Blu-ray Review “The Girl With All The Gifts”

Actors: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Sennia Nanua
Directors: Colm McCarthy
Rated: R
Studio: Lionsgate
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Run Time: 111 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Who knew that six-time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close’s next film was going to be a post apocalyptic zombie film, I would have said “Hell no!” But she kicks some major ass in “The Girl With All The Gifts”. This British zombie flick definitely stands out among the flood of non-stop entries into this popular genre. In this film the flesh-eating beasts are called “hungries” and are teachable like pets (sort of). Very cool flick. Great performance from the underappreciated Gemma Arterton and stealing the show is the newcomer Sennia Nanua! She was amazing and I hope to see much more of her!

Official Premise: Humanity has been all but destroyed by a fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh eating “hungries.” Only a small group of children seems immune to its effects. At an army base in rural England, these unique children are being studied and subjected to cruel experiments. When the base falls, one little girl escapes and must discover what she is, ultimately deciding both her own future and that of the human race.

Lionsgate is delivering the film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy. Unlike the film, the special features are disappointing. There is only one featurettes included here called “Unwrap the Secret World of The Girl with All the Gifts”, which is a pretty standard brief behind-the-scenes look. Was hoping for a commentary track to get a little deeper into the subtext of the film itself.

4K Ultra HD Review “The Girl on the Train”

Actors: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Édgar Ramírez
Directors: Tate Taylor
Format: 4K
Rated: R
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Run Time: 112 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
4K Ultra HD: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

“The Girl on the Train” is the perfect film for Emily Blunt. She literally rocks this film! I could have sworn I would swear she would win awards for the role but it never really caught traction. She is truly amazing. Also Haley Bennett has a solid 2016 return with this film and “The Magnificent Seven”. The film has me staring without blinking for about 3/4 of the movie until the end reveal when it lost it almost completely. I wasn’t thrilled with the ending but overall I did enjoy the movie if not just for the performances.

Official Premise: The Girl on the Train is based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling thriller that shocked the world. Rachel (Emily Blunt), devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day. Everything changes when she sees something shocking happen there, and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.

“The Girl on the Train” was released in a 4K Ultra HD combo pack with Blu-ray and Digital HD copy included, which can be found for great deal at Dealslands UK. The 2160p 4K looks good but really doesn’t blow me away at all. If you compare the Blu-ray disc, I almost thought it looked better. There wasn’t anything in the 4K transfer that really stepped up the game. Not bad by ANY means just was hoping for more” The included DTS:X soundtrack (which ends up working as a 7.1 mix) sounds great and work well with the suspenseful score.

The special features are decent and worth checking out for sure if you enjoyed the film. The audio commentary features director Tate Taylor giving a lot of in-depth information on the film. There are nearly 20 minutes of Deleted and Extended Scenes included. Lastly there are two featurettes. The first is “The Women Behind The Girl” features author Paula Hawkins talking about the film. The other is “On Board The Train” looks deeper into characters and more behind-the-scenes.

Film Review “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”

Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke and Ronald Cyler II
Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 105 minutes
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Depending on how well you pitch it, self-loathing can be quite comical. Pointing out your own faults to elicit a laugh can work out well. I do it all the time with people I know because it allows me to show to them that I’m human, that I understand my flaws, and that I’m comfortable with my shortcomings…kind of. Then of course, across the way, there’s that thin line of self-loathing. It’s not too far and if you cross it, you find yourself in actual self-loathing territory. It’s a self-loathing that spins off into depression and depressing other people. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” beautifully blends a coming-of-age story and the tricky subject of youthful enmity.

When we first meet Greg (Mann), he’s socially awkward, but has mastered the art of fading into the background. Despite this, he’s maintaining a stable acquaintanceship with everyone in his school. He divides the cliques like world leaders divide their countries. He has it in good with the people of each land, but he maintains his own invisible island that has a unique identity, but he conceals it. The only person, who knows his interests, likes and dislikes, is Earl (Cyler). Like a lot of best friend stories, their meeting as elementary school students isn’t spectacular, but being young and impressionable does help build a firm basis friendship.

