Old School Kung Fu Fest 2015 at Anthology Film Archives

Ninjas are invading New York next month! You've been warned.
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Press release: Subway Cinema and Anthology Film Archives present The Old School Kung Fu Fest, a four-day celebration of the rarest, wildest, and most incredible martial arts and action cinema from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s is back at the Anthology Film Archives for its 5th edition, which is dedicated to the deadliest fighter of them all...the ninja! Since the dawn of time, man’s natural predator has been the ninja. Hiding in your shower, crouching behind your laptop, clinging to your back — the ninja is everywhere. What killed the dinosaurs? Ninja. What battles great white shark? Ninja. Who is

Unbroken (2014) Blu-ray Review: Look, if It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!

Angelina Jolie brings us an all too run-of-the-mill biography of WWII POW Louis Zamperini.
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Despite having seen the trailer for the film at the cinema prior to its release, it wasn't until I saw the teaser/standee artwork for the WWII/POW movie Unbroken that it stood out to me. And that was because once I saw a man standing with his back to us, holding a heavy wood beam over his head, a golden-colored and familiar-looking font spelling out the name of the film, I instantly thought of Rocky Balboa. I had every reason to, too, as the promotional artwork damn near plagiarized the cover of the more popular 2006 Sylvester Stallone sequel. When

Into the Woods Blu-ray Review: Bringing Out My Inner Theatre Geek

Making me believe in big, bold musicals once again.
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When choosing Into the Woods as my pick of the week, I noted that I’m not as big of a theatre geek as I once imagined. Sometimes I get bored in the theatre and I’m finally in a place where I can not only admit that, but also be perfectly okay with it as well. I came to Rob Marshall’s movie version of Stephen Sondheim’s much-beloved musical with a lot of hopefulness, but also a touch of trepidation. What if I didn’t like it, or worse, what if I didn’t get it? I’m able to now say I’m not the

Blind Woman's Curse Blu-ray Review: Gory Japanese Ghosts and Yakuza Fun

A kitchen sink of Japanese genre elements from Japanese exploitation expert Teruo Ishii.
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Blind Woman's Curse, directed by Teruo Ishii and due out on Blu-ray on April 21 from Arrow Video, is a fine example of the kind of leeway that was allowed in Japanese studio films. As long as the movie had enough elements that looked like it belonged to a genre, Japanese exploitation movies of the '60s and '70s would go to surprising artistic places, and most often with extremely professional technical results. This movie, on the surface a mix of a Yakuza story about a female boss of an early 20th century Japanese gang and a ghost story with a

Into the Woods is the Pick of the Week

This week brings a big Hollywood musical, a bigger battle for Middle Earth, a collection of documentaries, neatly packaged fury, and Angelina Jolie as a director.
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A funny thing happened on the way to posting this week’s pick. Yesterday, I wrote the words you will read below, which is all about how I’ve developed mix feelings for the theatre. I was hopeful over Into the Woods, but was afraid that I wouldn’t like it and be forced to turn in my theatre-geek card. But before I could post it I had to put my daughter to bed, and when I returned, my wife had stolen the computer and refused to relinquish it until way past my bed time. A day has since passed and in that

Book Review: Chappie: The Art of the Movie by Peter E. Aperlo

Gritty, realistic sci-fi doesn't exactly translate to stunning pre-production design.
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A few weeks ago, Chappie, writer/director Neill Blomkamp’s latest film, arrived in theaters to mixed reviews. A few days ago, Chappie: The Art of the Movie arrived on my doorstep in a similar fashion. Taking inspiration from the creator’s short film "Tetra Vaal," Chappie contains all the typical elements of a Blomkamp film: gritty science fiction grounded in a hard reality, ultra-violent action, and a sharp satirical wit. Oh yeah, and Sharlto Copley too. Anyway, on to the book. Big hardcover coffee-table art books are pretty much a no-brainer, especially when they deal with robots, and if you’re reading this

Book Review: Quentin Tarantino FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Original Reservoir Dog by Dale Sherman

