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  '70s - Eric Burdon (The Animals / WAR) (2014)
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Ghost Canyon

'PBS Kids: Ocean Adventures'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Dive into exciting adventures with some of your favorite PBS KIDS characters! Learn how coral reefs are formed, get to know a giant prehistoric sea turtle, attend a show called The Dancing Duck Bonanza, and more in 10 tales featuring underwater fun!

DVD Verdict: Running at an incredible 190 minutes, I have to say that this new DVD from PBS Kids is one of the best for value for money.

Chock full of a variety of fun episodes featuring well-known characters found within the PBS Kids world, go-to fav's like both Daniel Tiger and Caillou are here, as well as new ones such as Splash & Bubbles and Reading Rainbow.

'PBS Kids: Ocean Adventures' is what we call in the business a twofer for it not only keeps the kids engrossed and entertained with all its colors and go-go activities, but also provides fun and relatable topics, book ideas and great ocean knowledge.

Any child under the age of 10 will love these fun episodes and stories, and watching mine watch them, I have to admit that they were really interested in the scuba diving one after having watched Caillou and Daniel Tiger! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Masters: Tyrus'
(Tyrus Wong / DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview:Tyrus is an award-winning documentary film about the inspiring life, art, and enduring impact of Chinese-American artist and Disney Legend, Tyrus Wong.

DVD Verdict: Tyrus Wong (October 25, 1910 – December 30, 2016) was a Chinese-born American artist. He was a painter, muralist, lithographer, designer and kite maker. As a film production illustrator, Wong worked for Disney and Warner Brothers, including as the lead artist on Disney's 1942 film Bambi.

'American Masters: Tyrus' tells the unlikely story of pioneering Guangzhou-born, American artist Tyrus Wong, who overcame a life of poverty and racism to become a celebrated painter (who once exhibited with Picasso and Matisse), Hollywood sketch artist, and "Disney Legend" for his groundbreaking work on the classic animated film Bambi.

Previously unseen art and interviews with Wong, movie clips and archival footage illustrate how his unique style - melding Chinese calligraphic and landscape influences with contemporary Western art - is found in everything from Disney animation and live-action Hollywood studio films (Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild Bunch, April in Paris) to Hallmark Christmas cards, hand-painted California dinnerware, Depression-era WPA paintings, kites, and fine art.

We soon discover that the very first solo exhibition of Wong's artwork, “Mid-Century Mandarin: The Clay Canvasses of Tyrus Wong,” curated by Bill Stern, was organized by the Museum of California Design. It focused on his paintings on dinnerware for Winfield China of Pasadena, California, in the 1940s and 50s, and was presented at CAFAM in Los Angeles, July 14 through October 31, 2004.

Furthermore, in 2007, Wong was one of three illustrators featured in The Art of the Motion Picture Illustrator: William B. Major, Harold Michelson and Tyrus Wong, an exhibit in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences's Grand Lobby Gallery in Beverly Hills.

In closing, and what I love best about this new documentary, is that it finally corrects a historical wrong by spotlighting this seminal, but heretofore under-credited figure who passed away in 2016 at the age of 106. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Outer Space Adventures'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: 3, 2, 1… BLAST OFF into outer space with some of your favorite PBS KIDS characters! From building a rocket ship in order to visit the moon, to helping an astronaut rescue his cat named Houston, out of this world adventures await in this fun-filled DVD!

DVD Verdict: Running at a super dooper 140 minutes, this makes this brand new DVD from PBS Kids yet another massive winner - for both you and your kids, of course.

Featuring a lovely selection of 10 episodes from eight different shows, with characters that you know and love, 'Outer Space Adventures' not only actually discuses and informs about outer space concepts like the moon, stars and space, in general, but due to all its vivid colors, entertains those young minds at the very same time.

All episodes are told in a simple manner for children ages 2-8 and being that all your fav characters are here too, well, this DVD will definitely keep your wee ones occupied. Characters such as the singing, dancing styles of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Peg + Cat, to the usually-science filled ones like Dinosaur Train and Ready, Jet Go! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(2018 / Paglin Films)

Overview: In 2009, police discovered the bodies of eleven women decomposing in and around the home of known sex offender. With unprecedented access to the surviving victims, Unseen looks into how this killing spree went unnoticed for so long.

DVD Verdict: As you can well imagine from reading just the intro to this new documentary, the main questions still being asked are the very same ones that after all this time are still being stonewalled.

After a two-year period during which numerous women were reported missing in Cleveland’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood, a reported rape leads police to a grisly discovery: a serial killer, operating virtually in plain sight.

So, the first main questions is: Why had police failed to investigate the missing-persons cases? Also, next up would be: Why did neighbors turn a blind eye to the killer’s activities?

Told through the wrenching testimony of survivors, 'Unseen' is as riveting a true crime thriller/documentary that I have seen in the past decade. Posing all sorts of credible questions, even proposing a few alternate avenues of exploration to be explored (given all the police dead ends), 'Unseen' challenges (from nearly the off) the notion that nobody knew something about these tragic murders.

Informing us of the on going struggle to get the semblance of any decent answers to these questions and so, so many more, the documentary also poses disturbing questions about marginalized lives and criminal justice.

Directed and produced by the uber talented Laura Paglin and with wondrous cinematography from Kahlil Pedizisai, 'Unseen' is a movie you need to see. But if having read all this you still think it's not for you, then take one more look at your neighbors ... just in case you're proven wrong one day! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official Website

'Finding Your Roots: Season 4'
(Carmelo Anthony, Téa Leoni, Ana Navarro, Bernie Sanders, Questlove, Christopher Walken / 3-Disc DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The series moves from Asia and Africa to Europe and the Americas, uniting us all through emotional moments that enrich and enlighten - encouraging us to look at our world through a wider, more inclusive lens. This season viewers will discover the surprising ancestral stories of 28 fascinating guests, including Carmelo Anthony, Téa Leoni, Ana Navarro, Bernie Sanders, Questlove, and Christopher Walken.

DVD Verdict: 'Finding Your Roots' continues the excellent PBS series with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as host with research provided by professional genealogists as Prof Gates explores major personalities' genealogies with them.

What this series demonstrates is that by visiting one's ancestral roots' locations, one can come to appreciate their ancestors even more than just using computers to do research. And, it helps all of us recognize that we are not isolated but all one very large family that share many common ancestors, no matter what our heritage.

As we quickly learn, genetic genealogy has helped tremendously within this viewpoint and so I would not have known about it without Dr. Gates, Jr. or this incredible show. African has been a real disappointment, but has the largest libraries of DNA, and has an incredible service and supportive website and resources. The stories of these people, some of which I fully admit I had never heard of before, are so moving that you find yourself searching out their movie/TV history on IMDB.

This fourth season advances this journey with a special focus on the experiences of individual families across time, looking at how our ancestors have preserved and redefined cherished traditions as they've crossed the globe.

Indeed, the series (also written by Gates, Jr.) moves fluidly from Asia and Africa to Europe and the Americas, uniting us all through emotional moments that enrich and enlighten - encouraging us to look at our world through a wider, more inclusive lens.

In these ten episodes viewers will discover the surprising ancestral stories of 28 fascinating guests, including Carmelo Anthony, Ava DuVernay, Téa Leoni, Ana Navarro, Bernie Sanders, Questlove, and Christopher Walken. Taken together, their stories illuminate the vast kaleidoscope of culture, race, and experience that make up our nation and world. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'We're Going On A Bear Hunt'
(Olivia Colman, Mark Williams, Pam Ferris / DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Based on the bestselling children's book by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' follows siblings Stan, Katie, Rosie, Max, the baby, and Rufus the dog, who decide one day to go on an adventure through whirling snowstorms, oozing mud, and dark forests in search of bears!

DVD Verdict: in truth, and thankful, as just from the front cover art I really wanted to like/love this release, the animation here on 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' is both artful and fluid.

The story line is a sweet little adventure that treads delicately with the loss of a grandparent. (possibly so delicately that littler kids won't catch it, but in an emotionally healthy way for older kids) and much like like 'The Snowman' (also from PBS), the ending is not traditionally "happy," but more thoughtful. Everyone goes back to their normal life having grown and learned something.

For our tender-hearted little one, the ending is an opportunity to make up stories about how Rosie and the bear get to see each other later; maybe in yet another adventure. There are always lots of honey sandwiches involved and so, of course, come the end, my wee one wanted just that for tea!

In conclusion, this short, sweet video interpretation of the classic story charmed my 2 year old from start to finish and so I know it will your wee ones also. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Queen Elizabeth's Secret Agents'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Here in 'Queen Elizabeth's Secret Agents' we discover the secret state that helped keep Queen Elizabeth I in power for over 40 years.

DVD Verdict: During a time when Britain was divided, unstable, and violent, the world's first secret service was born. Run by William and Robert Cecil, this father-and-son team had the duty of protecting the Queen and the Country. Join leading historians as they examine the biggest events of Elizabeth's reign.

This is a fascinating documentary, albeit too short in my own humble opinion, of the special guard, shall we call them, that protected and served Queen Elizabeth I whilst she was in power.

Leading historians study the period from different key players' points of view. They dissect the minds and motivations of key players, to uncover an intricate, covert spy network, revealing how Elizabethan England really was.

Indeed, 'Queen Elizabeth's Secret Agents' takes us through the biggest events of Elizabeth's reign, the entrapment and execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, the capture and escape of catholic fugitive John Gerard and the most infamous terrorist conspiracy in British history, the Gunpowder Plot. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Experience: The Gilded Age'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'The Gilded Age' presents a compelling and complex story of one of the most convulsive and transformative eras in American history.

DVD Verdict: In the closing decades of the nineteenth century, the U.S. population doubled in the span of a single generation, national wealth expanded, and two classes rose simultaneously, separated by a gulf of experience and circumstance that was unprecedented in American life.

During what has become known as the Gilded Age, the population of the United States doubled in the span of a single generation. The nation became the world's leading producer of food, coal, oil, and steel, attracted vast amounts of foreign investment, and pushed into markets in Europe and the Far East.

As for that term for this period, it came into use in the 1920s and 1930s and was derived from writer Mark Twain's 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding.

The early half of the Gilded Age roughly coincided with the middle portion of the Victorian era in Britain and the Belle Époque in France. Its beginning in the years after the American Civil War overlaps the Reconstruction Era (which ended in 1877). It was followed in the 1890s by the Progressive Era.

Moving on, and as national wealth expanded, two classes rose simultaneously, separated by a gulf of experience and circumstance that was unprecedented in American life. These disparities sparked passionate and violent debate over questions still being asked in our own times: How is wealth best distributed, and by what process? Does government exist to protect private property or provide balm to the inevitable casualties of a churning industrial system? Should the government concern itself chiefly with economic growth or economic justice?

The battles over these questions were fought in Congress, the courts, the polling place, the workplace and the streets. The outcome of these disputes was both uncertain and momentous, and marked by a passionate vitriol and level of violence that would shock the conscience of many Americans today.

'The Gilded Age' presents a compelling and complex story of one of the most convulsive and transformative eras in American history. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Experience: The Bombing of Wall Street'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: On Sept. 16, 1920, a cart packed with dynamite exploded in front of Morgan Bank, leaving 38 dead and hundreds more seriously injured in the nation's financial center. 'The Bombing of Wall Street' tells the story of an early act of terror that remains unsolved today and sparked a bitter national debate about how far the government should go to protect the nation from acts of political violence.

DVD Verdict: The act of terror that, just as the bells of Trinity Church tolled and hundreds of Wall Street as workers headed out for their noontime break, caused an almighty explosion outside the headquarters of J.P. Morgan and Company - the world's most powerful banking institution, still haunt those who were associated with it that day.

Indeed, the blast turned the nation's financial center into a war zone and left 38 dead and hundreds more seriously injured. As financial institutions around the country went on high alert, many wondered if this was the strike against American capitalism that radical agitators had so long discussed.

The bombing was never solved, although investigators and historians believe the Wall Street bombing was carried out by Galleanists (Italian anarchists), a group responsible for a series of bombings the previous year. The attack was related to postwar social unrest, labor struggles, and anti-capitalist agitation in the United States.

This American Experience documentary examines one of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history, an event that helped launch the career of a young J. Edgar Hoover and sparked a bitter national debate about how far the government should go to protect the nation from acts of political violence. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: Extreme Animal Weapons'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: From lobster claws and dog teeth to bee stings and snake fangs, every creature depends on a weapon.

Showcasing astonishing wildlife cinematography, 'Extreme Animal Weapons' investigates the riddle of outsize weaponry, uncovers a bold new theory about what triggers an animal arms race, and explores the secrets that underlies nature's battleground.

DVD Verdict: Directed and produced by Peter Fison, and narrated by Eric Meyers, 'NOVA: Extreme Animal Weapons' is one of the most incredible, enthralling hour's that I've spent watching a documentary in years.

The documentary, with incredible close up photography and cinematography, showcases the fact that most every creature on Earth depends on a weapon of some sort to survive. Ergo, 'Extreme Animal Weapons' brings forth imagery of animals with oversized weaponry, whilst at the same time uncovering a bold new theory about what triggers an animal battle in the very first place. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Nature: Arctic Wolf Pack'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: At the very northern edge of North America is Ellesmere Island, where the unforgiving Arctic winds tear through the tundra, dipping temperatures to 40 below zero. Discover the White Wolf, one of the most hardened predators on the planet in the Ellesmere's unforgiving ice and snow.

DVD Verdict: 'Nature: Arctic Wolf Pack' is another Top 10 documentary of this year from PBS, in my book. Here they take you out into the middle of nowhere, knee deep within the Arctic with frost and subzero temperatures eight months out of the year abounding.

And for our pleasure, our viewing requirements, those men and women that brave those temps manage to capture so many great cinematic scenes of wolf families with so much drama that you wonder if the wolves themselves were in on it from the very start!

'NOVA: Arctic Wolf Pack' is an absolutely divine look into the lives of these creatures and also comes complete with some delightful, and perfect musical backing. Also, it should be noted that the narration by Campbell Scott was brilliant and fits in perfectly to what we view.

In closing, Director Oliver Goetzl has given us a splendid look into these wolves and how when they are traveling farther and farther away from their den each day, that it puts these hunters and their children at risk in this fight for survival. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'VA: The Human Cost of War'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'VA: The Human Cost of War' takes a broad look at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - examining the organization's history, leadership, structure, funding and relationship to veterans.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, the Veterans Administration is the second largest government agency and one of the most mismanaged. Over 57,000 veterans must wait three months or longer just to get a doctor’s appointment.

When they finally see a doctor, most often the doctor prescribes pills, pills and more pills. In 2014, 800,000 veterans' applications went unprocessed. 10,000 applications were lost. Over 307,000 veterans died waiting for help.

This is very, very wrong! In 1996, Congress authorized outpatient clinics, but the demand outstripped the supply. In 1975, there were two million veterans over the age of 65. In 2016, there were 10 million vets! Our healthcare system for our veterans must be improved. This DVD reveals the shameful situation the VA is in today.

Young adults should question and investigate the material presented in this DVD, especially those considering joining the armed forces. It is shameful how the government treats its returning soldiers who have given their all and returned home half the person they were when they left.

This is educational and a socially conscience piece. It is an eye-opener for the general public, many of whom may not a clue of how dismal the situation is for our vets. They have no idea how ill equipped the VA is to handle medical or mental health issues on a timely basis. Since 2013, we have had almost 20 vet suicides a day, because of the lack of appropriate health care.

As a nation, we should be questioning our Congressmen and women as well as local officials in regards to VA services. It's not just the physical affects of war that are killing our vets, but the mental and emotion illness as well. Suicide rates are very high among soldiers returning from war and who have not gotten any help from doctors to adjust to living with themselves after their wartime experiences.

There aren't enough doctors to care for these soldiers once they leave the service. The Federal Government dropped the ball on taking care of returning soldiers and every one is paying the price. We have to do better and this wonderful documentary backs my words up quite like no other on the subject that I've seen in the past 20 years. Thank you, PBS. Thank you. (RL) This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Experience: Into the Amazon'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Into the Amazon' tells the remarkable story of the journey taken by President Theodore Roosevelt and legendary Brazilian explorer Candido Rondon into the heart of the South American rainforest to chart an unexplored tributary of the Amazon.

DVD Verdict: Two of the most celebrated men from their respective nations, Roosevelt and Rondon set out up the Amazon with twenty other adventurers in 1914.

Over eight eventful weeks in one of the most remote places on earth, the ill-equipped expedition navigated deadly rapids in crude dugout canoes.

Hunger and exhaustion were compounded by the rainforest's unforgiving topography, which forced the men to carry heavy canoes long distances. What was anticipated to be a relatively tranquil journey turned out to be a brutal test of courage and character.

Before it was all over, one member of the expedition had drowned and another had committed murder. Roosevelt would badly injure his leg and beg to be left behind to die.

More than a dramatic adventure story, 'American Experience: Into the Amazon' shines a light on two of the western hemisphere's most formidable men, and the culture and politics of their two nations.

Personally, I really enjoyed hearing the perspectives from the various different narrators as they commented on aspects of this journey. I thought they did an admirable job of telling the story in the limited time that film allows.

However, I would strongly suggest to anyone who is interested in learning more about this story, or just jungle exploration in general, to read the book that this film is based on - RIVER OF DOUBT. as it's a really fantastic book; equal parts adventure story and jungle manual. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Smithsonian: Black Wings'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: For early aviators, conquering the forces of gravity was a daunting challenge. But black aviators had an additional challenge - to conquer the forces of racism. Meet the men and women of color who took to the skies throughout the 20th century and helped prove that skin color didn't determine skill level. From biplanes to commercial jets, meet the path-breaking pilots who opened the skies for all.

DVD Verdict: Produced and written by Dan Wolf, 'Black Wings' primarily details The Tuskegee Airmen, the popular name of a group of African-American military pilots (fighter and bomber) who fought in World War II.

They formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. The name also applies to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel.

Indeed, all black military pilots who trained in the United States trained at Moton Field, the Tuskegee Army Air Field, and were educated at Tuskegee University, located near Tuskegee, Alabama. The group included five Haitians from the Haitian Air Force, and one pilot from Trinidad.

Although the 477th Bombardment Group trained with North American B-25 Mitchell bombers, they never served in combat. The 99th Pursuit Squadron (later, 99th Fighter Squadron) was the first black flying squadron, and the first to deploy overseas (to North Africa in April 1943, and later to Sicily and Italy).

The 332nd Fighter Group, which originally included the 100th, 301st, and 302nd Fighter Squadrons, was the first black flying group. It deployed to Italy in early 1944. In June 1944, the 332nd Fighter Group began flying heavy bomber escort missions, and in July 1944, with the addition of the 99th Fighter Squadron, it had four fighter squadrons.

In conclusion, and as this truly fascinating documentary from PBS via the Smithsonian reveals, The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces.

During World War II, black Americans in many U.S. states were still subject to the Jim Crow laws [N 1] and the American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to discrimination, both within and outside the army, but as detailed above, they held their heads up high, nonetheless. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Nature: The Cheetah Children'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The forested hills of Zimbabwe may not seem like typical cheetah habitat, but it's here that cinematographer Kim Wolhuter forges an amazing relationship with a wild cheetah family.

DVD Verdict: For two years, Wolhuter shadows a mom and her cubs to reveal what it takes to turn cubs into predators. Along the way, he discovers the heartbreak and triumph every cheetah mother must face as she raises the next generation.

In incredible color and even more incredible close up, 'The Cheetah Children' follows a mother and her five cubs for about a year and a half. We watch them grow and along the way we also see tragedy strike.

And yet at all times, the mother protects her young ones and also teaches them about life out in the wild, how to hunt, kill, and survive on their own, come the day she passes. With some amazing photography, you kinda get the feeling halfway through that the mother has accepted him being around and isn't wary of him as a danger.

Along the way you can also learn a slew of Cheetah facts, such as the Cheetah is the world's fastest land animal. They can run 70 mph (or 110 kph), which is as fast as cars drive on the highway and that the Cheetah can reach its top speed in just 3 seconds! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Nova: Bird Brain'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Join NOVA to witness the brainpower of birds. Long mocked as empty-headed, our feathered friends hide surprisingly acute intelligence. But how smart are they? Watch as scientists test avian aptitude and challenge our basic notions of intelligence.

DVD Verdict: Call somebody a "bird brain" and you're not delivering them a compliment. But as NOVA shows in this highly entertaining special, birds turn out to have advanced thinking skills that we usually assume are unique to humans.

Watch astonishing tests of avian aptitude: parrots that can plan for the future, jackdaws that can "read" human faces, and crows that can solve multi-step puzzles with tools like pebbles, sticks, and hooks. Could these just be clever tricks, based on instinct or subtle cues from their human handlers?

To rule out any doubts, NOVA puts feathered Einsteins through their paces and reveals skills that even three-or four-year-old children have a hard time mastering - such as empathizing with each other or putting off one reward now to get a bigger one later.

From this revolution in thinking about our feathered friends, the conclusion seems irresistible that bird brains see the world in ways that aren't so different from our own. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Experience: The Secret of Tuxedo Park'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: In the fall of 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his country's most valuable military secret - a revolutionary radar component - to a Wall Street tycoon, Alfred Lee Loomis. Using his connections, his money, and his brilliant scientific mind, Loomis and his team of scientists developed radar technology that played a more decisive role than any other weapon in World War II.

DVD Verdict: In the fall of 1940, as German bombers flew over London and with America not yet at war, a small team of British scientists on orders from Winston Churchill carried out a daring transatlantic mission.

The British unveiled their most valuable military secret in a clandestine meeting with American nuclear physicists at the Tuxedo Park mansion of a mysterious Wall Street tycoon, Alfred Lee Loomis.

Powerful, handsome, and enormously wealthy, Loomis had for years led a double life, spending his days brokering huge deals and his weekends working with the world's leading scientists in his deluxe private laboratory that was hidden in a massive stone castle.

In this dramatic account of a hitherto unexplored but crucial story of the war, Jennet Conant traces one of the world's most extraordinary careers and scientific enterprises.

With unprecedented access to Loomis' papers, as well as to people intimately involved in his life and work 'The Secret of Tuxedo Park' pierces through Loomis' obsessive secrecy to shed light on an integral part of the Allied victory in World War II.

In closing, 'The Secret of Tuxedo Park' tells a long-overlooked story of an individual who helped alter the course of history in World War II. It is fascinating, engrossing, and history personified. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Cruel and Unusual'
(Corey Johnson, Robert King, Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, et al / 2018 / Film Rise)

Overview: 'Cruel and Unusual' is the story of three men who have spent longer in solitary confinement than any other prisoners in the US because of the murder of a prison guard in 1972 at Angola, the Louisiana state penitentiary.

DVD Verdict: Simply put, Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were convicted by bribed and blind eye witnesses and with no physical evidence.

Targeted as members of the Black Panther party the film follows their struggle against the miscarriage of justice and their cruel and unusual treatment.

Their story culminated in 2016 with the release of Albert Woodfox after 43 years in solitary confinement.

This is their story.

Known as the Angola Three, Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace who were put in solitary confinement in Louisiana State Penitentiary (also known as Angola Prison); the latter two after being convicted in April 1972 of the killing of a prison corrections officer.

As the documentary pans out, we further learn that each was kept in solitary for more than 25 years; two of the men served more than 40 years each in solitary, the "longest period of solitary confinement in American prison history."

Robert King spent 29 years in solitary confinement before his conviction of a prison murder in 1973 was overturned and he was released. Wallace was released on October 1, 2013, after more than 41 years in prison. Woodfox's unconditional release was decided on June 10, 2015, after 43 years of solitary confinement.

On November 20, 2014, Woodfox had his conviction overturned by the US Court of Appeals, and in April 2015, his lawyer applied for an unconditional writ for his release. Woodfox was released on February 19, 2016, after the prosecution agreed to drop its push for a retrial and accept his plea of no contest to lesser charges of burglary and manslaughter.

Before this new documentary from director Vadim Jean, the prisoners had been the subject of two documentary films and much international attention.

In July 2013, Amnesty International called for the release of 71-year-old Herman Wallace, who had advanced liver cancer. He was released October 1, 2013. The state re-indicted him on October 3, 2013, but he died on October 4, 2013, before he could be re-arrested.

In truth, this new documentary does come across more like a TV new report, but the sheer overwhelming enormity of this injustice shines through all that like a beacon of hope.

As someone recently put it, "It's a stark depiction of the way racism functions in concert with the criminal justice system — the ultimate tragedy of American society." Amen, Brother. Amen. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Masters: This is Bob Hope'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: During his eight-decade career, Bob Hope was the only performer to achieve top-rated success in every form of mass entertainment: Vaudeville, Broadway, movies, radio, television, popular song and personal appearances. American Masters explores the entertainer's life with unprecedented access to his personal archives and clips from his classic films.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Sir Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope, KBE, KC*SG, KSS (aka Bob Hope - May 29, 1903 to July 27, 2003) was an American comedian, vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer, athlete and author.

With a career that spanned nearly 80 years, Hope appeared in more than 70 short and feature films, with 54 feature films with Hope as star, including a series of seven "Road" musical comedy movies with Bing Crosby as Hope's top-billed partner.

In addition to hosting the Academy Awards show nineteen times, more than any other host, he appeared in many stage productions and television roles, and was the author of 14 books. The song "Thanks for the Memory" is widely regarded as his signature tune.

This truly stunning and at times revealing American Masters documentary explores the entertainer's life with unprecedented access to his personal archives and clips from his classic films (The Road pictures, My Favorite Blonde), radio and TV shows.

We hear excerpts of Hope's writings voiced by Billy Crystal plus interviews with Woody Allen, Dick Cavett, Margaret Cho, Linda Hope, Kermit the Frog, Leonard Maltin, Conan O'Brien, Tom Selleck, Brooke Shields, Connie Stevens and writers including Sherwood Schwartz and biographer Richard Zoglin. So, if you thought you knew who Bob Hope was, ladies and gentlemen, think again! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: Killer Hurricanes'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Killer Hurricanes' pursues the riddle of an 18th century Caribbean superstorm that killed 20,000, the highest known death toll of any single weather event. To reconstruct its epic scale and investigate what made it so devastating, NOVA joins historians and storm sleuths as they track down clues in eyewitness chronicles, old ruins, and computer simulations.

DVD Verdict: Directed and Produced by Oliver Twinch and Paul Williams, Narrated by Craig Sechler, 'Nova: Killer Hurricanes' is one of the most dynamically shot documentaries that I think I've ever seen!

Focusing on The Great Hurricane of 1780 - which took nine days to blast its way across the Caribbean, killing at least 20,000 = the highest known death toll of any single weather event in history - it asks the question: What made this superstorm so deadly?

To reconstruct its epic scale and investigate what made it so devastating, NOVA joins historians and storm sleuths as they track down clues in eyewitness chronicles, old ruins, and computer simulations.

Their evidence points to a truly terrifying, 300-mile-wide storm - with wind speeds probably exceeding 230 miles an hour and 25-feet storm surges that demolished everything in their path.

But just how unusual was the Great Hurricane? Diving into sinkholes off Barbados and squirming into caves in the Yucatan, NOVA's experts recover traces of tempests stretching back over more than 1,000 years.

'NATURE: Nature's Miniature Miracles'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: What happens if you're the little guy in a big bad world? This film tells the epic survival stories of the world's smallest animals.

DVD Verdict: To make a living, these tiny heroes have evolved extraordinary skills and achieved mind-boggling feats. From nature's greatest artist to the tiny creatures that provide us with so much of the air we breathe, PBS via 'Nature: Nature's Miniature Marvels' discovers what it takes to be a miniature miracle.

Narrated by Allan Peck, we've all heard the saying that 'Great things come in small packages', and animals are no exception to the rule.

From a tiny sengi, the "cheetah" of the shrew world, to a hummingbird who travels thousands of miles north each year, from a small shark that walks on land, to an army of baby turtles instinctively racing to the safety of the open ocean.

This documentary travels across the world, through vast savannahs to rocky plateaus, and down to the depths of the seas, to shine a light on these tiny survivors of the animal kingdom. It is a great big world out there, but for these animals, size does not matter. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: Killer Floods'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: All over the world, scientists are discovering traces of ancient floods on a scale that dwarfs even the most severe flood disasters of recent times. In 'Killer Floods', NOVA discovers gigantic scars in the landscape that testify to North America's greatest ever megaflood, which tore across the western states with 60 times the flow of today's Amazon.

DVD Verdict: All over the world, scientists are discovering traces of ancient floods on a scale that dwarfs even the most severe flood disasters of recent times. What triggered these cataclysmic floods and could they strike again?

Over a vast expanse of Washington State called the Channeled Scablands, the level prairie gives way to bizarre, gargantuan rock formations: house-sized boulders seemingly dropped from the sky; a cliff carved by a waterfall twice the height of Niagara; and potholes resembling ones scoured out by rivers today, but ten times bigger.

Like forensic detectives at a crime scene, geologists study these strange features and reconstruct catastrophic Ice Age floods more powerful than all the world's top ten rivers combined.

NOVA follows their efforts to uncover the geologic fingerprints of other colossal megafloods in Iceland and -improbably - on the seabed of the English Channel, where hundreds of thousands of years ago, another deluge smashed through a land bridge connecting Britain and France and turned Britain into an island for the first time.

These great disasters ripped through terrain and transformed continents in a matter of hours - and similar forces reawakened by climate change are posing an active threat to mountain communities throughout the world today. Director: Oliver Twinch, Elliot KewNarrator: Craig SechlerProducer: Oliver Twinch, Olive King. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'FRONTLINE: Putin's Revenge'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Putin's Revenge' is a riveting investigation of how the U.S. struggled to confront Vladimir Putin over Russian involvement in the 2016 election, how revenge may have motivated Putin to target American democracy, and the U.S. responses under Presidents Obama and Trump.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the complete know, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a Russian politician serving as President of the Russian Federation since 7 May 2012, previously holding the position from 2000 until 2008.

He was Prime Minister of the Russian Federation from 1999 until 2000, and again from 2008 until 2012. During his second term as Prime Minister, he was the chairman of the ruling United Russia party.

Vladimir Putin was born in Leningrad in the Soviet Union. He studied law at the Saint Petersburg State University, graduating in 1975. Putin was a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring in 1991 to enter politics in Saint Petersburg.

He moved to Moscow in 1996 and joined President Boris Yeltsin's administration, rising quickly through the ranks and becoming Acting President on 31 December 1999, when Yeltsin resigned.

Putin won the subsequent 2000 presidential election by a 53% to 30% margin, thus avoiding a runoff with his Communist Party of the Russian Federation opponent, Gennady Zyuganov. He was reelected President in 2004 with 72% of the vote.

With in-depth reporting from Moscow and Washington, DC, FRONTLINE tells the story of how Vladimir Putin came to see the United States as an enemy - and why he decided to target an American election.

Against the backdrop of investigations by the FBI and Congress into the role Russia played in the 2016 U.S. election, this epic documentary draws on more than 60 interviews with diplomats, intelligence officials, political leaders, journalists, and primary sources to trace how Putin went from low-ranking KGB agent to long-serving president of a newly assertive Russia with the ability to wage cyber-war in the U.S. and across the globe.

Personally, throughout the last year during and following the campaign I often wondered why Putin wanted Trump in the White House. After watching this, the picture becomes more clear on Putin’s motives for tipping the 2016 election.

An analogy came to mind: Putin is like cat playing with a dead mouse (Trump). In essence, what it comes down to is that Trump leans toward dictatorship, but he isn’t smart enough to know or care to keep up with Putin and his sneaky ways.

Anyway, I think that whatever political party your affiliated with, we should all be concerned about how (if at all, of course, our election was tampered with - and if these two had more than just a finger inside the workings of it! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Smithsonian: The Real Mad Men of Advertising'
(DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Mad Men' gave audiences an all-access glimpse into the world of advertising in America during the tumultuous decade of the 1960s. Who were these people, and what were the campaigns that created this consumer culture.

DVD Verdict: Follow the evolution of advertising from the 1950s through the 1980s, via interviews with the industry's top ad executives, and through classic ads and commercials here on the fascinating 'Smithsonian: The Real Mad Men of Advertising'.

For those not in the know, the TV show 'Mad Men' was an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner and produced by Lionsgate Television. The series premiered on July 19, 2007, on the cable network AMC. After seven seasons and 92 episodes, 'Mad Men's final episode aired on May 17, 2015.

As with the TV show, here within the just less than an hour of documentary we get clips of ad men doing their selling thing, all the way back to the black and white TV era of the early '50s.

Not much changes through the years, sales are just sales, after all, but the hand gestures sure do get more bigger, wider, more embracing, shall we say. Aside from that, some of these interviews with the industry's top ad executives do manage to still shine a light on what can be much like watching false prophets and snake charmers coming through town via your TV sets! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Christopher Kimball's Milk Street - Season 1'
(3-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The test cooks of 'Christopher Kimball's Milk Street' search the world over for techniques that can add a little kick, and convenience, to everyday American cooking. Each episode gives viewers the chance to see the process at work as they test, edit, and translate what they learn into the home-cooking environment. Where in the world will inspiration strike next?

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Christopher Kimball (born June 5, 1951) is an American chef, editor, publisher, and radio/TV personality. Milk Street, the multimedia, instructional food preparation organization created by Kimball comprises a magazine called Christopher Kimball's Milk Street, a cooking school, Milk Street Radio, a website for video podcasts; as well as Milk Stret Live! broadcasting live events.

Indeed, in September 2017, Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Television began using $6 million from investors!

As noted above, the test cooks of 'Christopher Kimball's Milk Street' search the world over for techniques that can add a little kick, and convenience, to everyday American cooking.

Each episode gives viewers the chance to see the process at work as they test, edit, and translate what they learn into the home-cooking environment. It may be a new flavor combination, like the tahini and cocoa powder used to elevate simple brownies.

It may be reviving an old classic, like their caramel-sauced oranges recipe that borrows from the Brits by way of Italy and brings a bit of the Swinging Sixties to the 21st-century dinner table. Where in the world will inspiration strike next? Join them on their culinary quest to transform the way America cooks and eats.

Milk Street Television offers viewers great variety in terms of how to learn. Their Cooking Lessons are filmed in front of a live audience at Milk Street with host Christopher Kimball and a Milk Street cook.

Milk Street Shorts are short, quick recipes that can usually be made in just minutes. Milk Street Basics offer viewers tips and techniques that apply to a wide range of recipes. The Milk Street Kitchen Cabinet introduces our audience to tools and cookware and also provides new ways to use them.

Milk Street Pantry recipes offer simple instructions for making sauces, dips, and the like. Finally, Milk Street Travels gives viewers a glimpse into the wide world of food with segments filmed on location, from London to Thailand.


Personally, my fav there (3) segments are:

Thai Fried Rice
Chaing Mai Chicken (Kai Yang)
Thai-Style Coleslaw with Mint and Cilantro
Pickled Chilies

Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce (Camarones Enchipotlados)
Central Mexican Guacamole
Chili-Pineapple Margarita
Cilantro-Jalapeño Adobo Sauce

Japanese Fried Chicken
Japanese Potato Salad
Sweet-and-Spicy Ginger Green Beans

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Very Best of Victor Borge, Volumes 1 + 2'
(3-Disc DVDs / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The legendary Victor Borge entertained the world with his clever and unique blend of comedy and music. These two new collections include many side-splitting specials from the archives, including comedy bits like Count Fall-Off-Of Play Something on the Piano, and The Mozart Opera, classical performances of Clair de Lune and selections from Carmen, and much more. A must-have for any Victor Borge fan!

Verdict: For those not in the know, Børge Rosenbaum (3 January 1909 – 23 December 2000), known professionally as Victor Borge, was a Danish and American comedian, conductor, and pianist who achieved great popularity in radio and television in the United States and Europe.

Indeed, his unique blend of music and comedy earned him the nicknames "The Clown Prince of Denmark," "The Unmelancholy Dane," and "The Great Dane."

On Volume 1 we get seven side-splitting specials from the archives, inclusive of aforementioned comedy bits like Count Fall-Off-Of Play Something on the Piano, and The Mozart Opera, classical performances of Clair de Lune and selections from Carmen, and much more!

Victor Borge: 100 Years of Music & Laughter!
Victor Borge: Comedy in Music!
Victor Borge: Then & Now
Victor Borge: Then & Now II
Victor Borge: Then & Now III
Victor Borge: An Eightieth Birthday Celebration
Victor Borge: The Great Dane of Comedy

On Volume 2, the legend of radio, television, and live performance brings us a wondrous collection that includes 8 uproarious specials from the archives; including routines like Phonetic Punctuation, The History of the Piano, It's Now or Never with Sergio Franchi, and many others. Also includes an audio CD with music and comedy performances!

Victor Borge: The Early Years
A Tribute to Victor Borge
The Best of Victor Borge
The Legendary Victor Borge
Victor Borge's Funniest Moments
Victor Borge: The Lost Episodes I
Victor Borge: The Lost Episodes II
Victor Borge: Timeless Comedy
The Two Sides of Victor Borge (Audio CD)

This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Secrets Of The Dead: America's Untold Story'
(2-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The first permanent European settlement in the United States was founded two generations before the Pilgrims arrived in 1565. 'America's Untold Story' uncovers the story of America's past that never made it into textbooks.

DVD Verdict: Narrated by Jimmy Smits, produced by Robbie Gordon, Josh Wallace, Jenny Mottier, Jaime Greco, and Stephanie Carte, 'Secrets Of The Dead: America's Untold Story' brings us this wondrous, and yet very, very true tale.

Before Jamestown… before Plymouth… the first permanent European settlement in the United States was founded two generations before the Pilgrims arrived - in 1565 - not by English Protestants, but by a melting pot of Spanish, Africans, Italians, Germans, Irish and converted Jews, who integrated almost immediately with the indigenous tribes.

Indeed, in 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula of what's now known as Quebec, Canada and claimed the land in the name of King Francis I. It was the first province of New France. However, initial French attempts at settling the region met with failure.

A small group of French troops occupied Parris Island, South Carolina in 1562 to build Charlesfort, but left after a year. Another early French attempt at settlement in North America was Fort Caroline, established in what is now Jacksonville, Florida, in 1564. Intended as a haven for Huguenots, Caroline was founded under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnière and Jean Ribault.

However, as we discover here, It was sacked by the Spanish led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés which then established the settlement of St. Augustine on September 20, 1565. 'America's Untold Story' uncovers the story of America's past that never made it into textbooks. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: The Day the Dinosaurs Died'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Investigate how an asteroid vanquished the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Join scientists as they drill into the impact crater and, for the first time, reconstruct the hell on earth that unfolded in the minutes, hours and months after the impact.

DVD Verdict: 6 million years ago a seven-mile-wide asteroid collided with Earth, triggering a chain of events suspected of ending the dinosaurs' reign. But experts have long debated exactly what happened when the asteroid struck and how the giant beasts met their end.

Now, scientists have uncovered compelling new clues about the catastrophe - from New Jersey to the wilds of Patagonia, and an international expedition of scientists has drilled into the impact crater off the coast of Mexico, recovering crucial direct evidence of the searing energy and giant tsunami unleashed by the asteroid.

In this rather wonderful new PBS documentary, we first get introduced to Alice, a paleontologist who alongside her partner, Ben, a biologist, walk us through the (supposed) day the dinosaurs died.

They both have different takes on how it ll went down, of course, like Ben, who talks whilst extracting rock samples from the Chicxulub crater in the Gulf of Mexico. Alice, however, takes us with her as she visits a magnificent fossil site in New Jersey.

'NOVA: The Day the Dinosaurs Died' sure does paint a very real picture of the whole scenario, showing us all, the avid viewer, new evidence that supports the theory of the dinosaurs’ deaths and what happened to the rest of the world thereafter.

Join NOVA as scientists piece together a chillingly precise unfolding of the Earth's biggest cataclysm, moment by moment. And discover how our early mammalian ancestors managed to survive and repopulate the Earth. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Peg + Cat: The Big Dog Problem'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Peg and Cat need to solve REALLY BIG dog problems! Peg and Cat are asked to mail some important letters for Peg's mom, but their path to the mailbox is blocked by a big scary dog! So, just what will they do next?

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Peg + Cat is an American/Canadian animated children's television series based on the children's book "The Chicken Problem", which was published in 2012.

The series is created by Billy Aronson and Jennifer Oxley and produced by The Fred Rogers Company and 9 Story Media Group. It debuted on most PBS stations on October 7, 2013, as part of the revamped PBS Kids brand.

The show is targeted to children 3 to 5 years old. The goal is to "inspire preschoolers’ natural curiosity about math and help them develop new skills and strategies for solving problems creatively in their daily lives." In keeping with the math theme, the animation is presented as if it were drawn on graph paper.

As for this brand new episode, well, after the duo learns the dog isn't so scary after all, they become friends, and the three of them have fun playing together - that is, until Cat suddenly becomes quiet and sad! Can Peg figure out what's wrong with Cat?

Can Peg figure out what's wrong with Cat? The fun continues when Big Dog is too large to play Little Red on Peg's stage, and other animals get into the act instead!

There are also four (4) other great episodes in which Peg and Cat work together using math and problem solving skills. These are great episodes for young children to learn from and are easy for young minds to relate to. Highly recommended for all ages. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Dolores' [Blu-ray]
(Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, history tells us Cesar Chavez transformed the U.S. labor movement by leading the first farm workers' union. But missing from this story is his equally influential co-founder, Dolores Huerta, who tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century.

Like so many powerful female advocates, Dolores and her sweeping reforms were - and still are - largely overlooked. Even as she empowered a generation of immigrants to stand up for their rights, her own relentless work ethic was constantly under attack.

False accusations from foes and friends alike, of child neglect and immoral behavior from a woman who married three times and raised 11 children, didn't dampen her passion or deter her from her personal mission. She remains as steadfast in her fight as ever at the age of 87.

As we are shown visually, Dolores Huerta was born on April 10, 1930 in the mining town of Dawson, New Mexico. She was the second child and only daughter of Juan Fernández and Alicia Chávez. Fernández was born in Dawson to a Mexican immigrant family, and worked as a coal miner.

Later, he joined the migrant labor force, and harvested beets in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. When Huerta was young, she would hear her father tell stories about union organizing. After her parents divorced when she was three years old, she seldom saw her father. He stayed in New Mexico, and served in the state legislature in 1938.

Chávez raised Huerta and her two brothers in the central California farm worker community of Stockton, California. Huerta's mother was known for her kindness and compassion towards others and was active in community affairs, numerous civic organizations, and the church.

She encouraged the cultural diversity that was a natural part of Huerta's upbringing in Stockton. Alicia Chávez was a businesswoman who owned a restaurant and a 70-room hotel, where she welcomed low-wage workers and farm worker families at affordable prices and sometimes gave them free housing.

Huerta was inspired by her mother to advocate for farm workers later on in her life. In an interview Huerta stated that "The dominant person in my life is my mother. She was a very intelligent woman and a very gentle woman".

This prompted Huerta to think about civil rights. Her mother's generous actions during Dolores' childhood provided the foundation for her own non-violent, strong spiritual stance. In the same interview she said, "When we talk about spiritual forces, I think that Hispanic women are more familiar with spiritual forces. We know what fasting is, and that it is part of the culture. We know what relationships are, and we know what sacrifice is".

Huerta's community activism began as a student at Stockton High School. Huerta was active in numerous school clubs, and was a majorette and a dedicated member of the Girl Scouts until the age of 18.

In school she remembered a teacher accusing her of stealing another student's work and giving her an unfair grade, an act she considers to be rooted in racial bias. Having lived life being marginalized as an Hispanic, she grew up knowing that society needed to be changed.

Huerta attended college at the University of the Pacific's Stockton College (later to become San Joaquin Delta Community College), where she earned a provisional teaching credential. After teaching grammar school, Huerta left her job and began her lifelong crusade to correct economic injustice.

With the rest, as they say history, Peter Bratt's provocative and energizing documentary challenges the aforementioned incomplete, one-sided intro history and reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one's life to the fight for justice. Interweaving archival footage with interviews from Dolores and her contemporaries, the film sets the record straight on one of the most effective and undervalued civil and labor rights leaders in modern U.S. history. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Tell Them We Are Rising'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Black colleges and universities are a haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries and have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. 'Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities' examines the impact these institutions have had on American history, culture, and national identity.

DVD Verdict: A haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries - and path of promise toward the American dream - Black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told.

As is made clear to us throughout, Alumni of black colleges and universities are a considerable part of the black middle class, with large numbers of the nation’s black doctors, teachers, and engineers having attended an HBCU.

The schools have served as incubators for black activism, playing prominent roles in the racial justice struggles of the past and present.

Even as roughly 300,000 students attended HBCUs in 2015, the share of black students attending HBCUs has fallen from 17 percent in 1980 to 9 percent in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center, affecting tuition rates, loan affordability, and endowments from alumni or other benefactors.

HBCUs rely heavily on federal funding, and some have sought to maintain open communication with the Trump administration over the objections of some students and alumni. But many schools weigh the conflict of working with a presidential administration that’s paid little more than lip service to these institutions while also acting at odds with racial justice advocates and communities of color in general.

Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson,'Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities' preserves history in this in-depth documentary and doesn't, for once, smear the facts and turn them into a hot topic of fake news. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Miffy's Adventures Big and Small: Great Outdoors
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Meet the sweet and smart little bunny named Miffy! In these eleven fun-filled outdoor adventures, Poppy Pig takes Miffy and Grunty on a nature hunt, Miffy camps in Poppy's backyard tent, and lots more!

DVD Verdict: Just to bring you up to date a wee bit, Miffy is a small female rabbit in a series of picture books drawn and written by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. The original Dutch name, "Nijntje", is a shortening of the diminutive konijntje, "little rabbit".

The first Miffy book was produced in 1955, and almost 30 others have followed. In total they have sold over 85 million copies, and led to two separate television series as well as items such as clothes and toys featuring the character. A feature-length film, Miffy the Movie, was released on 30 January 2013.

Three television series based on the character have been produced: Dick Bruna's Miffy Storybook Classics, which ran from January 1, 1992 until December 31, 1992, Miffy and Friends, which ran from April 7, 2003 until August 10, 2007 on Noggin in the United States, and Miffy's Adventures Big and Small, which premiered 2 October 2015 on Nick Jr. in the United States.

Here in 'The Great Outdoors,' Miffy is always eager to learn and try new things, and she inspires her best friends, Melanie and Grunty, to do the same.

In these eleven fun-filled outdoor adventures, Poppy Pig takes Miffy and Grunty on a nature hunt, Miffy camps in Poppy's backyard tent, Miffy and Melanie explore a farm while on a school trip, and lots more! Join Miffy and her friends as they go on adventures of all different sizes to learn about the world right around them! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Dinosaur Train: Big Pond Adventures'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Dive into eight action-packed adventures at the Big Pond with the Pteranodon family!

DVD Verdict: Just to bring you up to date a wee bit, Dinosaur Train is an American/Canadian/Singaporean children's animated series created by Craig Bartlett, who also created Hey Arnold!

The series features a curious young Tyrannosaurus rex named Buddy who, together with his adopted Pteranodon family, takes the Dinosaur Train to explore his time period, and have adventures with all kinds of dinosaurs.

It is produced by The Jim Henson Company in association with Media Development Authority, Sparky Animation, FableVision, and Snee-Oosh, Inc.

Here in the just-released 'Dinosaur Train: Big Pond Adventures,' we follow along as Buddy and Tiny work together to catch fish, and as Buddy and Don discover fossilized tracks!

Buddy and his family also help singer Crystal organize a HUGE benefit concert to make everyone aware that the Big Pond is being recklessly overfished and share what everyone can do to help. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

“BIG POND ADVENTURES” will be available on DVD February 13, 2018 and has a run time of approximately 90 minutes. Episodes of Dinosaur Train are also available for digital download.

'Garfield: Nine Lives'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Garfield hosts a look at his nine lives, from Cave Cat all the way through Space Cat.

DVD Verdict: Just to bring you up to date a wee bit, Garfield is a fictional cat and the protagonist of the comic strip Garfield, created by Jim Davis.

The comic strip centers on Garfield, portrayed as a lazy, fat, and cynical orange cat. He is noted for his love of lasagna, coffee and sleeping, and his hatred of Mondays, fellow cat Nermal (sometimes), raisins and exercise.

Here in 'Nine Lives', as mentioned, Garfield hosts a look at his nine lives, from Cave Cat all the way through Space Cat. At the end of his nine tales, Garfield points out to God that the circumstances of his last life were stacked unfairly against him and Odie. God agrees and gives Garfield back not just one life, but nine more!

Also included is 'Garfield: Garfield in the Rough' - when Jon announces that he, Garfield, and Odie are going on vacation! Garfield gets excited, but that enthusiasm quickly wanes when he discovers Jon planned a camping trip - what a choice!

Life in the wild gets dangerous when an escaped panther enters their campground. Will the rangers be able to capture the panther before it finds the trio? This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: It's a Beautiful Day
(4-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: It's always a beautiful day in Mister Rogers' neighborhood! This set celebrates the 50th anniversary of the beloved Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

DVD Verdict: Just to bring you up to date a wee bit, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was an American half-hour educational children's television series that was created and hosted by Fred Rogers.

The series originated in 1963 as Mister Rogers on CBC Television, and was later re-branded in 1966 as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood on the regional Eastern Educational Network (EEN, a forerunner of today's American Public Television).

The national U.S. debut occurred on February 19, 1968, and it aired on NET and its successor, PBS, until August 31, 2001. The series is aimed primarily at preschool ages 2 to 5, but has been stated by PBS as "appropriate for all ages".

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was produced by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania public broadcaster WQED and Rogers' non-profit production company Family Communications, Inc., previously known as Small World Enterprises prior to 1971; the company was renamed The Fred Rogers Company after Rogers' death.

In May 1997, the series surpassed Captain Kangaroo as the longest-running children's television series, a record the series held until July 2002, when Sesame Street beat Mister Rogers' record.

Here on this brand new 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: It's a Beautiful Day Collection', which also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the beloved series, we watch as Mister Rogers helps children learn the importance of being kind to others, appreciating what makes everyone unique, and much more.

"Helping Children Know What to Expect at School" - "Creating With Friends Is Different Than Playing Alone" - "Play Is the Work of Childhood" - "Respecting All Living Creatures" - "Opera Day" - "Ups and Downs of Friendship" - "Learning About Rules and Limits" - "Appreciating the People Who Came Before" - "Food and Love Go Hand in Hand" - "Music as a Way to Express Feelings" - "Families Come in Different Shapes and Sizes" - "Celebrating Big and Little Things" - "Lots of Different Things For Play and Pretending" - "Each Person Is Unique — Yet We All Have Much in Common" - "Being Kind to Ourselves and Others" - "Nobody Knows What You're Thinking Unless You Tell Them" - "Games Can Be Fun, but Not If You're Left Out" - "Recycling and Other Ways to Care For Our Planet" - "Learning to Take Care of Yourself" - "Trying On Different Roles" - "We All Have Art Inside of Us" - "Understanding Concepts of Up and Down" "The Strength of Love — Even Through Angry Times" - "Appreciating Our Uniqueness" - "Some Things Change . . . Some Things Stay the Same" - "Needing Help and Giving Help" - "Feeling Good About Who We Are" - "Encouraging Generosity and Gratitude" - "Strengths and Limitations, Abilities and Disabilities" - "Wondering and Asking Questions" - "Enjoying Books and Recognizing Symbols", and "Valuing All Kinds of Art".

All contained with these simply divine 30 episodes of the classic series from 1979 to 2001, spread over 15 hours of happiness, it also comes complete with a bonus episode - the series premiere, in original black-and-white! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Family I Had'
(NR / 2018 / Film Rise)

Overview: In 'The Family I Had', a mother recalls how her brilliant teenage son came to shatter their idyllic family through one horribly violent and shocking act. Now, left to pick up the pieces, the survivors test the boundaries of their newly defined reality in this moving true crime exploration of the nature and limits of familial love.

DVD Verdict: It has to be said that 'The Family I Had' (by Katie Green & Carlye Rubin) is one of the most sorrowfully haunting real life tales that I've ever undertaken to review.

This haunting and thought-provoking documentary provides insight into an impossible situation where a family subsequently finds itself after a tragic murder of one underage sibling by another

Again, this is a very difficult story to watch and know that it actually happened, and some people will find it very hard to have empathy for the people in the story. But my guess is the director and writer actually tried their hardest to approach the screenplay this from a place of empathy for everyone, regardless of what they subsequently did.

Indeed, the documentary, in my opinion, is actually made all the more interesting because it does not fall into the trap of trying to provide a false Hollywood closure; especially here where there just simply cannot be one.

In closing, I believe that this film will start many a conversation about juvenile justice, about mental health, about storytelling, about trauma, and about how trauma is passed down through generations. 'The Family I Had' is highly recommended, if not for all that. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Josephine Decker, Zefrey Throwell, et al / 2018 / Film Rise)

Overview: 'Flames,' which won Best Feature Documentary at the New Hampshire Film Festival recently, is the story of a real romance filmed over five years.

DVD Verdict: Josephine and Zefrey simmer in the white hot apocalypse of first love until the throw of a dart finds them on a spontaneous trip to the Maldives and cracks open the question - is their love true or just a performance?

Directed and written by actors Josephine Decker and Zefrey Throwell, 'Flames' is, at its core, a semi-linear collection of unsimulated sex, emotionally pornographic dramatizations. Not sounding like your cup o' tea and yet still weirdly interested, well, read on.

Sure 'Flames' is (sorry) combustible viewing material, but at its heart is a love story for the ages. The two lead actors are as good as the words they themselves put down on the scripts and act it all out with abandonment and detachment - much like, one assumes, they have spent much their lives together within.

A ritualistic cleansing of sorts, 'Flames' tells a story that if you can sit through the couples' literal up's and down's, is well worth understanding and taking on board for life. Attempting positions resembling an act at Cirque du Soleil combined with a page out of the Kama Sutra, and chock full of sex talk through the ages, put 'Flames' on your must see list today! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

‘Gotta Serve Somebody: Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan'
(Bob Dylan, Arlethia Lindsey, Sounds Of Blackness, Shirley Caesar, Dottie Peoples, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: ‘Gotta Serve Somebody - The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan’ is all about redemption. That's apparent enough in the music, where the struggle between sin and salvation is inherent in the tunes that are interpreted here by a host of superb gospel artists. But in a larger sense, the very existence of this DVD (and the Grammy-nominated CD that preceded it in 2003) can be viewed as redemption for Dylan himself, who weathered another controversy and emerged, if not triumphant, then certainly vindicated.

Verdict: When he plugged in an electric guitar in 1965, he was labeled Judas by the folkie faithful; ironically, when he turned to Jesus some 15 years later, proclaiming himself born again and releasing “Slow Train Coming” and “Saved“, the outcry was even louder!

But once again Dylan has the last laugh, as now, a quarter of a century after the fact, it's clear that the material on those recordings was his strongest not only since 1975's Blood on the Tracks, but perhaps since his '60s heyday.

The quality of the songs lies in what Jerry Wexler, co-producer of the two Dylan albums, describes as the immaculate funk of the music, and especially in the heartfelt simplicity (especially by Dylan standards) and emotional directness of the lyrics; clearly, that's what attracted great gospel singers like Shirley Caesar (singing “Gotta Serve Somebody“, the most recognized song on the two Dylan albums), Dottie Peoples (a powerful version of the beautiful “I Believe in You“), the Mighty Clouds of Joy (a rockin', sanctified “Saved“), the Fairfield Four (the stirring, a cappella “Are You Ready“), and the angel-voiced Aaron Neville (“Saving Grace“) to this project.

Fifty years on and I continue to be astonished by Bob Dylans range and influence as we also get Dylan himself, performing “When He Returns” at a 1980 concert, along with an animated rendering of his original “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

In addition to the inspiring performances in the studio, there are a number of interviews with the performers, as well as interviews with those who recorded and/or performed with Dylan back in 1979-1980: drummer Jim Keltner, guitarist Fred Tackett, keyboardist Spooner Oldham, producer Jerry Wexler, and singers Regina McCrary, Terry and Mona Lisa Young, amongst others.

Much of the footage was either shot in recording studios, churches, along with a bit of commentary from musicians and others who worked with Dylan over the years. Don't expect a lot of Dylan concert footage, because there is only a bit of scratchy late 70's film footage in the beginning of the video.

However, the real and absolute beauty of this video is in the gospel versions of Dylan's songs that you see performed and being recorded by some amazing gospel artists whose passion for their faith and musical talent really reaches out and grabs you.

Watch it, take in some beautiful gospel music performed by tremendously talented people of faith, and hopefully you'll similar experience spirit-filled moments joy that I did while watching. Hallelujah, y'all. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:,

Animated Video to -Bob Dylan's original GRAMMY® -winning, “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

(Bob Dylan, Arlethia Lindsey, Sounds Of Blackness, Shirley Caesar, Dottie Peoples, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: ‘Gotta Serve Somebody - The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan’ is all about redemption. That's apparent enough in the music, where the struggle between sin and salvation is inherent in the tunes that are interpreted here by a host of superb gospel artists. But in a larger sense, the very existence of this DVD (and the Grammy-nominated CD that preceded it in 2003) can be viewed as redemption for Dylan himself, who weathered another controversy and emerged, if not triumphant, then certainly vindicated.

Verdict: When he plugged in an electric guitar in 1965, he was labeled Judas by the folkie faithful; ironically, when he turned to Jesus some 15 years later, proclaiming himself born again and releasing “Slow Train Coming” and “Saved“, the outcry was even louder!

But once again Dylan has the last laugh, as now, a quarter of a century after the fact, it's clear that the material on those recordings was his strongest not only since 1975's Blood on the Tracks, but perhaps since his '60s heyday.

The quality of the songs lies in what Jerry Wexler, co-producer of the two Dylan albums, describes as the immaculate funk of the music, and especially in the heartfelt simplicity (especially by Dylan standards) and emotional directness of the lyrics; clearly, that's what attracted great gospel singers like Shirley Caesar (singing “Gotta Serve Somebody“, the most recognized song on the two Dylan albums), Dottie Peoples (a powerful version of the beautiful “I Believe in You“), the Mighty Clouds of Joy (a rockin', sanctified “Saved“), the Fairfield Four (the stirring, a cappella “Are You Ready“), and the angel-voiced Aaron Neville (“Saving Grace“) to this project.

Fifty years on and I continue to be astonished by Bob Dylans range and influence as we also get Dylan himself, performing “When He Returns” at a 1980 concert, along with an animated rendering of his original “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

In addition to the inspiring performances in the studio, there are a number of interviews with the performers, as well as interviews with those who recorded and/or performed with Dylan back in 1979-1980: drummer Jim Keltner, guitarist Fred Tackett, keyboardist Spooner Oldham, producer Jerry Wexler, and singers Regina McCrary, Terry and Mona Lisa Young, amongst others.

Much of the footage was either shot in recording studios, churches, along with a bit of commentary from musicians and others who worked with Dylan over the years. Don't expect a lot of Dylan concert footage, because there is only a bit of scratchy late 70's film footage in the beginning of the video.

However, the real and absolute beauty of this video is in the gospel versions of Dylan's songs that you see performed and being recorded by some amazing gospel artists whose passion for their faith and musical talent really reaches out and grabs you.

Watch it, take in some beautiful gospel music performed by tremendously talented people of faith, and hopefully you'll similar experience spirit-filled moments joy that I did while watching. Hallelujah, y'all. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:,

Animated Video to -Bob Dylan's original GRAMMY® -winning, “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

DVD Purchase Link

‘A Fanatic Heart: Bob Geldof on W.B. Yeats’
(Bob Dylan, Arlethia Lindsey, Sounds Of Blackness, Shirley Caesar, Dottie Peoples, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / MVD Visual)

Ocerview: Through performances of some of Yeats' most iconic poems by leading Irish and British cultural figures, Geldof reveals how Yeats and others built the scaffolding of a new independent Ireland decades before the Rising.

But how Yeats' vision for a modern, pluralist, inclusive Ireland was pushed aside by the narrow-minded Catholic elite of the new Free State: the ''Banana Republic'' that Geldof in turn rebelled against half a century later, is also brought forth here, of course.

Verdict: ‘A Fanatic Heart’ is a captivating tale of mythology, nation-building, insurgency and disillusion - and how one man dreamed an entire country out of the ravages of famine and into a new dawn.

With performances of Yeats' poems by Sting, Noel Gallagher, Edna O'Brien, Bono, Van Morrison, Olivia O'Leary, Liam Neeson, Stephen Fry, Dominic West, Richard E. Grant, Bill Nighy, Anne Enright, Colin Farrell, Ardal O'Hanlon, Shane MacGowan, and more, ’A Fanatic Heart’ is one the finest examples of how to construct a documentary, that you will ever witness.

Chock full of 73 poetry readings and 23 discussion pieces, for those not in the know, W.B. Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served as an Irish Senator for two terms.

Indeed, Yeats was also a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and others. It’s very obvious that Geldof obviously had a great enthusiasm for this subject matter, as well as an enduring resentment of what has happened to Ireland since 1922.

The country might have achieved independence, but at what cost? Sometimes Geldof's script seemed a little florid in tone, with his talent for words running away with him somewhat, but this shortcoming is offset by his willingness to find out more about his subject.

Including a CD featuring readings from the award winning documentary, there’s also a new song set around the poem, 'A Terrible Beauty is Born,' which features a vocal by Bono (which Geldof coordinated for the DVD extras). This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

2DVD+CD Purchase Link

'The Sunshine Makers'
(Nick Sand, Tim Scullly, et al / DVD / NR / (2015) 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: A real-life "Breaking Bad" for the psychedelic set, 'The Sunshine Makers' reveals the entertaining, untold story of Nicholas Sand and Tim Scully, the unlikely duo at the heart of 1960s American drug counterculture.

United in a utopian mission to save the planet through the consciousness-raising power of LSD, these underground chemists manufactured a massive amount of acid, including the gold standard for quality LSD, Orange Sunshine, all while staying one step ahead of the feds.

DVD Verdict: Well, before the actual review, I think it's probably best that you know more about both Nick Sand and Tim Scully, as it will make you appreciate this whole story so, so much more, trust me!

Nicholas Sand (born Nicholas Francis Hiskey) was a cult figure known in the psychedelic community for his work as a clandestine chemist from 1966-1996 for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.

Sand was part of the League for Spiritual Discovery at the Millbrook estate in New York, has been credited as the "first underground chemist on record to have synthesized DMT" and is known for manufacturing large amounts of LSD.

Robert "Tim" Scully is best known in the psychedelic underground for his work in the production of LSD from 1966 to 1969, for which he was indicted in 1973 and convicted in 1974. His best known product, dubbed "Orange Sunshine", was considered the standard for quality LSD in 1969.

Scully was a shy science prodigy from Berkeley, California who immersed himself in the freewheeling Haight-Ashbury scene and used his technical prowess to create the purest form of the psychedelic drug yet invented.

The two men were eventually introduced and started an underground laboratory with the financial backing of a rich young heir named Billy Hitchcock, who was also a patron of Timothy Leary. Scully wanted to give their product away — a utopian plan that Sand promptly dismissed.

One of the best line to come out of this documentary is: "We were LSD evangelists," one of the pair's cohorts says. "I think we did a better job than Jesus."

However, and in time, they inevitably attracted the attention of the authorities. The two men were arrested, with Hitchcock cutting a deal and testifying against them. They had the bad luck to have their case tried before a judge whose nickname was "Hangin' Sam," who declared in court that he wished he had access to the death penalty.

Sentenced to 20 and 15 years in prison respectively, Scully and Sand amazingly found themselves cellmates at Washington's McNeil Island Penitentiary. Sand's girlfriend smuggled drugs to him, and at one point he dosed the food supply, rendering the entire prison population high! Trust me, this film is well worth your time, whether or not you're into drugs in any way, shape or form!

This DVD feature surround sound, English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired along with the official 'The Sunshine Makers' trailer. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno: Special Ed.'
(Romy Schneider, Serge Reggiani, Costa-Gavras, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1964) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: The film depicts the extreme jealousy of a hotelier, Marcel (Serge Reggiani, then 42 years old), towards his wife, Odette (Romy Schneider, then 26 years old).

Blu ray Verdict: Set in a beautiful lake side resort in the Auvergne region of France, L'Enfer ('Inferno') was to be a sun scorched elucidation on the dark depths of jealousy starring Romy Schneider as the harassed wife of a controlling hotel manager (Serge Reggiani).

However, despite huge expectations, major studio backing and an unlimited budget, after three weeks the production collapsed under the weight of arguments, technical complications and illness.

The story goes that in 1964, Henri-Georges Clouzot, the acclaimed director of thriller masterpieces Les Diaboliques and Wages of Fear, began work on his most ambitious film yet. That film would, obviously turn out to be 'Inferno.'

Clouzot was never any stranger to disruption within the industry, as was clearly evident when at Continental Studios, he wrote and directed films that were very popular in France, but his second film, Le Corbeau, drew controversy over its harsh look at provincial France. After the ban was lifted, Clouzot reestablished his reputation and popularity in France during the late 1940s with successful films including Quai des Orfèvres. After the release of his comedy film Miquette et sa mère, Clouzot married Véra Gibson-Amado, who would star in his next three feature films.

Directed, written and produced by Clouzot, cinematography by Andréas Winding and Armand Thirard, 'Inferno' remained unfinished in 1964, but was subsequently presented in 2009 as a full-length semi-documentary by Serge Bromberg.

Shot partly in black-and-white, partly in colour, Clouzot selected the title as an allusion to Dante's Inferno, and the names Odette and Marcel refer to characters in Marcel Proust's novel À la recherche du temps perdu.

Despite an unlimited budget from Columbia Pictures—Clouzot worked with three crews and 150 technicians—the shooting was beset by severe problems: everyone suffered from the record heat during July in the Cantal region; the main actor Serge Reggiani claimed to be ill (Jean-Louis Trintignant was asked to replace him); the artificial lake below the Garabit viaduct, an important part of the location, was about to be emptied by the local authorities; then Clouzot suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized in Saint-Flour.

So, as aforementioned, after just three weeks, the film was abandoned. But, and importantly, before that and in prep, Clouzot cast 26-year-old Romy Schneider; who, though Austrian, was then one of France's leading film stars. French cinema was a-tremble with expectation: could L'Enfer repeat the success of his earlier, great films?

Moreover, Clouzot was known as a forbiddingly meticulous metteur en scène, storyboarding his films so intensively that actors often felt thwarted. On L'Enfer, he sought to revolutionise cinema by meticulously creating a film using the experimental sounds of Pierre Boulez's Ircam in Paris, and the then-voguish images of kinetic art to express his hero's increasingly wild fantasy life. These lurid colour sequences would be juxtaposed with black-and-white footage shot on location.

And then one day, while he was filming Romy Schneider and Dany Carel having a lesbian tryst on a boat on the lake, he had a heart attack. He was taken to hospital and was compelled to abandon the film. "It happened at the right moment," Stora has since reportedly been heard to comment. "Things weren't going well."

The film features several innovative and practical lighting techniques by Andréas Winding and Armand Thirard. Most notably in the psychedelic climax of the film, rotating lighting rigs were placed in-front of the camera and actors. The final effect created the illusion of the actors faces transitioning between emotions, and personalities. They would also slowly change their emotions intensifying the effect when synced to each rotation. This is a Widescreen (1.78:1) Presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Optional English subtitles
Lucy Mazdon on Henri-Georges Clouzot, the French cinema expert and academic talks at length about the films of Clouzot and the troubled production of Inferno
They Saw Inferno, a featurette including unseen material, providing further insight into the production of Inferno
Filmed Introduction by Serge Bromberg
Interview with Serge Bromberg
Stills gallery
Original trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ginette Vincendeau

'Scalpel: Special Edition'
(Robert Lansing, Sandy Martin, Judith Chapman, Arlen Dean Snyder, et al / Blu ray / R / (1977) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: US television staple Robert Lansing (Star Trek, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone) stars as a deranged surgeon in this twisty-turny psychological thriller from Blood Rage director John Grissmer.

Blu ray Verdict: Robert Lansing plays a crazed, arrogant plastic surgeon whose young adult daughter has run away (after he lets her mother drown and brutally murders her boyfriend).

When his wealthy father-in-law dies and leaves his entire estate to the missing girl, he hits on the idea of using plastic surgery to re-make the face of a disfigured go-go dancer (Margaret Chapman) into the spitting image of his runaway daughter.

Complications arise, however, when he is unable to sexually resist his new "daughter", and when his real daughter suddenly returns.

This is pretty interesting movie, kind of Southern Gothic giallo thriller. By the standards of American thrillers, it's patently absurd, but this kind of perverse absurdity always worked well in the Italian-made giallo genre, so if you're a fan of those type of films, you'll probably enjoy this low-budget, Southern-fried American version.

Lansing is good as the mad plastic surgeon. (He's very good at laughing evilly). Although she was mainly a TV actress, Margaret Chapman does well in a dual role, creating two identical but very different characters (and she had to do so without the benefit of split-screen or expensive special effects).

She's also pretty appealing (kind of a red-haired version of Jessica Harper of "Phantom of Paradise" and "Suspiria" fame).

What I found most amazing about this was that it was originally rated PG back in the 1970's! Besides the quasi-incest (or actual incest?) angle, Chapman's character is first introduced as a topless go-go dancer who is getting her face smashed into a bloody mess against a wall by a burly male bouncer (a scene obviously perfectly appropriate for children in the 1970's).

In closing, this film has got to rank up there with 'Blood and Lace' as the most violent and perverse movie ever to garner a permissive PG rating. I personally wouldn't recommend showing it to your children, but it is a pretty entertaining movie.

Simply put, and photographed by celebrated cinematographer Edward Lachman, who would go on to serve as DP on the likes of Erin Brockovich and The Virgin Suicides, 'Scalpel' is an exemplary slice of Southern-fried gothic, filled finally rescued from VHS obscurity in this revelatory new Blu-ray edition from Arrow Video. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

•Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
•Original Uncompressed Mono Audio
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
•Brand new audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith
•Brand new crew interviews
•Original Theatrical Trailer
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil
•FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet with new writing on the film by Bill Ackerman

'Federico Fellini's Orchestra Rehearsal: Spec Ed'
(Balduin Baas, Clara Colosimo, Elizabeth Labi, et al / Blu ray / R / (1978) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: An orchestra assmbles for a rehearsal in an ancient chapel under the inquisive eyes of a TV documentary crew, but an uprising breaks out.

Blu ray Verdict: Made in 1978 for Italian television, 'Orchestra Rehearsal' is possibly Fellini s most satirical and overtly political film. In truth, this is also likely the finest make-believe documentary that I have ever seen! The setting is a rundown Medieval Roman chapel, now an oratorio where an orchestra gathers. A television crew is making a documentary about this orchestra (while the orchestra is dealing with a union dispute).

The bulk of the film's first half focuses on individual musicians, many of whom reminisce about their first encounter with the instrument they play. When the musicians talk about their instrument, they often share thoughtful and stimulating metaphors about the meaning and the function of their instrument.

There are a few times during the film where the action is interrupted by a large rumble in the building. We don't know what this is exactly until the end of the film. The film transforms from poetic, to pure comical delight, to complete chaos, to lyrical beauty when the musicians play the music.

Composer Nino Rota's contribution was an immense one. He composed all of the pieces the musicians play in the film, and I believe they the music is absolutely wonderful (my personal favorite of Rota's compositions for "Orchestra Rehearsal" being the final piece the orchestra performs). This was the last time Rota scored a Fellini film, he died the next year.

I also must comment on the top-notch cinematography, which is quintessentially Felliniesque (ex. incredible long shots of the orchestra playing, shots of musicians lined up in very particular angles, and a couple of sweeping pans).

Anybody who loves orchestral music will like this film to some degree. I happen to immensely love Fellini, Rota, AND orchestral music, so for me, this film is nothing short of absolutely marvelous entertainment! [YM] This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original 1.0 mono sound
Optional English subtitles
Richard Dyer on Nino Rota and Orchestra Rehearsal, the film scholar talks about the great composer and his last collaboration with Fellini
Orchestrating Discord, a visual essay on the film by Fellini biographer John Baxter
Gallery featuring rare poster and press material on the film from the Felliniana collection of Don Young
Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Martin

'The Gruesome Twosome: Special Edition'
(Chris Martell, Elizabeth Davis, Rodney Bedell, Gretchen Wells, Karl Stoeber, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1967) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A demented, elderly woman has her mentally retarded son kill and scalp various young women to use their hair for her wig shop while a persistent coed tries to link various killings on a local Florida college campus to them.

Blu ray Verdict: After dabbling in the unlikely world of children s entertainment with the likes of Jimmy, the Boy Wonder and The Magic Land of Mother Goose, in 1967 ''Godfather of Gore'' Herschell Gordon Lewis returned to genre he helped create with the delightfully depraved 'The Gruesome Twosome'!

The young women of a small-town American college have more than just split-ends to worry about! Down at the Little Wig Shop, the batty Mrs. Pringle and her socially-inept son Rodney are procuring only the finest heads of hair by scalping the local co-eds! Can they be stopped before they clear the entire campus of luxuriant-haired ladies?

Also including HG Lewis' Dracula-inspired vampire epic A Taste of Blood as a bonus feature, this one, 'The Gruesome Twosome', is well worth flipping your wig over, trust me!

In truth, 'The Gruesome Twosome' has a simple plot. Old Mrs Pringle (Elizabeth Davies) lives in a lovely little house just outside a Miami University Campus and runs a high quality wig shop from within it. Her son, Rodney (Chris Martell), who's a little simple in the head, helps her out. His speciality is procuring the real human hair that goes into making these wonderful wigs.

Unfortunately for the local students, this involves the brutal killing and scalping of every beautiful young girl who is lured into the house under the pretense of finding a room to rent. But hey, don't blame Rodney, it's not his fault - he's a child trapped in a man's body and his domineering Mother dearest (accompanied at all times by her stuffed bobcat, Napoleon) continually threatens him with the prospect of being sent to "the place where bad boys go" if he doesn't carry out her murderous desires.

Sounds from that like it could be one of a million naff exploitation movies churned out by the late 60's but this one has the distinction of being directed by the undisputed king of the genre, Herschell Gordon Lewis. As a result the film is loaded with the same kind of screwball, absurdist humour as found in his 'She Devils On Wheels' opus (shot virtually back to back with this one), mixed in with the trademarked ultraviolence of his earlier splatterfests.

Hilarious throughout, to my mind, the film opens with a camp seven minute conversation between two wig blocks painted to look like garish pink Mr Potato Heads! But the unintentional comedy resulting from the timing mix-ups is as good as the scripted stuff too, believe me!

Indeed, Lewis still manages to cram in plenty of deliberate gags from his cast of kooky, colourful characters. We have a quirky heroine, Cathy Baker (played by the delicious model/actress Gretchen Welles), who is an overzealous and fairly inept Nancy Drew type attending the local university, and who is forever trying and failing to solve mini-mysteries; such as the whereabouts of her friend's pet parrot (she believes they ate it the previous day in a pot pie!)

We have a creepy caretaker on campus who happens to be a bone smuggler (!) when he leaves work. We have extended scenes of pseudo-go-go dancing from the female students (including one where they all bop around waving legs of Kentucky Fried Chicken; as part of a product placement agreement Lewis scored with the fast food chain who, in turn, fed the entire cast and crew!)

Oh yeah, and to cap it all off, we're even treated to a bikini beach party scene and a stock car demolition derby! It should also be noted that gore fiends will delight in the extended sequences of scalpings, decapitations, disembowellings and eyeball gouging! All shot in squishy, sickening close-up and rich with Lewis' beloved "red glop", 'The Gruesome Twosome' is as stomach-wrenching today as it was in 1967. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Bonus Feature! 1967's A Taste of Blood
Introductions to the films by HG Lewis
Archive audio commentaries for both films by HG Lewis
Peaches Christ Flips Her Wig! San Francisco performer Peaches Christ on The Gruesome Twosome
It Came from Florida filmmaker Fred Olen Ray (Scalps, The Alien Dead) on Florida Filmmaking
HG Lewis vs. the Censors HG Lewis discusses some of the pitfalls of the blood-and-guts business including local censorship and angry moviegoers
Trailers and radio spot
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil

'Jean-Luc Godard + Jean-Pierre Gorin: Five Films'
(6-Disc Special Edition Blu ray+DVD / NR / 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: After finishing his film Weekend in 1967, Jean-Luc Godard shifted gears to embark on engaging more directly with the radical political movements of the era, and thus create a new kind of film, or, as he eventually put it: new ideas distributed in a new way.

This new method in part involved collaborating with the precocious young critic and journalist, Jean-Pierre Gorin. Both as a two-person unit, and as part of the loose collective known as the Groupe Dziga Vertov (named after the early 20th-century Russian filmmaker and theoretician), Godard and Gorin would realize some political possibilities for the practice of cinema and craft new frameworks for investigating the relationships between image and sound, spectator and subject, cinema and society.

Blu ray Verdict: To bring you a little more into this directorial mix, Jean-Luc Godard is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic. He rose to prominence as a pioneer of the 1960s French New Wave film movement.

Like his New Wave contemporaries, Godard criticized mainstream French cinema's "Tradition of Quality", which "emphasized craft over innovation, privileged established directors over new directors, and preferred the great works of the past to experimentation."

As a result of such argument, he and like-minded critics started to make their own films. Many of Godard's films challenge the conventions of traditional Hollywood in addition to French cinema.

Jean-Pierre Gorin is a French filmmaker and professor, best known for his work with Nouvelle Vague luminary Jean-Luc Godard, during what is often referred to as Godard's "radical" period.

Jean-Pierre Gorin was a student of Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault and Jacques Lacan. He was a radical leftist well before meeting Godard in 1966. Godard relied on some of his discussions with Gorin while writing the script of 1967's La Chinoise.

Included here on 'Jean-Luc Godard + Jean-Pierre Gorin: Five Films, 1968-1971' are, as can be guessed, five films, all originally shot in 16mm celluloid, that serve as examples of Godard and Gorin s revolutionary project.

First up is 'Un film comme les autres' [A Film Like Any Other] which is an analysis of the social upheaval of May 1968 made in the immediate wake of the workers and students protests. The picture consists of two parts, each with with identical image tracks, and differing narration.

Interestingly, and as history now informs us, when the film was sent to New York City's Lincoln Center for its premiere, Jean-Luc Godard included a note in the film canisters instructing the projectionist to "flip a coin" to determine in which order the film's two reels would be shown!

Then comes 'British Sounds', aka: 'See You at Mao', an examination of the daily routine at a British auto factory assembly line, set against class-conflict and The Communist Manifesto. An hour-long film shot in February 1969 for television, written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Henri Roger, and produced by Irving Teitelbaum and Kenith Trodd, funnily enough LWT (London Weekend Television) refused to screen it owing to its controversial content; but it was subsequently shown with success in cinemas. Godard credited the film as being made by 'Comrades of the Dziga-Vertov group'.

Then comes 'Vent d'est' [Wind from the East]. A loosely conceived leftist-western that moves through a series of practical and analytical passages ( an organization of shots, Godard called it) into a finale based around the process of manufacturing homemade weapons.

Filmed in 1970, 'Vent d'est' is a radical filmmaking cooperative that, at its core, and like most films from this period in Godard's career, directing credit was given to the collective and not himself or other individual filmmakers.

Of the Dziga Vertov Group films, Wind from the East became particularly notable due to Peter Wollen's influential essay about it: "Godard and Counter Cinema: Vent d'est." Indeed, Wollen contends that Wind from the East exemplifies how Brechtian principles of "epic theatre" can be applied to film as "counter cinema."

Then comes 'Lotte in Italia / Luttes en Italie' [Struggles in Italy]. Not necessarily a film about the struggles in Italy largely shot, in fact, in Godard and Anne Wiazemsky s home at the time this is a discursive reflection on a young Italian woman s shift from political theory to political practice and, at the same time, a self-questioning of its own practice and theories.

In 'Lotte in Italia', it's not the conceit of being revolutionary from a safe distance that is analyzed but the problem of it, the conundrum of how the two can be combined in one social position.

In the first part of the film we see the girl trying to formulate or conform to the political rhetoric expected from a communist as capitalist society around her provides for her.

In the second part the problem is outlined, then Godard offers solutions, thinking for example not in terms of food or clothes but the production of them, not in terms of money but labour.

Lastly we get to experience 'Vladimir et Rosa' [Vladimir and Rosa], a searing and satirical comic-reportage on the trial of the Chicago Eight, featuring Juliet Berto and Godard and Gorin themselves.

