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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nora Ephron - Writer, Producer, and Director - Passes at 71

Hollywood lost a beloved personality this week when filmmaker Nora Ephron passed away on Tuesday, June 26. She was 71.

Ephron is perhaps best known for writing the screenplay for When Harry Met Sally, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. She went on to write and direct such hit romantic comedies as Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. She was nominated three times for an Academy Award for Best Writing.

Before she broke into Hollywood, Ephron was briefly an intern in the Kennedy White House. She also wrote for the New York Post, where she broke the news of Bob Dylan’s marriage to Sara Lownds, as well as Esquire and other notable publications. She assisted Carl Bernstein (then her husband) and Bob Woodward with their script for All the President’s Men, which led to her career in the movies.

Away from the silver screen, Ephron also made a name as a novelist and essayist, playwright, and journalist. Her most recent essay collection, I Remember Nothing, was published in 2010.

Many celebrities have expressed their thoughts on Ms. Ephron’s passing, including Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, whom she paired in both Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. Hanks said, “…she lifted us all with wisdom and wit mixed with love for us and love for life.” Ryan said that Ephron was “All wisdom, wit, and sparkle lights, what a treat she was, what a blessing.”

Although Nora Ephron may be gone, her books and classic films remain very popular. Make sure you have them in your collection.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ordering System Update

Written by Nedda Pourahmady

Recently, you may have noticed some moderate delays in product delivery times from our company. We just wanted to let you know that we have heard your concerns and have been proactive in addressing this issue. We have made recent modifications to expedite all orders.

However, due to the new logic put into place, you may notice deliveries arriving out of sequences from when they were ordered.  For example, if you have placed additional copy order requests to receive more quantities of a title previously ordered, there is a chance that the additional copies will arrive before the originally ordered selections.  We guarantee that you will receive all parts of your order and will monitor orders to maximize the proper sequence of orders as much as possible.

Please note that this change will only impact deliveries temporarily and only affect catalog titles, with no impact on street date sensitive titles.

Here at CVS/Midwest, we are dedicated to following a steadfast, first-in-first-out order policy. We value our libraries and wanted to make you all aware of this situation.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service department at 866-698-2231.

We thank you for your understanding!

An Update on Actress Lindsay Lohan

Written by Kirk Baird

She’s not dead. She’s only resting.

There’s something Monty Python-esque about the latest news from the camp de Lindsay Lohan, a one-time actress-turned media circus. Even as the 25-year-old is again trying to get her career pointed in the right direction, she makes news for appearing unconscious in a hotel room, someone gets worried and calls 911, and paramedics show up.

Her publicist told People magazine, the actress "was examined and is fine" and that her condition was due to her "grueling schedule" on the set of the Lifetime movie Liz & Dick, an Elizabeth Taylor biopic with Lohan in the starring role. 

Lohan also dismissed any concern about her health via a Tweet.

"Note to self.." she Tweeted, "after working 85 hours in 4 days, and being up all night shooting, be very aware that you might pass out from exhaustion & 7 paramedics MIGHT show up @ your door."

A week ago, Lohan escaped serious injury when her Porsche smashed into the back of a dump truck on the Pacific Coast Highway. Lohan and her assistant were unhurt. The truck driver alleges that a member of the actress’ entourage attempted to bribe him into not calling the police, while a Lohan publicist denied this, and said that the actress was cooperating fully with the police investigation.

Trouble never seems to be far away from Lohan. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as luck; you make your own breaks. Could the same be said of misfortune?

Meanwhile, her promising career is suffering. Prior to the Liz & Dick cable film, Lohan was cast in a yet-to-be-released theatrical film, InAPPropriate Comedy, directed by the ShamWow pitchman Vince Offer. She’s also rumored to have a lead role in novelist/screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis’ sex-fueled Los Angeles drama The Canyons, starring adult-film star James Deen.

 Her first big-screen comeback, Robert Rodriguez’s 2010 grindhouse nod Machete, did make money — $44 million worldwide — but that was largely based on a reasonable production budget of $10.5 million.

