HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"JOHN WICK2" Coming Feb. 10 -- Posters, Pics, Trailer, Red Carpet Footage



 
 

                   WATCH THE TRAILER:


                  CAST HITS RED CARPET:












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Monday, January 30, 2017

"MASTERMINDS" - On Blu-ray & DVD Januay 31



They're So Dumb, It's Criminal...

Get Stupid Rich When MASTERMINDS Arrives on

Digital HD January 17 and on Blu-ray™ & DVD January 31


Zach Galifianakis is armed and dangerously funny in this hilarious action-comedy inspired by an incredible but true story! David (Galifianakis) is an unassuming armored-truck driver who longs for adventure. Lured into the scheme of a lifetime by his beautiful work crush Kelly (Kristen Wiig) and her cohort Steve (Owen Wilson), David manages the impossible and makes off with $17 million in cash.

But when his partners-in-crime keep the loot and set him up for a fall, David must dodge the authorities, evade a hitman (Jason Sudeikis) and find a way to take back what he rightfully stole!

Blu-ray & DVD Special Features Include:
The Imperfect Crime



MASTERMINDS Blu-ray™:
Street Date:         January 31, 2017
Prebook Date:     December 28, 2016    
Screen Format:     Widescreen 16:9 (1.78:1)
Audio:         5.1 DTS-HD-MA
Subtitles:         English / Spanish
Total Run Time:     Approximately 94 minutes
U.S. Rating:         PG-13   
Closed Captioned:     Yes

MASTERMINDS DVD:

Street Date:         January 31, 2017
Prebook Date:     December 28, 2016      
Screen Format:     Widescreen 16:9 (1.78:1)
Audio:         English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:         English / Spanish
Total Run Time:     Approximately 94 minutes
U.S. Rating:         PG-13   
Closed Captioned:    Yes



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Friday, January 27, 2017

Sandra Oh and Anne Heche in "CATFIGHT" (Opens March 3rd) Watch the Trailer!



C A T F I G H T

Starring Sandra Oh, Anne Heche and Alicia Silverstone
Written and Directed by Onur Tukel

"An A-plus B movie with a cruel edge. To any movie producers who think women over 40 can only play moms, look out: Heche and Oh are coming for you."
- Amy Nicholson, MTV NEWS

"A weird, wild, invigorating satire."
- Stephanie Zacharek, TIME

"A ferociously cathartic smackdown... [with] the can't-look-away thrill of two performances touched by madness.”
- David Rooney, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

"Deliciously funny."
- Brandon Harris, VICE



                   WATCH THE TRAILER

Synopsis: One-time college pals Veronica (Sandra Oh) and Ashley (Anne Heche) run into each other at a party. The women, now in their forties and having not seen each other since school, find that their lives have taken radically different paths. Ashley is barely scraping by as a painter of politically charged canvases, while Veronica is married to a wealthy businessman who's about to profit hugely off yet another US-led war in the Middle East.

Within minutes of their reunion, a rivalry is revived, old wounds are torn open, and a Manhattan stairwell becomes home to a woman-on-woman brawl the likes of which are seldom seen outside of martial-arts epics. And now the gloves are off. The new feature from writer-director Onur Tukel takes a set-up that in most films would lead to a heartwarming story of female friendship — and uses it instead as the springboard for an outrageously madcap black comedy.

TRT: 96 min
Director: Onur Tukel
Producers: Gigi Graff, Greg Newman
Writer: Onur Tukel
Cast: Sandra Oh, Anne Heche, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Hill, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Ariel Kavoussi, Craig Bierko, Dylan Baker
Distributor: MPI Media Group / Dark Sky Films

CATFIGHT opens in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Cleveland, Seattle, Orlando, Phoenix, Denver, Kansas City  (and all digital platforms) on March 3rd


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Thursday, January 26, 2017

FLYWHEEL -- Movie Review by Porfle



There are a lot of movies that try to be inspirational and extoll Christian values, but many of them are either too preachy, too superficial, too inept, or too obviously made by people who don't understand true day-to-day Christianity well enough to convincingly portray it onscreen. And then there's Alex Kendrick's FLYWHEEL (2003), an independent feature shot on video in Georgia for about $20,000, that manages to get it right.

Used car dealer Jay Austin (Kendrick, a Southern Baptist pastor in real life) is a first-class heel who cheats his customers, verbally abuses his wife, and ignores his son. While begrudgingly accompanying his family to church on Sunday, he flicks an empty envelope into the collection plate. Even when his own minister comes to the lot to buy a car for his daughter, Jay takes advantage of his trust to overcharge him thousands of dollars. In other words, he's a heartless jackass and we hate him.

As it turns out, he's beginning to hate himself, too. A particularly nasty blow-up at his pregnant wife Judy (Janet Lee Dapper) during dinner one night finally causes him to see the gulf he's created between himself and his family.

 

This, coupled with a growing regret for all the dishonesty and deception he inflicts on his unsuspecting customers every day, has become a burden that his conscience can no longer bear. And so, one fateful day, he decides to turn his life over to God and try to regain his soul, even if it means losing his car dealership to the bank and having to start from scratch.

