Anchor Bay’s Born To Race Franchise Revs Up Again This Summer

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Born To Race: Fast Track, the latest movie in Anchor Bay Entertainment’s Born To Race franchise, will be released this summer. The movie stars Brett Davern and Beau Mirchoff, both of MTV’s Awkward. The pair star as small-town racing rivals Danny and Jake. The pair ends up being partnered together after summer scholarship to a top tier racing school. Danny also finds himself in a relationship with love interest played by Tiffany DuPont (Greek). Veteran actor Corben Bernsen (Psych, L.A. Law, Major League) co-stars along with Diogo Morgado (The Messenger, The Bible, Son of God), Grant Show (Devious Maids, Melrose Place, Private Practice, Big Love), and Sharon Lawrence (Rizzoli & Isles).

Director Alex Ranarivelo returns to helm this latest installment of the Born To Race franchise. He also directed the franchise’s previous film. He is joined by screenwriter Steve Sarno, who also crafted the script for the franchise’s previous film, and producer Ali Afshar. Afshar also produced the previous Born to Race film. He is also a professional race car driver.

Born To Race: Fast Track will be available for digital download via iTunes August 29th. It will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and OnDemand Tuesday, September 9th. The DVD will retail for SRP of $22.98 while the Blu-ray will retail for SRP of $26.99. More information on Born to Race: Fast Track is available online via Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/BornToRaceMovie and http://twitter.com/borntoracemovie. More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, http://www.anchorbayent.com and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay. 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.

The Crystal Method To Appear On Last Call With Carson Daly Tonight

Courtesy: Tiny E Records

Courtesy: Tiny E Records

The Crystal Method will appear live overnight tonight on Last Call with Carson Daly

The hugely popular electronic duo—Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland— recently performed ‘Difference’ featuring Franky Perez and ‘Over It’ featuring Dia Frampton as part of a sold out show at L.A.’s El Ray Theatre.  The duo’s performance of those songs will be used for tonight/tomorrow morning’s broadcast of Last Call with Carson Daly.  Both songs come from The Crystal Method’s new self-titled album, which has reached the top spot on iTunes’ Electronic Albums Chart.  Those that won’t be able to catch tonight/tomorrow morning’s performance can still see the group’s performance of ‘Over It’ now online at https://soundcloud.com/#the-crystal-method/over-it-ft-dia-frampton-live.  The official video for ‘Over It’ featuring Dia Frampton can be viewed online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9MpeKm-imE

Jordan and Kirkland were joined on their new album by some well-known names including: Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails) on bass, Brain (Primus, Guns N’ Roses) on drums and Richad Fortus (Guns N’ Roses, Gravity Kills, The Psychadelic Furs).  The Crystal Method is available now in store and online.  It can be ordered direct from The Crystal Method’s official website, http://thecrystalmethod.com.  And while the duo currently has no tour dates announced, fans can get the latest tour updates, news, and more on the group’s official website, Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/thecrystalmethod.  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

PBS Documentary As Good As Any MTV Rockumentary

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

The ukulele is one of the most misunderstood and disrespected instruments in the music universe.  Much like the bagpipes, the ukulele has been the butt of so many jokes through the ages.  But as audiences will see in the new PBS special, Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings, the ukulele is deserving of far more respect than it gets.  This semi-rockumentary is as good as anything that MTV used to run during its golden era in the 90s.  Though considering the fact that MTV hasn’t run actual music programming in some years, it’s one more documentary that proves the value of PBS not to just older audiences, but to younger audiences, too.  The near hour-long documentary follows the superstar Hawaiian musician as he traverses the globe, making appearances in support of his albums.  Along the way, audiences learn about the man’s roots and get a glimpse of the man behind the music. By the time the near one-hour program ends, audiences will hopefully have a new view of the ukulele as a valid instrument and by connection a new view of PBS as a network that’s just as wonderful to watch as MTV if not more so at this rate.

