I gave up Filmstruck to order Hulu so that I could watch the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale. I like Hulu. They’ve got some great TV shows. Their movie selection however is mostly crap. Netflix has been slack of late in their movie selection as well. Let’s not even talk about Amazon for the moment. They all have movies, good ones even, but you have to wade through a lot of junk to get to them, and I’ve now seen most of the ones I want to see. Or at least the ones I want to see right now.
This week's five things include some classic rewatches and a few new things as well.
Garland follows up his impressive directorial debut on Ex Machina with another unsettling sci-fi tale.
Annihilation gained notoriety during its U.S. theatrical release earlier this year when it was revealed that Paramount had decided to skip theatrical release in many other major worldwide markets, instead sending the film directly to Netflix. While this was widely viewed as a vote of no confidence in the film, the finished project proves that it has nothing to do with the film’s quality and everything to do with market dynamics. Screenwriter/director Alex Garland’s cerebral take on horror sci fi simply doesn’t fit into the Hollywood blockbuster formula, so while Paramount’s bottom line may have been protected by their unusual
It would prove to be the first of a "baseball trilogy" starring iconic comedian Joe E. Brown.
Admittedly, a movie from the early '30s is bound to feel more than just a tad bit outdated when viewed today. That said, Lloyd Bacon's Fireman, Save My Child ‒ a First National Pictures comedy starring the mouth himself, Joe E. Brown ‒ was already old hat (or old fire helmet, as it were) when it was released by Warner Bros. in late February of 1932, as it had already been made twice before during the Silent Era. The first film to carry the title was Hal Roach's one-reel short from 1918 with the great Harold Lloyd in the lead,
An entertaining space adventure that is best when it's not spending time covering obvious connective plot points.
Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Solo tells how Han Solo began his journey towards becoming the character met at a Tatooine cantina in the original film. It's an entertaining space adventure that is best when it's not spending time covering obvious, connective plot points. Han (Alden Ehrenreich) is young thief on the streets Corellia working for Lady Proxima (Linda Hunt), a variation on Oliver Twist and Fagin. He dreams of becoming a pilot and leaving the planet. His only option to accomplish both is joining the Empire. While on an Imperial mission to conquer a
An entirely-too-old George Arliss portrays a much younger Hamilton in this early pre-Code biopic from the Warner Archive Collection.
Far removed from the musical stage sensation of today, the 1917 Broadway production of Hamilton presented audiences with a condensed version of the first Secretary of the Treasury's battle to pass his Assumption Bill funding act in the years following the end of the Revolutionary War. With very little else in-between. But that didn't seem to matter much to the public, who were probably more excited to see recent Academy Award winner George Arliss ‒ the first (and youngest) English-born actor to earn such an honor in the US ‒ parading about amid a compelling human drama he himself had
Events include dedication of plaque commemorating Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin Studio, plus location tours and screenings.
Press release: A bronze plaque commemorating the location of a movie studio where both Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin created their timeless comedies in the early part of the 20th century will be dedicated at 4 p.m. June 16, 2018, at 1021 Lillian Ave., near the intersection of Eleanor Avenue and Lillian Way in Los Angeles. Thirty years ago, a plaque was inadvertently placed on an incorrect corner, and now the International Buster Keaton society is remedying this (appropriately farcical) injustice. The city of Los Angeles will declare that day “Buster Keaton Day” in honor of the influential comedian and
Network to also offer free interactive online course about the history of the musical genre.
Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will pay homage to the glittering world of Hollywood musicals with Mad About Musicals!, a special month of programming celebrating timeless movie musicals such as The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain and Cabaret. TCM is once again partnering with Ball State University and Canvas to offer a free online multimedia course tied to this programming special about the history of the musical genre and its evolution with cultural and technological shifts. Enrollment is open until June 17 and fans can sign up for the course at musicals.tcm.com. Movie musicals have been a
See what's coming out on Blu-ray this week.
I have to start this week with an apology. Last week, somehow or another I completely and utterly missed talking about Black Panther. For some reason I thought that it was coming out this week. It wasn’t until I had already posted my pick of the week and actually had gone to the store on Tuesday that I realized Black Panther was out. Obviously, I would have mentioned, if not outright picked, one of the biggest releases of the year were I not a complete idiot and missed the release date. Hopefully I’m not missing something quite as colossal as
Caniff continues to work at the top of his game.