This is where these stories often end--the lost soul sees the light, a new life has begun, praise the Lord, amen. But in this story, as is usually the case in real life, Jay finds that changing direction is just the start of a long and difficult journey that will test his faith every step of the way. This includes making amends not only to his wife and son, but to every single person he's ever cheated in his business as well.

The characters and events in FLYWHEEL have an understated realism that is natural and unforced, with no "big" moments or "Look, ma, I'm actin'!" scenes to dazzle us. The humor (I laughed out loud a couple of times) comes naturally from situations we can readily identify with, and so does the pathos.


When a story is presented in this way, it better be good or it's going to be a dismal bore. But Alex Kendrick's simple yet finely-crafted screenplay leads us through a consistently compelling series of emotional twists and turns that never seem to derive from anything less than a true understanding of spirituality.

And it helps that the unpaid, all-volunteer cast play their parts with utter conviction even though, in some cases, their acting skills may be a bit unrefined. Richie Hunnewell, the little boy who plays Jay's neglected son, is particularly effective.

Kendrick himself plays Jay with such deliberate restraint that you hardly see any technique at all, which lends a great deal of believability to his character. When Jay's father (Roger Breland) shows up at the car lot one day to pray with his son for help and guidance, Jay is so moved that his eyes glisten with tears. And it seems as though Kendrick the actor isn't just acting here--he's feeling what his character is feeling.


Another thing that rings true about this story is that Jay doesn't just suddenly transform into a faith-fueled Super Christian who need only gaze piously at the heavens for God to start firing miracles at him on demand. He has to struggle through a lot of hardship and self-doubt to regain his wife's love, his son's respect, and his own integrity.

The final outcome of the story comes close to matching the sheer outpouring of joy felt at the end of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, and for the main character, it's similarly well-earned.

Even if you don't believe in God, you may find this to be a wonderfully moving story of redemption. And if you do, it's a powerful affirmation. Alex Kendrick is one of the few filmmakers I've seen who can show us people on their knees praying fervently to God as though they really mean it. In a sublimely unaffected, matter-of-fact way, FLYWHEEL beautifully captures what it means to practice true Christianity as a lifestyle, and not just a religion.

Buy it at Amazon.com



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"Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" - Now Available on Digital HD and Blu-ray Combo Pack



Reacher delivers.” –Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

A smart, gripping action thriller with an attitude.” –Scott Mantz, “Access Hollywood”

A kick-ass blast from start to finish.” –Simon Thompson, Forbes

TOM CRUISE RETURNS AS LEE CHILD’S ICONIC HERO IN THE ACTIONPACKED THRILLER BASED ON THE BEST-SELLING BOOK SERIES

Debuts January 31, 2017 on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack with an Exclusive Illustrated  Jack Reacher Short Story 

Get it on Digital HD Two Weeks Early on January 17  
 

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.  – “Tom Cruise is better than ever” (Pete Hammond, Deadline) in the "breathlessly exhilarating”(Simon Thompson, Forbes) action-thriller JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK, which hits the road on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and  On Demand January 31, 2017 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  Hailed as “a fun action-packed ride” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone), fans can be the first to get it two weeks early on Digital HD January 17. 

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) returns to enforce his bold brand of justice in the actionpacked sequel based on author Lee Child’s best-selling series. When Army Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) is framed for treason, Reacher discovers she’s the target of a massive government conspiracy. With help from Turner and a mysterious new ally, Reacher risks everything to take down a powerful organization that will stop at nothing to protect its secrets.  

The JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs are loaded with over 80 minutes of exciting bonus content, including in-depth interviews with the cast and crew, plus detailed explorations of Lee Child’s iconic character, filming on location in Louisiana, the intense action sequences and much more. 

Buy JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK on Blu-ray Combo Pack and get an exclusive illustrated version of Lee Child’s short story “Everyone Talks” for a limited time only.  The film also boasts a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack* remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.   

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Blu-ray Combo Pack
The JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK 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 in the combo pack 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.  The combo pack includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film as well as the following: 

Blu-ray • Feature film in high definition • Bonus Content: o Reacher Returns o An Unexpected Family o Relentless: On Location in Louisiana o Take Your Revenge First: Lethal Combat o No Quarter Given: Rooftop Battle o Reacher in Focus: With Tom Cruise and Photographer David James
DVD • Feature film in standard definition

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack 
Fans can enjoy the ultimate viewing experience with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which includes the Blu-ray detailed above, as well as an Ultra HD Disc presented in 4K Ultra HD 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 with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The Combo Pack also includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack and 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack available for purchase include a Digital Version of the film that can be accessed through UltraViolet™, a way to collect, access and enjoy movies.  With UltraViolet, consumers can add movies to their digital collection in the cloud, and then stream or download them—reliably and securely—to a variety of devices.    