Covering Tarantino's body of work and his rai·son d'ê·tre for each film.
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Author Dale Sherman’s newest FAQ book, he previously wrote Armageddon Films FAQ and KISS FAQ, was published this month, and it’s a work dense with trivia, factoids, and much more. But does it answer the big question? (At least my big question?) What is Tarantino’s fascination with an out-of-sequence narrative? We will get to that. Sherman’s writing comes off as a bit awkward at times, but mostly it’s fine, although quite familiar, as the book was intended to be a series of blog posts. But the overall voice throughout the work has the feel of someone who is jazzed to

Exodus: Gods and Kings Blu-ray Review: Cecil B. Diminished

Ridley Scott falls far from the grace of God and anyone who has ever worshipped either of the two.
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According to His faithful flock and their respective independently-produced movies, God is not dead. The concept of the Hollywood biblical epic, on the other hand, is a critically endangered species. The days of lavish productions loaded with dazzling special effects and all-star casts of white folk playing Egyptians performing in big-budget productions interlaced with a strong belief in the Christian theology throughout are long gone, having been replaced by low-budget, poorly acted, and usually mind-numbing films produced by people who are either just exploiting the faithful (see: Left Behind), or who are a few hundred thousand Hebrewites short of an

Memory Lane (2012) DVD Review: Ambitious, but Lacks Polish

Its 70-minute length is both its saving grace and its biggest weakness.
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The promotional material for Memory Lane called down the thunder by comparing itself to the likes of Primer and Memento. It's no secret that I thoroughly enjoyed Primer. Memento I've seen a couple of times now, and it's always a crazy ride even though I know what happens. The former had a budget of $7,000 and the latter $9M. Writer/director Shawn Holmes must have been trying to set a record with a budget of $300. There's just one problem...it feels like a $300 movie. That's not to say that expensive effects or elaborate locations or A-list talent are needed for

Meryl Streep Talks About Going Into the Woods

"What I hope for the audience: that they will be thrilled and challenged." - Meryl Streep
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With director Rob Marshall's Into the Woods availble Tuesday March 24 on Blu-ray, Disney Movies Anywhere, and Digital HD, Meryl Streep, who was Oscar-nominated for her role as the Witch, sat for an interview provided to us to promote its release. Tell us what drew you to the project. When I turned 40, I was offered three witches in one year and I realized this was the way my career was going to go: they don’t know what to do with women past a certain age. So I turned them down and I have said “no” to playing witches ever

getTV Programming Highlights for April 2015

The channel celebrates the extraordinary legacy of Melvyn Douglas with 12 of the two-time Oscar-winner's finest films.
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Melvyn Douglas, an Oscar winner for Hud and Being There, is getTV's Star of the Month in April, and his films will be featured every Thursday night. "Friday Icons" starts each weekend by putting the spotlight on Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis, William Holden, and Ann Miller, and every Saturday sees the Western line-up stating at high noon with a Tim McCoy double feature. More details about the month's schedule are available in the channel's press release below. Press release: getTV celebrates the extraordinary legacy of Melvyn Douglas with 12 of the two-time Oscar-winner’s finest films, every Thursday in April at

My 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule (subject to change)

Each year it is harder to decide on what to see.
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With the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival a week away, I have started planning my schedule. Each year it is harder to decide on what to watch. I go in thinking I will stick with films I have not yet seen, but all-time favorites have a tendency to sneak onto my schedule. Below is my list of the top films I am most excited about and likely to attend (as of right now). Thursday: Too Late for Tears (1949): My festival will start off with my most sought after genre, film noir. I have never heard of the film but

The Soft Skin is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us early Truffaut, new Chris Rock, classic film noir, a silly sequel, and more.
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Before she became a stay-at-home mom (and forced me to get a real job, le sigh) my wife taught French at university. A small university. In Tennessee. She was the French department. Like all of it. The only person on campus that spoke French, I think. She made a real go of it, offering as many classes as she could but also hosting regular crepe days, celebrating French holidays, and inviting the kids to our house for the viewing of French films. My wife is a francophile and she lives to share that passion. Especially with me. I like to

