Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Director David Midell's Award-Winning NightLights Announced For A DVD Debut By Indican Pictures On Jan. 13

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
When Hollywood makes a movie about autism you get Rain Man, which teamed Dustin Hoffman with Tom Cruise.   Hoffman’s character, Raymond, was a savant, capable of nifty tricks and able to more or less function in society (with limitations).

When a doctor, who is also a filmmaker, makes a movie about an individual with autism the final product is much more personal.   More insightful.

That’s precisely what Indican Pictures has headed to DVD on Jan. 13, director David Midell’s award-winning NightLights, a heartfelt story about an autistic young man, who, unlike Raymond, is somewhere else on the autistic spectrum.

Jacob Logan (Stephen Louis Grush — Lucky 7, Gracepoint, etc.) can’t just glance down at a pile of toothpicks on the floor and shout out the precise number.   He can’t count cards or rattle off statistics about airline safety … he’s a prisoner, he is a prisoner with a mind that is locked away.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
He needs constant care and that falls to his sister Erin (Shawna Waldron — Little Giants, The American President).  She provides him with unconditional love and support.   She gets him through the meltdowns.  It consumes; her caregiving is a life-commitment and, in its own way, she too is something of a prisoner.

Filmmaker David Midell is uncompromising in his storytelling.   All the bumps and bruises — both physical and emotional — are here to see.   And in telling his story, he pulls from his actors incredible performances that keep you, the audience, engaged … engaged in the characters and their struggles every bit as much as filmmaker Barry Levinson did with Charlie and Raymond in the Oscar-winning Rain Man.

As much as NightLights is about Jacob and his world, so too is the story about his sister Erin and the things that affect her life.  Can she have friends?   Can she have an intimate relationship; love beyond Jacob?

Jan. 13 is a date to mark on your calendar if you are looking for one of those “indie” films that comes along from time to time that is both engaging and delivered from the heart.  Nightlights is exactly that!

Paramount Home Media Distribution To Launch DVD Edition Of The Animated Gladiators Of Rome On Feb. 17

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Winx Club creator Iginio Straffi turns his considerable talents — and his Loreto, Italy-based Rainbow animation studio — to the production of his first non-Winx Club animated feature film, Gladiators of Rome.    And it’s a beauty — the production values are easily on a par with any animated feature-length film coming out of Hollywood these days.

Of note, the script is from Michael J. Wilson, whose body of work includes Ice Age and Shark Tale … and trade reports indicate that the film arrives with a production budget that comes in at over $40 million (it’s all up there on the screen).

Paramount Home Media Distribution has tabbed Feb. 17 for the domestic DVD debut of Gladiators of Rome, which follows its Nov. 11 Oscar-qualifying theatrical showcase run.
Following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii, Timo (voiced by John Schwab) is adopted and raised by General Chirone, who just happens to run the local gladiator school.   

Before you go whoa, what’s up with that plot, you have to put the thoughts of Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator out of your mind when it comes to this particular gladiator school … this is a kid’s film, complete with a quartet of mischievous tiny-tike gladiators and a hero who has zero combat skills.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyOf course he’s a disappointment to his adopted father in terms of ever becoming a “Hero of Rome,” but it’s not important.   Being a gladiator is just not in Timo, that is, until he falls in love with Lucilla (Jo Wyatt), the daughter of General Chirone, who has been off studying in Greece.   Her arrival home is a like a thunderbolt out of the blue and so he sets out to impress her by becoming a gladiator.

The first stop is to recruit his goofy cohorts Ciccius and Mauritius (comic relief) and then with their help track down a sorceress in the nearby spooky woods, who — as legend has it — will be the source of a magic potion that will make him an instant gladiator.   That doesn’t work out so well … yuck!!!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Instead, our boy Timo has to actually work hard and train to become a real gladiator.   Enter Diana, the Goddess of Hunt, who takes the pathetic Timo under her wing and trains him to be the greatest gladiator of them all … that is if he can defeat his boyhood nemesis, Cassio, in the arena!

Also added to the release calendar this week from Paramount Home Media are no less than five family-friendly animated releases and a trio of TV-on-DVD SKUs.

First up, Mar. 3 brings the Nickelodeon release of Paw Patrol: Marshall & Chase on the Case, which teams fire pup Marshall with police pup Chase in over 90 minutes worth of Paw Patrol fun!   
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey 
Arriving on the same date, Mar. 3, is a double-disc DVD set titled Bubble Guppies: Fin-Tastic Collection.   This features nearly four hours worth of adventures starring Molly, Gil, Goby, Deema and the rest of Nickelodeon’s underwater pals.

