Arrow Video’s ‘Cold War Creatures’ Blu-ray Box Set Is A Wonderful Treat For Classic Sci-Fi, Horror Fans This Halloween and Beyond

Courtesy: Arrow Video

Halloween is less than half a month away.  With the unofficial start of the holiday season once again so close, Arrow Video is offering audiences a great way to get into the holiday spirit with its recently released Blu-ray box set, Cold War Creatures.  Released Sept. 14, the four-disc collection is an excellent way for audiences to do just that.  That is due in no small part to the movies featured in this collection and their stories.  They will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content featured across the set is just as important as the movies and their stories and will be discussed a little later.  The set’s pricing rounds out its most important elements, considering the overall content.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the box set.  All things considered, they make this collection one of the absolute best of this year’s new DVD and BD box sets for grown-ups.

Arrow Video has quickly become one of the leading names in home entertainment over the course of the past year or so, even surpassing the likes of Shout! Factory.  The reason being is its offerings.  It continued to do just that last month when it released its new classic sci-fi horror cinema collection, Cold War Creatures.  Released Sept. 14 on Blu-ray, the four-disc collection features four classic Columbia Pictures flicks, all produced by Sam Katzman.  The movies are all from the 1950s, the era that gave audiences some of the greatest sci-fi and horror flicks of all time.  In this case, the movies are spread across those genres.  The Giant Claw (1957) is a classic creature feature.  It was Columbia Pictures’ answer to all of Universal’s classic creature features.  Yes, it is so cheesy from beginning to end, but it is one of those flicks that is just so bad that it is great.  Thanks to HD technology, audiences can even see the strings and wires that controlled the giant bird and all of the model planes.  On another note, The Werewolf (1956) throws back to Universal’s older monster movies, but even being a werewolf movie, is not just a ripoff of The Wolfman.  This will be discussed shortly as the focus turns to the movies’ stories.  Creature With The Atom Brain takes the focus on atomic energy in that era and crosses it with a mob flick and a zombie flick.  That all sounds really contrived, but in a weird way, it works here.  Meanwhile, Zombies of Mora Tau is a more supernatural movie that, as the title infers, centers on a bunch of zombies.  However in this case, they aren’t brain-eating zombies.  This will also be discussed as the focus turns to the movies’ stories.  Looking at all of this, it is clear that the movies are unique from one another while also showing the ground that they cover within the sci-fi and horror realms of the time.  Simply put, they in themselves give audiences diversity in their viewing options.

Moving to the movies’ stories, the stories are as diverse as the movies themselves.  The story featured in Werewolf for instance centers on a man named Duncan Marsh (playe by Steven Rich – Wagon Train, Plunder Road, City of Fear) who is suffering from amnesia and just wants to remember who he is and how he became a werewolf.  Meanwhile, the residents of Mountaincrest — the town where Marsh ends up — meet him and eventually come to find out he is also the one responsible for a series of “murders” that happen in the town.  The revelation of how Marsh became a werewolf in the first place versus the mindset of sheriff Jack Haines (Don Megowan – Blazing Saddles, The Creation of the Humanoids, The Devil’s Brigade) and that of his fiancé, Amy Standish (Joyce Holden – Private Eyes, The Milkman, The Ford Television Theatre) really does a good job of making Marsh a sympathetic character.  Haines’ mindset meanwhile really makes him more of a villain in the bigger discussion on humans’ humanity and lack thereof.  That and the intolerance shown by the townspeople versus Amy’s more humane mindset really makes the story even more interesting.  That coupled with the blatant Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde comparison makes the story even more engaging and entertaining.  It does well to help separate this movie from its Universal Pictures counterpart, The Wolfman.  Interestingly enough, the movie is in fact a lifting of another movie, as is revealed in some of the set’s bonus content.  This will be addressed later.  Getting back on topic, it is just one of the interesting stories featured in this set.  The story featured in Zombies of Mora Tau is completely unlike that featured in The Werewolf.

The story featured in The Zombies of Mora Tau centers on a group of treasure hunters who have come to an unnamed region of Africa to retrieve a cache of diamonds.  As the set’s bonus content notes (again, this will be discussed later) the comparison to RKO Pictures’ 1932 movie White Zombie (which starred Dracula himself, Bela Lugosi) are inescapable.  AS it turns out, the diamonds are “protected” by the zombie crew that originally tried to steal the diamonds.  There is some tension and action throughout.  It is a story that is completely unlike that of the stories in the set’s other movies.

On yet another side of things, the story featured in The Giant Claw harkens back to the so bad they’re great creature features, such as The Deadly Mantis (1957), Them! (1954) and The Fly (1958).  In the case of The Giant Claw, the story is simple.  A giant, monster bird (apparently from outer space) comes to Earth to terrorize the planet while also preparing the next generation of super powered creatures.  It’s up to a smart mathematician named Sally Caldwell (Mara Corday – The Rookie, The Gauntlet, Sudden Impact) and her guy friend, the stereotypical, headstrong male lead, Mitch MacAfee (Jeff Morrow – This Island Earth, Kronos, Flight To Tangier) to figure out how to beat the apparently extraterrestrial beast.  This approach – the elite pair/team working to defeat the deadly beast(s) – was so typical of the creature features of the 50s, but is still just as entertaining to watch here as in those movies, even as cheesy as it is here.  Of course Sam Katzman was known for just rehashing previously used plots and plot elements from other movies for the movies that he produced.  This is also noted in the expansive bonus content featured in this set.  It will also be discussed later.  Getting back on topic again, this story is yet another example of the diversity in the movies’ stories.

As noted earlier, the story in Creature With The Atom Brain is unique in its own right.  It features a mobster named Frank Buchanan (Michael Granger – Battle of Rogue River, Fort Vengeance, Murder By Contract) who enlists the aid of ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Wilhelm Steigg (Gregory Gaye – Ninotchka, My Gal Sal, Dodsworth) to bring a bunch of dead criminals back to life and use them to get even with the law enforcement officials who caused him to be deported.  What audiences get here is a story that blends elements of a crime story and a zombie story to make quite the unique tale that is, again, super cheesy but still somehow so entertaining at the same time.  Looking at all of this, it is clear that the stories featured in this set are just as unique from one another as the movies’ genres.  To that end, they are just important to the set’s presentation as the movies themselves.  The two together are just one part of what makes this collection so entertaining.  The bonus content that accompanies the movies and their stories is of its own importance. 


To say that the bonus content featured in this set is expansive would be an understatement.  Each movie comes with its own bevy of bonuses.  Film historian and critic Kim Newman provides his own new introduction to each movie.  Each also features its own feature-length audio commentary and other extras.  One of the most notable of the “other” extras is the in-depth bonus, “Family Endangered!,” which comes with The Giant Claw.  Critic Mike White discusses in this feature, how so many movies in the 1950s reflected audiences’ concerns and the real world in general.  For instance, White points out that Creature With The Atom Brain features two antagonists who essentially represented the axis powers from WWII, in an Italian mobster and an ex-Nazi scientist.  The hero, an American detective went up against the pair, eventually defeating the men.  In the essay about the movie (which is part of the set’s bigger “Essaays” collection about each movie), writer Curt Siodmak was himself a survivor of sorts of Hitler’s regime.  The movie’s essay points out that he and his family actually fled their homeland to come to America to get away from Hitler and his evil.  So it is interesting to note that this likely played into his writing here.

Getting back on topic, in the case of The Giant Claw, White points out that the bird was essentially a physical manifestation of the fears that Americans had during the Cold War.  It was able to “cloak” itself from radar, and destroy so much of America.  It even ate the United Nations building while also building a nest in an attempt to spread its evil.  In other words, the whole movie was, in essence an allegory of global political tensions at the time.  That is interesting in its own right to learn.

On a related note, Newman points out in his introduction to The Giant Claw that allegedly, special effects legend Ray Harryhausen looked into The Giant Claw and essentially turned it down because of the low budget special effects.  This is shocking in its own right.

Moving on to Werewolf, Newman points out in this movie’s introduction, the comparison to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydeand adds that it was an intentional throwback to the old Universal monster movies of days gone by.  The noted “Essays” collection that comes with the set adds to Newman’s own in-depth discussion, pointing out that the movie was in fact a lifting of the 1943 Columbia Pictures flick The Return of the Vampire.  This goes back again to the bigger discussion on Katzman’s willingness to just lift from other movies for the works that he produced.  This is also discussed in the “Essays” booklet. 

