calvin (Rhys Meredith, “Henry VIII,” “State of Play”) have decided to leave the city for the weekend to enjoy the calming English countryside.  Their rural retreat is interrupted when Calvin’s brazen sister brings along Tristan (Gordon Alexander, Sucker Punch), a city trader she picked up a one-night stand.  Relations turn from uncomfortable to unnerving when the group learns  a serial killer -- “The Tree Surgeon”—has been terrorizing the area.  When the facts start to fall into place, and the blood begins to flow, they will have to face the true nature of their uninvited guest.

Also starring Sam Hazeldine (“Midsomer Murders,” the upcoming The Raven) Don’t Let Him In “delivers on the body count, has an awesome serial killer, and there’s a nice twist at the end.” (QuietEarth.us)  It is a cautionary tale full of foreboding and fear, ending with a warning that resonates throughout the English woods:  Don’t Let Him In!

About Image Entertainment:
Image Entertainment, Inc. (OTCQB: DISK ) is a leading independent licensee and distributor of entertainment programming in North America, with approximately 3,200 exclusive DVD titles and approximately 340 exclusive CD titles in domestic release and more than 450 programs internationally via sublicense agreements. For many of its titles, the Company has exclusive audio and broadcast rights, as well as digital download rights to over 2,100 video programs and approximately 400 audio titles containing more than 6,000 individual tracks. The Company is headquartered in Chatsworth , California . For more information about Image Entertainment, Inc., please go to www.image-entertainment.com.

Don’t Let Him In DVD
Genre:                         Drama, Horror, Thriller, Slashers/Serial Killers, Mystery/Suspense
Rating:                        Not Rated
Language:                   English
Format:                        Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio:                         Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:                     English, Spanish
Year:                           2011
MSRP:                        $27.97
Street Date:                 January 3, 2012
Pre-Book:                    December 6, 2011
Length:                        80 minutes
UPC:                           014381768022
Cat#:                           IMW7680DVD

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Monday, November 28, 2011

LOOK: SEASON 1 -- DVD review by porfle


If you liked writer-director Adam Rifkin's 2007 mockumentary LOOK as much as I did, then this Showtime television series of the same name is worth spying on as well.  With its eleven half-hour episodes, LOOK: SEASON 1 (2010) is a long-form continuation of the film, identical in style but with an almost entirely new cast of characters whose private lives we observe in minute detail through the lenses of all those hundreds of security cameras, camcorders, and other electronic eyeballs that are constantly trained upon each and every one of us more often than we'd like to imagine.

While this may sound like an awkward way to tell a story, it's surprisingly easy to get used to.  The fact that Rifkin has no shortage of camera angles to choose from in most scenes reminds us of just how many hidden cameras there are watching us, with the variety of media and unique look of each one keeping the show's visuals fresh. 

This also lets the director add some unexpected dramatic accents here and there, such as a sudden traffic-cam freeze-frame on a driver's face or an aerial sweep from one part of the city to another via a geological survey map.  All of this footage is cleverly edited, with zoom-ins for emphasis and rewinds to reveal things we missed first time through, as though manipulated by some omniscient storyteller.



All of this is aimed at titillating our inner voyeur--let's face it, it's fun to watch other people when they don't know we're watching them--and what's more fun to peep at than illicit sex and nudity?  LOOK, not surprisingly, is loaded with both.  As in the film, much of it is due to the antics of two spoiled, narcissistic high school girls, Molly (Ali Cobrin) and Hannah (Sharon Hinnendael), and, also as in the film, these underage characters are played by twenty-somethings to allow us guilt-free gawking as they prance around naked before various cameras or shoot homemade porno flicks. 

Although pretending to be her best friend, Hannah is deviously plotting a romantic match between virgin Molly and bad-boy jock Shane (Colton Haynes) only to set her up for a fall.  Meanwhile, we watch them skipping class and liberally wielding their credit cards at the mall--lounging through expensive pedicures and massages, binging and purging fast food, and cavorting in dressing rooms while whooping, dope-smoking security guards ogle them via a bank of video monitors.  An added dimension to this and other subplots is our ability to eavesdrop whenever characters text each other, revealing the various deceptions upon which entire relationships are often based.

Also holding up her end in the sex department is bored, coked-up housewife Stella (Claudia Christian, the gun-toting alien-possessed stripper from THE HIDDEN), who voraciously screws strange men in her own livingroom under the watchful eye of a home security camera while mild-mannered husband Leonard toils late at the office to support her lavish lifestyle.  Christian is a marvel to watch as her comically repellent character blows through the series like an ill wind, neglecting her children, mercilessly browbeating Leonard, griping about her oppressive life while getting bikini waxed, and indignantly berating a mall cop who catches her shoplifting. 

Other storylines are less sex-centric but equally interesting.  There's Dan the Weatherman (Robert Curtis Brown), a local meteorologist whose cornball antics during his TV news segments are popular with the oldsters but a constant agony to station programmer Andy (Jordan Belfi) who's striving for a hipper audience.  Brown is the perfect smarmy, golden-voiced, fake-cheerful weatherman type (which is why daughter Hannah despises him), while Belfi's Andy revels in being despicable not only to Dan, whom he's plotting against, but to everyone else as well. 

After Andy haughtily dresses down a waiter for bringing the wrong kind of sauce for his shrimp, the hidden camera reveals the secret ingredient the waiter adds to it before presenting it to the disgruntled customer, confirming one of our worst fears about dining out.  Andy's habit of visiting a local strip club after work for a "lapdance 'n' more" will become an integral part in one character's precipitous downfall later on.



The sole survivors from the original film are gangly mini-mart clerk Willie (Giuseppe Andrews), an aspiring singer-songwriter, and his slacker pal Carl (Miles Dougal), who seems to live at the store.  A lot happens during Willie's graveyard shift including a naked rampage by a pathetic, mentally unbalanced homeless man whom we observe throughout the series, never having a clue about how he sunk to such a sad state until the final episode.  The site is also visited by a carload of drive-by paintball assassins who plague the city during the season, one of their victims being a terrified Dan the Weatherman as he does a live location spot.

Several of the show's other characters pass through the mini-mart sooner or later--Leonard, Hannah and Molly, Andy (who, as you might expect, gripes at Willie for no reason), a couple of cops who become familiar after a few episodes, and a serial rapist (Richard Speight, Jr.) whose chance encounter with one of the main characters supplies a chilling cliffhanger ending to the season.  Much is made of Willie and Carl staging a live concert at the store to draw attention to Willie's music, and, while that particular storyline didn't do much for me, our frequent visits to this setting do provide some much-needed comic relief from some of the grimmer aspects of the series. 

The 2-disc DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby stereo sound and English subtitles.  There are no extras.

While some of the segments may seem a bit pointless and unrelated at first, the slowly-developing storylines (Rifkin is able to take his time here much more than in the movie) eventually begin to intersect and intertwine in interesting, funny, and often very surprising ways.  Other random vignettes (the booger incident is a cringeworthy example) may serve merely to illustrate some of the things that happen to us all the time which we're unaware of.  But the camera--our impassive, ever-present observer--sees all, knows all, and the addictively entertaining LOOK: SEASON 1 shows all.


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

OUR IDIOT BROTHER -- DVD review by porfle


It's usually a bad sign when a movie opens with a happy-go-lucky acoustic guitar ditty, but OUR IDIOT BROTHER (2011) gets away with being precious because it's such a wry poke at preciousness.  And the main character, Ned (Paul Rudd), is happy-go-lucky to such a wide-eyed fault that he brings comic ruin to the serious-minded around him.

Paroled after serving jail time for selling weed to a uniformed cop, Ned returns to the farm where he worked to find his former girlfriend Janet shacking up with another guy--the spaced-out Billy, with whom Ned becomes fast friends--and claiming custody of his beloved dog, Willie Nelson.  Adrift, Ned is taken in by his mother (the venerable Shirley Knight) and three sisters, whereupon he proceeds to accidentally wreck their lives with his uncomprehending innocence, honesty, and trust.

