Santana Shows The Way In The Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Live CDs List

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Experiencing a live performance of one’s favorite act(s) is a very special event.  That is because it serves to help fans and their favorite acts connect in a way that taking in said acts’ studio releases just can’t.  What’s more attending live concerts isn’t always easy or inexpensive.  Between the cost of tickets, food, souvenirs, gas, and lodging, attending concerts can cost almost as much as a used car sometimes, depending on the act.  In other cases, one’s favorite acts might never even come near one’s town.  So what is a person to do to experience one’s favorite acts?  The answer is simple: the live recording.  That brings us to the topic of today’s “Best Of” list.

Today, Phil’s Picks presents its list of the year’s Top 10 New Live CDs.  Everyone should understand this is distinguished from the year’s top new live DVDs and BDs.  That’s because some recordings come only on CD while others are only presented on the latter format.  Others are also presented in both formats both separate of one another and collectively.  The recordings included in this list include both standalone CDs and CDs included in complete DVD/BD/CD sets.  One of the standalone live CDs included in this list is ZZ Top’s new live recording Greatest Hits Live.  The Outlaws’ Legacy Live is another of those standalone CD recordings.  Joe Bonamassa also has a new live recording in the form of Live at the Greek Theatre that is available on separate CD, DVD, and BD platforms.  It’s on this list, too.  Suffice it to say, there’s a healthy mix of new live titles here both in terms of genre and platform.  So, enough rambling.  Presented here for you is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Live CDs.

It should be noted here again that the list includes the Phil’s Picks Top 10 new Live CDs as well as five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 recordings.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW LIVE CDs

 

  1. Santana IV Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas
  1. ZZ TopGreatest Hits Live
  1. Judas PriestBattle Cry
  1. KISSKISS Rocks Vegas
  1. Joe Bonamassa Live at the Greek Theatre
  1. The OutlawsLegacy Live

  2. The Rolling StonesHavana Moon

  3. Motley Crue – The End: Live in Los Angeles

  4. SaxonFeel Your Power

  5. Imagine DragonsSmoke + Mirrors Live

  6. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression

  7. Ayreon – The Theater Equation
  8. Pete Townshend’s Deep EndFace The Face

  9. Wacken 201526 Years Louder Than Hell

  10. LeprousLive at Rockefeller Center

 

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Every Dark Comedy Fan Should See ‘Men & Chicken’ At Least Once

Courtesy: Drafthouse Films

Courtesy: Drafthouse Films

The dark comedy is one of the movie industry’s least appreciated genres.  That is likely because it isn’t a genre targeted at widespread audiences.  It is very much a niche genre.  Movies such as Fargo, The Cable Guy and others of that ilk are prime examples of that.  They are movies that will not appeal as widely as general comedies and rom-coms.  So it’s understandable that when Men & Chicken (from M&M Productions and DCM Productions) was imported to America early this year, it didn’t exactly make a big splash.  It had the cards stacked against it being an import and a foreign language flick and being a dark comedy.  But suffice it to say that fans of dark comedies whose minds are open enough will appreciate this movie.  It is potentially the most bizarre dark comedy that the genre’s fans will ever see, but still one that any dark comedy fan should see at least once.  That is due at least in part to its story, which is definitely original to say the very least.  The work of the movie’s cast can’t be ignored here either.  It is just as important to note.  The movie’s packaging in its recent home release (via Drafthouse Films) is also important to its presentation.  One could also note the bonus booklet and bonus digital download provided in the movie’s home release in examining its presentation, too.  All things considered, Men & Chicken shows itself to be a bizarre work of a dark comedy, but a work nonetheless, that every dark comedy fan should see at least once.  Fair warning to those fans, though:  Once it’s been seen, it can’t be unseen.

