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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‘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

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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‘The Great Gilly Hopkins’ Is A “Great” Family Flick

Courtesy: Lionsgate Premium

Courtesy: Lionsgate Premium

Every year during the holiday season it seems that audiences are stuck watching the same fare both on television and in theaters.  Sure, tradition’s a good thing.  But how much tradition can people handle before it just becomes trite?  Thankfully, next month Lionsgate Premium will release a new offering to break that monotony.  It is the studio’s small screen adaptation of author Katherine Paterson’s children’s book The Great Gilly Hopkins.  The movie, which runs 99 minutes, is an interesting new holiday offering and an equally entertaining first-time adaptation of the book.  That is due in no small part to the story at the movie’s center.  That will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in its presentation as its central story.  It will be discussed later.  The movie’s bonus “making of” featurette rounds out its most important elements.  Each element plays its own important part in the movie’s overall presentation.  All things considered, The Great Gilly Hopkins proves to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 holiday movie season.

Lionsgate Premium’s small screen adaptation of The Great Gilly Hopkins is one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 holiday movie season.  That is due in no small part to the movie’s story.  For the most part, this adaptation strives to stay loyal to its source material.  That’s a rarity both for big screen and small screen literary adaptations.  The fact that Paterson’s son David directly handled the adaptation of his mother’s book is likely why it stayed true to its source material.  Kudos are definitely in order considering this.  The story follows its pre-teen protagonist as she comes of age and learns to let love in again after being hurt so many times by being tossed around in the foster system.  She learns to let love in as she learns that a family doesn’t have to be a biological family.  What makes the story work is its ability to make audiences suspend their disbelief. It is so believable because it was presented in a realistic fashion instead of just being another run-of-the-mill saccharine sweet drama about family.  Considering that the movie centers on family and is so faithfully adapted, it is interesting that the story was adapted by a mother and son team.  It’s a parallel of sorts, and an interesting one that will generate its own share of discussion.  This is just one way in which the story stands out in this year’s field of holiday fare.  The fact that it only uses the holidays as a backdrop makes it stand out even more.

The story at the center of The Great Gilly Hopkins stands out in the movie’s presentation because of its faithful adaptation from its source material.  That is just one way in which it stands out.  It also stands out in the fact that its holiday material remains in the story’s  background rather than being at the story’s center.  There are scenes that take place on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But for the most part, the story’s holiday material is little more than background.  Considering that, the movie could be considered a holiday movie and a general family drama that just uses the holidays as a backdrop.  It is a respectable balance, and when set alongside the story’s central story, adds even more depth and enjoyment to the movie’s overall presentation.  Keeping all of this in mind, this movie’s story proves an integral part of its presentation.  It isn’t the movie’s only important element, either.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to its presentation as its story.

The story at the center of The Great Gilly Hopkins is a key piece of the movie’s presentation.  It stays as true as possible to its source material.  That is rare for any literary work adapted to the big screen and small.  The fact that it keeps its holiday elements more in a supporting role than primary makes it even more enjoyable.  Considering all of this, the movie’s story proves to be a key piece of the movie’s presentation.  It is not the movie’s only key element.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note as its story.  The work of the movie’s cast is so important to note because it is just as believable as the story.  Kathy Bates (The Blindside, Misery, Titanic) leads the cast in her role as Maime Trotter. She absolutely nails down Maime right down to the southern accent.  There are so many actors and actresses who try to get that accent but fail miserably because they try too hard.  In Bates’ case, she gets it just right.  Maime’s determination to make a difference in Gilly’s life despite Gilly’s behavior is just as powerful.  She had plenty of chances throughout the movie to really ham it up, but never took that opportunity.  Instead, she showed her years of experience.  In turn, she makes audiences absolutely love her as that surrogate mother figure.  Hers is just one of the performances that stands out here.  Fellow lead star Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief, Endorphine, Pawn Sacrifice) is just as impressive as Bates.

Kathy Bates’ performance as Maime Trotter is one of the most enjoyable performances by this movie’s cast.  That is because she exhibits her years of experience here just as much as she has in her more well-known performances.  She makes Maime such a loveable and believable character.  Hers is just one of the performances that stands out in this movie.  Fellow cast mate Sophie Nelisse is just as enjoyable to watch as the movie’s title character.  Nelisse is just as believable as Bates as she portrays Hopkins’ naivety and emotional turmoil in her youth.  Just as in the case of Bates, it would have been so easy for Nelisse to overact as she brought Gilly to life.  But even at the tender age of 16, Nelisse handles her role with the expertise of a seasoned veteran.  Considering that, she again proves just as enjoyable to watch as Bates and the rest of the movie’s star-studded cast.  That cast includes the likes of Glenn Close (Damages, 101 Dalmations, The Shield), Octavia Spencer (The Help, Zootopia, Being John Malkovich), Bill Cobbs (Night at the Museum, The Bodyguard, The Color of Money) and Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You, Silver Linings Playbook, Dexter).  The work of the movie’s cast works in partner with its story directly to make the movie even more enjoyable than considering the elements alone.  They are not its only key elements.  The movie’s bonus “making of” featurette is just as important to note in examining the movie’s overall presentation as its story and the cast’s ability to carry the story.

