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Thursday
Nov102016

RAISING BERTIE Coming to Gene Siskel Film Center 11/18!

Chicago! I'm thrilled to announce that Raising Bertie will begin a limited engagement at the Gene Siskel Film Center, beginning Friday, November 18!

Margaret Byrne's eye-opening documentary follows three African-American teen boys living in Bertie, North Carolina as they struggle to avoid the pitfalls of poverty, peer pressure, and a system that has built a virtual firewall of twenty-seven prisons around their community. Check out the clip below, with a brief introduction by Byrne:

As you'll recall, I reviewed Raising Bertie when it debuted at the Chicago International Film Festival last month, and interviewed Byrne and producer Ian Robertson Kibbe on the Kicking the Seat Podcast. If those raves aren't enough to get you out to the Siskel Center between November 18 and 23, how's about the chance to meet the filmmakers yourself?

Yes, Byrne, Kibbe, and editor Leslie Simmer will attend select screenings on opening weekend and engage audiences in what are sure to be captivating conversations!

For showtimes, tickets, and more information, visit the Siskel Center's Raising Bertie page. Do not miss this film!

Wednesday
Nov022016

The Kartemquin Fall Festival is Here!

Starting tonight! Kartemquin Films will mark the culmination of its 50th Anniversary year with The Kartemquin Fall Festival, to be held in partnership with ArcLight Cinemas at the the ArcLight Chicago NEWCITY location  in Lincoln Park, Chicago, on three nights from Wednesday, November 2nd to Friday, November 4th, 2016. The Kartemquin Fall Festival at ArcLight Cinemas once again offers the cinema’s guests an unparalleled experience in their commitment to independent cinema, while looking to the future of Chicago's documentary community.

The Kartemquin Fall Festival features two Chicago premieres, sneak previews of three works-in-progress, and fresh new work from emerging Midwest documentary makers who have graduated from Kartemquin’s acclaimed filmmaker development programs. Of the 26 projects, 62% are directed by people of color, and 50% are directed by women. More information can be found at www.ktq50.org/fall-festival, and to purchase tickets please go to https://www.arclightcinemas.com/en/news/kartemquin-fall-festival.

“Throughout this year our 50 year history has been showcased and honored in a number of thrilling ways. But we wanted to now put an emphasis on the new projects and rich documentary filmmaking talent that is in our community,” said Gordon Quinn, Kartemquin co-founder and Artistic Director. “This event is a chance to get a glimpse of the future of documentary filmmaking in Chicago.”

“Kartemquin’s incredible history as a creative conduit for documentary filmmakers, makes them an exciting partner to celebrate and share the future of cinema with ArcLight guests,” states Gretchen McCourt, Executive Vice President Cinema Programming, ArcLight Cinemas.

The Festival opens at ArcLight Cinemas Chicago NEWCITY location with the Chicago premiere of UNBROKEN GLASS, the debut feature of director Dinesh Das Sabu, in which the filmmaker and his siblings confront the trauma of losing their parents at an early age. Dinesh Sabu interned at Kartemquin in 2008 and subsequently developed the film there as a co-production, with several other former interns becoming key crew members, including editor Matt Lauterbach, co-producer R. Patrick Lile, and cinematographer Ian Kibbe. The film screens at 8pm on Wednesday, November 2nd, with a reception to follow.

On Thursday, November 3rd at 6pm, the 2016 Diverse Voices in Documentary (DVID) Graduation honors the participants of this program, which mentors 12 producers of color each year. The free event will include short previews clips from each project, a keynote by Lyric Cabral, co-director of (T)ERROR, (winner of the Special Jury Award for Breakout First Feature at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival), with a reception to follow. It also marks the opening of applications for DVID 2017. RSVP here. DVID is a year-long mentorship program for documentary producers of color coordinated by Kartemquin and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago.