The discussion on Katzman’s willingness to lift plots and plot elements from other movies points out that such a move was intentional.  It was part of Katzman’s overall overly spendthrift approach to making movies during the 1950s.  He knew that people would buy into such an approach, and that in turn, the movies would make a profit.  Keeping that in mind, it leads one to realize that the more things change the more they stay the same, especially in Hollywood.  Knowing that movie studios have been excessively taking such an approach over the past 20 years or so, it looks like their approach is nothing new.  It lessens the annoyance of studios doing that even today, but at the same time adds to the annoyance that Hollywood even has taken such approach.  Ironically if not for that approach, the movies in this set would never have existed, so it becomes something of a bizarre necessary evil.  It is just one more of so many bonuses featured in this collection that show the importance of the set’s bonus content.  Between everything noted here and so much else featured with the set, the whole strengthens the set’s presentation that much more.  Keeping the breadth and depth of that content in mind along with that of the movies and their stories, the whole of the primary and secondary content gives audiences more than enough reason to own this cinematic set.  It also makes the set’s pricing money well spent.

The average price point of Cold War Creatures is $93.23 according to prices averaged through Amazon, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  The collection was not listed through Walmart, Target, and Books-A-Million at the time of this review’s posting.  Best Buy actually is the best buy in this case, listing the set at $79.99.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Amazon each list the movie at $99.99.  That roughly $80 price point (just over that, counting shipping and handling) is not that bad, considering – again – the amount of content and the depth thereof in this collection.  Considering so many Blu-rays ranging from as little as $9 to about $25 on average by themselves, that noted price is actually that much more affordable, considering that at the high end, buying each by itself would equal to about $100.  Add in the two extensive booklets that discuss the movies and their art one by one, and that average price point and the least expensive listing becomes that much more affordable.  Keeping that in mind along with the overall content, the whole proves even more why any cinephile, any classic sci-fi and horror fan, and any fan of all things Halloween will find this set so enjoyable.  It leaves no doubt that the set is among the best of this year’s top new DVD and BD box sets for grown ups.

Arrow Video’s recently released box set of vintage Columbia Pictures movies, Cold War Creatures, is one of the most impressive of the company’s releases so far this year if not the company’s most impressive this year.  That is due in part to its primary content.  That primary content consists of the set’s featured movies and their stories.  The movies and their stories are all unique from one another, offering plenty of diversity from the top down.  The secondary content – the bonus content that accompanies the movies and their stories – adds even more engagement and entertainment to the presentation.  That is because of the amount of background that it provides for the movies.  Any true cinephile fill agree it makes the set that much more immersive.  The set’s pricing proves to be money well spent, especially on the lower end.  On the lowest end from the nation’s major retailers, audiences will spend less than $100 on the set.  Speaking specifically, the lowest point is just over $80.  That is not bad, again, considering all of the noted content.  When that pricing is considered along with the content, the whole makes this collection overall a complete success one of the year’s top new DVD and BD box sets for grown-ups. 

Cold War Creatures is available now. More information on this and other titles from Arrow Video is available at:

Websitehttps://www.arrowfilms.com

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Cohen Media Group’s Upcoming ‘Corridor Of Mirrors’ Re-Issue Is More Worth Streaming Than Buying

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Apollo Film’s 1948 suspense flick Corridor of Mirrors is “one of the most unusual British films of the 1940s.”  That is the exact wording used in the summary for the movie’s forthcoming re-issue.  It is an accurate description, too.  Scheduled for re-issue Oct. 19 on DVD and Blu-ray through Cohen Media Group, the 96-minute movie truly is an unusual presentation, but is still worth watching at least once.  Its story shows that to be the case.  The story’s execution on the other hand, is a little problematic, but is not enough to doom the presentation.  Staying on the problematic side, the movie lacks a scene selection offering in the main menu, which negatively impacts the presentation’s aesthetics.  It will be discussed a little later.  Rounding out the most important of the presentation’s elements is the movie’s cost on DVD and Blu-ray separately.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie and its presentation.  All things considered, they make the presentation one of the rare lesser of this year’s new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

Cohen Media Group’s upcoming re-issue of Apollo Film’s 1948 suspense flick Corridor of Mirrors is an anomaly from the company.  It is a presentation that is worth watching at least once.  That is due in large part to the movie’s story.  The story in question follows its main protagonist, Mifanwy (Edana Romney – The Strangler, Alibi) as she recalls her affair with the peculiar millionaire, Paul Mangin (Eric Portman – A Canterbury Tale, The Whisperers, Dear Murderer) after going to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum to meet someone.  Not to give away too much, but that person was connected to Paul.  As Mifanwy recalls her affair with Paul, it is revealed that not everything is as it seems about Paul.  As it turns out, Paul is a womanizer, but that is just one part of what makes the story so interesting.  Someone else connected to Paul makes the story even more interesting as it progresses.  For all of the interest that Mifanwy’s story proves to be for the most part, it does suffer from one issue, and that is the fact that its writing team could not seem to clearly figure out how to end the story as they translated it from the page to the screen.  There are so many points throughout the story in its final act in which it easily could have closed out, but instead kept dragging out.  The result is that the movie’s 96-minute run time feels even longer.  What’s more, the final scene (which again will not be revealed here) will leave many audiences scratching their heads.  That is because the story leaves Mifanwy portrayed as the victim of sorts, but she was cheating on her fiancé with Paul all along.  So in essence, for her to be portrayed the way in which she was is just wrong.  It is a terrible way to end the story, to say the least and is just one of the problems that audiences will catch.  Another problem presented is in the movie’s general presentation.

When audiences play the movie, they will note that the main menu lacks a scene selection option.  This may seem minor on the surface, but in reality is problematic.  It is especially problematic because even if viewers hit stop just one (versus twice, which is a full stop) on their remotes, the movie will still start back from the very beginning.  It does not just go back to the point at which the movie was stopped in the previous playback when audiences click on the “play movie” option.  It starts at the beginning of the movie.  The result is that viewers have to fast forward through scenes to get back to where they stopped, searching for that moment.  Yes, it is an aesthetic element, but is still important.  It is important because it will leave viewers somewhat frustrated having to do that search when said situation arises.  It is disappointing that this was allowed to happen with this presentation.  It also is not enough to make the movie’s presentation a failure, but certainly is problematic to the presentation.  Moving from there, there is at least one more positive to the movie in its home presentation in the form of its pricing.

The movie’s average price point on DVD is $18.63 and on Blu-ray is $27.95.  Those prices were obtained by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million.  The movie’s separate listings on Blu-ray sadly largely exceed its average, coming in at $29.95.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers lists it even more expensively at $29.99.  Target offers the least expensive of the movie’s Blu-ray listings at $19.89.  On the other hand the separate listings for the movie’s DVD presentation at $19.95 and $19.99.  Again, Target has the least expensive of the listings at $13.29.  So overall, the DVD presentation’s pricing is less expensive.  This is important to note because each platform’s presentation is the same.  There is no bonus content featured with the movie on either platform, so audiences will get the same presentation in each case.  This means that audiences can still get the movie at less than even $20 from at least one retailer without worrying about missing out on any content.  What’s more, audiences can get he movie on DVD in general for approximately $20 at the most expensive, meaning they will not break the bank when and if they order the movie.  To that end, the movie’s pricing (at least for its DVD presentation) proves to be its own positive.  When this is considered along with the movie’s story, the two elements make the movie at least a little more positive, even having no bonus content and some severe audio level problems (audiences will find themselves having to turn up the volume to almost maximum level because the playback volume is so low).  Keeping all of this in mind, Corridor of Mirrors is worth watching at least once, but more so through streaming than buying.

Cohen Media Group’s forthcoming re-issue of Corridor of Mirrors is an intriguing presentation.  Scheduled for release Oct. 19 on DVD and Blu-ray, it proves worth watching at least once thanks to its story.  As noted in the movie’s summary, which is printed on the back of the movie’s case, it incorporates influence of Beauty and the Beast and Brief Encounter.  Watching through it, one cannot help but wonder if the writing staff behind Rebecca took this movie as at least some inspiration for that movie.  For all of the interest that the movie presents, it is not perfect.  It poses its own problems, primarily in its final act.  Also of concern here is the fact that there is no scene selection option featured in the main menu.  It will leave audiences having to search through the movie from time to time instead of just being able to stop the movie and come back to it where they stopped.  It is not enough to make the movie’s presentation a failure, but is still problematic.  The movie’s pricing, at least that of its DVD platform, is another positive.  That is because it will not break viewers’ budgets.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie in its upcoming home re-issue.  All things considered, they make the movie more worth streaming than buying unless audiences are truly fans of the movie. 

