DVD Review “Killing Hasselhoff”

Actors: Ken Jeong, David Hasselhoff, Jim Jefferies, Rhys Darby, Jon Lovitz
Directors: Darren Grant
Rated: R
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: August 29, 2017
Run Time: 81 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

With a tagline like “Don’t Hassel the Hoff”, you know what your in store for with your picking up “Killing Hasselhoff”. David Hasselhoff has sunken into a very sweet spot in Hollywood. He has been playing off the camp sort of like Chuck Norris and his book of facts. Hasselhoff has been popping up everywhere like the new “Baywatch” remake and even “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2”. The film is what it is. If you love Hasselhoff then this is for you if not then I would steer clear.

Official Premise: Ken Jeong (The Hangover) and David Hasselhoff (Baywatch) star in the most hilarious and outrageous comedy of the year. When a struggling nightclub owner (Jeong) fails to pay back a loan shark, he decides the only way to get the money is to kill his pick in an annual “Who Will Die This Year” celebrity death pool: David Hasselhoff. But the task is not so easy – especially when your target is The Hoff.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has delivered “Killing Hasselhoff” on DVD only, no Blu-ray. There is no Digital HD copy included and only a few deleted scenes for special features…but this DVD is also very cheap under $10, so I guess it balances out. Seriously though, how much does it cost them to include a digital copy these days?

Changing the Way We Pay: How Technology is Slowly Killing Off Cash

Fire” (CC BY 2.0) by Mike Poresky

The way we pay is slowly changing. Where it was once true that cash or checks were king, it’s now become the case that digital payments are becomingly increasingly widespread. Indeed, thanks to innovations in both the online and mobile tech worlds, paying for goods and services is now a lot less physical (you don’t have to hand over cash) and a lot more efficient.

Naturally, while there will always be a place for cash and, moreover, credit and debit card transactions, the traditional is gradually making way for the modern. In fact, according to a report by Payments UK, more countries are now embracing new technology and moving increasingly towards cardless and cashless systems. Indeed, aside from hailing the UK as one of the leaders in payment options and highlighting how it is working with the US Clearing House to help drive its electronic systems, the report suggests that Denmark may soon be cashless.

In recent months, the Danish government has proposed the idea of scrapping the rules regarding cash transactions and retailers. If the plans are accepted, retailers in Denmark would no longer be obligated to accept cash, which would pave the way for new methods to be accepted. While a complete removal of cash payments across Europe or the world at large is unlikely in the next few decades, the technology is there.

As Bitcoin.com has suggested in a recent article on the payment revolution, there are now three main areas of change:

  • Peer to Peer
  • Contactless
  • M-Commerce

Virtual Currency Makes Transactions Slicker and Safer

bitcoin accepted here” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Francis Storr

Ever since the blueprint for Bitcoin was released in 2009, tech wizards, coders and financial experts have been touting its benefits. By creating a system whereby users create and control a currency which is underpinned by a strict mathematical set of rules, Bitcoin has become something of a “liberated” currency. Although its development has been slower than many expected, it’s now gaining mainstream popularity.

Indeed, with everyone from retailers and online casino sites to pubs accepting Bitcoin, the general public is slowly starting to see its benefits. For example, an online slots fan that antes up at BitcoinPokies.com can now enjoy the added security benefits of Bitcoin when they fund their account. Because each Bitcoin transaction has to be verified by the blockchain there is a high degree of accountability at all stages of the transaction.

For operators like BitcoinPokies this is great because it reduces the risk of chargebacks (common with credit cards), which means transactions are swifter and safer for customers. In fact, a player at BitcoinPokies can enjoy instant withdrawal times (the industry standard is 2-5 days) and, moreover, anonymous transactions.

Mobiles Make Payment Easy

Apple Pay está más cerca de España y” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by iphonedigital

Beyond the ever-growing peer-to-peer payment system, contactless and mobile commerce (m-commerce) is starting to gain some serious traction in the UK and Europe. Contactless debit cards are now a standard in the UK and in 2015 one billion transactions were carried out using this method. This 200% growth was not only down to the spending cap increase from £20 to £30, but because terminals had become more advanced and more widely available.

