Universal Pictures’ Thompson “Bio” Is One Of Murray’s Finest Comedic Performances

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Early this past June, Shout! Factory released to audiences what can only be described as one of the single most outrageous movies that the home entertainment company has ever put out when it made available Where The Buffalo Roam. This semi-biopic focuses on the career of the infamous journalist Hunter S. Thompson. It follows Thompson (played here by comic legend Bill Murray) over the course of the 1960s and 70s, culminating with Thompson following Richard Nixon’s campaign for the presidency. That story is among the movie’s most important elements. Murray’s portrayal of Thompson is just as important to note in examining the movie’s presentation as the story itself. The bonus interview with Thompson’s friend, screenwriter John Kaye, rounds out the movie’s most important elements. Each of the elements noted here is important in its own right to the movie’s presentation. All things considered, they make Where The Buffalo Roam one of the most intriguing cinematic offerings that Shout! Factory has ever released.

Shout! Factory’s release this past June of Universal Pictures’ Where The Buffalo Roam is one of the most significant of the home entertainment company’s releases so far this year. That is because it marked the first time that this take on Thompson’s life and career had been released up to that point. Given, it is not the first Thompson “bio” to be released — Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) presents another Thompson story — but is still quite the interesting story. the story opens with Thompson writing about his adventures with then lawyer Oscar Acosta during the 1960s and 70s. The pair’s drug and alcohol-fueled adventures play out like a Cheech & Chong movie, only more out there. From getting a hotel staff involved in his own out there football game as he tries to cover the Super Bowl to basically kidnapping a young hitchhiker, leaving the young man think he’s going to be killed, to addressing a group of college students about journalism as he drinks and smokes to so much more, the adventures featured in this story are so uncomfortable and unsettling that one can’t help but watch to see just how outrageous they can become. It is one of those stories that is so rare that it absolutely must be seen to be understood and appreciated. Keeping that in mind, it proves to be a story that is unforgettable and will be talked about for years to come, proving without a doubt its importance to this movie. It is of course, only one of the movie’s most important elements. Bill Murray’s take on Thompson is just as important to discuss in examining this movie as the movie’s story.

Murray’s take on Thompson is just as outrageous to experience as the story at the center of this movie. The lack of balance in Thompson’s personality throughout the movie is at times just as unnerving as the movie’s story, but that is meant in a positive manner. Viewers never know from one moment to the next which side of Thompson is going to come out, right up to the story’s final act. Viewers are left asking at the end if Thompson had finally gotten himself in order as he joins the Nixon campaign as a reporter or was it just one more part of a bigger story. His instability as he checks into his hotel ahead of the Super Bowl and as he trades a set of media passes for a man’s hat is just as entertaining in those moments as so many others. Murray really makes Thompson such an intriguing figure from one moment to the next. On a side note, it is interesting to note that Where The Buffalo Roam made its theatrical debut only months ahead of Caddyshack, another Bill Murray hit flick. Comparing Murray’s character in each movie, one can’t help but notice the similarities in the two men. It leaves one wondering if they played into one another at least to some point. Regardless, Murray’s portrayal of Thompson in Where The Buffalo Roam is still so wildly entertaining that it alone makes the movie worth the watch. Of course it is just one more reason for audiences to take in the movie. The bonus commentary from Thompson’s friend — and the movie’s writer — John Kaye adds its own interest to the movie.

Over the course of his interview, Kaye discusses his friendship with Thompson, noting its up-and-down nature. He notes how apparently there was some trepidation from certain parties about even releasing this movie. It is obvious at some points that Kaye has some upset feelings toward Thompson while at others there is a certain amount of fondness and respect for him. He even begins to tear up in the end of his interview as he discusses Thompson’s suicide in 2005, showing even more that despite the ups and downs of his relationship with Thompson, there was obviously some love for Thompson even as outrageous as he might have been in his life. Between that and so much more discussed during his roughly 15 – 20 minute interview, Kaye offers plenty of insight into who Hunter S. Thompson was and what makes this movie about him stand out.
Keeping in mind, the value of Kaye’s interview to the whole of Where The Buffalo Roam, Murray’s on-screen work and the story at the movie’s center, the whole of those elements gives audiences plenty to appreciate about Where The Buffalo Roam, making it a must see at least one time. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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Former Holiday Entry ‘Trespass’ Will Entertain Audiences Looking To Get Away From The Standard Holiday Fare

