Inferno


Rated: PG-13 | Running Time: 122 Minutes
From: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray & DVD:  January 24, 2017
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

InfernoThere are a lot of “Why?”’s in “Inferno.” Sure, you could ask: Why can’t the people with a whole lot of technology, including a drone, catch two people running on foot? Or you could ask: Why are the dudes with the guns in this cavern no where near the action? However, there are no more important wonderings than “Why are there so many chases?” and “Why did they have such a convoluted ending?”

The movie is “Inferno,” the third following “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons,” and for me the movie folks seemed to forget that the clues were the fun to this franchise, not the chases.

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Lost & Found


Rated: PG | Running Time: 92 Minutes
From: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Available on DVD and Digital:  January 10, 2017
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Lost & Found DVD ReviewAhh, nothing better than a family-friendly movie about the quest to discover a buried treasure. Okay, there might be better, but while your young girls might be enjoying “Apple of My Eye,” this one, “Lost & Found,” is for the boys, or adventurous girls.

Let’s get to the story…

To start we find out that there was this dude who developed an island oasis. Hooray. He disappears one day at sea. Boo. He supposedly left a treasure on the island. Hooray. No one has been able to find it, and people have even died looking for it. Boo. Now a rich developer has bought the island and is ruining its tiny, island charm. Double-boo.

Enter Andy.

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Apple of My Eye


Rated: PG | Running Time: 85 Minutes
From: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Available on DVD and Digital:  January 10, 2017
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Apple of My EyeI can guarantee that I am not the target audience for “Apple of My Eye,” most likely it being a tween girl and her mom watching kind of movie, and in no way can I ever relate to either as I don’t have kids, nor am I a mother, but I will say that “Apple of My Eye” is a cute movie with many flaws that I doubt any tween girl would care about.

Here are the basics of the story…

Bailey (Avery Arendes) is an equestrian, training for national competition, and she falls off her horse. She appears okay, but her sight starts to get worse. She tries to hide it, but eventually, thanks to not seeing some sprinkles on some ice cream, the truth starts to come out.

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Brad Paisley – Life Amplified World Tour: Live at WVU


Rated: Not Rated
From: City Drive Films
Available on DVD, CD:  December 23, 2016 | Airing on PBS: January 27, 2017
Get it via : Amazon

Brad PaisleyIn the world of musicians I’d like to see in concert, but just haven’t made the time when they came through the Chicago area, Brad Paisley is one of those guys. I love a great guitarist, I love a guy who writes great songs, and I like seeing country girls at concerts. Brad Paisley has them all, and so does his latest live concert DVD/CD combo, “Life Amplified World Tour: Live at WVU.”

Filmed at, well, West Virginia University, in front of 15,000 folks, Brad Paisley does what he does best, entertain. It’s a DVD/CD filled with performances of his greatest hits, as well as a great rendition of the John Denver classic “Take Me Home Country Roads,” sort of the West Virginia anthem.

Continue reading Brad Paisley – Life Amplified World Tour: Live at WVU

Greater


Rated: PG | Running Time: 130 Minutes
From: Well Go USA Entertainment
Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Platforms:  December 20, 2016
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Greater on DVDI will not lie – at the end of “Greater” i got a little weepy. The thing is it wasn’t really “sad” weepy, it was more of “what a great life, even if it seemed too short” weepy.

Yes, I will come right out of the gate and let you know Brandon Burlsworth died.

It’s not really a spoiler, I mean, if you do any quick Google search about him it’s right out there, but I had no idea. The press release didn’t mention it, the DVD case didn’t mention it, but instantly, as the movie opens with a stone slab for a tombstone my first thought, followed by Google confirmation was “Crap, he dies? So much for an uplifting movie.” But it is, even with his death.

