Worst Friends Is One Of This Year’s Best New Indie Flicks

Courtesy:  Level 33 Entertainment

Courtesy: Level 33 Entertainment

Level 33 Entertainment’s new dramedy Worst Enemies is one of this year’s best new indie flicks. This movie is a surprisingly entertaining work. It is more proof that when the dust settles from Hollywood’s downfall (thanks to its insatiable desire for prequels, sequels, and remakes), the indie movie industry will still be standing strong. The main way in which it proves that is through its original script. The story behind this movie isn’t just another buddy comedy. It’s a story that is just as entertaining as it is moving. What’s more, in comparison to other buddy comedies released by other indie flicks and even other major studios, this story stands well apart from those works as its own creation. And that’s just part of what makes it work as well as it does. The story’s overall simplicity makes it even more enjoyable. There are no big sets, no unnecessary sexually driven jokes, and not even an annoying poppy song to be heard at least until the story’s final scene. The movie’s cast is one more reason that it works as well as it does. Save for actresses Kathryn Erbe and Sara Chase, most of the movie’s cast is made up of unknown actors and actresses. Even as little experience as they might have, they come across just as professional as any more seasoned actors, Erbe and Chase included. Together with the story’s overall simplicity and its largely original script, all three factors show in full once again why Worst Friends is one of this years best indie flicks and a work that anyone thirsting for a real story should see at least once.

Level 33 Entertainment has released in recent years some of the best movies that most audiences have never seen. The Wedding Video, The Formula, and The Moleman of Belmont Avenue are each examples of what makes this studio one of the best in the world of indie flicks. Every one of those movies stands out from the other in its own special way. Now with Worst Enemies, Level 33 has proven once more why it is deserving of that honor. One would think in looking at the movie’s synopsis that it is something of a buddy comedy, especially in partner with the movie’s box art. But the reality of the movie is that it is more drama than comedy. The movie’s original script is one that stands out not only from other movies released by Level 33 but from so many movies released by Hollywood’s “Power 5″ studios–Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Disney. It is a deep, thoughtful story that reminds us that BFF is not always the case for friends. We live, we grow, and sometimes we grow apart. Audiences will especially appreciate that writer/director Ralph Arend and his writing partners Noah Barrow and Richard Tanne don’t waste any time waxing poetic about this message. They don’t waste any time trying to set up a back story, explaining what caused the original fallout between Jake (Richard Tanne) and Sam (Noah Barrow). The trio keeps the story simple but still manages to send the story’s central message in an original manner, but not so much that it goes over the heads of its audiences. It alone makes for plenty of reason to see this movie, even if only once. It’s not the only reason to check out this movie, either. Another audiences should give this surprisingly entertaining drama is its overall simplicity.

The script behind Worst Friends is the central point of the movie’s success and enjoyment. It presents a very deep story and some very deep themes in a fashion that avoids any stereotypical artsy indie indulgences. At the same time it isn’t presented in such fashion as to feel over simplified, either. It balances that serious approach with a delivery that is just simple enough to be taken seriously without feeling overly done. In other words, it isn’t so serious or simple as to make it seem stereotypically sappy or hammy. Speaking of that simplicity, the general simplicity of the movie’s other elements help to make it even more enjoyable. The sets are simple. The camera work is just as simple. There are no unnecessary sexually driven jokes. And unlike so many other movies of its ilk, this piece doesn’t torture audiences with a constant barrage of annoying pop and emo songs throughout the course of the movie. The movie’s final scene won’t be given away here. But that scene is the only one in which audiences are exposed to said musical backing. It is all kept to such a minimum that it keeps the story at the center of the movie. Arend, Tanne, and Barrow (as well as the rest of those behind the cameras) are to be highly commended for this. It makes the movie in whole that much more enjoyable for audiences. It still isn’t all that is worth considering in the movie’s success, either. One more aspect worth noting in the movie’s success is its cast.

The actors and actresses that make up Worst Friends’ cast are largely unknowns. Perhaps the most well-known of the movie’s cast are actresses Kathryn Erbe (Law & Order: CI, The Mighty Ducks, What About Bob) and Sara Chase (The Other Guys, Arthur, The Little Black Book). Fellow cast mate Larry Fessenden is known for his work in the world of horror movies. But by and large the movie’s cast is made up of unknown actors and actresses. Even while most of the cast might not be known for major TV series or movies, the cast is collectively just as convincing any more well-known actors and actresses. They come across as being just as seasoned as said individuals. Audiences will see this when they watch Worst Enemies for themselves.   Together with the movie’s overall simplicity and the script’s originality, this last aspect shows in full once more why Worst Friends is one of this year’s best new indie flicks. It shows why it is a good watch for anyone that is tired of the seemingly endless Stream of prequels, sequels, and remakes being churned out year after year by Hollywood’s “Power 5″ studios.