Courtesy: Universal Pictures/Shout! Factory

The holiday season is officially upon us once again, and that means very soon TV networks and theaters alike will be inundated with their respective annual holiday fare.  Of course that fare, both new and old alike, is not for everyone.  Keeping this in mind, Shout! Factory has an interesting alternative for those looking to avoid that standard fare in the form of the recently re-issued 1992 action flicked Trespass.  Originally released in theaters nationwide on Christmas Day 1992, Shout! Factory re-issued the largely forgotten flick on Blu-ray June 27 of this year. The fast-paced ensemble flick features famed actors/rappers Ice-T and Ice Cube alongside then up-and-coming actors William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Iron Man 3) and Bill Paxton (Titanic, Apollo 13, Aliens) as its leads.  Trespass is not the most memorable action flick out there, but that is due in part to its original release date, which is discussed in the movie’s bonus material – the re-issue’s foundation.  That material will be discussed shortly.  The movie’s story is also discussed in its bonus material, and will be discussed in regards to its importance to its whole later.  The cast’s acting rounds out the movie’s most important elements.  When it is joined with the other noted elements, the whole of those elements makes this largely forgotten action flick one worth at least one watch among action aficionados.

Universal Pictures’ 1992 action flick Trespass is an interesting presentation for those looking for an alternative to the standard holiday fare on television and in theaters.  Having debuted in theaters nationwide on Christmas Day 1992, the 101-minute (1-hour 41-minute) movie is not one of the 90s most well-known action flicks.  It debuted at #7 and pulled in just over $5 million in ticket sales nationwide in its opening weekend, eventually reaching sales of $13.2 million before moving from theaters to home video.  That is according to boxofficemojo.com.  Thanks to Shout! Factory though, it now is getting the chance that it never truly got back in 1992, and the bonus material included in its recent re-issue forms the proverbial foundation for its presentation in its second life.

As Bob Gale, one of the movie’s two writers (the other writer was Robert Zemeckis, of Back to the Future fame), noted in the re-issue’s bonus material, the movie’s original Christmas Day 1992 release date was one of a number of obstacles that the movie faced in its original theatrical release.  Also against the movie was the fact that Gale and Zemeckis had to change the movie’s title not once but twice before it even went into production.  Gale notes in his discussion that the movie’s original title was The Looters, and eventually was changed to just Looters before the riots from the Rodney King verdict forced its title to change simply to Trespass out of concern of how audiences would potentially connect the two.  Ironically enough, the title actually works considering the story’s title.  That story will be discussed later.  As if the already noted items were not enough obstacles, Gale also notes in his discussion that his agent was concerned about possible race relation issues that he found in the script, darkening the movie’s hopes even more.  Considering all of these factors discussed by Gale, it is clear that the deck was stacked against Trespass right from the get-go. This vivid revelation shows why Trespass needed, if not deserved, its second life from Shout! Factory.  It also serves to show the importance of bonus material included in the movie’s Blu-ray re-issue.  Much the same can also be said of the separate interviews with Sadler and the movie’s producer Neil Canton, which present their own insight into the script’s roots and its production.

Keeping this in mind, it is wholly clear why the bonus material included in Trespass’ recent re-issue is so critical to its presentation.  It is only one of the elements proving why action flick fans looking to escape the annual holiday TV and movie fare will want to give this re-issue a chance.  The movie’s story is just as important to its overall presentation as the bonus material included in its recent Blu-ray re-issue.

Trespass’ story is relatively simple:  Two firefighters discover a map to an allegedly hidden treasure in a building that the pair had only recently tried to save from a fire.  When they go back to the building to search for said treasure, they unwittingly witness a gang crime that they otherwise would not have seen had they not been there.  When the pair is caught by the gang, action ensues that ultimately leads to things somewhat coming full circle by the story’s end.  There are no underlying subplots or any other elements here to distract audiences and cause the story to get bogged down in itself.  It’s a straight-forward early 90’s shoot-‘em-up action story that is sure to appeal to the most devout action flick aficionados, even those likely not so familiar with the story or the movie which influenced it, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – another item discussed in the movie’s bonus material — since it doesn’t require audiences to do a lot of thinking, opting instead for just entertainment, which is what action flicks are supposed to do.

