PBS Bringing British Murder Mystery To American Audiences This Spring

Courtesy:  PBS Distribution/PBS/Starz/BBC/BBC Two

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/Starz/BBC/BBC Two

This spring, PBS distribution will release a gripping new miniseries for all the mystery lovers out there.

Dancing on the Edge will be release on DVD an Blu-ray on Tuesday, May 5th. The story focuses on a group of black jazz musicians living and performing in London in the 1930s. The group, known as The Louis Lester Band is becoming increasingly popular all around London, even being asked to perform for the royal family. Along the way, American businessman Walter Masterson and his employee Julian catch the group and become very interested in it. It seems that everything is coming up roses for The Louis Lester Band. But then tragedy strikes. A series of challenges follows that threatens to end the group’s rise to stardom. The story was written by famed writer and director Stephen Poliakoff (The Lost Prince). It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men), John Goodman (Monsters, Inc., Monsters U, Argo) Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game, Watchmen, The Good Wife), Jacqueline Bisset (Bullitt, Murder on the Orient Express, The Deep), Tom Hughes (Page Eight, About Time, Cemetery Junction), Angel Coulby (Merlin, Imagine Me and You, Magicians), Wummi Mosaku (Philomena, Citadel, I Am Slave) and many others.

The mini-series’ six episodes bring its total run-time to roughly seven hours. Those episodes are spread across three discs both in its DVD and Blu-ray presentation. Audiences can check out a trailer for the mini-series online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcqnCz5chXs. The DVD set will retail for MSRP of $34.99 and the Blu-ray for $39.99.
The Blu-ray can be ordered online at: http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=58647396&cp=&sr=1&kw=dancing+on+the+edge&origkw=dancing+on+the+edge&parentPage=search#AdditionalInfo.

The DVD can be ordered online at: http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=58647376&cp=&sr=1&kw=dancing+on+the+edge&origkw=dancing+on+the+edge&parentPage=search.

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

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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

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ESPN Offers Sneak Peek at New Documentary, More In NFL Sunday Countdown Week 2

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has a change to its NFL Week 2 schedule to pass on to audiences.  Broadcast of the network’s weekly Sunday NFL Countdown will air this week Sunday, September 15th beginning at 10am on ESPN.  Chris Berman will anchor the broadcast.  He will be joined by NFL analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, and Ray Lewis.  Also on board for this week’s three-hour pre-game show will be senior fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry, NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, and NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.  Berry brings to the table this week the discussion of a rather unique punishment instated by one fantasy league.  The story is just one of many stores shared in Berry’s new book.

Berman and company will focus on five more matchups in week two with insight from reporters at each game.  The first of those games is a matchup of the Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers.  Reporter Suzy Kolber and NFL analyst Merril Hoge will have all the latest information on that matchup.  In coordination with coverage of the game, ESPN will also have a special feature on the Redskins’ team name and the controversy surrounding it Sunday morning on Outside The Lines.  Bob Holtzman will have the story.  Audiences can catch the special edition of Outside The Lines  at 8am on ESPN2.

Something else to watch for in week 2 is the annual “Manning Bowl.”  Eli and brother Peyton face off as the Broncos take on the G-Men this week.  ESPN reporter  Josina Anderson will have all the latest from that game. Leading up to the game, Sunday NFL Countdown will feature a sneak peek at ESPN’s new documentary on the brothers, The Book of Manning.  The documentary kicks off the third season of ESPN Films’ SEC Storied series.  It focuses on the legendary Manning family, from father Archie to his equally famed sons.  Veteran actor John Goodman (Monsters UniversityMonsters, Inc., Roseanne) narrates the special, which will feature home movies of the Manning brothers in their youth, interviews with those closest to the Manning family and more.  It airs Tuesday, September 24th at 8PM ET on ESPN.

The third of the matchups on which NFL Sunday Countdown will focus is the week two matchup of the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.  Dominguez and company will look at the pump fake of Seattle QB Russell Wilson.  Audiences will get to hear from Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell as he discusses how he helped the former NC State University QB on the use of the technique.

Also planned for coverage in week 2 are matchups between the Cowboys and Chiefs, and the Eagles and Chargers.  More information on all of this week’s coverage from NFL Sunday Countdown is available online at http://www.facebook.com/ESPN and http://espn.go.com/nfl/notebook/_/page/sundaycountdown11/your-weekly-nfl-guide.

