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Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive Coming in November

Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive Coming in November

Austin, TX – Mondo is excited to announce the new book release of Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive, available for saleon November 16, 2021 from author Lars Nilsen, editor Kier-La Janisse, along with several genre enthusiast contributors. Nilsen

, a longtime Alamo Drafthouse film programmer and now at Austin Film Society, and Janisse, genre scholar and author (House of Psychotic Women), programmer and documentary filmmaker (Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror), have written a definitive guide to exploitation cinema.

At the dawn of this century, a scrappy one-screen theater in Austin, Texas became ground zero for a revolution in film exhibition. That cinema, the Alamo Drafthouse, took the seemingly foolhardy step of offering free screenings of exploitation and horror movies that had quite literally been consigned to the scrap heap. The idea began in the sleep-deprived mind of its co-founder, Tim League, as he piloted a grotesquely overloaded rental truck home to Texas, with hundreds of otherwise unwanted film prints in the back, an expense he could ill-afford. Why not, he thought, offer a screening series at the theater that would allow everyone to discover these movies simultaneously, as they unfolded on screen in all their speckled, splicey glory? And why not make it free?

From that fevered notion, a legend was born: the series, Weird Wednesday, continues to this day. The film archive that was born from that initial axle-warping payload is now called the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) and it has preserved, restored and distributed hundreds of films that might otherwise have been thrown into an abandoned mine or pushed off a barge into international waters.

Mondo’s new book, Warped & Faded, tells the story of the Wild West days of the Weird Wednesday series and AGFA in the words of the people who were there.

Profusely illustrated with poster art, advertising mats and rare stills from the films, Warped & Faded features contributions from Weird Wednesday Hall-of-Famer Gary Kent and genre champions Tim Lucas, Stephen Thrower, Pete Tombs, Maitland McDonagh, Kat Ellinger, Chris Poggiali, Robin Bougie, Mike Malloy, Bryan Connolly, Heidi Honeycutt, Rodney Perkins, Zack Carlson, Kier-La Janisse and more.

In the months to come, Alamo Drafthouse will share exciting programming announcements to celebrate the weird and wonderful films featured in Warped & Faded, including the long awaited return of the weekly series that inspired it, which has been on a pandemic hiatus.

Beloved Shawshank Redmeption Makes 4k UHD Debut Sept. 14

Beloved Shawshank Redmeption Makes 4k UHD Debut Sept. 14

Burbank, Calif., July 26, 2021 – The Shawshank Redemption, which received seven Oscar® nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Score and Best Screenplay, will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital on September 14, it was announced today by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Released in 1994, the film marked the feature directorial debut of its screenwriter, Frank Darabont.

The Shawshank Redemption, the emotionally moving portrayal of a friendship between men under the harshest of circumstances, stars Academy Award® winning actor Tim Robbins (Mystic River, Bull Durham) and Academy Award® nominee Morgan Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy, Unforgiven, Bruce Almighty).  Based on Stephen King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” the movie won Frank Darabont an Oscar® nomination for his adapted screenplay and critical acclaim for his directorial debut.  Mr. Darabont is one of only six filmmakers in history with the unique distinction of having his first two feature films receive nominations for the Best Picture Academy Award:  1994’s The Shawshank Redemption and 1999’s The Green Mile.

In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected The Shawshank Redemption for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Ultra HD* showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.   
The Shawshank Redemption will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 ERP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features. Fans can also own The Shawshank Redemption in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on September 14.  

About the Film:
This inspiring drama tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Robbins), a prominent banker unjustly convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment at Maine’s Shawshank Prison.  He is befriended by longtime convict Red (Freeman) who’s been in long enough to know the ropes and helps him cope with the frightening realities of prison life.  As the two men grow closer

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, so does the sense of hope that can truly set them free.

Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Elements
The Shawshank Redemption Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:

  • Commentary by Frank Darabont
  • “Hope Springs Eternal: A Look Back at The Shawshank Redemption” 
  • “Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature”
  • “The SharkTank Redemption”
  • 5 Stills Galleries
  • “Bogs Takes a Fall” Storyboard”
  • New Fish Arrive” Storyboards

BASICS
Ultra HD Blu-ray $24.99*                 
Standard Street Date: 9/14/21
Ultra HD Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, French
Ultra HD Blu-ray Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Parisian French
Run Time: 142 minutes
Rated: R

REVIEW: A Quiet Place/ A Quiet Place Part II

REVIEW: A Quiet Place/ A Quiet Place Part II

In 2018

, director John Krasinski delivered a gripping thriller in the guise of a science fiction/horror film, something that would not have out of place in the 1950s. A Quiet Place, though, was a contemporary film as it focused entirely on a family, trying to survive in a world post-invasion. The aliens, in this case, had such a superior sense of hearing that the merest cough would alert them, allowing them to hunt you down. Whatever made the sound was destined to be destroyed.

As a result, husband Lee (Krasinski), pregnant wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), deaf daughter Reagan (Millicent Simmonds), and son Marcus (Noah Jupe) try to navigate the world where the merest whisper could be a death sentence. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of survival that works on the screen as the audience is caught up in the long silences, the heightened sense of danger around every corner, and admiring the ingenuity and love clearly evident during the movie.

It proved such a success, that to Krasinski’s surprise, Paramount Pictures ordered a sequel. The film was shot and then delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. When it opened in the spring, it was a major success, both critically and commercially.

The new film is out now in 4k Ultra HD and in a variety of other formats. Interestingly, the two films were combined into a two-disc Blu-ray release, in case you missed the first one.

The first film was shot on actual film and the high definition transfer is immaculate with excellent color saturation. For a film where sound or its absence was vital, the audio track is equal to the visual presentation.

The first disc contains three featurettes: Reading the Quiet — Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Place (14:45), The Sound of Darkness — Editing Sound for A Quiet Place (11:44), A Reason for Silence — The Visual Effects of A Quiet Place (7:33).

A Quiet Place Part II opens with a flashback that details the day the aliens crashed to earth and the panic that ensued. After that, we pick up pretty immediately after the first film as new mom Evelyn has to keep her newborn silent and circumstances force them from the sanctuary Lee had built for them. Their trek brings them into the world of survivalist Emmett (Cillian Murphy) and the possibility that surviving humans are gathering somewhere nearby. As Evelyn goes to investigate, the narrative tension is successfully mounted and sustained, letting body language and facial expression do a lot of the heavy lifting. We have multiple threads to follow this time, but director Krasinski does a masterful job letting these breath and showing the characters grow.

Yes, things wind down to a satisfying ending, but you can see the door remains open for more stories told in this frighteningly familiar world.

The high-definition transfer is not as brilliant as the first disc but certainly satisfactory enough for home viewing. Instead, the Dolby Atmos audio track is much superior and makes the viewing much better.

Time, there are more featurettes, well worth a look: Director’s Diary: Filming with John Krasinski (9:38), Pulling Back the Curtain (3:47); Regan’s Journey (6:19); Surviving the Marina (5:00); and Detectable Disturbance: Visual Effects and Sound Design (8:26).

The double-feature Blu-ray comes with Digital HD codes for both films with most of the featurettes available for streaming.  

Black Widow Swings onto 4K UHD Sept. 14

Black Widow Swings onto 4K UHD Sept. 14

LOS ANGELES, CA – Marvel Studios’ Black Widow arrives early on all major digital platforms on August 10 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on September 14. Black Widow fans can enjoy the film in stunning Ultra HD quality and immersive Dolby Atmos audio along with never-before-seen bonus footage, including nine deleted scenes, bloopers and featurettes.

Film Synopsis
In Marvel Studios’ action-packed spy thriller Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff — aka Black Widow — confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha/Black Widow, Florence Pugh stars as Yelena, David Harbour portrays Alexei/The Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz is Melina. Black Widow — the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — is directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige.