Life on Four Strings is, as noted, as good as any music documentary presented by MTV during its heyday of the 90s.  It presents a young musician playing an instrument that most would consider a joke and makes them into a performer and instrument to be taken seriously.  Audiences will enjoy watching Shimabukuro as he shares his story of how he rose from being just another Hawaiian to being a world renowned musician, playing on the likes of Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Today Show, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  Most intriguing of all is that through it all, Shimabukuro remains humble in every situation.  And after his trip to the tsunami ravaged regions of Japan, audiences see just how humble he really is.  As a matter of fact, they hear first-hand from Shimabukuro himself as to the emotions he felt in seeing the destruction versus the joy that he was able to bring to the victims with just his music.  This is one of the documentary’s most moving of moments.  There are other moments that are other moments that are just as touching.  One of those moments is the story of the romance between Shimabukuro and his wife and their eventual announcement about expecting their first child.  Viewers will find their own favorite moments when they order this DVD for themselves.

The stories shared throughout the course of Life on Four Strings offer their own share of entertainment.  They would be nothing without video and solid production values to advance Shimabukuro’s story.  The transitions from one segment to another are solid and smooth.  And the ability of those behind the documentary to take the man’s material from his older days and transfer it to DVD is a credit to their work.  It’s that expert editing work that keeps viewers engaged throughout the presentation.  Again, this makes this feature just as good as anything produced by MTV in its glory days.  Being that MTV rarely plays that kind of documentary anymore, it shows that PBS can easily hold its own in its charge for younger audiences.  This isn’t the first time that PBS has released such an impressive documentary, either.  Last year’s release of a documentary centered on famed comedian John Leguizamo proved just as enjoyable.  If PBS keeps on this course, the network could very easily garner itself some of the biggest ratings that it’s had n a long time.  Here’s to hoping.  Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings is available now on DVD and can be ordered direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=20571686&cp=&kw=jake+shimabukuro+life+on+four+strings&origkw=Jake+Shimabukuro+Life+on+Four+Strings&sr=1.  More information on this and other PBS releases is available online via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pbs and on the official PBS website at http://www.pbs.org.

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.

Tiny Toons’ Final Set A Lackluster End To A Classic Cartoon Series

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Home Video

Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 4: Looney Links! Is allegedly the final installment of director Steven Spielberg’s hit Fox Kids cartoon franchise.  If this is indeed the final installment of the series, then it certainly is not the best way to end things.  While most of this set is presented in its entirety, there is one glaring problem with the set.  That issue comes in the episode, “Weekday Afternoon Live.” The episode in question actually splices the final minutes of the “Toon TV” in place of the final segment that aired in “Weekday Afternoon Live” in its original broadcast.  This is not like Warner Home Video to let such an error occur in its home releases.  This critic’s copy of Volume Four is not the only one that has done this either.  According to others who have purchased the set, they too have had the same thing happen to them.  That one major blunder aside, the remainder of the set will still bring enjoyment to long-time fans of this modern classic cartoon.

This new (and allegedly final) installment of Tiny Toon Adventures offers more than its share of laughs, poking fun at pop culture once again and even some former presidents.  This time around, Buster, Babs, and company take another stab at Batman (and director Tim Burton).  They also go after one of the biggest censorship groups of the time, the Parents Music Resource Council (PMRC).  Only instead of dealing with music, Buster and Babs have to face off certain parties that want to censor cartoons.  Long-time fans will recognize the episode “Toon TV.”  That’s because it’s quite similar to a previous episode from Season One titled, “Tiny Toons Music Television.”  It’s basically more music video spoofs.  This time, the Tiny Toons gang goes even further back in time, covering hits from The Coasters, The Contours, and Shirley Ellis and Lincoln Chase.  They even cover Tchaikovsky’s famed ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies’ in this episode.  Of course, this is just a sample of what audiences can expect from this final collection of episodes.  Buster and Babs pay tribute once more to the golden days of animation by trying to save a group of “two-Tone” toons from an evil executive.  There is much more to enjoy from this final portion of the show’s final season.  But as noted already, the episodes contained in this final series of episodes aren’t entirely that original, thus making it less enjoyable than the series’ first two seasons.

For the seemingly decreased sense of originality in these final episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures and the problematic error created in ‘Weekday Afternoon Live’, there is at least one equally noticeable positive to this set.  That positive is an episode the directly addresses the problem of bullying.  To be more specific, it presents the situation in which Shirley The Loon is bullied by her classmates at her ballet class.  Upon telling Babs about the harassment from her swan classmates, Babs vows to get even with them, which she indeed does.  Of course getting even isn’t what people who have been bullied should do.  This is by no means the message.  But it does in its own way, go after bullies.  At the same time, it re-tells the story of The Ugly Duckling.  So in essence, it’s actually a doubly enjoyable episode for this.