Corridor of Mirrors is scheduled for release Oct. 19 through Cohen Media Group. More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online now at:

Websitehttp://www.cohenmedia.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/CohenMediaGroup

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‘Last Call’ Deserves At Least “A Round” Of Applause

Courtesy: IFC Films

IFC Films’ recently released dramedy Last Call is an unsuspecting success.  Having premiered March 19 and released to DVD Sept. 21, the movie proves itself deserving of at least “a round” of applause.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.  The movie’s success comes primarily through its story, which will be discussed shortly.  While the story proves positive, its pacing is a little problematic, but not enough to make the movie a failure.  It will be discussed a little later.  The cast’s work pays with the story to make the whole a mostly successful new offering that further shows the importance of the independent movie community.

Last Call, the latest starring vehicle from star Jeremy Piven (PCU, Entourage, Serendipity), is a surprisingly entertaining new entry in this year’s field of new movies.  The movie’s success comes in large part through its story.  The story centers on Mick (Piven), a successful real estate developer who returns to his home in a suburban part of Philadelphia after his mother’s passing.  By chance, Mick’s boss, Delveccio (Garry Pastore – The Irishman, The Deuce, The Week Of) just so happens to want Mick to gather signatures from the area’s residents to build a casino in the region.  At first things go well, but as the nearly two-hour movie progresses, things take a not so good turn as opposition starts rising against the proposed project.  The opposition is being led by Mick’s childhood crush, Ali (Taryn Manning – Orange is the New Black, Hustle & Flow, 8 Mile).  The pair’s butting heads leads to the secondary story in this feature, that all-too-familiar boy meets girl/loses her/gets her back in the end tale.  As Mick continues his quest to get signatures, he also starts to realize what’s important versus what’s really important.  Again, this is little fish turned big fish who returns home tale its own familiar plot.  The thing is that it is presented in a new way in this case.  Not to give away too much, but Mick’s final decision is made when it turns out that things are not quite what they seem with the casino project.  Accepting how this reality check happens takes a little bit of added suspension of disbelief, but those who can suspend their disbelief will find the final outcome rewarding.

Now while the movie’s central story offers plenty for audiences to like, its balance with Piven’s more sophomoric offerings (E.g. PCU, Entourage, etc.) makes for its own interest.  What that balance does is offer something for audiences on both sides of Piven’s resume so to speak.  It works with the story to make for even more engagement and entertainment.  For all that the story and its overall presentation do to make Last Call enjoyable, the movie is not perfect.  It does suffer from one problem in the form of its pacing.

Last Call’s pacing proves problematic because both its more serious, dramatic moments and sophomoric moments alike are given too much attention.  Case in point is Mick’s late night drinking marathon with his brother and their friends.  Sure, the aftermath leads Mick to find the bracelet that Ali had given him when they were kids, but other than that, it really is an unnecessary moment.  It’s like the story’s writing team just wanted some way to get Mick to that point of emotional realization and that was the only thing they could come up with, so they threw it at the wall and hoped it would stick.  Another moment is that final realization about the casino and Mick’s reaction to said realization.  It is almost as if that was thrown in for the sake of it.  Not having read the novel on which this story is based, this critic cannot attest to whether this part is in the source material.  Regardless, it and what happens after, leads to much more of the pacing problem.  Though, it is not the last of the moments that cause the story to drag.  There are many others.  Between those moments and those noted here, the pacing does detract from the overall enjoyment.  However, that detraction is not enough to make the movie a failure.  It just cannot be ignored.

Keeping in mind that the pacing of Last Call is problematic, but not enough to make the movie a failure, there is one more item to note that does help the movie.  That item is the cast’s work.  As in every one of his works, Piven’s performance is spot on throughout the movie.  The subtle way in which he has Mick react to his emotional struggles throughout the movie is just as engaging and entertaining as in his existing body of work.  In another case, such as the morning after Ali catches him with the other women, his explosive reaction is just as powerful and believable.  It and so many other moments throughout the movie continues to show why Piven is such a respected actor.

On another note, Jack McGee (The Fighter, Gangster Squad, Drive Angry) deserves his own applause as he takes on the role of Mick’s father, Laurence.  While Laurence is more a supporting character here, McGee still entertains in his own right.  He makes clear that Laurence knows the bar is going under financially, but is still trying to be strong and put on a strong face.  It is what so many of us do in difficult times.  The way in which McGee puts that emotional weight on display makes Laurence that much more of a sympathetic character.  That is because his performance makes Laurence’s persona so relatable.  Even when Laurence finally admits to Mick that he knows the situation, McGee still keeps his performance subdued.  He easily could have hammed it up, but he opted not to do that.  To that end, it shows even more, why McGee’s performance is of note.

As if all of this is not enough, Mick’s friends, Whitey and Paddy (Jamie Kennedy and Chris Kerson) and his brother, Dougal, (Zach McGowan) add their own touch through their performances.  Their wildness represents everything that Mick left behind when he went off to college and then started his own more successful life.  Yes, they are little more than college frat boy types who never really grew up, but they are also that heart that remains in Mick’s old neighborhood.  Mick sees their happiness and how they relate to the neighborhood’s other residents and starts to really change his thinking and ways, again leading to the noted familiar plot element.  Between their performances, those of McGee, Piven, and the rest of the cast, the overall performances do their own share to show why the cast’s work is so important to this movie.  It proves just as engaging and entertaining as the movie’s familiar but unique story.  When those elements are considered together, they make up for the story’s problematic pacing to make the overall presentation one more of the year’s top new independent and overall movies.

IFC Films’ movie, Last Call, is a surprisingly and mostly enjoyable new addition to this year’s field of new independent and overall movies.  That is proven in part through its story.  The story is familiar in both its primary and secondary elements.  At the same time the execution of those elements makes the overall presentation unique.  While the overall story is unique and expertly balances its comedic and heartfelt elements, the pacing thereof proves problematic.  It makes the movie’s 82-minute run time feel somewhat longer – around two hours.  The pacing is problematic because there are scenes that could have been cut.  Even with the problems raised by the pacing, they are not enough to make the movie a failure, though they cannot be ignored at the same time.  Making up for the problems raised by the pacing is the cast’s work on camera.  The cast, both main and supporting, does its own admirable job of keeping viewers engaged and entertained.  It works with the movie’s story to make the presentation mostly successful, even considering the pacing problems.  To that end, the movie proves itself deserving of at least “a round” (again, yes, that awful pun was intended) of applause.

Last Call is available now. More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available at:

Websitehttps://ifcfilms.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ifcfilms

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Corinth Films’ PBS Doc Presentation Is A Mostly Successful Offering

Courtesy: Corinth Films

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous New Deal Program is one of the most pivotal government efforts in America’s history.  The program puts thousands of Americans who were left jobless and penniless due to the Great Depression back to work.  As a result, it led to one the nation’s greatest economic recoveries if not the greatest.  Fro all that the program did to benefit Americans and the nation, there are parts of the program that are lesser-known than those infrastructure jobs, etc.  One of those programs, the Works Progress Administration, helped put just as many to work as it addressed the arts.  Thanks to Corinth Films, the documentary, which originally aired on PBS in April 1981 received renewed attention in July with a first-ever DVD release.  The story that makes up the 90-minute program is the presentation’s heart.  It will be examined shortly.  The booklet that accompanies the DVD adds some interest to the presentation, too and will be discussed a little later.  The DVD’s pricing is its own important element, content considered.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is its own important part of the whole here.  All things considered, they make the DVD an interesting addition to this year’s field of new documentaries.

Corinth Films’ presentation of the vintage PBS documentary, The New Deal for Artists is an intriguing presentation.  Despite what its title infers, the documentary will appeal to more than just artists and people with any interest in art.  That is because of its story.  The story, which is narrated by famed actor Orson Welles, explains how FDR’s New Deal Program aided not jut the nation’s infrastructure, but its culture, too.  It points out that the program and its WPA Arts Project put artists and photographers back to work as well as actors.  They were put back to work as the program created for instance, the model for what would have otherwise become the first federal theater program.  It also led to artists creating murals and paintings that mirrored the nation’s people at the time.  What’s more, it also balked at segregation, so to speak, as it even gave African-Americans work in theater on stage and behind the scenes of so many plays.