Late this past October, indie movie studio Drafthouse Films released the Danish dark comedy Men & Chicken for American audiences on DVD/BD/digital combo pack.  The movie was originally released in its home country early last year and imported to American theaters early this year.  In other words, it has been a long road for this movie to finally be available for American home viewers.  Truly open-minded dark comedy fans will agree that long wait was well worth it, too.  That statement is supported primarily via the movie’s story.  The story centers on two brothers, Gabriel and Elias, who find out that they are not related by blood after the death of their father.  As the duo heads out together in search of their birth mothers, they meet three other men who turn out to be half brothers, too.  However, the trio isn’t what Elias and Gabriel (or audiences) expect.  The men—Gregor, Franz and Josef—live in an empty mansion where they grew up.  When any of the trio does something really bad, he is put in a cage (yes, a cage) on the mansion’s property or is beaten with a random blunt object.  The physical comedy is disturbing to say the very least.  At the same time, one can’t deny the similarity between the trio’s physical comedy to that of the Three Stooges.  Sure, the comedy here is a little bit more violent to say the least.  But the similarity is there regardless.  It can’t be denied.  That’s just part of what makes the movie so bizarre and entertaining all at once.  The secrets that are revealed as Gabriel and Elias investigate the mansion will leave dark comedy fans laughing just as much as they will be left scratching their heads.  It sounds confusing, but that is perhaps the story’s purpose; to entertain dark comedy fans in a way that no other dark comedy ever has.  Throughout the process, audiences will laugh uproariously at the dinner scenes in which the brothers quarrel over (of all things) the dinner plates.  What is interesting here is that in hindsight, there is actually a connection between the plates and the secrets revealed through Gabriel and Elias’ investigation.  Audiences will only catch the connection if they make themselves sit through the entirety of the nearly two-hour movie.  That shouldn’t be tough for real dark comedy fans to do.  As an added note, audiences who watch through the whole movie will also agree that while the movie’s story is extremely bizarre and twisted, it also has a certain heart about it, too.  That is exhibited through the story’s emphasis on family.  There is a lot noted here in regards to the story presented in Men & Chicken.  Even with everything noted (and everything not noted) it should be clear that the story at the center of this movie is undeniably important to the movie’s presentation.  It is just one of the movie’s key elements.  The cast’s work on camera is just as important to note in examining the movie’s presentation as its story.

The story at the heart of Men & Chicken is undeniably an important piece of the movie’s presentation.  That is the case even as twisted and bizarre as it is.  It is original.  There’s no denying that.  And it has a fair balance of heart along with its dark comedic elements.  While the movie’s story is clearly an important part of the movie’s presentation, it is just one of the movie’s most important elements.  The work of the movie’s cast in front of the camera is just as important to note in examining the movie’s presentation as the movie’s story.  David Dencik (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Royal Affair, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) is outstanding both on his own and alongside his cast mates.  His very portrayal of Gabriel as the nerdy yet somewhat neurotic figure is so entertaining.  He makes Gabriel a fully sympathetic character as he has to deal with his newly found, almost feral (subtle hint here) half brothers.  Dencik’s balance of innocence and determination to find the answers about his birth mother is spot on from beginning to end.  Speaking of Dencik’s cast mates, they are just as entertaining in their own right.  Audiences will be especially interested to watch Soren Malling (A Royal Affair, Idealisten, A Hijacking) in the role of Franz.  Malling is a professionally trained comedic actor, so this role was a good fit for him.  He expertly tackles Franz’s serious demeanor in his portrayal.  At the same time, his tendencies toward using stuffed animals to beat his brothers (and apparently others) is just as hilarious, even as disturbing as it is.  It makes this seemingly serious character just as disturbed as his “brothers” and in turn, shows again the importance of the cast’s work.  Nicolas Bro and Nikolaj Lie Kaas are just as entertaining as Josef and Gregor, who live with Franz in the family mansion where Gabriel and Elias meet them.  The pair’s innocence and disturbed nature is handled just as expertly by Bro and Kaas as Malling’s take on Franz.  Mads Mikkelson’s take on Elias adds to the picture to make for even more hilarity.  Each man’s work is clearly important to the whole of the cast’s impact on the movie’s presentation.  All things considered, the cast’s work here proves to be just as important to the whole of Men & Chicken as the story at the center of the movie.

Both the story at the center of Men & Chicken and the work of the movie’s cast are important to the movie’s overall presentation.  That has hopefully been made clear by now.  While both elements are clearly important in their own right to the movie’s overall presentation, they are not its only key elements.  The movie’s packaging in its recent home release is just as important to note as its story and acting.  The movie was released late this past October on DVD/BD/digital combo pack.  The movie’s DVD and BD presentations each receive their own disc here.  The digital download is provided via a code included on an insert inside the movie’s case.  That is all well and good.  But what is truly intriguing about the movie’s packaging is the manner in which the movie’s DVD and BD discs are packaged.  They are packaged in a fashion similar to the older multi-disc packaging format, with one disc overlapping the other.  However, it is not directly identical to that format.  In fact the secondary package is placed in such fashion that while the primary disc still has to be removed in order to access it and replace it, that secondary disc won’t be damaged when replaced because of where the spindle is placed in comparison to the primary disc’s spindle.  It must be seen to be fully appreciated.  While the discs could have been better packaged (as in the form of most modern multi-disc DVD and BD sets), packaging the movie’s discs as they were handled here is still actually smart in its own way.  It still isn’t the last element that could be noted in examining the movie’s overall presentation, either.  The movie’s availability on digital download in the movie’s packaging and the companion booklet that comes with the movie’s packaging are both key in their own right, too.  All things considered, the overall presentation of Men & Chicken, with its bizarre yet original story and equally entertaining acting and packaging makes this movie a work that every dark comedy fan should see at least once.

