Headsup: Making Connections

Out this month are two films whose characters suddenly find themselves in circumstances that change their worlds, prompting them to form otherwise-unlikely bonds with each other:

 

King New Orleans
First we have The King of New Orleans, Brian R. Friedman's independent film that follows New Orleans cabbie Larry Shirt (David Jensen, Ocean's Eleven, The Mist, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as he drives everyone from across the social spectrum around the Big Easy.  One of his fares is possibly-expelled Harvard student Bobby Cohn (Richard Brien, Nashville), and the two form a friendship later tested by the epic challenges of Hurricane Katrina.  The film won multiple awards at the Napa Valley Film Festival, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, and the New Orleans Film Festival, and it is the feature-length debut of Allen Frederic (Lee Daniels' The Butler, People), who co-directed the film with creative team Coodie & Chike (Benji, Good Morning).  The King of New Orleans will be out on digital platforms (including Amazon and iTunes) on February 21st (timed to tie in with Mardis Gras on the 28th) but is already available on DVD on Amazon for $14.99.   No special features on this one, which is sad because it seems like such a heart-centered project for the creators (and I'm sure they have some crazy behind-the-scenes stories they could tell since it was filmed on location in New Orleans).  If you simply love independent film and/or New Orleans, though, this may be worth checking out.

 

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By |February 17th, 2017|Headsup|0 Comments

Headsup: Witches, Superheroes, and Vampire-Snake Hybrids

Sabrina Down Under DVD

If you were a child of the 90s, you probably remember Melissa Joan Hart in her role as Sabrina Spellman, the almost-normal teenage girl who happens to possess magical powers, in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Based on the Archie comic series (same title), the show ran from 1996-2000 on ABC and then from 2000-2003 on The WB. Now out on DVD is the 1999 spinoff TV movie Sabrina Down Under, where Sabrina goes to Australia along with her magic cat Salem (Nick Bakay) and fellow witch Gwen (Tara Charendoff). While there, Sabrina encounters a colony of mermaids and mermen whose well-being is threatened by pollution and she must call upon her powers as a witch to help them.  Also starring in the film are Scott Michaelson and Lindsay Sloane as mer-people and Peter O'Brien as fame-hungry marine biologist and antagonist Dr. Julian Martin.  The film is available to Hulu subscribers and is available now on DVD on Amazon for $9.99. There are no bonus features with this release, but it should be noted that this is the first time the film has been made available in disc form—-the recent release of Season 7 of the series did include the other tv movie (Sabrina Goes to Rome) as part of the bonus content, but not this one, so if you're a fan collecting all things Sabrina, this is your chance!

 

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By |February 16th, 2017|Headsup|0 Comments

Headsup: Kings and Queens

 

Power, love, influence, wealth, and family legacy all come to a head in two new releases out now from PBS and Paramount:

 

Victoria Season One Blu-rayFirst we have Victoria, the sweeping Masterpiece / ITV costume drama that has taken audiences by storm.  (Apparently ITV underestimated the show’s popular reception, declining to opt for the much-loved and oh-so-British “Christmas special” in 2016 and then making a complete turnabout for 2017’s plan after they saw the show’s ratings.  ITV is now reportedly expecting it to run for six seasons.)  The series stars Jenna Coleman in the title role along with Tom Hughes as Prince Albert and Rufus Sewell as Lord Melbourne (if you can’t put your finger on why he looks familiar, he’s the evil Nazi guy from The Man in the High Castle.)  The first season follows Queen Victoria’s early years as head of the British Empire as she goes from being a teenage girl to a new queen to a wife to a mother, all with the burdens of operating as a constitutional monarch weighing heavily upon her petite shoulders.  Season One is now available on DVD and on Blu-ray (on Amazon for $22.99 and $35.59 respectively).  Bonus features include interviews with Jenna Coleman, Tom Hughes, and Rufus Sewell, a featurette on how creators used CGI to do things such as create busy period streets and fill a cathedral full of spectators, and a tour with Neil Hudson [...]