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Single-Disc DVD 
The single-disc 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.  The disc includes the feature film in standard definition. 

http://www.JackReacherMovie.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackReacher
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JackReacherMovie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/JackReacher
iTunes: http://j.mp/JackReacherNGBWebsite
Amazon: http://j.mp/BuyJackReacher2

Paramount Pictures and Skydance present a Tom Cruise production. An Edward Zwick film: Tom Cruise  “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.”  Cobie Smulders.  Music by Henry Jackman.  Costume Designer Lisa Nora Lovaas.  Edited by Billy Weber.  Production designer Clay A. Griffith.  Director of photography Oliver Wood.  Executive producers Paula Wagner, Herbert W. Gains, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg.  Produced by Tom Cruise, p.g.a., Don Granger, p.g.a. and Christopher McQuarrie.  Based on the book “Never Go Back” by Lee Child.  Screenplay by Richard Wenk and Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz.  Directed by Edward Zwick.

About Paramount Home Media Distribution 
Paramount Home Media Distribution (PHMD) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.  PPC is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), home to premier media brands that create television programs, motion pictures, consumer products, and digital content for audiences in 180 countries and territories.  The PHMD division oversees PPC’s home entertainment and transactional digital distribution activities worldwide. The division is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment content on behalf of Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and CBS and applicable licensing and servicing of certain DreamWorks Animation titles.  PHMD additionally manages global licensing of studio content and transactional distribution across worldwide digital distribution platforms including online, mobile and portable devices and emerging technologies.  

About Dolby Atmos
Dolby Atmos delivers moving audio—sound that can be precisely placed and moved anywhere in threedimensional space, including overhead. It brings entertainment alive all around the audience in a powerfully immersive and emotive experience. To learn more about Dolby Atmos, visit dolby.com/Atmos.

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK
Street Date: January 17, 2017 (Digital HD) January 31, 2017 (Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD and VOD)  
U.S. Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements
Canadian Rating: PG for violence, coarse language

* To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar; however, Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.



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Texas Does “The Time Warp” Again at FAN EXPO DALLAS




Texas Does “The Time Warp” Again at FAN EXPO DALLAS

The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf Reunite When Texas’ Largest Gathering of Pop Culture Lovers Takes Over Dallas Convention Center for Three Days


DALLAS (Jan. 26, 2017) – The Lone Star State’s biggest congregation of comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming fans – the 16th annual FAN EXPO DALLAS™ – is set to return to the Big D Friday, March 31, through Sunday, April 2, 2017, at Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. Among the pop culture luminaries on hand will be the stars of the internationally famous cult movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, including actors Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick. Meat Loaf, Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell.

Tim Curry will be at FAN EXPO DALLAS Saturday and Sunday, April 1st and 2nd. Barry Bostwick. Meat Loaf, Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell will be in attendance Friday, March 31st as well as Saturday and Sunday April 1st and 2nd.

Image result for tim curry patricia quinn nell campbell meatloaf barry bostwickPreviously announced celebrity guests this year include Stan Lee (co-creator of Spider-Man, the Avengers, X-Men and innumerable other Marvel Comics characters), Jim Lee, Gotham’s Robin Lord Taylor, Arrow’s John Barrowman, The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as well as The Vampire Diaries’ Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley.


 
“We have planned an incredible lineup of family-friendly pop culture attractions to Dallas,” said Andrew Moyes, show director for FAN EXPO DALLAS. “As in years past, we will continue our tradition of praising and celebrating the enthusiasm of superhero, sci-fi and fantasy content seen on TV, in film, comic books and graphic novels with the fans.”

FAN EXPO DALLAS runs Friday, March 31, through Sunday, April 2, 2017, at the Dallas Convention Center (Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center) located at 650 S. Griffin St. Tickets are priced from $25-$129. Hours and information are available at fanexpodallas.com.

For the full list of appearances and family-friendly activities, tickets and other information, please visit www.fanexpodallas.com. Stay connected with the show for announcements and updates by registering for the newsletter, and following FAN EXPO DALLAS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For vendor information, please click here. Those interested in volunteering can find more information here. Accredited media can request press passes by applying for accreditation at www.fanexpodallas.com/press.

About FAN EXPO DALLAS

FAN EXPO DALLAS is the largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming event in Texas and is quickly growing into one of the largest events in North America. It is packed with exciting, family-friendly activities and celebrity guests. The pop culture extravaganza is host to 50,000 fans at the Dallas Convention Center for the three-day event.

FAN EXPO HQ is one of the largest entertainment convention groups in North America. Collectively it hosts over 300,000 fans annually at FAN EXPO CANADA™, FAN EXPO VANCOUVER™, FAN EXPO REGINA™, Toronto ComiCon, MegaCon Orlando, MegaCon Tampa Bay, Boston Comic Con, FAN EXPO DALLAS and Dallas Fan Days.

For more information, please visit the FAN EXPO DALLAS website and follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. General inquiries can be sent to info@fanexpohq.com, exhibitors can contact exhibitor@fanexpohq.com, and questions about tickets can be sent to tickets@fanexpohq.com.
 



