Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo Movie Review: A Complex and Compelling Story

The compelling documentary about the life of actor, businessman, and activist Danny Trejo.
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As a culture, we love all kinds of stories. Stories of people coming from nothing to achieve great success. Stories of addicts and criminals who change their lives and in turn change the world. Stories of parents who want to give their kids everything they never had. Stories of love, and stories of loss. And while we have all watched these stories play out in the movies we love, not everyone has lived all of these stories in a single lifetime. But Danny Trejo has. Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo is the new documentary about the life of

The War of the Worlds (1953) is the Pick of the Week

A slightly dated, but very chilling sci-fi classic tops a new week of releases.
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The 1950s was decade of sheer uncertainty and paranoia due to the threat of the Cold War and imminent doom for the entire human race. Because of this, there were many incredible sci-fi films that emulated that while also taking the themes of impending danger and aliens invading Earth even further into reality, where the stories and plots didn't seem so far-fetched. Director Bryon Haskin and legendary producer George Pal's influential 1953 classic, The War of the Worlds, is definitely one of the very best of them. The film starts off with a strange, mysterious meteor-like object landing in a

Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray and DVD July 21, 2020

Release includes all 10 Season-Two episodes plus all new bonus content.
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Press release: Get set for another visit to Castle Rock, the small town that’s inhabited by author Stephen King’s most infamous literary characters, when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) releases Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season, on Blu-ray and DVD July 21, 2020. The release of the second season of Warner Bros. Television’s critically acclaimed series will feature all 10 episodes, plus all-new bonus content. Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season is priced to own at $24.98 SRP ($29.98 in Canada) for the DVD and $29.98 SRP ($39.99 in Canada) for the Blu-ray which includes a Digital Code (US Only).

Five Cool Things and the Fourth of July

Happy Birthday, United States of America.
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It is a holiday weekend and I'm making the most of it. So let's get right into this week's cool things. Woman in the Dark I've been watching a lot of movies from the 1930s of late and it is fascinating to me how the ones that aren't that great (like this one) are still strangely interesting. Like somehow the ways in which a not-great movie from the 1930s is so different from a not-great movie made today. If I watched a movie that was similar to this but made in the last few years, I'd find it completely forgettable,

Game of HAM Review: Outrageous Fun for Those Not Easily Offended

Folks should use their imagination and make of the game and its accompanying paraphernalia what they will.
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Much in the way that the makers of Cards Against Humanity created their “adult” version of Apples to Apples by putting a risque spin on the idea of filling in a blank with offensive, inappropriate responses, the makers of Game of HAM (Hating All Mankind) have done something similar but also expanded matters by including a board and an instruction manual filled with a plethora of variations to keep people entertained. Needing a minimum of three players, 18 and older (but I guarantee teens getting a hold of this will play), the basic gameplay has everyone selecting 10 pink cards

The Flesh and The Fiends Blu-ray Review: Selling Corpses in Scotland

Donald Pleasence steals the show.
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For centuries the science of anatomy lagged behind other fields of study due to cultural norms and religious beliefs concerning the handling of corpses. By the 18th Century, things were changing and medical schools across Europe were allowing the dissection and study of the human body. But while the scientific institutions pushed forward, the laws regarding which bodies were acceptable to desecrate lagged behind. Edinburgh, Scotland had become one of the premier cities in the study of anatomy and yet the law still only allowed for the bodies of criminals and suicides to be used as cadavers for study. During

Factory Entertainment Announces Consolation-Con

Here’s what collectors and fans can expect.
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Press release: Factory Entertainment, Inc announced today that it will be launching “Consolation-Con,” a virtual replacement for its annual San Diego Comic-Con booth, on July 6, 2020. “Our annual trip to San Diego Comic-Con is usually the highlight of our year” said Jordan Schwartz, President and CEO of Factory Entertainment. “There’s no substitute for interacting face-to-face with the many fans who share our passion and love our products and with the attendees who may be encountering us at the show for the first time. Due to the cancellation of San Diego Comic-Con, we can’t do so this July, but that