By |February 9th, 2017|Headsup|0 Comments

Headsup: Girl Power, Guy Power, and Mysterious Island Power

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the first DVD featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Rizzoli and Isles Seventh Season DVDFor Rizzoli & Isles fans, it's time to say goodbye to the series after its much-loved run.  Based on the novel series by Tess Gerritsen, the show follows the careers and friendship of Detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) as they work together to solve murders in Boston.  The show ran for seven seasons, earning respectable viewership ratings and People's Choice awards for both leads along the way.  TNT was even fond enough of the show to give it a proper wrap-up when they decided to remove the series from their lineup; rather than just cut it off at the end of Season Six with a cancellation, the network ordered an abbreviated seventh season (13 epsiodes rather than the usual 18) to finish out the story.  Fans can now grab the final season on DVD, which shows Rizzoli and Isles hunting nemesis Alice Sands while confronting challenges with their careers, their personal lives, and the occasional ghost and zombie issue.  Since this is the final season I was a little sad that the DVD didn't have interviews with the cast, a retrospective from the creators, or something to that effect...it does include a gag reel, though, which is always good for some fun.  The DVD includes all thirteen episodes of Season 7 and is available on Amazon for $24.96. You can also purchase the season in full for $29.99 on both Amazon and iTunes (no Netflix), but at $5 more that doesn't make much sense unless you simply have neither shelf space nor DVD player.

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By |January 24th, 2017|Headsup|0 Comments

Your Monday Morning Mental Sorbet: Please Be Grapes

Michelle Wolf

It's no secret: I don't watch a lot of television, compared to most people. I have to be very selective about what I watch as well due to time constraints. So I don't watch The Daily Show regularly. Not that I don't enjoy it, it's just that, true to its name, it's daily. Which means I get behind really damn quick. I stick my head in from time to time to check out what's going on, or if the guest is awesome. (Sidenote: Trevor Noah is awesome. Check out his stand-up if you haven't.) That's how I wound up watching a recent episode with Michael K. Williams and saw Michelle Wolf. I had seen her before on Live at the Apollo back in November and at the time had no idea she was a Daily Show correspondent. Here is that set I witnessed, in all of its glory. Enjoy this to kick off what is sure to be a surreal week, friends.

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By |January 16th, 2017|Mental Sorbet|0 Comments

Set the Boy Free - Book Review

Set the Boy Free by Johnny Marr

Written by Johnny Marr
Published by Dey Books

Initially known as the other creative half of The Smiths, Johnny Marr has had a pretty great run as his own guy. He's spent most of his adult life making some of the best melodies of the last forty years via his cofounding Electronic with Bernard Sumner of New Order and signing on for stints as a member of The The, The Cribs and Modest Mouse.

Now an established solo artist he's strummed his stuff on several soundtracks (most notably Inception) and been a collaborator with Beck, Kirsty MacColl, Billy Bragg, Pet Shop Boys, The Pretenders and Bryan Ferry.

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By |January 16th, 2017|Reviews|0 Comments

David Bowie Is… Invades The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

David Bowie Is

Widge's Note: It was one year ago today that we lost David Bowie--not the first casualty of The Year Which Must Not Be Named but just the first wave of the onslaught. But it was a bitter pill for everyone to swallow. Bowie was the Swiss Army Knife of musicians, trying on new personas like somebody whose dad owned a persona factory. One of the testaments to Bowie's chameleon-like nature was and is the David Bowie Is exhibition, currently in Tokyo and will be headed for Barcelona, opening May 25th. If there's any way in hell you can go, then go. Music Minister Rob Levy filed this report regarding his visit to the exhibition while it was based in Chicago. And we're reposting it today because it's One Year After.

Once in a while, a museum exhibition comes along that simply wows you with a sense of "I must see this!" glee and excitement! Like a Van Gogh retrospective or the Tut Exhibition from back in the day, the MCA's David Bowie Is was such an experience.

Created by London's Victoria & Albert Museum, this exhibition is the first to examine Bowie as a powerful figure in music, art design, theatre and film. It also emphasizes his impact on contemporary culture through the lens of his creative process and multiple collaborations. The exhibition, which opened on September 23, 2014 and closed on January 4, 2015 was a pretty big deal. The MCA Chicago was the only American venue for David Bowie Is, making it the epicenter for music freaks, artists and pop culture junkies.