Men & Chicken is one of the most twisted, bizarre dark comedies to come along in a very long time.  It is a work that may even surprise American dark comedy fans.  That is thanks to the clear influence of not only the Cohen Brothers but also because of the classic slapstick elements of The Three Stooges in the brothers’ interactions.  The incorporation of the dark elements of The Island of Dr. Moreau into the story makes it stand out even more.  It is quite the interesting hybrid to say the least.  But it works here, and because it works as well as it does, it will leave American audiences agreeing it is a story that every dark comedy fan should see at least once.  The story is just one element to note in examining the movie’s presentation.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note here as the story itself.  Both by themselves and alongside one another the movie’s cast shines superbly here.  The movie’s packaging in its recent domestic release via Drafthouse Films is just as important to note as anything else in examining what makes this indie import such a surprise hit.  The companion booklet that comes with the movie’s home release and its digital download round out the most important of the movie’s elements in its home release.  Each element proves important in its own right, as has already been proven here.  All together, they make Men & Chicken, once again, a work that every dark comedy fan should see at least once.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via Drafthouse Films’ online store here.  More information on this and other titles from Drafthouse Films is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.drafthousefilms.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Drafthousefilms

 

 

 

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PBS’ New Tesla Profile Is An “Electrifying” New Episode Of ‘American Experience”

Courtesy: Public Media Distribution

Courtesy: Public Media Distribution

Nikola Tesla is one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.  It was thanks to his genius that the world enjoys the benefits of alternating current every single day.  That was his greatest accomplishment and certainly not his only accomplishment.  He was a brilliant person.  There is no doubt about that. But for all of his brilliance, he was also a troubled man, as is revealed in a recently released episode of PBS’ hit biography-based program American Experience.  PBS Distribution released American Experience: Tesla on DVD late last month.  The program follows the rise and eventual fall of one of the modern world’s greatest minds.  That story is the most important of the program’s elements.  It will be discussed shortly.  The information presented throughout the program is just as important to note as the program itself.  The interviews used alongside the story’s information round out the most important of the program’s elements.  That is because they further illustrate Tesla’s story even more richly.  Each element is important in its own way to the program’s overall presentation.  All things considered, American Experience: Tesla proves to be one more of this year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: Tesla is one more of this year’s top new documentaries.  That should come as no surprise being that it is a product of PBS.  Quality programming is exactly what PBS is known for producing, and this program is no exception to that rule.  That is proven in part through its story.  The story takes audiences deeper into Tesla’s life and career than most have likely ever been.  It presents Tesla as the great mind that everyone has come to know him as being through their history classes at every level.  It also presents another side of Tesla that likely few have ever known or been taught about.  That side of Tesla is a man who was extremely naïve.  If he hadn’t torn up his royalty contract with George Westinghouse, he might have been remembered in a much different light today than he is remembered.  At the same time, though that might not be the case.  That is because, as is revealed in this new biography, he apparently suffered from at least one major mental disability—obsessive compulsive disorder—if not others that went undiagnosed.  It’s anyone’s guess if his many obsessive tendencies ultimately played into his downfall.  But considering how many tendencies he had, one can’t help but wonder if there might have been a connection between those tendencies and his ultimate failure.  Those tendencies will be discussed later in the discussion on the program’s information.  Connection or not, the story presented in this episode of AE is one that likely few have ever learned about one of America’s (and the world’s) most important figures.

The story that is presented at the center of American Experience: Tesla is a fully engaging presentation for audiences of all types.  It will interest anyone studying the history of electricity and electrical appliances.  It will also interest students and teachers from middle school on through college level classes as well as history buffs in general.  That is because it shows a side of Tesla that is rarely taught at any level.  While the story itself is so important to the overall presentation of this episode of AE, it is not the program’s only important element.  The information that is presented throughout the hour-long program is just as important to note as the story itself.  That’s because the information presented in the story is what keeps the story interesting.  One of the most interesting pieces of information presented in this story is the revelation of how Tesla first became interested in electricity. The program reveals that Tesla first became interested in electricity as a child one day as he was petting his cat.  That story in itself is certain to surprise audiences.  Just as surprising is the revelation of Tesla’s naivety.  Viewers will learn here that Tesla died penniless of his own doing.  This is despite his genius.  Tesla allegedly, in his short sight, tore up a contract for royalties for his AC patent that could have made him rich beyond belief.  But because of that immaturity and naivety, he would eventually enter a downward spiral from which he would never escape.  Also of interest is the revelation that Tesla suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder.  He didn’t suffer from just one obsessive tendency, either.  Those tendencies included things like staying only in rooms divisible by three when he stayed at hotels (no, that’s not a joke), avoiding human touch and having issues with germs among other issues.  There is no way to definitively connect that issue to his eventual downfall.  Though, making claims late in his life that he had received communication from Mars likely didn’t help any.  It also might have pointed to other potential mental issues along with things like sending packages to Mark Twain after Twain’s death and something having to do with feeding pigeons (yes, feeding pigeons).  Taking all of this into consideration, one still might not be able to definitively connect his obvious mental issues with his downfall.  But it definitely gives ground to a theory that there could have been a connection between his mental issues and his downfall.  One has to wonder at the same time, if OCD had been officially diagnosed during Tesla’s life, and that aside, what could have potentially led to those problems.  Those are definitely matters for another episode of AE that could focus on Tesla.  Hopefully the people at PBS will take that less than subtle hint and look into doing just that.  That aside, it should be clear by now just how important the information presented in American Experience: Tesla is to its story.  It paints a picture in this story, of a man that few people know about or about which few have ever known.  Even with that in mind, it should be clear why this program’s story and its information are both so important to its presentation.  They are just two of its key elements to note, too.  The interviews included in the story add even more insight to the program, and in turn depth and enjoyment.