The three actresses playing Ned's sisters are all excellent.  Elizabeth Banks is Miranda, the frantic overachiever whose attempts to score a Vanity Fair interview with a controversial heiress are complicated when she befriends Ned and opens up to him about her newsworthy scandal, the details of which he then refuses to divulge to Miranda because they were told to him in confidence.  Banks plays the altercations between Miranda and Ned with just the right tone of frazzled, incredulous indignation along with a sort of desperation we can identify with.



Emily Mortimer is Liz, a New Age mom who, along with her snobby, unfaithful documentary-filmmaker husband Dylan (Steve Coogan), is horrified when the repressed trophy child she's trying to raise begins to emulate free-spirited Uncle Ned.  Lastly there's the youngest, Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), who almost splits up with her lesbian lover Cindy (Rashida Jones) when Ned inadvertently spills the beans about her pregnancy due to an impromptu fling with a male artist.

Rudd is effortlessly funny as Ned because he doesn't try too hard to convince us that he is, and neither does the film.  This allows a subtle warmth and charm to spring naturally from the conflicts between honest Ned and his sisters, who, like most of us, rely on a certain amount of deception to keep their lives from falling apart.  And when they do fall apart one by one, the drama is so easily interlaced with the humor that there's no need for the story to jarringly alternate between the two.  At least, that is, until an emotional outburst which has been building throughout the film finally erupts, setting up the nice, albeit somewhat pat and anticlimactic ending.

It's fun watching Ned wander through his family's midst causing friction at every turn without even trying, and, to the sisters' consternation, earning the respect and friendship of those closest to them with his laidback, open attitude.  One of the funniest scenes has lawyer Cindy eagerly joining him on a commando raid to get Willie Nelson away from Janet, which comes to a screeching halt when Ned chooses the wrong moment to inform her of Natalie's pregnancy (as usual, Ned and Billy exchange pleasantries while Janet berates them both).
 


Another highlight comes when Ned barges in on Dylan's illicit love tryst with a Russian ballet dancer, and totally buys Dylan's cock-and-bull story about how he must "get naked" himself in order to coax his reticent documentary subject into baring her soul to him.  And then there are Ned's perilously frank conversations with his nonplussed parole officer Omar (Sterling Brown), whom he regards as a kind of therapist.  But perhaps the nicest moments are those between Ned and his nephew River (Matthew Mindler), whose joy at being allowed to be himself and do forbidden fun stuff--like watching slapstick "Pink Panther" movies or taking a karate class instead of dutifully practicing on an obscure woodwind instrument--is infectious.   

The DVD from Anchor Bay and the Weinsteins is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  Bonus features include a commentary by director Jesse Peretz, deleted scenes and alternate ending, and a making-of featurette. 

Barring that one big emotional blow-up scene late in the film, OUR IDIOT BROTHER does a great job of maintaining the perfect blend of warm, playfully irreverent comedy with a story and characters that are realistic enough to care about.  I like that Ned doesn't self-righteously try to change his sisters, their values, lifestyles, etc., but rather wields a great and ultimately beneficial influence on their lives simply by being himself.  And the funniest thing about it is that, yes, sometimes he really is an idiot. 


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

THE RIVER WHY -- DVD review by porfle


THE RIVER WHY (2010) is a fishing movie, but it's not aimed at the kind of fishermen who like to toss a cooler full of beer into their bass boat and head out to the lake.  Rather, it's a sweetly boring story about the placid art of fly fishing, the people who love it and live it, and how it represents life.  Not exactly exciting, but then again, if you wanted excitement you wouldn't be watching a movie about fly fishing.

Gus (Zach Gilford) is undergoing a spiritual crisis, because (a) he doesn't like being called by his full name, Augustine, which his dad (William Hurt), a renowned fishing author, insists on doing, and (b) he's fed up with his mom (Kathleen Quinlan) and dad constantly arguing, even though they only argue about fishing and their arguments are about as benign as marital arguments can be.  But all this is still too much for Gus to take, so one night during dinner he erupts in a fit of anger, throws his dad's prized fish trophy into the fireplace, and flees to a secluded cabin on a river in Oregon to fish, fish, fish.  Thus begins Gus' spiritual journey.

This is one of those "go find yourself in the woods" movies with the main character narrating his story in would-be poetic ways that sometimes get a little too on-the-nose; as with Harrison Ford's voiceover in BLADE RUNNER, we could probably do without lines like "As we walked upriver, I felt like we were on a primordial journey to some forgotten ancient home.  The fisherman in me was being unmade."  The often beautiful visuals are enough to help us figure out what's happening in scenes such as this, which is one of the reasons we watch movies adapted from literary works instead of just listening to books-on-tape.


Seeking solitude, Gus naturally runs into a succession of eccentric characters such as wilderness philosopher Titus (Dallas Roberts), whose casually brilliant insight helps define Gus' search for his soul.  Titus is one of those characters whose stilted speech comes off better on the written page and is hard for any actor to play realistically.  Roberts does his best, though.  His erudite refugee from the big city helps Gus see the beauty and poetry in fly fishing and how it relates to life, and even gives him soul-searching pointers over a game of pool in a local bar.  Then, his job done, he disappears from the film. 

William Devane makes a brief appearance as Dutch, a fishing columnist who's so thrilled by some pointers given to him by Gus that he turns the recluse into something of a sought-after local celebrity.  Gus toys with the notion of reconnecting with the human race but rejects it, just in time to run right into the love of his life, a pretty blonde fisherwoman named Eddy (Amber Heard).  Metaphors like "the one that got away", "hard to land", and "reeling her in" define their somewhat tiresomely coy courtship after a series of meet-cutes in a movie where just about every meeting is a meet-cute.  Gus and Titus meet cute, Gus and Dutch meet cute--even in a flashback that shows Gus' mom and dad's first riverside dispute over a prized fish, they meet cute.  Apparently, fly fishing has this effect on people.


While Gus searches for his soul at the end of a fishing pole, director Matthew Leutwyler gives it all a lazy-day feel that viewers will find either relaxing or excruciating, with some acoustic guitar ballads wafting airily through each scene.  Gus finally goes on that "primordial journey" with a fish late in the film, bringing his spiritual quest to just enough of a climax that it registers as a turning point in his life.  Which, at this point, is just about as much excitement as we can stand.

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 surround sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  The sole extra is a selection of brief cast and crew interviews.

At first, THE RIVER WHY had such a gentle, homespun vibe that I didn't even want a story to intrude and disturb it.  After awhile, though, I started to feel as though I were fly fishing myself for hours on end without getting a bite.  But I guess that's part of the experience--the act of fishing itself is a slow, contemplative thing that is its own reward.  As for me, I found this movie somewhat rewarding in the same way that I enjoy taking an afternoon nap.



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Friday, November 25, 2011

SARAH'S KEY -- DVD review by porfle


Alternately harrowing and bland, SARAH'S KEY (2010) is two different movies shuffled together, and only one of them is really worth our time.

A magazine writer in Paris, American-born Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas) is assigned to do an article about the little-known rounding up of over 130,000 French Jews in 1942 at the behest of the Nazis--by the French bureaucracy itself--after which they were sent to the death camp at Auschwitz. Julia is shocked to find that her husband Bertrand's family, the Tezacs, availed themselves of an apartment forcibly vacated by the Starzynski family, whose youngest son Michel was hidden in a locked closet to avoid capture.

In addition to gathering data for her magazine piece, Julia becomes obsessed with two things--locating the Starzynski's daughter Sarah, whom records show was never sent to Auschwitz, and confronting the Tezacs with their guilt.  Needless to say, this doesn't do wonders for her marriage to Bertrand, which is already on thin ice over her unexpected pregnancy (she wants the baby, he doesn't).  Julia singlemindedly pursues the mystery of Sarah until she discovers what became of her, to the detriment of he own family.



