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A New Documentary Channel from PBS

Posted on July 29, 2020 at 10:53 am

Copyright PBS 2018

For 50 years, PBS has been America’s trusted home for documentaries. The PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is another way for curious viewers to access PBS content outside the PBS Video App.

The PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel will include a robust library of critically acclaimed, thought-provoking programs including the entire Ken Burns collection as well as films from NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, INDEPENDENT LENS, POV and many independent producers. Subscribers will be able to explore various topics or take an in-depth look at the people, traditions and events that mold our world—all carefully curated for “viewers like you” by America’s most trusted home of documentaries: PBS

“PBS is the leader of high-quality, compelling nonfiction entertainment, and the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is a natural addition to our current streaming offering on Prime Video Channels—PBS MASTERPIECE, PBS LIVING AND PBS KIDS.  This channel will not only help bring engaging stories about life in all corners of our country to a new audience, it will provide needed revenues to sustain public broadcasting’s public-private partnership model for the benefit of all stations and the communities they serve,” says Andrea Downing, Co-President of PBS Distribution.

Copyright PBS 2018
“We had long hoped to be able to have all of our films available in one place so the public would have access to the body of work,” says Ken Burns. “We’re thrilled that this is now possible thanks to the efforts of PBS Distribution and Amazon to launch the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel and also through PBS’s Passport initiative that allows viewers to support their public television stations. Both will also contribute to the larger mission of PBS.”

“FRONTLINE was founded on the belief that longform documentaries could inform, educate and inspire public television’s audiences — and during these historic times, deeply reported and easily accessible journalism is invaluable,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “Through this new Channel, we’re excited to see our documentaries reach new and existing streaming audiences.”

At launch, the channel will feature nearly 1,000 hours of award-winning programming for subscribers to enjoy, including Ken Burns’s landmark series THE CIVIL WAR and COUNTRY MUSIC, Stanley Nelson’s THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION, and Academy Award-Nominated films like FRONTLINE “For Sama” and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Last Days in Vietnam.”

Copyright PBS 2019

Stanley Nelson comments, “I’m thrilled to see that my work will find a new home on this channel. PBS has become a premier destination for documentary programming in the U.S. and has been hugely invested in giving films by diverse storytellers and emerging filmmakers much-needed national exposure. I’m so glad that my film on the Black Panther Party, which can inform communities in our current historical moment, will be able to reach different audiences on this new service.”

The subscription rate for the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is $3.99/month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription via Prime Video Channels and is available in the US only. Every purchase helps support public television for all.

The entire Ken Burns collection will also be available via PBS Passport, a member benefit available within the PBS Video App that gives viewers extended access to high-quality content. The PBS Passport library is also full of public television’s acclaimed drama, arts, science, history and lifestyle programs (contact your local PBS station for details).

The PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is a subscription video on demand channel exclusive to Amazon launching August 2020. This new streaming channel will feature nearly 900 hours of the highest quality factual programming, including the full catalog of films from Ken Burns and award-winning documentaries from NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, in addition to programming from other independent producers.

SDCC2020@Home: Charlize Theron, Robert Rodriguez, LGBTQ Characters, and Bill and Ted Face the Music

Posted on July 26, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Copyright 2020 Orion

Instead of waiting for days to get into the cavernous Hall H to hear Guillermo del Toro talk about the upcoming film “Antlers,” you can watch it here.

Do not call Charlize Theron a warrior. I wrote about why and her interview on action movies, or you can watch it here.

Copyright ReFrame 2018

The Women Rocking Hollywood panel is always tops on my list. It was great to hear of the increasingly widespread adoption of ReFrame’s seal of gender equity awarded to films that meet their goals.

I was very moved by the panel about LGBTQ characters on television. Who knew a toothbrushing scene could be so romantic, or that there was such a big difference between “There’s something I haven’t told you” and “There’s something we haven’t talked about?”

The His Dark Materials panel had a thrilling revelation: the character played by Andrew Scott has a daemon who will be voiced by his “Fleabag” co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The trailer for Season 2 looks thrilling.

