Starz Acquires Rights To Hawkins Brothers’ Directorial Debut

Courtesy:  Starz Media

Courtesy: Starz Media

Kevin Kasha, Head of Acquisitions for Starz, announced this week that the company has acquired the award-winning movie We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.  The movie, which was the directorial debut of the Hawkins Brothers, premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and won the Audience Award at AFI Fest.  The deal, signed this week, gives Starz Digital Media exclusive rights to the movie in both Canada and the United States.

Kasha was upbeat in discussing acquiring the film from the up-and-coming directing duo.  “I love when our team discovers films by talented new filmmakers,” he said.  “Set in a dead-end Texas town, Zeke and Simon Hawkins offer audiences a gritty thriller that presents a fresh, sometimes surreal take that will appeal to film fans everywhere. We’re excited they’ve partnered with Starz to share their debut film.”

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place is a gritty crime drama that centers on a trio of teens in Texas that gets pulled into the world of organized crime after the young men go partying with some stolen money.  The movie stars Jeremy Allen White (Shameless), Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire), Mark Pellegrino (Being Human), and William Devane (The Dark Knight).  The story was written by Dutch Southern and produced by Rough & Tumble Films.

More information on new releases from Starz and Starz Digital Media is available online at http://www.starz.com, http://www.facebook.com/Starz, and http://twitter.com/starz_channel.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Da Vinci’s Demons A Surprise Hit In Its Debut Season

Courtesy:  Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Da Vinci’s Demons is not the first historically based drama on television today.  It is however, one of the best.  And now thanks to Starz and Anchor Bay, those that aren’t lucky enough to have Starz network can experience the first season of this hit series for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray.  The first season of Da Vinci’s Demons is so entertaining first and foremost because of its clever writing. Unlike so many other historical dramas, this one is more centered on action and adventure than drama.  It’s one part Indiana Jones and one part…well…Da Vinci’s Code tied into one.  Audiences will also appreciate the work on the part of the show’s cast throughout all eight of Season One’s episodes.  And of course what box set would be complete without at least some bonus features?  The bonus features included in Da Vinci’s Demons Season One are relatively brief.  But they play their own part in making the overall presentation of Season One enjoyable.  These aspects taken into consideration, they work in tandem to make this debut season one that is a must see for any fan of historical dramas.

The most important element of Da Vinci’s Demons Season One is its writing.  Credit where credit is due.  Series creator and writer David S. Goyer (Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Blade Trilogy) has crafted in the series’ first season that is a more akin to Indiana Jones than say Game of Thrones.  It just used setting in question as the backdrop for all of the action.  Goyer and his staff of writers are more than deserving of respect for balancing the story of his search for the “Book of Leaves” with his being wrapped up in the political and religious turmoil of the time.  It would have been so easy for the two separate story lines to step on one another, especially considering the depth of each story line.  Keeping in mind the depth of the story arcs throughout Season One, viewers will have to be fully invested in each episode in order to fully appreciate them.  One cannot simply have any of Season One’s episodes playing while one does housework, etc. and expect to have a full appreciation for the writing.  This is a good thing, too.  It is good because in being fully invested in each episode, audiences will see the value of and originality in each episode and the first season overall.

The writing behind any TV show and movie is the backbone of each.  It can make or break the given TV show or movie.  By direct correlation, the work of the show’s cast makes the show even more of a joy to watch.  Actor Tom Riley aptly fills the role of a young Leonardo Da Vinci opposite his equally talented cast mates.  He shows his acting chops quite well with this subtle wit and control over his character’s deeper emotions.  There are those actors that tend to ham it up on both ends of that spectrum.  But Riley doesn’t do that.  It makes him all the more fun to watch.   He and his cast mates collectively make suspension of disbelief easy, too.  This should come as no surprise considering the resumes of some of the main cast.  The cast is comprised of rather well trained theater actors that are just as experienced in their craft as they are trained.  Elliot Cowan (Lorenzo Medici) is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.  He also holds a degree in Drama from Birmingham University.  He has starred in a number of major films including Alexander (2004) and The Golden Compass (2007).  Viewers will recognize Gregg Chillin (Zoroaster) from his roles in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  And those that have seen Nanny McPhee Returns will likely recognize actor Eros Vlahos.  Vlahos played Cyril Gray in that movie.  He has also starred in none other than Game of Thrones as Lommy Greenhands.  The collective resume of the cast of Da Vinci’s Demons goes on for quite some time.  But one can tell from this microscopic look at that resume just why suspension of disbelief was so easy and why the cast gelled so well together.  It’s one more aspect of the show that makes it such a surprise hit.