So how distant does Lohan’s Disney past — including a platinum-selling debut record Speak in 2004 — seem now? Lohan was once the freckled angelic face of several Disney family comedy remakes.

For a refresh of her career, check out these Lohan films — proof that once upon a time she was more than a celebrity, she was an up-and-coming actress.

Parent Trap (1998)
Mean Girls (2004)

What are your thoughts on Lohan's career?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jukebox Musicals on Film

Written by Kirk Baird

With the recent release of Rock of Ages to movie theaters, here are some other jukebox musicals on DVD.

Singin’ in the Rain(1952) (Will be released as a special 50th anniversary set in mid-July)
Help! (1965)
American Pop (1981)
Moulin Rouge (2001)

Have you seen any of these films? Which would you rate as your favorite and why?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance DVD/Blu-ray Review

Written by Kirk Baird

The demon-for-good Ghost Rider is back, as the Devil plots to assume a new, more powerful form to allow him to wreak havoc on Earth. Motorcycle daredevil Johnny Blaze and his nighttime fiery alter ego Ghost Rider are all that can stop him. It’s an easy plot for a film that chugs along at a high rate of speed — and doing its best not to be slowed down by plot or character development.

Considering the collective letdown from 2007’s Ghost Rider, the approach to the 2011 sequel from everyone — new directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor and star Nicolas Cage — is “let’s not pretend this is anything but what you expect it to be and just have fun doing it.”

With no air of pretension hanging over this suitable for drive-in comic-book hero film now out on DVD and Blu-ray, there’s no other way to take anything that happens in the 90-plus minutes than with than with a smile, a shrug, and the acknowledgement, “Hey, the special effects are much better this time.”

Cage, as most everyone knows, owes millions in unpaid taxes to the IRS, which means you can see him in just about anything these days. The actor may be selling his soul to Hollywood to square himself with the government, but at least he’s having fun doing it. And in a purely guilty pleasure kind of way, so are we with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Harold and Maude DVD/Blu-ray Review

Written by Kirk Baird

20-year-old Harold is obsessed with death — particularly his own — until he learns how to really live through a youthful 80-year-old woman named Maude. Theirs was a love story as told in 1971’s Harold and Maude, an avant-garde flop-turned cult classic that gets the deluxe treatment via Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray. 

Harold and Maude is also the template for numerous indie comedies to come: quirky characters, contemporary soundtrack to punctuate emotions, poignant camera shots, taboo subject matter and/or themes. (Director Hal Ashby essentially made a Wes Anderson film while the 43-year-old Anderson was still in diapers.)

It’s the considerable age gap between Harold and Maude that draws creeped-out looks from those who haven’t seen the movie, but Higgins and Ashby handle the relationship with considerable care and warm affection; Harold and Maude makes a strong case that age isn’t necessarily a barrier for what the heart feels. Standout performances by Bud Cort as the sullen and withdrawn youth, and Ruth Gordon as his firecracker love interest effectively sell the premise of the sweet and enduring relationship.

More than an offbeat love story, Harold and Maude packs a wicked sense of humor, poking at contemporary mores, authority figures, and even the U.S. military with pointed observations and amusing insults. It’s also a deceptively simple story, refreshingly unencumbered by goofy side plots or oddball characters on screen for strangeness sake.

Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) provides the memorable soundtrack, led by “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” and “Don’t Be Shy.” Unfortunately, Harold and Maude soundtrack is not available for purchase — though it can be pieced together through various CD releases. Criterion does include a recent interview with Yusuf about recording the music for the film. 

Among other interesting tidbits: Ashby, pleased with the music as it was, used demo versions of the songs rather than waiting for Yusuf to re-record them. Harold and Maude pointed to a brilliant career for Ashby, who followed up the black comedy with 1970s classics The Last Detail, Shampoo, Coming Home, and Being There, before a vicious drug habit made him persona non grata in Hollywood by the mid-1980s.