When SARAH'S KEY focuses on ten-year-old Sarah's sudden plunge into a waking nightmare and her struggle to escape, it's a heartrending drama skillfully handled by director Gilles Paquet-Brenner and brought to life by an outstanding cast.  The Starzynskis are forced to spend several days in a sweltering indoor racing arena with thousands of other Jews, with little food or water and no toilet facilities ("Imagine the Superdome in New Orleans, only a hundred times worse," Julia's editor explains), before being split up and placed in a detainment camp to await final transport to Auschwitz.  The terror of having their lives turned upside-down is vividly shown through Sarah's uncomprehending eyes, while she desperately clings to the key that will free Michel from his closet prison. 

Sarah's escape from the detainment camp with friend Rachel (Sarah Ber) leads to more suspense and uncertainty when the girls are taken in by an older couple who try to help Sarah get back to Paris somehow, under constant threat from Nazi soldiers and French whistleblowers.  The shattering conclusion to this segment of the story is powerfully handled, not least by amazing young actress Mélusine Mayance who is so good as to be absolutely riveting.  Her surprisingly mature performance would be considered impressive for an adult actress but for a child her age it's almost unworldly, raising the entire film to a level of realism and emotional resonance that it otherwise would not have reached.

Unfortunately, as Sarah's story begins to fade into the background, Julia's comes to the fore and pales in comparison.  Her handling of the Sarah business in regard to husband Bertrand and his family--in effect washing her hands of them with a curdled air of moral superiority--is off-puttingly unsympathetic, and we wonder exactly what feeling there ever was in Julia and Bertrand's sketchily-drawn marriage to begin with.  She seems confident that, unlike the Tezacs, she would've done "the right thing" back in 1942, yet she chides a young coworker at her magazine for implying precisely the same thing.  It's puzzling that the filmmakers would allow her character, with whom we're meant to identify, to appear so self-righteous.



As Sarah's character grows older, the more enigmatic and less interesting she becomes.  Her story is resolved (more or less) in an unsatisfying way that lacks any kind of closure or meaning and doesn't seem true to the character as we've gotten to know her.  Meanwhile, Julia's search for her becomes a sort of shaggy dog story which eventually reaches a similarly inconclusive end, fizzling out along with the film itself.  I had to go back and watch it again to see if I'd missed anything that would've made it more effective, but even a late appearance by Aidan Quinn as Sarah's son lacks the relevance I was looking for. 

The DVD from Anchor Bay and the Weinsteins is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  The sole extra is an in-depth hour-long documentary, "The Making of 'Sarah's Key'." 

SARAH'S KEY might've been a better movie if the Julie character had been eliminated altogether--Sarah's story is more than strong enough to have carried the entire film, especially since the two storylines never really relate to one another in any meaningful way.  All the present-day stuff does is to remind us that something important happened in 1942 which shouldn't be forgotten.  The flashback segments of the film are indeed memorable, and well worth experiencing, but rest of it is quite forgettable.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES -- DVD review by porfle


I must admit I had low hopes for director Rupert Wyatt's RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011), especially when I found that the excellent ape makeups which were such a key factor in the original series' appeal would be totally replaced by digital creatures.  Not that I hate all CGI, of course, but these days it's just not all that impressive anymore, is it?  And when it's bad, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

But once you get accustomed to its extensive use here, it's actually quite remarkably good.  Not 100% convincing, but then again, no special effect could be.  And as nostalgic as I am for the older flicks, there's no way men in suits would suffice for this story no matter how good the makeup might be. 

This is especially true with the main character, Caesar, a chimp whose intelligence has been artificially enhanced during a failed experiment to cure Alzheimer's.  We get used to Caesar as a character even though we're always aware that he's a CGI creation, and he effortlessly carries the majority of the film upon his digital shoulders with the authority of a real actor thanks in large part to the dazzling motion-capture performance of Andy Serkis.



Adopted by the head research scientist, Will Rodman (James Franco), Caesar is seen cavorting around the house in an amazing sequence which follows him from room to room as though the whole place were a jungle gym.  Raised like a child, Caesar is happy until he begins to question who and what he is, eventually chafing at his restricted existence.  After an unfortunate incident involving a hostile neighbor (David Hewlitt), Caesar is placed into an animal shelter and gets a rude awakening when accosted by others of his kind. 

Their poor treatment by the humans in charge inspires Caesar to lead his brethren in revolt after dosing them with the same chemical that has increased his own brain power, becoming a wise, courageous, and inspiring revolutionary figure in the process.  This is a fresh approach to the original saga that pays homage to the old films in ways big and small (a reprise of Charlton Heston's "damn, dirty ape" line is a bit of a show-stopper, immediately topped by the shock of Caesar's first spoken word) but avoids comparisons by giving us something we've never seen before. 

I kept wondering what the background subplot involving a lost manned Mars expedition had to do with anything until it finally hit me and I thought, "Oh, yeah..."  The film's main spiritual kin would be CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, yet it's easy to imagine it as the beginning of a brand new franchise that's highly promising if it continues to be as scintillating as this.  The ominous beginnings of a widespread biological disaster of global proportions add to the open-ended setup for the story's continuation. 

As Will, James Franco is back in familiar "Harry Osbourne" mode (watching a potentially lucrative scientific breakthrough go south before his eyes) but without the burgeoning psychosis.  His affectionate relationship with Caesar is handled very nicely.  Our shared affection for John Lithgow as an actor gives us instant empathy for his character of Will's Alzheimer-stricken father, to whom Will administers the untested serum.  As Will's love interest Carolina, a zoo vet who treats Caesar after an injury, Freida Pinto ably fulfills the limited requirements of her character.
 


The awesome Brian Cox, cinema's first Hannibal Lecter, is pretty much wasted in his small, unchallenging role as the animal shelter supervisor, but it's still good to have him around, with HARRY POTTER's Tom Felton sufficiently slimy as his sadistic son Dodge.  Tyler Labine of TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL plays another likable lug as Will's lab assistant, Franklin.  In the role of Will's hostile neighbor Hunsiker, whose full importance to the story isn't revealed until the very end, is the excellent David Hewlett of "Stargate: Atlantis."  Another familiar sci-fi vet, Ty Olsson, turns up as a CHP officer in charge of containing the rampaging apes. 

The thrilling humans-vs.-apes finale on the Golden Gate Bridge is impressively handled, a suspenseful and action-packed setpiece in which the individual personalities of Caesar's ape friends are highlighted to their fullest advantage.  As in the rest of the film, this is lean, flashy, high-adrenaline filmmaking that sweeps the viewer into a headlong sprint to the finish, with the intense performances of both the human and digital characters selling it all.  This unusual and exciting sequence alone would make the film worth watching. 

The DVD from 20th-Century Fox Home Entertainment is in widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound (English, English descriptive) and Dolby surround (Spanish, French).  Subtitles are in English and Spanish.  Extras include a couple of brief deleted scenes, three trailers, and the featurettes "Mythology of the Apes" and "The Genius of Andy Serkis."  (Also available as a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack with a bunch more extras.)

I can't imagine anyone being bored by RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, although with a whole generation growing up watching the breakneck-paced offspring of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and becoming increasingly jaded by it, you never know.  As for me, I not only found it a riveting action flick with moving emotional scenes, but simply a really cool movie in general.


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Prepare for "THE DEAD"! February 14th on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment

Not just another zombie movie. The best zombie movie of the year” – Mark L. Miller, AICN HORROR

A beautifully shot horror film...with epic quality.” – Screen International

INTERNATIONAL HORROR SENSATION "THE DEAD" UNLEASHED ON BLU-RAY™ AND DVD FROM ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT


BEVERLY HILLS, CA -- Unlike anything audiences have been exposed to before, The Dead grabs you by the throat and takes you on a visceral journey across the harsh but stunning landscapes of Africa where the sole survivor of the doomed final evacuation flight out of the continent, has more than just the unforgiving terrain to deal with.  Written and directed by Howard J. Ford and Jon Ford, The Dead has also stunned audiences at such prestigious film festivals such as Fantastic Fest, FrightFest and the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival. Garnering hundreds of rave reviews during its theatrical release, The Dead truly has become an instant cult classic.