Considering this simplicity and the draw that it was certain to have had, it’s easy to see why the movie likely would have had at least a fighting *no pun intended* chance in its original release had it been given perhaps an early spring or early fall release in its original release. Again, at least it will have that chance with its re-issue.  Even as important as it is, it still is not the last of the most important of the movie’s elements.  The work of the movie’s cast rounds out its most important elements.

Considering that the movie’s lead cast – all four previously noted actors – was still very young when it starred in Trespass, its collective work is important to note in examining the movie.  That is because of how surprisingly entertaining the cast proved to be in whole.  Ice Cube and Ice T showed through their performances their natural on-screen talent – talent that has since proven itself time and again for both men.  One moment that proves this comes late in the movie as Savon (Ice Cube) and King James (Ice-T) go toe to toe against one another over the treasure and what to do about Vince (Paxton) and Don (Sadler).  That moment of conflict shows just how much tension had been underlying between the men even before the events of the story happened.  It would have been so easy for both actors to go over the top, but instead, both men showed such control that they ensured just as much here as in any other moment, viewers’ engagement and entertainment.  Much the same can be said of Paxton and Sadler as tensions eventually grow between their characters, too.  Audiences will be kept fully engaged as Vince and Don start to clash over their search and related safety or lack thereof.  The pairs’ growing conflicts generates a certain ambiguity over whether the story even has a real villain or hero.  Were Don and Vince the heroes or villains?  Were the gangsters Savon and King James the villains or good guys?  That ambiguity, and its ability to create so much discussion is a tribute to each actor’s work.  It shows once more the importance of their work to the movie’s presentation.  When that expert work is joined with the movie’s simple story and the in-depth bonus material included in the movie’s recent Blu-ray re-issue, the whole of these elements makes Trespass a movie that proves well-deserving of its second life.  It also proves it to be a former holiday movie in itself that deserves at least one watch by those looking today for an alternative to the current standard holiday fare.

Universal Pictures’ 1992 holiday action flick Trespass is one of the famed studios’ least known and least appreciated offerings.  It is a movie that, thanks to its recent re-issue via Shout! Factory, proves to be worth at least one watch by those looking for an alternative to the current standard holiday fare.  This is proven in part through the extensive interviews that make up the re-issue’s bonus material.  Those collective interviews form the re-issue’s foundation.  The movie’s simple story strengthens its presentation even more, proving again why it is deserving of that chance.  The collective work presented by the movie’s cast shows in its own way why the movie deserves its new chance, too.  Each element is important in its own way, as has been noted here.  All things considered, Trespass proves to be a former holiday release that is deserving of at least one watch by those looking for an alternative to today’s current holiday fare.  It is available now in stores and online, and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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CMG’s ‘The Old Dark House’ Re-Issue Is Sure To “Scare Up” Plenty Of Fans

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Halloween night is almost upon us, and in celebration of the big night, Turner Classic Movies has a full slate of movies throughout the day and night sure to give people plenty of good scares.  From White Zombie to the original 1960 take of 13 Ghosts to the original 1963 take of The Haunting and more, the greatest classic movies network has plenty on its schedule to help audiences celebrate Halloween in the safety of their own homes.  As notable as most of the movies on the network’s schedule are, it does have some lesser-known yet just as spine-tingling movies on its list including The Old Dark House.  Originally released in 1932 by Universal Pictures, starring Boris Karloff and directed by James Whaley (who also directed Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Man in the Iron Mask, etc.), it was recently re-issued on Blu-ray Oct. 24 via Cohen Media Group.  This movie is one of the hidden gems of Karloff’s career and a work that every horror purist will want to own now that it has finally been re-issued.  That is due in no small part to the movie’s story, which will be discussed shortly.  The approach taken in the story’s presentation is just as important to note in examining the movie as the story itself.  It will be discussed later.  The bonus material included with the movie’s new re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Cohen Media Group’s re-issue of The Old Dark House a re-issue that will shine in any horror movie purist’s collection.