The film could be thought of as both a political satire and a court-room thriller; with the Godard and Gorin using the background of the Chicago Eight trial and the sidelines into the plight of Bobby Seale and his connection to the Black Panther Party (eventually leading to the Chicago Seven) to create a work of highly provocative agitprop.

The film dramatises certain elements leading up the arrest, including the background of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the implication of police violence and intimidation leading to riots and angry protests.

From here, the trial is documented in a way that is somewhat reminiscent of the visual approach of Le Gai Savoir, right down to the use of minimal production design with the barren black background of theatrical artificiality and the way that the characters speak directly to the camera in a completely deconstructive approach.

These films, long out-of-circulation except in film dupes and bootleg video, here make their Blu-ray debut, providing a crucial glimpse of Godard s radicalization, and of the aesthetic dialogue between him and Gorin that, in essence, served to invent a modern militant cinema. As Godard told an English journalist of the era, film is not a gun but a light which helps you check your gun. These are all High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

High-definition digital transfer
High-definition Blu-ray (1080p) and standard-definition DVD presentations
Original uncompressed monaural audio
Optional English subtitles
A conversation with JLG - Interview with Jean-Luc Godard from 2010 by Dominique Maillet and Pierre-Henri Gibert
100-page full-colour book containing English translations for the first time of writing by, and interviews with, Godard and Gorin, and more
And More!

'A Pistol for Ringo & The Return of Ringo: SE'
(Giuliano Gemma, Fernando Sancho, et al / Blu ray / NR / 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: The original Ringo films introduced another iconic hero to the spaghetti western; a clean-cut sharp shooter who was markedly different to Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name.

Blu ray Verdict: In truth, 'A Pistol for Ringo' is an above-average Spaghetti Western. The anti-hero (Gemma) and villain (Sancho) are both very charismatic, and each has a good sense of humor. The basic plot situation is interesting: Fleeing from a bank hold-up in which their leader was wounded, a gang of bandits takes refuge at a farm.

Although the farm is surrounded, the posse cannot attack because of the hostages. The anti-hero is highly paid to infiltrate and destroy the gang, and recover the money.

The film has some unusual twists; for example, the bandits are executing two hostages per day, even after the anti-hero joins the gang, and he makes no effort to halt the executions.

There is also an interesting contrast between the behavior of the anti-hero (Gemma) and the sheriff (Martin) who behaves like a traditional Western hero. Overall, the film still holds up today in the genre that it was created for, and there is also a very nice music score by Ennio Morricone.

Now, and as for the follow-up, 'The Return of Ringo,' well, look out folks as it is definitely not a sequel! Sure, all of the main actors return for this story, but they play completely different characters, and while Giuliano Gemma portrays another character called Ringo, this protagonist has nothing in common with the first Ringo!! It may seem unusual to those who haven't watched a lot of these movies, but that kind of thing is quite common in the spaghetti western genre.

This Ringo is not an outlaw like the one in the previous movie, yet he is much more serious and deadly, because he has been wronged on a very personal level, and is seeking justice and revenge. This gives the movie a much more sombre tone than the previous film. It's a gripping story without a single boring moment.

All of the main actors are at the top of their game in this one. Antonio Casas is especially good as the dysfunctional sheriff who pulls himself together with the help of Ringo. Giuliano Gemma is even better in this movie than in the previous film, and I can't say enough about Nieves Navarro.

Not only does she do a wonderful job portraying "Rosita," she looks even more incredible in this film than in the last one, which is a feat I would not have thought possible. She is quite possibly the most amazingly beautiful woman to ever appear in a western.

Also, Morricone's music score is also an improvement over the one he wrote for the first Ringo movie. There is more music in this film, and the tunes are more memorable. I especially like the theme song and if you're a fan of this genre of movie, I know you will too. These are both brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

•Brand new 2K restorations of both films from the original negative
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
•Original Italian and English soundtracks
•Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio
•Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
•Audio commentaries for both films by Spaghetti Western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke
•They Called Him Ringo, an archival featurette with star Giuliano Gemma
•A Western Greek Tragedy, an archival featurette with Lorella de Luca and camera operator Sergio D Offizi
•Original trailers
•Gallery of original promotional images
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

'Basket Case: Limited Edition'
(Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner, et al / Blu ray / R / (1982) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A young man carrying a big basket that contains his extremely deformed Siamese-twin brother seeks vengeance on the doctors who separated them against their will.

Blu ray Verdict: The feature debut of director Frank Henenlotter (Brain Damage, Frankenhooker), 1982's 'Basket Case' is perhaps his most revered - a riotous and blood-spattered midnight movie experience, now immortalized in a lavish new 4K restoration by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

So yes, to me, 'Basket Case' is a great, low-budget shlock horror/comedy from the early 80's. It involves two brothers and their plot to get revenge.

'Basket Case' has an appealing low-budget feel to it, and Kevin Van Hentenryck is very likable as Duane. Belial, the deformed twin, is an oddly sympathetic character. Yes, the film contains some scenes that many will find sick and depraved, but it also contains some truly haunting images.

Actually, this movie is about the love between two brothers and the jealousy / anger that develops when one of them falls in love. There is a certain warmth beneath all that goo! Along the way, we are treated to many scenes of mutilation and depravity, as only Frank Henenlotter can deliver.

This movie does supply emotion, and is very touching at the end. Gus Russo supplies the soundtrack for this movie. When you see the end of 'Basket Case', Gus Russo's music blends in beautifully with the scene and makes this scene very sad.

Oh, and the setting is worth the watch as well when NYC was gritty and infested with drugs and prostitutes. However, it is an interesting idea. There were moments in this movie that were so funny (that I don't think were meant to be).

Some of the characters are over the top. There were some scenes (particularly the really bad stop-animation scenes) that made me wince in their low quality. One thing is for certain though - this is a one-of-a-kind horror experience. I would say that any horror fan should have this in their collection, if you don't already. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

•Brand new 4K restoration from the original 16mm negative by MoMA
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
•Original Uncompressed Mono Audio
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
•Brand new audio commentary with writer/director Frank Henenlotter and star Kevin Van Hentenryck
•Basket Case 3-1/2: An Interview with Duane Bradley - Frank Henenlotter revisits Duane Bradley decades after the events of the original Basket Case
•Seeing Double: The Basket Case Twins - a brand new interview with Florence and Maryellen Schultz, the twin nurses from Basket Case
•Brand new making-of featurette containing new interviews with producer Edgar Ievins, casting person/actress Ilze Balodis, associate producer/effects artist Ugis Nigals and Belial performer Kika Nigals
•Blood, BASKET and Beyond - a brand new interview with actress Beverly Bonner
•Belial Goes to the Drive-In - a brand new interview with film critic Joe Bob Briggs
•Outtakes Featurette
•In Search of the Hotel Broslin - archive location featurette
•Slash of the Knife (1972) - short film by Frank Henenlotter
•Belial's Dream (2017, 5 mins) - brand new Basket Case-inspired animated short by filmmaker Robert Morgan
•Behind-the-scenes of Belial's Dream
•Trailers, TV Spots and Radio Spots
•Extensive Still Galleries
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck
•FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet with new writing on the film by Michael Gingold

'Static Shock - Season Three'
(Phil LaMarr, Jason Marsden, Kevin Michael Richardson, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Warner Archive Collection)

Overview: In the city of Dakota, a teenage boy with electricity based powers, with the help of his inventive friend, fights crime as a superhero!

Blu ray Verdict: 'Static Shock’s third season arrives dynamically double-charged as a new hero joins Static in his fight to protect Dakota, while the rookie hero demonstrates big-league-level experience.

Virgil’s journey to the hero elites begins with a Bat-bang as Static travels to Gotham City in pursuit of a Bang Baby that’s fallen in with some seductively sinister “big sisters” – the Gotham City sirens Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.

But a Batman (and Alfred) assist is waiting in the wings. Then, Richie’s knack for invention is revealed to be a Bang Baby by-product, and Richie becomes the high-tech hero Gear. But that’s just the start to a season that sees Static in Africa alongside African super hero Anansi, plus our hero battling Brainiac alongside the Justice League and tackling Toyman with Big Blue himself, Superman.

Also, this season’s end sees the inspiring African-American hero/role model shaken to the core as he travels to the recent past to revisit the night he lost his mother. And with that in mind, one of the best things about this show is how real life topics such as school shootings and gangs are easily worked into the plot without feeling fake.

The stories feel relatable. Other topics include racism, judging by appearance, the loss of a family member, and more. Virgil and Richie make the best friends duo work without coming across as cheesy or unreal, and they both deal with the problems they face maturely.

As with this 13 episode third season of the DC animated series and the two that have gone before it, what I absolutely love the most about this show is the crossover episodes they have with other DC characters like Batman, Robin, the Justice League, and even Batman Beyond.

Simply put, 'Static Shock' is good stuff and as much as I know the series only ran for one more season, I had hoped that one day he crosses over into other media forms; outside the comics or the animated series. But, he never did, of course.

In closing, 'Static Shock - Season Three' (as an animated series) has all kind of cool Meta-humans that us comic fans can't get enough of, and Phil Lamar's voice work is genius! These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.37:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of “Superman: The Animated Series: Obsession” (Bonus Episode).

'The Aftermath: Special Edition' (Blu-ray)
(Sid Haig, Lynne Margulies, Steve Barkett, Christopher Barkett, Alfie Martin, et al / Blu ray+DVD / NR / (1982) 2018 / VCI Entertainment)

Overview: A spaceship returns from deep space to find the Earth in The Aftermath of a nuclear and biological war.

Blu ray Verdict: The streets are filled with mutated survivors feeding off the weak and a Manson-like figure called Cutter, Sid Haig, The Devil's Rejects (2005), House of 1000 Corpses (2003), Jackie Brown (1997) is reigning terror down on all others.

Cutter and his gang of mercenary thugs are systematically murdering all the male survivors and enslaving women and children. Most of his targets are easy, but all that changes when Cutter confronts astronaut Newman (Steve Barkett, Empire of the Dark, Dinosaur Island, Dark Universe), and the woman Sarah (Lynn Margulies) he finds and falls in love with, and the young child Chris (Christopher Barkett, Empire of the Dark).

What follows is a cat and mouse game of violent and spectacular proportions with no less than Earth's survival in the balance.

After knowing it "inspired" DEFCON-4, I went in search for this film, since I'm addicted to PA (Post-Apocalyptic) movies. I don't care about budget and technical limitations. I'd rather focus on the feel and the honesty of the work. And in this field, 'The Aftermath' really shines. The history and characters easily overlook the obvious low budget restrictions and put to shame many higher budget counterparts.

The premise is that there are three astronauts come back to Earth after a long space mission, just to find it destroyed by nuclear war. One of them dies on the spaceship forced landing, and the other two must find their way through the new and haunting reality of a nuked world; facing radiation, mutants, marauders and the lack of hope for the future.

The dialog, acting and the action scenes are somewhat laughable, but no one can deny the fact that there's an obvious labor of love beneath each take. OTOH, inventive (altough simplistic) visual effects, a huge and loud soundtrack and the voice-over only adds to the bleak atmosphere.

There are effective sequences like the radioactive rain, the dead city landscapes and the corpses on the beach, but overall you get exactly what you paid your money for, trust me. Highly recommended, if not only for a young(er) Sid Haig, 'The Aftermath' is one of those movies that sat and watched today makes you smile and know that the world will be ok ... so long as the story never comes true, of course!

This is a Widescreen (1.78:1) Presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and this Blu-ray edition of 'The Aftermath' from VCI Entertainment was meticulously remastered in 2K high definition in 2017 from the original 35mm cut camera negative and was step frame copied one frame at a time for the ultimate in clarity and color values.

'Robert Altman's Images'
(Susannah York, Rene Auberjonois, Cathryn Harrison, et al / Blu ray / R / (1972) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: 'Robert Altman's Images' tells the tale of a schizophrenic housewife, engulfed by terrorizing apparitions, kills off both, unknowing if these demons are merely figments of her hallucinatory imagination or part of reality.

Blu ray Verdict: In my humble opinion, Robert Altman's engrossing drama 'Images' stands alone in his vast collection of directorial achievements.

Though he directed other intense dramas, this opus of unsettling psychological intrigue is about as far as one can get from his more familiar fare of offbeat comedies populated by equally offbeat characters.

In a landmark performance that garnered her a best actress award at Cannes, Susannah York portrays Catherine, a troubled soul who desperately tries to escape her innate demons and memories of past relationships.

Increasingly, reality and fantasy start to blur as Catherine develops a coping mechanism she thinks will solve her mental dilemmas. Unfortunately, there's an inherent danger in her method's madness.

Also, 'Images' was beautifully filmed in Ireland by master cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, and veteran composer John Williams provided the score. Altman protégé Rene Auberjonois effectively portrays Catherine's somewhat clueless, but good-natured husband.

In closing, many have referred to 'Images' as a portrait, even Altman himself, and I can think of no more accurate description. In many ways, it is a series of portraits; shards of a broken mirror that are haphazardly put back together.

Fot it's one of the most haunting and obscure films of the '70s, brimming with atmosphere, lush cinematography, and truly effective recreations of the schizophrenic mind. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

•Brand-new 4K restoration from the original negative, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
•Original English mono audio (uncompressed LPCM) soundtracks
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
•Audio commentary by Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger
•Scene-select commentary by writer-director Robert Altman
•Interview with Robert Altman
•Brand new interview with actor Cathryn Harrison
•An appreciation by musician and author Stephen Thrower
•Theatrical trailer
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
•FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Carmen Gray and an extract from Altman on Altman

'Black Eagle - 2 Disc Special Edition'
(Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sho Kosugi, Doran Clark, Bruce French, Kane Kosugi, et al / Blu ray / R / (1988) 2018 / MVD Rewind)

Overview: One of the US Air Force's most modern tactical aircraft, an F-111 Aardvark with a new laser guidance system, crashes into the sea near Malta - a region where the Soviet forces are highly present, too. The CIA immediately sends out their best secret agent, Ken Tami, to salvage the system before it falls into enemy hands.

Blu-ray Verdict: Sure, yes, 'Black Eagle' sounds like an excellent name for an excellent action film! And it is! This movie has it all - aviation, fighting, being a spy, etc.

Now those are the essential parts to an awesome action film, am I wrong. Anyhoo, this was the rage back in the day when it came out, and although this movie has lost this power today, it's still worth watching.

Jean Claude Van Damme had barely begun making a name for himself. He was less well-known than Sho Kosugi, with whom he had to share top billing. The plot is a nonsense actioner between Kosugi as a CIA op and JCVD as his KGB counterpart.

What is of interest is Van Damme's interpreation of a Red bad guy. This was not his first appearance as a Russian fighter. In NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER he was Ivan, a Russian mafia enforcer.

Here he is Andrei, a KGB operative who is battling Kosugi for a secret weapon. When Van Damme plays the heavy, he is somehow more threatening, more lethal than when he is the punching bag good guy.

One of his best moments in this or any of his other actioners occurs when he is not fighting at all. He is seen as merely talking to his wife who is genuinely concerned for his safety. Their verbal interaction marks him as distinctly human as they ponder his looming fate.

Further his aggressive fight scenes with Kosugi are first rate. ** SPOILER ALERT ** Even Van Damme's untimely demise with a ship's propeller raises some unexpected sighs of sympathy. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the main feature
• Original 2.0 Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) and Dolby Digital 5.1
•Includes 93 minute theatrical version + 104 minute uncut extended version of the film
•Sho Kosugi: Martial Arts Legend (HD, 21:26) (featuring new 2017 interviews with Sho Kosugi and Shane Kosugi and more)
•The Making of Black Eagle (HD, 35:50)(featuring new 2017 interviews with Director / Producer Eric Karson, Screenwriter Michael Gonzalez and stars Sho Kosugi, Doran Clark, Shane Kosugi and Dorota Puzio)
•Tales of Jean-Claude Van Damme (HD, 19:20) (Brand new 2017 interviews with cast and crew tell stories about working with the legendary action star)
•The Script and the Screenwriters (HD, 27:14) (new 2017 interviews featuring Michael Gonzales, Eric Karson and more)
•Deleted Scenes
•Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)
•Collectible Mini Poster

'Pitch Perfect 3: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray +Digital'
(Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2018 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Following their win at the world championship, the now separated Bellas reunite for one last singing competition at an overseas USO tour, but face a group who uses both instruments and voices.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this March with the release of this quite stunning 'Pitch Perfect 3' in the new 4K home video format on March 20th, 2018.

The 'Pitch Perfect 3 4K Ultra HD’ Blu-ray + Digital combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward. Image crispness and clarity receive an obvious boost, and the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial and clothing textures, which in comparison leaves the Blu-ray looking almost smooth and flat.

Importantly especially in a movie like this with so many young singer close ups, the skin tones enjoy heightened depth and accuracy with nuanced diversity of both natural tones and applied makeup. Indeed, it truly is masterful what they have done to this movie as it is now presented in a vivid (man is it vivid!) HVEC/H.265 encode and HDR10 / WCG grading that is framed in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Overall, this is a strong UHD Blu-ray presentation, and aside from the 4K (ie: 4x sharper image), the HDR (High Dynamic Range) is brilliant for the lights and deepest of darks, the Immersive Audio is phenomenal for the multi-dimensional experience of the woods and so forth, and the overall quality is, well, truly a visual masterpiece here in 4K.

The audio department get a standing ovation and this is the strongest DTS:X sound mix I've heard thus far on these new formats. The DTS:X Immersive Audio/ DTS Digital Surround 5.1 Spanish and French (Canadian) is stunning here now and has to be heard on surround sound to be truly appreciated, trust me.

As for the movie itself, well, in truth, and as one might well expect, 'Pitch Perfect 3' is your typical musical for teenage girls. Not a particularly good film, but a most definitely enjoyable one filled with silly but humorous jokes, and witty dialogue.

In fact, the plot of 'Pitch Perfect 3' is so ridiculous and boring, but the comedy factor manages to make up for it. Supplying the audience with constant laughs, particularly from Fat Amy played hilariously by Rebel Wilson; who can be irritating at some points, which is truthfully where the film suffers, most scenes involving her are usually the best moments.

The lead character Beca, played wonderfully by the excellent Anna Kendrick, is also a high point in the film. Kendrick manages to carry the rest of the cast and stand above them all due to the sassy, smart, but adorably innocent character she plays. She's someone the audience can root for, and is easily likeable. However, a lot of the supporting characters aren't quite as pleasant or loveable!

Kay Cannon's script is of average quality, but entertainingly witty. Some lines of dialogue are more cringe worthy than Anakin and Padme's romance in 'Attack of the Clones' (and that's saying something!) but you can't help but forgive such embarrassing dialogue and yet love it; because that's what makes it fun!

The direction is, again, average but the pacing is surprisingly flawless. There isn't one point that feels dragged or rushed, and the flow stays very consistent throughout. With a minimal runtime of just 93 minutes, there isn't much time for slow story building and development like, say, 'Blade Runner 2049', but you couldn't expect much more from a film like this.

Like I said, the performances from the supporting cast are mediocre at best, but, once again, you wouldn't expect Oscar worthy portrayals in a teen musical like this one anyway. The cast work well with what they've got, but you can tell they have great chemistry and obviously enjoy working together.

The cinematography is unnoticeable, which would make it average, and just blends in. No IMAX mind-blowing wide shots or expert special effects, but maybe that's a good thing. There aren't any mind-numbing distractions, so you can just enjoy the bare bones simplistic structure, and there's nothing wrong with that at all.

Because it's a musical, it's going to contain music and dance. Was it good? Well I'm no singing expert, but it seemed alright to me. Some of the songs were embarrassing and plain cringe worthy, but you can't bash the effort the actors put into the routine, which displays their dedication, and just proves they want to make sure the audience have an exciting time.

There is also a stereotypical, unnecessary villain played by John Lithgow, who fits all the criteria for a cliché mastermind bad guy. There really was no reason for him to be there, and literally doesn't develop the plot in any way, and only has some relevance in the last fifteen minutes.

This is one of those movies that would be considered a guilty pleasure. You know it's not a great film, or the best of the year, nor does it try to be. However, there is so much fun to be had with 'Pitch Perfect 3', a film chock full to the brim with light-hearted humor galore.

As for a closer look at some of the Special Features, the first one I delved into was 'Gag Reel', which is, as expected, chock full of the young ladies fluffing lines and breaking down into fits of high pitched giggles! That said, the whole 20 seconds of John Lithgow "dancing" is well worth its weight in cinematic gold!

The batch of both 'New and Extended Musical Performances' garnered from the show and the cutting room floor enhance the tale of the movie, for sure, but don't do more than bring us a massive (old school) MTV moment.

However, 'The Women of Pitch Perfect 3' featurette is definitely empowering and showcases each principal member of the just perfectly. They all get their time to shine, their individual spotlight's well deserved, one and all.

Finally in this round up is 'Don't Mess with Rebel,' where for nearly five minutes we get to meet the lady herself - along with all her hidden personalities! A joy from start to finish, it's infectious watching and listening to this gal explain (in her own way) some of the film's action scenes, etc.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

•New Musical Performances (1080p): Additional music not seen in the film. Included are Fat Amy & Fergus Casino Duet (2:38) and The Bellas: "See You Smile" Lullaby (1:45).
•Extended Musical Performances (1080p): Included are Evermoist: "How A Heart Unbreaks" (3:55), Young Sparrow/DJ Dragon Nuts: "You Got It" (1:56), and Saddle Up: "Ex's and Ohs" (2:59).

•Deleted Scene (1080p, 1:01): Aubrey at Amy's Hotel Door.
•Gag Reel (1080p, 3:22).
•Competition Crescendo (1080p, 6:37): A discussion of the movie's "Riff-Off" and how the competition is different in this film as well as a closer look at the new bands that appear in the film.
•A Cappella Action (1080p, 3:15): A discussion of the "campy" Bond-inspired music piece titled "Toxic." It also explores the film's yacht set piece.
•The Women of Pitch Perfect 3 (1080p, 4:21): A look at how the series empowers women and the female talent that makes the movies happen.
•Don't Mess with Rebel (1080p, 4:27): A humorous piece that looks at the film's action scenes and Rebel Wilson's work therein.
•The Headliner: DJ Khaled (1080p, 3:01): A look at the real-world superstar's appearance in the film.
•The Final Note: John and Gail (1080p, 2:22): A short peek at the film's silly documentarian characters.
•Just Because He's a Bad Guy... (1080p, 1:54): John Lithgow's character and work in the film are explored.
•The Final Performance (1080p, 4:30): Making the movie's final musical number.
•Official Music Video (1080p, 2:36): "Freedom! '90 X Cups."
•Hollywood of the South (1080p, 2:28): Shooting in Atlanta.
•Audio Commentary: Director Trish Sie delivers a fine track that covers the film's structure and tone, technical tidbits and filmmaking anecdotes, character arcs, plot details, performances, shooting locations, music, and much more. Fans will find this an agreeable audio companion to the film.
•Audio Commentary: Producers Paul Brooks and Max Handelman offer a fine supporting commentary that's a little less fluid and engaging than the previous but one still filled with an nice array of basic insight.

'Hazlo Como Hombre'
(Mauricio Ochmann, Aislinn Derbez, et al / DVD / R / 2018 / LGF)

Overview: Mauricio Ochmann and Aislinn Derbez star in this hilarious comedy about a man whose world is turned upside down after his best friend, and future brother-in-law, announces he's gay.

DVD Verdict: Raúl, Eduardo and Santiago have led a happy and masculine life from their childhood, until, one day, Santiago confesses to them that he is gay.

And so, Raúl, the alpha male and more homophobic of the three, tries to convince his friend that this is nothing more than a simple sexual confusion.

That is until, when the situation becomes unsustainable, Eduardo and Raúl leave aside their own prejudices and decide to help Santiago to venture into his own new gay life.

Straight from the off, and before you even proceed to watch this film, you should know that both Aislinn Derbez and Mauricio Ochmann play the roles of brother and sister when, in real life, they are actually married to each other!

Trust me, it makes all the difference knowing that and seeing the performance put on by Mauricio thereafter! He does a stellar job at being the gay man here and as much as his friends may well start off as annoying and one-minded, they too meld into his way of thinking nicely.

Overall, 'Hazlo Como Hombre' (aka 'Do It Like An Hombre') had me laughing out loud at times. A dark comedy is what I would like to term it, chock full of sexual humor throughout. Some of it, being that it's inner core is about a gay man, might be too much for some, but at the end of the day, the movie is cute, funny, dark, and yet enjoyable from start to finish. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Crossbow - The Complete Series + Digital'
(Robert Forester, Harry Carey Jr., Johnny Crawford, Will Lyman, Jeremy Clyde, Nick Brimble, David Barry Gray, Hans Meyer, et al / 6-Disc DVD / NR / (1987) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Everyone knows of William Tell: the marksman who shot an arrow through an apple atop his son s head. Few know the heroic circumstances surrounding the event. Now, the legendary tale of William Tell s struggle for freedom is captured in Crossbow. Robert Forester, Harry Carey Jr. and Johnny Crawford co-star in this thrilling medieval spectacle of drama and action.

DVD Verdict: Fourteenth Century Europe is the majestic backdrop as William Tell and his son Matthew are imprisoned by the tyrannical Gessler.

As governor of Austria, Gessler plans to stop the Swiss uprising against him by capturing Tell, the leader of the resistance. But there is no stopping William Tell s legendary strength and skill.

His struggle for freedom and revenge lead him to dashing battles, amazing escapes, heroic rescues and finally, a climactic confrontation with the evil Gessler.

Now out for the very first time ever in its series entirety on DVD, all 72 episodes are spread across all 3 seasons and brought forth over 6 discs! Inclusive of popular guest stars such as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Roger Daltrey, Steve Buscemi, Robert Guillaume, and more, this popular TV show is as great, as fun to watch today as it was back then.

The only trouble it had was that being produced back in 1986, it was considered just too similar to the highly successful 'Robin of Sherwood' (1984-86) TV series that had just finished its run in June of that very same year.

Thus, 'William Tell,' as it was called in the UK, was shown at primetime in Summer 1989 and just didn't get the viewing figures. Which is a shame as, in truth, it's actually a rather sumptuously filmed, and quality production that comes complete with a stunning soundtrack.

Filmed in France and Europe, the similarities with its British cousin ('RoS') were obviously just too much, but that said, the actors were perfect for the roles! Especially Will Lyman as William Tell and Jeremy Clyde as Hermann Gessler.

Again, for my money, the soundtrack - composed by Stanislas Syrewicz - is as good as they come for this era of filming, and the story lines were all as good as each other. There was always a lot of action, some great stunts, but never too much real OTT violence - which I think was very important at the time, given the fact that children and young teens were starting to watch the show. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Hammer Films Double Feature - Volume Three'
(Kerwin Mathews, Nadia Gray, Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie Powers, Donald Houston, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: In Volume 3 of this wonderful series from Hammer Films we get 'Maniac' (An American painter has an affair with a bar owner in a French village and agrees to help her murderer husband escape from a prison for the criminally insane) and 'Die! Die! My Darling! (A young woman is terrorized by her deceased fiancé's demented mother who blames her for her son's death).

Blu-ray Verdict: In 'Maniac' (1963, B&W - Not Rated - Kerwin Mathews, Nadia Gray, Donald Houston, Liliane Brousse), American landscape painter Geoff Farrell (Kerwin Matthews), stranded in Europe, is attracted to Annette, a young French barmaid, but ends up falling for her seductive step-mother, Eve (Nadia Gray), instead.

Four years earlier, the teen-aged Annette was raped on her way home from school and her father, Georges, institutionalized for taking an acetylene torch to her assailant.

Eve soon convinces Geoff to help her husband, now a local hero, escape from the insane asylum but, once free, a frightening series of events makes it look like Georges was a homicidal maniac after all.

In the wake of 'Psycho', England's Hammer Studios made a few black and white "mini-Hitchcock" thrillers that tried to emulate the Master of Suspense.

Indeed, 'Paranoiac', 'Maniac' and 'Hysteria' all featured real or imagined madness, murder, sex, and deception - along with numerous plot twists - to keep viewers on the edge of their seats with varying degrees of success.

There's a stark, creepy, noir-like quality to 'Maniac' and the unseen rape, torture and murder in the beginning is quite disturbing. The location shooting in the isolated region of the French Camargue is a decided asset and the compelling story, written by Jimmy Sangster, includes a number of suspenseful sequences before a surprise revelation that is near impossible to see coming.

As for 'Die! Die! My Darling!' (1965, Color - Not Rated - Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie Powers, Peter Vaughan, Donald Sutherland), the woman known for giving extravagant parties and answering door bells au natural in her youth plays an old, religious grande dame with no make-up and drab attire!

That's right, Tallulah Bankhead, in her last screen performance, shows us one more time that she was a consummate actress when given the opportunity to perform.

Every moment of hers is precious as she plays a woman that has driven her son from home by her excessive religious fanaticism and is now coping with his death.

She is visited by a woman, played by Stephanie Powers, that was engaged to her son. The dialogue and interaction between Miss Bankhead and Miss Powers is wonderful as Bankhead cuts her speech off and hams it up almost in a sedate yet effective manner.

Powers soon becomes a forced guest as Tallulah tries and "cleanse" her soul. Watching Tallulah read Biblical passages, sermonize on the evils of the flesh, and gently yet forcefully decay into a state of histrionics is delightful to watch.

My God, that woman could act! The rest of the cast is effective with Donald Sutherland in a satisfactory yet forgettable role as a dim-witted servant. Solid direction, claustrophobic settings, and good production values all add up to some good old-fashioned fun! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Hammer Films Double Feature - Volume Four'
(Gwen Watford, Patrick Allen, Felix Aylmer, Niall MacGinnis, Ann Todd, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: In Volume 4 of this wonderful series from Hammer Films we get 'Never Take Candy From a Stranger' (A serious and horrifying chiller about a small town terrorized by an elderly child molester luring young girls into his mansion with sweets, but no official will stop the perverse man because of his powerful family until it's too late).

And 'Scream of Fear' (A young wheelchair-bound woman returns to her father's estate to find he's away on business, but she keeps seeing his dead body in various places. Her stepmother and other house guests employ a plan to drive her insane and take her inheritance).

Blu-ray Verdict: In 'Never Take Candy From a Stranger' (1961, B&W Not Rated - Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, Christopher Lee, John Serret, Leonard Sachs ), if you think all Hammer films are vampires and werewolves and Frankenstein - think again!

Hammer made all kinds of films. No doubt the Cushing/Lee films are classics, but some of these lesser known thrillers are masterpiece low budget films.

This film is especially terrifying if you are the parent of a child under 15. A new family moves into town, the father taking up post as the new schoolmaster. Their young daughter makes friends with a local girl and all seems well. But this town hides a decades old secret.

As with many small towns there is one family that is the town patriarch. The founders. The family that has their hands in every pie in town. And this patriarchal family wields their power like a hammer.

They also have a family member with problems that they expect the town to turn a deaf ear to. Felix Aylmer, a wonderful British character actor gives a sit on the edge of your seat performance as the creepy Clarence Elderberry, Sr., without uttering one single word in the entire film.

Without being explicit, gory, or using foul language, Hammer presents a gut wrenchingly terrifying film that also serves as a timely public service announcement!

Another great one to watch on a cold, dark, stormy afternoon. This movie will stick with you and make you ever aware of your children's whereabouts.

Then comes 'Scream of Fear' (1961, B&W Not Rated - Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, Christopher Lee, John Serret, Leonard Sachs). Crippled Susan Strasberg goes to France to visit her father (who she hasn't seen in 9 years) and her new stepmother (Ann Todd).

When she gets there she's told her father is away on business. Suddenly, she starts seeing her father's dead body all over the house--but no one else does. Is she going mad or is her stepmother trying to drive her crazy and swindle her out of her inheritance? Handsome chauffeur Ronald Lewis tries to help her find out.

The plot is old and some of the twists have become predictable since 1961, but this is still a very good suspense film. It's well-acted, there are some very scary moments (I jumped three times) and it's imaginatively directed in eerie black and white by Seth Holt.

A scene done in a pool is downright horrifying. An early Hammer horror film that's been unfairly neglected. Also, there's an interesting scene with Lewis in a very skimpy bathing suit--surprising for its time and especially for Hammer-- they usually pushed female sexuality, not male. In truth, it benefits from being shot in black and white, the acting is very good from all the cast, and there are some scary moments; the aforementioned swimming pool being an obvious one. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Lords of Dogtown' [Blu-ray]
(Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, John Robinson, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2005) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 'Lords of Dogtown' tells the radical true story of three teenagers from California who took skateboarding to the extreme and changed the sports world forever. Stacy Peralta (John Robinson), Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk) and Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild) are the Z-Boys, a bunch of nobodies until they join board designer Skip Engblom (Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight) to create a new style of skateboarding that becomes a worldwide phenomenon. But when their hobby becomes a business, the success shreds their friendship.

Blu-ray Verdict: The Z-Boys were a group of Venice Beach teenagers who, in the 1970's, pioneered a whole new style of skateboarding that is still popular today and which earned the boys status as instant international celebrities (at least within the tightly circumscribed world of skating).

In 2001, one of the original members of the group, Steve Peralta, wrote and directed a documentary on the boys entitled "Dogtown and Z-Boys," which featured interviews with many of the original members of the group. Then, in 2005, a "fictionalized" version of the story came along, 'Lords of Dogtown,' also written by Peralta, but this time directed by Catherine Hardwicke.

It's understandable that in her approach to the material Hardwicke would want to preserve as much as possible the roughhewn, documentary flavor of the original. Thus, virtually the entire movie has been shot on grainy film stock using a hand-held camera, which creates a sense of immediacy and spontaneity, and nicely approximates the look of the time period in which the story is set.

The best scenes involve the boys performing harrowing, death-defying stunts, as they glide through and around pedestrians and vehicles along the traffic-clogged streets of their Southern California neighborhood.

However, this impressionistic style also means that the narrative is often diffuse and unfocused, making it hard for us to distinguish one character from another and to know just who we should be concentrating on at any given moment.

The ostensible protagonist seems to be Peralta himself, although it is roughly 45 minutes into the film's running time before even that simple fact becomes apparent. However, about halfway through the film, the dramatic elements finally begin to come together, we get to know some of the boys as individuals, and the movie ends on a genuinely touching note.

In the rare moments when the camera actually manages to settle down and an individual scene is allowed to play itself out, we begin to sense that some of the boys playing the skaters may actually have some real talent as actors (we can certainly see that they are damn fine skaters), and a few of them I suspect we will be hearing from again in the not too distant future.

In a non-skating role, Heath Ledger plays a sort of mentor to the boys and the owner of the surf shop which served as the launching pad for the movement. Unfortunately, with his half-hearted attempt at mastering a slacker/stoner persona and accent, Ledger seems to be merely marking time in this film, counting down to that moment when he would stun the world with his soul-shattering performance in 'Brokeback Mountain.

Who could have foretold from his work here that he had THAT up his sleeve? In closing, and here on this brand new Blu-ray release of it via Mill Creek Entertainment, 'Lords of Dogtown' is moderately informative to those who know next to nothing about the history of skateboarding, but I imagine it is the true aficionado of the sport who will get the most enjoyment out of the movie. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Legend of the American Sniper' (Blu-ray+Digital)'
(Blu-ray+Digital / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: If anyone can claim the essence of the true warrior spirit, the one who sacrifices and fights for the greater good of his comrades, and the greater good of his country, it is the American sniper. The sniper, first and foremost, is a hunter. His weapon: a rifle. His prey: another human being. None have embraced this world better than the American sniper.

Blu-ray Verdict: For my money, 'Legend of the American Sniper' is an extremely well done documentary of how snipers are trained for both the military and police departments. It gets straight up into the physical and mental capabilities and how they deal with their first kills.

That said, the mainstay of the documentary can be a wee bit overwhelming, chock full of the same things being said, just in different way and from different people, but it's all a matter of perspective.

There are primarily six ex-snipers who are interviewed here and, as mentioned, they all kinda sorta same the same stuff. However, the Army Master Sergeant provides the best perspective on what a Sniper's duties are as he details, in glorious detail, what their lives are like, their training, and what war / battle conditions they could all find themselves in.

Sure, this might be a film that is of little interest to some, but to others that want to know the type of individual that completes this training and serves their county how they should be honored will find it very interesting. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Robert Altman Presents GUN – A 6 Film Anthology'
(James Gandolfini, Martin Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Randy Quaid, Jennifer Tilly, et al / DVD+Digital / NR / (1997) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: An all-star cast, top directors, and an intriguing premise, propel this Emmy® Award-nominated series. 'Gun' features six one-hour long riveting, comical, tragic, tawdry tales involving murder, adultery, betrayal, and other sins - all triggered and sometimes resolved by the same handgun which travels into the hands of different characters.

DVD Verdict: This highly inventive film / TV series (which works on some levels, but misses the mark on others) contains two almost totally unrelated vignettes connected by a common gun. A terrorist is apprehended in an airport, but before he is caught, he throws away a handgun that was previously used in an assassination.

After he is released, he obsessively seeks out the gun, which has by now been found and sold to Walter (James Gandolfini), a security guard who takes it home to his wife (Rosanna Arquette) to protect herself when he is on the night shift.

After various events (which I will refrain from spoiling), the gun ends up in a pawnshop. From there, it finds its way to the next vignette.

It next belongs to the president of a country club in the Deep South. When he is bitten by a rattlesnake while on the golf course and dies, the gun is lost in the tall grass. The new president (Randy Quaid) is a philanderer who is fooling around with numerous women (Jennifer Tilly, Sean Young, Sally Kellerman, et al).

His wife (Daryl Hannah) seems oblivious to all this and contents herself by cooking the favorite recipes of dead presidents. Suddenly, pieces of the gun are being received in packages addressed to all the president's lovers leading to his wife's discovery of his indiscretions.

The first story is a well-crafted drama that draws the viewer in with two storylines, one following the terrorist and the other following Walter's wife Lily. The second vignette is a short story by Robert Altman, which is an imbecilic farce.

It is not clear how these two short films were pasted together. I can only guess that the first story was not commercially viable due to its short length.

The acting in the first vignette was excellent. Gandolfini does his NYC working class shtick to perfection, strutting his corpulent Italian stuff around the set like a bloated stallion. Rosanna Arquette is equally good, playing the bored NYC housewife to the hilt and delivering a surprisingly accurate performance including an excellent New York accent.

The second vignette had a good deal of recognizable talent, but nothing even remotely intelligent for them to say or do. The dialogue and story were so bad that it is hard to understand why these veteran actors would want to be associated with the project.

Maybe Altman had some kind of damaging evidence against them. To their credit, Randy Quaid and Jennifer Tilly made the best of a bad situation and delivered a couple of comical moments amid the mindlessness. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'9 Lives Movie Collection' (Blu-ray)
(Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Chuck Norris, Ron Silver, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: They Take A Lickin' But Keep On Tickin ! Nine action-packed features in adrenaline pumping high definition. 'Last Action Hero', 'Maximum Risk', 'Into the Sun', 'S.W.A.T.', 'Stealth', 'Vertical Limit', 'Blind Fury', 'Silent Rage' and 'White Line Fever'.

Blu-ray Verdict: I won't detail them all, but up first is my all-time favourite of the bunch, 'Last Action Hero' (1993) – PG-13 - Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Austin O’Brien. The plot concerns this kid Daniel Madigan. He leads a pretty poor life and the only good thing that happens in it is that he gets to go to the movies to watch his favourite movie(s), Jack Slater with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He finds a golden ticket and travels into one such movie: Jack Slater IV. Madigan marvels at his good fortune and observes the many action movie clichés: a police officer getting blown up two days from retirement, Jack Slater evading every blast and machine-gun burst that comes his way, the bad guys never winning, the attractive daughter and not one unattractive woman to be seen.

He also witness a whole array of unrealistic characters, including an animated cat and Robert Patrick (AKA Liquid Terminator from Terminator 2), as well as the stereotypical screaming boss. Let's not forget the big explosions and loud noises that always take centerstage in action movies.

Then I also liked 'S.W.A.T.' (2003) – PG-13 - Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, Jeremy Renner. Thrown into a desk job when his partner Gamble disobeys orders and shoots a hostage, Jim Street bides his time waited beside being demeaned on a daily basis.

When the commissioner brings in old school SWAT leader hondo to put together a young outfit, Street is offered to chance to retrain with the select team and is soon back on duty.

Meanwhile a man is pulled over by a black and white for a broken rear light, but is found to be a drug baron. SWAT are sent to escort the man to a secure prison but, as they take him into a holding centre he announces that whoever breaks him out of jail will get $100 million dollars.

SWAT soon have much to content with and must ensure that Montel does not escape. So if you are prepared for lots of running with guns, noise and macho posturing, then this should be enough to satisfy you here, trust me.

Another one is 'Stealth' (2005) – PG-13 - Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx. Sam Shepard, Joe Morton, Richard Roxburgh. Three pilots taking part in a secret military program are assigned to train a jet plane piloted by artificial intelligence in various air manoeuvres, but the program hits a snag when the plane develops its own warped consciousness, and it starts causing mayhem.

'Stealth' turns out to be exactly what it promises, which is a loud, dumb action movie. Unfortunately, the film isn't very entertaining. That said, I know films like 'Stealth' are supposed to be mindless fun and aren't supposed to be Oscar winners. So on that level alone this is a winner all ends up!

Then comes 'Vertical Limit' (2000) – PG-13 - Chris O’Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn. In this high-octane action film, three climbers make stupid decisions at 26,000 feet, en route to the summit of K2, the world's second highest mountain.

The climber's peril thus necessitates a rescue, which puts additional people on the mountain and at risk of dying. That's it. The story is thus fairly thin, but the filmmakers insert all kinds of natural and human obstacles, conflict, and difficulties to rev up the action and excitement.

The film's CGI creates compelling tension. We have the illusion of vertical scale, or perspective, which translates into a needed sense of vertigo. The sensation that the characters could, at any moment, fall to their deaths is the film's strength.

My own last pick would be the always great to watch 'Blind Fury' (1989) – R - Rutger Hauer, Terry O’Quinn, Brandon Call, Lisa Blount. Fun, but stupid action movie with Rutger Hauer as a blind Vietnam vet who returns to the States years later, now a master swordsman despite his disability.

He seeks out his old Army buddy Terry O'Quinn and finds himself having to protect O'Quinn's son from drug dealers. A good cast goes a long way to help out a predictable script.

Rutger Hauer is clearly enjoying himself and does a great job of juggling the serious and the humorous. Terry O'Quinn does fine as the guy not really worthy of Hauer's help.

Plus, we have 'Silent Rage' (1982) – R - Chuck Norris, Ron Silver; 'White Line Fever' (1975) – PG - Jan-Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz, Slim Pickens; 'Universal Soldier: The Return' (1999) – R - Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, Heidi Schanz, Bill Goldberg; and finally 'Into The Sun' (2005) – R - Steven Seagal, Matthew Davis, Takao Osawa. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'BabyFirst – ABC Galaxy of Learning'
(DVD / G / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: ABC learning and learning vocabulary have never been this much fun! BabyFirst TV brings you a ABC Galaxy, a kids vocabulary cartoon. In these children videos, the alphabet is made easy with children songs about the ABCs, created in crisp cut animation.

DVD Verdict: Join in all the learning of vocabulary and ABCs with these creative cartoons compilation for children. ABC Galaxy is all about making alphabet learning fun and engaging for preschool level children.

This quite brilliant and inventive new 'BabyFirst - ABC Galaxy of Learning' allows both Giggs and Hugg to take your Pre-K kids through the , quite literal, galaxy of learning.

Spanning at close to two hours in length, so real value for money here, the overall color and presentation of the show is top notch and very clean.

Two hours without interruptions or commercials, the viewing experience is definitely enhanced by that aspect too. Also, and importantly, the education that is garnered by the wee ones in your house whilst watching this DVD is definitely on the plus side here.

For as your children are learning letters, they’re also learning vocabulary words for the future as well. That's what makes this brand new DVD 'BabyFirst – ABC Galaxy of Learning' one for your family's household. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'BabyFirst: Color Crew - New Adventures'
(DVD / G / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Meet the Color Crew – a lively bunch of crayons that explore all the colors of the world! Join them as they introduce basic colors in their very own special way.

DVD Verdict: This lovely DVD features back-to-back episodes of the colorful friends forging ahead on a new and different journey each time.

The colorful and musical journey is sure to make your little one smile with delight!

Spanning at close to two hours in length, so real value for money here, the overall color and presentation of the show is top notch and very clean.

As with other BabyFirst home entertainment releases, two hours without interruptions or commercials is always a plus when you have babies. Indeed, the viewing experience is definitely enhanced by that aspect here too.

Here on this new Babyfirst DVD, the Color Crew encourage all their little watchers to gain a familiarity with the names and qualities of basic colors.

So, of course, the unique crayon characters reflect diversity, but also inclusion as they join forces to embellish a series of highly inventive black-and-white scenes.

Each segment spotlights the work of one color in particular, giving ample time for viewers' retention through repetition. Even though the show favors conformity over creativity in its color assignments, the end result is visually pleasing for kids.

That's what makes this brand new DVD 'BabyFirst: Color Crew - New Adventures' one for your family's household. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Knightfall - Season One'
(Tom Cullen, Sabrina Bartlett, Jim Carter, Pádraic Delaney, Simon Merrells, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray + Digital / NR / 2018 / LGF)

Overview: 'Knightfall: Season One' follows the Knights Templar, who for 200 years were the most elite warriors of the Crusades. We meet the Templars after the fall of the city of Acre — where the Holy Grail was lost — and rejoin them years later in Paris as they embark on a mission to find the lost Cup of Christ.

Blu-ray Verdict: Ok, yes, so let's get this off our collective chests now, shall we: This series is plagued with historical inaccuracies. Of course, the most shocking of all is the reference to the kingdom of Catalonia, which never existed!

Catalonia was a county (not a country), part of the kingdom of Aragon. In 1469 the kingdom of Aragon and the kingdom of Castile, joined through the marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, a.k.a. the Catholic Monarchs, thus becoming the kingdom of Spain, which remains to our days. Anyhoo, other narrative is manipulative also, but that said, and for my money, the show is very good and gets better and better with each episode. Indeed, the final episode is excellent and leaves a lot of intrigue open which I hope continues into a Second Season.

There are a satisfying number of unexpected twists and turns. Sure, there is some predictability at times, but it doesn't take away from the entertaining value of the show. The costumes and scenery are excellent and believable. The acting is very good and believable.

This is not Game of Thrones in terms of the number of utterly shocking twists and turns and highly intense character development. But then NOTHING out there is like Game of Thrones. I would say this is similar to Spartacus in terms of the drama, acting and action. Less violence than Spartacus.

Also, there is no nudity in this because it is the History channel. But there is a good love story, and tension throughout, and good guys who do bad things and bad guys who do good things which keeps it from being simplistic.

In wrap, and in terms of the historical accuracy - who cares? If you want historical accuracy then watch documentaries or read a pile of history books. If you want to watch dramatic period depictions with a few historical facts here and there and lots of fiction, drama and action, all in a believable period setting, then watch TV shows and movies. And this is a really good TV show! (RN) This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Chris Marquette, Amanda Crew, Michael Eklund, Mick Foley, Niall Matter, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: A mild-mannered deli clerk finally gets a second chance to pursue his high school sweetheart, a notorious female professional wrestler, when she returns for their ten-year reunion.

Blu-ray Verdict: Corey (Chris Marquette), still lives in his mom's basement with same job slicing meat in a tiny deli for over a decade, a sad and lonely figure. His life shut down after hastily proposing marriage to his best friend Sheena (Amanda Crew) in front of their entire high school only to have her turn him down.

A humiliated Corey wanted Sheena to stay in their small town, but she was going onto much bigger things. Ten years later, Sheena, now a world-renowned professional wrestler, famous for her legendary temper in and out of the ring, has come back home for her and Corey's high school reunion and Corey cannot help himself, immediately falling for Sheena all over again.

But professional wrestling has not been kind to Sheena. She's changed. She's hostile and burnt-out from years on the road and has announced her retirement. To win back over her heart, Corey plans a retirement benefit match for Sheena but what Corey never envisioned is that the match lures talent scouts to watch her wrestle and the scouts are so impressed that they are going to fly in the big boss to see Sheena wrestle.

If he's as dazzled as they are, he'll offer Sheena an exclusive five-year wrestling contract ... only it is to wrestle in Japan. Corey feels like he's been scissor-kicked in the stomach. The very event intended to rekindle Sheena's love for wrestling, and hopefully her love of him, now threatens to take her away from him forever. As they say, love is hard to pin down!

'Chokeslam' (still as wickedly a brilliant title for a movie that I've heard in many a year), premiered at the 2016 Calgary International Film Festival Closing Gala, on Sunday October 2nd, and has been gaining a lot of home video interest ever since; and rightfully so.

Sure it's not chock full of star names or even big locations, but it was filmed on a modest B-movie budget, and features a lot of locals from the town's where they filmed as extras. The cast do very well with the script they are given, never hamming it up, never layering extra cheese on top, and the actual wrestling scenes are "real enough" that your teeth will shudder upon mat impact, trust me! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Handmaid's Tale - Season One'
(Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / Vision Media)

Overview: Based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning, best-selling novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States.

Blu-ray Verdict: Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalism in its militarized “return to traditional values.”

As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, belonging to the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate the world.

In this terrifying society, Offred must navigate between Commanders, their cruel Wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids – where anyone could be a spy for Gilead – with one goal: to survive and find the daughter who was taken from her.

Simply put, 'The Handmaid's Tale' is a 10-episode series not to be compared with any series I've seen before. Showcasing on Hulu, the story shows a terrifying future told by amazing actors, fabulous camera shots and brilliant cinematography.

Indeed, as a lover of the original Margaret Atwood novel - that is a chilling story of subjugation and ideology gone wrong in the face of terror - I was looking forward to watching this.

Elizabeth Moss is, as always, incredible, a force in this role. She embodies the character of Offred, and with little effort or words, you see her pain and anger. Yvonne Strahovski is also incredible, and too, you see her struggle, her anger, her defeat in every scene she is in.

However, completely stealing the show is Alexis Bledel, who is absolutely magnificent! In episode 3, after a horrific act, she has 20 seconds of pure brilliance, showing so many emotions without saying a single word. I was awestruck by the last 10 minutes of that episode, her performance was perfection.

Ann Dowd makes you feel sorry for her and hate her at the same time, and that is an incredible feat of acting. Samira Wiley also gets to have some much-like moments, but I won't give those away here.

I was hesitant about this series when it started, but once I got past the comparisons to the book and went back and watched the story for what it was, I was spellbound. This is something that cannot be missed. Every primary actress in this series deserves a nomination and a win, not just Moss. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

From Script to Screen - Go inside the premiere episode's "Salvaging", a harrowing scene where Handmaids violently participate in the execution of an alleged attacker. Interviews with series Showrunner/Executive Producer Bruce Miller, Elisabeth Moss, Ann Dowd and Madeline Brewer, as well as an in-depth look at the story points, character arcs and complexity of shooting this sequence with Director of episodes one through three, Reed Morano.
Hope in Gilead - Examine the reasons why "THE HANDMAID'S TALE" has captivated millions and become a cultural phenomenon. The cast and crew discuss parallels with today's political climate as well as the series' themes of hope, resilience and the fight for freedom.

'Who Killed Tupac?'
(2-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / LGF)

Overview: In this investigative series, noted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump sets out to find out the answer to one of the entertainment world's greatest mysteries: Who killed Tupac Shakur?

DVD Verdict: 'Who Killed Tupac?' is an incredible and highly indepth six-hour limited series, focusing on the investigation, twenty years after the death of the prolific and influential rapper and actor, Tupac Shakur.

But, be assured of one thing that that is at no point in this thrilling, and eye-opening documentary do they actual come up with a sustainable, and better yet, truthful answer.

The documentary (which has a nice running time of 252 minutes) is part of a recent surge in projects attempting to explain the reason behind Shakur’s fatal shooting at the intersection of Flamingo and Koval on Sept. 7th, 1996. Indeed, what sets 'Who Killed Tupac?' apart from the others is that civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who’s represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, claims he’s approaching the case from scratch.

The trouble is, when you begin with the assumption that Metro didn’t care about Shakur’s murder because of his race, isn’t any “investigation” already tainted?

At one point, Crump seems to cast blame on Suge Knight, the former UNLV defensive lineman who owned Shakur’s record label and was driving the car into which the fatal bullets were fired.

“When Suge Knight made that left turn to get away from the gunfire,” Crump says, “he also left the crime scene open to the heavy traffic that night, which would make it very difficult for police to gather physical evidence from the scene.”

That aside, and in a particularly poignant moment, rapper E.D.I. Mean, Shakur’s friend who was in the car behind Knight’s, meets Chris Carroll, who was the first Metro officer on the scene of the shooting.

For the first time, the two get to share their perspectives: E.D.I.’s that he and his friends were treated as suspects because of their race; Carroll’s that he kept his gun drawn because he had no idea what he’d stumbled upon.

The result is the sense of mutual understanding that they’d been seeking for more than two decades. That said, and again, don't expect anything new with regard answers for there just isn't any, sorry. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Deep Red: Limited Edition'
(David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, et al / 2-Disc Blu ray / R / (1975) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: After witnessing the murder of a famous psychic, a musician teams up with a feisty reporter to find the killer while evading attempts on their lives by the unseen assailant bent on keeping a dark secret buried.

Blu ray Verdict: With this film, profound director Dario Argento raised the bar for Giallo's. With it's spanning plot, complete with highly inventive ideas and intriguing theme; 'Deep Red' (aka Profondo Rosso) is an absolute highlight in the sub-genre.

The film follows a female medium who, while giving a lecture, senses the presence of a murderer in the room that is transmitting murderous thoughts to her. Pretty soon after, she is brutally murdered by an unknown assassin, under the watchful eye of Mark (David Hemmings); a professional piano player.

As you would expect from Giallo, Mark then takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of the murder and, along with a nosey female journalist (Daria Nicolodi), he conducts his own investigation. However, things are never that simple and aside from trying to solve the murder, he also finds himself being pursued by the maniac...will he be able to discover the truth before it's too late?

Profondo Rosso is, in the collective eyes of the horror fanatics, Argento's number two (Suspiria being number one). I don't actually agree with that; as I think that Tenebre, Opera and Bird With the Crystal Plumage belong in front of this one, but Profondo Rosso is definitely up there, so who am I to complain?

This film features a lot more bloodshed than anything Argento had made previously, and that is definitely a good thing. However, the plot does slow down at times, and it's not paced as well as Bird with the Crystal Plumage is. It's also somewhat wayward, with it spending lots of time on certain things, such as the investigation in the haunted house, and not a lot of time on other things that are just as important to the mystery.

Despite there being quite a few death scenes, I do feel that Argento would have been better served either adding another one to increase the excitement, or maybe cutting the film down a little to make it run more smoothly.

The murders that Dario does give us, however, are brutal to say the least! We've got a woman burned to death in a bath of scolding water, another woman smashed through a glass window, a man having his teeth smashed against a table (not too dissimilar to the 'curb' scene in American History X) and, of course, the final death, which has to be seen to be believed - an amazingly over the top scenario to say the least!

David Hemmings take the lead role in Profondo Rosso, and does a very good job of it. Hemmings is, of course, most famous for his role in 'Blow-Up', and his role here isn't too different from that one. Starring alongside Hemmings is Daria Nicolodi, the actress that has starred in a number of Argento's films (Opera, Inferno and Tenebre to name three) and also collaborated with Argento on another fine creation.

I'm sure you know who I'm talking about. Also getting in on the fun is Gabriele Lavia, whom Argento fans will remember from Inferno (also, curiously, called Carlo). Dario Argento's direction here is nothing short of sublime.

His use of the camera is more than assured and some of the camera angles and images that are presented on screen are amazing. Dario Argento deserves every piece of praise that he gets and anyone that sees this film will not find it hard to see why.

Overall, 'Deep Red' (aka Profondo Rosso) ranks as an absolute must see. It's one of the finest Giallo's ever made and is a career highlight for everyone involved. Highly recommended viewing for all. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of two versions of the film
•Original Italian soundtrack in lossless DTS-HD MA mono 1.0
•Optional surround sound remix of the Italian soundtrack in lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1
•Original English soundtrack in lossless DTS-HA MA mono 1.0*
•English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
•6 postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
•Reversible fold-out poster featuring two original artworks
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
•Limited Edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film, and an archival essay by Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills

•Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative
•Audio commentary by filmmaker and Argento expert Thomas Rostock
•Introduction to the film by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin
•Profondo Giallo, a new visual essay by Michael Mackenzie featuring an in-depth appreciation of Deep Red, its themes and its legacy
•Rosso Recollections: Dario Argento s Deep Genius the Deep Red director on the creation of a giallo masterpiece
•The Lady in Red: Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profondo Rosso
•Music to Murder For! Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red
•Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid to Shop a tour of the Profondo Rosso shop in Rome with long time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi
•Italian theatrical trailer

•Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative
•US theatrical trailer

* The English audio track on the original, longer cut has some portions of English audio missing. English audio for these sections was either never recorded or has been lost. As such, these sequences are presented with Italian audio, subtitled in English.

'Children Of The Corn: Runaway'
(Marci Miller, Jake Ryan Scott, Mary Kathryn Bryant, Lynn Andrews, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / NR / 2018 / LGF)

Overview: 'Children of the Corn: Runaway' follows a young pregnant Ruth who escapes a murderous child cult in a small Midwestern town. She spends the next decade living anonymously in an attempt to spare her son the horrors that she experienced as a child. She lands in the small Oklahoma town, but something is following her. Now, she must confront this evil or lose her child.

Blu-ray Verdict: Ruth (Marci Miller) is a member of the killer children but when she discovers she's pregnant she burns the other children and heads off with her unborn child to give it a better life. Thirteen years later Marci and her son are trying to start over in a new town but pretty soon she begins to feel that the children are after her.

You know, I love horror films and I especially love horror series. Sure, the majority of them don't deliver as many good films as bad ones but I still get a thrill whenever a new sequel is announced to a series.

One could really argue that the entire Children Of The Corn series hasn't turned out any good films, but sadly this one here is without question the worst yet. It's really too bad that this film turned out to be so awful, but there's very little here to enjoy.

I'm really not sure what director John Gulager and writer Joel Soisson were trying to do with the picture, but it's one of the most boring films that I've seen in recent years.

The problem with the screenplay is that we're given a lead character that is downright boring and it's someone that the viewer simply doesn't care for. Another major problem with the screenplay is that there are way too many dream sequences and these just get rather tiresome after a while.

And as much as I truly honestly wanted to like it, or at least some part of it, there just wasn't anything here that I could lock onto. Hell, even the short running time seemed triple what it really was! Again, I'm not sure if the director was trying to deliver some sort of psychological movie, but it doesn't work.

In closing the one saving grace to the film was Lynn Andrews III who plays the black boss. Again, I'm not exactly sure what the screenplay was trying to do with his character, but the actor was very good here and I hope to see him in other projects. This is a Widescreen Presentation (AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

Deleted Scene - Found a Rabbit (1080p; 1:52)

'Regal Academy: The Grand Ball'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: It's time for the first Grand Ball at Regal Academy! This means big dresses, big dancing, and big dates!

DVD Verdict: With the Grand Ball approaching, Rose ends up taking Hattie, the grandson of the Hatter. Joy wants to go with Esquire Frog, but he's under a powerful frog curse!

Can Joy and Rose come up with a plan to break the evil spell before the Fairy Tale Ball ends? Well, I think we all know the answer to that question, but it's always fun to watch this show, along with your kids, of course, and discover how they manage to do the things they do!

With a running time of 70 minutes and including three stories in all, 'Regal Academy: The Grand Ball' will have your little ones glued to the TV for a long time, trust me. So, aside from The Grand Ball, we get Swan Dancing with the Stars and Song of the Sea Witch.

In those other two fun-filled stories, Headmistress Cinderella holds a dancing competition at her castle and the Sea Witch steals Rose's voice right before her singing debut!

In closing, my little girls LOVE these DVDs and just can't stop from putting old ones into the player to watch throughout the day, so to get a new one for review, well, they are sooooooooo happy right now! They especially like the bonus karaoke song, “This Is The Moment” from the movie.

As akways, 'Regal Academy: The Grand Ball' is a great, fun and educational DVD filled with obstacles that require teamwork and determination. It's a great addition to your kids' DVD library and won't ever go out of fashion (not in my household, anyway!) This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

DVD Purchase Link

Best of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Recipe for Fun
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Let's all go to Baker Aker's Bakery! Join Daniel Tiger as he picks out a cake for his birthday party with the help of his mom, goes to the bakery with Prince Wednesday to make cookies for the Neighborhood, and learns how to make delicious banana bread from Baker Aker.

DVD Verdict: With a running time of an incredible 135 minutes and as many as 8 episodes in total included, 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Best of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood - Recipe for Fun' is one of the best value for money products from PBS kids in quite a while.

These episodes include Daniel’s Birthday, I Love You, Mom, A Trip to the Enchanted Garden, Fruit Picking Day, Be a Vegetable Taster!, Daniel Tries a New Food, Baking Mistakes and Daniel’s Allergy.

Banana bread is Mom's favourite she Daniel learns how to make banana bread and special treats for people he cares about. Soon enough Daniel discovers that making something for someone you care about is one way to say "I love you!" Daniel also tries new foods, attends a fruit festival in the Enchanted Garden, and much more in these eight grr-ific tales! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

DVD Purchase Link

'Smithsonian: Bible Hunters'
(DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: When scholars began to question the authority and accuracy of the Holy Scripture, a group of intrepid explorers set out to discover the historical roots of the Bible. What they found would rock the foundations of Christianity. Join archeologist and historian Dr. Jeff Rose as he follows the trail of those who unearthed ancient texts and forever changed how we see this most sacred book.

DVD Verdict: Until the 19th century, most Bible-reading Christians believed the Old and New Testaments represented the Divine Word of God, presented in text without error.

But when scholars began to question the authority and accuracy of the Holy Scripture, a group of intrepid explorers set out to discover the historical roots of the Bible.

What they found would rock the foundations of Christianity. Join archeologist and historian Dr. Jeff Rose as he follows the trail of those who unearthed ancient texts and forever changed how we see this most sacred book.

As we watch it all diligently unfold, 'Smithsonian: Bible Hunters' charts the beginning of the Iron Age and the emergence of Israel and its literature, including the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the downfall of Israel, Judah in the Assyrian and Babylonian periods, Yehud and Persia, and the Hellenistic period.

Each chapter provides a summary of the period under consideration, a historical reconstruction of the period, based on biblical and extrabiblical evidence; a critical study of the biblical literature deriving from or associated with the period, and theological conclusions that readers may draw from the relevant biblical texts. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Smithsonian: Designing Dogs'
(DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Puggles, Schnoodles, Labradoodles - they're not newfangled snack treats, they're actually newfangled dogs. Join us as we chronicle the never-ending search for the perfect canine and look at the world of hybrid, purebred, and rescue dogs.

DVD Verdict: In what was a truly fascinating watch, 'Smithsonian: Designing Dogs' is less Crufts and more chemistry!

For, as it turns out whilst watching this indepth and highly revealing new Smithsonian Channel documentary via PSB, for instance; and my favorite cross-bred, by the way, the Labradoodle is not a recognised breed and there are no breeding standards in place. As a cross between a Labrador and a Poodle, Labradoodles are intelligent and active dogs that need lots of mental and physical stimulation. They are best suited to more experienced dog owners, not least because they will benefit from having several hours of exercise per day and a committed obedience routine for stimulation and good behaviour.

Personality-wise, Labradoodles are very affectionate and lively. They can make good family pets but due to their boundless energy, their ideal owner will enjoy being active and taking them on several long walks each day.

Another cross-breed investigated for its, well, cuteness, shall we say, is the Schnoodle. A cross between a Miniature Schnauzer and a Poodle, Schnoodles are charming, funny and smart.

Indeed, and as is discussed at length, their alert nature — thanks to that double dose of Schnauzer and Poodle attentiveness — makes them excellent watchdogs. They are small dogs and typically have a curly coat that must be clipped regularly.

So as you can tell, 'Smithsonian: Designing Dogs' is incredibly revealing, lots of fun, and very informative. The message: Do your homework before buying one of these cute little dogs, and you’ll be well rewarded with a wonderfully funny dog. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Sandman'
(Tobin Bell, Haylie Duff, Shaun Sipos, Shae Smolik, et al / DVD / R / 2018 / LGF)

Overview: A young girl is bringing a terrible evil to life every time she falls asleep. When a string of violent deaths circle around young Madison, she realizes that the Sandman in her nightmares is commiting these crimes. With the help of her Aunt Claire (Haylie Duff), she tries to stop him before anyone else dies.

DVD Verdict: The Syfy Channel don't do horror originals very often and that's a shame because more often than not when they do they're quite good.

'The Sandman', executively produced (in what actual capacity, who knows, by the great Stan Lee) is somewhat similar to 'Before I Wake' (2016), but adds a certain horror sprinkling to it that dazzles a wee bit more, in my humble opinion.

Written and directed by Peter Sullivan, 'The Sandman' chronicles events in the Los Angeles area when an orphaned girl with psychic abilities (Shae Smolik) is granted custody by her photographer aunt (Haylie Duff), who has a sometimes live-in partner (Shaun Sipos).

Unfortunately, there's a deadly creature linked to the girl whom she calls the Sandman. Tobin Bell plays a government agent obsessed with cultivating the girl's powers while Amanda Wyss plays a psychiatrist who wants to heal her.

Starring Haylie Duff (who was far better than I ever expected), Tobin "Jigsaw" Bell and Paul Logan (though he may as well not have been cast), this horror effort once again shows that Syfy should do more horror.

With a great looking beastie, decent performances and a well delivered concept this was a lot of fun. It's ending is a tad sudden and it's not overwhelmingly original, but it's forgiven due to it's decent entertainment value. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Braven' [Blu-ray]
(Jason Momoa, Zahn McClarnon, Jill Wagner, Stephen Lang, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / R / 2018 / LGF)

Overview: Jason Momoa stars in this intense action-thriller about a logger fighting for survival against drug traffickers who have stashed heroin in his hunting cabin.

Blu-ray Verdict: In 'Braven', Jason Momoa ('Aquaman') plays the robust owner of a logging company, Joe Braven. And with that, the title of this film is explained from the onset.

Joe is a good-hearted man who's concerned about the welfare of his employees. He's a true family man who truly loves his wife Stephanie (Jill Wagner) and adores his daughter Charlotte (Sasha Rossof). And then there's his father Linden (Stephen Lang) who shows signs of Alzheimer's; in ways such as he still thinks strange women are his dead wife.

And that's the source of misery. The moment Joe decides to go to their isolated mountain cabin with his father to discuss possible options, he doesn't realize that some obscure drug gang is using his hut as a storage for a significant amount of drugs.

One thing certainly isn't missing in 'Braven' is the huge amounts of predictability. The fact that Joe and his father are present the moment this drug gang tries to recover their goods isn't exactly a huge plot surprise.

Also Joe's daughter, Charlotte belonging to that group of stubborn teenage daughters, is something you could expect. And that stubbornness also kicks in at the least favorable moment, so Charlotte is also present during the confrontation.

Not problematic enough yet? Trust me, Joe's wife Stephanie also has a membership card from the club "wives-who-always-show-up-at-the-wrong-time". Fortunately, Stephanie excels in the Olympic discipline of archery.

There are also a lot of what-the-hell moments. Father Braven suffers from delusions and forgets a lot, but appears to function well when he's under pressure. Fortunately he wasn't delirious during the confrontation and started to think that one of the gang members was his son. Because that would have been rather problematic!

I also found the fact that a hair band gave Kassen immediate insight; rather impressive. And then there was that nonchalant thrown down knife. Hold on tight. Although this was an immense forest, the one who it was intended for actually found it!

Rather ridiculous, sure, especially when you see the same guy bumping into a tree just before that. After which he looks at it in a surprised way, thinking, "What's this tree doing here in this forest ...". Hilarious.

That all said, 'Braven' isn't really bad, but you won't be blown away by this clichéd action movie either. Even the use of an axe on fire, won't get you ecstatic. Ultimately, you can only conclude that thousands of such films have already been made.

To finish on a positive note, Garret Dillahunt can join the group of most intriguing bad guys in film history. A cruel person who smashes someone's head and looks at everyone with an apathetic gaze = a psychopathic figure if ever there was. (PP) This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

“The Braven’s Views” Featurette

'Are We Not Cats'
(Michael Patrick Nicholson, Chelsea Lopez, Michael Godere, Dean Holtermann, Charles Gould, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / Cleopatra Entertainment)

Overview: 'Are We Not Cats' is the strange, but tender story of a man who, after losing his job, his girlfriend, and his apartment in a single day, attempts to restart his life, but is sidetracked when he meets a woman who shares his unorthodox habit - a proclivity for eating hair.

DVD Verdict: Wow! Yep, that's the first though that came to my mind once we got to the hair eating part, but knowing that this is a real life medical condition, well, that just made me even more invested.

Oh, in case you weren't aware, eating hair is VERY dangerous and bad for your body. The human body can’t process hair as it does food. Eating hair can lead to a very dangerous condition that has been dubbed Rapunzel Syndrome (after the Grimm's fairy tale character and her legendary locks). Lastly, giving you the full monty here, Rapunzel Syndrome is also called Trichophagia, for those now fully invested in this tale.

A little bit experimental at its core, and as far away from the given genre synopsis as possible (for this is totally not a horror film, sorry!), 'Are We Not Cats' may seem a little weird to digest (sorry, had to) for a lot of viewers giving it a shot, but for those of you who push through, it will be rewarding, trust me.

An entertaining premise combined with a taut script and some wonderful, artsy at times cinematography, the film is, basically put, one of where a boy meets a girl, but with an interesting; and early on, twist - due to their shared love of, well, you know.

Weird and slow, sure, but I can honestly say that at now point did I get up and put the kettle on, or make a cup of coffee, or even open the door to the mail man. I was never bored, always intrigued, definitely entertained, and would recommend this film to everyone in search of something a little different for their evening viewing. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of Audio Commentary from Director Xander Robin, Deleted Scenes, Slide Show, and More!

'The Twilight People: Special Edition'
(John Ashley, Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin, Charles Macaulay, Pam Grier, et al / Blu ray+DVD / PG / (1972) 2018 / VCI Entertainment)

Overview: A kidnapped diver is taken to an island inhabited by a mad scientist and his half-animal, half-human creations.

Blu-ray Verdict: Basically put, just in case you haven't gotten your fill of bad 'Island Of Lost Souls' remakes, here is this absolute beauty.

Successful adventurer Matt Farrell (John Ashley) is kidnapped whilst on a dive by sadistic hunter Steinman (Jan Merlin), who takes him to a mysterious island dominated by the insane Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay).

Gordon has been doing experiments on the native locals and cross-bred them with certain animals in an attempt to create a great army, and sees Farrell as a suitable addition to his grisly bunch. After escaping with Gordon's daughter Neva (Pat Woodell) and all the human-animal hybrids, Steinman pursues them in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.

As far as re-makes/re-imaginings of the hugely influential Island of Lost Souls (1932) go, The Twilight People certainly isn't the worst. Choked with massive budget limitations that naturally leads to terrible acting and worse make-up, this Grindhouse effort certainly has it's charms. It is, of course, f**king awful, but there is a bit of spirit amongst the cast, and plenty of laugh-at-the-s**t-make-up moments.

The creatures, which include an Antelope Man, an Ape Man, a Wolf Woman, and most hilariously, a Bat Man, are so ridiculous looking that I could scarcely believe that the actors behind them managed to keep a straight face throughout the film. It does, however, have Pam Grier as the Panther Woman (made famous by Kathleen Burke from the 1932 original), and seeing her rip her way through a number of Gordon's henchman is certainly worth your time.

But the on-the-run second half of the film repeatedly stalls and ultimately bores, as the film seems to be wind down the proceedings in order to sustain an acceptable running time. It is also quite tame as far as low-budget monster movies go, but I have to admit that it added to it's almost innocent charm.

The ending, which doesn't really wrap anything up, ends abruptly when I was expecting and almost hoping for five minutes more. To summarise then, certainly worth a watch if you like your movies trashy, cheap, and easy to watch, but a meandering and ridiculous film overall. Though I would recommend a watch simply for the Bat Man, paper wings and all. (TG) This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

•Commentary by David Del Valle and David Decoteau
•Interview with Eddie Romero (1080p; 58:44)
•Original Trailer (1080p; 1:51)
•TV Spots (1080p; 1:34)

'My Friend Dahmer' [Blu-ray]
(Anne Heche, Vincent Kartheiser, Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Dallas Roberts, et al / Blu ray / R / 2018 / Film Rise)

Overview: Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys in the Midwest United States between 1978 and 1991 before being captured and incarcerated. He would become one of America's most infamous serial killers. This is the story before that story.

Blu-ray Verdict: The Midwest is incubating a monster, and he's in every club photo. A slouched posture and taboo interests define the young Dahmer.

Roadkill is his closest companion, and acids are his most trusted tools. A hunger for dark meat and classmate laughs, he stages spasms to build his brand.

John has watched Dahmer with a talent scout's eye, and he sees great potential. founding the Jeff Dahmer Fan Club, John perpetuates Dahmer's lewd antics. John aspires to illustrate comics one day, and chooses Dahmer as his flagship endeavor, utilizing the awkward gold that the future killer exudes.

Fishing twists into sinister explorations when Jeff reels a creature in, and animal traps feed a vacuous curiosity for the misplaced biologist. With a mother clawing into the household's fabric, and a lame duck father, Jeff loves both far too much and crumbles under the failings of his bearers.

A hunter in training without a trainer, Jeff is sloppy and overt. He spooks his first victims and broadcasts his desires in horn-rimmed eyes. Alcohol becomes the tether to reality, enabling him to traverse even the murkiest social waters. Jeff has no mentor for the science he wishes to pursue.

Meyers fails to unearth the psychology of criminal innovation. Relying heavily on pre-established lore and fanfare, nothing appears on the screen that shocks or entices further study. The cookie cutter high school friend plot might be factual, but it makes for an uninteresting lens on a rather interesting individual.

No motive rises to the surface, and no transformation commands the trajectory of Dahmer's descent into homoerotic blood bathing.

That said, the aftermath facts remain now part of our sordid American history: Jeffrey Dahmer committed his first murder three weeks after graduating high school. As a teen, he coped with his parents' failing marriage with alcohol abuse and acting out at school, and developed a fascination with death.

He went on to kill sixteen people, preying mostly on young gay men in Milwaukee. He dismembered and ate some of his victims. He was finally caught in 1991, and a fellow inmate murdered him three years later. (TFS) This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Sleeping Dogs: Special Edition'
(Sam Neill, Warren Oates, Nevan Rowe, Ian Mune, et al / Blu ray / R / (1977) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Recluse Smith (Sam Neill) is drawn into a revolutionary struggle between leftist guerillas and the New Zealand government. Implicated in a murder and framed as a revolutionary conspirator, Smith tries to avoid violence while caught between warring sides.

Blu-ray Verdict: Neill in his first lead role in a feature plays Smith, a man escaping the break-up of his marriage by finding isolation on an island off the Coromandel Peninsula. As he settles into his new life, the country is experiencing its own turmoil: an oil embargo has led to martial law and civil war, into which Smith reluctantly finds himself increasingly involved.

Co-starring Warren Oates (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) as the commander of a US army unit drawn into the conflict, 'Sleeping Dogs' is simultaneously a political thriller, a personal drama and a true landmark in New Zealand cinema.

Released in 1977, the film possessed a poignancy for New Zealanders, who at the time viewed the then Muldoon National Government with some suspicion. A scene involving riot police in an Auckland street was a chilling portent of events during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour to New Zealand, and indeed on its release in the USA, some Americans confused the film's images with media reports of the tour protests.

On the run from the police and the army to save his life, the only ones who can help him are the same members of the resistance that caused him trouble; including Bullen (Ian Mune), who had an affair with Smith's wife, Smith now has to think on his feet - and fast!

There's a few gaps in the narrative, some things are half explained and others don't get any explanation at all, also a lack of idealism or reasons to explain why there's a conflict between the rebels and the government, and all that made the film less appealing, and very confusing.

Both sides of the political tensions are presented equally distant from us, so we can't decide which one is right and which one is wrong; our empathy must stay at all time with Neill's character, who is an enigma to us, we don't know what was his occupation before his life gets shattered, and he got framed as terrorist because someone planted guns in his boat. But the story tells us this guy's very smart, he knows combative techniques, some tricks under the sleeve (his escape from the police car by forcing a vomit was incredible).

In his first film director Roger Donaldson makes a very good thriller, effectively tense, and with good moments and great performances (includes a special appearance from Warren Oates as an American military who is following the rebels).

A higher focus on the political aspects and placing the characters motivations more on the surface would make this film perfect.(RA) This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

•High Definition (Blu-ray) presentation
•Original mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
•Commentary by writer-director Roger Donaldson, actor Sam Neill and actor-writer Ian Mune
•The Making of Sleeping Dogs, a 65-minute documentary on the film s production featuring interviews with Donaldson, Neill, Mune, Geoff Murphy and others
•Theatrical trailer
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell, a contemporary review by Pauline Kael and the original press book

'Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 2'
(Nagato Hiroyuki, Ashida Shunsuke, et al / 4-Disc Blu ray+DVD / NR / 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Available for home-viewing for the very first time ever outside of Japan, Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 2. Border Crossings: The Crime and Action Movies is a collection of bleak crime thrillers, brash mob dramas and exuberant action movies, made across the first five years of Seijun Suzuki’s career.

Blu-ray Verdict: Containing 'Eight Hours of Terror' (1957), 'The Sleeping Beast Within' (1960), 'Smashing the 0-Line' (1960), 'Tokyo Knights' (1961), and 'The Man with a Shotgun' (1961), we begin in terrific style with 'Eight Hours of Terror' (1957).

The plot concerns a passenger train which is stalled when a typhoon wrecks the tracks. The commuters are offloaded onto a shuttle bus, which is then taken over by a pair of sadistic gangsters.

The characters are informed early about bank robbers on the loose and their bus ride is marked by fear of a potential encounter. It quickly becomes clear that the more "respectable" passengers are the most cowardly and the least reliable in a crisis.

The first major setback occurs when the single mother and her baby go missing and are discovered unconscious in the river over which they've just crossed by bridge after taking a break on the road. The prisoner turns out to have been an army doctor and is recruited to try to save the baby's life as the ride continues.

The scenes in the bus are mostly shot in a studio set with moving backgrounds supplied by rear screen projection. After the robbers enter the story, several major scenes are shot on location in a mountainous region on narrow, treacherous roads.

Significant portions of the action move off the road for what must have been a difficult shoot, enhancing the plausibility of the proceedings. The actors are all excellent and make their characters quite believable.

Next up is the terrific 'The Sleeping Beast Within' (1960), where a businessman returns from an extended trip, but something seems off. Criminal operations and religious cults come into play, while the man's daughter and her journalist boyfriend race to find the truth.

While far from the bombastic action films many know Seijun Suzuki for, 'The Sleeping Beast Within' plays much like a brooding detective story, with the investigative reporter being the driving force behind discovering the truth behind the father/businessman's disappearance.

Seijun Suzuki's direction is always unique, and this film is no exception, with my favorite stylistic decision in this film being the use of flashback. There are two major flashback sequences in 'The Sleeping Beast Within', each of which are being told by a character onscreen.

While many flashbacks simply count on a slow transitional fade to inform the viewer, Suzuki opts instead to overlay the character telling the story with the flashback sequence itself, superimposing them over the action which they are describing, a unique decision which I'd argue amplifies the flashback due to capturing both the current, the person telling the story in real-time, and the events of the past.

Featuring a tragic conclusion and a story that reminds the audience that all men are capable of evil, Seijun Suzuki's 'The Sleeping Beast Within' isn't exactly an uplifting story, but the emotional core centered around the relationship between father and daughter makes the film worth seeing alone.

'Smashing the 0-Line' (1960) is next and it brings us the story of two reporters of divergent morals investigating a drug ring, whilst delving deeper into the underworld in the process.

Fifty years before 'Nightcrawler' (and about a decade after Billy Wilder's 'Ace in the Hole'), Seijun Suzuki offered his own take on amoral crime reporters who will do just about anything to get a story, even if it means ratting out friends and lovers, manufacturing events from scratch.

