‘The Von Trapp Family’ Will Resonate With ‘The Sound Of Music’s’ Fans

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The Sound Of Music is one of the greatest musicals in the genre’s modern history.  It is a tale that most would consider to be timeless.  That is because it tells a story of determination against great odds.  As beloved as it is, it is hardly perfect.  That is not so much because it is a musical but because it is yet another story that is based on actual events.  That means that alongside its factual material there is plenty of over embellishment, too.  Now thanks to Lionsgate a much more realistic story of the Von Trapp family has been released, making up for the decades of flourishes that fill out The Sound of Music.  It came earlier this spring in the form of The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music.  This movie is a must see for any fan of The Sound of Music and of the Von Trapp family and its history.  This is due in part to the movie’s writing.  This applies largely to the movie’s central and secondary story.  The story’s approach is another important part of its presentation.  Unlike The Sound of Music there are no musical numbers to extend the movie’s nearly two-hour run time.  Last but hardly least of note in this movie’s presentation is the work of the movie’s cast.  While the most well-known of the movie’s cast is Rosemary Harris, the cast in whole impresses in its work in front of the lens.  Of course one would be remiss to ignore the movie’s costume and makeup department or those that scouted out the movie’s filming locations.  They deserve their own share of credit, too.  All things considered The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music proves in the end to be a movie that despite being independent (and based on actual events) is a surprisingly entertaining and interesting story.

Lionsgate’s new take on the famed Von Trapp family The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music is a surprisingly entertaining and interesting story.  This is even despite the movie being an independent presentation and another story that is based on actual events.  That is due in large part to the movie’s writing.  The writing team of Christoph Silber, Tim Sullivan, and creative consultant Paul Gunczler crafted a story that is far more factual than fictional unlike The Sound of Music.  That is not to say that The Sound of Music doesn’t have some factual information within its story.  But its embellishments (musical numbers included) obviously outweigh its factual material.  In the case of this new Von Trapp family “biopic” audiences actually get a real look into the Von Trapp family’s real story.  That story includes Maria actually marrying Captain Von Trapp and the apparent fallout from that marriage.  According to Agathe’s story, she and Maria didn’t exactly see eye to eye even when Maria was just the Von Trapp children’s nanny.  In this story Agathe was the only of the Von Trapp children who had any problem with Maria, too.  Also of note in this story is that Agathe’s love interest is not turned into a Nazi.  Rather in this case he is in fact part of the resistance as the Nazi’s close in on Austria.  And his fate is anything but good as he stands against the Nazi henchmen who start wreaking havoc on the region.  There was also no mention of nuns, Maria having any link to a convent or even anyone tricking the Nazis as the Von Trapp family left their home.  On that note, they didn’t necessarily escape in this story.  Rather they were forced out due to pressure from the growing Nazi presence and barely escaped in the middle of the night.  These are just a few of the items that differ here from the story presented in The Sound of Music.  There is much more that audiences will catch when they watch The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music for themselves.  There are some items that stay the same between the two movie, hinting at some truth between the pair.  But there seems to be more fact to this story than fiction.

The story at the heart of The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music is a clear example of what makes the movie’s writing so integral to its presentation.  It is just one part of the script that makes the writing so important.  The movie’s secondary story plays its own part in proving the importance of the movie’s writing in its presentation.  The secondary story involves the now elderly Agathe tracking down her grand-daughter Kirsty (Lauryn Canny – Amber, 1,000 Times Good Night, Poison Pen) as Kirsty is on the verge of leaving her own family after a blowout argument with her father.  Agathe (Rosemary Harris – Spiderman, Spiderman 2, Spiderman 3) tracks her down and relates her own story to that of Kirsty, eventually convincing her to come back home and make amends with her father.  That story—a young person wanting to run away after a big fight with a parent, only to be persuaded to return home in the end—is anything but original.  And the fact that the movie’s writing team set it against a Christmas backdrop makes it all the more schmaltzy.  Truth be told they didn’t allow the Christmas backdrop overpower the movie’s bigger story, that of the Von Trapp as the Nazis closed in on Austria.  Keeping that in mind, while the movie’s secondary story is set against a holiday backdrop it is still a movie that audiences could watch any time.  Of course that backdrop doesn’t hurt its odds during the holiday season.  All things considered here the writing behind The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music proves in whole to be a hugely important part of the movie’s overall presentation.  It is not the movie’s only important element.  The movie’s general presentation is another important part of its presentation.