On Friday, November 4th at 8pm, the Kartemquin Fall Showcase offers exclusive previews of never-before-seen footage from three upcoming documentary projects, inviting viewers to give feedback directly to the filmmakers. AMERICA TO ME, directed by Steve James (HOOP DREAMS), is an epic series covering a year in Oak Park and River Forest High School, one of the country’s most exemplary and diverse public high schools, as students, teachers and administrators grapple with decades-long racial and educational inequities. Sergio Rapu's EATING UP EASTER explores how the most isolated community in the Pacific - Easter Island - uses lessons learned from their past to solve environmental and social challenges brought on by booming tourism and rapid development. Maria Finitzo's THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE explores the complex nature of female sexual desire and the ways in which it is both governed, and fulfilled, by notions of expression and repression.

Two showcases of the best short films from Kartemquin’s program alumni will open the evening on both Wednesday, November 2nd at 6pm and Friday, November 4th at 6pm.

On Thursday, November 3rd at 8:30pm, CITY OF TREES, a documentary about one community's fight for equal access to good jobs and safe parks in our nation's capital which was developed through Kartemquin’s KTQ Labs program, will have its Chicago premiere.

“The Kartemquin Fall Festival is a celebration of the accomplishments of our program alumni, showcasing the work for the larger Chicago documentary film community, the general public, and the industry,” said Betsy Steinberg, Kartemquin Executive Director.

Filmmakers will be present at every screening. More information can be found at www.ktq50.org/fall-festival, and to purchase tickets please go to https://www.arclightcinemas.com/

ArcLight Cinemas - Chicago

NEWCITY Lincoln Park

 1500 N. Clybourn Ave, 3rd Fl.

Chicago, IL 60610

 

6:00 PM Wednesday, November 2nd -  Shorts Showcase 1: Kartemquin Alumni

A showcase of projects from Kartemquin's acclaimed Internship and Diverse Voices in Docs programs.

In this shorts program you will meet a beloved and eccentric Chicago-area magician in The Amazing Mr. Ash, directed by Brian Gersten; director Max Asaf embarks on a journey into his family’s past to confront their unspeakable experience in the Holocaust in Within the Box; Beyond Blind, created by Matt Lauterbach, will help you understand vision loss; Shuling Yong's Intuition looks into the bottom rung of the academic ladder in Singapore; and Embodies by Hillary Bachelder explores perceptions of the female form through portraits of a nude model, a medical embalmer, and a roller derby mother of three.

Films:

  1. The Amazing Mr. Ash, Brian Gersten  (11 min, 59 sec)
  2. Within the Box, Max Asaf  (21 min 47 sec)
  3. Beyond Blind, Matt Lauterbach (6 min)
  4. Intuition, Shuling Yong (10 min)
  5. Embodies,  Hillary Bachelder (38 min. 35 sec)

Special Guests: Filmmakers will be present

Tickets: $14

 

8:00 PM Wednesday, November 2nd - Unbroken Glass Chicago Premiere

When he was six-years-old, Dinesh Das Sabu’s parents died. Raised by his older siblings, he had little idea who his parents were or where he came from. Through making Unbroken Glass (2016, 55min), he attempts to piece together their story and his own. Uncovering a silenced family history and disturbing truths, Dinesh and his siblings must finally reconcile the past, confronting the trauma of losing their parents and the specter of mental illness. This is the Chicago premiere of Unbroken Glass, Dinesh Das Sabu's debut feature length film, which he originated while working as a Kartemquin intern in 2008, and produced in collaboration with several former Kartemquin Intern Program alumni in key roles.

Special Guests:  dir. Dinesh Sabu

Tickets: $14 general, $20 VIP with access to post-screening reception

 

6:00 PM Thursday, November 3rd - Kartemquin Diverse Voices in Doc: 2016 Graduation

The 2016 Diverse Voices in Documentary (DVID) Graduation honors and showcases the participants of the 2016 DVID program. The evening will include clips from each project and a keynote speech by Lyric

Cabral, co-director of (T)error, winner of the Special Jury Award for Breakout First Feature at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. It also marks the opening of applications for DVID 2017. Visit the website to apply: https://www.kartemquin.com/diversevoices.