The first horror film entirely filmed in Africa, The Dead takes the zombie legend back to its original roots and has justly been hailed as “superbly crafted...it’s a knockout” by the Village Voice, “one of the finest zombie films I’ve ever seen” by the Horror Channel, Bloody-Disgusting declared it “one of the most buzzed-about films of the year.” Anchor Bay Entertainment proudly announces the February 14th Blu-ray™ and DVD release of The Dead, the critically acclaimed horror film that wowed both audiences and critics worldwide. SRP is $26.98 for the DVD, and $29.99 for the Blu-ray™. Pre-book is January 18th.

When the last flight out of war-torn Africa crashes off the coast, Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) is the sole survivor in a land where the dead are returning to life and attacking the living. On the run in a hostile and inhospitable parched landscape, Murphy has to use his wits and ingenuity if he is to get home alive to his family. When he crosses paths with local solider Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei), a man frantically searching for his son, they join forces. Two desperate men from two very different cultures fight side-by-side to survive across the incredible vistas of Africa as the world around them succumbs to the deadliest of viruses.

Bonus features on The Dead Blu-ray™ and DVD will include audio commentary by writer/producer/director Howard J. Ford and writer/director of photography/co-director Jon Ford, “Unearthing The Dead: Behind the Scenes” featurette and a deleted scene.

THE DEAD Blu-ray™
Street Date:                 February 14, 2012
Pre-book:                    January 18, 2012
Cat. #:                         BD23469
UPC:                           0 1313 23469-9 1
Run Time:                    105 minutes
Rating:                         R
SRP:                            $29.99
Format:                        Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio:                          Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles:                      English SDH, Spanish

THE DEAD DVD
Street Date:                 February 14, 2012
Pre-book:                    January 18, 2012
Cat. #:                         DV23464
UPC:                           0 1313 23464-9 6
Run Time:                    105 minutes
Rating:                         R
SRP:                            $26.98
Format:                        Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio:                          Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:                      English SDH, Spanish
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"TEXAS KILLING FIELDS" starring Sam Worthington and Chloe Grace Moretz coming to Blu-ray and DVD January 31 from Anchor Bay Films

ANCHOR BAY FILMS PROUDLY PRESENTS A FILM BY MICHAEL MANN

Directed by Ami Canaan Mann -- Available on Blu-ray™ and DVD January 31, 2012

STARRING SAM WORTHINGTON, JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN, JESSICA CHASTAIN, CHLOË GRACE MORETZ and JASON CLARKE­

The best crime film of the year.” - Jami Philbrick, IAmRogue.com


BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Anchor Bay Films is proud to announce the release of TEXAS KILLING FIELDS on both Blu-ray™ and DVD  January 31, 2012.  Directed by Ami Canaan Mann, produced by Michael Mann and Michael Jaffe, and based on the real life, headline-making series of unsolved murders, TEXAS KILLING FIELDS is a haunting story of two detectives and one desperate race to catch a killer. The release also contains audio commentary with Director Ami Canaan Mann and Writer Donald F. Ferrarone.

Inspired by true events, this tense thriller follows Detective Souder (Sam Worthington, Avatar, The Debt) a homicide detective in a small Texan town, and his partner, transplanted New York City cop Detective Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan Starz’ “Magic City,” The Losers, The Watchmen) as they track a sadistic serial killer dumping his victims’ mutilated bodies in a nearby marsh locals call “The Killing Fields.” 

Though the swampland crime scenes are outside their jurisdiction, Detective Heigh is unable to turn his back on solving the gruesome murders. Despite his partner’s warnings, he sets out to investigate the crimes. Before long, the killer changes the game and begins hunting the detectives, teasing them with possible clues at the crime scenes while always remaining one step ahead. When familiar local girl Anne (Chloë Grace Moretz Hugo, Let Me In) goes missing, the detectives find themselves racing against time to catch the killer and save the young girl’s life.

Also starring Jessica Chastain (Coriolanus, Tree of Life, The Help), and Jason Clarke (The Great Gatsby, Public Enemies) Texas Killing Fields is an unforgettable and disturbing thriller.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CASE HISTORIES -- DVD review by porfle


Who knew Jason Isaacs could be cool?  I've seen him play tight-assed military officers, mild-mannered brainiacs, and the like (can't speak for his "Harry Potter" character since I haven't delved into that series yet), but never anything like private investigator Jackson Brodie.  Then again, the protagonist of the Scottish TV series CASE HISTORIES (2011) isn't your average private investigator.

We first see Brodie acting as a "bedroom dick" a la Jack Nicholson in CHINATOWN, so we know he's not above snapping pics of cheating spouses on the sly to bolster his coffers.  What really drives him, however, is his compulsion to help people, for which his occupation gives him the perfect outlet.  His specialty is missing persons, and, as shown by a frequent flashback of him as a child, searching in vain for his murdered sister, he knows how it feels to lose someone.

Isaacs' Brodie is as cool as they come, but not in the usual hardbitten action-guy way.  (The word "soft-boiled" pops up in one episode.)  The scripts are based on the novels by Kate Atkinson, who describes Brodie as a male version of herself, so he displays a touchy-feely quality you'd never see in the likes of Mike Hammer.  Caring and sympathetic to a fault, Brodie likes to get really involved with his clients, even having affairs with some of them--the ones that he can stand, anyway--which means that the barrier between his personal and professional lives is often nonexistent.



Not to say he isn't tough, though.  When the situation calls for it, this ex-soldier, ex-cop (despised by many of his former peers on the force for being too honest) can handle an attacker with swift brute force.  Sometimes he even has to do this during visitations with his young daughter, Marlee (Millie Innes), which delights her--their scenes together are funny and endearing--but horrifies his ex-wife Josie (Kirsty Mitchell), who's planning to whisk their little girl off to New Zealand with her.  Brodie's growing anguish over this, along with the lingering sadness of his failed marriage, is a major theme that adds even more emotional depth to his character.

The six episodes of CASE HISTORIES are divided into three two-part adaptations of the Atkinson novels "Case Histories", "One Good Turn", and "When Will There Be Good News?"  The first one focuses on cold cases, beginning with the false hope that his sister's unknown killer has finally been found.  Another girl who disappeared thirty years earlier is sought by her three eccentric sisters, one of whom has romantic designs on Brodie, in a melancholy tale that's both quirky and dotted with black humor. 

Meanwhile, Phil Davis (the cabbie in the "A Study in Pink" episode of the BBC's recent "Sherlock") is a devastated father who can't rest until he knows why his daughter was murdered.  Yet another missing person case that suddenly falls into Brodie's lap becomes linked with this one in a way that strains credulity to the breaking point.  Still, I find that all of these subplots are not only well-juggled, but blend together almost seamlessly regardless of the coincidences we're sometimes asked to accept.  Even plot holes don't really bother me if I'm being entertained, and sometimes a little improbability can be fun.

"One Good Turn" thrusts Brodie into a mystery involving Russian prostitutes (one of whom he finds floating near the beach during his daily run), a middle-aged wife who's just a little too happy about her husband's disabling heart attack, and a road rage incident that saddles Brodie with a nervous mystery writer who thinks a hit man is after him.  Once again, these elements all become intertwined in interesting ways and the sudden bursts of violence Brodie has to deal with, including a baseball bat-wielding killer, add some excitement to the usual drama and pathos.

