‘Bad Reputation’ Is A “Good” New Tribute To A Rock Legend

Courtesy: Magnolia Pictures

Joan Jett is one of the most important figures in the modern history of rock music.  From her days with The Runaways to her time with The Blackhearts, she has blazed a trail for countless musicians while also making remaining active in a variety of causes.  Now thanks to Magnolia Pictures, Jett is getting the recognition that she has deserved for such a long time in the form of the new rock doc Bad Reputation.  Released on DVD on Jan.1 via Magnolia Pictures, the 93-minute doc takes audiences through the life and ongoing career of the famed rocker, who proves in this program to be anything but the typical rock star.  That story forms a strong foundation for the documentary, and will be discussed shortly.  The bonus material included with the documentary gives audiences at least a little bit more to appreciate about the presentation.  The documentary’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of Bad Reputation.  All things considered, they make Bad Reputation a very good documentary.

Magnolia Pictures’ new profile of Joan Jett, Bad Reputation, is a fitting tribute to the trailblazing musician/performer.  That is proven in part through the story at the center of the documentary.  The story is told in part from Jett herself and those closest to her, such as former and current band members, fellow celebrities and friends.  Listening to Jett talk, audiences will appreciate her grounded nature.  She does not have any sense of self-indulgence or ego.  Rather, there is a certain sense of humility about her as she talks about The Runaways’ acceptance overseas, The Blackhearts’ place in the music industry and her own personal views on items, such as animal rights and feminism. Jett said of The Runaways’ acceptance in Japan, “I thought it was exhilarating.  They loved their music stars over there.”  The tone in her voice as she made those statements truly exhibits that humility.  Comments from the likes of Iggy Pop, Jett’s sister Ann Larkin and Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong prove even more, that said humility is real.  Larkin notes in one segment that Jett’s rebellion was not against her parents, but against society.  In fact, Jett herself recalls warmly, how supportive her parents were of her from an early age, adding that they were the ones who gave Jett her first guitar and told her that she could do anything that they wanted to do in life.  Pop notes that the era in which Jett’s star was rising, “A lot of women wanted to rock.  The problem was that they were always in a sidecar role.  Joan Jett was nobody’s sidecar.”  Armstrong adds to Pop’s statements, noting that Jett’s work as being “kick-ass songs.”  This emphasizes that determination from Jett to be noticed in what was then (and still is today) a very male-dominated industry.  Between the comments from Jett’s contemporaries, her family and friends, and those from Jett herself, the story that is presented proves to be one that will keep audiences fully engaged throughout the course of the program from start to end.  Keeping that in mind, the story at the center of Bad Reputation is a very good story, and gives audiences more than enough reason to watch.  Of course it is just one of the items that makes the recently released DVD worth viewing.  The bonus material included with the DVD gives audiences a little more to appreciate.

The bonus material featured with Bad Reputation is a pair of performances from Jett and company.  One is a performance of her hit singles ‘Bad Reputation’ and ‘Fresh Start’ at the premiere of Bad Reputation in a semi-acoustic setting.  The other features Jett and company performing the same two songs on the group’s tour bus and at a live soundcheck.  In essence audiences get a light glimpse of the same songs in different settings through that bonus material.  There is also an extended piece of backstage footage of Jett and company at the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  That was the ceremony at which Jett was inducted into the famed institution.  Some of the footage was included as part of the story at the center of Bad Reputation.  Getting to see the footage in more depth creates even more appreciation for the overall presentation that is Bad Reputation.  Given, it is not much when it comes to bonus material.  There is no getting around this.  However, considering all of the live material and “home movies” that are used to help tell the central story of Bad Reputation, this additional material proves to be entertaining, if not invaluable.  To that end, the bonus material, while bare at its best, is still a positive in its own right to the whole of the doc.  When it is considered along with the central story and all that said story offers audiences, the pairing of the two still gives audiences plenty of entertainment and engagement.  The documentary’s average price point makes that entertainment and engagement money well-spent.

