Sowflo’s “New” LP Is Just As Good As A New Pair Of Shoes

Courtesy: Space Duck Records

Reggae act Sowflo released its sophomore album New Shoes last Friday.  The record, released through Space Duck Records, is a positive new effort from the Florida-based band. The 10-song record will appeal to fans of similar acts, such as Dirty Heads, 311 and Sublime. ‘Morning Thunder,’ is one of the record’s most notable entries.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘Armagideon,’ which immediately follows ‘Morning Thunder,’ is another work that serves to support the statements noted here.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ is yet another example of what makes New Shoes an overall success for Sowflo.  When they are considered alongside other songs featured in the album, such as ‘Hitchiker,’ ‘Amalia’ and ‘Farmer in Suburbia,’ the end result is a record that will appeal to any reggae fan.

Sowflo’s newly released sophomore album New Shoes is a positive new offering from the Florida-based band that is certain to be a favorite among reggae purists.  That is proven in part through one of the album’s late entries, ‘Morning Thunder.’  This song stands out because it is one of the songs featured in the record that is anything but another un-of-the-mill reggae composition.  Rather, it actually boasts a rather poppy arrangement that still incorporates those familiar roots reggae influences for a whole that is a very radio-friendly work.  The song’s arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out.  The commentary that is clearly featured in the song’s lyrical content adds to its interest.

Front man Jacob Dorris sings in the song’s lead verse, “I believe that people are waking up/Sleeping long enough/the spell we are under/I woke up to the morning thunder/Finally awake from my slumber/To the spell we are under/I woke up to the morning thunder.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I pulled these shades up off my eyes/And find out what they’ve been selling us/Is not as they advertise/If like me/You feel like we’ve been dreaming most our lives/It’s time to rise and shine/I’ve seen the lightning strike/I’ve heard the thunder in the hills/Don’t try and tell me/It’s not raining still/When I’ve seen the lightning strike/And heard the thunder in the hills/Don’t try and tell me/It’s not raining still/I believe the people are waking up/Sleeping long enough/The spell we are under/I woke up to the morning thunder/Finally awake from my slumber/To the spell we are under.”  The song’s final verse follows in similar fashion as he sings about people realizing the reality of the violence around us, noting “the blood in the street.”  There is little doubt about the commentary here.  Dorris is addressing the reality of the world.  He is saying that he sees people are becoming more aware of what is going on and actually doing something about it.  The positive vibes of the song’s musical arrangement creates a feeling of pleasure from Dorris; a sense that he is happy people are finally taking off those proverbial blinders and trying to make a change.  It is a protest song, of sorts, yet is also so much more laid back than the typical protest song.  It is just one of the most notable of the album’s songs.  ‘Armagideon,’ which immediately follows, is another of the record’s most notable works.

‘Armagideon’ stands out in part because instead of reaching for the standard reggae sound, opts instead for a more pop punk type of arrangement.  That is not to say the reggae roots are not there.  The horns are there, as in each of the album’s other entries.  But this work is decidedly a move in a very different direction for Sowflo in this record, and a welcome change of pace, too.  One could almost argue that the use of the horns and the more pop punk vibe of the arrangement creates a comparison to the likes of Reel Big Fish.  That fun, upbeat musical air gives plenty in itself to appreciate in this case.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content offers its own interest for listeners.

Dorris sings in the song’s lead verse, “I feel that/I just felt the earth move/Precursor to what could only be/Armagedion/That’s what they’re calling it on the street/Headline sales up a hundred fold/Since the information leaked/And that was the day.”  He goes on in the song’s second verse to sing, “The broadcast interrupted for a word from your president/he says citizens, it seems our time here has come to an end/Let us not look back at things left undone but could have been/But take with us a sweet memory as we return to the stars again/Mothers, kiss your daughter/Fathers, hug your sons…”  Clearly he isn’t actually singing about the end of the world here.  Rather, this would seem to be more metaphorical speak being used to address the matter of accepting what life brings us.  This is inferred throughout with each comment.  He notes the president in the story is telling the nation to look forward, not back.  Dorris then goes on to tell parents to love their children.  This is a rare way for someone to present a rather familiar message about embracing the future rather than regretting the past.  That positive message is made even stronger as it is coupled with the song’s upbeat musical arrangement.  The two elements together make the song not only a sign of the direction in which the band might be moving (since it comes near the album’s end), but also another example of the album’s overall strength.  When it is considered along with the whole of ‘Morning Thunder,’ the two songs together give that much more reason for listeners to give this album a chance.  They are not the album’s only strong points, of course.  The album’s finale, ‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ is one more of the album’s best moments.

‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ stands out just as much as the previously discussed songs thanks in large part to its own musical arrangement.  Unlike the rest of the album’s arrangements, this opus is a gentle, flowing semi-acoustic work that serves very well to illustrate the song’s optimistic yet contemplative lyrical theme.  The arrangement is a gentle piano-driven work that uses keyboards and a guitar to round out its whole.