"When Will There Be Good News?" starts off with a bang as Brodie tries to rescue a woman whose car has overturned on a railroad track and gets hit by a train.  As the title suggests, nothing seems to go right for him in this one--in addition to being badly injured, Brodie's daughter is in New Zealand and a killer has stolen his identity, which lands him in jail.  But there is good news when a vivacious young nanny named Reggie (Gwyneth Keyworth) enters his life and asks for help searching for her kidnapped employer and her baby.  With the lovable Reggie giving him much-needed emotional support, Brodie tackles the case and reveals a surprising secret behind a long-ago attack which left the missing mother the sole survivor of her family.



Amanda Abbington plays Brodie's ex-partner DC Louise Munroe, whose love-hate relationship with him is a major asset to the series.  Despite Brodie's tendency to annoy her to distraction, Munroe appreciates his abilities and often grudgingly relies on his help while their true feelings for each other remain forcibly submerged.  Zawe Ashton co-stars as Deborah, the traditional sassy secretary who runs the traditional hole-in-the-wall office and keeps him on his toes.   

One thing you won't see on CASE HISTORIES is a lot of shaky-cam, fancy editing tricks, and other stuff designed to give the impression that things are faster and more exciting than they really are.  Breakneck pace and pulse-pounding excitement aren't Brodie's style or the show's--"leisurely" and "contemplative" would be more apt descriptions for both.  The subtle, low-key storytelling is greatly enhanced by beautiful locations in and around Edinburgh, Scotland.

The two-disc DVD from Acorn Media is in 16:9 widescreen with Dolby Digital sound and English subtitles.  A 15-minute behind-the-scenes featurette (including interviews with Isaacs and author Kate Atkinson) is the sole extra. 

Offbeat and unpredictable, with moments of wry humor and riveting drama, CASE HISTORIES wears its heart on its sleeve even when the main character is forced to beat the hell out of a bad guy.  For a refreshing change of pace, Jason Isaacs' kinder, gentler private eye is just the man for the job.



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Sunday, November 20, 2011

THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN -- DVD review by porfle


Less a factual film biography than a rousingly ripping yarn, THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN (2010) starts out stately and sober and ends with enough insane fists 'n' feet action to satisfy the most rabid chopsocky addicts.

Steeped in lavish early-1900s atmosphere, the film opens with young Ip Man and his brother Tin Chi, a Japanese street urchin adopted by Ip Man's father, being enrolled in the Wing Chun martial arts school run by master Chan Wah-shun (Sammo Hung) and his assistant Ng Chung-sok (Yuen Biao), who carries on after Chan Wah-shun's death.  The boys form a bond with female student Mei Wai that will later become a tragic love triangle as Tin Chi falls for Mai Wei, who pines desperately for Ip Man.  His heart will be stolen by the deputy mayor's daughter Cheung Wing-shing when they meet during a lantern festival and become an item.

Their meet-cute is followed by the film's first really good fight scene when they both leap to the defense of a girl being attacked by bullies.  Here, Ip Man displays the calm, restrained fighting style that defines his character throughout most of the story.  The first half of the film also features several other interesting clashes, as when Ip Man easily defeats a Westerner making anti-Chinese remarks and then becomes his friend.  Typically, Ip Man (as wonderfully played by Dennis To) manages to be humble and unassuming and yet smugly self-confident at the same time while easily besting his opponent.



His fascination with other styles is stoked when he encounters an old man, Leung Bik (Ip Man's real-life son Ip Chun), who teaches him some unheard-of variations of Wing Chun that infuriate the more traditional Ng Chung-sok.  The film's gentle humor surfaces during Ip Man and Leung Bik's first set-to in a store as they go at it while trying not to break any of the merchandise.  Demonstrating his newfound skills to the violently skeptical Ng Chung-sok upon his return from college leads to another raucous fight which, again, serves the story while adding to its excitement. 

Much of the middle part of the film is devoted to the chaste courtship of Ip Man and Wing-shing as the love triangle heats up, with Mei Wai finally giving in and marrying Tin Chi (a soulful and intense Fan Siu-wong).  Villainy enters the picture in the form of some Japanese gangsters led by Kitano, a smuggler with a mysterious scheme that involves infiltrating a martial arts association whose new chairman is Tin Chi.  Exactly what Kitano's smuggling and how much Tin Chi knows about it leads to high drama and tragedy, including a false murder accusation against Ip Man which lands him in prison. 

The mostly realistic fight scenes in the early part of THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN give way in its final third to the iffy wirework, outlandish action, and superhuman feats common to more traditional martial arts flicks.  When the various plotlines converge at their peak and shocking secrets are finally revealed, the film erupts into searing drama and free-for-all battle action.  No longer simple challenges or exhibitions of skill, these are life-or-death clashes which resolve major plot points, thus conveying considerably more excitement and emotional resonance.



As Ng Chung-sok, Yuen Biao gets his chance to go nuts when he takes on an entire gang of Japanese opponents led by Kitano's daughter Yumi, who is played by the beautiful Bernice Liu in grand "Dragon Lady" style.  Their intensely dramatic encounter is then topped by the last-minute arrival of Ip Man, no longer the humble, unassuming person we've seen up till now but a fierce and breathtakingly skilled warrior bringing all of his abilities to bear.  His thrilling final showdown against a surprise opponent resolves the story in grand operatic fashion. 

Director Herman Yau seems to have seen a few Michael Bay movies in his time, although his more restrained style is neither as flamboyant nor as shameless in trying to yank our emotional strings.  I'd like to have seen more long takes and less rapid edits and flashy camerawork in the earlier scenes, which lessen the effectiveness of the fight choreography.  Later, though, as the fantasy level rises, his style becomes more suitable to the increasingly furious and over-the-top action. 

The DVD from Funimation (also available as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo) is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Cantonese and English 5.1 surround sound, and English subtitles.  Extras consist of a making-of featurette, the original trailer, and other Funimation trailers.

I doubt if very much of THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN happened to the real Ip Man (who went on to train Bruce Lee, but that's a story for the inevitable sequel), but this is rousing, true-blue folk hero stuff.  Flawed but ambitious, it's definitely one of the better martial arts flicks I've seen in a long time.


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Saturday, November 19, 2011

VENICE UNDERGROUND -- movie review by porfle


The first thing I thought after watching VENICE UNDERGROUND (2005) for a couple of minutes was, "This looks like an episode of a TV series."  But after awhile I began to realize that if this were indeed the pilot for a series, no network executive in his right mind would pick it up.  In fact, if your dad had followed you around with a movie camera when you were a kid and filmed you and your friends playing cops and robbers, he would probably accidentally make a better movie than this one.

A prologue takes us to the office of police captain John Sullivan (veteran character actor Ed Lauter) as the mayor chews him out over the phone because of the ongoing carnage caused by two Venice Beach gangs, the Northside Surf Crew and the Southside Crips, who are waging an ongoing battle to control the local drug trade.  It seems like a hopeless situation until one of his underlings, an ambitious young sergeant named Frank Mills (Randall Batinkoff), waltzes in with a peach of a idea -- they will pluck a group of raw but attractive cadets out of the police academy, set them up in a beach house, and have them go undercover! 

That, of course, will be a lot better than putting experienced cops on the case, because, as Mills explains:  "The kids are all instinct and street smarts.  They know no boundaries."  Visions of "The Mod Squad" and "21 Jump Street" begin to dance around in Capt. Sullivan's head, with a little "Charlie's Angels" and "Baywatch Nights" thrown in for good measure.  What a great idea!

With their origin story out of the way even before the day-glo main titles have hippity-hopped their way across the screen, we are thrust right into the non-action as we join the J.N.F. (Junior Narc Force) keeping tabs on various gang members and trying to fathom their nefarious activities.  But they must deal with their own raging hormones as well, as Agent Tyler (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe) jealously observes her heartthrob, Agent Gary (a not-looking-too-good-these-days Edward Furlong), cavorting with a bikini babe.  It's all part of his cover, of course, but darn it, he just seems to be enjoying it a little too much.



