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Tag: movie

Movie industry does what World War I could not: It silences Stubby, the heroic canine

The animated, true story of Stubby, the most decorated dog of World War I, was overshadowed by big studio releases when the movie came out this Spring, and now it appears to be getting overlooked when it comes to DVD sales.

As the film’s writer and director sees it, his movie about the underdog who became a military hero, is finding itself in an underdog position as well.

The movie was the first release by Fun Academy Motion Pictures Studios, which writer-director-executive producer Richard Lanni describes as a new company “carving a new niche for real-life storytelling in a crowded family entertainment landscape of fantasy and fairytale.”

But judging from open letters he has written to fans on the movie’s website, that has been tough going.

Stubby was saved from the streets in New Haven, Connecticut, where Private First Class Robert Conroy was training for duty nearby on the grounds of Yale University. When Conroy was sent overseas, he snuck Stubby along with him.

He would go on to serve as a messenger, guard and more. Over the course of his life, Stubby served in 17 battles and is credited with finding wounded soldiers, catching a German spy and, thanks to his sharp sense of smell, warning an entire platoon of a mustard gas attack.

When he returned home, Stubby was the center of attention at parades and met three presidents, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

Stubby merited a half-page obituary in the New York Times when he died in 1926 in the arms of Conroy at his home.

Stubby’s remains were gifted to the the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where the public can visit a stuffed version of him at the National Museum of American History.

The animated movie, while it got decent reviews, didn’t sell too many tickets upon its release and theater chains all but snubbed it after that.

“Everyone who saw the movie fell in love with Stubby, but there were far too many empty seats in theaters nationwide,” Lanni wrote. “Despite the enthusiastic responses we’ve received from parents, dog lovers, teachers, military families, history buffs, and kids of all ages, we simply can’t guarantee the film will remain available …

“After a challenging opening weekend, we must remember the story of Stubby. He was tenacious, resilient, and determined, and we must be the same. We’re not dead, but we are wounded and must stay in the fight.”

Now Lanni is finding the Blu-Ray version is difficult to get to consumers, as well.

“…We find ourselves fighting yet another uphill battle to make this film available to the wide audience it deserves,” Lanni wrote on the website, saying, because his new studio isn’t recognized, he has been denied the opportunity to sell DVDs on both Amazon.com and Walmart.com.

“The rationale, it seems, stems from those stores’ vendor approval policies. To put it simply, they don’t accept that a company capable of producing and distributing an award-winning animated feature film on four continents is also capable of delivering product to their store shelves…

“To put it another way, we are not recognized as a film studio in our own right and have not been presented with a process to apply for consideration as a film studio.”

As a result, he is offering it on his own, through the movie’s online store. The DVD will come out in early November, but you can pre-order it here.

Alpha — the “first” boy meets dog movie — hits theaters this month

It’s certainly not the first “boy and his dog” movie, but “Alpha,” coming out this month, is the oldest, at least in terms of the history it attempts to portray — that being 20,000 years ago when man and wolf first befriended.

It’s a tale from the ice age, billing itself as historical and an “incredible story of how mankind discovered man’s best friend.”

It takes place in Europe, 20,000 years ago.

Alpha-300x300While on his first hunt with his tribe, a young man is injured and left for dead. He awakens to find himself alone in the wilds.

Things get worse from there when he encounters a pack of wolves and fends them off, injuring one of the younger ones. He can’t bring himself to kill the wolf who, like him, has also been abandoned by his pack.

That proves to be a bumpy process, requiring more than a “here, boy,” or a tossed treat.

The two eventually bond, learning to rely on each other as they encounter dangers that include doing battle with prehistoric animals as they try to find their way home before winter arrives.

The movie was directed by Albert Hughes and features “X-Men: Apocalypse” star Kodi Smit-McPhee and Johannes Haukur Johannesson.

Two new movies for the dog days of summer

Two new dog movies — romantic comedies both — take a look at how dogs can bring us humans together.

“Dog Days,” (trailer above) follows the lives of multiple dogs and their owners in Los Angeles as their paths intertwine in life-changing ways.

“Patrick” is a UK-made Disney film about a hopeless single school teacher who inherits a pug called Patrick from her late grandmother and, despite an initial dislike of the dog, quickly learns he is a dude magnet.

Patrick is a spoiled little dog and they get off to a bad start, with the expressive pooch eating bedroom slippers, destroying furniture and turning up his nose at regular dog food.

But, as in “Dog Days,” the dog leads to a love connection, or two.

“Patrick” is described as “Bridget Jones’s Diary” meets “Turner and Hooch.” “Dog Days” is described as “Love Actually” meets “Marley and Me.”

Director Ken Marino acknowledges “Dog Days” is a feel good movie — and he meant it that way.