The casting and writing behind Da Vinci’s Demons are integral to the show’s success.  Also noteworthy in this triple-disc box set is the bonus features.  The primary bonus features included in the set take viewers into the recording studio, where the show’s soundtrack was recorded.  Also included among the bonus features are the standard deleted scenes, and a look behind the scenes of the show.  Each feature is a short vignette.  But they do their own part to make the overall experience richer.  Even more important to Season One is the inclusion of bonus commentary as well as the option to play each episode with a recap of the previous episodes.  The recap is especially helpful regardless of whether or not one missed any of the episodes presented in this set.  Even if a person has seen each episode, a recap helps remind viewers of what has already happened.  Considering that each episode is just over an hour in length, it makes the recaps even more important an addition to each episode.  It is the proverbial cherry on the sundae that makes Season One of Da Vinci’s Demons such a surprise hit.  Along with the show’s writing and its acting, it makes this box set all the more worth picking up.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=fd093f1f-88ae-e211-b6d4-d4ae527c3b65.  More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Starz is available online at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com and http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay.  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.

Starz Announces Release Date For The White Queen Home Release

Courtesy:  Starz Entertainment

Courtesy: Starz Entertainment

Starz Entertainment has officially announced the release date for the home release of its hit mini-series, The White Queen.  The ten-episode mini-series will be released Tuesday, February 4th.  The story re-tells the infamous “War of the Roses” from the standpoint of the women involved in the feud.  Those women were Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville.  They were part of the feud between the House of York and the House of Lancaster that took place in 1464.  The feud in question was centered on who was the rightful King of England.  After Edward IV is crowned king and falls in love with Lancastrian commoner Elizabeth Woodville, a conflict arises between her and her rivals, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville.  Each one will do whatever it takes to gain the power of the crown.

The White Queen will be released on DVD and Blu-ray/UV combo pack on Tuesday, February 4th, 2014, just in time for Valentines Day.  Both sets will come with plenty of bonus features.  The features in question are listed below.

Bonus Features:

  • The Making Of THE WHITE QUEEN
  • Series Overview
  • Book To Series
  • The History Behind THE WHITE QUEEN
  • THE WHITE QUEEN: Set Tour
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • The King
  • The Heir Apparent
  • Woman In A Man’s World
  • Conjuring Up The Queen/Magic
  • Dressing The Queen/Wardrobe

 

MSRP for the DVD and Blu-ray/UV sets are $49.98 and $59.98 respectively.  More information on these and other releases from Starz Entertainment is available online at http://www.starz.com, http://www.facebook.com/Starz, and http://twitter.com/starz_channel.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Halloween 35th Anniversary BD One Of 2013’s Best Re-Issues

Courtesy:  Trancas Films/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Trancas Films/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Thirty-five years.  That is how much time will have passed since John Carpenter’s modern horror flick Halloween originally premiered as of this October.  In the three decades plus that have passed since this modern horror classic made its debut, it has not lost any of its luster.  Rather, it has garnered who new generations of fans the world over.  It has seen multiple sequels and re-issues over those years.  It’s even been re-made with honor by horror aficionado Rob Zombie.  And now in celebration of its upcoming thirty-fifth anniversary, Anchor Bay Entertainment is rewarding the loyalty of the movie’s fans with a brand new thirty-fifth anniversary Blu-ray re-issue.  The upcoming Blu-ray re-issue will be available in stores and online this Tuesday, September 24th.  There are those that might have their say about this latest re-issue of Halloween, complaining about this or that about it.  What those complainers might not realize is that over the decades, the movie has garnered so many new fans, thus making re-issues necessary.  No one re-issue is going to be perfect.  Audiences on both sides of the fence need to keep this in mind before complaining.  That is in itself a massive statement about this movie.  And directly tied in to that is this generation and previous generations getting to potentially learn new facts about the movie possibly never before known thanks to the movie’s bonus features.  More than anything else, this latest re-issue is a welcome addition to any horror fan’s home library because by comparison, so many of today’s horror flicks are dry, shallow shadows of this classic.  They pale in comparison.  Having this one still available to the masses is a huge boon not only to movie lovers and horror lovers, but to the movie industry itself.  It serves to all as a reminder of horror done right.  All this kept in mind, this brand new thirty-fifth anniversary Blu-ray re-issue of Halloween is one not just for one generation but for a whole new generation.