The aspects noted here each play an important role in their own right in the success and enjoyment of Worst Friends. Given, they are important in their own right. That is not to take away from the importance of the movie’s run time. The movie runs roughly an hour and fifteen minutes. That is far below the norm of most of the big name movies churned out by Hollywood’s “Power 5″ each year. Yet with such a short run time, the movie still accomplishes so much. It plays its own important role in the movie’s success and enjoyment, too. That aspect taken into account with everything else previously noted pushes Worst Friends over the top and makes this movie not just one of the year’s best new indie flicks, but potentially one of this year’s best new movies overall, too.

Worst Friends is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other releases from Level 33 Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://level33entertainment.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Level33Entertainment

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Level33_ent

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

History’s “Definitive WWI & WWI Collection” Is A Must For Any History Buff

Courtesy:  History Channel/A&E Home Video

Courtesy: History Channel/A&E Home Video/Lionsgate

The world stopped this year to mark two of the most important dates in not only military history but in the history of the world.  Those two dates are June 28th, 1914 and September 1st, 1939.  On June 28th, 1914, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Bosnia, leading to the start of what is today known as WWI.  This past June marked the one hundredth anniversary of that fateful event.  And seventy-five years ago on September 1st, 1939, Hitler and the Nazi forces invaded Poland.  That invasion was the beginning of what would eventually become World War II.  As a way to recognize those anniversaries, History Channel released a new pair of documentaries this year in the forms of 100 Years of WWI and 75 Years of WWII.  These two documentaries are the latest in a long series of WWI and WWII-centered features that History Channel started releasing five years ago in 2009.  Five years ago, History Channel released Patton 360 to the masses.  That presentation was followed up with a number of documentaries that ultimately culminated this week with the release of The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection.  This brand new twenty-disc collection culls together Patton 360 with six previously released WWI and WWII-centered documentaries for a collection that more than deserves its title.  That collection of documentaries is the center of the set’s success and enjoyment.  The breadth of information shared throughout the course of those programs makes the collection even more worth the watch by any history buff and specifically military history buff.  Completing the box set is its packaging.  Considering that the set is spread across a total of twenty-discs, one might think the box would be rather bulky.  The reality is that History Channel has done quite the impressive job of packing the set without making it too bulky.  That will be discussed later.  But together with the collection of documentaries and their collective information, it helps make The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection a *ahem* definite must have for any history buff and military history buff.

History Channel’s new multi-disc collection of WWI and WWII documentaries that is The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection is a must have for any true history buff and military history buff specifically.  The main reason for this is the mass of material that makes up the box set.  No fewer than seven different programs centered on WWI and WWII (mainly on WWII) make up the total of the collection.  Those programs are: WWII in HD, WWII From Space, 100 Years of WWI, 75 Years of WWII, The Color of War, Patton 360, and History’s most recent mini-series/documentary The World Wars.  Each program is presented in its entirety.  The catch is that the discs have been scattered through the two boxes for some reason.  It’s possible that the reason for that is an attempt to correlate the topics covered in each disc.  That would be the most feasible explanation.  So audiences should expect that ahead of time.  It doesn’t mean that audiences can’t re-arrange the discs together.  But each series and program is presented in its entirety regardless.  And that in itself is itself a huge bonus for any lover of history and military history.  It offers a total of nearly forty-five hours of content that is just as useful in the classroom as the living room.  That’s about a whole year’s worth of military history, just putting it into perspective.  That mass of material is in itself another reason that lovers of history and military history specifically will appreciate this brand new box set.

History Channel offers in The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection nearly forty-five hours of content.  That is a lot of content.  The content specifically covers so many different angles of World War I and II.  Audiences learn in 100 Years of WWI how simple farm machinery was the basis for the very first tanks.  They also learn about the dangers and effects of chemical warfare on both sides as said warfare was developed.  It definitely was anything but perfect at that point.  The WWII-centered programs and documentaries are just as enjoyable.  WWII in HD is one of the most in-depth programs centered on WWII that has been released in at least the last ten years.  It covers WWII from every possible angle, including first-hand accounts from documents written by those that were swept up in the war.  The Color of War is a good complimentary piece to WWII in HD as it focuses mainly on the color footage that was available from WWII.  Patton 360 is just one part of History’s WWII 360. It offers audiences a look not just at Patton but at his adversaries and what made them such tough opponents.  And then for those that want something a little different, The World Wars mixes elements of actual history with something akin to a movie for a piece that is in itself one of this year’s best new documentaries.  There is so much more that could be noted in terms of what is made available content-wise.  But that would take far too long.  Needless to say, the amount of content made available across these twenty discs is roughly the equivalent of a small library of books on WWI and WWII.  It is likely more than enough for an entire academic year or even a single collegiate semester.  For those watching at home, it is material that can be visited and re-visited at any point any time one has to turn it off.  There is just so much to take in.  And every bit of it is well worth taking in, too.  It’s one more reason that any lover of history, and more specifically military history, will appreciate and enjoy this brand new box set.