I always love the behind-the-scenes panels, and I “attended” conversations featuring stunt coordinators, composers, editors, a writer/director/editor, a cinematographer, and a make-up artist.

There was no panel at the Con more fun than the celebration of Bugs Bunny’s 80th birthday, with Leonard Maltin and three actors who have followed Mel Blanc in voicing the rascally rabbit. A forthcoming anniversary box set will included several cartoons never before released for home viewing. Panel attendees got a sneak preview.

But my favorite was the “Bill and Ted Face the Music Panel.” Of course the panelists all “arrived” by animated time travel machines shaped like phone booths.

Radioactive

Posted on July 23, 2020 at 5:58 pm

B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, disturbing images, brief nudity and a scene of sensuality
Profanity: Mild language and sexual references
Nudity/ Sex: Rear nudity, non-explicit sexual situation, sexual references, adultery
Alcohol/ Drugs: Social drinking
Violence/ Scariness: WWI battle scenes,
Date Released to Theaters: July 24, 2020
Copyright 2020 Amazon Studios

Biopics, even the most sincere, even about the most fascinating real-life characters, even made by directors who are willing to break with the traditional structure, still two things are true. First, the only thing that really matters is the lead performance. Second, there is really no way to get around the basic structure that all lives follow and all biopics follow except those like “Jobs” that focus one or just a few incidents. We see crucial early experiences that either reveal the subject’s special talent or some life-forming experience or both. We see struggle. We see people who foolishly do not believe our subject can succeed. We see our subject succeed.There’s usually a setback or special mid-point challenge. And then we see how it ends.

Marie Curie certainly had a fascinating life and Rosamund Pike gives her considerable best. She is never less than mesmerizing. I particularly enjoyed watching her in the first half of the movie, as we see her struggling to be taken seriously as a scientist when she knows she is better than the men who look down at her because she is a woman, because she is Polish, and because she is not shy about letting them know she is better than they are. It’s almost a proto-“Big Bang Theory,” the way that the same determination, single-mindedness, unstoppable curiosity, and relentless quest for truth that makes her a scientist is what makes it difficult for her to get along with anyone well enough to get her the resources she needs to do her experiments.

And that is when she meets Pierre Curie. He tells her he has read her work and it is brilliant. She tells him she has read his and it is very good. He offers her a space in his lab. Her insight and his ideas about how to prove her theories like two covalent bonds or a double helix. A lot happens very fast as the brilliance of her discoveries is evident when she just 32 when her paper on radium was published. But the movie stops for a dinner party so that Marie can explain her research to a non-scientist friend, and to us.

It then hurtles along, trying to cram in every crisis faced by Marie, from continued gender discrimination to being accused of adultery after Pierre’s death, when her letters to her married lover were made public by his wife. Most interesting, and worth an entire movie of its own, is her service during WWI, when she developed portable X-ray machines that saved thousands of lives and prevented needless surgery. Like the man for whom the most important scientific award in the world is named, Alfred Nobel, Marie Curie’s great achievement was responsible for incalculable benefits (we see an early cancer patient treated with radiation) and unthinkable tragedy (we see a Hiroshima resident looking up to see the Enola Gay, and the ravages of Chernobyl. This makes things a bit muddled, but Pike’s stirring performance makes us believe we get a sense of Marie Curie’s fierce intelligence and even may make us wonder about what discoveries we can make.

Parents should know that this film includes WWI battle scenes and characters who have been wounded, characters who are ill and dying and references to deaths of family members, brief rear nudity, non-explicit sexual situation, and references to adultery.

Family discussion: What do we learn from Marie’s reaction to the death of her mother? Why does this film include glimpses of events long after Marie’s death? What can we do to make sure that what we learn about and invent is used to benefit humankind and not for wars and violence?

If you like this, try: the glow-in-the-dark graphic novel the film is based on and another film about scientists and inventors, The Current War.

SDCC 2020: Comic-Con@Home is Free and Open to All!