Dorris’ statement in the song’s chorus that, “I don’t think this world might change for us/But in the process we may better ourselves/Let’s change the world” makes clear the song’s lyrical theme.  He builds on that statement in the verses by singing in the lead verse, “I slipped from my skin/It sits heavy on my bones/Spread the love with music/And the music with love/And I’ve got stupid love/You can’t keep my lips off my guitar/And I’ve seen a lot of tragedy/This is the worst by far/And I don’t think this world might change for us/But in the process/We may better ourselves/Let’s change the world.”  He goes on in the song’s second verse to sing, “Back down on Earth/We’ve still got kids with their feet/Alone in the street/Where shadows creep/Who believe in something/Or become something more/’Cause the concrete isn’t so forgiving at melting point temperatures…It’s even hotter in hell.”  Simply put, Dorris is making a statement about the current state of the world, adding that it is up to us to change the world.  He is stressing the world is not going to change for us.  It is on us to make the change happen.  This is another important message that while quite familiar throughout music’s modern history, is still welcome here.  What’s more, the way in which the message is sent in this song makes message just as relevant and fresh as ever.  Again, when it is considered alongside the song’s contemplative but positive musical arrangement, the two come together to make ‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ clearly another strong point in the whole of New Shoes.  When it is considered along with the songs previously discussed here and other songs featured in the record, such as ‘Hitchiker,’ ‘Amalia’ and ‘Farmer in Suburbia,’ those songs – and the others not directly noted here – join together to make the record in whole a work that is a strong second effort from Sowflo.  They make the record another offering from the band that all reggae fans will appreciate.

Sowflo’s second album New Shoes is a strong new offering from the Florida-based band that reggae fans across the board will enjoy.  That is because while it clearly boasts plenty of similarities to songs from the likes of Sublime, Dirty Heads and 311, it also presents a sound late in its run that creates an identity unique in and of itself for the band.  Those songs are the record’s strongest points, and show potential for growth from the band.  When they are considered with the rest of the record, the whole proves to be a work that will appeal to a wide range of reggae fans.  New Shoes is available now on Space Duck Records.  The band launched a tour in support of New Shoes on Friday.  The tour features a handful of dates in March, April and May.  The dates are noted below.

 

Upcoming shows:

MAR 22 Stans- Goodland, FL

MAR 27- The Ranch- Fort Myers, FL (w/ COLLIE BUDDZ & ROOTS ALMIGHTY)

MAR 30- Dixie Roadhouse- Cape Coral, FL (Record Release Show!)

APR 12- Stottlemeyr’s Smokehouse- Sarasota, FL

MAY 11- Orlando Amphitheater- Orlando, FL (Dirty Heads Orlando Vacation)

 

More information on Sowflo’s upcoming live dates is available with more information on New Shoes and the band’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://sowflo.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sowflo

 

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‘I Am Not A Witch’ Is A Powerful Debut For Writer/Director Rungano Nyoni

Courtesy: Film Movement

Gender equality and the lack thereof is a pressing issue around the world today.  From the issue of unequal pay between men and women in the United States to the issue of female subjugation overall in the Middle East and Africa, gender equality is a very significant top of discussion.  That is not to say that it is being ignored, as clearly advances have been and are being made in bridging the gender gap around the world.  However, there is still work to be done.  Independent movie company Film Movement did its own part in addressing the matter early this year with the domestic release of the Zambian import I Am Not A Witch.  Writer/Director Runganoo Nyoni’s debut work, it is a powerful allegory about the gender gap that will keep viewers fully engaged from beginning to end.  That story is just one part of what makes this movie stand out among this year’s crop of imports.  The work of the movie’s cast plays into its presentation, too and will be addressed a little bit later.  The bonus content included with the movie also plays into its presentation, and will be addressed a little bit later, too.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of I Am Not A Witch.  All things considered, it can be said with ease that it is among the year’s best new independent movies.

Film Movement’s recently imported Zambian movie I Am Not A Witch is a powerful new allegory about gender equality and the lack thereof.  Given, it is hardly the first story to ever focus on the topic, but its approach to the subject through its story makes it stand out among that mass of movies.  The story follows Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) as she is accused of witchcraft and sent to live in a community with other women who have been accused of witchcraft.  No solid proof is ever given of Shula being a witch, but she never fights the charge.  This is part of what makes the story so gripping, believe it or no.  It will be discussed more as the cast’s on-camera work is addressed.  After the other women in the community save Shula from having to work in the fields, she ends up being exploited by them and by the corrupt government official, Mr. Banda (Henry B.J. Phiri).  This dual exploitation by Banda and her fellow community members, coupled with her continued exile with the other “witches” is certain to generate plenty of discussion among audiences.  Forcing the women to live their lives tethered to giant spools of ribbon so that they cannot go but so far adds even more to that discussion.  It is a physical metaphor to that glass ceiling, which so many societies keep women from breaking through.  Not to give away too much, but the story does not have a happy ending.  Rather, the ending is quite bittersweet to say the absolute least.  It is an ending that will stick in viewers’ minds long after the movie ends as it puts a very powerful period on the statement about the impact of socially created gender inequality.  The story overall will easily lead audiences to make comparisons to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  However, audiences will learn through the movie’s bonus content that those trials were not the inspiration for the movie.  Rather, Nyoni confirms in the noted content that her real-life experience, meeting Ghanaian women accused of witchcraft served as the inspiration for the story.  That and other revelations made in the bonus content will be discussed a little later.  Getting back on the subject at hand, Nyoni’s approach to the story’s core subject makes it even more engaging.  It would have been so easy for her to allow the story to become another run-of-the-mill preachy finger-pointer.  She did not go that route, though.  Rather, she opted to take a route that made the story engaging yet simple enough in its approach that it ensures audiences get the story’s message.  In other words, the story does everything right.  It is just one part of what makes I Am Not A Witch stand out.  The work of the movie’s cast plays into the movie’s presentation, too.