Hiroyuki Nagato plays Katari, a cold-blooded careerist newshound who's constantly stealing headlines from the slightly more principled Yuji Odaka, a fellow reporter aghast at the levels to which his rival scooper will sink.

Katari combs the docks looking for drug deals, often getting there well before the cops (and leaving beforehand, too). He soon stumbles onto a drug smuggling ring that doubles in human trafficking. When he gets in too deep, Odaka has to put his qualms about Katiri's ethics aside to help him get out alive.

This is an early Seijun effort in the more straightforward potboiler mode. It's an enjoyable yarn with some snazzy, fluid handheld camerawork. Don't expect a lot of experimentation or innovation this early in his career, but it's definitely an intriguing, building watch for a cold, wet night spent indoors, of that you have my word.

In 'Tokyo Knights' (1961), a college student takes over the family business in the field of organised crime. In truth, this film was made more to showcase Suzuki rebelling against the studio! In a defiant move, he took this story of a high school student who inherits his gangster father's business, and turned it into a comedy.

As a result, actor Koji Wada was strongly chastised for the role and critics at the time stated that he didn't have the ability to pull off parody. However, Suzuki made it up to him with 'Bloody Channel', that's for damn sure.

Lastly we get 'The Man with a Shotgun' (1961), where Ryoji, a wanderer, arrives in a remote mountain town, carrying a shotgun and claiming to be a hunter. However, he quickly becomes embroiled in a web of trouble surrounding the town's mill.

Directed by Suzuki in the vein of the Nikkatsu Studio's "borderless action cinema", Hideaki Nitani stars as a singing cowboy-cum-trucker who seeks revenge after his girlfriend is raped and murdered. These are all brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation's enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

•Limited Edition Dual Format Collection [1500 copies]
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
•Newly translated optional English Subtitles
•Audio commentary by critic and author Jasper Sharp on Smashing the 0-Line
•Tony Rayns on the Crime and Action Movies the critic and historian discusses the background to the films, their place within Suzuki s career and the talent involved with them
•Stills Gallery
•Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
•60-page illustrated collector's book featuring new writing by Jasper Sharp

Official Box-Set Purchase Link

'Peppa Pig: The Easter Bunny'
(DVD / NR / 2018 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Peppa Pig follows the hilarious adventures of Peppa, a loveable little piggy, her family, and all of her animal friends, including Suzy Sheep, Pedro Pony, Danny Dog and more.

On this brand new DVD, join Peppa on Easter Day when she gets a visit from the Easter Bunny!

DVD Verdict: First released in 2008, 'Peppa Pig' are episodic lessons that are great for kids and simple enough to understand - for one and all. Indeed, they are all episodes that have previously aired on Nick Jr. but are still great to have here on one DVD so kids can watch them anytime they miss Peppa Pig!

On this delightful new DVD we get twelve spring time Peppasodes (that have a collective run time of 52 minutes) that are ready to go! Just line them up and your kids will settle down and behave, of that you have my word.

Peppa Pig and her friends are at Rebecca Rabbit’s house to join in an Easter Egg hunt and they are determined to find the Easter Bunny who is hiding all the chocolate eggs!

It’s school project time for Peppa and her friends which means they have to build castles and bring them into playgroup!

Mummy and Daddy Pig, Peppa and George have a wonderful day with Mr. Potato at Digger World. Next they plant some seeds from Grandpa Pig in Peppa and George’s Garden! And then, they help out and enjoy some ice cream on Miss Rabbit’s Day Off. Oh, and there are many more episodes to teach and entertain your little ones, of course.

My 3 year old daughter LOVES Peppa Pig and she actually begged to help me review this DVD so she could watch it in the car! Her viewpoint is that Peppa Pig is a colourful, and fun show for little kids that teaches and explains things about life in a basic, yet entertaining manner. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NATURE: Animals With Cameras'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan and animal behaviorists join forces to explore stories of animal lives "told" by the animals themselves.

DVD Verdict: The highly ingenious new PBS documentary, 'NATURE: Animals With Cameras' explores the secret side of the animal kingdom where human cameramen can't go, and camera-wearing animals film their own stories!

Here we sprint across the savannah with a cheetah, plunge into the ocean with a seal, and swing through the trees with a chimp, amongst other things. Directed by the quartet of Anne Sommerfield, Hannah Ward, Clare Dornan, and Matthew Andrews, and hosted by Gordon Buchanan, 'NATURE: Animals With Cameras' showcases a side of the animal kingdom where human's, let alone cameraman, daren't ever go.

Using the specially-designed cameras, we get to sprint across the savannah with a cheetah, plunge into the ocean with a seal, and swing through the trees with a chimpanzee. It really is a quite magnificent documentary, well thought out and highly inventive.

Showing us how they actually get the cameras on the dangerous animal's' heads in the first place, which of course they are sedated for, but nonetheless I'd rather not be taking part in, we then get to see the so-called "secret lives" of these magnificent beasts.

There are three (3) episodes, each one features three different species, and the series, as a whole, visits eight different countries.

Episode 1: The astonishing collar-camera footage reveals newborn Kalahari Meerkats below ground for the first time, unveils the hunting skills of Magellanic penguins in Argentina, and follows the treetop progress of an orphaned chimp in Cameroon.

Episode 2: The cameras capture young cheetahs learning to hunt in Namibia, reveal how fur seals of an Australian island evade the Great white sharks offshore, and help solve a conflict between South African farmers and Chacma baboons.

Episode 3: We deep-dive with Chilean devil rays in the Azores, track Brown bears' diet in Turkey, and follow dogs protecting flocks of sheep from gray wolves in Southern France.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Smithsonian: Victorian Rebel Marianne North'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: In the late 1800s, Marianne North traveled to the far corners of the world in search of exotic botanical life, paintbrush in hand. Her artistry and vision impressed top scientists and her rebellious spirit continues to inspire women to this day.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Marianne North was a rather prolific English Victorian biologist and botanical artist, notable for her plant and landscape paintings, her extensive foreign travels, her writings, her plant discoveries and the creation of her gallery at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

North was born in Hastings, England, the eldest daughter of a prosperous land-owning family descended from the Hon. Roger North, younger son of Dudley North, 4th Baron North.

Her father was Frederick North, a Norfolk Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace, and Liberal M.P. for Hastings. Her mother, Janet, was the daughter of Sir John Marjoribanks M.P., 1st Baronet of Lees in the County of Berwick. She was the eldest of three children.

North trained as a vocalist under Charlotte Helen Sainton-Dolby, but her voice failed, and she then devoted herself to painting flowers.

After the death of her mother in 1855, she constantly travelled with her father, who was then member of parliament for Hastings; and on his death in 1869 she decided to pursue her early ambition of painting the flora of distant countries.

Watching this simply fascinating new documentary on her, 'Smithsonian: Victorian Rebel Marianne North,' we learn that she began flower painting after the death of her mother in 1855.

The family had homes in Hastings and London in this period. Her interest in botany may have stemmed from her father's acquaintance with Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Her first watercolour landscapes were undertaken on a trip to Europe with her sister and father.

After her sister married in 1864 and her father lost his seat in parliament, the two spent even more time travelling, visiting Switzerland and the South Tyrol.

They travelled in Syria and along the Nile in 1865-67. Her father became ill in the Alps in 1869, and she brought him back to Hastings, where he died. She continued to paint as a way to assuage her grief.

After her father's death in she travelled and made paintings in Sicily. In 1871–1872, she travelled to Canada, the United States and Jamaica, and spent a year in Brazil, where she did much of her work at a hut in the depths of a forest.

The documentary then showcases that in 1875, after a few months in Tenerife, she began a journey round the world, and for two years painted the flora of California, Japan, Borneo, Java and Ceylon. During her visits to California, she recorded her concern with the destruction of the redwoods. Indeed, she spent all of 1878 in various parts of India.

On her return to Britain, North exhibited a number of her drawings in London. She offered to give the collection to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and to erect a gallery to house them. This offer was accepted, and the new buildings, designed by James Fergusson, were begun that year.

At Charles Darwin's suggestion, North went to Australia in 1880, and for a year painted there and in New Zealand. On her return, she presented Darwin the shrub 'Australian Sheep' (Raoulia eximia) as a gift and showed him her Australian pictures. Her paintings of Banksia attenuata, B. grandis and B. robur were highly regarded. Her gallery at Kew was subsequently opened in 1882.

In 1883, after a visit to South Africa, during which trip she called on the botanical artist Katharine Saunders, an additional room was opened at the Kew gallery, and in 1884–1885 North worked in the Seychelles and in Chile.

When ill-health curtailed her travelling she moved to Alderley, Gloucestershire where she died on 30 August 1890 and is buried in the local churchyard. In conclusion, over 800 paintings of flora from around the world decorate the walls of the Marianne North Gallery of London's Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, each one a testament to the extraordinary life of the woman who painted them. 'Smithsonian: Victorian Rebel Marianne North' celebrates the life and adventures of this gifted Victorian trailblazer, and rightly so. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Nature: The Last Rhino'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Sudan is the very last male Northern White Rhino ... or, when this documentary was being filmed, he was. For now he has sadly passed just last week, which makes this amazing story of this brave animal, is told through the global cast of people involved in Sudan's life of 43 years, even more remarkable (and yet poignantly ever so sad, of course).

DVD Verdict: Telling it like it is, the tragic death of Sudan the rhino should act as a warning of the need to act to prevent mass extinctions around the world, say conservationists.

Conservationists have warned that the death of the last male northern white rhinoceros in Kenya is a sign that unsustainable human activity is driving a new era of mass extinctions around the globe.

Sudan, the “gentle giant” who lived in the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya, was put down last Monday after the pain from a degenerative illness became too great.

It leaves only two females - his daughter and granddaughter - through which conservationists hope they might save the species from dying out altogether using IVF.

That said, 'Nature: The Last Rhino' is a glorious retelling of a life not for the fainted hearted, that of Sudan. He was aged 2 when snatched from his mom's side in Central Africa and became a prized exhibit in a zoo behind the Iron Curtain while the rest of his kind was poached to extinction.

His harrowing journey is told through the international cast of characters who have been involved in Sudan's life, from when he was snatched as a calf from his mother's side in war-torn Central Africa, to his captivity as a prized exhibit in a cold, concrete zoo behind the Iron Curtain while poaching devastated his kind to extinction back home.

As he was back when this documentary was filmed, Sudan was 43 years-old and half-blind, living out his days under 24-hour armed guard, on a protective sanctuary in Kenya.

As his kind nears its last hour, scientists and animal experts turn to technology in a race to save the Northern White Rhino before it dies out forever. But now with Sudan gone, and only two females - his daughter and granddaughter - left from the entire species, well, this is yet another human-caused tragedy for our generation to have to understand and accept. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Frontline: Exodus, The Journey Continues'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The intimate stories of refugees and migrants, caught in Europe's tightened borders. Amid the ongoing migration crisis, the film follows personal journeys over two years, as countries become less welcoming to those seeking refuge.

DVD Verdict: Over one-and-a-half million refugees and migrants have smuggled themselves to the West since 2015, fleeing countries besieged by violence and poverty in search of safety and a better life.

But as 'Exodus: The Journey Continues' explores, the countries they dreamed of reaching have changed. A quite revealing sequel to Frontline's 2016 documentary 'Exodus', it tells the intimate, first hand stories of refugees and migrants caught in Europe's tightened borders, and facing heightened nationalism and rising anti-immigrant sentiment.

The desperation of such refugees and migrants has become a familiar element of news bulletins, but what is different about 'Frontline: Exodus, The Journey Continues' is the way the documentary is pieced together - quite literally through the hands and eyes of those suffering.

Nothing is ever rushed through, nothing is ever overlooked, their plight as important a tale to tell as it is to document for the worlds political platforms.

To my mind, for too long Europe has closed its eyes to Syria’s foul and bloody civil war, and tried to keep the suffering multitudes out. Suddenly the continent’s gates have been pushed open by two political forces.

One is moral conscience, belatedly wakened by the image of a drowned Syrian child on a Turkish beach. The other is the political courage of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who told her people to set aside their fear of immigrants and show compassion to the needy.

Europe should welcome more refugees and economic migrants—for the sake of the world and itself.

Regardless, and as the global migration and refugee crisis continues and countries become less welcoming to those seeking refuge, this documentary is an eye-opening look at the evolving crisis that draws on footage filmed by the refugees themselves. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: The Impossible Flight'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Follow two intrepid pilots as they take on the greatest aviation adventure of our time, overcoming countless challenges as they construct and fly the first solar-powered airplane around the world.

DVD Verdict: In March 2015, Solar Impulse 2 launched the greatest aviation undertaking of our time: to be the first solar-powered airplane to fly around the world.

It was a feat 12 years in the making, and was anything but a sure bet.

As we watch and learn, the prototype, often referred to as Solar Impulse 1, was designed to remain airborne up to 36 hours. It conducted its first test flight in December 2009. In July 2010, it flew an entire diurnal solar cycle, including nearly nine hours of night flying, in a 26-hour flight.

Piccard and Borschberg completed successful solar-powered flights from Switzerland to Spain and then Morocco in 2012, and conducted a multi-stage flight across the US in 2013.

As we now learn, a second aircraft, completed in 2014 and named Solar Impulse 2, carried even more solar cells and more powerful motors, among other improvements.

On 9 March 2015, Piccard and Borschberg began to circumnavigate the globe with Solar Impulse 2, departing from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The aircraft was scheduled to return to Abu Dhabi in August 2015 after a multi-stage journey around the world.

By June 2015, the plane had traversed Asia, and in July 2015, it completed the longest leg of its journey, from Japan to Hawaii. However, during that leg, the aircraft's batteries sustained thermal damage that took months to repair.

Solar Impulse 2 resumed the circumnavigation in April 2016, when it flew to California. It continued across the US until it reached New York City in June 2016. Later that month, the aircraft crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Spain.

It stopped in Egypt before returning to Abu Dhabi on 26 July 2016, more than 16 months after it had left, completing the approximately 42,000-kilometre (26,000-mile) first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power.

Here on 'NOVA: The Impossible Flight,' we follow along as these intrepid pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, reveal how bent on pushing the boundaries of human flight and proving renewable energy's potential they truly are.

Along with a team of brilliant engineers, the two designed and built Solar Impulse from scratch - though top airplane manufacturers told them would be too big, too light, and impossible to control.

This NOVA documentary follows the team as it overcomes seemingly insurmountable challenges to build and fly the first solar plane around the world. Fascinating, from start to finish and something that gives us hope for a sustainable aircraft future. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: Black Hole Apocalypse'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Join astrophysicist and novelist Janna Levin on a mind-blowing voyage to the frontiers of black hole science, which is shining new light on the most powerful and mysterious objects in the universe.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Black Holes are the most enigmatic, mysterious, and exotic objects in the universe. They're also the most powerful, with gravity so strong it can actually capture light.

And they're the most destructive, swallowing dust, gas, planets, even giant stars. Anything that falls into them vanishes ... gone forever!

Indeed, because no light can escape, black holes are invisible. However, space telescopes with special instruments can help find black holes. They can observe the behavior of material and stars that are very close to black holes.

Here in 'NOVA: Black Hole Apocalypse,' we learn just how Black Holes form along with the damage they can bring to our universe. So, how are they formed? Primordial black holes are thought to have formed in the early universe, soon after the big bang.

Stellar black holes form when the center of a very massive star collapses in upon itself. This collapse also causes a supernova, or an exploding star, that blasts part of the star into space.

Scientists think supermassive black holes formed at the same time as the galaxy they are in. The size of the supermassive black hole is related to the size and mass of the galaxy it is in.

But now, astrophysicists are realizing that black holes are essential to understanding how our universe unfolded - maybe to explaining our very existence.

In this simply MIND-BLOWING 2-hour special, astrophysicist and novelist Janna Levin takes viewers on a journey to the frontiers of black hole science.

Along the way, we meet leading astronomers and physicists on the edge of finding new answers to provocative questions about these shadowy monsters: Where do they come from? What's inside them? What happens if you fall into one? And what can they tell us about the nature of space, time, and gravity? This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Impossible Builds, Vol. 1'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Impossible Builds, Volume 1, is a look at the creation of some of the world's most technologically advanced construction projects.

DVD Verdict: From subaquatic homes to futuristic towers and pencil thin skyscrapers, these are the structures they said could never be built.

But now, using revolutionary technology and cutting-edge construction materials, five previously impossible builds are taking shape across the world.

'Impossible Builds, Volume 1' is an Access All-Areas look at the creation of some of the world's most ambitious, complex, and technologically advanced construction projects.

From subaquatic homes and the ultimate in billionaire luxury, to futuristic towers and pencil thin skyscrapers - these are the structures they said could never be built.

But now, using the aforementioned revolutionary technology and cutting-edge construction materials, five previously impossible builds are taking shape across the world. And 'Impossible Builds' is on site to follow their progress every step of the way.

In Miami, The Scorpion Tower is a show-stopping skyscraper with an insect-like external skeleton. Its design is so radical, construction experts have turned to a building material never used in skyscraper construction before. If successful, it could revolutionize the industry.

After almost three years of construction, Miami's most eagerly awaited skyscraper is almost done. 1000 Museum, also known as the Scorpion Tower, is already one of the most distinct buildings in downtown and it's not even finished yet! It is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most INCREDIBLE works of architecture I've ever seen and I'd love to know what the guys were on when they started putting pen to paper on it!

In Manhattan, architects and engineers are redefining just how much land it takes to support a skyscraper. In a city where the only direction to build is up, they've designed a needle-thin tower 82 stories high, built on the construction equivalent of a postage stamp.

111 West 57th Street, also referred to as The Steinway Tower, is a super tall residential project by developers JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group in midtown Manhattan in New York City.

Located at 111 West 57th Street, the development will be a combination of the original landmarked Steinway Building designed in 1925 by Warren & Wetmore, and a new tower addition on the adjacent site.

The building will rise to be 1,428 ft (435 m) and, once completed, the tower will become the thinnest skyscraper in the world with a width-to-height ratio of about 1:23.

While some architects are looking up - others are looking down. Living beneath the waves has long been a science fiction fantasy. Now the race is on to make it a reality as three very different designs from Poland, Holland, and Dubai go head-to-head to be the first to achieve the impossible.

Here in the segment known as The Floating House, it showcases that if there are some who will pay millions for homes constructed below sea level, that there are also companies willing to build them!

Meanwhile in China, the plan to transform 30 acres of sub-tropical limestone quarry into a sub-zero ski resort is forcing the construction team to battle the elements if they're to succeed. While in the Persian Gulf, developers are spending millions in a bid to transform barren sand islands into a billionaire's paradise. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The Great Pyramid of Giza has fascinated people for centuries. In November 2017, the ScanPyramids research team announced they had made a historic discovery - using cutting-edge, non-invasive technology, they discovered several new cavities within the Great Pyramid. This is the biggest discovery to happen in the Pyramids in centuries.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt.

Indeed, it is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.

Based on a mark in an interior chamber naming the work gang and a reference to the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, Egyptologists believe that the pyramid was built as a tomb over a 10- to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BC.

Initially at 146.5 metres (481 feet), the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years. Originally, the Great Pyramid was covered by limestone casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface; what is seen today is the underlying core structure.

Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base. There have been varying scientific and alternative theories about the Great Pyramid's construction techniques. Most accepted construction hypotheses are based on the idea that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place.

There were, as we discover, only ever three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The so-called Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure.

The main part of the Giza complex is a set of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honour of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu's wives, an even smaller "satellite" pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles.

'Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids' shows how modern-day explorers - particle physicists, experts in 3D technologies, and engineers in thermal imaging - have (potentially) made this massive discovery of these new cavities within the Great Pyramid.

The first scientific mission in 30 years to be authorized by the Egyptian government to examine the pyramids, the global team of ScanPyramids explored large portions of the pyramid for two years.

So sit down, take a pew and watch avidly ScanPyramid's adventures and successes in this extraordinary journey through time and space. You won't be disappointed, trust me. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Bill Nye: Science Guy'
(DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Bill Nye is a man on a mission: to stop the spread of anti-scientific thinking across the world. With intimate and exclusive access - as well as plenty of wonder and whimsy - this behind-the-scenes portrait of Nye follows him as he takes off his Science Guy lab coat and takes on those who deny climate change, evolution, and a science-based world view.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, William Sanford Nye, popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, is an American science communicator, television presenter, and mechanical engineer.

He is best known as the host of the PBS children's science show Bill Nye the Science Guy (1993–1998), the Netflix show Bill Nye Saves the World (2017–present), and for his many subsequent appearances in popular media as a science educator.

Nye began his career as a mechanical engineer for Boeing Corporation in Seattle, where he invented a hydraulic resonance suppressor tube used on 747 airplanes.

In 1986, Nye left Boeing to pursue comedy, writing and performing jokes and bits for the local sketch television show Almost Live!, where he would regularly conduct wacky science experiments.

Nye aspired to become the next Mr. Wizard and with the help of several producers successfully pitched the children's television program Bill Nye the Science Guy to KCTS-TV, channel 9, Seattle's public television station. Now the former star of the popular kids show Bill Nye The Science Guy is now the CEO of The Planetary Society, an organization founded by Bill's mentor Carl Sagan, where he's launching a solar propelled spacecraft into the cosmos and advocating for the importance of science, research, and discovery in public life.

We watch, from behind the scenes, if you wish, how Nye slips out from underneath his Science Guy lab coat and takes on those who deny climate change, evolution; and a science-based world view.

Featuring, along with Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan, and many others, 'Bill Nye: Science Guy', as a title, might actually be a wee bit misleading here, but the show is nonetheless riveting to behold. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Bill's Father and the Solar Noon Clock - Bill takes us on a tour of Cornell University to show us his "solar noon clock" which was made in honor of his father who spent time as a prisoner of war in WWII.

Climate March - In an effort to make NYC more green, Bill joins the march to for a 100% renewable city.

Marc Morano - Marc Morano is a climate change contrarian who is making his own documentary, alleging that there is a scientific conspiracy to mislead the public that an increase in CO2 causes climate change.

Larry Wilmore Show - Bill makes an appearance at the Larry Wilmore show to help create awareness for climate change in popular media.

White House Science Fair - In President Obama's last year in office, Bill goes to the final annual White House science fair.

'Understanding the Opioid Epidemic'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: This program traces the causes behind the unprecedented growth in the use of prescription opioids and the devastating impact these drugs are having in virtually every part of America.

DVD Verdict: Capturing the story of the opioid crisis through personal stories and interviews with experts, it reveals the tragic impact of the overuse of prescription painkillers on individuals, families, and communities.

Watching this documentary, if you haven't learnt something devastingly horrible about opioid's and their rampant designs on all our lives within the first few minutes, than you're simply not listening!

The opioid epidemic or opioid crisis is the rapid increase in the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in the United States and Canada beginning in the late 1990s and continuing throughout the first two decades of the 2000s.

Opioids are a diverse class of moderately strong painkillers, including oxycodone (commonly sold under the trade names OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and a very strong painkiller, fentanyl, which is synthesized to resemble other opiates such as opium-derived morphine and heroin.

The potency and availability of these substances, despite their high risk of addiction and overdose, have made them popular both as formal medical treatments and as recreational drugs.

Due to their sedative effects on the part of the brain which regulates breathing, opioids in high doses present the potential for respiratory depression, and may cause respiratory failure and death.

As we discover, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, "overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have reached epidemic levels."

That means that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved prescription opioids. From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales, and substance abuse treatment admissions related to opioid pain relievers all increased substantially.

By 2015, annual overdose deaths from heroin alone surpassed deaths from both car accidents and guns, with other opioid overdose deaths also on the rise.

The stories told here in 'Understanding the Opioid Epidemic' often begin with medical treatment for moderate to severe pain that evolve into drug addiction and death.

In addition to the stories, the documentary explores the dramatic increase in the use and acceptance of prescription painkillers and addresses possible solutions to the opioid epidemic including more non-drug treatment for pain, improved opioid prescribing, and reducing the amount of opioids produced and prescribed in America. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, must-see viewing. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The New York Cantors'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Yaakov (Yanky) Lemmer, Azi Schwartz, and Netanel Hershtik come together in Amsterdam's Portuguese Synagogue for this concert of Jewish sacred and secular music. Enjoy shabbat songs, traditional music, and songs with a nod to Broadway.

DVD Verdict: Simply put, three young cantors, all rising stars in the American Jewish music scene, are brought together in Amsterdam’s revered 17th century Portuguese Synagogue for a concert of Jewish sacred and secular music arranged for orchestra and choir.

The New York Cantors, all serving synagogues in New York, are: Brooklyn- born Yaakov (Yanky) Lemmer, Head Cantor of the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City; Azi Schwartz, a native of Israel and Cantor at New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue; and Netanel Hershtik, Cantor at The Hampton Synagogue, Westhampton Beach, New York.

Some of the most beautiful songs in the Jewish musical history are prayers sung by cantors during shabbat services. For this 'The New York Cantors' concert these ancient songs have been given splendid new arrangements by the accomplished Dutch composer/arranger Bob Zimmerman. The program also includes favorite secular songs evoking memories of Jewish tradition and its rich musical culture, as well as music with a nod to Broadway.

Maestro Jules van Hessen and his 33-piece orchestra and 8-voice male choir support the concert recorded under a thousand live candles in one of the most architecturally important synagogues in the world. Watch this tonight and fall in love with not only three magnificent voices, but the music of a faith that you may well not be so aware of beforehand. You won't regret it, trust me. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Survival Guide for Pain-Free Living: Peggy Cappy'
(4-DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: This 4-DVD collection features renowned yoga instructor Peggy Cappy who joins forces with neuromuscular therapist Lee Albert with these game-changing exercise routines that can relieve pain in your back, knees, hips, and head, including chronic migraine headaches.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Peggy Cappy is the creator of the PBS Yoga for the Rest of Us DVD series and the founder of Gentle Stretch Yoga for seniors and others who need a gentle or modified approach to yoga.

Peggy has perfected an adaptable yoga program that is easy, effective, and enjoyable. Peggy’s unique approach to yoga has adults finding they have energy and flexibility they never dreamed possible at their age.

For more than forty years, Peggy Cappy has been practicing and teaching yoga, meditation, and guided relaxation, helping others create greater comfort and ease in body, mind and spirit. Her studies have taken her to India, the source of yoga, to study with yoga and meditation masters.

Here in a wondrous 4-DVD box-set, 'Survival Guide for Pain-Free Living with Peggy Cappy,' someone like myself, who has had three lower back surgeries and who definitely always needs extra help exercise and yoga wise to build and maintain my core, we all get to learn such things.

In 'Survival Guide for Pain-Free Living with Peggy Cappy,' Peggy and Lee Albert, a neuromuscular therapist and author of the popular books Live Pain Free: Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery and Yoga for Pain Relief: A New Approach to an Ancient Practice, present effective strategies to help manage chronic pain with easy-to-do stretches and yoga moves. They also share stories of people who used to suffer from chronic pain but who now enjoy a pain-free life.

I'm over 50 now, and have always been active, but this winter I had a sudden onset of back pain and weakness in my muscles. This DVD is not difficult to follow or do, but the stretches you are asked to do can overstretch those not used to them.

That said, upon doing some I thought I couldn't, over a period of just a few days amazing things started to course through my body. I could feel, and briefly hear things realign the first time I used it. With each use I gained even more flexibility, and old pain dissipated after the first viewing, and disappeared after the second!

Amazing! Truly and utterly amazing! Sure, when you do the exercises you think they are so easy that how could they possible make a difference in your own broken down body, but the results are literally, well, ... healing!

I also love the meditation at the end, as if you are like me and just starting to get into the whole yoga concept, that this DVD is the perfect place to start. Furthermore, this DVD is for everyone, young or old, in small amounts of pain, in large amounts of pain, and in no pain at all (just wanting to get tighter, fitter, healthier). Highly Recommend! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Masterpiece: The Child in Time'
(Benedict Cumberbatch, Kelly Macdonad, et al / DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kelly Macdonald, 'The Child in Time' is a lyrical and heart-breaking exploration of love, loss, and the power of things unseen, based on the award-winning novel by Ian McEwan and adapted by Stephen Butchard.

DVD Verdict: In truth, and as aforementioned, 'Masterpiece: The Child in Time' is based on a novel by Ian McEwan, which itself is not easy to distil. Benedict Cumberbatch plays writer Stephen who loses his 4 year old daughter in a supermarket and is haunted by this loss, as this mystical story flits backwards and forward in time.

The jumbled up narrative leaves you unimpressed and confused, but at least you are taken in by Stephen's will to survive. How he takes each day as it comes as, in his mind, his daughter is visible and there, but also lost.

In the meantime, his marriage has fallen apart with his wife Julie (Kelly Macdonald) who blames him for everything. Then a few years later, their relationship warms, [SPOILER ALERT] culminating in the unexpected birth of their son. For those not following along, with the movie or here, the conception obviously took place when they briefly reconciled.

The film also has a secondary story of Stephen's publisher and friend Charles Darke (Stephen Campbell Moore) having some kind of nervous breakdown and becoming increasingly child like. It not less a person than the British Prime Minister who tells Stephen to keep an eye on Charles. At first you might think this behaviour might be to something with Charles being involved in the abduction? It seems that is not the case.

Charles becomes a man mentally in a child like state, himself lost in time, whereas Stephen has lost his daughter physically. As the years go on it is Julie who tells him that one day it is likely the daughter will end up looking for them.

The book was written in 1987 and maybe the film would have been more successful if it too was set in the past. For example, nowadays supermarkets have CCTV everywhere and security guards on the door. You cannot just walk into a school or classroom like you did 30 years ago either. That all said, and as trippy as 'Masterpiece: The Child in Time,' stick with it for it will keep you watching throughout. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and has the Special Features of some Deleted Scenes.

'Caillou Goes Camping'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Join Caillou as he learns the value of sharing and friendship, how to help others, and how great it is to spend time in the company of family. Also, it's a beautiful night to camp underneath the stars!

DVD Verdict: Since 1997, 'Caillou' has brought us the entertaining misadventures of a four year old boy - named Caillou. Each day he discovers something new and interesting with his mommy, daddy, and Rosie.

Between Caillou segments are other segments featuring Caillou's pet cat Gilbert, Caillou's teddy bear, Teddy, and Caillou's toy dinosaur, Rexy; in puppet form.

As you would expect from a PBS Kids show, 'Caillou' (in general) deals with issues like fear of the dark, patience, being a good friend, being a good sibling, and other important facts of life.

Here in 'Caillou Goes Camping,' after learning that Grandpa took Daddy on a camping trip when Daddy was Caillou's age, Grandpa and Caillou set up a tent in the garden!

Then, while Caillou and his family are at his grandparents' house, everyone marvels at the beautiful nighttime sky. This gives Grandpa the perfect opportunity to let Caillou use his telescope!

BUT, be warned as Caillou can come across as simply the biggest brat you've ever sat your children down in front of! Allow me to explain further. Caillou is constantly whining and disobeying. Granted, his parents do correct him eventually, but that all comes late in the day, of course.

Anyway, and aside from the vocal characterization of Caillou - whose whiney little voice is like nails on a chalkboard (personal opinion, sorry!) - 'Caillou Goes Camping' does provide good story lines and creditable outcomes for kids.

My grandson watches these over and over, he loves Caillou's adventures! Sure, the stories are always basic ie: Caillou visits friends, goes to preschool and has flights of fancy, etc. but it's light and happy and kids enjoy it. And in my household, that's all that matters. This is Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Wild Kratts: Madagascar Madness!'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Join the Wild Kratts as they touch down in Madagascar for the first time! With no big land predators, Chris realizes that the huge island is one of the safest places in the world for adventuring!

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Chris and Martin Kratt are brothers (in real life!) who explore the wild throughout the world to learn more about animals and share conservation information. They have three friends who travel in the Tortuga HQ with them named Aviva, Koki and Jimmy Z.

The brothers have creature power suits that allow them to experience what it's like to be the animals they find. The team helps them by creating power suit creature disks for each animal they study. They also bring them supplies and help them out of tricky situations when their adventures get dicey.

In 'Wild Kratts: Madagascar Madness!', we watch as the brothers land in Madagascar, a place that neither of them had ever been before. They quickly learn, as we also do, that there are no so-called "big land predators", and so set about exploring.

Now realizing that the huge island is one of the safest places in the world for adventuring, they also discover that it belongs to the group of least developed countries, according to the United Nations; and that Malagasy and French are both official languages of the state.

In the spiny desert region of Madagascar, Martin and Chris learn all about the amazing clinging and leaping abilities of sifaka lemurs. Then when Chris and Martin hear a loud dispute between two troops of ringtailed lemurs, they set off to figure out what the big argument is about and the fun continues.

This, and other tales unfold here so come on, and hop into the Tortuga and explore the unique island of Madagascar with the Wild Kratts crew!

In short, 'Wild Kratts' is a great cartoon adventure show for kids where they can learn about new animals and why conservation is so important to the world, not just them. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'WordWorld: Let's Eat!'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: When Ant gets sick, Pig tries to take care of him by making special Get-Well-Soon soup. It has all the letters of the alphabet in it, so Pig can build any word that Ant needs to feel better. Can Pig figure out what that word is?

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Children's Animated Program, 'WordWorld' is a CGI animated television series that debuted on PBS Kids. It was produced by The Learning Box and WTTW-TV. The series premiered on September 3, 2007 and ended on January 17, 2011 with 80 episodes and 3 seasons.

Here in 'WordWorld: Let's Eat!', and once Pig (finger's crossed) figures out what that word is that Ant needs to feel better, then Pig and Ant are thrust playfully in another situation.

This one has them making cookies when their bag filled with the letter "C" gets away! Others abound, but the finale is a joyous on when we get to join the WordFriends as they go on a wild goose chase all over WordWorld!

In short, the loveable WordFriends take children on adventures in a world of words where they encounter all sorts of situations that can only be solved by building a word!

Playfully demonstrating the connections between letters, sounds, words and meaning, WordWorld empowers children to advance from learning letters to learning how to read.

The 8 fun stories included here are: J-J-Jelly, Get Well Soon Soup, Catch That C!, The Mystery of the Disappearing Pie, Pies, Pies, Pies!, Pig's Big Moonlight Feast, Mmmm-mmm-milk! and A String's the Thing.

The characters are lively and cheerful. The story is easy to follow and good for kids. Catchy songs abound too! Watch and learn with letter and word sounds, blending word parts into words, and build confidence, because, well, reading is fun!

All in all, it keeps kid's attention and helps them learn letters and spelling. Nothing bad about that, at all. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Pinkalicious & Peterrific: Pinkamagine It!'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: If there's one thing Pinkalicious loves most, it's the color pink! When Pinkalicious wakes up to discover her whole body has suddenly turned pink, she soon learns that it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, 'Pinkalicious & Peterrific' is an American half-hour children's television program based on the Pinkalicious books by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann.

The program premiered on PBS Kids on February 19, 2018 and the animated series is designed to encourage preschool-age children to explore the arts and develop their creativity.

The show's story follows Pinkalicious and her brother Peter as they imagine how the world looks through her artful eye. Each episode will include two 11 minute stories and live action. Indeed, WGBH is working with Sixteen South to produce 38 episodes in 2018.

Ok, so, let's get this straight from the start - for all the people I've encountered complaining about the pink laden throughout the show, come on now ... the title of the show should have clued you into what to expect!

Sure it can be a bit much, especially if young boys are watching, but at least you know full well that the girls in your family will love it, trust me.

That said, Peter also likes the color pink which is important in showing that colors are just colors and there’s no need to bring gender into it.

Due to 'Pinkalicious & Peterrific: Pinkamagine It!', my young daughter knows all of her letters, numbers (up to 10), many animals and shapes and plenty of other things far ahead of schedule. Equally important, she knows how to share and use problem solving skills.

Plus there are five (5) more Pinkatastic adventures - Pinkalicious and her brother Peter build a fairy house to attract the springtime fairies, invent their very own robot named Robotta, and lots more! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'For The Love Of Benji' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Benji, Patsy Garrett, Cynthia Smith, Allen Fiuzat, et al / DVD + Blu-ray + Digital / G / (1977) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: The canine star with the most expressive face in dogdom returns in his second record-breaking movie adventure!

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, this second film consists mostly of scenes of Benji running. That doesn't have to be a bad thing. The first Benji film consisted mostly of scenes of Benji running, too, but it was quite good. This follow-up isn't as good, but for other reasons.

On the positive side, returning writer/director Joe Camp stuck with something unusual that he did in the first film - he did the film from a dog's point of view. That doesn't mean that the film is in first person from Benji's perspective. Imagine more a dog directing.

The content, kinds of shots and kinds of angles are mostly what a dog might do. It made the first film, with its very unusual structure, a success, and it more or less makes this one, which also has an unusual structure, well, not exactly a success, but it makes it "kinda work".

A couple factors bring the success rate down a bit. The story takes place in Greece this time - in a move that seems like maybe the crew and cast wanted a paid vacation in Greece - and a lot of dialogue is in Greek, without subtitles.

Although interesting for adults, that's a particularly odd move for a family film, and the goal here is definitely to make a family film - Camp even announces this at the very beginning on screen.

Also odd for a family picture, most of the human-sourced interaction in the film features people attacking or chasing Benji - with chloroform, with meat cleavers, with fruit, with a big mean Doberman, and with guns. Not that it's graphic in any way, but the concept is there, and Benji's running is mostly precipitated by unfriendly people chasing him.

There is a complex plot involving scientific research, where they want to use Benji for nefarious goals, and where Benji seems to be world-famous, all of which is never explained very well. Heck, most of the dialogue about this is in Greek, although the science-oriented stuff is very sketchily explained in English at the end. Benji being so well-known is never explained.

And a final problem - even though the first film was also as if directed by a dog, there were important human characters who had some depth to them. That's not the case here. Benji's owners are hardly in the film and the villains are almost completely non-developed the short amount of time that they're in the film.

So we're left primarily with Benji running and running through Greece. Through airports. Through the city streets. Just outside of the city near some ancient ruins. The scenery is nice and nicely shot, Benji does some neat trained actions, and insofar as Camp explores everyday dog stuff, the film is rewarding.

Heck, the chased-by-villains scenes are pretty rewarding, too, even if plotwise, you don't know exactly what's going on or why it's going on.

This may be the worst Benji film (and I don't know yet, since I'm just rewatching them now after not seeing them for many years), and it may not be a great film for kids for a couple reasons, but it is still very mildly recommendable, especially for fans of Benji films and animal films in general. Or for anyone who wants a glimpse of what Greece was like in 1977. It's also amusing to note how much Benji looks like Ron Wood! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

All-New High Definition, Widescreen Transfer!
New Audio Commentary with Director Joe Camp and son Brandon Camp
Benji At Marineland
The Double McGuffin

'Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century - Series'
(Jason Gray-Stanford, John Payne, Akiko Morison, et al / 2-Disc DVD / G / (1999-2001) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: The world's greatest detective is back - and this time, he's fighting crime in the brave new world of the 22nd Century!

DVD Verdict: It's the 22nd Century, and crime has been almost eradicated in "New London", thanks to a rehabilitation program known as "cripnotism."

However, a new crime wave makes it appear that cripnotism is no longer working. Inspector LaStrade (great-great-however many greats -granddaughter of the Inspector LaStrade that worked with Sherlock Holmes over two hundred years ago) has a run in with the mastermind, who looks just like Professor Moriarty.

Then she hears a news release about a scientific breakthrough that makes reanimating dead tissue possible. Mistakenly believing that the man she saw is a 'reanimated' Moriarty, she insists on trying the process on Sherlock Holmes.

It works, and they, accompanied by a robo-droid that she has nicknamed Watson, begin unravelling the mystery. Later on, Watson adopts a mask of the original Dr. John Watson, to make Holmes feel more comfortable with it.

The series actually does a good job of capturing Arthur Conan Doyle's original character, although he does use Basil Rathbone's line, "Elementary, My dear Watson" quite a bit.

In closing, these two seasons of 'Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century,' spread over 26 episodes, are well worth seeing, because, if nothing else, all the computer graphics from back then are rather fun to see today. Also, all the space age gizmos and gadgets, let alone some of the underused characters and more and still terrific to view. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Getting Gotti' [DVD + Digital]
(Lorraine Bracco, Tony Denison, Kathleen Laskey, August Schellenberg, Kenneth Welsh, et al / DVD + Digital / R / (1994) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Though she grew up in the same neighborhood with him, a new Assistant District Attorney is determined to prosecute Mafia boss John Gotti and the Gambino crime family. Uncooperative FBI agents and bureaucrats will not deter the driven young prosecutor as her quest culminates in the memorable and controversial trial of the Dapper Don.

DVD Verdict: Lorraine Bracco is brilliant in her performance as Diane Giacalone, the New York Assistant Attorney who gets on the case of the Mafia boss, John Gotti.

She rails against the romanticization of the Mafia's image in movies and fiction, furious at the portrayal of godfathers and that Italy, who gave the world Michaelangelo, Verdi, Puccini and da Vinci now has to bear the responsibility of these useless criminal half-wits who can't earn a living without hitting people.

Anthony John Denison is also good as the thug Gotti, and Ellen Burstyn is great as her ill mother. The entire cast is outstanding in this fact based drama which outlines the battle between Giacalone and Gotti.

The only weakness is the portrayal of an out of control court with the noticeable lack of objections to the noise and contempt shown by a passive judge. It's not factual or anything close, but it is interesting to get a view in the mafia and legal worlds. Oh, and the fact that Mill Creek have just re-released it here on remastered DVD plus a digital copy makes my week just about perfect! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Human Trafficking' [DVD + Digital]
(Mira Sorvino, Donald Sutherland, Robert Carlyle, Isabelle Blais, Anna Hopkins, et al / DVD + Digital / R / (2005) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Hundreds of thousands of young women have vanished from their everyday lives-forced by violence into a hellish existence of brutality and prostitution. They're a profitable commodity in the multi-billion-dollar industry of modern slavery. The underworld calls them human traffic.

DVD Verdict: 'Human Trafficking' is a laudable production in its purpose — to alert the U.S. and the world to the existence of human sexual slavery and spark outrage and legal action,— but it simply isn't a very good movie at its cinematic core.

The script is horribly melodramatic and, though director Christian Duguay makes an effort early on to cue us carefully as to where the various locations are, as the film progresses and the cross-cutting speeds up it becomes confusing and starts to look like it was edited in a blender!

Robert Carlyle is an effective villain, but he'd have been better if the role had been written more subtly; as it is, one can't reconcile the depiction of him as a careful businessman with plenty of legitimate front operations to hide behind with the psychopathic pleasure in killing and inflicting pain he's also shown as having.

I mean, wouldn't the sheer body count among his associates start to alert people to him? Mira Sorvino is an O.K. heroine and Donald Sutherland makes a fairly good showing as her oracle-like supervisor, even though when he says he has some regrets in his life I couldn't help, but wonder if not doing the TV version of "M*A*S*H" was one of them.

For my money, 'Human Trafficking' is a really missed opportunity that tries to do too much. It genuinely seems to be attempting to do for sexual slavery what 'Traffic' did for the international drug trade; —and yet we see the victims suffering picturesquely, but don't really get more than an intellectual feel for their plight.

This mini-series also largely avoids the issue that some of the victims get trapped into the trade knowing they are going to become prostitutes. That is to say they know they are going to be prostitutes, they just don't realize just how horrific the conditions are going to be.

Besides, most sexual trafficking is on a considerably smaller, less expansive and harder-to-catch scale than the international ring depicted here. Ha, in truth, I half expected Robert Carlyle's character to be stroking a furry white cat! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'A Study in Terror' [Blu-ray]
(John Neville, Donald Houston, John Fraser, Anthony Quayle, Barbara Windsor, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1965) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Three of 19th Century England's most famous characters come together for the first time in this sumptuous, exciting mystery, as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson set out to bring down history's most notorious serial killer: Jack The Ripper!

Blu-ray Verdict: Sherlock Holmes, the brightest and most eloquent of all fictional detectives ever, on the trail of Jack The Ripper, the beastly London serial killer whose crimes mainly became notorious because they never got solved.

It seems like such an obvious concept to process into a Victorian horror screenplay, and yet only two movies (at least, to my knowledge) are dealing with the topic of a showdown between these two legendary figures.

I have yet to see the other one –'Murder by Decree,' but I can already safely say 'A Study in Terror' is a hugely entertaining and ingeniously scripted film that respectfully blends the stylish trademarks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works with the much more fiendish ambiance surrounding the case of the Ripper's murders.

Fundamentally, this means we're treated to all of Sherlock Holmes's witty remarks and fabulously far-fetched deduction skills as well as to grim and surprisingly nasty images of sadistic murders.

Holmes becomes involved in the case of the murdered prostitutes when an anonymous individual mails him a surgical kit missing one item, which is the deadly scalpel.

Thanks to his amazing investigating talents, carefully observing senses and with a little help from his loyal friends Dr. Watson and police inspector Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes does not only figure out who Jack The Ripper is; he also reveals a related blackmailing network and boosts up the lackluster reputation of the condemned Whitechapel area!

The Ford brothers' screenplay is rather confusing and doesn't always make sense, but the dialogs are extremely fluent and instantly cause you to overlook possible holes in the plot. Besides, you aren't supposed to guess along for the Ripper's identity, as Sherlock Holmes is always several steps ahead of you anyway.

Speaking of which, John Neville easily is one of the finest British lads ever to depict Doyle's super-detective! He's actually second only to Basil Rathbone, who portrayed Holmes 14 wonderful times in Universal's cycle.

Neville plays Sherlock Holmes with the exact right doses of arrogance and sophistication, and he knows how to defend himself in a physical battle as well as in a verbal discussion.

Donald Houston is almost equally brilliant as the slow but helpful Dr. Watson and there's a tremendously fun little role for Adrienne Corri as the eerily mutilated Angela Osbourne.

In closing, 'A Study in Terror' also masterfully captures the Victorian atmosphere with lavish set pieces, colorful interior filming locations and the enthusiast music, sung in the poor man's tavern. Watch this tonight with friends and talk about it tomorrow at work. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Mother May I Sleep With Danger? (Double Feature)
(Tori Spelling, Ivan Sergei, Todd Caldecott, Gabrielle Miller, et al / DVD / PG-13 / (1996/2016) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Tori Spelling (TV s Beverly Hills, 90210) and Ivan Sergei (The Opposite of Sex) star in this edge-of-your-seat thriller about a woman who falls in love with a charming college classmate, only to discover he's a deadly psychopath. And in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the cult classic, this remake of the classic TV movie stars James Franco and reunites Tori Spelling (True Tori) and Ivan Sergei (Jack and Jill) from the original film.

DVD Verdict: In the original 1996 version, 'Mother May I Sleep With Danger?' is beautifully adapted from Claire R. Jacobs novel by screen writer Edmond Stephens.

Indeed, this is a sensitively observed story of a young student in a relationship with a man that won't let go. The teleplay is beautifully realized by director Jorge Montessi, with the director creating a stunning atmosphere of fear and dread.

In a role she seemed born to play, Tori Spelling gives what may be the performance of a lifetime and brings incredible depth and heart breaking emotion to the character of Laurel Lewishon.

Her portrayal of Laurel is that of a sensitive girl who unfortunately falls in love with a strange young man who she comes to realize is quite troubled. Ivan Sergei is superb as the ultimately sinister Billy Jones and he is both measured and believable in the role.

Lisa Baines is particularly effective as Laurel's mother, Jessica Lewishon, a woman who suspects the worst and fears what may happen to her daughter.

One of the better telefilms to be produced in the last 25 years and exceptional for its writing, direction, and a tremendous lead performance by the gifted Tori Spelling.

The 2016 remake, produced by James Franco and include Tori Spelling, who both starred in the original, of course, tells the story of Pearl (Emily Meade), who is turned into a Nightwalker by her vampire girlfriend.

However, Pearl accidentally kills her while trying to get away. Five years later, the vampire vixens expect Pearl to replace their lost member. They kill abusive men and drain their blood. Job done.

Pearl courts college student Leah Lewisohn (Leila George), mainly because their professor (Ivan Sergei) is teaching vampire literature (of course he is!) Drama teacher (James Franco) is directing the school play MacBeth and Leah is given the part with Pearl as Lady MacBeth. Bob is interested in Leah and warns her mother Julie Lewisohn (Tori Spelling) about Pearl.

So there it all is, in a nutshell. To my mind an out and out spoof of the original, Franco tries to write a sincere lesbian vampire movie, but it simply cannot work since everybody is expecting exploitation or genuine camp!

Sorry, but the production itself is also par for the course in a Lifetime movie. This might be edgy thirty years ago, but it's just bad cheese now. This does not bode well for Franco's writing skills and sensibilities. It's heavy-handed and tone-deaf with some badly written dialog. Stick to the original, boys and girls. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'80's Overdrive - 6 Movie Collection'
(Christian Slater, Johnny Depp, Rob Morrow, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, et al / 4-Disc Blu-ray / R / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 6 Totally Awesome '80s films with the stars that defined a decade! Everything '80s in a movie collection with the biggest stars and films from the iconic decade. Enjoy comedy, drama and action in classic '80s fashion.

Blu-ray Verdict: In this incredible new 6 film collection we get: 'The Legend of Billie Jean,' 'Little Nikita,' 'Hardbodies,' 'Spring Break,' 'Perfect,' and then 'Private Resort.'

'The Legend of Billie Jean' (1985) was one of your typical '80s movies (hence why it is in this collection). It's hopelessly dated but back in the day it was a real hoot to watch on TV. The story is about two siblings that cross paths with some older punks.

Billy Jean is the name of the main character (Helen Slater, looking good) and she tries to fight for what she believes is right "Fair is fair!" Her brother is played by the infamous Christian Slater (sans Jack Nicholson accent). They some how come across a lecherous sleaze ball and get into all kinds of shenanigans. It has to be seen to be believed.

The fact that the basic plot of 'Little Nikita' (1988) is ridiculous fails to ruin it. FBI agent Roy Parmenter (Sidney Poitier) is interviewing Jeff Grant (River Phoenix) for his possible entrance into the Air Force Academy.

While reviewing Grant's file he discovers that his parents Richard (Richard Jenkins) and Elizabeth (Caroline Kava) are not who they seem to be. They turn out to be dormant Soviet spies, `sleepers', who have come to the United States and started a life with their son, who has no idea they are spies.

I won't even go into how silly it is the way Parmenter discovers this, as if computers REALLY work that way. Suffice it to say, when he finally tells an incredulous Jeff about his parents, several other sleepers have already been murdered by renegade double agent Scuba (Richard Lynch).

Before sitting down to watch 'Hardbodies' (1984), decide what you are looking for out of this film. Do you want a well-written movie with an engaging plot, Oscar-worthy performances and beautifully-written dialogue?

Then stay away from this movie. Do you want to see a fairly entertaining movie centered around fitting as much gratuitous shots of topless women as possible? Then you've found what you're looking for!

'Hardbodies' is a cheesy, '80s teen sex movie. But if you like cheesy, 80's teen sex movies, it's actually pretty good. It's better than any of the other ones out there. Some funny, quotable lines.

'Spring Break' (1983) is a charming Ft. Lauderdale, well, spring break film from the wondrous, colourful, sexy '80s. Would this movie ever win any awards for cinematic excellence? Not a chance. But then it never tries to be anything other than what it is; mindless spring break fun circa-1983, but with a difference.

The movie has heart, treating its likable leads in a positive way rather than depicting them as the stupid, sex-crazed, goofs that most films of the time seem to prefer. In short, there are a LOT less worthwhile ways to spend 101 minutes.

In 'Perfect' (1985), John Travolta tries his best as writer for Rolling Stone magazine hoping to finish an unflattering piece on the faddish California health club scene, but complications arise after he falls in love with a sexy, sensitive aerobics instructor (Jamie Lee Curtis).

This perfect-ly awful drama, shallow and dated, is surprisingly cynical about Rolling Stone and its ethics (this despite the fact the producers had the magazine's input and even cast its editor, Jann Wenner, in a supporting role!). However, the film does get a tiny bit of class from Jamie Lee Curtis, and supporting players Anne De Salvo as a photographer and Laraine Newman, as a wallflower are more than respectable in clichéd roles.

'Private Resort' (1985) is a typical '80s B-comedy, sure, but give it two male leads who would go on to bigger and, in Depp's case, much better things, and now this little-movie-that-could has become a cult classic!

Believe me or not, Depp and Morrow take two stock characters and make the material seem that much better; suddenly Jack and Ben hold the film together, rather than just reacting to everything within a narrow character description. Okay, so it's not art, but it's interesting from a film education perspective, if nothing else. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'9 Pulse Pounding Films'
(Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Louis Gossett Jr., Sidney Poitier, et al / 3-Disc DVD / R / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Nine movies with A-list, Oscar winning actors who took on leading roles featuring characters who displayed the utmost courage.

DVD Verdict: In this incredible new 9 film collection we get: 'Freedomland,' 'No Good Deed,' 'In My Country,' 'BAADASSSSS!', 'The Last Days of Malcolm X,' 'The River Niger,' 'Out,' 'South Bronx Heroes,' and then 'The Mark of the Hawk.'

'Freedomland' (2006) was better than people give it credit for. I thought I was in for an average flick, but I was pleasantly surprised. And no, I don't mean that you couldn't figure out the gist of the plot, but it was well done, especially the scores.

The music really made the film. Julianne Moore delivered an accurate ex-drug-addicted, scattered person, and Samuel l. Jackson was right-on. I'd recommend this film to anyone who has an open mind.

'No Good Deed' (2002) is an interesting neo-noir/heist movie. Sam Jackson, a lonely and frustrated cop, starts off investigating a runaway daughter for his neighbor, only to stumble into a heist that is already underway. Taken hostage, he anxiously awaits his fate while trying to get some kind of angle on his captors.

The captors include a femme fatale, a violent thug, a cultured and domineering mastermind, and a racist elderly couple. They've also got an inside man that they're conning. This quirky group provides some black humor and tension. We're introduced to each character early, and the development is done rather well.

'In My Country' (2004) brings us Director John Boorman, who has taken on a weighty and incendiary subject, much like Terry George's recent take on genocide in 'Hotel Rwanda.' Although 'In My Country' (aka 'Country of My Skull') is set post-Apartheid, it still covers a hot topic: what do you do with the people that are to blame when a genocide occurs?

President Nelson Mandela formed a commission to get at the truth and in return for that information he was offering amnesty for those government officers that were only 'following orders'. An amazing precedent to say the least.

There have been many movies, usually bittersweet comedies, about movie-making with the director as the put-upon ringmaster of eccentrics, like Truffaut's 'Day for Night' or 'Living in Oblivion,' or bio-pics that show the director as eccentric visionary, like 'Ed Wood' or 'Matinee.'

But I think 'Baadasssss!' (2003) is one of very few to show the filmmaker as a driven artist, more comparable to the intense look at a ground-breaking creator like 'Pollock.'

Writer/director/producer Mario Van Peebles eerily reenacts how his father Melvin wrote/directed/produced the seminal 'Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song,' one of the first indie movies that also virtually created the potent blaxpoitation genre and guerrilla moviemaking.

In 'The Last Days of Malcolm X' (1981) aka 'Death of a Prophet', we get so admire Morgan Freeman ('Malcolm X') as a great actor with outstanding talents and a person who puts his very heart and soul into any role he tries to portray.

In this film, Morgan stars as a dynamic African-American activist who fought for racial equality during the rough and tough 1960s. Unfortunately, this film only portrays the final twenty-four hours of the civil rights leader's life.

Morgan Freeman made you feel the great power that this crusader had within his very soul and how he truly loved his calling to help the poverty stricken people and to bring his race into the light of the entire world.

'The River Niger' (1976) is very much a time capsule of the mid-1970s. There's a lot of good acting, some bad acting, and some pretty much middle of the road direction. The director, Krishna Shah, is probably the main thing which keeps this good film from being great. He just doesn't have a real vision for this sort of thing.

As you might expect from a stage adaptation, Joseph A. Walker's script is why this is worth watching. He writes excellent dialogue, characters, and best of all - poetry. Then again, there's a bit too much emphasis on the self-conscious black identity stuff, even for 1976.

Sadly, 'Out' (1982) is an experimental film that failed. If you want a good laugh, invite a friend to watch it. Tell them it is really intense and deep and watch them struggle with it as you sit back and pretend to know what it's all about! Frankly, this super-low budget mess is very good for a laugh between using it as a gag on a friend and just watching the insanity of it.

Danny Glover isn't on camera much, yet it's packaged as a Glover movie. The rest of the cast couldn't act their way out of a paper bag, except for Peter Coyote, which was the only other saving grace. To his credit, he acted well in this hideous film, but even an Oscar winning performance is not going to save it.

In 'South Bronx Heroes' (1985), real life siblings Mario and Melissa Van Peebles star as brother and sister about Mario coming home to the South Bronx after a stretch in a Mexican prison. Some of the neighborhood toughs find out in short order he can handle himself.

Luckily, 'South Bronx Heroes' is actually shot in the South Bronx as I most certainly recognized some of the locations. It's a sincere effort and young Mr. Ward is most appealing in his performance and they certainly sound like kids from New Yawk. Sad to say the production values are lacking and the cast could have used better direction.

Notable for being Eartha Kitt's screen debut, 'The Mark of the Hawk' (1957) is a political potboiler with heavy religious overtones. The setting is an unnamed country in pre-independence Africa, where Obam (Poitier) is a newly elected representative. Agitating for independence, he clashes with the colonial government, his firebrand younger brother Kanda (Clifton Macklin) and newly arrived missionary Mr. Craig (John McIntire).

Some of the speeches get tiresome and a ten minute flashback in the middle of the film slows the plot to a crawl, but the always watchable Poitier still manages to carry the film to it's improbable conclusion. Eartha is cast waaay against type as Obam's demure wife Renee, but then again we are treated to a rendition of her first gold record song ("This Man Is Mine") which is more than worth the wait. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Charles Bronson - 4 Movie Collection'
(Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, James Coburn, Martin Balsam, Jill Ireland, et al / Blu-ray / R / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Check out these incredible 4 Charles Bronson movies, in this brand new Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment: 'The Valachi Papers,' 'The Stone Killer,' 'Breakout,' and 'Hard Times.'

Blu-ray Verdict: The gangster Joseph "Joe" Valachi (Charles Bronson) has worked for the Mafia for more than thirty years in New York. When he has been imprisoned for fifteen years, he learns that the mobster Don Vito Genovese (Lino Ventura) is offering a reward for his life.

Without any alternative other than stay in the solitaire, he accepts the DA offer of protection. In return, he has to disclose the secrets of the Cosa Nostra.

'The Valachi Papers' (1974) is based on a true story and tells the rise and fall of a gangster from the Mafia. The role of Joseph Valachi is tailored for Charles Bronson and fans of gangster movie will certainly enjoy this film.

'The Stone Killer' (1973) is everything you would expect from the pairing of star Charles Bronson and director Michael Winner. A violent, woodenly acted and convoluted actioner in which plot developments are hammered home with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

The storyline has Bronson as a disgraced cop who leaves his job in New York and moves to quieter pastures on the Californian coast. He picks up a junkie wanted on a murder charge, but whilst escorting him to jail the junkie is killed in a Mob style hit.

As Bronson investigates the hit - and other killings like it - he begins to uncover preparations for a planned Mob massacre, to be staged by some ex-Vietnam veteran mercenaries.

Tom Gries ('Will Penny') directs 'Breakout' (1975) is a thin drama that casts Charles Bronson as independent pilot Nick Colton, enlisted by a desperate wife(Jill Ireland) who wants him to fly into a Mexican prison to rescue her husband(Robert Duvall) who she insists was framed by the mafia. Colton agrees for $50,000, though of course the plan doesn't go as smoothly as they had hoped.

Though this has a good cast, there is little else about this film that is memorable, and credibility isn't that high either. Some goofy comedy involving co-star Randy Quaid dressed as a woman doesn't help.

'Hard Times' (1975) aka 'The Streetfighter' is, quite easily, one of my favorite films. There is a quality about it that touches the soul. Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Strother Martin are superb. Coburn is the character. The story is great, the acting is great and the music is great, particularly the closing piece of blue grass.

I saw 'Hard Times' when it first came out and it never left me. I'm not even sure why. Perhaps because all the characters, even the antagonists are depicted as real humans and not caricatures. For example, the loan sharks mean business but aren't bloodthirsty.

They want their money and do what they have to do to collect. Interestingly they seem genuinely pleased with the resolution of their problem. Even the film's "heavy" has the decency to pay due homage to the skill of his nemesis. And once business is concluded personal relationships are renewed. In my mind this is a true classic. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'90's Sitcom Starter Set - Season 1 & 2 Bundle'
(David Spade, Garry Shandling, Tim Daly, Steven Weber, Tony Shalhoub, et al / 9-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 3 Hilarious TV Shows! 90 Episodes! Over 35 Hours! Jump start your TV collection with 3 of most beloved comedies of the 1990s.

DVD Verdict: Featuring the groundbreaking comedy of 'THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW', the workplace misadventures of a fashion magazine in 'JUST SHOOT ME', and high-flying antics of the crew at Tom Nevers Field in 'WINGS'. Here you get to enjoy the first 2 seasons from each series together for an unforgettable and hilarious collections of laughs.

'The Larry Sanders Show' is an American television sitcom set in the office and studio of a fictional late-night talk show. The series was created by Garry Shandling and Dennis Klein and aired from August 1992 to May 1998 on the HBO cable television network.

The series stars Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor, and Rip Torn and features celebrities playing exaggerated, self-parodying versions of themselves. The show has its roots in Shandling's stand-up comedy background, his experience as a guest host on The Tonight Show and his earlier sitcom It's Garry Shandling's Show.

The program has had a marked and long-lasting influence on HBO as well as on television shows in the US and Britain such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock and The Office. The supporting cast includes Janeane Garofalo, Wallace Langham, Penny Johnson, Linda Doucett, Scott Thompson and Jeremy Piven.

Regarded as an influential and landmark series, it ranked 38 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, the only HBO comedy to make the list,[1] and was also included in Time magazine's list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time".

'Just Shoot Me!' is an American television sitcom that aired on NBC from March 4, 1997, to August 16, 2003, with a total of 148 half-hour episodes spanning seven seasons.

The show was created by Steven Levitan, the show's executive producer. The show follows the staff at the fictional fashion magazine Blush.

Early on, the series was a very competitive hit, consistently winning its time slot. The first season of six episodes were all aired by NBC in a single month in March 1997. It was renewed for a 13-episode second season, fitted at 9:30 after Frasier, and then was moved in the spring to Thursdays between Friends and Seinfeld.

After just two of these airings, the order was bumped up to a full season. When Seinfeld left the airwaves in 1998, Just Shoot Me! was one of the contenders to take the coveted 9 p.m. Thursday slot. Frasier instead won the slot, and Just Shoot Me was instead given Frasier's 9 p.m. Tuesday slot.

For the fifth season of the series, when Frasier underperformed in the coveted Thursday slot and NBC returned it to Tuesdays at 9, Just Shoot Me! was moved to Thursdays at 9:30, between Will & Grace and ER, where ratings saw an immediate spike and where the show would remain for two years.

The show's seventh season saw several drastic changes. Series showrunners Moses Port and David Guarascio left at the end of the sixth season to pursue a development deal with NBC, and were replaced with Jon Pollack and Judd Pillot and John Peaslee.

Also noted as a big factor was the addition of Rena Sofer to the cast. Her addition was mandated by NBC, who had sought a successful vehicle for her for years.

At the same time, NBC also gave the show one of its most difficult timeslots, Tuesdays at 8 pm. Ratings fell sharply in the first few weeks, and the show was put on hiatus by November, showing only one new episode until the following April. During this time, production resumed, but Sofer's character was written out. By this point, NBC had sadly canceled the show.

'Wings' is an American sitcom that ran for eight seasons on NBC from April 19, 1990, to May 21, 1997. Starring Tim Daly and Steven Weber as brothers Joe and Brian Hackett, the show is set at the fictional "Tom Nevers Field" airport, a small two-airline airport in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where the Hackett brothers operate Sandpiper Air.

Other regulars include Crystal Bernard, David Schramm, Rebecca Schull, Thomas Haden Church, and Tony Shalhoub. Farrah Forke later joined the cast for two seasons. When Forke left, Amy Yasbeck joined the cast for the remainder of the show's run from 1994–1997. Thomas Haden Church left the show in spring 1995 to star in the Fox sitcom Ned and Stacey, and Brian Haley joined the cast as the new mechanic.

Wings was created and produced by Cheers veterans David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee. The trio would later create the sitcom Frasier, which was a spinoff of Cheers. Characters from Cheers occasionally made special guest appearances on Wings. All three series were produced by Paramount Network Television.

As aforementioned, '90's Sitcom Starter Set - Season 1 & 2 Bundle' contains 3 hilarious TV shows and houses an incredible, a whooping 90 episodes overall on 9 brilliant DVD discs! Coming in at just over 35 hours of beloved first and second season TV watching from a classic era of TV, come in, sit down, rest your legs and allow your brain to lose itself within these wondrous comedies from the '90s. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Soultangler: Special Edition'
(Bill Bernhard, Jennifer Brown, Tom Ciorciari, et al / DVD / R / (1987) 2018 / American Genre Film Archive)

Overview: A mad scientist named Anton Lupesky invents a drug that can free the soul of the user and allow them to posses the bodies of corpses. The horrible side effect is sometimes fatal hallucinations that leave the survivors incurably mad.

DVD Verdict: Anton Lupesky is a scientist who of course turns out to be mad. He creates a drug that will allow the users spirit to leave their body and posses corpses but of course there's a major side effect.

In full disclosure, 'Soultangler' is actually a film that I had never heard of before it came out onto DVD. I must admit that I had never heard a thing about it and after watching it I'm even more confused because there's really not too much here!<> I mean, was the company releasing this trying to pass it off as a cult movie? Perhaps as a movie that's so bad it's good? I'm really not sure what they were trying to do but it seems the filmmakers were going for something like 'Re-Animator', but they didn't have a budget.

For me the worst thing about this picture is that it just couldn't keep me entertained or glued into what was going on. Every once in a while we'd get some bloody deaths, but there's not nearly enough to keep you entertained.

As you'd expect, the performances are pretty bad, but this here can be forgiven. The film also features some pretty weak special effects but I will say that I enjoyed them for what they were. At least they tried to give us some practical effects with gore.

I guess there might be some people who get some laughs out of the picture but it just didn't work for me, sorry. That said, if you don't go in expecting constant action or thrills and accept that this is a micro-budget film determined to tell a surreal, dream-like story of science gone horribly wrong, you will most likely actually enjoy it! (ME) This brand new transfer is taken from the original 1" master video tapes, enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

• Transferred from the original 1" master tapes!
• Unseen 62 minute alternate director's cut!
• Commentary track with director Pat Bishow!
• Behind the scenes footage!
• Music video for "Wow" by Hypnolovewheel!
• Liner notes by Bleeding Skull's Zack Carlson!

'The City of The Dead: Limited Edition'
(Christopher Lee, Dennis Lotis, Betta St John, Patricia Jessel, Venetia Stevenson, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (1960) 2018 / VCI Entertainment)

Overview: A young college student arrives in a sleepy Massachusetts town to research witchcraft; during her stay at an eerie inn, she discovers a startling secret about the town and its inhabitant.

Blu-ray Verdict: One of the common threads with this movie is that if you saw it when you were a kid it scared the heck out of you. No doubt you caught it on a creature features afternoon show back in the 60's or 70' and the movie stayed with you.

The basic plot is simple enough. A , basically made up of a coven of 300 year old witches, are looking for human sacrifices. A young student is guided to Whitewood for research and, well, anything else would just spoil it for you. Just expect the unexpected.

I love showing this movie to people and then telling them it was filmed in England with a British cast. The cast does an outstanding job with their accents.

This is a film that relies on mood and suspense rather than cheap shocks, but it does contain its share of shocking moments that aren't uncalled for.

It is also one of the foggiest films I've ever, but that just adds to the atmosphere. Great black and white photography and a director that got the most out of a limited budget, but stellar cast.

FYI: The film was not released in the USA until two years later (1962), albeit with the name 'Horror Hotel.' Important dialogue bits from the opening burning-at-the-stake sequence were censored from the American version and key scenes were used in the Iron Maiden video for their song "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter" (1990).

This classic of British horror has been painstakingly restored by VCI (with the cooperation of the British Film Institute), is now complete and uncut and in 1080 HD, enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• Horror Hotel, the American Version of City of the Dead
• Feature length Commentary by Bruce Hallenbeck
• 2nd Feature length Commentary with actor Christopher Lee
• 3rd Commentary by Director John Moxey
• Interview with Christopher Lee
• Interview with Venetia Stevenson
• Interview with Director John Moxey
• Theatrical Trailer
• Photo Gallery
• Liner Notes by Mike Kenny, Film Reviewer
• English Subtitles

'Killer Klowns from Outer Space: Special Edition'
(Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, Royal Dano, John Vernon, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (1988) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Aliens who look like clowns come from outer space and terrorize a small town.

Blu-ray Verdict: No self-respecting movie nut can pass up the opportunity to watch a cult classic with such a daft title as this (regardless of the disgusted looks he receives from his nearest and dearest), but it was with a sense of 'why do I put myself through this?' that I settled down to watch 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space'.

Certainly, if you're not the type who's prepared to expose yourself to a piece of work that has no chance of being well-made art then you won't make it to the end of this one. But, while this film is not particularly good, it does possess the high-spirited exuberance of a film that deliberately sets out to be as stupid as it possibly can.

Filled with bright primary colors, the film eschews the usual dark shadows of its genre in order to play on many people's childhood (and adult, in some cases) fear of clowns. The ones in this film – aliens who have stopped by for a snack during their travels – certainly won't cure anyone of their phobia: they have to be some of the most evil-looking clowns in cinema history, and there is something undeniably creepy about those permanent smiles fixed to their faces as they carry out all manner of dubious acts.

Perhaps the most inventive of these is the clown who entrances a small crowd by casting various shadows on a wall, the last of which is a dinosaur that promptly devours its audience!

The plot – such as it is – is reminiscent of those old sci-fi b-movies in which some out-of-the-way desert town is threatened by aliens or insects made large by unhealthy doses of radiation.

It's definitely at its best when allowing the events on screen to supply the sense of comedy rather than trying to use comic characters like the dopey friends in the ice cream van to create laughs. For a twenty-odd year old low-budget movie the effects are OK, and the producers have to be congratulated on making good use of limited funds.

For all the modest praise I've given 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space', it's not a movie I'm likely to watch again, which makes it not so much a guilty pleasure as a guilty distraction that can now be easily ignored. In closing, I had always wished that Mystery Science Theatre 3000 had done this movie because it's the greatest example of what they reviewed. It's a bad movie, but it's an extremely entertaining one. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

•Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative.
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation.
•Newly remastered stereo 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio options.
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
•Archive audio commentary with the Chiodo Brothers.
•Let the Show Begin! Anatomy of a Killer Theme Song an all-new interview with the original members of the American punk band, The Dickies.
•The Chiodos Walk Among Us: Adventures in Super 8 Filmmaking - all-new documentary highlighting the making of the Chiodo Brothers childhood films, from the giant monster epics made in their basement to their experiments in college.
•New HD transfers of the complete collection of the Chiodo Brothers 8mm and Super 8 films, including Land of Terror, Free Inside, Beast from the Egg, and more!
•Tales of Tobacco an interview with star Grant Cramer.
•Debbie s Big Night an interview with star Suzanne Snyder.
•Bringing Life to These Things a tour of Chiodo Bros. Productions.
•The Making of Killer Klowns archive production featurette.
•Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr. archive interview with co-writer/producer Charles Chiodo and visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr.
•Kreating Klowns archive interview with Charles Chiodo and creature fabricator Dwight Roberts.
•Komposing Klowns archive interview with composer John Massari.
•Klown Auditions.
•Deleted Scenes with filmmaker's audio commentary.
•Image Galleries.
•Original Theatrical Trailer.
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck.

'Heartworn Highways Revisited'
(Guy Clark, Steve Young, David Allan Coe, John McCauley, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / Film Rise)

Overview: 2016 marked the 40th anniversary of the seminal music documentary HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS, a film that captured the nascent roots of the Outlaw Country movement in the mid-70s. Today,'Heartworn Highways Revisited' explores and celebrates the authenticity and spirit of that legendary film via a community of contemporary musicians creating music in Nashville, Tennessee.

DVD Verdict: In 'Heartworn Highways Revisited', the filmmakers reunite with Heartworn originals: Guy Clark, Steve Young, and David Allan Coe while focusing on the next generation of "outlaws": John McCauley, Jonny Fritz, Josh Hedley, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, Langhorne Slim, Robert Ellis, Andrew Combs, Shelly Colvin, Phil Hummer and others who honor the tradition of their predecessors while forging a highway all their own.

2015 marked the 38th anniversary of the seminal music documentary, HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS, a film that explored and captured the nascent roots of the Outlaw Country movement in the mid-70s. 'Heartworn Highways Revisited' lovingly brings us back into the fold and this delightful, and fully deserved Special Edition now adds a little something else too.

A must see for any country/roots music fan, from a Larry Jon Wilson recording session, to Townes Van Zandt's notoriously split persona (one minute drunkenly clowning for the camera, the next bringing a grown man to tears with “Waitin' Round To Die”), to an encapsulating jam session scene in Guy Clark's living room (featuring a very young Steve Earle), the film is simply nirvana for those concerned.

Directed by Jim Szalapski, 'Highways' is an unfolding story, told in a linear style, allowing the music, and more often than not, the musicians to speak for themselves. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and now features bonus interviews, the official 'HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS REVISITED' trailer along with surround sound and English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired.

Official Purchase Link

'Molly's Game' (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital)
(Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2018 / LGF)

Overview: The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.

Blu-ray Verdict: Aaron Sorkin (aka The Godfather of dialogue) teams up with the ravishing Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba to bring the crazy true story of Molly Bloom to the big screen.

'Molly's Game,' based on the book of the same name, chronicles the underbelly of the most exclusive, illegal high-stakes poker game in LA. Sorkin, in his directorial debut, brings his signature fluid dialogue and exceptional writing. Jessica Chastain brings her signature acting chops and amps up the eye candy to glorious effect. Together, they produce one of the best written and most consistently engaging movies of the year.

'Molly's Game' follows the trope of an ambitious and morally questionable person who gambles everything, builds an empire only to have it come crashing down upon them, writes a successful book about it, and even gets a movie adaptation.

This has been done many times before, but what helps 'Molly's Game' stand out is not only Sorkin's dialogue and Chastain's charisma, but the depth explored between Molly and her complicated father (played magnetically by Kevin Costner).

One of the best scenes in the film is towards the end when Molly and her father have an intervention of emotional awakening. It may seem shoehorned in for some old-fashioned father daughter catharsis, but the intelligence and power of the scene are enough to overcome this.

Molly's father confronts her on why she chose her path of running an illegal business and calls her out for wanting to control powerful men as a way to get back at him. This scene beautifully breaks down the enigma that is Molly Bloom and is like an orgasm of self-actualization.

The only real flaws of 'Molly's Game' are the repetitiveness in the story - could've trimmed the runtime - and the dialogue is so fast it's as if it's sped up. Otherwise, Sorkin and company make what could have been another average based on a true story crime drama, into a marvelously written and acted, fast paced entertainment. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and has the Special Feature of:

Building an Empire

Official Trailer

'Backstabbing For Beginners' (Blu-ray+Digital)
(Theo James, Ben Kingsley, Jacqueline Bisset, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Based on a true story, this gripping and timely thriller follows an idealistic UN employee (James) as he investigates the grisly murder of his predecessor and uncovers a vast global conspiracy that may even involve his own boss (Kingsley).

Blu-ray Verdict: Based upon a true story, Michael Sullivan (Theo James) takes a job at the United Nations with supervisor Pasha (Ben Kingsley) a United Nations Under Secretary who runs the Oil for Food Program and Michael eventually learns how "diplomacy" really works.

Michael learns that there is corruption everywhere he looks, but goes along with Pasha's "don't rock the boat" philosophy because Pasha wants to keep his job and also to insure the funding continues for the Program.

This is really not an entertaining story. It's more like a documentary about the corruption within the United Nations, and sometimes it's difficult to follow characters that come and go and we are not sure what they do except to say most are up to no good.

All you really have to do is to follow Michael and his take on everything. Remember, he took the job to make a difference in the world, but is constrained by Pasha and his don't rock the boat philosophy.

Michael's change of heart started with Michael befriending and defending Nashim (Belcim Bilgin) a Kurdish woman who fears for her life if she is found out to be Kurdish in Iraq.

After the attack by the US on Iraq, Michael sees the opportunity to get the evidence for all the corruption that involves many well known companies and other countries who greased Saddam's hand.

Ben Kingsley plays Pasha perfectly and we all know he is guilty and we wonder how Michael will expose him and all the rest. And this is where the major backstabbing takes place because Pasha is found guilty as well. Pasha admits to Michael later on that this was well-played by Michael.

Notable players that stand out in this film are the always-incredible Jacqueline Bisset as Christina Dupre. A woman who is opposed to the Food for Oil program because she knows the program is corrupt, and that all the food never gets to the people. Worse, the drugs that are supposed to help cure illness are so out of date many deaths come about because of that.

Overall, just not enough dramatic tension here to make this a really engrossing movie. It did have its moments, but I can't rate it higher than fair.

On one last intersecting note, Josh Hutcherson was set to play the lead role in this film but when director Per Fly informed him they would be shooting in Morocco and Jordan, Hutcherson dropped out because of safety reasons. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

“The Truth Behind Backstabbing for Beginners” Featurette

'Masterpiece Mystery! Unforgotten: Season 1'
(Nicola Walker, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Trevor Eve, et al / 2-Disc DVD / TV-MA / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Nicola Walker (Last Tango in Halifax) and Sanjeev Bhaskar (The Indian Doctor) lead a powerful ensemble cast in this highly-acclaimed, thrilling crime drama.

DVD Verdict: DCI Cassie Stuart and her partner, DI Sunil "Sunny" Khan re-open cold murder cases from decades past, throwing lives into turmoil as they seek justice for their unforgotten victims.

In the six-episode first season, when the body of a young man is discovered in a derelict building, DCI Cassie Stuart is called in to investigate with her partner, DI Sunil Khan.

Jimmy Sullivan was a homeless boy, murdered in 1976 when the building was a hostel. His diary implicates four suspects; a clergyman, an eminent entrepreneur, a community worker and a wheelchair-bound husband caring for his wife. Each has a secret to hide.

The investigative process by which DCI Cassandra Stuart and DI Sunil Khan use a set of car keys that were found underneath the skeleton, to track down the vehicle to which the keys belong, and subsequently identify the murder victim, is absolutely fascinating.

In fact, the entire depiction of the scientific procedures and techniques used by the forensic specialists is decidedly interesting and educational.

As the story unfolds, the dramatic events in the lives of the main characters gradually emerge, and the intersection of these characters around the victim of the crime, almost forty years previously, provides the key to solving this murder mystery.

As always, the performance of the lead actor, Nicola Walker, is outstanding, as is the performance of her primary supporting actor, Sanjeev Bhaskar. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Greatest Showman' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Keala Settle, et al / Blu ray+DVD+Digital / PG / 2018 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Hugh Jackman leads and all-star cast in this bold and original musical filled with infectious showstopping performances that will bring you to your feet time and time again.

Blu ray Verdict: Hugh Jackman is as complete a package as you can get in Hollywood. Not only can he dance, sing and act, but he also possesses levels of nice-guy charisma most A-listers can only dream of.

It's no shock then that this glitzy musical employs him to play the eponymous circus pioneer P.T. Barnum, an ambitious dreamer who pushes social boundaries to deliver a theatrical extravaganza others couldn't even imagine.

Centering around Barnum's use of outcasts and "oddities" to draw in crowds, the film has a quirky edge to its otherwise mainstream appeal; the traditional song-and-dance numbers are scattered with colorful characters (and a smidge of offbeat humor) to keep it fresh.

The musical sequences are impressively choreographed and often very affecting, the most memorable being the show stopping "This Is Me" led by Keala Settle as Bearded Lady Lettie Lutz, closely followed by "The Other Side", a clever two-hander between Jackman and Zac Efron.

Jackman is clearly in his element belting out tunes and dancing up a storm, but he's also given wonderful support from all involved, including Efron as his plucky apprentice, Michelle Williams as his super-patient wife, and Zendaya as a racially vilified trapeze artist.