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By |January 10th, 2017|Reviews|1 Comment

Headsup: Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box Limited Edition Trilogy Blu-ray Set

The Hellraiser Trilogy is comprised of three British horror films that tell the story of the Cenobites, a group of otherworldly sadomasochistic beings who go to and from earth via a mysterious puzzle box solved by unsuspecting victims.  The original Hellraiser (1987) was written and directed by Clive Barker, and was not only his directorial debut but also based on his own novel (The Hellbound Heart).  Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth followed in 1988 and 1992, respectively.  The franchise would eventually expand to include nine films, a comic book series, and related merchandise media.  If horror is your thing and you've never seen the original films, now is a pretty good time to check them out via the Scarlet Box Limited Edition Trilogy Blu-ray Set recently released from Arrow Video.

Before you even get to the disc content, you see this set is aimed to impress.  Housed in beautiful limited-edition packaging (including a nice sturdy box and newly created artwork from Gilles Vranckx), it also includes a 20-page booklet with original artwork and storyboards, five Cenobite postcards, a fold-out (reversible) poster, and Damnation Games, a 200-page hardback book from Clive Barker's personal archivists Sarah and Phil Stokes.

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By |December 30th, 2016|Headsup|0 Comments

Remembering Carrie Fisher: Princess, General, Badass

Portrait of the Actress Carrie Fisher member of the jury in the 70 Edition of Venice International Film Festival 2013 by Riccardo Ghilardi

2016 has been a rough year for everyone. It doesn't seem to be interested in slowing down on its way out, since it has taken one of the biggest badasses of our time: Carrie Fisher. She blew up at the age of nineteen when she hit the screen in Star Wars, becoming one of the biggest first geek screen crushes of all time. She later was put in a space bikini outfit and then used her own chain to choke the Hutt that imposed it on her. In her time, she also stuck an automatic weapon in John Belushi's face, did not marry Billy Crystal and became a harbinger of the future for Tina Fey, among other things. She was also a blisteringly funny writer, creating a series of autobiographies and semi-autobiographies.

And that's all well and good, but the thing Carrie Fisher did for me wasn't her acting on screen...it was her being on screen--being herself--and giving no fucks about doing so. And this isn't easy for anybody, much less someone who has had to grapple with bipolar disorder and addiction. I didn't know specifically what she was dealing with until seeing her discuss it with Stephen Fry in his docuseries, The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. But seeing how she was able to deal with it--and do so fairly openly and with tremendous strength--has made her a serious role model for dealing with mental illness as well as a personal hero of mine.

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By |December 28th, 2016|Stuff You Need to Know|1 Comment

Headsup: Game Changers in History

Royal Wives WarIf you've been enjoying The Crown on Netflix (or if you're just generally a history buff like me), you're probably aware that the current queen of England (Elizabeth II) was not actually born to be queen, nor her father born to be king. In Great Britain in 1936, it was soap opera central: Edward VIII, the charming, handsome crown-prince-turned-king, announced that not only was he in love with a divorcee (a no-no for the Church of England) who also happened to be American, but that he wanted to marry her at any cost, including the throne itself. This turned everything upside down for his brother George VI (Elizabeth II's father), who was forced to take the throne after Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry as he wanted. In Royal Wives at War, the story is told through the eyes of the women behind the men: Elizabeth, wife to George VI (and later the "Queen Mother"), and Wallis Simpson, the object of affection and eventual wife of Edward VIII. The two women could not have been less alike in looks, temperament, or character, but one thing they shared was a fierceness of will and a determination to take the other down in any way possible.  The docudrama is part reenactment, part roundtable discussion from British historians, and part dramatic monologues (set in 1967) beautifully presented by Emma Davies as Elizabeth and Gina McKee as Wallis, who certainly don't hold back with their cinematic-quality performances. The film is available on DVD on Amazon for $15.18 or as a digital purchase for $4.99. While it is only 60 minutes, a lot is packed into the hour, and if you're a fan of this era of history, it's an hour you won't want to miss.

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By |December 23rd, 2016|Headsup|0 Comments