The inclusion of seven full-length programs to make up The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection is by itself good reason for audiences to check out this box set.  The sheer breadth of material and its depth makes the set in whole even more worth the watch.  Making The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection a home run is its packaging.  One would think that twenty discs in one box set would make said box set pretty bulky.  However, History Channel has pleasantly surprised with this box set.  The set is broken up into two separate cases with ten discs each inside.  Both boxes see one disc placed on a spindle on the inside front of the case, another on the rear inside, and eight discs spread across four separate “leaves.”  The discs in question are placed on either side of each “leaf.”  This method of packaging both saves space and it protects the discs from one another.  Protecting the discs from one another means increasing the life of the discs, and in turn the enjoyment of each disc.  The packaging in whole will save space on any viewer’s DVD rack.  By comparison to the bulky box sets released by other companies this year and in previous years, audiences will see a positive difference between said box sets and this one.  Together with the previously noted content and the number of programs offered through this box set, this packaging makes The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection complete.  It makes one hundred percent clear just why any lover of history or military history specifically will enjoy and appreciate it.  It makes clear why it is a valid contender for a spot on any critic’s list of this year’s best new box sets overall.

The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from History Channel’s online store at The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection. More information on this and other titles from History Channel is available online at:

Website: http://www.history.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/History

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Mr. Ed: The Complete Series Is One Of 2014’s Best New Box Sets Of Course

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Veteran actor Alan Young celebrated his 95th birthday last Wednesday, November 19th.  For those that might not know, Young is best known for playing architect Wilbur Post in the beloved 1960s sitcom Mr. Ed.  And on Tuesday, December 9th, fans of the classic series will receive a special belated gift celebrating Young’s birthday in the form of Mr. Ed: The Complete Series.  Shout! Factory’s upcoming box set marks the culmination of what started roughly five years ago with the release of Mr. Ed: Season 1.  It also marks the first time that the complete series has ever been released in one collection in any format.  And that is just the beginning of what makes this box set well worth the price and the space on any classic TV fan’s DVD rack.  Whether or not audiences are familiar with Mr. Ed, audiences will agree that more than anything else the writing in this series is a prime example of what once made television so great.  It is also an example of what once made sitcoms in general great.  The bonus features that were added to the box are just as welcome.  And of course, one would be remiss to ignore the quality of the footage itself.  Each aspect plays its own important role to the whole presentation.  Each aspect combined with the other makes Mr. Ed: The Complete Series one of this year’s best new box set for grown-ups and the family in whole if not the best new box set overall.

Nearly five decades have passed since Mr. Ed aired its last episode; forty-eight years to be exact. That episode, “Ed Goes to College,” aired on February 6th, 1966.  Since that time, the series hass run in synidcation on a variety of networks.  One of its best runs was on Nickelodeon in the late 80s and early 90s.  That was long before TV Land had become its own network.  It currently runs on Antenna TV as part of the network’s weekend programming lineup.  Throughout all of the syndicated runs on various networks and its current run on Antenna TV, Mr. Ed has never gotten a proper full release whether on VHS or DVD.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory the prayers of Mr. Ed fans everywhere have been answered.  Shout! Factory’s upcoming complete series release of Mr. Ed marks the first time that this classic CBS hit has ever gotten a full, proper release in any format.  That its upcoming complete series set will be the first ever for the series is more than enough reason for any fan of the show to add this box set to their collection.  Far too often, movies and TV shows are released, re-issued and sometimes re-issued again with litle to nothing different from said releases and re-issues from one to the next.  It makes them worth purchasing only for those that don’t already own said titles from one release to the next.  This release is worth picking up for every fan since until now, only the first five seasons have been released.  And even they have not been easy to find.  This box set will likely be just as difficult to find after a certain amount of time.  That makes thisfirst-ever release all the more worth purchasing upon its release.  It’s not all that audiences will appreciate about this box set, either.

The very fact that Shout! Factory will release Mr. Ed in its complete six-season run next month is in itself more than enough reason for fans of this classic to pick up the box set.  That’s because its release will mark the first time ever that the series will have been released in its entirety in one complete collection.  Examining this upcoming release a little closer, another reason that audiences will appreciate this box set is the series’ writing.  In comparison to the sitcoms that dominate the television spectrum today, the writing behind Mr. Ed is actually family friendly for the most part. The jokes and stories were obviously aimed more at grown-ups.  But it was still tame enough that even children could enjoy the show if only for Wilbur and Ed’s antics.  While younger audiences will enjoy their antics and the show’s physical comedy, grown-ups will enjoy the classic story lines.  From Ed helping Wilbur get a construction contract to making another man think his wife is having an affair with Wilbur to winning himself a television on a radio game show and much more, Ed is either helping Wilbur, getting him in trouble, or getting him out of the messes that he himself makes.  The formula is one that sadly, writers have long since abandoned.  It’s just classic feel good buddy comedy writing that the world needs more than ever today.  And audiences will agree in watching any of the episodes from this classic series just how welcome a return that formula is in comparison to the sophomoric, over sexed series that call themselves comedies today. Whether it be the series’ first season, its sixth, or those in between, every season more than proves that argument.