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6 Souls Is An Underrated Indie Horror Flick

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz

Much has been said and written concerning the recently released supernatural horror/thriller, 6 Souls (Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz), most of it not so nice.  The reality of 6 Souls is that it isn’t as bad as so many critics and audiences would have others believe.  It clocks in at nearly two hours.  In that time, it manages to keep those looking for a good scare fully engaged.  It will leave those audiences wondering what’s going to happen right to the final climactic reveal.  That final reveal conjures thoughts of a certain episode of Rod Serling’s classic, The Twilight Zone. There are those that have also criticized this story for being allegedly somewhat preachy in its raising of theological beliefs.  Those that did so perhaps didn’t watch the story all the way through to realize the actual importance of this aspect of the story.  It is in reality just part of the writing that makes this a movie from which audiences won’t want to turn away.

Writer Michael Cooney has been lambasted by many audiences and critics alike for having used religion and theology as part of the story that is 6 Souls.  One can’t help but wonder if those that criticized the inclusion of these elements were able to see this story for what it was or if they even took the time to watch the entire near two-hour story.  The inclusion of religion and theology was not meant in the least to be preachy.  In fact, the use of these elements eventually led up to what was the twist in the story’s climax that few if any saw coming.  That twist won’t be revealed for the sake of those that haven’t yet seen this gripping supernatural and psychological horror/thriller.  However, those that actually did take the time to watch through to the climax and beyond would hopefully realize why the constant mentions of faith versus atheism come into play.  Cooney had absolutely no intention of shoving religion down anyone’s throat.  Maybe a second watch will do those critics some good in getting them to realize this.

Having responded to those that would criticize 6 Souls, the next obvious path to take would be to take note of the influences of so many other TV shows and movies.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ portrayal of Adam/David/Wesley is in itself proof of another famed movie villain.  Some might not see it.  But those that watch his performance closely will see hints of Sir Anthony Hopkins’ infamous killer, Hannibal Lecter, just in his general delivery.  There is something about his demeanor that shows an influence from Hopkins here.  In terms of the overall story, those that remember Rod Serling’s original baclk and white Twilight Zone, they might remember an episode by the name of “Queen of the Nile.”  For the sake of not spoiling anything, audiences can look up that episode for themselves.  But the story’s reveal here instantly harkens back to that episode.  The even deeper concept behind the reveal hints back to a more recent horror movie from the 1990s starring one John Goodman.  Again, audiences will have to look that up as this critic will not share that movie for the sake of not spoiling anything.  There are other influences tossed in here and there.  And as much as people would like to criticize the story for being “disrespectful” to its influences and audiences (as one critic stated of it), it does pay due respects by making those influences work together for a story that will keep viewers watching on the edge of their seats and guessing what will happen next.  And in the end, isn’t that what any thriller and/or horror movie is supposed to do?  Isn’t it supposed to make viewers surprised at how it can make them jump at the slightest sound and question what they thought they knew?  That’s exactly what this underrated horror story does.  For that, it deserves more than just a passing glance.  For an indie horror flick, it’s a movie that is more than just a “Saturday night scare” as another critic called it.  It’s a movie that audiences will find themselves surprised at how much they really enjoy it, given the chance.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from the Anchor Bay Entertainment online store at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=e56e9d05-d4c7-4471-a321-d9cf28e17061.  After ordering or buying 6 Souls, audiences can keep up with the latest news from Anchor Bay Entertainment on its official website, http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com and its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/anchorbay.

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Monsters, Inc. Proves Again Why It’s A Modern Classic With BD/DVD Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Disney-Pixar

Courtesy: Disney-Pixar

Disney/Pixar’s fourth cg-based family film, Monsters, Inc. is one of the biggest hits from the two companies.  The pair has taken one of the most common of childhood fears and turned it into a big, soft fuzzy memory that kids and adults alike will love to encounter again and again.  Monsters, Inc. isn’t the first time that Hollywood has tackled the issue of things that go bump in the night.  Though, in comparison to the 1989 movie, Little Monsters, Monsters, Inc. it is far more memorable.  And now that Disney and Pixar have re-issued this modern classic on Blu-ray/DVD and 3D BD/DVD combo packs, audiences can enjoy it all over again.  Those who still have yet to add this flick to their family library are rewarded for having waited, too.  For the most part, this latest re-issue carries everything that was on the movie’s original double-disc DVD release right down to the audio commentary.  There are some new additions though.  And of course, the clarity of the picture is that much better this time around, too.  So is it worth picking up if one already owns the DVD set?  That’s up to the general consumer.  But for those who have yet to own it, this is a wonderful reason to finally do just that.