The thirty-fifth anniversary Blu-ray re-issue of Halloween is a re-issue for not just one generation but for the generations that have all grown up with this slasher horror flick.  There are so many people out there that seem to make it their duty to do nothing but complain about it.  Those people are obviously not true fans of the movie.  Only so much bonus material can be crammed into a movie with each re-issue before it’s been seen before.  That needs to be understood right here, right now.  Anyone that already owns the movie in its previous releases will likely see many of the same bonus features in this re-issue as those re-issues.  But there are those that have never before had the chance to add this movie to their home library.  So keeping that in mind, for those people this re-issue is a brand new experience save for the movie.  Even with the movie alone, it could be like taking a trip back in time to a better time in some audiences’ eyes.

Watching the movie itself on a brand new re-issue for some may not seem like much.  For others, it’s a wonderful trip back in time, as some of the fans point out in this re-issue’s bonus documentary, “The Night She Came Home.”  Those fans really show just what the movie means to them years later.  They even talk about it with their own children right there.  These testimonials are just part of what makes this a welcome addition to this re-issue’s bonus features list.  Audiences discover through this bonus feature that star Jamie Lee Curtis is in fact not a horror movie fan.  She openly admits this early on in the documentary.  That’s a huge surprise to this critic at least.  There’s even more historical perspective added to the movie thanks to the book style case in which the Blu-ray is packaged.  The “book” style packaging includes copious notes written by Stef Hutchinson.  The notes in question take viewers even deeper into the movie’s history alongside the vintage set photos.

It should be clear by now just what makes the new thirty-fifth anniversary Blu-ray re-issue of John Carpenter’s Halloween such an important re-issue.  This is especially the case being that not only is the thirty-fifth anniversary of this landmark horror movie right around the corner, but because Halloween itself is right around the corner.  So many movies since Halloween have tried, but failed to live up to the legend that surrounds this classic.  Those movies pale in comparison.  And now with its in depth bonus features, a whole new generation will discover just how important and timeless this classic horror movie is and always will be.   It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Anchor Bay website at http://www.anchorbayent.com/detail.aspx?ProjectId=972a6546-4a98-459c-81a2-9c0800e596f5#.  More information on this and other titles from Anchor Bay is available at the Anchor Bay website, http://www.anchorbayent.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBayEnt.  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.

Writing, Makeup, More Make The Walking Dead Season Three A Hit For Any Viewer

Courtesy:  Starz/Anchor Bay/AMC

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay/AMC

Serials are big business in today’s television industry.  They are some of the most popular shows on television today.  And one of the most popular of the serials currently populating television today is AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead.  This hugely popular series, which is based on a comic book, has garnered legions of fans the world over since it first debuted on AMC in 2010.  The question that is still raised by those not so familiar with the series is “what makes it so popular?”  On the surface, it could be easily answered.  It’s violent, bloody, and gory.  That wouldn’t be entirely false.  But it’s not the whole answer to that question.  The full answer to the question is much deeper than that.  On a deeper, more analytical level, what drives the series is its writing, just like any other television series and movie.  Of course one shouldn’t dismiss the work done by the show’s makeup crew, either, as a source of success for The Walking Dead.  Those individuals also deserve full credit for *ahem* bringing the show’s zombies to life.  And yes, that bad joke was entirely intended.  Audiences that might be new to the Walking Dead will see the importance of these factors first hand now that the show’s third season is available in stores and online on Blu-ray and DVD.