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow Bonus Features*

  • Bloopers – Take a look at some of the fun mishaps on set with the cast and crew of Black Widow.
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Grocery Shopping – Natasha heads into a grocery store to prepare for her journey through Norway. After a long drive

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      , she arrives at her destination: a mysterious trailer in the middle of nowhere.
    • Bike Chase – Tailed by assailants, Natasha and Yelena speed through the city in order to escape their nemeses.
    • Gulag Fight – Alexei squares up against several enemies and is quickly overpowered. When all hope seems lost, Natasha leaps in to lend a hand in the fight.
    • Smile – The Taskmaster protocol is activated in a tense moment, and an iconic helmet is unveiled.
    • Come After Me – Secretary Ross and Mason discover an important message Natasha left behind.
    • Walk and Talk – Alexei and Melina have a playful exchange. The Taskmaster arrives and faces off with Alexei.
    • Widows in Training – Yelena and Alexei awaken in captivity. Melina hands the Taskmaster vials while the Widows train.
    • Kiss – Alexei and Melina reunite after the action. Natasha grieves over an untimely demise in the brutal aftermath.
    • Ohio – Natasha witnesses the carefree nature of the Ohio suburbs through the neighborhood children.
  • Filmmaker Introduction Featurette – Director Cate Shortland introduces the film and her vision for it.
  • Sisters Gonna Work It Out Featurette – Watch Scarlett and Florence as they train, fight, and bond to become the sister duo in Black Widow. Listen as the cast and crew discuss the characters, rigorous training, and building the dynamic between the two fearsome siblings.
  • Go Big If You’re Going Home Featurette – Step back to appreciate the size and scale of Black Widow’s solo film. Shot around the world, the film balances family and drama with mind-blowing action. The cast and crew reveal the intricacies of stunts that made the film so action-packed.

 *bonus features vary by product and retailer

Cast:                                      

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova
Rachel Weisz as Melina
David Harbour as Alexei/Red Guardian
Ray Winstone as Dreykov
O-T Fagbenle as Mason
William Hurt as Secretary Ross

Directed by Cate Shortland

Produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a.

Executive Producers: Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winderbaum, Nigel Gostelow, Scarlett Johansson

Co-Producer Mitch Bell

Screenplay by Eric Pearson

Story by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson

Music by Lorne Balfe

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow Product Specifications
Street Date:  Digital: August 10/Physical: September 14
Product SKUs:                      Digital: 4K UHD, HD, SD
                                               Physical: 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (4K UHD +
                                               Blu-ray + Digital Code), Blu-ray Combo Pack
                                               (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Code) & DVD

Feature Run Time:               Approx. 133 minutes
Rating:                                  U.S. Rated PG-13/Bonus material not rated       
Aspect Ratio:                        Digital & Physical: 1.85:1
U.S. Audio:                            4K Ultra HD:  English Dolby Atmos, English DVS
                                               2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus,                                                 French 5.1 Dolby Digital
                                               Blu-ray: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0
                                               Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1Dolby Digital
                                               DVD: English 5.1 Dolby, English DVS 2.0 Dolby, Spanish 5.1 Dolby, French 5.1 Dolby
                                               Digital: English Dolby Atmos (UHD only, some platforms), English 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital,                                                 Spanish. 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audo 2.0 Dolby Digital (some platforms)
U.S. Subtitles:                       4K Ultra HD:  English SDH, Spanish, French, Japanese
                                               Blu-ray: English SDH, Spanish, French
                                               DVD: English SDH, Spanish, French
                                               Digital: English SDH, Spanish, French (some platforms)

All 5 Underworld Films come to 4K in a Box Set

All 5 Underworld Films come to 4K in a Box Set

The eternal battle between vampires and Lycans gets upgraded when the UNDERWORLD 4K ULTRA HD COLLECTION arrives on October 5th from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. This limited edition gift set marks the first time that fans will be able to experience all five films on 4K Ultra HD disc with High Dynamic Range and Dolby Atmos audio. The films will also be available digitally in 4K with HDR.