That young susceptible brain of theirs falls prey to Greg’s father, played by Nick Offerman, who is perpetually stuck as the bizarre and sage father in indie movies. Through his father’s influence, the two find a love for trashy, poorly made movies. Through that mutual admiration, they create their own parody movies of well-known movies like “Apocalypse Now” and “A Clockwork Orange”. This is Greg’s basic existence. It doesn’t seem like he wants to be bothered to do more nor does he want to attempt to do more, but that’ll quickly change.

At the request of his parents, he visits a former childhood friend, Rachel (Cooke). Everyone views the hangout time as beneficial for Rachel because she needs someone in her time of need. Technically, like everyone, she does. But Rachel is also someone that seems to be confident in her own minimalistic self-preservation. She doesn’t want to burden other people with her upsetting diagnosis, much less tell that to Greg, whom she barely talks to. Despite his awkwardness and many in-poor taste jokes, she finds his goofiness charming and sees the kindness in his soul.

Throughout, we’re reminded that this isn’t a movie where the two inevitably fall in love and have a cliché passion scene. That, in itself, is absolutely refreshing. It would cheapen what’s happening if she were to fall in love with the first boy to acknowledge her illness and be there in her time of need. It would feel cheap if he made a move as she goes through chemotherapy. They both care about each other, but not like that. They don’t need to. The love they feel for each other is completely platonic, but still very heartfelt.

At an integral point in “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”, the movie turns on a dime from a comedy into a drama. It’s a very smooth, but sudden transition. Up until that point, Greg has been adorkable, but at that point, his darkness is revealed. Despite the minutes, hours, and days of concern he’s shown, this selfishness blooms and takes over. The situation and the muddying of his perception and the audience’s perception are done elegantly.

Coming-of-age stories have the inevitable growth, or at the very least a melancholy ambiguity haze hanging over them, at the end, and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” isn’t any different. It’s the filming and editing style, as well as the realism in our characters that helps propel this one into the top tier of this genre. It’s also great to see to see leads that aren’t impervious to emotional flaws and growing pains.

From a writer and producer of “Sushi Girl” comes “The Unwanted”, Now Crowdfunding!

Back in 2012, I was contacted about a film called “Sushi Girl”, an indie revenge thriller with a knock out cast including Tony Todd, Noah Hathaway, James Duval, Andy Mackenzie, Mark Hamill, Cortney Palm and even the legendary Sonny Chiba. This film was one of my favorite films of 2012! Last week I received an email from a writer and producer of “Sushi Girl”, Destin Pfaff about his new film “The Unwanted” and I couldn’t be more excited about this film.

Inspired by gripping true events, “The Unwanted” is a frightening supernatural thriller that examines a haunted hotel years after a horrifying incident occurred. The film is currently crowd funding on Kickstarter, click here to view campaign. Horror fans unite! It is films like this that need our help. Check out video below and pitch in what you can to see this kick-ass film made and score some cool perks.

New Girl Scouts Collection from Wicked Cool Toys to Feature Girl Scout Cookie Oven

New License Honors Classic Brand by Designing a Full Line of Fun and Creative Role Play, Crafts and Activity Toys For Girls 

Bristol, PA – October 3, 2014Wicked Cool Toys has entered into a licensing relationship with Girl Scouts of the USA to introduce a delicious baking experience with a new Girl Scout Cookie™ Oven, as well as a comprehensive line of role play, craft and activity products inspired by the preeminent girls’ leadership organization in the U.S.

Wicked Cool Toys’ Girl Scout Cookie™ Oven will feature mixes inspired by some of the most popular Girl Scout Cookies® such as Thin Mints®, Trefoils®, peanut butter, and caramel coconut varieties, as well as traditional classics like chocolate chip, oatmeal and even cakes, brownies and more! Wicked Cool is also developing a line of unique craft and activity kits for ages 6 and up called D.I.Y. girl, inspired by the fun projects Girl Scouts engage in, including such diverse offerings as a string art kit, jewelry making kit, collage silhouette kit, garland making kit and more, giving girls the chance to experience some of the fun Girl Scouts have every day. Wicked Cool Toys expects its line to hit mass market retailers throughout the US beginning in Fall 2015.

