Day Of The Falcon Stands Out In The Indie Flock

Courtesy: Image Entertainment/Quinta/PRIMA TV S.p.A/Carthago Films/france2 cinema/DFI Doha Film INstitute

Courtesy: Image Entertainment/Quinta/PRIMA TV S.p.A/Carthago Films/france2 cinema/DFI Doha Film Institute

Day of the Falcon is an interesting movie, especially considering that it is an indie flick.  This modern day update on Lawrence of Arabia may not be the year’s best movie.  But in the grander picture of indie movies released each year, it is one of the best of the flock in 2013.  So many film makers try to make indie flicks, but sadly come up short, instead releasing a final product that looks more like a second or third run movie that belongs on basic cable on a cold and rainy weekend.  This movie doesn’t fit in that category, though.  Amazingly enough, thanks to at least a pair of factors, the final product of this movie could easily hold its own against not only other indie flicks, but even some major theatrical releases.  One of those factors is the scripting.  Another would be the general scenery and backdrop.  And that actually ties directly into the cinematography.

The script for this movie is a good script, although it isn’t without its faults.  It centers on the earliest days of the Middle East as it begins to rise to power thanks to the discovery of oil in the region.  Here is where the problems start.  The discovery of oil in the region leads to conflict between two of the region’s kingdoms.  The death of two members of one of the kingdoms leads to even more tensions, as it leads to the belief that the men in question were drowned in oil by members of the opposing kingdom in question.  Tensions eventually escalate after a request from Auda’s (Tahar Rahim) father, Amar (Mark Strong) is not exactly received too well by Nesib (Antonio Banderas), Auda’s father-in-law.  That would be because the request in question comes across as less than humble, upsetting Nesib.  Nesib’s refusal to this proposal leads to the eventual conflicts that follow Auda has he travels the desert to return to his wife.  So who’s still following all of this?  Does anyone need a program?  Sure, one might have to go back a couple times to catch everything going on.  But once the full story is unwrapped and understood, it leads to what makes the movie truly worth checking out; the cinematography and the shooting locales.    

Whereas the intertwining storylines can get more than a little bit confusing in this movie, the movie’s cinematography and shooting locales go hand in hand with one another.  As audiences will learn in the movie’s forty-minute long “Making of” feature, the movie was actually shot largely in the Middle East.  It was shot partially in Tunisia and partially in Qatar.  That it was shot on location in the Middle East instead of in a sound stage or in some location meant to look similar to the Middle East region played a big role in making the movie more believable.  The manner in which director Jean-Jacques Annaud caught the scenes made them all the more dramatic, even when Auda and those with him were facing the elements and not human enemies.  The inner turmoil on the faces of those with Auda as they struggled against the heat and dwindling supplies was powerful to say the least.  The joy on their faces as they discovered a freshwater spring and the sadness at the death of Auda’s brother were just as moving.  And it was all from getting just the right camera angles. 

The cinematography of the massive battle scenes—especially the final climactic battle scene—are perhaps the highlight of this movie.  Annaud explains in the movie’s “Making of” feature how the movie’s battle scenes were shot both from the ground and the air.  Again, those different angles help to really intensify the battles.  Annaud noted in the “Making of” feature that he wanted to make a movie that looked on par with the major motion pictures in theaters.  And he did just that.  He did so not just with the battle scenes, though.  He managed to succeed in that aspect throughout the course of the movie’s two hours and ten minutes.  Thankfully, it is Annaud’s leadership of the ship that is Day of the Falcon that helps make up for the slow first half.  He does the best that he can keeping the action moving.  And luckily once the initial story setup is finished the second and third acts come rather quickly before audiences even realize it, thus making it a movie that while it may need more than one watch, will grow on audiences more with each viewing.  And with each viewing, audiences will see that it is yet more proof that some indie flicks are just as good as pictures released by Hollywood’s major studios.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Image Entertainment store at  A trailer for the movie is also available for viewing at this site.

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Williams’ Latest Live Release A Unique Performance

Courtesy:  Image Entertainment

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

Harland Williams is one of the most unique individuals in the modern history of stand-up comedy.  This comedian has already made millions laugh with his roles in the likes of Half Baked, Dumb and Dumber, and Rocketman.  He has also entertained the masses with his stand-up routine all across the late night talk shows.  Now, Williams is back again with a live DVD unlike any that his counterparts have released.  It’s unlike anything that audiences have seen, too.  For all intents and purposes, Williams’ new DVD, A Force of Nature is less a live release than a one man show set out in nature.