Criterion Announces June 2015 Releases

Something old, something new.
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In June, Criterion packages previous titles in the collection, Louis Malle's My Dinner with André and Vanya on 42nd Street, with Jonathan Demme's A Master Builder to create André Gregory & Wallace Shawn: 3 Films. Those films will also be available individually. Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces is being released apart from the America Lost and Found: The BBS Story set. New to the Criterion Collection are Bernhard Wicki's The Bridge, Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King, and Jaromil Jireš' Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. André Gregory & Wallace Shawn: 3 Films out Jun 16 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions

McLintock! (Authentic Collector's Edition) Blu-ray Review: An Entertaining Escape

John Wayne tries to tame Maureen O'Hara.
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Made by his own Batjac Productions, John Wayne stars as the titular McLintock! in a variation of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew with Maureen O'Hara, the fourth time they shared the silver screen together. Set in the Old West, G.W. (named after the country's first President) McLintock is a major cattle rancher in the Oklahoma Territory and his estranged wife Katherine (O'Hara) returns to town after two years, wanting a divorce and custody of their daughter Rebecca (Stefanie Powers), herself returning from school with a suitor in tow, Matt Douglas, Jr. (Jerry Van Dyke). However, G.W., who never wanted her

Thoughtful & Abstract: Looking at The Walking Dead's Dr. Eugene Porter

Kim and Shawn take a thoughtful look at the man with the mullet.
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In which Kim (@kimfreakinb) and Shawn (@genx13) step back to look at one of their favorite characters. "The smartest man I ever met happened to love my hair. My old boss, T. Brooks Ellis, the director of the Human Genome Project. He said my hair made me look like, and I quote, 'a fun guy,' which I am." - Dr. Eugene Porter Kim: I want to talk about characters, because they are truly what makes or breaks a show. How much do you like the people you're rooting for or hate the ones you want to see die a horrendous

Thoughtful & Abstract: Catching up on the Current TV Season

What they talk about when they talk about what they are watching this season.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) riff on some recent TV thingies... Shawn: It's been far too long since we caught up. So I've got a few thoughts to spray out regarding some of the TV you may or may not have been watching. American Crime (ABC): One episode in and I'm interested. I think it's going to run a fine line for me. I see parts of the show like the parents dealing with the death of their son (two strong actors there - I especially like Timothy Hutton) to play out in ways that we don't always

The Wrecking Crew Movie Review: A Musical History and a Labor of Love

Denny Tedesco's loving tribute to his father and the talented musicians who made up The Wrecking Crew.
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A few months back Marc Maron released an episode of his podcast, WTF, where he sat down with Denny Tedesco to talk about his project The Wrecking Crew. I listened to him talk to Maron about this documentary and I was intrigued and excited to see this film when it came out. I am happy to say I was not let down. The Wrecking Crew is not just a film about the group of ultra-talented musicians whose work you have heard over and over on some the biggest albums of all time, but it is Denny’s loving tribute to his

Russell Madness Blu-ray Combo Pack Giveaway

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In conjunction with the March 10 release of Russell Madness on Blu-ray and DVD, Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to award a lucky reader one (1) copy of the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. For those wanting to learn more about the film, the official synopsis reads: Russell Madness tells the story of Russell, an undersized but big-hearted terrier who dreams of having a family of his own. After running away from his pet store, Russell gets taken in by The Ferraros, a family desperate to revive their grandfather’s pro wrestling arena. That’s when they discover

Monty Python Live (mostly) Blu-ray Review: And Now for Something Generally Familiar

It’s great to add this final chapter to the collection.
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After previously working together in various configurations at university and on such television shows like The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set, (the late) Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin formed what is arguably the funniest and most influential comedy troupe ever. Known as Monty Python, they came together to create the legendary TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus, which debuted October 5, 1969 on the BBC. Their humor was a great mix of high brow and low brow, both of which are typified in the "Summarize Proust Competition" where each