Cohen Media Group’s brand new re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1932 classic horror/thriller The Old Dark House is a release that is certain to shine in any horror movie purist’s collection.  That is due in no small part to its story, which is relatively simple to follow.  A group of people trying to get out of a bad storm end up together in a creepy old house with some equally creepy figures.  When one of those really creepy figures (played by Boris Karloff) gets hold of some alcohol, the danger to the group of strangers becomes very real.  This is a storyline that has been used any number of times since this movie’s debut.  In some cases, it has worked.  In just as many cases, it has failed in grand fashion.  Considering this, The Old Dark House is among the best of the story’s instances.

Adding even more importance to the story is that the 72-minute tale takes place over the course of a single night in the creepy old house, thus keeping the story from getting too bogged down in itself.  Even with the characters’ interweaving storylines added to that central story, the focus remains clearly on the group’s attempts to survive into the morning.  The overall simplicity in the story’s time frame and plot setup are collectively so simple that collectively, they alone give audiences plenty to enjoy here.  They are also collectively just one of the most important of the movie’s elements.  The overall approach to the story is just as important to note in examining the movie as the story itself.

The approach to The Old Dark House’s story is so important because it heightens the story’s tension, and in turn, makes the movie that much more engaging.  The subtle use of lighting throughout the movie is just one important part of the approach that creates that tension.  There are also certain shots throughout the movie that utilize a certain “fuzzing” effect that is just as subtle as the lighting effects.  That subtle aesthetic effect adds even more impact to the movie’s approach, and in turn makes the movie that much more engaging for audiences.  On yet another level, audiences will take note of the juxtaposition of Morgan’s (played by Boris Karloff) diabolical side to his surprisingly humane side as another important part of the movie’s approach.  That element of the movie’s approach is certain to generate its own interest and discussion among audiences.  Keeping all of this in mind, it becomes clear just why the approach taken to The Old Dark House is so important to its overall presentation.  It is not the last of the movie’s most important elements, either.  The bonus material included with the movie is just as important to note as the approach to the movie and its story.

The bonus material included in The Old Dark House’s brand new re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Audiences get lots of bonuses in this re-issue, too. The sit-down interview with Boris Karloff’s daughter Sara in which she discusses her father’s distaste for gory horror movies, the three most important elements of his own acting profile, and her own surprising admission about how long it took her to watch some of her father’s works (among other topics) is one of the most important of the movie’s bonuses.  The feature-length audio commentary with Gloria Stuart adds even more depth to the movie’s overall presentation.  Audiences learn through her commentary early on about her cast mates complaining about the shooting schedule as well as the fear factor of certain scenes as well as so much more.  That’s only within the movie’s first half hour or so.  Audiences will also appreciate the discussion on the movie’s restoration and the interview included in the movie’s companion booklet.  When this is all joined with the feature-length commentary from James Curtis, the whole of these bonuses adds so much depth to the movie that their importance simply cannot be argued or ignored.  Keeping this in mind, the bonus material included in this re-issue puts the final touch to the movie’s overall presentation.  When this is considered along with the importance of the movie’s story and the approach to the story, the end result is a movie that every horror purist will appreciate whether on Halloween or another time of year.

Cohen Media Group’s brand new re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1932 horror thriller classic The Old Dark House is a release that every horror purist will appreciate not just on Halloween but at any time of the year.  That is due in no small part to its story, which is so enjoyable thanks to its simplicity.  The overall approach to the story’s presentation – both in terms of its aesthetic elements and other content – strengthens the movie’s presentation even more.  The rich breadth of bonus material included in the movie’s new re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s whole. All things considered, the noted elements make The Old Dark House a title that is certain to “scare up” plenty of horror movie purists.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.cohenmedia.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cohenmediagroup

 

 

 

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.

MPI Media Group To Release Gerry Anderson Rarities Collection Next Month

Courtesy: mpi media group/MPI Home Video

Fans of Gerry Anderson are going to get an early Christmas present next month courtesy of mpi Media Group.

The World of Gerry Anderson is currently scheduled to be released Nov. 14 on DVD.  The new release is a collection of rare classic Gerry Anderson films and other features including his never-before-seen early puppet film Here Comes Kandy, the final segment of the 1980s stop-motion comedy series Dick Spanner, P.I., The Investigator and The Day After Tomorrow, which has no connection to the 2004 big screen blockbuster.

Along with the noted titles, the new two-disc collection of rarities will also feature the pilot Space Police, which would go on to be the template for Space Precinct.