The latest re-issue of Monsters, Inc. is largely carried over from the original 2002 double-disc DVD release.  However, included in this new re-issue is a second disc that includes some extra entertainment for kids.  One of the best of the new inclusions is “Roz’s 100 Door Challenge.”  This bonus Blu-ray trivia game requires young audiences to answer trivia questions in order to open all of the doors put before them in order to become a Monsters, Inc. employee.  The questions come in sets of ten at a time.  So at one hundred doors, this game will keep young audiences engaged and occupied for quite some time.  This is great for parents who are looking for a way to distract their kids and get some time for themselves.

“Roz’s 100 Door Challenge” is not the only extra bonus included with this latest re-issue of Monsters, Inc.  But it is a nice addition.  Just as entertaining as the noted bonus game is the included Toy Story short, “Party-saurus Rex.”  The entire original cast from the Toy Story franchise has come back for this short in which Rex (voiced by Wallace Shawn – The Incredibles, The Princess Bride) is accused of being a party pooper.  But then he ends up surprising them after the toys’ new young owner takes him to the bath with her.  He ends up becoming the life of the party.  This is a wonderfully entertaining short from this fully solidified franchise.  As entertaining as it is, it’s even more of a bonus in that it shows should Disney and Pixar ever decide to re-visit the gang in a larger sense, it is one franchise whose sequels or even reboot would be welcomed by audiences. 

The new bonus features do a lot in making the new Monsters, Inc. BD/DVD combo pack a good addition to any family’s home library.  The story itself plays just as much of a role in its success, too.  The story includes no less than two very important lessons for all of its viewers.  The first of those lessons centers on stereotypes.  It tackles this subject matter right from the story’s opening moments, presenting the monster world not as a dark and evil place, but just as happy and sunny as the human world.  And even the monsters themselves are crafted in an equally family friendly fashion.  Just as “Boo” calls him, Sully (John Goodman) is a big, mean looking monster.  But underneath all that fur, he’s just a big fuzzy “kitty”…or whatever animal one might want to use in comparison.  Both the kids and monsters believed stereotypes of the other that had been handed down and passed on.  But in giving Boo a chance, Sully and Mike prove that the stereotyped belief of children being evil, life threatening to be just that.  And Boo in her own way proves to her own self that not all monsters are bad as she grows closer to Sully in a sort of surrogate parent-child relationship.  It’s something of a tangent, but in presenting this relationship, Disney and Pixar have once more crafted a story that continues Disney’s long running tradition of emphasizing family in its movies.  Getting back to the original statement, what this movie’s writers have done is they have sent a message that it doesn’t matter who one is.  Unless one has proof of stereotypes, then one shouldn’t simply automatically believe said stereotypes.  Rather, one should take the time to find out for one’s own self how much truth they have, and not let them prevent friendships in the mean time.  It’s one more positive to what is already a fun, family friendly movie.    

In relation to the emphasis on family, Monsters, Inc. also presents the message of the importance of a child’s laughter.  Sure it’s an exaggeration.  But that a single child’s laughter could power a whole city really is a wonderful metaphorical illustration.  It illustrates how one child’s smile and laughter can brighten the lives of so many.  Yes it is a bit schmaltzy.  But the world needs something positive for young audiences.  And that’s exactly what this message and movie is.  For that and the rest of the positivity in this new re-issue, it is a movie worth adding to any family’s home library.  It is available now in stores and can be ordered online at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/monsters-inc.html

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Drunkboat Another Of 2012’s Best Indie Flicks

Courtesy: Seven Arts Films/Lantern Lane

Drunkboat has been a long time coming.  But at long last this poignant and moving film has finally seen the light of day.  And while there are those who have obviously already had their say with this indie flick, one can’t help but wonder if those critics were watching the same movie.  Drunkboat is one of the year’s top indie flicks.  It has proven with its story and the acting of stars John Goodman and John Malkovich that indie flicks can be and are just as enjoyable and noteworthy as any film released by the major studios.The story behind this movie centers on Mort Gleason (John Malkovich).  Mort is a recovering alcoholic who is trying to get his life back on track.  The thing of it is that he still faces adversity as neither his (seeming) sister believes in him at first.  Nor does her son, Abe (Jacob Zachar).  Abe is a typical teenage boy.  He thinks he knows everything.  And thanks to Abe’s plot to buy a boat from the unscrupulous Mr. Fletcher (John Goodman), Abe almost loses his way as he attempts to recover from his past.  This is where things get just a tiny bit dicey.  One can’t help but scratch one’s head in bewilderment at Abe’s plan.  Abe could have done any number of plans.  But buying a boat just seems odd.  But perhaps that could have been part of his character.  Abe was just a teenager.  So he was just doing something dumb and thoughtless like any other teenager.  It doesn’t have to make sense, as little of what the teenage mind does makes much sense.  So keeping this in mind, those critics who have panned the movie for this quirkiness would be well served to go back and watch it again.  Perhaps understanding this would give said critics a different view of things.