The one major sequencing problem evident with Tiny Toon Adventures Volume 4: Looney Links! is something that will continue to plague this set unless the people at Warner Home Video make the effort to alleviate this issue.  Luckily, it does have its positives as noted already.  Looking at this set from the perspective of its packaging, the people charged with assembling this set at least got that right.  As with so many multi-disc sets being released now, WHV has released this final installment in a standard single disc case with an insert.  The insert included allows for the set’s first disc to be placed in its own spot, thus protecting the disc from scratching and, in turn, preserving the disc (along with the second disc) to be preserved much longer.  So it is for that reason, and for the laughs offered throughout this collection, that it is worthy of at least some praise.  But the massive error of having the wrong episode spliced into the end of another and the rehashed previous episodes will make any long-time fan of Tiny Toon Adventures take notice that this set is not perfect.  It is far from it by chance because of these issues.  Despite that, it is still a good addition to the collection of any Tiny Toons Adventures fan.  With any luck, Warner Brothers and Warner Home Video will take notice of all the complaints from fans, and re-issue this set as it should be presented.

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 keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Queen Video Anthology Re-Issue An Important Piece Of Music History

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Queen’s newly re-released video anthology, “Queen: Greatest Video Hits”, is an important piece of music history.  It’s an important piece of music history not just for fans of Queen, but for music historians, music lovers and those in the business, too.  There are those who would like to speak and write negative things about this set.  Those same people obviously know little about what makes this anthology so important or about the history of music videos as a whole.  That includes music videos up to today.

In its earliest days, the music video was used mainly as a means to establish the identity of a given band and/or artist. With the advent of MTV, music videos began to slowly see a change from forming the identity for a band and/or artist to being an artistic outlet for directors.  Those newer music videos rarely had anything to do with the songs being performed by said bands and artists.  And in relation, those same videos also focused less and less on the bands and artists themselves.  Even music videos made today that actually do star a band and/or artist rarely have anything to do with the said band and/or artist’s song being featured.  In simple terms, music videos went from being excellent marketing tools for bands and artists–and their music–to being little more than excuses for overly artsy directors to do what they would consider flexing their “creative muscle.”  In direct contrast though, Queen did the opposite of what so many others bands and artists began to do over time.  It didn’t let those same overly artsy directors compromise its identity, staying front and center in every video released throughout its career.  What this did was maintain a certain balance between marketing the band as a unit and its music.  This is evident all the way from its hit, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ all the way to its much discussed video for ‘I Want To Break Free.’  And now audiences and music historians alike can look back and see that for themselves with this double disc set.   

The comparison of Queen’s music videos to those of so many other artists is just one significant factor that makes “Queen:  Greatest Video Hits” an important anthology.  Something else interesting occurs in watching the videos included here.  Viewers will notice that the band’s performance of ‘Spread Your Wings’ was likely recorded at the same time as the video for the band’s biggest hit of all, ‘We Will Rock You.’  The setting and attire is exactly the same in both videos.  The only difference is the music.  In relation, it’s interesting to note that ‘We Will Rock You’ has become a staple at hockey games across America and Canada to this day.  In relation, audiences will note in both videos that bassist John Deacon was actually sporting a Chicago Blackhawks coat.  Coincidence?  Probably.  But it’s interesting to note that.  Also, audiences will find equally interesting that the band’s video for ‘We Are The Champions’ was one of its standard live performance videos instead of what is presented in ‘We Will Rock You.’

The videos compiled in the collection by themselves exhibit the change not just in the industry, but musically in the band.  And in conjunction with the companion DVD and blu-ray, “Days of Our Lives”, the videos presented in “Greatest Video Hits” have an even deeper meaning.  Hearing the band discuss the different phases of the band’s career and everything that it went through in “Days of Our Lives” brings that much more meaning to this new anthology.  “Days Of Our Lives” was released earlier this year, also via Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision.

Both releases are available now both in stores and online.  They can both be ordered direct via Eagle Rock’s website at http://www.eagle-rock.com.          