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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"DEATH PASSAGE" -- Terrifying Australian Urban Legend Comes to Life on DVD/VOD March 21 from Breaking Glass Pictures



Breaking Glass Pictures

DEATH PASSAGE
    
The special effects are well-handled, making the events seem not only believable, but downright scary. Along with a solid plot based on legend, the film is also well-acted by a young cast who portray a real emotional intensity in the film…To the delight of viewers, there are plenty of twists and turns as well as plenty of blood and gore for Horror fans." – Cryptic Rock

“…a strong performance by Jessica Tovey…” – SBS Movies


Breaking Glass Pictures will release the upcoming horror feature DEATH PASSAGE on DVD/VOD March 21, 2017.

                   WATCH THE TRAILER


CAST: Jessica Tovey (‘Home and Away’, Adore, Wolf Creek), Nicholas Gunn (‘Neighbours’, The Dream Children), Pippa Black (‘Neighbours’, My Funny Valentine), and Tim Phillipps (‘Neighbours’, Animal Kingdom).

SYNOPSIS: A couple of Australians introduce three American backpackers to the local legend of Lemon Tree Passage, where a ghost of a motorcyclist warns young drivers to slow down. After seeing the ghost firsthand, they uncover a malevolent force that possesses the area, and threatens to wreak havoc on the final days of their vacation. Isolated and ten thousand miles from home, the tourists find themselves caught in the clutches of an evil force much more heinous than the local myth believed.

Starting March 21, DEATH PASSAGE will be available on the following platforms: iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play, PlayStation, Xbox, Vudu, and On Demand through your local cable provider.



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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

WILD GUITAR -- Movie Review by Porfle



Sometimes you just plain fall in love with a movie for no apparent reason, until you really start to think about it and the reasons begin to surface like gas bubbles in a swamp.  Watching WILD GUITAR (1962) again for the umpteenth time, courtesy of my beautiful one-dollar Digiview DVD, all those gassy little bubbles are popping in my head and making me pleasantly delirious.

More than anything, it's Arch Hall, Jr.'s film.  In fact, it's probably his best non-psycho role (his best and only psycho role being in 1963's THE SADIST).  In EEGAH! Arch played a typical teenager caught up in a prehistoric love triangle with his girlfriend and a giant caveman (Richard Kiel) in between buzzing around in his dune buggy and seranading us with his wonderfully awful original songs. 

Here, Arch is all of those things again (minus the caveman) only now the story's as meaty as a side of beef slathered in barbecue sauce.  As aspiring-but-naive rocker from Hicksville, Bud Eagle, Arch rides into Hollywood on his motorcycle and immediately meets wannabe-actress Vicki, who takes him along when she appears as a dancer on a local rock-and-roll TV show.


Vicki does her version of The Twist, which involves her jerkily gyrating to generic rock-and-roll racket while making spasmodic smiley faces to denote how intensely she's gettin' down.  But when the next act fails to show up, the frantic director shoves Bud onstage with his guitar, and, one twangy little tune later, he's an instant star getting mobbed by the frenzied and clearly entertainment-starved audience.

What follows is a surprisingly cynical, almost downbeat expose' of the music business.  The starstruck Bud is offered the world by a bloated, cigar-chomping bastard named Mike (Arch Hall, Sr. under the pseudonym "William Watters") only to be quickly disillusioned by how manipulative and phony the whole thing turns out to be.

Bud cuts best-selling records and does public appearances but the money all seems to go into money-hungry manager Mike's pockets.  Not only that, but his personal life is severely curtailed--he's even forbidden from pursuing budding love interest Vickie while being watched over by Mike's slimy toady, Steak (director Ray Dennis Steckler acting as "Cash Flagg").


The rest of the story plays out in seriocomic fashion with Bud being kidnapped for ransom by three overtly farcical characters and then conspiring with them to turn it all against his tyrannical keepers.  The comedy consists of a lot of pleasantly dumb dialogue and mugging, but the film always maintains its serious side--especially when one of Mike's washed-up former stars shows up and clues Bud in on what a disposable property he really is.

Unlike many low, low budgeted films of this nature, WILD GUITAR has no slow spots and no padding since the script (co-written by Arch Hall, Sr. as "Nicholas Merriwether") is packed with incident, moving briskly from one interesting scene to another with barely any time to dawdle. 

Bud's come-up includes an eye-opening encounter with teenaged "fan club" presidents who are paid by Mike to like him and a harrowing experience with an overripe sex bomb thrown his way to make him forget Vickie (who, inevitably, catches them together and gets the wrong idea).


Arch Hall, Jr. carries the film with the totally unintentional charm of a big, goofy kid eager to please, both in character and as a young actor doing his best in the role (and wanting to please his enterprising pop, no doubt) and apparently enjoying himself. 

With a huge blond ducktail that's like a caricature of itself and that pudgy, utterly guileless face, Arch pretty much becomes happy-go-lucky hick Bud Eagle, an impression made even stronger by the fact that he's performing his own tepid but endearing songs in his own inimitable style. 