The UNDERWORLD 4K ULTRA HD COLLECTION will include Underworld (both the original theatrical version and the extended cut), Underworld: Evolution, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Underworld: Awakening and Underworld: Blood Wars, as well as hours of SD & HD bonus content across all five films, including the Underworld: Endless War animated shorts.

This gift set is a limited edition, presented within a collectible outer slipcase.

UNDERWORLD BONUS FEATURES

4K ULTRA HD

  • Theatrical & Extended Versions of the Film (both 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos)
  • Alternate Flashbacks (4K HDR)
  • Theatrical Trailer

BLU-RAY

  • Extended Version of the Film
  • Director & Cast Commentary
  • Fang vs. Fiction Documentary
  • 7 Featurettes
  • Outtakes
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Music Video: “Worms of the Earth” by Finch

 
UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION BONUS FEATURES
4K ULTRA HD

  • Theatrical Trailer

BLU-RAY

  • Director & Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • The Hybrid Theory
  • The War Rages On
  • Bloodlines: From Script to Screen
  • Making Monsters Roar
  • Building a Saga
  • Music and Mayhem
  • Music Video: “Her Portrait in Black” by Atreyu

 
UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS BONUS FEATURES
4K ULTRA HD

  • Rise of the Lycans: Inside the Castle Walls
  • Theatrical Trailers

BLU-RAY

  • Behind the Castle Walls: Picture-in-Picture Experience
  • Filmmaker Commentary
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Music Video: “Deathclub (Wes Borland / Renholder Remix)” by William Control feat. Matt Skiba
  • And More

 
UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING BONUS FEATURES
4K ULTRA HD

  • Underworld: Endless War 3-Part Animated Series (with stereo DTS-HD MA English audio)
  • Theatrical Trailers

BLU-RAY

  • Cracking the Underworld: Picture-in-Picture Experience
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • 5 Featurettes
  • Blooper Reel
  • And More

 
UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS BONUS FEATURES
4K ULTRA HD

  • Franchise Recap
  • Theatrical Trailers

BLU-RAY

  • Underworld: Blood Wars – The Official Movie Graphic Novel
  • The Evolution of Selene
  • Building a Blood War
  • Old & New Blood
  • The Evil Evolved


SPECS

UNDERWORLD BONUS FEATURES

4K ULTRA HD

  • Theatrical & Extended Versions of the Film (both 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos)
  • Alternate Flashbacks (4K HDR)
  • Theatrical Trailer

BLU-RAY

  • Extended Version of the Film
  • Director & Cast Commentary
  • Fang vs. Fiction Documentary
  • 7 Featurettes
  • Outtakes
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Music Video: “Worms of the Earth” by Finch

 
UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION BONUS FEATURES
4K ULTRA HD

  • Theatrical Trailer

BLU-RAY

  • Director & Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • The Hybrid Theory
  • The War Rages On
  • Bloodlines: From Script to Screen
  • Making Monsters Roar
  • Building a Saga
  • Music and Mayhem
  • Music Video: “Her Portrait in Black” by Atreyu

 
UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS BONUS FEATURES
4K ULTRA HD

  • Rise of the Lycans: Inside the Castle Walls
  • Theatrical Trailers

BLU-RAY

  • Behind the Castle Walls: Picture-in-Picture Experience
  • Filmmaker Commentary
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Music Video: “Deathclub (Wes Borland / Renholder Remix)” by William Control feat. Matt Skiba
  • And More

 
UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING BONUS FEATURES
4K ULTRA HD

  • Underworld: Endless War 3-Part Animated Series (with stereo DTS-HD MA English audio)
  • Theatrical Trailers

BLU-RAY

  • Cracking the Underworld: Picture-in-Picture Experience
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • 5 Featurettes
  • Blooper Reel
  • And More

 
UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS BONUS FEATURES
4K ULTRA HD

  • Franchise Recap
  • Theatrical Trailers

BLU-RAY

  • Underworld: Blood Wars – The Official Movie Graphic Novel
  • The Evolution of Selene
  • Building a Blood War
  • Old & New Blood
  • The Evil Evolved