The Library of American Comics continues publishing the adventures of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon with Volume 8, which presents the newspaper comic strips of 1961 and '62, the 14th and 15th year of the strip's 41-year run. The premise remains the same as Air Force Colonel Steve Canyon travels the globe conducting official and unofficial missions. Also remaining the same is Caniff's outstanding artwork. Steve's first assignment in this collection is set in England where some of the locals aren't too happy about the installation of a North American air defense radar station, especially when their sheep start dying. In
The Warner Archive Collection knots it up with this captivating western starring Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden, and first-timer George C. Scott.
Several years before a more somber wave of performers rode into town, Gary Cooper was ‒ as he had done so eloquently before ‒ pioneering a unique protagonist who would fit right at home in a '70s revisionist western. In Delmer Daves' The Hanging Tree, released two years before one of the genre's quintessential heroes passed away, we witness the stalwart High Noon icon delivering his final lead performance in a cowboy picture. This time, however, Cooper does not play a man haunted by what he must do. Rather, he's tormented over what he has done. Set in the tiny
It was a cool week that was almost ruined by obnoxious people in the theater.
For a long time, I stopped going to the movies. It was too expensive, I didn’t live close to any sort of theatre that played something besides giant blockbusters, I had a small child, my home theatre system was good enough, and the average movie crowd is really obnoxious. Over the last couple of years, that has changed. I still don’t go to a ton of movies but I hit the theaters probably twice a month. Turns out, I like the experience. There is something really nice about the big screen, the comfy chairs, and the surround speakers. With Movie
Carole Lombard and Chester Morris unite for a well-aged gangster screwball comedy, now available from the Warner Archive Collection.
Some marriages just need a little time to get things right. Crafted at the tail-end of Hollywood's golden age of gangster pictures, MGM's classic screwball comedy The Gay Bride failed to wed audiences upon its initial release in 1934. But when I first witnessed this union betwixt Carole Lombard (My Man Godfrey, To Be or Not to Be) and future Boston Blackie star Chester Morris (Five Came Back, The She-Creature) 84 years later in 2018, I found this once-dejected Bride to be quite worthy of a suitor ‒ Gayor otherwise. Set in New York (but clearly filmed in Los Angeles),
The World of Suzie Wong was the most bizarre film I viewed during the festival.
One of my most anticipated films started day three with Bullitt (1968). This is a movie I am always surprised that I haven’t seen due to the iconic car chase. It was worth the wait to be able to see it on the big screen. Jacqueline Bisset was supposed to be in attendance but had had to cancel due to a family emergency. Instead, we got a fantastic introduction by Film Noir Foundation President Eddie Muller whom I look forward to seeing every year. He was quick to tell the audience that if you were only there for the famous
The Warner Archive Collection raises an early Sound Era seafaring thriller featuring Kay Johnson and Louis Wolheim.
Were you to examine the wake of just about every cinematic maritime thriller pitting a random assortment of passengers against an onboard maniac, the trail will more than likely trace back to 1930's The Ship from Shanghai. As the title may indicate, the story opens in Shanghai. Well, it's technically an assortment of stock footage from the Orient and a Hollywood nightclub set ‒ complete with an all-too lively gweilo playing the drums in yellowface while an otherwise Asian band plays "Singin' in the Rain" in Chinese. Fear not, though, for the film shifts into an entirely different gear soon
Seijun Suzuki: Early Years Vol.2 Border Crossings: The Crime and Action Movies Blu-ray Review: Nikkatsu Noir
Five early films by Seijun Suzuki spotlight Nikkatsu's early 60s trends and the director's growing ambition.
Seijun Suzuki is one of the more famous Japanese directors of the '60s, when younger filmmakers were taking the rein from the older masters like Ozu and Mizoguchi and Japanese domestic cinema was seeing both its high point as a commercial medium, and heading toward a crash in the late '60s when television would finally saturate Japanese markets. Suzuki worked at Nikkatsu, strangely the oldest and newest Japanese film studio at the time (it was the first film studio in Japan but had been disbanded by the Imperial government in 1941 and reformed 10 years later) whose bread and butter
Saoirse Ronan easily saves what ends up being a jumbled depiction of marriage and sexuality.
The last time Saoirse Ronan starred in a film based on an Ian McEwan novel was Atonement back in 2007. Atonement was her big break and she landed an Oscar nomination in Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Since then, she’s ascended to leading-lady status and has now transported back to the literary world of Ian McEwan by starring in a film adaptation of his novel On Chesil Beach. Saoirse Ronan delivers a luminous and quietly commanding performance as a newly conflicted bride. However, she manages to be the only reason to watch On Chesil Beach which has a thoughtful
Get ready for your close-up.