The World of Gerry Anderson will retail for MSRP of $24.98.  Its total run time is 354 minutes.  More information on this and other titles from mpi Media Group is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.mpimedia.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MPIMediaGroup

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Churchill Saved By Its Cast, Look

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

World War II is one of the most powerful eras in the history of human civilization.  That is because it displayed the absolute best and worst of humanity.  Because the two polar opposites were so extreme in their differences, they also led to the creation of some of the greatest and most memorable movies of all time.  Movies such as Patton, Tora Tora Tora, the Longest Day and so many others have gone on to become cinematic masterpieces despite being movies based on actual events.  On June 2, 2017, yet another movie added itself to that list of movies certain to become unforgettable works centered on WWII when Salon Pictures debuted ChurchillChurchill, while being another movie based on actual events, is still a WWII-centric cinematic experience that is certain to engage and entertain audiences across the board.  That is due in part to its central story, which will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast cannot be ignored either.  It is just as notable as the movie’s story, and will be discussed later.  Last but hardly least of note here is the work of those responsible for the cast’s costumes and makeup as well as finding sets that would make the movie even more realistic.  Each element is undeniably important in its own right to the movie’s whole.  All things considered, they make Churchill a movie that lovers and students of history and military history alike will appreciate.

Salon Pictures’ new WWII-centric movie Churchill is not the first time that a movie studio has ever focused on a famed figure from that awful war.  Even with this in mind, it still proves itself a biopic/based on actual events story that lovers and students of history and military history alike will appreciate.  That is due in part to the movie’s central story.  The story focuses on British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s difficult decision whether or not to have British forces take part in the Normandy invasion that the world now knows as D-Day.  Throughout the course of the story, audiences see a side of Churchill that has rarely, if ever, been shown in movies or on television.  Rather than the strong, confident man that history has presented Churchill as being, he is shown here as an emotionally fragile man. A man who is struggling to come to terms with the death of so many British soldiers during WWI.  That struggle leads him to struggle with the decision of whether or not British forces should take part in D-Day and the impact that it has on not only him, but those around him, too.  Those around him include his own wife, who according to this story, nearly leaves him as a result of his internal struggle, his secretary, whose fiancé is scheduled to take part in the D-Day invasion and his fellow British and even American counterparts.  Keeping all of this in mind, the man vs. himself storyline is really nothing new to the cinematic world (and the literary world).  Even with that in mind, audiences will find themselves completely pulled into the story, waiting to see how long it takes Churchill (played expertly by Brian Cox – Braveheart, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy) to finally come to his epiphany and to come to terms with the past.  Cox’s work and that of his cast mates will be discussed shortly.  Keeping all of this in mind, even though Churchill’s story is essentially another based-on-actual events story with a familiar man vs. himself center, it is still a work that the previously noted audiences will appreciate because it is a story that has rarely if ever, been told.  It is only one of the movie’s key elements.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in examining the movie as its story.

The work put in by Churchill’s cast is so important to note in examining the movie’s whole because it is just as much to thank for audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment throughout the movie.  As already noted, Cox’s take on the movie’s titular figure leads the way.  From one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, Cox makes Churchill a strong sympathetic figure for which viewers will feel so much emotion throughout the movie.  Whether in his powerful arguments with his British officers and American Gen. Ike Eisenhower, his equally moving moments in which he is forced to confront the past or even his own personal moments with his wife Clemmie (Miranda Richardson – Empire of the Sun, Sleepy Hollow, The Phantom of the Opera), Cox handles every moment expertly, keeping viewers fully engaged.  While Richardson does not appear on screen as much as Cox, she still adds her own depth to the movie as she takes on Clemmie’s own emotional struggle in dealing with Winston.  While the pair are the movie’s main stars, they are not the movie’s only notables.  John Slattery (Mad Men, Iron Man 2, Captain America: Civil War) and Ella Purnell (Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Kick-Ass 2, Never Let Me Go) add their own touch to the movie, too as Gen. Eisenhower and as Churchill’s secretary Helen Garrett.  Between their performances, those of Cox and Richardson, and the rest of the cast, the work put in by all involved forms a solid foundation for Churchill.  The foundation formed by the cast’s work is really the movie’s most critical element considering the familiarity of the story’s style and approach.  Whether or not Cox, Richardson or any of their cast mates are deserving of awards for their performances can be debated for days.  Awards or not, one cannot argue how impressive the cast is on screen.  Keeping that in mind, it becomes clear why the work of Churchill’s cast is so important to the movie’s whole.  Even with its clear importance, it still is not the last of the movie’s most crucial elements.  The work of those behind the cameras – most notably those responsible for the movie’s look – deserves its own credit.

