CMG Succeeds Again With Its Fourth Buster Keaton Cinematic Collection

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

It goes without saying that Hollywood has fallen far from its former greatness over the course of the past 30 years or so.  The last time that Hollywood’s “Big Six” created anything truly worth watching on the big screen (and small) was the late 1990s.  Ever since then, Hollywood’s cinematic output has consisted primarily of prequels, sequels, reboots, and overly embellished movies based on actual events.  It has made independent studios increasingly important outlets for those looking for alternative outlets for audiences looking for their cinematic entertainment.  Cohen Media Group has succeeded in that avenue quite well over the course of the past two years through its re-issues of physical comedian Buster Keaton’s classic silent films.  The latest of those re-issues came early last month in the form of the company’s fourth collection of Keaton classics, The Buster Keaton Collection:  Volume 4.  As with its predecessors, which were released between May 2019 and August 2019, this fourth volume offers plenty for audiences to enjoy, beginning with its featured stories.  Those stories will be discussed shortly.  The look and sound of the restored films adds its own appeal for audiences and will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the stories puts the finishing touch to the collection’s presentation.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set’s presentation.  All things considered, they make The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 4 one more important presentation for any classic cinephile and Buster Keaton fan.

Cohen Media Group’s latest Buster Keaton cinematic collection, is yet another enjoyable alternative to the endless stream of prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on actual events that Hollywood’s “Big Six” continue to churn out annually.  It is a presentation that will appeal equally to fans of Keaton’s work and to classic cinephiles.  That is proven in large part through its featured stories.  Featured this time are the 1925 movie Go West and its 1927 follow-up CollegeGo West is not as well-known as some of Keaton’s other silent offerings, but offers audiences plenty of entertainment.  It stars Keaton as a down-on-his-luck man who ends up becoming a ranch hand in his search for work.  In the process, Keaton’s unnamed character ends up befriending a cow when he is sent to help round up a herd of cattle that will soon thereafter be carried via train to stockyards in Los Angeles.  That friendship that Keaton’s character develops with the wayward soon after becomes the central point of the story because he starts out the story being friendless and basically penniless.  Audiences will note that throughout the course of Go West’s one hour, nine minute run time, the pratfalls and other physical comedy for which Keaton had come to be known over his career were less prominent here.  It was one of those rare moments in which Keaton relied more on his pure acting skills to tell a story than his physical comedy. It makes the movie somewhat less memorable than many of his other movies, but no less entertaining.  It really shows another side of Keaton that audiences are sure to enjoy.

College by comparison is among the most well-known of Keaton’s silent film career.  This movie’s story finds Keaton’s character Ronald trying to win the heart of a young woman following graduation from their high school.  He tries to win her over by showing he can be athletic as well as smart as a member of one of Clayton College’s sports teams.  Audiences cannot help but root for him as he tries his hand – unsuccessfully – at baseball and a variety of track and field events.  Alas Ronald struggles through it all, but unknown to him, the young woman whose heart he wants to win is watching, and she eventually does develop a soft spot for him.  When he is appointed coxswain of the college’s rowing team, it leads to a happy ending between the pair.  How the ending happens will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  It should be noted here that for all of the enjoyment the story brings, there is one scene in which Ronald dons black face in order to get himself a job.  Ronald’s intent was good at heart, being that he was just trying to get a job.  At the same time though, the scene in itself played zero part in the overall story.  To that end, it is clear that the story’s creative heads put that scene in for no reason other than racist tendencies.  Keeping that in mind, that scene really should have been omitted from the movie.  Such portrayal was wrong then and is wrong now.  Keaton does so well in his underdog performance this time out. That is due in part to Keaton breaking some from his typical stone face demeanor and actually emoting some.  The physical comedy that he utilizes –especially in the track and field moments and during the big rowing race – adds even more enjoyment for audiences. Viewers will laugh riotously at the result of Ronald trying his hand at the high jump and hammer thrown, and even what he does to try and keep his rowing team’s boat straight in the big finale race.  Between the familiar physical comedy, Keaton’s general performance and the story itself here, audiences have so much to appreciate in this classic movie.  Together with the touching and entertaining story of friendship in Go West, the two movies are themselves more than enough reason for audiences to add this collection to their movie libraries. Building on the appeal of the movies is their production values. 