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Chicken People


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 83 Minutes
From:Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Samuel Goldwyn Films and CMT
Available on DVD and Digital Platforms:  November 22, 2016
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Chicken PeopleThis is what I call a “Who knew?” documentary? Who knew there were so many kinds of chickens? Who knew there was a National Poultry Show? Who knew there was a Standard of Perfection, a book that details the perfect chicken? Who knew you could be an engineer and systematically breed chickens to try to produce a champion? And yes, who knew there was an Ohio National Poultry Show, the chicken equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show?

The chicken people do.

“Chicken People” is a documentary following the lives of three people over the course of about a year, and their quest to raise a perfect chicken, at least as rated by the Standard of Perfection, and win the National Poultry Show. Yes, that means that they have the best of 9,700 birds entered in the competition. And yes, that’s right, 9,700 birds are entered, one will win.

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Uncle Nick


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 81 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Online:  November 1, 2016
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Uncle NickI guess I was at that age when I was old enough to like baseball, but too young for my parents to explain to me what happened at the Ten Cent Beer game, a legendary debacle of fan sportsmanship resulting in a bunch of drunk, unruly fans ruining a lovely day at the ballpark for those who just wanted to see a ballgame.

Who knew you could build a Christmas movie around the progression of events at the Ten Cent Beer Game, but the folks of “Uncle Nick” did a pretty good job.

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The Overnighters

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:30 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

The Overnighters
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Jay Reinke
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: Drafthouse Films
Video Release Date: February 3, 2015
Kiddie Movie: Nah, it’s about a lot of down-and-out people.
Date Movie: If she’s interested in a good documentary and not something mushy.
Gratuitous Sex: Some talk of sex offenders, but nothing graphic.
Gratuitous Violence: Just one person trying to get the Reverend off of their property and threatening to shoot him.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Ehh.
Memorable Scene: The reveal by Rev. Jay of something from his past.
Memorable Quote: “A man with no teeth and living with his daughter calling other people trash.
Directed By: Jesse Moss
Cool things about the DVD: Some of the deleted scenes actually should have been left in the film, and the extended interview with Rev. Jay is actually interesting.

The OvernightersThe stories were out there: Move to North Dakota! There are tons of jobs, waitresses are making $15+ dollars an hour, and you can easily find a job making over $100k a year! While some of this may be true, when stories like this get published what happens? Tens of thousands of people, mostly out of work, consider moving to North Dakota to find work. Here’s the problem. While there are jobs, there aren’t that many, and it’s North Dakota. The fracking boom has come mostly to smaller towns that don’t have the resources to accommodate such a giant influx of folks, many of whom are down on their luck, have questionable pasts, and think that North Dakota, or in the case of the documentary “The Overnighters,” Williston, North Dakota, is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. “The Overnighters” focuses on these people, the ones not getting the jobs, as well as Rev. Jay Reinke, a pastor in Williston who opened his church to those who couldn’t find a place to say, much to the dismay of the town, especially when the questionable pasts of those seeking shelter came to light.

As the documentary opens we see the Reverend waking up the people he has sheltered for the night. Most of them are men, those who came by bus or train are sleeping throughout the complex, in hallways and rooms, while those with cars would sleep in the parking lot, and the documentary begins to key in on a few of them with Rev. Jay, trying to help them through the transition to find a job. He advises them to clean up, cut their hair, get a resume together, and keep trying, but challenges await most of them, especially as background checks reveal criminal records, but more importantly for the documentary, people on the sex offender list.

We see Rev. Jay’s family who is trying to do the Christian thing and help everyone they can, but you can see the strain the situation is placing on them as well. The key to this story is the town of Williston, torn by wanting to be good Christians, yet wanting to keep their small-town feel, worried about crime, and trying to keep their children safe.

Progressing through the documentary we learn that the Reverend is housing men with sex offender pasts, both in the church and in his home, and while some might be a blip on a record that follows them for life, others are not so seemingly insignificant, and when the local paper brings this to light, the blow-back for Reinke is insurmountable, especially as he is harboring some of his own secrets.