The story at the center of American Experience: Tesla and the information presented therein are both important in their own right to the program’s overall presentation.  That is because both by themselves and collectively, they present a picture of Tesla that is and has been rarely presented at any level.  They combine to present Tesla both as a brilliant figure, but also as a man with a troubled mind.  It is very possible that troubled mind could have played a part in Tesla’s downfall.  While it can’t be definitely proven, the number of tendencies that he presented in his adult life form a solid base for a theoretical connection between those tendencies and his downfall.  Keeping all of this in mind, the story presented in American Experience: Tesla and its information are both clearly important to its presentation.  However, they are not its only important elements.  The interviews included in the program are just as important as the program’s story and its information.  That is due to the extra depth that they add to the story.  Viewers get to hear from academics and scientists who have deep knowledge of Tesla and his life throughout the program.  Their personal insight into Tesla and his legacy is so important because they explain much of what is in the program in layman’s terms.  This makes the noted information more accessible, and in turn enjoyable, to everyday audiences.  That accessibility is the finishing touch to a program that is already interesting just because it presents one of the world’s greatest minds in a rarely presented portrait.  When this added, easily accessible insight is joined alongside the program’s story and its information, the end result is a program that for many will prove both engaging and shocking (bad pun fully intended).  They also collectively support the statement that this episode of AE is one of this year’s top new documentaries.

American Experience: Tesla is one of 2016’s top new documentaries.  It is also more proof of why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.  That is evidenced primarily through the program’s story.  It is not the standard Tesla story with which most audiences might be familiar.  It presents Tesla both as a man with a brilliant mind and a troubled mind.  Considering all of the information about that troubled mind—which is another one of the program’s key elements—it can at least be theorized that his troubled mind could have played a part in his downfall.  While the story presented in this episode of AE and its information are both key to the program’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The interviews included in the program are just as important to note.  That is because they make the program more accessible for everyday audiences through their layman’s explanations of the story’s information.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the program’s presentation.  All things considered, American Experience: Tesla proves to be one of 2016’s top new documentaries and a truly “shocking” presentation.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Star Paws’ Is A Stellar Miss For Ruthless Studios, MVD Visual

Courtesy: MVD Visual/Ruthless Studios

Courtesy: MVD Visual/Ruthless Studios

MVD Visual has a real knack for releasing impressive documentaries.  This year’s crop of new documentaries is proof of that.  It includes the likes of: Raiders: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, Zydeco Crossroads: A Tale of Two Cities and Back in Time just to name a few titles.  That’s just a few titles from this year.  It has released a number of enjoyable documentary titles in past years, too.  While MVD Visual has succeeded quite well in the documentary realm, its cinematic releases are another story.  Those releases have been hit and miss with its foreign import Men and Chicken being one of its rare hits most recently.  Later this month, MVD Visual will release a new children’s flick from indie studio Ruthless Studios called Star Paws that sadly is one of the company’s misses.  This CG/Live Action hybrid is a disappointment not just in the world of children’s movies but in general, too.  There is not a lot to say to the positive about this largely forgettable flick other than it is a good way to get young viewers interested in dinosaurs and paleontology.  Other than that, there is not much that can be said positive about this movie.

Star Paws, the new family flick from Ruthless Studios and MVD Visual is a real miss for MVD Visual in its lengthy list of cinematic features.  There is not a lot that can be said positive about this largely forgettable work.  While it does have at best one positive, that one positive isn’t enough to make up for its negatives, which begin with the very issues of its production values.  The movie’s production values (or lack thereof) make this work look like something that was crafted by a middle school student.  That is evident in an item such as the “time machine,” which is clearly just a box covered in tin foil.  This is only the tip of the massive iceberg that is the movie’s poor quality production values.  Even more troubling is the total imbalance in the movie’s CG elements and live action elements.  The dogs and chickens (yes, chickens) are the only actual animals that are used in the movie.  The dinosaurs and cats are all CG as are the space battle scenes and most of the backgrounds.  Sometimes, the backgrounds are little more than blue screens placed behind the dogs, which gives the movie an even cheaper, low-budget look.  That hurts the movie even more.  At other times, the movie’s crew just used random footage for scene shots.  It only gets worse from here, but that will be discussed later.  For all of the movie’s many negatives, it does have at least one positive.  That positive is the educational content centered on the dinosaurs.