One of them, "Vickie", is a holdover from EEGAH!, only this time he actually has someone with that name to perform it for.  As Vickie Wills, blond semi-cutie Nancy Czar has an equally goofy charm and proves to be a pretty good ice skater when (shades of ROCKY) Vickie and Bud have a skating date in her uncle's deserted ice rink. 

And then there's "Cash Flagg" (nee Ray Dennis Steckler) as Steak, sliming things up and giving the film it's nastiest edge.  As director, Ray comes through with some nice low-rent noir here and there--even with his limited talents, he could deliver a watchable enough flick back when low-budget movies were a lot harder to make. (He even had future Oscar winner Vilmos "William" Zsigmond as second-unit photographer.)


That said, one of the most charming and enjoyable aspects of WILD GUITAR is the sheer silliness of its musical sequences.  The endearingly game Arch Hall, Jr. plucks and croons his way through those priceless schlock-a-billy ditties of his as Steckler's camera flits around giving us silly closeups of the grinning, head-bobbing bandmembers to show us how crazy and way-out it all is.

In the film's big finale, a tuxedo-clad Bud performs to a swimsuited gaggle of overaged kids (and helps invent the music video) on one of the ugliest beaches in film history as Vickie gyrates by his side, love having conquered all.  

I love the lack of ironic self-awareness in both Arch Hall, Jr.'s earnest performance and Steckler's direction.  Both also lack quite the level of clueless ineptitude one is led to expect by most accounts.  While cheap, even slapdash at times, WILD GUITAR is as disarmingly straightforward and sincere as Bud Eagle himself, and, for me, as much fun as any bottom-of-the-bill B-movie that ever played drive-ins in the South or public-domain DVD budget bins at Walmart. 


Full Movie on YouTube



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“KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS” Nominated For Best Animated Feature, Best Visual Effects Oscars



“KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS” (Focus Features) – Nominee, Best Animated Feature Film – Academy Awards

"I’m over the moon!  An Academy Award nomination is an extraordinary and cherished gift.  Two nominations is more than anyone could hope for.  Every filmmaker dreams of a moment like this.  But the truth is, I already lived my dream by making this film. Movies have always given me great joy. They enriched my life.  They inspired me to dream.  That’s the kind of film our team at LAIKA sought to make with KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS.  A film is a slice of a hundred souls.  In this case many more.  An incredible, immense community of artists gave ceaselessly and selflessly to breathe life into this story.  I’m so thankful for their talents and efforts and so proud of what we've done together.  I’m profoundly grateful to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who somehow saw fit to include us among the finest storytellers in film.  It is a tremendous honor to stand alongside them." – Travis Knight, Academy Award nominee as director and producer of KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, Best Animated Feature Film

STEVE EMERSON, OLIVER JONES, BRIAN MCLEAN & BRAD SCHIFF – "KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS" (Focus Features) - Nominees, Achievement in Visual Effects – Academy Awards

“As much as Kubo and the Two Strings is an homage to Japanese culture and to woodblock artists including Kiyoshi Saito, it is also a tribute to special effects pioneers Ray Harryhausen, Willis O'Brien, Jim Danforth, and the many innovative FX artists who tell stories using in-camera effects, puppets, and human hands. We're thrilled for the artists at LAIKA who put years into realizing Kubo. For all of us at the studio, being recognized alongside such distinguished and talented members of the VFX community is truly an honor.” – Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean & Brad Schiff, Academy Award nominees for Achievement in Visual Effects (KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS)

Please Note: this represents the first time an animated film has been nominated in the visual effects category since THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in 1994



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Monday, January 23, 2017

"RONJA, THE ROBBER'S DAUGHTER" Amazon Prime Series From Studio Ghibli



Amazon Prime Video Launches Original Kids Series Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter on January 27 in the US and UK 

International Emmy Award-winning animated series based on children’s novel by Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking

English version narrated by Gillian Anderson, series directed by Gorō Miyazaki and presented by Studio Ghibli and Saltkråkan


SEATTLE—January 10, 2017—(NASDAQ: AMZN)— Amazon today announced its original kids series, Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter, is set to premiere on Prime Video on January 27 in the US and UK. An animated adventure for kids and families, the new series is narrated by Golden Globe Award-winning actress Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), directed by Gorō Miyazaki (Up on Poppy Hill, Tales from Earthsea), and presented by the Academy Award-winning Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) and Saltkråkan (the Astrid Lindgren Company).

                   WATCH THE TRAILER
 

Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is already a full-fledged hit in Japan, winning the International Emmy Award for “Best Kids Animation.” The series is based on the wildly-popular children's fantasy book of the same name by noted Swedish author Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking), which has sold approximately 10 million copies worldwide since its release in 1981, and been translated into 41 languages and adapted for film and television internationally. 

Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is an epic 26-part story of 10-year-old Ronja (Teresa Gallagher), born on a stormy night in a mountain fort, surrounded by her father (Rufus Hound), mother (Morwenna Banks) and a loving band of robbers. She grows to be a strong girl, and discovers that the forest is both a beautiful and frightening place inhabited by strange creatures. She befriends Birk (Kelly Adams), the son of her father's rival, and so begins the drama of her friendship and family loyalties. Viewers follow along as she explores and understands these key factors in her life, and discovers that seemingly irresolvable choices can finally be made with the help of love and understanding.