As the program progresses, it delves even deeper in its second half.  Audiences learn along the way, that politics (specifically conservatives) led to the eventual demise of the short-lived WPA Art Programs.  That is due in part to the fact that said conservatives did not like that many of the pictures, murals, and plays crafted through the programs were very socially conscious.  Additionally, some of those who were put back to work through the programs admitted through archived interviews that, yes, they were Communist sympathizers, which played right into the hands of congressional members who were already looking for any reason to cut the programs since their products made them so uncomfortable.  That duality exhibited here – the efforts by Roosevelt to preserve the arts and the efforts by his Conservative detractors to shut down the programs just because they hated him – and the way in which it is all presented makes the story in whole fully engaging and entertaining.  Keeping all of that in mind, the story featured in this documentary is itself surprisingly interesting.  It is just too bad that the doc’s title is so misleading, which is very likely to deter many from otherwise watching.

While there is no denying that the title of The New Deal for Artists is problematic, it is not enough to make the presentation a complete failure.  That is proven through the program, as audiences will see when they actually give the documentary a chance.  Once audiences realize just how surprisingly intriguing the documentary’s story is, the next thing they will appreciate is the information provided in the documentary’s companion booklet.  That information in question comes through a pair of essays written separately by Armond White and Ed Rampell.  The essays are for all intents and purposes really just two other reviews of the documentary.  What makes them stand out is the additional background that they put into the mix along with their personal opinions.  White for instance, explains how the WAP Arts Programs benefited Americans and the nation because it helped improve Americans’ morale.  Additionally, he points out Welles’ role as narrator, and its importance even though he is that third person observing it all.

Rampell meanwhile, points out how many people in the nation’s arts community were put back to work.  On the surface, the thousands noted seems like it is not much.  When that number is considered along with the other thousands returned to payrolls in general, it makes for an even bigger number, showing just how important how the New Deal was.  Additionally, he adds his own statement about the impact of those noted Conservatives in Washington, D.C. who worked so hard to shut down the programs just because they did not like that they pointed out how much Americans were struggling.  That and so many more from Rampell and White offers audiences plenty to appreciate from the program’s overall presentation.  Considering that content and the program’s primary content in whole, it collectively makes the documentary worth watching at least once.  It is still only part of what makes the documentary worth seeing.  Its pricing rounds out its most important elements.

The average price point for The New Deal for Artists is $21.81.  That price is obtained by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million.  It was not listed through Target at the time of this review’s posting.  While the average breaks the $20 mark, only Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million break that point from the get go.  B&N lists the DVD at $24.99 while Books-A-Million is slightly less expensive at $24.95.  So for all intents and purposes they are roughly the same, especially when shipping and handling is added to the mix.  Walmart actually lists the least expensive price at $19.28.  Amazon and Best Buy each list the DVD at $19.99.  So while they will break the $20 mark when shipping & handling are added, they will still be far less expensive than ordering it through the other noted retailers.  To that end, the price in general is still not that bad especially comparing the separate listings to the DVD’s average price point.  Keeping that in mind along with the positives put forth through the DVD’s primary and secondary content, the whole comes together to make the DVD overall a mostly successful presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.

Corinth Films’ presentation of the vintage PBS documentary, The New Deal for Artists is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining work.  It is a doc that will appeal to a wide range of audiences, from history buffs, to art history lovers and students, to even those of theater and photography.  The title just does not make that clear enough, though it is really the program’s only shortfall.  It does show, though, the importance of proper titling for marketing purposes.  The secondary content featured in the presentation that is exhibited in the DVD’s companion booklet adds to the interest.  This even though that content is really just a pair of other reviews marketed as essays.  Considering the amount of content and the depth thereof, the DVD’s general pricing proves positive in its own right.  That is because it is relatively affordable.  Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of the DVD.  All things considered, they make this DVD a mostly successful presentation.

The New Deal for Artists is available.  More information on this and other titles from Corinth Films is available at:

Websitehttps://corinthfilms.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/corinthfilms1977

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/corinthfilms

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

‘The Interrogation’ Gets Everything Right About Historical Dramas The American Studios, Filmmakers Get Wrong

Courtesy: Corinth Films

Movies that are based on actual events are a dime a dozen here in the United States. Hollywood’s “Big Six” studios have made a habit of making them into their own genre ever since the golden age of cinema. The problem is that the movies that have and continue to fill out that genre are largely forgettable since they are more spectacle than actual history. This has made the genre and its movies anything but credible. Thankfully in 2016, the foreign historical drama The Interrogation came along and shook things up in that genre. Directed by Israeli director Erez Pery and released in Israel through a partnership between various Israeli firms, the 85-minute presentation was re-issued this summer on DVD through Corinth Films. Its release this year marked the fourth time it has been released to DVD since its theatrical release, having most recently been released on DVD in 2017 through Film Movement. The movie, in its presentation here, succeeds in large part because nothing was added or removed in terms of bonus content. So keeping that in mind, the most important of the movie’s aspects is its story and how it is presented. This element will be discussed shortly. The work of the movie’s two lead actors also plays into the presentation and will be discussed a little later. The cinematography puts the finishing touch to the whole, showing once more how much this simple story has to offer audiences. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of The Interrogation. All things considered, they make this movie a near perfect example of how to properly make a movie that is based on actual events.

Corinth Films’ recent DVD re-issue of the Israeli independent movie The Interrogation is among the most unique of this year’s field of new DVD/BD re-issues. While its release this summer marks at least the fourth time that it has been re-issued since its theatrical debut in 2016, there are still plenty of audiences who have yet to see the movie. To that end, the re-issue proves just as welcome as its predecessors. The movie proves worth seeing in large part through its story. The story in question follows the interrogation of Nazi SS officer and Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoss by Polish investigation judge Albert. Hiss is played here by Romanus Fuhrmann while Albert (no last name is given to Albert) is portrayed by Maciej Marczewski. The interrogation takes place in an interview room at the prison where Hoss was taken following his arrest in 1946 by British troops in Germany. Hoss recounts through the story, how he came to join the Nazi military regime and eventually become the longest serving Commandant at the infamous Auschwitz death camp. Throughout each interview that Albert holds with Hoss, Hoss remains so cold, so straight forward even as he attempts to paint himself as a victim, someone afraid to stand up to his own Nazi superiors. It is difficult to believe that Hoss was really a victim in any of what he oversaw despite his straight forward responses, and Albert does not buy into Hoss’ lamentations, either, as he shows more than once. This will be addressed later in the discussion on the acting. What is really interesting here is that Pery and co-writer Sari Azoulay Turgeman could have easily gone the typical historical drama route during these sessions and used flashbacks within the story, presenting re-enactments of the atrocities over which Hoss saw. Thankfully they did not go that route. Nor did they incorporate any grand soliloquies or over the top dialogue between Albert and Hoss. It actually enhances the story because it is that straight forward and simple. What’s more, there is no soundtrack at any point. Audiences only hear the sound of the two men talking and the whir of the tape recorder as it captures Hoss’ confession. There are also natural sounds as Hoss recalls his life before becoming part of the Nazi death machine, such as horses and birds as footage of calm, quiet countryside is shown. It all really makes everything seem so cold, almost as if to reflect the cold, callous nature of Hoss and what he did during his time at Auschwitz. It all makes the story itself so powerful and that much more engaging and entertaining. To that end, the story and its presentation is something from which so many American studio executives and filmmakers should and could learn. The story and its presentation are just part of what makes The Interrogation so gripping. The workd put in by Marczewski and Fuhrmann is also of note here.

As already pointed out, Marczewski and Fuhrmann are the main actors in The Interrogation. Yes, there are a few extras in the form of a few Russian guards at the prison where Hoss is held, and a woman (It is unknown if the woman is Albert’s wife or another woman), and two other men held at the prison. Their roles are secondary, but add their own importance as to how Albert handles the emotional and mental strain of dealing with Hoss. Marczewski, in his declarations that he does not belief Hoss’ attempts to make himself a victim, is so professional. He easily could have chewed the scenery so to speak, but instead the control that he gives Albert as Albert goes toe to toe with Hoss is so powerful in itself. In the same vein, seeing how Albert handles the strain of it all, even reaching a shocking breaking point in the story’s end, is just as powerful. It makes him even more relatable for audiences. That is because of the subtle way in which Hoss’ confessions impact him. We are all impacted mentally and emotionally by various situations, and we let those impacts build until they reach a boiling point. That is exactly what happens with Albert here.

