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So far Thespia has created 56 blog entries.

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.

 

Next [...]

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

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

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

Headsup: Heroes and Antiheroes

Based on the historical novels by Winston Graham, Poldark follows the adventures (and misadventures) of the Poldark Season Twotitle character as he returns from war to a home and a life turned upside down in his time away and his ensuing struggles to piece together a new business, new friendships, and a new family. Aidan Turner stars as Ross Poldark, who I might venture to say gives Mr. Darcy a run for his money when it comes to being a flawed British costume drama hero (I wouldn't say it too loudly, of course). The show has received multiple award nominations and wins (including a BAFTA this year) and has a loyal fan base, however this year in the UK it had to compete for their attention against fellow historical drama Victoria (both showing on Sunday nights), so if you're a fan, keep your fingers crossed that the show won't be pushed out any time soon.

Out now is a DVD and Blu-ray set for Season 2, which in addition to all of the episodes includes over 30 minutes of extras. Notable bonus features include a behind-the-scenes featurette (with cast and crew discussing their love of Cornwall, the challenges of shooting on location and at a studio simultaneously, and tricks of the trade to help the show end up seamlessly stunning as it does), Portrait of a Marriage (an examination of the union of Ross and Demelza, whose passionate and stubborn natures both cause the pair to [...]

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

Headsup: Two Titles from Sailor Moon

 

Sailor Moon (or Usagi Tsukino, as many know her), is the princess of the Silver Millennium moon kingdom, leader of the Sailor Soldiers, and on her off days, a regular school girl. The Sailor Moon universe has been part of popular culture worldwide since its introduction in 1991 and is still going strong; fans never tire of watching Usagi and her friends fight against their enemies and protect Earth (and each other).  Out now from VIZ Media are two new home media sets for fans hungry to add to their library: Sailor Moon Crystal Set 1, which includes the first fourteen episodes of the Dark Kingdom arc, and Sailor Moon S, the third season (episodes 90-108) from the anime series. Both include English and Japanese audio and English subtitles.

Fans interested in Crystal Set 1 have a few format options (all available on Amazon): a Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack ($64.89), a Standard Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack ($54.90), and a Standard Edition DVD Set ($26.99). Both combo packs (2 Blu-ray and 2 DVD discs) feature Blu-ray extras including a digital art gallery, trailers, and a featurette with the English voice actors ("Introduction to Sailor Moon Crystal"). The Limited Edition combo pack includes an 88-page color art booklet and seven color collectible art cards. The DVD set doesn't have any bonus features (except for trailers), but for those who just [...]

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

Headsup: Buried Secrets

American Gothic Season One DVDIn American Gothic, the Hawthorne family, the epitome of “the haves”, are sent reeling from the death of their
patriarch—- not only with the discovery that he may have been a serial killer, but also the possibility that one of them may have been his partner in crime. Starring the ensemble cast of Juliet Rylance (Alison), Antony Starr (Garrett), Justin Chatwin (Cam), Megan Ketch (Tessa), Elliot Knight (Brady), Stephanie Leonidas (Sophie), Gabriel Bateman (Jack), and Virginia Madsen (Madeline), the series made it through its original order of 13 episodes but was cancelled after the first season.

Even with its one-season run, the show does have a faithful base of fans, and those who are Amazon Prime and/or CBS All Access members will be happy to know that they can stream the season for free. As to paid options, while Amazon and iTunes often match each other’s prices for paid streaming content, in this case, they do not— individual HD episodes of the series on Amazon are $2.99 each and on iTunes are $3.49. Fans can get the whole season on iTunes for $29.99, while Amazon, interestingly, does not even offer a “whole season” streaming purchase option (which means to get all the episodes digitally there, viewers would have to spend $39.00). Considering that the DVD set (which in addition to all 13 episodes also includes some extended / deleted scenes, coverage of American Gothic at Comic-Con, and a blooper [...]

By |December 21st, 2016|Headsup|0 Comments

Headsup: Animals Acting Like People and People Acting Like Animals

Zoo Season 2 DVDBased on James Patterson's novel, Zoo tells the story of a pandemic of animals turning the tables on humans, going from the hunted to the hunters.  In Season 2, everything is ramped up a level--the team not only discovers that the cure they fought so hard for in Season 1 has become obsolete due to the mutation's rapid evolution, but that the animals are actually executing coordinated attacks geared toward destroying human civilization itself.  Jackson is busy trying to keep his sanity amid major family issues and a biological identity crisis, ties to the Noah Objective are becoming ever more convoluted, and the team must tackle challenges like crashing a black tie event in Vancouver, tracking down a saber-tooth tiger, and, of course, constantly avoiding becoming prey.  Jackson (James Wolk), Jamie (Kristen Connolly), Abraham (Nonso Anozie), and Chloe (Nora Arnezeder) have certainly had a busy season.

Now available on DVD is a 4-disc set that includes all 13 episodes of Season 2 plus some bonus features, including a gag reel, deleted scenes, and two featurettes: Metamorphosis: A Look at Season Two of Zoo and Welcome to the Bird. Subscribers to CBS All Access have access to the entire season and it is also available on Netflix (a bit surprising as CBS is becoming ever more choosy about what they allow to be released on platforms other than All Access).  As to streaming options, Amazon Video and iTunes both offer the season (without bonus features) [...]

By |December 20th, 2016|Headsup|0 Comments