Star Paws is marred by problems from the beginning to the end of its 78-minute run time.  From completely low-budget, amateurish production values to a total historical inaccuracy in its mention of the Civil War (audiences will have to see the movie to understand this) to the abhorrent voice acting, there is little to nothing that can be said to the positive about this movie.  Its one noticeable positive is its educational content centered on dinosaurs.  The movie is to be commended for teaching a very elementary level lesson about dinosaurs that will entertain 4 and 5-year-olds.  While those audiences likely won’t be able to properly pronounce the names of the dinosaurs presented, the information provided about them makes for a good starting point in lessons for teachers and parents about dinosaurs. Other than that one positive, there is nothing else that can be said about this movie, other than the fact that it at least doesn’t even come close to the 90-minute mark.

The educational dinosaur content that is presented in Star Paws is a good starting point both for teachers and parents in developing lessons about said creatures for 4 and 5-year-old audiences.  Other than that one element, there is honestly no other positive to this disappointing extremely low-budget family flick.  It has already been noted that the movie suffers greatly from its production values in so many ways.  The issues that it faces with its embarrassing production values are not the only issues from which it suffers.  It also suffers from poor writing; more specifically a poor story.  The story centers on the race between an evil cat called Adventure Cat and a group of dogs to get a magical prehistoric bone.  The bone in question gives its owner untold power.  Both parties have to travel back to prehistoric times to get the bone, all while dodging dinosaurs (CG dinosaurs for that matter who look like they came from a late 90s video game).  The story ties in the concept of a time loop as a means for Adventure Cat and the dogs to return to their own time.  Even that element’s use can be brought into question in the movie’s overall story.  So much more could be said here.  But the fact of the matter is that there is just not enough time or space to point out all of the problems with this movie’s story.  It is that problematic.  The same can be said of the voice cast’s work, which throughout feels so forced and cheesy to say the very least.  Between these issues, the issues associated with its cheap production values, and other issues, it can be determined that there is no saving Star Paws.  This is even with the one positive in its educational content.  It is a disappointing cinematic offering from MVD Visual and Ruthless Studios.

MVD Visual and Ruthless Studios’ new family flick Star Paws is a disappointing offering from the two independent organizations.  There is sadly little to nothing positive that can be said about this extremely low-budget, live action/CG hybrid story.  It suffers greatly from issues in its writing, its acting and its production values.  Between its writing, voice acting and production values, this movie feels like it is all over the place from start to finish.  Even the one positive—its educational dinosaur content—is not enough to save it, considering its overpowering negatives.  All things considered, Star Paws proves to be a disappointing offering from MVD Visual and Ruthless Studios.  It is more proof, considering MVD Visual’s record with cinematic release, that maybe it should stick with documentary films rather than cinematic works.  More information on this and other titles from Ruthless Studios is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.RuthlessStudios.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RuthlessMovies

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from MVD Visual is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.MVDvisual.com

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

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Uncovers A Little Known Piece Of American History In A New Episode Of AmEx

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

On January 10, 2017, PBS Distribution will take viewers 36 years into the past to a date that while insignificant to most, is much more important to a select few in a new episode of American Experience.

PBS Distribution will release American Experience: Command and Control on Tuesday, January 10. The film follows the events of September 18, 1980, when America almost suffered one of the worst nuclear catastrophes in its history.

It was on that date that a Titan II ballistic missile housed at a complex in Damascus, Arkansas almost caused what would have been one of the nation’s worst nuclear disasters.  The events began when maintenance on the rocket by two men when horribly wrong after a socket from one of the men’s wrenches fell 70 feet down the silo and punctured the missile.

When the rocket was punctured, highly flammable rocket fuel leaked from the missile.  The fuel filled the silo, and over the next eight hours, officials worked to keep the missile, which had a warhead 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, from exploding inside the silo and causing potentially unheard of damage.

The missile was powerful enough to destroy much of Arkansas and spread radioactive fallout across the East Coast.  Being that nothing of that caliber had ever happened before then, the Air Force had no procedures in place to handle the situation.

The two-hour program mixes into its central story the secondary story of America’s nuclear weapons program from WWII through the Cold War.  It is based largely on recently declassified documents.  In turns it asks some very powerful and important questions, making audiences really think about the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

American Experience: Command and Control will be released Tuesday, January 10.  It runs two hours and will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  It is also available there in a combo pack that includes author Eric Schlosser’s book on which the program is based.