The writing behind Mr. Ed is the polar opposite of that behind every one of today’s sitcoms. While it is aimed more at grown-ups, the comedy is tame enough for grown-ups and younger audiences alike.  The fact that audiences will be able to enjoy this largely family friendly brand of comedy in its entirety for the first time makes this set even more worth the purchase.  The companion interviews and commentary included with the set are just as important as those aspects to the overall presentation that is Mr. Ed: The Complete Series.  Right off the top, audiences are treated to the pilot episode to Mr. Ed complete with bonus commentary from Alan Young and co-star Connie Hines.  Audiences get some interesting insight in the bonus commentary including the real name of the horse that played Mr. Ed.  That name won’t be given away for the sake of those that don’t yet know the horse’sname.  There are also two bonus radio interviews and an extended interview with Alan Young and Connie Hines that explains the rise and fall of the show over the course of its six seasons.  Audiences will be interested to learn that Studabaker originally wanted to sponsor the series but then gave in to pressure before an employee of CBS brokered a deal that would bring Mr. Ed to CBS for the course of its six-season run.  That and much more is offered throughout each of the interviews and the bonus commentary.  And together with the aforementioned factors, it makes this box set even more deserving of the top spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups and families alike.

The bonus material included in as part of Mr. Ed: The Complete Series, the series’ writing, and the fact that the series has never been released in its entirety until now collectively make this box set far more than deserving of the top sopt on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups and families alike.  For all of those positives, the box set would be nothing without quality footage. And quality footage is exactly what audiences get from every last episode fromSeason 1 to season 6.  Since Shout! Factory had already released the series’ first five seasons prior to this box set, all that had to be done was to take those transfers and put them in new boxes.  The next step was to transfer the original masters for Season 6 onto DVD and the process was done.  The end result is six seasons that look just as good today as they did so long ago both in their original broadcasts and their syndicated re-airings.  It pushes this box set over the top and makes it without a shadow of a doubt, the best new box set for grown-ups and families alike and a viable candidate for the best new box set of the year overall.

Mr. Ed: The Complete Series will be available Tuesday, December 9th on DVD in stores and online.  It can be pre-ordered online now direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/mister-ed-the-complete-series.  And anyone that pre-orders it online now will get free U.S. standard shipping.  More information on Mr. Ed: The Complete Series and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Audiences Will Discover A Lot To Like About “Bing Crosby Rediscovered”

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

This past October, Paramount Pictures re-issued the 1942 holiday classic Holiday Inn on Blu-ray.  It marked the first time ever that the movie, which starred legendary actor Bing Crosby, had seen the light of day on Blu-ray.  Fittingly, PBS will release a new episode of its hit biography series American Masters featuring Crosby next Tuesday, December 2nd.  While not necessarily a companion to Paramount’s recent BD re-issue of Holiday Inn, the timing of the two releases makes them a perfect pair.  Whether before taking in Holiday Inn or after, audiences will find plenty to like about American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered.  The most enjoyable aspect of this new DVD is the fact that it isn’t just another typical video documentary of a celebrity.  It doesn’t follow that standard formula of life to death that so many bios use in their presentations.   Rather it focuses on Crosby the man, the myth, and the legend.  This includes the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.  The fact that American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered isn’t another standard bio is just part of what audiences will enjoy about this new documentary.  The use of actual vintage footage and pictures from Crosby’s career and personal life as part of the discussion on both parts of his life makes the presentation even more enjoyable.  And last but hardly least worth noting is the inclusion of interviews with those that knew him best including his own wife as well as famed biographer Gary Giddens and fellow jazz legend Tony Bennett among others.  Each aspect by itself makes this episode of American Masters well worth the watch.  Collectively, they show once again why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming today.

PBS will release another new episode of its hit bio series American Masters next Tuesday, December 2nd.  The upcoming release focuses on legendary entertainer Bing Crosby.  Just as with all of PBS’ other series (both domestic and imported), it is more proof of why PBS stands as the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.  Audiences that are not so familiar with the life and times of Bing Crosby will appreciate first and foremost in this DVD the depth of information shared throughout the course of its roughly ninety-minute run time.  The bio presented here isn’t the standard formulaic bio presented so often by other networks and filmmakers.  It’s a fully unbiased bio that presents Bing Crosby the man, the myth, and the legend.  It presents his good side and his bad.  From his superstardom to his alcoholism and womanizing to his working relationship with fellow entertainer Bob Hope in the famed “Road To…” movies (apparently the duo spent nearly no time together off-screen), audiences see every angle of Crosby’s life. Audiences learn that he was hardly the easiest person to work with when it came to recording songs. And sometimes, he was just as tough to work with in live settings.  Also included is the downright ugly part of his family’s life in which two of his sons took their own lives. There is much more information shared throughout the course of the program that many might never have known. For those that have always known one thing or another about Bing Crosby the entertainer or Bing Crosby the man, the information contained within this program completes the picture of the legendary figure’s history. It proves to be the fullest picture that audiences can get in regards to Crosby’s life. And in turn it proves once more why American Masters is such an important part of the whole that is PBS.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered offers to audiences what is one of the most complete portraits of the legendary entertainer that audiences will find to date. As with the series’ previous portraits, it far outperforms any celebrity profile presented by any other major network past or present. The amount of information provided throughout the course of the documentary is just one reason that the program in whole is so impressive. The vintage video and photographs that are included with the breadth of information on Crosby and his life enhances the viewing experience even more. Audiences get to see pictures of Crosby with his family away from the bright lights of Hollywood. They get to also see snippets of his famed “Road To…” movies and much more. The combination of these elements and the story of Crosby’s life in and out of the limelight makes the overall content of this program all the more important to its enjoyment. It collectively shows once again why American Masters outperforms any celebrity-based series on any major broadcast and cable network today.