The work of the movie’s main cast – Mulubwa and Phiri – is important to note in that neither actor is a professional.  The juxtaposition of Banda’s vile persona to that of Shula’s innocence is expertly displayed by Phiri and Mulubwa.  For being “non-professional,” each actor’s work is quite impressive.  Mulubwa’s handling of Shula as she endures her constant mistreatment makes Shula the very epitome of a sympathetic character.  Shula’s stoicism as she is dragged from her class mates and as she is initially accused of being a witch are just a couple of examples of Mulubwa’s acting ability.  It makes viewers root for her so much.  The contradiction of those moments with Shula’s happier moments – spending time with her class mates on her first day of school and her personal time with Mr. Banda’s wife – makes her even more endearing.  It shows that Shula is human and has emotions, yet is being forced to hold in her emotions because she knows that those controlling her don’t care about her emotions.  She knows that she is being suppressed.  This in itself is an illustration of what so many women endure every day around the world.

Phiri’s take on Mr. Banda is notable because he does such an impressive job of making Mr. Banda a despicable figure.  From that first interaction when Banda is telling Shula that he and Shula will work together to the later moment when he threatens to send her back to work with the other “witches,” Banda proves to be a figure that audiences will love to hate.  Phiri’s body language and his facial reactions as he tells Shula about working together creates a comparison to so many dopey TV bad guys, such as Boss Hogg (Dukes of Hazard), Col. Klink (Hogan’s Heroes) and Dean Wormer (Animal House).  That’s thanks to Banda’s dopey presence in this moment.  By contrast, his fury following the failed interaction between Shula and the government official shows a completely different person.  He yells at his wife much in the same way that he did Shula later on when she refused to unlock the van for him.  Banda’s wife worked to try and get Shula to react.  She was presenting a sort of motherly presence, and made her just as sympathetic as Shula.  That contrast to Banda’s fiery overreaction adds even more to viewers’ dislike of Banda.  It illustrates even more, that Banda is doing everything that he is doing just for himself.  That is revealed even more as he takes Shula on TV and is accused of mistreating her by one of the show’s callers.  Between these noted moments and plenty of others, the whole of Phiri’s performance proves just as entertaining as that of Mulubwa.  When their collective performances are coupled with the engagement ensured by the movie’s story, the movie’s presentation, gives viewers plenty to appreciate.  They are not the only important elements to examine, of course.  The movie’s bonus content is worth noting, too.

The bonus content featured in Film Movement’s DVD release of I Am Not A Witch includes a brief interview with Nyoni as well as extra background information on the movie printed inside the DVD’s case and a short film, titled Mwansa The Great.  The short film is interesting in its own right, but has nothing to add in terms of the primary content that is I Am Not A Witch.  The interview with Nyoni, which runs roughly three minutes, is brief.  However, audiences do gain some appreciation for the movie after hearing what she had to say about the movie.  Nyoni notes during her comments, that she did quite a bit of research on witches prior to writing her story, and even spent time visiting witch camps. In addition, she talks about her frustration of how the women accused of witchcraft are exploited in those real life camps.  She also confirms that she intentionally wrote the story in a fashion that would make it accessible for any viewer.  There is also an interesting revelation about the change in the movie’s backdrop and Shula’s own development as a character.  This is one of the most important of Nyoni’s statements, as most audiences (this critic included) will not catch that connection in their initial watch.  That being the case, it creates a certain “aha” moment for viewers, and in turn, will create even more appreciation for the movie in viewers’ minds.

Nyoni’s brief, yet insightful interview is just part of what makes the movie’s bonus content notable.  The background information provided in the movie’s packaging generates even more appreciation for the movie.  It includes comments from Nyoni not included in the bonus interview, such as the revelation that Zambia, in reality, is in fact a very egalitarian society, and that the inspiration for this story came from visits to witch camps in Ghana.  Film Movement’s statement as to why the company added this movie to its collection of offerings notes what makes the story stand out – its reflection of what women around the world endure in terms of their mistreatment by society.  Between this background, the background offered by Nyoni in the movie’s “liner notes” and her comments in the bonus interview, the bonus content provided with I Am Not A Witch proves to be its own important part of the movie’s presentation.  When it is considered along with the work of the movie’s lead actors and the story itself, the three elements together make I Am Not A Witch a movie that anyone is a welcome alternative to Hollywood’s unending barrage of prequels, sequels, reboots and stories based on actual events.  It is a very bittersweet human drama, but one that is memorable because of that nature.

Film Movement’s recently imported human drama I Am Not A Witch is a powerful presentation that holds its own easily against Hollywood’s unending barrage of prequels, sequels, reboots and stories that are based on actual events.  That is proven in part through a story that makes a key statement without preaching about its central topic.  The work of the movie’s lead actors does just as much to keep viewers engaged.  The bonus content featured with the movie generates its own share of interest in the movie.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of I Am Not A Witch.  All things considered, the movie proves to be one of this year’s top new indie imports.  More information on this and other titles from Film Movement is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.filmmovement.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Film_Movement

 

 

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Shout! Factory Taking Audiences Back To The 90s With ‘MMPR: The Movie’ Re-Issue

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory is resurrecting Mighty Morphin’ Power RangersThe Movie.

