After her husband's death and an auspicious fortune-telling reading, chain-smoking, cranky Grandma Wong (Tsai Chin - Joy Luck Club, Casino Royale) decides to empty her bank account and get on a Chinatown casino express bus to try and test her luck. She decides to follow her fortune teller's forecast and plays her lucky number 8. It works great at roulette, craps and every game she plays and the chips stack up - until she lands at a private table, where both her luck and chips evaporate. So, it's back on the Chinatown bus, where she sits next to a man
Lucky Grandma's star, Tsai Chin, like the film, is simultaneously ornery and delightful.
Mike Hodges oft-neglected thriller about a fake medium who gets real powers works best when it focuses on the relationships between the characters
What happens when your fake medium act turns real? When you've been pretending to see visions of dead people in order to bilk their living relatives out of some cold cash and suddenly, you're having real visions in which you see actual deaths before they happen, what do you do? In the case of Martha Travis (Rossana Arquette) in Mike Hodges' 1989 thriller Black Rainbow, you'd better run because the hitman paid to commit one of the murders she envisions is fast on her trail. Martha and her alcoholic father Walter (Jason Robards) travel by train from Southern town to
A bit of a curiosity, Old Boyfriends is still an interesting film to watch, especially for the boyfriends.
Diane Cruise (Talia Shire) is a psychiatrist who doesn't seem to have any sense of herself in Old Boyfriends (1979), presented with a new 4K master from Kino Lorber's KL Studio Classics. She suffers a personality crisis after splitting from her husband and decides to embark on a road trip of self-discovery. She decides to revisit three men from her past in order to better understand herself. "I thought if I could find out who I was then, I might find out who I am now." The first man is Jeff (Richard Jordan), her college love. She had repeatedly turned
Amy Seimetz' second feature length film explores the various reactions to the certain knowledge that... tomorrow, you die.
The premise is in the title: She Dies Tomorrow. She knows she's going to. She's certain of it. So certain that she, a recovering alcoholic, takes a drink for the first time in a while: what does it matter? She dies tomorrow. She's Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) and she calls her friend Jane to come over. Jane (Jane Adams) sees Amy's drunk, and listens to her babble about how she's going to die for as long as she can take, then leaves. Then, after a short amount of time at home, alone, Jane becomes convinced. It's going to happen to
Utterly disappointing in every way.
Fresh off the enormous success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Henry Thomas, the fresh-faced star of that film must have been offered a million different roles, in a million different movies. His first three films after that Steven Spielberg blockbuster were Misunderstood, a prestigious drama co-starring Gene Hackman and Rip Torn; Cloak & Dagger, a criminally underrated spy thriller with Dabney Coleman; and this low budget atrocity. One has to wonder why a kid still riding high from a massive success would choose to make a low budget Australian film from a director no one in America had ever heard of
This zombie rom-com takes the genre into fun directions.
One would think the zombie movie would be completely played out by now. There have been countless films about the walking dead in a variety of genres (not just horror) since White Zombie introduced the walking dead into our cinematic lexicon in 1932. There have been zombie comedies, zombie romances, zombies in the apocalypse, and zombie musicals. Again, you would think by now there'd be nothing new to say about zombies. Zombie for Sale proves you wrong. It doesn't exactly reinvent the genre, but it puts a new spin on it, taking it in a new, interesting direction. Take black
Masaaki Yuasa's latest feature about surfing, grief, and water controlling ghosts is touching and off-putting at once.
For the first half hour of Ride Your Wave, it seems like Masaaki Yuasa was tackling something he'd only ever flirted with in his previous animated offerings: realism. Without once abandoning the exaggerated squish and stretch sense of movement that is his primary visual signature, Ride Your Wave begins primarily being about real people, in real situations, without the hyperbole, magical realism or out and out crazy that's the hallmark of Yuasa's films. The majority of the film is not spent in the belly of the whale, like Mind Game, or hanging out with mythical fish monsters like Lu Over
Caniff's artwork is so evocative the mood of the panel is conveyed before reading the word balloons.
Since January 2012, the Library of American Comics, by way of IDW Publishing, has been releasing collections of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon newspaper comic strips. Volume 5 presents the daily and Sunday newspaper comic strips from January 2, 1955 to December 30, 1956, covering the ninth and tenth year of the strip's 41-year run. Library of American Comics associate editor Bruce Canwell wrote the introductory essay "The Inside Man ," which provides insight into the characters and stories. Volume 5 opens in the middle of a story with young airmen Peter Pipper and Murky Murphy trapped on an ice flow
I've heard about Audie Murphy's remarkable life since I was a kid. I'm thrilled to finally be getting to see some of his films with this new set.
Towards the end of the tenth and final episode of Band of Brothers, HBO's acclaimed miniseries that follows Easy Company from jump training to the end of World War II, we are told about what those men did after the war. It was shocking to me the first time I watched it to learn that those soldiers, who we've just spent ten episodes watching live through absolute hell with the greatest of strength, courage, and honor, came home to become cab drivers, warehouse workers, and farmers. These men were heroes, how could they come home to work such menial jobs?
Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta's 1975 disturbingly modern political thriller tops a new week of releases.
In today's extremely terrifying times, where Donald Trump continues his reign of terror, you have to look back at the paranoid thrillers in the past, especially in the 1960s and 70s, to see how eerily relevant their stories have remained. There was The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days In May, Z, The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, among others. However, I think that 1975's quietly brutal The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, directed by Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta, takes it even further with its stinging commentary on absued power, individual morals, and media manipulation. The film stars
It’s the commentary by Lynda Carter on the pilot and a Season Three episode that are the gems to discover here.