The Way He Looks Blu-ray Review: An Instant Classic

A beguiling, wonderful film about first love and infatuation.
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There have been many coming-of-age movies, such as The Yearling (1946), The 400 Blows (1959), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Breaking Away (1979), The Breakfast Club (1985), Stand By Me (1986), and Dazed and Confused (1993), that have made a really big impression on me, in terms of accurately depicting the trials and tribulations with growing up, peer pressure and parental dysfunction, and buddling love. And speaking of buddling love, Daniel Ribeiro's 2014 charmer The Way He Looks (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho) gets it absolutely right. It takes the premise of newfound love and takes it to such new

Wizard World Chicago Fan Fest, March 7-8, 2015

New fans, lapsed fans, fair-weather fans, broke fans and folks whose kids have been begging them to go to a convention - rejoice! Wizard World has heard your cries!
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Spring hasn't exactly sprung, but even though there's still a chill in the air and frost on the tree branches, it's never too early to kick off convention season. This year, pop-culture fans in Chicago were treated to something a little bit different - while Wizard World usually rolls into the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois sometime in August, a smaller Fan Fest was held in the same location on March 7-8. Fans who purchased either VIP or 4-Day tickets for the August show would receive free admission (which I guess is what makes it a fan

RiffTrax Announces Their Live 2015 Schedule

"Much like the '27 Yankees -- or perhaps more like 'The Three Stooges' in their latter days, with Curly Joe Derita, we feel like we have the perfect line-up in place for 2015.” - Michael J. Nelson
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Press release: The fans have spoken and RiffTrax.com has listened. Based on overwhelming fan demand, Fathom Events, RiffTrax, and IGN are thrilled to announce multiple RiffTrax events --all at once-- to keep fans laughing throughout the year. “RiffTrax LIVE 2015,” will consist of a series of four “classics” to be lambasted by the men of RiffTrax -- Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett (best known for the groundbreaking “Mystery Science Theater 3000”). Kicking off the series will be RiffTrax Live: The Room on May 6 and May 12; followed by RiffTrax Live: Sharknado 2: The Second One on

The Breakfast Club: 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: Kids Can Be So Cool

Universal re-releases John Hughes' quintessential teen dramedy just in time for a two-night theatrical re-offering.
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One of the few filmmakers who made movies about teenagers while actually having an understanding about the awkward, spotty-faced years of adolescence itself, John Hughes' second film as writer and director (and his first as a producer) is one that has successfully managed to withstand the test of time. Indeed, it is probably the quintessential American motion picture to center on high school students (from the '80s or otherwise) who are coming to grips with themselves, peer groups, and the pressures allotted to and from both. With a minimal budget, single location setting, and nothing but character development to offer,

The Sound of Music (50th Anniversary Edition) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a Bible story, a silly remake, a sillier b-movie, and hills coming alive.
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My sophomore year in college I started working for the university dinner theatre via the work study program. The previous semester I’d worked for the library and found it extraordinarily dull. I wasn’t all that interested in the theatre at that point, but I was happy to no longer be staring at book spines all day. Turns out, I absolutely adored the theatre work and stayed there the rest of my academic career. It was a small school and an even smaller theatre so I was often called upon to help out with the various productions we put on. I

Come Together: A Beatles Tribute Documentary Review: Meet the Faux Beatles!

A Beatles documentary with a twist, the film pays homage to international tribute bands.
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At this very moment, a Beatles tribute band is likely playing a concert somewhere throughout the world. Over 8,000 groups worldwide regularly recreate the music and, occasionally, the exact image and accents of the Beatles. Come Together: A Beatles Tribute Documentary examines these tribute bands, which range geographically and even in gender. Hosted by John Lennon’s half-sister Julia Baird, the film interviews several musicians who earn a living imitating their idols. While interesting, Come Together provides little insight as to the benefits and pitfalls of such a career. Baird often appears in various locations throughout Liverpool, from the recreated Cavern

Doctor Who Last Christmas Blu-ray Review: When the Doctor Met Santa Claus

"Happy Easter." - The Doctor
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When one can travel through all of time and space, sometimes Christmas comes about at the strangest of times. For Doctor Who fans, it's Christmas right now as the BBC releases 2014's Christmas special "Last Christmas" on DVD and Blu-Ray between Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. While the title gets the 1984 song by Wham! instantly stuck in my head for hours to come, "Last Christmas" proves to be a brilliantly written and highly entertaining holiday outing for the Doctor. In fact I think it's my favorite of all the Doctor Who Christmas specials so far. Imagine Alien, The

Mark of the Devil Blu-ray Review: Say Hello to Arrow Video USA, Kids!