The average price point of Bad Reputation is $15.88.  That price was determined using prices listed at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  Considering that the most expensive of the listed prices is $19.98 (at Walmart.com) and the least expensive is $13.99 (Best Buy and Amazon), that average price is actually a relatively solid mid-point.  Add in the overall depth and breadth of Bad Reputation’s story, and audiences will agree that a price of less than $20 for this deep story is not a bad price at all.  Rather, they will agree that it is money well-spent on a documentary that generation of audiences will appreciate.  When all of this is considered together, audiences will agree, again, that Bad Reputation is a doc whose reputation is in fact quite good.

Magnolia Pictures’ new Joan Jett profile Bad Reputation is a very good presentation on the famed musician/performer’s life and career.  It is a work that rock and roll aficionados across the board will appreciate.  That is due in large part to the doc’s central story, which presents Jett as quite the humble, down to earth figure, completely unlike so many rock stars past and present.  The bonus material included with the DVD adds a little bit more for audiences to appreciate.  The disc’s average price point of less than $20 gives audiences even more reason to give this documentary a chance.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of Bad Reputation.  All things considered, they give this program its own very good reputation.  More information on Bad Reputation is available online now at:




Website: http://www.badreputationfilm.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/badrepfilm




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‘Green Book’ Release Dates, Specs Announced

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

Golden Globe-winning movie Green Book is coming home next month.

The movie is scheduled for release on digital on Feb. 19, and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on March 5. The movie, which took home Golden Globes on Sunday for “Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy,” Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Screenplay.  Lead actor Viggo Mortensen was nominated for “Best Performance By An Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy” for his role in the movie.

Inspired by a true story, the movie follows friends Tony Lip (Mortensen), who is a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx and his unlikely friend Dr. Don Shay (Mahershala Ali), a world-class pianist who happens to be African-American as the pair embark on a concert tour from New York into the deep south in the early 1960s. As the pair’s journey makes its way south, the men have to rely on “the green book” to find performance venues that were then safe for African-Americans.

The duo’s journey forces the men to set aside their differences in order to complete the journey safely.  The movie’s home release features a variety of bonus features, such as behind-the-scenes featurettes and cast and crew discussions.  The movie’s full list of bonus content is noted below.


  • Virtuoso Performances – Go behind the scenes with Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali as they discuss their characters and the lengths they went to accurately portray them.
  • An Unforgettable Friendship – Cast and filmmakers discuss the friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip.
  • Going Beyond the Green Book  Filmmakers and cast discuss the significance of The Green Book.

Green Book will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayTM, Blu-rayTM and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-rayTM version, all in stunning 4K resolution.

More information on Green Book is available online now at:


Website: http://uni.pictures/GreenBook

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/greenbookfilm


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Disney Announces Release Date, Specs for ‘The Nutcracker And The Four Realms’ Home Release

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Disney’s updated take on the classic ballet The Nutcracker is coming home.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is scheduled for release Jan. 29 on digital, Movies Anywhere, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray and DVD.  Inspired by E.T.A. Hoffman’s classic story and the timeless ballet, this re-imagining of the Nutcracker follows 14-year-old Clara (Mackenzie Foy — InterstellarThe ConjuringThe Twilight SagaBreaking Dawn) into a magical land, that features performances from famed ballerina Misty Copeland, lots of soldiers, mice and snowflakes.

Clara follows a golden thread at Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman — The Shawshank RedemptionSevenDriving Miss Daisy) to a magical, one-of-a-kind key that opens a magical musical box.  When the music box is open, Clara is swept into a parallel universe, wherein she meets a Nutcracker soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight — Ready Player OneMickey and the Roadster RacersMowgli), a group of mice and a trio of “Realm Regents.”

Clara also meets the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley — Pirates of the CaribbeanCurse of the Black PearlPirates  of the CaribbeanDead Man’s ChestPirates of the CaribbeanAt World’s End) before finally meeting the evil tyrant, Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren — RedHitchcockThe Queen), and battling her to recover the magical key and return harmony to the magical world.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms‘ home release features a handful of bonus items, such as a discussion with Misty Copeland, a look behind the scenes of the movie and deleted scenes.  The movie’s complete list of bonus features is noted below.