Focusing on Fuhrmann, his cold, straight forward demeanor is just as powerful in its own way. The way in which Fuhrmann emotes throughout evokes so much power, especially as he tells Albert about his past. There seems to be no sense of remorse in any of Hoss’ discussion on that point. Albert even makes note of it, as already discussed. It leaves one really not believing that Hoss was that unwilling of a participant in what happened at Auschwitz. That makes the performance all the richer on the part of Fuhrmann. When Fuhrmann and Marczewski’s performances are considered together, their collective makes for even more reason for audiences to watch this movie. When their work is considered along with the very story featured in this movie, that reason to watch increases even more. Keeping all of that in mind, it is only a part of what makes the movie worth viewing. The movie’s cinematography rounds out the movie’s most important elements.

The cinematography presented in The Interrogation is important in that it is just as simple as everything else. The various angles and lighting used in the prison sets (Hoss’ cell and the interview room) are prime examples of the cinematography’s impact. The cold white-painted cindeblock of the interview room is its own echo of the coldness from Hoss. One can even argue that the industrial sense that it enhances the sense of hopelessness that perhaps Hoss has in knowing what lies ahead. The way that the lighting was used here gives the noted scenes such a grim feeling that viewers will fully experience.

The lighting that is used as Hoss sits in his cell, writing his memoir is an important part of the cinematography because it serves to help translate Hoss’ own darkness as he awaits his fate, knowing he has no chance of escaping what is coming. That lighting, as he looks outside his cell does much the same. By contrast, those rich meadow scenes that are presented as Hoss recalls his youth and civilian adult life make for even more power against the cold, industrial feeling established by the prison walls and lighting. It leaves one wondering for just a moment, if in fact Hoss’ might have actually regretted taking part in the Holocaust, but that wonder lasts only a second. It is just one more example of the importance of the cinematography to this presentation. When the overall work behind the lens is considered along with the movie’s story and the work of Fuhrmann and Marczewski, the whole comes together to make The Interrogation a historical drama that is done right. Maybe just maybe one day American movie makers and studio heads will take a movie such as this as a guiding point when they make their next historical drama(s).

Corinth films’ recent re-issue of the independent Israeli historical drama, The Interrogation is a welcome addition to this year’s field of DVD and BD re-issues. That is because it is such a stark contrast to all of the movies based on actual events that are churned out by American studios every year. It is a welcome cinematic breath of fresh air in that genre. The story is simple. It follows the interrogation of one of the most notorious members of the Nazi party, ironically, by a Polish interrogation judge. For those who don’t know, Poland is one of the nations that was ravaged by the Nazis, so that very aspect makes for its own interest. There are no overblown flashback scenes, no unnecessary dialogue and soliloquies, or anything else that is so common from American studios in the genre’s movies. The acting is also simple, making it that much more engaging, again so counter to that of so much American cinematic drama. The cinematography puts the finishing touch to the presentation, as it plays into the movie’s overall mood in its own unique way. It brings everything together, completing the presentation. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of this movie’s presentation. All things considered, they make The Interrogation one of this year’s top new DVD and BD re-issues.

The Interrogation is available now. More information on this and other titles from Corinth Films is available at:

Websitehttps://corinthfilms.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/corinthfilms1977

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/corinthfilms

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

Ice Nine Kills Takes On ‘Resident Evil’ Franchise In New Single, Video; Launches Related Merchandise Line

Courtesy: Fearless Records

Ice Nine Kills is taking on a modern horror favorite in its latest single and video.

The band premiered its new single, ‘Rainy Day‘ and its companion video Thursday. The song is the third single from the band’s forthcoming album,  The Silver Scream 2Welcome to Horrorwood, which is scheduled for release Oct. 15 through Fearless Records. The album most recently produced the single, ‘Assault and Batteries‘ and its companion video. Its premiere was preceded by that of the album’s lead single, ‘Hip To Be Scared‘ and its video.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Rainy Day’ takes Ice Nine Kills in a different direction than that which fans have come to expect. While its familiar melodies and harmonies are there, the arrangement adds more of an industrial influence here a la Spineshank and Gravity Kills in the choruses. The contrast of those influences makes the song in whole a unique, welcome new offering from the band and broadens even more, the picture of what audiences can expect from INK’s new album.

The lyrical theme featured here is simple. As noted the song takes on the classic Resident Evil franchise. Thus the story, which is accompanied by a video that presents its own “fan-made” style Resident Evil story. Front man Spencer Charnas even takes part in a surprising fashion in the video, which is in fact a two-part story. Audiences will be left to see the story in whole for themselves.

In related noted, INK has launched a new series of merchandise in line with the premiere of the new single and video. The new merchandise launch is part of the band’s ongoing Nightmare on the Ninth series of merchandise launches. Audiences can view all of the merchandise here.

The track listing for The Silver Scream 2Welcome to Horrorwood is noted below.

Ice Nine Kills

The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood

Track Listing

1. Opening Night…

2. Welcome To Horrorwood

3. A Rash Decision 

4. Assault & Batteries

5. The Shower Scene

6. Funeral Derangements 

7. Rainy Day 

8. Hip To Be Scared (feat. Jacoby Shaddix) 

9. Take Your Pick (feat. Corpsegrinder) 

10. The Box (feat. Brandon Saller of Atreyue & Ryan Kirby of Fit For A King) 

11. F.L.Y. (feat. Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail) 

12. Wurst Vacation 

13. Ex-Mørtis

14. Farewell II Flesh 

The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood is the sequel to INK’s 2018 album, The Silver Scream and its companion record, The Silver Scream: The Final Cut. The Silver Scream and The Silver ScreamThe Final Cut produced the singles, ‘Thank God It’s Friday,’ ‘Stabbing in the Dark,’ ‘A Grave Mistake,‘ ‘The American Nightmare,’ ‘Savages,’ ‘Enjoy Your Slay‘ ‘A Grave Mistake,’ ‘Thank God It’s Friday,’ ‘Stabbing in the Dark‘ and a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’

The band followed up The Silver ScreamThe Final Cut with the release of its live recording, I Heard They Kill Live last year. The recording produced live performances of The Silver Scream‘s songs, ‘Rocking The Boat,’ and ‘Stabbing in the Dark.’

More information on Ice Nine Kills’ new album, single, and video is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://iceninekills.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/IceNineKills

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/iceninekills

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

Film Movement’s Domestic Presentation Of ‘Rose Plays Julie’ Is Imperfect, But Still Worth Watching At Least Once

Courtesy: Film Movement/Desperate Optimists/Samson Films

American audiences, for some reason, cannot get enough drama in their lives nowadays.  A quick run through the broadcast and cable ranks, and even the streaming options out there serves well to support that statement.  The same applies in looking at all the dramas that fill the cinematic realm, too.  To that end, Film Movement did its part this past July to give American audiences their drama fix when it brought the independent drama Rose Plays Julie to DVD.  Originally released in 2019 in Ireland and the United Kingdom through Desperate Optimists and Samson Films, the movie is an interesting though imperfect presentation that ultimately would be a good fit for Lifetime Movie Network’s lineup.  That is due in large part to its story, which will be discussed shortly.  While the story is interesting, its pacing proves extremely problematic.  This will be discussed a little later.  The background information provided by Film Movement and the movie’s co-directors in the DVD’s packaging works with the movie’s story to give it at least a little more interest.  It will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Rose Plays Julie worth watching at least once.