The movie that left its mark on the annals of exploitation advertising history inaugurates Arrow Video's new North American label.
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Nothing delights me more than seeing a new cult video label emerge in the USA. After the collapse of the (global) economy nearly a decade ago, a number of niche companies who specialized in movies I grew up only reading about or drooling over the lurid VHS labels of in mom and pop video stores as a kid disappeared. Many of them were on a winning streak at the time, too, which makes it all the more regrettable. Since then, several outfits have surfaced - with some becoming hugely popular, while others were literally the home video equivalent of a

Big Hero 6 Blu-ray Review: This Movie Will Make You Feel Better

"Sometimes, life doesn't go the way you planned." - Hiro
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When the Walt Disney Company bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009, there was much speculation about what would be the first Disney animated film to spring forth from the pages of Marvel Comics. The annoucement that it would be Big Hero 6, a Japanese superhero team from the late '90s that appeared in only a few books and is so obsure that not even Marvel.com has an entry for them, many questioned the choice. But after earning over half a billion at the box office worldwide and the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, it looks like the the folks at Disney

Lovejoy Series 4 DVD Review: Up to His Old Tricks

It is always fun to watch Lovejoy straddle the outer edges of honesty in his various deals and swindles, and Series 4 is yet another great edition.
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Lovejoy (Ian McShane) has always walked a fine line between legitimate and slightly shady deals - such seems to be the nature of the antiques trade. But in Lovejoy, Series 4, the always charming rogue has crossed over to out-and-out swindling - for a good cause, naturally - the saving of his own skin. Lovejoy is a "divvie," someone who has the gift of being able to sniff out a real antique. This feature has both helped and hindered Lovejoy in his life, loves, and business. As the series opens, Lovejoy Antiques, Inc. has been seized by the authorities -

CHiPs: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: Lay Down the Roller Boogie

Finally, the classic cop show we all love to love for all the wrong reasons returns.
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Were one to order nachos at a restaurant in the plainest, most simplistic form possible, they would most likely receive a pile of crispy tortilla eighths covered in a melted mass of dairy-gleaned and coagulated delight. "Cheesy chips," if you will. Similarly, were one to sit back and watch even one episode of a certain, lighthearted television series about the California Highway Patrol as made during the late '70s and early '80s, they might think something along the line of how cheesy CHiPs is. And yet, despite all of the bad acting, ridiculously lurid storylines, and a noticeable lack of

The Carol Burnett Show: Together Again...Well, Sort of

If you receive this DVD as a gift, it’s worth watching once and regifting.
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On February 24th 2015, StarVista Entertainment/Time Life released a DVD featuring three uncut episodes from the landmark television variety series. When one hears of a new release from this classic show, it is easy to get excited. To title said release Together Again, only adds to the excitement as we imagine the classic moments enjoyed over the eleven-year run of this CBS success. Said excitement can be quickly quelled when we discover who is not together again. Unfortunately, none of the three episodes feature Harvey Korman and Tim Conway together. Korman and Conway are fine on their own or interacting

Foxcatcher is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a very serious Steve Carell, a not so humble Al Pacino, an old Robin Hood, and a gruff sheriff.
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Wrestling (real wrestling - not that soap-opera stuff you see on cable TV) is an odd sort of sport. You basically dress two people in tights, toss them on a rubber mat, and watch while they try to roll each other on the ground. I know there is more to it than that and I don’t mean to belittle the sport’s rich history, its athleticism, or the skill involved, but really it is pretty silly. Which probably helps explain why it never really took off professionally (aside from the even more silly aforementioned soap-opera stuff) and why there aren’t a

