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

Book Review: “Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Pistol”

“Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Pistol”
Author: Steve Jones
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 308 pages

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Pistol” recounts the life and times of Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. Through the nihilistic songs, amphetamine-fueled music, and influential fashion that turned a one-time street urchin into a founding member of a genre-defining band “Lonely Boy” offers a truly in-depth portrait of one of punk’s founding fathers.

For anyone with even the smallest bit of knowledge related to Steve Jones and his band The Sex Pistols I don’t have to tell you what to expect from “Lonely Boy”. Sex, drugs and rock and roll it’s all here told directly from the man who lived and breathed it. Throughout the books 308 pages Jones takes the reader on a cringe worthy ride that starts off with detailed accounts of Jones traumatic childhood which was rout with abuse and neglect. As the book progresses the reader is treated to firsthand accounts of the early incarnation of The Sex Pistols and how it morphed into what the world would see as the band were made into the poster boys of punk rock for generations to come.

Not just your everyday run of the mill biography. “Lonely Boy” delves much deeper than other books in the genre. Jones forges straight on into rough waters as he recounts the events that would shape who he has become today. From the ups and downs his band The Sex Pistols created to his struggles with severe drug addiction this book is not for the queasy as it probably as real as one can get. At times I found the stories to wander and be a bit lengthy however pushing through there was always light at the end of the tunnel as each chapter blended nicely into the next. Also worth noting are the photos which are included in the book. Many of them were ones I had not seen before only adding to the books unique story and making “Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Pistol” is a must read for any and all music fans.

Book Review “The Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy: Location Guide – Hobbiton, the Lonely Mountain and Beyond”

Author: Ian Brodie
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: November 11, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

New Zealand is a country that I would never think that I would ever want to visit…that is until “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” films came along. Since those films have come out, people all over the world have flocked to New Zealand in order to visit the the “real” Middle-earth. “The Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy:  Location Guide – Hobbiton, the Lonely Mountain and Beyond” delivers you the locations where the new trilogy was shot around New Zealand from the author of the international bestseller “The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook”. The book also comes with a foreword by Sir Peter Jackson and contributions by Andy Serkis, Jared Connon, and Dan Hennah.

After reading this book, I literally wanted to pack up and plan a trip to New Zealand. The locations in these films are so visually stunning that they literally jump off the pages. Luckily, Harper Design delivered us a beautiful book with extremely crisp and high quality original landscape photography. This book exclusive movie images and location photographs, specialty maps and directions, GPS references, touring information and even helpful Internet addresses. If you are a hardcore “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” and you read this book and do not seriously consider a trip to New Zealand then I might suggest that you might not be as big of a fan as you think. Well if you take the trip or not, this is a must own for any fan certainly.

Justin Eugene Evans Talks About His Film "A Lonely Place for Dying"

Former NYU student Justin Evans has been making movies since his school days, his latest inarguably his biggest feature to date. His latest film, “A Lonely Place for Dying,” stars Oscar nominee James Cromwell and “Hitchcock’s” Michael Wincott and will be released in the U.S. via iTunes on February 12, 2013. While preparing for this interview I learned that the film, a cold-war era thriller set in the 1970’s, has recently been banned from playing in Russia. Though Evans, who both wrote and directed the film, has received no official reason for the ban he assumes it’s because of his film’s controversial storyline. While preparing for the film’s release Evans took the time to answer some questions for Media Mikes.

Mike Smith: You co-wrote the script for “A Lonely Place for Dying.” What was your inspiration for the story?
Justin Evans: I’ve always been fascinated by the Cold War. It was a dirty, grimy, ethically confused game of global chess that somehow has a sense of romance and nostalgia for me. I have a particular affinity to the subject because I’m a Volga German. Our family immigrated to Russia in the 18th century and turned the Steppes into farm land. Russia made us two promises; the land would be ours forever and since we were not Russian we could not be forced to serve in their military. The Bolsheviks broke both promises with our people and my great-grandfather immigrated to the US in 1918. With a personal history of that scope I think it’s obvious why I’m obsessed with the Cold War.

MS: Not only does James Cromwell appear in the film he’s also a producer. How did that come about?
JE: We asked Jamie to be one of our producers. He said it was contingent upon our craftsmanship; if he liked the movie he’d give it his stamp of approval and be one of our executive producers. I guess he liked the movie!

MS: Even though the film was modestly budgeted it is well crafted, especially the special effects. How were you able to achieve this?
JE: Old fashioned hard work. I’d served as a visual effects supervisor on other projects. I found two VFX artists on the Internet and the three of us worked together for about four months. They completed about 250 visual effects shots. Most of them are hidden; the sky replacements, the sub-frame editing, digitally enhancing fake blood that was used on set..all of that work disappears into the background but provides a level of polish that is absolutely necessary in professional filmmaking. The glitzy stuff is the B-52 bombers and Washington DC street traffic. However, some of the invisible stuff was far more complicated. We did the work remotely. Occasionally, one of the artists would come to my house and we’d polish a shot on our Macbooks. We’d just hang out in my living room, drink some Red Bull and power through some shots while leaning over my ottoman. The tools are cheap. Its simply a question of how hard you’re willing to work. I’m lucky that I found two guys, Daniel Broadway and Marc Leonard, who have old-school work ethics and truly love their craft.