Ashby died in 1988 at the age of 59 from pancreatic cancer that had spread throughout his body. But Harold and Maude remains a testament of his talent, the times, and true love.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Best-Known and Most-Loved Canadian Comic Actors

Written by Kirk Baird

From Dan Aykroyd and Jim Carrey to Dave Thomas, some of Hollywood’s best-known and most-loved comic actors were born and raised in Canada. Here’s a partial list of some big names that provide big laughs, along with some film and TV highlights:

Will Arnett:
Arrested Development: Season One
Arrested Development: Season Two

Dan Aykroyd:
Saturday Night Live: Best of Dan Aykroyd
Saturday Night Live: Complete Third Season
Saturday Night Live: Complete Fourth Season
Neighbors (1981)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Dragnet (1987)
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Sneakers (1992)
Tommy Boy (1995)
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

John Candy:
SCTV Network/90: Volume 1
SCTV Network/90: Volume 2
SCTV Network/90: Volume 3
SCTV Network/90: Volume 4
SCTV: Christmas with SCTV
Heavy Metal (1981)
Stripes (1981)
Going Berserk (1983)
Splash (1984)
Spaceballs (1987)
Uncle Buck (1989)
Home Alone (1990)
JFK (1991)

Thomas Chong (of Cheech and Chong):
Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie  (1980)
Cheech & Chong Still Smokin’ (1983)
AKA Tommy Chong (2006)

Jim Carrey:
In Living Color: Season 1
In Living Color: Season 2
In Living Color: Season 3
In Living Color: Season 4
In Living Color: Season 5
The Mask (1994)
Cable Guy (1996)
Liar Liar (1999)
Horton Hears a Who (2008)
Yes Man (2008)

Dave Foley:
The Kids in the Hall: The Best of, Vol. 1
The Kids in the Hall: The Best of, Vol. 2
Newsradio: Compete 1st and 2nd Seasons
Newsradio: Compete 3rd Season
Newsradio: Compete 4th Season
Newsradio: Compete 5th Season

Michael J. Fox:
Family Ties — Complete 1st Season
Family Ties — Complete 2nd Season
Family Ties — Complete 3rd Season
Family Ties — Complete 4th Season
Family Ties — Complete 5th Season
Teen Wolf (1985)
The Secret of My Success (1987)
Casualties of War (1989)
Back to the Future Part II (1990)
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Spin City — Season 1
Spin City — Season 2
Spin City — Season 3
Spin City — Season 4
Stuart Little 2 (2002)

Eugene Levy:
SCTV Network/90: Volume 1
SCTV Network/90: Volume 2
SCTV Network/90: Volume 3
SCTV Network/90: Volume 4
SCTV: Christmas with SCTV
SCTV: Best of the Early Years
American Pie (1999)
Best in Show (2000)
American Wedding (2003)
Greg the Bunny Complete Series (2004)

Rick Moranis:
SCTV Network/90: Volume 1
SCTV Network/90: Volume 2
SCTV Network/90: Volume 3
SCTV Network/90: Volume 4
SCTV: Christmas with SCTV
SCTV: Best of the Early Years
Strange Brew (1983)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Spaceballs (1987)
Parenthood (1989)
Brother Bear (2003)

Mike Myers:
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Mike Myers
Wayne’s World 2 (1993)
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Shrek (2001)
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
Shrek 2 (2004)
Shrek the Third (2007)
Shrek Forever After (2010)

Martin Short:
SCTV Network/90: Volume 1
SCTV Network/90: Volume 2
SCTV Network/90: Volume 3
SCTV Network/90: Volume 4
SCTV: Christmas with SCTV

Dave Thomas:
SCTV Network/90: Volume 1
SCTV Network/90: Volume 2
SCTV Network/90: Volume 3
SCTV Network/90: Volume 4
SCTV: Christmas with SCTV
SCTV: Best of the Early Years
Strange Brew (1983)

Which comic actor is your favorite and why?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Order Status Update for The Artist

Due to a change to the DVD version of The Artist (#10714792), this title will not be made available for purchase. Instead, we have been notified that they will only be producing this title as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo (#10726040).