Bonus features include*:


  • On Pointe: A Conversation with Misty Copeland – Copeland shares the thrill of portraying one of her favorite characters in a whole new way.
  • Unwrapping “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” – Dive into the production design, sets, costumes and more that helped transform a beloved ballet into an adventurous movie.
  • Deleted Scenes –
    • The Stahlbaums Arrive– As the Stahlbaums enter the Christmas Eve ball, the butler attempts to announce them to the assembled guests.
    • Follow Your Ribbon- Drosselmeyer encourages a reluctant Clara to go find her gift.
    • Deleted Scene: Clara Asks About Her Mother– Sugar Plum gives Clara a tour of her mother’s bedroom.
    • Left, Left, Left, Left, Left– Wandering lost in the forest, palace guards Cavalier and Harlequin quarrel about which way to go.
    • Out with the Old– Sugar Plum makes sweeping changes to the palace decor.
  • Music Videos –
    • Fall on Me” Performed by Andrea Bocelli Featuring Matteo Bocelli– Experience superstar tenor Andrea Bocelli and his son Matteo Bocelli performing their first duet together in this uplifting song.
    • “The Nutcracker Suite” Performed by Lang Lang– Get swept up in a series of images from the movie, set to Tchaikovsky’s music and featuring world-renowned pianist Lang Lang.
  • Unwrapped: The Visual Effects of “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”– View a reel that explores the layers of effects in sequences of the film.

More information on The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is available online now at:


Website: http://movies.disney.com/the-nutcracker-and-the-four-realms

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thenutcracker


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‘Mary Poppins Returns’ Saved By Its Aesthetic Elements

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios score a major hit almost 55 years ago when it premiered its musical, Mary Poppins.  Based on the novel by author P.L. Travers, and starring actress Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music, Victor Victoria, The Princess Diaries), the movie went on to be one of the studio’s most respected productions.  Now 54 years after its debut,  Disney has revisited Travers’ beloved nanny with a big-screen adaptation of another in that series of books, Mary Poppins Returns.  The movie is an entertaining watch, but is not the runaway success that the studio would have people believe it to be. One of the positives that keeps the movie afloat is its musical numbers.  This will be discussed shortly.  For all that the musical numbers do for the movie, its script does just as much to detract from its presentation.  It will be discussed a little later.  The sets and animation work with the musical numbers to make up a little more for the script problems.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of Mary Poppins Returns.  All things considered, they make the movie a work that is worth at least one watch, but few, if any, *ahem* returns.

Walt Disney Studios’ new Mary Poppins sequel, Mary Poppins Returns is a respectable new offering from the studio, but is not the best work that it could have been.  That is not to say that it is a total loss.  It does have some positives, one of which being its collective musical numbers.  The musical numbers throw back to the movie’s predecessor, stylistically speaking.  They are just as bombastic as that movie’s numbers, with the full choruses, choreographed dancing and Broadway style sets.  Given, some of the musical numbers, such as the one in which the men sing about tripping a little light fantastic is one of the numbers that probably could have been cut, in hindsight.  Also, considering the plot hole created in the script (which will be discussed a little later) by Mary’s visit to her cousin, that number likely could have been cut, too.  The two numbers together, could have saved the movie at least five minutes if not more.  They could have been saved as bonus features for the movie’s home release.  That aside, the fact that the songs, their choreography and sets sound and look how they do, they will appeal to fans of Disney’s  days gone by and of Broadway musicals in general.  As a matter of fact, one could even argue that the sense that they collectively create in audiences’ minds makes it easy to see them being translated to a live stage setting.  That appeal is in itself reason for audiences to see this movie at least once.  It is not the movie’s only positive.  The other positive will be addressed shortly.  Before that positive is addressed, one must address the movie’s clear negative, its script.

