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Blu-ray/Digital Round-Up: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The LEGO Batman Movie, Logan

I’ve had a ton of Blu-rays and digital movies come my way the last few weeks, and I’ve wanted to highlight a few of them, in case you’re looking for something to watch this weekend or over the next few weeks.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (HBO Films): I’m not going to sugarcoat this. I’d never heard the name Henrietta Lacks or her amazing story before. This was simply one of those films sent my way which I thought I’d give a chance. I’m certainly glad I did, as the legacy of Ms. Lacks is remarkable – she was an African American woman who, in 1951, had her cancer cells immortalized in the HeLa line of cells. Basically, these cells have been used countless times in major medical breakthroughs over the last 60 years. Sadly, nobody asked Ms. Lacks if her cells could be taken or used, and neither her nor her family ever received any sort of compensation for what essentially is her immortality.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is based on the book by Rebecca Skloot, who is portrayed in the film by Rose Byrne, who wrote a series of articles on Ms. Lacks and her family. Oprah Winfrey plays Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, and is absolutely captivating on screen. Deborah is hesitant to share her mother’s story with any reporter, and Oprah delivers the character as guarded but loving. It’s a bravura performance that can’t help but overshadow the rest of the film, which sometimes gets muddled as it moves across various timelines. However, Byrne and Winfrey have a great chemistry together, and help The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks rise above some of its pacing and script issues.

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HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 5 Set Is A Gift To Fans

imageWhile the world of television awaits the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones (don’t worry, folks, April 24th is just around the corner), today is the day when fans can relieve the incredible events of season five, with its release on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Books To Accompany Your Fave Movies and TV Shows

As the holidays approach, many of us wish we’d had the time to watch all those movies and TV shows that people have been talking about all year. With so many great things appearing on the big and small screens, it’s easy to forget about how many books there are waiting to be read, too. But not just any books; I’m talking about those which would make the perfect side dish to your main course of movie and TV entrees (or vice versa, if you prefer).

Here are four book and Blu-ray/DVD combo meals to whet your appetite.

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True Detective, Season 2 DVD/Blu-Ray and James Ellroy’s White Jazz: While folks are still divided on whether or not True Detective Season 2 was on par with the HBO show’s first season, I still think it’s worth watching (and rewatching) not only for its complex narrative and the terrific acting of the cast, but also because it is the spiritual brethren to the Los Angeles noir fiction of James Ellroy. To get a good feel for the seedy underbelly of L.A. that seems to have inspired the show, check out Ellroy’s White Jazz. True Detective Season 2 won’t hit shelves until January 5, 2016, so you’ve got time to read this gripping fourth installment of Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet before then. (White Jazz on Amazon.ca; Pre-order True Detective Season 2 on Amazon.ca) Read the rest of this entry

Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Blu-Ray & DVD Selections

MCU Collection Phase 1The wonderful thing about writing these Holiday Gift Guide lists is that they not only help out you, the mighty reader, find that perfect gift or stocking stuffer for a pop-culture loved one, but it also helps the writer of this column (me, in this case) with loved ones picking our gifts to give (me)!

This particular Gift Guide, a short list of select movies and television shows in both Blu-Ray and DVD formats, should prove enticing. I’m betting that there’s something on this list that your loved one doesn’t have just yet. (And, if anyone is asking, I have none of these – yet!)

Now, I know we live in a digital age where film and television programming is available on demand, but it’s still nice to add that hardcopy artifact to an increasing library of hardcopy artifacts. It’ since to know that you actually own something, doesn’t it?

Plus, some of the items on this list come with…well, extras.

Without further ado, here is your first-rate, first-class, handpicked, Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Blu-Ray & DVD Selections:

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Biff Bam Pop’s Holiday Gift Guide 2014: The Gamera Legacy Collection

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Folks who know me know that I am a huge kaiju eiga fan, especially Godzilla, both old school and new school, but I’m also a fan of the Big G’s major competition over the years – Gamera. Throughout the sixties, seventies, and nineties, the giant flying turtle and friend to all children was Godzilla’s biggest rival, and now you can own (or give as a gift) almost all of the tough and titanic terrapin’s movies in one set. Check it out after the jump.

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The Ten Percent: Wonder Woman (2009)

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“Ninety percent of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon

Ever since Lynda Carter started spinning around on TV, “where is the Wonder Woman movie?” has become something of a perennial question. Back in 2005 fans squeed when Joss Whedon was hired to write the script for a feature film, but two years later he left the project (and despite his claims to the contrary during that period, it appears that Whedon never actually wrote a draft script). Seven years later things are looking up with a film finally in the offing, and this week it was announced that Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones) will direct, becoming the first female to direct a superhero film – assuming she stays with the project.

Only it turns out that the Wonder Woman movie we’ve all been howling for actually came out in 2009, check it out after the jump.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Celebrate Musical Memories With The Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead DVDS

It’s been a pretty big year for classic rock fans when it comes to anniversaries. In this edition of our Holiday Gift Guide, we take a look at two that capture some momentous musical moments from 2013.

Print2013 saw the Rolling Stones hit the road for their 50 Years and Counting tour, celebrating the band’s anniversary. The Queen and I had the chance to see them in Toronto and, honestly, it was perhaps my favoueite performance I’d ever witnessed by the band (which have ranged from stadium shows to a 1000 person club gig). The set list was solid, having guest Mick Taylor for three songs was a treat, and the band were simplyplaying in fine form. With Ronnie Wood sober, he was handling more of the lead guitar parts again, while Keith Richards showed why he’s one of the best rhythm players in the history of rock and roll. At 71, Charlie Watts kept the show going without tiring, while Mick Jagger proved once again that, even as he was about to turn 70 years old, he is simply the best front man in rock and roll.

You can see what I’m talking about in the new Blu-ray/DVD/CD Sweet Summer Sun, which captures the band before more than 100,000 fans at London’s Hyde Park, where the band had last performed some 40 years earlier. At this point, the Stones were even more finely tuned, and had the massive crowd in the palm of their hand. Who would have thought songs such as Start Me Up, Midnight Rambler, and You Got The Silver would be played with such life and energy and sincerity so many years later. The Rolling Stones are one of rock’s greatest stories, one that still doesn’t seem to be winding down.
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Saturday At The Movies: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension (1984)

What do you get when you cross a visionary particle physicist with a brilliant neurosurgeon, a philosopher for the ages, a fearless race car test pilot, a comic book hero and the world’s greatest rock musician?

The truth is, you only get one thing. More precisely, you only get one man. And that man is Buckaroo Banzai!

Regular readers of Biff Bam Pop! would (should) recognize that name. Especially readers of a certain age. Were you born in the 1970’s? Did you spend your out-of-school summers riding your gooseneck, banana-seat bike to the local video rental store? Did you gather in basements with your pals, watching all manner of obscure VHS movie tapes simply because they had cool titles? Yeah? Then you were probably a Blue Blaze Irregular. And you probably still are, in some shape or form.

‘Cos nothing was cooler than the 1984 cult film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension.

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Long Live The King Of Rock And Roll – Dio’s Finding The Sacred Heart DVD Reviewed

While the metal world may be rightfully ecstatic about the  number one debut of Black Sabbath on the Billboard charts, there are other reasons to celebrate. Specifically, the recent DVD/Blu-ray release of the mighty Dio’s legendary 1986 Sacred Heart tour, which Ronnie James Dio and company at the height of their powers.

Check out King Of Rock & Roll below and read on after the jump!

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WWE’s The Top 25 Greatest Rivalries In Wrestling Reviewed

rivalriesLists are a funny thing – they’re always so subjective. One person’s top 5 Beatles albums could be very different from someone else’s’. The top 101 best written tv shows of all time chosen by TV Guide could be very different from a list compiled by Entertainment Weekly. Which makes the notion of choosing The Top 25 Greatest Rivalries In Wrestling a hard one – every fan has their favourites. Luckily for WWE, who recently released a Blu-ray/DVD by that very title, they managed to cover some of the best moments in wrestling history.

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