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Green Day To Tour This Fall And Winter In Support Of New LP’s

Veteran punk rock band Green Day has officially announced the dates for its upcoming Fall/Winter tour.  The band will hit the road beginning November 26th in Seattle, Washington.  The band’s tour will take it first along the West Coast before making its way to the Northeast with a couple of stops in the Midwest along the way.  The band will play one show in the Midatlantic region in late January before heading back through the Northeast again and into Canada.  February will see Green Day make its way back to the Midwest on its way back to Nevada.

Courtesy: BB Gun press

 Fan club presales for the band’s upcoming tour will start this Wednesday, September 12th at 10am.  Audiences can join the band’s fan club and get a pre-order bundle online at http://splash.greenday.com.  Fans who order tickets online will also get one free digital download of the first of the band’s upcoming trilogy, “Uno.” 

The band’s upcoming tour is in support of its upcoming trilogy of new releases.  The first album in the new trilogy, “Uno”, will be available September 25th.  “Dos” will hit stores and online outlets November 13th.  And the trilogy’s closer, “Tre” will follow on January 15, 2013.  Fans can get all the latest news and tour dates from the band online at http://www.greenday.com, http://www.facebook.com/Greenday, http://twitter.com/greenday, and on its official YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/greenday.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Mister Rogers & Me a wonderful tribute to a wonderful person

Courtesy: Wagner Brothers/PBS

The one thing that makes me mad is one person demeaning another.  That’s a near direct quote from the recently releaed documentary, “Mister Rogers & Me.”  That statement came from the lips of the legendary Mister Rogers himself before his death, as noted in this documentary.  As simple as that statement is, it speaks volumes about a man who lived a simple life both on camera and off.  It also explained what makes Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood one of the most highly revered children’s programs to ever be created.

“Mister Rogers & Me” isn’t so much about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood so much as it is about the man after whom it was named, Fred Rogers.  In watching this new documentary, audiences get a glimpse at the impact that Mr. Rogers had (and still has to this day) on audiences young and old alike.  Mister Rogers was welcomed into countless households every day.  From authors to television personalities to regular every day families, Mister Rogers had a profound impact on people at every level.  The Wagner Brothers–David, Benjamin, and Christofer–interviewed personalities such as Arthur creator Marc Brown, NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg, and the late Tim Russert about the impact that Mr. Rogers had on their lives.  The sentiments shared by each one are enough to make audiences of any age tear up.  Their stories are that touching and powerful.  The stories shared by average every day audiences and their families are just as moving.

The stories shared by the Wagner Brothers’ intervewees make for an amazing story.  In an age when it’s next to impossible to know which adults can be trusted to be around our children, Mr. Rogers is still one of the rare individuals that parents have always been able to trust.  The Wagner Brothers explain what it was that that made Mister Rogers the beloved, trusted personality that he was, and even is today, even though he’s no longer with us.  Each segment of the documentary shares the values by which Mister Rogers lived, and in turn, shared with parents and children alike.  Each segment of the documentary is separated by a quote that explains Mister Rogers’ different values.  The separation helps to keep audiences’ attention from Benjamin Wagner’s first meeting with Mister Rogers to the final sentiments shared by the television icon with his audiences in his final broadcast.

Fred Rogers was everything that personalities on television today aren’t.  He was a simple person.  He lived a simple life.  He was genuine.  This documentary proves to audiences that the man they saw in front of the camera was the same one they saw behind the camera.  He wasn’t just some personality.  He didn’t try to push products.  He just wanted audiences of all ages to know that no matter who they were (and are) he liked them just the way they are.  And as the interviews shared in this documentary prove, one simple statement is all the world needs.  Call him a dreamer.  But if the entire world shared one kind word with one another each day, odds are, this world would be a much better place in whcih to live.  It would certainly be a fitting tribute to a man who lived this belief every day of his life.  Thankfully, with this new documentary, The Wagner Brothers and PBS have reminded everyone that all the world needs is a little kindness.  With any luck, this reminder will get more people to try to share that kindness and pay tribute in their own way, too.  And maybe one day, we’ll all be able to say to one another, “I like you just the way you are”, too.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks and “Like” it or its companion page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can also keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.