A down-on-his-luck screenwriter (William Holden) goes on the run from some pretty nasty creditors. He flees in the very car they are trying to repossess. When it blows a tire, the screenwriter, Joe Gillis, stashes the vehicle inside the garage of a large, dilapidated mansion on Sunset Boulevard. Mistaken for a man bringing a coffin for a pet monkey, he is called inside the mansion by Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), an old, silent-film star who was swept aside by the movie industry when sound entered the pictures and nearly forgotten by her once adoring public. She is now accompanied only
John Landis' campy homage to classic monster movies surfaces in High-Definition for a limited time from Turbine Media Group.
The first feature film of cult filmmaker John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Innocent Blood) Schlock serves as a exemplary reminder we all have to start somewhere. Shot over the course of 12 days on a measly $60,000 budget in one of the many suburbs of Los Angeles, Schlock is a campy homage to horror and science fiction movies of the past, as seen through the eyes of one very eager 21-year-old filmmaker. A small community is besieged by a wave of baffling, unsolved murders, committed by an entity whom authorities and the media alike have dubbed "The Banana
See what's coming before the kids head back to school.
In August, Criterion is releasing five titles. New to the collection are Robert M. Young's The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Susan Seidelman's Smithereens, Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment and a high-definition upgrade of Ernst Lubitsch’s Heaven Can Wait. Read on to learn more about them. The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (#940) out Aug 14 Forced to run from the Texas Rangers after a heated misunderstanding leads to the death of a lawman, Mexican American farmer Gregorio Cortez sets off in desperate flight, evading a massive manhunt on horseback for days. Producer-star Edward
Here's what's coming to Blu-ray this week.
There are so many different options in terms of what one can watch these days that I often feel overwhelmed. My wife makes fun of me because I’ll often spend half my evening scanning through the various streaming services trying to make a decision on what to watch. What I choose often seems random but whenever I step back and analyze my choices, patterns tend to arise. Over the course of several weeks and months, I tend to watch movies from specific genres or that deal with certain themes, or more often than not, ones by the same director or
This charming documentary looks at how an avid collector in Iowa comes across some of the first moving pictures that were believed to have been extinct.
Michael Zahs, a retired history teacher and the subject of the new documentary Saving Brinton, is the very definition of someone who is a gentle giant. His large stature and lengthy beard give him a rather intimidating appearance, but when you hear him speak and get an insight into his life, he’s a lovable teddy bear. He’s the kind of person from whom you could learn a lot, and not just because he once taught history in high school. As we get a look inside his home in Ainsworth, Iowa, we see that he loves to collect things. It has
The commentary by John Landis and Rick Baker makes for a much more entertaining experience than the movie itself.
Released by Turbine Media Group, Schlock is now available as an exclusive limited 2000-copy Blu-ray/DVD combo mediabook edition that contains the main feature in full HD sourced from an all-new, detailed 4K frame-by-frame restoration on Region Code-Free Blu-ray for worldwide playback, and an NTSC SD 4:3 full-frame open-matte DVD version. The DVD was made available for this review. After an apology from writer/director/star John Landis for those about to view his debut feature, Schlock opens with 239 dead bodies strewn across a park. Turns out the killer is a prehistoric ape man in this spoof of '50s monster movies that
The festival presents moments that create a deeper appreciation for a movie as you are watching it.
The second day of the festival started with the world premiere restoration of My Brilliant Career (1979) since it features one of my favorite leading men, Sam Neill. The director, Gillian Armstrong, was in attendance to discuss her debut feature, which was also the first feature-length film to be directed by a female in Australia. It was very interesting to hear her talk about her struggles and challenges with this distinction. It is these types of moments that create a deeper appreciation for the movie as you are watching it and why this festival is so special in these offerings.
For whatever reason, the Warner Archive Collection releases Robert Youngson's effortless cut-and-paste documentary to DVD-R.
One would expect a collection of clips featuring some of cinema's greatest comedians and comediennes to be a laugh-a-minute mini-fest; a cinematic party tape devoted entirely to some of the biggest names in comedy during their best moments on-screen. And, while such compilation movies surely exist somewhere, you will not find anything remotely resembling such in MGM's The Big Parade of Comedy ‒ a dreadful cut-and-paste wonder from the once-respected mind of documentary filmmaker Robert Youngson. Beginning his career at Warner Bros. in the late 1940s as the director of documentary shorts ‒ two of which won Academy Awards ‒
An impeccably made, sometimes difficult and now entirely emotionally satisfying film.