More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

CMG Shines Again With ‘Sudden Fear’ Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Cohen Media Group

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Later next month, Cohen Media Group will re-issue Joseph Kaufman Productions’ 1951 noir thriller Sudden Fear on Blu-ray. The movie, an adaptation of author Edna Sherry’s book by the same name, is a surprisingly enjoyable cinematic work.  That is due in part to its story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s main stars—Joan Crawford, Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame—is just as important to note as the movie’s story to the overall presentation of the movie’s upcoming re-issue.  The bonus commentary included with the movie’s upcoming re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way to the presentation of the movie’s upcoming re-issue.  All things considered, Cohen Media Group’s re-issue of Sudden Fear proves to be one of 2016’s top new re-issues.

Cohen Media Group’s upcoming re-issue of Joseph Kaufman Productions’ 1952 hit noir thriller Sudden Fear is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  This is proven in part through the movie’s story.  Sudden Fear’s story was adapted from a page turner by the same name written by author Edna Sherry.  It follows lead character Myra Hudson (Crawford) as she meets and falls in love with actor Lester Blaine (Palance).  As the story progresses, Myra marries Lester Blaine, but finds out later he hadn’t married her for love at all, but rather for money.  As she discovers by chance, he is plotting with another woman to murder her and take her money.  There’s a certain irony to the plot that audiences will appreciate in hindsight.  As it turns out because of his greed and short sightedness, he didn’t even know he could have had even more money.  It serves to show the old adage that crime never pays is very true, and is a great addition to the story, especially in its subtlety.  What’s even more interesting in dissecting the story is that being made in 1952, the story seemed pretty much run-of-the-mill back then.  But now in the 21st century, one need just watch an episode of 48 Hours, Dateline or 20/20 to see just how realistic such a story can be and is.  Add in relatively stable pacing over the course of the story’s near two-hour run time (the movie runs 110 minutes, just shy of the two-hour mark) and audiences get a story that forms a solid foundation for the movie’s presentation and that of its upcoming re-issue.  It is just one part of what makes the movie’s upcoming re-issue so enjoyable.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note here as the movie’s story.

The story at Sudden Fear’s base is a hugely important part of the movie’s presentation.  On one level, it does make some changes from author Edna Sherry’s original novel on which it is based.  But it still strives to stay at least somewhat true to its source material.  On another level, it is a simple story that audiences will have no trouble following, yet is still so gripping.  On its last level, its pacing makes its 110-minute run time pass by with relative ease, even in its somewhat slower moments. Keeping that in mind, the movie’s story, again, forms a solid foundation for its presentation.  While it is clearly an important piece of the movie’s presentation, it is just one of the movie’s key elements.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note here as that of its writers—Lenore J. Coffee, Robert Smith and Joan Crawford herself (this will be discussed later).  Crawford, as audiences will learn through the bonus commentary included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue, was hardly a rookie actor when she took on the role of Myra Hudson in this movie.  In fact, Turner Classic Movies writer and author Jeremy Arnold reveals that Crawford had starred in more than 70 (yes, 70 plus movies) at the time that she starred in Sudden Fear.  Her years of experience showed clearly in her performance here as she progressed from strong, confident, self-assured playwright to standard female romantic lead back to that strong, confident, self-assured figure in the end.  There were so many moments throughout where Crawford easily could have chewed some scenery such as when Myra first discovers by chance that Lester had only married her for her money or in the story’s final chase scene.  But she didn’t allow herself to do that, instead exhibiting clearly those years of experience.  That control made her acting so enjoyable to take in.  Her talent will make audiences across the board cheer her on as she defies Lester and makes her own plan to stop him.  Hers is just one example of what makes the cast’s wok so notable in this movie.  Palance is just as impressive in his portrayal of the evil, scheming Lester.

Joan Crawford’s portrayal of Myra in this movie is spot on from beginning to end.  Audiences will find themselves riveted by her performance as she journeys from a strong, confident woman to the standard female lead back to her strong, confident self.  Crawford’s years of experience help her shine throughout her performance here, as she remains the consummate professional even in scenes where it would have been so easy for her to ham it up and really chew the scenery so to speak.  This professionalism makes her portrayal of Myra completely believable.  Hers isn’t the only work that should be noted here.  Co-star Jack Palance’s work as Lester Blaine is just as notable.  Palance is likely known to most audiences as the hardened cowboy Curly from City Slickers (1991).  So his portrayal as the greedy Lester Blaine here is a surprising and entertaining change of pace.  He makes audiences love to hate Lester as Lester and Irene plot to kill Myra.  That’s not just because of his plotting but because of the personality that he gives Lester in his portrayal.  Audiences will note that as confident as Lester proves to be, he is also quite lacking in confidence and somewhat maniacal.  That is exhibited in the story’s final act as Lester and Irene’s plan (or technically Myra’s plan, not to give away too much) begins to unravel.  Lester’s reaction (including his emoting) as he chases Myra is the clearest example of that lack of confidence and maniacal nature.  Audiences will be enthralled as they watch Lester so determinedly chase her, to the point that he makes one fatal mistake (which won’t be given away here), leading up to the story’s finale.  Between his work on camera and that of Crawford, the pair shows with full clarity the importance of the cast’s work to the movie’s presentation.  The moments displayed here are just some of the moments in which their work shines.  Audiences will find plenty of other moments in which their work proves so important to the movie’s presentation when they purchase or order the movie’s re-issue for themselves.  Even when all of those moments are combined with the work of the movie’s writing team, they show themselves to be only two of the movie’s key elements.  The bonus commentary that is included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue rounds out the movie’s most important elements.