“We are honored to be embarking on a licensing relationship with Girl Scouts of the USA, one of the most treasured brands in America,” says Michael Rinzler, Co-President and Founding Partner, Wicked Cool Toys. “We hope the line will encourage girls to express their creativity, learn new skills and offer a fun, positive and truly hands-on experience that will have broad appeal. On a personal note, the idea of the Girl Scout Cookie Oven was the subject of my Field Application Project as an MBA student at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. It truly is a dream come true for me, all these years later.”

“We’re pleased to work with Wicked Cool Toys,” said Barry Horowitz, chief merchandise executive, Girls Scouts of the USA. “Their creative approach to toys will help us share the fun and excitement of Girl Scouts with even more girls—both current members and future ones.”

 

About Girl Scouts of the USA

Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls’ healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer or reconnect with, or donate to Girl Scouts, visit www.girlscouts.org

 

About Wicked Cool Toys

WickedCool, LLC is a Pennsylvania-based toymaker with offices in Pennsylvania, California and Hong Kong. Founded in the Summer of 2012, Wicked Cool has a diverse portfolio of playthings for all ages. The Wicked Cool Toys management team is led by co-Presidents in the US Michael Rinzler and Jeremy Padawer, and in Hong Kong, Thomas Poon. The Company develops and brings to market proprietary lines and licensed product, including, Wild Kratts, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles®, Garfield, The Wiggles, Crashlings, My Girl’s Dollhouse, Vrüm, WWE®, Disney Princess®, Minnie Mouse®, Marvel®, Batman®, Superman®, Iron Man®, Sponge Bob®, Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer®, and Monster Jam®. Visit www.wickedcooltoys.com and follow the Company on both Facebook and Twitter.  www.facebook.com/wickedcooltoys    @wickedcooltoys

 

Blu-ray Review “Tank Girl”

Actors: Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Ice-T, Malcolm McDowell
Directors: Rachel Talalay
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Run Time: 103 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I remember the first time I saw “Tank Girl”, which was actually in theaters with an old friend on his mother at the young age of 12 years old. Yes, this film is rated R for Violence, Language and Sexuality (sorry mom). I remember being completely blown away thinking that this film was completely out there and outrageous! Not much as changed over the last nearly 20 years (ouch makes me feel old). “Tank Girl” is still a fun, ridiculous and campy wild ride. It also packs an impressive visual effects and solid cast including Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts and Malcolm McDowell. It is not the best comic adaption ever but it does translate this comic quite well.

Official Premise: The year’s 2033 and since a humongous meteor hit earth, the world just hasn’t been the same. No movies, no cable television, no water! A mega-villain, Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell), the leader of Water & Power, holds the world in his grasp since he controls all the water…or so he thinks. Two colossal enemies stand in his way: (1.) The Rippers, an army of half-men/half-kangaroo people whose sole purpose is to bring down Water & Power and (2.) a chick with a tank and tons of attitude: aka Tank Girl (Lori Petty). Kesslee had better get a grip on reality and his water jugs because not even a run in her stockings is going to stop her from saving the world!

Thanks to Shout! Factory, the riot-grrl classic “Tank Girl” is making its Blu-ray debut as a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray + DVD. The 1080p transfer looks solid within its 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The film has a pretty big scale and still looks great for a early 90’s film. It also showcases the creature design by Stan Winston quite well. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is also quite awesome. The music in the film is funky and fun, I remember (and probably still do) that I had the soundtrack on cassette. So it works great with that and also the film’s campy yet fun action scenes.

In terms of special features, they are not overflowing but still worth checking out. There is a fun audio commentary with director Rachel Talalay and actress Lori Petty. There are some great interviews with director Rachel Talalay, actress Lori Petty and production designer Catherine Hardwicke (aka director of “Twilight”). There is a pretty fun (but a little short) Vintage Featurette. Lastly there is a Theatrical Trailer included. Overall definitely worth the purchase for this cult classic!