The writing behind The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music is a hugely important part of the movie’s overall presentation.  That is thanks to the efforts of the movie’s writing team.  The movie’s writing team focused more on fact than fiction in crafting the movie’s script, and balancing the central story of the Von Trapp Family’s story with the script’s secondary story.  While the movie’s writing proves to be of the utmost importance to the movie’s presentation it is not the only important element to note in the movie’s presentation.  The approach taken by the writing team in crafting the movie’s script is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation.  Unlike The Sound of Music, The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music is not weighed down by musical numbers every few minutes.  As previously noted, the movie’s writers instead used a secondary story involving a new generation of Von Trapp’s to help tell the central story of the original Von Trapp family.  The transitions between the primary and secondary stories (I.E. past and present) are clear and concise from beginning to end.  On another level it is nice to see that the writers opted not to go the route taken by so many major blockbuster biopics with their approach to this story.  In other words it doesn’t have the sense of pretentiousness that those overblown cinematic offerings have about them.  Rather it presents the story with more of a personal feel.  That does a lot to help keep audiences engaged right up to the story’s final minutes.  All of these elements go into the approach taken by the movie’s writing team to show in whole why their approach in writing the movie’s script is just as important to the movie’s presentation as its very script.  Even as important as the writers’ approach proves to be in the bigger picture of this movie’s presentation, it still is not the last of the movie’s most notable elements.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important as any of the work put in by the movie’s writers.

The writing behind The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music and the overall approach taken by the movie’s writing team in crafting the movie’s script are equally important to its presentation.  That is because both elements serve to set this “biopic” almost completely apart from The Sound of Music.  As important as both elements prove to be to the movie’s presentation they are not its only important elements.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important as that put in by the movie’s writing team.  Rosemary Harris and Eliza Bennett (Inkheart, Nanny McPhee, Broadchurch), being the movie’s main stars, are to be especially commended for their portrayals of the older and younger Agathe Von Trapp respectively.  Bennett’s Agathe is a character that any female viewer will appreciate.  That is because of the balance of headstrong nature and vulnerability exhibited by Bennett in her portrayal of the younger Agathe.  By contrast, Harris’ take on Agathe is a much wiser and gentler figure.  That wisdom and gentility makes her Agathe a perfect contradiction to Bennett’s much younger, headstrong character.  The confidence is still there in Harris’ Agathe.  But it has been tempered because of her character’s years of life experience.  That balance of confidence and nurturing gentility makes Harris’ portrayal just as impressive as that of Bennett.  On another note, Matthew McFadyen (The Three Musketeers, Anna Karenina, Ripper Street) is impressive in his own right as Agathe’s father, Captain Georg Von Trapp.  This is especially exemplified in those moments in which he faces off against Maria and Agathe about leaving their home.  He does an applause-worthy job of presenting Georg’s mindset.  As Maria notes to Agathe at one point in the story, Georg was a proud man whose roots were in Austria’s older era.  The pain that he exhibits as Georg eventually and reluctantly agrees to the Von Trapp’s fate is so gripping.  It makes audiences feel for Georg perhaps more so here than in any other moment.  It is just one more example of why the work of this movie’s cast is as important as the work put in by the movie’s writers.  There are plenty of other moments that could just as easily be cited in exhibiting what makes the cast’s work so important to the movie’s presentation.  When those moments are set alongside the moments noted here and the work of the movie’s cast, the whole of those elements shows clearly why The Von Trapps: A Life of Music is a movie that any fan of The Sound of Music should see.  It also shows why this independent biopic is one of 2016’s top new independent movies.

The Von Trapps: A Life of Music is one of 2016’s top new independent movies.  It is a movie that any fan of The Sound of Music should see at least once if not more.  That is proven in part through the story crafted by the writing team of Christoph Silber, Tim Sullivan, and creative consultant Paul Gunczler.  The approach taken by the trio in crafting the story is as important to its presentation as the story itself.  The work of the movie’s cast rounds out the most important of the movie’s elements.  Each element proves important in its own way to the overall presentation of The Von Trapps: A Life of Music.  Collectively they make this movie one of the year’s top new independent movies.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=34022&TitleParentId=10386.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

 

 

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‘Soulrocker’ Will Entertain And Inspire Audiences Of All Ages

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

On Friday, June 3rd Michael Franti and Spearhead will release their latest album Soulrocker.  The group’s ninth full-length studio recording, it is also one of this year’s top new albums overall.  It proves this with ease from beginning to end of its thirteen song, fifty-two minute run.  It does so both through the infectious grooves that make up the album’s musical foundation and its constantly positive lyrical themes.  One of the songs that serves as a prime example of the impact of that mix is the album’s lead single ‘We Are All Earthlings.’  It upbeat sound and its lyrical message of unity make it a song that will put a smile on very listener’s face, joy in their hearts, and a beat in their feet that they won’t want to end.  ‘Still Standing’ is another example of what makes this record stand out.  Its musical arrangement is just as infectious.  What’s more it doesn’t just recycle the sound presented in any of the album’s other songs.  The positive lyrics, which center on defying the odds, adds even more enjoyment to the song.  Last but hardly least of note in this record is ‘Once A Day.’  This song was previously released as part of the duo’s Once A Day EP, which featured various mixes of the song.  While the song presented here is just one mix of the song it is still just as infectious as its counterparts both on that EP and on this record.  That is mainly in reference to the song’s musical arrangement.  Its lyrical theme is very much in the same vein as the album’s lead single.  It promotes spreading love among the world’s people even if doing it just “once a day.”  It is just one more example of what makes Soulrocker stand out in this year’s field of new releases.  It is hardly the last song that could be cited in showing what makes Soulrocker rock.  Any of the album’s remaining ten songs not noted here could just as easily be cited in that argument.  All things considered Soulrocker proves in the end with its mix of musical and lyrical content to be one of 2016’s top new albums overall.