Desperate Optimists/Samson Films’ 2019 drama Rose Plays Julie is a good option for American audiences who just cannot seem to get enough drama in their lives.  It is an especially good selection for audiences who are loyal to Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network.  That is proven in large part through the movie’s story.  The story in question centers on young Rose (Ann Skelly – The Nevers, Red Rock, Kissing Candice) as she goes down the proverbial rabbit hole in search of her birth parents.  The story opens with Rose knowing the identity of her birth mother, but not that of her birth father, nor the circumstances under which she was conceived.  When her birth mother, Ellen (Orla Brady – Star Trek Picard, Fringe, Into The Badlands) reveals those circumstances, it sends Rose over the edge so to speak.  She learns the identity of her birth father – Peter (Aiden Gillen – The Dark Knight Rises, Game of Thrones, Maze Runner: The Death Cure) – and takes on a heavy plan.  As Rose and Peter get to know one another, Peter proves to be every bit the despicable figure that Rose imagined as he tries to rape her, not knowing she is his daughter.  He does not know because of the act that she takes on to find him.  One should digress here, Rose is so disgusted by Peter prior to his attempted rape of her that she had decided she was going to do something drastic (what she plans to do it pretty unsurprising, but at the same time, she cannot be blamed for wanting to do him in).  When she ends up not killing Peter, someone else does.  It does not take a genius to know who does.  To that end, how it happens will be left for audiences to learn for themselves.  Given, Peter deserved what he got.  At the same time though, it is all so formulaic.  It is, again, everything that audiences expect from a typical Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network presentation.  That is not to say that it is not worth watching.  Thanks to the actually believable work of the movie’s cast, audiences will actually find themselves remaining engaged and entertained, even though they know what is coming.  To that end, the story does make this movie worth watching at least once.

While the story featured in Rose Plays Julie makes the movie at least somewhat appealing, the story’s pacing detracts greatly from that appeal.  The movie’s run time is listed at one hour, 40 minutes.  The thing is that because of the pacing, which drags almost consistently throughout the movie, that run time feels so much longer.  What it is that makes the pacing move so slowly is difficult to pinpoint.  Maybe it is the general lack of any musical backing to help establish much emotional connection from scene to scene.  Maybe it is all of the exposition from scene to scene.  Maybe it is both of those items or something else altogether.  Regardless of what ultimately causes the pacing to drag so consistently, that problem ultimately makes watching the movie extremely difficult.  If not for the ability of the story and the cast to keep audiences engaged, that issue would be the proverbial last straw for the presentation.  Luckily, there is still one more aspect in this movie’s domestic presentation that keeps it from being a complete failure.  That aspect is the background provided about the movie in the DVD’s packaging.

Co-Directors Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor point out in their comments in the movie’s notes, that the movie was originally made with the intent to examine the impact of rape on victims beyond just the emotional and psychological.  Understanding this, it makes the story timely, especially what with the matter of abortion being in the headlines so much lately.  The duo adds that it just so happened that the MeToo movement just started to take hold in the U.K. as the movie’s production neared its end.  So in other words, this movie was not part of that movement.  That actually makes suspension of disbelief easier.  That ability of audiences to not feel preached at in turn leads to more insurance of viewers’ engagement and entertainment. 

The added note by Film Movement that the company chose to bring the movie to American audiences because of its psychological nature will resonate with audiences, too.  Again that avoidance of any promotion of preachy-ness even in these notes means that the attention was placed on the movie’s intrinsic value.  Once more, that audiences do not received any of that sense of being preached at means even more that they are likely to remain engaged and entertained.  Keeping that in mind along with the interest generated through the Co-Directors’ comments and through the story itself, the movie ultimately proves to be worth seeing at least once.  That is even with the issue of the movie’s pacing taken into account.

Film Movement’s domestic presentation of Desperate Optimisits/Samson Films’ Rose Plays Julie is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new domestically-released independent movies.  Its intrigue comes in part through its story.  The story follows a young woman who is driven to the brink of committing a heinous act as she learns the circumstances surrounding her conception and birth.  The serious matter that is approached here is what makes it so engaging.  The work of the movie’s cast is even more so to credit to keeping viewers’ attention.  Without their work, the sad reality is that the movie is otherwise just another movie that would fit so well on Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network’s daily lineup.  The movie’s pacing hurts its presentation even more.  That is because it drags throughout the movie, not just at points.  Luckily its negative impact is not enough to make the movie a complete failure.  The background information shared in the DVD’s packaging helps establish at least some more appreciation for the movie.  Together with the serious nature of the movie’s story and the cast’s work, that information gives audiences just enough to make the movie worth seeing at least once.

Rose Plays Julie is available now on DVD through Film Movement. More information on this and other titles from Film Movement is available at:

Websitehttps://www.filmmovement.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/FilmMovement

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/Film_Movement

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

Corinth Films’ Ghanaian Import, ‘Nakom’ Is An Imperfect But Engaging Story

Courtesy: Corinth Films

The independent movie community has, over the course of recent years, done a lot to offer audiences worthwhile alternatives to the nonstop barrage of prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on actual events being constantly churned out by Hollywood’s major studios.  The recent release of the period dramedy Scenes From an Empty Church proof of that.  Much the same can be said of Corinth Films’ British import, The Carer and Film Movement’s German import, Bye, Bye Germany.  These movies, and indie flicks, such as Butter, Shanghai Calling, and The Decoy Bride are even more proof of how much the indie film community has offered audiences in the way of real, and real entertaining options.  Of course even in the indie community, not every movie can be a success.  Corinth Films’ Ghanaian import, Nakom is one of those lesser movies.  Now that is not to say that the movie is a total failure.  It does have at least some positive, that being its story.  The story will be discussed shortly.  While the story is reason enough to watch, the pacing thereof is problematic, taking away from the presentation to a point.  This will be discussed a little later.  Luckily it is not enough to completely doom the presentation.  The cinematography also plays into the movie’s appeal, too, and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered, Nakom ultimately proves itself to be a presentation that is worth watching at least once.

Corinth Films’ recent Ghanaian import, Nakom — released to Western audiences Aug. 17 on DVD – is an imperfect presentation, though is still worth watching at least once.  The movie’s appeal comes in large part through its story.  The story in question centers on its lead character, Iddrisu.  Iddrisu is a young, soon-to-be doctor who is doing quite well in his medical studies.  Out of the blue, one day, he receives a call from his sister informing him that his father has been killed in a motorcycle wreck in Iddrisu’s home village of Nakom.  At first Iddrisu reluctantly stays, though he aims to return to his studies.  He ends up staying much longer than he originally planned.  That is partially of his own doing and partially due to pressure from his family and those in the village.  Eventually the pressure from self and from others becomes too much and Iddrisu reaches a breaking point.  How it all ends will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  The thing is that this is a story that will connect easily with audiences because it is that believable.  It is not some over-the-top tale.  Many if not all people have been in the position of being torn between a sense of self and a sense of duty, whether in the sense of this story or another.  That in itself and the way in which the story is executed ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment from beginning to end of the 90-minute movie.

On a related note, Jacob Ayanaba (who plays Iddrisu) does so well in his performance.  He comes across as such an “everyman” in his subtle performance throughout.  It makes suspension of disbelief in the story that much easier.  Whether trying to comfort his cousin at the area hospital after learning of her pregnancy or handling the mental and emotional stress of taking on his father’s financial debt, or even trying to encourage another young, female member of his family to go to school, his performance is so genuine.  It makes it so easy for audiences to relate to him.  Taking that into account along with the story, the bigger picture here is solid proof of why the story featured here works so well.

For all that the movie’s featured story does to appeal to audiences, it is not perfect.  The story’s one sole flaw comes in its pacing.  The runs approximately 90 minutes, which is really not that long.  Even in that time, there are some moments throughout in which the story tends to drag.  Those moments are multiple, too.  Some of those moments come as Iddrisu is studying and finds himself distracted by something.  They also come at times as Iddrisu is eating meals with his family and little else is going on except for some dialogue.  Those and a handful of other moments will tend to leave the movie feeling far longer than its run time.  In turn, it will leave audiences feeling the desire to fast forward through the movie more than once.  Even with that in mind, the story is still not a total failure, but also not a total success.

Keeping in mind everything noted here, Nakom proves to be an imperfect presentation, though still worth watching at least once.  Making the movie more worth the watch is its cinematography.  Audiences will be pleased to know that the entire presentation was filmed on-site in Ghana.  So all of the stunning sunrise and sunset footage was really captured in the nation’s countryside.  The footage of Iddrisu selling onions in the area markets is actually that of markets in the nation.  The rural roads which he travels are also real.  It might not seem like much on the surface, but the reality is that it actually adds to viewers’ ability to suspend their disbelief.  The colors are so rich both in the daytime and even at night.  What’s more, knowing that the scenes are in fact real instead of CG will encourage audiences to remain engaged even more.  Again, it is an aesthetic element, but it plays so much into the presentation.  Keeping that in mind along with the impact of the story and the acting (and even the pacing thereof), the whole makes the movie that much more worth watching, if only once.