Meanwhile, Agent Samantha (Nichole Hiltz) just failed her home pregnancy test, and isn't quite sure whether the father is Agent Danny (Eric Mabius), who wants to marry her, or good ol' Sergeant Mills, who just can't seem to keep his own member away from certain other members of the task force. 

These romantic entanglements play like a bad script from "Beverly Hills, 90210" performed by a grade school theater group, and the scenes of actual detective work that we witness from time to time seem to have been inspired by random episodes of "Scooby-Doo."  They even have their own mystery-mobile, a candy-apple red, mid-60s Mustang convertible, in which they all sit in broad daylight brandishing their guns as if to announce to any passing bad guys, "Yes, we are undercover narcs." 

Amazingly, though, no one ever figures this out, except for a mysterious figure who seems to anticipate their every move as he secretly watches them through blurry POV-shots like a stalker in a slasher flick, and, early in the story, actually kills one of them with his gold-plated revolver.  Who is this unknown enemy?  You're not supposed to know until the end, so try to act surprised.  Here's a hint:  it isn't the old caretaker at the haunted amusement park.

Director Eric DelaBarre is your basic point-and-shoot man but tries to "hip" things up with shaky camerawork, scattershot editing, and various other effects cribbed from music videos.  The acting, except from old pro Ed Lauter and Robert Rodriguez stock player Danny Trejo, is hopelessly amateurish, and the dialogue they're forced to recite is frequently laughable. 

This film resembles the kind of cheap exploitation flick they used to show on USA's "Up All Night" -- you know, the ones with all the good R-rated nudity and violence cut out and just the boring junk left in, although a few bare boobies make a cameo appearance about halfway through.  Soon after that we see a brief fistfight, and then later there's a small shootout, and at the end the mystery bad guy gets shot and a car blows up.  Actionwise, that's about it. 

I kept thinking about what Andy Sidaris, the guy responsible for all those great low-budget sex-and-violence thrillers like PICASSO TRIGGER and SAVAGE BEACH, could've done with a premise like this.  He wasn't a great filmmaker, but at least he gave us something fun to look at. VENICE UNDERGROUND barely even makes an effort.


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BLACK WATER -- movie review by porfle


You don't watch BLACK WATER (2007), you subject yourself to it. This is one of those movies where I don't want anything to happen. The periods of inactivity between croc attacks are such a relief that I would've been happy just to see these people sit safely in that tree over the water until the end credits. But they're only a temporary respite between moments of either unbearable suspense or sudden, grueling horror.

During the lazy opening minutes, in which sisters Grace (Diana Glenn) and Lee (Maeve Dermody), and Grace's husband Adam (Andy Rodoreda), embark on a tranquil river tour in the Australian outback while on vacation, we're lulled into a sense of false security that is shattered when a huge crocodile overturns the boat and starts eating their guide. Grace and Adam manage to scramble up one of the trees that's growing out of the water, while a terrified Lee is stranded on top of the upended boat.

And that's just the beginning. With no prospect of rescue in sight, each of them must venture into the water at one time or another in an effort to retrieve the boat or scramble for shore, never knowing when the ravenous crocodile will strike as it lurks beneath the murky water.

Since there are only three people in the cast for most of the running time, I knew that one or more of them were going to get chomped somewhere along the line, so I hoped that I wouldn't care about them. Why couldn't this have been about Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and Charles Manson getting eaten by crocodiles? That would've been fun. But nooooo...these characters had to be nice people who are instantly likable, damn it. And worse, they're apparently pretty tasty, too.



After the main situation is established, this "based on a true story" story by writer-director team David Nerlich and Andrew Traucki (THE REEF) is mined for all the potential nerve-wracking events that can be dug out of it. The cast is convincing, and so is the crocodile. The box art made me suspect that this would be a monster movie like ANACONDA or LAKE PLACID, with a big fake-looking CGI beastie. But most of the time Mr. Croc's appearances are handled about the same as with Bruce in JAWS, with just enough shown to give the illusion that we're seeing the real thing. Even when it jumps straight out of the water and snaps at the people cowering precariously on a tree limb--giving new meaning to the phrase "leapin' lizards!"--the effect looks real.

BLACK WATER is done about as well as a movie of this sort can be done. It's definitely a riveting experience, although I can't say I enjoyed it much. In fact, while my relief was palpable, I felt a bit sick to my stomach from all the constant tension after it was over. But I expect that's exactly the effect the filmmakers were aiming for, so BLACK WATER must be considered a success. Be prepared to suffer through it, though--light entertainment it ain't.


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Thursday, November 17, 2011

"DIRTY GIRL" from Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company -- coming to DVD January 17

ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT AND THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY PRESENT THE AUDIENCE FAVORITE "DIRTY GIRL" ON DVD

Full Of Humor And Wit, Dirty Girl Heads To Retail On January 17, 2012 


BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company announced today the DVD release of the “hilarious” (Ariana Anderson, BUST) comedy, DIRTY GIRL, from first time writer-director Abe Sylvia.  DIRTY GIRL, which won the HBO Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2011 Provincetown International Film Festival, features a top-notch cast that includes Juno Temple (ATONEMENT) in the title role, Milla Jovovich (STONE), William H. Macy (BART GOT A ROOM), Mary Steenburgen (THE PROPOSAL), Dwight Yoakam (PANIC ROOM), and newcomer Jeremy Dozier.  In the same vein as such audience favorites as JUNO and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, DIRTY GIRL heads to retail on January 17, 2012 for an SRP of $29.98 for the DVD. 

In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, film critic Michael Rechtshaffen called DIRTY GIRL “a genuine crowd-pleaser.”  Hellin Kay of The Huffington Post described the film as “A pitch-perfect comedy!  Part John Hughes, part John Waters, and completely unique.”  Wrote BUST magazine’s Ariana Anderson, “DIRTY GIRL will melt even the coldest of hearts.” 

DIRTY GIRL is the story of Danielle (Juno Temple), the dirty girl of Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma, circa 1987.  Her reputation takes an unexpected hit when her misbehavior gets her banished to a remedial class, where she is paired on a parenting project with Clarke (Jeremy Dozier), an innocent closet-case with no friends.  When her mother (Milla Jovovich) announces her engagement to her family-minded boyfriend (William H. Macy), mortified Danielle vows to get to California to find the father she’s never met!  Clarke is desperate to escape being sent to military school by his homophobic dad (Dwight Yoakam) and repressed mom (Mary Steenburgen), prompting the two mismatched misfits to make their getaway: on a cross-country road trip that leads to an unexpected and serendipitous friendship. 

The DIRTY GIRL DVD bonus features include an audio commentary with writer-director Abe Sylvia, as well as deleted and extended scenes.  Note: Special features are subject to change. 

Learn more about DIRTY GIRL at: www.dirtygirlmovie.com

DIRTY GIRL DVD
Street date:                January 17, 2012
Pre-book:                  December 21, 2011
Catalog #:                  WC23283
UPC:                         0 1313 23283-9 3
Run time:                    90 Minutes
Rating:                        Rated R for sexual content, including graphic nudity, and language.
SRP:                           $29.98
Format:                       2.40 Widescreen
Audio:                         English Dolby Digital 5.1

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Experience "LITTLE DEATHS" on DVD from Image Entertainment -- coming December 13th

Given the rich history the UK currently enjoys and the long line of horror anthology predecessors, the latest addition to the movement, Little Deaths, is certainly the sickest of the bunch.” -- Fearnet.com

IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT INVITES YOU TO SAMPLE "LITTLE DEATHS"

Enter the Forbidden December 13th


CHATSWORTH, CA – What would you do for the ultimate sexual rush? Welcome to a world where illicit sexual desire propels seemingly ordinary people to act out fantasies that can separate monotony from ecstasy…but also transform life into agonizing death! On December 13th, Image Entertainment releases the critically acclaimed psychological thriller Little Deaths on unrated DVD. The opening night film at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, Little Deaths presents three titillating and terrifying tales of sex, power – and retribution – and what happens when these primal forces are violated. SRP is $27.97, and pre-book is November 15th.