The work put in by Churchill’s costume, makeup and set departments put the finishing touch to the movie’s presentation.  It is thanks to their work that while the movie overall has a very streamlined look, it also boasts a look similar to its forebears.  Audiences will marvel at the vintage military uniforms worn by Slattery and Danny Webb, who plays Field Marshall Alan Brooke.  Much the same can be said of Mr. and Mrs. Churchill’s attire.  The backdrops used for each scene do just as much to take viewers back in time as do the camera lenses and other visual tools used throughout the movie.  The whole of those visual tools and effects leaves the movie’s visual presentation just as solid as the work of the movie’s cast.  When the two elements are coupled with the movie’s story that is given, basic and familiar especially for war movies, the whole of those elements makes the movie worth at least one watch by lovers and students of history and military history.

Salon Films’ recently released WWII-centered human drama Churchill is a movie that is certain to appeal to lovers and students of history and more specifically military history.  That is thanks in part to a story that while not exactly anything new to the military history genre (or drama genre) is still an interesting new take on one of the most famed figures of the war.  The work of the movie’s cast forms the movie’s foundation.  If for no other reason than the cast’s work, audiences will want to watch this movie.  The movie’s look puts the finishing touch on Churchill’s presentation.  The work put in by the movie’s costume and makeup department couples with the work put in by those responsible for choosing the movie’s sets and those behind the lenses to put the finishing touch on the movie.  That work and that of the movie’s cast are what make suspension of disbelief in this otherwise average modern war movie possible.  In turn, they are what make the movie appealing at least to lovers and students of history and military history.  Churchill is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.cohenmedia.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cohenmediagroup

 

 

 

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.

‘Soul on a String’ Survives By More Than A Thread

Courtesy: Film Movement

Late last month, independent movie company Film Movement brought the Chinese epic Soul on a String to audiences when it released the movie domestically on DVD.  The movie, which originally debuted in its home nation June 15, 2016 and domestically Oct. 22, 2016 at the Chicago International Film Festival, is a an interesting cinematic experience.  It crosses elements of east and west for a story that makes the movie worth at least one watch.  The story will be discussed shortly.  While the story itself makes the movie worth at least one watch, its pacing sadly detracts quite a bit from the movie’s overall presentation.  It will be discussed later.  While it takes away quite a bit from the movie’s presentation, the movie’s stunning cinematography makes up for that pacing and makes it at least somewhat bearable.  It will be discussed later, too.  Each element is key to the overall presentation of Soul on a String.  All things considered, the movie survives by more than a thread.

China’s imported epic journey of self-discovery Soul on a String is one of 2017’s most intriguing independent home releases.  Released domestically by Film Movement, the movie follows one man’s journey of redemption as he tries to return a sacred stone to its rightful place.  If this sounds oddly familiar, it should.  Disney’s hit animated movie Moana presents a very similar story, just with some minor changes.  In the case of the latter movie, the protagonist is a young woman on a coming-of-age journey as she travels to return a sacred stone to its rightful place.  Considering that Soul on a String came along first (Moana debuted Nov. 23, 2016 domestically, roughly five months after Soul on a String debuted in China), one can’t help but wonder about the connection between the two.  Getting back on the subject at hand, the story at the center of Soul on a String is in itself reason enough to give this movie at least one watch.  Audiences will be moved by Tabei’s personal growth over the course of his journey.  He starts out a very reluctant figure, wanting nothing to do with the journey or his two unlikely companions who join him along the way.  However, as his journey progresses, Tabei becomes more welcoming of them and grows personally, accepting even more his journey and fate.  That growth over time makes the problematic pacing of the nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie almost bearable.  Speaking of that pacing, it is the movie’s one major negative.  It is a major issue for the movie’s presentation, too.