Corinth Films’ recently released DVD presentation of Nakom is a presentation that while imperfect, is still worth watching at least once.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  The story is relatable in its focus.  The situation in which Iddrisu finds himself and how he handles it will connect with most if not all viewers.  The work put in by lead actor Jacob Ayanaba interpreting the script adds to the appeal.  The subtle way in which he takes on the role throughout makes the story that much more worth watching.  While the story and the acting are both of positive note, the story’s pacing proves somewhat problematic.  That is because it tends to drag at multiple points throughout the movie’s 90-minute run time.  Luckily, that issue is not enough to completely derail the movie.  The movie’s cinematography adds its own appeal to the whole, offering even more reason for audiences to watch.  Knowing that the movie was shot entirely on site in Ghana adds a certain sense of realism to the movie, in turn encouraging audiences to watch even more.  Keeping this and everything else noted in mind, the movie proves to be a presentation that while imperfect, is still worth watching at least once.

Nakom is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Corinth Films is available at:

Websitehttps://corinthfilms.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/corinthfilms1977

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/corinthfilms

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

Arrow Video’s ‘Dune’ Re-Issue Is Imperfect But Entertaining

Courtesy: Arrow Video

Much has been made of the latest cinematic adaptation of author Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel Dune over the course of the past year plus.  It was originally scheduled to make its theatrical debut in 2020, with multiple pushbacks as a result of the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Now later this year, the movie will apparently finally get its long awaited debut, too, just before Halloween.  If in fact the movie finally makes its way to theaters nationwide, it will not have been the first time that Herbert’s novel has been adapted for the big or even small screen.  Its most recent adaptation was a made for TV version that aired on television in 2000.  That rendition was followed up in 2003 by the sequel, Children of Dune.  Both mini-series aired on the old Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy).  Much as with the original theatrical version from 1984 that was helmed by David Lynch, the 2000 and 2003 mini-series has led to plenty of division among audiences.  Viewers either loved it or hated it.  There was no middle ground.  Speaking of that 1984 version, it will receive an expansive re-issue Tuesday in the form of a 4K UHD/Blu-ray box set.  If research is correct, the last time that the landmark 1984 version was released on any format was in 2011 on a single-disc Blu-ray presentation with limited extras.  The new, forthcoming re-issue from Arrow Video is overall, a large step up from that presentation.  That is due in large part to the expanded presentation in this case.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the expanded presentation is unarguably a positive, the bonus content that features with the new re-issue is a mixed bag.  It will be discussed a little later.  Considering the overall presentation in the movie’s forthcoming re-issue, its pricing proves important in its own way to the whole of the presentation in a mostly positive fashion.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the forthcoming Dune 4K UHD/BD combo pack re-issue.  All things considered, they make this re-issue a mostly successful presentation, despite its concerns.

Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD/BD re-issue of the David Lynch-helmed 1984 cinematic adaptation of Dune is an interesting new presentation of the landmark movie.  Its presentation here stands out in part because it is expanded from the movie’s previous release.  Instead of just being available on Blu-ray, it is also presented here on a 4K UHD platform.  For those who don’t know, the picture quality on 4K UHD is an enhancement from that of Blu-ray.  That is because of its pixel rate.  Now that is not to say that the Blu-ray presentation’s visual quality is bad.  It is impressive in its own right in comparison to the movie’s original analog presentation.  The picture is much better. 

Keeping all of this in mind, it plays into the related topic of pricing for 4K UHD technology.  4K UHD players and TVs are far more expensive right now than Blu-ray players and standard monitors.  To that end, consumers who cannot afford or do not want to pay the currently exorbitant price for that 4K UHD hardware can still enjoy this classic sci-fi flick in a positive visual presentation even on Blu-ray.  Those who have actually turned out the money for 4K UHD hardware can enjoy it on the already impressive Blu-ray presentation and on the even more enhanced 4K UHD presentation.  So to this end, the dual visual presentations ensure that audiences on either side of the BD/4K UHD discussion will benefit.

While the dual 4K UHD/BD presentation of Dune in Arrow Video’s new re-issue is a strong positive for this re-issue, the manner in which the movie’s companion bonus content is presented here is more problematic.  Arrow Video has spread the movie’s bonus content (new and old alike) across the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs.  Two new feature-length audio commentaries are presented on the 4K UHD disc along with a variety of “older” cast and crew interviews from the early 2000s.  Meanwhile, the Blu-ray presentation features a new interview with members of Toto, which composed the movie’s score, and a new interview with make-up artist Gianetto de Rossi, which was filmed in 2020.  The new interviews are complimented by a pair of archived interviews with other members of the movie’s crew.  The interview with Toto’s members is interesting in that audiences learn it was the first and only time that the band had ever scored a movie’s soundtrack and that Lynch had told the band that working with them was, in hindsight, one of the few things he enjoyed from the movie.  The interview with de Rossi, meanwhile, offers a lot of insight into the movie’s creation.  Thankfully, the subtitles – de Rossi speaks entirely in Italian during his interview – that he was very picky about how he did things, and that one of the cast members even received a minor injury because the cast member did not listen to him in one particular scene.  He also reveals through his discussion that he enjoyed working on the movie for the most part, though in hindsight, he felt the movie really did not end up reaching its potential, which is interesting.  That is interesting, again, because he said himself that he enjoyed working on the movie and with the cast and crew.

On a similar note, the archived interview with Production Coordinator Golda Offenheim (recorded in 2003, prior to her passing only years later in 2008) offers similar thoughts.  Offenheim reveals during her interview that she also was not a fan of the movie, nor was she a fan of most of David Lynch’s work.  Ironically, she admits in her interview that she enjoyed working with the cast and crew, even saying there was a positive sense of camaraderie among them.  As if that is not enough, that she leaves viewers (and her anonymous interviewer) hanging on a number of topics, including the fate of a bus used by the cast and crew that went missing, and certain details about the cast and crew.  One cannot help but wonder what knowledge she took with her from that interview.  That alone makes for so much more interest in this interview along with everything else discussed.  Simply put, her comments and those of de Rossi showed that clearly there was some discord among the cast and crew behind the scenes.  That is proven even more with the archived interview with star Paul Smith.

Smith reveals in his interview that one of the scenes that he wanted to do was cut out of concerns about him and crew members being accidentally electrocuted.  He also reveals that he was initially the first choice to play the Baron, but his own refusal to put on extra weight for the role resulted in him playing another character, the Baron’s nephew.  Smith openly states in his interview that he outright refused to gain the extra weight needed for the role of the Baron because he did not want to put his health and life in that kind of danger.  It is just another example of that noted discord behind the scenes.  Interestingly despite everything that obviously went on behind the cameras, the 1984 adaptation of Dune has still gone on to become a cult hit, even though it may not stick entirely to it literary source material.  By comparison, the two TV mini-series that aired in 2000 and 2003 on Sci-Fi Channel stayed closer to their source material but still looked awful.  So again, the 1984 version suffered from its own problems behind the lens, but still ended up being better than the 2000 version and its sequel.


Adding even more to the discussion here is the bonus booklet that accompanies the re-issue.  Whether audiences own 4K UHD or Blu-ray hardware, viewers on both sides of that divide will get to take in so much content spread across the 60-page publication.  From the movie’s place in the bigger history of science fiction on the big screen, to the bigger message of Herbert’s novel, to even the movie’s sound effects and more, the booklet offers in-depth discussions of so many topics.  One could actually argue that to at least a point, that breadth and depth of information makes up for the division of the bonus content on the set’s two discs.  Keeping that in mind, it helps further enhance the set’s presentation.

Getting back on track, the bonus content featured on the movie’s Blu-ray presentation is, again, unlike that presented in the re-issue’s 4K UHD presentation.  This is where the matter of cost comes back into play, but not in a good way.  While those with 4K UHD players and TVs will be able to take in the bonus content on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs, those with Blu-ray players and standard TVs will only get to take in the bonus content on the Blu-ray disc.  Again, the new content featured in the 4K UHD content includes two new feature-length audio commentaries along with a variety of archived interviews.  Not having access to that content, means those with only Blu-ray players and standard TVs are being short-changed.  4K UHD players and TVs are, again, largely cost restrictive in comparison to Blu-ray players and standard HDTVs right now.  That means that while yes, some consumers do own that more expensive content, most do not.  So in separating the bonus content out in such fashion means that Arrow Video is really shooting itself in the foot here so to speak.  To that end, it makes the movie’s bonus content positive and negative all in one.  Keeping in mind the positive role that the movie’s presentation on dual formats plays and the role of the divided bonus content here, this latest re-issue of Dune largely proves entertaining but largely imperfect.  Even with all of this in mind, there is at least one positive left to note here.  That content in question is the re-issue’s pricing.