The movie’s central plot is really underrated.  It obviously hasn’t gotten the credit which it deserves.  Malkovich’s portrayal of mort is expert to say the least.  It’s his acting that anchors (no pun intended) this story.  The irony is that while it’s his acting that anchors the movie, John Goodman is billed as one of the movie’s stars.  The reality is that as amazing an actor as Goodman is, he’s more or less just a supporting actor to Malkovich.  In his own right though, Goodman’s acting is equally impressive.  It gives Malkovich something off of which he can bounce his lines and character.  The pair is seen together in one scene near the story’s end.  But that one scene is powerful in itself.  Thanks to Mr. Fletcher tempting Mort with alcohol and Abe verbally abusing him, audiences see Mort at his weakest and most innocent moment.  It makes him a fully sympathetic character for audiences.  And it makes Mr. Fletcher that much more despicable of a human being.  This scene is not one of those over the top moments either.  It’s just enough to keep audiences watching to see what will happen.  And it will make the movie’s final moments all the more moving.

Drunkboat clocks in at just under two hours.  In that time, Mort’s attempt to get his life back on track will keep audiences watching without even once checking the time.  Malkovich’s portrayal of Mort will make any viewer want to cheer for him as he shows that he is really making an attempt to get his life right.  The relationship that he builds with Abe makes the story even more powerful.  While other critics have obviously had their say on this work, those who go into this movie with an open mind will hopefully see it for the moving story that it is and that it truly is just as good as any film made by any major studio.  It’s proof that even in the twenty-first century, indie flicks are just as valid as anything else that’s out there.

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Born Yesterday Reboot Bridges Hollywood’s Past And Present

 

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment/Hollywood Pictures

Shakespeare, it’s been said, is the single greatest playwrite of all time.  So many of the movies that audiences have enjoyed since Hollywood’s golden age have been at least loosely based on his works.  In its most basic roots, this remake of the 1950 movie by the same name is itself based on Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew.  One could easily go into a long drawn out history lesson, explaining those roots.  But suffice to say that while it’s true that this remake is anything but original, perhaps understanding that its roots are in Shakespearian literature will get audiences interested in the bard’s classic work.  that being noted, those who would instantly criticize this movie should take into account that it’s not the first work to ever rip off another work.

Now that being out of the way, this update of Taming of The Shrew, Pygmalion, and of course 1950’s Born yesterday may not be the best remake ever crafted.  But it is still a good escape for the course of its near two hour run time.  Anyone who has ever seen Pygmalion or My Fair lady, or even The Taming of The Shrew will enjoy seeing Billie (Griffith) become a more self assured woman, from the ditzy character that she started out as.  And being that John Goodman is so known for good guy roles, it was nice to see him take a heel turn for once.  And female audiences will cheer Billie for her reaction after she’s beaten by Harry at one point.  Her reaction is one that so few battered women have, and should serve as an example of what they should do.  It showed that she had become a truly empowered woman.  That final moment of her growth is perhaps the most powerful.

The budding romance between Billie and Paul (Johnson) is cheesy to say the least.  But when placed against her treatment by Harry, it makes Billie that much more of a sympathetic character.  Both male and female audiences will find themselves cheering for her, not wanting her to give up on herself, although they know that Paul won’t let her give up. 

Perhaps the funniest part of the movie isn’t so much in the story or its romance subplot.  It’s in the spoof of Washington politics.  When Paul teaches Billie what to say at a gala, he reveals just how little most beltway insiders really know, and how they let political jargon do all the talking, rather than themselves.  Even fans of National Public Radio will laugh at how the story pokes fun at NPR and the talking heads in the media as a whole.  There is more than just a grain of truth to this joke.

Born yesterday is a remake.  There’s no getting past that.  There are those who would throw jabs at the entire thing simply for the sake of being a remake.  But as shown, it does have its share of high points even with its general lack of originality.  Given, it’s not exactly original.  But in its defense, those who would criticize it shoudl also criticize Reese Witherspoon’s 2001 movie, Legally Blonde.  That movie is a near direct take off of this remake.  At least in the case of this remake, audiences are given a means to actually do what movies are meant to do for viewers.  It gives its viewers the ability to suspend their disbelief and escape into the story if only for the single watch.

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