In addition to the rise of contactless payments using a debit card, banks have also partnered with Apple to facilitate the growth of Apple Pay. Seen as the next phase of contactless payments, Apple Pay users can now link their debit card to their phone and use their mobile screen to complete a payment. Thanks to technology such as fingerprint reading, this method is seen as more secure by many consumers. In fact, with Apple attracting one million new Apple Pay users each week, it’s easy to see why m-commerce is now being seen as the next frontier for payment processors.

With smartphones an integral part of everyday life, it’s not just as easy to use this as it is to pay with cash. What’s more, thanks to improved technology and direct links with your bank, systems such as Apple Pay are making the overall payment process much more efficient. Although there is still a long way to go until we can completely dispense with cash, the signs of a revolution are there. Whether it’s peer-to-peer spending, contactless payments or mobile options, the way we pay is certainly changing for the better.

Blu-ray Review “Killing Kennedy”

Starring: Rob Lowe, Will Rothhaar, Ginnifer Goodwin, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jack Noseworthy, Casey Siemaszko
Director: Nelson McCormick
Rated: TV-14
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Run Time: 87 / 90 minutes

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

“Killing Kennedy” is based on the 2012 non-fiction book of the same title by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. The film premiered on National Geographic Channel on November 10, 2013. It stars Rob Lowe as President John F. Kennedy, Will Rothhaar as Lee Harvey Oswald, Ginnifer Goodwin as Jacqueline Kennedy, Michelle Trachtenberg as Marina Oswald and Will Rothhaar as Lee Harvey Oswald. Produced by the late Tony Scott (“Unstoppable”) and Ridley Scott (“Prometheus”). I enjoyed the film but I did feel like it had too much a TV movie quality about it. It did have great performances from everyone in the cast. I was interested to see what Lowe could do with JFK and he nailed it.

Official Premise: The film traces the chilling events leading up to the gunshot heard around the world: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas in 1963. As John F. Kennedy (Lowe) rises to become U.S. president, a former Marine grows disillusioned with America. But when their paths ultimately cross, the course of history is changed forever in a chilling aftermath.

When “Killing Kennedy” aired on National Geographic, it ran about 88 minutes without commercials. The made-for-TV thriller is presented here with an never-before-seen extended cut, which runs about three minutes extra. Fox delivered this Blu-ray with an HD Digital Ultraviolet copy as well.  The 1080p transfer is solid for a TV movie and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 works well creating the thrilling drama. In terms of special features, there is “Killing Kennedy: An Interview with Author Bill O’Reilly”, which gives good insight into the story. There is also a featurette “The Kennedy Mystique”. Both of these are work checking out for history junkies, no question.

Michael Orlando talks about new band The Killing Lights and 2014 UK tour

Michael Orlando is the founder and lead singer of band The Killing Lights, which was formerly Vampires Everywhere! Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Michael to talk about the band’s new name and their upcoming 2014 tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you explain the name change from Vampires Everywhere! to “The Killing Lights?
Michael Orlando: I felt it was time to move on. VE was my brainchild for over 4 years and through it i got to meet so many amazing fans & people. However, over the last 4 years I have grown as an artist and as a person. I am definitely not the same person I was 4 years ago haha. I’m definitely more positive and I feel my eyes are now open to the world around me. The Killing Lights brings a measure of closure to both the person I was & the horrid events I went through. TKL represents the new me and my new hopes and dreams.

MG: Do you feel fans of the band will be confused at all by the change?
MO: At first this was my greatest concern! I had many anxiety attacks about the name change and leaving a project I had built from the ground up! However, my fans are amazing and have embraced the change with open arms! I have recently changed back to my birth name Michael Orlando as well. Fans really seem to respect the fact that I did this name change & I love them for it! I am sure things will continue to be a bit confusing but over time everyone will eventually catch on! I have to stay true to myself and what I believe in.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands new line up?
MO: The Killing Lights consists of myself on vocals, DJ Black on Guitar, Frankie Sil on Bass, & Joshua Ingram on Drums. I am beyond happy to be surrounded by talented determined individuals that can see the big picture. We have been working hard to make sure everything is true to our heart and Rock n’ Roll!

AL: Can we expect any other stylistic/musical changes with the band?
MO: With VE we were overly theatrical and prided ourselves on making a statement. TKL is way different both musically and stylistically! We are basically being ourselves. We don’t go out of our way to be “Rock n’ Roll” we just bring ourselves as we look everyday. Whether that’s a bit of the 90’s or a bit of the 80’s it is who we are and what we represent. You can expect rock n’ roll music from rock n’ roll people.