The production values of the movies featured in Cohen Media Group’s first three volumes of Buster Keaton movies played a big part into their presentations.  The painstaking efforts that were made in order to restore the nearly century-old footage, both in terms of its visual and audio quality paid off in each presentation.  The same applies to this pair of movies.  The grainy look of the original presentation was kept.  At the same time, it is clear that those responsible for the touch up went to great lengths to retain the original look of the film.  Even the original edits are there and have been touched up just enough to keep them from being distracting.  The result of the intensive work put in to restore the footage clearly paid off, with the result being a presentation that creates such a positive aesthetic sense.  In the same breath, the re-worked musical track adds its own touch to the overall presentation.  The whole of the re-mastered audio and video makes watching these latest re-issues just as enjoyable for their production values as for their stories and for Keaton’s acting.  These elements are just a portion of what makes the collection so enjoyable.  The bonus content that accompanies the set’s primary content rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus content that is featured in CMG’s latest Buster Keaton collection adds its own touch to the set’s presentation because it is so much unlike that of the previous collections.  The bonus content that is featured with the first three collections is just a series of discussions lifted from CMG’s 2019 Keaton documentary The Great Buster.  That trend was not repeated here.  Instead, audiences get a full hour-length audio recording of Keaton pitching a TV show script and an original Western short also titled Go West.  The audio recording of Keaton’s script pitch is interesting, though somewhat difficult to hear.  Viewers have to turn the volume very high in order to be able to really hear it.  It leaves one wondering if any work was done to restore that audio.  On the other hand, the short Go West makes for some wonderful entertainment.  The silent short tells the story of a young man who ends up moving to the Wild West after being kicked out of his home by his own father.  The story is enacted by a group of trained Capuchin Monkeys.  The monkeys’ acting, the model train and old west town that are presented here give the story such a great look and feel while the story itself is just as entertaining and engaging for audiences.  The outcome will be left for audiences themselves to discover.  Though, it should be noted that as entertaining and engaging as it all is, there are mentions of alcohol in this story so parents who watch the otherwise family friendly story with their children might have to figure out a way to explain that aspect to their kids.  That aside, the story still makes for a great accent to everything else featured in this latest collection.  When it is considered along with the collection’s primary content and its related production values, the whole becomes a presentation that Keaton’s most devoted fans will enjoy just as much as any true cinephiles.  It leaves audiences hoping that as with the first three collections, this one will not be the last since there are still some classic Buster Keaton flicks that have yet to be released to the masses.

Cohen Media Group’s fourth installment of Buster Keaton movies is another presentation that cinephiles and Keaton fans will find equally interesting.  That is due in part to the stories that are featured in this collection’s pairing of movies.  Each story puts Keaton into his familiar lovable underdog role and does so in its own unique fashion.  The work put in to restore the footage in each movie paid off, adding even more appeal to the overall presentation.  That includes the re-mastering of the footage and the newly recorded score for each film.  The bonus short that accompanies the set’s primary content rounds out its most important elements.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the collection.  All things considered, they make The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 4 another overall presentation that will appeal equally to Keaton’s most devoted fans and cinephiles alike.  The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 4 is available now. 

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

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/cohenmediagroup

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Mercari Texas Bowl Cancelled

Courtesy: ESPN

Less than a week after getting a new title sponsor, the Texas Bowl is now a no-go

The Mercari Texas Bowl will not happen this year. ESPN made the announcement Tuesday through a press release. According to information provided by ESPN, the cancellation — now the 16th on the year — is due to “an increased number of positive COVID-19 tests and other circumstances within the TCU football team.”

This year’s Texas Bowl was scheduled to take place at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 31 on ESPN from NRG stadium. It was going to feature a matchup of TCU and Arkansas.