The combination of vintage footage and photos and in-depth story of Crosby’s life used in American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered make this feature more than worth the watch. The bonus videos and interviews that come as companion material make the overall presentation even more enjoyable for audiences. Viewers learn from director Robert Trachtenberg that he worked directly with the estate of Bing Crosby to bring the documentary to life. Trachtenberg and others note Crosby’s hard work ethic and his humility among so much more. There is also a full clip of Crosby performing with his sons later in his life. The clip in question is presented only in part during the primary presentation. So audiences actually get to see the full performance in this clip in question. It’s a truly moving moment taking into consideration the story of what happened to two of his sons later in their lives. And along with the bonus interviews, it becomes one more welcome addition to American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered that makes the presentation in whole a piece that any Crosby aficionado will enjoy.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered is a wonderful piece for anyone that has ever had any interest in the life and legacy of the famed entertainer. It reveals that Crosby is more than just that guy known for having sung ‘White Christmas.’ It also debunks some of the biggest myths surrounding his life. It is a fully unbiased look at the life of one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century showing Crosby in his glory and even more tarnished side. The bonus interviews that were added as companion material adds even more depth to the overall presentation. All things considered, American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered proves in the end to be one more welcome addition to another wonderful piece of PBS’ overall programming schedule. It will be available next Tuesday, December 2nd. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50703406&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+masters&origkw=American+Masters&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of American Masters is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanMasters

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

eOne’s “Cell 213″ Is An Interesting Theological Thriller

Courtesy:  eOne

Courtesy: eOne

Paramount.  Disney.  MGM.  20th Century Fox.  Warner Brothers.  For the longest time, these studios were what made Hollywood and the movie industry great.  But somewhere along the way, something changed.  Something very bad happened.  Somewhere in the late 1990s and early 2000s, these five major studios went from churning out some of the greatest titles that audiences have ever seen to churning out nothing but prequels, sequels, and remakes.  Now in 2014, there seems to be no end in sight for this trend from Hollywood’s own “Power 5″ (only sports fans will get that reference).  Thankfully, independent studios such as IFC Films, Level 33 Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and eOne Entertainment have picked up the slack, releasing some of the most original and entertaining movies that audiences have seen in years.  One example of that originality lies in eOne’s recently released thriller Cell 213.  The movie’s box art and description leads one to believe that it is a horror movie of sorts.  The reality is that it is in fact a rather deep and surprisingly original story.  The story behind Cell 213 is by itself more than enough reason for audiences to watch it at least once.  Veteran actor Michael Rooker’s (Guardians of the Galaxy, Days of Thunder, Cliffhanger) acting as the vile prison guard Ray Clement is another positive to the movie.  While the movie centers on Michael Grey (Eric Balfour), Rooker is the real star of this story.  And last but not least of all worth noting here is the movie’s run time versus its pacing.  At a time when it seems like Hollywood’s major studios are continuing to battle one another to see who can cram the most material into their movies within a given time span (more often than not that time span is about 2 1/2 hours or a little more), this roughly hour and forty-nine minute movie does plenty without even reaching the two-hour mark.    Each of these aspects by themselves play their own important role in the overall success of this interesting indie thriller.  Collectively, they make Cell 213 worth at least one watch and prove once more why indie movies are just as worth the watch as all of the prequels, sequels, and remakes being currently churned out by Hollywood’s “Power 5″ if not more so.