The most obvious reason for the success of The Walking Dead three seasons in is the fact that it is violent, bloody, and gory.  Humans have a natural bloodlust.  This is why (as much as they’d love to deny it) they slow down and rubberneck when they go by a bad wreck on an interstate highway.  They secretly hope to see death and destruction.  They can deny it all they want.  But everybody has that bloodlust in them.  And it is that same bloodlust that leads audiences to watch The Walking Dead even in its third season.  It feeds that deep seeded bloodlust that audiences would rather deny having.  It’s all so shocking.  Yet despite the shock value, audiences can’t help but watch.  This is even exhibited within the context of one of the episodes of Season Three when Daryl is captured and forced to fight his own brother in a fight to the death that also involved some very hungry zombies.  The people witnessing the moment even wanted to see it all unfold in its full gruesome details.  There’s not a lot of blood and gore in this sequence.  But there is plenty of violence.  And together with Season Three’s other episodes, there is more than enough of those elements to make any fan of the zombie genre squeal with glee like a kid in a candy store.

The massive gallons of blood that’s shed and the violence doled out through Season Three are the most obvious of reasons for the success of this season.  On a deeper level, the show has maintained its fan base because of its writing.  The show isn’t just about the violence, blood, and gore.  Audiences are kept engaged in the series because of the human drama tied in to the overall story.  Audiences see personal relationships grow between the survivors of the zombie plague (which still receives no explanation as to how it started even three seasons in).  New characters are also introduced this season, adding to each episode’s drama and tension.  Loyalties are tested on both the human level and the family level throughout this season time and again.  Even if a person isn’t big on the whole zombie craze currently sweeping the country, there’s no denying the continued solidity of the show’s writing in its third season.

The writing in the third season of The Walking Dead is quite sold throughout each of the season’s episodes.  The gore and violence this season is just as certain to appease any zombie fan.  Speaking of the zombies, credit where credit is due.  Those responsible for turning ordinary actors into some of the creepiest creatures in the history of film and television history did quite the job.  By the time that the makeup is done, the actors behind the masks and makeup look just as creepy as those in legendary writer/director George A. Romero’s zombie 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead if not better than them.  That says quite a bit about the talent of the makeup artists.  The convincing work done by the makeup staff, along with the show’s writing and the most obvious of factors, each play their own role in the third season of The Walking Dead’s success.  Together with the commentary included on select episodes of Season Three, it all works in unison to make Season Three one of the series’ best yet.  Season Three of The Walking Dead is available now on Blu-ray and DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from the Anchor Bay Entertainment website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=04bea624-b064-e211-924c-d4ae527c3b65.

More information on The Walking Dead Season Three and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Starz is available online at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com and http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay.  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.

Inescapable A Nice Escape For Action Movie Fans

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi media group

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi media group

There is nothing more powerful in the world than the love of a parent for his or her child.  This common theme has been used time and again throughout the history of motion pictures.  A quick glance through the annals of movie history will show no fewer than at least a dozen films whose plots are based on this theme.  One of the most recent films to use this theme comes from mpi media group.  The movie in question is the action/thriller Inescapable.  While it isn’t the first movie of its kind, it does have quite a bit going for it.  The story itself offers viewers a different take on the classic theme that sets it aside from the likes of Liam Neeson’s Taken franchise.  It also has going for it an all-star cast led by Alexander Siddig (Da Vinci’s Demons, Primeval, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).  Most people are more apt to know the names of Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.  And most of all, it has some very interesting commentary courtesy of writer/director Ruba Nadda and cinematographer Luc Montpellier.  These three factors offer so much more than can even be discussed within these confines; so much so that one would be best served to watch the movie by one’s self or with friends to really take in everything that the movie has to offer.  Regardless of alone or with friends, it is a work that is worth at least one watch.

 
Inescapable offers viewers first and foremost a take unlike that of other movies within this vein.  Something interesting to learn (as viewers will learn in watching this movie with additional commentary) is that writer/director Ruba Nadda in fact wrote this movie in 2005, three years before Taken premiered.  This makes the comparisons to that franchise in question understandable.  Sadly, this type of thing happens far more often than audiences realize both within the confines of the movie industry and the music industry.  Understanding that this movie came years before the Taken franchise took off, it makes it easier to take in its differences from the franchise in question.  This story does have its share of action.  But the character development (again as noted in the commentary) of Siddig’s Adib is a big part of what makes the story progress.  The story becomes just as much about learning about Adib’s past as it is about his journey to find his daughter.
 
