Blu-Ray Review “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
Director: Michael Schultz
Rating: PG
Shout! Factory
Run Time: 113 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles groundbreaking album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, Shout! Factory will release the film of the same name on Blu-Ray. Sit back and let the evening go with the 1978 musical spectacular featuring stunning reinterpretations of over twenty classic Beatles songs. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a magical, musical tour through some of the greatest songs ever written, and an astounding time capsule of the late 70’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen or heard.

Classic 70’s presented in stunning hi-definition audio and sound. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is brimming over with everything from the bi-gone era. Starring Peter Frampton and The Bee Gee’s the film follows the story of Billy Shears (Peter Frampton) and his friends the Henderson’s (The Bee Gees) as they leave their small town in hopes of stardom. Along the way the group run into a variety of unique characters and themes pulled from the iconic Beatles album that spurred hits songs like “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamond” to name just a few. Also included are some cool performances by Aerosmith, Earth, Wind and Fire and the late great George Burns. The film definitely serves as a time capsule as you don’t see productions as quirky as this happing today but that’s what makes this film so appealing.

Included in the Special Features section of the Blu-Ray is an audio commentary by Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball, Picture Galleries and the film’s original theatrical trailer. Though I found this portion of the release to be lacking the film provided just enough campy moments to make it enjoyable. The film looks and sounds great which for me is the most important part so if you’re a fan of the Beatles album and some of the other great performers featured here you’re going to be in for a treat with the latest release from Shout! Factory

CD Review: Shaman’s Harvest “Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns”

Shaman’s Harvest
“Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns”
Mascot Records
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Shaman’s Harvest the 4 piece southern tinged hard rock band who’s independent debut release “Shine” spawned the successful single “Dragonfly” are back with a brand new album titled “Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns”. The album features 10 brand new tracks along with an extended acoustic version of the hit song “Dragon Fly” and a rousing rendition of the Michael Jackson song “Dirty Diana” which only adds to albums overall appeal.

To be honest I was pretty much in the dark when I first put “Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns” into my player. However by the end of track 1 I was hooked! From start to finish each track has the potential to become a hit. The bands catchy lyrics and rhythms will have you singing along and bobbing your head almost instantly especially on tracks like “Dangerous” and “Ten Million Voices” while tracks like “Blood in the Water” and “Country As Fuck” showcase the bands southern rock twist and diversity.

Due to the sheer power and in your face performance of each track you would have never guessed that just prior to the recording of the album lead vocalist Nathan Hunt was diagnosed with throat cancer. Despite the grim diagnosis Hunt and company fire on all cylinders making “Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns” a must have!

Track Listing:
Dangerous
Here it Comes
Ten Million Voices
Blood In The Water
The End of Me
Country As Fuck
Hero
Dirty Diana
In The End
In Chains
Silent Voice
 Dragon Fly (Extended Unplugged Version)

Ricky Schroder talks about new Hallmark Channel film “Our Wild Hearts”

I remember it like yesterday.  My friend Matt and I are talking to a friend of ours that manages one of the local theatres.  We tell him what movie we’re going to see and he tells us to take a handful of napkins in with us.  “That kid,” he tells us, “is going to rip your heart out.”  Boy did he.  The film was “The Champ” and the “kid” was Ricky Schroder.

Best known for his role in the popular 80s television show “Silver Spoons,” Ricky Schroder is the rare success story in Hollywood.  From early roles in “The Last Voyage of Noah’s Ark” with Elliot Gould and “The Earthling” with William Holden through acclaimed performances in “Lonesome Dove” and “NYPD Blue” (where he ripped my heart out again as Detective Danny Sorrenson), Schroder carved out a successful career in front of the camera.  But recently he has spent some time behind it, including directing and co-writing the new film “Our Wild Hearts,” which airs August 2 on the Hallmark Movie Channel.  Schroder also stars, as does his daughter Cambrie and his sons Luke and Holden, named after his “The Earthling” co-star.

While promoting “Our Wild Hearts,” Mr. Schroder spent some time with Media Mikes to talk about his new film, working with his family and the perils of fatherhood.

Mike Smith:  What was your inspiration in writing “Our Wild Hearts?”
Ricky Schroder:  My daughter (Cambrie) was my inspiration.  Honestly.  She’s been wanting to be an actress since she was six.  I knew that she would eventually pursue acting with or without me.  I wanted to be her first director because even though I knew she had a lot of potential and raw talent I also knew she needed to be directed in the right way.  I didn’t want her to be put in a situation where she couldn’t succeed.  I told my wife (Andrea – who co-produced and co-wrote the film with Mr. Schroeder) “let’s make a family film – come up with an idea.”  My wife and daughter came back to me with the concept of a dad who never knew he had a daughter, set on a ranch with wild mustangs.  They had me hooked!  I sat down and wrote the first draft.  My wife did a polish on the scenes featuring Willow (Cambrie Schroder) and her mom.  It was a great experience.  All of my family members – all six Schroeders –were on camera.  Everybody worked on the crew.  They did what was needed.  Carry sandbags…craft services…make up…wardrobe.  Whatever needed to be done my family pitched in.

MS:  You worked with your wife before as a producer but this was the first time you shared a writing credit with her.  What was that collaborative process like?
RS:  We would sit down and talk about plot and characters and I would write.  And when I was stuck on scenes I would give them to her and she would write them.  She focused more on Willow’s character – Willow with her mom, Willow in Malibu.  Sometimes I would have trouble finding Willow’s voice and she could find it easier.