DVD Review “New Girl: The Complete Second Season”

Actors: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: October 1, 2013
Run Time: 545 minutes

Season: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I wondered how they were going to top the first season of “New Girl” but they managed to make this second season even better.  “New Girl” is easily one of the best comedies on television right now.  It is hip, funny, packs a great cast and some amazing writing. There is perfect balance of comedy and drama as well in this season. Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield,  Lamorne Morris and Hannah Simone are amazing together.  They each work off each other and it works so well. Season three is already off to a great start and I can’t wait to see what they have planned.

Official Premise: The romantic tension between Jess (Emmy Nominee Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) escalates in the hilarious, quirky second season of New Girl – but will they ever hook up? Meanwhile, Schmidt fails to be hip, Winston isn’t “prepared” for a hot date, and Nick faces a death in his dysfunctional family. While Jess does her best to replace Cece on a modeling job and a drunk Elvis impersonator at a funeral, Schmidt and Winston hope to rearrange Cece’s arranged marriage.

Season two packed 25 amazing episodes and featured some guest stars like Jamie Lee Curtis, Rob Reiner and Dennis Farina. I loved that Curtis and Reiner played Jess’ parents, they were really cute together and really added a lot to the season.  Farina also delivered a great role as Nick’s dad, who ended up passing away on the show (and also in real life this year). He is a great actor and was a great addition to the show. I also loved David Walton (TV’s short-lived “Perfect Couples”) as Jess’ doctor boyfriend. He was funny and meshed very well with the rest of the cast. This show is just filled with so many great one-liners, I am waiting for someone to start a website with nothing but quotes from this show.

I wish Fox would give this show the Blu-ray treatment but for now we just have DVD. The special features are pretty solid. We do though get he extended version of the very popular episode, “Virgins”, which is one of my favorite from the season. It is only available on this DVD and is a must see for any fan of the show. Besides that there is a commentary track for the episode “Cooler” and “Full of Schmidt”, which is a fun featurette on my favorite character. Lastly there are some great Deleted Scenes and a hilarious Gag Reel included.

“New Girl: The Complete Second Season” DVD Giveaway [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

“New Girl” is easily one of the best comedies on television.  The show starts its third season this month. To celebrate the release of “New Girl: The Complete Second Season”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway the season on DVD. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite one-liners from the second season. Check some of the great one-liners below or be creative or choose others since there are tons. This giveaway will remain open until October 4th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all fans of Media Mikes in US and Canada only! One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

The Best One-Liners from Season 2 Available on DVD October 1

Watching an episode of New Girl without laughing is pretty much impossible. With Schmidt’s crazy antics and Jess’ perky personality there’s bound to be at least a few good one-liners in each episode. Although it’s hard to narrow down the options, below are the ten best quotes from season two.

The romantic tension between Jess (Emmy® Nominee Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) escalates in the hilarious, quirky second season of “New Girl” — but will they ever hook up? Meanwhile, Schmidt fails to be hip, Winston isn’t “prepared” for a hot date, and Nick faces a death in his dysfunctional family. While Jess does her best to replace Cece on a modeling job and a drunk Elvis impersonator at a funeral, Schmidt and Winston hope to rearrange Cece’s arranged marriage. Relive all 25 outrageous episodes featuring guest stars like Jamie Lee Curtis, Rob Reiner and Dennis Farina, and enjoy fun bonus material — including the extended version of the hugely popular “Virgins” episode — only available on the DVD.

Jess: “I am throwing Cece’s surprise bachelorette party here tonight, and the only males invited are strippers, so oil up or get out, guys.”

Schmidt: “Please take that off, you look like a homeless pencil.”

Nick: “I’m just trying to figure out the level of Elvis impersonator we can afford. I think a white one is out of reach.”

Schmidt: “Maybe none of us should go to this funeral. The early buzz on this thing is it’s gonna be a real drag.”

Jess: “I don’t want to kiss and tell, but I ruined my dresser during intercourse. Will you go to Ikea with me?”

Nick: “I can’t believe I’m the sober one. That’s actually never happened before in my life.”

Jess: “You’re dating a stripper, I’m dating a tall handsome doctor. We’re kinda living the dream.”

Schmidt: “You are a gynecologist and a lesbian. This makes you a vagenius.”