The movie’s script does just as much to detract from Mary Poppins Returns’ presentation as its positives do to make it worth the watch.  The script is based very loosely on Travers’ 1935 novel Mary Poppins Comes Back.  The initial scene in which Mary makes her first appearance is true to the source material, but so much other material was changed.  For instance, Mary declares in the movie that she will leave “when the door opens.”  That is different from the novel, in which she states that she will leave when ‘the little chain to her locket breaks.”  Adding to the issues with the script is that for all intents and purposes, this movie’s script is a rehashing of the first movie.  Once again, the banks family is in turmoil as it deal with the city’s bank.  This time around, it’s Michael, all grown up, dealing with the evil bank head, and trying to save the family home from said villain. This is not the first time that a sequel has basically gone back to its predecessor for a story, either (E.g. Tron and Tron Legacy – another Disney pairing – and Blues Brothers and Blues Brothers 2000).  What’s more, it certainly is not the first time that a movie’s script has centered around an innocent land owner facing off against an evil banker/landlord figure to keep his or her land.  That is a plot element that goes back to the golden age of cinema, when so many Westerns saw their protagonists having to save their land from said bad guy.  As if all of that is not enough, there is an unmistakable plot hole involving Mary’s cousin Topsy.  While Mary and the Banks children visit Topsy in order to have the vase fixed, that story line is never re-visited (not to give away too much).  Why have that element in there if it is not going to be addressed again?  It’s almost as if it was included just to give justification for the studio bringing in veteran actress Meryl Streep.  When one considers all of this along with the movie’s pacing issues, which can be traced at least in part to the overabundance of musical numbers, it becomes impossible to argue in support of this movie’s story.  Considering this, the movie’s script does a lot to detract from the movie’s overall presentation.  Luckily though, the damage that it does to the presentation is countered again, by another of the movie’s positives, its collective sets and animation.

The collective sets and animation incorporated into Mary Poppins Returns is more proof of the movie’s creative heads trying to establish a certain sense of nostalgia in audiences’ minds.  The animated scenes, which take place when Mary and the Banks children jump into the China vase, look almost identical to those used in Mary Poppins.  This is important to note because in an age when so much animation is clearly CG or flash, the work put into those scenes makes it next to impossible to tell if it was crafted by hand or on computer.  That is a testament to the time and effort put into those scenes.  That in itself is worth its share of applause.

The sets that were crafted for the movie, as previously noted, give the movie a look that makes it easy to see the movie translated to the stage.  Again, kudos is in order for those behind the scenes in this case, too.  From the scene with the lamp lighters singing and dancing, to the exteriors of the Banks’ home to the finale in the park, the sets look just like something that could easily be presented on stage.  Even the set for Topsy’s shop, with its ability to go upside down, is something that certainly some set designer(s) can build.  The positive created from this element and that of the animation combines to make them just as important to the movie’s presentation as its musical numbers.  When these aesthetic elements are considered together, they make clear that while Mary Poppins Returns is hardly the return that many fans will expect, it does prove that there is at least still a place in today’s entertainment industry for musicals.  Simply put, they prove that this movie is worth at least one watch, but few if any, more returns.

A lot of hype was built around Walt Disney Studios’ new Mary Poppins offering Mary Poppins Returns ahead of its theatrical release late last year.  Sadly though, the movie does not entirely live up to that hype.  It is not a complete loss, though.  Its musical numbers – overly abundant as they are – its sets and its animation go a long way toward making the movie worth at least one watch.  That is especially the case among fans of musicals and Disney’s own golden era.  The movie’s script does as much to detract from the movie as its aesthetic elements, though.  Keeping all of this in mind, Mary Poppins Returns is, again, worth at least one watch, but few, if any, more returns.  More information on this and other titles from Walt Disney Studios is available online now at:




Website: http://www.waltdisneystudios.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DisneyStudios




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CNN Films, Magnolia Pictures Start 2019 On A Strong Note With New Gilda Radner Doc

Courtesy: CNN Films/Magnolia Pictures

Once you reach the top, there’s nowhere to go but down.  Who hasn’t heard or repeated this old adage at one point or another in life?  Well, CNN Films and Magnolia Pictures have started 2019 at the top with their brand new documentary Love, Gilda.  Keeping that in mind, here’s to hoping that the nearly 90-minute documentary, which focuses on the life and career of the late, great Gilda Radner will not be the only great new offering from the two studios this year.  That aside, this presentation is such a strong start for each side partly because of its main feature.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content that comes with the DVD strengthens its presentation even more, and will be discussed a little bit later.  The DVD’s average price point rounds out its most important elements, and will also be discussed later.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of Love, Gilda.  All things considered, they make Love, Gilda the first great documentary of the new year.