SPECS

4K Ultra HD: All films presented in 2160p Ultra High Definition with HDR 10 and Dolby Atmos immersive audio + DTS-HD MA 5.1 original theatrical audio tracks (DTS-HD MA 7.1 for UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING); aspect ratios vary
Blu-ray:  All films presented at 1080p High Definition resolution; aspect ratios and audio configurations vary

Ratings:

  • Underworld: Theatrical Cut: R for strong violence / gore and some language; Extended Cut: Unrated
  • Underworld: Evolution: R for pervasive strong violence and gore , some sexuality / nudity and language
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: R for bloody violence and some sexuality
  • Underworld: Awakening: R for strong violence and gore, and for some language

Underworld: Blood Wars: R for strong bloody violence, and some sexuality

  • Underworld: Theatrical Cut: R for strong violence / gore and some language; Extended Cut: Unrated
  • Underworld: Evolution: R for pervasive strong violence and gore, some sexuality / nudity and language
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: R for bloody violence and some sexuality
  • Underworld: Awakening: R for strong violence and gore, and for some language
  • Underworld: Blood Wars: R for strong bloody violence, and some sexuality

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 9: Squirrels Fall Like Dominoes by North, Charm, & Renzi

The ninth volume collecting The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl collects five issues from early 2018 and came out in late 2018, with yet another lightly modified “funny” song lyric for a title: Squirrels Fall Like Dominoes .

As usual, I got to it three years late, after the series ended. (See my post on Vol. 8  for similar tardiness, and links back to even earlier tardiness.)

This time out, regular series writer Ryan North and colorist Rico Renzi are joined by a new artist: Derek Charm, replacing Erica Henderson. Henderson had drawn the first thirty-one issues of the series, the short previous series, and an original Graphic Novel, which were probably as many Squirrel Girl pages as all previous artists put together. (She defined the look and style of SG for this era, at the very least, and seemed to work very closely with North on stories & plots, too.) So this was kind of a big deal, especially since the SG audience was proverbially heavily pre-teen and female

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, which as an audience is often not happy with change.

Charm is a cartoonier artist than Henderson, which is a nice change-up. SG is a bit cartoony story-wise (if that makes any sense), so it’s appropriate and gives a different energy to the pages. I’m sure some people hated it; some people hate everything. But it works for me.

As always, we have an epic four-part story and a single-issue story in this volume. The epic story has possibly the lamest villain in SG history, on purpose, but is mostly a Kraven the Hunter story about redemption and what it means to be a good person. (Well, it aims at that, but it’s about a comics character whose characterization is dependent on the needs of random stories and editors over the course of multiple decades, so I don’t actually buy any of it.) Also: the Power of Friendship!

The single-issue piece is mostly-silent, an exercise in North writing something the youngest end of the SG audience can entirely read themselves. It’s fine, too.

Squirrel Girl is, as always, relentlessly positive, so the fact that the trade paperbacks are pretty slim is appropriate: a bigger dose of this would be too much. I also have to admit that my eternal favorite character is the mildly nihilistic Brain Drain, not the perky Doreen or any of the others. This is still very good at what it does, and what it does is still a good thing to have in the world: the transition to Charm gave it a different look, but the essentials stayed exactly the same.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Sleepy Hollow Int. Film Festival Returns in October

Sleepy Hollow Int. Film Festival Returns in October

After its thrilling inaugural year in 2019, the SLEEPY HOLLOW INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (SHIFF) returns to historic Sleepy Hollow, NY this October 15-17 in the form of a pop-up DRIVE IN THEATER located at Kingsland Point Park, nestled in the legendary town of Sleepy Hollow on the bank of the Hudson River. Three nights of big-screen fun under the stars will be complemented by SHIFF’s online festival, via Filmocracy. The famed Tarrytown Music Hall, the Fest’s 2019 anchor theater, will return as a SHIFF venue next year, in Oct 2022.

Programming, events and ticketing will be announced soon. Visit www.sleepyhollowfilmfest.com for forthcoming festival information and for film/script submission rules.