Longmire: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: A Much Darker Season Unfolds

It offers something different than the many formulaic crime dramas these days.
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The third season of Longmire continued what had been previously established in the first two seasons as a strong crime drama rooted in deep and interesting characters. What was unique about this season is that it followed three fully developed storylines involving the main characters rather than just standalone murder mysteries, unfolding a complex interconnectedness between them. It is a much darker season as well with a strong undercurrent of evil that wove throughout. This drew me in further and resulted in a huge cliffhanger that left me anxious for the next season. A&E didn’t have as much faith and

WolfCop DVD Review: Bloody, Sexy, Crazy, and Furry

It even has a gangsta rap theme song.
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A movie like WolfCop doesn't need a lot of explanation -- the title kind of tells you everything you need to know going in. When I first heard about it, I thought of Full Eclipse (1993) starring Mario Van Peebles as part of a team of werewolf cops out to clean up the crime-ridden streets of Los Angeles. With all the recycling of ideas in Hollywood, I guess 21 years is a reasonable amount of time to pass between movies about werewolf cops. First thing you'll notice is that this isn't a big city, big budget action thriller. It was

Massacre Mafia Style Blu-ray Review: Duke Mitchell's Godfather Antithesis

The ultra-violent cult classic from a very ambitious cabaret entertainer returns to entertain and shock once more.
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It is sometimes interesting - well, to me, that is - how many of the articles I request or wind up for review can often be "connected" to one another like a really outrageous game of Six Degrees of Separation. Not too terribly far back, I found myself diving into the Warner Archive Collection re-releases of the Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collections. Just last week, I was viewing Twilight Time's new Blu-ray issue of Roger Corman's neglected Prohibition Era gangster picture, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Believe it or not, there's more than one common denominator at play between

Dumber and Dumber To Blu-ray Review: Still Dumb After All These Years

While there are some laughs, it suffers like many sequels do from not being as good as the original and covering similar ground.
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It's no surprise that the directing team of Bobby and Peter Farrelly would write, produce, and direct The Three Stooges, the 2012 modern-day update with new actors playing Moe, Larry, and Curly. The Stooges' brand of dim-witted lunacy and aggressive slapstick is seen throughout the Farrelly Brothers' work, including their feature-film debut, Dumb and Dumber. Starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, who are perfectly described by the film's title, Dumb and Dumber was a smash hit, turning a $17 million budget into $247 million at the box office. It led to an animated series

Remembering Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

His work will live long and the audience will prosper from it.
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Leonard Nimoy died on February 27 due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which he claimed was due to having been a smoker even though he had kicked the habit nearly 30 years. Though he had a long career as an actor playing a variety of parts, he became forever identified the world over as Star Trek's Mr. Spock, the half-human/half-Vulcan First Officer of the Enterprise. He not only played Spock on the initial TV series for three seasons, but would return to it many times over the years from The Animated Series and the theatrical movies, and

Longmire: The Complete Third Season DVD Giveaway

Bring Sheriff Walt Longmire home.
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In conjunction with the March 3 release of Longmire: The Complete Third Season on DVD, Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to award a lucky reader one (1) copy of the DVD set. For those wanting to learn more about the release, the official synopsis reads: Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire is back for the third season of hit Big Sky crime drama Longmire, based on the “Walt Longmire” mystery novels written by best-selling author Craig Johnson. In this gripping two-disc, 10-episode set, characters must test their courage and face challenges that will ultimately define them. The

Love and Death (1975) Blu-ray Review: Dying is Easy. Loving is Hard.

The Woody Allen film that even Woody Allen likes gets the High-Def treatment.
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Though some people out there would just assume never hear his name ever again, there is ultimately no denying the contributions Woody Allen has made to the worlds of both comedy and cinema alike since he first starting writing gags for television in the late 1950s. Since then, he has directed 50 (count 'em, fifty) projects in addition to writing, producing, and/or starring in several dozen others. Heck, some of the classic comedians who would become the filmmaker's inspirations growing up did not have such a filmic output (even when combined in some instances). But it wasn't just the witty

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