CNN Films and Magnolia Pictures’ new documentary Love, Gilda is the first great new documentary of the new year.  That is proven in part through the documentary’s main feature.  The primary content is a standard presentation, following the life and career of the late great entertainer, providing a look not just at the woman on camera, but the woman behind the lens, too.  Needless to say, that in-depth examination of Radner’s life and career is a fitting tribute to Radner.  It is such, that it will leave even the most emotionally steeled person tearing up to a point.  Audiences learn over the course of the doc’s 86-minute run time, that her comedic roots were in here childhood.  Even more surprising is the apparent long-term impact of her being bullied for her weight during her childhood.  It would appear in watching this program, that Radner suffered from anorexia throughout the majority of her life as a result of that bullying.  Of course, that is entirely assumption, but it would seem that there is a link there.  Even more interesting (and sad) is her battle with ovarian cancer, which eventually is what took her life.  She did not die as a result of drugs or alcohol, but from something far more unexpected.  Her brave battle with the disease will keep those unfamiliar with her story completely engaged, and agreeing that the way in which she passed was so tragic.  On a happier, note, audiences get a first hand telling of Radner and second husband Gene Wilder’s true love story along with clarification that she was never married to John Belushi.  Wilder and Radner’s love story will move any viewer in the best way possible.  On a related note, the revelation that Radner was married to former Saturday Night Live band leader G.E. Smith prior to her marriage to Wilder adds its own share of interest to the overall story, too.  The readings from Radner’s own autobiography It’s Always Something and the highlights of her own personal notes adds yet more interest to the story.  That is because they show even more clearly, the woman behind the lens.  They reveal her to be such a fragile person, emotionally, but not just some diva type figure.  Rather, they make her a figure to whom so many people can relate.  She was just an average person going through emotional turmoil that every person goes through even today.  These revelations add even more appreciation for Radner not just as an entertainer, but as a person.  When one considers everything noted here, along with the vintage footage of Radner performing on SNL, The National Lampoon Show and even her earliest days working with a stage troupe, what audiences get through this doc’s main feature is a story that rivals any overly embellished story that Hollywood’s “Big Six” could ever develop.  Hopefully none of those studios will ever try to tell their own unnecessary story of Radner’s life and career, but even if one were to make such a thoughtless move, this doc’s main feature would still outperform said presentation, proving again why docs are far better than said biopics.  Now, keeping all of this in mind, it should be clear why the main feature of Love, Gilda is so important to the doc’s overall presentation.  That presentation follows a standard formula, yes, but at the same time, it tells a powerful and moving story that will keep any viewer engaged and entertained.  Of course, that primary content is only a portion of what makes the doc such a strong new offering from CNN Films and Magnolia Pictures.  The bonus content strengthens even more, the foundation formed through the doc’s main feature.

The bonus content that is included with Love, Gilda strengthens the doc’s presentation even more primarily through its extensive bonus interview segments.  The interview segments in question are more in-depth presentations that were segmented throughout the course of the main feature.  They are with the likes of Martin Short (with whom Radner worked early in her career), SNL producer Lorne Michaels, SNL alums Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Bill Hader and Radner’s family and friends. Poehler spoke warmly of Radner, saying that next to Carol Burnett, Radner was one of the most influential female entertainers in her own life and career.  Additionally, Poehler states in her extended interview, that she regretted never having gotten to meet Radner because of Radner’s impact on her life and career.