Now completing its fourth year, DVID strives to create a network for filmmakers of color to collaborate and support each other, and increase their presence in the documentary field. The 2016 DVID program will graduate 12 fellows who developed their projects over six months of workshops and mentorship by Kartemquin staff, producers and associates, and industry leaders.

The Diverse Voices in Documentary program is operated by Kartemquin Films and The Community Film Workshop of Chicago, and made possible by support from the Voqal Fund, The Seabury Foundation, The Reva and David Logan Foundation, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Efroymson Family Fund, CityArts, The Sage Foundation, and KatLei Productions.

Films:

  1. From Chicago to South Africa, Ava Thompson Greenwell
  2. Alexis, Lesley Etherly
  3. Genius of a Different Hue: The Story of Black Advertising, Keith Purvis
  4. Lunch With Friends at 58 Ave Foch, Vincent Singleton
  5. Sounds of the Chi, Edwin Walker 
  6. Standing on the Bones of Our Ancestors, Kohl Miner
  7. Resistimos (We Resist), Diana Quinones Rivera
  8. Unjustified Chicago, Theresa Lenore Dumayas Campagna
  9. Unapologetic, Ashley Mills
  10. Panata, Alexander Skalomenos 
  11. Dance Group in Pilsen, Katherine Nagasawa
  12. Tracing our Path Through Bronzeville, Reginald Rice

Tickets: Free with RSVP. Reception to follow.

 

8:30 PM Thursday, November 3rd - City of Trees Chicago Premiere

During the recession, City of Trees (2016, 76mins) follows three trainees and the directors of a stimulus-funded green job-training program designed to put unemployed people back to work by caring for parks in DC. As they navigate the community’s distrust of outsiders and a fast-approaching deadline before the grant money runs out, City of Trees thrusts viewers into the inspiring but messy world of job training and the paradoxes changemakers face in urban communities everyday. (Chicago premiere)

This feature length film is a 2014 KTQ Labs graduate. KTQ Labs is a free monthly filmmaker service at which filmmakers present their demos and rough cuts to the Kartemquin community in return for constructive critique. Find more information about KTQ Labs here: https://www.kartemquin.com/involve/filmmakers/labs.

Special Guests: Lance Kramer (director)  and Brandon Kramer (producer)

Tickets: $14

 

6:00 PM Friday, November 4th - Shorts Showcase 2: Kartemquin Alumni

A showcase of projects from Kartemquin's acclaimed Internship and Diverse Voices in Docs programs.

In this shorts program, director Rachel Dickson examines the Chicago school closings of 2014; filmmaker Mina Fitzpatrick explores the emotional complexities of Korean culture around adoption; the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer, Gwendolyn Brooks, is profiled in Shahari Moore's film Brooks People; and we meet a Vietnam veteran with an unlimited faith in Disney in Keep Moving Forward, directed by Brent Bandemer and produced by Emily Strong. Approx. 90 minute long program.

Films:

  1. Closed for Good, Rachel Dickson (5 min)
  2. Two Together, Mina Fitzpatrick (36 min 15 sec)
  3. Brooks People, Shahari Moore  (10 min 55 sec)
  4. Keep Moving Forward, Brent Bandemer and Emily Strong (26 min 6 sec)

Special Guests:  Filmmakers will be present

Tickets: $14

 