AL: What does the band have currently scheduled for 2014?
MO: There is so much going on with TKL! As of now we are gearing up for our first UK Tour in February! I am so excited to finally meet my UK fans and show them the new band. We also plan on releasing a music video and a couple of singles. There is so much in the works and I couldn’t be more happy about whats going on!

Blu-ray Review “Killing Season”

Actors: John Travolta, Robert De Niro, Milo Ventimiglia
Directors: Mark Steven Johnson
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Millennium
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Run Time: 90 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

When I heard about “Killing Season”, I was drawn to it by its lead cast Robert De Niro and John Travolta.  I figured I can’t go wrong with both of them. Well, I was wrong. The film starts off well but then really takes a turn for the worst about 30 minutes in where it just gets repetitive and boring. I have to admit, I found myself checking my email more than watching this film after a while.

I read a few other reviews and they all critique Travolta role and Serbian accent but I actually liked it. Maybe it’s because I just give the guy credit for playing all these different roles.  I mean come on, he’s played a woman in “Hairspray” and now a Serbian soldier. The guy has balls. De Niro is just De Niro as usual, just a bitter old man. Nothing special.  I was taken back by how brutal some of the violence was, which even made me turn away. Not enough to make me watch this again though.

Official Premise: Deep in the Appalachian mountains, a reclusive American military veteran (Robert De Niro) and a European tourist (John Travolta) strike up an unlikely friendship. But when the tourist’s true intentions come to light, what follows is a tense battle across some of America’s most forbidding landscape proving the old adage: the purest form of war is one-on-one.

Millennium delivered a fine Blu-ray release.  The 1080p transfer was sharp and really captured the beauty of the Appalachian mountains. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 worked with the opening scene and the high tension action between our duo. In terms of special features there was not much here.  There is a quick behind-the-scenes featurette, which briefly goes into the production. I would take a pass on this one, unless you really need to hear Travolta with a Serbian accent.

“The Hot Spot / Killing Me Softly” on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory, August 13th!

Shout! Factory is releasing two sexy thrillers on Blu-ray for the first time! The double feature of The Hot Spot / Killing Me Softly will be in stores August 13.

THE HOT SPOT
Experience film noir like never before when a lowlife drifter (Don Johnson, Django Unchained), who sells used cars in a Texas burg, robs the local bank and gets involved with two sultry women: one bad, one innocent. Based on Charles Williams’ 1952 novel Hell Hath No Fury and directed by Dennis Hopper, this steamy noir also stars Barry Corbin, Charles Martin Smith, Jack Nance, Jennifer Connelly, Jerry Hardin, Leon Rippy, Virginia Madsen and William Sadler. Rated R.

KILLING ME SOFTLY
From the very moment that Alice (Heather Graham, The Hangover) locks eyes with Adam (Joseph Fiennes, American Horror Story), a mysterious stranger, she is catapulted into a whirlwind of intense erotic desire and adventure, risking everything just to be with him. But when secrets from Adam’s past begin to surface, Alice finds herself in a bizarre and potentially lethal situation she can’t escape. Acclaimed director Kaige Chen directs this contemporary suspense thriller, now on blu-ray for the first time. Unrated and uncut.

DVD Review "Killing Them Softly"

Actors: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn
Directors: Andrew Dominik
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
DVD Release Date: March 26, 2013
Run Time: 97 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“Killing Them Softly” is adapted from George V. Higgins’ 1974 novel “Cogan’s Trade”. It is a hitman movie that is disguised under a film about the economic crash. Brad Pitt doesn’t arrive on the screen until around 25 minutes in but he gives a very strong performance along with Scoot McNairy. You may know Scoot from 2010’s “Monsters” and last year’s “Argo”. The film also co-stars Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, and Sam Shepard.

For the film, Brad Pitt was reunited with director Andrew Dominik after “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”, a film that no one saw. I wasn’t blown away from the film as a whole but I like certain things about it. Besides the acting, I liked it’s gritty feel, the robbery scene was well shot and the slow-mo assassination scene was very neat. I would say watch it for the performances but the film itself isn’t sharp enough to keep your attention.  I would call it a one-timer and in a year I would have forgotten this film every existed.