“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Studio Ghibli on their first television series, excited to have the talented Gillian Anderson narrate, and proud to bring Astrid Lindgren’s well-loved novel to life,” said Tara Sorensen, Head of Kids Programming at Amazon Studios. “We look forward to sharing this incredible story of love, family and friendship with our customers.”

“With Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter, Astrid Lindgren seems to be telling children to believe in their own power to grow, whilst telling adults to learn more from children,” said Director Gorō Miyazaki. “Mutual respect will attain freedom in the true sense of the word.” 

Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is part of Prime Video’s growing line-up of award-winning and criticallyacclaimed Originals for kids and families. The series will be available for Prime members to stream and enjoy using the Amazon Video app for compatible TVs, connected devices, including Amazon Fire TV and mobile devices, or online at www.amazon.com/originals, at no additional cost to their membership. Prime members can also download select titles to mobile devices for offline viewing. Eligible customers who are not already Prime members can sign up for a free trial at www.amazon.com/prime. For a list of all Amazon Video compatible devices, visit www.amazon.com/howtostream. Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter will also be available as part of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the all-you-can-eat subscription service designed from the ground up for kids. FreeTime Unlimited is available exclusively on Amazon devices, including Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, and a year-long subscription is included with every Fire Kids Edition.


 About Amazon Video
Amazon Video is a premium on-demand entertainment service that offers customers the greatest choice in what to watch and how to watch it. Amazon Video is the only service that provides all of the following: Prime Video: Thousands of movies and TV shows, including popular licensed content plus critically-acclaimed and award-winning Amazon Original Series and Movies from Amazon Studios like Transparent, The Man in the High Castle, Love & Friendship, and kids series Tumble Leaf, available for unlimited streaming as part of an Amazon Prime membership. Prime Video is also now available to customers in more than 200 countries and territories around the globe at www.primevideo.com.  Amazon Channels: Over 80 video subscriptions to networks like HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, PBS KIDS, Acorn TV, and more, available to Amazon Prime members in the US as add-ons to their membership. To view the full list of available channels, visit www.amazon.com/channels. Rent or Own: Hundreds of thousands of titles, including new release movies and current TV shows available for on-demand rental or purchase for all Amazon customers. Instant Access: Customers can instantly watch anytime, anywhere through the Amazon Video app on compatible TVs, mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and Fire tablets, or online. For a list of all compatible devices, visit www.amazon.com/howtostream. Premium Features: Top features like 4K Ultra HD, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and mobile downloads for offline viewing of select content.

In addition to Prime Video, the Prime membership includes unlimited fast free shipping options across all categories available on Amazon, more than two million songs and thousands of playlists and stations with Prime Music, secure photo storage with Prime Photos, unlimited reading with Prime Reading, unlimited access to a digital audiobook catalog with Audible Channels for Prime, a rotating selection of free digital games and in-game loot with Twitch Prime, early access to select Lightning Deals, exclusive access and discounts to select items, and more. To sign-up for Prime or to find out more, visit: www.amazon.com/prime.

About Amazon 
Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit www.amazon.com/about



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Sunday, January 22, 2017

"ARISE FROM DARKNESS" New In Theaters From Indican Pictures



ARISE FROM DARKNESS



Coming to Theaters January 2017 Starting in Chicago and NY

"Dark, Disturbing and yet beautiful and full of spirit." – SF Examiner

"Amazing story that will scare you, reassure you and make you question if we are alone…”  -- New City


Lazaro Torres has been clinically dead five times – his psychic abilities attract everyone from the underworld to the otherworld. Only this time – it’s personal as he hunts for the killer of his own daughter – true story based in Chicago. Chicago theatrical in January 2017!

Watch the Trailer

Synopsis:

Based on the early events of psychic Lazaro Ruben Torres, clinically declared dead five times. Lazaro a neighborhood medium inherits psychic abilities after a tragedy visits him and his daughter leaving her dead. Lazaro is determined to develop his gift trying to reconnect with his daughter. In the process he discovers the man who killed her and now must decide what to do…



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Saturday, January 21, 2017

BOY, DID I GET A WRONG NUMBER! -- DVD Review by Porfle



I remember watching BOY, DID I GET A WRONG NUMBER! (1966) on TV two or three times as a kid.  I thought it was mildly amusing then, but it never really occurred to me how awful it was until it showed up years later as one of "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time" in that book by Harry Medved and Randy Dreyfuss.  So I couldn't wait to see what my reaction to a fresh re-viewing (via Olive Films' new Blu-ray and DVD release) would be after all these years.

Well, having developed a fierce affection for bad movies in the interim (it was always there but seemed to grow ever more keen over time) I now find this almost willfully mediocre and downright aggressively unfunny Bob Hope comedy to be a giddy joy from start to finish. 