The company announced in a news release sent Friday, that the movie will be re-issued June 4 on Blu-ray.  It marks the first time that the movie he been released on Blu-ray.

The first of the Power Rangers big screen  flicks, this movie’s story sees is a standalone work that finds everyone’s favorite teenagers with attitude facing off against the deadly Ivan Ooze.Ozze strips the Rangers of their power, forcing them to go in search of the secrets of the ancient Ninjetti on a distant planet.  Once they find the secret and master their new skills, the Rangers return to earth with their Ninjazord to face off against Ooze in one final climactic battle to save the world from his evil.

Shout! Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of Mighty Morphin’ Power RangersThe Movie will feature new interviews with director Bryan Spicer and cast members Johnny Yong Bosch and Paul Freeman, in the featurette,”The Mighty Leap to the Silver Screen.”  Also included is the movie’s original trailer and featurette.

Pre-orders for Mighty Morphin’ Power RangersThe Movie are open now.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

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Of Mice & Men Debuts ‘How To Survive’ Video

Courtesy: Atom Splitter PR

Of Mice and Men premiered the video for its new single on Wednesday.

The video is the companion for its new single, ‘How To Survive,’ which it debuted Feb. 14.  Directed by Zev Deans, the video is a mock “how to” video which “instructs” people how to survive, apparently, a situation of seeming anarchy.  The video finds various people reading and following directions of “How to Survive,” and those instructions apparently include an intriguing range of situations.

OM&M front man/bassist Aaron Pauley explained the song’s lyrical concept in a recent interview when the single itself debuted.

“‘How To Survive’ is an anthem for those who have been the receiving end of unmerited unmerited and targeted hatred and abuse,” Pauley said.  “It’s for the kid who was bullied, beat up and ignored in school.  It’s for the teenager who was told they’ll never amount to anything and that their thoughts, feelings and opinions don’t matter to the world.  It’s for the person who has been told that they’re worthless, useless or not good enough time and again.  It’s for the person who has been repeatedly targeted by those who only seek to tear others around them down.”

He added, “This song is for them.  This song is for me.  I am them, and I’m still standing.  So, turn it up.  Feel the rage.  If you, too are that person, you will know it well, and it will greet you like an old friend.”

 

 

Courtesy: Rise Records/Atom Splitter PR

Audiences nationwide will get to hear ‘How To Survive’ and much more music from Of Mice & Men during the band’s current North American tour.  The tour started Feb. 21 and runs through May 18, with a short break between March and April to allow Of Mice and Men’s members to rest and recharge.

The tour’s current schedule is noted below.

OF MICE & MEN ON TOUR:
WITH NOTHING MORE:

3/7 — Pittsburgh, PA — Stage AE
3/8 — Philadelphia, PA — The Fillmore
3/10 — New York, NY — Playstation Theater
3/11 — New Haven, CT — Toad’s Place
3/12 — Boston, MA — House of Blues
3/13 — Silver Spring, MD — The Fillmore
3/15 — Charlotte, NC — The Fillmore
3/16 — Atlanta, GA — Buckhead Theater
3/17 — Tampa, FL — The Ritz
3/19 — New Orleans, LA — The Fillmore
3/20 — Houston, TX — Revention Center
3/22 — Dallas, TX — Southside Ballroom
3/23 — San Antonio, TX — Aztec Theatre

WITH BEARTOOTH, HANDS LIKE HOUSES, + DEAD AMERICAN:
4/19 — Fargo, ND — Sanctuary Event Center
4/20 — Sioux City, IA — Anthem at Hard Rock Casino
4/21 — Wichita, KS — Cotillion
4/23 — Des Moines, IA — Wooly’s
4/24 — Springfield, MO — The Complex
4/25 — Memphis, TN — Minglewood
4/27 — Houston, TX — So What?! Music Festival
4/28 — New Orleans, LA — Southport Hall
4/30 — Nashville, TN  — Cannery Ballroom
5/1 — Birmingham, AL — Iron City
5/3 — Jacksonville, FL — Welcome to Rockville*
5/— Pensacola, FL — Vinyl Music Hall
5/6 — Knoxville, TN — The Mill & Mine
5/8 — Louisville, KY — Mercury Ballroom
5/9 — Lancaster, PA — Chameleon Club
5/10 — Rockingham, NC — Epicenter Festival*
5/12 — Sayreville, NJ — Starland Ballroom
5/13 — Poughkeepsie, NY — The Chance
5/14 — Providence, RI — The Strand
5/15 — Buffalo, NY — Town Ballroom
5/17 — Columbus, OH — Sonic Temple Festival*
5/18 — Chicago, IL  — Chicago Open Air+
* No Of Mice & Men, Dead American
+Beartooth Only

More information on Of Mice & Men’s new single, tour dates and more is available online now at:

 

Websitehttp://www.ofmiceandmenofficial.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ofmice

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/OMandM

 

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Classic Creature Feature Gets Great Re-Issue Thanks To Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Scream Factory/Universal International

Shout! Factory and its horror arm, Scream Factory are taking sci-fi fans back in time again next month with the release of yet another one of Universal Pictures’ timeless creature features.