Mar. 10 brings three more kidvid sections on DVD … Blue's Clues: Get Clued Into School (a three-disc collection), Legend of Korra: Book Four - Balance (2 disc set) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 3, Volume 1.
On the TV series front, Mar. 10 will see Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series, Matlock's Greatest Cases — a 12-episode collection on three DVDs — and Petticoat Junction: Family Favorites (eight hand-picked episodes).

James Cagney's Film Debut In Sinners Holiday To Get Feb. 10 DVD Release From Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced some interesting film library selections that will be heading to DVD and Blu-ray during 2015.

Making its DVD debut on Feb. 10 is director John G. Adolfi’s 1930 film release of Sinners Holiday, starring Grant Withers and Lucille La Verne.   Huh?   How is that big news?   1930?  

What makes this early sound film important is that it is the film debut of one James Cagney.   Plus Sinners Holiday is the second feature film for another future star, Joan Blondell.

On the same date, Feb. 10, is director Rouben Mamoulian’s 1934 film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s “Resurrection,” which was titled for the screen as We Live Again.  Teamed in the roles of Katusha and Dmitri are Anna Sten and Fredric March.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
On the Blu-ray release front, there will be seven new hi-def product offers on the seventh day of April.    These are Hooper and Sharky’s Machine, both starring Burt Reynolds, director Cameron Crowe’s Singles (1992, Bridget Fonda, Matt Dillon, Kyra Sedwick and Eric Stoltz), filmmaker Brett Ratner’s After the Sunset (2004, Salma Hayek teams with Pierce Brosnan and Woody Harrelson), The Corruptor (1999, Mark Wahlberg and Chow Yun-Fat) and lastly the music scene is explored in Detroit Rock City and Empire Records.

VCI Entertainment's The Prowler Heads To Blu-ray On Feb. 3

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
VCI Entertainment will be giving director Joseph Losey’s 1951 film noir thriller, The Prowler, a hi-def push on Feb. 3 with the release of a fully stored Blu-ray edition.

In keeping with the company’s recent look at marketing selective Blu-ray product offerings for the collector’s market this makes a quite a bit of sense.   This Van Heflin gem, co-starring Evelyn Keyes as the object of his twisted affections, in a film noir in the traditional sense and is one of those cult-like films that has grown in stature over the years, especially with none other than Dalton Trumbo as the screen writer.  

Bonus features include commentary by film noir expert and author Eddie Muller (“Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir”), three featurettes — “The Cost of Living: Creating The Prowler,” “Masterpiece in the Margins” and “On the Prowl” — and a photo gallery.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment Doubles Up In February With Ouija (Feb. 3) and Nightcrawler (Feb. 10)

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Universal Studios Home Entertainment doubles up this week with release news for two recent theatrical hits.   Both are being released as stand-alone DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs … with UltraViolet.

First up is director Stiles White’s supernatural thriller, Ouija, starring Olivia Cooke (The Signal and as Emma in the Bates Motel television series) as Laine, the de facto organizer of a “victim” pool when she invites her friends over to commune with the dead via a cursed Ouija Board. 

The street date will be Feb. 3, which makes the ARR 102 days … ticket sales were a tasty $50.6 million.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyBonus features include a trio of production featurettes — “The Spirit Board: An Evolution,” “Adapting the Fear” and “Icon of the Unknown.”

The following week, Feb. 10, the studio is back with writer/director Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a Los Angeles “photo journalist” who evolves into a sensationalist news-manufacturing machine.  The ARR is 102 days and box office receipts are right at $30 million.

Bonus features include commentary from filmmaker Dan Gilroy and the featurette titled “If It Bleeds, It Leads.”

Fury Rolls To DVD And Blu-ray From Sony Pictures Home Entertainment On Jan. 27

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has taken a look at the 2015 release calendar and selected Jan. 27 for DVD and Blu-ray release date for director David Ayer’s WWII action flick, Fury, starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf.

The ARR for this “throwback” war film starring the M4 Sherman tank and its crew in the closing days of World War II works out to 102 days and ticket sales at the local multiplex were a robust $83.3 million.

Bonus features for Fury include a trio of production featurettes — “Director's Combat Journal,” “Armoured Warriors” and “Taming the Beast” — and 50 minutes worth of deleted scenes.

20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment Dumps Director Jorge R. Gutierrez’s Magical The Book Of Life Into A Jan. 27 Release Slot

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
With an apparent early check-out for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment dumped filmmaker Jorge R. Gutierrez’s magical animated treat, The Book of Life, into the Jan. 27 release mix without so much as a howdy-do.

The ARR for this three-SKU product offerings is 102 days and the box office take heading into the Christmas break currently stands at $48.5 million.

Planned are a stand-alone DVD edition as well as two Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs — one with and one without a 3D viewing option.   The premium for the 3D SKU is ten bucks.

Bonus features for this animated gem include commentary from director Jorge R. Gutierrez, a quartet of featurettes and the music video by Us The Duo, “No Matter Where You Are.”