The Truth Movie Review: Truthfully Middle-Ground

Both an adequately understated family drama and a missed opportunity.
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In a way, The Truth feels like a spiritual sequel to Clouds of Sils Maria. Another film distributed by IFC Films dealing with a French actress diva grappling with aging in the film industry as she works on a new project. Only this time, Juliette Binoche plays the daughter of said actress instead of the actress herself and gets to have Catherine Deneuve, a fellow screen icon, playing her mother. A pairing like this is enough to get any film buff giddy with excitement and “truthfully,” it’s the most saleable thing the picture has going for it. Watching Binoche and

Urban Cowboy Blu-ray Review: The Devil Should Have Gone Down to Texas Instead

This 1980 cash-in on the country pop craze has little to say, and isn't much fun.
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Urban Cowboy (1980) is one of those faddish films that has aged poorly. John Travolta plays Bud Davis, a country boy from Spur, Texas, who goes to Houston to work in an oil refinery. After hours, he frequents Gilley’s, a honkey-tonk the size of a football field, with a dance floor and mechanical bull. Bud’s day job is just a means to his nightlife. At Gilley’s, he gets his girl, Sissy (Debra Winger, in her breakout performance), loses her to an ex-convict stud in a mesh shirt, Wes (Scott Glenn), and fights to win her back. Love and strife among

TCM To Celebrate Legendary Funny Man Carl Reiner

Programming tribute airing on July 28 to include Where's Poppa? (1970) and Oh, God! (1977).
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will celebrate the life and career of seminal writer, director, actor and author Carl Reiner with a programming tribute on Tuesday, July 28. Reiner, who passed away on June 29 at the age of 98, won many awards including nine Emmy Awards, a Grammy, and the Mark Twain prize for American Humor. His prolific career spanned more than 70 years, and he gained a loyal following for his sketch comedy work alongside Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks and for directing such beloved films as Oh, God! (1977), Dead Men Don’t War Plaid (1982), Where’s

Wild Palms Blu-ray Review: It's No Twin Peaks

Futuristic miniseries throws in so many ideas that it never settles on one
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In the wake of the spectacular rise and fall of the original Twin Peaks, its network ABC was keen to produce another offbeat series that might trigger the same kind of national water-cooler fervor. Along came Oliver Stone, at that time a creator in very high demand, with a suitably surreal idea based on a comic strip by Bruce Wagner. To eliminate the possibility of another Twin Peaks Season Two disaster, ABC insisted that Stone’s Wild Palms show had a complete story with a clear end up front, leading to the format of this five-episode miniseries. While the resulting project

Narrow Margin (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Strangers on a Canadian Train

While the plot is predictable, Gene Hackman's performance and the stunt work keep the viewer engaged.
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Journeyman Peter Hyams did triple duty (director, cinematographer, and screenwriter) on enjoyable albeit formulaic thriller Narrow Margin (1990), a remake of the 1952s' The Narrow Margin. While the plot is predictable, Gene Hackman's performance and the action scenes keep the viewer engaged. While on a blind date in Los Angeles, Carol Hunnicut (Anne Archer) witnesses Michael Tarlow (J.T. Walsh), an underworld attorney unbeknownst to her, murdered because he embezzled from crime boss Leo Watts (Harris Yulin). After learning of her whereabouts in a remote Canadian cabin, deputy district attorney Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman) heads out to bring her back to

Come and See is the Pick of the Week

A 1985 harrowing and horrifying antiwar masterpiece headlines a new week of diverse releases.
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"War is hell" is a famous phrase that many films have demonstrated, in sometimes painful or painfully graphic detail. It's not easy to get into the war film, because it opens up some major wounds, especially for veterans who really want to keep the sorrows and trauma of either killing the enemy or witnessing death all around them under the rug. There have been so many films that have shown war at its more horrible and soul-crushing, but arguably no other film in history has done so more frighteningly than Elem Klimov's deeply disturbing 1985 masterwork, Come and See. It's

South Park: The Complete Twenty-Third Season Blu-ray Review: Maintaining Their Tegridy