The story at the center of The Great Gilly Hopkins and the cast’s ability to carry the movie are both key to the movie’s overall presentation.  The story is key to the movie’s presentation because it stays true to its source material and expertly balances its story with its holiday elements.  The cast’s work as it carried the story is just as important to note in examining the movie’s presentation as its story.  That is because the cast’s work is so believable all the way around.  While both elements are key to the movie’s presentation, they are not its only key elements.  The movie’s bonus “making of” featurette is just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story and the work of its cast in interpreting the story.

The story at the center of The Great Gilly Hopkins and the cast’s work throughout that story are both critical to the movie’s overall presentation.  The story is critical to the movie’s presentation because of how closely it follows its source material.  The cast’s work is just as important to note due to the ease with which they make viewers suspend their disbelief.  While both elements are clearly pivotal to the movie’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The movie’s bonus making of featurette is just as important to note in examining the movie’s presentation as its story and the work of its cast.  The movie’s bonus “making of’ featurette isn’t necessarily long.  It averages about 15 minutes, if that.  But in that short time, audiences get to hear from the movie’s cast as well as its writer and director.  The discussions are on the characters themselves as well as the importance of the story.  Julia Stiles only appears for a couple of minutes near the movie’s end—not to give away too much—but she makes an important statement in her bonus interview.  She points out that she was drawn to the movie because it wasn’t too saccharine or too dark and moody.  That is something that this critic already pointed out, too.  Kathy Bates discusses her role as Maime and the role that she plays in the movie’s grand scheme.  Audiences even get to hear from Katherine Paterson and her son in this extra material.  The elder Paterson discusses the real life influence on the book that would become The Great Gilly Hopkins while son David discusses the story’s adaptation from printed page to small screen.  These discussions and so much more add yet another layer of depth to the movie’s presentation.  When the whole of the movie’s bonus “making of” featurette is set alongside the movie’s story and the work of the movie’s cast, all three elements join together to make The Great Gilly Hopkins a “great” family flick.

The Great Gilly Hopkins is a great family flick and one of the biggest surprises of the genre so far this year.  That is due in no small part to the movie’s story and the work of its superstar cast.  The movie’s bonus material adds just as much depth and enjoyment to the movie as those previously noted elements.  All things considered, this movie proves to be one of the most surprising of this year’s family offerings and one of the genre’s best offerings, too.  It will be available in stores and online Tuesday, December 6.  It can be pre-ordered online now via Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=34393&TitleParentId=10502.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgate

 

 

 

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‘Stick Man’ Stands Out In This Year’s Field Of New Family Flicks

Courtesy: Magic Light Pictures/PBS/PBS DIstribution

Courtesy: Magic Light Pictures/PBS/PBS DIstribution

Earlier this month, PBS Distribution partnered with Magic Light pictures to release a small screen adaptation of yet another of author Julia Donaldson’s books in the form of Stick Man.  The latest of Magic Light’s adaptations of Donaldson’s books, this feature stands out quite a bit from its predecessors.  That is due in part to the story at the center of the feature.  That will be discussed shortly.  The feature’s companion bonus material is important to the feature just as much as its story.  That will be discussed later.  The animation that is used for the feature rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right, obviously.  All things considered, Stick Man proves in the end to be one of this year’s most intriguing family flicks.

Magic Light Pictures’ small screen adaptation of author Julia Donaldson’s book Stick Man is one of this year’s most intriguing family flicks.  That is due in part to the story at the feature’s center.  The story, believe it or not, is technically not one for the whole family.  As one individual notes in the feature’s bonus material, it can be easily compared to the story in the timeless Greek myth, The Odyssey.  It is a very heavy story that finds its title character trying so hard to get back to his family.  It’s not an easy journey either.  Stick Man has to face children who use him as a bat, a boomerang and even a bag holder, as well as a swan who uses him for her nest, and even gets swept out to sea along the way.  The whole time, the story transitions back to Stick man’s wife and young sons who keep vigil for him.  Their deep emotion is painful to see and might be a bit too intense for some younger audiences.  The same applies with seeing Stick Man’s reactions to his situations.  It stands out clearly from Donaldson’s previously adapted books because the only points at which it really has any light heartedness is at the story’s opening and in its closing.  Throughout the rest of the story, it tends to be emotionally heavy.  So again, it is not necessarily a work that is recommended for the whole family.  That doesn’t disqualify it from being worth the watch, though.  The fact that Donaldson could craft such a grown up story and that Magic Light Pictures would once again stay true to the source material makes it well worth the watch.  Keeping all of this in mind, it is clear why the story at the center of Stick Man is so important to its overall presentation.