Official Premise: Adapted from George V. Higgins’ novel and set in New Orleans, Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is an enforcer for the Mob. When a high-stakes Mob protected card game is heisted by some small time crooks Cogan is called in to track them down and restore order to the local criminal economy.

The special features are disappointing to say the least.  There are only four deleted scenes that add up to less than ten minutes. Lastly there is a “Making of Killing Me Softly” featurette but it only runs five minutes, which is way to shot to give a behind-the-scenes look.  The DVD release also doesn’t come with any digital copies like the Blu-ray release.  I would have hoped for at least an Ultraviolet digital streaming copy to be included.

Scoot McNairy chats about roles in "Argo", "Killing Them Softly" & "Promised Land"

2012 has been a busy year Scoot McNairy co-starring in three major films including “Argo”, “Killing Them Softly” and “Promised Land”. Scoot broke out last in 2010 with his role in Gareth Edwards’ “Monsters” (brilliant film BTW). Media Mikes took out some time to chat with Scoot to chat about 2012 and what he has planned for 2013.

Mike Gencarelli: You got to work with Brad Pitt in “Killing Them Softly” and Ben Affleck in “Argo” and Matt Damon in “Promised Land”, how was it going up against these actors?
Scoot McNairy: Not sure what it means to go up against these actors. I feel more like its an opportunity to work WITH these actors. I have watched ALOT of films over the last 20 years and some I watch over and over again. Most of these films in the past that I really loved have had Matt or Ben or Brad in them. So I was just really excited to be working with these guys based on the films that I had seen them in over the years. It was a great experience on all three of the films. I’m just really looking forward to working with them all again in the future.

MG: Your role in “Argo” as Joe Stafford was quite intenseand emotional; tell us about working on this film?
SMN: “Argo” was such a great experience. Working with everyone on that film down to the crew and the cast because you really felt like everyone really wanted to be there and were very happy to be on that job. Ben is an incredible filmmaker not just with “Argo” but his other two films as well. As far as the emotional aspects or the intensity, I think it was an emotional and intense time so we were all just trying to capture that and i think Ben did a great job at doing that.

MG: Out of the three roles, what was your most challenging and how did you prepare?
SMN: Well “Promised Land” was a role that felt very close to home for me being that I spent a lot of my childhood on a farm in Paris Texas. So that was really drawing from what I knew.
“Killing them Softly” was most challenging just based on I felt as though I had a lot riding on that film. I was a big fan of Andrew’s (Dominik) last two films, so I just wanted to focus on the work and be on point for Andrew. It was a lot of preparation during that film that I have blocked out of my head. As well we filmed that almost two and a half years ago now.

MG: After a high-profile 2012 year, what do you have planned for 2013?
SMN: I really looking forward to seeing Steve McQueen’s film “Twelve Years a Slave”. I had a wonderful time working with him. I’m also got a few others shooting this year called called “The Rover” and another film called “Frank”. They should be out end of 2013 or beginning of 2014.

Film Review “Killing Them Softly”

Starring: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins and James Gandolfini
Directed by: Andrew Dominik
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 37 mins
The Weinstein Company

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I’m sure it sounded like a great idea. You do a movie about the mob, throw in the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression then cast top notch actors like Brad Pitt and Ray Liotta. But you forgot to check the script. What do you do, hot shot? WHAT DO YOU DO?

It’s several weeks before the 2008 Presidential Election and the economy is bad for everyone. Even the petty thieves are down on their luck. Two of them – Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) – are about to try to change it. They’ve learned from their friend Squirrel (Vincent Curatola, probably best known as “The Sopranos” Johnny Sack) about a high stakes card game being hosted by local hood Markie Trattman (Liotta). It seems that some time ago Trattman arranged for one of his games to be robbed. The guys figure if it gets robbed again those inconvenienced will assume Trattman was up to his old shenanigans and he’ll be the one held responsible. They’re right. But they’re also wrong.