Michael Franti and Spearhead’s upcoming album Soulrocker is one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is an album that presents an act that is still at the top of its game.  That is clear from the beginning to the end of the thirteen song, fifty-two minute album.  That is thanks to a solid mix of infectious musical arrangements and optimistic lyrical themes.  One of the songs included in the album that best exemplifies the effect of that mix is the album’s lead single ‘We Are All Earthlings.’  The song’s infectious beats will get any listener on his or her feet.  What’s more it’s not just another standard bass heavy EDM composition either.  Franti uses an acoustic guitar as the foundation of that composition.  It remains present throughout the course of the song’s nearly four-minute run time and is never overpowered at any point in the song.  The balance of the two elements together makes the song’s musical arrangement a composition that will put a smile on any listener’s face with ease.  In the same vein the song’s lyrical theme will just as easily send positive vibes through listeners.  Franti sings in this song, “We are all earthlings/And we share the air we breathe/We’re all made from heaven’s seeds/And we are all earthlings.”  That is just in the song’s lead verse.  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “We are all earthlings/From the cities to the mountains/And the deserts/And the deep blue sea/to the palaces and the prisons/And the paradises that I see/That we are all earthlings.”  Franti leaves no doubt as to the message being delivered.  And in an age when this world has become so divided it is a message from which everyone would benefit in hearing.  That positive message joins with the song’s equally upbeat musical arrangement to make the song in whole a composition that is one of Soulrocker’s best works.  It is one of the best examples of what makes Soulrocker one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is hardly the only song that serves that argument.  ‘Still Standing’ is another example of what makes this record stand out.

‘We Are All Earthlings’ is a prime example of what makes Soulrocker one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  Its upbeat musical arrangement and its positive lyrical content work together to make it a composition that will put a smile on listeners’ faces, and warmth in their souls.  It is a composition that the whole world needs to hear especially in this day and age.  It is just one example of what makes Soulrocker…well…rock.  ‘Still Standing’ is another example of what makes this record stand out so proudly.  The song’s musical arrangement establishes a solid foundation for the song.  That is due to the mix of its electronic and acoustic elements.  The acoustic elements include bongos and Franti’s own work on acoustic guitar.  The electronic element is largely keyboard driven.  What’s really interesting here is the balance of each noted element.  Each part is expertly balanced with the others from beginning to end.  The end result is an arrangement that even in its simplicity is just as infectious as that of ‘We Are All Earthlings’ and any of the album’s other songs.  The song’s lyrical content adds even more depth to the song thanks to its positive lyrical theme.  It is a theme to which every listener of every age can relate at those many difficult times in life.  He sings here, “There was a time just the other day/When I was on the ground lookin’ up sayin’/Please God listen to the words I say/Show me a sign/I wanna change my way/No more no wait/I want life to begin/I want to start this minute all over again/Next train comin’ my way/I’m gonna jump right in/And leave like yesterday.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus, “It’s been a long, long road this way/But I’m still standing today/And I don’t care what anybody say/Cause I’m still standing today.”  Who hasn’t been in that position of desperation, wishing they could go back wishing they could just go back and start certain parts of life again?  Franti’s subject goes on to sing in the song’s second verse of having found clarity of mind and direction.  In turn he declares that he is moving forward in life, jumping on that train with happiness in his heart.  It is a story from which listeners, again, of all ages can take something.  Again, that positive message, when partnered with the song’s expertly balanced yet simple musical arrangement, the two elements together make the song in whole yet another piece that will entertain audiences and inspire them at the same time.  It is still not the last song that does this.  ‘Once A Day’ will entertain and inspire listeners just as much as ‘We Are All Earthlings’ and ‘Still Standing.’

‘We Are All Earthlings’ and ‘Still Standing’ are both key examples of what makes Soulrocker one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  Both songs easily entertain and inspire audiences with their mix of musical arrangements and lyrical themes.  While both songs use that mix to show what makes Soulrocker so impressive they are not the only songs on this album that do so.  ‘Once A Day’ impresses and entertains listeners just as much as those previously noted songs.  The song’s reggae/hip-hop hybrid sound serves as the song’s foundation, with Franti of course at the heart of it all on guitar.  The song’s musical content is just one part of what makes it stand out so much.  Its lyrical content is just as important to its whole as its musical content.  Its message in question is another message of togetherness and spreading love around the world.  Sure, it sounds hippie-esque.  But again considering the current state of the world, it is a message that everybody should hear.  Franti sends that message as he sings, ““You never know what the world is gonna show you/It ain’t up to you/You always think it’s gonna happen to another person/And it’s never ever gonna happen to you/You got your friends/Got your money/Got your family/Got your honey/You think you got a million days/But then life comes along/And it knocks you right down/To the ground/And that’s why I say that/Everybody oughtta hug somebody/At least once a day/And everybody oughtta kiss somebody/At least once a day/Everybody’s gonna miss somebody/At least once a day/And everybody gotta love somebody/Everyday.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus, “And we all will rise up/Spread your wings and fly/We all will rise up. From there Franti and Spearhead rap in the song’s second verse “The purpose of life is to live a life full of purpose/And so don’t ever take for granted what the spirit has given you/in the first verse/You might never get a second verse/The same rehearsal/You can’t put it in reverse/So just believe in yourself/Don’t let nobody be a negative/Tell you what to do.” Regardless of one’s age, this is a message that every person should take to heart in his or her everyday life. Both verses together compose a message that is far too rare in the mainstream music industry today. The song’s infectious reggae and hip-hop-infused sound adds even more enjoyment to the song, too. It is a sound that makes it a perfect fit on any Top 40 A/C station across the country and would likely be just as welcome, too. The positive, uplifting message is sure to make it just as welcome at said stations.  It is just one more example of what makes Soulrocker stand out so starkly in this year’s field of new albums. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via Michael Franti and Spearhead’s official YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gowi31zGyQA.  Together with the other noted songs and those pieces not directly noted, the album in whole proves to be one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is an album that every listener of every age should hear upon its release this Friday.