The show has become TV comfort food, for good and for ill.
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Written and directed by Trey Parker, the twenty-third season finds the citizens of South Park continue to deal with current events in their typical fashion as topical matters get taken to exaggerated extremes amidst gross-out humor and profanity. Fans get more of the same shenanigans and those that didn't take to the show before likely still won't this season. In the previous season, Randy Marsh moved the family out to the valley and opened up Tegridy Farms where he grows and sells marijuana. Sales are down and trying to increase them is storyline that works through the season. In "Mexican

Five Cool Things and Pearl Jam Uncensored

Here's five films I've watched this week and enjoyed.
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I'm a huge fan of Letterboxd, the social networking site for film nerds. It is a great way to track what your watching, find things to watch, and connect with other film lovers the world over. One of the many things I love about it is that it allows you to view the films you've watched through various lenses. For example, I can view data on all the films I've watched this year and sort it by the decade the films were released in. I did that earlier today and found that out of the 184 films I've viewed in

Athlete A Movie Review: Moving Documentation of an Immense Tragedy and a Gargantuan Triumph

The new Netflix original is another crucial addition to the studio's growing library of powerful documentary titles.
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The greatest achievement of any great documentary is that it can actually change lives. Indirectly, they can inspire and instigate a conversation about a particular subject matter, thereby holding the potential to alter viewer perceptions. In a direct sense, the best of the documentaries empower the humans whose story they are capturing on camera and give a voice to them. The Paradise Lost documentary trilogy by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky and the Peter Jackson-produced West of Memphis cumulatively played a vital role in cleansing the public image of three wrongfully convicted teenagers in 1993’s triple homicide case. The aforementioned

Suzi Q Movie Review: Looks at the Groundbreaking Career of Rocker Suzi Quatro

Quatro's success inspired the Runaways, Chrissie Hynde, and many female musicians to pursue careers in hard rock.
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Australian director Liam Firmager spent four years working on Suzi Q, the definitive documentary of Detroit-born rock star Suzi Quatro, who rocketed to fame in the UK and Europe in the 1970s. His modus operandi draws heavily on Quatro’s sometimes difficult relationship with her sisters, as well as her music and indefatigable spirit. Even after over 50 years as a rock star and musical icon, it took almost a lifetime for Quarto to acquire perspective and peace about her relationship with her parents and siblings. Through original and vintage interviews, film clips, and a slew of newspaper and magazine clippings,

Book Review: Run-Out Groove: Inside Capitol's 1980s Hits & Stiffs by Dave Morrell

The fourth volume in the Morrell Archives takes readers through the record promotion business in the decadent 1980s.
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In the 1980s, everything seemed bigger: the fashions, the drugs, the money, and even the sound of music. For Dave Morrell, who helmed Capitol Records’ East Coast FM promotion efforts during the decade, it was an era of excess and wild times. In the fourth volume of his highly entertaining series, The Morrell Archives, Run-Out Groove: Inside Capitol’s 1980s Hits & Stiffs takes readers behind the scenes of parties, the record company’s desperate attempts to promote both successful and unsuccessful acts, and the occasionally outrageous behavior of some of the era’s biggest stars. Morrell, a music fan and Beatles fanatic,

House of Hummingbird Movie Review: A Coming-of-Age Story with Peculiar Wings

Kim Bora's directorial debut soars to terrific heights.
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The aptly titled House of Hummingbird follows 14-year-old Eun-hee (Park Ji-hoo) as she tries to fly her way through life without a care in the world. Even if she undergoes a seismic life journey as she deals with neglect from her parents along with an illness potentially paralyzing her face, it still feels very composed as it captures the insouciant period known as adolescence. A time where one is largely unsure how the real world works and only gets premature glimpses of its hardships. As Eun-hee feels indifference over being devoted to school, her neglectful parents struggle to stress how

Superman: Man of Tomorrow coming to Digital (8/23) & 4K/Blu-ray (9/8)