Adib’s quest to find his daughter is the most obvious comparison that critics and audiences have made in discussing the story of Inescapable.  His search for his daughter is entirely unlike that of Taken.  The latter of the two films centered on human traffickers kidnapping a man’s daughter. Inescapable, on the other hand, centers on a group of figures that kidnapped a man’s daughter to use her as a political pawn of sorts.  Why they kidnap her is typical movie fare.  But the revelation of why they kidnapped her is revealed.  And it is just enough of a twist to leave viewers guessing and cheering for Adib especially in the eventual happy ending.  Yes, it does have a happy ending.  That much will be revealed.  Though, that is the extent of what will be revealed. 
The script behind Inescapable should visibly unlike that of either of the movies in the Taken franchise by now.  So from here, it would serve viewers best to move on and focus on the movie’s cast.  Veteran actress Maris Tomei (Parental Guidance, Crazy Stupid Love, The Wrestler) and actor Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek, Fringe) are billed as major stars of the story.  But the reality of the story is that much as in the case of Johnny Depp in Chocolat for example, Jackson and Tomei are really just lures to get viewers’ eyes.  They are in fact just supporting cast.  Alexander Siddig is the real star of this movie.  And considering his personal background, he could not have been a better choice.  For those that don’t know, Siddig was born in the Sudan in North Africa.  Keeping that in mind, and adding in his professional resume, his was a natural choice.  He looks and sounds every part the role of a Middle Eastern man.  His experience with some of the U.K.’s most well-known acting schools and on the large and small screen made him even more the natural choice for the movie’s lead role.  He had a real ability to take his character and bring such depth out of him.  It makes Adid that much more of a believable character for viewers.  That, along with the understanding of the story helps to make the movie even more worth the watch.
 
Audiences should see by now that despite early preconceptions about it, Inescapable has far more to offer viewers than they might have thought without seeing the movie.  If what has been noted already is not enough, then perhaps the additional commentary by writer/director Ruba Nadda and cinematographer Luc Montpellier will change viewers’ minds.  Their discussions range from politics of the Middle East and their effect on shooting, to shooting on location in Damascus, to so many other topics.  It adds so much more depth to the story in a second watch.  That second watch will hopefully prove to viewers that have yet to see this action/thriller just how underrated it is.  Hopefully it will serve as one more example of the fact that indie flicks can be just as enjoyable and interesting as the big screen pieces to which they are so quickly and close-mindedly compared far too often.  Inescapable is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from mpi media group and IFC Films. 
 
Indie flick audiences and fans can keep up with all of the latest from IFC Films and mpi media group online at http://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial, http://www.IFCFilms.com and http://www.mpimedia.com. 
 
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. 
 

Da Vinci’s Demons To Haunt Audiences This Fall

Courtesy:  Starz

Courtesy: Starz

The new hit series, Da Vinci’s Demons has officially wrapped on its debut season.  And now fans won’t have to wait very long for the first season to come to home release.  Season One will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 3rd with all eight episodes.  Both sets will be three-disc sets.  They will contain not just all eight episodes from Season One, but also a handful of bonus features.  A complete list of expected bonus features is included below:

Bonus Features

·         Audio Commentaries with Writer/Creator/Executive Producer/Director David S. Goyer

and Actors Tom Riley, Laura Haddock, Blake Ritson, David Schofield and Tom Bateman

·         Mastering Da Vinci

·         Constructing Da Vinci

·         Dressing Da Vinci

·         Worldwide Fanfare

·         Deleted Scenes

·         Second Screen Promo

The series, headed by David S. Goyer (Blade, The Dark Knight trilogy, Man of Steel) focuses on Leonardo Da Vinci.  It portrays Da Vinci as a man fighting against those who would use history, politics, and religion to hold others back and hide the truth of the world.  While he faces foes around him, he also has to face his own inner demons.  The three-disc DVD set is expected to sell for an MSRP of $44.98 and the Blu-ray set for $54.99.

Fans of the show can find out when Season 2 starts up as well as all the latest cast news and more on the official Da Vinci’s Demons Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/davincisdemons.starz.

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