This is a prime example of what I refer to as the "old fogey comedy", one of those colorful but dreary little backlot romps in which aging comics like Bob react with supposedly humorous chagrin to the changing mores of the 60s.  It usually involves the generation gap, as in the previous year's I'LL TAKE SWEDEN in which Bob co-starred with those crazy kids Tuesday Weld and Frankie Avalon.
 

But here, his comfortably conservative lifestyle is given a good shaking up by nothing less than the big S-E-X, in the form of a scantily-clad, perpetually way-hot Elke Sommer.  (Bob has a couple of teenaged kids in this but they don't figure that prominently.)  Since a more relaxed attitude toward sex was creeping into 60s cinema at the time, it was up to guys like Bob to step up and give their somewhat calcified take on it while keeping things family-friendly. 

Elke plays sexy starlet Didi, whose every film is highlighted by a bubble bath scene.  Her manager/director/boyfriend (Cesare Danova as "Pepe Pepponi") eggs her on when she begins to balk at such constant exploitation. (She wants to be a serious actress.) 

One day she escapes from the set in nothing but bubbles and disappears.  A few comic complications later and she's hiding out in real estate agent Bob's hideaway cottage by a secluded lake while a nationwide woman-hunt ensues.  (Bob's name in the film is "Tom Meade" but I think I'll just keep calling him "Bob" if that's okay.) 



Kindhearted Bob's attempts to help her hide from the world (while resisting overt carnal temptation) are thrown into disarray when his wife Martha ("Make Room For Daddy"'s Marjorie Lord) shows up at the cottage for a weekend love tryst with Bob, followed by Pepe and his strong-arm goons.  Meanwhile, Bob's sassy maid Lily, played by Phyllis Diller in full fright-wig mode, does her best to provide comedy relief to the comedy. 

The whole delightfully jumbled mess is like a deluxe episode of a bad 60s sitcom, with Bob and Phyllis lugging a drugged Didi from room to room so the increasingly perplexed Mrs. Meade won't stumble over her. 

Horny Boy Scouts peer through the windows, their hormones doing backflips at the sight of the elusive Didi in one of Bob's shirts. (Elke, needless to say, is well worth peering at.)  Martha, of course, eventually discovers Didi and goes into a fit of jealousy just about the time Pepe and the police show up thinking Bob has murdered poor Didi. 


Through it all, Bob just keeps firing off the really bad one-liners with the inimitable rubber-faced Phyllis giving him stiff competition.  (She has the advantage of being able to punctuate each of her cringeworthy gags with that trademark cackle of hers.) By now, Bob's zest for filmmaking had apparently started to wane as his performance, amazingly, seems hardly less perfunctory than the ones he gave during his many network TV specials. 

Marjorie Lord, bless her heart, not only has to act sexually aroused by Bob Hope but is cursed with one of the most god-awful "big hair" hairstyles ever to burst forth like Godzilla from a studio makeup department, while the whole film gives off a weary air of "what's with these crazy 60s anyway?" cluelessness. 

To top it off, the story ends with nothing less than a full-scale bad car chase, which means lots of stunt people driving around in fast motion while Bob, Phyllis, and the rest mug it up in front of rear-projection screens. (Phyllis Diller hunched over a dirt bike is a sight not soon forgotten.) 


Amazingly, the director, George Marshall, had a body of work that boasted such films as DESTRY RIDES AGAIN and HOW THE WEST WAS WON. Somehow he would later end up helming such relatively lesser fare as Elke's THE WICKED DREAMS OF PAULA SCHULTZ (Tarantino fans will recognize the reference to it in KILL BILL VOL. 2) and Jerry Lewis' less-than-stellar HOOK, LINE, AND SINKER, both of which make fitting companions for this resolutely unremarkable yet perversely watchable effort.

The DVD from Olive Films is in 1.85:1 widescreen with mono sound and optional English subtitles.  No extras.

To recap my two most important points: BOY, DID I GET A WRONG NUMBER is (1) a pretty bad movie, and (2) a delightfully fun experience.  Junk film junkies will understand.  As "old fogey" comedies go, it's one of the worst, which means it's one of the best.  And if that's too confusing, just sit back, ignore everything else, and peer at Elke for an hour and a half. 



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Friday, January 20, 2017

WAGON TRACKS (1919) -- DVD Review by Porfle



I love silent movies.  They represent over thirty years of great, and not-so-great, filmmaking which is at times either utterly astounding or deeply moving, and often both. 

The form itself is fascinating, reliant almost entirely on the visual, inviting the audience to become fully involved and immersed, interpreting the action and meaning rather than simply being passive spectators. 

And it's all right there for the film fan to rediscover--at least, the relatively small percentage of it that survives, the rest sadly having been lost over the years. 


I love westerns too, so when I saw that producer Thomas H. Ince and star William S. Hart's 1919 sagebrush saga WAGON TRACKS was being released on Blu-ray and DVD by Olive Films, my interest was, to put it mildly, piqued. 

I'd never seen any of Hart's films, but I knew that he was born in 1864 during the Civil War and grew up in honest-to-goodness western times, a friend of Wyatt Earp and "Bat" Masterson, and a believer in making his western films as authentic and true to life as possible. 