The work of Sudden Fear’s writers and cast members are both important in their own way to the movie’s presentation.  The writers’ work is so important because of the way in which they adapted author Edna Sherry’s novel for the big screen.  It changes some of the material in Sherry’s story, but still ends up presenting a gripping story that will keep viewers on the edge of their collective seats.  Lead stars Joan Crawford and Jack Palance are impressive, too as the movie’s leads.  Their cast mates as entertaining in their own right, too.  While the work of the movie’s cast and writers proves to be in key to the movie’s presentation in the end, they are only a couple of the elements that make the movie such a surprisingly entertaining work.  The bonus commentary that is included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Turner Classic Movies writer and author Jeremy Arnold provides the commentary for the movie in its upcoming re-issue.  It isn’t the first time that he has provided commentary for one of CMG’s classics re-issues.  He also provided commentary for the recent re-issues of Lured and A Scandal in Paris by CMG.  He offers plenty of important information in his commentary here, just as in the company’s previous re-issues.  Some of that important information includes the revelation that the idea to adapt Sherry’s novel to the big screen originally came from Crawford.  The problem with adapting it was that it couldn’t be done until Crawford could get out of her contract with Warner Brothers.  Arnold also reveals through his commentary the decision on the movie’s director even came from Crawford and that Sherry’s novel actually took place entirely in New York.  He explains Sherry’s story never involved San Francisco, a train ride or certain other elements incorporated into the story’s big screen adaptation.  He even gives viewers a little bit of a history lesson on Crawford’s early career in his commentary, revealing Crawford’s birth name and how she gained her screen name of Crawford.  That story in itself will give viewers a little bit of a laugh.  Between these revelations and so many others, Arnold provides viewers with lots of invaluable information throughout the movie.  That mass of material is one more example of the importance of audio commentary in any movie’s home release.  It can take a bad movie and potentially make it worth a second watch, or it can take a good movie (such as this work) and make it great.  Considering that along with the writing team’s adaptation of Sherry’s story and the cast’s work, the movie proves in whole to be a work that movie lovers and classic film buffs alike will enjoy.  It combines to make Sudden Fear one of this year’s top new re-issues.

Cohen Media Group’s upcoming re-issue of Joseph Kaufman Productions’ Sudden Fear is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  That is evidenced in its story, adapted from Edna Sherry’s original novel.  While the story presents a number of differences from Sherry’s literary work, it is still an entertaining work in its own right.  There are a lot of moviemakers out there today who could take a lesson from the writing team’s approach to this story considering that.  The work of the movie’s cast on camera is just as important to note here, especially that of lead stars Joan Crawford and Jack Palance.  Their work will keep viewers just as engaged and entertained as the story itself.  The bonus commentary included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue rounds out the most important of its elements.  Jeremy Arnold once again offers a great depth of knowledge about and appreciation for the movie, even as robotic as his delivery seems at times.  Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s presentation here.  All things considered, CMG’s upcoming re-issue of Sudden Fear proves itself to be one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  It will be available Tuesday, December 13.  More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://cohenmedia.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cohenmediagroup

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Heart Fans Everywhere Will Appreciate The Band’s Latest Live Recording

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Heart is one of the most respected bands in the music industry’s modern era.  The band has performed around the world many times over the course of its four decade plus life.  It has sold millions of records and has earned countless accolades for its talents and accomplishments.  For all that the band has done and earned throughout its life, there is still likely a lot that it hasn’t yet done.  Earlier this summer, though it knocked one item off of its to do list when it performed live at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall for the first time ever.  The performance was a sold out show, exhibiting clearly the place that Heart still holds within the music community’s upper echelon.  This Friday, December 2, audiences will get to own that performance for themselves on separate DVD and Blu-ray platforms as well as CD and digital platform in the form of Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  Heart’s fans will find plenty to appreciate about the recording beginning with its set list.  That will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance of that set list is just as important to note as the set list.  The concert’s audio mix rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the concert’s overall presentation.  All things considered, it proves to be a piece that any devout Heart fan will be happy to have in his or her music library regardless of the chosen platform.