In the vein of such classic horror anthologies as “Dead of Night,” “Tales from the Crypt” and “Tales from the Darkside,” Little Deaths takes the hunger for sex beyond pain and pleasure into the realm of a living nightmare. Have at it...if you dare!

In “House & Home,” written and directed by Sean Hogan, the ultimate revenge fantasy gets a kinky upgrade. Affluent couple Richard and Victoria (Luke DeLacey and Suibhan Harrison) have a particularly debasing sexual foible. They pose as religious good Samaritans and lure less fortunate women to their luxurious home, only to abduct and assault them as part of their “entitlement” to the good life. But their latest capture, a homeless woman named “Sorrow” (Holly Lucas), just might show that they’ve bit off more than they can chew...

In Andrew Parkinson’s “Mutant Tool,” Jennifer (Jodie Jamieson) is a former prostitute and drug addict trying to get her life back on track, but living with her former pimp/drug dealing boyfriend Frank (Daniel Brocklebank) isn’t helping matters. Jen’s seeing a psychiatrist, who suddenly has Jen taking a new medication. While warned of potential side effects, Jen starts experiencing psychic connections and shocking visions of someone behind plastic curtains – bound, helmeted, dangling in the air and in a painful state of perpetual sexual arousal. As these hallucinations intensify, Jen comes to realize that she’s part (with Frank’s collaboration) of a terrifying experiment in manufacturing – and bottling – the ultimate sexual high.

Written and directed by Simon Rumley – the indie sensation behind Red, White and Blue -- “Bitch” details the sado-masochistic relationship between receptionist Claire (Kate Braithwaite) and her docile and obedient boyfriend Pete (Tom Sawyer). Ironically, while Claire literally treats Pete like a dog – going so far as occasionally leashing him and having him sleep in a doghouse – Claire also suffers from a pathological fear of canines. But when Claire’s sexual games become more than he can bear, Pete puts in motion a series of events that will not only give Claire a taste of her own medicine, but add new meaning to “going to the dogs...” 

About Image Entertainment
Image Entertainment, Inc. is a leading independent licensee and distributor of entertainment programming in North America, with approximately 3,200 exclusive DVD titles and approximately 340 exclusive CD titles in domestic release and more than 450 programs internationally via sublicense agreements. For many of its titles, the Company has exclusive audio and broadcast rights, as well as digital download rights to over 2,100 video programs and approximately 400 audio titles containing more than 6,000 individual tracks. The Company is headquartered in Chatsworth, California. For more information about Image Entertainment, Inc., please go to www.image-entertainment.com

Little Deaths DVD
Genre:              Horror, Thriller
Rating:              Unrated
Languages:       English
Format:            Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio:              Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:           English, Spanish
SRP:                $27.97
Street Date:      December 13, 2011
Pre-Book:        November 15, 2011
Length:             94 minutes
UPC:                014381767629
Cat#:                IMW7676DVD
Bonus:              Behind-The-Scenes

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The title says it all: "NUDE NUNS WITH BIG GUNS" coming to Blu-ray and DVD this Valentine's Day from Image Entertainment

THEY’RE WEARING HABITS AND PACKING HEAT! IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS "NUDE NUNS WITH BIG GUNS"

Locked And Loaded on Blu-ray™ and DVD on February 14, 2012


Chatsworth, CA – The convent:  a place of peace and quiet, a retreat for the cultivation of spirituality.  Hardly the backdrop for criminality, abuse – and revenge! On February 14, 2012, Image Entertainment presents Nude Nuns with Big Guns – a story of good vs. evil; of a war fought in the most unlikely of places.  An epic adventure in the grindhouse tradition, Nude Nuns with Big Guns will be available on DVD for an MSRP of $27.97 and on Blu-ray™ for an MSRP of $29.97.  Pre-book is January 17, 2012. 

Shortly after entering a convent, Sister Sarah becomes enslaved and victimized by drug-pushing predators that lurk within that haven.  Suddenly there is only one message that matters to Sarah – and it isn’t a divine one!  Seeking revenge against those who would desecrate her heavenly refuge, she becomes a sister of no mercy. Changing her spiritual vows to earthly vengeance, Sarah goes on a rampage against these unholy men and their profane partners in crime, a gang known as Los Muertos.  Packed with sex, violence, and unhallowed havoc, Nude Nuns with Big Guns is cut from the same cloth as the great drive-in action classics – a celestial grindhouse experience! 

Starring Asun Ortega (“Friends with Benefits”), David Castro (The Lincoln Lawyer), and Perry D’Marco (“Malcolm In The Middle) Nude Nuns with Big Guns is an tale of retribution and justice…where charity ends and cruelty begins!  Against Sarah’s righteous anger, her enemies haven’t a prayer of a chance! 

For your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, nothing says “I love you” like Nude Nuns with Big Guns!

About Image Entertainment:
Image Entertainment, Inc. (OTCQB: DISK ) is a leading independent licensee and distributor of entertainment programming in North America, with approximately 3,200 exclusive DVD titles and approximately 340 exclusive CD titles in domestic release and more than 450 programs internationally via sublicense agreements. For many of its titles, the Company has exclusive audio and broadcast rights, as well as digital download rights to over 2,100 video programs and approximately 400 audio titles containing more than 6,000 individual tracks. The Company is headquartered in Chatsworth , California . For more information about Image Entertainment, Inc., please go to www.image-entertainment.com.

Nude Nuns with Big Guns Blu-ray™
Genre:                        Action/Adventure, Thriller, Feature Film
Rating:                        Unrated
Language:                   English 
Format:                       Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)  
Audio:                         DTS HD Master Audio 5.1               
Subtitles:                     N/A 
Year:                           2010
M SRP :                        $29.97
Street Date:                 February 14, 2012
Pre-Book:                    January 17, 2012
Length:                        92 minutes
UPC :                           014381751253
Cat#:                           CAM7512BD

Nude Nuns with Big Guns DVD
Genre:                        Action/Adventure, Thriller, Feature Film
Rating:                        Unrated
Language:                   English 
Format:                       Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)  
Audio:                         Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:                     N/A 
Year:                           2010
M SRP :                        $27.97
Street Date:                 February 14, 2012
Pre-Book:                    January 17, 2012
Length:                        92 minutes
UPC :                           014381738421
Cat#:                           CAM7384DVD

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Monday, November 14, 2011

SPY KIDS 4: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD -- DVD review by porfle


Am I not supposed to love this movie?  Not according to IMDb's user vote, which currently gives it about a 3 out of 10.  Fortunately, my inner ADD child doesn't read IMDb, and he thinks SPY KIDS 4: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (2011) is like a giant gumball machine of fun which rates way more than that.

Writer-director Robert Rodriguez gives his own inner child free rein here and the result is a consistently inventive and lightning-paced romp packed with just about everything a kid might want to see in a movie.  Not the least of which being the chance to vicariously get swept up in a series of wild spy adventures with a couple of kids--make that Spy Kids--who suddenly find themselves having to save the world.

Rebecca Wilson (Rowan Blanchard), who loves to pull practical jokes, and her twin brother Cecil (Mason Cook), a brainy bookworm, are the typical bickering, competitive siblings.  Their dad Wilbur (Joel McHale) stars in a TV series called "Wilbur Wilson: Spy Hunter" but is unaware that his own wife Marissa (Jessica Alba) is herself a former OSS superspy now retired to take care of their new baby. 



In addition to struggling to connect with her dubious stepkids, Marissa is suddenly called back into action when a supervillain known as the Time Keeper threatens to end the world as we know it by accelerating time.  Needless to say, Rebecca and Cecil eventually end up as OSS agents themselves when the discontinued "Spy Kids" program is reactivated, with Rebecca's prankish ingenuity and Cecil's superior intellect saving the day.