Jess: “If any of you cross me, I’m gonna kick the testicles clean off your bodies! Clean off! You’ll look like Ken dolls down there!”

Nick: “If you were a hat, you’d be a top hat, but like a really big Monopoly one. And I say that with deepest compliments.”

Sabrina Carpenter talks about her role in “Girl Meets World”

Sabrina Carpenter is a 13 years old actress and a very talented musician. She is a Hollywood Records artist and her song “Smile” was released on “Disney Fairies” CD. She was also recently cast in the series pilot for “Girl Meets World”, the sequel to “Boy Meets World”. In Disney Junior’s “Sofia The First”, she voices and also sings for the role of Princess Vivian. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Sabrina about her role in “Girl Meets World” and about the pilot.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your character, Maya Fox, in upcoming series “Girl Meets World”?
Sabrina Carpenter: Maya is Riley Matthews’ best friend. She is a little darker than Riley. She cares so much for her. I think that is what keep her sane is having Riley by her side. They are two opposites but love each other so much and have such an appreciation for each other.

MG: How was it shooting the pilot episode?
SC: It was so much fun. We were also very lucky to have some of the original cast from “Boy Meets World” visit us on set. That was so amazing. We are working with some really amazingly talented writers and producers, along with a great cast. We are so lucky that Ben (Savage) and Danielle (Fishel) are back on this show as well. I think that everybody is going to love it!

Click here to read our interview with Sabrina for her role in Disney Junior’s “Sofia The First”

Blu-ray Review “This Girl Is Badass”

Actors: Yanin “Jeeja” Vismitananda
Directors: Petchtai Wongkamlao
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Run Time: 99 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to Thai action films, I have been grabbing them up whenever I could after “Ong-Bak”.  “This Girl Is Badass” is even from the director of “Ong Bak”, Prachya Pinkaew. Like how Prachya discovered Tony Jaa, he also brought us  JeeJa Yanin.  She was awesome inChocolate” and the title of the film suits her quite well. Did I mention that she is also only 5’2? Unfortunately this film is not one of my favorites, it plays more like a slapstick comedy, which is not funny, with a few decent action scenes chucked in. Unless you are a hardcore Thai martial arts fan, then I wouldn’t rush out to watch this one.

Official Premise: Witness jaw-dropping fight sequences from “Chocolate’s” kick-ass Jeeja Yanin, who also stars in the sequel to the martial arts hit, “The Protector”. In This Girl is Badass, Jeeja takes her skills to the next level as a bike messenger who is hired by competing mob bosses to smuggle goods. Caught in the middle and given an ultimatum, the only way out is a confrontation erupting into a battle of bullets, face kicks and blows.

“This Girl Is Badass” looks decent on Blu-ray but nothing spectacular. The 1080p transfer is relatively clear and consistent. The audio tracks are must better in terms of Blu-ray quality. First there is a Thai: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which works well with the action. Normally, the dub tracks are terrible but since this film is already bad the English track works in its favor. The special features are also a let down with a short featurette “The Making of This Girl is Badass”, only in SD and in Thai, with English subtitles. There is also an even shorter “Behind the Scenes” including additional b-roll footage, also in SD. Lastly there is an International Trailer included.

Blu-ray Review “Jersey Girl”

Starring: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Raquel Castro, Jennifer Lopez, George Carlin
Director: Kevin Smith
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Miramax Echo Bridge
DVD Release Date: May 7, 2013
Run Time: 110 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to “Jersey Girl”, I think that Kevin Smith was dealt a bad hand.  The film is nowhere near as terrible as everyone said it was. It got some poor press before it came out due to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s relationship, which caused him to cut the film.  Personally, I really enjoyed it and thought it was one of Kevin Smith’s most mature and honest films. It is sweet, heartwarming and yet still very sharp with that Kevin Smith touch. This is the first time that the film is being released on Blu-ray, thanks to Echo Bridge and they did a very impressive job (if you can look past the terrible cover art). And for $5 bucks, it is a no-brainer.