The movie succeeds a lot less as a biography though; Barnum's rise amidst risky business ventures and family sacrifices is touched upon but never explored, missing an opportunity to delve deep into the life of a clearly intriguing person.

It might be a little too conventional to convert those who aren't fans of the genre, but with a charming cast, splendid set pieces and sweet natured vibe, 'The Greatest Showman' is a pleasingly fun, and highly accessible musical. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

The Family Behind 'The Greatest Showman'
The Songs
The Spectacle
Music Machine with Sing-Along, and More!

'Heartworn Highways'
(Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earle, David Allan Coe, Larry Jon Wilson, Barefoot Jerry, Rodney Crowell, Steve Young, Gamble Rogers, Charlie Daniels Band, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / Film Rise)

Overview: 2016 marked the 40th anniversary of this seminal music documentary, 'Heartworn Highways,' a film that captured the nascent roots of the Outlaw Country movement in the mid-70s. It magnificently explores, and celebrates, the authenticity and spirit of that community of contemporary musicians, who all began their careers creating music in Nashville, Tennessee.

DVD Verdict: This classic documentary contains stirring performances from (but is not limited to in any way shape or form) legendary songwriters Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, David Allan Coe, Steve Young, Rodney Crowell, Gamble Rogers, Steve Earle, Barefoot Jerry and the Charlie Daniels Band.

The film, now on DVD for the very first time, portrays an emotional landscape driven by music and joins these artists in their lives at home, in the studio and on stage, authentically depicting a community rarely entered by outsiders.

In truth though, and from my own humble viewpoint, 'Heartworn Highways' is not a great documentary from a film standpoint, but it is from the music standpoint.

As aforementioned, it captures a group of songwriters who were living in Nashville in 1975 during a period of amazing creativity. Most never became famous except to that small group of music aficionados around the world who appreciate a song's lyrics.

That said, it is a pure, unadulterated joy to see a young Townes Van Zandt singing "Pancho and Lefty" and "Waiting Around to Die." Other gems are Guy Clark's "Desparadoes Waiting for a Train" and the underrated Steve Young doing a stirring rendition of "Alabama Highways."

Rodney Crowell's work is fun to see and the final scene includes a teen-looking Steve Earle sitting at the feet of his elders. Man, as the DVD itself states, this documentary does indeed capture a time a place from a time long since passed.

However, and that said, it never gives us any context. We learn little of the people and the place other than some vignettes that usually work. But I wanted to know more about the songwriter world, the open-mics, etc.

However, the music stands up and thank God it was saved. The film ends with a drunken Christmas party at the Clark's, featuring perhaps the first recording of future hard core troubadour Steve Earle, helping his friends belt out an intoxicated version of "Silent Night." Pure country gold at its flashback finest! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official Purchase Link

'Jesus: Countdown to Calvary'
(DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Jesus: Countdown to Calvary' offers a revolutionary new telling of "the greatest story ever told" - the story of an itinerant Jewish healer and preacher, who went from hero to victim in a single week, 2000 years ago, and ended up dead on a cross.

DVD Verdict: What was Jesus' life like from His birth in Bethlehem to His crucifixion on Calvary? Was He under some special protection of His Father while He was alive – a protection that preserved Him from trials and the Fall?

For those not in the know, the Gospel writers call the place where Jesus was crucified Golgotha — an Aramaic word meaning “the skull.” Calvary is the Latin form of the word. Scripture does not reveal the precise location of Golgotha. It simply states that Jesus' crucifixion took place outside the city of Jerusalem, though near it.

In 'Jesus: Countdown to Calvary,' Hugh Bonneville reveals how a perfect storm of political intrigue, power struggles and clashing religious passions combined, in a single week, to cause the event that changed the world: the killing of Jesus.

'Jesus: Countdown to Calvary' offers a revolutionary new telling of "the greatest story ever told" - the story of an itinerant Jewish healer and preacher, who went from hero to victim in a single week, 2000 years ago, and ended up dead on a cross.

For the first time on television, world-renowned actor and Cambridge theology graduate, Hugh Bonneville, sets out to discover why that one execution, in a century when as many as 500 people were killed in a single day by the Romans, had such seismic, lasting and global impact, for better and for worse.

He uses all the investigative and storytelling tools at his disposal to reveal the context, characters and chain of events behind the week that changed the world. In the process, he finds that this is no dusty religious story, but a political thriller - a whodunnit, even - shot through with intrigue, spin, conspiracy, power battles, betrayal and terror. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'We'll Meet Again with Ann Curry'
(2-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Join Ann Curry for a new series featuring dramatic reunions of people whose lives crossed at pivotal moments. View history through their eyes and hear stories of heroism, hope and the forging of unbreakable bonds.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Ann Curry is an American television personality, journalist, and photojournalist. Curry has been a reporter for more than 30 years, focused on human suffering in war zones and natural disasters.

Directed by Ashok Prasad, Rebecca Burrell, Sam Knowles, Phil Stein, Andrew Hinton, and Alex Emanuel, produced by Simon Harries, Ann Curry, Justine Kershaw, and Andra Heritage, and hosted by Ms. Curry, 'We'll Meet Again' is a brand new TV series that features dramatic reunions of people whose lives crossed at pivotal moments.

Children of WWII: A Japanese-American woman sent to an internment camp as a child hopes to find the school friend who stood up for her, and a survivor from a Jewish ghetto searches for the child of the couple who befriended him.

Rescued from Mount St. Helens: Mindy searches for a scientist's family to tell them how he saved her life, and Sue wants to find the helicopter pilot who rescued her from near-certain death.

Lost Children of Vietnam: Tina, born in Vietnam, searches for her American father, and Nam hopes to find the Texas cowboy who saved him as a young boy and inspired him to come to America.

Heroes of 9/11: Patrick searches for the stranger who comforted him after the disaster, and Tim hopes to thank the fellow chaplain who gave him the strength to carry on.

Freedom Summer: Fatima hopes to thank Thelma for her courage in the face of racism, and Sherie searches for the friend who inspired her commitment to social justice.

Coming Out: Tom wants to find the childhood friend who urged him to come out, while Paul seeks a fellow student who inspired him to stand up for his beliefs for the first time.

In my humble opinion, everything that they pull together for these groups of people are always done in good taste. Indeed, and without giving too much away, there were several stories combined in the series and the transition from each story to the next was handled very well.

So, grab the tissue boxes, hunker down into your pockets for your hankies, as 'We'll Meet Again' will assuredly make your tears flow! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Blood And Glory'
(Charlotte Salt, Josh Myers, Andre Jacobs, Greg Kriek, Nick Cornwall, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Set during the Anglo Boer War, 'Blood And Glory' tells the story of prisoners of war who take a stand against their captors.

DVD Verdict: In truth, 'Blood and Glory' is part revenge drama, part patriotic film, and yet at all times a striving propaganda piece; all wrapped up in the drama of the sports field.

Set in 1901, this rather wonderful period epic follows Willem Morkel - a Boer and family man whose wife and son are murdered during the Anglo-Boer War.

Captured as a prisoner of war, Willem must survive incarceration in the notorious St. Helena concentration camp and defeat the ruthless Colonel Swannell, at his own game ... Rugby.

Sure, with the plot revolving around a young Afrikaner man who leaves his wife and newborn son behind to fight in the Second Boer War (aka Anglo-Boer War) against the British Empire, I had no real idea that it would turn into another 'Longest Yard' or 'Victory' either!

But, that's what it does and so don't be lulled into thinking, whilst watching the opening hour, that this is anything less than a sports drama, now tinged with some epic 1901 period war dirt and bluster.

Anyway, back to the story and upon his return to find his home destroyed and family gone, and after an ill- fated attempt to rescue his family from a concentration camp, he is himself arrested and shipped of the the remote island of St Helena.

Here he grows from being suicidal to being hopeful once more, all thanks to the newly discovered game of Rugby.

Again, sure, it's a typical feel-good movie with lots of popular underdog tropes: Guy fights for freedom, guy loses everything, guy endures the torment of cruel villain, guy finds new hope, guy wins, happy ending; but it's also a rather watchable 80 minutes.

The acting is, for the most part, enjoyable and well done, although there are notable chunks of bored speeches, war time drama forlorn looks and despondency, etc. But there are also moments when I felt like cheering, and there are also moments when I seriously doubted the historical accuracy of the events portrayed (but I let those moments quickly slide on through). This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:

Director's Audio Commentary
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer

'Liquid Sky' [Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack]
(Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Bob Brady, Susan Doukas, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / (1982) 2018 / Vinegar Syndrome)

Overview: Margaret (Anne Carlisle) is a fashion model with dreams of stardom, whose alter ego and rival, Jimmy (also Carlisle), abuses and takes advantage of her to satisfy his rampant drug addiction.

Unknown to them, tiny, invisible aliens have landed on the roof above the bohemian squalor in which they live and begin killing anyone Margaret has sex with to feed on their pleasure giving neurotransmitters.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Liquid Sky' (114 minutes), a film written, produced and directed by the Russian director Slava Tsukerman, can be considered a classic underground cinema full of fantastic realism. Not one that I have ever seen before tonight, it turns out that Liquid Sky means "heroin" in the New York slang of that time.

Basically put, 'Liquid Sky' is a sci-fi movie whose scene is the world of the fashion and the heavy drugs in Manhattan. Ergo, the movie lays bare much of the pretense and affectation of our society, particularly those of the shallow, pseudo-intellectual crowd. Indeed, the lack of any truly likable characters may turn off a lot of viewers, but to me it simply reflects the kind of people being depicted here.

Hailed by Time Magazine as 'a two hour act of imagination,' Slava Tsukerman's 'Liquid Sky' may well be the aforementioned underground masterpiece of avant-garde sci-fi filmmaking, but the fact it's set against the visual majesty of New York's early '80s New Wave scene is beyond conceptually stunning (even now).

The plot seems comic, I'll give you that, but the result is surprising: a flying saucer lands on the penthouse's roof of a famous model called Margareth [the actress Anne Carlisle, who also interprets the androgynous model Jimmy].

A very small alien creature hidden in a spaceship of the size and format of a little signature TV antenna, captures the energies of the place, earning force through a substance produced in the human brain at the moment of orgasm.

So, the extraterrestrial exterminates one by one, the partners of the model. These events are followed by a German astrophysicist that also researches Ufology.

The film presents a savage sense of humor and an elaborated visual technique through blown up colors, fluorescent makeup, melting forms, many neon and ultraviolet lights. But therein lies one of its many acts of brilliance as 'Liquid Sky' is filled with arresting cinematography by Yuri Neyman.

Add to that an acclaimed, and highly original soundtrack, and this stunning, now crisp and clear, quintessential midnight movie finally brought to Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome, is newly restored in 4k from its original 35mm camera negative; for everyone to now enjoy.

Vinegar Syndrome specializes in the masterful restoration and distribution of cult, horror, and erotic films from the 1960s-90s, and boy, have they not only done an incredible job on the film itself, but take a look at the en masse of special features listed below! Bravo, Vinegar Syndrome. Bravo. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Newly scanned and restored in 4k from the 35mm original negative
Commentary track with: Slava Tsukerman (director)
Interview with Slava Tsukerman
Interview with Anne Carlisle (actress)
Director's introduction
"Liquid Sky Revisited" (2017) - 50 minute making-of documentary
Q&A from a 2017 Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers screening with: Slava Tsukerman, Anne Carlisle and Clive Smith (co-composer)
Isolated soundtrack
Never before seen outtakes
Alternate opening sequence
Behind the scenes rehearsal footage
Multiple trailers
Still gallery
Cover artwork by Derek Gabryszak
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles

'Plain Spoken: From The Chicago Theatre'
(John Mellencamp / Blu-ray+CD / NR / 2018 / Eagle Vision)

Overview: “Try to keep it as plain spoken as possible…” are some of the first words the viewer hears in 'Plain Spoken: From The Chicago Theatre'. A self-narrated musical journey, the film encapsulates the sound and soul of John Mellencamp.

Blu ray Verdict: Well, let's be honest here, for as much as I loved hearing the voice over from Mellencamp himself, the fact that there's a bonus feature option here to view the entire concert without the voice over is Christmas come early, sorry.

That said, Mellencamp has always been a fine, high caliber troubadour when it comes to stories spun to his audience whilst playing live. I mean, the man's had a career spanning more than 42 years. One that has seen him transition from pop star to one of the most highly regarded songwriters of a generation.

Culling first from his 2014 album of this tours same name, both 'Lawless Times' and 'Troubled Man' may well be unknown to the vast majority of those either gathered there that night, or watching now from their comfy couches, but both songs are as attune to today's political status as they could ever have been.

With his entire band dressed as if they were headed for a posh dinner party, Mellencamp himself wearing what genuinely looks to be a slightly oversized dinner jacket over a standard plain white tshirt, the next song of note early on is a delicious 'Small Town.' The song, sung as only Mellencamp can with that gravel-toned vocal of his, flashes you immediately back to 1985, and has you singing along without you realizing.

Throughout the show, the audience is dark, lit only by carefully spaced way overhead venue lights, the stage also never more than lit by what was required to see/play instruments. Predominately aglow under a bathing blue set of spots, and with a backdrop sheet (also lit in blue) showcasing symbols and written thoughts, this captured live show of him performing with his full band (and with Carlene Carter guesting) at the historic Chicago Theatre (just 250 miles from his native Indiana) is as good as it gets watching Mellencamp in the current era.

Now, back to that voice over, for as Mellencamp and his band perform these well-received 16 songs to his adoring fans within a packed out Chicago Theatre, as aforementioned, the great man himself provides a narrative about his life and career.

Obviously, and keeping with the spirit of the tour, he tries to keep it as 'plain spoken' as possible, but what we learn (as the music plays) is that he is a rather keen observer of what other people do and say.

Stating that he never tried to live up to other people's expectations, including his parents, who weren't always there for him in his youth, it was actually his grandmother who inspired him with encouragement every day of his life until the age of forty.

Mellencamp goes on to describe how it was actually easy for him to land a recording contract, simply by leaving copies of a tape he recorded as a teenager with a garage band he joined up with. That said, and as he is just as quick to point out, very soon he came to understand that the music business was all about the money.

Listening to Mellencamp throughout, he's not cynical when he says this, and other things that he recounts that didn't go too well for him in life either, moreover he's simply being matter of fact about it all. For it's the path that led him here tonight, to play in front of all these fans, to bring them what was at that time, his new recording.

Ergo, as the music plays, and classic songs such as 'Minutes To Memories,' 'Pop Singer,' 'Check It Out,' 'Rain On The Scarecrow,' 'Paper In Fire,' 'Authority Song,' 'Pink Houses,' and the always-brilliant 'Cherry Bomb' come forth, Mellencamp's grainy, travel worn voice informs us further about the story of his Midwestern upbringing, the trials, turns and triumphs of his career, and his overall outlook on life.

The result, whether it be via this stunning Blu-ray or the accompanying CD (which is built, in my world, strictly for the car on a hot sunny day, top down) is the essence of John Mellencamp; delivered, for our pleasure and knowledge, by a man who can never do any wrong whilst plying his chosen trade.

Blu-ray & CD Track Listing:
1. 'Lawless Times
2. 'Troubled Man'
3. 'Minutes to Memories
4. 'Small Town'
5. 'Stones in My Passway'
6. 'Pop Singer'
7. 'Check It Out'
8. 'Longest Days
9. 'The Full Catastrophe'
10. 'My Soul's Got Wings
11. 'Overture'
12. 'Rain on the Scarecrow'
13. 'Paper in Fire'
14. 'Authority Song'
15. 'Pink Houses
16. 'Cherry Bomb'

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Feature of the entire concert without the voice over.

'Black Venus: Special Edition'
(Yahima Torres, Andre Jacobs, Olivier Gourmet, Elina Lowensohn, et al / Blu ray / NR / (2010) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Saartjie Baartman, also known as the Hottentot Venus, was taken from South African home as a 21-year-old and shipped to Georgian London, where she would be caged and exhibited as a freak show.

Presented semi-nude, her physique especially her large buttocks was the source of much curiosity. But as her fame spread, so too did her exploitation.

Blu ray Verdict: A doctor introduces the audience to what is about to unfold before our eyes on the screen. It is a lecture about an unusual woman who puzzled the scientists of the early XIX century.

The subject of the study was a South African native, Saartjie Baartman, a woman of humble origins, working as a domestic help in the home of Hendrick Caezar, an opportunist, who realizes the potential in exploiting Saartjie to unsuspecting European audiences whose appetite for that type of freak shows proved to be a source of making money at the expense of the unfortunate woman.

Another member of that circuit, the bear tamer Reaux, realizes the gold mine his friend has. Reaux manages to get Saartjie for his own exploitation. He devises a scheme where he pushes Saartjie into exhibiting her as a freak show for the corrupt higher classes of France, of that time.

The bored high society saw in Saartjie an opportunity to satisfy their own perversity and abnormal sex desires, heightened by the presence of the exotic woman who is made to be the object of their fantasies. Ultimately, Saartjie resorts to prostitution, dying in miserable conditions.

The ultimate desecration of this woman occurred as Reaux finally sells her body to the medical investigators Saartjie did not want to have them examine her most intimate parts.

For the record, 'Black Venus', conceived and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, was a winner of best picture at Cannes 2013. The film is a documentary about the tragic life of a woman that attracted attention from people that exploited the physical attributes which she, a rarity for an ignorant public came to see as an aberration, as well as a sexual fantasy.

Indeed, M. Kechiche co-wrote the screenplay with Ghalia Lacroix. It is based on the real story of the South African woman, who finally was recognized as a victim of those who used her for their own benefit, getting rich by selling her as the wild animal she was not.

For my money, director Kechiche shows incredible talent and it is apparent he will be a force to be reckoned with in his future endeavors. The cinematographer, Ludomir Bakchev captures the mood of the period in which the action takes place effectively also. A bleak, but barbed exploration of sex, science, race, colonialism and social attitudes, 'Black Venus' won't be for everyone, but at least now, with all these lush special features listed below, maybe today's viewers can get to know more compassionate information about Saartjie Baartman; and what she went through - and, importantly, why. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Optional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks
Optional English subtitles
Brand-new appreciation of Black Venus and the cinema of Abdellatif Kechiche by critic Neil Young
Theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Will Higbee, author of Post-Beur Cinema: North African Émigré and Maghrebi-French Filmmaking in France Since 2000

'The Bloodthirsty Trilogy: Special Edition'
(Kayo Matsuo, Midori Fujita, Toshio Kurosawa, et al / 2-Disc Blu ray / NR / 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Inspired by the runaway success of the British and American gothic horror films of the sixties, Toho studios brought the vampiric tropes of the Dracula legend to Japanese screens with The Vampire Doll, Lake of Dracula, and Evil of Dracula three spookily effective cult classics collectively known as 'The Bloodthirsty Trilogy.'

Blu ray Verdict: In 'The Vampire Doll' (1970), a young man goes missing after visiting his girlfriend's isolated country home. His sister and her boyfriend trace him to the creepy mansion, but their search becomes perilous when they uncover a gruesome family history.

Keiko (Kayo Matsuo) and her friend try to find her missing brother after he disappeared on a trip to visit his girlfriend Yuko (Yukiko Kobayashi). They don't get very far as Yuko's mother claims the brother ran away after finding out Yuko had been killed in a car wreck the week before his visit.

But Keiko finds signs that she might be being lied to - namely, a doll that her brother had purchased and, oh yeah, she sees Yuko's corpse walking around at night! This Toho production is a unique Japanese take on vampires and so fans of suave vampire types will be disappointed at this film's low body count, sorry!

'Lake of Dracula' (1971) begins with a young girl suffering a terrifying nightmare of a vampire with blazing golden eyes. Eighteen years later, the dream is revealed to be a hellish prophecy when a strange package containing an empty coffin mysteriously turns up at a nearby lake.

The film is interesting to say the least and it's definitely a different take on the vampire myth, especially with the setting being in a lakeside resort somewhere in Japan!

Overall, the movie contains some worthwhile and intriguing aspects. For example, the lead antagonist does an excellent job in his portrayal and the women who are transformed into vampires have a seductive, exotic aura about them.

However it ultimately fails to build up a genuinely creepy atmosphere and the abundance of plot holes and ridiculous ideas really make this movie far too silly to be taken seriously.

In the last of the trilogy, 'Evil of Dracula' (1974), a professor takes up a new post at an all-girls school only to discover the school's principle conceals a dark secret and the pupils are in grave danger.

Now, although this is a standard vampire story, the fact that it is entirely Japanese results in a few curious details. For example, a white rose is seen by the bedside of each of the females who have been bitten.

Once they drink blood the rose turns red. I thought that was an interesting touch. Having said that though, I thought there were a couple of faults as well.

First, the dialogue was awful. But the movie I saw was originally in Japanese and dubbed in English and it is quite possible that much had been simplified or even lost in translation. Likewise, the acting was also quite bad.

Even so, this film had a different flavor than most other vampire movies and I thought some of it was actually quite good. Obviously, there will be people who might not like this film. Like I said, it has its flaws, but I think fans of this genre (and this entire trilogy therein) might be pleasantly surprised. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements
Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio
Newly translated English subtitles
Kim Newman on The Bloodthirsty Trilogy, a new video appraisal by the critic and writer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese film expert Jasper Sharp

'The Post: 4K Ultra HD'
(Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bradley Whitford, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2018 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: When American military analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, realizes to his disgust the depths of the US government's deceptions about the futility of the Vietnam War, he takes action by copying top-secret documents that would become the Pentagon Papers.

Later, Washington Post owner, Kay Graham, is still adjusting to taking over her late husband's business when editor Ben Bradlee discovers the New York Times has scooped them with an explosive expose on those papers.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: 20th Century Fox is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this April with the release of this quite stunning 'The Post' in the new 4K home video format on April 17th, 2018.

The 'The Post 4K Ultra HD’ + Blu-ray + Digital combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog, I would personally venture to put forth.

Image crispness and clarity receive an obvious boost, and the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial and clothing textures, which in comparison leaves the Blu-ray looking almost smooth and flat.

Important especially in a movie like this with so many close ups of a "younger" Streep and Hanks (in their respective roles), the skin tones enjoy heightened depth and accuracy with nuanced diversity of both natural tones and applied makeup (CGI obviously aside, of course).

Indeed, it truly is masterful what they have done to this movie as it is now presented in a vivid (man is it vivid!) Ultra HD Premium HVEC/H.265 encode and HDR10 / WCG grading, a stunning Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), all framed in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Overall, this is a strong UHD Blu-ray presentation, and aside from the 4K (ie: 4x sharper image), the HDR (High Dynamic Range) is brilliant for the lights and deepest of darks, the Immersive Audio is phenomenal for the multi-dimensional experience of the woods and so forth, and the overall quality is, well, truly a visual masterpiece here in 4K.

The audio department get a standing ovation and this is the strongest DTS:X sound mix I've heard thus far on these new formats. The DTS:X Immersive Audio/ DTS Digital Surround 5.1 Spanish and French (Canadian) is stunning here now and has to be heard on surround sound to be truly appreciated, trust me.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, 'The Post' showcases perfectly that filmmaking can precisely reflect the social consciousness on the most politically important issue of the nation of today. Moreover, it is a typical example of realist moviemaking at its damn finest.

I was a kid during the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. I always looked up to Kay Graham as a woman of fortitude. This film has her restraining from being the woman I read about. However, I feel like this experience was the impetus of her awakening to her strength.

I loved Streep's vulnerability and growth throughout the film. She is masterful in her ability to convey several emotions at the same time. Ben Bradley played by Tom Hanks was so juicy. Loved his portrayal of this balls to the walls man of steel. Hanks truly shines. His speech about Jackie after the death of JFK touched me and brought a tear to the eye.

Spielberg is just a master of film. He can make you sit on the edge of your seat because he uses the camera to take you in the film. His style is so sophisticated. The actors are not just characters, but the film is a character too. Spielberg is always moving the camera to set us in the story.

For me, a massive bonus is that the great John Williams composed the music. Hence, and as one would fully expect, the music is outstanding and is so compelling. Another wonderful master of his specific art form. Spielberg and Williams are always genius working together.

So if you didn't see this up there on the big screen, have no worries now for this stunning 4K Ultra HD Premium Blu-ray will make your day; and all from the privacy of your own living room.

Heck, if Spielberg makes a Watergate follow up movie with the same cast, it would be a HUGE hit. Hey, this is from a woman who can quote 'All The President's Men' dialogue by heart, so heed my words, people! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

'The Post' in High Definition
LAYOUT: Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee and The Washington Post (1080p; 21:51)
EDITORIAL: The Cast and Characters of 'The Post' (1080p; 15:56)
THE STYLE SECTION: Recreating an Era (1080p; 17:02)
STOP THE PRESSES: Filming 'The Post' (1080p; 25:34)
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT: Music for The Post (1080p; 6:45)

'Condorito: The Movie'
(Omar Chaparro, Jessica Cediel, Coco Legrand, Cristián de la Fuente, Jay Mammon, et al / DVD / PG / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: The beloved comic strip is now a laugh-filled movie adventure for the whole family. Condorito, a fun-loving, featherbrained condor, is finally ready to propose to his girlfriend, Yayita.

But before Condorito pops the question, Yayita's mother, Tremebunda, is abducted by evil aliens. Now, Condorito and his nephew, Chicky, must rocket into space on a hilarious quest to rescue Tremebunda and save planet Earth.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know about Condorito, well, you might struggle to get everything that is happening on screen. That said, this highly colorful, fun and always on the go movie is based on the classic comic book series of the same name, "Condorito".

It features all of the main characters of this series originally published in Chile, and was something that I actually can say I grew up reading as a wee lad. The character of Condorito is chock full of every day gags and humor, but being as this is suited more for a Latin-American audience, well, some of the noted humor proved to be overly complicated to translate to some of my little friends here watching along with me.

In truth, here in 'Condorito: The Movie,' we rarely see Condorito involved in large story lines, as moreover it's a character (and a universe) that works better when its self-contained to gags aplenty.

Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable, familiar comedy, well, and again, at least for Latin-Americans. Maybe someone outside the specific demographic will struggle to get any of the jokes as they are, most probably, lost in translation.

As for the colorful animation, that's really well done and has turned out to be an acceptable adaptation of its source material. The plot is a bit too childish (if only my wee ones had been Latin-American) and the CGI was quite average, but there was more than one scene where it managed to make me chuckle in the same way the comic did.

But, and in closing, it's definitely worth purchasing, if only for it's rather delightful run time of 89 minutes (which is very rare for an animated movie these days). And for those viewers who grew up reading the much adored Condorito comic, this will definitely be an interesting watch. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with both Spanish and English Subtitles.

Official Trailer

'Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay'
(Christian Slater, Vanessa Williams, Billy Brown, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / R / 2018 / Warner Brothers)

Overview: The Suicide Squad is sent on a mission to retrieve a mystical object so powerful, they're willing to risk their own lives to steal it for themselves.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Warner Brothers continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this April with the release of this quite stunning 'Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay' in the new 4K home video format on April 10th, 2018.

For my money, the 'Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay: 4K Ultra HD' + Blu-ray + Digital combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog, as everything that we watch features HDR (High Dynamic Range); for much brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors.

For with HDR, the the images are crisper and the overall clarity receives an obvious boost here on this release. What's more, it's highly, and enjoyably noticeable.

The picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial and clothing textures within the animation, which in comparison leaves the Blu-ray looking almost smooth and flat.

Important especially in a movie like this with so many animated close ups of the rag tag cast, just watching Harley Quinn perform her stunts and you would swear that was actually Margot Robbie up there (with some CGI over here to "animate" here good self!

Indeed, it truly is masterful what they have done to this movie as it is now presented in a vivid (man is it vivid!) Ultra HD Premium HVEC H.265 encode and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio in 2160p UHD. [HDR10 is included here as well for those televisions that are equipped].

Overall, this is a strong UHD Blu-ray presentation, and aside from the 4K (ie: 4x sharper image), the aforementioned HDR (High Dynamic Range) is brilliant for the lights and deepest of dark's, the Immersive Audio is phenomenal for the multi-dimensional experience of the woods and so forth, and the overall quality is, well, truly a visual masterpiece here in 4K.

The audio department get a standing ovation as it features a lossless DTS-HD M1 5.1 mix. Sadly no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X option available here, which is unfortunate. Still, this is a good sound mix and deserves all the applause that we're hearing back about it.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, 'Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay' showcases the deadly, demented, dangerous, and dysfunctional Task Force X, who have returned to our small screens, once more.

Indeed, this brand new animated film from Warner Bros Home Entertainment, that features the voice talents of Christian Slater, Vanessa Williams, Greg Grunberg, Tara Strong, and others, has now been bumped up to an amazing R rating!

The adult themed story, which should delight fans of the series who thought the PG-13 approach of the live action film did not do the series the proper treatment they believed was due, is that the worst of the worst have been recruited to recover a mysterious artifact; and thanks to the explosives implanted in their heads, their control and compliance is expected.

Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Copperhead, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost, and others set out to complete their mission despite their usual issues with authority, the world, and each other. Naturally they are not unopposed as Captain Zoom, Banshee, and others stand in their way.

As the team fights others and amongst themselves, the body count piles up, for this ain't no kids movie, and the blood and bullets fly frequently. The animation and voice acting is first rate as you would expect from Warner Bros and the large cast works very well bringing their characters to life; and infusing them with a complexity which is deeply engaging.

In another triumph for the studio, 'Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay' delivers all that fans expect and more and has our hangings wringing for the moment the rag tag Task Force X team are once again called upon. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

OUTBACK ROGUE: Captain Boomerang
NICE SHOT, FLOYD! The Greatest Marksman in The DCU
A Sneak Peak at DC Universe's Next Animated Movie: "THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN' and more!

Official Trailer

'Knowing: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital'
(Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Lara Robinson, D.G. Maloney, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2018 / Lionsgate - Summit Entertainment)

Overview: Available for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack comes the story of a college professor who discovers in a time capsule a series of numbers that predict coming disasters.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Lionsgate continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this April with the release of this quite stunning 'Knowing' (2009) in the new 4K home video format on April 10th, 2018.

For my money, this 'Knowing: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog, but still doesn't feature all the bells and whistles that those do when released by, say, Warner Brothers or Universal Home Studios.

Nonetheless, 'Knowing' is presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy [which can be redeemed via or through VUDU], but is only available in HD SDR and HDX. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region A locked, BD50 disc inside a black, eco-vortex case with a glossy slipcover.

As with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features a much brighter, deeper, more lifelike set of colors. Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

The picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial and clothing textures within the action scenes, which in comparison leaves the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation looking almost smooth and flat.

Indeed, it truly is masterful what they have done to this movie as it is now presented in a vivid (man is it vivid!) HVEC H.265 encode, with a Dolby Vision HDR, all presented within a wondrous 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Overall, this is a strong 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, 'Knowing' centers around MIT professor, John Koestler. When he links a mysterious list of numbers from a time capsule to past and future disasters, he sets out to prevent the ultimate catastrophe.

Starring Academy Award® winner Nicolas Cage, ('Leaving Las Vegas', 'National Treasure', 'Adaptation'), personally, I thought this was arguably one of the best movies of our time! With that said, I've gotta admit I'm a sci-fi movie lover and these movies are my kinda thing.

This movie literally had everything I typically LOVE in a movie: a great beginning, a thrilling climatic run in, and a killer ending. There were no plot holes to this film, which initially made me love this movie in the first place.

Indeed, one thing I love about this movie has to be after I watched it a couple of times I actually began to notice little unseen/unnoticed the first time around things that come the climax, well, let's just say that, ultimately, they come together to provide a more knowledgeable ending.

Those who love the indie film-type endings, or those who love horror or slasher films, or actually anyone who likes cliff-hanger endings, admittedly 'Knowing' might not be for you. But if you love apocalyptic style movies, or you are a thriller junkie, then you'll absolutely LOVE this movie, trust me.

Supporting the Christian / Catholic faith, 'Knowing' isn't an overly religious movie by any stretch of the imagination, so have no fear about that. In short, it is a pretty spectacular movie that can be viewed over and over. Underappreciated first time out the gate, mocked even by the aforementioned anti-religious sectors, 'Knowing' is still a great roller coaster of a thrill ride, of that have no doubt. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Audio Commentary with Director Alex Proyas
“Knowing All: The Making of a Futuristic Thriller” Featurette
“Visions of the Apocalypse” Featurette
“5 Things Worth Knowing About Knowing” Featurette (4K Only)

Official Trailer

'Push: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital'
(Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Djimon Hounsou, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2018 / Lionsgate - Summit Entertainment)

Overview: Available for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack comes the story of a secret government agency seeking out people with special powers, so it can harness their abilities for its own shady purposes.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Lionsgate continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this April with the release of this quite stunning 'Push' (2009) in the new 4K home video format on April 10th, 2018.

For my money, this 'Push: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog, but still doesn't feature all the bells and whistles that those do when released by, say, Warner Brothers or Universal Home Studios.

Nonetheless, 'Push' is presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy [which can be redeemed via or through VUDU], but is only available in HD SDR and HDX. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region A locked, BD50 disc inside a black, eco-vortex case with a glossy slipcover.

As with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features a much brighter, deeper, more lifelike set of colors. Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

The picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial and clothing textures within the action scenes, which in comparison leaves the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation looking almost smooth and flat.

Indeed, it truly is masterful what they have done to this movie as it is now presented in a vivid (man is it vivid!) HVEC H.265 encode, with a Dolby Vision HDR, all presented within a wondrous 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Overall, this is a strong 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, starring Chris Evans ('Captain America'), Dakota Fanning ('War of the Worlds'), and Camilla Belle ('When a Stranger Calls'), 'Push' follows two young Americans with special abilities who race to find a girl in Hong Kong before a shadowy government organization called Division does.

Starting in the 1940s, certain lucky individuals were chosen for experimentation in order to create or enhance their psychic abilities. Now, decades later, a variety of second-generation psychics are all after the same thing - a case containing a secret - and hope to find it before The Division does.

This film will likely be seen as comparable to other superhero movies, such as 'X-Men' or 'Watchmen'. And, in all fairness, it would be hard to critique it without mentioning recent films of the genre.

Indeed, personally, I saw a stronger parallel between this one and the highly underrated 'Night Watch', as their are not only good and evil factions, but a limited amount of powers the super humans can have. Although I liked 'Night Watch' better, this film was enjoyable and never lost my interest.

The overall strength of 'Push' comes in its character development. Some of my friends that watched it here with me tonight thought that the film was too flashy, and the plot convoluted. I would tend to agree, well, at least sympathize with this; for there was a bit too much action at times, and the story was more dense than two hours could properly cover.

This is a film that needs to be three hours or a trilogy. But, as I said, character development was strong. Where we didn't always understand what "The Division" does, we were at least able to understand the protagonists well enough to care about them.

Dakota Fanning delivers a breakthrough performance here. I've spent years making jokes at her expense, calling her the white girl who gets called up to play the precocious child in the latest big budget film! But Fanning is escaping the "child actor" phase, and really comes into her own in 'Push'.

She plays a Watcher (one who sees the future) that deals with very adult problems - looming death, alcoholism and growing up alone. However, Chris Evans is just too cheesy throughout, always trying to overdo the whole "007" act, but he gets the job done - kinda sorta.

In closing, and despite the film's few flaws - the flashiness and convoluted story, including an ending some may find unsatisfying - I really did enjoy this one and would recommend it to those who like superhero movies; or just good, well-written action. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Deleted Scenes (with optional Audio Commentary with Director Paul McGuigan)
* Cassie Buys Alcohol
* Stowe and Popgirl on the Phone
* Cassie Hides from Stowe
* Stowe Killed by Popgirl
Breaking Down the 9 Types of Psychics Featurette (4K only)
“The Science Behind The Fiction” Featurette
Audio Commentary with Director Paul McGuigan and Actors Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning

Official Trailer

(Cate Blanchett, et al / DVD / NR / (2015) 2018 / FilmRise)

Overview: From acclaimed visual artist Julian Rosefeldt, 'Manifesto' features two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett in 13 distinct, must-see vignettes that incorporate timeless manifestos from 20th-century art movements.

DVD Verdict: Simply put, 'Manifesto' is a German artist Julien Rosefeldt, played by Cate Blanchett's 13 different characters. Each character that Blanchett spots plays and sings passages from different manifestos. It's obviously a hard-to-follow, deliberately hardcore movie.

Still, the film has a fluent narrative. Rosefeldt identifies each character with a manifesto. It is possible to say, "What does he mean?" As the words flow rapidly. Because the content needs to be placed in a context and doing so is not possible because of the "difficult to follow" that I am talking about.

Although this situation reduces the pleasure of the film, it is not disconnected from the narrative that it reveals in general terms. Blanchett offers a one-man show where he does not portray his characters as if he had lived (trippy, yes? Agreed).

In parallel, I can say that atmosphere, make-up and fiction are also top level. It is also worth noting that the manifestos associated with Blanchett's performance, or the humor that he created about the contents, are top notch.

However, and as I've tried to convey, there is little to no story in the film. The scenes are merely there to convey the aforementioned manifestos. Indeed, to my mind, it's like wandering aimlessly into a NY art gallery one lonely night / early morning, and finding yourself surrounded by screens all playing simultaneously, you sit down, confused watching the last minute of any one short as best as your eyes can flirt between them.

It starts over and you are instantly captured by the character. Cate Blanchett's stage is calmly set with drone shots and slow continuous camera movements. Here on her stage she draws you into this character, and their life. Blanchett captures your immediate attention and holds it until the screens go black.

It is a daring project, but it is probably too artistic for me. I appreciate the concept and the artistic achievement, of that I can admit, but does it translate to a 95 minute film - well, that's for you all to decide, no isn't it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Smithsonian: Civil War 360'
(DVD / NR / 2018 / Smithsonian Channel)

Overview: 'Civil War 360' explores the conflict from three unique vantage points. Ashley Judd takes a look at The Union, Trace Adkins follows the rise and fall of The Confederacy, and Dennis Haysbert details the harrowing Fight for Freedom waged by the men and women with the most to gain, and the most to lose: the enslaved Americans.

DVD Verdict: This highly interesting three-part series takes us all on a new journey back in time and immerses us in a 150-year-old battle that nearly split our nation in two.

Indeed, this simply fascinating series explores famous and little known aspects of the Civil War, from the perspectives of the Union, the Confederacy and the millions of enslaved people struggling for freedom.

Hosted by Ashley Judd, Trace Adkins, and Dennis Haysbert, all of whom had ancestors greatly affected by the war, this series delivers fresh insights and untold tales, brought to life through dramatic recreations and the Smithsonian Institution's vast collection of artifacts.

In FIGHT FOR FREEDOM, actor Dennis Haysbert looks at the struggles of those enslaved during the Civil War, through the objects in the Smithsonian's collection.

In THE CONFEDERACY, we join country music singer Trace Adkins, whose ancestor fought for the South, as he follows the rise and fall of the Confederacy.

Finally, in THE UNION, actress Ashley Judd takes us back 150 years for an intimate look at the North's battles and struggles through the Civil War.

In truth, and playing Devil's Advocate, there is nothing said here that most all Civil War books don't already cover. If you can make it through the choppy editing, which there is sadly way too much of, the historical artifacts are interesting.

Although, I would recommend a google search on Civil War artifacts before I'd recommend this series, for it will enhance your appreciation of this series ten fold, of that you have my word. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official DVD Purchase Link

'Frontline: Weinstein'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Frontline: Weinstein' investigates how the Hollywood mogul allegedly sexually harassed and abused dozens of women over four decades. With allegations going back to Weinstein's early years, the film investigates the ways he and those around him tried to silence his accusers.

DVD Verdict: Come on now, we all knew this documentary was going to come out, sooner rather than later, and most likely by PBS and their engrossing Frontline series.

Harvey Weinstein was once one of the most successful producers in Hollywood. But beneath the glitz and glamour, there was a pattern of sexual misconduct going back to the very start of his career.

Want proof that journalism matters? Look no further than Harvey Weinstein. Were it not for The New York Times and The New Yorker, the indie mogul would still be hobnobbing at Oscar parties, attending movie premieres and, if allegations are to be believed, routinely abusing and harassing women.

Instead, Weinstein is facing multiple criminal investigations and possible jail time. He’s been fired from the Weinstein Co. and drummed out of Hollywood. And he’s got company.

Since the Times published its first story on Weinstein’s abuses, a slew of big-name media and entertainment personalities have been exposed as serial harassers or abusers.

Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Brett Ratner and Kevin Spacey are just a few of the figures who are being forced to face the music, as other news organizations pick up where the Times and The New Yorker left off.

In 'Frontline: Weinstein,' Frontline/PBS investigates the disgraced mogul's spectacular downfall, the efforts to silence his accusers, and what Hollywood itself knew.

Drawing on exclusive insider accounts, Weinstein, a one-hour special co-produced with the BBC, examines how Weinstein used lawyers and private detectives to help him suppress sexual harassment allegations.

The film shines new light on what those around Weinstein knew about his behavior, and when. Filled with fresh insights from those who worked with Weinstein, those who tried to confront him, and the journalists who ultimately broke the story, Weinstein is an in-depth look at the long history of allegations against the powerful producer. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'Frontline: Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia'
(DVD / R / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Bitter Rivals' illuminates the essential history - and profound ripple effect - of Iran and Saudi Arabia's power struggle. It draws on scores of interviews with political, religious and military leaders, militia commanders, diplomats, and policy experts, painting American television's most comprehensive picture of a feud that has reshaped the Middle East.

DVD Verdict: From the devastating war in Syria, to the crisis in Yemen, to continuing turmoil in Iraq, much of today's widespread violence across the Middle East has been portrayed as part of an ancient battle between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam.

In 'Frontline: Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia,' FRONTLINE tells the epic, inside story of how this dangerous feud has plunged the Middle East into unprecedented levels of violence - with exclusive, on-the-ground reporting from inside both countries as well as Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Lebanon.

After having visited Egypt three times in the last five years, I got interested in the Islamic world and how it worked, and how Islam shapes this pivotal region. It's a fascinating culture and civilization, and has a rich history, also stunningly beautiful art and literature.

The Islamic world led the European world for hundreds of years in medicine and technology. We in the West owe a huge debt to them, and the interplay of the European culture and the Islamic culture during the Crusader period enriched both worlds. But very few people in the United States know this.

I cared enough to look into the ancient rivalry between Shia and Sunni branches of Islam and how it started, and how both branches have developed over time. The intense hatred there can be, the one for the other, is actually a fairly new thing, not an old thing. It has been farmed and exploited by some truly selfish and self-centered people, from many lands, for a long time now.

Iran and Saudi Arabia look at one another with fear and suspicion, because the rulers of both countries know that they are in fact not legitimate representatives of the wishes of their peoples, and they both represent poles of opposites in the interpretation of Islam.

In their individual ways, the ruling factions of both countries are stoking the fires of extremism, in the false belief that they will keep themselves safe from the tide of freedom, brotherhood, peace and abundance, that both populations deeply wish for.

Saudi Arabia looks at Iran and believes it could be looking at its own future -- the Ayatollah's force them out and take over the wealth of their country, and retrograde any development for their people.

Iran looks at Saudi Arabia and sees a puppet controlled by the West, completely in bed with Zionist Israel, and who holds a stranglehold on the holy sites of Mecca and Medina.

It is incumbent on every Muslim to visit Mecca on religious pilgrimage, if he is able, at least once in his life. If people in the West think of this at all, they might in a context of the hundreds of years of religious wars that were fought in Europe, Catholicism vs. Protestantism.

Ergo, and in short, 'Frontline: Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia' may not provide anyone with any real motivation to want to change anything, but it will, at the very least, provide more substantial information to the masses not that knowing in the first, fake news case. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'Frontline: The Gang Crackdown'
(DVD / R / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Frontline: The Gang Crackdown' investigates a slew of killings linked to the MS-13 gang, and the crackdown that swept up immigrant teens. Some 25 bodies have surfaced since 2016. Law enforcement is trying to stop the gang, but some immigrant teens have been unlawfully detained in the process.

DVD Verdict: Some 25 dead bodies have been found on Long Island since September of 2016. Dozens of immigrant teenagers are missing. Who is behind the wave of killings on Long Island - and is law enforcement's crackdown on suspected MS-13 gang members detaining the real culprits, or innocent teens?

For a better perspective toward this harrowing documentary, MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha; also known as simply MS or Mara) is an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, California, US in the 1980s.

The gang later spread to many parts of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America, and is active in urban and suburban areas. Most members are of Central American origin, principally El Salvador.

In the U.S., MS-13 has an especially heavy presence in California, the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, New York City and New Jersey, Boston, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Houston. There is also a presence of MS-13 in Toronto, Canada.

In 'The Gang Crackdown,' FRONTLINE investigates how a slew of gruesome killings on Long Island allegedly by the MS-13 gang led to a sweeping dragnet of immigrant kids - many of whom have been accused of having gang affiliation with little evidence, and held in detention without charge for months.

Drawing on interviews with murder victims' families, top Justice Department officials, local law enforcement leadership, accused gang members, prosecutors, and defense lawyers, the documentary explores the impact of both the killings and the anti-gang crackdown on Long Island - home to one of the U.S.'s largest communities of unaccompanied migrant children fleeing violence from Central America.

As President Trump declares war on MS-13 and points to the killings on Long Island to justify efforts to ramp up deportations, the film investigates the fraught relationship between immigrant communities and law enforcement, and whether the crackdown is making Long Island safer. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II' tells the story of the 550,000 Jewish Americans who fought in World War II.

DVD Verdict: In their own words, here in this eye-opening new documentary from PBS, 'GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II,' veterans both famous and unknown bring their war experiences to life: how they fought for their nation and their people, struggled with anti-Semitism within their ranks, and emerged transformed.

It tells the profound and unique story of the 550,000 Jewish men and women who served in World War II. Through the eyes of the servicemen and women, the film brings to life the little-known story of Jews in World War II - as active participants in the fight against Hitler, bigotry and intolerance.

Directed and Produced by Lisa Ades and by Amanda Bonavita, witten by Maia Harris, it showcases how Jewish men served in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines, and in every theater of war.

Indeed, 10,000 Jewish women volunteered as WACs, WAVES and WASPs, and as nurses overseas, defying their parents' warning that the military was "no life for a nice Jewish girl."

These men and women were religious and secular, Zionists, socialists, even pacifists. Some had been in America for generations; others were recent immigrants, with close family members left behind in Hitler's Europe. Their extraordinary experiences are at the heart of the film, telling the story of World War II from a uniquely Jewish perspective.

Jewish Americans fought on two fronts: for America and for Jews worldwide. Like all Americans, they fought against fascism, but they also fought a more personal fight - to save their brethren in Europe.

In the midst of it all, they battled anti-Semitism within the ranks of the U.S. military - facing slurs and violence from their fellow servicemen. New York City mayor Ed Koch, who served in the infantry, wrote later, "it wasn't only Hitler, it was here in America."

Speaking on-camera are "the greatest generation" of Jewish Americans, both famous and unknown. Writer/directors Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner tell stories of being Jewish in training with humor and pathos.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and artist Si Lewen escaped Nazi Germany as teenagers, then returned to their homeland to fight as American soldiers. Ellan Levitsky nursed the wounded after D-Day, and Lt. Lester Tanner was saved by his Protestant commanding officer in a Nazi POW camp.

The film also features the stories of Jewish veterans now deceased, including baseball star Hank Greenberg, and writers Norman Mailer, J.D. Salinger, Leon Uris and Joseph Heller, who transformed their war experiences into powerful literature.

Jewish soldiers, including Alan Moskin and Eliot Herman, were among the first to reach the concentration camps liberated by American troops. Many spoke Yiddish, so they could offer the survivors their first words of solace and comfort.

In archival footage, we watch Rabbi Chaplain David Max Eichhorn arrive at Dachau, praise the survivors for their bravery and heroism, and lead them in a moving moment of prayer.

Jewish servicemen and women were changed forever by their military service and their encounter with Hitler's atrocities. Returning home, they continued to fight for the values for which they had risked their lives - for religious freedom and civil rights in America.

Watching this ambitious storytelling mission, it seems like common sense to have a general understanding of how US forces would be mortified, sad, and angry when they discovered concentration camp. However, to hear from Jewish men how they felt, one young man, in particular, who had left his birthplace of Germany 10 years earlier had returned as a US soldier, was something I hadn't considered.

Sadly, these brave Americans did face prejudice from their own colleagues, with one man having a friendship with the soldier he bunked with. However, when his bunkmate discovered he was Jewish, he never spoke to him again. I can't even imagine turning on a friend due to his or her religion.

In the end, the story of the Jewish GIs is the story of becoming American - the story of immigrants who earned their citizenship by shedding blood, and fought for democracy and tolerance abroad and at home. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'The Art of the Shine'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Meet the men and women who make their living cleaning our shoes. From the brash street shiners of New York City, to the masked shoe shine boys of La Paz, 'The Art of the Shine' travels the world to give you an insider's view of this overlooked profession.

DVD Verdict: There are a lot of opinions when it comes to the best way to shine a shoe. Everyone has their own unique twist from using spit to using a lighter to burn the top coat of polish (cool, although potentially dangerous).

In in PBS's new documentary, 'The Art of the Shine,' we all get to discover that despite being literally and figuratively 'looked down upon' by society, shoe shiners universally take great pride in their work.

Furthermore, 'The Art of the Shine' introduces you to the people who do this job and allows you to see the world through their eyes. Indeed, unsurprisingly, they like the freedom that comes with being their own bosses and enjoy interacting with customers who always walk away happy.

Following these "Shiners", we look in on a group of one guy and three gals who all met in alcohol rehab and set up shop in fancy men’s stores. There's also a guy in Tokyo who charges $100 to shine shoes (usually $10,000 shoes) and takes a hour to do it!

There's also a single mother of three children who tries to make a living shining shoes in La Paz, a city where the men “shiners” wear masks to conceal their faces from embarrassment!

People around the world have turned to shoe shining to provide for themselves and their families. These are their stories. Step into their world. You'll never look at a shoe shiner the same way again! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'Spying On The Royals'
(DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Declassified documents bring to light the secret story of the stunning events of 1936, detailing the most controversial espionage operation in British history, targeting King Edward VIII and his feisty American lover Wallis Simpson, both considered major security threats.

DVD Verdict: "Secret files" (I'll put it like that as, well, who knows where these once-buried-to-the-public "secret files" actually came from, sorry) shed new light on the scandalous romance of Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson.

On the weekend of December 5th, 1936, a frazzled King Edward VIII sat alone at Buckingham Palace. In secret, he telephoned his brother Bertie to tell him of his major decision - that he could no longer be King if it meant abandoning the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson.

Oh, and just to point this juicy fact out to those unknowing of the fact, it was 1936 and the couple's affair caused a huge scandal in Britain; because Simpson was a twice-divorced socialite.

But little did the royal brothers know that others were covertly listening to their private phone calls. In fact, Edward and Wallis were bugged, wire-tapped, and followed on the specific orders of both the British king and the American president!

This top-secret surveillance operation involved hundreds of spies over eleven years, spanning two continents, eight countries, and the Atlantic Ocean.

The documentary draws on cabinet documents released in 2013 and the research by Cormac and Professor Richard Aldrich of the University of Warwick.

We actually learn that the phone tapping at Buckingham Palace was carried out by a rising star who was later involved in intelligence around the Allied invasion on D-Day in 1944 that thwarted the Germans.

This two-part PBS documentary goes a long way to "reveal" (sorry, but had to) the greatest royal scandal of the twentieth century through an entirely new perspective. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'NOVA: The First Face of America'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'NOVA: The First Face of America' takes a risky dive into an underwater cave in Mexico to discover the 13,000 year-old skeleton of a prehistoric teenager.

DVD Verdict: Here in this wondrous new PBS NOVA documentary, we follow forensic clues that reveal intimate details of her life and death, and how her people first ventured into North America.

On an unlucky day 13,000 years ago, a slightly built, malnourished teenager (dubbed Naia) missed her footing and tumbled to the bottom of a 100-foot pit deep inside a cave in Mexico's Yucatan.

Rising seas flooded the cave and, until recently, cut it off from the outside world. Then a team of divers chanced upon her nearly complete and astonishingly well-preserved skeleton alongside fossils of extinct Ice Age beasts such as giant sloths and saber-tooth tigers.

NOVA takes you on a spectacular and risky underwater expedition to recover her bones and explores one of science's most controversial riddles: the origins of the First Americans.

Intricate detective work reveals that the young woman's bones are among the earliest known human remains in the Americas. What drove her to venture nearly a mile underground in the vast cave? Where did her people come from, and why does she look so distinct from today's Native Americans?

The program describes how studies of Naia’s bones (SN: 6/14/14, p. 6) and of genes from an 11,500-year-old infant recently excavated in Alaska have generated fresh insights into how people populated the Americas.

Viewers watch anthropologist and forensic consultant James Chatters, who directed scientific studies of Naia’s remains, as he reconstructs the ancient teen’s face and charts the lower-body injuries that testify to what must have been a rough life.

Knowing what they have to unearth, scientist's describe how thousands of years of soaking in seawater have rendered the precious remains fragile. They use a plaster cast of a human jaw to demonstrate for scuba diver Susan Bird how to handle Naia’s skull so that it stays intact while being placed in a padded box.

From the stunning Mexico cave to the wilderness of the Yukon, from the genetics lab to the latest in forensics, 'NOVA: The First Face of America' pursues tantalizing new clues that are rewriting the story of the forgotten first people who ventured into our continent. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'NOVA: Great Escape at Dunkirk'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Join archaeologists and divers recovering remains of ships and planes lost during World War II's epic Dunkirk operation. Discover new evidence of the ingenious technology that helped save Allied forces from defeat by the encircling Germans.

DVD Verdict: As France fell to the German armies in May 1940, 300,000 Allied troops were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Their annihilation seemed certain - a disaster that could have led to Britain's surrender.

But then, in a last-minute rescue dramatized in Christopher Nolan's recent film, Royal Navy ships and a flotilla of tiny civilian boats evacuated hundreds of thousands of soldiers to safety across the Channel - the legendary "miracle of Dunkirk."

The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940.

1. In September 1939, after Germany invaded Poland, the British army was sent to support their allies in France. When the Germans subsequently invaded France in May 1940, the British army, three French armies, and what remained of the Belgian army, found themselves trapped near the Belgian-French border.

On May 26, the British military began to implement Operation Dynamo to evacuate these Allied forces from Dunkirk. Dunkirk, is located in the north of France, a mere 47 nautical miles from the UK across the English Channel.

2. In a national broadcast, King George VI called for a National Day of Prayer to be held on May 26, the day before Operation Dynamo was to be launched. The King called on the people of the UK to turn back to God in a spirit of repentance and plead for divine help.

According to John Willans, two events immediately followed: a violent storm arose over the Dunkirk region grounding the German fighter planes that had been killing thousands on the beaches, and then a “great calm descended on the Channel, the like of which hadn’t been seen for a generation” which allowed the evacuation to take place. From that point on the British people began to refer to what happened as “the miracle of Dunkirk.”

3. Operation Dynamo involved about 860 ships, including 693 British ships. Almost 700 were private British boats that became known as the “Little Ships of Dunkirk.” (The smallest boat to take part in the operation was the Tamzine, an open fishing boat that was just under 15 feet in length and was able to carry five people.)

Most of the “Little Ships” were owned by civilians but commandeered by the British navy and manned by naval officers or experienced volunteers. They were mostly used to ferry the stranded soldiers from the beach and harbor to the larger warships, though several of the “Little Ships” carried hundreds of men directly to England.

4. The evacuation occurred over nine days, from May 27 to June 4. On the first day, only 7,699 stranded troops were picked up. But by the end of the operation, a total of 338,226 soldiers were evacuated from the beaches and harbors of Dunkirk. Throughout the retreat, the Allies were exposed to deadly attacks from German fighter planes.

During the Dunkirk battle the German aerial warfare branch (the Luftwaffe) flew 1,882 bombing and made 1,997 fighter sweeps. As well as being exposed to attack from the air, many of the men had to wait for hours in water up their shoulders.

Despite the risks, the men waited patiently to be rescued. As one British solider noted, “You had the impression of people standing waiting for a bus. There was no pushing or shoving.”

5. Although most of the troops were saved, the Allies left behind 2,472 cannons, around 65,000 vehicles, 20,000 motorcycles, 377,000 tons of supplies, over 68,000 tons of munitions, and 147,000 tons of fuel. As Winston Churchill reminded his people in a speech made on the last day of the operation, “We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”

Nevertheless, Hitler’s failure to press an earlier attack and capture the British army on the beaches was one of his most significant military failures during the war, and became a key turning point toward an Allied victory.

Now, NOVA follows a team of archaeologists, historians, and divers as they recover the remains of ships, planes, and personal effects lost during the epic operation.

With access to previously classified files recently released by the UK government, they also uncover the truth behind the myths of Dunkirk - notably, a claim that the Royal Air Force failed to protect the stranded men from the Luftwaffe's constant bombing of the beaches.

Featuring an exclusive excavation of a newly-found Spitfire wreck, NOVA debunks the myth and highlights the essential role that the RAF's iconic fighter played in reversing the desperate stakes that played out in the air above the beleaguered men. Fascinating. Truly, and utterly fascinating. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'NOVA: Prediction by the Numbers'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Discover how predictions underpin nearly every aspect of our lives and why some succeed spectacularly while others fail. Explore entertaining real-world challenges and join experts as they tackle that age-old question: Can we forecast the future?

DVD Verdict: Predictions underlie nearly every aspect of our lives, from sports, politics, and medical decisions to the morning commute. With the explosion of digital technology, the Internet, and "big data," the science of forecasting is flourishing.

But why do some predictions succeed spectacularly while others fail abysmally? And how can we find meaningful patterns amidst chaos and uncertainty?

In a fascinating, fast-paced investigation, NOVA takes viewers from the glitz of casinos and TV game shows to the life-and-death stakes of storm forecasts and the flaws of opinion polls that can swing an election.

'Prediction by the Numbers' explores compelling success stories of statistics in action: how baseball legend Billy Beane developed the recruiting techniques made famous by "Moneyball" to transform the fortunes of major league teams.

'NOVA: Prediction by the Numbers' showcases that good scientists are not only able to uncover patterns in the things they study, but to use this information to predict the future.

Meteorologists study atmospheric pressure and wind speed to predict the trajectories of future storms. A biologist may predict the growth of a tumor based on its current size and development. A financial analyst may try to predict the ups and downs of a stock based on things like market capitalization or cash flow.

Perhaps even more interesting than the above phenomena is that of predicting the behavior of human beings. Attempts to predict how people will behave have existed since the origins of humankind. Early humans had to trust their instincts. Today, marketers, politicians, trial lawyers and more make their living on predicting human behavior. Predicting human behavior, in all of its forms, is big business.

So, how does mathematics do in predicting our own behavior in general? Despite advances in stock market analytics, economics, political polling and cognitive neuroscience – all of which ultimately endeavor to predict human behavior – science may never be able to do so with perfect certainty.

Reagrdless, and not to give too much of this brilliant new documentary away, we also see that advances in machine learning and "big data" models that increasingly rule our lives are also posing big, disturbing questions.

How much should we trust "black box" predictions made by computers when we don't understand how they arrive at them? And how far can we really forecast how our future world will turn out? This PBS documentary spreads its wings a little here to delve into this question and many more associated with it and I for one, was left amazed and wanting to know more! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'Nature: Sex, Lies & Butterflies'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Butterflies have been flying around our planet for over 50 million years, and today around 20,000 different species inhabit the globe. From egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to the winged insect, we follow their life stages, highlighting their survival techniques and the new science that is unlocking the secrets of their world and changing our view of these fantastic and yet fragile creatures.

DVD Verdict: 'Nature: Sex, Lies & Butterflies' explores the butterflies' astonishing survival techniques, including 360° vision, deceptive camouflage, chemical weaponry and fantastic flight.

Through sophisticated macro-filming, we look beyond the butterflies' bright colors and fragile beauty to follow them on one of the greatest migrations on earth.

Personally, I knew next to nothing (and that's me being generous) about butterflies, so this new PBS documentary 'Nature: Sex, Lies & Butterflies' was a real learning curve for me.

Butterflies are insects in the macrolepidopteran clade Rhopalocera from the order Lepidoptera, which also includes moths. Adult butterflies have large, often brightly colored wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight.

The group comprises the large superfamily Papilionoidea, which contains at least one former group, the skippers (formerly the superfamily "Hesperioidea") and the most recent analyses suggest it also contains the moth-butterflies (formerly the superfamily "Hedyloidea"). Butterfly fossils date to the Paleocene, which was about 56 million years ago.

Butterflies have the typical four-stage insect life cycle. Winged adults lay eggs on the food plant on which their larvae, known as caterpillars, will feed. The caterpillars grow, sometimes very rapidly, and when fully developed, pupate in a chrysalis.

When metamorphosis is complete, the pupal skin splits, the adult insect climbs out, and after its wings have expanded and dried, it flies off. Some butterflies, especially in the tropics, have several generations in a year, while others have a single generation, and a few in cold locations may take several years to pass through their entire life cycle.

We learn that butterflies are often polymorphic, and many species make use of camouflage, mimicry and aposematism to evade their predators. Some, like the monarch and the painted lady, migrate over long distances.

Many butterflies are attacked by parasites or parasitoids, including wasps, protozoans, flies, and other invertebrates, or are preyed upon by other organisms.

Some species are pests because in their larval stages they can damage domestic crops or trees; other species are agents of pollination of some plants. Larvae of a few butterflies (e.g., harvesters) eat harmful insects, and a few are predators of ants, while others live as mutualists in association with ants.

Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts and 'Nature: Sex, Lies & Butterflies' tells it like it is, indepth and to perfection. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'Masterpiece: Little Women'
(Angela Lansbery, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, et al / DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Follow the sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, on their journey from childhood to adulthood. Under the guidance of their mother Marmee (Emily Watson), they navigate what it means to be a young woman: from gender roles to sibling rivalry, first love, loss, and marriage.

DVD Verdict: Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, this beautiful 'Masterpiece: Little Women' story is as relevant and engaging today as it was on its original publication in 1868.

Accompanied by the charming boy next door Laurie Laurence, their cantankerous wealthy Aunt March (Angela Lansbury) and benevolent neighbor Mr. Laurence (Michael Gambon), as someone who enjoys comparing adaptations across time, I find the story told in this newer style of acting, directing, music and such a valuable addition to the collection.

Some people may not like aspects such as scenes of the Civil War where Father is, and this is the first time we see any of Meg's labor, but for me neither is excessive and both are worth including.

This adaptation isn't perfect, I should pay mention to that, any more than its predecessors are perfect, but let me not list my small gripes here. I found it overall well written, well acted and well cast.

The descriptions of the characters were clearly considered when casting (if not 100% adhered to), which is a nice touch and the cherry on top of the actors' generally fine performances.

In particular I found Meg engaging, Aunt March very satisfying and Laurie almost straight from the pages of the book, while Father is (I feel) a loyal interpretation yet unlike any I have seen before. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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Fifty Shades Freed: Unrated Edition - 4K Ultra HD
(Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / NR / 2018 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Freed, the climactic chapter based on the worldwide bestselling Fifty Shades phenomenon.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this May with the release of this quite stunning 'Fifty Shades Freed' in the new 4K home video format on May 8th, 2018.

For my money, this 'Fifty Shades Free: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Fifty Shades Free' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265; Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p); HDR: HDR10; Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

As with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features a much brighter, deeper, more lifelike set of colors. Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

The picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial and clothing textures within the action scenes, which in comparison leaves the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation looking almost smooth and flat.

As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS:X; English: DTS-HD Master; Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French (Canada): DTS 5.1, and Spanish: DTS-HD HR 7.1. There are also Subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.

Overall, this is a strong 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, for those following along at home, Anastasia and Christian are now married. Being married to a controlling billionaire, Ana felt stifled by Christian's rules and security, but she enjoyed defying him to make her point felt.

Their European honeymoon was interrupted by news of a fire set inside Christian's office building. Much later, Ana herself was assaulted in their own condo by an intruder who turned out to be her ex-boss Eric Hyde. Aside from trying to figure out why Hyde hated Grey with a passion, the newlyweds also try to deal with an unexpected guest.

Since this film was shot back to back with the second film by director James Foley, it looked and felt just like it. There was not much improvement to be expected in the acting of Dakota Johnson and Jaime Dornan, though they did seem to be more relaxed already by now.

Eric Johnson was one-dimensional in his portrayal of token antagonist Jack Hyde. The rest of the cast may be good-looking but were similarly bland, from Brant Daugherty (as Ana's stiff bodyguard Sawyer) to Arielle Kebbel (as the flirty architect Gia Matteo).

The cinematography was still lush and vibrant, showing the extravagant lifestyles of the rich and famous Greys (their vacations, their houses, their cars), as well as what happens in their bedrooms.

The sexy scenes were not as instrumental to the story anymore as they were in the first two films. These gratuitous scenes basically became fillers to stretch out a lame revenge crime story into 105 minutes.

The best aspect of all the Fifty Shades films remains to be its musical soundtrack. There is nothing that immediately stood out as strongly as "Love Me Like You Do" or "Earned It" did from the first film, or "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" from the second film.

However, "For You" by Rita Ora (who played as Christian's sister Mia) and Liam Payne, and "Capital Letters" by Hailee Steinfeld are definitely ear candy that deserve to be radio hits as well. We also get to see and hear Jaime Dornan sing "Maybe I'm Amazed" while playing the piano -- not bad.

The paper-thin story actually centered around dreary side character Eric Hyde and his vindictiveness, than about Christian Grey and his BDSM obsession. There was clearly nothing more to tell about Grey anymore here. We see only Christian's petulant immaturity when dealing with adult relationship issues.

While Ana had the more interesting story to tell, Niall Leonard's script can occasionally make her come across as flighty and annoying. Anyhow, at least we can see that these two really deserve each other! Watch this final "climax" to the trilogy knowing exactly what you're letting yourself in for and all will end well for you, I promise. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Deleted Scene - "Hickey and Apology"
The Final Climax: 30+ Minutes Behind The Scenes Featurette
Christian & Ana by Jamie & Dakota
An Intimate Conversation with E L James and Eric Johnson
Music Videos

'Deep Blue Sea 2' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Rob Mayes, Danielle Savre, Michael Beach, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2018 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: A brilliant billionaire named Carl Durant (Michael Beach) is experimenting on bull sharks, which soon rebel to cause havoc for a group of scientists.

Blu-ray Verdict: Simply put, and without a decent sequel subtitle to its name, Deep Blue Sea 2' is .......... actually better than I was prepared to give it credit for!

That said, and playing Devil's Advocate here, when you set sail into this "sequel", just be aware it was bought by the Syfy Channel! So if you'll allow yourself to expect the usual low budget effects and terrible acting, but with some cheesy fun moments, then you won't be too disappointed.

While it's hard to hate too much on a film in which the lead actress appears to be unable to zip up her wet suit all the way because of her heaving chest, 'Deep Blue Sea 2' is as much a (albeit late in the day) predictable rehash of the first film. So, we get the very same set-up and plot structure that's almost identical to Renny Harlin's 1999 brilliant hit.

Which, ok, is not such a bad thing, I'll give you that. Anyway, Danielle Savre plays shark expert Misty Calhoun (which sounds more like a stripper's name than a scientist's), who is hired by eccentric billionaire Carl Durant (Michael Beach, sporting an annoying right side goatee grey patch that has you wondering just why they didn't bleach the beach!) to join his team in the high-tech undersea lab where they are conducting experiments on five bull sharks.

As in Harlin's movie, the crew of the facility become trapped below the surface (due to the most stupidest and totally unacceptable and unreal "accident"), leaving them to try and find a way to the top before the complex floods or they are eaten; either by the artificially intelligent sharks or a school of equally ravenous offspring.

Presumably working on a much lower budget than the original, director Darin Scott must be given credit for achieving some well-executed CGI effects sequences. A couple of decent gory moments break out in the final third - the most graphic scenes being when we get a small rehash of the now infamous Samuel L. Jackson moment and when a character is hauled up into safety, minus his lower half; his entrails hanging from his torso!

Devoid of any real suspense or tension, a case of seen it, done it (better) is smothered all over this flick. But, it's definitely worth a watch if you enjoy movies about killer sharks! Anyway, as I say, it's not that bad and at just under 90 minutes, it actually flies by (which is always a good sign).

As for some of the special features, well, I personally love Gag Reel's and here we get a 3 minute plus one, chock full of weird dancing, an absolutely brilliant dinosaur impression, some pee-in-the-water moments, and even a moment where Danielle Savre scares herself more than her character actually deserved!

The 12 minute 'Returning to the Deep: Making Deep Blue Sea 2' (which quickly reveals that not only was it shot in South Africa, but two-thirds of the cast are home grown too) is also a gem to behold, as not only do we get to see that the characters that hit the water really do, as actors, hit the water, but the amount of cameras involved in getting these shots was totally insane!

Here the actors all reminisce about their memories of the original, one even recounting that on the first day of summer, every summer, she and her family have a large projector screen set up outside where the first movie they always watch is, yep, you guessed it, 'Deep Blue Sea.'

The infamous death of Samuel L. Jackson in the original, as Michael Beach correctly states here, elevated the piece because you never knew at any time throughout the movie what was going to actually happen. The same goes here for the sequel as it also manages to hit those points that the people loved about the first movie; and yet still manage to give them something original. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Returning to the Deep: Making Deep Blue Sea 2
Deep Blue Sea 2: Death by Shark
Gag Reel
Deleted Scenes

Official HD Trailer

'Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story'
(Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jenny Pellicer, Alejandro Edda, Warren Christie, Juan Pablo Espinosa, et al / DVD / TV-14 / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Academy Award® and Tony Award® winner Catherine Zeta-Jones stars in 'Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story', a film based on the life of drug lord Griselda Blanco, a pioneer in the Miami-based cocaine trade.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know about the real Griselda Blanco (February 15, 1943 – September 3, 2012), allow me to quickly bring you up to date.

Blanco, known as La Madrina, the Black Widow, the Cocaine Godmother and the Queen of Narco-Trafficking, was a Colombian drug lord of the Medellín Cartel and a pioneer in the Miami-based cocaine drug trade and underworld during the 1970s, all the way to the early 2000s.

It has been estimated that she was responsible for up to 200 murders while transporting cocaine from Colombia to New York, Miami and Southern California.

On February 20, 1985, she was arrested by DEA agents in her home and held without bail. After her trial, Blanco was sentenced to more than a decade in jail. While in prison, she continued to effectively run her cocaine business.

On the night of September 3rd, 2012, Blanco died after having been shot twice in the head by a motorcyclist in Medellín, Colombia. She was shot at Cardiso butcher shop on the corner of 29th Street, after having bought $150 worth of meat. She was 69.

In truth, it's a true marvel that the creators of this Lifetime Television Movie managed to pack so much into it, because there is enough material for a complete, and long-running mini-series, that's for sure. I know they've obviously condensed a lot of the exploits down, but still, this is chock full of Blanco's history nonetheless.

As for the overall production quality and style, it's definitely on a par with one of my other favorite shows of this same ilk, 'Narcos'. One good thing about 'Narcos' is the narration of the DEA agent that helps make things clear along the way and as much as it isn't like that throughout here, there are similar moments to be found.

The story of Griselda Blanco grips us from the very beginning and her terrible childhood followed by her start in the drug business, and her eventual rise on up through it. In fact, the fantastic things that happen along the way are really so hard to believe it could only be a true story!

Catherine Zeta Jones gives it her all in this performance as the Latino, although quite why she was chosen, as a Welsh lady, to take the role in the first place is beyond me! Anyhoo, her Latino accent and posture is spot on as she masters the drug fueled rages and bisexual passions told to be that of Blanco perfectly.

The supporting cast all do their own thing rather well too, but never overshadow Jones' lead role. In fact, 'Narcos' fans may spot a major character from the show here in a very different role, so keep your eyes peeled.

Personally, I could have watched a 10 episode mini-series of this show, not just a quick in-and-out movie, but I guess they didn't have the time nor money for such a thing there at Lifetime Television.

In closing, I don't why they haven't made more movies about Griselda Blanco, given that she was one of the leading people responsible for the drug war in the '70s-'80s, but here in 'Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story,' Jones brings her tale lovingly, and expertly to life. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with both Spanish and English Subtitles.

Official Trailer

'Sea Wolf: The Complete Mini-Series' (DVD+Digital)
(Sebastian Koch, Tim Roth, Neve Campbell, Stephen Campbell Moore, Andrew Jackson, et al / DVD + Digital / NR / (2009) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Jack London’s bestselling adventure is definitively brought to the screen as an epic miniseries event—a unique blend of high-seas adventure and psychological thriller that will stir, inspire, and excite its fans like never before.

DVD Verdict: In truth, it's been many years since I read the book, so I'm not sure how true this TV mini-series actually is to the story created by Jack London. However, I did like the characters in the movie and the actors that portrayed them.

Indeed, the two brothers are a real study in what your childhood does to you or for you throughout your adult life. But, please, please be forewarned here and now that if you don't know the story, the animal killings are horrific!

Also, personally, I was not too impressed by the lead female character, but she turned out to be a real help in the end. That's her character though, of course, still not the actress herself. But and giving it it's true worth, the mini-series has an intelligent character study, reflecting on the various roles and playing out their various tales nicely.

It's a two-part made for TV mini-series, as noted, adaptation of Jack London's adventure novel of the same name, so perhaps you should read the book first. You may not have heard of the cast (apart from Tim Roth, 'Lie To Me,' and Neve Campbell, 'Scream'), though their faces will rings distant bells.

My goodness though, the acting was in a whole different league the dreadful school-play stuff that chokes up PBS these days, so that's a blessing right there unto itself! All in all, I think this was a good sea story amidst a psychological study of two seamen. I found it very interesting and thought-provoking and I think you will too. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Barnum' (DVD+Digital)
(Burt Lancaster, Hanna Schygulla, Patty Maloney, Laura Press, et al / DVD + Digital / NR / (1986) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: The rags-to-riches life of P.T. Barnum (Burt Lancaster), the iconic carnival showman and co-creator of The Greatest Show on Earth, is told in this TV movie.

DVD Verdict: I remembered seeing this TV movie years ago. It was a rather lovely biography on P.T. Barnum that I don't think was that truthful to this man's extraordinary life. But it didn't matter, because Burt Lancaster was in it and he was terrific as P.T. Barnum, the first greatest showman ever.

Burt Lancaster was absolutely charming in this role. Through Lancaster's performance, you can see why P.T. Barnum was able to charm so many people into buying his b/s!

Hannah Shygulla, who plays Jenny Lind was absolutely impressive. One of the coolest scenes in this movie was the first time P.T. Barnum and his associates laid eyes for the first time on Jenny Lind. P.T. Barnum asked Jenny Lind to come to the U.S. and work for him. P.T. Barnum had never met Ms. Lind before, but he was so confident that she was going to be such a big success that he and his friends spread all sorts of rumors about her.

They fabricated stories about Jenny Lind in the newspapers like how beautiful she is and all the love affairs she had. It was an excellent way to get people to come to the Jenny Lind concert. P.T. Barnum sees Jenny Lind for the first time and realizes that Jenny Lind is no beauty. She is rather plain and plain spoken.

All in all, Jenny Lind looked like an absolutely ordinary woman. P.T. Barnum is so frustrated that he voices his concerns that the concert will be a big flop. Jenny Lind overhears this conversation and she comes in, all dressed up for the concert.

She calmly tells P.T. Barnum and his associates that she is a great singer and she will be paid what she's worth. Hannah Shygulla, as Jenny Lind, looks directly at P.T. Barnum and said, "And you will pay me....!"

And with that, she goes out on stage and sings her heart out. The audience loves her and Burt Lancaster, as P.T. Barnum, is so moved he is brushing tears away from his eyes.

In this movie, you get to also meet Tom Thumb, a midget who is suddenly thrown into fame by P.T. Barnum. The actor that played Tom Thumb was very moving. Tom Thumb gets to meet Queen Victoria. In his joy, he goes up to the Queen and hugs her! I remembered feeling incredibly moved because Tom was so happy. You can imagine what his life was like before joining P.T. Barnum.

The gist of the movie was that, even though P.T. Barnum exploited so many people and things for publicity and money, his employees, like the woman who claimed to be George Washington's nanny, Tom Thumb, Jenny Lind had a better life because of P.T. Barnum.

Now, I don't know if it's true that P.T. Barnum treated all of these people kindly or fairly, but Burt Lancaster made you believe that P.T. Barnum was a great guy.

This is a nice family movie. If they ever release this TV movie on video, I urge anyone who is a fan of Burt Lancaster to get this movie.

This biopic may not be all that true, but it certainly is entertaining and a pretty good diversion! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Lady Musketeer: Mini-Series' (DVD+Digital)
(Nastassia Kinski, Michael York, Susie Amy, John Rhys-Davies, Gerard Depardieu, et al / DVD + Digital / NR / (2004) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: The year is 1660. Loyalties among the people of France are divided between church and state, Cardinal and King—each of whom employs a private army. The Cardinal (Golden Globe winner Gérard Depardieu, Cyrano de Bergerac) has his guards. The King (Freddie Sayers, Diana) boasts his Musketeers and there is one Musketeer who stands apart from the rest!

DVD Verdict: This is a story of a girls quest to become a Musketeer like her father D'Artagnan. It's very entertaining and suitable for the whole family.

We all like Susie Amy who plays Valentine D'Artagnan, very much. Thought all the young musketeers were great and it was a lovely contrast with the older characters, their fathers. I am a big Michael York fan so it was good to see him back as D'Artagnan. Nastassia Kinski as Lady Bolton was a nice casting job too.

It could be a bit storytelling at times, but that is needed for younger viewers. The fight sequences could be slightly repetitive and many of the action movies are, but they were well done.

Playing Devil's Advocate, the only real problems with this production are mostly technical. Poorly directed by a man whose forte is staging action sequences, the dramatic potential is wasted and never fully realized in any of the scenes.

That said, I also liked John Rhys-Davies in it, as he is also one of my favorite actors, but he must have still been in his Gimli stage when doing it, because he came across with that sort of Scottish accent of the dwarf!

I admittedly had trouble with the actors who played the original musketeers (save for the aforementioned York), but that was no fault of the actors, as they were good. You see, I grew up on Disney's version with Keifer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, Charlie Sheen, and Chris O'Donnell as the main characters.

Lastly, and saving this purposely for last, Gérard Depardieu was badly miscast and was totally unconvincing as Cardinal Mazarin ... although his nose should win best supporting part surely?! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Thank God It's Friday - 40th Anniversary'
(Donna Summer, Jeff Goldblum, Debra Winger, Teri Nunn, Valerie Landsburg, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1978) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Set amongst a single night at the hottest disco in town, 'Thank God It's Friday' is the hilarious story of a disco diva trying to get the DJ to play her demo, two underage disco queens out to show their stuff, a good girl looking for Mr. Right, a sleazy owner that will do anything to get a girl, and a bigger-than-life dance contest capturing the great music, dancing, fashions, and delight of the disco craze!

Blu-ray Verdict: OMG! I totally love and adore this film! Not that I don't realize that it may not reflect the finest qualities of cinematography ... but, OMG, I totally love and adore it anyway!

It's like watching the dumbest episode of The Love Boat, with great music as the background. I spent waaaay too much time in discos back in the day, and you might say that this is an ever-so-slight exaggeration, but it never fails to make me feel good on the worst day ever!

And as for the music ... let's go back to Los Angeles 1978! This has a great soundtrack that features Diana Ross, The Commodores, The Village People, Oscar-winner and songwriter for 'Last Dance,' Paul Jabara, Pattie Brooks ... shit, basically the entire Casablanca label was featured in this film!

This movie was rated PG, even though it includes graphic drug use in many scenes, but back then I guess it was normal. Oh, and for those not in the know, the setting is the Zoo, a Los Angeles discotheque, and everything in the movie happens either in or around the Zoo in the space of a few hours on a Friday night.

Furthermore, 'TGIF' (now released here as a beautiful 40th Anniversary Blu-ray by those fine folks at Mill Creek Entertainment) is best regarded as a cultural artifact, an attempt to show everything that was shiny about the Disco world without any reference to its down sides of sexually transmitted diseases, next-morning-hangovers, and serious drug addictions.

The story is slight: a disco is hosting a big dance contest, and every one arrives at the door with personal ambitions. There is, of course, the singer who hopes to hit it big; two underage teen girls hot to be Disco Queens; a sweet young thing who hates polyester and is looking for Mr. Right in the wrong place; and a lady killer looking to score his next victim.