Texas Bowl Executive Director David Fletcher addressed the cancellation in a prepared statement.

“While we are disappointed in canceling this year’s game, we look forward to hosting both the Texas Kickoff and Texas Bowl next season,” said Fletcher. “We appreciate everyone’s support, including our new title sponsor, Mercari.”

Refunds are available for all ticketholders through the outlets through which they purchased tickets.

Tuesday’s announcement is now the fifth this month as well as being the 16th this season. The Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl was cancelled Dec. 23.

The list of bowl games cancelled is noted below.

  1. Bahamas Bowl (C-USA vs. MAC)
  2. Celebration Bowl (MEAC vs. SWAC)
  3. Fenway Bowl (AAC vs. ACC)
  4. Hawaii Bowl (AAC vs. Mountain West)
  5. Holiday Bowl (ACC vs. Pac-12)
  6. Las Vegas Bowl (Pac-12 vs. SEC)
  7. Los Angeles Bowl (Pac-12 vs. Mountain West)
  8. Pinstripe Bowl (ACC vs. Big Ten)
  9. Quick Lane Bowl (ACC, Big Ten, MAC)
  10. Redbox Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
  11. Sun Bowl (ACC vs. Pac-12)
  12. Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl (AAC vs. WAC)
  13. Ticketmaster Birmingham Bowl (SEC vs. AAC)
  14. Perspecta Military Bowl (AAC vs. ACC)
  15. Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl (SEC vs. C-USA)
  16. Mercari Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC)

The remaining schedule for Capital One Bowl Mania is noted below.

DateTime (ET)Event/CommentatorsNetwork
Tue, Dec. 295:30 p.m.Cheez-It Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Miami
Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Fla.
Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George
Radio: Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones
ESPN and ESPN Radio / ESPN Deportes
 9 p.m.Valero Alamo Bowl
Texas vs. Colorado
Alamodome – San Antonio, Texas
Dave Pasch, Mike Golic Sr., Kris Budden
Radio: Marc Kestecher, Trevor Matich
ESPN and ESPN Radio / ESPN Deportes
Wed, Dec. 30NoonDuke’s Mayo Bowl
Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin
Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, N.C.
Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, Marty Smith
ESPN / ESPN Deportes
 4 p.m.TransPerfect Music City Bowl
Iowa vs. Missouri
Nissan Stadium – Nashville, Tenn.
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
Radio: Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones
ESPN and ESPN Radio / ESPN Deportes
Thu, Dec. 31NoonLockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl*
Tulsa vs. Mississippi State
Amon G. Carter Stadium – Fort Worth, Texas
Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Ian Fitzsimmons
ESPN / ESPN Deportes
 4 p.m.AutoZone Liberty Bowl
West Virginia vs. Tennessee
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – Memphis, Tenn.
Wes Durham, Roddy Jones, Eric Wood
Radio: Jay Alter, Brad Edwards
ESPN and ESPN Radio / ESPN Deportes
 1 p.m.Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Auburn vs. Northwestern
Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Fla.
Dave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, Paul Carcaterra
ABC
Fri, Jan. 1NoonTaxSlayer Gator Bowl
N.C. State vs. Kentucky
TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville, Fla.
Anish Shroff, Tom Luginbill, Lericia Harris
ESPN
Sat, Jan. 212:30 p.m.Outback Bowl
Ole Miss vs. Indiana
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Fla.
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
ABC
    

* — ESPN owned and operated event

More information on the ESPN networks’ college football coverage is available online along with all of the latest college football news at:

Websitehttp://www.espn.com/college-football

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/espncfb

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Def Leppard’s ‘London To Vegas’ CD Re-Issues Will Appeal To The Band’s Most Devoted, Casual Fans

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Six months after originally releasing its latest live recording London to Vegas on various platforms, Def Leppard has re-issued the presentation.  This time, the recording — originally released through Eagle Rock Entertainment – has been released exclusively on CD, with an exclusive vinyl pressing to follow in December.  Why Def Leppard and Eagle Rock would go to this length after having already released the recording on separate 2BD/4CD, 2DVD/4CD, 2LP, picture disc, and digital platform is anyone’s guess.  That aside, the separate sets do boast some positives, not the least of which is the presented set lists.  This will be addressed shortly.  The recordings’ packaging proves to be its own positive and will be discussed a little later.  The recordings’ production rounds out their most important elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recordings.  All things considered, the new CD re-issues of Def Leppard’s London to Vegas recording are presentations that will appeal to the band’s most devoted fans.