Watch the ARACHNOPHOBIA 30th ANNIVERSARY panel NOW!

Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival, Creature Features and La-La Land Entertainment present a special 30th anniversary virtual panel celebrating the acclaimed creepy-crawly suspense comedy-thriller ARACHNOPHOBIA with director Frank Marshall and special guests!

Recorded in November 2020, moderator Mike Matessino hosts a lively and informative discussion with ARACHNOPHOBIA’s director / executive producer Frank Marshall, co-producer Richard Vane, actor Peter Jason, production designer James Bissell and entomologist Steve Kutcher.

No stranger to delighting audiences worldwide for decades, Mr. Marshall, producer of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, POLTERGEIST and JURASSIC WORLD, made his directorial debut with ARACHNOPHOBIA in 1990, bringing rapt audiences to the edge of their seats with laughter and shrieks in equal measure. The film has remained a beloved fan favorite to this day and its appreciation continues to grow as it connects with a new generation. Now, Mr. Marshall and special guests take you behind the film, its production, and its astounding spider effects and action!

The Law Is A Ass #456: Supergirl Contracted Stupidity

The Law Is A Ass #453: Supergirl Contracted Stupidity

No, we don’t need the Wayback Machine, today, we can get by with the Halfback Machine. (Be glad it wasn’t the Nickelback Machine.)

The last time I wrote about a TV show it was The Wild Wild West, so I needed the Wayback Machine, because, while that show may not date back to when Adam was a pup, it does go back to when Eve was a rib. This time I’ve set my crosshairs on Supergirl, Season 5, Episode 1, “Event Horizon.” That was only a year or ago, so I can use a time machine that has short range and even shorter reach; my memory.

In “Event Horizon” we learned Lena Luthor had to raise capital for a new project so she sold her holdings in CatCo; the news conglomerate which employs Kara (Supergirl) Danvers, Jimmy Olsen, and the other Supergirl characters we care about; to Andrea Rojas, who took over as both owner and as editor-in-chief. Andrea wanted to convert CatCo from a hard news organization to one with more of a revenue-driven thrust. A Buzzfeedesque news network that would provide “water cooler news… that’s just fun to read and just as easy to digest. [because] Everything is about clicks.”

To say said change in editorial policy did not sit well with the Catco staff is more of an understatement than saying Leiningen had a slight ant infestation. (Hey, that’s a classic literature reference, I shouldn’t have to explain it to you.) The CatCo staff believed news should be as hard as well water before Culligan was manned and as probing as alien abductions. Indeed the entire room of CatCo’s top employees threatened to walk rather than go along with Andrea’s clickbait conversion. That’s when Andrea reminded them that they were, “all on a brand new three-year contract,” and that, if they walked, Andrea would enforce the contracts’ non-compete clause, so that none of them could work in the news media for the duration of those contacts.

That’s when my brain went TILT quicker than pinball machine in a temblor.

See what law school did to me? It taught me an analytical thinking process that I can’t turn off. Now, anytime I hear something even slightly related to the law such as “why Andrea had to remind the CatCo staff that they had new three-year contracts”, I start analyzing it to see whether it was logical or plausible or even remotely accurate— or was it the par-for-the-course legal nonsense that popular entertainment customarily palms off with all the dexterity of a third-rate magician palming a coin?

I wracked my brain, because law school wrecked my brain, trying to see if there was any way the CatCo staff could have all gotten new three-year contracts without them knowing about it.

Could Andrea have negotiated new contracts with them without their knowing about it? No. Contracts are a meeting of the minds. In employment contracts they meet when one mind agrees to give something – his or her services – in return for the other mind giving something – remuneration and benefits. It doesn’t take a legal scholar – lucky for me – to know that you can’t have a meeting of the minds, if one of the two sides of a contract doesn’t know a contract was even being negotiated.

Maybe the CatCo contracts had an option clause, like a team option in a baseball contract. One that allowed CatCo to renew a contract at its discretion for a term of service specified in the contract. No. Not logical.