The Deadly Mantis is scheduled for release on March 19 on Blu-ray.  The classic low-budget b-flick was lambasted by critics following its theatrical debut on May 26, 1957.  The criticisms focused on items, such as its overt use of stock footage and re-use of sets.  While it hardly received a warm welcome in its debut, The Deadly Mantis has since gone on to become a cult favorite among sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike, but has been difficult to find on DVD and Blu-ray.  That is until now.  This new re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is another welcome addition to the library of any of the noted audiences.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  Its bonus content adds even more interest and appeal to its presentation as its story.  The Blu-ray’s average price point rounds out the most important of its elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they make The Deadly Mantis’ new Blu-ray re-issue another welcome watch for sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike.

The upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of Universal International Pictures’ 1957 creature feature The Deadly Mantis is a presentation that will appeal to cinephiles across the board.  That is proven in part through its story.  The story focuses on the introduction of a giant prehistoric praying mantis into the 20th century world and mankind’s efforts to stop the creature before it has any chance to reproduce.  The story was hardly the only one of its kind at the time, having been preceded by Them! in 1954, Tarantula in 1955, and Attack of the Crab Monsters only three months prior to the debut of The Deadly Mantis.  The latter of that trio – one of famed director Roger Corman’s creations – was an Allied Pictures presentation, unlike the other two mentioned here.  This is important to note as it was just one part of what was a much bigger cinematic trend at that point in time.  Considering the bigger trend being presented, what makes this movie stand out is that it did not center on giant mutant creatures that came to be as a result of the military’s nuclear testing.  Rather, the mantis simply existed millions of years ago, and was freed from its cryogenic slumber (of sorts) as the overarching result of a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away in the Earth’s southern hemisphere.  Film historian Tom Weaver addresses this scientific approach during his bonus commentary.  This will be discussed a little later on.  Getting back on the subject at hand, the story at the center of The Deadly Mantis might have seemed silly at the time, but considering the scientific advancements and discoveries that have been made in the current age, it makes the story more believable.  That ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief (even today) due to the story’s setup, ensures even more, viewers’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  Now given, missiles and fire being unable to bring down the giant beast seems a bit of a stretch, considering it is just a giant praying mantis.  That thing must have had an exoskeleton made of titanium, especially considering what ultimately ended its reign of terror.  That aside, the reality that giant beasts did in fact exist at one time in reality, and that scientists even today are in fact, trying to clone other giant beasts (E.g. wooly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers) makes this story that much more believable, and in turn enjoyable.  The ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief with this movie’s story is just one part of what makes the movie such a joy for sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike.  The movie’s bonus content adds even more enjoyment to the movie’s presentation.

The bonus content featured in this movie includes the previously noted feature-length audio commentary from film historian Tom Weaver and fellow film historian David Schecter, and the full-length episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that featured The Deadly Mantis.  Unlike The Mole People, which was re-issued by Shout! Factory/Scream Factory last month, this movie’s re-issue is lacking a bonus “making of” featurette.  The lack of that featurette is disheartening, but not enough to ruin the movie’s presentation.

The feature-length commentary from Weaver and Schecter reveals quite a bit of interesting information.  Viewers learn from the commentary, that principal photography — the main part of a movie’s production involving capturing scenes in which the cast is on camera – took only 13 days, and that the use of stock footage in the movie played a direct role in the movie.  Weaver reveals that approximately 14 minutes (or 1/5) of the movie was composed of stock footage.  Considering that the movie’s run time is listed as just 79 minutes, that 14 minutes is actually a large portion of the movie.  Additionally, viewers learn through the duo’s commentary, that the movie’s original opening scene was actually different from what is in the final cut.  Weaver notes that the final cut was presented, as the movie’s director – Nathan Juran – wanted to ensure the story was believable, right from the opening sequence.  The end  result was that the frozen mantis was freed as the result of a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away.  This is actually believable, considering what we know today about the effects of volcanic eruptions.  Now, could the weather patterns that might have resulted from said eruption been enough to thaw out the mantis?  That is debatable, even today.  However, knowing mankind’s impact on climate change, it actually does not seem overly unbelievable.  Keeping this in mind, the right move was taken to change the opening.  As if all of this is not enough for fans, audiences also learn the identity of the film used for part of the stock footage – S.O.S. Iceberg (1933) – through Weaver’s scripted commentary.  It is revealed that the Eskimos in the noted scenes were reacting to a seaplane circling their community in Greenland, not to a giant praying mantis.

Schecter’s portion of the movie’s commentary will appeal just as much to music lovers as it will to movie lovers.  Schecter notes in his portion of the movie’s commentary, that legendary composer/conductor Henry Mancini played a specific part in the movie’s soundtrack.  The full depth of his involvement in the soundtrack will be left for audiences to learn on their own.  He was just one of the famed musical figures who were connected to the movie, according to Schecter.  Fellow composer Irving Gertz also had a tie to the movie’s soundtrack, as Schecter notes.  He makes note that the soundtrack to The Deadly Mantis and The Monolith Monsters were indirectly connected to each other.  Again, the full discussion will be left for viewers to take in on their own time.