Short talks during his extended interview that Radner’s “command of a room” and her “originality” were among the most important aspects of Radner’s personality.  Additionally, he smiles as he recalls that Radner never tried to compete with other entertainers, but rather enjoyed just being with other entertainers.  Short said of that nature that “it was an amazing aura.  It wasn’t even stardom.  It was something beyond that.”

As if all of these fond recollections are not enough, audiences also learn through another of the extended interviews where Radner actually got her name.  It is revealed by one of those closest to Radner that she allegedly was named after the title character from actress Rita Hayworth’s 1946 starring vehicle Gilda.  That story alone is certain to bring plenty of smiles and even some fond laughs.  Between this revelation, the others noted here and so many others presented in the extended interviews, the story and picture that audiences get of Radner here is just as engaging and entertaining as that presented in the doc’s main feature.

The “home movies” and “gallery’ bonuses are not exactly the most standout additions in terms of bonuses.  Even with that in mind, they help audiences to see even more, the importance of those extended interview segments.  To that end, audiences will agree that the extended interviews are just as critical to this doc as the doc’s main feature.  When those interviews and the main feature are paired together, their whole creates a presentation that proves even more why it is such a strong first effort from CNN Films and Magnolia Pictures.  Keeping that strength in mind, it makes the doc’s price point money well-spent.

Love, Gilda’s average price point is $22.89.  That number is obtained by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  It should be noted that the “buy” link at the doc’s official website takes audiences back to Amazon, and that while information on the film is listed at CNN Films and Magnolia Pictures’ websites, no “buy” link is available.  Additionally, the doc is not listed at Books-A-Million’s website.  Keeping this in mind, Love, Gilda can be ordered via the country’s biggest retailers, and at a price that will not break the bank.  What’s more, the mode price of $22.39 means that the average price point is only barely above that most commonly listed price.  That is even more of a positive for audiences.  When one takes into consideration the depth and breadth of the information shared throughout the course of Love, Gilda, both prices prove to be equally affordable and worth spending.  When one keeps all of this in mind, Love, Gilda proves in whole to be a strong start to 2019 for CNN Films and Magnolia Pictures, and easily the year’s first great new documentary.

CNN and Magnolia Pictures’ first new documentary of 2019 is also the year’s first great new documentary.  Go figure, it has been released today, on the very first day of the new year.  The doc’s main feature easily supports these statements, as it presents the story of someone who might have been a celebrity, but who never made herself like so many celebrities past or present.  It presents Radner as someone to whom any everyday person can relate even today.  It is a touching story that easily rivals any biopic that Hollywood’s “Big Six” might ever try to create.  Again, hopefully none of those studios will ever try to ruin her life and legacy, but if they should ever go that low, this doc will still outdo anything they churn out.  The bonus extended interviews included with the doc deepen Radner’s story even more, adding even more appreciation for her as a person and entertainer.  The DVD’s average price point proves to be money well-spent, considering the appreciation that the main and secondary content creates.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of Love, Gilda.  All things considered, they make Love, Gilda a great start to 2019 for documentary fans, and the year’s first great new documentary. More information on Love, Gilda is available online now at:




Website: http://www.lovegilda.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/LoveGildaFilm




More information on this and other titles from Magnolia Pictures is available online now at:




Website: http://www.magnoliapictures.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MagnoliaPics




More information on this and other titles from CNN Films is available online now at:




Website: http://www.cnn.com/shows/cnn-films

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cnnfilms




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.

‘Jasper Jones’ Is The Cream Of 2018’s Independent Movies Crop

Courtesy: Film Movement/Screen Australia

As the last hours of 2018 near, Phil’s Picks has one final year-ender list to present.  This final list is that of the year’s top new independent movies.

For those who might not follow this critic’s ramblings on a daily basis, this critic has a very strong aversion to mainstream Hollywood and its offerings.  That is because the mainstream movie industry tends to offer so little in terms of originality.  Nowadays, Hollywood’s “Big Six” studios feed audiences a steady diet of nothing but prequels, sequels, reboots, biopics and movies based on actual events.  There is just little to no originality from the mainstream.