The film is most memorable for the look of the disco, which is the real star of the film, and the cast, which includes several performers on their way up: Jeff Goldblum as the lady killer; Deborah Winger as the anti-polyester good girl; and of all people a very, very young Terri Nunn, who would later score big as the front singer for the band Berlin.

There are all the usual running gags, and as a whole the film is only mildly entertaining. But then Donna Summer steps into the spotlight - and for a few moments everything that was magic about Disco lives and breathes again.

So sure, every cliche has been trotted out to move the alleged plot along, but the costumes are actually quite accurate - and the hair! Ladies, if you are of a certain age, you know it is the real deal. Fetch me my beer-can rollers and teasing comb, I feel a disco flashback coming on! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Arming America: The Untold History ...'
(Samuel Colt, Oliver Winchester, Eliphalet Remington, Horace Smith, Daniel Wesson, et al / DVD+Digital / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: This is the real story of how America became armed, the story of America's first Silicon Valley, the Connecticut Valley of the mid-19th century. It is the story of the Founding Fathers of America's gun industry: Samuel Colt, Oliver Winchester, Eliphalet Remington, Horace Smith, and Daniel Wesson, as well as a congery of lesser-known American gun innovators.

DVD Verdict: Ok, we need to get one thing straight here for from the DVD cover art alone, one might believe that 'Arming America: The Untold History of US Gun Culture' is a tough-minded analysis of US gun culture.

Whereas, and as you will quickly discover, it's actually nothing short of a guns-through-the-ages documentary, with a little light history of gun innovators sprinkled in for good measure.

That said, if that's exactly what you are looking for, then come on in, as it's a really rather interesting flashback at how guns came to be, why and what has since become of them.

So, for that and for that alone, 'Arming America: The Untold History ...' is a genuinely fascinating piece of American history, most of which I have to freely admit I knew nothing of.

Watching along with this documentary, it becomes clear early on that American ingenuity and genius in firearms innovation in the 19 century led the nation down the path to industrialization and to the American method of manufacture that we know of today.

A story everybody should know, 'Arming America: The Untold History ...' is a documentary that lovingly follows a long, ye always chronological sweep of American firearm history.

However, the flow is interrupted with separate company origin timelines and some statements presented one could find a bit more leading than neutral. No matter, for if you want to learn about North American firearm manufacturer history then this is it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'4-in-1 Drama Collection - John Travolta'
(John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, et al / Blu-ray / R / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: John Travolta is a 2-time Oscar® nominee ('Saturday Night Fever' and 'Pulp Fiction'), 1 Golden Globe win ('Get Shorty') with 6 additional nominations and winner of multiple, international Lifetime Achievement Awards across his 45+ year career. This Blu-ray set is an incredible value 4 marquee feature films together in 1 set!

Blu-ray Verdict: First up is the could-have-been-so-much-better 'Basic' (2003) - starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Connie Nielsen and Tim Daly. A DEA agent investigates the disappearance of a legendary Army ranger drill sergeant and several of his cadets during a training exercise gone severely awry.

'Basic' starts out as a fun and engaging popcorn flick. Travolta, Nielsen, Jackson, and the rest put in decent performances, and the chaotic jungle scenes are fun to watch. After the first half hour, the film really goes downhill.

The writers seem to throw in twists for no apparent reason. Many of these twists are completely unnecessary and make no sense. It feels like the writers thought this was the only way to keep our attention. The pieces of the puzzle do not fit together, and the movie is more confusing than anything.

The comes 'Perfect' (1985) - starring John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis and Marilu Henner. A female aerobics instructor meets a male reporter doing a story on health clubs, but it isn't love at first sight.

Although this movie didn't do as well as expected at the box office in 1985, this by no means takes away from the energy and atmosphere of this movie. The main drawback back in '85, was that everyone had high expectations for this movie since it was directed by the same guy that gave us 'The China Syndrome'.

The main plot of a Rolling Stone reporter (Travolta) trying to get the inside scoop of the fitness boom of the '80s from (Curtis) is the most enjoyable. The sub plot of white collar crime is a little on the boring side, and doesn't really mesh with the fitness plot. It's interesting to see all of the aerobic exercises in total '80s style, but by today's standards are outdated.

Next up is 'Love Song for Bobby Long' (2004) - starring John Travolta, Scarlett Johansson, Gabriel Macht. A headstrong young woman returns to New Orleans after the death of her estranged mother.

This is one of the most gratifying films I have seen in a long time. It has distinct characters, a thoroughly engaging story, beautiful cinematography, and wonderful performances. John Travolta has not performed like this in years. It reminded me of what a great actor he is when he really puts his mind to it.

Scarlett Johannson is better than she has ever been because this is the juiciest role she has played to date and she does it flawlessly. Gabriel Macht (who I was unaware of) gives a wonderful performance as well. The music is also amazing and I hope one day to find it on vinyl!

Lastly we have 'Lonely Hearts' (2006) - starring John Travolta, Salma Hayek, James Gandolfini, Jared Leto and Laura Dern. Based on the true story, two homicide detectives track Martha Beck and Raymond Martinez Fernandez, a murderous pair known as the Lonely Hearts Killers who lured their victims through the personals. Within two minutes of starting this movie it became clear that it was very well put together. Excellent cinematography and costume design.

I'm not sure exactly what it was that disappointed me so much. It could have been the lack of drama. I didn't feel like the plot escalated to a climax. I understand that this is based on a true story, but it certainly could have been done in a more dramatic way; especially during certain parts of the chase. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The 6 Degrees Collection - John Travolta'
(John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Salma Hayek, et al / 2-Disc DVD / R / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: John Travolta is a 2-time Oscar® nominee ('Saturday Night Fever' and 'Pulp Fiction'), 1 Golden Globe win ('Get Shorty') with 6 additional nominations and winner of multiple, international Lifetime Achievement Awards across his 45+ year career. This Blu-ray set is an incredible value 4 marquee feature films together in 1 set!

DVD Verdict: First up is the could-have-been-so-much-better 'Basic' (2003) - starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Connie Nielsen and Tim Daly. A DEA agent investigates the disappearance of a legendary Army ranger drill sergeant and several of his cadets during a training exercise gone severely awry.

'Basic' starts out as a fun and engaging popcorn flick. Travolta, Nielsen, Jackson, and the rest put in decent performances, and the chaotic jungle scenes are fun to watch. After the first half hour, the film really goes downhill.

The writers seem to throw in twists for no apparent reason. Many of these twists are completely unnecessary and make no sense. It feels like the writers thought this was the only way to keep our attention. The pieces of the puzzle do not fit together, and the movie is more confusing than anything.

The comes 'Perfect' (1985) - starring John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis and Marilu Henner. A female aerobics instructor meets a male reporter doing a story on health clubs, but it isn't love at first sight.

Although this movie didn't do as well as expected at the box office in 1985, this by no means takes away from the energy and atmosphere of this movie. The main drawback back in '85, was that everyone had high expectations for this movie since it was directed by the same guy that gave us 'The China Syndrome'.

The main plot of a Rolling Stone reporter (Travolta) trying to get the inside scoop of the fitness boom of the '80s from (Curtis) is the most enjoyable. The sub plot of white collar crime is a little on the boring side, and doesn't really mesh with the fitness plot. It's interesting to see all of the aerobic exercises in total '80s style, but by today's standards are outdated.

Next up is 'Love Song for Bobby Long' (2004) - starring John Travolta, Scarlett Johansson, Gabriel Macht. A headstrong young woman returns to New Orleans after the death of her estranged mother.

This is one of the most gratifying films I have seen in a long time. It has distinct characters, a thoroughly engaging story, beautiful cinematography, and wonderful performances. John Travolta has not performed like this in years. It reminded me of what a great actor he is when he really puts his mind to it.

Scarlett Johannson is better than she has ever been because this is the juiciest role she has played to date and she does it flawlessly. Gabriel Macht (who I was unaware of) gives a wonderful performance as well. The music is also amazing and I hope one day to find it on vinyl!

The comes the always-underrated TV movie 'Boy in the Plastic Bubble' (1976) – starring John Travolta, Glynnis O’Connor and Robert Reed. The girl next door makes a teen born with immune deficiencies want to leave his germ-free bubble.

In truth, this TV movie provided a big stepping stone for John Travolta, but its '70s sensibilities provoke more laughter than empathy for the plight of the title character.

The "disease of the week" plot makes Glynnis O'Connor into a cruel and easy high school bimbo, smoking cigarettes and parading about in a bikini. All to the frustration of trapped Travolta, who is desperate for companionship other than that of his dreary parents.

Next is 'Look Who's Talking Now' (1993) – starring John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Danny DeVito and Diane Keaton. The third film in the Look Who’s Talking franchise goes to the dogs in this hilarious family film!

For my money, 'Look Who's Talking Now' is not absolutely unwatchable and certainly not the worst movie ever made, but for me it is weakest of the series. I really enjoyed the first, and while watchable the second was a disappointment.

'Look Who's Talking Now' does admittedly have its good points, such as the soundtrack and the two dogs voiced wonderfully by Danny DeVito and Diane Keaton, but it was never going to be as good as the original - is anything?

Lastly we have 'Lonely Hearts' (2006) - starring John Travolta, Salma Hayek, James Gandolfini, Jared Leto and Laura Dern. Based on the true story, two homicide detectives track Martha Beck and Raymond Martinez Fernandez, a murderous pair known as the Lonely Hearts Killers who lured their victims through the personals. Within two minutes of starting this movie it became clear that it was very well put together. Excellent cinematography and costume design.

I'm not sure exactly what it was that disappointed me so much. It could have been the lack of drama. I didn't feel like the plot escalated to a climax. I understand that this is based on a true story, but it certainly could have been done in a more dramatic way; especially during certain parts of the chase. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Fastest Guns of the West - 8 William Castle'
(Ann Savage, Tom Neal, John Hodiak, Robert Stack, George Montgomery, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 'The Fastest Guns of the West: 8 William Castle Westerns' is a brand new cowboy set from legendary director William Castle ('House on Haunted Hill', 'Rosemary's Baby').

DVD Verdict: First up is 'KLONDIKE KATE' (1943) – starring Ann Savage, Tom Neal and Glenda Farrell. A young man in Alaska finds himself accused of murder, and must fight to clear his name.

The story a young woman traveling to the Klondike to claim the bar and hotel that her dead father left her, only to find the man who was suppose to be running it had sold it a year earlier and she was left out in the cold.

Just a okay movie with a second class cast. Tom Neal never became the big star they hoped and Ann Savage the same. The story line was thin and the film, while not being bad, would be called a B flick today.

Next is 'CONQUEST OF COCHISE' (1953) – starring John Hodiak, Robert Stack and Joy Page. A cavalry officer tries to keep a lid on a volatile situation when Indian leader Cochise is being prodded into starting a war.

Agreeable, but underrated B-movie about the famous Indian leader, being set on spectacular landscapes and attempts to adhere to historical facts concerning his life. History comes alive in color by Technicolor with passable actors and adequate action.

What follows that is 'MASTERSON OF KANSAS' (1954) – starring George Montgomery, Nancy Gates and James Griffith. In Kansas, fearing another Indian War, Sheriff Bat Masterson, Marshal Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday join forces to defuse tensions over grazing lands between Indians and greedy cattlemen.

Although the friendship of Marshal Wyatt Earp and gunfighter/gambler Doc Holiday is frontier legend and the subject of several movies, Dodge City's other famous lawman Bat Masterson and Holiday did not have the same feelings. That is the premise on which Masterson Of Kansas is built around, although the two are forced into alliance by exigent circumstances.

Next is 'JESSE JAMES vs the DALTONS' (1954) – starring Barbara Lawrence, James Griffith and William Phipps. The son of Jesse James joins up with the notorious Dalton gang.

Producer Sam Katzman was from the "make 'em cheap and grind 'em out fast" school of film-making, and his output was so prolific that once in a while one of his films actually turned out to be pretty good.

This low-rent western isn't one of them. The script is soggy, the acting is atrocious, the action is limp, the direction is almost non-existent, with even the color being somewhat washed out.

Next up is 'BATTLE OF ROGUE RIVER' (1954) – starring George Montgomery, Richard Denning and Martha Hyer. In Oregon, the Army is ordered to negotiate peace with the Indians but unscrupulous businessmen, who profiteered during the conflict, secretly sabotage the peace process.

'12 O'Clock High' meets 'Virginia City' in this Castle-directed "B" programmer. George Montgomery is adequately tight-lipped as non-nonsense Major taking over failed outpost. Richard Denning gives a marvelously multi-dimensional performance as Stacey Wyatt, as militia leader with a hidden agenda.

John Crawford adds an interesting interpretation of the Hugh-Marlowe-type role of reformed reprobate. Martha Hyer provides eye candy and adds a bit of sass to boot. Good, clean, fast, if not unchallenging fun.

Then comes 'THE GUN THAT WON THE WEST' (1955) – starring Dennis Morgan, Paula Raymond and Richard Denning. In the late 1880s, Colonel Carrington and his command are assigned the job of constructing a chain of forts in the Sioux Indian territory - of Wyoming. Carrington recruits former cavalry scouts Jim Bridger and "Dakota Jack" Gaines to lead the project.

Bridger and Gaines are friendly with Sioux Chief Red Cloud, and they feel a peace treaty with the Indians can be made. If an Indian war breaks out, the cavalry is depending on getting a new type of Springfield rifle.

In truth, and sorry, but this account of Red Cloud's war with the USA in the post Civil War years is one cheap production with some very bored actors giving some very pedestrian performances!

Up next is 'DUEL ON THE MISSISSIPPI' (1955) – starring Lex Parker, Patricia Medina and Warren Stevens. In 1820, André Tulane (Lex Barker), hot-tempered scion of a Louisiana plantation family, is debt-bound to Lili Scarlet (Patricia Medina),notorious gambling-ship queen, and the daughter of Jacques Scarlet (Ian Keith), a former pirate with Jean Lafitte. André helps Lili fight off the river pirates led by her former Fiance Hugo Marat (Warren Stevens), after he has seized control of Lili's gambling-boat.

The film is colorful and enjoyable, but also ordinary and forgettable; the cast helps, with Ian Keith (as Medina's brandy-loving father) relishing his roguish part, as opposed to the humorless villains he was often relegated to playing, a role here filled – quite ably, I might add – by Stevens.

As for leading man Barker (who numbered actresses Lana Turner and Arlene Dahl among his five spouses!), he had a pretty continental and varied filmography – which saw him going from Hollywood Tarzan to German Winnetou (aka Old Shatterhand) and various other adventures and thrillers along the way, before prematurely passing away from a heart attack in 1973.

Lastly comes 'URANIUM BOOM' (1956) – starring Dennis Morgan, Patricia Medina and William Talman. Deep in the badlands of Colorado, Brad (Dennis Morgan) and Grady (William Talman) stumble across a large deposit of uranium. As Grady watches over the treasure, Brad goes into town to claim the land and meets Jean (Patricia Medina).

The two immediately fall in love and get married that night. But when the couple returns to the site, Grady reveals he was in love with Jean and leaves. Seeking revenge, he hires a confidence man to take down Brad's uranium empire.

Oh dear, for as much as I wanted to like this film, it is all rather daft and incorporates too many unlikely events, sadly. Very fast moving and fun to watch at little over the hour mark, I myself wasn't too familiar with any of the cast members, but maybe you will be. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Legacy Collection: Great Changemakers in America'
(Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, et al / 8-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Changemakers are described as being relentless, non-partisan and fearless in their pursuit of solving issues to improve the world. No word better describes three of the most influential men who fought for human rights throughout American history: Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

This expansive documentary collection chronicles their courageous and monumental legacy in the United States and around the world.

DVD Verdict: The truly fascinating MARCH TO FREEDOM is the chronicle of a struggle 400 years in the making. From the first African slaves in the colonies to today, the rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness have been tested throughout the history of America and are examined in this 14-part documentary series (that also includes 'Emancipation Road', a 7-part compelling journey through America's greatest saga.

Part One 1625 - 1863 The Shadows of Slavery
Part Two 1863 - 1870 The Emancipation Proclamation
Part Three 1870 - 1909 Separate But Equal
Part Four 1909 - WWII Regardless of the Color of One's Skin
Part Five 1945 - 1963 The Double Victory
Part Six 1963 - 1968 The Civil Rights Era
Part Seven 1968 - Today Heroes of Hope

In 1860, the nation founded upon an idea that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness had as many as four hundred thousand slave-owners and almost four million slaves.

By denying these rights to more than twelve percent of its population, America would soon pay with the blood of a generation.

The story of African Slavery in America started with the first permanent English Colony in the 17th century ... and ended with the Civil War. But those two hundred and fifty years of struggle were just the beginning. The beginning of a journey down the long Emancipation Road.

Part One 1625 - 1863 The Shadows of Slavery
Part Two 1863 - 1870 The Emancipation Proclamation
Part Three 1870 - 1909 Separate But Equal
Part Four 1909 - WWII Regardless of the Color of One's Skin
Part Five 1945 - 1963 The Double Victory
Part Six 1963 - 1968 The Civil Rights Era
Part Seven 1968 - Today Heroes of Hope

A very detailed and complicated history with a vast amount of statistics detailing the number of slaves and all the locations they came from and went to. Even how they are treated varies and how America generally treated them better than other locations. How any of them lived through it is unbelievable.

We then get to dive into and fully explore the life and times of Abraham Lincoln in ABRAHAM LINCOLN – TRIAL BY FIRE. We witness the stirring events leading up to Lincoln's assassination and the aftermath that quickly followed.

We also discover the power struggle between Lincoln and General George McClellan and unravel the events that lead to the Emancipation Proclamation. Then we uncover the story of the Confederacy's last attack that almost brought the north to its knees!

Also, through full-color, live-action, authentic record learn about the fight for freedom and abolishment of slavery through the eyes of the African-American Civil War Soldier. It truly is an indepth and historical journey through one the most significant times in our nation's history.

This highly indepth 10-part documentary may, admittedly, not be the best chronicle of Mr. Lincoln ever made, but it certainly deserves a place with the best.

The Hal Holbrook segment alone earns this collection that place. Few people today would be willing or able to get themselves around Carl Sanders' marvelous work. This treatment is certainly accessible to nearly everyone and is a pure delight to now be found in this wondrous box-set collection from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Fifty years after his death, John F. Kennedy’s life, legacy and youthful vigor continues to intrigue and enthrall an entire nation! We now get to relive and introduce, to younger generations, the compelling story of this unforgettable leader and the inspired dynasty he left behind in JFK: A NEW WORLD ORDER.

Program 1: Early Years - John F. Kennedy's life through his election as the 35th President of the United States.

Program 2: For All to See - The 1960 Presidential election and the many obstacles, including familial and religious, that Kennedy needed to overcome to win the United States Presidency.

Program 3: New Frontiers - The beginnings of John F. Kennedy's presidency.

Program 4: Doomsday Averted - The Bay of Pigs and The Cuban Missile Crisis, to his proudest achievements, the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Program 5: A Wall of Words - The origins of Soviet-American tensions in the divided city of Berlin from the final days of World War II up through the time of John F. Kennedy's Presidency.

Program 6: War Within & Without Part 1 - Civil Rights, from his record as a senator up though the transformation near the end of his life that would help inspire the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Program 7: War Within & Without Part 2 - The events in Southeast Asia that eventually led to America's war in Vietnam.

Program 8: Camelot And Beyond - His health and private life, marriage and family, the myth of Camelot, and finally, his assassination and legacy.

Bonus Disc Contents:
1. Kennedy Vs. Nixon Debate
2. Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
3. Funeral Service of President John F. Kennedy
4. Vietnam! Vietnam! by John Ford

If you have seen many of the previous Kennedy documentaries then this might be a disappointment. Then again, if you have little knowledge of the Kennedy administration then this box-set (within a box-set) is very informative.

If you are going to have only one, or very few Kennedy documentaries in your possession, there are better ones out there to pick from, sure, but the bonus disc is worth the price of purchase alone here, trust me! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Patriots - Documentary Collection'
(5-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 'American Patriots - Documentary Collection' features over 15 hours of real life Heroes. This expansive documentary collection chronicles their courageous and monumental legacy in the United States and around the world.

DVD Verdict: Up first is FOR LOVE OF LIBERTY, where we uncover the true story of our nation's black heroes and patriots that played pivotal roles in the U.S. Military since the earliest days of the republic.

From the battle fields of the Revolution to the deserts of Iraq examine why, despite enormous injustice, these heroic men and women fought so valiantly for freedoms they themselves did not enjoy.

Through letters, diaries, speeches, journalistic accounts, historical text and military records discover the fierce and faithful history of our African-American military leaders!

Hosted by Halle Berry, this documentary exposes little known history that demonstrates the courage of minority Americans who put their lives on the line for a country that repeatedly rejected them.

Disc 1 - 5-Part For Love Of Liberty documentary
Disc 2 - Extras:
-Abridged Edit of For Love Of Liberty
-Stories of Black Patriots In the Civil War documentary
-Archival Footage
-Photo Montages
-Music Video

Then comes UNSUNG HEROES: THE STORY OF AMERICA'S FEMALE PATRIOTS, which is an inspirational saga of unrecognized courage and sacrifice that touches every community in the nation.

These are women who, despite the hardships of military service, are proud of their long-standing commitment to the patriotic ideals of the United States.

It is a story of all guts and no glory and its theme, the price of liberty, is relevant to all Americans.

Through rare photographs, archival materials, personal memorabilia and on-camera interviews, this 2-part documentary produced by Academy Award® Winner Ron Howard illustrates the enormous accomplishments and profound sacrifices of our female patriots that have previously been ignored ... until now!

Including over 100 minutes of bonus archival footage, such as: WWI Victory Parade, Women in Uniform at Home and Abroad, Vietnam Air Force Nurses, POW Jessica Lynch's Return Home and much more, UNSUNG HEROES: THE STORY OF AMERICA'S FEMALE PATRIOTS is one for the history books, of that have no doubt.

A very well made film, especially topical at the moment due to the recent decision (still being contested) that late members of the WASP are no longer allowed to be buried at Arlington Cemetery, despite the fact there is a section of that cemetery RESERVED for WASPS.

And the fact that, despite the increasing number of women veterans, the VA has yet to make a real effort to hire more GYN doctors. I had always known we've had women serving in just about every conflict this country has been involved in, but this documentary brings out a lot of information I wasn't aware of.

It also does a really great job covering the political and legal wrangles involved as women worked to be acknowledged as warriors capable of fighting as needed. Kudos to those involved in making this documentary a reality.

Finally we get THE MEDAL OF HONOR, which is awarded for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.

This 6-part documentary chronicles the highest award given to military personnel for their extreme bravery, valor and harrowing sacrifices. Covering the Civil War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, learn about the most courageous acts performed by the people who fight for American freedom.

1. The Civil War
2. World War One
3. World War Two Europe
4. World War Two Pacific
5. The Korean War
6. The Vietnam War

At the conclusion of the Vietnam segment there is the inclusion of recipients from the Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts as well. This documentary appears to be very up to date (2012) and covers the awards presented by President Obama.

There are some speeches made at these presentations by former Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush, as well as by President Obama. Otherwise this film is centered on the backgrounds of the conflicts/wars, giving us an idea of what brought men to these terrible venues.

In truth, there is a great deal of stock photos and footage, with a progression of technical achievements that allows better realism. There are also many scenes done by "re-enacters", from the Civil War up to and including Vietnam.

These are supplemented by footage pertinent to the era. I have to register one complaint, and that is the sound of the narrator. Oddly compressed for an HD recording, the lack of dynamics also lulls one to doze during certain stretches.

Also, one must sit through the introduction to each portion of the film. This may have been due to showing it in other venues as a series of films instead of one lengthy piece. Once again, the last bits of the film fare better, but that hardly makes up for almost 3 hours of mediocre sound and continual intros.

Overall the presentation is good, the idea behind the presentation even better, and -lest we forget - the number of people who live to tell the tale of their personal battle are few indeed. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'WWII - Through The Battles'
(5-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 'WWII - Through The Battles' covers over 20 hours of Historical Documentaries.

DVD Verdict: First up is WAR IN THE PACIFIC, where this amazing documentary chronicles the compelling events that led up to Japan's surprise bombing of the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and depicts the numerous air, land and sea battles that unfolded from 1942 until the fall of the Japanese empire in 1945.

The priceless documentary footage compiled in this collection, sets you squarely in the center of the conflict and reveals the bravery, heroism and sacrifice that was the hallmark of the men and women of our armed forces during their service in World War II.

It includes: The Pacific in Eruption; Awakening in the Pacific; The Rise of the Japanese Empire; America Goes to War in the Pacific; The U.S. and the Philippines; The Navy Holds - 1942; Guadalcanal: America's First Offensive; War in the North: The Aleutians; The Road Back: New Guinea; Up the Solomon's Ladder: Bougainville; Attack in the Central Pacific: Makin and Tarawa; The War at Sea; Speeding Up the Attack: The Marshalls; Stepping Stones to the Philippines; Battle for the Marianas; The War in the China - Burma - India Theatre; Palau: The Fight for Bloody Nose Ridge; MacArthur Returns to the Philippines; Bloody Iwo; At Japan's Doorstep: Okinawa; The Air War on Japan; The Surrender and Occupation of Japan; Shifting Tides in the Orient, and War in Korea.

This is an old production, so it has some contemporary cultural and political references, which in no-way is detrimental to the film. It is also a very long documentary, so it is easy to lose perspective of the time-sequence of events. However, it is a good idea to see it many times, it gets better every time.

Then comes D-DAY: THE INVASION – MARCH TO VICTORY where we follow the events and milestones leading up to the infamous D-Day in this prolific documentary collection featuring rare and never-before-seen archival video footage and insightful narration chronicling the most important battle the Allies and Germans ever fought.

However, and I am sad to report, that not only are large portions of the footage from training exercises, but the background music could not have been worse - and should have been left out altogether!

The dialogue suffers from the vocalization of someone who seems either drunk or asleep and rolls out with barely a single accurate statement.

While this is certainly an engrossing three-part entry into this box-set collection, it most assuredly needed much more TLC in its production values and overall footage.

Lastly we get THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM – THE MAJOR BATTLES OF WWII, where viewers are taken to the front lines of the European, Pacific and African theaters of the deadliest conflict in human history.

Entire hours are devoted to the great battles that would define the era and the devastating final conclusion that would introduce the world to the terrible possibilities that exist with atomic weaponry.

This comprehensive 10-part series chronicles the second half of this global military conflict in a masterfully scripted presentation filled with rare and authentic archive footage.

Featuring rare and never-before-seen footage from the most poignant battles throughout the rest of WWII, and with over 8 hours of in-depth documentary features included, this two-part series is a real war chest gem in the Mill Creek Entertainment crown.

Part One:
Invasion of Sicily
Battles in the South Pacific
Invasion of Normandy
The Battle of the Bulge
Battle of Iwo Jima ..... and much, much more!

Part Two:
Program 1: The Decline of Fascism Invasion of Sicily. Mussolini's downfall. Ploesti. Invasion of the Italian Peninsula.
Program 2: The Slow Italian Campaign Cassino. Anzio. Liberation of Rome. The Gothic Line. Liberation of Italy.
Program 3: The Road to Tokyo The battles for Guadalcanal, Munda, Bouganville and the South-Pacific area launch the thrust to the Japanese Empire's capital city.
Program 4: The Pacific in Flames The Central Pacific areas, with its huge distance ranges, rekindle the war between the Japanese and the Americans.
Program 5: D-Day Allied invasion of Normandy. Liberation of Paris.
Program 6: The Battle of Kursk The greatest armored cars' battle in history eased the way for the Soviet troops on the road to Berlin.
Program 7: The Battle for Germany Eastern and Western offensives of the Allied and Soviet armies in their way to Berlin. Operation Market Garden.
Program 8: The Agony of the Third Reich The Battle of the Ardennes (the Battle of the Bulge). Conquest of Berlin. Hitler's death. Surrender and end of the war in Europe.
Program 9: Leyte, Imperial Destiny Several naval clashes in the Gulf of Leyte led to the liberation of the Philippines. Along with the British victory in Burma, they opened the way to Tokyo.
Program 10: The Peace of the Atomic Bomb Iwojima. Okinawa. Atomic bombs and the surrender of the Japanese army bring to a close the greatest disaster so far known to mankind World War II.
This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Mary Higgins Clark: 14 Film Collection'
(Jill Clayburgh, Angie Everhart, Amanda Donohue, Emma Samms, Hannes Jaenicke, et al / 6-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: MARY HIGGINS CLARK is one of the most critically acclaimed mystery writers of our time. 'The Queen of Suspense' has sold over 100 million copies of her novels in the U.S. alone. Known for her intriguing, clever and suspenseful writing style, now you can enjoy a robust collection of film adaptations from her best-selling novels and original mysteries.

DVD Verdict: Taking a look at the highlights (in my mind) of this wondrous 14 movie collection, first up we get 'Where Are the Children' (1986) - Jill Clayburgh; Max Gail. Two children are kidnapped and held for ransom by a madman. Soon, however, the children's father begins to suspect that their mother may possibly have had something to do with the crime.

A moody, atmospheric thriller based on a novel by Mary Higgins Clark, with Jill Clayburgh in the lead as a woman-with-a-past who just might have murdered her own children. Max Gail ('Barney Miller') has a thankless role as her husband; but the real treat is that under-rated chameleon of an actor, Frederic Forrest, who will probably be remembered as the best character actor of his generation.

Another good one is 'Loves Music, Loves to Dance' (2001) - Patsy Kensit; Dean McDermott. When the best friend of talk-show producer Darcy Scott is murdered while preparing a report about internet dating, Darcy sets out to discover who the killer is, convinced it's one of the men her pal met online.

Kensit is Darcy Scott, the producer of a trash-talk TV show, whose friend Erin (Preston) is doing a story for her on Internet dating. When she is murdered, Darcy is convinced the murder is committed by one of the men she dated and sets out to find the killer.

These Clark TV movies are like lovely accidents - you can't help but look. I watch all of them, even though they're not very good. This one, while full of holes (especially the first scene when a woman is murdered a few feet away from a big party and didn't scream her guts out), moves a little faster than some of the past adaptations.

That's followed by 'I'll Be Seeing You' (2004) - PG-13 - Alison Eastwood. A young woman must identify the body of her exact double and ends up discovering the details of her father's death.

Here, Eastwood plays a young woman, Patricia Collins, whose double is murdered. The victim had her name and address in her pocket, but Patricia had never met her. This story is folded into the death of Patricia's father, whose body was never found.

Mysterious occurrences point to him still being alive. When Patricia mentions her dad's name at a fertility clinic with whom her father did business, one of the scientists there becomes frightened and is later murdered. I won't reveal any more, but trust me, it's a darn good watch.

Then I'd recommend 'A Crime of Passion' (2003) - PG-13 - Cynthia Gibb. Frederica Dumay has everything - a gorgeous new husband and half ownership of a winery. But when her business partner's wife is murdered, Freddi suspects her partner's new love.

While trying to discover the truth, an old boyfriend suggests looking into her new husband's background. This leaves Freddi wondering who she can trust.

This was a great and exciting murder mystery. It kept me guessing the entire time who the murderer was. I thought I knew for sure who it was, but I was wrong. There were many twists and turns in this thriller.

Also, the acting was superb and I enjoyed watching every one of the actors. They gave a wonderful performance so I would definitely watch this movie again with friends (even though I now know whodunnit, of course!)

Lastly, in my highlighted selection, I would choose 'The Cradle Will Fall' (2004) - Angie Everhart; John Ralston. Charged with investigating the suicide of a pregnant woman, prosecutor Kate DeMalo unwittingly becomes entangled in a complex mystery involving cheating husbands, strange doctors and murder.

I especially enjoyed this movie because of Philippe Brenninkmeyer, who is quite handsome and someone I had never seen before and would love to see more of. Apparently he makes a lot of films in Germany. He was very smooth as Dr. Highley.

For me, the denouement was telegraphed in advanced (as it always seems to be in these films), but Angie Everhart is lovely and likable, and John Ralston as the medical examiner was good, too.

However, it is still a damn good story and pleasant enough, and there was some good tension and suspense at the end. There was a time when TV movies like this could be quite effective. I miss those days.

The remaining movies of the 14 are: 'Lucky Day' (2002) - Amanda Donohoe; Karen LeBlanc; 'All Around the Town' (2002) - Nastassja Kinski; Andrea Roth; 'Pretend You Don't See Her' (2002) - PG-13 - Emma Samms; 'You Belong to Me' (2002) - PG-13 - Lesley-Anne Down; 'We'll Meet Again' (2002) - PG-13 - Laura Leighton; 'Before I Say Goodbye' (2003) - PG-13 - Sean Young; 'Haven’t We Met Before' (2002) - Not Rated - Nicollette Sheridan; 'Try to Remember' (2004) - PG-13 - Gabrielle Anwar; and finally 'He Sees You When You're Sleeping' (2002) - PG - Erika Eleniak.

This is a Widescreen and Full Screen set of Presentations (1.33:1/1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Big Box of Kids Favorites'
(Jim Varney, Michael Bond, James Arnold Taylor, et al / 7-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Kids of all ages are sure to enjoy this BIG BOX of television favorites! This timeless trio of clever characters are sure to delight you and old alike!

DVD Verdict: First up we have 'JOHNNY TEST'. Here we follow the adventures of this fearless 11-year-old boy, his genetically-engineered super dog, Dukey, and his 13-year-old super-genius brainiac twin sisters who use Johnny as their guinea pig for their out-of-this-world scientific experiments!

The comparison with 'Dexter's Laboratory' is inevitable, but they are really different, to my mind. What I really enjoy about this show is its simplicity. Everything is so simple and classic. Like the old shows including 'Hey Arnold' and 'Doug'.

Also its drawing style is also nice. Solid color in a thick black outline that reminds me of, yes, I know, 'Dexter's Laboratory'. I've heard complaints of this show being not funny,boring, or just plain stupid.

Personally, I enjoy its clichés, its warming, kind of like camping. Because like camping, we live in the 21st century, yet people still go outside to fish and sleep in a tent. Its kind of like this show.

This was the type of show little kids would watch and wish or dream that they could do this, or they could make this. For example: In one of the episodes, Johnny made a roller coaster park in his backyard.

Another thing I like about this show is its original comic-book super villains like an evil toy maker, a freezing coffee maker, a talking cat, and a man that controls bees!

Then there's the one where Johnny pretends to be sick in order to miss out on a school test. Everybody hates school tests, right? So if you really hate school tests that will bore the crap out of you, this is the wrong show to give nothing but hate to. This features all 26 episodes from the first and second seasons of the series.

Then we get one of my all-time favorites from the UK, 'PADDINGTON BEAR' Based off the acclaimed books by Michael Bond, 'Paddington Bear' has captured the imaginations and hearts of young and old around the world for generations.

Dressed in his characteristic blue duffle coat and oversized hat, the helpful and cuddlesome Paddington has a gift of putting his paws where he shouldn’t, creating hours of hilariously sticky situations!

I do admit I have a thing for nostalgia, and I loved 'Paddington' when I was a kid. At 48, I still love it now, it is absolutely wonderful. It's definitely better than the children's shows of today, which are either bad or once good shows now mediocre.

I didn't feel there was a wasted moment watching 'Paddington', for it was whimsical, charming and funny. I always loved the characters, cute and endearing Paddington, Mr and Mrs Brown and the hilarious Mr.Curry ("BEAR!").

The look of the series is superb, and the music is excellent. I also loved the story lines and Paddington's situations and the narration by the wonderful Michael Hordern. There are so many things to like about 'Paddington', as it is a wonderful show.

Finally we get treated to the live-action comedicness of 'HEY VERN, IT’S ERNEST!' Jim Varney, who created the Ernest P. Worrell character, starred in this imaginative Saturday morning kid's program composed of a series of live-action comedy sketches.

Each show follows a particular weekly theme such as outer space; hobbies, scary things or magic. Indeed, 'Hey Vern, It's Ernest!' has been compared to other live-action kids comedy series greats such as both 'You Can’t Do That On Television' and 'Pee-Wee’s Playhouse'.

Jim Varney was quite brilliant as an entertainer. He never received the acclaim that he was due and it often makes me sad now that he's gone. Anyways, his television show 'Hey Vern, It's Ernest' was one of the zaniest most imaginative programs imaginable; and it filled many of my Saturday mornings with joy and wonder!

With its originality and poise, its difficult to believe it only lasted a few seasons. The show truly chronicles Jim Varney's ability as an entertainer and his take on different characters is exceptional and always memorable.

In fact, and to my mind and those of my friends, 'Hey Vern, It's Ernest' would be especially welcome in these times of copious craptastic reality TV programming!

With over 25 hours of entertainment, inclusive of Bonus Features and Specials, and with over 100 episodes contained on these 7 discs, this 'Big Box of Kids Favorites' is one of the best for kids that Mill Creek Entertainment has ever released, in my humble opinion! These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Death Smiles on a Murderer: Special Edition'
(Ewa Aulin, Klaus Kinski, Luciano Rossi, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1973) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A man discovers an ancient Incan formula for raising the dead, and uses it for a series of revenge murders.

Blu-ray Verdict: Simply put, a haunting and dreamlike gothic horror/giallo hybrid, 'Death Smiles on a Murderer' is a compelling early work from the legendary sleaze and horror film director Joe D'Amato ('Anthropophagus', 'Emanuelle in America'); here billed under his real name Aristide Massaccesi.

Presented here in a stunning 2K restoration, D'Amato's film is a stately and surreal supernatural mystery which benefits from an achingly mournful score by Berto Pisano, several shocking scenes of gore, and a typically sinister performance from Klaus Kinski as a morbid doctor.

OK, as many fans can only agree, this is not your typical D'Amato movie, if there is such a thing. There's graphic violence, a little gore, but nothing really over the top. But what this movie has, is a little style and maybe even some class.

It's very confusing, and includes everything from reanimation, to a three way love affair, to a murder mystery. The basic plot is about a young beautiful woman Greta, who shows up at a Villa and is involved in a horse carriage accident which impales the driver. A couple take her in since she has developed amnesia.

There's a series of flashbacks that attempt to cast some Intel on who she is, but not why she is there. Klaus Kinski has a small role as the doctor who attends to her, but has a totally different agenda which deals with a concoction he's working on to bring back the dead.

Soon the movie gets even more bizarre and even takes a little from Poe's 'Black Cat'. Everything looks pretty damn good in this movie, the sets, the actors, and the main thing I noticed is the main theme to the soundtrack is straight out of 'Suspiria'!

Both the husband and his Wife fall in love with Greta, and the Wife especially turns out to be rather jealous and walls up Greta in the dungeon. After that some even more bizarre happenings occurs resulting in the gruesome death of the Wife.

But what happened to the walled up Greta? Well, that little chore is up to the local Police Inspector, and he hasn't got a clue as to what is going on, because Greta has vanished. This all culminates in a fairly good, if not confusing, ending that seems to put most of pieces back in order. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original Italian and English soundtracks
Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
New audio commentary by writer and critic Tim Lucas
D'Amato Smiles on Death, an archival interview in which the director discusses the film
All About Ewa, a newly-filmed, career-spanning interview with the Swedish star
Smiling on the Taboo: Sex, Death and Transgression in the horror films of Joe D'Amato, new video essay by critic Kat Ellinger
Original trailers
Stills and collections gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Stephen Thrower and film historian Roberto Curti.

'Savannah Smiles: Special Collector's Edition'
(Bridgette Andersen, Donovan Scott, Mark Miller, Michael Parks, Peter Graves, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / PG / (1982) 2018 / MVD Rewind)

Overview: The young daughter of a politician runs away due to lack of attention. She hides in the car of two not-so-bright crooks who are slowly converted into parent figures to her. A surprising bond of love and redirection forms among the trio as the police close down on the supposed kidnappers.

Blu-ray Verdict: Savannah Driscoll (Brigette Andersen)is the 7 year old daughter of wealthy gubernatorial candidate, Richard Driscoll (Chris Robinson). Savannah, feeling terribly lonely and neglected by her self-absorbed parents, dashes a note and runs away.

Two small-time crooks, Boots (Donovan Scott) and Alvie (Mark Miller), on the lam after a slapstick-style prison break, steal the car in which Savannah has chosen to hide. Savannah's "run away" note falls out of sight, so the police, with the exception of Lt. Savage (Michael Parks) immediately assume kidnapping.

The police call in "ace tracker" Harland Dobbs (Peter Graves, in hilarious deadpan "dimwit detective" role). Meanwhile, Alvie, Boots and Savannah find a hideout. While Boots takes care of Savannah, Alvie, who hates children (and just about everybody else) becomes involved with Doreen (Carol Wayne, Carson's "Matinee Lady"), an attractive, spectacularly built waitress and part-time country singer.

Desiring to satisfy Doreen's innocent dreams, Alvie ransoms Savannah, but, and as hoped, Boots' nurturing instincts are awoken, and he wants to reform.

Despite some thin spots in the middle, this is a surprisingly powerful movie. As we learn more about Alvie, we come to sympathize with his character, making the "near Ruby Ridge-style" climax of this movie all the more gut wrenching.

In truth, I can barely think about this film without choking up. The cast is uniformly outstanding, most notable being Mark Miller (father of Penelope Ann), Pat Morita, Carol Wayne and Michael Parks (a character similar to 'The X-Files' Muldar).

Finally, Brigette Andersen (granddaughter of child star Jackie Coogan) is truly adorable through, but sadly, and rather tragically, Andersen died from a drug and alcohol overdose at age just 22. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand-New 2K High-Definition Transfer from 35mm Original Release Film Print Provided by the Library of Congress
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the main feature in 1.78:1 aspect ratio
Original Mono Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
'The Making of Savannah Smiles' brand new documentary about the making of this classic comedy featuring writer / producer Mark Miller, star Donovan Scott, Teresa Andersen (mother of Bridgette Andersen) and composer Ken Sutherland (HD)
'Memories of Bridgette Andersen' featuring all-new interviews with Teresa Andersen (Bridgette s mom) along with writer / producer Mark Miller and actor Donovan Scott (HD)
'The Songs and Music of Savannah Smiles' featuring brand new interview with composer Ken Sutherland (HD)
Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)
Collectible Mini-Poster

'Went To Coney Island On A Mission From God ...'
(Jon Cryer, Rick Stear, Rafael Baez, Ione Skye, Frank Whaley, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1988) 2018 / MVD Rewind)

Overview: Two young men (Jon Cryer, Rick Stear) who have been friends since early childhood decide to go on a trip to find a third friend (Rafael Baez) who has long since disappeared.

Stories they have heard indicate that the friend has been seen in an apparently rambling, incoherent state at Coney Island.

Their trip leads them to a number of adventures involving the other world-like life at the Park and revelations related to their own pasts including the death of one's sister, a failed past relationship, financial failings, and alcoholism.

Blu-ray Verdict: If you are looking for a laugh out loud, happy-go-lucky, Jon Cryer fun film, then by all means do not watch 'Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God ... Be Back by Five'! For while it has a few funny moments, the film also has a dark tone and much about it might leave you feeling a bit depressed.

Unlike most films, however, it isn't afraid to tackle depressing subjects and simply accept that there might be nothing you can do to change things ... and that is also one of the film's strengths.

The story begins with a prologue, showing what life was like for three kids growing up in New York City as well as how they met and how they drifted apart.

Now, a decade has passed and Stan (Rick Stear) seeks out his friend Daniel (Jon Cryer) because their old pal, Richie (Rafael Báez) disappeared some time ago and Stan heard a rumor that Richie might be hanging out around Coney Island.

So the pair of very unlike friends go to Coney on a most unlikely day. It's cold, it's overcast and it's practically empty. But, they spend the day meeting odd characters and following leads that might take them to Richie; who is now apparently homeless and mentally ill.

I actually appreciated the film mostly towards the end. Up until then, I was somewhat indifferent about it. But Richie's plight and mental health issues were handled so realistically that I had a lot of respect for the picture. Especially in light of my mother's own background as a social worker and psychotherapist.

The writers got this part spot on, in my humble opinion, and didn't offer any trite ending where everything is magically resolved; like too many Hollywood films. In addition, the film featured some lovely performances and is well worth your time if you don't need explosions and action (or laugh out loud comedy moments), but value studies of real (as it's based on a true story) human beings. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature from a frame-by-frame digital restoration from original 35mm film elements
5.1 Surround Audio (Uncompressed PCM) and 2.0 Stereo
NEW Introduction from director Richard Schenkman and Jon Cryer (HD)
Audio commentary from director Richard Schenkman and Jon Cryer
'Went to Coney Island ... To Make a Movie' Behind the scenes featurette (18:36, SD)
'The Producer' Comedy short film directed by Richard Schenkman (3:00, SD)
Photo Gallery
Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)
Collectible Mini-Poster

'Bruce's Deadly Fingers: Special Edition'
(Bruce Lee, Chen Wai-Man, Lo Lieh, Nora Miao, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / (1976) 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: After malicious gangsters capture Bruce Lee's ex-girlfriend, a young martial artist attempts to rescue her along with the late master's book containing lethal techniques for killing with one's fingers. Plenty of kung-fu action and mayhem (including a particularly gruesome scene involving the torture of a girl with a deadly snake)!

Blu-ray Verdict: Now for the first time ever released in Widescreen High Definition and produced from a new 2K scan from the 35mm original negative, if you are a fan of the master, Bruce Lee, and other "Bruceploitation" films, then this deluxe Blu-ray+DVD combo is a must for your film collection!

After malicious gangsters capture Bruce Lee's ex-girlfriend, a young martial artist attempts to rescue her - and the late master's book containing lethal techniques for killing with one's fingers.

That said, and in complete truth, as all you Lee fans will already know anyway, the plot isn't worth explaining in the slightest! Basically, Lee plays Bruce Wong (seriously, that's his name in the movie) who is looking for "The Kung Fu Finger-Book", which is a book written by Bruce Lee that teaches the finger kung-fu style. (Why Bruce Lee didn't write something about Jeet Kune Do, the style he actually used, I don't know!)

Ok, so it's not hundred per cent foolproof, for sure. Like, the first time I watched this, being that it's dubbed, I was actually laughing at how many times they mentioned this infamous kung-fu finger-book. They mentioned it sooooo many times, it began to come across as if they were just seeing how many times they could force it into conversation! (Cue drinking game!).

There's also a chase scene ... a very slow chase scene. Pitiful actually, but it's really short, so it's over before you can finish shaking your head at it! Plus, the ending ... well, I won't give it away, but yeah, Lee finally gets his hands on the main bad guy, but be prepared for rather an abrupt climax to the film, that's for sure!

So, and in conclusion, the dubbing (and if you don't believe me, check out the special feature included, Bad Kung-Fu Dubs) and other goofiness further intensifies the entertainment value, as I hope I've successfully conveyed, and the fighting used in this film is actually real kung-fu (like the Shaw Brothers' Shaolin films); and not like Bruce Lee's usual style, it has to be said.

Oh yeah, the commentary track by Michael Worth (author, director, actor, and expert on Bruce Lee, and expert on Bruce Lee, and 'Bruceploitation films') is rather casual for my tastes, but still filled with interesting perspectives on the film and its filmmakers. A fan of the films long before they were even a "genre", Worth's insight and the new transfer makes this a must have for Lee / old school kung-fu fans. This is a brand new Widescreen High Definition, produced from a new 2K scan from the 35mm original negative presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Original Theatrical Versions
Deleted Scenes (German dialogue and English Subtitles)
Commentary track by Michael Worth - author, director, actor, and expert on Bruce Lee, and "Bruceploitation" films
New high-def transfers of several other King-Fu films Theatrical Trailers (with Bonus Bruce Lee trailers)
Poster & Lobby Card Gallery
Bad Kung-Fu Dubs
Reversible Coverwrap

'Night Zero'
(Katie Maloney, Eric Swader, Dawnelle Jewell, Vincent Bombara, Umar Faraz, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: A dinner party turns deadly when a group of friends is trapped inside of their house after a massive alien invasion threatens to take over the world.

Things take a turn for the worse when they discover that the chemical the military is using to destroy the aliens is also turning humans into zombie-like savages.

Now the group must band together and try to survive the night ... if they don't kill each other first!

DVD Verdict: From the off, 'Night Zero' might well be a slow going plot builder, but it does get going, and how, trust me.

However, as always, at first we have to be introduced to the characters of our horror play. So, that said, get to meet and greet three couples who have come together on this most varied of nights to celebrate the relocating of Sophie (Dawnelle Jewell) and Eric (Vincent Bombara).

They are moving from a small town in Pennsylvania to a somewhat larger town in Boston. Joining them are interracial couple Monica (Monisha B. Schwartz) and Danny (Umar Faraz), and the two main protagonists - who are on each others backs from the very start - Nina (Katie Maloney) and CJ (Eric Swader).

So, yeah, the first 20 minutes or so is just all about them, as they talk, argue, and celebrate. But, once this film gets going, well, there's a lot to love about, it, believe me. Sure, whether you've now grown to like them or not, the main characters actually do feel like real people; hey, to me, at the very least.

As the tension grows, and things start occurring - now worries, I won't be giving anything away here - they make good and bad choices, and even begin to turn on each other. But it's not just the loving couple that experience the changes in themselves for all their friends do also, of course.

Writer/Director Mark Cantu also brings into the mix two characters later on: a cop (Mike Dargatis) and a scientist (Tom Mirth), who both help with exposition and also to be the voice of reason for whatever is happening beyond the door – which is locked, but never barred, even with all the glass!

In conclusion, and despite the obvious C-Movie budget (let alone a few of the actors with limited credits), 'Night Zero' (think Patient Zero and other such mantra's here) features a cast that is rather strong, as a whole, and who really work well together. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Divine Divas'
(Valéria, Camille K., Rogéria, Jane Di Castro, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: The 'Divine Divas' are icons of the first generation of Brazilian transvestite artists of the 1960s. One of the first stages to host men dressed as women was the Rival Theatre, then run by Americo Leal, the director's grandfather.

The film explores the intimacy, the talent and the stories of a generation that revolutionized sexual behavior and defied the moral of the time.

DVD Verdict: Although not my usual viewing cup of tea, it still has to be said that the stunning glorious, always vibrant, raw and honest 'Divine Divas' is a genuine, and unabashed peek behind the curtains of the Rival Theatre in Brazil; which was one of the first in the country to showcase men dressed as women in the 1960s.

For our viewing pleasure, eight artists have gathered for a 50th anniversary reunion and their stories told here tonight via this brilliant documentary from Film Rise, are as varied as their costumes.

The documentary is greatly influenced by the experiences of the filmmaker, Leandra Leal, who practically grew up at the theater. Indeed, her grandfather, Américo Leal, owned it and presented that first showcase for transvestite performers.

Her mother, Angela Leal, brought her to the theater from an early age, and so she was greatly influenced by the warm and loving environment she found there. Because her mother was an actress, it felt entirely natural for her to also become an actress, which she did in her early teens; and to great acclaim, it should be said.

In truth, 'Divine Divas' is more a celebration of this flamboyant culture than it is an art expose, so to speak. For, and with thanks to her friendly relationships with the performers, each one of the eight open vividly up to her right away when describing what led them to where they are today.

Chock full of stories of pride, of hardship, of sorrow and of such colorful times that it could make your eyes dazzle for months thereafter, 'Divine Divas' is, without a shadow of a doubt, a glorious storytelling of some of the most accomplished performers that have ever graced that stage. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Secret Life of Lance Letscher'
(Lance Letscher, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'The Secret Life of Lance Letscher' is a deeply personal and psychological portrait of foreign-known, Austin-based collage artist Lance Letscher. Told through memories of trauma and triumph, the film provides a doorway into Letscher's profound insights on creativity, the subconscious, work ethic and spirituality.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, collage artist Lance Letscher may look whimsical, like we're following a pied piper to magical places, but he is far, far removed from any such real life version of such a thing.

He layers paper cuttings and colors and mosaics, and creates a visual trumpet call into Imaginationland. While his work may appear fanciful, it also shouts depth and pain. Somehow, this artist has harnessed the trauma of life into a prolific body of work.

Perhaps his inspiration has helped him overcome obstacles, including an absentee mother and the suicide of his father, which is what we try and learn through this carefully documented film by Sandra Adair, 'The Secret Life of Lance Letscher'.

Through his intricate artistic process, we witness the artist's unwavering determination to stay in the moment - free of mind, thought and preconception. Featuring detailed images of more than a hundred of his collages, sculptures and installations, viewers are offered a visual feast while gaining intimate access into Letscher's methodical techniques and brilliant mind.

When asked, during this heavy, but ultimately fascinating documentary, Do you believe the cultural trope that depression and black moods can feed creativity?, he responds, "I think that sometimes the two can go hand in hand; there are countless examples. Even to the degree that one could infer that mental illness sharpens or drives creativity in some way."

"My own experience is that dysfunctionality clouds the mind and weakens the body. At a certain point past neurosis and near full-on psychosis, impairment becomes too profound to allow creativity."

And when asked, Do you feel like you face mortality in your work?, Letscher replies, openly and honestly, and unwavering, "Very much so. Seven years ago, my father committed suicide. I was okay for three or four months before I started to be subjected to pretty profound emotional and physiological shock waves."

"I kind of had some sort of protracted nervous breakdown that lasted at least five years, maybe a little more. This profoundly affected the work. It became darker and more expressionistic for a time. Manic and even alienating for the viewers who came to see my work."

In closing he adds, "I had a kind of dry period during it all; sales fell off, and people long familiar with my work were somewhat perplexed or pushed away by it."

When asked this this fine-tuning had changed his productivity and, in turn, sales?, Letscher freely denotes that, "My use of color has leapfrogged and has become a primary focus while in the studio, creativity and productivity have both improved, and yes, sales have improved as a result of the changes in the work."

"Truthfully, it was that way until my doctor was able to fine-tune my medications about a year ago." And, interestingly enough, as the documentary continues, the one other stand out thought from him is after he's asked, Do you ever hate what you have produced?, he replies, without blinking an eye, "Yes, there is a phase that pops up now and then when a collage is not going well that causes me to get irritated, impatient, or angry. Under those circumstances, I tend to work harder and channel the negative mindset until I fix or resolve the problem."

Truly fascinating and a wondrous riveting watch, from start to finish, 'The Secret Life of Lance Letscher' has to remain a secret no longer. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'It's Not Yet Dark'
(Colin Farrell / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: Narrated by Colin Farrell, 'It's Not Yet Dark' tells the groundbreaking story of Simon Fitzmaurice, a talented young Irish filmmaker with ALS (MND), as he embarks on directing his first feature film ('My Name Is Emily') through the use of his eyes and eye gaze technology.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Simon Fitzmaurice was an Irish filmmaker, who sadly passed away in 2017. A resident of Greystones, County Wicklow, Fitzmaurice published a memoir titled 'It's Not Yet Dark' in 2014 about his experience with motor neurone disease.

Here in 'It's Not Yet Dark,' narrated by a soothing, calm, Colin Farrell, Fitzmaurice's trials and tribulations in directed 'My Name Is Emily' - while living with the condition in 2015 - are brought loving to the fore.

Starring Evanna Lynch, Michael Smiley, and George Webster, it tells the story of a teenager who leaves her foster home to free her father from a mental hospital.

Indeed, 'My Name Is Emily' was nominated for eight Irish Film & Television Academy Awards and Fitzmaurice received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 London Screenwriters' Festival for the work.

'It's Not Yet Dark' not only showcases what the brave man went through to get is thoughts from his head onto the big screen, but chronicles his experience living in a motorized wheelchair and communicating using an eye-tracking computer.

In fact, this documentary, directed by Frankie Fenton, is honestly one of the most, and no pun intended, eye-opening documentaries that I've come across in the past decade.

Sure we learn how he made the film, but we also learn more about ALS and how it affected his body - for an eventual effect of ALS is respiratory failure.

Some time after diagnosis SF was in a local hospital in Ireland being treated for pneumonia (a common problem with ALS) and fainted after complaining of breathing difficulty. He was connected to a ventilator on an emergency basis to revive him, and has been on one ever since. It kept him alive.

Soon after he was hooked up he was told by doctors that ventilation isn't recommended for ALS in Ireland and was pressured, as he describes it, to be disconnected. He refused. He believed if it hadn't been an emergency at a small hospital, he might not have had the option of a ventilator because of his ALS. And he would be dead.

Movies were, as constantly noted here, a big part of his life. Indeed, 'Dead Poets Society' is the film that changed his life when he was young. 'Bladerunner' is also mentioned more than any other film, once as his favorite also. Oh, and 'Wings of Desire' is also singled out.

As for what he terms here as wanted to make "a beautiful Irish film," and one not about ALS at all, the story of a 16-year-old girl is, in fact, all about redemption more than anything else. And so too is this beautiful documentary, which actor Colin Farrell should also be very proud of having chosen to narrate. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief
(Paul Haggis, Jason Beghe, Lawrence Wright, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, et al / DVD / NR / (2015) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: Following the Peabody Award-winning documentary MEA MAXIMA CULPA, his investigation into the Catholic Church, Alex Gibney dives fully into one of the most controversial and secretive religions in the world in 'Going Clear'.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Filmmaker Alex Gibney is an American documentary film director and producer who, in 2010, Esquire magazine said Gibney "is becoming the most important documentarian of our time".

His works as director include this title we are reviewing today, 'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief' (winner of three Emmys in 2015), 'We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks', 'Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God' (the winner of three primetime Emmy awards), 'Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room' (nominated in 2005 for Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); 'Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer' (short-listed in 2011 for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); 'Casino Jack and the United States of Money'; and 'Taxi to the Dark Side' (winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature), focusing on a taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed at Bagram Air Force Base in 2002.

'Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief' is an in depth documentary that explores what members of Scientology and just what they are willing to do in the name of religion.

Indeed, the film touches on a wide range of aspects of the church from its origin, to an intimate portrait of the Church's founder L. Ron Hubbard, to its recruiting practices, to present day practices by church officials.

But, and to be clear (no pun intended) here, the film deconstructs the church's claims by presenting a condensed history of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, examining how celebrities interact with the church, and highlighting the stories of a number of ex-members and of the abuse and exploitation that they described seeing and experiencing.

It is not an interrogation stand off, nor does the lovely Leah Remini appear! That said, the Church of Scientology responded vehemently to the film, complaining to film critics about their reviews and denouncing the filmmakers and their interviewees.

So, just what do we discover within the folds of this new documentary. Well, the itself film breaks into three distinct acts: In the first, the former Scientologists describe how they joined Scientology; the second act recounts the history of Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard; and in the final act, the film airs allegations of the abuse of church members and misconduct by its leadership, particularly David Miscavige, who is accused of intimidating, beating, imprisoning, and exploiting subordinates.

The film depicts the role played by celebrity members, such as Travolta and Tom Cruise, through video clips contrasting their statements with the experiences of former Scientologists.

To support its thesis, the film utilizes footage of ex-Scientologists harassed and surveilled (per Hubbard's dictum that the church's critics were all criminals whose crimes needed to be exposed), and describes the imprisonment of senior Scientology executives in a facility known as "The Hole"; one Scientologist was said to have been forced to clean a bathroom with his tongue.

According to the film, actress Nicole Kidman was targeted for wiretapping by Scientology in an effort to break her marriage to Tom Cruise after she was labeled a "potential trouble source" by the church; whereas Travolta has been forced to stay in the church in fear that secrets from his personal life will be exposed.

The only thing I wish that this documentary showed was some rebuttal and defense from Scientology members, however the credits tell us that many of the top people within Scientology, Miscavige and Cruise included were invited to be interviewed, but all declined. to be on record.

This is unfortunate because it would have been interesting to see what high ranking members would say in their defense of all the allegations that 'Going Clear' makes against them. Too much to ask for, I guess. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Finding Oscar'
(Kate Doyle, Sebastian Rotella, Scott Greathead, Fredy Peccerelli, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: In a forgotten massacre during Guatemala's decades-long civil war, a young boy was spared, only to be raised by one of the very soldiers who killed his family.

Nearly 30 years after the tragedy, it will take a dedicated team - from a forensic scientist to a young Guatemalan prosecutor - to uncover the truth and bring justice to those responsible ... by finding the missing boy named Oscar.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, 'Finding Oscar' is a must-see, and highly profound documentary movie for the ages. Well written and organized, we all know, in general, that killing is wrong, and so watching along here, you will all feel so sorry for these victims of crime.

It's such a sad story, but also has some happy endings - like bringing some justice to the victims, the reunion of the Oscar and his families and the various other survivors.

'Finding Oscar' is just an incredible story, as a whole, and features, interviews, footage, and mixed in, and genuine newsreel also. Film Rise truly knocked this one out of the park where documentaries are concerned as it strives to honor so many who suffered, along with their families and friends also.

However, it has to be said that learning about such horrific events was disappointing, however seeing how far the legal system has come in Guatemala is truly awesome. There’s finally hope for justice and a better life for future generations.

As for the young boy, Oscar, was spared, only to be raised by one of the very soldiers who killed his family, well, I won't give away how that turns out as I don't think you would want me to anyway. Safe to say though that as much as the forensic scientist and the young Guatemalan prosecutor set out to discover his whereabouts, yes, they manage to do that: but no, not everything is happy and coming up roses, given the subject matter, of course.

In closing, the movie also reminds me of the so many innocent farm animals are being cruelty killed everyday for our food. And they don't have the voice for it. I'm determined to learn to be a healthy vegan even more, because peace starts from my mouth and then can extend outward thereafter. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Devin Blackmon, Dontrell Bright, Lachion Buckingham, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: In the wake of his older brother's death, 13-year-old Dayveon spends the sweltering summer days roaming his rural Arkansas town. When he falls in with a local gang, he becomes drawn to the camaraderie and violence of their world.

DVD Verdict: As this virtuously, and unselfishly devoted to the cause film opens, we hear, "Everything stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.” It turns out to be the first thought from lead character Dayveon (Devin Blackmon), the 13-year-old protagonist of Amman Abbasi’s heartfelt debut.

Dayveon is suffering, that's for sure. Surrounded by senseless killings and beatings, this boy from the muddy backroads of Arkansas home (none more than a cabin, to be honest), he lives with his sister Kim (Chasity Moore) and her own small child, Mook (Lachion Buckingham Jr).

Dayveon’s father is not in the picture, nor is his mother,leaving the only person in his life to love and respect, no matter what, his older brother Trevor (although his presence is now only portrayed by a portrait that hangs on Dayveon’s wall; because Trevor was recently shot and killed.

Dayveon’s aimless days are now inclusive of Kim’s boyfriend, Bryan (Dontrell Bright), an easygoing man, it’s immediately clear that Bryan desperately wants to be the father figure Dayveon needs.

But Dayveon and his best friend Brayden (Kordell Johnson) are being drawn in another direction, towards the hardened Bloods (including Marquell Manning and Lachion Buckingham), who still call Trevor one of their own.

Everything here in 'Dayveon' feels real and I felt a connection to these characters as if I grew up with them personally. Once you feel emotionally connected to the characters I feel as though the director and writer have both accomplished something special.

Sure, at times the film can be slow, but the pace and overall vibe I got from this film really inspired me to search out other such genre's of cinematic work. I hope it inspires you to do the same also. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Andreia Horta, Gustavo Machado, Caco Ciocler, Zecarlos Machado, Lucio Mauro Fiho, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Cleopatra Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Elis' is the life of Elis Regina, undoubtedly the greatest Brazilian singer of all time, now told in this biopic film with energetic and pulsating rhythm.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Elis Regina Carvalho Costa (March 17, 1945 – January 19, 1982), popularly known as Elis Regina, was a Brazilian singer of popular and Jazz music.

She became nationally renowned in 1965, after singing "Arrastão" (composed by Edu Lobo and Vinícius de Moraes) in the first edition of TV Excelsior festival song contest, and soon joined O Fino da Bossa, a television program on TV Record.

Elis was noted for her vocalization, as well as for her personal interpretation and performances in shows, and she also recorded several successful compositions, such as "Como nossos pais" (Belchior), "Upa Neguinho" (E. Lobo and Gianfrancesco Guarnieri), "Madalena" (Ivan Lins), "Casa no Campo" (Zé Rodrix and Tavito), "Águas de Março" (Tom Jobim), "Atrás da porta" (Chico Buarque and Francis Hime), "O bêbado e a equilibrista" (Aldir Blanc and João Bosco), "Conversando no bar" (Milton Nascimento), etc.

Her untimely death, at the age of 36, shocked Brazil. She has frequently been regarded as the greatest Brazilian singer of all time by critics, musicians, and commentators alike.

Out May 22nd on Cleopatra Entertainment / MVD Visual, 'Elis' is a superbly touching portrait of one of Brazil's most iconic performers, beautifully photographed by Adrian Teijido and very well directed by Hugo Prata.

Indeed, Prata not only dominates the technical aspects of the film making, but also knows how to play with the language of music throughout his film. Andreia Horta shines as the troubled, but yet brilliant singer, of this you should know, for her work is a true highlight here.

Julio Andrade surprises as a particularly spirited Lennie Dale, but besides great performances, the film also leads you through the beginnings of MPB (Popular Brazilian Music) and what it meant to Brazil as a nation facing military dictatorship.

But yes, and ultimately, of course, the soundtrack is one of the best parts of the film! Very powerful songs sung by Horta with her own voice. Overall, 'Elis' is pure and unadulterated entertainment with quality throughout, with a stunning cinematic and musical rhythm that is highly impressive for a feature film. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

The making of "ELIS"
Theatrical Trailer
Image Slideshow

'The Real Story - True Grit'
(DVD / NC-17 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The line between good and evil in the Wild West was often blurred, and perhaps no Hollywood Western captured the realities of the dangerous frontier better than True Grit.

Explore a violent and unforgiving time in America's history and see how Rooster Cogburn and young Mattie's encounters with hangings, shootouts, and kidnappings would have been part and parcel with life in the Wild West.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the complete know, 'True Grit' is a 1969 American western film and is the first film adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Marguerite Roberts.

The film was directed by Henry Hathaway and starred Kim Darby as Mattie Ross and John Wayne as U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Wayne won his only Academy Award for his performance in this film and reprised his role for the 1975 sequel Rooster Cogburn.

Historians believe Cogburn was based on Deputy U.S. Marshal "Heck" Thomas, who brought in some of the toughest outlaws. The cast also features Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Corey and Strother Martin. The title song, sung by Campbell, was also Oscar-nominated.

'True Grit' was adapted again in 2010, starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Hailee Steinfeld.

'The Real Story - True Grit,' directed by Christie Callan-Jones and narrated by Corey Johnson is a quite enthralling look back at a time when outlaws ruled the West. But there were always good guys, such as the aforementioned Henry Andrew "Heck" Thomas (January 3, 1850 – August 14, 1912), who was a lawman on the American frontier, most notably in Oklahoma.

As we learn throughout this wonderful new Smithsonian Channel / PBS documentary, Thomas and his family migrated to Texas in 1875 and, with the help of his cousin, Jim Thomas, obtained a job with the railroad as a guard.

Indeed, Thomas became a railroad detective and later went to work for the Fort Worth Detective Association. He was appointed U.S. Deputy Marshal out of Fort Smith, Arkansas, working under U.S. District Judge Isaac C. Parker.

By 1889, Thomas teamed with two other deputy U.S. marshals, Chris Madsen and Bill Tilghman. They became known as the Three Guardsmen and were credited with bringing law and order to the Indian Territory, in the state that would become Oklahoma in 1907.

The Three Guardsmen were credited with the apprehension of more than three hundred outlaws over the next decade, killing several. They were credited with the ultimate demise of the Wild Bunch or Doolin Gang.

Thomas was specifically mentioned by Emmett Dalton, years after his release from prison, as one of the main reasons that the Dalton Gang chose to commit two simultaneous bank robberies in Coffeyville in southeastern Kansas, the gang stating that Thomas was relentless in his pursuit.

It decided to make one big score and leave the territory for a time. Instead, the gang was wiped out in the Coffeyville robberies, with Emmett Dalton being the only survivor.

These facts and so many more are brought to light here with 'The Real Story - True Grit,' out now via Smithsonian Channel / PBS. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Real Story - Live Free Or Die Hard'
(DVD / NC-17 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: In 'Live Free or Die Hard,' the fourth chapter in the high-octane action franchise, a mastermind cyber-criminal holds America hostage by wreaking havoc via the Internet. It's a great thriller, but could this imagined scenario ever happen in real life? See how an all-out cyber-attack on the U.S. is a very real possibility.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the complete know, as the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, veteran cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) carries out another routine assignment: bringing in a computer hacker (Justin Long) for questioning.

Meanwhile, a tech-savvy villain named Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) launches an attack on America's computer infrastructure. As chaos descends around him, McClane must use old-fashioned methods to fight the high-tech threat.

Yes, that's the plot for 'Live Free Or Die Hard,' starring Bruce Willis, but here in 'The Real Story - Live Free Or Die Hard (out now from Smithsonian Channel / PBS), we see how an all-out cyber-attack on the U.S. is a very real possibility.

Along with meeting the government officials and former hackers tasked with ensuring our digital space is safe, the documentary does make us aware that cyber attacks are unavoidable; but that we’re not going to stop using computerized systems.

Instead, we should be preparing for the inevitable, including a major cyber attack on power grids and other essential systems. This requires the ability to anticipate not only an unprecedented event but also the ripple effects that it could cause.

Based on conversations had throughout this documentary, preparedness for a major cyber attack like this is low, regardless of whether you’re talking about the regional or city level, or the private sector.

As Lawrence Susskind, a professor in MIT’s urban systems department, described it to me, “Millions…could be left with no electricity, no water, no public transportation, and no waste disposal for weeks (or even months)…. No one can protect critical urban infrastructure on their own. Nobody, though, is showing any leadership.”

Of course, there's much, much more to this 'The Real Story - Live Free Or Die Hard' documentary, but I'll leave it there for now - so you yourselves can learn more about our possible future via this eye-opening Smithsonian Channel / PBS documentary. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Real Story - Braveheart'
(DVD / NC-17 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Braveheart' won five Oscars and made William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior, an unforgettable Hollywood character. But how historically accurate is the film?

This brand new documentary examines new archeological evidence, reveals recently deciphered ancient manuscripts, and conducts forensic experiments to uncover the true story of this legendary warrior.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the complete know, Sir William Wallace was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence.

Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in September 1297. He was appointed Guardian of Scotland and served until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298.

In August 1305, Wallace was captured in Robroyston, near Glasgow, and handed over to King Edward I of England, who had him hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason and crimes against English civilians.

Since his death, Wallace has obtained an iconic status far beyond his homeland. He is the protagonist of Blind Harry's 15th-century epic poem The Wallace and the subject of literary works by Sir Walter Scott and Jane Porter, and of the Academy Award-winning film 'Braveheart'.

Here in the simply fascinating 'The Real Story - Braveheart,' out now via Smithsonian Channel / PBS, we learn so much about the man that it should be shown in History classes around the world.

Such as, when Wallace was growing up, King Alexander III ruled Scotland. His reign had seen a period of peace and economic stability. On 19 March 1286, however, Alexander died after falling from his horse.

The heir to the throne was Alexander's granddaughter, Margaret, Maid of Norway. As she was still a child and in Norway, the Scottish lords set up a government of guardians. Margaret fell ill on the voyage to Scotland and died in Orkney on 26 September 1290. The lack of a clear heir led to a period known as the "Great Cause", with several families laying claim to the throne.

With Scotland threatening to descend into civil war, King Edward I of England was invited in by the Scottish nobility to arbitrate. Before the process could begin, he insisted that all of the contenders recognize him as Lord Paramount of Scotland. In early November 1292, at a great feudal court held in the castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed, judgment was given in favor of John Balliol having the strongest claim in law.

Edward proceeded to reverse the rulings of the Scottish Lords and even summoned King John Balliol to stand before the English court as a common plaintiff. John was a weak king, known as "Toom Tabard" or "Empty Coat".

John renounced his homage in March 1296 and by the end of the month Edward stormed Berwick-upon-Tweed, sacking the then-Scottish border town. In April, the Scots were defeated at the Battle of Dunbar in East Lothian and by July, Edward had forced John to abdicate.

Some historians, believe Wallace must have had some earlier military experience in order to lead a successful military campaign in 1297. Campaigns like Edward I of England's wars in Wales might have provided a good opportunity for a younger son of a landholder to become a mercenary soldier.

Wallace's personal seal bears the archer's insignia, so he may have fought as an archer in Edward's army. These and other little-known-facts make 'The Real Story - Braveheart' one of the best releases in the series thus far, for my humble penny. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Unsane' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, et al / Blu ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2018 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh plunges audiences into the suspense and drama of a resilient woman's fight to reclaim her freedom even as she risks her own sanity.

Blu ray Verdict: Shot entirely by director Steven Soderbergh with an iPhone 7 Plus camera, 'Unsane' (complete with its grammatically-challenged title) is just as likely to test your sanity as anything in the film itself.

Proving from the off that you don't need a "real" camera or even fancy lighting to make a film; just an iPhone, a decent script, a competent cast and crew and, most importantly, the will, time, money and passion to do it all, luckily for us, Unsane' has all that and so much more.

However, in truth, 'Unsane' is a wonderfully frustrating, claustrophobic and tensely insular experience that puts you firmly inside the slightly off-kilter head of its protagonist, Foy, and does a great job of making you feel exactly the way she does at every moment.

The pace is almost perfect, as we're dealt a number of blows every time we begin to get comfortable in each new situation, and the slow descent from slightly strange to straight-up sinister is a palpable and uncomfortable one.

The fact that the sanity of the hero is called into question is a great move, though it isn't pushed quite as far as it perhaps could have been, and it keeps you unsure about everything you see.

Oh yeah, and the nod(s) back to classic seventies horror, including a soundtrack reminiscent of the original 'Halloween', were appreciated as well. I was constantly on the edge of my seat throughout this gripping, agitating, intriguing and generally very entertaining thriller and I'm sure you will be also. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.56:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:


'The Last House On The Left: Limited Edition'
(David Hess, Marc Sheffler, Jeramie Rain, Amanda Wyss, Fred Lincoln, et al / 2-Disc Blu ray + CD / R / (1972) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Two teenage girls head to a rock concert for one's birthday. While trying to score marijuana in the city, they are kidnapped and brutalized by a gang of psychotic convicts.

Blu ray Verdict: It's interesting to see how Wes Craven's directing career first started off, with this movie. It's a true '70's exploitation flick, that shows that Craven already was pretty much at ease within the genre, even early on in his career. He handles the theme well, even though the movie also has some unbalanced elements in it.

As far as exploitation flicks go this movie is a real great one within its genre. It has a pretty good look and feel over it, that is required for the genre. Despite its obviously low budget the movie really isn't cheap looking, at least not compared to most other similar genre movies I have seen.

It features all of the right ingredients you could expect from a movie like this and it has a pretty simple but nevertheless fine and effective concept. It's a story that is far from likely but who cares really. In these sort of movies a story is more like a secondary thing and it's only purpose is to provide the movie with the usual exploitation movie ingredients.

[Spoiler Alert] - This is how it all plays out: On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Mari Collingwood (Sandra Cassel) tells her parents that she is going to the concert of underground band Bloodlust in New York with her friend Phyllis Stone (Lucy Grantham).

She borrows the family's car and heads with her friend to a dangerous neighborhood in the city. Meanwhile, the sadistic and cruel escapees Krug Stillo (David A. Hess) and Fred 'Weasel' Podowski (Fred Lincoln) are hidden in a hideout with their partners Sadie (Jeramie Rain) and Krug's addicted son Junior Stillo (Marc Sheffler) after killing two guards and one shepherd in their runaway.

The two girls seek marijuana near the theater and meet Junior that offers some Colombian grass to them. They go to his apartment and are subdued by the criminals that rape Phyllis. On the next morning, they hide the girls in the trunk of their convertible and head to Canada.

However, they have a problem with the car's rod and they stop on the road close to Mari's house. When Phyllis tries to escape, the gang stabs her to death and shots Mari after humiliating and raping them.

They seek shelter in Mari's home, but during the night, her mother overhears a conversation of the criminals telling that they have killed her daughter. She tells her husband and they plot a scheme to revenge the death of their princess.

So, as you might well be able to determine yourselves from that rundown, the movie is a bit of an unbalanced mix when it comes down to it's different elements. On the one hand it's an exploitation movie with thriller/horror elements to it, while in the other the movie also tries to throw in some quirky humor, which doesn't really strengthen its more exploitation like elements. The movie just feels a bit too unbalanced at times.

Its violence and torturing sequences are all handled well - indeed, I'd go as far as saying they were done with true skill. It's one of the things that makes this movie better than most other exploitation flicks from the glorious '70's. Also it's second halve, that is pretty insane, is what makes this movie a great watch, especially if you are into the genre.

Also included is a brilliant remastering of the original soundtrack score for 'The Last House On The Left,' done by Stephen Chapin and David Alexander Hess (who also played the main antagonist, Krug). It's a timeless sound from start to finish, for the genre, and still today makes me smile.

Chapin wrote all the incidental music for the movie; he also did all the arrangements and orchestration as well as all the contracting and producing musicians. The music is particularly notable for being heavily contrasted with the events on screen. Something that is severely lacking today. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Three cuts of the film newly restored in 2K from original film elements
Original Uncompressed Mono Audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
6 x lobby card reproductions
Double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
Limited edition 60 page perfect-bound book featuring new writing on the film by author Stephen Thrower

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the Unrated Version
Isolated score newly remastered from the original 17.5" magnetic tracks
Brand new audio commentary by podcasters Bill Ackerman and Amanda Reyes
Archival audio commentary with writer/director Wes Craven and producer Sean S. Cunningham
Archival audio commentary with stars David Hess, Marc Sheffler and Fred Lincoln
Archival introduction to the film by Wes Craven
Still Standing: The Legacy of The Last House on The Left – archival interview with Wes Craven
Celluloid Crime of the Century – archival documentary featuring interviews with Wes Craven, Sean S. Cunningham, actors David Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Marc Sheffler and Martin Kove
Scoring Last House on the Left – archival interview with actor/composer David Hess
It's Only a Movie: The Making of The Last House on the Left – archival documentary
Forbidden Footage – the cast and crew of Last House on the film’s most controversial sequences
Junior’s Story – a brand new interview with actor Marc Sheffler
Blood and Guts- a brand new interview with makeup artist Anne Paul
The Road Leads to Terror - a brand new featurette revisiting the film's original shooting locations
Deleted Scene - Mari Dying at the Lake
Extended Outtakes and Dailies, newly transferred in HD
Trailers, TV Spot & Radio Spots
Image Galleries

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the Krug and Company and R-rated cuts of the film
The Craven Touch – brand new featurette bringing together interviews with a number of Wes Craven’s collaborators, including Sean S. Cunningham, composer Charles Bernstein, producer Peter Locke, cinematographer Mark Irwin and actress Amanda Wyss
Early Days and 'Night of Vengeance' – filmmaker Roy Frumkes remembers Wes Craven and Last House on the Left
Tales That'll Tear Your Heart Out – excerpts from an unfinished Wes Craven short
Q&A with Marc Sheffler from a 2017 screening of the film at The American Cinematheque
Krug Conquers England - archival featurette charting the theatrical tour of the first ever uncut screening of the film in the UK

CD featuring the complete, newly remastered film score

'Smash Palace: Special Edition'
(Bruno Lawrence, Anna Jemison, Greer Robson, Keith Aberdein, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1981) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Al Shaw's life revolves around motor racing and his back country junkyard, the "Smash Palace". His French wife, Jacqui, doesn't appreciate the lack of attention due to Al's obsession with cars.

When Al finds her in the arms of another man, he takes his daughter, Georgie and heads for the bush, desperately hoping to hold on to the only family he has left.

Blu-ray Verdict: In my humble opinion, this art-house stunner delivers some amazingly raw and complicated emotions in its early stages, but then gets confused and falls off.

However, this isn't the fault of the actors however, particularly Bruno Lawrence in what should've been a star-making performance. Maybe it's the fact that his character is so morose and troubled (at one point, with the family piled in the car, he pauses on the railroad tracks) that Lawrence wasn't given much credit, and the film failed to find an audience here in the States.

[Spoiler Alert] - The story goes like this ... Bruno Lawrence owns and operates the titular auto wrecking yard, and races cars when he gets the chance. He took over the business when his father died, planning on selling it right away, but has grown to love it and won't sell.

His wife hates it, and hates the fact that Lawrence spends all his time with his cars and his young daughter and none with her. Her displeasure drives her into the arms of Bruno's best friend, and when she leaves, taking his daughter with her, Bruno cracks and kidnaps her.