The items listed here are just a portion of what Weaver and Schecter discuss throughout the course of The Deadly Mantis.  Far more is discussed, such as ties that certain members of the crew had to the now infamous “Red Scare” and the various ties that the cast had to other movies of the age. While Schecter’s (and Weaver’s) commentary are quite insightful, the one negative to their insight is that each man’s commentary is once again scripted.  This is made clear through their delivery.  Each man is obviously watching the movie as he shares his insight.  The problem is that each man is watching the movie only for timing purposes with his commentary.  This detracts from the commentary at least a little bit. It is not enough to make the commentary unenjoyable, but cannot be ignored.

Speaking of things that detract from the experience, the movie lacks a “making of” featurette this time out.  It doesn’t ruin the viewing experience, but it would have been nice to see what could have been told through such a feature that maybe was not addressed in the bonus commentary.  In defense of Shout! Factory/Scream Factory, there had to have been a good reason for omitting it this time out.  Luckily, the commentary from Weaver and Schecter does provide enough insight and entertainment to make up for that omission.

While The Deadly Mantis lacked a “making of” featurette, one thing that was thankfully included was the full episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that focused on the classic creature feature.  Shout! Factory/Scream Factory did the same with its recent re-issue of The Mole People, and once again, it is a welcome addition to the movie’s presentation.  This time out, Mike and his robot pals are trying to escape Pearl Forrester once again, and luckily escape her after her ape friends inadvertently activate a thermonuclear device that destroys Earth.  Of course Pearl and company managed to escape the blast.  How they escape and what happens from there will be left for audiences to discover on their own.  In the meantime, plenty of riffing happens as the crew of the Satellite of Love take in The Deadly Mantis.  Early on there is a joke about Minnesota (the state in which the show was based), that audiences will enjoy.  As the movie progresses, there is a joke about one of the unidentified cast members because of a certain shot.  “Shot in bald spot vision,” one of the robots cracks.  There are also pop culture references about Wheaties and Vicks Vapo rub later in the movie, along with a joke about the famed comic opera, the H.M.S. Pinafore and so much more.  Between the constant riffing and the live segments, the laughs that result from this episode of MST3K prove to be nonstop.  When that entertainment is coupled with the insight offered through the movie’s bonus commentaries, the end result is content that truly is a bonus in every sense of the word.  When it is collectively considered along with the story, which itself guarantees just as much engagement and entertainment, the movie proves that much more welcome in any cinephile’s home library.  Keeping all of this in mind, the breadth and depth of the movie’s primary and secondary content makes the movie’s average price point money that is well-spent.

The average price point for Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming re-issue of The Deadly Mantis, using price listings at Shout! Factory’s store and those of Amazon and Books-a-Million, is $25.39.  The movie is not listed at Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Barnes & Noble Booksellers at the time of this review’s posting.  Research shows that Shout! Factory’s price of $22.99 is the least expensive of the three listings, and is will below that average price point.  Books-A-Million’s listing of $27.99 is the most expensive, while Amazon’s list price of $25.19 is barely below that average.  In other words, at the time of this review’s post, Shout! Factory’s price for the re-issue is the most affordable.  It is money that sci-fi purists and movie buffs alike will agree, is well-spent.  That is because of the already noted content overall.  Add in that right now, the only outlets that audiences have for such a movie are occasionally on Turner Classic Movies and Me-TV’s hit show Svengoolie (both of which are themselves wonderful outlets), it makes that money even more well-spent, as it will allow audiences to watch this timeless classic any time that they want.  Keeping all of this in mind, it can easily be said that the upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is one more of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.

Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story (its primary content), which is actually quite believable considering what science has discovered to this day, and through its bonus content (its secondary content).  The insight and entertainment offered through the bonus content is just as certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the story.  Add in an average price point that once again won’t break viewers’ banks, and the movie proves a completely welcome addition to any cinephile’s movie library.  It will be available March 19.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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itv’s TV Take Of ‘The Sound Of Music’ Will “Score” With Musical Fans

Courtesy: itv/Shout! Factory

Sixty years have passed this year since Rodgers & Hammerstein’s timeless musical The Sound Of Music made its stage debut.  The timeless musical, which was based on the memoir of Maria Von Trapp went on to earn five Tony® awards.  This is despite the historical inaccuracies in the story.  The story won the awards — and went on to spawn an equally famed big-screen musical in 1965, that starred actress Julie Andrews – because of its musical numbers and performances by its cast.  20th Century Fox’s 1965 film adaptation of the play was just one of countless adaptations of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s timeless work that have been crafted on stage and screen around the world.  British broadcasting network itv produced its own TV take on the play in the form of The Sound of Music Live in 2015. Its broadcast was followed early last November with a Blu-ray home release of the production, courtesy of Shout! Factory.  The presentation is one that any die-hard fan of The Sound of Music will appreciate. That is due in part to its story, which will be discussed shortly.  Its very presentation also plays into its appeal, and will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content included with the show’s home release is important to its appeal, too, and will be discussed later as well.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the home release of The Sound of Music Live.  All things considered, they make The Sound of Music Live a good addition to the library of any musical fan’s library and to that of any devotee of The Sound of Music.