At first glance, eOne and Alliance Films’ recently released thriller Cell 213 looks like another run-of-the-mill horror flick.  But as the old adage states, never judge a book (or in this case a DVD) by its cover.  The movie is in fact far more than just another one of the overly gory and violence laden flicks that Hollywood’s “Power 5″ call a horror.  Rather, it proves to be more a thriller than a horror.  What’s more, it’s not just another thriller, either.  The movie’s script, which was crafted by Maninda Chana, combines traditional thriller elements with some rather deep theological discussions for a movie that will ultimately leave open-minded audiences really thinking.  As audiences learn, young up-and-coming lawyer Michael Grey himself ends up in jail after one of his clients kills himself, essentially framing Michael for his murder.  It is at this point that the movie’s biggest plot hole emerges.  The plot hole is big enough to drive a handful of semis through it.  Thankfully though, the theological discussions that make up the remainder of the movie more than make up for that glaring issue.  The discussions in question center on the battle between good and evil and on making the right choices in life before we die.  A close look at the story reveals these discussions and really makes the movie a lot more interesting than one might have originally thought at first glance.  The end result is a script that makes this indie thriller worth at least one watch.

The theologically based story behind Cell 213 is a big surprise.  By itself, the discussion raised on judgment of one’s soul, etc. is more than reason enough for audiences to check out this movie.  Another reason that Cell 213 is worth at least one watch is the acting on the part of Michael Rooker.  Rooker is most well-known for his work on the NASCAR-based drama Days of Thunder.  He has also worked on Marvel Studios’ latest hit blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, too.  So this movie is obviously not the first time that he has played the role of a villain. And he shows his experience as a villain quite well. Between showing no mercy to the inmates at the prison to putting a chokehold on another officer (a female no less) to showing something of a troubling, almost Norman Bates sort of personality at another point, Rooker makes Ray Clement an absolutely disturbed character that will disturb audiences and make them love to hate him at the same time. If for no other reason, audiences should watch this movie at least once to see just how diabolical and disturbed Rooker makes Clement. That portrayal together with the movie’s deep, theological themes, makes for even more reason for audiences to give it at least one watch.

The theological themes that make up most of Cell 213’s story and the work of veteran actor Michael Rooker are both key to making this movie worth at least one watch. That still leaves one more aspect worth noting—the movie’s run time. Anyone that has been to the theater in the past couple years or so has noticed that Hollywood’s major studios have been seemingly caught up in a competition to see who can shove the most amount of material into a roughly two and a half-hour movie without making it too mediocre. The problem is that movies like The Dark Knight Rises, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and even the recent Spiderman and Superman movies have been mostly mediocre. That’s because the people behind the cameras and the scripts have in fact crammed so much into each one of those movies that they have overpowered audiences. That’s hardly the case with Cell 213. The movie clocks in at just under the two-hour mark. Within the confines of that roughly hour and forty-nine minutes, writer Maninder Chana and director Stephen Kay waste no time ruminating on personal drama or any such related topics. The entire time is well-spent, focusing on the battle being waged for Michael’s soul and how he was essentially being tested, thus tying back in to the story’s theological themes. What’s more, at no point do those themes ever get so deep as to lose audiences. Viewers are kept engaged from start to finish thanks to that well-balanced mix of the movie’s run time and its overall content. That, coupled with Michael Rooker’s acting and the themes incorporated into the story, makes this movie complete. They collectively make Cell 213 a story well worth at least one watch whether one is a fan of the horror genre or has any interest in Christian theology. It all makes for a movie that is actually quite surprisingly interesting.

Cell 213 is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Cell-213-Michael-Rooker/dp/B00K2OBSI2/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1416580052&sr=1-2&keywords=cell+213. More information on this and other titles from Alliance and eOne is available online at:

 

Website: http://ca.eonefilms.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eOneFilms

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Rolling Stones’ Second “From The Vault” Recording Leaves Audiences Wanting More In The Best Way Possible

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The Rolling Stones have been making music together for well over half a century.  Over the course of the band members’ now fifty-two years together, they have released some twenty-two albums and seemingly just as many greatest hits compilations.  The band has also released its own share of live recordings along the way, too.  The most recent of those live recordings is 2013’s Sweet Summer SunHyde Park Live.  That recording is one of the band’s best live recordings to date if not the best to date.  That recording was released by Eagle Rock Entertainment, the same company responsible for the release of the band’s archived 1981 Chicago show Live at the Checkerboard Lounge in 2012 and a handful of other recordings that followed.  2014 has been no different for Stones fans as Eagle Rock released two more archived live concerts from the band early this month.  One of those recordings takes audiences back to the band’s 1981 performance at Virginia’s Hampton Coliseum.  The second takes audiences even farther back, going all the way back to 1975 and the band’s performance that year at the famed Forum in Los Angeles.  There is just as much to enjoy about the Stones’ 1981 show in Hampton, Virginia as there is about its companion concert from the band’s ’81 show in Virginia.  The most obvious of the show’s positives is its set list.  Many of the songs that are presented in this show are also presented in the band’s ’81 show.  The difference between the two shows’ set lists is that there is far less of the slower stuff in this show than in its companion recording.  Another great reason to check this concert is the band’s stage presence and its overall stage show.  And last but hardly least of all worth noting is the show’s collective production values (I.E. audio and video mix).  Taking into account the recording technology of the day, the audio quality is rather impressive.  And the video mix isn’t that bad, either.  It does serve to show how much recording tech has advanced since this concert’s recording.  That is not to take away from the importance of the recording’s companion booklet, either.  Even the companion booklet serves its own purpose in the concert’s overall presentation.  All things considered, From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 proves to be one more reason that The Rolling Stones is considered to still be one of rock’s elite acts and why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains the leader in live recordings to this day.