As odd as it may seem to have a one man show outdoors, it’s actually rather smart. What audiences get in this new DVD release is just Harland Williams, a series of cameras, and nature; nothing else.  Williams even notes to viewers that there are no audiences to cue them when to laugh.  It’s just audiences watching him perform.  And if he thinks viewers should laugh at one point or another, he throws sunflower seeds at the camera.  Yes this is juvenile to say the least.  But in its own bizarre way, it may make some audiences laugh.  Speaking of knowing when to laugh, most audiences won’t have to worry about knowing when to laugh as his material is so off the wall that one can’t help but laugh, even as disturbing as some of his material is.  He spends roughly a good ten minutes going on a rant about what he calls “SOs” or Successful Orgasms.  Needless to say, this material is not something that would be considered safe for younger viewers.  But older audiences won’t be able to hold back the laughs, as childish as Williams acts throughout this part of his act.  It’s just one part of what will keep audiences watching and laughing.  Williams also goes on rants of sorts about hecklers, predator drones, and so much more.

Williams’ act aside, another factor that makes his new release interesting is its production values.  Considering that Williams spends his entire near hour long performance outside, he must have had a wind screen on his mic.  That’s assumed as there’s no wind noise going through his mic.  And the camera work adds to Williams’ almost manic delivery.  This may come across as something minor to most audiences.  But as he notes early in the program, what audiences get in this performance isn’t one of those performances held in what is essentially a controlled environment.  Even the production crew is at the mercy of Mother Nature here.  And considering how small his space was in which to perform, the camera crew did an impressive job of staying up with Williams’ constant movement rather than leaving viewers feeling dizzied, trying to keep up with him.  It’s one more positive to the overall experience.

Needless to say that considering Williams brand of comedy both in his material and in the presentation, Harland Williams has created in A Force of Nature a stand up performance that is unlike anything else.  The production values of this release add their own positive element, too.  It all comes together to make for a DVD that is a good introduction for Williams’ new audiences, and an equally entertaining piece for more experienced audiences.  It’s available in stores and online now.  Audiences can keep up with all the latest from Harland on his official Facebook page, on his official website, and on Twitter at  Audiences can even get all of his latest podcasts online for free at

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Serious Subject, Simple Writing Help The Last Fall Succeed

Courtesy:  One Village Entertainment/Image Entertainment

Courtesy: One Village Entertainment/Image Entertainment

The Last Fall is a good story for anyone looking to get their football fix during the sport’s offseason.  The story focuses on Kyle Bishop (Lance Gross), a football player who ends up going back to his hometown after leaving his team at the story’s opening.  The story doesn’t make entirely clear what happened that led Bishop to leave the team.  Though, it is indirectly hinted that he was cut.  This is hinted as he looks at newspaper articles written about him when he was in college as he cleans out his locker.  When he goes back to his old hometown, he hopes that things will be better.  But the reality is quite different as he finds out just how difficult it is to get a job.  And his personal relationships aren’t as he hoped, either.  What’s more, audiences discover that being that he’s no longer playing football, his financial situation isn’t as great as it perhaps could have been considering his former star status.  Kyle admits to his old flame the reality of finances for football players, to which she is rather surprised.  This is the center of what makes The Last Fall worth at least one watch.

That this story would tackle the very real issue of the myth surrounding professional athletes’ financial status is what really makes The Last Fall worth at least one watch.  Few, if any, sports based dramas tackle the myth about how professional athletes live.  Because of this, there is an overwhelming myth about professional athletes’ financial status and how they live; this despite a new special from ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series.  So it’s nice to see a movie (even a direct to DVD movie) tackle the subject and show that things aren’t always parties and planes for professional athletes.  