Official Premise: Ollie (Affleck) is a smooth and successful big-city publicist who has the life he’s always wanted—until things take an unexpected turn and he finds himself an unemployed single father back living with his dad in the suburbs. But just when he thinks his life has hit rock bottom, a sexy, no-nonsense video store clerk (Tyler) enters his life and shows Ollie that sometimes you have to forget who you thought you were and acknowledge what really makes you happy.

I have to admit the “Jersey Girl” looks quite stunning with its 1080p transfer in 2.44:1 aspect ratio. The colors are bright and looks very sharp overall. Cool fact about “Jersey Girl” is that it was shot by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who is known best for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.  He is not your typical choice for a film like this but you know that it is going to benefit from his talented eye. There are two audio track included on this Blu-ray.  The first is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and and the other a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. The 5.1 track is best option for sure and works best with the music in the film and well-balanced dialogue.

Echo Bridge must be trying something new for 2013 because they are starting to include special features with their releases.  This is a trend after the recent “Hellraiser: Deader” and I hope they continue this! To start we have two audio commentary track with Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier and Jason Mewes, which is a laugh riot.  The other is another commentary with Smith and Ben Affleck, which is even better than the first. “The Making of Jersey Girl” is a decent behind-the-scene look with interviews and footage. “Kevin and Ben Reminisce” is a great interview Smith and Affleck that runs nearly 30 minutes. Lastly, “Roadside Attractions – Orlando, FL” is a feature which hits the road with Smith.

DVD Review "The Girl"

Starring: Toby Jones, Sienna Miller, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton
Directed by: Julian Jarrold
Distributed by: HBO Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating: TV-14
Running Time: 90 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

“Blondes make the best victims.  They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints” – Alfred Hitchcock

When it comes to HBO Films, I don’t care about the topic or anything, I am immediately interested. They always seem to impress with their high profile cast and edgy and in-your-face films, for example the recent “Hemingway and Gellhorn”. “The Girl” was nominated for three Golden Globes including Best Actor, Actress and Motion Picture – Made for Television. The film focuses on Alfred Hitchcock’s obsessive relationship with Tippi Hedren, his leading lady in “The Birds” and “Marnie”. “The Girl” stars Toby Jones as Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Hedren. Both actors did marvelous jobs. They were both very committed to the roles and delivered an intense performance. I was blown away with Jones’ portrayal of good ole “Hitch”. Everything from his look, to this walk or that voice was a real score. Move over Anthony Hopkins! If you are a fan of Hitchcock, do not miss this release.

Official Premise: “The Girl” tells the story of the director’s obsessive relationship with his leading lady during the making of The Birds and Marnie. As he attempted to sculpt Hedren into the perfect blonde of his imagination, Hitchcock became obsessed with the impossible dream of winning the real woman’s love. Her rejection of his misguided attempts only added to his obsession, putting both their careers and personal lives in jeopardy. “The Girl” is a complex tale of power, obsession, and the price exacted for stardom.

I am a little disappointed with this film’s release, not the actual release itself but the fact that is only being released made to order on DVD, thanks to Warner Archive. HBO has had great success with their original films and I would have loved to see this get a proper DVD and even Blu-ray. The transfer looks stunning with its 16X9 widescreen aspect ratio. The audio track packs nice Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track, which is a step up from previous Warner Archive releases. The only special features included is an interview with Tippi Hedren, the star of the original “The Birds” and Marnie”. She reflects on working with Hitchcock and related to the film. It is way too short though and only runs about three minutes. I would have loved to see more extras surround this film itself with featurettes on the production, interviews with Sienna Miller and Toby Jones and even a commentary track.

Blu-ray Review "Sushi Girl"

Starring Tony Todd, Mark Hamill, Noah Hathaway, James Duval and Andy Mackenzie
Directed by Kern Saxton
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

Let’s travel back to August of 2011, I was asked to interview the cast/crew of a little film called “Sushi Girl” that just finished production and looking for some early press.  So, we ended up chatting with thirteen members of the cast and crew over the next year, check out the interview series here. Since that time, I have seen this film five times now and it never ceases to blow me away. “Sushi Girl” is a very rare gem that deserves much more attention then it has received.  The film is well written by director Kern Saxton and Destin Pfaff (COO from TV’s “The Millionaire Matchmaker”. This script channels the grindhouse feel with the clever dialogue of Quentin Tarantino. There are countless twists and turns around every corner and will leave you with your mouth open. I cannot stress any more…DO NOT MISS THIS FILM.