If you wish to order The Artist (Blu-Ray/DVD combo) please do so using the new item number.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact Customer Service at 866.698.2231 or

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters Review

Written by Kirk Baird

The other day I watched The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters for the third time. Director Seth Gordon struck documentary gold with this 2007 tale of perennial second-place finisher Steve Wiebe who sets out to be the best Donkey Kong player in the world. Standing in his way is Billy Mitchell, the current world record holder for highest Donkey Kong score, who will go to great lengths to keep his title.

Theirs is a classic gaming battle for the ages, one that’s had several twists since the film was made. (But wait until AFTER you watch the movie before you Google an update.)

More than a blast from the past for those who frequented arcades in the early 1980s, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is replete with unexpected drama, humour, and emotions, along with subtle commentary about the human condition and what it means to be the best. It’s also the kind of compelling underdog story that’s often reserved only for sports movies. Think of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters as The Hustler meets Hoosiers, and you’ll only begin to appreciate it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ridley Scott Oeuvre

Written by Kirk Baird

Filmmaker Ridley Scott returns to his roots with Prometheus, a pseudo prequel to the director’s classic 1979 sci-fi horror film Alien. Scott isn’t finished mining his past for new films, with an announced sequel to his 1982 masterpiece Blade Runner, tentatively scheduled for a 2014 release.

Here are the highlights from his oeuvre:
The Duellists (1977)
Alien (1979)
Blade Runner (1982)
Gladiator (2000)

Also worth noting: Scott directed the landmark 1984 Super Bowl commercial for Apple’s first Macintosh computer launched in 1984. 

Which of Scott's films is your favorite and why?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Charlotte Gill, Patrick deWitt, Penguin Canada Among Winners at 2012 CBA Libris Awards

At its annual conference in Toronto, the Canadian Booksellers Association announced the winners of the 2012 Libris Awards. Chosen by independent booksellers, the awards recognize outstanding contributions to Canadian literature, publishing, and bookselling.
Here are a few of this year’s winners:

Fiction Book of the Year
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Non-fiction Book of the Year
Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe by Charlotte Gill
Author of the Year
Michael Ondaatje
Editor of the Year
Louise Dennys, executive vice-president of Knopf Random Canada
Publisher of the Year
Penguin Canada
Bookseller of the Year
Blue Heron Books
Lifetime Achievement Award

What are your thoughts on this year’s picks?

Prometheus Aims to Explore Origins of Life on Earth

Written by Kirk Baird

Ridley Scott’s new Alien forerunner Prometheus is as much about the age-old big question — the origin of life on Earth — than it is a horror film with extra-terrestrials. But Prometheus, released in theaters this week, isn’t the only science fiction film to explore man’s attempt to reach into the stars and find our maker.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: William Shatner directed this 1989 theatrical outing of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew as an obsessed Vulcan claims to communicate with God, takes over Captain Kirk’s ship, and speeds everyone along in a voyage across the galaxy to meet our maker.

2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: The Year We Make Contact: Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey dealt with man’s attempt to contact alien life near Jupiter — the same aliens that brought life to our planet and helped it grow. In the 1984 follow-up, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, humankind must deal with the consequences of contacting that life. The films are based on two of the novels in Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey series.

Contact: Jodie Foster plays a young astronomer who is given the opportunity to travel into space and meet the alien species that contacted us in 1997’s Contact, based on Carl Sagan’s novel. What she learns in the process is that humans are not alone in contemplating the meaning of life and the origins of our universe.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Hatfield-McCoy Blood Battle

Written by Kirk Baird

If you missed the History network’s well-received and quite popular Hatfields & McCoys, you need only wait until July 31. The six-hour mini-series about a legendary blood feud between two families makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut July 31 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Hatfields & McCoys stars Oscar winner Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves) and Golden Globe nominee Bill Paxton (Big Love).   

Which family would you side with?