The members of The Rolling Stones have been making music together for well over half a century.  While so many other bands have gone by the wayside in that time, Mick Jagger and company have remained one of rock’s elite acts.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has more than proven why in recent years why exactly The Rolling Stones is still one of the music world’s top acts with each one of its archived Stones concerts.  From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 is no exception to that standard established by Eagle Rock so many years ago.  The most obvious way that it shows this is through the concert’s set list.  The band was not touring in support of any new release at the time of this performance.  As audiences will learn in the recording’s companion booklet, the band was roughly a year removed from the release of its most recent release at the time, It’s Only Rock and Roll (1974).  That album was the band’s fourteenth (yes, fourteenth) U.S. release and twelfth for the band’s fans in the U.K.  That was over the course of eleven years since the release of the band’s delf-titled U.K. debut and U.S. debut England’s Newest Hit Makers.  That means that even without a “new” album to tour behind, Mick and company still had more than their share of material with which to entertain audiences.  And they did just that, pulling from that album and going even farther back in the band’s catalogue all the way back to the band’s earliest days.  It would be interesting to see if there is a band out there today that has as much material under its collective belt today.  Most of today’s music acts regardless of genre only have on average three albums to their names  after ten years.  So that’s really saying something in the case of this recording and for the band’s creativity.  In all, the set list for this show totals twenty-six songs and well over two and a half hours.  That is a lot of music and a lot of enjoyment for Rolling Stones fan of any age.  It’s just one of so many ways in which this recording proves to be another welcome addition to said fans’ personal collections.  The band’s stage presence throughout the course of those nearly three hours is another way in which it proves this argument.

The band’s stage presence over the course of its nearly three hour performance at the Forum is definitely worth noting.  The companion booklet that comes with the concert notes that this concert was not the first for the band that night.  It was the fourth of five shows in a row at the Forum that the band held between July 9th and July 13th.  One would think that having performed three shows before this one and having one more to go, the band’s members would have been exhausted and perhaps saving their energy.  But that certainly isn’t the case here.  Jagger and his band mates kept the energy high and in turn, the audience in house fully engaged from start to finish.  Adding to the interest of the band’s stage presence is the fact that these shows marked part of the band’s first tour with then new guitarist Ronnie Wood.  The cemistry between Wood and the rest of the band was quite obvious throughout the course of the show.  It definitely went a long way toward making the show more enjoyable both for the band and the audience in attendance that night.  It does just as much for audiences that purchase this recording today and watch it themselves.  Audiences will especially understand this when they purchase the concert’s DVD recording.  In seeing that energy and chemistry, audiences will agree that the band’s stage presence throughout the course of its nearly three-hour show is one more way in which it proves to be another welcome addition to any Rolling Stones fan’s personal collection.

The set list and the stage presence of The Rolling Stones throughout the course of From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 both serve as prime examples of why every Rolling Stones fan will enjoy this recording.  One more important factorto consider in the recording’s overall presentation is its production values (I.E. audio and video mix).  Nearly four decades have passed since this performance was first recorded.  It goes without saying that since that time, recording technology has evolved by leaps and bounds.  Even with the tech available at the time of the concert’s recording, it still looks and sounds relatively good.  The sound quality is especially impressive considering the size of The Forum within its walls.  The shots that made up the concert do an impressive job in their own right showing just how expansive The Forum’s inner workings were at the time.  That vastness coupled with the band’s stage set explain by themselves why so few of the shots were taken up close but rather from a distance.  Even being taken from a distance, the shots in question still give audiences a clear view of the band when not recorded from the stage.  The combination of the audio and video together make the overall viewing experience even more worth it for fans regardless of their age.

The production values presented in From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 alongside the recording’s set list and the band’s stage presence collectively make the recording more than worth the watch regardless of audiences’ ages.  As much of a role as they play, one would be remiss to note the recording’s companion booklet as an important factor to the whole experience.  The companion booklet that comes with the cocnert’s DVD presentation offers audiences a thorough look at the concert from start to finish, much as with the band’s other archived live performance from 1981 at Virginia’s Hampton Coliseum.  It even goes into detail on the band’s backing musicians instead of just the band itself.  As if this isn’t enough the companion booklet includes an equally thorough summary on the evening’s concert once again written up by Richard Havers.  Havers composed the liner notes for the band’s other From The Vault concert from 1981.  This in-depth look at this concert plays directly into the aforementioned factors to make it just as important to the whole as them.  Together with those aspects, it completes the experience and proves ultimately again why The Rolling Stones is one of rock’s elite acts.  Having so much content and such a quality overall experience, it also shows once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader in live recordings.