Official Premise: Fish has spent six years in jail. Six years alone. Six years keeping his mouth shut about the robbery, about the other men involved. The night he is released, the four men he protected with silence celebrate his freedom with a congratulatory dinner. The meal is a lavish array of sushi, served off the naked body of a beautiful young woman. The sushi girl seems catatonic, trained to ignore everything in the room, even if things become dangerous. Sure enough, the four unwieldy thieves can’t help but open old wounds in an attempt to find their missing loot.

Let me give you a rundown of this amazing cast: Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Noah Hathaway (“The Neverending Story”), Jimmy Duval (“Donnie Darko”), Andy Mackenzie (“Shoot Em Up”), Mark Hamill (“Star Wars”), Cortney Palm (“Silent Night”) and David Dastmalchian (“The Dark Knight”). If that is not enough for you there is also other familiar faces including the legendary Sonny Chiba (“Kill Bill: Vol. 1”), Jeff Fahey (“Planet Terror”), Michael Biehn (“The Terminator”) and Danny Trejo (“Machete”).

Tony Todd easily delivers one of his best roles in his career as Duke.  He is sly, dark and methodical.  Noah Hathaway, who is best known for his roles as a kid with “The Neverending Story” and “Troll”, makes his return to film and really nails the role of Fish. What a scream, Noah! Andy Mackenzie is one hell of a major bad-ass as Max, but I recommend him to keep his socks on! Yikes! Mark Hamill, wow what a performance. We all know Mark as being Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” saga and voicing the Joker in various works of “Batman”. He literally transforms himself in this film and is almost unrecognizable.  Literally one of his most out-of-the-box roles to date.  He steals the show and makes this movie a must see just for his performance.

Magnolia released this film with fantastic results on Blu-ray.  If you are looking for a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, Best Buy has that exclusive release available in stores and online.  The film has this certain grindhouse feel but doesn’t trade that for quality. The film looks amazing for a low budget indie. The Blu-ray 1080p really shines and is clear and sharp. Now the real seller on this release is the unbelievable DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track. It is very rare for a low-budget film like this to come with a track like this but these guys did not want to disappoint. Does this mostly dialogue driven film need a 7.1 track? Probably not. But it does rock the shit out of that track for sure. The dialogue is delivered perfectly and the action is aced.

The special features on “Sushi Girl” do nothing be leave you satisfied.  They start off with two commentary tracks. The first is a filmmaker track wiith Kern Saxton, Destin Pfaff, Neal Fischer, and Suren M. Seron. The group of them are very fun and really have a lot of passion for this project. The next track is a cast commentary track with Tony Todd, James Duval, Noah Hathaway, Andy Mackenzie, David Dastmalchian, Destin Pfaff and Kern Saxton. This is a real blast and you can tell that these guys are having a blast and loved working on this film.

Next up is kick-ass “Sushi Girl: A Documentary”, which runs an hour long. There is a lot of great behind-the-scenes footage mixed with some interviews. There is an alternate scenes for the ending, worth checking out but I am still a fan of the release ending.  Next there are over 15 minutes of outtakes, runs a little long but if you are a die-hard fan you would enjoy. “Producer’s Diaries” is some more behind-the-scenes footage and is very entertaining. If you want more interviews, then there is some footage from the film’s premiere at Fantasia Festival in Montreal and cast/crew interviews. There is a music video for “Victories and Consequences” by Send the Sages.

There are three faux TV Commercials with a “shot-on-VHS look” that loosely tie in to the film’s story. They are very clever and I enjoyed these very much.  There are also over 20 images including poster and promotional stills, as well as a behind-the-scenes gallery with another 100 stills. There are storyboards for the entire film, which I recommend to see how the film was planned out before shooting.  Lastly, there is four trailers including a green band and red band trailers. What else could you possible want to see on this Blu-ray release? These guys have not only delivers an amazing Blu-ray presentation, they also have jam-packed it with amazing and high quality extras. BTW don’t forget to watch through the credit to see Media Mikes in the credits! Thanks guys!