“The world is a really hard place right now to deal with every day. I wanted to dive into a movie that would make people feel good for a while,” he told People. “And I am sucker for dogs.”

“It’s about how people learn to be better people and how dogs help us and guide us in the right direction,” he says.

The cast includes Vanessa Hudgens, Eva Longoria, Nina Dobrev, Finn Wolfhard, Adam Pally, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Michael Cassidy, Tig Notaro and dogs of all shapes and sizes.

It is scheduled to be released Aug. 10.

New kids film “Show Dogs” draws fire from parents groups

In the somewhat bizarre world of dog shows, the one traditional practice that most strikes outsiders as weird comes at that point in judging when a judge cops a feel of a male dog’s testicles.

As part of what’s called conformation — or seeing how well a dog conforms to “standards” — the process is usually a quick check, aimed at making sure the dog is intact (not fixed) and that his testicles have properly descended.

But to dog show spectators, who traditionally include families and children, it’s hard to miss.

It is also hard to miss in the new film “Show Dogs,” a family-oriented movie that stars Ludacris as the voice of a talking police dog named Max who infiltrates a prestigious dog show to investigate a suspected animal smuggling ring.

One subplot of the movie involves Max becoming comfortable, as a dog show contestant, with strangers touching his genitals.

In the PG-rated film, Max must learn how to “get used to” the groping, and it’s that aspect that has some parenting groups fuming about the movie.

showdogsWhatever parents teach their children about “inappropriate touching” and sexually predatory behavior, they say, this movie seems to be sending an opposite message: Grin and bear it, accept it, it’s no big deal.

Valid a concern as that may be, it’s funny — to me at least — that the practice is so accepted and goes so unquestioned at dog shows, also aimed at being fun for the whole family, but is proving so irksome in a comedic family movie.

Does that piece of a dog show really have to be performed before an audience of adults and children? Couldn’t it be done backstage, or as part of a behind the scenes pre-show screening procedure?

You don’t hear those concerns voiced so much among the high society dog show crowd — just as you don’t hear too much discussion about why a similarly sized, fully descended pair of testicles is so important in the first place in such competitions.

It’s because the American Kennel Club and other dog show operators see the competitions as a way to select and crown dogs that are prime breeding stock — those healthy and perfect dog that comes closest, appearance wise, to standards. (Standards set, by the way, by the AKC and other groups.)

Standards? How about one that doesn’t require a dog to to through a public groping in front of thousands, or maybe one that doesn’t require him to go through it at all.

From the makers of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” the movie opened in theaters May 18. It tells the story of a human detective (Will Arnett) and his canine partner Max, a Rottweiler whose voice is provided by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Together they go undercover at the world’s most exclusive dog show to solve a big case involving a stolen panda.

Since it opened, the movie has caught the attention of several parenting blogs, Entertainment Weekly reported.

“Max’s success is riding on whether or not he lets both his partner (for practice) and a stranger (the competition judge) touch his private parts. IN A KIDS MOVIE. WHAT??? Newsflash, folks: THIS IS CALLED GROOMING and it’s what sexual predators do to kids!” wrote Jenny Rapson in the blog “For Every Mom.”

In reality, those who show dogs do condition their dogs to get used to the groping to ensure they will behave properly during the judging practice.

“The movie ‘Show Dogs’ sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse,” said the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, previously known as Morality in Media. “It contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier.

“Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children — telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”

The filmmakers responded to the concerns with this statement:

“It has come to our attention that there have been online discussion and concern about a particular scene in Show Dogs, a family comedy that is rated PG. The dog show judging in this film is depicted completely accurately as done at shows around the world; and was performed by professional and highly respected dog show judges.

“Global Road Entertainment and the filmmakers are saddened and apologize to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film, with no hidden or ulterior meaning, but respect their right to react to any piece of content.”

Yesterday, though, the studio announced it would be removing two of the most controversial scenes from the movie, according to CNN.

Guess us kids will have to wait for the next Westminster Dog Show to see the grabbing of the gonads.

“Show Dogs” is clearly not an exercise in reality, what with its talking dogs and all, but it did pretty accurately nail this particular aspect of dog shows.

So why is it people are so quick to jump on, edit and whitewash a portrayal of a reality and fashion it more to their liking — all while not giving a second thought as to whether the reality deserves some scrutiny and reconsideration, too?

Theater to offer dogs a screening of new Wes Anderson movie, Isle of Dogs

The Roxie Theater in San Francisco is having a bring-your-dog screening of Wes Anderson’s new movie, “Isle of Dogs.”

Why? Well for one reason, publicity just like this. For another, they think dog owners will be willing to buy their dogs a ticket, which will allow them to double sales.

The 4 p.m. (Pacific Time) screening will be March 19, Indie Wire reported Tuesday.