The Last Fall’s depiction of life post professional sports makes the story stand out among sports based dramas.  It’s thanks to the story’s script that this plot works.  The movie itself runs just over an hour and a half.  In that time, the story is simple enough to follow that if a person had to step out for any reason, one could let the movie keep running, come back, and still know what’s going on.  To that extent, this is a good thing believe it or not.  It means that this movie will easily allow viewers to be pulled in and suspend their disbelief without worrying about becoming too invested in it to the point that they worry about missing anything.  In simplest terms, the movie’s overall success with its intended audiences can be summed up in one word:  Balance.  The script balances all of its elements in a short period of time so well that while it may not be a major motion picture, it’s a story that any football fan will want to watch at least once.

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Suddenly Re-Issue Another Welcome Remnant Of Hollywood’s Golden Age

Courtesy:  Image Entertainment

Courtesy: Image Entertainment/United Artists

Almost half a century ago, the United States suffered one of the worst tragedies of the twentieth century.  That tragedy was the assassination of then President John F. Kennedy.  Conspiracy theories aside, what many people might not know is that according to author Kitty Kelley, it was Sinatra’s 1954 movie, Suddenly that was the alleged influence behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of then President John F. Kennedy.  According to her bio on the singer, His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra, Oswald allegedly watched the movie the day before he changed history.  As a result of this accusation, the movie was pulled for years before it was finally allowed back into the public realm.  And now audiences can see how Suddenly may have played a role in that dark day for themselves as it has been re-issued on Blu-ray by Image Entertainment.

Suddenly is hardly the longest movie ever made.  But that’s not a bad thing, either.  In a time when it seems like so many movie studios seem to be competing with one another to see who can make the longest possible story, this movie comes in at a little less than ninety minutes.  Throughout the course of its hour and fifteen minute run time, audiences are kept engaged thanks to the growing tension between Sinatra’s psychopathic ex-military officer John Baron and Sterling Hayden’s clean cut fellow ex-military officer Sheriff Tod Shaw.  Much like 12 Angry Men which wouldn’t see the light of day for another three years, what really heightens the story’s tension is that the majority of the story takes place in a limited set.  This is a minor factor to some audiences.  But in viewing the movie from a more analytical vantage point, it’s a factor that plays a much larger factor.  Understanding this makes the movie that much more interesting and worth the watch.  Add in the understanding of the controversy surrounding the movie, and audiences get a movie that is that much more intriguing, underappreciated, and worth the watch.

A single viewing of Suddenly shows how Lee Harvey Oswald could easily have been influenced to commit a copy-cat act.  But it’s not necessarily the attempted act in question that will have audiences talking after watching.  If anything it’s Baron’s (Sinatra) comment late in the movie that he wasn’t the one committing the act.  Rather he was doing it for someone else, purely for the money.  Baron told Sheriff Shaw that he didn’t know for whom he was working and didn’t care to know, either.  If anything this brief moment will surely re-ignite the discussions between conspiracy theorists about whether or not Oswald worked alone.  On another level, it serves as one more example of the possible power of media to influence real life.  Should there be any credence to the influence of Suddenly on Oswald’s actions, it can be just as strongly used as another warning to the media in regards to taking responsibility for the potential impact of what is written for TV shows and movies.

Getting back to the story behind Suddenly as art.  Writer Richard Sale accomplished quite the feat with this movie.  It wastes no time establishing the story’s plot and its cast.  As a result of this quickness, the rest of the story is spent in just a few rooms of a house.  For most film makers and script writers today, limiting a story to so few sets would prove a mind twist, so to speak.  That’s because so many of today’s movies rely more on flash-boom-bang special effects and overt sexuality to drive their stories.  But for Sale, his writing was solely story based.  It allowed for more tension between Sinatra and Hayden.  And that tension is what keeps audiences so engaged.  There was obviously some chemistry between the two as they expertly played off of one another throughout the story making it increasingly emotional.  The chemistry between the two men made for a movie that was entirely enthralling; so much so that it’s ironic that it wasn’t Hayden whose character was ultimately responsible for the movie’s final outcome.  That outcome won’t be ruined for those who haven’t yet seen it.  But it is an ending that has quite the twist in and of itself.  It’s a twist that will leave audiences completely breathless after everything that had happened through the course of this underrated thriller.  That twist ending is the icing on the cake for Sale’s writing here.  And combined with the equally expert acting of both Hayden and Sinatra (and their supporting cast), it all comes together for a movie that is at the same time underrated and underappreciated.  And now that it’s available once more on Blu-ray, it’s a movie that every movie lover should see at least once.