8:00 PM Friday, November 4th - Kartemquin Fall Showcase

Kartemquin invites you to enjoy exclusive previews of never-before-seen footage from three upcoming documentary projects, and give your feedback directly to the filmmakers. America to Me, directed by Steve James, is an epic series looking into a year in one of the country’s most exemplary and diverse public high schools, as students, teachers and administrators grapple with decades-long racial and educational inequities. Sergio Rapu's Eating Up Easter explores how the most isolated community in the Pacific - Easter Island - uses lessons learned from their past to solve environmental and social challenges brought on by booming tourism and rapid development. Maria Finitzo's The Dilemma of Desire explores the complex nature of female sexual desire and the ways in which it is both governed, and fulfilled, by notions of expression and repression. Audience members can give feedback directly to the filmmakers in the theater and in a post-screening reception. Serving as both a window into our process and an opportunity to impact the future of these works-in-progress, this event embodies the Kartemquin spirit of collaborative creation and meaningful audience engagement.

Films:

  1. America to Me (dir. Steve James)
  2. Eating Up Easter (dir. Sergio Rapu)
  3. The Dilemma of Desire (dir. Maria Finitzo)

Special Guests:  Steve James, Maria Finitzo, Sergio Rapu

Tickets: $14 general, $20 VIP with access to post-screening reception

 

About Kartemquin Films

Kartemquin Films is a not-for-profit collaborative center for documentary media makers who seek to foster a more engaged and empowered society. In 2016, Kartemquin celebrates 50 years of sparking democracy through documentary. Best known for producing HOOP DREAMS and THE INTERRUPTERS among over 55 other documentaries that examine and critique society through the lives of ordinary people, Kartemquin has marked their 50th Anniversary with a yearlong celebration encompassing events across the world, including screenings, masterclasses, broadcasts, free online streaming of every film in their catalog, and an exhibition of artifacts and equipment at Expo 72 gallery in Chicago from May 20 - August 20. For more information, visitwww.ktq50.org.

2016 Kartemquin releases include ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL and RAISING BERTIE, both of which are screening at the 2016 Chicago International Film Festival.

About ArcLight Cinemas

ArcLight Cinemas, created by Pacific Theatres, a privately owned, Los Angeles based company with 60 years of theatrical exhibition history throughout California, Hawaii and Washington is a premiere moviegoing experience with an unparalleled commitment to bringing a variety of rich cinematic content to moviegoers in all markets. ArcLight Cinemas operates seven theaters in California including Hollywood, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, El Segundo, Santa Monica, Culver City and La Jolla, as well as theaters in Bethesda, MD, Chicago and Glenview, IL, with a new location in Boston for 2019. ArcLight also owns and operates the historic Cinerama Dome and programs the TCL Chinese Theatre and IMAX in Hollywood. Pacific Theatres currently operates theaters in Los Angeles that include The Grove and The Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA. Additional information about ArcLight Cinemas is available at www.arclightcinemas.com.

Saturday
Oct222016

HORROR HUNTERS: You Will See The Doctor Now!

 

Fans of the Kicking the Seat Podcast (both of you) know Aaron Christensen as a frequent guest; as the star of one of my favorite films of 2012; as the editor of the essential books, Horror 101 and Hidden Horror, and as the proprietor of the fright-flick blog, Horror 101 with Dr. AC.

This Wednesday, Aaron adds "Reality TV star" to his résumé, as he and co-host Adam Rockoff explore the world of creepy collectibles in Shout! Factory TV's new series, Horror Hunters!

From the press release:

Horror Hunters is Scream Factory’s first foray into producing original premium unscripted series for the Shout! Factory TV digital platform. Made by and for fans of the horror genre, the launch of Horror Hunters serves as an important step in broadening the reach of Shout! Factory and its imprints as a tentpole new show for the streaming service. Horror Hunters will be livestreamed and then available for VOD viewing on Shout! Factory TV beginning October 28.

In Horror Hunters, horror experts Adam Rockoff and Aaron Christensen embark on a journey to discover some of the greatest collections of horror memorabilia in the world. At each destination, the Horror Hunters offer rare and valuable pieces from their own collections while attempting to trade for the most sought after, one-of-a-kind items they encounter. 