What I loved about this documentary was that it really showed the flip side to the stories of the boom of North Dakota. You see the people and some you root for, but many you question because at one instance they seem like people just trying to restart their lives, but then you see them slip into being assholes again. The thing is this even happens with Rev. Jay when one minute he seems like the great-natured guy, just trying to help, but, and sure every story has two sides, from the commentary by some of the people he helps, there are times even his motives seem questionable. There is an extra with a detailed follow-up interview with Reverend Jay when he addresses this, mostly in a manner consistent with his personality shown in the film.

There are a few times the documentary drags, but other than that “The Overnighters” is a fantastic look at the other side of the North Dakota story. Sure, those with a little bit of a better plan than the people just “showing up” and thinking millions await them probably have a decent chance of the good jobs, but it’s this other side people don’t hear about.

This documentary shows people doing a lot of soul-searching, losing even more, like their families, by even coming to North Dakota, and a Reverend who has his own demons that he can’t come to grips with. It’s a great look at the town reaction, those who don’t have it so easy, and the challenges faced when the “boomtown” event happens because not everyone is happy about it. It’s 4 stars out of 5 for “The Overnighters.” I guess I would have liked a few success stories on people who really made it, though there was the one dude who was excited because he was actually going to have someone to supervise. Other than the little blurb of “What is happening now,” a little more follow-up on some of the characters might have been nice. Also there is some “niceness” about the documentary, although one of the outtakes, “I Used to Stay Here,” really shows the flip-side and the volatility that can be there. I think I might have like to have seen a little more of that.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Bound by Flesh

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:30 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Bound By Flesh
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Daisy Hilton, Violet Hilton
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: IFC Films
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Kiddie Movie: Nah, it’s a documentary. They’d be bored.
Date Movie: If she’s a documentary kind of girl.
Gratuitous Sex: There’s talk.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Some chuckles at some stories.
Memorable Scene: It was interesting seeing the sisters performing together.
Memorable Quote: “Freakery sells.”
Directed By: Leslie Zemeckis

Think about your best friend, your wife, your sibling. You like them, don’t you? You probably generally like to be around them? Now picture being attached to them, and I’m not talking emotionally, but physically attached, kind of around the butt area, for 60 years. Granted you didn’t start out that way, but Daisy and Violet Hilton were born, as conjoined twins, and “Bound By Flesh” gives a fascinating, yet kind of sad look at the ladies who had fame, sort of, but because of the people around them had nothing, really, but each other.

“Bound By Flesh” takes you on the journey, from birth to death, of Daisy and Violet. We learn early on that their Mom was devastated when they were born, feeling punished by God because she was having children out of wedlock. Mom was a barmaid, and though she wanted no part of the kids, her boss, Mary Hilton, saw financial potential in exploiting the kids so she bought them from mom. Thus began a life of being trotted out in front of people, bar patrons “testing” their connection, and isolation and control so that the girls couldn’t have a life.

The girls were taught music and dancing, oddly enough, so as their life progressed they ended up in the carnival circuit mostly thanks to Edith and Myer Myers, a couple who ended up with the twins after Mary Hilton died. They did well because, as one guy puts it in the documentary, “Freakery sells.”

Eventually a few people around them gave them the courage to sue Myer, and they won, but a life of isolation, and getting older, didn’t prove helpful to the sisters as bad business decisions and failed relationships followed them for most of the rest of their lives. Yes, they became one of the highest grossing acts in Vaudeville, but as is cautioned in the documentary, be careful what you wish for because now, without the control of Myers, the girls were free, promiscuous, and general party girls who could never figure out who the con-men were, and also never had decent guidance for the rest of their lives, losing touch with the changing world and not being able to understand why people didn’t want to see them any longer, nor understanding the business of it all, and failing to see that as they grew older their popularity went away.

Stranded in North Carolina by their tour manager and left with nothing, the twins, who at a time seemingly had it all, were hired by a local grocery store, and it’s there they lived out the rest of their lives. Working at the store gave them a little money, but more for the ladies, it gave them time to reminisce with the staff and customers as all they really wanted to do was entertain.