According to the theater, “This is a BYOD event! Dogs are invited and will be in attendance at this screening. Dogs and owners will each need to have a ticket to attend. You do not need to have/bring a dog to attend. Owners are responsible for their dog’s behavior. Overly aggressive or uncontrollable dogs will be asked to leave.”

The movie will open in select theaters March 23.

“Isle of Dogs” features the voices of Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Scarlett Johnasson, Yoko Ono, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and Frances McDormand.

The stop action movie is set 20 years in the future in a Japanese city, where canine overpopulation and an outbreak of dog flu has led the local government to banish dogs to an island filled with trash.

A 12-year-old boy hijacks a plane and flies to the island in search of his dog, Spots, beginning a quest in which he is assisted by five other exiled dogs (all of whom speak, of course).

In “Isle of Dogs,” canines in a Japanese city are banished to an island of trash

Director Wes Anderson has been secretive about the plot of his new animated movie, “Isle of Dogs,” but judging from a trailer released last week it will be trademark Anderson — bleakly beautiful, deceptively sentimental, more than a little haunting, and unconventional, with a capital UN.

It is set, 20 years from now, in a Japanese city, where canine overpopulation and an outbreak of dog flu has led the local government to banish dogs to an island filled with trash.

A 12-year-old boy hijacks a plane and flies to the island in search of his dog, Spots, and so begins an epic quest (is there any other kind these days?) in which he is assisted by five other exiled dogs (all of whom speak, of course).

“We’ll find him,” one of the dogs reassure the boy. “Wherever he is. If he’s alive. We’ll find your dog.”

It remains to be seen how family friendly the film will be, and whether it, like many other Anderson films, will have dogs dying off as the plot unwinds.

The movie is Anderson’s first feature since 2014’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Its cast of voice actors includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, F. Murray Abraham, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Courtney B. Vance, Harvey Keitel, Scarlett Johansson and Yoko Ono.

The film is scheduled to hit theaters in March, 2018.

Happy ending? Pattinson retracts account of being urged to pleasure a dog in film

Actor Robert Pattinson now says the story he told on Jimmy Kimmel Live —
about being urged by a film crew to perform a sex act on a dog — didn’t actually happen.

Pattinson appeared on the show last week, and said that while filming the movie “Good Time,” the director urged him to stroke a dog’s penis. He told Kimmel he refused, and that a prosthetic penis was used for the scene.

PETA, maybe a little too soon, jumped on the story, criticizing the movie’s makers but supporting Pattinson for his courageous refusal to do what he was asked.

“PETA depends on actors and crew members to come forward when they see mistreatment, whether it involves a dog who is being forced into churning water on the set of ‘A Dog’s Purpose‘ or an A-list actor who is being asked to molest his canine co-star,” PETA Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement.

She added, “Robert Pattinson is our kind of guy (and everyone’s who has a heart) for refusing to masturbate a dog — which is like child molestation — and for talking about it so that the public can see that once again animal trainers’ top priority is money and animals’ interests and well-being are often ignored.”

After the PETA statement, Pattinson cleared the record. He issued his own statement, saying the story he told Kimmel was “a joke.”

“The story I told on Jimmy Kimmel last night seems to have spiraled out of control,” he said in a statement to E Online. “What didn’t come across is that this was supposed to be a joke. No one at all expected or assumed that anything like that would happen on the Good Time set.”

No one, maybe, except PETA and millions of animal lovers.

GoodTime2017Pattison’s initial remarks on the show were in reference to a scene in which his character, he said, was “sleeping with the dog and basically giving the dog a hand job.”

“I asked the trainer [about it] because the director was like, ‘Just do it for real, man! Don’t be a pussy!’ And the dog’s owner was like, ‘Well, he’s a breeder. I mean, you can. You just gotta massage the inside of his thighs.’ I was like, ‘Just massage the inside of his thighs?!’ I didn’t agree to do the real one, so we made a fake red rocket.”

He prefaced his telling of the story with these words, “Oh, God! I don’t even know if I can say this. There are a lot of things in this movie which really cross the line of legality. Like, it’s not even on the line, it’s way beyond the line.”

That doesn’t sound too much like the set-up for a joke, but he insisted later that a joke — funny or not — is what it was.

Co-director Josh Safdie, in a statement on Instagram, denied that Pattinson was pressured to touch the dog inappropriately. He said the prosthetic device was used in filming. The scene, however, was deleted during editing.

“Everyone involved in Good Time are amazing professionals and have come together to make a movie that I’m extremely proud of,” Pattinson said. “I feel embarrassed that in the moment, I was trying to make Jimmy laugh, only to create confusion and a false impression.”

The independent film stars Pattinson as Constantine “Connie” Nikas who is trying to evade authorities and get his brother out of jail after a bank robbery goes wrong.

It premiered to rave reviews at Cannes in May and opens August 11.