In the pilot episode, the Horror Hunters visit Frankenstein uber-collector Phil Meenan and come face-to-face with a working (and dangerous!) Jacob’s Ladder device.  Next, the Horror Hunters travel across Chicago to meet with well-known horror blogger Jon Kitley inside the infamous Kitley’s Krypt, where they propose an epic trade.

Because the show is made for the ultimate horror collector, Horror Hunters viewers will be encouraged to take a short survey to give feedback on the pilot following the livestream. This feedback from fans will guide the future of the show beyond its pilot episode, and each voter will be entered to win a Scream Factory Blu-ray prize package.

Check out the trailer below, and be sure to catch the pilot episode on ShoutFactoryTV.com this Wednesday, October 26 at 6pm PST (8pm CST). There'll be an encore presentation at 9pm PST (11pm CST).

You can also show Aaron some love by contributing to his annual "Scare-a-Thon". Throughout October, he binges horror movies, blogs about them, and then donates all the pledged proceeds to charity. This year, he's helping out the Greater Chicago Food Depository!

Hit up Horror 101 with Dr. AC. for more info, and send him a note of congratulations while you're at it!

Thursday
Oct062016

SUICIDE SQUAD Gets an Assist with New "Extended Cut"!

Fans of this site know I didn't dig David Ayer's Suicide Squad when it hit theatres in August. The film had barely debuted before accounts of the behind-the-scenes drama came flooding out,* which explained (but did not excuse) the resulting two-hour patchwork. Despite the film having been apparently sliced and diced beyond what the writer/director had originally envisioned, Suicide Squad became a sizable hit, holding the top box office spot for three weeks in a row.

The same charges were (justly) leveled at Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last spring, and Warner Bros semi-rectified the lack of coherence by releasing an "Ultimate Edition" in July. It looks like they're going back to that well again with Suicide Squad: Extended Cut, which hits VOD next month and physical media in mid-December.

This release is almost guaranteed to do well, if the theatrical run was any indication. The question is, will it be any better? Of course, the knee-jerk answer is, "It doesn't need to be! It's a comic-book movie!" Were we living in a world where The Dark Knight trilogy and Captain America: Civil War were not available to watch on a moment's notice, I might understand that argument. But this is the Golden Age of the comic book movie, and loud, colorful, disposable entertainment just doesn't cut it anymore--not when it's demonstrably easy to put out adult-targeted entertainment with practically built-in four-quadrant appeal.

The caveat is that the "Extended Cut" only promises to be longer (which, to those of us who didn't appreciate the film initially, sounds more like a threat than an incentive). There's no indication that we'll see Ayer's original cut next month (or ever), but I'm at least hopeful that there'll be some sturdier connective tissue in this new version's extra thirteen minutes.

Just as I did when BvS hit home video, I'll be providing a brand-new movie review of the "Extended Cut" (a real examination, this time, not a grumpy fan letter or a spirited--yet somehow dispiriting--discussion). Call me crazy, but I'm optimistic about this release, whose specs you can read below the announcement trailer below. 

Better yet, call an ambulance.

*The serious stuff, not the cute anecdotes about Jared Leto sending rats to co-workers.

SUICIDE SQUAD EXTENDED CUT COMES TO HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Enjoy more action and more Squad in the Extended Cut with extra footage not seen in theaters!

Own Suicide Squad early on Digital HD on November 15

Ultra HD Blu-ray™, Blu-ray™ 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD debut on December 13

Burbank, CA, October 5, 2016 – Bring the Squad home when “Suicide Squad” arrives onto Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD. From director David Ayer (“Fury,” “End of Watch”) comes “Suicide Squad,” starring Oscar® nominee Will Smith (Best Actor, 2002, “Ali,” Best Actor, 2007 “The Pursuit of Happyness,”), Oscar ® winner Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor, “Dallas Buyers Club,” 2013), Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Focus”), Joel Kinnaman (Netflix’s “House of Cards”) and Oscar nominee Viola Davis (“The Help,” “Doubt”).