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Dick Van Dyke Show Blu-Ray Set A Welcome Re-Issue

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

The newly re-issued Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Series is one of the most welcome box sets of 2012.  This fifteen disc box set brings together the show’s full five-season run from 1961 to 1966.  At a time when so much programming on television today is anything but family friendly, this re-issued set resurrects one of television’s greatest programs for a whole new generation of audiences.

This new Blu-ray release isn’t the first time that the Dick Van Dyke show has been released to the public.  But it’s a welcome return for one of television’s most revered names and sitcoms.  From funny episodes such as ‘All About Eavesdropping’ and ‘Never Bathe on Saturday’ to the hilarious ‘Coast to Coast Bigmouth’, the show had more than its share of laughs throughout its run on CBS.  The show’s episodes have never looked better.  What’s makes it even more of a joy to watch is that it is a relic of a bygone era in television.  Add in a bevy of special features, and any true classic television buff will find this a welcome gift under the Christmas tree this year.

The Dick Van Dyke Show is one of the most respected and revered sitcoms in television history first and foremost for its writing.  Unlike so much of today’s programming, this is a classic sitcom in which every episode was a stand-alone episode.  Viewers didn’t have to worry about missing an episode or another to be able to enjoy the show.  Every show was a different episode all in itself.  In comparison to so much of what is on television today, being able to enjoy each episode without having to know what happened in the previous episode is a breath of fresh air.  It’s something which today’s generation knows next to nothing about as so many network programmers have leaned more in favor of serials.  With any luck, the resurgence of shows such as this and The Carol Burnett Show among others will prove to those programmers the value and importance of this style programming.

That fans can enjoy The Dick Van Dyke Show without worrying about each episode’s storyline from one to the next is one of the most important values of this show.  It isn’t the show’s only value, though.  The show’s writing also goes into its general content, too.  Again, in comparison to so much of today’s programming, this show is one of those breaths of fresh air in that it’s something which the entire family can enjoy together.  It mixes great physical comedy with family friendly jokes that will get the entire family laughing from one episode to the next.  The proof is in the pudding.  The show’s episode, ‘Never Bathe on Saturday’ earned the show a Primetime Emmy in the “Outstanding Comedy Series.”  That’s just one of its accolades.  For those who have never seen this classic episode, Rob and Laura go to a hotel for a romantic honeymoon.  But when Laura goes into the bathroom of the couple’s hotel room to try out the tub, she gets her toe stuck in the tub’s faucet.  The resulting jokes and comedy are proof of why the show won its Emmy for this episode.  Like so many other episodes from this classic sitcom, it’s a simple story with a simple and family friendly story that is still one of the show’s most beloved episodes to this very day.  And it’s just one tiny piece of evidence of what makes this show so timeless.  Thanks to Image Entertainment, families and fans can enjoy every episode and find their own favorite with every watch.

The show’s writing exhibits both intrinsically and extrinsically, the show’s value.  The writing makes all the difference in the show’s continued success nearly five decades after it ended.  Now on its new Blu-ray release, the writing continues to play a major role in the show’s continued success.  The show looked great on its original multi-disc DVD set.  Now on its new Blu-ray re-issue, the footage has never looked better.  It looks even sharper than ever.  It is crystal clear.  Given, the older grainy footage of the older DVD release is great for creating an extra sense of nostalgia.  But seeing it cleaned up so precisely without losing any quality from the original masters is incredible in its own right.  There are those who will and have had their own say about how the footage has been cleaned up.  But the very fact that there are those who want to preserve the show should make those critics change their minds.  Keeping in mind the outstanding quality of this show’s transfers to HD, its overall writing, and the equally interesting bonus features that have been carried over from the previous DVD release, The Dick Van Dyke Show on Blu-ray will be a great addition under the tree for any classic television buff this holiday season.