British broadcaster itv’s 2015 small-screen take of The Sound of Music is a work that is certain to appeal to musical theater fans just as much as devotees of The Sound of Music.  That is thanks in part to its story.  The story presented here uses Rodgers & Hammerstein’s original musical, which made its stage debut in 1959, as its source more so than the 1965 big screen adaptation, which starred Julie Andrews as Maria. However, much of what is included in the cinematic take is also included in the stage version, so audiences get here, the best of both worlds.  Given there are some slight alterations between the 1965 version and this take, such as how the Von Trapp family ultimately escapes the Nazis (not to give away too much) and the initial ‘Do-Re-Me’ scene.  That number’s setting is different in the two versions.  The execution of the ‘Edelweiss’ number is also slightly different between the two versions, especially considering that in itv’s take, there is only one performance of the song while in the 1965 version, the song is performed twice in two separate settings.  This is just one of the few differences that exist between itv’s live version of The Sound of Music and 20th Century Fox’s 1965 presentation of the story.  There are other minute variances between each take.  The fact that the differences are so minute ensures even more, that this version will still appeal to fans of the original play and those who are more loyal to the story’s cinematic standard.  The story is just one part of what makes this performance of The Sound of Music so widely-appealing to audiences.  The show’s very presentation adds to its appeal even more.

The presentation of The Sound of Music Live is important to address in examining the movie in that it adds to the ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief.  This includes the sets and cinematography.  Audiences get a behind-the-scenes look at the sets in the presentation’s bonus material.  This will be discussed a little later.  The sets give the feeling that they could just as easily have been used in an actual stage presentation of the classic musical, yet are just enough to give the show a little bit of a cinematic feel at the same time.  That attention to detail and balance makes the show’s set designers worthy of their own share of applause.  The equally sharp camera work throughout gives even more, that feeling of a stage presentation on screen without being too much over the top.  The movements and the shots themselves couple with the sets to give audiences the best seat in the house.  It’s like being in a theater watching the musical take place, but not having to deal with the noise and congestion created by other people.  In other words, the sets and cinematography presented in The Sound of Music Live do just as much for the show’s overall presentation as its story.  That collective is not the last of the presentation’s most important elements.  The bonus content featured in its Blu-ray release is key in its own way to the whole package.

The bonus content featured as part of The Sound of Music Live’s home release is made up of a full-length audio commentary track featuring lead stars Kara Tointon and Julian Ovenden, as well as the previously noted behind-the-scenes featurette.  The behind-the-scenes featurette is enlightening in its own right, as it shows viewers the intensity of the preparations for the show (roughly two months worth of preps to be exact).  It also shows how hard it was to actually put on the show once the proverbial curtain lifted.  That alone makes for more appreciation for the show.  The bonus feature-length commentary adds its own share of enlightenment and interest.  That is thanks to the variety of items that Tointon and Ovenden discuss.  The pair addresses items, such as Tointon’s lack of knowledge about playing guitar, thee difficulty of shooting a stage presentation for the small screen and commentary that the cast and crew received from audiences in Austria.  They note that the noted audiences were not happy with The Sound of Music in general because of the story’s historical inaccuracies.  That’s just a sampling of what was discussed in the commentary.  The pair also talks briefly about the use of the stock footage as part of the show, the humility of the younger cast members and the success of the casting for other parts, just to name a little bit more.  Between all of this and the items not mentioned in reference to the bonus commentary (and the behind-the-scenes featurette), the bonus content featured in this Blu-ray adds even more appeal for the overall presentation.  When it is considered along with the story and the show’s aesthetic elements, the whole proves to be a presentation that will appeal to plenty of audiences.

itv’s small-screen iteration of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic musical The Sound of Music Live is a work that will appeal easily to musical fans in general as well as to devoted fans of the noted musical.  That is due in part to the show’s story with includes elements of the 1965 cinematic adaptation from 20th Century Fox and of the original stage musical.  The sets and cinematography presented in the show collectively add more interest and appeal to the presentation.  The bonus content featured in the show’s Blu-ray release adds its own share of interest to the presentation, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of The Sound of Music Live.  All things considered, the show is one that, again, is certain to appeal to musical devotees across the board.  The Sound of Music Live is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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Mortensen, Ali Are Saving Graces For ‘Green Book’

Courtesy: Universal Pictures/Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Universal Pictures’ new human drama Green Book has had made headlines nationwide since its theatrical debut late last year.  From the highs of taking home three Golden Globe ® awards to the controversy over how certain elements of the movie’s story were presented, to the controversy surrounding star Viggo Mortensen’s use of a racial slur soon after the movie’s premier to issues swirling around the movie’s director, Peter Farrelly, and co-writer/producer Nick Vallelonga, over their own past actions, the movie and those involved has gained plenty of positive and negative publicity.  With the movie being nominated for “Best Picture” at this year’s Oscars – which air live tonight on ABC – the movie is still making plenty of headlines, and could make even more if it takes home the Academy of Motion Pictures’ top prize.  Whether the movie takes home the Best Picture statue is up to the Academy voters.  They have plenty to consider, too, not the least of which being the movie’s story.  It will be discussed shortly.  The movie’s pacing poses a bit of a problem, too.  That will be addressed a little later.  The work of the movie’s lead cast couples with the story to make up for the issues raised by the movie’s pacing, making the movie overall worth at least one watch.