Michael Franti and Spearhead’s new album Soulrocker is one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is a record that every listener of every age should hear at least once if not more times.  That is due in part to the infectious grooves established in each one of the album’s musical arrangements.  The songs’ positive lyrical themes add even more depth and appreciation to the album.  All things considered Soulrocker proves in the end to be a record that deserves a spot on any critic’s list of this year’s top new albums overall.  It will be available in stores and online this Friday, June 3rd.  More information on Soulrocker is available online now along with all of Franti and Spearhead’s live dates, news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.michaelfranti.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/michaelfranti

 

 

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No Tricks Here: Imagine Dragons’ New Live Recording Is Musical Magic

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Imagine Dragons is one of the biggest bands in America today if not the world.  That goes without saying.  Ever since its original formation in 2008 the band has sold millions of albums, earned more than its share of awards and nominations, appeared on any number of TV shows, and entertained audiences the world over.  It even has a brand new single out on the soundtrack to the new romantic dramedy Me Before You.  Even in taking some obviously much-needed time off, the band still isn’t showing any sign of stopping.  That is because this summer the band will release its first official live recording in the form of Smoke & Mirrors Live.  It will be released Friday, June 3rd via Eagle Rock Entertainment.  Whether or not a person is a fan of this Las Vegas, NV-based band’s audiences will agree that this record is one more of 2016’s top new live recordings and yet more proof of why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leading name in live recordings.  This is proven in part by the concert’s set list.  That will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance and the overall production are just as important to note in the recording’s presentation as the show’s set list.  The concert’s varied platforms and packaging are just as notable in the recording’s presentation as the set list and overall stage show.  They round out the most notable of the recording’s elements.  Each noted element shows in its own way to be of its own importance to the recording.  Altogether they show clearly why Smoke & Mirrors Live is one of this year’s top new live recordings.  They also show once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment stands tall to this day as the leading name in live recordings today.

Imagine Dragons’ new live recording Smoke + Mirrors Live is one of 2016’s top new live recordings.  It is also more proof as to why Eagle Rock Entertainment stands tall to this day as the leading name in live recordings.  This is proven in part through the concert’s set list.  The concert boasts a total of twenty songs.  Some of those songs stand alone and others are part of mini-medleys.  In all the show’s set list pulls almost evenly from both of the band’s albums so far.  No fewer than seven songs were lifted from the band’s 2012 debut record Night Visions and ten others from Smoke & Mirrors.  The band even included some songs that were included only in certain limited editions of Smoke & Mirrors in the set in the form of ‘Warriors’ and ‘Thief’ alongside a cover of the song ‘Forever Young.’  That covers the show’s twenty total songs.  While the set list does an impressive job of covering the band’s body of work so far, there is a slight issue with the set’s presentation.  The concert’s Blu-ray/CD combo pack features the concert in whole on Blu-ray.  However some of the songs included in the concert’s Blu-ray presentation were omitted in its CD presentation.  What’s more, some of the interludes that are included in the Blu-ray presentation were also omitted from the CD presentation. It is problematic to a point that the noted elements have been omitted from the set’s CD presentation.  But thankfully at least in the Blu-ray/CD combo pack audiences do still get the full set list and concert experience regardless.  Not having the DVD presentation this critic cannot comment on that presentation.  Keeping that in mind the set list still proves to be its own important part of S+M Live’s presentation.  It is not the show’s only important element.  The band’s performance couples with its overall production to form another of the recording’s most important elements.

The set list presented in S+M Live (as it will henceforth be known) is its own important part of the recording’s presentation.  That is because it lifts liberally from both of the band’s current albums including songs that were only available in exclusive limited editions of Smoke + Mirrors.  Even with the set list being abridged–so to speak–in the recording’s CD presentation, placing the CD with the Blu-ray in the Blu-ray/CD combo pack makes up for that and for the omission of the interludes, too.  While the set list ultimately proves important in its own right to the recording’s presentation the band’s performance and stage production are collectively just as important to the recording as the set list.  Front man Dan Reynolds keeps audiences completely entertained both in the concert’s more reserved moments and those that are more fiery.  That is because of the emotion and energy that he exuded in each moment.  Simply put he showed that he was completely involved in the performance.  He wasn’t just phoning it in.  Sadly there are performers who do try to phone it in.  In some cases it works.  In others it obviously doesn’t.  Luckily his is neither case.  His band mates—Wayne Sermon (guitar), Daniel Platzman (drums), and Ben McKee (bass)—along with the rest of the band’s touring members mirror that energy in their own performances.  The collective whole of their performances will keep audiences at home just as entertained as those that were in attendance at the concert’s recording.

On a related note to the band’s performance, the concert’s general stage production plays its own role in the recording’s presentation.  There’s no pyro or seizure-inducing strobes at any point through the show.  Rather, the band utilizes a minimalist set for its show.  There are some monitors that utilize lights within their displays.  But they are really the extent of the show’s “special effects.”  This limits the use of the lights which in turn actually makes them a hugely element in illustrating the mood of each song’s mood.  The lights brighten at all of the right moments and dim in the same fashion. They even change colors at just the right moments in order to help illustrate the songs’ mood.  When they do start pulsating, that action is limited even in those moments.  Simply put the minimalist production used in the band’s stage show proves just as important to the band’s performance as the band’s performance itself.  The two work hand in hand in entertaining audiences and keeping them engaged.  They show in whole that they are indeed just as important to the concert’s presentation as its relatively extensive set list.  They are hardly the last of the recording’s most notable elements.  The concert’s platforms and packaging round out its most notable elements.

The set list presented in Smoke + Mirrors Live is its own important part of the recording’s overall presentation.  That is the case even with the set list varying between the recording’s visual and audio presentation.  The band’s performance and stage production couple for another important part of the recording’s presentation.  That is because they work so well together to entertain audiences with their collective energy.  There is no arguing the importance of each noted element in the recording’s overall presentation.  As important as they are to the whole of the recording they are not the recording’s only important elements.  The varied platforms and packaging of the recording are just as important to its presentation as any of the other noted elements.  In regards to its platforms it is available in the Blu-ray/CD combo pack which is being examined here.  It is also available in a DVD/CD combo pack, standalone DVD and Blu-ray platform, and various digital platforms.  This might not seem like much on the surface.  But in presenting it in all three formats (and each format being “extended”) Eagle Rock and Universal Music have covered all of their bases.  They have essentially reached out to every possible audience group.  This was an extremely wise course of action for all involved.  The recording’s packaging is just as important as its platforms.  That applies primarily to the concert’s physical platforms.  Audiences will note that the packaging for both the DVD/CD combo pack and Blu-ray/CD combo pack is exactly the same.  It presents both halves of the recording in a gatefold packaging.  The discs are each placed on their own spindle in their own respective spot inside the packaging.  This greatly reduces the odds of damage to the case and the discs.  Audiences that are familiar with multi-disc CD packaging will note that many labels today use thin, plates in the middle of a standard sized CD case in order to save space on CD racks.  That does save space.  But as thin as said inserts are, they are very prone to breaking because of their fragility.  The material used for inserts in multi-disc DVD and Blu-ray packaging is more durable, making it smarter for that platform.  Keeping all of this in mind, the packaging used for this (and many other live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment) might be bulkier than those from other labels.  But it is more durable and better protects the recordings’ discs.  So to that end, Smoke + Mirrors Live’s packaging proves in the bigger picture to be just as important to its presentation as its set list, stage production and performance by the band.  Each element is equally important in its own right to the recording’s overall presentation.  Even the program’s main menu plays its own part in the concert’s presentation.  Audiences get to see the band prepare for its performance in the recording’s menu.  There are also snippets of said performance played against the menu.  And they aren’t just short, little snippets either.  They are solid samples of each song. Between that and everything else that has been noted audiences get in whole here a recording that audiences in whole will appreciate.  This applies regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the band’s body of work.

Imagine Dragons’ new live recording Smoke + Mirrors Live is a recording that every viewer will appreciate.  This applies regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the band’s body of work.  This is due in part to the recording’s extensive set list.  The band’s performance and its general stage production work together to keep audiences entertained and engaged from beginning to end.  The packaging of both the DVD/CD and Blu-ray/CD combo pack plays its own important part in the recording’s overall presentation, too.  The concert’s main menu proves important to its presentation, too even as minor as it may seem.  Each element is important to the concert’s presentation in its own special way.  Altogether they make Smoke + Mirrors Live a concert that audiences will not only appreciate but will agree is one of 2016’s top new live recordings.  They will agree, too that it proves once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment still stands tall as the leading name in live recordings.  It will be available in stores and online Friday, June 3rd.  More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

 

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

More information on Smoke + Mirrors Live is available online now along with all of Imagine Dragons’ latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.imaginedragonsmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/imaginedragons

 

 

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Synhronicity Will Impress Sci-Fi And Noir Fans ‘Time’ And Again

Courtesy: Magnolia Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Magnolia Home Entertainment

The summer movie season is officially upon us once again.  And once again Hollywood is offering up yet another overly bloated crop of prequels, sequels, remakes and spin-offs.  Captain America: Civil War proved to be a flash in the pan.  DC’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice fared just as poorly.  And X-Men: Apocalypse, while out now, received less than stellar reviews by critics ahead of its release.  The rest of this year’s summer blockbusters don’t look overly promising in terms of content or longevity either.  Considering all of this one can only ask if there are any truly worthwhile alternatives to those movies out there.  Thankfully the answer is yes.  One of those alternatives comes in the form of the indie sci-fi flick Synchronicity.  It was released just recently (May 17th to be exact) direct to DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital formats by Magnolia Pictures.  It is a good offering both for sci-fi fans and noir fans.  This is due in part to the movie’s writing.  This will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important as its writing.  That will be discussed later.  The bonus material that is included with the movie plays its own important part in the movie’s overall presentation.  It rounds out the most important of the movie’s elements.  In the end, each of the noted elements proves important in its own right to the movie’s presentation.  Collectively, they show clearly why Synchronicity is one of 2016’s top new indie offerings and potentially one of the year’s best new movies overall.

Magnolia Pictures’ new sci-fi flick Synchronicity is one of the year’s top new indie offerings.  It is also potentially one of the year’s top new overall cinematic offerings.  That is especially the case considering how little Hollywood’s major studios have offered, and how little they have to offer this year.  This argument is proven in part by the movie’s writing.  This applies both to the movie’s central story and its secondary element.  Writer/Director Jacob Gentry has crafted a script for this movie that is more than just another run-of-the-mill sci-fi flick.  Yes, it is rooted in time travel, parallel universes, and other theoretical physics concepts.  But thanks to Gentry’s attention to detail it doesn’t allow itself to become bogged down in discussions on those concepts.  Rather it only uses them as the basis for Jim’s (Chad McKnight—My Super Psycho Sweet 16, The Signal, Last Goodbye) adventure.  The story in question centers on a machine built by Jim and his friends Chuck (AJ Bowen—The Signal, You’re Next, The Sacrament) and Matty (Scott Pythress—The Signal, What To Expect When You’re Expecting, Allegiant) that has the ability to open a wormhole and thus allow for time travel.  What they don’t realize until later is that it allows for more than time travel.  That will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  What happens as a result of the wormhole opening will keep audiences completely engaged and entertained from beginning to end.  It is only one part of the script that makes the writing so intriguing.  The theme that Gentry has incorporated into the movie as a secondary element is just as important to the movie’s writing as the movie’s central story.

The story at the center of Synchronicity is in itself an important part of the movie’s writing.  It is not the only important part of that writing however.  Gentry has also included a bit of philosophy into the movie’s script that ties directly into that story.  That bit of philosophy in question is centered on the role of fate in the universe (or universes).  As Jim discovers over time no matter how many times he goes back things still turn out the same for the most part.  Yes, there are some minor differences with each journey.  But by and large the outcome is still the same.  The outcome in question will be left for audiences to discover for themselves just as with the revelation of the wormhole’s abilities.  Audiences will appreciate in noting this underlying theme that Gentry doesn’t allow it to overpower the movie’s central story just as he doesn’t let the very real theoretical physics concepts overpower it either.  Keeping all of this in mind, the writing behind Synchronicity proves in whole to be a hugely important part of the movie’s presentation.  It shows clearly in and of itself why Synchronicity is such a worthwhile alternative to this year’s major summer blockbusters.  The writing is just one of the elements that shows why Synchronicity is a worthwhile alternatives to this year’s major summer blockbusters.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as worth noting as its writing in its presentation.

The writing behind Synchronicity is a hugely important part of the movie’s presentation.  Thanks to the work of Writer/Director Jacob Gentry, the sci-fi flick’s central story is expertly balanced with the concepts at its base.  It is just as well-balanced with its underlying philosophical concept of fate.  It all combines to make the movie’s writing an undeniably important part of the movie’s presentation.  The writing is just one important part of that presentation, though.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to its presentation as the writing.  Chad McKnight is wonderful as lead character Jim Beale.  It is intriguing to watch his gradual psychological decline as he keeps going back through the wormhole over and over again.  At first it isn’t clear what is causing that decline.  But as the story progresses it becomes more evident.  And McKnight does a good job of not letting that breakdown go over the top at any one point.  He makes audiences want to see just how deeply Jim is being affected psychologically by what is going on.  McKnight’s co-star Brianne Davis is just as fun to watch as the mysterious Abby.  Right from the story’s outset she leaves audiences wondering just whose side she is on.  Is she on Jim’s side?  Is she on Kraus’ side?   Or is she on her own side?  Viewers do finally find out her true intentions in the end.  That revelation will move audiences very deeply.  That is thanks in large part to the way in which her intentions are revealed, pointing out again Writer/Director Jacob Gentry’s talents.  Speaking of Gentry once again, his bonus interview, and those with McKnight and Davis, serve to add to appreciation for each individual’s work.  They aren’t the movie’s only bonuses or worthwhile bonuses for that matter.  Gentry’s commentary throughout the movie couples with those interviews to show why the movie’s bonus material is just as important to its presentation as the movie’s writing and the cast’s work on camera.

Jacob Gentry’s work in developing Synchronicity’s script and his cast’s work in interpreting the script are both equally important in examining what makes the movie’s overall presentation so interesting.  While both elements are undeniably important to the movie’s presentation they are not its only important element.  The bonus material that came with the movie is just as important to its presentation as those noted elements.  The interviews with McKnight and Davis do their own part in helping to set the groundwork for understanding and appreciating the movie’s script.  They do just as much to illustrate what makes their characters so important in the overall story.  On the other side of the proverbial coin, Gentry’s bonus interview sheds its own light on the movie’s script, including the script’s previously noted underlying philosophical theme.  Viewers get even more insight while taking in the movie with the bonus commentary from Gentry.  Right off the bat Gentry notes in his commentary that his aim was to raft a movie that felt like it was written in 1982.  That would explain the movie’s decidedly 80s new wave style soundtrack and its retro-futuristic look, which Gentry also discusses at length.  On a related note, Gentry discusses the influence of countless movies and directors on the different camera angles, effects and more on his own directing style.  The movies in question include the likes of Poltergeist, Logan’s Run, Double Indemnity, and so many others.  Among the directors cited in Gentry’s commentary are: Steven Spielberg, Ridley and Tony Scott, and others.  One of the Spielberg mentions comes with a note of certain lighting effects in Synchronicity being influenced by Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  The connection isn’t obvious at first.  But in hearing Gentry discuss the influence in the noted moment it really becomes clear.  For all of the serious discussions that Gentry shares throughout the movie he isn’t without his humorous side, too.  One of the funnier of his discussions comes as he discusses the movie’s cast.  He notes about Chad McKnight being tapped for the movie’s lead that it was his way of paying McKnight back for casting him as a dysfunctional character in his previous movies.  One can’t help but laugh alongside Gentry for that sentiment.  His comment about Brianne Davis having a certain Barbara Stanwick characteristic about her in her performance is interesting in another way.  Considering how many different movies that Gentry prattles on about in his commentary few if any are classics from Hollywood’s golden era.  So for him to put Davis alongside such a renowned actress is quite the compliment to Davis.  All of these insights serve to paint the picture of Gentry as a director and his mindset in creating Synchronicity.  They are just some of the insights that he shares over the course of the movie’s hour and forty-minute run time.  Those insights couple with the insights noted here and the movie’s bonus interviews to show in whole why Synchronicity’s bonus material is just as important as its writing and acting to its overall presentation.  All things considered Synchronicity may never gain the attention or acclaim of its counterparts churned out by Hollywood’s major studios.  But truth be told it is just as deserving to be seen as those movies if not more so.

Synchronicity is on the surface just an indie flick.  But in examining it deeper, as has been done here, it proves to be more than just another indie flick.  It is a movie that takes the standard sci-fi setup (and noir setup) and sets it on its ear, just as Gentry notes in his bonus interview.  It presents a story that is original believe it or not.  That is because it doesn’t allow its very real theoretical physics concepts to dominate it.  And its theme of accepting fate is one that works both in regards to philosophy and science.  Chad McKnight and Brianne Davis are just as important to the movie’s overall presentation as the work put in by Jacob Gentry.  Both actors put in an equally impressive performance from beginning to end here.  And the appreciation for their work is increased in watching their respective bonus interviews.  Those interviews and that of Gentry couple with Gentry’s bonus commentary to make the movie’s bonus material just as important to the movie as its writing and the cast’s acting.  Each element proves integral in its own right to the movie’s overall presentation.  Altogether they show in whole why Synchronicity is one of the best alternatives to this year’s overly bloated crop of summer blockbusters.  In turn they present a movie that is one of the year’s top new independent movies and even potentially one of the year’s top new movies overall.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from Magnolia Pictures is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.magpictures.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/magnoliapics

 

 

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ESPN Reaches New TV Deal With C-USA

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

College Football fans are going to get more of their favorite sport this fall.  That is because ESPN has signed a new television deal with Conference USA.

Beginning this fall ESPN will air five C-USA football games and the C-USA Conference Championship game.  The deal currently runs through the 2017 season.  Three of those five games will feature C-USA teams hosting non-conference teams in the early portion of the season.  The last week of the regular season will be comprised of two conference matchups.  The C-USA Conference Championship is currently scheduled to be played Saturday, December 3rd.

The 2016 schedule opens with Indiana at Florida International University on Thursday, September 1st.  It is scheduled to air at 7:30pm ET on ESPNU.  Two more games will be played Friday, September 16th.  Rice will host No. 7 Baylor at 8pm on ESPN in the night’s first game.  The second, UTSA hosting Arizona State, will be at 9:30pm ET on ESPN2. ESPN’s C-USA football schedule winds down with Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss on Friday, November 25th and Western Kentucky University on the road against Marshall on Saturday, November 26th.  Times for those two games and the conference championship will be announced at a later date.  The ESPN networks’ current C-USA football broadcast schedule is noted below.

 

ESPN Network’s Conference USA Television Schedule for 2016

Date

Time (ET)

Game

Network

Thu, Sept. 1

7:30 p.m.

Indiana at FIU

ESPNU

Fri, Sept. 16

8 p.m.

No. 7 Baylor at Rice

ESPN

9:30 p.m.

Arizona State at UTSA

ESPN2

Fri, Nov. 25

TBD

Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss

TBD

Sat, Nov. 26

TBD

WKU at Marshall

TBD

Sat, Dec. 3

TBD

C-USA Football Championship Game

TBD

Rankings are per ESPN.com’s “way too early top 25” (May 10)

 

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

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/college-football

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

 

 

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.

Five Finger Death Punch Signs New Deal With Rise Records

Courtesy:  Rise Records

Courtesy: Rise Records

Rise Records added a major name to its roster this week.

Officials with Rise Records announced this week that the label has added Five Finger Death Punch to its roster.  The  new deal will see the band release its albums domestically through Rise Records once it completes its obligations with its current label, Prospect Park.

Five Finger Death Punch originally formed in 2005 and have since released six hugely successful albums, five of which have gone on to be certified gold, another certified platinum, and another on the way.  The band’s current lineup is made up of Ivan Moody (vocals), Zoltan Bathory (guitar), Jason Hook (guitar), Jeremy Spencer (drums), and Chris Kael (bass).  Bathory discussed the band’s addition to Rise Records’ roster in a recent interview.  He didn’t hold back about the band’s motivation for its decision to move forward either.  “We are looking forward to the next phase of our recording career,” he said.  “We have had great success with our current label, Prospect Park, and will continue to enjoy further success with our next and final album (subject to surmounting the label’s court action to prevent us from recording it), after which we will commence a new and exciting label partnership with the people at Rise and BMG.”

The band will join an already stacked roster when it begins its stint with Rise Records.  The label’s roster currently includes: Of Mice and Men, PVRIS, Crown The Empire, Memphis May Fire, Tiger Army, Hot Water Music, and many others.

More information on Five Finger Death Punch’s signing with Rise Records is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.fivefingerdeathpunch.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/FFDP

 

 

Additional information on the band’s signing is available online at:

 

 

Website: http://www.riserecords.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/riserecords

 

 

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.

The Winery Dogs Announce New Live Dates; Debut New Video

Mike Portnoy, Richie Kotzen, and Billy Sheehan, also known as the Winery Dogs, have announced a new string of live dates for this summer.

The band announced this week that it has added a new 10-date North American tour set to kick off Saturday, June 25th in Hinckley, Minnesota.  The band’s current schedule takes it largely through the Midwest and southwest with dates also in Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky, and Texas.  As of right now no additional dates are known.  However, fans can always keep up with any new dates through the band’s official website and social media.  The band’s current tour schedule is noted below.

 

Check out THE WINERY DOGS at any of the following stops:

 

DATE               CITY                             VENUE

 

Sat 6/25            Hinckley, MN                 Grand Casino Amphitheatre

Tue 6/28            Eau Claire, WI               State Theater

Wed 6/29          Ashwaubenon, WI          Green Bay Distillery

Thu 6/30            St. Charles, IL               Arcadia Theater

Sat 7/2              Hazard, KY                   The Forum

Sun 7/3             Sterling Heights, MI       Stars & Stripes Festival

Tue 7/5             Buffalo, NY                   Taft Music Hall

Fri 7/8               Houston, TX                  Warehouse Live

Sat 7/9              Dallas, TX                     Gas Monkey Live

Sun 7/10           San Antonio, TX            Alamo

 

In anticipation of its new tour announcement the band has unveiled the video for its latest single ‘Captain Love.’  The song will start hitting radio stations nationwide June 3rd.  It is taken from the band’s latest album Hot Streak.  The Vicente Cordero-directed video is currently streaming online at Guitar World. The band discussed the video recently in an interview which can be seen here now.

 

Courtesy:  Loud and Proud Records

Courtesy: Loud and Proud Records

 

Hot Streak has proven to be an apt title for The Winery Dogs’ new album.  Ever since its release on October 2nd, 2015, the album has been on its own hot streak.  It reached the top spot on Amazon’s Best Sellers/Hard Rock chart and its Pre-orders/Hard Rock chart.  In comparison to the band’s 2013 debut album Hot Streak sold 30% more copies than that record.  It topped out at the #2 spot on Billboard’s Top Current Alternative Albums Chart and #30 on the Top 200 Albums Chart.  That is just the top of the proverbial iceberg.  The numbers listed below are its other accolades from Billboard.

 

#5                     “Top Current Hard Music”

 

#5                     “Top Hard Music Albums”

 

#6                     “Top Current Rock Albums”

 

#6                     “Album Core / Genre Rock”

 

#15                   “Top Current Physical Albums”

 

#16                   “Top Current Albums”

 

 

More information on The Winery Dogs’ new tour dates, single, album and more is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

Website: http://www.TheWineryDogs.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheWineryDogs

 

 

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.