You seen when he takes their 7-year-old daughter with him it is, without a shadow of a doubt, kidnapping. Ergo, a massive and widespread manhunt ensues. But the girl gets sick and he brings her home. At the end of the day though, neither husband nor wife is right or wrong in terms of their motivation (both are a little of each, for my money); their marriage has just failed.

Anyway, some light relief from all the crazy behavior might've helped, yet the picture has a prickly, compelling edge, and that's surely something the audience can latch onto. Sadly, this melodramatic roller-coaster of emotions does peter out, though for the first hour it showcases a gripping study of human lives. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

High Definition (Blu-ray) presentation
Original mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Commentary by writer-director Roger Donaldson and stunt driver Steve Millen
The Making of Smash Palace, a 51-minute documentary on the film's production featuring interviews with Donaldson, actor Keith Aberdein, filmmaker Geoff Murphy and others
Theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ian Barr, a contemporary review by Pauline Kael and the original press book

'The French Way'
(Josephine Baker, Micheline Prelle, Aimos, Jean Tissler, Gabrielle Dorziat, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1945) 2018 / Kit Parker Films)

Overview: Born into poverty, Josephine Baker rose from a childhood living in a St. Louis slum to the toast of France - captivating audiences through the stage, recordings and motion pictures, and you'll get to see why in 'The French Way'. It's a farcical romantic-comedy set in contemporary WWII France, about young lovers forbidden to marry by their respective families.

Blu-ray Verdict: This film from 1945 France is a little bit of lighthearted fluff that was made to soothe the souls around that time, me thinks. The quality level of the production is modest at best, the tone feels too light during air-raid alarms (even for a romantic comedy), and the acting feels stagey.

However, it has its moments, and it entertained me. The story of the young Romeo and Juliet couple (Georges Marchal and Micheline Presle) is pretty standard, but the growing attraction between their feuding parents (Saturnin Fabre and Gabrielle Dorziat) is very cute. The battle for dominance in the marriage of two café owners was also amusing.

Most of all, though, I loved seeing Josephine Baker, who is a delight. How fantastic it is to see her in this role, without the least hint of a stereotype. Her musical numbers don't have a wow factor, and her dance routines are toned down, but the joy on her face and her charisma really come through.

The movie was filmed in 1940 and not released for five years because of the war, meaning she was 34 and had been in Paris for 15 years. You see the wisdom in her moving to France, because, as she put it, "One day I realized I was living in a country where I was afraid to be black."

In closing, sure, it's an average film, but I think you will all really enjoy it (now out here on delicious Blu-ray) as a movie that feels good to watch. And, no matter if you were watching back then, or here today (as I suggest you do), we all need more of these little cinematic gem sin our lives, trust me. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.37:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with French dialogue with English subtitles.

'Jurassic Park - 25th Anniversary Collection' [4K]
(Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Pratt, Laura Dern, Julianne Moore, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / NR / 2018 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Celebrate one of the biggest movie franchises of all time with 'Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Collection'! From Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park), Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III), and Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World), dinosaurs once again roam the Earth in an amazing theme park on a remote island.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this May with the simply AMAZING release of 'Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Collection - 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' 8-Disc Box-Set!

Released this past May 22nd, 2018 via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, for my money, this INCREDIBLE 'Jurassic Park - 25th Anniversary Collection's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog; and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is the action-packed adventures where we find man up against prehistoric predators in the ultimate battle for survival. Featuring visually stunning imagery and groundbreaking filmmaking, these epic films are sheer movie-making magic which were 65 million years in the making. Welcome to Jurassic Park!

'Jurassic Park - 25th Anniversary Collection' is presented to as an impressive eight-disc pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265; Resolution: 4K (2160p); HDR: HDR10; Aspect ratio: 2.00:1, 1.85:1; Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1, 2.00:1.

As with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features a much brighter, deeper, more lifelike set of colors. Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

The picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial and especially dinosaur textures within the action scenes, which in comparison leaves the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation looking almost smooth and flat.

As for the audio, well we have: Jurassic Park 4K - English: DTS:X; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); Spanish: DTS 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Japanese: DTS 5.1; Portuguese: DTS 5.1 -- The Lost World: Jurassic Park 4K - English: DTS:X; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1; Japanese: DTS 5.1; Portuguese: DTS 5.1 -- Jurassic Park III 4K - English: DTS:X English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1; Japanese: DTS 5.1; Portuguese: DTS 5.1 -- Jurassic World 4K - English: DTS:X; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1; Japanese: DTS 5.1; Portuguese: DTS 5.1.

Finally, the Subtitles included on all four movies are: Jurassic Park 4K - English, English SDH, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish -- The Lost World: Jurassic Park 4K - English SDH, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish -- Jurassic Park III 4K - English SDH, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish -- Jurassic World 4K - English SDH, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish.

Overall, this is a strong 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movies themselves, well, here's our rundown's and verdicts as we progress. Firstly, the original, 'Jurassic Park' (1993). Featuring Academy Award winning visual effects and groundbreaking filmmaking that has been hailed as 'a triumph of special effects artistry,' this epic film is sheer movie-making magic that was 65 million years in the making.

Jurassic Park takes you to an amazing theme park on a remote island where dinosaurs once again roam the earth and five people must battle to survive among the prehistoric predators. Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough, discover the breathtaking adventure you will want to experience again and again.

In truth, 'Jurassic Park' is one of my all time favorite films for it is a masterpiece and a landmark in film history. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, the Steven Spielberg adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel is about a rich entrepreneur named John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) who has designed and built the world's first amusement park with live dinosaurs.

Hammond needs specialists to sign off on the park before the insurance company will allow him to open for business so he enlists Dr. Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) to take the ride through Jurassic Park, along with us.

Of course after the ride begins things start to go wrong, due to sabotage, and chaos ensues as the dinosaurs take over the park. The movie is a fast paced, suspenseful, and well done, in the tradition of 'Jaws', not an exact reference of the source material, but the version that was meant to be.

Next up is 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park' (1997). Director Steven Spielberg takes us back to the scene of 'Jurassic Park' here within this blockbuster sequel. Chock full of even more dinosaurs, action and Academy Award nominated visual effects and more, it's one of Hollywood's sqequel's that truly still stands the test of time.

Four years since the disaster at Jurassic Park, two groups are in a race against time that will determine the fate of the remote island’s prehistoric inhabitants. Featuring an all-star cast including Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn and Pete Postlethwaite, this action-packed thrill ride will leave you on the edge of your seat ... again!

Pulse pounding and very scary follow up to the original 'Jurassic Park,' this one has everything a real sequel should have. A continuation of the story that makes sense and real character progression, not to mention much better special effects and more scarier scenes of pure carnage.

Jeff Goldblum once again shines as wise cranking and adventurous Ian Malcolm and Julianne Moore is almost as good as his partner in crime. Thrown in a gracious cameo from Sr Richard Attenborough and a scene stealing Pete Posselweight as a dinosaur hunter and 'The Lost World' becomes almost as memorable as the original 'Jurassic Park'.

Almost, because the luster of seeing dinosaurs on the big screen has already been done with the original movie, but the showmanship Spielberg gives to this sequel more than makes up for it.

We then return to the action-packed world of prehistoric dinosaurs in 'Jurassic Park III' (2001) where man is up against dangerous predators in the ultimate battle for survival.

Adventure runs wild when renowned paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) agrees to accompany a wealthy couple (William H. Macy and Téa Leoni) on an aerial tour of Isla Sorna, InGen’s former breeding ground for prehistoric creatures.

After they are terrifyingly stranded, Dr. Grant soon discovers that his hosts are not what they seem and the island’s native inhabitants are smarter, faster, fiercer and more brutal than he ever imagined.

Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, this visually stunning blockbuster features all-new dinosaurs and special effects that you need to see to believe.

Well, it's so hard to really put this movie down, because despite it's problems and there is many, it has it's heart in the right place. The aim I guess that the people behind the scenes were aiming for was a family movie with a bit of suspends and while there is a family movie to be had here, it also tries to be a 'Jurassic Park' film - and unfortunately it fails as both to a degree.

It fails as a family movie cause the script is not strong enough to support the story. Despite the venom thrown at William H Macy and especially Tea Leoni, both are very appealing actors and they do work hard to make it all work but the script just handicap their efforts to make it possible.

It fails as a 'Jurassic Park' film cause it lacks the tension, suspense and the story points that made the first two films in the series so well made and memorable. Not to mention the fact that they felt like fully formed movies with a beginning, middle and end.

The worst of the bunch thus far, 'Jurassic Park III' just feels like a Saturday morning serial. Not bad, but nothing like the other films in the series; sorry.

In the last one, 'Jurassic World' (2015) (well, to home entertainment at least, given that there is a brand new one, 'Jurassic World: The Lost Kingdom' coming to theatres everywhere this summer), the Jurassic World theme park lets guests experience the thrill of witnessing actual dinosaurs.

But something ferocious lurks behind the park's attractions – a genetically modified dinosaur with savage capabilities. When the massive creature escapes, chaos erupts across the island. Now it's up to Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) to save the park's tourists from an all-out prehistoric assault.

Simply put, 'Jurassic World' successfully expands from park to world. Truly, it's a Jurassic world after all. Even though Steven Spielberg didn't direct it, he's still the executive producer. The visuals were thrilling and spectacular and so was the plot line.

As the time passes on, the visuals get more artistic and realistic. This series, for my money, and save for the third installment, never wears out it's welcome. Hey, perhaps in a few years time we'll even get a Jurassic Space installment?!

Taking a look at what's also included here within this delightful, and heavy box-set, the eight-disc's come housed within a DigiBook set contained within a sturdy slip box.

Once the box-set is opened, you'll see that the discs are housed within each right-side panel, easily slipping into an opening made for them. Each film has two full-length spreads / four panels per film. The full-color artwork showcases both poster art and images from each film and below the posters are brief plot synopses.

For a lover of the movies such as myself, this DigiBook is an attractive addition for the 'Jurassic Park' films.

As for a dip into some of the glorious Special Features included here on this 8-disc box-set, well, for starters, the trilogy of Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era, Return to Jurassic Park: Making Prehistory, and Return to Jurassic Park: The Next Step in Evolution are dynamite!

Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era (HD; 25:25). The first part of this all-new documentary concentrates on the seismic sea change that the filmmakers encountered when they realized that CGI was the way to most effectively create many of the special effects in the film.

Return to Jurassic Park: Making Prehistory (HD; 20:16). This section concentrates on the film's impressive production design with regard to recreating the Jurassic era on film, most of which was done on soundstages. There's also some cool footage of some stop-motion previz work done on some sequences.

Return to Jurassic Park: The Next Step in Evolution (HD; 15:03) is a more in-depth look at the development of the CGI elements in the film, many of which were composited very late in the production. The learning curve was steep and incredibly fast on this film, since this was such a new technology at the time, with some shots being improved literally on a day to day basis.

Then come Return to Jurassic Park: Finding The Lost World (HD; 27:40) deals with Spielberg's decision to tackle this sequel after the exhausting years of making the original and then Schindler's List; and Return to Jurassic Park: Something Survived (HD; 16:30) talks about the increase in use of CGI between the first and second features, but also how seamlessly the practical effects by Stan Winston were combined with the purely digital effects, often within the same sequence.

Another stand out is Return to Jurassic Park: The Third Adventure (HD; 25:20). Perhaps oddly, this outing deals initially with the Universal Theme Park's Jurassic Park ride, and then only tangentially gets into the production of Jurassic Park III. This includes interviews with Joe Johnston, the cast and crew, as well as Spielberg.

And although there are many, many more Special Features to behold here in this lush box-set, another good one is Behind the Scenes which includes Featurette's on: Tour of Stan Winston Studio (SD; 3:14); Spinosaurus Attacks the Plane (SD; 1:48); Raptors Attack Udesky (SD; 00:59); The Lake (SD; 1:38); A Visit to ILM (SD; 14:52) features Concepts, The Process, Muscle Simulation and Compositing Dinosaur Turntables (SD; 6:23), which features 11 species included in the film; Storyboards to Final Feature Comparison, and Production Photographs.

These are Widescreen Presentations enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Disc 1 - Jurassic Park:
Features High Dynamic Range (HDR) for Brighter, Deeper, More Lifelike Color

Disc 2 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
Features High Dynamic Range (HDR) for Brighter, Deeper, More Lifelike Color

Disc 3 - Jurassic Park III:
Features High Dynamic Range (HDR) for Brighter, Deeper, More Lifelike Color
Feature Commentary with Special Effects Team

Disc 4 - Jurassic World:
Features High Dynamic Range (HDR) for Brighter, Deeper, More Lifelike Color

Disc 5 - Jurassic Park:
Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era
Return to Jurassic Park: Making Prehistory
Return to Jurassic Park: The Next Step in Evolution
The Making of Jurassic Park
Original Featurette on the Making of the Film
Steven Spielberg Directs Jurassic Park
Hurricane in Kauai Featurette
Early Pre-Production Meetings
Location Scouting
Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors in the Kitchen
Animatics: T-Rex Attack
ILM And Jurassic Park: Before and After the Visual Effects
Foley Artists
Production Archives: Photographs, Design Sketches and Conceptual Paintings
Jurassic Park: Making the Game
Theatrical Trailer

Disc 6 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
Return to Jurassic Park: Finding The Lost World
Return to Jurassic Park: Something Survived
Deleted Scenes
The Making of The Lost World
Original Featurette on the Making of the Film
The Jurassic Park Phenomenon: A Discussion with Author Michael Crichton
The Compie Dance Number: Thank You Steven Spielberg From ILM
ILM & The Lost World: Before & After the Visual Effects
Production Archives: Production Photographs, Illustrations and Conceptual Drawings, Models, The World of Jurassic Park, The Magic of ILM, Posters and Toys
Theatrical Trailer

Disc 7 - Jurassic Park III:
Return To Jurassic Park: The Third Adventure
The Making of Jurassic Park III
The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III
The Special Effects of Jurassic Park III
The Industrial Light & Magic Press Reel
The Sounds of Jurassic Park III
The Art of Jurassic Park III
Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs
Tour of Stan Winston Studio
Spinosaurus Attacks The Plane
Raptors Attack Udesky
The Lake
A Visit to ILM
Dinosaur Turntables
Storyboards to Final Feature Comparison
Production Photographs
Feature Commentary with Special Effects Team
Theatrical Trailer

Disc 8 - Jurassic World:
Deleted Scenes
Chris & Colin Take on the World
Welcome to Jurassic World
Dinosaurs Roam Once Again
Jurassic World: All-Access Pass
Innovation Center Tour with Chris Pratt
Jurassic's Closest Shaves – Presented by Barbasol®

Jurassic Park Collection Limited Edition 25th Anniversary 4K Digibook UNBOXING video!

'The Similitude of a Dream, Live in Tilburg 2017'
(The Neal Morse Band / 2DVD+2CD / NR / 2018 / Radiant Records)

Overview: The Neal Morse Band's triumphant double-album, The Similitude of a Dream, is the most acclaimed release that Morse has helmed to date. Now out on Blu-ray and (being reviewed here today) and incredible 2DVD+2CD set via Radiant Records, the 2017 tour was their largest yet, including new continents for the band.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the complete know, Neal Morse is an American singer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and progressive rock composer based in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1995, he formed the progressive rock band Spock's Beard with his brother Alan and released an album which was moderately successful. In 1999, he joined former Dream Theater co-founder Mike Portnoy, Flower Kings' Roine Stolt and Marillion's Pete Trewavas to form the super-group Transatlantic.

In 2002, Neal Morse became a born again Christian, left Spock's Beard and began a Christian rock solo career, releasing many progressive rock concept albums about his new religious faith. In the meantime, he continued to play with Transatlantic and formed three new bands with Portnoy, Yellow Matter Custard, Flying Colors and The Neal Morse Band.

At the O13 in Tilburg, Holland, everything came together magnificently, not only for the audience, but for the musicians also. For they had decided beforehand to record this show for both an audio and visual package; the evidence of which we see here today.

For what Morse himself has described as "... an epic night on an epic tour," released via Radiant Records/SONY/Metal Blade, we lovingly, and willing join Morse together with Mike Portnoy, Eric Gillette, Bill Hubauer, and Randy George for over two hours of musical wonderment.

Playing The Similitude of a Dream album in its entirety (which was their second studio album, released in 2016), the concept album; loosely based on The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, is brought to life here quite magnificently. Oh, and there's also a four song encore that will leave you breathless!

Disc One:
0. 'Intro'
1. 'Long Day'
2. 'Overture'
3. 'The Dream'
4. 'City of Destruction'
5. 'We Have Got to Go'
6. 'Makes No Sense'
7. 'Draw the Line'
8. 'The Slough'
9. 'Back to the City'
10. 'The Ways of a Fool'
11. 'So Far Gone'
12. 'Breath of Angels'

(Total Time - 54:45)

Disc Two:
0. Slave to Your Mind'
1. 'Shortcut to Salvation'
2. 'The Man in the Iron Cage'
3. 'The Road Called Home'
4. 'Sloth'
5. 'Freedom Song'
6. 'I'm Running'
7. 'The Mask'
8. 'Confrontation'
9. 'The Battle'
10. 'Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise)'
11. 'Momentum' - Encore (DVD only)
12. 'Author of Confusion' - Encore (DVD only)
13. 'Agenda' - Encore (DVD only)
14. 'The Call' - Encore (DVD only)

(Total Time - 1:33:35)

The live show is, as one would totally expect from such a perfectionist as Neal, spectacular beyond all expectations. The music is played at an incredible pace at times, each orchestration is visually focused on by the cameras, and the colors ... my oh my, the flashing colored lights is like a psychedelic dream!

Showcasing nearly two and a half hours of music, sure the band doesn't move much from their allocated stage spots, but then again, they hardly need to. For their musicianship, individually and as a whole, is phenomenal and this visually stunning DVD (and the Blu-ray) will have you salivating for the chance to see them live next time they come to your town, believe me.

Plus, as a lovely bonus, all pre-orders of both versions of this release received a free bonus track download! That song was 'Ways Of A Fool' which was just the vocals from the studio album and very, very cool to listen to, if you were one of those that received it.

Blu-ray and 2DVD+2CD Purchase Link

'I Called Him Morgan'
(Lee Morgan, Helen Morgan, Wayne Shorter, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: On a snowy night in February 1972, celebrated jazz musician Lee Morgan was shot dead by his wife Helen during a gig at a New York City club. The murder sent shockwaves through the jazz community, and the memory of the event still haunts all who knew the Morgans.

This feature documentary by Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin is a love letter to two unique personalities and the music that brought them together. A film about love, jazz and America.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Lee Morgan was a brilliant trumpet star and was recognized for his talents by the time he was a teenager. Indeed, by 1960, he had recorded with legendary jazz musicians like John Coltrane, Tina Brooks, Dizzy Gillespie, and Art Blakey.

But the downside to a rising artist’s life is the drugs and alcohol that are so easily accessible. Lee almost gave into them, but a woman named Helene Moore saved him.

That said, Lee Morgan could have gone on to produce many more jazz records, unfortunately, his burgeoning career would be tragically cut short. In 1972, after getting into an argument, Morgan was shot by his wife in the middle of a show. Ironically, that woman who saved him would ultimately cause his demise.

This haunting documentary, 'I Called Him Morgan,' is an expose of the highest order about the life of a great jazz trumpeter and his wife. Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin weaves the tale of their lives and their relationship through interviews with his friends and fellow musicians including saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

He caps it off with an interview with Helen a month before her death in 1996. Through extraordinary black and white archival photographs, rare TV performances and an amazing soundtrack of Lee's music, we are transported to the NYC jazz scene from the '50s to the '70s.

As a music aficionado, I was aware of jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey, but not of Lee Morgan. The footage of his trumpet playing with these masters really drew me in. As one friend said in the film, "Lee really knew how to tell a story musically." So very true.

His was an exceptional talent as a young teenager of 17. However, his addiction to heroin took him out and it wasn't until he met Helen, that he got back on his feet to play. Through this documentary, we learn that through her care, inspiration and love, she managed his career and uplifted him back to compose and play music and eventually form his own band, The Lee Morgan Quartet.

But, as we know all too well now, the twist and turns of Lee and Helen's life together ended tragically when Lee played at a popular club called Slugs, down in the East Village of NYC. On a snowy night in February 1972, his life is cut short at the young age of 33 by the woman who had brought him back to life. Following an altercation between sets, Morgan's common law wife Helen Moore, shot him.

However, and trying to look at the great man himself, in 1957, Morgan recorded on John Coltrane’s Blue Train, which elevated him to a level of prominence in the jazz world, a level he remained at until his death. In fact, he wound up recording on 25 albums for the Blue Note, a notable jazz record label. And, as aforementioned, would surely have made more. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Algi Eke, Arin Kusaksizoglu, Serhat Midyat, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: Hasret's dreams are haunted by a recurring nightmare from which she disengages every morning. However, what she experiences nightly is not a fictional recreation, but memories.

As she returns from her job at a news channel to a flat left to her after her parents' death twenty years earlier, the questions planted by her dreams slowly begin to creep up: did her parents really die in a car crash?

DVD Verdict: 'Inflame' is a quite disturbing, quite jarring, and yet quite brilliant 2017 Turkish psychological thriller film directed by Ceylan Özgün Özçelik. Indeed, it was screened at both the Panorama section at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival and the SXSW 2017 Film Festival where it received standing ovations at all times.

Basically put, although there truly is nothing basic about the movie, 'Inflame' is a psychological thriller set in contemporary Istanbul that sees a TV editor grapple with her mysterious past.

No,w I have to do my job here and make you aware that the first 30-40 minutes are a slow, building slog to work your way though, sure, but it grows the story around both the main character in question, plus keeps you transfixed at all times.

Young documentary editor Hasret (Algi Eke) works for a fictional Turkish TV channel with the Orwellian slogan “What you see is the truth, what you hear is the truth”. Following a staff reshuffle, she’s reassigned to news, and witnesses at first hand how the fragile value blazoned in the network’s slogan is manipulated through regime-friendly ticker news summaries and the splicing of interviews with government ministers and dissidents.

Each evening, Hasret returns to the old-town apartment where she lives alone since her parents died – in a car accident, she believes, at some unspecified past time.

She confides to a rather anodyne, ineffectual male friend, Mehmet (Cevik), that she’s plagued by a recurrent nightmare, and by an Anatolian folk tune that comes into her head while strolling in a nearby park – where she is also, briefly, caught up in a mob of demonstrators.

Buried memories, connected in some way to the mystery of how her parents really died, are aroused by the photos and notebooks that Hasret unearths in the apartment after quitting her job, along with the Anatolian lute that her father – a folk musician – once played.

True also that there were moments in the film where several people were talking and instead of captioning the salient bits there was an effort to capture everything, and as a result it was a flurry of high speed text on the screen that no one in my watching party was able to read or understand in time; but it is what it is.

Come the final 30 minutes and now we are all locked into her apartment, with Hasret, ourselves not even sure if all the noises, all the visuals, all the smells are a stampeding mid f**k or reality itself. Buy this DVD today, have your friends around, and you all watch it together and decide. Talk about a water cooler moment come the morning for y'all! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Lea Lumanog, Aira Joy Jubilo, Lerma Coronel, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Motherland' takes us into the heart of the planet's busiest maternity hospital in one of the world's poorest and most populous countries: the Philippines. The film's viewer, like an unseen outsider dropped unobtrusively into the hospital's stream of activity, passes through hallways, enters rooms and listens in on conversations.

DVD Verdict: Sundance winner 'Motherland' takes us to a place, to places, in fact, that no camera's have ever been before which unleashes a stream of viewing absorption that, I myself, have never, ever come close to having viewed before in this genre.

'Motherland' is set at one of the world’s largest and busiest maternity hospitals in the Philippines. Writer/Director/Producer Ramona S. Diaz’s film follows three women as they navigate through the severe conditions of giving birth there — from jam-packed delivery rooms to overflowing corridors where babies are misplaced and then found.

At first, the surrounding people are strangers, but as the film continues, it's absorbingly intimate, rendering the women at the heart of the story increasingly familiar. Three women - Lea, Aira and Lerma - emerge to share their stories with other mothers, their families, doctors and social workers.

While each of them faces daunting odds at home, their optimism, honesty and humor suggest a strength that they will certainly have to summon in the years ahead.

That said, wow, the hospital itself is quite something to see. Two moms to a bed, announcements, people assigned numbers, it feels like you're watching some twilight zone birthing boot camp. The KMC (kangaroo mother care) unit was prominently featured in the documentary, apparently these are babies that would be in incubators in the US, but the doctors at the hospital have found a way to simulate it to a degree since they do not have the funding to afford incubators.

It's quite interesting to watch and see how different it is. There are a couple of sad reminders of how the lack of funding affects the babies and families; one father who has a KMC baby is speaking to another father about how his previous child had been in KMC, but died of a blood infection.

So, not all triumphs over adversity here, but 'Motherland' shows direction and and eye-opening look at a side of the world that rarely see; here in our privileged, and broader, so to speak, US of A. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Good Postman'
(Ivan Fransunov, Angela Jekova, Vangel Jekov, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: Postman Ivan has a new political vision: he decides to run for mayor in order to bring his dying village to life by welcoming refugees. His opponents are only interested in closing their eyes to the refugees, shutting the border and reintroducing communism.

While on the campaign trail -- his delivery route -- Ivan learns that good intentions are not enough, and that even the smallest deeds matter.

DVD Verdict: A Bulgarian film with English subtitles, 'The Good Postman' is a 2016 documentary directed by Tonislav Hristov which offers a tragicomic perspective on the 'refugee crisis' of 2015 from a small Bulgarian village located near the Turkish border.

The village has suffered decades of economic and demographic decline. The handful of remaining residents observe refugee families from Syria and elsewhere as they cross the border, and ponder inviting them to settle in the vacant village houses.

This proposal, advocated by the village postman and main protagonist Ivan, polarizes opinions and brings into focus the local people's own fears, hopes and disappointments.

With selfishness and meanness bombarding us in media, it is reassuring to be reminded that magnanimity always acts as a counterbalance. This Bulgarian gem's title is well chosen. The postman is a good man. As one of his poverty-stricken neighbors observes, the measure of a man is his goodness. It is also fitting measure of this movie.

It should also be known that although the film uses a semi-fictionalized plot, all characters portray themselves in a narrative which closely follows real events which unfolded in Bulgaria during 2014 and 2015.

'The Good Postman' premiered in 2016 at Amsterdam’s International Documentary Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Feature-Length Documentary, before screening at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(José Carlos Ruiz, Gabino Rodríguez, Waldo Facco, Monica Jimenez, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Tormentero' is the magical tale of Romero, who years ago discovered an oil field in his village that caused his friends and neighbors to lose their way of life -- and ultimately reject him. Now retired, alcoholic and schizophrenic, he is haunted by his past and sets out to reclaim the love and honor he lost decades ago after his fateful discovery.

DVD Verdict: Spanish with English subtitles, 'Tormentero' (otherwise known as storm maker) is one of the best movies I've seen in the past decade, of that fact you can take to the bank!

Sure it's the last days in the life of an old forgotten local hero, but the way José Carlos Ruiz plays his role out, well, you would have thought he was born to capture the heart and soul of his character, Don Romero.

Romero, a retired fisherman and a forgotten hero by the community, lives isolated in his home, surrounded by ghosts of the life he couldn’t have, spirits that materialize before him as his real family.

Alcoholic and schizophrenic, surviving on a daily basis. But deep down he feels the time has come to regain what he lost several decades ago, when he brought the oil curse to his own island, the lush Ciudad del Carmen.

At the same time at the mysterious Estero Pargo, the goddess Ixchel has been reborn and seeks to mate with humans in order to continue the cycle of life ... I kid you not!

For those not in the know, Director Ruben Imaz's reimagining of Rudesindo Cantarell Jiménez's exile into a living hell is a stunning work of cinematic art.

Sure, at its core, it's about a man whom lost everything, his livelihood, his future, friends, family, neighbors and community over his discovery of one of the largest oilfields in the world back in 1961, but there are so many layers to this man, this story that you have to keep watching for the entire 80 minutes.

In life, yes, the community of fishermen lost their whole way of life due to something so antiquated as fossil fuel! Not to mention mother nature took a big hit as well! But 'Tormentero' is so much more than just that which is why I urge you to buy this DVD yourselves and watch in awe of a movie that will have you talking about it for years to come. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Southwest Of Salem: Story Of The San Antonio Four
(Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, Anna Vasquez, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Southwest Of Salem: The Story Of The San Antonio Four' excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez -- four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of allegedly gang raping two little girls.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, and as we all find out together from the off, in the summer of 1994, Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez were accused of sexually assaulting the seven and nine year-old nieces of Elizabeth Ramirez in San Antonio, Texas.

The four openly gay women were charged after a week-long visit from the nieces at Ramirez’s apartment. The 19 and 20 year-olds were indicted in an environment of ubiquitous homophobia and the idea that homosexuals are naturally prone to sexually abusing children.

The incident was speculated to be “satanic-related” and had no accurate forensic evidence to support it. All were sentenced to 15 years in prison with the exception of 22 year old Ramirez, the supposed "ringleader," who received a 37.5 year sentence.

At the time, Ramirez was pregnant and was forced to give up her newborn baby several days after the start of her sentence. Anna and Cassandra were also partners in the midst of raising two children.

The brilliant storytelling of 'Southwest Of Salem: Story Of The San Antonio Four' showcases the innocent women's fight for innocence and persistence throughout their nearly 15 years in prison.

In 2012, one of the nieces admitted to having been pressured by her father, Javier Limon, to make the false accusations. Limon, Elizabeth's brother-in-law, had previously attempted to pursue Ramirez romantically, but his efforts were rejected.

In 2013, a new law was introduced to Texas allowing individuals to challenge their convictions if there is new or changed scientific evidence. In Southwest of Salem Esquenazi follows the pivotal court hearing during which the women challenged their convictions, as well as the hearings that followed.

Indeed, Cassandra Rivera was given parole in 2012 while the others were released on bail in 2013 with the assistance of the Innocence Project of Texas.

This bizarre case is the first to be adjudicated under momentous new legislation: for the first time in U.S. history, wrongfully convicted innocents can challenge convictions based on debunked scientific evidence.

The film also unravels the sinister interplay of mythology, homophobia and prosecutorial fervor which led to this modern day witch hunt; and is as riveting an expose as anything you will see this year. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Ice Mother'
(Zuzana Krónerová, Pavel Nový, Alena Mihulová, Václav Neuzil, Tatiana Vilhelmová, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: After her husband's death, Hana lives on alone in the family villa. Her two sons visit her with their families, but these visits frequently end in quarrels.

When Hana meets Brona, a hardy fellow, inured to winter swimming, a new world opens before her. Brona's teammates absorb her into their team and Hana gradually learns to overcome her fear of icy water.

DVD Verdict: The Czech Republic's submission to the Foreign Language Film Award of the 90th Annual Academy Awards, 'Ice Mother' is one of those films where you know they are dipping into icy waters, and knowing that fact is real, it makes you shiver to the core!

But, and with that said, it does have a warm heart and a loving soul attached to it. That comes through in spades with Hana (Zuzana Kronerová). Widowed for years, and always with her dead husband's presence looming dark-cloud-like above her, the crumbling villa where she lives is both her sanctity and her prison.

So, we quickly learn that it's in their dearly departed father's name that her two sons and their families visit each weekend, for a clenched, miserable mealtime in which recriminations and grudges are served up along with the soup tureen!

Not exactly an exciting, go-getter of a film, sure, I'll give you that, bit this naturalistic, if not melancholic drama from Bohdan Sláma follows Hana’s belated decision to stake a claim in her own life following a new relationship somewhat beautifully.

Together also with the support of a community of doughty ice swimmers - and, again, these scenes will have you reaching for an extra blanket around your viewing shoulders, trust me - step by step into the icy waters, Hana gets to grip with both the feel of nature and the feel of a male companion. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Body Of Deceit'
(Kristanna Loken, Antonio Cupo, Sarai Givaty, Giulio Berruti, et al / DVD / R / (2015) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: An accident in Malta leaves ghostwriter Alice with memory loss. Suffering from writer's block, she returns to the island to recover when she meets the sensual Sara. As they bond, a shady stranger begins to taint the sexy stay with mystery.

DVD Verdict: Having met the very lovely - in both looks, body and conversation - Kristanna Loken, I have to say I was intrigued by this "new" movie of hers.

Looking further into it, it seems it was filmed back in 2014, put into a can in early 2015 and then shelved soon thereafter. So now, for better or for worse, we get Loken's "new" movie (albeit straight to DVD) some 3+ years later ... and, luckily, although it could just be me being a fan that makes me say this, it isn't that bad of a movie and is actually very watchable.

Chock full of so much nudity - from all characters and from all angles - that you couldn't swing a cat (sorry, that doesn't sound too PC these days to say) here visually without hitting someone's, well, you get the picture!

Sure the whole amnesia lark gets played out to the max, but when she first meets her daughter, and they discuss how white roses are her favorite, come on now, even the most lapse of thriller-fathomers must sense that there's going to be a plot twist or two (or three) up soon (and there are, so hold on tight!).

With a tag line of 'Everybody has a secret ... some just can't remember it,' the film is a decent ride, of this be sure. Sure, some might say that the plot was also very predictable, but watching Loken barely-clothed for much of it kinda/sorta makes up for that.

Come the end, with those aforementioned few plot twists and, well, sure, I'll give you that there are one too many - [SPOILER] especially the whole over-the-cliff and back-to-say-hello one - but come on now, what did you expect from a straight-to-DVD, B-movie that's been sat on the shelf for over four years? This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Vigil: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Penelope Stewart, Frank Whitten, Bill Kerr, Fiona Kay, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1984) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A lonely girl living on an isolated, mist-cloaked farm is confronted with the changes wrought by a stranger that arrives.

Blu ray Verdict: Vincent Ward once described as the Antipodean Werner Herzog made his feature debut with 'Vigil', heralding his status as one of New Zealand's most distinctive filmmaking talents and paving the way for such equally remarkable and unclassifiable efforts as 'The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey' and 'Map of the Human Heart'.

That's all well and good, but for my money, 'Vigil' has some good ideas, and occasional moments when they're realized fairly well, but this is anything but a satisfying movie.

There's virtually no content at all, and it is painfully slow in revealing its emptiness. None of the characters are compelling, the scenery, is unremittingly gray and bleak, the mood is as drab as the leaden sky under which it's filmed.

However, it for sure is propelled by Fiona Kay's outstanding performance as Toss, and word has it she would earn a standing ovation when 'Vigil' screened at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival; the first time ever that a New Zealand feature played in the main competition.

Ward's work in this film reminded me of the use of images by Bergman in his early films. Rough country, silhouetted figures, unexpected angles and movement, an avoidance of bright color.

We have to struggle to get to know the characters a little, and that is what I found was both drawing myself into the film and having me wandering, not caring for large moments also.

Sure, Ward could be accused of not telling the story fully enough, but it can also be said, and should be, that I also found that his style kept me wondering what might happen next. Although not for too long, sorry.

At this point in time, NZ films were often remarkable only for their weirdness, and 'Vigil', although tender and with heart, is not an exception. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

High Definition (Blu-ray) presentation
Original mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand-new appreciation by film critic Nick Roddick, recorded exclusively for this release
On-set report from the long-running New Zealand television programme Country Calendar
Extract from a 1987 Kaleidoscope television documentary on New Zealand cinema, focusing on Vigil and Vincent Ward
Theatrical trailer
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Carmen Gray.

'Pacific Rim Uprising' [4K Ultra HD]
(John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / NR / 2018 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: John Boyega (Star Wars series) is the rebellious Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity's victory against the monstrous "Kaiju".

Now an even more fearsome alien threat has been unleashed on the world and Jake is called back into action by his former co-pilot, Lambert (Scott Eastwood), and a 15-year-old Jaeger hacker, Amara (Cailee Spaeny).

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this June with the release of this quite stunning 'Pacific Rim Uprising' in the new 4K home video format on June 19th, 2018.

For my money, this 'Pacific Rim Uprising: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Pacific Rim Uprising' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: MPEG-4 AVC; Resolution: 1080p; HDR: HDR10; Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

As with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features a much brighter, deeper, more lifelike set of colors. Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

The picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial and body armor textures within the action scenes, which in comparison leaves the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation looking almost smooth and flat.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; and Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1. There are also Subtitles in English SDH, French, Spanish.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, aside from the fact that the film, in just three days, became the 11th highest grossing film of 2018 (grossing $150.5 million as of March 25th), 'Pacific Rim Uprising' is one of those massively enjoyable popcorn blockbusters that all you have to do is settle into your armchair or sofa for and let the movie do the rest for nearly two hours.

OK, so, let's take this from the beginning, shall we: It's made quite clear in the original 'Pacific Rim' that the Breach was closed. Yet in the trailer, we see Jaegers fighting kaiju. I was concerned about how this sequel would explain that, wondering what the new source of the conflict would be.

Would the filmmakers just cheap out on the plot and basically say, "Huh? Oh, yeah, breach was never really closed. Our bad."? Thankfully, no; what we are given instead is a stunningly imaginative and well-crafted plot which intelligently explains the reappearance of kaiju, while also honoring concepts set up in the first movie.

One thing movie-goers have complained about for several years now is the too-long, too-revealing trailer, the kind which gives away the best jokes, major plot elements, etc. Did the trailer for 'Pacific Rim: Uprising' (PRU) show us Jaegers? Of course it did. Did it show kaiju? Well, explanation for them aside, this is a 'Pacific Rim' sequel, so that's to be expected.

Did we see any familiar faces? Yes, Burn Gorman's Dr. Gottlieb clearly makes an appearance. Yet even with all these, upon reflection I can say that in my opinion the PRU trailer gave nothing away.

Gorman's performance in PRU is quiet enjoyable. And I was impressed with the range shown by John Boyega. I don't mean just the range he showed in this movie; I'm referring also to the range he's capable of from one movie to the next. This young man created a persona for PRU that is strikingly distinct from his Finn of the recent 'Star Wars' sequels.

'Pacific Rim' took the concept of "kaiju vs mecha (the Jaegers)", rarely seen outside of anime, to a new level. With the bar set so high, PRU really had to deliver to be more than just a "more kaiju vs mecha" money-grab.

And deliver it did. I found myself deeply engaged as I watched the plot unfold. The filmmakers clearly put thought and effort into this, and in the end this collection of twists, turns and switchbacks adds up to a richly satisfying movie.

As for some of the special features, well, there's not a whole lot here, sadly, as all we get is a bunch of Deleted Scenes with commentary by Director Steven DeKnight. That said, his take on why they were deleted, but why they had to still be included on this Blu-ray is actually rather interesting. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Steven DeKnight
Hall of Heroes - Bridge to Uprising - The Underworld of Uprising - Becoming Cadets - Unexpected Villain - Next Level Jaegers - I Am Scrapper - Going Mega - Secrets of Shao - Mako Returns
Feature Commentary with Director Steven DeKnight
Includes a digital copy of 'Pacific Rim'
Features High Dynamic Range (HDR) for Brighter, Deeper, More Lifelike Color

Official Purchase Link

'Unsane' [4K Ultra HD+Blu-ray+Digital]
(Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, et al / 4K Ultra HD+Blu-ray+Digital / R / 2018 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh plunges audiences into the suspense and drama of a resilient woman's fight to reclaim her freedom even as she risks her own sanity.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this June with the release of this uniquely, and beautifully shot 'Unsane' in the new 4K home video format on June 19th, 2018.

For my money, and yet again, this 'Unsane: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Unsane' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265; Resolution: Native 4K (2160p); HDR: HDR10; Aspect ratio: 1.56:1, and Original aspect ratio: 1.58:1.

As with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features a much brighter, deeper, more lifelike set of colors. Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, it's obviously all the more enhanced here by the fact that the movie was completely shot using just an iPhone 7 Plus camera!

The picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial and the, at-times, psychedelic "swish" movements and visions within the (possibly) delusional scenes; which in comparison leaves the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation looking almost smooth and flat.

As for the audio, well, all we have is: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with Subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, as aforementioned, it was shot entirely by director Steven Soderbergh with an iPhone 7 Plus camera, and so 'Unsane' (complete with its grammatically-challenged title) is just as likely to test your sanity as anything in the film itself!

Proving from the off that you don't need a "real" camera or even fancy lighting to make a film; just an iPhone, a decent script, a competent cast and crew and, most importantly, the will, time, money and passion to do it all, luckily for us, Unsane' has all that and so much more.

However, in truth, 'Unsane' is a wonderfully frustrating, claustrophobic and tensely insular experience that puts you firmly inside the slightly off-kilter head of its protagonist, Foy, and does a great job of making you feel exactly the way she does at every moment.

The pace is almost perfect, as we're dealt a number of blows every time we begin to get comfortable in each new situation, and the slow descent from slightly strange to straight-up sinister is a palpable and uncomfortable one.

The fact that the sanity of the hero is called into question is a great move, though it isn't pushed quite as far as it perhaps could have been, and it keeps you unsure about everything you see.

Oh yeah, and the nod(s) back to classic seventies horror, including a soundtrack reminiscent of the original 'Halloween', were appreciated as well. I was constantly on the edge of my seat throughout this gripping, agitating, intriguing and generally very entertaining thriller and I'm sure you will be also. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.56:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:


Official Purchase Link

'Orange Is The New Black - Season 5' [Blu-ray]
(Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew, Michael Harney, Uzo Aduba, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray+Digital / NR / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: When the standoff at the prison turns into a full-blown riot, the inmates take advantage of the confusion by conducting séances, holding prisoner auctions, and preening for the morning news

But with relationships tested and friendships starting to fray, will life at Litchfield ever return to normal?

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Orange is the New Black is continuing to make bold moves going into its fifth season and although there have been a couple of sleeper seasons to get through before this one, we are in for some serious prison malarkey here, my friends!

After a devastating cliffhanger at the end of its fourth season, the Netflix prison dramedy instead focused on a condensed time period for its fifth season. Now down to just 13 episodes, the entire season takes place over just three days!

However, as we find quickly find out, the shortened time span addresses the intense fallout from last season, which featured the death of a major character and subsequent prison-wide riot. Indeed, the finale set the stage for an event that continues onward here from the off, and as you would fully expect, continues to impact nearly every major character moving forward.

For those not in the know, 'Orange Is The New Black' addresses several social issues in the most hilarious ways. It shows you how prison can break a person and turn them even worse that they were before getting it. It shows you how capitalism has affected what should be government owned properties, and turned prisoners into rather slaves.

It shows you how racism is still very much alive and how it affects the discriminated against and how it favors the rich and white over others. It shows how prisoners are being treated and sexually harassed just because they cannot speak of it.

It even addressed homosexuality and how it is stigmatized even by law enforcers. It shows how religion has made tribalism stronger than ever and so, so much more.

I love how it shows prisoners as people by making you relate to them in a funny way. Normally in life, one wouldn't sympathize with prisoners nor want their tax money going to better their lives, but this show shows you that they are people after all and how they were brought up contributed to who they are now.

I short, the show is very strong in its characterization. You really get to know all the characters inside and out. You understand their struggles and why they act the way they act. You really feel empathy and love for so many of these characters.

Indeed, the wonderful thing about this show is that there is no real main character. We jump back and forth between many complex characters and learn so much about their background and so on.

Hence this shorter, 13 episode fifth season is just perfect for addressing what happened at the end of the fourth season, without time-hopping again. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Gag Reel
72 Hours in 6 Months: Stories of the Season

Blu-ray+Digital Purchase Link

'Will & Grace (The Revival): Season One'
(Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: That's right, honey! A decade after their unforgettable eight-season run, comedy's most fabulous foursome is back. Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reprise their infamous roles as Will, Grace, Jack and Karen.

DVD Verdict: Well, to put it frankly, 'Will & Grace' was a childhood favorite of mine and so I was greatly looking forward to its comeback. But, both Will and Grace's obvious hatred for Trump has not only triumphed over the whole show, but from my humble viewpoint, drowned it in near-complete saturation.

I mean, everyone bashes Trump, in real life, I get it, but to have it spread across a taught 24 minute monologue (and one that's meant to be a funny comic relief to enable us to step away from real life, is just too much. Indeed, I turn to my favorite comedy sitcoms to get away from politics. Ergo, if I wanted a show about politics I would put on CNN, MSNBC or even Fox News.

That said, and playing Devil's Advocate here, the political theme does (thankfully) wane as the episodes progress, but trust me when I say they are never more than a point barb away whenever something seems to be hindering, or opposing our lovable characters.

So, yeah, I enjoyed this "Revival," as it seems Universal Pictures has now deemed it to be on the cover art. Will and Grace are back, for the most part, on sparkling fine comedic form and lucky for us all, Debra Messing is still funny ... and beautiful.

Megan Mullally is also hilarious and stil has that sexy voice of hers running at full tilt, and both Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes are, aside from being hilarious, as cute as ever!

The script is as funny and as well written as it ever was (save for all the damn Trump jokes), the performances are all top notch. So yeah, it's good to see a US sitcom that has grown up a little over the 11 year hiatus they all had.

As for the actual "new" show, well 'Will & Grace' starts off by completely negating (script wise) the events that climaxed the what-they-assumed-to-be-at-the-time final episode of their past eight-season run! I won't reveal what that was, if you're now bringing (and why not) before you tackle this "revival," but it's safe to say they come in hot and very, very (politically) current.

Again, and not to give plot points away here for this season, but just to give you a polite heads-up lead in, Karen, of course, is old pals with Donald and Melania! Grace mentions a pink pussy hat, Jack’s on Grindr, and Will redirects that righteous lawyerly indignation towards the 45th president!

Oh, and there’s even a “Make America gay again” hat, which Grace leaves in the Oval Office after a potential interior design gig brings the whole gang to the White House!

However, where the Will & Grace "revival" does succeed is in mining the changes that have taken place during those 11 lost years. In the first three episodes, the highlight is a cameo by Dear Evan Hansen’s Ben Platt, who plays a caricature-like millennial gay guy, unable to differentiate between Stonewall and Stonehenge, wondering how long he’ll be holed up in a small Manhattan apartment with his best girl friend (“You’d be surprised,” Will says).

What ultimately remains unchanged – and ensures the "revival", which has already been picked up for a second season, will be a surefire success – is the camaraderie between Hayes, Mullally, Eric McCormack and Debra Messing.

It’s a tall task asking viewers to pretend Will and Grace never went their separate ways or had kids, and surely there were ways the creators, David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, could have stuck to their original finale and still produced a fitting revival.

But they didn't and in the world of 'Will & Grace,' it's ok that they didn't. It kinda works that it's all been washed away over the past 11 years, for the fans don't care and nor, seemingly, do the characters involved! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Gag Reel
Reunited the Team
Back to the Beginning
Classic Comedy

Official DVD Purchase Link

'The Awesomes - The Complete Series'
(Seth Meyers, Ike Barinholtz, Tarin Killam, Bobby Lee, Paula Pell, et al / 3-Disc DVD / PG-13 / (2013) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 'The Awesomes' is an animated show for adults that combines the thrills of comic book storytelling with the hallmark irreverent and inspired comedy of co-creators Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker (Late Night with Seth Meyers).

Showcasing the voice talents of current and past SNL stars, 'The Awesomes' introduces a group of not-so-super heroes who just might find a way to save the world.

DVD Verdict: In truth, I have to admit, having watched this completes series now, I'm still rather unsure who the target audience is. Maybe I'm exactly who it was made for, but I think this was a great show, cut short in its TV prime.

As a longtime superhero fan, and a gamer (and, admittedly, a superhero RPG player), I think they nailed the misfit Hero concept pretty comfortably. Sure it could have been a lot edgier and it could probably have been made to appeal more broadly, but it wasn't trying to compete with shows like Family Guy at the time (at least, I don't think so), so it most likely assumed it was ok to keep on keepin' on as was.

Playing devil's advocate though, the show has a great cast, and a great premise and is relatively enjoyable to watch; not necessarily laugh out loud funny, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Its main issues are in a few character's voice acting and a few sections of writing. Although Malocchio had very strong acting, Prock's is far too monotonous and dull. Just unbelievably cringe-inducing for the first season.

It gets progressively less so as the series progresses, but it is an issue that persists throughout the entire series in some capacity. Ultimately, its most prominent issue lies in the actual action sequences. The show seems like it's supposed to be satirical, but it actually tries to be serious in the fight sequences.

Overall, a mixed bag of a review, but what it comes down to (as always) is personal taste; and mine is locked firmly a little left of center on the fence of Love It, but Could Have Been Better. A breezy and fun watch for its time (2013), I actually now wish it was back on TV (with new episodes) - that's how addictive this new box-set is! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes complete with all 30 episodes plus BONUS trailers and promos from all 3 seasons!

'Gridiron Gang: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Xzibit, L. Scott Caldwell, Leon Rippy, Kevin Dunn, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (2006) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in this gritty and inspirational movie based on a true story of a group of teenage delinquents given a second chance to redeem themselves by playing football.

Blu-ray Verdict: In the Kilpatrick juvenile detention center, the supervisor and former football player Sean Porter (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) sees the lack of discipline, self-esteem, union and perspective in the teenage interns and proposes to prepare a football team to play in one league. He is supported by his superiors and his successful experience changes the lives of many youngsters.

While watching 'Gridiron Gang' again, now out on Blu-ray with some great new special features, I commented to my GF that I was enjoying the movie in spite of being corny and predictable.

However, as the original 1992 Emmy®-winning documentary that inspired the film is included here, the one with the real Sean Porter and several interns, watching it also I quickly realized that this movie is not only based on a true story, but many lines of Johnson's are exactly the same said by Sean Porter in the documentary!

This revelation changed completely my first opinion, and I found this movie a great homage to a man that made the difference. The message about the importance of sports to aggregate men and make them winners in the essence of the word is beautiful and Johnson is amazing, giving credibility to his character in one of his best roles.

In short, there are funny parts, some sad parts, and some mighty fine uplifting parts. I was unsure if it would be worth my time, but I was not disappointed. Indeed, not only did the movie have a good message, but there were also some pretty cool football scenes. So check it out here on a brand new Blu-ray Special Edition from Mill Creek Entertainment as it's an awesome movie! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Commentary With the Writer and Director
Deleted Scenes
Gridiron Gang Football training
Phil Joanou Profile
The Rock Takes the Field
The original 1992 Emmy® Award Winning Documentary that inspired the film, GRIDIRON GANG.

'The 10th Kingdom' [Blu-ray+Digital]
(Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Scott Cohen, John Larroquette, Dianne Wiest, Daniel Lapaine, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2000) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: A father and daughter are caught in a parallel universe where the great queens Snow White, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood have had their kingdoms fragmented by warring trolls, giants and goblins.

Blu ray Verdict: In truth, and as much as people have batted this theory around over the years, come on now: The 4th Kingdom is clearly based on Germany! This is culled from several details including: its central location on the map of the kingdoms (which was based on a map of Europe), its large size, and the proposition that it be divided into quarters to be run by the Council of the Nine Kingdoms (akin to Germany's division by the Allies after WWII).

Anyway, that aside (as it's always a bone on contention whenever 'The 10th Kingdom' is brought up in conversation), this brand new 'The 10th Kingdom' Blu-ray+Digital release from Mill Creek Entertainment and wow, is is a delight for heavily interested eyes.

For my money, and a shed load of others, trust me, 'The 10th Kingdom' has to be one of the most captivating, spellbinding movies to come along in years! So many have tried, but few have succeeded in creating such a beautifully woven masterpiece as 'The 10th Kingdom'. There isn't a moment of this movie that I did not wholeheartedly enjoy.

Sure, it's long ... VERY long, but with its spectacular visuals, compelling story line, and off-beat but lovable characters, 'The 10th Kingdom' takes you along for the journey that so captivates, you hardly notice the time that passes.

This movie is an adventure of epic proportions that I would rank up there with 'The Neverending Story' and 'The Princess Bride'. Actually, as far as fairy tales go, I daresay this is better!

The cast is perfect for each of their roles and acted them out spectacularly. The script is excellent with its many references to so many beloved fairy tales re: Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, and so, so many more. As you can well imagine, imagination (no pun intended!) is only part of this miraculous tale. This film keeps with the modern idea of those aforementioned fairy tales with some very dark thematic elements. The scenes with the Trolls and with Snow White were spellbinding. You could literally get lost in this film and never want to escape.

John Larroquette and Kimberly Williams-Paisley are decent in their roles (about average for television), but it is Scott Cohen as the Wolf that literally steals every scene. He plays his part to the fullest extent. Ed O'Neill and Rutger Hauer also contribute well to this story. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

The Making of The 10th Kingdom Featurette
Isolated Score Track

'The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns'
(Randy Quaid, Whoopi Goldberg, Roger Daltrey, Colm Meaney, Ariana Richards, et al / DVD+Digital / NR / (1999) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Welcome to the end of the rainbow, where love, fortune and fantasy await the lucky! Spectacular special effects, a star-studded international cast, and a story as timeless as the Emerald Isle itself combine to create a fantastical tale that will touch hearts and dazzle the imagination!

DVD Verdict: 'The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns' is the old story of a boy and a girl in love who are forbidden to love each other because they come from two different worlds who hate each other. Yes, it's "Romeo and Juliet", it's "West Side Story" and I even would go so far to say that there's a little bit Rose and Jack in it but never before has this story been told in such a charming way.

Here, it's a story within the story. An American businessman comes to Ireland in order to check the location and prepare everything for his American company who wants to build a golf territory in Western Ireland. At his second day of Arrival, the businessman by chance saves the life of a Leperchaun which means that the Leperchaun is devoted to him for the rest of his life.

Through this incident the businessman gets to know another, magical parallel world that exists in the real human world. The parallel world has mainly two groups of human-like beings in it, the Leperchaun's and the Fairies. The Leperchaun's are lazy, always playing tricks on somebody and always in trouble. The Fairies on the other hand, are royal, prissy and always trying to make the world beautiful - they are responsible for the appearance of flowers and trees (ie: for the perfect shape of the leaves and so on).

Now, the son of the Leperchaun whose life the businessman saved, Mickey, falls for Jessica, a fairy and the daughter of the Fairy king. Of course this leads to trouble and you can guess how the story will go on, but it's still a pleasure to watch.

The movie is a feast of colors, nature and music, always with a bit magic in the air. Besides, the cast is brilliant. We've got Colm Meany as the Leperchaun dad, Daniel Betts as his charming son Mickey, Caroline Carver as Princess Jessica and - watch out - Whoopie Goldberg as the Big Banshee, a goddess-like creature observing all that goes on in the magical work.

The movie might not be a big piece of cinema, but is really charming and a pleasure to see and it is also crowned by a great music score and the title song "Fly away," performed by Emma Townsend. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Jules Verne's Mysterious Island'
(Kyle MacLachlan, Danielle Calvert, Gabrielle Anwar, Patrick Stewart, Jason Durr, et al / DVD+Digital / NR / (2005) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Five prisoners of war escape captivity in a Confederate prison camp only to land in an uncharted Pacific island where time stands still and dastardly pirates don't take kindly to strangers in director Russell Mulcahy's screen adaptation of fantasy author Jules Verne's literary classic.

DVD Verdict: I've always been an admirer of Jules Verne's novels, but this TV movie was certainly poorly produced, sorry. Indeed, this movie has a completely different story line from Jules Vernes novel and even the many films that have been made!

Like Jules Verne's novel, the film tells the story of a group of prisoners who have escaped from a Confederate prisoner of war camp during the American Civil War by a hot air balloon. They travel over the pacific and their balloon is wrecked on an island in the south Pacific, an island which is filled with mysterious secrets.

While Captain Nemo did appear in the novel of 'Mysterious Island' he didn't appear in the novel until the third quarter of the novel, while in this movie he reveals himself close to the beginning. Also there were no female characters in the novel of 'Mysterious Island' while this includes film a woman who works as a nurse at the Confederate prisoner of war camp and her teenage daughter who are among the escapees in the balloon and stranded on the island.

But I suppose it does give a bit of interest to the film. While there were certainly cutthroat pirates in the novel of 'Mysterious Island' I don't recall any giant animals either!

The giant creatures were certainly very terrifying in this movie. There was a giant praying mantis, giant scorpions, giant ants, and even a giant bird. These creatures certainly presented a great suspense throughout the film, the computer generated affects didn't look realistic at all.

This TV movie certainly needed a lot more to make it interesting. It needed a better cast of actors for one thing, but most of all this film needed a better story-line, for the story in this movie is extremely dull; it's not like the story in the novel at all, as mentioned.

Overall the only good thing about this movie was Patrick Stewart as he is such a brilliant actor! In fact he was the only reason I kept watching the TV movie, now out on DVD+Digital via Mill Creek Entertainment. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Kid West' [DVD+Digital]
(Mary Bair, Ashley Rose Montondo, Atquetzali Quiroz, Lorenzo Reyes, Bruce Bohne, et al / DVD+Digital / NR / (2017) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Harper is a precious 12-year-old on the lookout for adventure. Armed with a slingshot and her wits, she strives to right the wrongs in her small community…cowgirl style. She’s on a mission to protect a mystical treasure from falling into the hands of a gang of bullies.

By enlisting help from a handful of colorful characters, Harper sets off on an adventure to learn the truth about this local urban legend while rightfully earning the nickname ... Kid West.

DVD Verdict: I have to say I loved this cute little movie and highly recommend it to everyone; especially those with early teens rattling around the house!

Simply put, 'Kid West' is a fun and highly adventurous movie. It has a great original story, funny moments, and a clever mystery. In fact, it was a little like Indiana Jones, one of my all-time favorites!

OK, playing devil's advocate, sure there's no bad language or the like, but the main character was very disobedient/disrespectful to her mother. I didn't like seeing it, but it does lead somewhere nice, so please stick with it and ride that portion out.

I was very impressed with the writing, directing, and acting and can easily see this being turned into a series or having a sequel! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Merlin Collection' [3 DVD+Digital]
(Sam Neill, Helena Bonaham Carter, John Gielgud, Rutger Hauer, Miranda Richardson, et al / 3-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / (1998-2006) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Imagine a world where dreams come true ... and magic is real! Out now, via Mill Creek Entertainment is this wondrous collection of Merlin tales to cast their spells over you: 'Merlin' (1998), 'Merlin: The Return' (2000), and 'Merlin's Apprentice' (2006).

DVD Verdict: In the first tale, 'Merlin' (1998), the legendary wizard tells his story of his war against Queen Mab of the Sidhe and his creation of Camelot.

This is one of the best made for TV movies I've ever seen - surprisingly good, in fact. What made it so entertaining was the script. Over time, some people have gone on about the special effects, but they're no big deal - impressive for television, perhaps, but cheesy by any other standard.

No, what makes this movie work so well is the unique way in which the familiar elements of the Camelot story have been reconfigured. Using Merlin as a point of departure and actually delving into his backstory - rather than Arthur's - I don't think I've seen this done anywhere else (admittedly, I'm no Arthurian scholar, but I have read some of the seminal works, such as Mallory's "Morte d'Arthur," Tennyson's "Idylls of the King," and T.H. White's "The Once and Future King").

Anyway, 'Merlin,' from what I saw, tells a story that's totally new, and provides a fresh take on the events and meanings of the Camelot tale. Basically, Merlin's lifelong struggle with Queen Mab here represents the struggle of Christianity to take hold in Britain, versus the influence of the "ancient" ways, such as witchcraft, superstition and local custom.

No matter what you think of this as allegory, it provides a useful and intriguing "spine" on which to hang all the other familiar stories from the Arthurian legend, which are well told and presented.

In 'Merlin: The Return' (2000), for 1500 years, the powers of Merlin (Rik Mayall) have kept the evil Mordred (Craig Sheffer) and his mother Morgana (Grethe Fox) captive in another world.

When a present-day scientist (Tia Carrere) stumbles upon the gateway between this world and the one Mordred is imprisoned in, it's up to a recently re-awakened King Arthur (Patrick Bergin) Merlin, and Lancelot (Adrian Paul) to stop Mordred from returning.

Well, whether it was meant to be or not, 'Merlin: The Return' is nearly a laugh a minute; and some were probably intentional! The performance of Adrian Paul as Lancelot caused giggles every time he spoke, and a less regal Arthur I cannot imagine.

If you give this film any thought it fell apart even more thoroughly than on a total suspension of disbelief. Only Rik Mayall seemed to have got the joke!

That all said, it's still a better than average story for children of all ages. Maybe easier appreciated first time round by the physically older, it's a story that benefits from repeated viewing. A story that some appear to have a very real viewing allergy to, weirdly enough!

In 'Merlin's Apprentice' (2006), the great sorcerer Merlin has returned to Camelot, a kingdom now vulnerable to ill fates and war since the theft of the Holy Grail, its greatest gift and protection.

With the help of Jack, an irascible young beggar-thief imbued with his own unruly magic, the fight against unknown dangers begins-to find the Grail, restore it to its rightful place, and bring Camelot back to its glory days.

After being tremendously impressed with 1998's 'Merlin,' I was excited to see that a sequel had been made. However, aside from Sam Neill as Merlin (and brief appearances by Miranda Richardson as the Lady of the Lake), there is no comparison to its much superior predecessor!

The original had amazing special effects, a great cast, and wonderful performances. This has a handful of unknown and unimpressive actors walking around. No surprises and nothing to impress, sorry. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Anime Collection: 3 Complete Series'
(3-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / (2008-2009) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Imagine a world where dreams come true ... and magic is real! Out now, via Mill Creek Entertainment is this wondrous collection of Merlin tales to cast their spells over you: 'Merlin' (1998), 'Merlin: The Return' (2000), and 'Merlin's Apprentice' (2006).

DVD Verdict: In the first tale, 'Kurozuka' (2008) a 12th-century man, flees into the mountains after losing to his brother, where he meets a strange, beautiful woman named Kuromitsu. Kuro falls in love with Kuromitsu but realizes she conceals a dark secret. She is unable to die and continues to live for thousands of years as Japan evolves into a future society.

This show had a lot of promise. The premise was interesting and the show was pretty mysterious. Viewers are always at the edge of understanding what is going on and why. Every time one secret is revealed it leads to another question.

I really enjoy shows like that pull you in. The design of the show is excellent too. The art is beautiful and the animation well done (though they do cut a few corners here and there it's not distracting).

The problems involve the story telling style and the characters. The tale unfolds through current events, flashbacks, dream sequences, and hallucinations, and it can be terribly confusing because there's no mechanism to clue viewers in to just where and when any particular scene is taking place.

More than a few times I was wondering what was going on, only to realize later that the confusing scene happened some undetermined time in the past. On top of that, the creators did a poor job of establishing their characters. Kuro falls in love with Kuromitsu after a brief conversation and is willing to search for her for the rest of eternity. Why? Is it just love or does he have some bond with the person who gave him eternal life? What does Kuromitsu get out of all of this? What are her motivations?

These are some pretty basic questions. At the end of the show, when all is said and done, there are still many events that aren't explained very well, if at all.

Granted, a lot is wrapped up, but so much isn't that I wasn't very satisfied with the conclusion. It's too bad that there were so many problems, because with a bit of tweaking this could have been a very good show.

In 'Ultraviolet: Code 044' (2008), in 2140, rebels infected with Phage are fighting for independence from corporate government on a space-station-turned-metropolis. Genetically modified melancholic 19-year-old dying corporate female assassin will decide the outcome.

While Kurt Wimmer's 2006 'Ultraviolet' film ended with Milla Jovovich shaking the government to its core, 'Code 044' picks up an undisclosed period of time later with the hunting of Phages still being the status quo.

If anything, society has become ever more unstable. In a sneaky move, the government has started using clones infected with the Hemophage virus to take down prominent Phage leaders with the ultimate prize being the head honcho known as King.

Our protagonist is a clone, Agent 044, who is an accomplished assassin but at the tender age of 19 is already starting to worry about how much time she has left before the virus claims her life. She may seem to lack a clear purpose in life but she always follows the orders of Daxus II, the director of the central government.

In a government mandated attack, 044 runs into Luka Bloom, a young Phage leader, whom she instantly and inexplicably falls in love with. In protecting him, she lands herself on the wrong side of the government. Now hunted by her own people as well as the Phages, 044 finds herself on the run.

Her only ally is Garcia, the doctor who cared for her during her training period. If she is to ever return home and live out her remaining days in peace, she'll have to face off against Daxus and his men. Along the way, she'll meet a few new friends, make a ton more enemies and gain a better understanding of who she really is.

Much like the film it's based on, 'Code 044' is targeting a rather specific audience. If you're willing to put up with paper-thin characters and occasionally nonsensical plot developments, then you'll be rewarded with a show that moves along at a brisk pace, tossing out gritty, stylized action sequences like nobody's business.

Sure, the hot and cold romance between 044 and Luka is forced and unnecessary but you might not care after she lays waste to a room full of clone soldiers. With that said, a flurry of action can't disguise what you're watching.

Finally, in 'Viper's Creed' (2009), by the mid 21st century the world has been devastated by environmental pollution and world war. Failed attempts to repair the environmental damage have made travel by air and sea impossible. With 35% of land now underwater isolated cities rely on mercenary corporations for protection from terrorism and crime.

Arqon Global Security is a private military corporation that provides protection for Fort Daiva City. They use transforming motorbikes called Maneuver-Blades piloted by Blademen. The Blademan receives technical support from an operator who works in a central command center.

Karaya Sakurako works for Arqon Global Security as an operator with Blademan Saiki Cryde as part of an elite unit known as Viper. They are fighting against a terrorist group known as Hound which is using unmanned weapons called Bugmecha which were left behind after the war.

The first half consists solely of stand alone episodes where viewers get to know the various members of Viper Squad. The group consists of the typical members of an action oriented team: a sniper who never misses, a big, tough, silent guy, the hotshot of the team haunted by his past, and the hot chick who excels in kicking ass.

Added to the group is a new member, an enthusiastic youth who happens to be the son of Arqon's CEO and a new operator who gives the Vipers instructions when they're out in the field. Many of the early episodes focus on an individual member and their background with a battle scene with bugs thrown in for good measure. These are good, solid episodes, with engaging stories.

It's in the second half of the episodes where things get interesting and they start having some continuity. A conspiracy is revealed that involves a plot to frame the Vipers for murder. It starts off as a fairly pedestrian story, but there's and early twist in the tale that makes the story much more exciting.

This story arc is excellent and really makes the show stand out from the average mecha program. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Action Triple Feature'
(H.B. Halicki, Paul Walker, Katie Holmes, Sarah Polley, Scott Wolf, et al / 3-Disc DVD / R / (1982-2013) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: This triple feature is a triple threat of ACTION, COMEDY and FUN with a star-studded lineup of films guaranteed to get your heart racing!

DVD Verdict: In the first tale, 'Vehicle 19' (2013), in Johannesburg, an American parole breaker (Paul Walker) unknowingly picks up a rental car that will tie him to a web of corrupt local police.

Set in Johannesburg, South Africa, the place may be different but the plot is threadbare. The whole film would have been better if the lead character Michael Woods (portrayed by the late Paul Walker) had been allowed to take off his shirt to show the better part of his talent which has been misused in this boring little drama!

In truth, the remainder of the cast (with the possible exception of Naima McLean and Gys de Villiers) is misused or unremarkable.

The writing is lazy throughout. The opening scene shows Walker's character in a car chase trying to avoid the police. The screen then pauses and we are shown the word on the screen "earlier". I don't mind beginning a movie with a scene that takes place later in the piece, but the scene needs to provide at least some intrigue or mystery.

This movie is called 'Vehicle 19', it wouldn't have taken a genius to work out there would be a car chase in it at some point. The set-up is incredibly lazy, to the point that no explanation is even attempted as to why Walker's character is given the wrong car in the first place.

The characters make incredibly unrealistic decisions throughout which makes it really hard to have any empathy for them. Naima McLean's acting was near unwatchable. Walker himself does what he can with a terrible script and terrible actors to work off.

The comes 'Go!' (1999), a classic in my book from start to finish! 'Go!' tells the story of the events after a drug deal, told from three different points of view.

It's well known nowadays that casting was problematic due to the adult nature of the plot and the fact that teenage actors would have been too young to portray half the actions in the script. It was then decided to cast slightly older actors who could pass for teenagers.

Sarah Polley is worth the price of admission alone, for her excellent performance. She is supported by an equally excellent cast including Taye Diggs, Scott Wolf, Katie Holmes, Jay Mohr, and Timothy Olyphant, among others.

Many viewed this movie as being an MTV version of Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction' and, while this may to an extent me true, it is obviously much more than that; and an excellent stand-alone movie of it's own.

Split into three separate story lines which clash and collide along the way, finally merging as the movie comes to a close, this movie constantly keeps the viewer on edge; and provides an excellent example of the drug/club etc. scene of the '90s and '00s.

'Go!' was made at a time when Doug Liman could compliment his all-over-the-place approach to film-making with character and substance; much unlike his 2005, fetishistic firearm flick 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'; while his most recent work, 2008's 'Jumper', did not garner much of a positive critical consensus.

Lastly, we get 'The Junkman' (1982), where the Junkman and movie-maker Harlan Hollis (H.B. Halicki) struggles to stay alive when a jealous partner in his company hires goons to kill him.

Also known as 'Gone In 60 Seconds 2: Junkman,' everybody who loves cars and action will eat this movie whole! It's even something like an autobiography of H. B. Halicki ie: the whole life story of Harlen Hollis we see is pretty much the same as Halicki's very own!

When you think that Jackie Chan is a tough guy doing all stunts himself, than watch this movie and 'Gone In 60 Seconds' and see how crazy Mr. Halicki is you'll know there's way more men like JC out there (unrecognized, I might add).

You'll be amazed by some camera work on the low-flying planes and a never-before-seen idea of autos driving over the front hoods! As films like this go, it doesn't hang onto any new innovations, and many of the car crashes are nothing to get nutty about, but it's the second best in this new Mill Creek Collection (after 'Go!'), that's for damn sure. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'5 Family Favorites' [Box-Set]
(Ice Cube, Nia Long, Elijah Wood, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / (1994-2015) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: From cross-country adventures to small-town shenanigans, it’s hours of quality, family entertainment in one fun-filled movie bundle!

DVD Verdict: In the first tale, 'Are We There Yet?' (2005, starring Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen, and Philip Bolden), the tag line is: 14 hours. 350 miles. His girlfriends’ kids. What could possibly go wrong?

Long distance driving, constant headaches, groaning and claustrophobia. Then, that tedious question arises...Are we there yet? But in the flick, 'Are We There Yet?', that question takes a new meaning.

Through a series of worst-case scenarios from deer attacks to a train race on horseback, Nick Persons (Ice Cube, Barbershop) experiences it all.

Beginning a timid romance between Persons and Suzanne Kingston (Nia Long, Boiler Room), possible babysitters for her children while she's away becomes few and far between, leaving Persons, a child-hater as the only viable option. He must transport Kingston's two "angelic" children 350 miles from Oregon to Vancouver. They attempt to make it in 24 hours by plane, train and automobile.

Directed by Brian Levant, director of Snow Dogs (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and Jingle All The Way (Arnold Schwarzenegger), he defines his love for making family-fun movies.

For what it was worth, the acting was decent. Ice Cube played a better role than I expected. Aleisha Allen (School of Rock) and Philip Bolden (Johnson Family Vacation) were well-cast. And the cherry on top of the acting was Jay Mohr (Pay It Forward, Jerry Maguire). The way the actors worked together accented the movie.

Cinematography in this movie was exactly what I expected. There were a few intriguing camera angles, better than I've seen from directors of Levant's credibility.

Then comes 'North' (1994) starring Elijah Wood, Jason Alexander, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Sick of the neglect he receives from his mom and dad, a young boy leaves home and travels the world in search of new parents.

This is, basically put, Director Rob Reiner in eccentric spirits, but not quite getting the offbeat laughs and sentimental subtext he was going for. Extremely unfunny fantasy concerns unappreciated youngster who receives emancipation from his parents under the proviso he find a new set of guardians within two months.

This celebrity-studded misfire is slick, but not clever, with Bruce Willis in nearly a career-killing role as an angelic "guide" (he's also the film's narrator, in what plays like a last minute decision to fill in all the gaps).

One or two fanciful scenes, but it needed more humor, less gooey uplift, and most especially an ending that didn't turn the picture into a pointless dodge.

Next up is 'Last Day of Summer' (2007) starring Jansen Panettiere, Alexandra Krosney, and Jennette McCurdy. The fun starts when 11-year old Luke wishes he could have his last day of vacation all over again - and his dreams come true!

I guess, in all truth, this made-for-TV tween movie addresses many of the fears/issues typical of the age group: relating to the opposite sex, learning to deal with bullies, and worrying that a move to a new school will affect existing friendships.

The main character discovers that it's only by facing his fears head-on that he can move past them and welcome the changes ahead. There's little here to worry parents of tweens, but they may want to remind kids that mean-spirited pranks (overturning an outhouse while a notorious bully is inside, for instance) aren't the best way to handle difficulties with peers.

A fun, family, interesting and revealing TV movie, for sure, but one that tackles some hard issues full on, that's for sure. So, keep an eye on the young teens that watch this as they will ask questions afterward, that's for sure!

Then comes 'Bandit and the Saints of Dogwood' (2015) and starring Katie McNamara, Makinnon O'Brien, Connor Oringderff and Skylar Feichtner, this delightful TV movie is an action/adventure-filled comedy chock full of fun and four-legged friends!

Lenna (McNamara), her furry best friend Bandit, and a few other students plan to pull a prank on the Principal the last day of school. However, the night of their dastardly deed, they encounter treasure map toting thieves looking for gold buried underneath the school's gym.

The students are discovered by the thieves and barely escape and they are blamed by the principal for the damage. Bandit recruits a few of his own four-legged pals to help the kids and lead them home. Come on now, how's this not the cutest ever-sounding kids movie to date?!

Lastly we get 'The Big Goofy Secret of Hidden Pines' (2013) starring Bruce Adel, Ashley Brinkman, Don Danielson and Elizabeth Lambert, 'The Big Goofy Secret of Hidden Pines' is an hilariously goofy family comedy from start to finish!

A vacationing family adopts a baby Sasquatch, which becomes a treasured member of its tight-knit community. Years later, the town's greedy mayor hatches a scheme to get rich by trapping the domesticated Bigfoot and exposing it to the press.

You see, the trouble is, one of its most-respected families, Howard, Jill and their daughter Ally, are now living with a 14-year-old Sasquatch (aka Bigfoot) named Bertie!

Complicating things is Bertie's inability to stay out of trouble and hidden from the local authorities who would see Bertie as nothing short of a circus freak.

The story takes on numerous comedic twists and turns as everyone in the town tries to protect Bertie and, ultimately, return him to his home in the wilderness where he belongs ... but will he go?

'The Big Goofy Secret of Hidden Pines' is the fourth feature film produced by Harmony Gold that has been acquired and distributed worldwide by Content Television and is, truly a most hilarious tale of cat and mouse filled with fun for the entire family! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Addiction: Special Edition'
(Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra, Edie Falco, Kathryn Erbe, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1995) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Philosophy student Kathleen (Lili Taylor, The Conjuring) is dragged into an alleyway on her way home from class by Casanova (Annabella Sciorra, 'The Hand That Rocks the Cradle') and bitten on the neck. She quickly falls ill but realizes this isn't any ordinary disease when she develops an aversion to daylight and a thirst for human blood.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, and having made a big-budget foray into science fiction two years earlier with 'Body Snatchers', Director Abel Ferrara's approach to the vampire movie is in a lower key.

Shot on the streets of New York, like so many of his major works - including 'The Driller Killer', 'Ms. 45' and 'Bad Lieutenant,' etc. - and beautifully filmed in black and white, 'The Addiction' sees the filmmaker on his own terms and at his very best: raw, shocking, intense, intelligent, masterful.

As was always present within Ferrara's blood-letting movies, 'The Addiction' is not about vampires; moreover it is about resistance, or lack of it.

About what may be right around the corner, about discipline, or about lack of discipline. About being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It can happen to anybody, and it happens to everybody. It's a pyramid scheme.

Beautiful black and white composition by Ferrara tied tightly in a wonderfully creative Joe Delia score, the casting was of the usual Ferrara/indie suspects: Paul Calderone, Edie Falco, Kathryn Erbe, Lili Taylor, Annabella Sciorra.

The theme of the movie presents four new questions for every one it answers. Do we have a choice? Can we resist? And just when we think we have it all figured out, Christopher Walken has to show up and throw an entirely new tilt on things!

The story is about a young philosophy student Katie (Lili Taylor) who has a very moralistic and sensitive view of life and human behavior. Writing her essay on the holocaust to show the evil or sin in mankind she gets deeper involved in the dark side of humanity.

While walking home one night, a mysterious woman (Annabella Sciorra) appears and assaults her. She tells her if she is so afraid of being hurt all she has to do is tell her to leave.

Katie, being in shock can't say a word, and with a timid "I didn't think so" the mysterious woman bites her in the neck. Her last words to Katie are: "You just wait ... and see what happens".

In probably one of her most intense performances, actress Taylor dwells through the streets of New York looking for the next "fix". In looking for a fix, she and others spread the vampire virus through the city, drawing parallels between the AIDS epidemic of the '80s and hardcore drug addiction (which explains the title of the movie).

That all said, and playing the devil's advocate here, some have also, and loudly, said, that Ferrara made a pretentious and pedantic mixture of vampires cinema and philosophy.

Adding, along the way, that the issues he deals with in this movie are way too transcendental for a 60 minutes film, so everything is so arbitrary and senseless, they have a point, sure, but it's how you view this work of cinematic art that makes it what it is to you; and you alone. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

New restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Abel Ferrara and director of photography Ken Kelsch
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Restored 5.1 audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary by Abel Ferrara, moderated by critic and biographer Brad Stevens
Talking with the Vampires (2018) A new documentary about the film made by Ferrara especially for this release, featuring actors Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor, composer Joe Delia, Ken Kelsch, and Ferrara himself
New interview with Abel Ferrara
New interview with Brad Stevens
Abel Ferrara Edits 'The Addiction', an archival piece from the time of production
Original trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet containing new writing on the film by critic Michael Ewins

'Sheikh Jackson'
(Ahmad El-Fishawl, Mahmoud El-Bezzawy, Basma, Maged El Kedwany, Shahira Fahmy, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Cleopatra Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: An Islamic cleric has a crisis of faith when he hears the news that his childhood idol, Michael Jackson, has died.

DVD Verdict: Egypt's submission to the Foreign Language Film Award of the 90th Annual Academy Awards, and regardless of the fact that the production company couldn't use any of the songs of Michael Jackson due to budget restrictions, 'Sheikh Jackson' is one of the most enthralling documentaries on one man's love, devotion, respect, and heartbreak for another: Michael Jackson, the self-proclaimed King of Pop.

On June 25th, 2009, the news of Michael Jackson's death took the world by storm affecting many, especially Khaled (Ahmad El-Fishawy, 'Out Of Order'), a respected junior cleric whose nickname was 'Jackson' during his school days.

But, what does a preacher have in common with the King of Pop? More importantly, can he now go back to his normal life, or will his memories and relationships with his loved ones raise the most prominent question in his mind? Is he the Sheikh, Jackson, or both?

We start our journey with our Sheikh in a dream. A dream that paints us half the picture of our protagonist. He fears death, not only because it's, you know, Death, but because it means that his chance to improve his good-standing with God is gone. And so we start at the depth of our character and continue exploring it outwards.

Later, we get to catch glimpses of his childhood, and adolescence. Both well-acted and well-written, we witness the emotional traumas he goes through during these periods and how they made him what he is today.

El-Kedwany plays a master-class part in portraying the child and adolescent Sheikh's father. He joins both abusive and preaching characteristics in a well-developed character.

As we watch the story unfold, I've since come to also learn that the wonderful dancing scene in the mosque wasn't actually shot in a real mosque due to religious restrictions. That makes sense, but aside from that, I feel like the production team kept relatively true to their cinematic cause throughout.

Funnily enough, both Ahmed Malek and Ahmad El-Fishawi got their roles without any auditions and watching them both here throughout, you can see why. They were born to play their respective roles.

In closing, 'Sheikh Jackson' is not just about a story or some events, but moreover of a very religious man, though not a fanatic, and the mind games that he brings upon himself. A good man, albeit flawed and haunted. A sad man, all be he self-imprisoned within his own mind. Watch it and see it for yourselves, I beg of you, for it will change you (for the better). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Image Slideshow
Theatrical Trailer

'Bang! The Bert Berns Story'
(Brooks Arthur, Jeff Barry, Solomon Burke, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Abramorama)

Overview: Music meets the Mob in this biography of '60s hitmaker and 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bert Berns.