Def Leppard and Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new CD-exclusive re-issues of the band’s shows from its London To Vegas recording are collectively a presentation that will appeal to the band’s most devoted fan base.  That is proven in part through their set lists.  The set lists in question are the exact same set lists hat were featured that were featured in the recording that was released in April.  They are also featured in the exact same order as they were in the noted presentation.  The first of the featured concerts was recorded in December 2018 at London’s famed O2 Arena.  The performance features the band performing its landmark 1987 album Hysteria in its entirety for audiences.  The band performs more than just Hysteria here, too.  There are some other classic numbers that make up a handful of encores performed by the band after it finishes making its way through the album.  Those encores will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  The record has gone platinum 10 times since its release more than 30 years ago.  The second show was recorded in June 2019 during Def Leppard’s residency at Zappo’s Theatre in Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, NV. 

The Las Vegas residency show doesn’t stick to just one album, enhancing the overall experience for audiences that much more.  While Hysteria does get a lot of nods over the course of the 28-song set, which runs almost three hours, the band does lift from some of its other albums.  The band goes as far back as 1981 and is sophomore album High ‘N’ Dry in its set and as recent as its self-titled 2015 record, its most recently released album.  Along the way, the band treats audiences to songs from its equally popular 1983 album Pyromania, its 2002 album X, its 1992 album Adrenalize and even its 1993 rarities & b-sides compilation Retro Active.  Slang (1996) and Euphoria (1999) are even represented in this expansive set list.  The only albums not represented in the concert are the band’s 1980 debut On Through The Night, its 2006 record Yeah! and its follow-up, 2008’s Songs From The Sparkle Lounge.  Sure, those albums are missing from the concert’s set list, but even with that in mind, audiences still get a relatively comprehensive set list from this archived show.  Adding to the interest is that some of the songs performed at the Vegas show are works that the band had never performed live until that point, according to front man Joe Elliot.  He makes the revelation in front of the audience of hundreds if not more.

Between this concert’s extensive and rich set list and that of the band’s O2 show, audiences get here what is some of Def Leppard’s best live material to date.  The total run time of the two shows surpasses the five hour mark, which will help listeners pass the time with ease whether listening to the shows on a long road trip or going to and from work or any other scenario.

As much as the set lists in the CD re-issues of Def Leppard’s London to Vegas do to make this recording appealing, they are collectively just one part of what the noted Def Leppard devotees will appreciate.  The packaging exclusively on CD allows listeners to take the concerts with them in the vehicles rather than being tied to a record player or even a smart phone or television monitor.  To another extent, CD cases are smaller than those for DVDs and Blu-rays, so instead of taking an entire DVD or Blu-ray case in the car, audiences will just have the smaller CD case.  Not that DVD and Blu-ray cases are bulky by any means, but finding space in one’s car for a double CD case versus a DVD/BD/CD package is one less stress for listeners.  What’s more, being concerned about keeping a couple of CDs safe from damage versus being concerned about keeping DVDs/BDs and CDs safe while taking them along on a trip, is less concerning.  That ease of transport and packaging in the recordings’ platform availability shows clearly to be its own positive here.  It is just one more of the most notable aspects of the re-issues.  The production of the recordings rounds out their most important elements.

On a related note, the fact that the concerts are held on separate sets, audiences can choose one concert, the other or both.  Obviously, the most devoted fans will want both concerts, but then there are those who might be more casual fans, leading potentially to wanting one or the other.  To that end, that audiences can choose will save space and money.