Heart’s latest live recording Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a piece that any devout Heart fan will be happy to have in his or her music library.  That is due in part to the concert’s set list.  The seventeen-song set list goes all the way back to the band’s 1976 debut album Dreamboat Annie and even as recent as its latest album Beautiful Broken, which was released this past July.  It also includes a cover of Led Zepplin’s hit song ‘No Quarter’ in its body, and a Lovemongers cover in ‘Sand,’ which was included in Heart’s own 2010 album Red Velvet Car.  Obviously there’s no way that the band could cover every one of its 16 albums so far.  But it still pulls from a healthy number of its albums.  The band’s 2016 album Beautiful Broken is the most heavily represented of the band’s album in this concert with four total songs represented in the set list.  The band’s 1976 debut record Dreamboat Annie comes in second with three songs.  The other albums featured in the concert are: Little Queen (2 songs), Bebe le Strange (2 songs), Heart (2 songs), Bad Animals (1 song) and Fanatic (1 song).  Considering the band pulled from half of its current albums to make the body of this concert is impressive.  It showed the band really put some thought into its set list rather than just tossing a bunch of its songs together.  It wanted to give its audiences and fans the best show possible if only in terms of its set list.  Of course the set list is just one of the elements that makes the show such a welcome addition to fans’ music libraries.  The band’s performance of its set list will entertain audiences just as much as the show’s set list.

The set list that is featured in Heart’s new live recording is by itself a key piece of the concert’s presentation.  It pulls from half of the band’s extensive sixteen-album catalogue.  That is including the band’s holiday album, and no there obviously are no Christmas songs in this set list since the concert was recorded this past June. The show’s set list is just one part of what makes the concert stand out for fans.  The band’s performance of its set list is just as important to note as the set list itself starting with the work of guitarists Nancy Wilson and Craig Bartock.  The pair expertly captures the emotion of every song with their talents. ‘I Jump’ is a prime example of that talent.  The song has its heavier moments, but also has some softer moments.  The attention to the song’s lyrical content makes every moment so powerful just from the pair.  Its handling of the cover of ‘No Quarter’ exhibits that talent just as much.  Stylistically, the song is not the best rendition of the song that has ever been crafted.  But Wilson and Bartock still exhibit such talent here regardless.  In the same vein, the soaring chorus of ‘These Dreams’ shows the duo fully embracing the heartfelt lyrics in that song, too.  Nancy’s sister Ann shows just as much spark even as long as she has been performing. Her vocals are top-notch throughout the concert.  That is exhibited most clearly as she as she soars through the choruses in ‘What About Love’ and in ‘No Quarter.’  She does a respectable job of trying to emulate Robert Plant here.  It doesn’t fully reach Plant’s levels.  But it is still respectable, regardless.  Drummer Ben Smith and bassist Dan Rothchild shine just as much as their fellow musicians throughout the concert, too.  When each musician’s talent is combined with that of his or her band mates, the whole of the collective’s performance shows clearly why the concert was sold out.  That’s because every member of the band gives it his or her all, which will, again, impress any of the band’s fans.  Even as important as this is to note, one can’t talk but so much about it without taking too much time.  There is still at least one more item to discuss in examining this recording.  That item is the recording’s audio mix.

The set list featured in Heart’s new live recording and the band’s performance of that set list are both key to the recording’s presentation.  Both elements will please any devout Heart fan.  They are not its only key elements either.  The concert’s audio mix rounds out its most important elements.  The Royal Albert Hall is a massive venue.  Audiences who have never seen the inside of the building until now will be blown away by its size both in terms of its diameter and its ceiling.  Considering that, handling audio duties for any concert here is a chore to say the least.  The people behind the boards for this concert—both at the venue and in post-production—handled that chore with the utmost expertise.  It is thanks to their efforts that audiences feel like they are right there at the venue with the rest of the audience without feeling like they can’t hear any one part of the performance.  The vocals and instruments are balanced with full precision throughout the performance.  Again, considering the size of the venue, that is its own powerful statement.  It goes without saying that the camera work gives audiences the best seat in the house.  So keeping that in mind, when the camera work and audio engineering are joined with the concert’s set list and the band’s performance of the show’s set list, the whole of this concert proves to be, once again, a work that any devout Heart fan will appreciate.

Heart Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a recording that any devout Heart fan will appreciate.  Being that it was the first time that the band ever performed at the legendary venue, it was a successful first time experience.  Its set list pulls from half of the band’s 16-album catalogue.  The band’s performance of its set list, audiences will agree, is just as impressive.  It shows that even as long as Heart has been along, it is at the top of its game.  The combined audio engineering and its camera work round out its most important elements.  When all three elements are joined together, they make this recording a work that is on one level, more proof of why Eagle Rock Entertainment is still today the leading name in live recordings. On another level, it combines to show that, once more, this recording is a piece that any devout Heart fan will appreciate.  It will be available this Friday, December 2 in stores and online.  More information on this recording is available online now along with all of Heart’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.heart-music.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/officialheart

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

 

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 reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.