They could have been separated later in life, but Daisy and Violet, by this time, realized their lives were one, and they probably couldn’t survive without each other, and in the end Violet came down with the flu. Daisy made the decision to lie there, in their little home, and die along side her sister.

“Bound by Flesh” is a fantastic documentary showing both the ups, but mostly downs, of the Hilton sisters. Their lives are reminiscent of many child and young actors, where the manager or family pretty much steals everything from them, and eventually they become “whatever happened” anecdotes. The other thing about the documentary is that as much as it’s about the sisters, it’s also a great look a the early days of the carnival and of the side-show, how the shows got their start as outgrowths of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, as well as the rise and fall of Vaudeville, and it’s relation to the sisters.

Fascinating yet sad lives, if you are looking for a wonderful documentary I must say I really enjoyed “Bound by Flesh.” It’s 4 out of 5 stars for this great look at two ladies who could have had so much more if it weren’t for the scumbags around them.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Hot Guys with Guns

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:45 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Hot Guys with Guns
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Marc Anthony Samuel, Brian McArdle
MPAA Rated: Not rated.
Released By: Wolfe Video
Release Date: Video on Demand: May 6, 2014DVD: May 8, 2014
Kiddie Movie: Oh no. Put them to bed.
Date Movie: My wife got sucked right into it.
Gratuitous Sex: A lot of talk, and gay, sex parties.
Gratuitous Violence: There are some guns and fighting.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Quite a few.
Memorable Scene: Nothing stood out.
Memorable Quote: “How’s your head?” “It still hurts.” “You didn’t say the safe word.” “I had something in my mouth.”
Directed By: Doug Spearman

As my wife simply put it: “It’s so bizarre it’s captivating.” The movie is “Hot Guys with Guns,” and yes, I have to agree with my wife.

With an opening scene reminiscent of a James Bond movie, only with dude butts instead of dudette butts, we are introduced to passed-out guys in a room and a weird dude in a mask.

Let’s cut to the heroes of the movie starting with Danny (Marc Anthony Samuel). He’s taking a private investigator class as research for a movie role because, well, the film takes place in California, and, of course, it’s got a dude who wants to be an actor. Then there is his friend/ex Pip (Brian McArdle), who lives with his wacky mom, she who doesn’t like black guys or Mexicans, and Danny is worried about Pip because Pip is getting involved with a dude that Danny doesn’t trust.

As the story unfolds it turns out Pip finds himself at a party where everyone ends up drugged and passed out, with things stolen. It turns out there are Sex Party Bandits out there, and our two heroes want to solve the case, especially now that Danny is learning private eye stuff.

So our heroes get wrapped up in a plot of intrigue and bad guys, a plot that thickens when we find an actor was hoping for a role in a Disney film that was somehow involved in a drugged-up rape, and comedy, mayhem, and crime-solving ensues.

I must say that the first half of the movie had way too much plot development for what was supposed to be a buddy movie in the likes of something like “Lethal Weapon,” and was mostly background for internet surfing, but all of a sudden I was actually wrapped up in the story and wondering how the boys were going to crack the case without getting killed. I laughed, I cringed, and yes, I thought “bizarre.”

Had the movie opened with a tighter first half I could have easily seen myself heading to the 4 ½ star range for “Hot Guys with Guns,” but because it took too long for me to get involved in the story I have to drop it to 3 ½ stars out of 5. It’s not the greatest of acted movies, and there is some bizarreness in a world of gay, sex parties, but for some fun you could do a lot worse. Stick with the movie past the first half and let the bizarreness and fun take hold.

The DVD has some general stuff like some bloopers, but for the most part this one is all about the movie – No, you’re not going to get any real insight into sex parties.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

“How’s your head?” “It still hurts.” “You didn’t say the safe word.” “I had something in my mouth.”