From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Lionsgate’s Latest Power Rangers DVD A Good Watch Any Time Of The Year

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Saban/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Saban/Saban Brands

Nickelodeon is set to close out the latest installment of Saban’s hugely popular Power Rangers franchise this weekend.  Power Rangers Super Megaforce will close out this Saturday on Nickelodeon.  Before it closes out Saban and Lionsgate have released a new featuring a holiday episode from this season.  Power Rangers Megaforce: Robo Knight Before Christmas brings to audiences yet another new holiday tale from what has over the years become a worldwide phenomenon.  What audiences will appreciate most of all in this episode is the fact that yet again, the people behind the franchise have switched things up in this episode instead of repeating the same story as in previous Power Rangers seasons.  This is especially important considering some of the redundancy that can be seen in the seasons that followed the franchise’s original seven-season run.  The lessons taught in the central episode tie directly in to that originality.  It’s another reason that audiences will appreciate this installment from the Megaforce Rangers.  Speaking of lessons being taught, the lessons taught in the companion episodes are just as important to the overall presentation.  The episodes themselves may not be Christmas-themed.  But the lessons shared in said episodes are just as applicable during the holidays as they are any other time of the year.  Those lessons coupled with the lessons taught in the DVD’s central episode and said episode’s originality combine to make this DVD one that any Power Rangers fan will enjoy whether during the holidays or any other time of the year.

Over the course of its now twenty-ne years on television, Saban’s Power Rangers franchise has made a tradition of running a new Christmas-themed episode in every season.  And every season’s Christmas episode has proven to be different from the last.  This applies both stylistically and in terms of their stories.  Power Rangers Megaforce: Robo Knight Before Christmas is no different in that fashion.  Given, it is for all intents and purposes a clip show.  And it’s not the first time that Saban has used clip shows in previous seasons of the Power Rangers.  But through the use of the various clips, the story is more than just another typical clip show.  For that matter, it’s also not just another piece telling about the “true meaning of Christmas.”  The show’s writers incorporate the values commonly associated with Christmas into Robo Knight’s own attempt to better understand humans.  The end result is something of a third person vantage point that helps to better illustrate the morals and values that are so important not just during the holiday season but during any time of the year.  The show’s writers accomplish this goal without being overly preachy about it, either.  Sure there’s some sappiness.  But it’s still a good non-traditional piece that focuses on the holiday season and its associated values.

The lesson centering on Christmas’ values and Robo Knight’s own attempt to understand those values couple to make Robo Knight Before Christmas another enjoyable Christmas episode of Saban’s Power Rangers franchise.  Staying on that same train of thought, the two Power Rangers episodes included as bonuses offer audiences their own positive lessons.  Neither episode takes place during Christmas or even the holiday season.  But they still teach invaluable lessons.  Power Rangers Wild Force’s episode “Team Carnival” teaches an important and invaluable lesson about self-worth.  The interesting thing of the episode is that the writers behind that season actually also took a non-traditional route in presenting said lesson.  In the case of this episode, that season’s writers presented the lesson through the use of the season’s villains Toxica (Sin Wong) and Jindrax (Danny Wayne).  When Jindrax sees that Toxica has her own family in the fight against the Power Rangers, it makes Jindrax feel worthless.  He ends up teaming up with his own family member to fight the rangers and still learns his own valuable lesson about self-worth in the long run.  It’s interesting to see any episode of the Power Rangers make a villain a sympathetic character.  But it works here.  That and the lesson centering on personal self-worth makes this episode its own invaluable addition to this DVD.  It’s one more reason that this latest Power Rangers is another *ahem* mega-hit for audiences.

The second of the bonus episodes included in the new Power Rangers Megaforce DVD, “The Spirit of Kindness,” comes from Power Rangers Jungle Fury.  The most important lesson taught through this episode could be argued to be that of the golden rule so to speak.  As audiences will see in this episode, Casey (Jason Smith)  finally wins over an old nemesis in Whiger (Jared Turner) and convinces Whiger to join him in fighting Whiger’s own former evil ally.  Whiger admits before disappearing that he fought alongside Casey because Casey was kind to him unlike the season’s other villains.  He finally realized in that final moment before his own demise the importance of kindness.  It taught Casey that kindness can be just as powerful as fighting, too.  That in itself is an extremely important lesson to be taken away from this episode.  It’s one more lesson that is just as important during the holiday season as any other time of the year.  This lesson combined with the others presented on this DVD shows once more how much the Power Rangers franchise has to offer audiences even two decades plus after it first debuted.

If the lessons taught in each of the DVD’s trio of episodes isn’t enough for audiences, then the fact that the DVD comes with a bonus digital copy will win over audiences.  Having that digital copy means that audiences can take all three of these episodes with them wherever they go.  So the lessons and the entertaining stories can be shared with any viewer without having to lug around the DVD.  It is the finishing touch to yet another DVD that any Power Rangers fan will appreciate.

Power Rangers Megaforce: Robo Knight Before Christmas is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=31609&TitleParentId=9994.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.