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New Ghost Hunters Set Shows More Of America’s Haunted History

Courtesy: Image Entertainment/Syfy/Pilgrim Films & Television

Jason, Grant, Steve, and Tango are back again.  Syfy’s hit paranormal investigative team, TAPS, offers fans the second half of its seventh season now out on DVD.  This new four-sic set sees the team investigates some pretty interesting spots.  Among the most interesting of the investigations are investigations of Seaview Terrace, the Carnegie Library, the Sun Inn, and Hanoverhill Roadhouse.Most people probably don’t know the name of Seaview Terrace.  The mansion is actually pretty famous.  It’s the mansion where the original Dark Shadows television series was filmed.  So what better place to investigate than the real life set of a show about a half human-half vampire?  The investigation isn’t without its rewards, either.  The team captures its share of disembodied voices and other unexplained things that go bump in the night.  That’s not all that happens.  A couple of the team members even see their equipment, which was allegedly sitting stable on a table fall over right in front of their own eyes.  There shouldn’t have been any way that it should have fallen.  Between these instances and others, the team leaves little doubt that there’s something left to be explained in this famous house.

Things don’t let up from here.  The team investigates an old jail and a very well-known library, both of which showed signs of some paranormal activity.  And in the spirit of the holidays, the second half of Season Seven offers fans a pair of investigations in Bethlehem, PA.  The team investigates the Sun Inn and the Hanoverhill Roadhouse.  Employees and guests of the Sun Inn reported instances of a little girl’s spirit roaming the building.  And to no surprise, the TAPS team does capture what seems like images of a little girl.  They even hear what sounds like a voice that could be hers.  Having completed this investigation, the team makes its way to the Hanoverhill Roadhouse.  The story behind this investigation is of a little boy who always sad and crying when he’s spotted.  The team doesn’t capture any images of him.  But they do capture what sounds like a whimpering or crying sound at one point.  That evidence alone makes for enough to validate another investigation at another time.  These investigations and the set’s bonus disc make for lots of entertainment for both Ghost Hunters fans and for any paranormal enthusiast.  The set is available in stores and online now.  Season Seven Part Two can be ordered direct via the NBC Universal online store at

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Paul Rodriguez’s New DVD A Funny And Touching Performance

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

Paul Rodriguez’s performance in his new DVD, Just For The Record is interesting.  His story of coming from Mexico to live in different regions of California will illicit both laughs and even some tears.  That combination of emotions makes for a performance that any comedy fan should see at least once.  It gives a whole new face to what people think of as comedy.

Just For The Record opens with Rodriguez sharing his story of how he and his family came to America from Mexico and moved to Fresno, California.  He makes light of his youth there, bringing about plenty of laughs, especially at the expense of his parents.  At the same time, he also openly expresses his admiration for his parents, and everything that they sacrificed for him, making for plenty of laughs and warm memories.  One of the best of those memories was his story about a bicycle that he got as a boy.  He tells of some money that he got from his parents.  He tells his audience that his father explained to him that he knew Paul wanted that bicycle so badly. So his parents sacrificed the money for it so that Paul could have the bicycle.  He even brings it out on stage.  The story’s punch line comes as he tells his father’s reaction after that.  It instantly makes that warm memory suddenly a laugh riot.  He expands a little bit, telling how he’s gone through this relationship issue and that.  But through it all, that bicycle had been a constant in his life.  That alone is worth its share of laughs.

Rodriguez’s performance offers even more laughs throughout his near ninety minute performance.  But he also offers some more serious moments, too.  One of them comes as he tells the audience about his time living in Compton.  He tells the story of how he experienced a drive-by first hand and saw a girl get shot in the head right next to him.  He explains how he took off his own shirt and wrapped it around the girl’s head in an attempt to save her.  He ties this in to later being subpoenaed as part of the case against the men arrested for the drive by.  The thing is that he was in the military on the other side of the world at the time.  This little tie-in anecdote makes for some laughs, lightening the mood a little bit.  But he never loses his audience.  That in itself is impressive.  He tells his audience that the men arrested for the case were convicted and sent to jail, and closes with how he hopes they stay there and rot.  This single moment shows that while Rodriguez has great comedic timing, he also has heart.  He knows just how to balance comedy with more serious matters in order to make for a show that will keep even home audiences watching from start to finish.

Just For The Record offers even more laughs and heartfelt moments than can be listed in one sitting.  Needless to say, anyone who wants an escape from the constant barrage of negativity in the news and the work-a-day world will greatly benefit from sitting down with this new DVD from a man who is even on his own not just one of the Latin Kings of Comedy, but one of the Kings of Comedy in general.  Fans can always get all the latest news, tour dates, and more from Paul Rodriguez online at

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