Option clauses in sports exist because a team wants to retain the services of a player if he is still performing at a certain level or to be able to cut that player by not exercising the option, if the player’s skills have diminished. You don’t need option clauses in standard employment contracts. When the employees in question are still young enough that they can be played by performers who are still young enough to appeal to the desired 18-to-34 demographic of a network TV series, it’s not likely that their skills have diminished to the point that they couldn’t perform the standard duties of a standard employment contract. So an option clause wouldn’t be an option.

Could Lena Luthor have been negotiating new employment contracts with the CatCo employees while also, and at the same time, negotiating with Andrea to sell the company and the employees renewed their contracts without knowing CatCo was about to be acquired by a clickbait company? Possibly, but not likely.

Business acquisitions such as this one generally take a long time. Not just because all the executives of the company being acquired are all making sure their golden parachutes are in place but because the rights of the shareholders must also be considered.

It is very unlikely that a major entertainment company such as CatCo was a privately held corporation rather than a publicly traded corporation. Mostly because CatCo would need so much capital to operate that it would need to sell stock publicly to raise operating funds. You don’t think a company like CBS gets all its money from Flo’s audience appeal or those 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, and 5:00 a.m. infomercials, do you?

So, if we assume that CatCo is a publicly traded media conglomerate, Lena couldn’t just call up Andrea and say, “Buy my company, I need the cash.” No, she and Andrea would have to negotiate terms that would satisfy the minority shareholders sufficiently that they didn’t file some sort of lawsuit against the transaction. And those negotiations would have alerted the CatCo employees of the impending sale so that, rather than being sandbagged by it, they could have decided they didn’t want to work for Andrea and her type of news organization and not renewed their contracts.

Which left me with only one alternative. The CatCo employees all signed new contracts willingly and with full knowledge that CatCo was about to be sold to Andrea Rojas

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, then they all forgot what they had done. And if that’s the case, why did Andrea fight so hard to keep them? Seems to me that people that stupid aren’t capable of reading the news, let alone writing it.

REVIEW: Pennyworth: The Complete Second Season

REVIEW: Pennyworth: The Complete Second Season

It’s pretty impressive that Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, who twisted Gotham into a funhouse mirror image of the comic book source material, got invited to do it a second time with their Epix series Pennyworth, purportedly the origins of Alfred. But which Alfred? And for which version of Batman?

Pennyworth: The Complete Second Season, with Covid-19 interruptions, finally arrived at the end of 2020 and is now available on a two-disc Blu-ray set from Warner Archive. You can decide for yourself if the series needed its connections to the Batman mythos, needed to exist at all or is entertaining. As with Gotham, the chaotic and uneven storytelling continues here in this weird, alternate reality of the world.

While it looks like the 1960s, the politics of England is decided more fascistic, and lots of secret organizations are having a secret war with the kingdom’s fate at stake.  In the first season, it was the SAS is battling the Raven Society for control of the country, with the good guys getting help from the No Name Society. We pick up a year later and everyone has received a promotion with the Ravens now the Raven Union and the No Names have taken a new title: the English League which sounds like a soccer club.

Alfred (Jack Bannon) has had father issues in print and onscreen, but here the stakes are higher with his father trying to kill the queen

, forcing the son to kill the father. Already unsure of who he is and what he really wants, this act has rattled Alfred, who spends a lot of season two adrift. Things don’t get better when his lover Esme (Emma Corwin, now an Emmy nominated actress for her superior work on The Crown) is killed and he takes up with the wife (one-time Huntress Jessica De Gouw) of his former captain, Gulliver “Gully” Troy (James Purefoy). He, therefore, wants to flee the bleak London future and find the funds to emigrate to Gotham City.

Newly arrived from Gotham to work with the League are Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) and Martha Kane (Emma Paetz), bringing us closer to the birth of the Dark Knight and Alfred becoming the noble butler. But first, they have to fight for seven episodes and what could have been entertaining Moonlighting banter, the awkward writing robs us of a good thread. By season’s end, they marry and, surprise, have a baby girl, not baby Bruce.