The story at the center of Stick Man is a hugely important part of the recently released small screen adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s book.  That is because her approach to this story is such a stark departure from her previous stories.  It is much more emotionally heavy than those stories, making it a work that some younger viewers might have trouble handling.  While the feature’s story is an important part of its presentation, it is not the feature’s only important element.  The bonus material that is included with the feature is just as important to its presentation as its story.  The bonus material is just as in-depth as that presented in Magic Light Pictures’ previous Donaldson adaptations.  Those behind the feature’s creation discuss (along with Donaldson) the importance of the story staying true to its source material included in the bonus material.  There is also a discussion on making sure the feature, despite being crafted primarily via CG, still maintained a look just like that of its previous Donaldson adaptations and as far away from so many other CG flicks as possible. If that isn’t enough, there are also discussions comparing the feature’s story, as previously noted, to the likes of The Odyssey along with so much more.  It is all so enlightening, and adds so much more depth to the feature in whole.  When it is partnered with the feature’s central story, the two elements make even clearer why this feature stands out.  They show why it stands out both among Magic Pictures’ Donaldson adaptations and among this year’s crop of holiday movies.  In reality, one could argue (on a side note) that it is less a holiday story than a story about family.

The story at the center of Stick Man and its companion bonus material are both central to the feature’s overall presentation.  The story is a stark departure from those presented in Donaldson’s other works in so many ways.  The bonus material that is included with the story adds even more depth to the feature’s overall presentation.  While both elements do so much to flesh out the feature’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The feature’s animation approach is just as important to note in examining the feature’s presentation as the feature’s story and its bonus material.  Audiences familiar with Magic Light Pictures’ adaptation of Donaldson’s books will be pleased to see that (as discussed previously) this feature looks just like the company’s previous adaptations of her books.  It is clear that it was made on computer.  The thing is that while it maintains the company’s trademark look of its Donaldson adaptations, that look also maintains a distinct identity totally separate from that of every other animation studios’ offerings.  Using such approach presents a certain comfort for audiences.  For audiences not so familiar to Magic Light Pictures’ offerings, it will be an especially welcome introduction and change of pace from all of those cookie cutter stylistic approaches.  In other words, it makes the feature all the more engaging and entertaining for audiences.  Considering this and the other discussed elements, it becomes wholly clear why Stick Man—while perhaps not for the whole family—is still an intriguing family flick from Magic Light Pictures.  It is in fact one of this year’s most intriguing family flicks.

Stick Man is one of this year’s most intriguing new family flicks.  It is a work that is a stark departure from author Julia Donaldson’s previous books.  That Magic Light Pictures once again stayed true to Donaldson’s source material in its source material makes the story all the more engaging.  Again, not every younger viewer will be able to handle the story because it is so emotionally heavy.  But that also makes it so interesting to watch, considering how much it stands out from Donaldson’s other previously adapted stories.  The bonus material that is included in the feature adds to the depth of its overall presentation.  The animation approach that is used in the feature’s presentation rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the feature’s overall presentation. All things considered, Stick Man proves in the end to be one of this year’s most intriguing family flicks, regardless of whether audiences consider it a holiday flick or a family flick in general.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.

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

 

 

 

Website: http://www.magiclightpictures.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MagicLightPics

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Public Media Distribution is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pbs

 

 

 

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Porter And Company Impress On Their Latest Live Recording

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Jazz artist Gregory Porter released his latest live recording Live in Berlin last week.  The recording, released via Eagle Rock Entertainment is a wonderful experience for any jazz fan regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Porter and his body of work.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s set list.  That will be discussed shortly.  Porter’s performance is just as important to note in the recording’s presentation as is the show’s set list.  Last but hardly least of note in the recording’s presentation are the platforms on which it has been made available.  Each element plays its own important part in the recording’s overall presentation.  Altogether they make Live in Berlin a recording that will entertain Porter’s more seasoned audiences just as much as it will his newer audiences.