The film opens with a very pregnant Marissa in hot pursuit of the Time Keeper's impish second banana Tick Tock even as her contractions begin, which gives us a good idea of the story's lighthearted and fantastical nature right off the bat.  It also gives us a taste of the endless barrage of cartoony CGI sight gags that will increase exponentially for the rest of the film, climaxing in the Time Keeper's vast clockwork lair with its huge rotating gears and deadly spinning second hand.

Once it gets going, the action never stops.  A surprise attack on the Wilson home by the Timekeeper's henchmen sends Rebecca and Cecil--via prerecorded holographic messages from Marissa--into an elaborate panic room where they hop into rocket-propelled jet luges that whisk them on a screaming aerial joyride to OSS headquarters with the bad guys hot on their tails. This is fun stuff, kids, replete with barf bag bombs (Cecil gets airsick), multiple sight gags, and thrilling special effects, during which their tiny robot dog Argonaut keeps up a steady stream of lowbrow one-liners (Ricky Gervais does a great job voicing the mutt who thinks he's a canine James Bond).

The OSS headquarters turns out to be like a theme park filled with awesome gadgets which the kids avail themselves of before striking out on their own after the Time Keeper.  Eventually the entire Wilson family, including Spy Baby of course, is united in the fight, only to be thwarted by "time bombs", freeze rays, and other unforeseen dangers.  Fans of the first three films will no doubt be pleased to find the original Spy Kids, Carmen (Alexa Vega, looking sharp these days) and Juni (Daryl Sabara), now grown up, joining in the action themselves. 



Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook are perfect as Rebecca and Cecil and perform like pros while still coming across as real kids.  Not only are they good, natural comic actors but clearly are very directable as well.  McHale and Alba make an appealing couple, with Jessica looking especially fit in a series of skintight spy outfits.  Jeremy Piven, appearing in multiple roles including OSS leader Danger D'Amo, does an outstanding job and is key to making some of the film's more heartfelt moments work.  Speaking of which, the subplot with Marissa trying to fit in as the kids' stepmom is nicely handled, as is the message (non-too-subtle, but this is a kids' movie) about not taking time or family for granted.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  Extras include a Robert Rodriguez kid interview, "Spy Kids Passing the Torch" with Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, deleted scenes (with Danny Trejo as "Uncle Machete"), "Rowan and Mason's Video Diary", "How to Make a Robotic Dog", "Ricky Gervais as Argonaut", and "Spy Gadgets."  The film is available both as a single DVD and a 4-disc combo pack with Blu-Ray+bonus, DVD+bonus, Blu-Ray 3D, and Digital Copy.

As colorful, fast-moving, and frenetic as any anime or CGI cartoon, SPY KIDS 4: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD is the kind of giddy-fun thrill ride of a movie that I wish I'd been able to see as a kid.  Apparently there are some pretty convincing reasons not to like it, judging from its low IMDb rating, but darn if I could find any of them.  I even enjoyed the fart jokes.


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Sunday, November 13, 2011

ZEBRAMAN 2: ATTACK ON ZEBRA CITY -- DVD review by porfle


If you ever wondered what a cross between Christopher Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT and Joel Schumacher's BATMAN AND ROBIN might look like, Takashi Miike's ZEBRAMAN 2: ATTACK ON ZEBRA CITY (2010) might come pretty close.  Combining serious dramatic elements with the usual cheeseball stuff found in the more juvenile Japanese superhero adventures (but done on a lavish budget), it's an insanely deadpan seriocomic fantasy romp that works like a charm on both levels.

In the original 2004 film, a mild-mannered school teacher named Andrew Kim (Show Aikawa) assumed the identity of failed TV superhero Zebraman to stop an alien invasion and ended up temporarily gaining his superpowers for real.  Here, he's captured by the evil Kozo Aihara (Guadalcanal Taka) and placed in a centrifuge chamber which splits his good and bad sides into separate entities.  Good Kim now has white hair and amnesia, while his evil half is a black-haired female whom Kozo names Yui and adopts as his daughter.

Fifteen years later, Kim awakens to find himself in a Tokyo that's been renamed Zebra City and is now run by Kozo, with Yui keeping the masses in line as super-sexy pop star Zebra Queen.  Twice a day for five minutes," Zebra Time" allows the skull-faced police force to legally kill anyone, so a wounded Kim ends up in the care of his former pupil Asano, a male nurse devoted to helping Zebra Time survivors.  One of Asano's patients is a little girl, Sumire, still possessed by one of the previous film's aliens, and when Kim comes into contact with her his memory is restored along with his Zebraman powers.  With Kozo and Yui planning to spread Zebra Time throughout the rest of the world, Zebraman must leap into action once again to stop them, confronting his own dark side in the bargain.



First of all, the seriously cute Riisa Naka as Yui is awesome.  She inhabits her character with a vigorous enthusiasm and is wildly flamboyant in her actions and evil facial expressions, not to mention the way she throws herself into the song-and-dance stuff in Zebra Queen's music videos.  Literally the embodiment of evil, her Zebra Queen is stunning to look at and exciting in her evolution from simple bad girl into superpowered villainess reveling in chaos and destruction. 

For me, the film's most effective straight dramatic scene comes when she turns against Kozo in the back of their limosine as smitten lackey Niimi (Tsuyoshi Abe) looks on in wry admiration.  The way Miike builds to this key point in the story, along with the cunningly subtle but menacing musical score and the malevolent glee Naka conveys during Yui's violent outburst, add up to a powerful and rewindable moment.

With all the DARK KNIGHT seriousness with which Kim, Asano, and the rest of the good guys treat the character of Zebraman and his quest to wrest Tokyo from the depths of corruption, the outrageous comedy and over-the-top fantasy elements take on an added richness.  Zebraman's heroic comic-book exploits during the numerous fight scenes are a heady blend of undiluted cheese (including the usual hokey wirework, corny dialogue, etc.) with dazzling design and production values. 

When Zebra Queen unleashes one of the gelatinous green aliens from the first film on Zebra City and it grows to Godzilla-like proportions, leveling skyscrapers and incinerating city blocks with its heat breath, the stage is set for an epic battle brimming with mind-boggling visuals that are rendered with some top-notch CGI work.  Even the most lowbrow sight gags--as when the mammoth alien repels Zebra Queen with a noxious hurricane fart--are treated as high drama, as is the incredibly ridiculous final solution employed by Zebraman against the creature.



Show Aikawa's performance as the befuddled everyman who becomes the grimly-determined and supremely confident Zebraman is right on the money throughout, with the rest of the cast in top form as well.  Much fun is had with Naoki Tanaka's character of Ichiba, who played the title role in a "Zebraman" TV series and fancies himself a match for the real-life bad guys when the trouble begins.  Talented child actress Mei Nagano adds to the film's genuine emotional depth as the alien-possessed Sumire.  Guadalcanal Taka as the comically vile Kozo is especially good in the "creation" sequence, cavorting about his cavernous, Giger-inspired mad laboratory like a crazed Dr. Frankenstein.

The DVD from Funimation is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 Japanese soundtrack and English subtitles.  Extras on Disc 2 include the in-depth (almost 90 minutes long) documentary "The Making of 'Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City'", "The Making of 'Zebra Queen's Theme' Music Video", five cast and crew interviews, and original trailers and commercials for the film.  (The film comes as a 3-disc Blu-Ray/DVD combo--this review is for the DVD and its extras only.)

Takashi Miike and scriptwriter Kankurô Kudô have created a fascinating dystopian future whose comedic touches make it no less effective as scintillating sci-fi.  While the unabashedly bizarre nature of ZEBRAMAN 2: ATTACK ON ZEBRA CITY will no doubt put off many viewers, those open to such freewheeling weirdness may find it akin to plunging their hands into a cinematic treasure chest and coming up with fistfuls of pure, glittering fun.



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