Gia Mora talks about one-woman show "Einstein's Girl"

Nationally recognized actor and vocalist Gia Mora (a four-time Helen Hayes Award nominee) is starring in her new solo show, “Einstein’s Girl”, at Gardenia Resturant and Lounge in Hollywood. The show thrills and edifies sweethearts and singletons alike, combining original music, standards, stand-up comedy and a crash course in theoretical physics. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Gia about the show and her craft.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you came about doing a one-woman show “Einstein’s Girl”?
Gia Mora: I’ve always been drawn to the intersection of art and science, a sort of traditional liberal arts curriculum. In 2012 I read Lawrence Krauss’ A UNIVERSE FROM NOTHING, and I was struck by the similarities between the likelihood that universe would be born and the likelihood that two people would fall in love. The metaphor kept coming back to me, and as I started reading more theoretical physics, I noticed even more similarities. So I started writing. The music just sort of fell into place.

MG: Tell us about about your character and what you enjoy most about her?
GM: I play a fictionalized version of myself, but everything I say on stage is something that has actually happened, even if the timeline of my life doesn’t exactly match up with my stage persona. It’s sort of like how George Costanza would always come up with a great retort after the fact. Getting to do this show allows me a chance to say what I wish I could have said in the moment.

MG: What do you enjoy most about getting up on stage?
GM: John Lennon wrote, “When I cannot speak my mind I can only sing my heart,” and that’s certainly true for me. Singing is easier than speaking for me, so when I’m performing, I feel like I can finally express everything that’s inside of me.

MG: What are your biggest fear performing a one-woman show?
GM: I am lucky enough to have some serious science minds attending this performance. I’ve been meticulous in my research, but I’m afraid I’ve misunderstood some of the physics and that I’ll say something wrong. I fully expect helpful notes/re-actions from the experts to arrive before I get home.

MG: What are you doing when you are not singing or dancing?
GM: I’m usually cutting up with my sister while preparing vegetarian culinary delights. I tried my hand at chana masala last week to no avail, so if anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears.

MG: If I were to take your iPod, what would I find on it right now?
GM: Who has an iPod anymore? Seriously though, I’m an eclectic listener, so right now I’ve got Linda Ronstadt, Amy Lavere, George Gershwin, Mozart’s Requiem, and Ramsey Lewis shuffling on my phone.

DVD Review "30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"

Actors: Kathryn Fiore, Flip Schultz, Olivia Alexander, Arturo del Puerto, Danny Woodburn, French Stewart
Directed By: Craig Moss
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: January 15, 2013
Run Time: 80 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to parody spoof films, it is usually hit or miss (mostly miss).  With a title like “30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” how can they go wrong! I have to admit this one delivers. Nothing is safe here! Besides the film’s in the very long title, many other non-horror including “The Dark Knight Rises”, “The Hunger Games”, “The Artist” and “Black Swan” are ranked on, even TV shows like “The Bachelor”, “The Apprentice” and “Ghost Hunters”. The primary spoof is “Paranormal Activity” and with all the found footage films taken over Hollywood it is nice to see some fun poked at them. Not every joke is a score but there is enough here to make it worth a least one viewing.

Offical Premise: Scream with laughter in this found footage parody- Dana’s father was sent to a psychiatric hospital after he killed the entire cast of The Artist while an exorcism was being performed on him. She continues on with her life -gets married, has kids and moves into the same (haunted) house she grew up in. But now she must battle the demons which haunted her father before her.

Kathryn Fiore is hilarious and steals the show (Here is our interview with her from earlier this year). Writer/director Craig Moss knows how to work parodies and film’s with long titles after their last “The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It”. The only special features included on the DVD is “Behind the Scenes of 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, but it is a nice showcase on the production.  I would have loved to seen a gag reel included.  This film is not perfect but it is worth it for a few good laughs.  If you want more parodies, keep an eye out for “A Haunted House” and “Scary Movie 5” both coming this year.