The pacing of Soul on a String’s story is the movie’s only real notable negative.  That may not seem like much on the surface, but in the grand scheme of the movie’s two hour, twenty-two minute run time, it is extremely problematic.  Obviously the story’s intent is to follow Tabei on his long journey.  However, the story’s pacing plods along at points nearly at a snail’s pace, making one quite encouraged to fast forward through those many points.  In defense of the movie’s writing team of Zhaxidawa and writer/director Yang Zhang, the movie’s oftentimes dragging pace could have been fully intentional as a means to illustrate the length of Tabei’s journey.  If that is the case, then it definitely leaves viewers feeling like they are right there on that expansive journey.  Regardless of whether or not that was the intent, the pacing’s problematic nature cannot be ignored.  That is especially the case when there is so little actual action to the story.  Luckily, as problematic as the story’s pacing is, it is not enough of a problem that it makes the movie unwatchable.  The movie’s cinematography makes that plodding pace at least somewhat bearable.

Soul on a String won the “Best Cinematography” award at the Shanghai International Film Festival last year at the film’s Chinese debut.  That win was fully justified, too.  From start to finish, those behind the cameras and those charged with putting those shots together did an exceptional job of setting each of the movie’s scenes.  The vast expanses with their rich colors (both on land and in sky) are visually stunning throughout the movie.  The same can be said of the tight canyons through which Chung and Pu are forced to travel late in the story.  Each scene harkens back to the American Westerns which the movie strives (and succeeds) to emulate.  As a matter of fact, it could easily be argued that the scenes established in this movie actually outdo those in their American counterparts.  Audiences will revel in the juxtaposition of the lake to the mountains in the story’s final act and the natural beauty of the countryside throughout Tabei’s journey.  All things considered, the visual aspect of Soul on a String is truly the movie’s cornerstone.  It makes this Chinese import worth watching even more than the epic journey of self-discovery at its heart.  Of course when both elements are set alongside one another, they make the movie’s pacing throughout an issue that while clearly problematic, is also at least somewhat bearable.  Keeping all of this in mind, Soul on a String proves to be an independent offering worth at least one watch and that survives by more than a thread.

Soul on a String is a work that while definitely not perfect, thanks to its pacing, is one that is worth at least one watch.  That is thanks to its story and cinematography, which collectively ensure viewers’ engagement at least through most of its nearly two-and-a-half-hour run time.  If not for the positives that both elements prove, the movie’s plodding pacing would have ultimately doomed it.  That–again-was not the case, though.  Since it wasn’t the case, the movie ultimately survives by more than a thread.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Film Movement is available online now at:

 

Website: http://filmmovement.com

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Cohen Media Group To Give Audiences A Special Scary Treat This Halloween

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Cohen Media Group has a very special treat for classic movie buffs and horror movie fans this Halloween.

The independent movie studio will re-issue director the classic 1932 James Whale-directed thriller The Old Dark House Oct. 24 in stores and online. The vintage thriller, which runs 72 minutes and is based on author J.B. Priestley’s book Benighted, it follows a group of wayward travelers seeking shelter from a storm in a forbidding old mansion in the Welsh countryside.

Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Mummy) as a creepy mute butler living and working in the mansion. He is not the only creepy figure living in the house. An elderly woman living in the house presents her own scares for the unlikely guests.  Audiences can view a trailer for the movie online now here.

Also starring in the movie are Gloria Stuart (The Invisible Man, The Prisoner of Shark Island, Titanic), Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka, The Changeling, Hud), Charles Laughton (in his Hollwood debut here, later known for his work on Jamaica Inn, Spartacus, Mutiny on the Bounty), Raymond Massey (East of Eden, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Arsenic & Old Lace) and Ernest Thesiger (Bride of Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, The Man in the White Suit).

Along with the movie itself, Cohen Media Group’s forthcoming re-issue of the movie will also include bonus interview with Sara Karloff, Boris Karloff’s daughter.  It will also include a feature-length audio commentary track with insights from Stuart, a separate feature-length commentary from James Whale biographer James Curtis and a featurette on the work to restore the classic 1932 flick’s footage.

The Old Dark House will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital platforms in 4K digital restoration. It will retail for MSRP of $19.99 (DVD) and $25.99 (Blu-ray).  More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.cohenmedia.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cohenmediagroup

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.