There’s a lot of aimless plotting going on as if they didn’t know they had eight episodes to work with and carefully plot everything out. By bringing in Thomas, Martha, and Lucius Fox (Simon Manyonda), too much bat-mythos is entering Pennyworth threatening to derail its ability to surprise us. Mostly, the big arc is dealing with Project Stormcloud, a “terror bomb” that smacks of the Scarecrow’s fear gas. It’s mostly Alfred and Dave Boy (Ryan Fletcher) versus Colonel John Salt (Edward Hogg) with the bickering Americans in the background.

As with the wretched Gotham, all sorts of storytelling possibilities are ignored in favor of frenetic pacing and lapses in story logic. In theory, a third season may happen and may find a new home at HBO Max, but no announcements have been made.

The 1080p high-definition transfer is perfectly fine with solid DTS-HD audio. The discs do not have any special features.

Fear The Walking Dead S6 Shambles to Disc Aug. 31

Fear The Walking Dead S6 Shambles to Disc Aug. 31

The survivors of the apocalypse are torn apart by the Pioneers when Season 6 of Fear The Walking Dead arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital) and DVD August 31st from Lionsgate.

The survivors of the apocalypse are torn apart by the Pioneers when Season 6 of Fear The Walking Dead arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital) and DVD August 31st from Lionsgate. Fear The Walking Dead Season 6 stars Alycia Debnam-Carey (The 100, Friend Request, Into the Storm), Colman Domingo (Euphoria, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, If Beale Street Could Talk), Lennie James (The Walking Dead, Save Me, Blade Runner 2049), Maggie Grace (Taken franchise, Lost, The Hurricane Heist), Austin Amelio (The Walking Dead, Everybody Wants Some!!, Mercy Black), Colby Minifie (The Boys, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Jessica Jones), and Karen David (Legacies, Once Upon a Time, and Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television). Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, Fear The Walking Dead Season 6 Blu-ray™ (plus Digital) and DVD will be available for a price of $44.99 and $38.98, respectively.

BLU-RAY / DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentaries

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
After being torn apart by the Pioneers, Morgan’s (Lennie James) group is now dispersed across their far-reaching settlements, with life behind the Pioneers’ walls testing each of the group’s members in different ways — and forcing them to define who they really are in this new world. As Morgan’s bid to free the remaining members of the group grows bolder, Virginia’s (Colby Minifie) desperation to find her sister accelerates, as does her need to protect the settlements from the enemy forces outside…and within. With new alliances forming, relationships dissolving, loyalties switching, and everyone forced to take sides, “The End Is the Beginning” reveals its deepest meaning.

CAST
Alycia Debnam-Carey             The 100, Friend Request, Into the Storm
Colman Domingo                    Euphoria

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, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, If Beale Street Could Talk
Lennie James                         The Walking Dead and Save Me, Blade Runner 2049
Maggie Grace                         Taken franchise, Lost, The Hurricane Heist
Austin Amelio                         The Walking Dead, Everybody Wants Some!!, Mercy Black
Colby Minifie                          The Boys, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Jessica Jones
Karen David                            Legacies, Once Upon a Time, and Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Televisio

PROGRAM INFORMATION
Year of Production: 2020-2021
Title Copyright: Fear the Walking Dead © 2020 AMC Film Holdings LLC. Artwork and Supplementary Materials are ™, ® and © 2020–2021 AMC Network Entertainment LLC. Package Design © 2021 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Type: TV-on-DVD
Rating: TV-MA
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Closed-Captioned: N/A
Subtitles: Spanish, French, English SDH
Feature Run Time: 738 minutes
Blu-ray Format: 1080p High Definition 16×9 (1.78:1) Presentation
DVD Format: 16×9 (1.78:1) Presentation
Blu-ray Audio: English 5.1 TrueHD, French 2.0 Dolby Stereo, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Stereo
DVD Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Audio, French 2.0 Dolby Stereo, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Stereo