MS:  You mentioned that your entire family is in the film.  What was it like, especially for the first time actors, to work with your kids?
RS:  It was a great experience.  I would love to work with them again.  I treated them as a performer and they treated me as a director.  It was a very professional dynamic.  There were lots of high stakes riding on this film and lots of people involved as well as a great partner company in Hallmark.  We knew this wasn’t a home movie.  We knew this was a real film that we were working on together and we all treated it as such.  The only time my “dad” instincts kicked in was when my daughter had to do a stunt on a horse.  I would feel the urge to pull her off a let the stunt lady do it.

MS:  Something you alluded to when we were talking before the interview…as that very rare child actor who has gone on to a successful transition to adulthood,  have you shared any advice with your children…especially Cambrie, who wants to pursue acting full time?
RS:  I didn’t really share advice like that.  Of course, if they ask questions I’ll certainly answer them.  I think my kids have learned more by watching their dad and the challenges and struggles I’ve had while pursuing my career.  Any actor always has trouble getting that next job.  My kids have seen that.  So when we got to make a movie together they really began to understand what dad was doing when he would leave for 14 hours a day.  When he would go on set and be around sixty people in a high pressure environment.  No wonder he was tired when he came home.  Things like that I don’t think they had any insight into until they saw it from my perspective.

MS:  You still continue to act but you’re also spending more time behind the camera.  Is that your preference now?  Is that something you want to pursue?
RS:  I love acting and I’m always going to act.  Hopefully there will always be good writing and I can get that opportunity.  I’ve been focused more on writing and directing recently because I felt like I needed a new challenge…a new frontier to explore.  To stay inspired.  To try new things and to have new experiences in my life.  I’ve done that.  I’ve done music videos, I’ve done movies.  I’ve never set out to say “I’m not going to act anymore.”  But I had a real desire to learn about the other parts of this job…of directing and writing and producing….that I didn’t understand.

MS:  What are you working on next?
RS:  I created a reality television show for the U.S. Army called “Starting Strong” that’s running now.  (NOTE:  Adam Lawton spoke to Mr. Schroder about this program recently – his interview can be found here).  I’m really proud of that.  It runs on FOX on Sunday mornings.  It’s done well so I’m hoping to get another order to make more of those.  I’m also writing a couple scripts – an independent feature and another television film.  I’ve also written a one-hour pilot I’m trying to get set up.  And in between all of that I still go out on auditions when I can.  I meet people, shake hands and try to get the best acting jobs I can

MS:  Thank you again for your time.  I hope your daughter feels better (right before phoning me one of Mr. Schroder’s daughters had fallen off her skateboard and injured her wrist).
RS:  Thank you.

MS:  One thing I’ve learned as a dad is that kids bounce.
RS:  Very true.

TV Film Review “Our Wild Hearts”

Starring: Cambrie Schroder, Ricky Schroder and Cliff Potts
Directed by: Ricky Schroder
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hr 30 mins
Arc Entertainment

Our Score: 4 out of  5 stars

In this summer of big blockbuster films with robots, monsters and men of steel you may need a break from all of the loud noises and bright lights. May I suggest “Our Wild Hearts,” a quiet family film with a message which will next air on the Hallmark Movie Channel next month?

Willow (Cambrie Schroder) is a 15 year old, Malibu-raised girl. She lives with her single mom and spends her days attending dance class and hanging out at the beach with her friend Zoe (Veronica Dunne). Zoe is the typical spoiled rich kid, constantly complaining about how her father keeps tabs on her but relenting on going to lunch with him because he’s giving her very own credit card. Willow tries to listen like the best friend she is but inside she pines for the father she’s never known. She has tried to talk with her mom Katie (Angela Lindvall) but the conversations never get far. One day she finds a box in her mother’s room containing unsent letters and a picture of a cowboy. Confronting her mother she learns her father worked on a ranch that Katie once visited. His name is Jack and he doesn’t know he has a daughter. Yet.

Beautifully photographed, “Our Wild Hearts” is Ricky Schroder’s strongest work yet from behind the camera. A true family project (director Schroeder produced and co-wrote the film with his wife, Andrea and several of his children have roles in the film), “Our Wild Hearts” is really two stories with the same message: to follow your destiny no matter what. The “hearts” in the title belong to both Willow and a beautiful wild stallion named Bravo. Jack is intent on catching Bravo in order to sell him while Willow wants to let him run free. Father and daughter butt heads often, not only with each other but with nearby rancher Grizz, played by Martin Kove in full “Karate Kid” villain mode. Grizz and his boys (played by Luke and Holden Schroder) try every means necessary, be it horse, jeep or helicopter, to capture Bravo while all Jack has is his lasso and Top (Potts) his partner in the ranch. Once Bravo is captured the film addresses the question of whether wild animals should continue to run free or be broken and sold. This question only leads to more and the answers are what carry the film to a satisfying conclusion.

The cast is solid, with Cambrie Schroder giving a winning performance in what could have been a very cliché’d role. Hers is the spirit that carries the film and it is amazing that this is her first acting gig. I predict many more in her future. Ricky Schroder is equally good and the natural chemistry between he and his on and off-screen daughter is visible. Potts, in his first performance in over a decade, is quick with fatherly advice while Kove is easily the father nobody would want. The scenery is postcard-perfect and the musical score by Michael Lord helps drive the story.

The film next airs on August 2,2013 on the Hallmark Movie Channel. For more screening information go to www.hallmarkmoviechannel.com