Written and directed by Ayer based on the characters from DC, the film also stars Jai Courtney (“Insurgent”), Jay Hernandez (“Takers”), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (“Thor: The Dark World”), Ike Barinholtz (“Neighbors”), Scott Eastwood (“Fury”), Cara Delevingne (“Paper Towns”), Adam Beach (“Cowboys & Aliens”), and Karen Fukuhara in her feature film debut. It is produced by Charles Roven and Richard Suckle, with Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Colin Wilson and Geoff Johns serving as executive producers. 

“Suicide Squad: Extended Cut” features more action and more Squad with 13 more minutes of footage not previously seen in theaters. The Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack will include the extended version of the film on the Blu-ray disc. The extended version will also be available to own on Digital HD.

Suicide Squad” will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray for $44.95, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack for $44.95, Blu-ray Combo Pack for $35.99 and 2-disc DVD Special Edition for $28.98. The Ultra HD Blu-ray features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the theatrical version in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the extended version. The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack features the theatrical version of the film in 3D hi-definition and hi-definition, as well as the extended version in hi-definition; the Blu-ray Combo Pack features the extended version and theatrical version of the film in hi-definition on Blu-ray; and the DVD features the theatrical version in standard definition. All Blu-ray products include a digital version of both the extended and theatrical versions of the movie in Digital HD with UltraViolet.* Fans can also own “Suicide Squad” via purchase from digital retailers.

The Blu-ray discs of “Suicide Squad” will feature a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead. To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar; however, Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.

SYNOPSIS 

It feels good to be bad… Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself? 

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS

On November 15, “Suicide Squad” will be available to own for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on favorite devices from select digital retailers including Amazon, CinemaNow, Flixster, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. On December 13, “Suicide Squad” will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

ABOUT DIGITAL HD WITH ULTRAVIOLET

*Digital HD with UltraViolet allows fans to watch a digital version of their movie or TV show anywhere, on their favorite devices. Digital HD with UltraViolet is included with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs. Digital HD with UltraViolet allows consumers to instantly stream and download movies and TV shows to TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones through UltraViolet retail services like CinemaNow, Flixster, Vudu and more. For more information on compatible devices go to wb.com/ultravioletdevices. Consult an UltraViolet Retailer for details and requirements and for a list of HD-compatible devices.

BASICS

PRODUCT                                                                            SRP

Ultra HD Blu-ray                                                                     $44.95

3D Blu-Ray Combo Pack                                                       $44.95

Blu-ray Combo Pack                                                               $35.99

DVD Amaray (WS)                                                                $28.98

Standard Street Date: December 13, 2016

EST Street Date: November 15

DVD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French

BD Languages: English (Dolby Atmos TrueHD), Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese

3D Languages: English (Dolby Atmos TrueHD), Canadian French, Thai, Latin Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese,

DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Parisian French

BD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Parisian French, Brazilian Portuguese

3D Subtitles: English SDH, Parisian French, Canadian French, Latin Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Cantonese, Complex Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Thai,

Theatrical Version Running Time: 123 minutes

Extended Cut Running Time: 136 minutes

Rating: Rated PG - 13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language

Extended Cut is unrated

DLBY/SURR   DLBY/DGTL   [CC]

About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Inc.:

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment's home video, digital distribution and interactive entertainment businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc™, Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees.

About DC Entertainment:
DC Entertainment, home to iconic brands DC (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, etc.), Vertigo (Sandman, Fables, etc.) and MAD, is the creative division charged with strategically integrating across Warner Bros. and Time Warner. DC Entertainment works in concert with many key Warner Bros. divisions to unleash its stories and characters across all media, including but not limited to film, television, consumer products, home entertainment, and interactive games. Publishing thousands of comic books, graphic novels and magazines each year, DC Entertainment is one of the largest English-language publishers of comics in the world.