Green Book has brought in plenty of gold since making its theatrical debut in November.  The movie about two friends from two completely different backgrounds has also brought in plenty of gold at the awards shows since that time. The question is whether this movie is really that deserving of its awards or even Hollywood’s top prize.  That is due in part to a story, which has been done plenty of times previously in other movies, one of the most notable being the hit 1989 movie Driving Miss Daisy.  That movie saw an elderly Jewish woman (played by Jessica Tandy – Fried Green Tomatoes, Cocoon, Batteries Not Included) becoming friends with her African-American chauffer (played by Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, Seven, Invictus) as the pair overcame its racial and cultural differences.  Given, the story takes place over the course of years, but the similarity in the theme and setting is such that a comparison between the story and that of Green Book cannot be ignored.  The only major difference in the two settings is that in the case of Green Book, Tony is the driver while Dr. Shirley takes the place of Tandy.  In other words, the roles have been reversed and set against the backdrop of the civil rights era America, as the pair winds its way through the deep south on Dr. Shirley’s tour.  Other than that, the two movies are almost one in the same.  Driving Miss Daisy is not the only movie to which Green Book can be compared.  Radio and Remember The Titans also follow the standard theme of overcoming cultural differences and boundaries.  Not only that, but just like Green Book, they are also based on actual events.  To that end, this story becomes just one more in a bigger sea of similar flicks, and honestly, not the most memorable story.  Given, maybe this story did stay mostly true to the original story of Tony and Dr. Shirley, thanks to a member of Tony’s immediate family taking a direct role in the movie’s creation, but even with that in mind, it still is not the first time that a movie of this ilk has been released.  To that end, one cannot help but wonder why those movies did not receive the accolades that this movie has garnered, again showing the problem with this movie’s story.

The story at the center of Green Book presents its own share of problems for the movie.  That is because it is hardly the first time that a story of its ilk has been presented to audiences.  It is just one of the problems presented by this movie.  The movie’s pacing presents its own problem.  Green Book’s run time is listed on the back of its box at 2 hours and 10 minutes.  That is about average for movies in Hollywood’s current age.  The problem is that the noted run time feels so much longer than it actually is due to the story’s pacing.  The biggest pacing problem comes as Tony and Dr. Shirley actually hit the road.  The buildup to the trip and the finale movement actually move relatively well, but the trip itself has a tendency to drag.  It feels like Vallelonga, Farrelly and fellow writer Brian Hayes Currie wanted to make a little bit too certain that the story was told as accurately as possible.  While that dedication to staying true to the movie’s source material is to be commended, it clearly caused the movie to feel much longer than it actually was.  The result is that it leaves one checking one’s watch for the time more than once throughout the course of that two-hour-plus run time.  When this is considered alongside the problems caused by the movie’s story, the result is even more doubt as to whether Green Book deserves all of the gold (and green) that it has received.  For all of the problems posed by Green Book, the movie is not a complete loss.  The work of the movie’s lead actors is actually a positive.

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali make for an enjoyable watch as they portray the real life Tony Lip and Dr. Don Shirley.  As is noted in the bonus behind-the-scenes featurette that is featured in the movie’s upcoming home release – it is scheduled for release on BD/DVD/Digital combo pack on March 12 – Mortensen worked hard to make sure that he got his portrayal as close to the real Tony Lip as possible.  It shows on screen, too, in every interaction with Ali.  Speaking of Ali, his portrayal is just as certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained as that of Mortensen.  Shirley’s gradual change from an aloof, uptight figure to a friendlier, more open individual is so subtle through Ali’s portrayal.  That change is visible as the two men interact throughout the course of the movie, too.  Tony starts to change and grow, too, through the men’s interactions, making the movie’s story at least somewhat bearable despite (again) that noted problematic pacing and again, its all-too-familiar overall story of race relations during the civil rights era.  In general, it is because of the men’s work that this movie is not just another forgettable addition to an already vast array of civil rights-era movies.  Keeping all of this in mind, one cannot help but wonder how or why Green Book has garnered the green and gold that it has received.  Regardless, it is a movie that is worth at least one watch, if only for the work of Mortensen and Ali.

Universal Pictures’ fish-out-of-water drama Green Book is a movie that is worth at the most, one watch.  That is thanks in large part to the work of Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali.  The men’s chemistry on screen and their own performances is really the movie’s only true saving grace.  The movie’s central story is hardly the first of its kind, as it can easily be compared to the likes of Driving Miss Daisy, Radio and Remember The Titans with its civil rights-era backdrop and focus on overcoming cultural diversity.  The story’s pacing also detracts from the story, making the story’s two-hour, 10-minute run time feel closer to three hours.  The bonus material featured in the movie’s upcoming home release does little to help either.  Given, it adds a little bit of insight into the movie’s creation, but honestly little else.  Keeping all of this in mind, Green Book proves to itself not entirely worthy of the Motion Picture Academy’s top gold prize at tonight’s Oscars.  The movie will be available on Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo pack on March 12.  more information on Green Book is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.greenbookfilm.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/GreenBookMovie

 

 

 

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