Sometimes a film comes along that just knocks me out with its filmmaking, but never quite comes across on an emotional level. Paul Thomas Anderson films have that way about them and his latest, Phantom Thread, falls directly into that category. It is a meticulously made film in every possible way. It is gorgeously designed and stunning to look at. The script is a puzzle where every piece falls into place exactly when Anderson wants them to and the acting is exquisite. But there is something about the story and the characters that just didn’t quite connect with me. Yet,
The Warner Archive Collection finds a rare Barbara Stanwyck flick co-starring the famous Emerald City Wizard himself, Frank Morgan.
After witnessing the man she is due to marry (in just two days) get gunned down in front of her by a jealous husband (the cad!), poor Marian (Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity) becomes a bitter, dejected, clinically depressed recluse. Months later, her family, completely uncertain what to do with her now that she's so very sad and boring, pack up her belongings and ship her off to the Canadian Rockies so she can mope in peace there. And indeed she does, until she decides to run off into the woods after nearly experiencing an emotion, wherein she promptly falls off
Come catch up with all the cool things I consumed this week.
I keep track of all the movies I watch every month and have various mental goals to keep up with. Sometimes I get a little panicked in the middle if I haven’t watched enough. Though we aren’t even halfway through this month, at the beginning of this week that panic set in real good. So I kicked my watching habits up a few notches and watched a few movies from last year that got a lot of love and a couple of much older ones that had been on my radar. Lady Bird Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical movie stars Saoirse Ronan
VCI keeps the memory of Bruceploitation alive and kicking by cloning a German Blu-ray release for this one.
Though contributions to what has since become known as the "Bruceploitation era" were numerous, those who dare consider themselves loyal to the less-than-esteemed subgenre of ripoff filmmaking generally tend to hold three particular titles high above all others. Amazingly managing to reach a zenith within a cataclysmic cinematic nadir such as this, Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave, The Clones of Bruce Lee, and Bruce's Deadly Fingers have become as holy to bad kung fu movie lovers as has Clint Eastwood's The Man with No Name Trilogy has with Spaghetti Western enthusiasts. Apart from the occasional music cue shamelessly
Tarkovsky's last film is a gorgeous meditation on life, God and what we are willing to give up.
In literature classes, you learn that in short stories every paragraph, every sentence, every comma counts. Because of the short length, you cannot have any fluff. You have to weed out everything that isn’t important. Whereas in a novel you can sometimes let a sentence or two (or if you are Stephen King, entire chapters) slide. In a similar way with slow cinema - films that are more contemplative in nature and that utilize long shots with fewer cuts that normal cinema - one has to make each shot really count. Andrei Tarkovsky was a master of slow cinema. Though
Tony Curtis and Monica Vitti are more than a bit rusty in this appallingly unfunny Italian sex comedy from the Warner Archive Collection.
Every once in a while, a film critic encounters a difficult obstacle to overcome. The late '60s, Italian-made sex comedy The Chastity Belt ‒ originally given the very late '60s title of On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who… ‒ proved to be one such challenge. Starring Tony Curtis and Italian bombshell Monica Vitti, this 1967 medieval "farce" incredibly credits A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum writer Larry Gelbart, the same man who would later turn Robert Altman's hit M*A*S*H into an even bigger television sensation. After making it into the film
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Complete Series 25th Anniversary Steelbook Edition Comes August 7, 2018 from Shout! Factory
Collectible 20-disc set includes Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie debuting for the first time on Blu-ray!
Press release: In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the multi-generational pop culture phenomenon, Shout! Factory, in collaboration with Saban Brands, is proud to announce a stunning Power Rangers collection, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Complete Series (25th Anniversary Edition Steelbook). Spanning the first 3 seasons of the Power Rangers television series and spotlighting Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie for the first time on Blu-ray, this home entertainment collection features over 60 hours of action-packed entertainment across 19 DVDs and 1 Blu-ray, including hours of bonus content with brand-new interviews specific to the movie. A must-have for the most
I couldn't hook into the movie, despite all it had going for it.
When Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis joined forces previously, they created There Will Be Blood. That film is a stone-cold masterpiece, one of the best of this millennium. There was no way that Phantom Thread was going to equal There Will Be Blood, but every Anderson movie is worth getting excited over. Plus, with the murmurings that this would be Day-Lewis' final film, how could movie lovers not be intrigued? One of our greatest directors and perhaps our greatest living actor making his potential curtain call? Sign me up. However, I will admit that when I saw the trailer
Twilight Time books a classic, slow burning cop drama starring George C. Scott and Stacy Keach.
Columbia Pictures' The New Centurions was filmed and released during a particularly interesting era: a time when the lives and actions of police officers was present in just about every form of media, be they negative, positive, or somewhere in-between. In the instance of this 1972 cop drama, we find ourselves planted directly in the epicenter of the two, where moments of lighthearted comedy can give way to heartbreaking tragedy at any moment. The film was adapted for the screen by the prolific Stirling Silliphant (Village of the Damned, The Killer Elite), as taken from former law enforcement officer and
Killer Klowns From Outer Space Blu-ray Review: Because Killer Klowns Not From Outer Space Simply Wouldn't Sell
Thirty years later, I still get excited by how absurd it is.
Cream pies that melt the flesh off a person. Balloon animal hunting dogs. Locust popcorn. Cotton candy cocoons. Monster marionettes. A circus tent spaceship. Ludicrous inflatable balloon boobs. Killer Klowns From Outer Space is as creative as it is ridiculous. It's not a parody or a satire and everyone in the film takes the events very seriously, making it that much funnier. Mike (Grant Cramer) and Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) are visiting a remote make-out spot when they see what appears to be a shooting star passing nearby overhead. They chase after it and find a circus tent oddly erected in
Twilight Time proudly unleashes the intense, unofficial sequel to "The French Connection". And it's nothing short of awesome.
Off the record, there were two sequels to William Friedkin's 1971 action-packed Oscar-winning cop thriller The French Connection. Officially, only John Frankenheimer's 1975 follow-up French Connection II ‒ a film which has always failed to live up to its predecessor in my opinion ‒ falls into that category. From a decidedly less official point of view, however, Philip D'Antoni's 1973 action classic The Seven-Ups is a motion picture that many feel is entirely more deserving of the honor. Though neither film shares the same director, the late Mr. D'Antoni was nevertheless one of the most significant denominators (or, "connections", if
If you are looking for sex and nudity in your new releases, then this week is for you.
Sex sells, or so they say. I suppose they are right as sexy things seem to abound in advertisements and the media. Lord knows I am not immune. This week’s new releases are filled with sex in a variety of forms, but not my pick of the week. Well not as far as I can tell anyways. I haven't seen any of it so maybe it's filled with sex and I'm just not aware. The Sinner stars Jessica Biel (who also executive produced) as a young mother who, in an inexplicable fit of rage, commits a great act of very
Japanese anime creators play in the DC sandbox.
Batman Ninja is truly unique in the DC animated universe, not only because of its radical premise, but because it was actually conceived and created in Japan. Rather than being overseen by the usual U.S. production crew, Warner Bros. hired authentic anime greats and left them alone to craft this inspired interpretation of the Batman mythos, apparently only stepping in afterwards to graft on a U.S. reworking of the script for its American vocal cast recording and home-video release. The resulting product is distinctly Japanese, and yet still entirely familiar thanks to the classic cast of characters. The far-fetched but
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension Steelbook Edition Blu-ray Review: Giddyup for Some Sci-Fi Fun
Shout! Factory repackages a previously released collector's edition of W.D. Richter's cult classic for the steelbook fans.
With one of the longest movie titles in cinematic history, and one of the most unique heroes to ever grace the silver screen, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (hereafter Buckaroo Banzai) is a film that has so much going for it, but initially didn’t find the same audience that many other science fiction features of the '80s did, namely the Star Wars sequels. Its failure led to the shuttering of Sherwood Films and the proposed sequel, which is mentioned at the movie’s end, never came to fruition. Years later, however, the film developed a cult following,
The Warner Archive Collection pairs two different versions of the same story ‒ with Basil Rathbone and Maurice Evans taking turns playing the bad guy ‒ on one disc.
In today's world of cinema, a remake, reboot, preboot, prequel, or sequel is about as easy to find as a pregnant lady in a maternity ward. Ultimately, it's all about branding: a title (or character) studios can mercilessly milk the money of consumers out of until even the most die-hard Transformers fans say "Enough already!", less the studios lose their limited rights to the property in question. And, while it may come as something of a surprise to younger generations, Hollywood has never been terribly shy about remaking a movie in order to keep up with the times. Or at
Fans of both these cartoons will be happy to view them in high-definition along with the informative extras that are included.
Kino Lorber Animation continues to release titles from DePatie/Freleng Enterprises with the latest pair inspired by two films that weren't just the great successes of the 1970s but of the entire medium. The Dogfather is a series of seventeen theatrical shorts, the final ones from DePatie/Freleng. As the title suggests, anthropomorphic dogs are gangsters. However, other than the titular character (voiced by Bob Holt) being a soft-spoken mumbler similar to Marlon Brando's performance as Vito Corleone, there's very little to connect it with Francis Ford Coppola's film. Instead, some characters have voices based actors from Warner Brothers' gangster pictures from