It’s the dawn of a new age of heroes, and Metropolis has just met its first.
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Press release: Daily Planet intern Clark Kent takes learning-on-the-job to new extremes when Lobo and Parasite set their sights on Metropolis in Superman: Man of Tomorrow, the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe Movies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film will be released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting August 23, 2020, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack on September 8, 2020. Order due date is August 4, 2020. Superman: Man of Tomorrow will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (USA $39.99 SRP;

Book Review: Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes by Lun Zhang

A beautifully illustrated, personal account of a terrifying event that happened more than 30 years ago.
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I was not even five years old when the events of Tiananmen Square took place in Beijing, China in 1989. I think the first real exposure I had to it was a reference in a 2005 episode of The Simpsons called “Goo Goo Gai Pan,” in which the family goes to China to help Marge’s sister, Selma, adopt a baby. The family comes across a plaque that read “Tien An Men [sic] Square: On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.” I laughed, sure, but I wasn’t aware of the full story. That Simpsons joke is still funny to this day.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Burning Bright

This mesmerizing French film offers a fresh take on artist/muse romance and social class distinction
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Writer/director Celine Sciamma’s latest film is both exhilarating and depressing: spellbinding because of its absolute excellence and disheartening because it illuminates how far American dramas have fallen in comparison to this masterful new French work. It’s immediately evident why the film was a Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film this year, and mind-boggling that it wasn’t nominated in the same category or even outright Best Picture at the Oscars, especially considering that France was instead represented by Les Miserables, a film with both significantly lower critical and popular review scores. Awards aside, the film is an instant classic,

DC's Stargirl: The Complete First Season - Own The Blu-ray & DVD September 29th

It’s time for a new generation of justice!
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Press release: Get ready for nonstop action with the release of DC’s Stargirl: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray and DVD on September 29, 2020 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Strap yourself in for an exhilarating ride with all 13 episodes from the first season of the original series on DC UNIVERSE & The CW. DC’s Stargirl: The Complete First Season is priced to own at $24.98 SRP for the DVD and $29.98 SRP for the Blu-ray, which includes a Digital Copy. DC’s Stargirl: The Complete First Season is also available to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is the Pick of the Week

A ravishing tale of the enrapturement of love and art through the eyes of women tops a new week of releases.
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As we all know, June is #Pride month, and it is one of a celebration of the triumphs and struggles of the LGBTQ community. It can also be a reflection of how far cinema has come in its depiction of gay and lesbian relationships through love, yearning, and art. There is a sense of feminism that comes along with certain stories of same-sex companionship, and rightly acclaimed director Céline Sciamma's sexy and evocative Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), is one of the very best examples. The film also successfully details the obsessions that artists have with their subjects.

Book Review: Superman: The Silver Age Sundays, Volume 2 (1963-1966)

The final volume in the Superman Sunday Comics series is uneven and unpredictable, but ultimately a good time.
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For more than 25 years, the Man of Steel fought for truth and justice in newspapers across the country, but only the first few years have ever seen the light of day as reprints. Thankfully, the Library of American Comics has partnered with DC Comics to bring the complete series to fans in these oversize hardcover editions. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a handful of these exquisite collections and now I’ve made my way to this, the final volume in the series. Superman: The Silver Age Sundays, Volume 2 (1963-1966) collects the final few years of the full-color Sunday

Five Cool Things and Ian Holm

We are still staying home and still finding cool things to watch.
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I was realizing today that we've been on lockdown since mid-March. That's a little over three months in which my family has hardly gone anywhere. I miss doing stuff. I've been lucky in that my job allows me to get out of the house, but in ways that remain for the most part quite safe. My wife hasn't been so lucky and I know there are times when she's gone a bit stir crazy. Me too. We were never the sort of people who were constantly out and about with a million extra-curricular activities but on Saturdays, we did like

The Cameraman Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Star Begins to Fade

A stealth double feature of Keaton's last two silent films.
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Although a talented filmmaker, Buster Keaton wasn't a great business man and his box-office struggles caused him to sign on with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The Cameraman was his first film in his deal with MGM, a decision he's on record as calling "the worst mistake of my life," the title of a chapter from his autobiography, which is included in the accompanying booklet. Although the studio began to exert control over him and his work, he was still able to turn out an amusing picture. Buster is a tintype photographer and falls in love at the sight of Sally (Marceline Day). Upon

Disclosure Movie Review: Emotionally Informative

A requisite doc about on-screen trans representation told in a stirring, matter-of-fact manner.
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Disclosure is a look at the way the trans community is represented in the media told through the voices of artists such as Laverne Cox, M.J. Rodriguez, Chaz Bono, Alexandra Billings, and Jamie Clayton. As the doc has them express the trials they’ve faced in their careers in the entertainment industry, it also forces cis artists to take a hard look in the mirror and rethink the way they portray the trans experience. It explores the history of trans representation from the days of silent cinema to the present where a series like Pose has become a TV sensation. Even

White Fire, The Wind, and Why Don't You Just Die! Blu-ray Reviews: Three From Arrow Video

Three very different films get the excellent Arrow Video treatment.
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As the world continues to move towards consuming media through an increasing number of streaming platforms, there is a niche market for physical media. In the same way that vinyl records sales have increased dramatically over the last several years, there are certain types of people who prefer physical media over digital streams. I am one of them. As a collector, I like to have a physical object that I can put on my shelf and look at. This is so much more satisfying than making a list of digital files on a computer screen. While there certainly is

The Short History of the Long Road Movie Review: A Subversive Portrayal of Adolescence

A brisk road movie that offers a refreshing take on the coming-of-age narrative.
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The Short History of the Long Road is a simple, slice-of-life road movie that takes some jarring U-turns. What starts off as a profound father-daughter story becomes a navigation through both literal and mental deserted terrain. After Nola (Sabrina Carpenter) is left on her own on a cross-country trip after her father Clint (Steven Ogg) suddenly passes, she still carries on, finding out her own place in the world. One could say the picture is a different type of coming-of-age story. It’s not about a teenager trying to find love, fit in with the popular crowd, or even have one

Legion of Superheroes: The Complete Series Coming to Blu-ray Via Warner Archive

One thousand years from now, the legendary Man of Steel inspires a group of emerging young heroes from the 31st century to band together and defend the newly formed United Planets.
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Press release: Warner Archive Collection continues its proud tradition of distributing the best of Warner Bros. Animation’s robust library of DC-based productions with the release of Legion of Superheroes: The Complete Series on Blu-ray starting July 14, 2020. Pre-orders are now available via wbshop.com and your favorite online retailer. Presented in full 16x9 widescreen across three Blu-ray discs, Legion of Superheroes: The Complete Series includes all 26 episodes of the popular show, which aired on The CW from 2006-2008, as well as a pair of bonus features: the involving featurette "We Are Legion"; and an Exclusive Audio Commentary on the

Babyteeth Movie Review: Melancholia and Merriment Go Hand-in-hand

Shannon Murphy's feature debut is bittersweet meditation of death.
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It’s been a while since I shed a tear while watching a movie. With Babyteeth, though, I shed more than a few tears, after a very long time, and the first time in a teen movie. Teen movies, as a genre, have become associated with cliches of late. There is no need to name them, throw a stone at the genre and it's highly likely that you hit a cringe-ridden movie that either considers its concept the need of the hour or the plot has little gravity to hold the whole film. However, there have been fine films, over the

Friday the 13th 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Steelbook Review: There Was This One Time at Camp Crystal Lake...

The film that started it all gets a brand new steelbook release, packed with tons of special features.
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Confession time. The Friday the 13th franchise is one that I’ve largely ignored my whole life. Call it snobbery, call it what you will. The horror genre - especially the cheesy, teen slasher type - was not something in which I was largely invested in my childhood and that thought/feeling has kind of continued into my adult years. I decided to finally give Sean S. Cunningham’s film a spin to have an official take on it and to see if I am able to just flip off my brain for a bit and enjoy some silly, '80s slasher flick. To

Hot Docs 2020 Review: All That I Am

A beautiful story of courage in the midst of fear
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Imagine being six years old and the stepfather who is supposed to provide for you and protect you, repeatedly violates you and steals your innocence. Imagine trying to tell adults who you trust that these terrible and violent things are happening, but they dismiss you. Imagine once you do finally find someone who trusts you that you are forced to leave your mother and siblings for five years and when you are able to return, you are not supposed to talk about what happened. Imagine that at the end of those five years, you also know that this monster now

From IDW Publishing, Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band, Amplifies the Voice of a People Long Neglected

Explore the music, history, and cultural identity of Redbone with English and Spanish language graphic novels in September.
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Press release: You've heard the hit song "Come and Get Your Love" in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, but the story of the band behind it is one of cultural, political, and social importance. This September, IDW Publishing presents Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band — an intriguing, historically accurate telling of the high-flying career of rock ‘n’ roll pioneers and talented brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas, as they influenced The Doors, jammed with Jimmy Hendrix before he was “Jimi,” and took the 1960s Sunset Strip by storm. Written by Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni

Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966) Blu-ray Review: Love and Madness

'60s British Comedy stars David Warner as a love-sick, gorilla-obsessed artist trying to win back his wife.
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Morgan is going mad. Or maybe he was always a little mad, but it became too much and wasn't as fun as it was when they were young. Either way, his wife Leonie is divorcing him. Morgan knows this, he'd promised to stay away in Greece until it was all done, but instead he comes back in an attempt to reconcile. His first salvo to get his wife back is to hide a skeleton in her bed and to skulk around her house, where he is no longer wanted. As this doesn't work, he escalates his campaign by going after

The Cameraman is the Pick of the Week

Buster Keaton's seminal 1928 masterpiece tops a new week of very interesting releases.
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What else can you say about the legendary Buster Keaton (one of three kings of silent cinema, alongside Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd)? He was known as "the Great Stone Face", capable of delivering sheer emotion using his famous deadpan expression and superb physical and otherworldly visual gags to tell stories of his underdog characters put in often dangerous situations but rising above and winning the girl. However, as much as I do love his early classics, such as The General, Steamboat Bill Jr., and Seven Chances, one of my two favorites of his has to the 1928 elaborate masterwork,

Criterion Announces September 2020 Releases

What titles will you be adding to your collection?
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The Criterion Collection expands in September with nine new titles. They are Claire Denis' Beau Travail, Francesco Rosi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli, David Lynch's The Elephant Man, and six films as part of Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 3. Also two films are given high-definition upgrades: Jules Dassin’s The Naked City and Brute Force. Read on to learn more about them. The Naked City (#380) out Sept 8 “There are eight million stories in the Naked City,” as the narrator immortally states at the close of this breathtakingly vivid film—and this is one of them. Master noir craftsman Jules

The Academy and ABC Set April 25, 2021 as New Show Date for 93rd Oscars

Museum gala kicks off Oscar Week celebrations.
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Press release: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network today announced the 93rd Oscars ceremony will move to Sunday, April 25, 2021, as a result of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. The show, which will air live on ABC, was originally scheduled for February 28, 2021. Coinciding with the Oscars celebration, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, initially scheduled to open to the public on December 14, 2020, will now open on April 30, 2021, also as a result of the health crisis. “For over a century, movies have played an important role

7500 Movie Review: Largely Free of Turbulence

German filmmaker Patrick Vollrath makes a promising debut with a flight-hijacking thriller that strives for realism and mostly succeeds.
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Unlike other movies based on flight-hijacking - Air Force One, Passenger 57, Operation Thunderbolt, or say Non-stop - in which the rescue efforts comprise the majority of the narrative, here is a film that observes the tension from the viewpoint of pilot, who is usually the first one to die in such films. Moreover, like the protagonist of 7500, Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an American co-pilot on board the flight from Berlin to Paris, we see the proceedings outside the cockpit only through a TV. The story-telling choice, which confines us to the cockpit for 99.2% of the runtime, invigorates the

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