MS: In your opinion, does the continued quest for studios to have the all important opening weekend high gross make it hard for someone like yourself to get your stories told?
JE: That’s not what’s stopping us. Its more subtle and more pervasive than that. Its an intellectual laziness that says “I’ve never heard of you therefore you can’t possibly be talented.” We were told by a VP at Warner Brothers that he wouldn’t look at the movie “because if it were hot someone else would have looked at the movie and I’d have heard about it.” I released 22 minutes online and it was downloaded over 1.5 million times…and agents at Endeavor said “If this mattered it would be reported in Variety.” An ex-executive from Universal told us “I don’t understand your film. It’s a mainstream movie. It’s smart and its a popcorn film. But you don’t have big stars in it. You should have made something weird or cast Tom Cruise. Right now, you got nothing.” We were in 46 film festivals, nominated for 53 awards, won 29 including 18 for Best Picture. No one in the industry cared. Our trailer was downloaded 2.5 million times from iTunes Movie Trailers. No one in the industry cared. And no one ever said “I saw your movie and I don’t like it.” They said “I’m not willing to watch your movie because you’re not famous.” You can’t catch a break because the intellectual laziness creates a negative feedback loop.

MS: You did pretty much everything on this film except run the catering truck! Do you eventually want to narrow your career to one vocation, be it directing or writing, or are you happy having a hand in pretty much everything?
JE: I don’t know how to not be involved in everything. I know Photoshop so well that I can do the graphic design myself faster than if I had to explain my ideas to someone else. I’ve designed lighting and lenses and projectors so unless I can afford the world’s most expensive cinematographers I might as well do it myself. I interviewed a cinematographer for “A Lonely Place For Dying” and as I showed some of my storyboards the person wanted to know the mood of a particular shot. I said we’d have huge beams of god light coming in through these basement windows. The cinematographer blanches and says “That can’t be done unless you have 10K HMI’s.” I said “That’s not true; volumetric lighting is a matter of particle density, not light intensity. I can make a volumetric light with a flashlight if I have enough smoke in the air.” The cinematographer insists I don’t know what I’m talking about…and after awhile you get tired of those kinds of debates. Its just easier to do it yourself. I’m not trying to. Part of it is that I’m an Aspie and I really struggle with rephrasing things with the social lubrication people need so the truth can slip past their defenses. Its even worse if you can’t here my vocal tone or see my facial expressions. My communication style, when stripped of these nonverbal queues, makes me sound like an asshole to a certain type of person. I’m just stating facts; I willingly give up control when I find competent people. If I can’t…then I might as well do it myself. Hopefully I don’t sound like too much of a jackass saying that out loud. That being said, there is plenty I didn’t do. Brent Daniels did all the sound. Alone. By himself. He built the 5.1 mixing facility in his home and he put close to 1,500 hours into the dialogue, sound effects, music and mixing of this film. Ginger Ravencroft is a dear friend and a hell of a still photographer. She’s the reason we have 12 gorgeous theatrical posters. Daniel Broadway and Marc Leonard did 250 visual effects shots for the film. Without those people the movie would not be as good. So, I think the most accurate thing to say is while I wear many, many hats so do the people I trust the most.

MS: Are you planning anything currently?
JE: I’m the president of BryteWerks. We’re about to release our flagship digital motion picture projector. We have about 5 employees and an additional 25 contractors working on various engineering projects. I can’t go into the details of everything we’re doing but we’ve got some really cool products coming down the pipe. And I will get back to directing…but not until we finish our motion picture projector. We have pre-order customers to satisfy and this is a chance to really shake up the world. I’m already writing my next project. The rest is a secret.

Interview with Los Lonely Boys’ Jojo Garza

Jojo Garza is one of the three Garza brothers that makes up the band Los Lonely Boys. Jojo role in the band is the bassist. The band is currently touring the world for their latest album “Rockpango”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jojo about the bands music and also the new album.

Mike Gencarelli:  What’s the most challenging part of working with your brothers?
Jojo Garza: The fact that they are my brothers. I know it sounds funny but that’s the truth. The way we grew up was that family sticks together and that no one can help you better than family.

MG: Can you give us some back ground on your most recent album, “Rockpango”?
JG: A lot of inspiration comes from what we experience in everyday life. We try to write so that the music has an angle everyone can relate to. A lot of the new songs have that idea behind them however they also have some new musical inspiration as well. We tried to thrown in some funk grooves and also pay tribute to some our idols like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Musically we challenged ourselves on this album. The string quartet was something completely new as well. We really wanted people to hear some new sounds. The album is a whole new vibe.

MG: What do you like most about performing live?
JG: Being able to talk with people and letting them know we are still here. We are getting ready to go to Japan in a few days. We are going to keep spreading the word for as long as we can.

MG: Do you have a favorite song that you like to perform live?
JG: I just love jamming and playing any song really. I don’t think I could pick just one.

MG: Have you ever played the “Guitar Hero: World Tour” version of your song “Heaven”?
JG: Yes I did and I sucked at it. (Laughs) We actually did alright. It’s crazy that song did what it did. That song allowed us to show people we could play music. Playing that song on the game was not like playing it live on stage that’s for sure!

MG: Tell us what else you got planned for 2012?
JG: We are ready to play wherever. We want to bring the people some good times. We are working on new material as we speak and we can’t wait for people to hear it. We have a handful of songs that I think are very creative. We sing our hearts out in every song no matter what it is.