Wednesday
Sep212016

Westerns Kick Off Olive Films' Delectable "Signature" Line!

I've always had an easier time recommending the movies Olive Films releases than the releases themselves. The Chicago-based boutique film distributor has a penchant for scooping up odd gems and slipping them back into the popular consciousness, but their DVDs and Blu-rays tend to be fairly bare-bones. Should you buy, sight-unseen, Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle; Jack Hill's kick-ass collaborations with Pam Grier, Foxy Brown and Coffy; or Fred Williamson's blaxploitation opus, Black Caesar?

Yes. Absolutely. By all means.

Should you pay more than fifteen bucks for a movie and (if you're lucky) a theatrical trailer? That's a tough sell, especially in these tight times, when consumers are wary of taking chances on something as passé as physical media.

I know, I know. It breaks my heart to write that. As a collector, I'm a big fan of multi-colored spines lining floor-to-ceiling shelves. But it's inevitable that studios will either begin offering the full suite of commentaries, making-ofs, and other special features as part of their digital download packages--or these features will simply go away (they cost money to produce, after all). So, for now, we slip-case cineastes should enjoy these goodies while we can--and that means seeking out releases that give us a reason to invest in the format.

Luckily, Olive has not only stepped up their game with this week's debut of the new extras-heavy "Signature" line, they've made a case for being a major player in the collector's market. Looking at their debut releases, High Noon (1952) and Johnny Guitar (1954), it's clear the company has taken a page from Criterion, offering 4k restorations of beloved/obscure films; a bevy of retrospective pieces and video essays; an audio commentary; and even an understated "Signature" logo on the vibrant, classy, satin-feeling slip-covers.

The films themselves are astonishingly good, and you can read about them on the KtS main page throughout the week. Here, I'd like to focus on the presentation, the extras, and the price points.

First, the sound and picture are flawless. Having never seen High Noon or Johnny Guitar until watching the "Signature" versions of them, I can't compare their picture or sound to previous releases. However, one only need to do a Google Image search for stills of each movie to see what they have looked like. Screen grabs of the restorations were not available as of this writing, but the older images are generally fuzzy and "old-movie-on-TV"-looking.

Watching both in high-definition is truly an all-consuming assault of delicious details that make even home viewing feel expansive. Check out the piercing whites of Joan Crawford's eyes in Johnny Guitar and you'll swear the color doesn't appear anywhere else in the film. The crane shot at the beginning of High Noon's climax, in which Gary Cooper's Will Kane realizes he's all alone in his fight against vengeful marauders is positively dizzying in its depiction of scale (pulling out from the man, to reveal the town, then the desert beyond).

The extras are plentiful on both discs, and I didn't have time to get through all of them. Like the best documentaries, the featurettes on Johnny Guitar and High Noon provide just enough context and juicy tidbits to make me want to dive into the full back story of each film's production. High Noon contains a chilling video essay, (narrated by the late, great Anton Yelchin) which explores the film's behind-the-scenes Cold War drama. Another feature lobs mind-blowing fact grenades every couple minutes, such as an incident on the train tracks that nearly ruined a key scene, and the real-life claim to fame of an actor playing one of the villain's posse. In a Johnny Guitar feature that touts the film as the first Feminist Western, a gaggle of very convincing talking heads lays out some wild interpretations of the characters, which made me want to re-watch the whole movie from beginning to end.

I can't recommend these discs enough, even if you've never seen the films. Olive Films has put a lot of care into making High Noon and Johnny Guitar as visually arresting as possible, and the supplemental materials amount to fun film-history crash courses. As of this writing, Amazon has them for seventeen bucks each, and that's a steal for this calibre of release (some folks--including yours truly--pay more than that per title during Criterion's semi-annual "Half Off" sale).

Now, if only Olive would give this marquee treatment to some of their catalogue titles...

Where's the "Signature" edition of Mannequin, dammit?