Gregory Poerter’s new live recording Live in Berlin is a work that will entertain Porter’s more seasoned audiences just as much as it will those who are less familiar with him and his body of work.  That is due in no small part to the show’s set list, speaking of his body of work.  The show’s 18-song set list pulls songs from al four of Porter’s current album’s with his latest album Take Me To The Alley showing the heaviest representation with seven songs.  Liquid Spirit (2013) comes second with five songs from that album included in the show’s set list.  There are also some other familiar songs included in the show’s set list, not the least of which being ‘What’s Going On.’  There is also a cover of ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ included in the show.  The song was originally composed by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong but made most popular by The Temptations.  If all of this isn’t enough for audiences, the set list’s order is the same in the recording’s CD side as it is in its separate DVD and Blu-ray side.  As has been noted before in other live recordings’ reviews, this is important because there are some recordings out there whose set lists don’t always mirror one another between their CD and DVD/BD platforms.  Speaking of those platforms, they will be discussed later, as they are pivotal to the recording’s presentation, too.  Getting back on topic, the set list presented in this recording shows to have plenty of importance to the recording’s presentation.  It is only one of the recording’s key elements, too.  The stage presence of both Porter and his fellow musicians throughout the concert is just as important to note as the set list.

The set list that makes up the body  of Gregory Porter’s new live recording is in itself a huge part of the recording’s presentation.  That is because it pulls from all four of his current studio recordings and even includes covers of some other well-known hits.  On another level, the show’s set list stays the same from the concert’s CD platform to its DVD and BD platform.  So regardless of which platform one uses to experience this concert, one will get the same experience, in terms of the set list’s order, from one platform to the next.  It is just one of the key elements to note in examining the recording’s presentation.  The stage presence presented by Porter and his fellow musicians is just as important to note in examining this presentation as the show’s set list.  Porter oozes confidence as he makes his way through each song’s performance.  Even as he spends time talking to the audience between songs, he exudes a certain humility with that confidence.  That alone is enough to make listeners new and old alike enjoy watching him.  Of course Porter’s fellow musicians—Chip Crawford (piano), Emanuel Harold (drums), Jamal Nichols (bass) and Tivon  Pennicot (saxophone)—exude just as much confidence as they ease their way through each song, too.  That is especially notable in the group’s performance of ‘Take Me To The Alley’ and ‘Hey Laura.’  Harold makes his timekeeping seem so effortless, and Pennicot’s work on sax is just as enjoyable to take in.  Nichols and Crawford offer their own share of enjoyment throughout the show, too.  When all four men join with Porter, the whole of their performances will keep audiences fully engaged from the show’s beginning to its end.  When this is considered alongside the show’s set list, it becomes even clearer why Live in Berlin is such an impressive new live recording from Gregory Porter and company.  These two elements are not the recording’s only notable elements, though.  The platforms on which the concert is available are just as important to note in examining the concert’s recording as its set list and featured performance.

The set list featured in Live in Berlin and performance of said set list by Porter and company are both key elements to note in examining the recording’s presentation.  That is because the pair works hand in hand with one another.  As important as both elements are to the recording’s presentation, they are not its only key elements.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available are just as important to note as the previously noted elements.  It might not seem all that important on the surface, but in the grand scheme of things, it is hugely important.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has made Live in Berlin available on two separate combo packs – a DVD/2 CD combo pack and a Blu-ray/2 CD combo pack.  By combining the concert’s audio only presentation (CD) with separate DVD and Blu-ray platforms, Eagle Rock has covered all of its bases, making the concert available for every one of Porter’s fans.  What’s more, by combining the CD platform with DVD and Blu-ray, the company has also given fans the full concert experience, rather than forcing them to choose between platforms. The DVD + 2 CD combo pack averages approximately $28 and the Blu-ray + 2CD combo pack $27.  Considering the closeness in the platforms’ average pricing audiences won’t be left paying an arm and a leg for the concert regardless of which combo pack they choose.  When this is considered alongside the concert’s enjoyable set list and the group’s equally enjoyable performance of that set list, the end result is a recording that every audience will enjoy regardless of familiarity with the group’s work.

Gregory Porter’s new live recording Live in Berlin is a work that every one of Porter’s fans will appreciate regardless of their familiarity with his work and that of his fellow musicians.  From the show’s extensive set list to the completely enjoyable performance put on by Porter and company to the show’s relatively affordable and far-reaching platforms, there is plenty for audiences to appreciate about this recording.  Keeping that in mind, it is a work that every audience will appreciate regardless of their familiarity with Porter’s work and that of his fellow musicians.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Live in Berlin is available now along with Porter’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www,gregoryporter.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/GregoryPorter

 

 

 

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 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.