Posted on July 22, 2020 at 8:47 am

No lines! Comfy chairs! Free parking! Yes, Comic-Con is free and open to all and coming to you at home. Check out the schedule and enjoy!

Copyright 2020 SDCC

And more!  Here’s what they announced today:

  • GoExpo by Community Brands will host the Online Exhibit Hall, with approximately 700 exhibitors offering a variety of cool fan-centric merchandise.
  • Be sure to visit our Portfolio Review page on the Comic-Con@Home website!
  • We’ll also have Gaming which will live on the Discord platform and feature a number of interactive gems, including Wyvern Gaming/Stargate and Legion M/Joe Manganiello’s DEATH SAVES.
  • If you’re looking for a souvenir from Comic-Con@Home, be sure to visit the Merch store for the official Comic-Con T shirt (art provided by DC Comics) as well as lots of Comic-Con and Comic-Con Museum related merchandise.
  • Amazon and Prime Video are official sponsors of Comic-Con@Home and will be treating fans to additional activities from a variety of Amazon-owned platforms through their Amazon Virtual-Con portal. Prime Video is also the official sponsor of the Comic-Con 2020 print-at-home badge, which will allow participants to print and wear their free badge as well as take part in many of the fun fan activities.
  • Tumblr will serve as the platform for both the Comic-Con Art Show and the always popular Comic-Con Masquerade. The 46th annual Masquerade will open for viewing Friday, July 24, and winners will be announced on Saturday, July 25.
  • For this year, the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive will be a 26-day drive, starting Wednesday, July 22, and ending on Sunday, August 16. All blood collected on those dates will be credited to the Comic-Con Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive.
  • Collaborator and sponsor IGN will stream roughly 34 Comic-Con@Home panels as well as produce extensive hosted shoulder content, hosted interviews and more, all in support of the online initiative.
  • We welcome BLUEfin as a first-time sponsor for Comic-Con@Home.
  • Films and Anime will live on the Scener Watch Party platform. Scener is a Chrome browser plug-in that will allow fans the ability to simultaneously watch and discus movies and anime. Funimation will also exclusively host all of the Anime watch parties including Black Clover and Fruits Basket. Don’t have a Funimation account? No problem, as Funimation is offering a six-week free account! Just use the code: CCHOME20.
  • FX will unveil the digital experience FX UNLOCKED, where fans will engage with virtual activations for American Horror Story, What We Do in The Shadows, Cake and DAVE.
  • FutureTechLive! returns for a fifth year to present the virtual “World Builders” activation, featuring content by a global community of creators.
  • We’re also excited that joining in the fun is the Comic-Con Museum, which is offering a variety of activities and tutorials throughout the Comic-Con@Home weekend and beyond.
  • Don’t forget to check out the online version of the 260-page Souvenir Book, which is available as a free, downloadable PDF.

New on Quibi: A Hilarious, Exciting, Heartwarming Remix of The Princess Bride

Posted on July 18, 2020 at 4:14 pm

No movie is more beloved than The Princess Bride, with a screenplay by William Goldman based on his book and an all-star cast including Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Chris Sarandon, and of course Billy Crystal and Carol Kane. It has everything: romance, adventure, a gorgeous score, villainous villains and heroic heroes. It’s close to perfect.

Copyright Quibi 2020

And everyone knows it so well that it is a perfect candidate for a pandemic-era at-home remake to raise money for the World Central Kitchen, “food first responders” whose programs include their clean cookstoves initiative, culinary training programs, and social enterprise ventures that empower communities and strengthen economies.

Some of the biggest stars in the world and some of the hottest up-and-coming newcomers slip in and out of the roles using whatever locations and props and costumes they have at home. It reminds me of the “Sweded” movies in “Be Kind Rewind,” one of my favorites. And one of that movie’s stars, Jack Black, shows up along with Hugh Jackman, Keegan Michael Key, Penelope Cruz, some of the movie’s original cast, and, in the final moment, one of the most touching appearances of the year.

It is pure delight. Now excuse me, I need to go back and re-watch the original.