Indeed, in 1919 what we know as the Old West still existed to a large extent, and to make a film about it then was to have access to an amazing degree of first-hand authenticity and realism which drew not from history books but from the memories and experiences of those involved.

In WAGON TRACKS as in his other films, Hart eschews the glamorized, stylized, and somewhat prettified image of the west that would eventually become the norm.  His character, desert scout "Buckskin" Hamilton, is rough and unsophisticated, but with a strong sense of decency and a simple code of behavior that is honest and straightforward. 


We pick up the story as he travels East through the desert to meet his younger brother Billy (Leo Pierson), a recent medical school graduate, at the Missouri River.  But Billy is killed by crooked gambler Washburn (Robert McKim) and his toady Merton (Lloyd Bacon) before their riverboat docks, and Washburn blames the shooting on his own sister Jane (Jane Novak), claiming that Billy had tried to molest her.

In her confusion, Jane goes along with the story, but the heartbroken Buckskin refuses to believe it. As fate would have it, he becomes leader of the wagon train that will carry the Washburns west.  During the trip, which is fraught with hardship (Indian attacks, water shortages, etc.), Buckskin discovers the truth behind Billy's death and sets out to get not revenge, but justice.

The story meanders a bit at times and there isn't the frenetic action and suspense we would come to expect from the typical matinee western.  Hart, with his long, homely face and soulful eyes, prefers to explore the feelings of the characters--the frontiersman's grief and yearning for closure in his brother's death, Jane's nagging guilt and despair, the daily uncertainties of the homesteaders, and the desperation of the two villains when forced to face up to their crime.


Hart and director Lambert Hillyer (DRACULA'S DAUGHTER) indulge in melodrama only when Buckskin is faced with the grief of his brother's death, and even here Hart's stage training enables him to express sincere emotion.  Elsewhere, the exaggerated acting styles of the cast are a valid means of expression in silent film acting although for modern audiences it may take a bit of getting used to.  

As for the locations, costumes, and other production elements, they're as authentic as it gets.  What we see isn't a simulation of the Old West, but the real thing.  The wagon train scenes aren't as grand as those in Raoul Walsh's 1930 epic THE BIG TRAIL, but they're immensely satisfying nonetheless.  Cinematography (tinted to denote bright sunlight or night) is fine.

The DVD from Olive Films is in 1.33:1 aspect ratio with stereo sound.  The original score is written and performed on piano by Andrew Earle Simpson and retains the flavor of the silent era.  Intertitles are nicely illustrated. While containing the usual occasional flaws for a film of this age, the picture quality for the most part is outstanding.  No extras.

An encounter with Indians that goes from friendly to hostile due to an unfortunate culture clash sets up the film's resolution, which some might consider anti-climactic since it doesn't involve gunplay or ruthless revenge.  William S. Hart's character is a man of deep feeling and integrity, which WAGON TRACKS portrays with understatement and maturity.  This is a film for lovers of silent cinema and early westerns to savor. 

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THE SADIST (1963) -- Movie Review by Jason Hernandez



Arch Hall Jr. has the most awesomely obnoxious face in film history. His eyebrows look like they were created by a monster make-up man. His hair looks like he combs it with rockabilly 45s. Then there's his beady eyes and little scowling mouth. He's got a baby-face on an adult skull. His whole head looks over-grown.

There's always something a little silly about him, even when he's putting a bullet in someone's brain. He doesn't look too bright. He looks like you could outsmart him right away, which only makes him more freaky when he turns out to be more cunning than you think.

You can't not think a lot about Arch Hall Jr.'s face when you watch this terrific nerve-shredder suspense film. Hall's memorable visage is a landscape every bit as vital as the desert setting here.


 This is a hostage situation and Hall's the only one with a gun. Whatever happens depends on how his trigger finger feels at the moment. He's a killer on the loose, not much background given or needed. He's JUST a f***ing psycho and that's that.

This film is too stark for anything more (current American genre filmmakers, who almost always need to explain every character's motivation with tedious, cliche backstory could stand to learn a lesson from THE SADIST).

It never cuts away from the main tension. There's no police detective hero on the way. All we get are desperate people under the hot sun with scarcely a ray of hope to beam upon them.


Our precarious protagonists: three meek schoolteachers who have car problems on their way to a baseball game. They stop at a strangely quiet rural service station and land square into Laughing Boy's clutches. Not everyone gets out alive.

It's a terrific show of skill from director James Landis. He keeps the fear crackling, coaxes a whale of a performance out of Hall (this is easily his best movie), makes bold moves with his camera and generally maintains a clean, efficient cinematic engine to take us to Hell. It's a drive-in classic.

Trivia note: This is the first American film shot by Vilmos Zsigmond (credited as William Zsigmond). Before he became one of the quintessential cinematographers of the so-called "New Hollywood", Zsigmond toiled in the world of low-budget trash for about eight years. His pre-McCabe & Mrs. Miller resume reads like the marquees of every 1960s Mom and Pop drive-in.

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