The production presented in the new re-issues of Def Leppard’s London to Vegas recording is of its own note in that as with the set lists, audiences get the same values.  That is because the audio featured in the recordings was transferred directly from the DVD/BD presentations to the CD platforms.  In other words, while it may not be the full audiovisual experience, audiences still get a solid experience in the audio thanks to the work put in during and after the concerts were captured.  The sound is expertly balanced in each concert from start to end.  No one performer overpowers his band mates at any point in either concert, showing that those behind the boards took into full account, the acoustics of each venue.  When this is taken into consideration along with the recordings’ set lists and their packaging, the whole of the noted elements makes these re-issues appealing, again, to Def Leppard’s most devoted fans.

Def Leppard and Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new separate CD re-issues of its London to Vegas shows are collectively an interesting presentation.  Considering that the recordings have already seen release in April in complete DVD/CD and BD/CD combo packs, they will appeal mainly to the most devoted Def Leppard fans and perhaps to the more casual fans who do not want to have to pay the full price for the noted sets.  The recordings’ set lists will help with the appeal for those audiences.  That is because they are the same shows featured in the previously released sets.  The packaging of the shows as separate shows will appeal to the devotees in that that will be less cumbersome than carrying around the combo sets.  They will also allow more casual fans to pick and choose which show they want more.  The production of the shows rounds out their most important elements in that it was the same production used in the concerts’ full audiovisual platforms.  To that end, it will appeal to audiences in its own right.  When it is considered along with the other elements noted here, the whole of the recordings proves that it will appeal at least to a point for some Def Leppard and classic rock fans.

More information on London to Vegas is available online now along with all of Def Leppard’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://www.DefLeppard.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/defleppard

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/defleppard

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://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.

Hyde Park On Hudson One Of The Worst Historical Works In Years

Courtesy: Universal Studios/Focus Features

Courtesy: Universal Studios/Focus Features

Hyde Park on Hudson is one of the least enjoyable movies of 2012 and just as uninteresting now that is has been released to DVD and Blu-ray.  The problem with this attempt at a semi-biopic is the lack of balance between the story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s relationship with his mistress Margaret “Daisy” Stuckley and that of the visit by King George and his wife, Queen Elizabeth.  The script attempts to tie the two storylines together.  But in that effort, writer Richard Nelson and director Roger Michell have instead crafted a story that ends up plodding along at a near snail’s pace all while not really amounting to anything by the time it ends.  The story is narrated by what is supposed to be Margaret Suckley, explaining her relationship.  Herein lies another issue with the story.  Because it is told from the vantage point of “the other woman”, there’s no way to ignore the comparison to the Madonna helmed W./E.  Just as the latter was an art film, this movie comes across the same way, eventually amounting to nothing.

The initial comparison to W./E. is only one problem with Hyde Park on Hudson.  Anyone that has any knowledge of presidential history or even the slightest interest in said history know that Roosevelt was just one of so many political figures that has been anything but faithful in their marriage.  Keeping this in mind, it makes the storyline of FDR’s relationship with his mistress–and only certain people knowing about it—all the less interesting.  Had the story been more focused and aimed perhaps at the political relationship between the British royals and the President, it might have actually had more substance about it.  But sadly, Nelson opts instead for the more dramatized side of things, going more for the intended soap opera that surrounded FDR and his mistress, again causing the story’s pacing to drag along slowly, and thus leave audiences feel robbed of their time.

For all of the negatives surrounding Hyde Park on Hudson, it does have at least one positive.  That positive would be its backdrops and associated cinematography.  The beautiful countryside backdrops of the story are beautiful.  And thanks to the expert work of the movie’s film crew, those backdrops became the real stars of the movie; even more so than lead star Bill Murray who did quite the job of portraying the late President.  Murray’s portrayal leaves one wondering if he did so well, then how much better could this script have been had Nelson and Michell come to terms on which story was more important.  But because of Hollywood’s seemingly insatiable appetite for prequels, sequels, and reboots, one can only hope that should the story of Roosevelt’s “secret” ever be retold, it will star Murray again, but actually have more worth seeing.

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.