DVD Verdict: Having been screened at film festivals and shown theatrically throughout the world, this wondrous, insightful and broadly beautiful 90-minute documentary 'Bang! The Bert Berns Story' is just as good as you had hoped it would be, trust me!

Directed by both Brett Berns (his son) and Bob Sarles, written by Christina Keating (story editor) and Joel Selvin (narration writer), and with a tagline of: The greatest untold story of Rock and Roll, music meets the Mob in this biographical documentary, 'Bang! The Bert Berns Story.'

Narrated by Steven Van Zandt, it brings us the life story and career of (obviously) Bert Berns, the most important songwriter and record producer from the sixties that you never heard of!

Just to quickly bring you up to date, Berns' hits include "Twist and Shout," "Hang On Sloopy," "Here Comes The Night" and "Piece Of My Heart." There you go, and now that you're back on the same page as us all, let's continue.

Indeed, he helped launch the careers of Van Morrison and Neil Diamond and produced some of the greatest soul music ever made. Co-Directors Bob Sarles and Brett Berns have brought Berns' late father's story to the screen in such a way here as you finish the documentary, sit back, close your eyes, and wish that you had actually met this musical maestro.

Simply put, 'Bang! The Bert Berns Story' is a comprehensive look at the inside lane of the music/record business and, as we quickly discover, how deals were made, some broken, and how the influence of the Mob brought Berns both hardship and success.

Containing archival footage of NYC at the time along with interviews with the top movers and shakers in the industry - and not just an impressive Who's Who of musicians, but some of the business suited men behind the desks too - each share their entertaining tidbits about the perfectionist Berns from those days.

With interviews from those who knew him best and rare performance footage, included in the film are interviews with Cissy Houston, Ronald Isley, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney.

But there's also a plethora of celluloid goodies still to be unearthed here as this DVD also includes another 64 minutes (yes, you read that correctly) of extra interview footage from, among others, Keith Richards, Andrew Loog Oldham, Betty Harris, Mike Stoller, Ben E. King, Doug Morris, Joel Dorn, and Goodfellas archetype Carmine “Wassel” DeNoia.

FYI: Bert Berns was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 and he received the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of those aforementioned interview outtakes.

Official DVD Trailer

Official DVD Purchase Link

'Masterpiece: Man In An Orange Shirt' [Blu-ray]
(Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Julian Morris, Vanessa Redgrave, Joanna Vanderham, et al / Blu-ray / NC-17 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: From novelist Patrick Gale, 'Man In An Orange Shirt' is a tender, powerful film that is sure to spark conversation about outdated attitudes and equal rights.

Blu-ray Verdict: Two love stories set 60 years apart are linked by a secret that echoes through generations, from a forbidden relationship impossible during WWII, contrasted with a present-day romance that is nearly derailed by the 1940s tale with which it is deeply intertwined.

Simply put, 'Man In An Orange Shirt' is the latest program from the BBC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of homosexuality being made legal in the UK I really enjoyed the first part, which I can imagine was a story that must have been mirrored throughout the UK during the post war years.

Thousands of couples stuck In loveless marriages just because it was the right thing to do. Men and women unable to express in public their love for those they really wanted to be with.

This for me was a far more interesting than the disappointing second part for we move rapidly on to the present day where the grandson is also gay and obsessed with gay dating apps on his phone; and unable to admit his homosexuality to his grandmother.

This, as much as anything, seems to be preventing him from finding a solid relationship, despite (so it seems) his gran knowing all along. If the idea of this drama was to show how attitudes have changed towards same sex relationships since 1967 then it succeed; but I would have liked to have seen more of what happened in the intervening years. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs that comes with the Special Features of a Bonus Video!

Novelist and Screenwriter Patrick Gale, Executive Producer Diederick Santer, Director Michael Samuels, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, David Gyasi and James McArdle share insight behind the creation of the film.

'NATURE: Natural Born Rebels'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Thieving macaques using psychology to pull off scams. Delinquent cockatoos vandalizing urban residences. Swaggering peacocks lying about their sexual exploits. These are nature's greatest rebels, succeeding by breaking all the rules.

DVD Verdict: Despite how it appears on the surface, researchers are discovering the complex and fascinating science behind why these animals behave the way they do.

From a promiscuous prairie dog to a kleptomaniac crab and an alpha chimpanzee who reigns with an iron fist, this simply fascinating three-part miniseries explores the most rebellious animals in the natural world.

But, the main question being asked throughout this new PBS Nature documentary is: Are these creatures really breaking bad?

Across the world, new studies are uncovering an astonishing variety of insubordinate animal behaviors, and despite how it appears on the surface, researchers are discovering the complex and fascinating Science behind why these animals behave the way they do.

Oh, and here's what we learn along the way:

Coconut crabs weigh up to nine pounds and may be the world's largest land crab. More than one million coconut crabs reside on Christmas Island, where they are known to locals as "robber crabs" for stealing anything they can get their CLAWS on in a competition for food.

Deer, the main prey of the tiger, are dichromats, which means their color vision comes from just two color receptors - they can only see greens and blues. This makes it harder to spot the orange stripes of tigers who wish to prey on them.

Hummingbirds have to eat more than twice their bodyweight in food each day. Most HUMMINGBIRDS get their food from the nectar of surrounding flowers in exchange for pollination. The Wedge-bill cheats this process by going straight to the base of the flower, opting out of pollination, but gaining the nectar. Scientists call this "floral larceny."

With a run time x3 60-minute episodes 'NATURE: Natural Born Rebels' is, quite easily, one of the more time worthy PBS documentaries that exists and is totally worthwhile of you to invest in; time wise and monetarily, trust me. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal In The Alps'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Hannibal, one of history's most famous generals, achieved what the Romans thought to be impossible. With a vast army of 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses and 37 war elephants, he crossed the mighty Alps in only 16 days to launch an attack on Rome from the north.

DVD Verdict: For more than 2,000 years, nobody has been able to prove which of the four possible routes Hannibal took across the Alps, and no physical evidence of Hannibal's army has ever been found ... until now.

For those not in the historical know and so that we all can get a grip on this brilliant new PBS documentary before exploring it, Hannibal's crossing of the Alps in 218 BC was one of the major events of the Second Punic War, and one of the most celebrated achievements of any military force in ancient warfare.

History informs us that bypassing Roman and allied land garrisons and Roman naval dominance, Hannibal managed to lead his Carthaginian army over the Alps and into Italy to take the war directly to the Roman Republic.

However, in 'Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps', a team of experts - explorers, archaeologists, and scientists - combine state-of-the-art technology, ancient texts, and a recreation of the route itself to prove conclusively where Hannibal's army made it across the Alps - and exactly how he did it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: Decoding the Weather Machine'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Join scientists on a quest to better understand the weather and climate machine we call Earth. Why do scientists overwhelmingly agree that our climate is changing, and how can we be resilient - even thrive - in the face of enormous change?

DVD Verdict: Disastrous hurricanes. Widespread droughts and wildfires. Pervasive heat. And extreme rainfall. It is hard not to conclude that something's up with the weather.

And many scientists agree this trend in our weather is not just a coincidence. It's the result of the weather machine itself - our climate - changing, becoming hotter, more erratic.

Climate change is arguably the defining challenge of our time, yet widespread misunderstanding and misinformation has hampered the public's ability to understand the science and address the issue.

Now NOVA cut's through the confusion and helps define the way forward in 'NOVA: Decoding the Weather Machine'. Why do scientists overwhelmingly agree that our climate is changing, and that human activity is causing it?

Furthermore, how will it affect us through the weather we experience, and when? And what will it take to bend the trajectory of planetary warming toward more benign outcomes?

With a run time of 120 minutes, this fascinating look into our weather system and all that she conjurers up on a regular, daily, hourly basis is enough to make your head spin, agreed, but it also makes you want to look up into the sky; wondering, perhaps even watching. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Experience: The Chinese Exclusion Act'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Examine the origin, history and impact of the 1882 law that made it illegal for Chinese workers to come to America and for Chinese nationals already here ever to become U.S. citizens. The first in a long line of acts targeting the Chinese for exclusion, it remained in force for more than 60 years.

DVD Verdict: OK, so, let's get to the heart of this 160 minute documentary from the off: Chinese Exclusion Act On May 6th, 1882 - on the eve of the greatest wave of immigration in American history - President Chester A. Arthur signed into law a unique piece of federal legislation.

Called the Chinese Exclusion Act, it singled out as never before a specific race and nationality for exclusion - making it illegal for Chinese workers to come to America - and for Chinese nationals already here ever to become citizens of the United States.

As we progressively learn throughout this engaging new PBS documentary, for the first time, federal law proscribed entry of an ethnic working group on the premise that it endangered the good order of certain localities.

The earlier Page Act of 1875 had prohibited immigration of Asian forced laborers and sex workers, and the Naturalization Act of 1790 prohibited naturalization of non-white subjects.

The Act excluded Chinese laborers, meaning "skilled and unskilled laborers and Chinese employed in mining," from entering the country for ten years under penalty of imprisonment and deportation.

The Chinese Exclusion Act required the few non laborers who sought entry to obtain certification from the Chinese government that they were qualified to emigrate.

However, this group found it increasingly difficult to prove that they were not laborers because the 1882 act defined excludables as “skilled and unskilled laborers and Chinese employed in mining.”

Thus very few Chinese could enter the country under the 1882 law. Diplomatic officials and other officers on business, along with their house servants, for the Chinese government were also allowed entry as long as they had the proper certification verifying their credentials.[

The Act also affected the Chinese who had already settled in the United States. Any Chinese who left the United States had to obtain certifications for reentry, and the Act made Chinese immigrants permanent aliens by excluding them from U.S. citizenship.

After the Act's passage, Chinese men in the U.S. had little chance of ever reuniting with their wives, or of starting families in their new abodes.

A deeply American story - about immigration and national identity, civil rights and human justice; about how we define who can be an American, and what being an American means - 'American Experience: The Chinese Exclusion Act' examines the economic, cultural, social, legal, racial and political dimensions of the law; the forces and events that gave rise to it; and the effect it had, and continues to have, on American culture and identity.

Indeed, 'The Chinese Exclusion Act' explores in riveting detail this little known, yet deeply resonant and revealing episode in American history - one that sheds enormous light on key aspects of the history of American civil liberties, immigration, and culture - during one of the most formative periods of U.S. history. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Symbolism of the Chinese Dragon
George Frisbie Hoar
Charles Sing
2012 Congressional Acknowledgment of the Chinese Exclusion Act

'Smithsonian: America's Greatest Monuments'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: How much do we really know about America's greatest monuments? From war memorials, to monuments honoring America's founding fathers, to Arlington's eternal flame, these soaring tributes in stone, steel, soil, and sky have amazing stories to tell.

DVD Verdict: They are studied in school and visited by millions. They are world-renowned symbols of our nation. But they are also shrouded in misinformation, mystery, and mythology.

So, just how much do we really know about America's greatest monuments? From war memorials, to monuments honoring America's founding fathers, to Arlington's eternal flame, these soaring tributes in stone, steel, soil, and sky have amazing stories to tell.

They are a permanent record of our nation's history and our evolution into the world's greatest democracy - a country of the people.

An absolutely stunning and informative, yet far too short at just 46 minutes new PBS / Smithsonian Channel documentary, 'Smithsonian: America's Greatest Monuments' reveals most of what we already knew, sure, but there are also some unrealized (well, to me, at least) tidbit of historical worthiness in here also.

Narrated by Al Chalk, Produced by Lynn Kessler, and written by both Lynn Kessler and Michael Dola, we get to learn more about, amongst others, The Lincoln Memorial. An American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln it is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument.

Also, The Washington Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate George Washington, once commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first President of the United States.

Another look into American history is found within The Jefferson Memorial for it's a presidential memorial also located in Washington, D.C., dedicated to Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826); one of the most important of the American Founding Fathers.

The main drafter and writer of the Declaration of Independence, he was also a member of the Continental Congress, governor of the newly independent Commonwealth of Virginia, American minister to King Louis XVI, and the Kingdom of France, first U.S. Secretary of State under the first President George Washington, the second Vice President of the United States under second President John Adams, and also the third President (1801–1809); as well as being the founder of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, Virginia. Phew! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Smithsonian: A Star-Spangled Story'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The Star-Spangled Banner is known by all, treasured for its powerful melody and stirring lyrics. And yet, only about 40% of U.S. citizens know all the words. And even fewer know their meaning.

DVD Verdict: 'Smithsonian: A Star-Spangled Story: Battle for America' is yet another truly fascinating PBS documentary where we travel back to 1814, when Washington D.C. was under British attack during the "Second War of Independence," and the very bricks and mortar of American democracy were reduced to smoking rubble.

Furthermore, it examines the battle that inspired witness Francis Scott Key to immortalize its final moments, then reveal how his poem transformed into an anthem.

But, as we quickly learn in this 51 minute documentary, it all starts (in most American's minds), from the knowledge that "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States. Nothing more, nothing less.

In fact, the lyrics come from "Defence of Fort M'Henry", a poem written on September 14, 1814, by the then 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.

Key was inspired by the large U.S. flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, known as the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the fort during the U.S. victory.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London. "To Anacreon in Heaven" (or "The Anacreontic Song"), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key's poem and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner", it soon became a well-known U.S. patriotic song.

With a range of 19 semitones, it is known for being very difficult to sing. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today.

Indeed, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889, and by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of U.S. officialdom. "Hail, Columbia" served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", whose melody is identical to "God Save the Queen", the United Kingdom's national anthem, also served as a de facto national anthem.

Following the War of 1812 and subsequent U.S. wars, other songs emerged to compete for popularity at public events, among them "America the Beautiful". So, please, I implore you, buy this brand new PBS Smithsonian Channel DVD today and learn more about the great reason it is sung, so loudly, so proudly all around America. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'First Civilizations' [2-DVD]
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Having lived as mobile foragers for 99 percent of our time on Earth, how and why did humans set out on the road to civilization? How did they create villages, towns, cities and states, and establish the blueprint for the modern world?

DVD Verdict: This wondrous, eye-opening new PBS documentary, 'First Civilizations' identifies four cornerstones of civilization - war, religion, cities and trade - and explores each in the context of a different location, from Mexico, Guatemala, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, India, and Pakistan, to Oman, Morocco, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Along the way it unearths the latest archeological discoveries, tests new theories, and uncovers original information as dramatic reconstructions and computer graphics visualize the lost world of the first civilizations.

Watching along with this 2-DVD set, with a run time of 220 minutes, you learn facts that you never, ever have come close to knowing in every day life. Indeed, this new documentary takes it truly from the very beginning when explaining to is that homo sapiens, or human beings, have been around for nearly 300,000 years.

For most of that time, however, they had no written history. During this time of “prehistory,” humans spent most of their lives moving from place to place, hunting for food, building crude shelters, and protecting themselves from wild animals.

Around 5000 BCE, things slowly began to change. For the first time, humans started to settle down in one place. They began growing their own food and building permanent homes. The first cities were formed. People began using metals, such as copper and bronze, instead of stones to make tools. Then, around 3000 BCE, they created a system of letters and began to write. This new form of living was called civilization.

The people of early civilizations needed water for drinking and for their crops, so they settled near rivers. One civilization, called Mesopotamia, was established between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now the nation of Iraq.

The capital of this civilization was the city of Babylon. To keep peace among people living so closely together, they needed rules. King Hammurabi, who ruled around 2000 BCE, drew up the first recorded set of laws. The Code of Hammurabi, as these laws were called, set down harsh penalties for those who broke the laws—“an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

In other words the punishment fit the crime. These early laws provided everyone, regardless of their class or rank, at least some protection from their neighbors.

In each of the four episodes contained on this 2-DVD set, you will discover how our ancestors were motivated by the same impulses that persist today - the inevitability of war, a need for religion, the lure of the city, and a love of trade. Oh, and so, so much more it will have you thinking about where we come from for months; maybe even years! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood - Double Feature'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: This grr-ific DVD includes 'Daniel Goes Camping' and 'Tiger Family Trip' and features more than two hours of tigertastic fun!

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood' is an animated program for preschoolers ages 2 to 4. It actually builds on the pioneering PBS series, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Through imagination, creativity, and music, Daniel and his friends learn the key social skills necessary for school and for life.

Here on the wonderful 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood - Double Feature' we get two features: 'Daniel Goes Camping' and 'Tiger Family Trip.'

In 'Daniel Goes Camping,' its a beautiful night in Daniel Tigers Neighborhood! Bring your jammies and come along as Daniel Tiger camps outdoors for the first time and experiences everything that makes nighttime special.

From twinkling stars and playing with flashlights, to singing Goodnight Sun, there's something magical and wondrous about the night!

In the three stories featured on this DVD, join Daniel as he goes camping with O the Owl and Dad Tiger, has a royal sleepover at Prince Wednesday’s castle, and goes on a nighttime walk through his neighborhood!

In the stories “Backyard Camping” and “Daniel’s Sleepover,” Daniel and his friends learn that when something is scary it’s best to “see what it is, you might feel better.” Using this strategy, Daniel learns that items that look scary at first can turn out to be fun.

In the third story on this DVD, “Nighttime in the Neighborhood” (extended adventure) which is an extended adventure, Daniel is going to a pajama party at the library. While the family walks to the library, Daniel learns what’s special about nighttime.

From pretending to play with the stars, to encountering fireflies, a nightingale, and crickets, Daniel and his family have a grr-ific time as they make their way to the library for games and a story.

In 'Tiger Family Trip,' it's time for a family road trip to see Grandpere! Join the Tiger Family as they sing and play games, enjoy a dinosaur themed playground, and explore a butterfly garden on their way to Grandpere's house.

This grr-ific DVD also includes stories that feature Daniel going to a carnival, watching fireworks, and setting up a lemonade stand with Prince Wednesday.

This sweet story will ring true with anyone who's attempted traveling with a preschooler in tow, and kids no doubt can commiserate with Daniel's fluctuating emotions over the journey.

He's excited, he's impatient, he gets frustrated with his little sister, he has to be reminded to take a potty break, and so on and so forth.

Happily, though, his parents are ever attentive with activities to keep him occupied, and Daniel winds up enjoying the trip almost as much as he loves getting to Grandpere's house. There are occasions for preschool skills like color recognition and simple counting practice as well as positive character traits like patience and obedience.

Even more prominent from beginning to end is the story's reminder of the value of trying new things, which Daniel does with the help of his parents and his kindly Grandpere.

My 2-year old grandson LOVES this show! He is rarely still, but will sit through entire episodes of Daniel Tiger, responding to questions, singing along, and giving me "Ugga- mugga" kisses. He even has a "Tigey" he sleeps with! So, what more could you want?! These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Dinosaur Train: Meeting New Friends'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: It's always fun to make new friends! First, join the Pteranodon family as they take a surprise day trip where they meet a Tyrannosaur who has similar features to Buddy. Then, follow the family to a swamp where they see a 40-foot crocodile named Deanna Dienosuchas with many big teeth!

DVD Verdict: For those not yet in the know, 'Dinosaur Train' embraces and celebrates the fascination that preschoolers have with both dinosaurs and trains while sparking an interest in life science, natural history, and paleontology.

The basic premise of this, for the kids, of course, us that friendly dinosaurs climb aboard a train to visit different times throughout the prehistoric age, learning about dinosaurs and having fun adventures.

And it has to be said, why were Trains and Dinosaurs never put together before?! I mean, Dinosaur Train completely changes how kids learn about dinosaurs.

Finally, all the mistakes I was taught as a kid are repaired! Dinosaurs use tails for balance, have proper names, sometimes are tiny, have feathers, fly, are birds, swim, hunt, etc.

Mix in some really well done music and clear, quality animation, and you've got a great show. Best of all is a moment after each episode with a real paleontologist who clears up fact from fiction and even gives great details about what was learned in the cartoon - finally, a TV show is using standard teaching methods like reinforcement and repetition without boring us to death.

On this new collection from Dinosaur Train, 'Meeting New Friends,' we get 8 new episodes that mean you're getting all these massive, dinosaur-sized episodes for your money!

'Rafting the Cretaceous'
'Stop and Smell the Flowers'
'Double-Crested Trouble'
'Tiny and the Crocodile'
'Triassic Turtle'
'Tiny's Tiny Friend'
'Beating the Heat'
'Hootin' Hadrosaurs'

Thank you, Dinosaur Train! You've created a show on a great subject that I can learn something new from right along with the kids! Well done! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Splash and Bubbles: One Big Ocean'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Catch the current and embark on an underwater adventure with Splash and Bubbles!

DVD Verdict: For those not yet in the know, a yellow fusilier fish named Splash and his friend Bubbles, a Mandarin dragonet, explore life under the sea with their pals in "Splash and Bubbles," the newest series from PBS Kids.

Co-produced by The Jim Henson Co., the animated series is designed to teach children aged 4-7 about marine life and the ocean and help them build social-emotional skills.

The series features the voices of John Tartaglia (who also created the series), Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Raymond Carr and Aymee Garcia.

In their brand new adventure, 'One Big Ocean,' Splash, Bubbles, Ripple, and Dunk journey across the sea to help a friendly young sea turtle named Scoot.

Along the way, the Reeftown friends learn that all creatures are interconnected and even small gestures can have a great ripple effect on their friends and neighbors!

Now out on DVD through PBS, 'Splash and Bubbles: One Big Ocean' contains the following 6 fun and watery episodes:

'One Big Ocean: Reeftown Rangers'
'One Big Ocean: Riding the Currents'
'One Big Ocean: The Fixer-Upper'
'One Big Ocean: No Place Like Home!'
'Kelp Forest Keepers'
'The Greatest Treasure of All'

This charming series inspires respect for marine life and the ocean's diversity by pairing the characters' comical adventures with more traditional educational segments.

Splash and Bubbles entices youngsters much the same way Finding Nemo's vibrant scenery and endearing characters did, bringing a certain intimacy to the vast expanse of the ocean through its friendly characters.

Reeftown is a bustling community of all different kinds of marine life, but when Splash and Bubbles explore beyond its boundaries, they discover even more diversity and fascination.

What really distinguishes the educational quality of this show, though, is the pairing of the characters' stories with the live-action "Get Your Feet Wet" segments that reinforce the oceanography concepts.

When an animated octopus shows how being an invertebrate lets him move in unusual ways, it doesn't resonate quite as much as does seeing an actual octopus squeeze into a narrow bottle, for instance.

These close-up views of the wonders of marine life will amaze preschoolers and inspire curiosity about more wonders of the underwater world. Well done, 'Splash And Bubbles.' This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Jazz Ambassadors'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: In 1955, as the Soviet Union's pervasive propaganda about the U.S. and American racism spread globally, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. convinced President Eisenhower that jazz was the best way to intervene in the Cold War cultural conflict.

DVD Verdict: For the next decade, America's most influential jazz artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Dave Brubeck, along with their racially-integrated bands, traveled the globe to perform as cultural ambassadors.

But the unrest back home forced them to face a painful moral dilemma: How could they promote the image of a tolerant America abroad when the country still practiced Jim Crow segregation and racial equality remained an unrealized dream?

Told through striking archival film footage, photos, and radio clips, with iconic performances throughout, 'The Jazz Ambassadors' reveals how the U.S. State Department unwittingly gave the burgeoning Civil Rights movement a major voice on the world stage just when it needed one most.

Fascinating from start to finish, this 90 minute documentary - and something that I personally knew nothing about - kept me watching without hesitating for drinks, food, or even conversation.

So, what is it we learn about the man who started this whole shebang off, Adam Clayton Powell Jr.? Well, he was a Baptist pastor and an American politician, who represented Harlem, New York City, in the United States House of Representatives (1945–71).

Indeed, he was the first person of African-American descent to be elected from New York to Congress. Oscar Stanton De Priest of Illinois was the first black person to be elected to Congress in the 20th century; Powell was the fourth. Re-elected for nearly three decades, Powell became a powerful national politician of the Democratic Party, and served as a national spokesman on civil rights and social issues. He also urged United States presidents to support emerging nations in Africa and Asia as they gained independence after colonialism.

In 1961, after 16 years in the House, Powell became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, the most powerful position held by an African American in Congress. As Chairman, he supported the passage of important social and civil rights legislation under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Following allegations of corruption, in 1967 Powell was excluded from his seat by Democratic Representatives-elect of the 90th Congress, but he was re-elected and regained the seat in the 1969 United States Supreme Court ruling in Powell v. McCormack. He lost his seat in 1970 to Charles Rangel and retired from electoral politics.

But, back to the matter at hand and in January 1956, Gillespie kicked off his tour of the Middle East and Turkey to help counter Soviet stories about American racism; over the next ten years, over 20 tours visited over 100 countries.

Among these was the 1962 tour by Benny Goodman and his integrated of the Soviet Union, the first time that the Russians permitted a foreign jazz band to tour the region. The State Department ended the “Jazz Ambassadors” program after Duke Ellington’s tour of the Middle East and India was cut short by John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

Among the musicians depicted in the documentary are Louis Armstrong performing in the British West African colony of the Gold Coast (now Ghana), where he dedicates the iconic song “Black and Blue,” about the agony of racism, to Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah.

In a press interview after a September 1957 incident in Little Rock, Ark., where white crowds prevented African-American children from entering their school, Armstrong discusses racism in American homes and says he refuses to lie about it overseas.

Directed by Hugo Berkeley, Narrated by Leslie Odom, Jr., and Produced by Mick Csaky, Stephen Segaller, Julie Anderson, Robert Hughes, Sabine Bubeck-Paaz, and Jan Younghusband, this eye-opening story behind 'The Jazz Ambassadors' is yet another must-have in any American's PBS history collection. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Going To War'
(DVD / NC-17 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: What is it really like to go to war? For millennia, only warriors could really answer that question. Now, a new PBS documentary takes us inside the experience of battle and reveals the soldier's experiences as never before.

DVD Verdict: War is the ultimate paradox. Filled with terror, pain, and grief, it also brings exhilaration, and a profound sense of purpose.

'Going to War' helps us, in just 60 minutes, make sense of this paradox and get to the heart of what it's like to be a soldier in times of war. The film illuminates the experiences of training, battle, and coming home for soldiers across conflicts, revealing the universals of the warrior's journey.

Leading our exploration are Sebastian Junger, bestselling author and director of the Academy Award-nominated film Restrepo, and Karl Marlantes, decorated Marine officer and author of the bestselling novel Matterhorn and the fearless memoir What It is Like to Go to War.

Both men bring firsthand experience, hard-won wisdom, and an abiding commitment to telling the warrior's story with insight and unflinching candor.

Basically put, 'Going To War' is a documentary about how today's veterans are taught from their very first day of basic to the call of war. Inclusive of the love they have for one another, which is sometimes greater than even one of their own family, this film is, quite literally, eye-opening.

It proceeds on through to the day that they have done things that they never thought they were capable of, including becoming heroic to the very best, and yet also, at the same time most times, to their very worst.

Then they come home and, as we know, they somehow don't feel the same level of love that we had for the people who were next to them - or their family, that waited patiently for them. Or those beautiful people who never made it home. 'Going To War' is a devastating, and yet engrossing look into the life of a soldier and how it changes these men and women in all kinds of different ways. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Zoey Deutch, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, et al / DVD / R / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: A sexually curious teen forms an unorthodox kinship with her mentally unstable stepbrother.

DVD Verdict: Despite being early in her career, actress Zoey Deutch has often been the highlight of her film projects. Although that sounds like a good thing, in her case it speaks not just to her talent, but also the quality of those choices.

For those not in the industry now, her father is director Howard Deutch and her mother is Lea Thompson, so her industry bloodlines run deep. Her eyes and smile are truly luminescent on the big screen, where she comes across as a natural. It's now time for her take control of her career. Sadly, a mid-tempo letdown like 'Flower' makes me question whether she is a next level talent.

Director Max Winkler (son of Henry "The Fonz" Winkler) co-wrote the script with Matt Spicer (a terrific 'Ingrid Goes West') and Alex McAuley, and they are fortunate to have such talent as Ms. Deutch, Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott.

A profane, voyeuristic exercise in disturbed behavior becomes something nearly watchable when these three and newcomer Joey Morgan are on screen.

Ms. Deutch plays Erica, a motor-mouthed (in more ways than one) force of nature teenager whose 'BJ's for Dad's bail' involves seducing older men and then extorting money from them after Erica's posse catches them on camera. Oh, and she keeps a sketch book of her victims ... no, not their faces.

The fundraising approach to springing her dad from jail is difficult to accept, but Deutch sells it as best she can. Her mother (Kathryn Hahn) is desperately trying to build a relationship with Bob (Tim Heidecker), whose son Luke (Joey Morgan) is being released after a lengthy rehab stint for pills.

Luke is a hefty young man who finds solace in food and little else. He and Erica could keep multiple therapists busy for years. His problems are exacerbated by an improper school incident involving Will Gordon, a teacher played by Adam Scott.

Coincidentally, this same teacher has been labeled "Old Hot Guy" by Erica and her friends at the bowling alley. Once she learns about Luke's history with the pedophile, Erica plots an evil revenge. You can probably imagine where it goes from there.

Those same eyes and smile mentioned in my first paragraph even light up when Erica describes herself as "the d*** whisperer". It's this kind of moment that finds us hoping Ms. Deutch and her agent quickly learn to distinguish between edgy indie project and trashy script not likely to lead to more work.

In closing, this a very uncomfortable movie to watch, but not in the way where we finish the viewing experience feeling enlightened. The title does deserve applause because even the scratchiest and toughest flower has a delicate side. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

Audio Commentary with Director Max Winkler and Actress Zoe Deutch

Official 'Flower' DVD Trailer

'Dirty Grandpa: 4K Ultra HD+Blu-ray+Digital'
(Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Jason Mantzoukas, et al / 4K Ultra HD+Blu-ray+Digital / R / 2018 / Lions Gate Home Entertainment)

Overview: Right before his wedding, an uptight guy is tricked into driving his grandfather, a lecherous former Army Lieutenant Colonel, to Florida for Spring Break.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Lions Gate Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this June with the release of the, what I can only term, unexpectedly-chosen title from their recent stack of releases, 'Dirty Grandpa.'

Not exactly well received the first time around - cinematic experience wise - it has to be said that, and yet again, this 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog. It even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience.

So, what we have here is 'Dirty Grandpa' presented to us as a two-disc release which contains the following tech information: Codec: HEVC / H.265; Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p); HDR: Dolby Vision + HDR10; Aspect ratio: 2.40:1; Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

As with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features a much brighter, deeper, more lifelike set of colors. Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, everything from a sweating De Niro and a bicep-punching Efrom is brought uber clearly to lie on screen.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of being digitally captured with Arri Alexa XTs and finished at a 2K DI, which means the added resolution brings out the extremely fine facial movements and such from the aforementioned actors. Together with enhancements all over cinematically, this is yet another reason to quickly invest in 4K TVs. For, and in general comparison, all these solid plot points leave the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation looking almost smooth and flat; unlike the presentations we all have grown to know and "love" on our regular TVs, watching our regular Blu-rays.

As for the audio, well, we have a stunning English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 with Subtitles in English; English SDH; and Spanish.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and (Efron) rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, as aforementioned, not my go-to choice for releasing on 4K Ultra HD for a second stab at an audience, sorry. That said, it's not uncommon for Hollywood's A-list stars like to be handed to highly questionable projects; films that leave you asking "why?".

Robert De Niro definitely gives off an unusual (and brutally raucous) vibe here in arguably his goofiest role of his career, partially since he is not known for raunchy R-rated comedies and has spent most of his careers spawning in roles of serious subject matter.

Zac Efron, on the other hand, is no stranger to the hardcore comedy territory, such as playing a college fraternity leader in 'Neighbors' and its sequel.

These two actors collaborate for the first time in this raucous comedy directed by Dan Mazer, a film that's not terrible, but certainly what labels a low point in their career.

Zac Efron plays Jason Kelly, a high-strung lawyer in his way to marrying his boss's uptight daughter Meredith (played by Julianne Hough). With his wedding only days ahead, Jasok is asked to drive his widowed, loathsome grandfather Dick (played by Robert De Niro) from his house to Boca Baton, Louisiana.

Along the way, they run into college friends Lenore (played by Aubrey Plaza), Bradley (played by Jeffrey Bowyer Chapman), and Shaudia (played by Zoey Deutch), and what was supposed to be an easy cross-state trip results in an odyssey of drugs, booze, and embarrassing mayhem while grandfather Dick go outs in search for a new love of his life.

It's easy say Zac Efron and Robert De Niro do make quite an odd comedic duo at first glance. But the real question is do they make a successful duo here. To some extent, sort of. But it definitely isn't one that works as well as it should have.

The two leads both have heir hilarious moments every once a while but a lot of time, they try way too hard and it's not always funny. Efron and De Niro spend nearly the entire length spitting out raunchy dialogue ranging from sex jokes, genitalia jokes, masturbation jokes along with explicitly crude gags that often come off but forced though occasionally funny.

Of course, based on the title, the level of vulgarity shouldn't come to too much of a shock, except maybe the fact that De Niro indulges so far into the level and seems to have fun dropping a large horde of penis jokes. Possibly the most questionable element here maybe De Niro's flirtatious interaction with Aubrey Plaza who plays a college girl probably only a third of his age.

The aspect may be funny but tends to be conceived as rather than off-putting than sexy, especially considering the fact there is a brief sex scene between the two (no nudity involved).

In the end, the hilarity isn't particularly strong but could been enough to semi- distract viewers from the blatantly rushed story line, but only if you watching Efron get high on cocaine or De Niro drinking booze with college girls in bikinis.

As for a couple of the special features included, 'Lessons in Seduction' (1080p; 3:13) concentrates on the character of Lenore and her romantic inclinations and although only runs for just over three minutes, is a dedicated watch reel, for sure.

Whereas, 'I Got Nothin' to Hide: A Look at Daytona's Most Vibrant Drug Dealer' (1080p; 5:58) focuses, obviously, on the character of Pam and is also an interesting, and very vibrantly colorful watch, trust me!

Oh, and as for the 'Gag Reel' (1:38), introduced in rhyme by Zac Efron whilst "driving" a car, it's chock full of dirty dick near-jokes, flubbed lines, weird body movements and a weird three-finger-salute that Robert De Niro has to perfect to get the scene finally right!

In closing, and as aforementioned, 'Dirty Grandpa' definitely marks a rather low point for the careers for both Zac Efron and Robert De Niro, but definitely isn't what I consider one of the worst movies I've ever had the chance to either watch for pleasure or review.

After all, it does succeed at least bringing some laughs. However, the effort of the two leads do not always prevail. For comedy fans, this film may be worth a try, but definitely won't please everyone, especially those who are looking for Robert De Niro in a more solid comedic form. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

“Lessons in Seduction” Featurette
“Filthy Filmmakers Who Have No Shame” Audio Commentary (Blu-ray™ Only)
“The Filthy Truth: The Making of Dirty Grandpa” Featurette
“Daytona Heat” Featurette
“I Got Nothin’ to Hide: A Look at Daytona’s Most Vibrant Drug Dealer” Featurette
Gag Reel

Official 'Dirty Grandpa: 4K Ultra HD+Blu-ray+Digital' Trailer

'Nature Cat: Onward and Pondward!'
(DVD / TV-Y / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Streams, swamps, ponds, and more! Go Onward and Pondward with everyone's favorite backyard explorer extraordinaire, Nature Cat!

DVD Verdict: For those not yet in the know, Nature Cat is an American-Canadian educational animated children's television series which premiered on November 25th, 2015 on PBS.

The series is aimed at children aged 3 to 8 years old, following the adventures of four main characters: Nature Cat, Hal the Dog, Daisy the Bunny and Squeeks the Mouse.

Rightly so, the show has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program" with the series debut in November achieved nearly 3.7 million viewers (and by March it had achieved 69 million video streams across online platforms).

On June 5th, 2018, the first DVD 'Onward and Pondward!' was released via PBS Kids and, just so we're all on the same page, Nature Cat has already officially been renewed for a third season (the second season premiered on January 1st, 2018).

Here in the aforementioned 'Nature Cat: Onward and Pondward!,' along with his friends Hal, Squeeks, and Daisy, the team learns where a stream begins and explores new environments along the way.

These are a few of the seven fun-filled outdoor adventures you do not want to miss:

'Welcome to Vernal Pond'
'Puddle Pool Party'
'Stream and Shout'
'Swamp Thing'
'There's Gold in Them Thar Hills'
'Earth Day Today'
'Earth Day Every Day'

Nature Cat can't wait to get outside for a day of backyard nature excursions and bravery! With the help of his friends, Nature Cat embarks on action-packed adventures full of investigation and discovery, all while encouraging children to go outdoors and explore the world around them.

I have twin 4 year-old boys who absolutely love this new PBS Kids show. They actually get up and act out all the moves that Nature Cat himself makes.

Each episode has fun, appropriate humor that keeps kids engaged and is even funny to adults and older kids - at least those with a good sense of humor! Oh, and in addition, it has great messages and information about nature. So, what more could you want for your kids to fall in love with this well designed TV show? This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Boxer Of Auschwitz: Victor Young Perez'
(Tomer Sisley, et al / DVD / NR / (2013) 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: In 1931, Victor Young Perez rose to great fame as the youngest world champion in boxing history, however only 12 years later he was deported to Auschwitz, where he was forced to box for the amusement of the camp guards.

DVD Verdict: When actor Tomer Sisley heard Perez's fascinating story, he was inspired to make a movie about it. 'Searching for Victor "Young" Perez: The Boxer of Auschwitz' follows Sisley on his quest to learn more about Perez's harrowing, emotional experiences, and the secret of his tragic fate.

But, taking it from the top, for those not in the know, Victor Perez, a Tunisian-born boxer who became the youngest world champion, was forced to box for Nazis' amusement at concentration camp and later, sadly, shot dead during the death march.

As we quickly learn in this fascinating, but ultimately saddening new documentary, about 100,000 Tunisian Jews were forced to wear a yellow star during the Second World War, and thousands were sent to labor and concentration camps, where many were killed. One such victim was Victor "Young" Perez, one of the most prominent athletes to grow up in the Tunisian Jewish community.

Victor Perez was born on October 18, 1912 in French-ruled Tunisia. His father, Khmaïssa, a household goods salesman, and mother, Rene, raised Victor and his four brothers.

Perez began training as a boxer together with his older brother Benjamin at the local "Maccabi" club. He idolized Battling Siki, an American-Senegalese light heavyweight champion, who was murdered in 1925.

Perez won his first match when he was 16. He left Tunis for France in order to compete in the flyweight category and won the French flyweight title in 1930.

On October 24, 1931, only days after turning 19, Perez was crowned world flyweight champion after defeating the American Frankie Genaro. Perez thus became the youngest world champion in history. He also caught the attention of gossip columns for his relationship with the French-Italian actress Mireille Balin.

Victor Perez's career continued until December 1938, by which time he had achieved 92 victories. He lost 26 matches, and another 15 ended in ties.

Despite growing anti-Semitism, Perez continued living in Paris, and even traveled to Berlin for a match in November 1938. When France was defeated by the Germans in 1940, Perez attempted to flee together with a friend, but returned.

On September 21, 1943, weeks before his 31th birthday, Perez was arrested by the Gestapo. He was sent to the Drancy concentration camp in France together with 1,000 prisoners – and then on to Auschwitz.

There, as aforementioned, he was forced to perform manual labor and to participate in boxing matches to entertain the Nazis. The Germans allowed Perez to train at first, but after a match against an SS member he was subject to treatment similar to that of the other prisoners.

On January 22, 1945, Perez was shot dead by a Nazi soldier during the death march from the camp. He was 35 years old.

Perez was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1986 and this quite brilliant and eye-opening new documentary (64 minutes) was screened at festivals in 2013. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Dogs Of Democracy'
(Loukanikos, Yanis Varoufakis, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Dogs of Democracy' is a documentary about the stray dogs of Athens and the people who take care of them. Filmmaker Mary Zournazi explores life on the streets through the eyes of the dogs and peoples' experience.

DVD Verdict: Shot on location in Athens, the birthplace of democracy, the documentary is about how Greece has become the 'stray dogs of Europe', and how the dogs have become a symbol of hope for the people and for the anti-austerity movement.

A universal story about love and loyalty and what we might learn from animals. 'Dogs Of Democracy' is one of the most heartwarming documentaries that I've seen in many a decade. Sure, yes, I'm a dog lover and former owner, but wow, this is just a pure delight to behold from start to finish.

For Zournazi, Greece has become ‘the stray dog of Europe’: the dogs have become a symbol of hope for the people and for the anti-austerity movement. Coming from a Greek family living in Australia, Mary Zournazi made her first visit to Athens in 2014.

She is the author of several books including Hope: New philosophies for change and Inventing Peace with the German filmmaker Wim Wenders. She also teaches in the sociology program at the University of New South Wales.

'Dogs of Democracy' skillfully uses visual metaphors and unexpected twists to explore the culture of contemporary Greece. Zournazi's film begins by acquainting us with the stray dogs of Athens. We see them fed irregularly by various persons, including Greeks who are themselves being fed by social agencies.

The dogs are seen wandering about, visible yet “not seen.” In a very subtle manner the images of the stray dogs and their experiences merge with the lives of Athenians struggling through the (economic) crisis. The camera doesn’t plead for them or depict them as helpless. It just shows the prevailing patterns of everyday life.

Midway through the 57 minute film, a middle-aged man states, “We are the stray dogs of Europe.” In short, Greece is visible to Europe, but “not seen.” Politically without even showcasing a visual aspect that suggests the fact was even close to being the lead subject. Smart. Very smart and very dynamic.

WINNER! Spirit of Activism Award, Nevada Women's Film Festival, March 2017
WINNER! Best Documentary Feature, 2017 Imagine This: Women's International Film Festival, Brooklyn, New York
WINNER! Directors' Choice Award, 2017 Social Justice Film Festival, USA

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Ascent Of Evil: The Story Of Mein Kampf'
(Adolf Hitler, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Ascent of Evil: The Story of Mein Kampf' is an autobiographical manifesto written by Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler while imprisoned following his 1923 failed coup attempt in Munich.

DVD Verdict: In Mein Kampf, Hitler outlined his political ideology and goals for Germany. Today, Mein Kampf is still available in libraries, on the Internet, at universities and even at bookstores worldwide.

Yet much of the history of this 720-page, two-volume screed is now forgotten. Using historical footage, photographs and interviews with scholars, 'Ascent of Evil' plunges deep into the infamous blueprint for evil's dark secrets and reveals how this book came to be written and its impact on world.

So, taking a more detailed look back at Mein Kampf, and we discover watching this new documentary that the work describes the process by which Hitler became antisemitic and outlines his political ideology and future plans for Germany.

Indeed, Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926 and the book was edited by Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess.

Hitler began Mein Kampf while imprisoned for what he considered to be "political crimes" following his failed Putsch in Munich in November 1923. Although Hitler received many visitors initially, he soon devoted himself entirely to the book.

As he continued, Hitler realized that it would have to be a two-volume work, with the first volume scheduled for release in early 1925. The governor of Landsberg noted at the time that "he [Hitler] hopes the book will run into many editions, thus enabling him to fulfill his financial obligations and to defray the expenses incurred at the time of his trial. The book was a bestseller in Germany during the 1930s.

After Hitler's death, copyright of Mein Kampf passed to the state government of Bavaria, which refused to allow any copying or printing of the book in Germany.

In 2016, following the expiry of the copyright held by the Bavarian state government, Mein Kampf was republished in Germany for the first time since 1945, which prompted public debate and divided reactions from Jewish groups.

Using historical footage, photographs and interviews with scholars, 'Ascent Of Evil: The Story Of Mein Kampf' (52 minutes) plunges deep into the infamous document's dark secrets and reveals how this book came to be written and its impact on world. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'China Salesman'
(Mike Tyson, Steven Seagal, Dong-Xue Li, Janicke Askevold, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2017) 2018 / Cleopatra Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: Based on a true story, 'China Salesman' takes us on a dangerous and epic adventure to Africa where a Chinese salesman comes face-to-face with a corrupt competitor over a prized telecom deal.

Local tribesman KABBAH (Mike Tyson) and mercenary LAUDER (Steven Seagal) take up opposite sides in an epic battle while the entire region threatens to explode in a dangerous civil war.

Blu-ray Verdict: OK, I have to say that when this was first announced as a project, I genuinely thought that it was just one big marketing joke! Then I read that it was featuring an all-star cast that included none other than the former World Heavyweight Champion himself, Mike Tyson ('The Hangover', 'Kickboxer: Retaliation') and Steven Seagal ('Exit Wounds', 'Under Siege', 'Hard To Kill') along with Janicke Askevold ('The Smurfs 2') and Eriq Ebouaney ('3 Days to Kill'), and so I settled down a wee bit to take it all in.

Now I've had the pleasure to watch it all unfold in front of me on my small screen, albeit HD TV, I can honestly say that it's nowhere close to being as cheesy, or as stupid, or as bad as I had initially imagined! In fact, it was a pretty decent B-movie action flick, regardless of the egotistical Seagal always trying to hog the camera time.

Tyson fist-fight's his way through scenes like he's going out of fashion, even smashing a thrown-at-him wooden barrel into a million splintered pieces with one punch! Whereas Seagal, looking way more bloated these days than he ever did, chews the scenes he's in whole, his infamous one-liners as fun now as they ever were though, it has to be said.

As for the bit part players here, well, both of the two leading Chinese actors were downright bad actors with seemingly nervous, awkward performances. That said, the chemistry between Tyson and his Chinese mate is superb throughout and even Tyson gets in some fab one-liner's! In conclusion, 'China Salesman' is a fun action B-movie and will have you laughing and ducking punches all day long! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2:35.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Image Slideshow
Theatrical Trailer and More!

'The Complete Sartana: Limited Edition'
(Gianni Garko, George Hilton, William Berger, Klaus Kinski, et al / 5-Disc Limited Edition Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Sartana tapped into more than just his Spaghetti Western predecessors. A mysterious figure, he has a spectral quality, aided by his Count Dracula-like cloak which also nods towards comic strip figure, Mandrake the Magician; with whom he shares he shares a penchant for card tricks.

He takes pride in his appearance unlike Clint Eastwood's dusty wanderer or Nero's mud-caked drifter. And there's also a dose of James Bond in his fondness for gadgetry and the droll sense of humor that abounds.

Unsurprisingly, this unique figure in the genre was treated to four official follow-ups. 'The Complete Sartana' collects all five films, presented here in brand-new restorations: 'If You Meet Sartana, Pray for Your Death,' 'I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death,' 'Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay,' 'Light the Fuse, Sartana Is Coming,' and 'Sartana's Here, Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin,' in which George Hilton replaced Garko in the lead role.

Blu-ray Verdict: We kick off with 'If You Meet Sartana, Pray for Your Death' (1968), where crooked bankers plan an insurance swindle and hire a Mexican gang to steal the bank's gold - but they also pay Lasky's gang to kill the Mexicans.

Sartana (played superbly by John Garko) has one of the greatest entrances on screen of all the Spaghetti protagonists. When accused of looking like a scarecrow, he utters the classic line "I am your pallbearer" before gunning down all the bandits facing him. A classic moment, with the black clad Sartana setting the scene perfectly for this Gothic-tinged western.

The story itself is a very complicated affair, and one which I'm not completely sure I followed from beginning to end, sorry. In simple terms, the story evolves around a stagecoach robbery and murder (with the culprits themselves hijacked and massacred by Lasky - played by the ever brilliant William Berger - and his gang). Enter Sartana, in the midst of further double crossing and more double crossing. And cue bloodshed aplenty!

Next up is 'I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death' (1969) where Sartana is falsely accused of robbing a bank, and must find the real robbers and clear his name.

Giuliano Carnimeo directs with a strong emphasis on action rather than simply trying to copy Sergio Leone. A fast moving picture with a large body-count and countless firefights, it doesn't stop to breathe even for a second!

Some of the action scenes are particularly well done, with the battle in the church making the biggest impression. It is, by far, one of the most unique showdowns I've seen in an Italian western.

There Carnimeo employs, complete darkness with the only visible light coming from aimless fire of dozens of guns that are trying to hit Sartana while he himself silently kills them off one by one.

The battle is accompanied with an atmospheric musical piece by composer Vasco Mancuso that further helps in establishing a claustrophobic no escape feel of the scene.

The comes 'Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay' (1970) where after witnessing a brutal massacre, the legendary hero Sartana is ready to do some investigating.

Almost everyone in the tiny town of Indian Creek seems eager to buy up the property left behind by the murder victims, and one of them could well be behind the killings. The sheriff himself is not above suspicion, so Sartana must uncover the culprit all on his own.

Gianni Garko is back as Sartana, and this time he's sporting a thick blonde Swedish- style mustache! I'm also beginning to think he's some sort of jinx, as yet again he witnesses the massacre of a bunch of miners by some bad guys and gets mixed up in some sort of land grab treachery involving crooked bank managers we've all seen a million times by now.

But who cares? It's Sartana, and it seems the longer the series goes on, the more ridiculous (and therefore enjoyable) the films get! He's still dressing in goth fashion and he still has his four chambered Derringer, but this time round he's also got a pack of cards with sharpened edges!

The crooked bank manager (and his many crooked employees) is pretty good too, sending wave after wave of hired killers after Sartana, only for Sartana to waste them, then pay for their funeral, only for the bad guys to use that funeral to try and kill Sartana.

Sartana also acts like some sort of ghost in this one, seemingly teleporting anywhere he wants to, which just adds to the strangeness. Plus he can light fireworks by firing a gun at them, at night.

That's followed by 'Light the Fuse, Sartana Is Coming' (1970), in which wily roving gunslinger Sartana arrives in a small town and tries to find a hidden fortune of half a million dollars in gold and two million dollars in counterfeit money.

Naturally, a bunch of other treacherous folks who include conniving widow Senora Manassas, shrewd fellow gunslinger Grand Full, and the vicious and unhinged General Monk are also looking to get their greedy hands on said fortune.

Sartana infiltrates a sadistic frontier prison in order to bust out an inmate accused of stashing half a million dollars in gold. However, getting the inmate out proves to be easier than uncovering the whereabouts of the missing loot, located somewhere in a town full of crooked characters with shady intentions.

Another fast-moving entry in the official Sartana series, starring Gianni Garko, there's a lot of twists and turns, with Sartana seemingly able to read minds, tell the future and see in all directions at once!

There's loads of gun-play and a fairly interesting mystery regarding who exactly has the gold. It's not quite groundbreaking cinema, but it'll do very nicely!

Lastly, we get 'Sartana's Here, Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin' (1970) where are favorite bounty hunter and gunfighter witnesses the robbery of a shipment of gold. He finds his way into town where he meets with a lot of suspicious stares from the locals.

He also meets with Samuel Spencer, who seems to own the company in this company town. The gold shipments are being stolen, so Spencer agrees to hire Sartana to protect the next gold shipment.

Numerous dull-witted villains make attempts on Sartana's life, but he survives. Eventually, Sartana's nemesis Sabbath (he of the white coat and parasol) rides into town. With a showdown inevitable, Sartana and Sabbath square off to settle the score.

This is a fun movie with interesting characters, and lots of spaghetti western style. I found it very entertaining, although it has some story elements that don't seem to make a lot of sense.

George Hilton does a fine job of portraying Sartana for this final outing, more often played by Gianni Garko. Hilton's style is slightly different, but he plays the part equally as well as Garko.

However, the real show stealer here is Charles Southwood as Sabbath, a bounty hunter who dresses in all-white, carries a white parasol, and lives by the values taught to him by his mother!

Sartana and Sabbath are both oddballs, each in his own way, but Sabbath is so eccentric he makes Sartana look normal! One of the many amusing parts of the film is when Sabbath comes riding into town with his parasol, and one of the townsfolk sees him and says, "What's the West coming to?"

Sartana and Sabbath play off of each other quite well, and their interactions are fun to watch, especially when they square off near the end of the film. Well worth the price of admission into this fantastic new Blu-ray 5-Disc Limited Edition Box-Set, out now via Arrow Films UK and MVD Visual US. These are all Brand New 2K Restoration presentations enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Brand-new 2K restoration of 'If You Meet Sartana, Pray for Your Death' from original film materials, carried out by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
Brand-new 2K restorations of 'I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death,' 'Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay,' 'Light the Fuse, Sartana Is Coming,' and 'Sartana's Here, Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin' from original camera negatives, carried out by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
Original Italian and English soundtracks on all five films
Uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
Audio commentary on 'If You Meet Sartana, Pray for Your Death' by filmmaker Mike Siegel
Audio commentaries on 'I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death' and 'Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay' by Spaghetti Western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke
Gianfranco Parolini on 'If You Meet Sartana, Pray for Your Death,' a brand-new interview with the writer-director
Fabbio Piccioni on 'If You Meet Sartana, Pray for Your Death,' a brand-new interview with the writer
Sal Borgese on 'I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death' and 'Light the Fuse, Sartana Is Coming,' two brand-new interviews with the actor
Ernesto Gastaldi on 'I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death' and 'Light the Fuse, Sartana Is Coming,' two brand-new interviews with the writer
Roberto Dell Acqua on 'Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay,' a brand-new interview with the actor
Sartana Lives, an archive featurette on 'Light the Fuse, Sartana Is Coming' featuring interviews with actor Gianni Garko and director Giuliano Carnimeo
Sartana Shoots First, a brand-new interview with George Hilton on 'Sartana's Here, Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin'
Erika Blanc on 'Sartana's Here, Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin,' a brand-new interview with the actor
Tony Askin on 'Sartana's Here, Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin,' a brand-new interview with the actor
Brand-new video essay on the major actors and supporting players in the official Sartana films
Galleries of original promotional images from the Mike Siegal Archive for all five films
Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
Limited Edition Blu-ray collection of all five official Sartana films (2500 copies)
Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Roberto Curti and more!

'British Blues Explosion Live' [DVD]
(Joe Bonamassa, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / J&R Adventures)

Overview: On British Blues Explosion Live, Joe Bonamassa pays homage to legendary British guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page with his stunning performance of their blues-rock classics.

DVD Verdict: Over the years, Bonamassa has played alongside such artists as Stephen Stills, Eric Clapton, Blondie Chaplin, Foreigner, Buddy Guy, Steve Winwood, Warren Haynes, and Derek Trucks among others.

His career highlights include performances at the Royal Albert Hall and a Grammy Award nomination in 2013. In addition to his music career, Joe Bonamassa runs a nonprofit organization called the Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation, whose mission it is to further music education by funding scholarships and providing music education resources to schools in need.

Recorded at Greenwich Music Time at The Old Royal Naval College in London in July, 2016 the 5 piece band includes the wondrous musicians: Michael Rhodes (bass), Reese Wynans (keyboards), Anton Fig (drums) and Russ Irwin (rhythm guitar/backing vocals).

1. The British Blues Explosion (Intro)
2. 'Beck's Bolero / Rice Pudding'
3. 'Mainline Florida'
4. 'Boogie With Stu'
5. 'Let Me Love You Baby'
6. 'Plynth (Water Down The Drain)'
7. 'Spanish Boots'
8. 'Double Crossing Time'
9. 'Motherless Children'
10. Band Introductions
11. 'SWLABR'
12. 'Tea For One / I Can't Quit You Baby'
13. 'Little Girl'
14. 'Pretending'
15. 'Black Winter / Django'
16. 'How Many More Times'
17. Credits

Now, in my humble opinion, and as much as love Bonamassa and his infamous guitar work, there are some highlights here on the DVD that are every bit as good as it gets on his other DVDs ... but, having said that, there are also some numbers that do not rival the original artist recordings: both Zeppelin's 'How Many More Times' and Clapton's 'Pretending,' for example.

But that's quite ok and acceptable given the length and breadth of guitar wizardry that Bonamassa stretches himself to over two hours of live music (and bonus footage combined). For a stand out killer track is an awesome version of Cream's 'SWABLR' ("She Walks Like a Bearded Rainbow").

The intensity of the whole band during that number alone definitely comes close to rivaling that of Cream's original, which is a seemingly impossible task, as I'm sure you all might already comprehend, of course. Indeed, that was probably the greatest performance of the set, again, in my humble opinion.

Another thing I need to point out that I think we, as visual spectators of a live concert on DVD/Blu-ray, are seemingly now always subjected to, actually doesn't happen here! What I mean by that is the actual the filming of the guitar interplay was done by focusing on Bonamassa's fingers working their guitar string magic, and others, not a sharply cut and edited flash frame set of sequences which flirt from one person to another in split second intervals.

With that in mind, and while close ups of Reese Wynans' Hammond organ work was a definite highlight, I found I was drifting a wee bit before the end - as it truly is a long live performance to sit and watch all the way through in one binge, shall we say. Which I know is a delightful "problem" to have these days, but as the lights flash, the music plays, the guitars roar, come the second hour and I was in need of a visual breather.

But, the love audience didn't have that luxury, let alone the option to press pause, so onward we delved. And what came up was actually very rare and very interesting for Bonamassa slips in an "F" bomb when describing his complete lack of lyrical understanding of the meaning of Cream's lyrics for the aforementioned 'SWLABR'! A fun moment to see/hear him admit such a thing, let alone drop that expletive.

In closing, Joe Bonamassa challenged himself to do justice to the greatest British rockers of all time and, boy, does he deliver here on British Blues Explosion Live.

His powerful covers of 'Let Me Love You Baby,' 'Motherless Children,' 'Mainline Florida,' and both 'Little Girl' and 'Spanish Boots' will give you chills! Outstanding vocals, awesome band, this DVD (along with the wondrous near-90 minute 2CD set that has also been released of this show) showcases the most versatile and gifted guitarist on the planet (again, in my humble opinion). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:

'Taxman' - Live at The Cavern Club
Joe Honored With A 'Brick In The Wall'
The British Blues Explosion Explained by Mick Wall
Photo Gallery - BBE UK Tour
28-Page Collectible Booklet

Joe Bonamassa @ Facebook!

'British Blues Explosion Live' CD Review Link

'Escape Plan: 4K Ultra HD'
(Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, 50 Cent, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / R / (2013) 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Ray Breslin is the world's foremost authority on structural security. After analyzing every high security prison and learning a vast array of survival skills so he can design escape-proof prisons, his skills are put to the test. He's framed and incarcerated in a master prison he designed himself. He needs to escape and find the person who put him behind bars.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Lionsgate Films continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this June with the release of this quite stunning 'Escape Plan' in the new 4K home video format on June 5th, 2018.

For my money, this 'Escape Plan: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Escape Plan' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265; Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p) HDR: Dolby Vision + HDR10; Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

As with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features a much brighter, deeper, more lifelike set of colors. Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; like the bright blue lights inside the prison.

The picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial (although with these two leads, maybe that wasn't such a bright idea after all!) and some of the yellow graded material (notably some scenes with the doctor portrayed by Sam Elliott) have a kind of honeyed amber appearance now. Which is interesting and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1 English; and Dolby Digital 2.0. There are also Subtitles in English SDH and Spanish.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger shared a few scenes in both installments of the Expendables franchise, but 'Escape Plan' marks the first time the two legendary actions stars have headlined a film together, and it feels somewhat poetic that this team-up should be so reminiscent of the films on which both men built their careers.

Stallone stars as Ray Breslin, a security expert whose entire career has been built around pointing out the flaws in maximum security prisons - by getting himself incarcerated and then breaking out of them. His reputation gets him a meeting with the CIA, who want Ray to go undercover inside a privately funded penitentiary which houses the most dangerous criminals and terrorists in the world, an off-the-books facility known as The Tomb.

Unfortunately for Ray, the entire thing is a setup, and now he's trapped on the inside at the mercy of the devilish Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) and completely cut off from the outside world. His only option is to befriend the big man on the inside, Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), whose ties to a shadowy underworld figure might be the ticket to a major payday for Hobbes.

Without the large-scale skirmishes of 'The Expendables' or the gore-soaked combat of 'Rambo' to distract moviegoers, Stallone is forced to rely on his charisma, and he proves that he still has plenty to offer. But he takes a backseat to Schwarzenegger here, who delivers his best performance since his return to the big screen.

Not only is the Governator given an opportunity to showcase a bit of range, he actually seems to be having fun with this one, which is more than can be said for 'The Last Stand'.

'Escape Plan' is far from a perfect film, but an audience willing to suspend a tremendous amount of disbelief and ignore the gaping plot holes will find an enjoyable flick with a solid blend of action and humor, not to mention a fantastically understated performance by Caviezel, who will hopefully be cast as a major villain in a superhero movies sometime in the very near future.

As for a delve into a couple of the Special Features, I happen to love 'Executing the Plan: The Making of Escape Plan.' Running at just over 20 minutes, it is non-stop and chock full of star interviews and fun behind the scenes footage and scenes from the film. I say fun, as both these BIG stars seem to be acting more like brothers on set than opposing film stars throughout the decades.

Also, for a deeper look into how certain scenes were brought together you can do no worse than the Audio Commentary by Director Mikael Håfström and Co-Writer Miles Chapman. Interestingly, the two participants did this commentary simultaneously though on opposite coasts.

They work with each other nicely here too, as if they were in the same room, to be quite honest, and each give their own morsel of interesting background information on the concept as well as some of the rigors of the shoot. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Audio Commentary by Director Mikael Håfström and Co-Writer Miles Chapman
Executing the Plan: The Making of Escape Plan (1080p; 22:13).
Maximum Security: The Real Life Tomb (1080p; 21:57)
Clash of the Titans (1080p; 15:34)
Deleted Scenes (1080p; 8:13)

Official 'Escape Plan: 4K Ultra HD' Trailer Link

'Shark Week: 30th Anniversary Edition'
(Blu-ray+DVD / TV-14 / 2018 / LGF)

Overview: Dive in and celebrate 30 years of sharktastic excitement when the 'Shark Week: 30th Anniversary Edition' arrives on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus Digital and DVD) July 3rd from Lionsgate, exclusively at Walmart September 4th.

Blu-ray Verdict: Just in time for America’s birthday, everyone will soon have the chance to enjoy one of the country’s biggest obsessions – The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week!

Here on 'Shark Week: 30th Anniversary Edition,' Shark Week celebrates 30 years with fan-selected favorites ranging from shark science to harrowing survival stories.

Here on this incredible new Blu-ray+DVD combo pack, we witness (close up!) the awe-inspiring AIR JAWS, explore HOW JAWS CHANGED THE WORLD, and dive deep into the details of incredible species like the great white and hammerhead.

The combo pack - which also includes 5 fan-favorite's and 5 vintage episodes - also takes a look back at PREHISTORIC SHARKS, the thrilling DIARY OF A SHARK MAN, and the terrifying BULL SHARK: WORLD'S DEADLIEST SHARK.

When Discovery Channel started Shark Week back in 1988, it was designed to take the craze started 13 years prior by 'Jaws' and use it to dispel movie myths and encourage people to understand sharks.

But in recent years, the channel came under fire from scientists for using junk science to increase ratings. In response, Discovery has steadily moved back to fact-based docs, but some skepticism remains.

That aside, and taking a look at some of these episodes now, just to give you an inside's feel to what to expect (should you not have seen the for yourselves yet, of course, first up to get a mention is the very insightful "Jaws Strikes Back."

This special follows biologist Greg Skomal and his team as they head to the Pacific to tag the largest great whites in the world with a drone cam that allows them to study their hunting patterns. Things take an unexpected turn, however, when one of the sharks attacks the camera.

Another insightful episode is "Alien Sharks of the Deep." Beyond your usual great whites and hammerheads, there's also sharks that have been able to adapt to the extreme conditions of deep sea environments. "Alien Sharks" takes a look at these bizarre-looking creatures, including the filter-feeding Megamouth.

"Mythbusters" is another fun and highly entertaining episode, for when it comes to cool, interesting science, no one brings the goods better than Adam and Jamie. "Mythbusters" cooked up a few shark-related tests for Shark Week during its run, including a test to see what can truly keep people from being attacked by sharks.

"Tiger Beach," with a title referring to a shallow-water area of the Bahamas that is teeming with tiger shark, are known for eating almost anything. This results in some of the most gorgeous underwater cinematography Shark Week has ever put on TV.

But the one that does it for me every time, is "Air Jaws" for this has become one of Shark Week's finest episodes in the series. Using extreme slow motion cameras to show great whites soaring out of the water to feed, yes, sure, it's rather terrifying, but unlike "Wrath of Submarine," it's the kind of terrifying that also evokes respect and awe.

Indeed, this stunning, and tightly packed (content wise) Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack includes over six hours of classic episodes including many rarities and even an exclusive code that allows fans to access 25 additional episodes! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Woman Is The Future Of Man' & 'Tale Of Cinema'
(Kim Taewoo, Yoo Jitae, Sung Hyunah, Lee Kiwoo, Uhm Jiwon, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2004/2005) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: This collection brings together 'Women is the Future of Man' and 'Tale of Cinema', the fifth and sixth films by Hong Sangsoo, the masterful South Korean filmmaker who has been favorably compared to that great French observer of human foibles, Eric Rohmer.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Woman is the Future of Man' tells of two long-time friends, a filmmaker (Kim Taewoo) and a teacher (Yoo Jitae), who have had an affair with the same woman (Sung Hyunah). The friends decide to meet the girl one more time and see what happens, but not everything goes according to either of their plans.

This was a thoroughly engrossing film. Superb acting, believable characters, and a story that holds your interest. That said, you could dismiss the story as just another slice-of-life piece because it does boil down to a simple tale of two old friends getting together for a visit. Still, we care about what happens to everyone involved.

There was certainly an ethereal quality to this film and an indefinable stamp of a director unto himself. The decors are simple and not manipulated but at the same time there is a depth and simplicity in each shot. There is such a control of what we the viewer can see and what is not shown.

The relationships are complex and real. The tension is palpable in several scenes. My heart really went out to the characters during the course of the film. I even had a change of heart. I didn't feel manipulated by the nature of the characters but I felt free to choose. A second viewing might be rewarding to see another perspective.

In contrast to others I found the soundtrack unique and appropriate. I also appreciate that, like Rohmer, there is humor throughout the film.

'Tale of Cinema' uses the trope of a film within a film to tell two stories, that of a depressive young man (Lee Kiwoo) who forms a suicide pact with a friend (Uhm Jiwon); and the tale of a filmmaker (Kim Sangkyung) who sees see a film that he believes was based on his life; and who meets the actress from the film with view to turning their onscreen relationship into reality.

Hong was back for the third time at the New York Film Festival with this appealing self-reflexive look at ineffectual young men who happen to be filmmakers. The first segment is a film about such a man (Lee Kiwoo), who is tall and handsome but directionless. He meets an old girlfriend (Uhm Jiwon) and eventually talks her into committing suicide with him, though the attempt ends comically.

Ten years later, the star, who was also the director, is now famous and ill. His co-star, the girl, is a successful actress. She encounters a classmate of the filmmaker, also handsome, now down on his luck, who claims his story was appropriated in the film, and it seems like it is going to repeat itself as he leaches onto her and they spend a drunken night together.

What's interesting is the way Hong slides from glamorous ennui to comical mediocrity in his meandering New Wave-ish sequences in a brightly lit but tacky urban Korea. Is Seoul really anything like Paris? Perhaps not. But Hong's sweetly melancholy film with its gentle convolutions lingers pleasantly in the mind. These are both Widescreen Presentations (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and this Special Edition Blu-ray comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Newly translated optional English subtitles
Newly filmed introductions to both films by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns
Interviews with Kim Sangkyung, Lee Kiwoo and Uhm Jiwon, the stars of 'Tale of Cinema'
Introduction to 'Woman is the Future of Man' by director Martin Scorsese
The Making of 'Woman is the Future of Man', a featurette on the film s production
Interviews with the actors of 'Woman is the Future of Man'
Stills Gallery
Original Trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Michael Sicinski.

'The Case of the Scorpion's Tail: Special Edition'
(George Hilton, Anita Strindberg, Alberto De Mendoza, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1971) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: 'The Case of the Scorpion's Tail' begins with the mysterious death of a millionaire and spirals into the murder of his suddenly rich wife, which draws the attention of a dogged investigator, who follows a trail of blood to the bitter end.

Blu-ray Verdict: Lisa Baumer (Ida Galli) collects on her husband's life insurance—a cool $1m—after he is blown to smithereens in an air disaster. Several people suspect Lisa of foul play, including a junkie ex-lover who resorts to blackmail, her husband's mistress Lara (Janine Reynaud), who also feels entitled to some of the money, and insurance investigator Peter Lynch (George Hilton).

But when Lisa is murdered after cashing her check, and the money goes missing, the case becomes much more complicated.

Sergio Martino's 'The Case of the Scorpion's Tail' might not be the most innovative of giallos, but it does meet many fans' expectations of the genre, making it a very enjoyable way to waste some time.

So, taking a wholly different approach to this review, here's what to expect, all located somewhere within this highly entertaining movie:

An animal in the title: the insect of the title refers to the Scorpion-shaped cuff-link discovered at the scene of an attempted murder.

A convoluted plot: this one's got twists and turns aplenty, making it a thoroughly engrossing mystery from start to finish A character struggling to recall a vital clue: Peter Linch is convinced that he knows something that will help to solve the case.

Red herrings: there are lots of these, but to tell you about them would be to spoil the film.

Exotic locations: the film opens in London, but the action soon moves to sun-kissed Athens.

Stylish cinematography and lighting: Martino employs some crazy camera angles to help spice up proceedings, and lights certain scenes with vivid color.

Sexy women in peril: there are several Euro-babes in this giallo, a couple of whom meet very nasty fates. Anita Strindberg as French photojournalist Cléo Dupont, Peter's love interest, provides the obligatory T&A, happily showing off her '70s silicone implants.

Creepy dolls/freaky paintings: it has absolutely nothing at all to do with the story, but there is a scene featuring several dolls with missing eyes and limbs, and a portrait of a man with bug-eyes.

Gruesome murders: Martino ensures that gore-hounds are kept happy with two bloody throat slashing's, a nasty knife in the abdomen, an even nastier broken bottle in the eye, and a victim having the back of their hands slashed with a switchblade before falling from a height to their death.

A leather-gloved killer: goes without saying!

Blatant product placement: fancy a glass of J&B Scotch? You might do after watching this film.

Cops who figure out the truth in the nick of time: the law waits till the very last moment before arriving on the scene to save the heroine.

In fact, all that's missing is a haunting lullaby/nursery rhyme! I loved this movie and I hope you do also. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
Audio commentary with writer Ernesto Gastaldi, moderated by filmmaker Federico Caddeo (in Italian with English subtitles)
New interview with star George Hilton
New interview with director Sergio Martino
New analysis Sergio Martino s films by Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film
New video essay by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Rachael Nisbet and Howard Hughes, and a biography of star Anita Strindberg by Peter Jilmstad.

'Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards!'
(Jô Shishido, Tamio Kawaji, Reiko Sassamori, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1963) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Police detective Tajima, tasked with tracking down stolen firearms, turns an underworld grudge into a blood-bath. Suzuki transforms a colorful pot-boiler into an on-target send-up of cultural colonialism and post-war greed.

Blu-ray Verdict: Seijun Suzuki is, without question, one of a kind. I've never agreed with the popular perception of him as a cinematic genius, but he's an original, unique, innovative filmmaker that deserves respect.

'Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards!' stars Suzuki's number one man — the actor he cast for the lead of so many of his films — Jô Shishido. OK, in truth, I've never cared for Shishido. His ridiculous ultra-cool, ultra-tough guy routine is so transparent that it's impossible for me to take him at all seriously.

Fortunately, in this film, we don't have to take him seriously. We're meant not to. And so all the things that normally get under my skin about Shishido work here to enhance the film's overall enjoyability. For the first time I was really able to enjoy him as an actor.

Suzuki, on the other hand, I always enjoy. He doesn't have Ozu's spiritual, emotional potency or formal mastery; he doesn't have Mizoguchi's palpable atmosphere or incredible sense of mood and tone; he doesn't have Ôshima's political conscience or unflinching psychological deconstructions of human self-destructiveness; he doesn't have Teshigahara's deeply philosophical genius, or Imamura's profound comic satire based in existential discontent.

Standing next to the true geniuses of Japanese cinema, Suzuki isn't really an artist at all. He's more of, well, a confectioner. But there's nothing wrong with a little treat sometimes, and I personally deeply enjoy Suzuki's brand of confection.

Frankly, I think Seijun Suzuki is a wonderful filmmaker. Not a brilliant one, mind you, but a wonderful one. His films are filled with an energy and an unpredictability that shouldn't be difficult for anyone to appreciate. They are narratively erratic, visually stunning, and completely off the wall. 'Detective Bureau' is no exception. In fact, it's probably one of his most outright delightful works.

Here we find Suzuki at a place somewhere between the studio fare he had been making previously and the more radical, completely unhinged cinema we'd see in the years to come. Consequently, this may have been the film that elevated him to auteurs status and gave him his own, unique identity as a filmmaker.

The film was made at Nikkatsu, one of Japan's biggest film studios at the time. Nikkatsu had started churning out a lot of crime films in the '50s. Influenced largely by French and especially American film noir, films such as Kurahara's 'I Am Waiting' and Masuda's 'Rusty Knife' were quality films, but were very formulaic and lacking any real authorial stamp from their directors.

Suzuki had been directing films for Nikkatsu since his 1956 debut film, and in 1960 he released 'Take Aim at the Police Van', which was one such crime film. It's the only Suzuki film I've seen that was released before 'Detective Bureau'.

Essentially a studio hand, Suzuki was clearly not the auteurs then that he would later become. And yet, there were a few moments in that film that foreshadowed his distinct style — one moment in particular, in which the film bounces to life as a prostitute is chased down the street to the sound of a classic rock-and-roll tune on a nearby jukebox.

It's these moments that distinguish Suzuki as a filmmaker, and, thankfully, 'Detective Bureau' is chock-full of them. One sequence actually has Jô Shishido standing up in a nightclub and unexpectedly taking part in a musical number that sounds like something out of a Jacques Demy film.

It could be hokey and atrocious, if it weren't for Suzuki's immense gift for turning everything absurd into wonderful, playful farce. Another scene involves Shishido and the film's female lead at another nightclub, where a rock band with a female Japanese vocalist plays music that is so laughably non-Japanese that it's hard not to giggle at the circus of Americanized cultural overload that Suzuki presents us with.

Suzuki didn't explore the theme of postwar westernization to the extent that many of his contemporaries did, but he certainly highlighted this sudden change in the Japanese landscape in his own, inimitable way. And then, of course, there is the scene with several half-naked Japanese girls dancing to "When the Saints Go Marching In"!

Suzuki spins a decent little crime yarn here, but in that department this really is a pretty sub par effort. It's the incredible moments of pure cinematic elation that make the film the joyous experience it is. The plot is not very interesting, but that's the beauty of Suzuki's cinema: It never has to be.

'Youth of the Beast', 'Tokyo Drifter', 'Branded to Kill' — in all these films, Suzuki pulls you along through a visually astonishing, absurdist Japanese landscape in which nothing is predictable and everything is preposterous.

There are moments of immaturity in his films, of course - they lack any real substance or depth - but Suzuki's strength is his ability to transcend the necessity for those things. His films are always completely unconventional and always completely enjoyable, in spite of their shortcomings.

Suzuki was undoubtedly the most stylistically experimental of the Japanese New Wave directors. There wasn't much there in terms of content, but formally, he was a true master. His high-energy, genre-bending, pop art style was very unique, and his films were always aesthetically pleasing.

'Detective Bureau' doesn't have the stylistic supremacy of, for example, 'Tokyo Drifter', but there is some really great fluorescent lighting and some hot windows, et cetera, that, visually speaking, really make it a pleasure to watch.

In closing, sure, this is not a great film, but I feel about it much the same way I feel about Suzuki in general: not brilliant, but wonderful in his way. It is a good film, because it is a fun film.

Right from the fast-paced, high-energy rock-and-roll song that underlines the opening credits, all the way through that same song accompanying the film's fantastic final shot, this film is a blast. It's charismatic, charming, and full of life. Enjoy! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Newly translated optional English subtitles
Interview with historian and Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns
Gallery of original production stills
Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin.

'Verdi - Giovanna d'Arco' [Decca Classics]
(Anna Netrebko, Francesco Meli, Carlos Álvarez, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / Decca Classics)

Overview: 'Giovanna d'Arco' is the inaugural production of Riccardo Chailly’s era as Music Director and the first performance of the opera at La Scala for over 150 years.

DVD Verdict: Released on DVD this past June 15th, 2018 via Decca Classics, this new production of Teatro alla Scala, 'Giovanna d’Arco' – composed in 1844, after Ernani but before Macbeth – has always split its audiences opinions.

Some have thought that it represents Verdi at his most sophisticated, others that it doesn't come close to ranking high on the list of his best output within his early years.

The bulk of the, at times heavy plot is far from historically correct, as I'm sure you all know by now. In Verdi's opera, his Joan of Arc dies of wounds sustained in a victorious battle against the English. Add to that a completely fictional, but no less dramatic, focus on Joan’s romantic relations to Charles VII (let alone her conflict with her skeptical shepherd father), and, well, you get the picture.

The role of Carlo VII is undertaken here by Francesco Meli, one of many pretenders to Plácido Domingo’s tenorial crown. He sings firmly, but without much distinctive character, for my money, but that said, he still manages to get his stern points of coda across.

However, and again, in my humble opinion, Anna Netrebko’s Giovanna is the stand out gem here throughout. This greatly talented, but infuriatingly erratic Russian soprano runs true to form, being somewhat all over the place in the early scenes – her rhythmic and pitch imprecision almost derailing the duet with Charles – before striking form in the second act.

The supporting cast is adequate, and with Paolo Carignani wielding a firm baton, there is lively playing from Munich’s radio orchestra and exuberant singing from a Viennese chorus.

Anna Netrebko - Giovanna
Francesco Meli - Carlo VII
Carlos Álvarez - Giacomo
Michele Mauro - Delil
Dmitry Beloselskiy - Talbot
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala
Riccardo Chailly
Moshe Leiser & Patrice Caurier (production)

This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Free And Easy'
(Xu Gang, Zhiyong Zhang, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: When a traveling soap salesman arrives in a desolate Chinese town, a crime occurs and sets the strange residents against each other with tragicomic results.

DVD Verdict: To my mind, 'Free And Easy' is a refreshing, farcical take on the traditional crime narrative that hasn't been explored in quite this tone for, well, a long, long time (if ever).

Jun Geng's direction creates a bizarre tension throughout the film, combining these absurd and nonsensical skits with a stunning visual interpretation of an abandoned landscape.

OK, sure, it’s an odd film to come out of China, given the implicit social criticism embedded within, but it seems to have been released at just the right political climate of time, in my book.

The film opens with establishing shots of rusting barbed wire, empty buildings and trash-strewn lanes, all photographed in muted colors, emphasizing a rot long since begun.

A solitary figure walks down a lane, holding pamphlets, eventually stopped by a man in a briefcase. The first man sells Kung Fu lessons; the second soap.

Both are hustlers. What at first seems like a contest of salesmanship soon becomes a grift, and only one man can win that game. And so the movie goes, each con leading to the next.

Still, amid their dog-eat-dog aggression, our characters can still come together over food. Indeed, some of the best scenes in the movie are where former predator and prey sit with chopsticks and noodles, taking comfort from the only company they have.

Dreary as its vision often appears, 'Free And Easy' is gently funny in all the right places, showcasing an appealing cast and solid camera work. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce'
(Nick Perdue, et al / DVD / NR / (2015) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: From humble beginnings in 1970s Los Angeles, deep in the crime and gang infested blocks of South Central, The Drew League has grown into the nation's premiere destination for pro-am basketball. 'The Drew' chronicles the unlikely rise of a hoops institution, the men and women who made it possible, and the unifying, positive force it has become while crossing racial, cultural, and socioeconomic barriers.

DVD Verdict: For a city that is the home of a 16-time NBA champion, is one of just two markets to house a second NBA team and features a state university that has won 11 NCAA basketball championships, Los Angeles doesn't always get the respect it deserves as a hoops Mecca.

Directed by both former NBA and UCLA player Baron Davis and newcomer Chad Gordon, 'The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce' is, for all intents and purposes, a love letter to The Drew League, a semi-pro summer league that has been a fixture in the LA area since 1973.

Davis and Gordon do a good job trying to explain how the league worked in its early years based out of a small middle school gym in South Central LA. Originally, it was meant as a way to get young men off the streets and, eventually, became a no-gang zone where members of competing Crips and Bloods would play alongside each other, ignoring their rivalries once they stepped into the gym.