Thankfully, the independent industry offers audiences something to enjoy for those looking for that escape.  Level 33 Entertainment offered the touching Running For Grace while Cohen Media Group’s biopic of sculptor Rodin offers its own interest.  Mill Creek Entertainment’s Flora proved to be a surprisingly entertaining watch, and so did Film Movement’s Bye Bye Germany, even with its massive plot hole, that this critic considered in hindsight.  Why would a Jewish prisoner-of-war work with a Nazi officer?  it does kind of negate a big part of that story.

Taking the top spot in this critic’s list of 2018’s top new independent movies is the Australian import, Jasper Jones.  This movie was met with mixed reviews, but this critic’s own view is that it is a powerful watch that addresses (in intended fashion or not) issues of racism even down under in the 1960s.

Second place in this year’s list goes to the noted Mill Creek release Flora.  The movie is a surprisingly enjoyable watch as it takes the classic man vs. nature story and gives an unsuspecting twist that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Third place in this year’s list goes to the previously noted Level 33 Entertainment movie Running For Grace.  Released in early November, is set in Hawaii and finds its main protagonist as he falls in love with a young white woman.  It stars some well-known names, too in the form of Matt Dillon and Jim Caviezel alongside Ryan Potter, Juliet Mills, Olivia Ritchie and Nick Boraine.

Also featured in this year’s list are the Japanese imports, The Third Murder and Outrage Coda along with the Afghan import, An Afghan Love Story just to name some more titles.  As always, this final year-ender features 10 best titles and five honorable mention titles for a total count of 15.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Independent Movies.


  1. Jasper Jones
  2. Flora
  3. Running For Grace
  4. Oh Lucy!
  5. I Am Not A Witch
  6. Rodin
  7. In Between
  8. An Afghan Love Story
  9. The Third Murder
  10. Outrage Coda
  11. Bye Bye Germany
  12. Un Traductor
  13. Midaq Alley
  14. Death and the Maiden
  15. La Boyita

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.

‘Saved By The Bell’ Rings Loud In Phil’s Picks 2018 top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues List

Courtesy: Shout! FactoryNBC

Box sets and standalone DVDs and Blu-rays are always critical to examine each year when it comes to year-ender lists.  That is because they really are their own categories.  They are not the only important categories to examine, though, when developing year-ender lists.

One of the most under appreciated lists that every critic should consider is the list of the year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.  This critic’s list is chock full of interesting titles this year, such as the Blu-ray re-issue of the classic action series MacGuyver‘s debut season, Saved By The Bell and even the classic biopic The Glenn Miller Story. Yes, this critic even included a biopic in the list, despite not exactly being a fan of the genre.

The top spot on this year’s list goes easily to none other than Saved By The BellThe Complete Series.  The original series has been released previously, however, never to the extent that it was presented in this new box set.  Add in solid pricing and extensive bonus material, and fans of the classic NBC series get a top notch set.

The second spot on this year’s list goes to the Blu-ray re-issue of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  This so-campy-that-it’s-great modern classic is incredible in its story, acting and special effects.  The addition of its bonus material makes it an even greater investment for movie buffs.

Third Place in this year’s list of top new DVD & BD Re-Issues goes to the re-issue of MGM’s Get Shorty.  The spoof of Hollywood’s many mob movies and Hollywood insider flicks couples with enjoyable bonus content and an affordable price point for a presentation that every movie buff will enjoy.

Also featured in this year’s list are re-issues of Bill & Ted’s Bogus JourneyDragnetBill & Ted’s Excellent AdventureCity Slickers and The Wasp Woman just to name a handful of titles.  The list’s top 10 titles are the best of the year, while the five that follow are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New DVD/BD re-issues.


  1. Saved By The BellThe Complete Series
  2. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
  3. Get Shorty
  4. Dragnet
  5. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  6. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
  7. Cold Turkey
  8. The Wasp Woman
  9. MacGuyverThe Complete First Season
  10. City Slickers
  11. Dr. Detroit
  12. GarfieldNine Lives
  13. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure
  14. The Glenn Miller Story
  15. The Sandlot

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.