Visually interesting with some fine performances, “Killing Them Softly” suffers from a script that can best be described as Quentin Tarantino meets Kevin Smith. All of the fancy overlapping dialogue is there, with just a bit of raunch thrown in to make it interesting. Sometimes. The three top names seem committed to the story, though. Pitt is fun to watch as Jackie, a hit man brought in to correct the current situation. With his hair slicked back and goatee he bears more than a slight resemblance to the late Robert Goulet. If he can sing I may have just found his next project. As the mob lawyer trying to have things done under budget (he insists that any hit man flying in fly coach) Jenkins is his usual dry self. As a fellow hit man dealing with marital problems Gandolfini runs the gambit of emotions.

Writer/director Dominik previously gave us “Chopper” (where we first met a bad-ass Eric Bana) and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (which also starred Pitt). With the exception of some fine visual effects he takes a step back here.

DVD Review “The Great Killing”

Directed by: Eiichi Kudo
Starring: Mikijiro Hira, Yoshio Inaba, Toru Abe
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Animeigo
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Running Time: 118 minutes

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

“The Great Killing” is the second film in Eiichi Kudo’s Samurai Revolution Trilogy. This film is quite intense for a 1964 B&W samurai film, it is graphic and contains an amazing ending battle scene to rival all battle scenes. Similar to “13 Assassins”, the film is a slow burn that really nails its finale. AnimEigo is responsible for releasing this series on DVD. The last film in the series “Eleven Samurai” will also be released later this year. If AnimEigo is reading this, I would like to see a Blu-ray set of these films in the near future.

“The Great Killing” follows Shogunate Elder who sets out a plan to rule Japan by making the Shogun’s brother Tsunashige, the next Shogun. The best strategist in Japan, Yamaga, leads a plot to stop the Elder, but the plan doesn’t work out and most of the conspirators are captured and tortured. Yamaga and his remaining swordsmen are left to battle through hundreds of guards in order to kill Tsunashige. One of the most amazing fights filmed BTW.

The DVD quality itself looks very sharp in its widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio, especially for a 1964 released film. The B&W print is restored really well. Animeigo released this film in its original Japanese audio with various subtitles to choose from. The extras included are nothing special but include trailers, programs notes, cast & crew bios and image gallery.

Blu-ray Review “The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)”

Directed by: Roger Corman
Starring: Dick Miller, Jack Nicholson, Jonathan Haze, Mel Welles
Distributed by: Legend Films
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Running Time: 70 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Legend Films is known for colorizing classic films and they did a very notable job with 1960’s “The Little Shop of Horrors”. The color is very subtle and feels like it was beautiful hand panted on each scene. I have seen this film many times and I am big fan of Roger Corman and this film still works well for me. This is the first time that this film has been released on Blu-ray and Legend films really did a great job restoring it in both color and black-and-white.

Everyone knows the classic story of “The Little Shop of Horrors”. This 1960 film was also one of Jack Nicholson’s first roles. Seymour grows an exotic plant that has an insatiable appetite for blood and people. As the plant grows larger and larger and hungrier and hungrier, things start to get out of the control for the local flower shop and their bloodthirsty plant.

The video resolutions looks really sharp in its 1080p transfer. The only main concern is that the aspect ratio on the Blu-ray is 1.33:1 compared to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Nothing major missed though. The audio is nothing special but includes a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track.

The special features only included a commentary track by MST3K’s Mike Nelson, which definitely delivers some great laughs. Lastly if you prefer the classic black and white version of the film, as with all Legend releases they included the original black and white version as well, so everyone is happy.

DVD Review “Essential Killing”

Directed by: Jerzy Skolimowski
Starring: Vincent Gallo, Emmanuelle Seigner
Distributed by: New Video
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running time: 85 minutes

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

I have never been a giant fan of Vincent Gallo but he definitely deserves some respect for this role. “Essential Killing” is a subtle but powerful drama thriller and delivers some great suspense. The film runs a little long at only 85 minutes though. The film is beautifully shot and the locations are really spectacular. Overall the film itself it is deep and heavy though very interesting.

The story follows Mohammed, a Taliban fighter, who is captured by the US military in Afghanistan but during transport escapes. He spends the movie fending for himself in the wild trying to survive and has no regret for his actions. He is being tracked the whole time by men who are hot on his trail.

Gallo’s role in the film is of the Taliban fighter, is really intense and he who delivers a really tough performance with no dialogue. The film is mixed with elements of  seclusion and survival. The extras on the disc are virtually missing like most releases from Tribeca Film. There is only a brief interview with the director Jerzy Skolimowski.