Fast forward a few decades later and The Drew has grown from six to 10 to 28 “invitation only” teams that feature high school, college, professional and amateur players.

There are hundreds of stories Davis and Gordon could tell about this venerable local institution, but they do their best to provide a general overview that has its pluses and minuses.

Featuring some of the most recognizable names in the NBA, 'The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce' celebrates the value of basketball, persistence, loyalty and, above all, community. The power of sports meets the power of people.

In conclusion and for better or worse, 'The Drew' leaves you wanting to know much more about the stories of the unknown players who ran up and down the courts in that small Junior High gym. But, as a document of LA's impact on the global basketball scene, it's totally a slam dunk! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'I Dream In Another Language'
(Fernando Álvarez Rebeil, José Manuel Poncelis, Eligio Meléndez, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: An indigenous language is in peril as its last two speakers (Evaristo and Isauro, 70's) had a quarrel in the past and haven't spoken to each other in over 50 years. Martín, a young linguist, will undertake the challenge to bring the old friends back together and convince them to once again talk to each other so he can obtain a recorded registration of the language and study it.

DVD Verdict: However, and given that incisive forward, hidden in the past, in the heart of the jungle, lies a secret concealed by the language that makes it difficult to believe that the heart of Zikril will beat once again.

'I Dream In Another Language' follows the aforementioned Martin, a man who is very interested in trying to preserve this rapidly dying language in the very photogenic San Isidro area of Mexico.

At the start there are only three people in the world who speak this particular dialect, and so Martin, the linguist, tries his best to record what he can of it; and possibly try and learn a handful of words himself to try and keep the language alive.

As for the remaining people who make up the last people on Earth who speak this language, well, they are former best friends who have not spoken to one another in over 50 years! Holding a HUGE grudge against one another for reasons that will eventually be made clear during the course of the film, it will make you think twice about any one in your life that you've done the very same thing to, trust me!

Meanwhile, our leading man ends up starting a relationship with the granddaughter/caretaker of one of these two men, and the two of them plot together to try and unite these two former friends. In a plan to try and preserve what they can of the dying-out language, it's a cute enough premise; and as a backdrop to a love story for the linguist and the granddaughter, it's actually not a half bad love story either. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Man Who Saw Too Much'
(Enrique Metinides, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: From executive producer Albert Berger ('Little Miss Sunshine') comes this one-of-a-kind documentary. Even as a child, Enrique Metinides was obsessed with images, photographing car accidents in his Mexico City neighborhood and snapping pictures at the local morgue.

Tabloids soon started publishing his photos, beginning his three-decade long career as a crime photographer.

DVD Verdict: Watching this incredible, eye-opening new film, the big question that will come to your mind instantly is: What drives someone to pursue scenes of death and suffering?

From the age of nine, avid cinephile Enrique Metinides was photographing corpses in the street. Despite his age, this passion soon landed him a job in the tabloids, where he was given license to follow his morbid obsession.

Through his work we get to explore Mexico City, as seen through the prism of its crime scenes, and delve into the human fascination with the macabre.

'The Man Who Saw Too Much' is most definitely a meta true crime; one not about the criminals, but the documentarians. Director Trisha Ziff provocatively links journalism and death at the start; the movie opens with inter cut footage of different factories: one publishes the tabloid, with its lurid front-page photos; the other makes caskets, which presumably hold the subjects of those photos, or at least people like them.

We watch and learn as Metinides starts out as a camera-toting child hunting down car crashes who soon graduated to more violent subjects: his first truly jaw-dropping shot, in a career that would be full of them (he estimates he’s taken approximately 1.7 million photos), is of a morgue warden holding up, by the hair, the head of a murdered man decapitated by a train.

One of the greatest pleasures of the film is appreciating Metinides’s artistry, of which Ziff includes copious examples. However, like the opening sequence, like the photographs themselves, like the true crime genre, these are stirring reminders of the real violence that threatens all of us, of the fact that every dead person on the front page of a newspaper was a victim of the same unexpected surprise that awaits us all. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'I Am Another You'
(Dylan, Nanfu Wang, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: When Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang ('Hooligan Sparrow') first came to America, Florida seemed like an exotic frontier full of theme parks, prehistoric swamp creatures and sunburned denizens. As she travels wide-eyed from one city to another, she eventually encounters a charismatic young drifter named Dylan.

Fascinated by his rejection of society’s rules and unsure of his past, Nanfu follows Dylan with her camera on a journey that spans years, takes her across America and explores the meaning of freedom. But as Nanfu delves deeper into Dylan’s world, she discovers something that calls her entire worldview into question.

DVD Verdict: In all ways I appreciate this profound, inquisitive, sensitive film - the perspective, the vulnerability, etc. As one who also loves stories - listening to others, telling them, documenting them - and one who understands the impact of a lifetime of, some would say, mental health issues, some like Dylan would say it has been an debilitating experience.

The complexities, the stigma, the misunderstanding, the challenge of growing into adulthood in a world that rejects so easily and projects their fears upon those who think and feel in a non-machinist, non-linear way. I felt less alone watching this film.

Many I've known haven't been able to handle the alienation, the judgment (that is really fear of what someone can't put into a box and understand) and have left this earth far too young; defeated and yearning for something more.

Especially a sense of connection despite our 'odd' differences, that in reality can bring such technicolor to an increasingly monochrome world. I felt inspired to continue to ask questions, keep hoping, and find out how to tell the stories we need to tell to keep us human and connected.

We need all kinds of thinkers and feelers, all kinds of expressions of what brings meaning and healing to our fragile beings. Thank you for your wondrous 'I Am Another You' film, Nanfu.

Thank you for sharing your story Dylan for every life is precious, no matter where we are or how our brain operates. This film encourages us to remember how to be on a journey towards more inclusion and less assumptions, more curiosity and less demand for conformity. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters'
(Joe Dante, Thomas Hodge, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: '24x36' is a documentary that explores the birth, death and resurrection of illustrated movie poster art. Through interviews with a number of key art personalities from the past 4 decades, 24x36 aims to answer many questions: What happened to the illustrated movie poster? Where did it disappear to, and why?

DVD Verdict: In so many ways, I have been waiting for a film / documentary like this to come out - and now it's here I have to declare that it was well worth the imaginative wait!

A film that rightly garnered a Fantastic Fest World Premiere, '24x36' examines the lost art of movie poster illustration and makes a compelling argument for the art form's continued cultural relevance.

Early on, the film tells us a great truth: posters are often more iconic than any one scene of a movie. "Jaws" comes to mind, as do others, where it is the poster that has become the popular image. And yet, do any of these names sound familiar: John Alvin (1948-2008), Bob Peak (1927-1992), Reynold Brown (1917-1991), Richard Amsel (1947-1985), Drew Struzan (b. 1947). Probably not, though they were the true giants of the poster art world.

The studios saw the posters as advertising, not art. And while that is true in the strictest sense, it left many great artists unappreciated. More often than not, no signatures were allowed on the posters, and the work from the earliest years in now anonymous. Who painted the great posters of Frankenstein's monster? We will never know.

As anyone who lived through the 1980s-1990s knows, in the late 80s, there was a shift to photography, with the idea that artistic posters might suggest an animated film. This claim that pops up again and again, and sounds absurd on its face, but one scene actually has a focus group looking at posters and making the exact same comment.

The "art" in poster art took a dive in the 1990s, leaving us with "floating heads" and the same layout was used over and over again. For horror fans, this was evident in the teen horror films ("Scream", "Last Summer") and has not really stopped. Even the more creative posters today seem to rehash the same poses and images over and over and over.

So, is poster art dead? No. Because '24x36' covers a longer history, a new trend. Not just the history of lithographs and the decline of posters, but its new resurgence thanks to the rise of Mondo, its eccentric leader Rob Jones, and the new art from specialty Blu-ray labels like Scream Factory and Arrow Video. And this generation of artists, such as Gary Pulling, are not anonymous.

Indeed, '24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters' is a much-needed piece of film history. There are many biopics, and there have been focuses on the special effects. Those behind the scenes are finally getting their due. But what of the painters and sketch artists who really drove the images into our collective, pop culture imagination? Now their story can be told! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

30 Minutes of Additional Interviews
Theatrical Trailer

'Women Who Kill'
(Ann Carr, Ingrid Jungermann, Sheila Vand, Annette O'Toole, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: Commitment phobic Morgan and her ex-girlfriend Jean, locally famous true crime podcasters, suspect Morgan's new love interest is a murderer.

DVD Verdict: Set amid a highly suspenseful, yet comedic backdrop of a whodunnit premise with a female serial killer running loose in the city and the suspicions among a close knit group of friends as to whether the killer is in their midst, 'Women Who Kill' is most definitely, and without a shadow of a doubt, my movie of the year thus far!

The undercurrent of the plot, as it plays out, seem to be a metaphor for the challenges faced in navigating relationships; but in particular a new relationship and the insecurities that become apparent during such moments.

Maybe for that alone, it was a brilliant juxtaposition of genres alternating between mystery, seething dark humor, and a hint of suspense. Who is the killer? Is anyone the killer? Is she the killer or isn't she? Is this all her / their my head? Shit, is it all in my head?! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl!'
(Eduardo Macedo, Adeli Benitez, Cauã Reymond, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl!' is a tale about love and war, telling the story of Joca, a Brazilian boy who falls in love with a Paraguayan girl in the border of the two countries. To fight for this love, Joca will have to face the violent memories of his city and the secrets of his elder brother, Fernando, a local motorcycle cowboy.

DVD Verdict: Here in the brilliantly entitled 'Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl!,' young love is shown in a modern way, without the archaic (and today, pretentious) formality of Shakespeare.

Instead we see the very believable silliness and stupidity of a young teen's infatuation - it needs no reason to exist, it simply does. The slightly older, slightly more life-experienced girl does not know what to make of this goofy, gentle foreigner from the other side of the bridge, and her reactions vary as she tries to balance curiosity, cultural pressure, self-interest, and perhaps some affection.

And the director, Felipe Bragança, plops this budding flower of a tale into a steaming, fetid pile of modern adult reality, a world in which the Montagues and Capulets would come across as urbane and civil, a world less of Romeo and more of Tromeo.

Our world. Racism, macho misogyny, and acceptance of psychopathic violence as the norm, these headline a chorus of social ills that make a normal childhood impossible.

It hurts to watch the story unfold - and it should. The people and events of 'Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! are, for my money, very believable; familiar by type from the hourly news cycle or one's own experience.

Again, and for myself, at least, the modern setting intensifies this tale's emotional impact in a way that a historical or fantasy setting wouldn't; a somewhat straightforward delivery makes the impact more tolerable. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Naomi Kutin, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: When a nine-year-old girl breaks a powerlifting world record, she turns into an international phenomenon -- and Supergirl is born!

DVD Verdict: Naomi Kutin seems like a typical Orthodox Jewish pre-teen until her extraordinary talent transforms the lives of her family and thrusts her into news headlines.

'Supergirl' follows Naomi's unique coming-of-age story as she fights to hold on to her title while navigating the perils of adolescence, from strict religious obligations to cyber-bullying to health issues that could jeopardize her future in powerlifting.

'Supergirl' is a truly uplifting (ok, all pun intended there, sorry!) documentary about an all-American girl who has extraordinary physical strength.

But what 'Supergirl' strives to accomplish over its 79 minutes is to try and answer such questions as: What makes Kutin REALLY unique? What we discover, and very quickly, is that Kutin's family recognizes her unique talents, and supports her as she finds delight in this ability.

Also, Kutin shows determination, courage, and personal toughness when it comes to recognizing the value of this blessing. Add to that, that Kutin finds a way to cultivate and grow even more strength from her unique faith and sporting communities, and the ingredients for 'Supergirl,' let alone all your answers for the subtext, are lovingly, and perfectly all now brought to the fore.

People are spiritual beings living within a physical reality. Some will see a powerful child, and say she is freakishly powerful for a child. Some will see a powerful girl, and say she is oddly powerful for a girl. Some will see a strong Jew, and say it is odd for a Jew to be so powerful.

Ultimately, Kutin shows that she fosters and grows her own abilities according to the work and determination that she desires, and THAT is what makes her powerful. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (Special Ed.)'
(Bruce Lyons, Chris Haywood, Hamish Mcfarlane, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1988) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Men seeking relief from the Black Death, guided by a boy's vision, dig a tunnel from 14th century England to 20th century New Zealand.

Blu-ray Verdict: This is highly extraordinary film, not to mention a highly, and extraordinarily underrated one, of that you can believe.

I first saw this film as a child and it has stayed with me ever since. Now I've seen it once more with adult eyes I can't help but wonder why it's not more renowned.

The fact it defies standard genres has probably hampered its reputation, often getting it unfairly shelved as a sort of arty kid's flick.

Undoubtedly there are elements here that will appeal to children - imagine a more sombre Terry Gilliam and you might be there - but it's much more than just that.

The film is about a small medieval village during a time of the plague and a boy who seems to have an answer on how to keep this plague at bay. It's a world filled with superstitions and struggle, even when the travelers end up in the modern era, all their motivations are much the same.

Indeed, this is a film that will stick with you and will stand out to you also as a movie that was clearly ahead of its time. I strongly urge everyone to see this. It may be difficult to understand at first, sure, but you must allow it to sink in. There is a moral to it that if you don't get, or quite fully understand the first time around, watch it again. Either way, enjoy, my friends. Enjoy!

In closing, to simply describe it as merely fantasy is to ignore the power and universality of the story. Poetic and moving, 'The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey' is a lost masterpiece of '80s cinema waiting to be rediscovered ... and, as it's now out as a stunning new High Definition Blu-ray presentation via Arrow Films / MVD Visual, well, dive on in, everyone. The viewing water's are just perfect! This is a Widescreen HD Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition (Blu-ray) presentation
Original mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand-new appreciation by film critic Nick Roddick, recorded exclusively for this release
Kaleidoscope: Vincent Ward Film Maker, a 1989 documentary profile of the director made for New Zealand television
Theatrical trailer
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kim Newman and an introduction by Vincent Ward

'H.P. Lovecraft's Dagon: Collector's Series'
(Victor Alcazar, Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal, Raquel Merono, Macarena Gomez, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2001) 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: H.P. Lovecraft's iconic tale comes to life when the Vestron Video Collector's Series releases the modern retelling of the horror classic 'Dagon' on limited edition Blu-ray on July 24th, 2018 from Lionsgate.

Residents of a fishing village tempted by greed evolve into freakish half-human creatures and must sacrifice outsiders to an ancient, monstrous god of the sea.

Blu-ray Verdict: With the knowledge that the majority of this film was shot with a hand-held camera, it makes watching 2001's 'Dagon' (which is itself based on the story 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth' by H.P. Lovecraft) all the more entertaining to view here in 2018.

For my money, `Dagon' is a very nicely filmed, atmospheric, technically competent production by the guy who gave us `Re-Animator.' It just isn't a very good movie, sadly.

Two couples, Howard and Vicki, and Paul and Barbara, recently stinking rich (from what were never told), celebrate on a boat not far from a Spanish fishing village. When a preternatural storm blows the boat onto the rocks, seriously injuring Vicki, Barbara and Paul go ashore in a rubber raft seeking help.

They find instead a town of very inhospitable people who are slowly metamorphosing into fish, sort of much nastier versions of Kevin Costner's Mariner from 'Waterworld'. Some have webbed hands, some have gills, some don't talk as much as make guttural sounds strangely reminiscent of the sewer creatures from Lucas Arts' `Dark Forces' video game; and one, High Priestess, Uxia, the gorgeous Macarena Gomez, has a human torso with octopus legs (bummer)!

The one thing they all share in common is hatred of outsiders. They like to skin them alive and wear their faces as masks (don't ask, they never really say why). A flashback reveals that they were all once good Catholics who rejected Christianity when their fishing nets started turning up empty in favor of Dagon (rhymes with pagan), a sea-god who gave them fish and lots of gold.

Dagon, as we discover, demands worship and occasional sacrifices, preferably young, nubile, naked women, and Barbara certainly fills the bill. After she is taken to be prepped for sacrifice, we're unfortunately left with Paul, whom Ezra Godden plays with all the finesse of a community theater actor.

With his horn-rimmed glasses and whiny, Woody Allen persona, why would Barbara be attracted to him? His strongest acting techniques are delivering his lines and mugging for the camera. It's too bad more time couldn't have been spent finding a more capable lead. That said, it's mighty obvious that the entire production had a low budget and patching up some the gaping plot holes and contrivances in the story were out of their monetary reach.

That all said though, and playing my journalistic Devil's Advocate hand, the movie does okay with its make-up effects and it even has a couple of CGI shots; which, again, sadly in today's day and age, do manage to stand out from the film like a sore thumb.

But wow, there are just so many classic/memorable scenes in this film that I can't even begin to describe. Sure you have to be a devoted lover of H.P. Lovecraft and his work, but there's so much gore, so many chases and so many fish people that such a non-stop work of theatrical art should still be admired today.

In closing, 'Dagon' is beautifully atmospheric, erotic in many places, grotesque and disturbing (to a certain degree) in most others; so should appeal to a vast majority of horror fans in 2018 (that have grown up on 'Saw' and such.

The largely Spanish cast, notably Francisco Rabal, Raquel Meroño and Macarena Gómez turn in stellar performances with Ezra Godden's performance being every bit as engaging as Jeffrey Combs' in 'Re-Animator'. The music is hauntingly perfect and is, in many ways, a character of its very own.

Buy this newly-released Blu-ray, chock full of wondrous Special Features today, settle down on your sofa with your freshly-made popcorn, and with your friends sitting alongside you, watch and enjoy, my friends.

And, speaking of those aforementioned Special Features, taking a peak into some of the new stand out's, first up I would direct your attention toward 'Gods & Monsters' - A discussion with Director Stuart Gordon, Interviewed by Filmmaker Mick Garris.

Talk about an indepth chit-chat that reveals so much of how things were created, behind-the-scenes gems, and other stuff, this for me was the true highlight of the Special Features. Here, Gordon and Garris talk about Dagon itself: A grotesque humanoid over fifty feet tall, Dagon resembles an enormously oversized Deep One with a fish like face, flapping gills and a scaled, slimy hide; but also the deeply grounded mythology of said same creature.

Now, I've seen this film three times now, but I never once knew, until these Special Features (and this Gods & Monsters one, in particular) that Dagon, along with his consort Mother Hydra and Great Cthulhu himself, is a member of the Deep Ones “holy trinity” - the trio of beings worshiped as gods by that oceanic species.

Maybe that always escaped me down the years, as I was too fixated on the action on screen, but trust me when I say that both Gordon and Garris dish much more wondrous mythology during their chit-chat.

Another new addition here worthy of your time is 'Fish Stories' - An Interview with S.T. Joshi, author of I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft. American literary critic, novelist, and a leading figure in the study of H. P. Lovecraft and other authors of weird and fantastic fiction, S.T. Joshi, has a tale to tell; and he tells it like the author he is.

His tales spun about certain areas of the Dagon folklore and mythology are mesmerizing to behold and the way he connects the two, well, come the end you don't know what to believe as having been true through the ages! (which is just fine with me).

The other one would be 'Conceptual Art Gallery from Artist Richard Raaphorst, as his labored and intense work on what would become the forefront (and noted backdrop) of this film is simply astounding to view in this day and age. Here we get amazed by watching his conceptual art come to life for film, but for a more updated resume of his work, check out Raaphorst’s 2013 period horror film, 'Frankestein’s Army.' This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Audio Commentary with Director Stuart Gordon and Screenwriter Denis Paoli
Audio Commentary with Director Stuart Gordon and Star Ezra Godden
NEW! 'Gods & Monsters' - A discussion with Director Stuart Gordon, Interviewed by Filmmaker Mick Garris
NEW! 'Shadows over Imboca' - An Interview with Producer Brian Yuzna
NEW! 'Fish Stories' - An Interview with S.T. Joshi, author of I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft
NEW! 'Conceptual Art Gallery from Artist Richard Raaphorst
Vintage EPK
Archival Interviews with Stuart Gordon, Ezra Godden, and other Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Storyboard Gallery
Still Gallery

'H.P. Lovecraft's Dagon' Vestron Trailer, Exclusive HD

'I Am Elizabeth Smart'
(Alana Boden, George Newbern, Skeet Ulrich, Deirdre Lovejoy, et al / DVD / TV-14 / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Experience one of the most harrowing true stories of all time told by the one who survived it when 'I Am Elizabeth Smart' arrives on DVD July 10TH, 2018 from Lionsgate.

Based on one of the most famous abductions in history, authorized and narrated by Smart herself, the film tells the true story that only she can tell.

A smash hit when it premiered on Lifetime®, 'I Am Elizabeth Smart' will be available on DVD for the suggested retail price of $14.98.

DVD Verdict: This fascinating Lifetime® film chronicles the true story of the June 2002 abduction of 14-year-old Elizabeth Ann Smart (Alana Boden) from her home in Salt Lake City by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell (Skeet Ulrich).

Over the course of her nine-month captivity, Elizabeth was starved, drugged, raped, and subjected to bizarre religious rituals by Mitchell and his twisted accomplice, Wanda Barzee (Deirdre Lovejoy), until she enabled her own rescue.

Interestingly, and justly, here in 'I Am Elizabeth Smart,' the real Elizabeth Smart herself serves as a producer and on-screen narrator in order to discuss how she survived and confront the truths and misconceptions about her captivity.

You see, for my money, at least, having Elizabeth do the narration, giving a first-person narrative of the story, was really, well, Smart. Why? Well, even though I'm into true crime - the shows and the books of course, not the crimes themselves - so many shows use so-called "experts" in their fields to explain what happened; even though those "experts" were sometimes not even involved.

Sure, the opinions of detectives and psychiatrists might have some merit, but there's nothing like enduring something yourself and then explaining it yourself afterwards. It not only gives it some street cred, but it also gives the audience a real reason to believe every word and every action.

After all, Elizabeth was there. Unfortunately. But, that said, I believed that the story was true because of it. If that makes sense.

Indeed, there was nothing distracting about this TV movie to me. It was sensitively and expertly produced working closely with the characters and landscapes involved. Brilliant screenwriting that distills complex scenes in poignant simplicity, the movie has something of value to say; especially if a child found themselves in a similar situation.

With an underlying subplot that was born from Elizabeth (a Mormon) and her kidnapper being, and putting it politely, a religious zealot of some unknown Christian cult, 'I Am Elizabeth Smart' (a title that reveals itself two-thirds of the way through the actual movie) is definitely an educational and informative (and come the end, uplifting) lifeline for any family/community that should ever have to endure such a thing in the future. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official 'I Am Elizabeth Smart' Trailer

'Traffik' [Blu-ray + Digital]
(Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Laz Alonso, Roselyn Sanchez, Dawn Olivieri, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / R / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: A couple off for a romantic weekend in the mountains are accosted by a biker gang. Alone in the mountains, Brea and John must defend themselves against the gang, who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.

A romantic weekend getaway spirals out of control when 'Traffik' arrives on Digital July 10th and Blu-ray™ (plus Digital), DVD, and On Demand July 17th from Lionsgate.

Blu-ray Verdict: Simply put, the well-developed, well-acted 'Traffik' is a thriller about a couple who are terrorized by a biker gang while spending a romantic weekend in the mountains.

The film was written and directed by Deon Taylor, and it stars Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Luke Goss, Missi Pyle, Roselyn Sanchez, Laz Alonso and William Fichtner.

Sadly, it received mostly negative reviews from moviegoers, which meant that it also performed modestly at the Box Office. That's a great shame for it is one of those movies that builds as it goes, climaxing splendidly in a sharp neck turn of well played.

Brea (Patton) is a journalist headed to the mountains with her boyfriend, John (Epps), for a romantic weekend. At a gas station along the way, the couple has a heated confrontation with a biker gang. Later they realize they've mysteriously been given a phone, that has evidence of sex trafficking on it. The bikers will do anything to get it back, as Brea and John desperately try to survive the night.

Darren Cole plays the prerequisite asshole protagonist, Laz Alonso. The necessary asshole that 'Traffik' seems to require in order for the stakes to raise in the second act. A narcissist incapable of considering the feelings of anyone else or considering for a moment the consequences of his actions outside of himself, Cole plays him to a tee here.

The movie is very involving, creepy and suspenseful. It really goes a lot deeper into the world of sex trafficking than I was expecting it too. It's beautifully shot, adequately acted and there's even some nice twists and turns throughout it. It's definitely an entertaining little action thriller film; a lot better than the advertisements made it seem.

In closing, and at its heart, 'Traffik' is a movie that is trying to shine a light on the horrors of the sex trade and how it is happening all across the globe, even in our own backyard. Thus, and for perhaps that message alone, 'Traffik' is definitely one of the more interestingly "educational" movies of the year so far. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

“Journey into the Depths: Making Traffik” Featurette
“Deon & Dante: The Look of Traffik” Featurette

Official 'Traffik' Trailer

'Beyond Re-animator: Collector's Series'
(Jeffrey Combs, Simon Andreu, Enrique Arce, Jason Barry, Bruce Abbott, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2003) 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Everyone's favorite mad scientist Herbert West is currently in jail after having state's evidence turned against him by his former assistant, Dan Cain. While being led away, some re-agent falls from his pocket where it is picked up by a young man who was camping nearby. The young man finds Herbert down in his jail cell and learns for himself just what the re-agent is capable of.

This brand new Vestron Video 'Beyond Re-animator: Collector's Series' limited edition Blu-ray is released on July 24th, 2018 via Lionsgate.

Blu-ray Verdict: The original 'Re-Animator' is deemed a classic of the genre, though to be honest, my admiration for it is only mild. Sure, it boasted a terrific performance from Jeffrey Combs, delivered tons of memorable gore, and featured a deliciously nude Barbara Crampton, but I always found the pacing a little off and I felt the movie took to long to get to the all-out carnage I expected.

So, is 'Beyond Re-Animator' a "better" movie? Maybe not, but I enjoyed it more, and it's a rare sequel that actually remains true to its predecessor's roots.

Set thirteen years after the events of 'Bride of Re-Animator', Doctor Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is in prison for his crimes (makes you wonder what he was charged with, resuscitating the dead?), but the arrival of a new doctor, Howard Phillips (Jason Barry), proves interesting to West's studies.

Apparently, Phillips was a first-hand witness to the results of West's re-agent years ago (which resulted in the death of Phillips' really hot sister), and has arrived to work with him on perfecting the formula.

Their studies further progress to the discovery of an electrical phenomenon that could restore a dead person back to its normal state, sans the rage that typically accompanies their revival. But not everything goes to plan, thanks to a nosy reporter (Elsa Pataky) Phillips is seeing and the sadistic prison warden (Simon Andreu) who's catching whiff of West's plans.

Like the previous movies, 'Beyond Re-Animator' isn't plot driven as it's meant to play as a roller-coaster ride of extreme gore and dark comedy. The gore is even better than its predecessors and there are a couple of laughs to be had (even if they're also simultaneously wince-inducing).

The F/X stand out, with loads of memorable gore effects; there's a jawless zombie in the opening, a prisoner who overdoses on the re-agent and literally explodes, and my personal favorite, a prisoner missing the lower half of his body who's lassoed around by West himself. Hilarious.

Brian Yuzna is confident at the helm, giving the movie a slick look and feel, while maintaining a fast pace that nicely builds and rarely lets up. That said, the film is still packed with flaws, a lot of it pertaining to the repetitive nature of the story, which is basically "kill person, revive person, then kill person again," a cycle that endlessly repeats itself.

The script brings up the topic of the electrical phenomenon, but doesn't really do anything with it. Are we supposed to assume that (spoiler) the reporter is somewhat possessed by the warden because she was given his NEE? There also aren't as many "zombies" as the first film, or at least not as many who are in any position to harm our protagonist (there's a scene where West discovers quite a few undead bodies hanging from the ceiling).

Jeffrey Combs - whose character actually starts to look a little normal compared to some of the freaks here - is as delightful to watch as ever, and is really the one element that holds the film together in between the gore-soaked scenes. Jason Barry is flat and unconvincing as Phillips, whose decidedly complex character is clearly out of the actor's range (one would also think he'd show a bit more hostility towards West, considering he was indirectly responsible for the death of his sister).

Elsa Pataky is very pretty, but has a hard time passing off as an American journalist (her Spanish accent slips through more than once). The only other worthy performer of note is the foxy Raquel Gribler, playing the prison nurse who reveals a LOT of cleavage and wears an almost see-through uniform. Pure eye candy, but a successful one at that.

In conclusion, 'Beyond Re-Animator' works simply because it's fun, no more and no less, and whether or not you enjoy it depends on whether you mind (literally) eye-popping violence. The ending leaves things open for a sequel, but as I'm sure you all know by now, that never came to be.

No more misadventures from our beloved, and perhaps somewhat misunderstood Dr. Herbert West. That said, the treasure trove of Special Features here is a pure delight to wade through - whilst at the same time allowing us to unearth a few more moments of fun and gory mayhem!

And so, taking a peak into some of these aforementioned Special Features, I'll highlight the three that stood out for me once all had been visually undertaken.

First up is the Audio Commentary with Director Brian Yuzna, who absolutely nails every aspect of whatever is going on in that particular scene as if he recorded this track the very day he shot the film!

He first sets the scene by explaining that 'Beyond Re-animator' is a film that carries the mythology of zombies one step further, before adding that "it's got a lot of action, a lot of fun, and a lot of blood"!

Commenting throughout about how much of an "... entertaining experience" the movie obviously was for the fans, let alone him to make, Yuzna also speaks for actor Jason Barry, who plays Howard Phillips, who saw the horrific death of his sister at the hands of Dr. Herbert West. Now armed with the re-agent, it is he that leads the charge here alongside (or should it be, come the end, against?) West.

In the new inclusion, Beyond & Back – Interview with director Brian Yuzna, he praises Combs and says that the moment that he walked into their casting office the very first day, they knew he would play West. He comments that he didn't have to work Combs up too much to elicit the anger that pours through him for his deadly scenes, but is eager to point out that he wasn't the only actor taken to their edge of acting.

For his other co-stars were also are put through paces, especially the "beautiful blonde" aspect of the movie, Elsa Pataky (Laura Olney), and The Warden, played by Simón Andreu. Pataky, whose demise I won't spoil here, had to endure, much like Andreu for his, over four hours of "mask makeup" for scenes that, well, once seen you'll never be able to unsee - they are just that gorifically brilliant!

Other new inclusion's that caught my eye and subsequent interest here are both Six Shots By Midnight – Interview with I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft author S.T. Joshi and Isolated Score Selections & Audio Interview with composer Xavier Capellas.

Wow, talk about fascinating, for both reveal so much about both the lead character creation whilst at the same time the musical backing track that only he receives whilst on screen. Xavier Capellas' work is beautiful at times, if not purposefully dark and pensive, but man does he invest such time into his work that it would blow your mind.

American literary critic, novelist, and a leading figure in the study of H. P. Lovecraft and other authors of weird and fantastic fiction, S.T. Joshi, has a tale to tell and he tells it like the author he is. His tales spun about certain areas of the folklore about H.P. Lovecraft, along with his creation West, are truly something to sit down and revel in. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Audio commentary with director Brian Yuzna
NEW! Isolated Score Selections & Audio Interview with composer Xavier Capellas
NEW! Beyond & Back – Interview with director Brian Yuzna
NEW! Death Row Sideshow – Interview with actor Jeffrey Combs
NEW! Six Shots By Midnight – Interview with I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft author S.T. Joshi
NEW! Production Art Gallery by illustrator Richard Raaphorst
Still Gallery
Vintage EPK
“Dr. Reanimator – Move Your Dead Bones” Music Video
Theatrical Trailer
Spanish Subtitles

'Beyond Re-animator' Vestron Trailer, Exclusive HD

'Masterpiece Mystery! Endeavour: Season 5'
(Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Anton Lesser, James Bradshaw, Sean Rigby, Dakota Blue Richards, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: As 1968 dawns, Endeavour's recent promotion leads him to reluctantly mentor new recruit Fancy, while Thursday is beginning to think about life after the police.

But in Oxford, crime never sleeps, and the team continues to be challenged by intriguing cases of murder, greed, and deception. When 1968 comes to a close, will things at Cowley Police Station ever be the same again?

Blu-ray Verdict: OK, if you don't know this by now, PBS edits 10-15 minutes out of each episode that they show on Masterpiece Mystery. Which means you always have to purchase these wonderful PBS UK TV shows that say 'Original UK Edition' on the front of the cover.

Indeed, they now have some stickers on some PBS released that say there is an extra 10 minutes per episode; so even they know that PBS TV chops and we require the full-length. Good for them, for this has made me, and all fans of UK drama on PBS, very, very happy.

Moving on and 'Masterpiece Mystery: Endeavour', in general, is a series I never saw coming back when the Pilot was announced back in 2013. It came in under my radar, but wow, once I saw said Pilot I was blown away! Then, under my radar came the full first series! Blindsided is an understatement, true, but now I've subsequently watched very single episode from said start twice (inclusive of this wickedly brilliant fifth season), I have to say Shaun Evans (as Morse) is simply amazing at nailing down the characteristics of what-would-become John Thaw's Morse.

That said, my gushing halted for a second, it has to be also said that as much as the supporting cast is wonderful, and so to the acting, my only (small) issue with all the episodes is that they are way too contrived!p> My goodness, each one tries to weave a complex little tale for us to pick apart, to solve along the way also, but they, for the most part, just fizzle slightly and end blankly. That being my only gripe, it also has to be said that the superb cast acting supersedes that aspect and therefore it remains a go-to evening's worth of delightful entertainment regardless.

Watching each episode we learn a little bit about Morse's personal life, of course. Early on in the first season we even got to see how he got his infamous limp (wait, you didn't know he had a limp? Sure he did, but in real life, not the show. But as he had to still limp in the show due to it they had to write it into the script for future times).

Here in the chock full of visual goodies, let alone it easily being the best season yet, Morse is still rather unafraid to breach cop protocol when working on a case, but this time he's more self assured in his personal life too. Has a girlfriend, undertakes the formality of a senior office of having a junior under his wing, and while he's a detective of Sherlock Holmesian brilliance, he's also precocious and more than capable of making mistakes.

For as Detective Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), his mentor and principal supporter, once so aptly put it, "You're a good detective ... and a poor policeman." But, Morse is getting there, bit by bit, episode by episode and here in this new season, and with the threat of their cozy little police station being closed down for good (due to a county merger already in place to rename them), the criminals don't take a holiday either.

Morse's recent promotion has him now reluctantly "saddled" with a young, precocious new recruit DC George Fancy (Lewis Peek), while Thursday is beginning to think about life after the police. Fancy is also making in roads with the female WPC on shift, Shirley Trewlove (Dakota Blue Richards), which doesn't please everyone either.

Even with the subplot of a Boxing Gym-owner / local gangster engaged in a personal war with a newly-incorporated onto his patch Jamaican gangster wannabe, co-stars such as both DS Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) and Dr Max Derbryn (James Bradshaw) seem to take a back seat in this fifth season.

However, the always-brilliant (just listen to his voice and I dare you not to beg for him to read a bedtime story to your child!) PCS Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) is most definitely front and center - if not wholly due to trying to desperately save a drowning ship (ie: the station). Come the very end, changes are forthcoming for everyone, adjustments have to be made (at work and in personal lives), and blood is spilled (on both sides of the thin blue line). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Odd Couple
Costume Design
Favourite Scenes

'American Masters: Ted Williams'
(Bob Costas, Wade Boggs, Roger Angell and Joey Votto / DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'American Masters: Ted Williams' is a complex and entertaining portrait of Ted Williams, who was as obsessive as he was talented.

DVD Verdict: This wondrous documentary reveals Williams' complicated relationships with family and friends and explores the impact he has had on the current generation of MLB stars.

For those not in the sports know, Ted Williams was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played his entire 19-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career as a left fielder for the Boston Red Sox from 1939 to 1960, only interrupted by service time during World War II and the Korean War.

Nicknamed "The Kid", "The Splendid Splinter", "Teddy Ballgame", "The Thumper", and "The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived", Williams is regarded as one of the greatest players in baseball history, despite being a below average defensive left fielder.

Williams was a nineteen-time All-Star, a two-time recipient of the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player Award, a six-time AL batting champion, and a two-time Triple Crown winner.

He finished his playing career with a .344 batting average, 521 home runs, and a .482 on-base percentage, the highest of all time. His career batting average is the highest of any MLB player whose career was played primarily in the live-ball era, and ranks tied for 7th all-time (with Billy Hamilton).

Featuring Bob Costas, Wade Boggs, Roger Angell and Joey Votto and narrated by Jon Hamm, 'American Masters: Ted Williams' is a simply fascinating look into the life of a sports legend; that, perhaps, not all of us knew was there, always bubbling under his surface.

Running at 55 minutes, the documentary is eye-opening, and even discusses the fact that when Williams retired from playing in 1960, he was then inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966; in his first year of eligibility. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

A Tale of Two Brothers
A Hub Fan Bids Kid Adieu
Ted Teaches a Rookie
Claudia Learns the Truth

'FRONTLINE: Myanmar's Killing Fields'
(DVD / R / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Secret footage going back years shows the effort to kill and expel Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. With accounts from victims and a whistleblower within the military, 'FRONTLINE: Myanmar's Killing Fields' examines evidence that security forces committed crimes against humanity.

DVD Verdict: 'FRONTLINE: Myanmar's Killing Fields' is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most harrowing documentaries I have seen this past decade.

Inclusive of secret footage filmed by a network of citizen activists, and firsthand accounts from victims and their families, 'Myanmar's Killing Fields' is the States' most comprehensive investigation of the Myanmar military's violent crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority - an effort that has been described by the UN as having the "hallmarks of genocide."

For those not in the geographical know, Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the country's largest city, is home to bustling markets, numerous parks and lakes, and the towering, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which contains Buddhist relics and dates to the 6th century.

However, and back to this engrossing documentary, the Myanmar military insists that its aforementioned campaign was simply a counter-insurgency "clearance operation" targeted against a militant Islamist Rohingya group, ARSA, that had attacked and killed security forces at police and army bases.

But with shocking footage filmed by citizen activists, the documentary depicts an orchestrated campaign to target civilians, state-sanctioned violence, and mass murder - and uncovers new accounts of atrocities against the Rohingya people, from mass rape of women and children, to babies and children thrown into fires.

The film also investigates the role of Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, in the crisis. The Nobel Laureate was once seen as Myanmar?s hope and a beacon for democracy - including by President Barack Obama, who lifted all sanctions on the country in 2016.

But Suu Kyi, who has continued to defend her country from international criticism, has now been accused of standing by as her country?s military led an operation that killed thousands of civilians.

Indeed, as of May 2018, almost one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are living in the world's largest refugee camp across the border in Bangladesh. There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crisis, but that figure has reduced greatly now due to the aforementioned devastation.

Thus, 'Myanmar's Killing Fields' is a vivid and harrowing look at what drove both sides together and how, so it seems, only one side seems to be "winning" this battle. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'FRONTLINE: Blackout in Puerto Rico'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: In 'Blackout in Puerto Rico,' FRONTLINE and NPR investigate the humanitarian and economic crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The film examines how the federal response, Wall Street, and years of neglect have left the island struggling to survive.

DVD Verdict: More than seven months after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, more than 100,000 Americans are still without power, as part of the worst blackout in U.S. history.

FRONTLINE and NPR investigate how the federal response in Puerto Rico left millions of Americans in the dark for months - and the storm before the storm: how Wall Street, Puerto Rico's government, and Washington fueled a debt crisis that left the island's economy in ruins and its infrastructure crippled even before Maria hit.

Indeed, the investigative team uncovered a trove of insider documents that show a government relief effort in chaos, struggling with key contracts, basic supplies, and its own workforce.

But what about this now infamous Hurricane Maria itself? Well, Hurricane Maria is now regarded as being the worst natural disaster on record to affect Dominica and Puerto Rico.

The tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and the most intense tropical cyclone worldwide of 2017, Maria was the thirteenth named storm, eighth consecutive hurricane, fourth major hurricane, second Category 5 hurricane, and the deadliest storm of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

At its peak, the hurricane caused catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities across the northeastern Caribbean, compounding recovery efforts in the areas of the Leeward Islands already struck by Hurricane Irma.

Maria was the third consecutive major hurricane to threaten the Leeward Islands in two weeks, after Irma had made landfall in several of the islands two weeks prior and Hurricane Jose passed dangerously close shortly afterward, bringing tropical storm force winds to Barbuda.

'FRONTLINE: Blackout in Puerto Rico', produced with the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, uncovers a series of shortcomings after Maria, including how half of FEMA's staff on the island were trainees or unqualified, how contractors FEMA turned to failed to deliver hundreds of thousands of tarps, and how the Army Corps' temporary roof repair program was glaringly slow compared to other storms - putting up just 439 roofs in the first 30 days after the storm compared to more than 4,500 in the first month after Irma in Florida.

Underpinning it all, 'Blackout in Puerto Rico' delves into Wall Street?s role in the island?s economic demise - a crisis that left it dangerously vulnerable to a storm like Maria - and the relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S., including how Congress's withdrawal of a special tax break helped spur the Puerto Rican government's cycle of debt and borrowing.

Gripping and riveting, 'Blackout in Puerto Rico' is a must-watch look inside the ongoing recovery effort in Puerto Rico - and the economic crisis that devastated the island long before Maria. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'FRONTLINE: Trafficked in America'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: 'Frontline: Trafficked in America' is the inside story of Guatemalan teens forced to work against their will in Ohio. An investigation of labor trafficking exposes a criminal network that exploited undocumented minors, companies profiting from forced labor, and the US government's role.

DVD Verdict: 'Frontline: Trafficked in America' is yet another highly-indepth documentary that, this time, shines new light on a labor trafficking case in which Guatemalan teens were forced by a third-party contractor to work against their will at Trillium Farms in Ohio, a major egg producer.

The investigative team exposes a criminal network that exploited undocumented minors, the companies who profited from their forced labor, and how U.S. government policies and practices helped to deliver some teens directly to their traffickers.

Made in collaboration with the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley, the documentary takes viewers to the highlands of Guatemala where some of the teens are from, to the trailer park in Marion County where the teens were made to live and to places in the United States where human trafficking continues, according to a preview of the documentary provided to the Star.

Seven people have been indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in connection with the forced labor ring uncovered in Marion County, three of whom have been convicted of forced labor charges and been sentenced to time in federal prison. Three others were convicted of immigration offenses.

Federal prosecutors identified eight minors and two adults who were forced into virtual slavery and ordered to work at Trillium's egg farms, cleaning coops and moving, vaccinating and debeaking chickens, according to court records.

The documentary goes to a Guatemalan village, where the filmmakers talked with the parents of one of the smuggled teens and with the mother of the smuggler — Aroldo Castillo-Serrano, one of the people convicted of forced labor charges — who lived just down the street.

The film also describes the checkered history of the Marion County-area egg farm now operated by Trillium Farms, which as the Frontline documentary details, was formerly owned by egg mogul Austin "Jack" DeCoster, whose facilities racked up millions of dollars in fines for violations of public health and labor standards and who was recently sentenced to prison time in connection with a salmonella outbreak linked to his egg facilities.

The film also touches on the worker shortages that operations like egg farms face. John Glessner, a former egg farm executive and former associate of DeCoster, told Frontline that one of the biggest issues was finding people to do the work.

Gripping and revealing, 'Trafficked in America' presents a rare look inside the hidden reality of labor trafficking in the United States. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Tunnel: Vengeance - Season 3'
(Clemence Poesy, Stephen Dillane, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NC-17 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The emotionally charged finale of the acclaimed bilingual crime thriller, 'The Tunnel,' reunites Stephen Dillane with Clemence Poesy for the last outing of this unlikely Anglo-French partnership.

'The Tunnel: Vengeance' is set amidst mid-Brexit hysteria, an escalating refugee crisis, and the increasing threat of terror from disenfranchised, exiled souls on whom society has turned its back.

DVD Verdict: OK, and not trying to give the ending away here, in the slightest, but you have to know that the ending is as out-of-nowhere, totally unexpected as I have EVER come across in a TV series in my entire life!

That all said, phew, moving on and this emotionally charged third and final season is, in my humble opinion, easily the best of the trilogy. Karl and Elise take on a toxic and terrifying folie a deux, whose mutual defining quality is an existential death wish.

It all begins with a fishing boat drifts somewhere between England and France. There are children hiding on deck. Stowaways? Refugees, perhaps? The boat is set on fire, by someone wearing a gas mask; it’s not clear if the kids are still on board.

One man is found when the charred vessel is towed into Ramsgate, he’s in the hold, alive, bound and gagged. But when the gag is removed by DCI Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane), he’s still not saying much, because his tongue’s been cut off!

Turns out, of course, that he’s a trafficker and those children were refugees, wherever they are now. No bodies then, at the start of The 'Tunnel: Vengeance,' but yes, a case now involving missing kids brings our detective twosome together.

But, as we quickly learn, Elise is no longer commander as she has demoted herself, plus she has got toothache! And, although she’s on the case with Karl again, Anglo-French relations have cooled, which may or may not have something to do with Brexit!

Their relationship and chemistry, and the performances of Dillane and Poésy, are a big part of the success of The Tunnel and why it has successfully divorced itself from its Scandi parent, The Bridge, to become something in its own right.

Oh, and come the end, and when all the pieces of the 'Vengeance' puzzle are brought together, the question posed is What is a life worth? Now, due to circumstances, directed straight back at Karl, he is forced to confront an utterly impossible choice which will haunt US long after those aforementioned closing credits. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

How We Made The Tunnel: Vengeance

'Wild Kratts: Adventures on the African Savannah'
(Martin Kratt, Chris Kratt / DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: The Wild Kratts team learns all about the relationships between predators and prey, the differences between carnivores and herbivores, and how animals adapt to their environments in two exciting Adventures on the African Savannah!

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Chris and Martin Kratt are brothers (in real life!) who explore the wild throughout the world to learn more about animals and share conservation information. They have three friends who travel in the Tortuga HQ with them named Aviva, Koki and Jimmy Z.

The brothers have creature power suits that allow them to experience what it's like to be the animals they find. The team helps them by creating power suit creature disks for each animal they study. They also bring them supplies and help them out of tricky situations when their adventures get dicey.

In 'Wild Kratts: Adventures on the African Savannah', after getting caught in between a grumpy rhino and an outraged elephant, Martin and Chris have a contest to determine which is stronger - elephant or rhino powers!

Featuring two episodes, the first is “The Food Chain Game” where Aviva wants to build a food web for the African Savannah, so she devises a game and Chris and Martin accept the challenge!

They will each start as a blade of grass and climb to the top of the food chain in a game of “Creature Power Suit Creature Tag.”

In the second one, “Creature Power Challenge,” after getting caught in the middle of a tussle between a grumpy rhino and an outraged elephant, Martin and Chris decide to have a contest to decide what’s stronger – elephant or rhino powers.

In short, 'Wild Kratts' is a great cartoon adventure show for kids where they can learn about new animals and why conservation is so important to the world, not just them.

Also, we get to learn fun facts, straight from the box cover art work, in this case: What do elephants in the savannah eat? The answer is that due to their habitat, savannah elephants can often be found grazing or browsing on grass, plants, and even fruit! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'PBS KIDS: 20 Music Tales'
(DVD / G / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: From forming a schoolyard marching band to helping Ludwig van Beethoven write a symphony, your friends at PBS KIDS really know how to put on a fantastic performance!

DVD Verdict: Featuring over 4 hours of fun, these delightful '20 Music Tales' are brought together from some of your very favorite PBS Kids TV shows - Caillou, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train, Nature Train, Odd Squad, Peg + Cat, Reading Rainbow, Wild Kratts, and Wordworld.

This DVD contains all the shows my 3 1/2 year old son looks forward to everyday. Now all together in one place, and featuring the best Get Up and Dance clips from each TV show, his favorite is Daniel Tiger's Neghborhood.<> This endearing show, which was inspired by the award-winning Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, gives this iconic kids' series a parental two thumbs up every time, and for good reason. For kid who are brand new to the Mister Rogers characters will take an immediate shine to this modern animated generation, believe me.

But there are so many more great TV shows on here too, of course. WordWorld is a an entertaining, educational PBS preschool series, along with Peg + Cat, which is a super cute preschool series. Incorporating foundational math skills in a creative and exciting way, the characters count, sort, and group their way to solutions to everyday problems. And, due to its inclusion here on this great new DVD, the stories often illustrate concepts like superlatives, ordinal numbers, rhyming, and musical rhythm as well.

But, in truth, each and every TV show here on PBS Kids is worth its weight in visual gold, for there is not one foot out of place here re: title inclusion, as they all gel together very nicely. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Street Mobster: Special Edition'
(Bunta Sugawara, Noboru Andô, Mayumi Nagisa, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1972) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A pivotal work in the yakuza movie genre and in the career of director Kinji Fukasaku ('Battle Royale,' 'Doberman Cop'), 'Street Mobster' presents an abrasive portrait of the rise and fall of a reckless street punk caught in the crossfire of a bloody turf war raging in the mean streets of Kawazaki.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Street Mobster' is part of the early '70s crop of Japanese yakuza films that were spearheaded by Kinji Fukasaku, who is once again behind the helm without missing a beat.

All the mandatory elements that make a yakuza film work are present: forming and switching of alliances between yakuza families, fistfights, stabbings, a guerilla view of Tokyo, frenetic action sequences, sleaze.

But whereas a lesser, more workmanlike director would work these things from a checklist, Fukasaku instills so much energy that even the most rudimentary of things are a pleasure to watch.

Indeed 'Street Mobster' is packed full of raw, animalistic energy that more than makes up for the fairly predictable nature of the story. In typical yakuza fashion, yakuza gets out of prison after doing time for a hit, forms a small gang, takes on the bigger families, carnage ensues. It's all part of what makes the genre such pure, unadulterated fun though.

However all these typical genre staples take a wildly exhilarating life of their own through Fukasaku's hyperkinetic and gritty style. There's no glamour or glory to be found in Fukasaku's violence: only brutality. Stylization is kept to a bare minimum with lots of hand-held shots and cameras constantly on the move that blend in with the action.

The same guerilla tactics are used for the exterior shots that capture the seedy, downtrodden side of a Tokyo full of possibilities. Dilapidated warehouses, cheap bath houses, dark rooms, dim-lit diners, rundown neighborhoods with wooden cabins, again there's no glitz or neon lights shining in Fukasaku's yakuza universe.

Regular collaborator Bunta Sugawara takes on the role of the titular Street Mobster, but gone is his cool (and sullen) demeanor from other yakuza films. He's responsible for some serious scenery consumption, wildly overacting, often approaching even Kikuchiyo territory (Mifune's character from Seven Samurai) but with the same honest, natural approach that made him the great actor that he was.

He's also one of the best physical actors I've seen and you can see it paying off in dividends with every fight scene he gets involved with (and there are lots, don't worry).

If you'd like to see a different kind of gangster film, one that relies more on viscera, grittiness and raw energy than faux glamour and hip mafiosos, you should definitely invest in Street Mobster. It's pulpy, fast-paced, balls-out '70s Japanese action cinema at its manic finest! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
Optional English subtitles
Audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes
Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jasper Sharp

'Doom Asylum: Special Edition'
(Harrison White, Harvey Keith, Patty Mullen, Ruth Collins, Kristin Davis, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1987) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A demented coroner uses autopsy equipment to kill off the teenagers who trespass on the long-abandoned asylum he inhabits. Filmed on location in an actual abandoned asylum.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Doom Asylum' is an extremely weird, but massively amusing '80s shlock movie, seemingly made by a bunch of high school friends without any money; but with energy and enthusiasm to spare!

Chock full with an overload of wannabe comical elements and truly delightful over-the-top gore make up effects, tho my mind, 'Doom Asylum' is one of the most overlooked, and underrated '80s movies of this horror ilk out there today.

The killer is a heavily burned car accident survivor whose beloved young and sexy mistress died at the scene. He actually only has himself to blame for the accident, but nevertheless it drove him mad enough to encroach in the basement of a ramshackle asylum for ten years; with nothing better to do than watching old horror movies and practicing Scooby Doo's laugh!

Then, suddenly, there are two groups of trespassers in one day! A trio of rock chicks break into the asylum to rehearse their god-awful music (it's just noise, really) and some messed up nerdy teenagers that truly have the worst taste in picking out an idyllic spot for camping.

This happy bunch (which also includes Penthouse Pet of the Year 1988, Patty Mullen, 'Frankenhooker'),features the most indecisive guy in the universe ("We'll be right back. Maybe it'll take longer. Perhaps we shouldn't go") and the future Sex and the City top starlet, Kristin Davis. Her character Jane walks around in a tight, white see-through bathing suit and wears glasses as thick as pastry jars!

Basically, she's a geek whose cheek bones are cut in half with a buzz saw! Awesome! It's a small miracle that she managed to even build up an acting career after this. So yeah, if you haven't already guessed, 'Doom Asylum' is a terribly bad late '80s amateur-trash effort, but whether intentional or not, will still entertain you from start to finish; of that you have my word.

The humor is so lame it becomes a different type of funny and at least 20% of the film is pure and shameless filler! Director and co-writer Richard Friedman ('Scared Stiff' and 'Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge') obviously was a big fan of '30s horror icon Tod Slaughter, as the film features long pieces of footage of 'Sweeney Todd,' 'Murder in the Red Barn,' 'The Crimes of Stephen Hawke,' amongst others.

Personally, I always appreciate homage towards old horror cinema – especially to someone as often overlooked as Tod Slaughter – but did the scenes really had to be so long? The obvious aspects to love about 'Doom Asylum' are undoubtedly the extreme gore effects and imaginative death sequences.

I mean, there's some toe-cutting, acid drowning, stethoscope-strangulation, buzz-sawing and one poor girl is even completely turned into a meat cube! Ha, oh how I love and MISS the '80s! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
1.85:1 and 1.33:1 versions of the feature
Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with screenwriter Rick Marx
Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
Tina’s Terror - a brand new interview with actress Ruth Collins
Movie Madhouse - a brand new interview with director of photography
Larry Revene Morgues & Mayhem - a brand new interview with special make-up effects creator Vincent J. Guastini
Archival Interviews with producer Alexander W. Kogan, Jr., director Richard Friedman and production manager Bill Tasgal
Still Gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourne
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Amanda Reyes

'Lionheart: Special Edition Rewind Collection'
(Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lisa Pelikan, Harrison Page, Ashley Johnson, Deborah Rennard, Brian Thompson, Billy Blanks, Jeff Speakman, et al / Blu ray+DVD / R / (1990) 2018 / MVD Rewind)

Overview: Jean-Claude Van Damme ('Black Eagle,' 'Hard Target') stars as a soldier drawn into the world of modern-day gladiators fighting for the amusement of the rich in this fast moving action thriller; co-written by Van Damme himself!

Blu-ray Verdict: As we all know by now, the legend that is himself Jean Claude Van Damme stars in this action tale of a Legionnaire gone AWOL to sort out his families financial problems (by way of bare knuckle fighting, of course).

Lyon Gaultier (Van Damme) escapes his post in Djibouti with the French Foreign Legion when his brother is set on fire by drug dealers in LA. His brother's wife rebuffs him and and two agents are pursuing him to drag him back to the Foreign Legion.

Once in the USA he stumbles into the underground fight scene which he quickly becomes successful at and soon enlists a street hustler as a manager, Joshua (Harrison Page) who gives him the nickname Lionheart.

His success attracts the attention of a fight promoter Cynthia (Deborah Rennard) who gets Lyon for several no holds barred street fights. However it seems the real action is on the side bets and although he is her champion she is not averse to betting against him.

Lyon, in the meantime, and as aforementioned, is trying to get money together for his sister in law and his niece for which Joshua is used to inform them that its proceeds from an insurance policy.

In truth, and in my world anyway, this is probably Van Damme's best film in terms of overall pace and plot, although the dialogue and acting are still fairly clunky at times.

The action is also good, although I found the final fight scene rather disappointing - as the end opponent wasn't really that good and had some ludicrous side burns that just made me laugh. Trust me when I say that this WHOLE movie is worth seeing them on this guy alone!

If this film had had someone with the presence of, say, Bolo Yeung (who stared with Van Damme in 'Bloodsport') it would have improved the movie no end, as it's not just the end fighter that comes across a little bland in their routines.

But, to be honest, that's just nit picking in what is a pretty fun piece of action cinema. Support co-stars are well balanced here too, with Harrison Page as the manager with a heart and Lisa Pelikan as the hard up sister with issues, both do well with what little material they were given to flesh out.

Deborah Rennard is also okay as the hard nosed promoter super-bitch who just happens to look fantastic in the tiny skirts she is given to wear (does every fight promoter turn up to meetings in a bikini?!).

As with any Van Damme flick, the more time he spends cracking heads and the less time he spends speaking, normally indicate how well the movie will do. So yeah, it's not 'Citizen Kane', shit, it's not even Citizen Smith (one for the Brits there), but it's far better than a lot of the action dross currently out there.

Overall there's not a lot to say about this movie that has been said before over the years, but rewatching it today on Blu-ray, and watching some of these BRAD NEW special features where Van Damme talks about certain fight scenes and such, if you like action films then you'll LOVE this now-classic 'Lionheart' (which in other regions around the world was actually titled 'AWOL: Absent With Out Leave.' This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the main feature
Original 2.0 Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) and 5.1 Surround
English, French and Spanish Subtitles (on main feature)
Archival Audio commentary by Sheldon Lettich & Harrison Page (on Extended Cut only)
NEW - 'Lionheart: The Inside Story' (HD, 47:29) (Featuring interviews with cast and crew including star / co-writer Jean-Claude Van Damme, Director / Co-Writer Sheldon Lettich, Producer Eric Karson and stars Harrison Page, Deborah Rennard and Brian Thompson)
NEW 'Inside Lionheart with the Filmmakers and Cast' (HD, 25:52) (All new documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew including Jean-Claude Van Damme)
NEW - 'Lionheart: Behind the Fights' (HD, 10:19) (Featuring interviews with cast and crew including Jean-Claude Van Damme)
Archival 'Making of' Featurette (8:53) (SD)
Archival Interview with Sheldon Lettich (25:51)
Archival Interview with Harrison Page (13:05)
5 Promotional TV Clips (SD)
Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery
Original Theatrical Trailer
Collectible Mini Poster

Windrider: Special Edition MVD Rewind Collection
(Nicole Kidman, Tom Burlinson, Charles Tingwell, et al / Blu ray / R / (1986) 2018 / MVD Rewind)

Overview: PC Simpson is an enthusiastic surfer. With the help of his father's company's engineer Howard he develops a high tech surf board for the coming world surf championship. But then he falls in love with the singer Jade - and sport, friends and championship suddenly all become secondary.

Blu-ray Verdict: It seems like they made a movie like this for every cool activity in the '80s, and since windsurfing was at the height of its popularity it got the treatment too.

Indeed, think 'Top Gun' with much lower stakes and one tenth the budget! Despite a bad script and some marginal acting, I actually enjoyed this movie. Forget about the cliché plot and you can actually get a kick out of the clothes and hair and all the other '80s elements.

The film is shot in Australia so for an American it was fun to pick out the cultural differences as well. Also, Nicole Kidman stars as a rock star (although it's a damn pity that it's revealed in the end credits that her "singing" was actually dubbed by someone else; for 'Moulin Rouge' showed she was quite capable of doing it herself), putting on a good performance and giving the film an excuse to fill the soundtrack with some era appropriate synth cheese.

The windsurfing scenes will only appeal to the real hard core since the sport has changed so much in the last couple decades, but again I enjoyed the look back.

Oh, and for those always searching for this knowledge, yes, there is a breathtaking shot of Nicole's bare butt included! There is even a quick shot of Nicole's side nips in the shower, if that floats your boat even more.

So, in closing, if you like windsurfing, or huge waves crashing on Australian beaches, and seeing Kidman's butt, you'll also like 'Windrider' for those reasons and more. Like a pretty decent story line with tension rising towards the end. Sure, the scriptwriter's attempts at humor - and the briefly-glimpsed plastic shark - are a bit embarrassing, but you've got to roll with the punches when you watch an old '80s movies! This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

New HD Digital Transfer
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) Presentation
Uncompressed Mono Audio
Audio Commentary with Director Vince Monton and Writer Everett De Roche
Music Promo featuring Nicole Kidman (1:06, SD)
'Young Days' Music Promo (1:36, SD)
Windsurfing Promo (2:44, SD)
Stills Gallery
Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)
Collectible 'Windrider' "Mini-Poster"

'Super Troopers 2' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Seann William Scott, Clifton Collins Jr., Steve Lemme, Erik Stolhanske, Jay Chandrasekhar, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2018 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: When a border dispute arises between the U.S. and Canada, the Super Troopers are tasked with establishing a Highway Patrol station in the disputed area.

Blu-ray Verdict: The first 'Super Troopers' came out 17 years ago, and while the first movie is extremely funny, and the other Broken Lizard movies, like 'Beerfest' and 'The Slammin' Salmon' are also GENUINELY funny, this movie either tries too hard to be a rehash of the first, or the comedy just doesn't hold up the same over time.

So, yeah, there's a LOT of recycling of jokes and a LOT of low-hanging comedic fruit on offer ... but, you know what, it doesn't matter! It's still rather stupid-funny and I loved every dang second of it!

Most of the actors from the first one are back in action (although some merely in cameos), while the core cast includes returnees Brian Cox as Captain O'Hagen, Paul Soter as Jeff, Chandrasekhar as "Thorny", Steve Lemme as "Mack", Erik Stohlhanske as "Rabbit", and, of course, Kevin Heffernan as Rodney "Rod" Farva, the fat, obnoxious trooper the rest of his unit loves to hate.

Indeed, the French-Canadian send-ups are done well, and the Troopers fire up a good number of really goofy and, at times, side-splitting games. What was a decent surprise,as aforementioned, was how much solid material Farva got this time, after being the butt of about every joke in the original!

OK, sure, he's still awkward and a twat ("Who wants creme fraiche?"), but it balances out and becomes overall a lot more fun - for him and us, as fans.

The plot, I hear you ask? What about the plot? Well, as the action begins, this comically inept group of officers are ... former officers, having all been fired for an incident which took place in between movies and is only described verbally in this one (until an amusing payoff at the end of the movie)!

But Captain O'Hagen comes out of retirement and gets the band back together when an unusual opportunity arises for which this group of misfits is uniquely semi-qualified. It seems that a government reassessment of the exact border between U.S. and Canada has shown that one French-Canadian town is actually in the U.S. - and is very close the area where these super ridiculous members of the Vermont State Police used to "work".<> The re-instated troopers are called upon to set up a Vermont State Highway patrol station in this soon-to-be added U.S. territory.

The troopers encounter plenty of challenges as they help the tiny Quebec town and its residents transition to being Americans. Besides the natural resistance of the life-long Canadians in the area, a prank-filled rivalry develops between the Super Troopers and a small trio of Canadian Mounties (Will Sasso, Tyler Labine and Hayes MacArthur).

The small town mayor, former Canadian ice hockey legend Guy Le Franc (Rob Lowe) seems amenable enough, and the beautiful Canadian government attaché Genevieve Aubois (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is as helpful as she can be, but the guys from Vermont are ... well, themselves - and as jingoistic as you'd expect them to be!

But matters get even more complicated when the guys stumble on evidence that there's more going on than simply correcting a border mistake. So, for those still not in the know, 'Super Troopers' rolls along the lines of 'Reno 911' with a dash of 'Dumb and Dumber' thrown in! Oh, and keep an eye out for the crazy opening sequence - which has to be seen to be believed! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

(Making) Super Troopers 2
Extended & Deleted Scenes
Kevin Heffernan: Method Actor
Theatrical Trailers

'What Have They Done to Your Daughters?'
(Giovanna Ralli, Claudio Cassinelli, Mario Adorf, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1974) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Police investigate apparent suicide of teen girl and uncover details of a teenage prostitution racket. They go on the hunt for a motorcycle riding killer.

Blu-ray Verdict: In 1972, director Massimo Dallamano ('Colt 38 Special Squad', 'The Night Child') broke new ground in the giallo genre with the harrowing 'What Have You Done to Solange?' Two years later, he followed up with an even darker semi-sequel the chilling 'What Have They Done to Your Daughters?'

A teenage girl is found hanging from the rafters of a privately rented attic, pregnant and violated. Hot-headed Inspector Silvestri (Claudio Cassinelli, 'The Suspicious Death of a Minor') and rookie Assistant District Attorney Vittoria Stori (Giovanna Ralli, 'Cold Eyes of Fear') are assigned to the case, the scope of which grows substantially when they discover that the dead girl was part of a ring of underage prostitutes whose abusers occupy the highest echelons of Italian society.

Meanwhile, a cleaver-wielding, motorcycle-riding killer roars through the streets of Brescia, determined to ensure that those involved take their secret to the grave.

Also starring Mario Adorf ('The Bird with the Crystal Plumage') and Farley Granger ('Strangers on the Train') and featuring an insanely catchy score by Stelvio Cipriani ('Death Walks on High Heels'), 'What Have They Done to Your Daughters?' is a fast-paced, brutal and unforgettable thriller from a director at the peak of his creative powers.

Now released via Arrow Films (UK) along with MVD Visual, 'What Have They Done to Your Daughters?' has gotten itself a lovely 2K restoration from the original camera negative, as well as a High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation.

As aforementioned, Dallamano, director of 'What Have They Done To Solange?' again returns to his schoolgirl-in-peril themed story and like its predecessor it's a highly controversial topic that is handled professionally and intelligently.

Despite its topic, there's very little in the way of visual sleaziness here, the offense's against the girls are confined to tape recordings the police have and its from these that they build their case.

The film is in fact only half Giallo and plays more like a Poliziotteschi (Italian police procedure film), we only get brief glimpses of the leather clad killer as he tries to cover up his identity by killing those who might be able to give him away.

Stelvio Cipriani again provides an excellent score, the film looks good visually, no more than you'd expect from a director who used to ply his trade as a cinematographer, and there's also a very memorable chase scene that livens up the film immensely.

Claudio Cassinelli and Cortese provide some fine acting in their respective roles, with Cassellini excellent as the investigating homicide detective Silvestri. The beautiful Giovanna Ralli also fits very well in her role of a young female assistant district attorney.

Indeed, for those in the know, Ralli may also be known to Italian movie buffs for films like Sergio Corbucci's revolutionary Western 'Il Mercenario' or Enzo Castellari's Giallo 'Gli Occhi Freddi De La Paura.' I mean, if there is such thing as a "high brow" Giallo this must surely be it. The film is so stylistically driven that this is a strong feature with that in mind, but what elevates it more is the unexpectedly serious-minded tone and story which also comments on political corruption.

Its cynicism and downbeat nature are mediated, however, with more typical gruesome touches such as a man having his hand hacked off and an autopsy scene involving a torso cut into many pieces.

In closing, its ultimate mystery thread is consistently compelling and it's directed with considerable skill. Well worth tracking down now here on Blu-ray from Arrow Films (UK). This is a Widescreen HD Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original lossless Italian and English mono soundtracks
English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
Masters and Slaves: Power, Corruption & Decadence in the Cinema of Massimo Dallamano, a new video essay by Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine
Eternal Melody, an interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani
Dallamano's Touch, an interview with editor Antonio Siciliano
Unused hardcore footage shot for the film by Massimo Dallamano
Italian Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Mackenzie

'Rwanda: The Royal Tour'
(Peter Greenberg / DVD / G / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Follow Peter Greenberg as he ventures to the country known as "land of a thousand hills." For an entire week, Peter is taken on a tour hosted by Rwanda's president Paul Kagame.

DVD Verdict: This documentary is the latest edition of the groundbreaking Royal Tour series, in which Peter journeys to a country to offer audiences access to extraordinary locations, historic landmarks, and cultural experiences.

As aforementioned, for an entire week, Peter is taken on a tour hosted by Rwanda's president Paul Kagame. Mr. Kagame proves to be the ultimate guide as he showcases the visual gems his country has to offer.

Together, Peter and Mr. Kagame go gorilla trekking through Volcanoes National Park, jet-skiing in Lake Kivu, and exploring Nyungwe Forest National Park on an elevated canopy walkway.

Finally, they observe a variety of wildlife during a safari through Akagera National Park.

For those not in the know, Peter Greenberg is an American journalist. He is the CBS News Travel Editor, reporting regularly on The Early Show, its replacement CBS This Morning, and the CBS Evening News.

Indeed, he may be best known as the Travel Editor for NBC's Today, CNBC and MSNBC from 1995 until 2009. Previous to NBC, Peter was Travel correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America from 1988 to 1995.

Greenberg is also an Emmy Award-winning journalist and television producer in his own right. Also known as the "Travel Detective," he has published several books with that moniker, Greenberg was brought to NBC's Today by Jeff Zucker.

Previously, Greenberg was a correspondent for Newsweek, among other publications. In addition to his Today duties, Greenberg produces travel segments for America Online, is a contributing editor for Men's Health; produces a radio show, Peter Greenberg Worldwide, for United Stations Radio Network; and an online travel site,

He also produces television specials, such as the highly rated "Inside American Airlines: A Week in the Life". Additionally, Greenberg serves as the Travel Ambassador for AARP, offering travel advice to members.

A busy man, as you can tell, he also produces and hosts this wondrous television series, The Royal Tour, which aired originally on the Travel Channel and is now, obviously, PBS-based.

The series, in general, features various heads of state giving Greenberg and viewers a personal tour of their country. It has featured a number of world leaders including New Zealand's Helen Clark, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, Abdullah II of Jordan, and Peru's Alejandro Toledo.

In fact, to add to his plate, Greenberg was previously the Travel Channel's chief correspondent. The series, now airing on PBS, actually re-launched in 2010 with 'Mexico: The Royal Tour,' with Mexican President Felipe Calderon taking Greenberg on a journey across the country.

That all said, and phew, 'Rwanda: The Royal Tour' is a delicious inside look at the country and it's people, all decidedly politely presented by Rwanda's president Paul Kagame.

The man himself, Paul Kagame, also reveals things about himself as they walk and talk, such as the Rwandan politician and former military leader took office in 2000 - when his predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, resigned.

We learn that Kagame previously commanded the rebel force that ended the 1994 Rwandan genocide and that he was considered Rwanda's de facto leader when he served as Vice President and Minister of Defence from 1994 to 2000.

As for the country itself, we learn that Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a sovereign state in Central and East Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland.

Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country.

The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year. Interestingly, the population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans are drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda, although within this group there are three subgroups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Breaking In: Unrated Director's Cut'
(Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2018 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Gabrielle Union stars as a woman who will stop at nothing to rescue her two children being held hostage in a house designed with impenetrable security.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, I do like whenever we get a home invasion/survival type film so I was kind of looking forward to 'Breaking In'.

That said, the trailer didn't really look that great, but I was hoping for an enjoyable time. Add the fact that this film was directed by the same guy who made 'V For Vendetta' (James McTeigue) and you would expect something good.

Unfortunately, this film is actually quite bad on a few levels. There was certainly a better way to go about this film and although the film's premise is simple the writer and director involved missed the opportunity with their execution.

The film is about a mother and her two children who drive up to her recently deceased father's house. His house is in a fairly remote area and once there they realize that they are in the way of four criminals who want to rob the fortune in the house.

The mother's kids are locked in with the men, while she is outside and must find her way in to save her children from danger. The men definitely underestimate her ability to go the distance to save her family.

Gabrielle Union is an often reliable actress who gives a solid performance in this film. She has no real fault in this and is believable as a mother who has to save her kids. Everything else is bad, sorry.

We don't really know anything about the strained relationship between Union's character and her father. What went on with them? What was his connection the the robbers? Nothing is explained well and things are left badly vague.

Thankfully, the film is short (88 minutes) yet some scenes move at a complete snails pace. We see characters just walk around and look at things for minutes on end. I'm not even close to exaggerating that fact either as it happens four times here.

The film could have even used thrilling moments, but doesn't utilize that either. The villains are cookie cutter and despite the premise of the film there seems to be nothing at stake.

That said, and playing Devil's Advocate, as I always will, while 'Breaking In' is not a perfect film by any means, suffering from various guilty continuity errors also (let alone the aforementioned lack of development re: any of the antagonists, their motives, their methods, or even their criminal backgrounds, et al), it does a VERY good job of allowing Union's character to use her common skills and knowledge in defeating a very "menacing," and definitely "threatening" group of baddies.

In closing, 'Breaking In' is a really disappointing effort all around, but sure, okay, I wasn't expecting a masterpiece of this genre, but the stale and underwritten plot really dampens a film that should have been much better. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Alternative Open - The Gas Station with Commentary by Director James McTeigue and Scriptwriter Ryan Engle
One Bad Mother...
A Lesson in Kicking Ass
Deleted/Extended Scenes (with Commentary by Director James McTeigue and Scriptwriter Ryan Engle)
A Hero Evolved
A Filmmaker's Eye: James McTeigue
Feature Commentary with Director James McTeigue and Scriptwriter Ryan Engle
Includes a digital copy of 'Breaking In - Unrated Director's Cut Version'

Official 'Breaking In: Unrated Director's Cut' Blu-ray Trailer

'Measure Of A Man'
(Donald Sutherland, Luke Wilson, Judy Greer, Blake Cooper, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: A bullied teen experiences a turning point summer in which he learns to stand up for himself.

DVD Verdict: At its core, within its true cinematic essence, 'Measure Of A Man' is fully intended to be an empowerment tale about an overweight teen (Blake Cooper) who learns to stand up for himself.

That said, along the way, those messages honestly do get a wee bit muddled by poor decision-making and selfishness, but what else would you expect from a movie about an overweight early teen boy whose grandfather is Donald Sutherland!

Chock full of some rather cruel, and it has to be said, desperately upsetting bullying, including a beating and kidnapping scene that verges on sexual assault (where a teen boy is stripped and left in the woods), 'Measure Of A Man' may well (come the end) tell it like it is with a wry smile attached, but it never shirks from the real world problem that we still, worryingly "allow" to persist today in our schools.

Featuring some strong language toboot (along with some asshole's, goddamn's and, sadly, even some ethnic slurs), Sutherland and Wilson exhibit bouts of drinking too (including to excess) along with smoking. So, don't for one second think that this movie is solely about the downfall of the young lead character.

Shot primarily in Camp Hoffman in S. Kingstown, RI with a lot of the cast and crew staying in the camp for the duration of the shoot, 'Measure Of A Man' is a gripping, if not sad portrayal of life as we know it for kids of a certain age.

Combine that with parental alcoholism, and, well, you have a movie that showcases the want/need to be an authentic coming of age piece; but slips and slides in its efforts to achieve such a thing. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official 'Measure Of A Man' DVD Trailer

'Mohsen Makhmalbaf: The Poetic Trilogy'
(Shaghayeh Djodat, Hossein Moharami, Rogheih Moharami, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: One of the preeminent figures of Iranian cinema, Mohsen Makhmalbaf has written and directed an impressive array of acclaimed films, winning accolades at international film festivals and the admiration of world cinema audiences. This collection presents three of Makhmalbaf's most lyrical films which the director has termed his Poetic Trilogy.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Gabbeh' (which here is now presented in a rather stunning new restoration) tells of an elderly couple who stop by a stream to wash a vividly woven traditional Persian rug (Gabbeh).

A beautiful woman, depicted in the rug's elaborate design, suddenly appears and tells a heart-rending story of love and loss.

In truth, and aside from the wondrous story line, the actual overall cinematic beauty of costume and scenery is enthralling all unto itself. Unriched in some brilliant color spectrum throughout, the fact that the love story that it brings for is as captivating is just a bonus.

At its heart a romantic film, of course, it will leave you, the viewer with a grand sense of completion and fulfillment. A wonderful, and did I mention oh-so colorful film that brings together both love and art in equal measure.

Surrounded by the cultural strictures which have a mythic overlay at every move, every path taken, it is also very true to say that you might wish to have a second viewing - as just the one viewing to follow and absorb the story line is doing the film an injustice, in my humble opinion.

A film imbued with the ideas of Sufism, 'The Silence' (also now brought forth via a stunning new restoration process) tells of Khorshid, a young blind boy from Tajikistan who earns rent money for his family by tuning rare instruments, but who becomes enraptured by the sonorous music he hears on his way to work each day.

Subtitled in English, this story of a 10-year old blind boy's experiences is visually and aurally intertwined. Filled with striking scenes and hypnotic music, the production is unique and riveting.

The camera wanders through the bazaars and shops of Tajikistan providing a glimpse into a culture not well known to Westerners. The interplay between the boy and the beautiful young woman who acts as his eyes is touching, filled with humor, and played with a simple elegance.

The distractions encountered by the boy on his way from home to work are a delight. Supporting roles are well played. The harmonies of the music, the city, and everyday life produce a funny and profound film well worth watching.

Finally, 'The Gardener' is an imaginative documentary which follows Makhmalbaf, and his son Maysam, to Israel to investigate the Bahá'í Faith, a religion with 7 million followers, which originated in Iran 170 years ago.

Containing several scenes that raised intriguing questions about the role of faith in humanity's evolution and other scenes that answered those questions through the unfiltered testimony of individual believers, 'The Gardener's cinematic style was a little surreal for my taste, but it accentuated the moments of realism; like comets occasionally streaking across a crowded night sky.

Interrelated with their debates about religion, we have interviews with Baha'i followers who have come to the World Center from all parts of the world (there is for example a gardener working in the beautiful gardens who is from Papua New Guinea). The close-ups of flowers, trees and other elements in the gardens gives a nice pantheistic feel to the movie also. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restorations of The Silence and Gabbeh from the original camera negatives
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of all three films
Original Persian soundtracks with uncompressed LPCM audio
Newly translated English subtitles
Audio commentary on Gabbeh by critic Godfrey Cheshire
Poetry in Motion: An Interview with Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an in-depth conversation between the Iranian auteur and film critic Jonathan Romney, newly produced for this edition
Mohsen with Closed Eyes, an imaginatively filmed archival interview with Makhmalbaf on The Silence
Original trailers
Stills and collections gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring new writing by film academic Negar Mottahedeh and Mohsen Makhmalbaf

'Tideland: Special Edition'
(Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Tilly, Jodelle Ferland, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (2005) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: For his tenth feature, Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits, Twelve Monkeys) adapted Mitch Cullin's celebrated cult novel 'Tideland,' a work he once described as Alice in Wonderland meets Psycho through the eyes of Amélie.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Tideland' is an amazingly perceptive flight of fantasy seen from a child's point of view. Viewed from this perspective, we can forgive pretty much any of Gilliam's transgressions, for in this film he takes us far beyond our visual and psychological zones of comfort.

But how deliciously we squirm in our seats watching this one. Viewing adults as extreme characters and caricatures, and grappling with the mysteries of death, sex, and the fear of being abandoned are indeed the dark but necessary truth of growing up.

In this respect, 'Tideland' is strikingly similar to Miyazaki's 'Spirited Away.' In both films we see the world as a young girl's perceptual mix of cruel reality and spirited fantasy.

Just as Chihiro's parents turn to pigs as the realization of her horror at their gluttony, so too the demise and/or mummification of Jeliza-Rose's parents is best taken not as a literal outcome but as visualizations of her curiosity about the consequences of death blended with the evil wishes that come with the perceived slights of childhood.

It's not a flattering picture, but the bizarre character Dickens, from this point of view, represents boys, men, male love objects in the broadest sense. They're strange, unpredictable creatures, somewhat brain damaged, who are obsessed with (symbolic) devices like submarines.

Should she play with him? Kiss him? Hate him? Marry him? The curiosity and the confusion over attraction mixed with revulsion that is the reality of an adolescent girl's perceptions is brilliantly manifested in Dickens' character.

The imaginative world of the adolescent girl is perhaps one of the last great mysteries of the world, and one few filmmakers have tried to seriously illuminate.

We are truly fortunate that two such wonderful filmmakers, Miyazaki and Gilliam, have both within a few years of each other given us such perceptive peeks under the kimonos. This is a Widescreen HD Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Commentary by writer-director Terry Gilliam and co-writer Tony Grisoni
Introduction by director Terry Gilliam
Getting Gilliam, a 45-minute documentary on the making of Tideland by Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice)
The Making of Tideland featurette
Filming Green Screen featurette with commentary by Gilliam
Interviews with Terry Gilliam, producer Jeremy Thomas and actors Jeff Bridges, Jodelle Ferland and Jennifer Tilly
Deleted scenes with commentary by Gilliam
B-roll footage
Theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring two choices of original artwork
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell