SON OF BATMAN

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This DC animated movie is based on the graphic novel Batman and Son. As you might suspect, the traditional DC Universe has been “modified” for this story. Without revealing any of the plot twists, I can safely say Batman fans will enjoy Son of Batman. The DVD comes with a “Special Feature” which is a sneak peek at the next DC Universe animated movie, Batman: Assault on Arkham. I’ll be watching Batman: Assault on Arkham next. GRADE: B+

WOLF HALL & BRING UP THE BODIES By Hilary Mantel

wolf hall
PBS will start broadcasting Wolf Hall on Easter Sunday. To get up to speed, I’m rereading the Booker Prize winners, Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring Up the Bodies (2012) which chronicle the life of Thomas Cromwell in treacherous Tudor England. Cromwell has to deal with the duplicitous King Henry VIII. This six-part mini-series covers the events in both Wolf Hall (Cromwell’s early life) and Bring Up the Bodies with the murderous consequences of King Henry’s rule. I enjoyed both books the first time I read them, but there are scenes of gruesome violence. The machinations of the Royal Court are wicked. Hilary Mantel delivers the Real Deal of Thomas Cromwell’s life without any sugar coating. Do not expect a Barbara Cartland England in these books. You can find Wolf Hall April 5-May 10, 2015 at 10pm ET on MASTERPIECE on PBS. Check your local listings for broadcast times where you reside.

Ascenseur pour l’echafaud By Miles Davis

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I’m a Miles Davis fan so I was surprised to find this soundtrack from 1958. Ascenseur pour l’echafaud (Lift to the Scaffold) is a moody and melodic soundtrack. Miles Davis plays well on this disc. There’s none of that “tuning up” awkward music here.

According to Wikipedia:
Davis was booked to perform at the Club Saint-Germain in Paris for November 1957. Rappeneau introduced him to Malle, and Davis agreed to record the music after attending a private screening. On December 4, he brought his four sidemen to the recording studio without having had them prepare anything. Davis only gave the musicians a few rudimentary harmonic sequences he had assembled in his hotel room, and, once the plot was explained, the band improvised without any precomposed theme, while edited loops of the musically relevant film sequences were projected in the background.
TRACK LIST:
1. Générique” 2:45
2. “L’ Assassinat de Carala” 2:10
3. “Sur L’Autoroute” 2:15
4. “Julien Dans L’Ascenseur” 2:07
5. “Florence Sur Les Champs Élysées” 2:50
6. “Dîner au Motel” 3:58
7. “Évasion De Julien” 0:53
8. “Visite Du Vigile” 2:00
9. “Au Bar du Petit Bac” 2:50
10. “Chez Le Photographe Du Motel” 3.50

THE SUZE ORMAN SHOW, SERIES FINALE

suze orman show
Suze Orman, the financial guru, has been doing this show on CNBC for the past 13 years. Suze has dispensed good advice on saving and investing. She’s very knowledgeable about FICO scores (and how to improve them) and real estate transactions. I’ve enjoyed the segment of the show called “Can I Afford It?” where people call in to ask for Suze’s assessment. It’s funny how people with the least money want to buy the biggest things (like cars and expensive vacations). I’ll be sorry to see Suze retire this program, but she certainly can pursue different financial opportunities. I use Suze Orman’s Women & Money in my Investments class. Many students tell me that it’s the best book they’ve read in College.

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #313: THE SOLAR QUEEN SERIES By Andre Norton

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plague ship
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postmarked the stars
When I was around 10-years old, I started reading SF novels by “Andrew North.” I loved them. There wasn’t much science fiction for kids in 1959. Then, I discovered more thrilling SF novels by “Andre Norton.” A few years later, I discovered, to my surprise, that “Andrew North” and “Andre Norton” were the same person: a librarian named Alice Mary Norton. The first four books in the Solar Queen series are told in the Point of View of Dane Thorson, an apprentice-Cargo Master, who is learning the ropes of Free Trading aboard the Solar Queen. The all-male crew confronts a confounding mystery in Sargasso of Space. In Plague Ship, the Solar Queen is struck by a disease and the crew who are resistant need to find a solution before the Space Patrol destroys their ship. In Voodoo Planet, the crew confronts an alien who possesses “magic” powers. My favorite novel in the Solar Queen series is Postmarked the Stars. The Solar Queen wins a contract to deliver mail but this seemingly easy mission becomes complicated quickly by a series of mysteries. The final three books in the series were written by other writers probably from an outline by Norton. A female crew member joins the Solar Queen in Redline the Stars. An alien joins the crew in Derelict for Trade. More mysteries need solving in A Mind for Trade. I enjoyed the entire series, but they are aimed at the Young Adult market so factor that in.
THE SOLAR QUEEN SERIES:
Sargasso of Space (1955, as by Andrew North; reissued 1957 as an Ace Double with The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick)
Plague Ship (1956, as by Andrew North; reissued 1959 as an Ace Double with Voodoo Planet)
Voodoo Planet (1959, as by Andrew North; issued only as an Ace Double, first with Plague Ship and in 1968 with Star Hunter)
Postmarked the Stars (1969)
Redline the Stars (1993), with P. M. Griffin
Derelict for Trade (1997), with Sherwood Smith
A Mind for Trade (1997), with Sherwood Smith

FORGOTTEN MUSIC #50: THE HOLLIES: 50 at FIFTY (3 CD BOX SET)

the hollies
I was a fan of The Hollies back in the Sixites and early Seventies. Allan Clarke and Graham Nash formed The Hollies in late 1962 as a Merseybeat-type music group in Manchester, England. Graham Nash left The Hollies in 1968 to form Crosby, Stills & Nash. The Hollies continued to record and tour after Nash left. In fact, The Hollies still tour (mostly in Europe) today. The Hollies: 50 at Fifty includes all their hits (many remastered for the first time) and plenty of material that’s newly released in the USA. If you’re a fan of The Hollies, you’ll love this box set. There are hours of great music here! What’s your favorite song by The Hollies? GRADE: A
TRACK LIST:
Disc: 1
1. (Ain’t That) Just Like Me (1997 Remastered Version)
2. Searchin’ (1997 Remastered Version)
3. Stay (1997 Remastered Version)
4. Just One Look (1997 Remastered Version)
5. Here I Go Again (1997 Remastered Version)
6. We’re Through (1997 Remastered Version)
7. Yes I Will (2003 Remastered Version)
8. I’m Alive (2003 Remastered Version)
9. Look Through Any Window (2003 Remastered Version)
10. If I Needed Someone (2003 Remastered Version)
11. I Can’t Let Go (2003 Remastered Version)
12. Bus Stop (2003 Remastered Version)
13. Pay You Back With Interest (2003 Remastered Version)
14. Stop Stop Stop (2003 Remastered Version)
15. On A Carousel (2003 Remastered Version)
16. Carrie Anne (2003 Remastered Version)
17. King Midas In Reverse (2003 Remastered Version)
18. Jennifer Eccles (2003 Remastered Version)
19. Listen To Me (2003 Remastered Version)
20. Sorry Suzanne (2003 Remastered Version)
Disc: 2
1. He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother (2003 Remastered Version)
2. I Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top (2003 Remastered Version)
3. Gasoline Alley Bred (2003 Remastered Version)
4. Hey Willy (2003 Remastered Version)
5. The Baby (2003 Remastered Version)
6. Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress) (2003 Remastered Version)
7. Magic Woman Touch (2003 Remastered Version)
8. The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee (2003 Remastered Version)
9. The Air That I Breathe (2003 Remastered Version)
10. Lonely Hobo Lullaby (2003 Remastered Version)
11. I’m Down (2003 Remastered Version)
12. 4th July, Asbury Park (Sandy) [2003 Remastered Version]
13. There’s Always Goodbye
14. Boulder To Birmingham (2003 Remastered Version)
15. Too Young To Be Married (Live; 2003 Remastered Version)
16. Daddy Don’t Mind (2003 Remastered Version)
Disc: 3
1. Hello To Romance (1996 Remastered Version)
2. Amnesty (1996 Remastered Version)
3. Soldier’s Song (2003 Remastered Version)
4. Heartbeat (1995 Remastered Version)
5. If The Lights Go Out (First Version; 2003 Remastered Version)
6. Take My Love And Run (2003 Remastered Version)
7. Stop In The Name Of Love
8. Let Her Go Down (2003 Remastered Version)
9. Too Many Hearts Get Broken (2003 Remastered Version)
10. Laughter Turns To Tears (2003 Remastered Version)
11. So Damn Beautiful
12. On A Carousel (Live)
13. Then, Now, Always (Dolphin Days) [Live]
14. Skylarks

DUETS: REWORKING THE CATALOGUE By Van Morrison & Friends

duets van morrison
I’m a huge Van Morrison fan so factor that into my review of Duets: Reworking the Catalogue. I admit this is an uneven CD. Some of the duets worked for me, but some of them didn’t. The song selection is a curious mix of classic Van Morrison songs and some oddities. There’s something here for everyone’s musical tastes: ballads, blues, jazz, and rock & roll. Well worth a listen! GRADE: B+
TRACK LIST:
1 Some Peace Of Mind – Bobby Womack (5:14)
2 If I Ever Needed Someone – Mavis Staples (3:49)
3 Higher Than The World – George Benson (3:49)
4 Wild Honey – Joss Stone (6:22)
5 Whatever Happened to P.J. Proby – P. J. Proby (3:42)
6 Carrying A Torch – Clare Teal (4:53)
7 The Eternal Kansas City – Gregory Porter (4:11)
8 Streets of Arklow – Mick Hucknail (4:57)
9 These Are The Days – Natalie Cole (3:51)
10 Get On With The Show – George Fame(4:42)
11 Rough God Goes Riding – Shana Morrison (4:24)
12 Fire In The Belly – Steve Winwood (6:40)
13 Born To Sing – Chris Farlowe (3:59)
14 Irish Heartbeat – Mark Knopfler (5:15)
15 Real Real Gone – Michael Bublé (4:00)
16 How Can A Poor Boy? – Taj Mahal (6:33)

TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE

treasure of the sierra madre
AMAZON is offering the DVD version of Treasure of the Sierra Madre for $4. That qualifies as a Bargain of the Week. The movie version is based on B. Traven’s hellish novel about good and greed. Humphrey Bogart, Tom Holt, and Walter Huston hunt for a lost mine and find nothing but trouble. Treasure of the Sierra Madre was released in 1948. It was one of the first Hollywood movies to be filmed in Mexico. John Huston won an Oscar for Best Director and another Oscar for Best Screenplay for this movie. I think it’s terrific…especially for $4!

THE JOHN HUGHES YEARBOOK COLLECTION: The Breakfast Club / Sixteen Candles / Weird Science [Blu-ray]

JOHN HUGHES YEARBOK COLLECTION
It’s been 30 years since The Breakfast Club first appeared on the movie screens of America. That surprise hit movie lead to Sixteen Candles (my favorite John Hughes movie) and then to Weird Science. Hughes used Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy in these films to great effect. If you’re in the mood for a walk down Memory Lane, this collection captures the essence of the Eighties. What’s your favorite John Hughes movie? GRADE: A

4 ACTION FILM FAVORITES

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Here’s my Bargain of the Week: Fantastic 4, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Electra, and Daredevil. BJ’s Warehouse had this set priced at $7.99. That’s $2 per movie. Okay, I admit Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a clunker. But the other three movies are worth watching. Daredevil is returning as a Netflix series next month. There’s a new Fantastic 4 movie scheduled for release August 7, 2015. I wish MARVEL would reboot Electra. If you’re looking for a value-priced package, this is it.