The average price point for Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD/Blu-ray re-issue of Dune is approximately $42, rounding up the number to a whole.  Now considering how expensive most 4K UHD discs are by themselves, that seems a bit hit, and that would be right.  However, that the movie’s 4K UHD is presented alongside a Blu-ray presentation of the movie, that number makes more sense.  What’s more, the most commonly occurring price for the re-issue – through Amazon, Walmart, and Target – is $34.99.  That is an even more affordable number, considering the breadth and depth of the content featured in this re-issue.  Best Buy’s listing is right at the average, at $42.99.  Books-a-Million, the only other major retailer that lists the re-issue, has it listed far above the average at $59.95.  So looking at all of these prices, it becomes clear that the pricing for this re-issue is in fact largely positive and will not break anyone’s budget.  Even with the concerns raised through the bonus content’s division, that aspect and the movie’s dual presentation works with the bonus content to a point to make this re-issue imperfect but still mostly engaging and entertaining.

Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD/Blu-ray presentation of Dune (1984) is an interesting new offering from the home entertainment company.  Its primary positive comes in the form of the movie’s dual presentation.  Whether audiences own 4K UHD hard ware or Blu-ray players and standard TVs, viewers on both sides of that divide can enjoy this classic movie with full clarity on either platform.  Now while that dual presentation is positive, it also widens the divide.  That is because the new and archived bonus footage is split between the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs.  Not everyone can afford the more cost restrictive 4K UHD hardware, and those people are relegated to only watching the Blu-ray’s bonus content.  Keeping that in mind, the division of the bonus content detracts from the set’s enjoyment to a point.  On the other hand, the extensive information shared in the set’s bonus booklet makes up for that shortfall at least to a point.  Even with that in mind, the division of the bonus content cannot be ignored.  Even with the concerns raised by the bonus content in mind, the set’s pricing proves to be its own positive.  It proves cost effective regardless of whether viewers have the noted 4K UHD hardware.  Maybe one day when and if that hardware becomes less cost restrictive, then it will become even more of a positive.  In the meantime though, it still proves at least somewhat positive.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Arrow Video’s forthcoming re-issue of Dune imperfect but still entertaining.  The presentation is scheduled for release Tuesday.  More information on this and other titles from Arrow Video is available at:

Websitehttps://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

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

‘The Spongebob Squarepants Movie: Sponge On The Run’ Is Among The Worst Of 2021’s New Movies And The Franchise’s Presentations

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

Nickelodeon and Paramount’s latest Spongebob Squarepants cinematic offering, Sponge on the Run, is the absolute worst of the franchise’s movie offerings.  Originally planned for big screen release in 2020, those plans were scrapped as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It ended up going straight to streaming before being released to Blu-ray and DVD last month.  There is really nothing about this movie that makes it memorable.  Its story is the first of its failings and will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home physical release is just as problematic as the story itself.  It will be discussed a little later.  The movie’s animation style is also problematic and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted shows in its own way what makes this movie so disappointing.  All things considered, they are going to make this movie the most forgettable of the Spongebob Squarepants movies to date.

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run is hopefully going to be the absolute last of the movies from the series that started as a little show that could so many years ago on Nickelodeon.  There is nothing redeeming about this movie.  The movie’s story is the most glaring of its concerns.  The story, at its heart, is just another story about Plankton trying to steal the Krabby Patty formula from Mr. Krabs.  It essentially plays out as follows:  Plankton’s computer wife, Karen, makes him realize that it has been not Mr. Krabs, but Spongebob who has ultimately prevented Plankton from getting the formula.  So in finally realizing and accepting this, he uses King Poseidon’s hunt for snail slime (which he apparently uses to cure facial issues like lines, bags, etc.) and kidnaps Spongebob’s snail pal Gary and takes him to King Poseidon.  This leads Spongebob and pal Patrick Star to go on a road trip to find Gary.  With Spongebob out of the way, Plankton finally gets the formula, but of course his victory is short-lived.  Mr. Krabs, Sandy, and Squidward eventually go in search of Spongebob and have to save him from an untimely end because Spongebob had tried to save Gary from Poseidon’s grasp.  That final act (and much of the movie) throws in plenty of promotion for the new CG-based Spongebob Squarepants series, Camp Coral.  Keeping all of that in mind, on the one hand, this is just another story about Plankton trying to get the Krabby Patty formula.  It has been the basis of so much of the series’ content on television and in the franchise’s other movies.  On the other hand, it is also clearly a blatant way for Nickelodeon and Paramount to promote the noted series, which completely ignores canon of the original Spongebob Squarepants television series.  Taking all of that into account with the equally unnecessary celebrity cameos (Snoop Dogg, Mickey Rourke, and Keanu Reeves) and the equally unnecessary musical numbers, and what audiences get is a story that felt like it was just tossed together with hope that audiences would overlook it all.  Given, this critic’s 8 year-old son is proof that children will definitely overlook all the noted problems, but adults with any common sense will see all the problems and realize just how dumbed down and awful this presentation becomes overall.

The problematic story at the heart of this movie is just part of its failing.  The bonus content (or really lack thereof) makes the movie even less enjoyable.  Every one of the bonus features in the movie’s home physical release focuses in one way or another on Camp Coral, yet again proving that this movie is ultimately just one big way for Nickelodeon and Paramount to promote that series, which is itself completely forgettable.  There are art segments that show how Spongebob is drawn for that series.  There is also a feature about Spongebob’s Camp Coral pals, and even a “mini-movie” taken from the series.  That those behind this movie’s presentation would even call this feature a “mini-movie” is disappointing.  It is a short.  Even when it is played, it is called a short on screen.  That is a far cry from a mini-movie.  Mini-movie hints that it would be about half the time of the movie, which runs approximately 91 minutes.  This “mini-movie” runs maybe six or seven minutes.  Yet again, this is just so problematic, especially considering that this and the other bonus content clearly is just another blatant marketing means for Camp Coral.  It is just more disappointment for this overall presentation.  It is still not the last of the problems presented in this presentation.  The animation style poses its own problem.

The animation style of Sponge on the Run is full on CG.  It just does not look nearly as wonderful as that rough style used in the series’ infancy.  Given, it is hardly the first time that the franchise’s creative heads have gone this route.  Some of the latest Spongebob TV holiday specials (mainly Halloween and Christmas) have all used their own stop motion/CG hybrid approaches.  The result of those approaches is really appealing in its own way, but the approach taken here is just ugly throughout.  It shows that some things simply should not go the CG route.  That aesthetic element may seem minor on the surface, but the reality is that the look makes it hard in itself to watch.  When the difficulty wanting to keep watching that unappealing look is joined with a story that is just as awful and forgettable, and equally forgettable bonus content, the whole becomes a presentation that is absolutely the worst of the Spongebob Squarepants franchise’s cinematic offerings and one of this year’s worst movies, too.

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run is the absolute worst entry yet in the Spongebob Squarepants cinematic series.  It does nothing to help build the legacy of the series, which really stopped being enjoyable after its fifth season.  That is proven in large part through its story.  The story is just another tale of another of Plankton’s efforts to steal the Krabby Patty formula.  On a secondary note, it is also a blatant machine for Nickelodeon and Paramount officials to market the new Spongebob Squarepants series, Camp Coral.  That in itself is pathetic.  Add in the fact that Camp Coral does not even stick to canon from the original series, and it makes that aspect even more disappointing and worthy of criticism.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home physical presentation is even more marketing for Camp Coral, making for even more criticism.  It makes it seem even more, that this movie was really just an excuse for Nickelodeon and Paramount officials to market the noted streaming series.  The animation style used in the movie rounds out the most important of this movie’s problems.  Its aesthetic effect makes it just as difficult to watch this movie as the movie’s content.  Each item examined here is important in its way in showing why this movie is so bad.  All things considered, they make Sponge on the Run the worst of the Spongebob Squarepants movies yet and one of this year’s worst movies overall.

The Spongebo Movie: Sponge on the Run is available now on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  More information on this and all things Spongebob Squarepants is available at:

Website: https://nick.com/shows/spongebob-squarepants  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spongebob

Twitter: https://twitter.com/spongebob

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