In 1975, America found itself in strange times. The president had resigned, we had experienced an energy crisis, and Archie Bunker was the hottest thing on television. With those examples, I am only scratching the surface. Perhaps what we needed was a superhero. The Super Friends animated series was doing quite well on Saturday mornings, thrilling children with the adventures of Superman, Batman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman. Though our three male heroes had been featured in animated series before Super Friends, we had seen little of Wonder Woman. So, was 1975 truly the year to bring her to prime time?
What an eclectically cool week.
It was an eclectic week for old Mat Brewster and his consumption of cool things. We've got new horror movies, a Christmas musical comedy with zombies, Tony Curtis, New Mutants, Studio Ghibli and the Grateful Dead. So without further ado let's get to it. The Invisible Man (2020) An update on the classic H.G. Wells story for the #MeToo generation. Elisabeth Moss stars as Cecilia, a woman who is trying to escape from an abusive relationship. The film begins with her drugging the husband, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), then running away in the middle of the night. She stays with a
Adult Swim’s out-of-this-world series is coming to your home.
Press release: America’s favorite crazy scientist and his grandson return for more misadventures when the latest season of Adult Swim’s hit series Rick and Morty: Season 4 arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on September 22, 2020. From creators Justin Roiland (“Adventure Time”) and Dan Harmon (“Community”), go on an intergalactic journey across the multi-verse with the award-winning comedy, featuring all 10 episodes from Season 4, and outrageous bonus content including A Day at Rick and Morty: Inside Season 4, Inside the Episode for every episode, Creating Snake Jazz, and more. Rick and Morty: Season 4 is priced to own at
Like a bittersweet beach day. Rain clouds sometimes loom, but the Sun finds ways to shine.
After starring as Vita Sackville-West in Vita & Virginia, Gemma Arterton continues her small niche of starring in lesbian period dramas with Summerland, a similar acting showcase for Arterton that thrives on more than just on her performance unlike the former picture. While Summerland possesses some period piece cliches, it still overcomes them with its storytelling verve and of course, its commendable performances. In Summerland, Arterton plays Alice, a reclusive writer ostracized by those within her seaside community. While living in the midst of WWII, Alice is forced to temporarily house a young evacuee named Frank (Lucas Bond). Initially, Alice
Cartoon Network's beloved bears stack up for their first TV movie.
Press release: It all started with a bear stack, and now TV’s most hilarious and heartwarming bears star in their first TV movie! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is bringing Cartoon Network’s hit series into your homes on September 8, 2020 with the release of We Bare Bears The Movie on DVD. The movie is an extension of the successful We Bare Bears series, created by two-time Annie Award-winner Daniel Chong, and executive produced by Cartoon Network Studios. Eric Edelstein (“Shameless,” “Clarence”), Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live,” Me Myself & I) and Demetri Martin (“Important Things with Demetri Martin”) return as
Interactive storytelling allows viewers to choose & change directions of the story in retelling of landmark DC Comics event.
Press release: Five fascinating tales from the iconic DC canon, including the first interactive film presentation in Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) history, come to animated life in DC Showcase - Batman: Death in the Family. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the anthology of 2019-2020 animated shorts arrives from WBHE on Blu-ray and Digital starting October 13, 2020. Anchoring the compilation of shorts is Batman: Death in the Family, WBHE’s first-ever venture into interactive storytelling that allows fans to choose where the story goes through an innovative navigation guided by the viewer’s remote control. Central to the extended-length
Kino Lorber presents three mid-tier films from the great actor, and it is great to finally have them on Blu-ray.
Reason #473 that I love boutique labels such a Kino Lorber: they allow us to dig into various genres and subgenres, or plumb the depths of a director or actor's career. The other day some critic was complaining on Twitter that far too many people writing about cinema weren't well versed in the lesser films of a given genre. Everybody knows the classics but few have watched the not-so-classics, or the pretty-good movies of a given genre or time period. Labels like Kino Lorber are helping me and others to fill in those gaps. Case in point: this new collection
24-hour programming tribute airing on August 23rd with Summer Under The Stars.
Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will celebrate the life and career of iconic actress Olivia de Havilland with a 24-hour programming tribute on Sunday, August 23 as part of its Summer Under The Stars series. De Havilland, who passed away on July 26 at the age of 104, was known for her enduring work in the classic movie era. Acting in more than 45 feature films, she earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her memorable turn as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in Gone With the Wind(1940). She earned two Academy Award® wins for
The set includes Fast and Loose, Man of the World, and No Man of Her Own.
Kino Lorber's KL Studio Classics have released a Blu-ray collection of three pre-Code films featuring Golden Age of Hollywood star Carole Lombard. Film buffs know Lombard as the queen of screwball comedy classics such as Twentieth Century (1934) and Nothing Sacred (1937). Lombard starred in numerous bit parts before making it big - she started her film career at Fox Studios in 1921 at the age of 12. Six years later, a car accident left her with a small facial scar and Fox dropped her contract. She worked for Mack Sennett of Keystone Kops fame for a few years before
Own the critically acclaimed comedic drama starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult.
Press release: The “lush, droll, boundary-pushing” (Vanity Fair) “wonderfully bombastic” (Paste) new series The Great: Season One arrives on DVD October 20, 2020 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Season One is now available for purchase on Digital platforms. Created and executive produced by Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee* Tony McNamara (The Favourite), The Great: Season One is a satirical, comedic drama—and occasionally true story—about the rise of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) from outsider to the longest reigning female ruler in Russia's history. An idealistic romantic young girl, she arrives from Prussia for an arranged marriage to the mercurial Emperor
Roman Polanski's super underrated 1976 creepfest headlines a new week of releases.
Yes, I know that Roman Polanski is a very controversial figure today, and what he did in mid to late 1970s was incredibly wrong on every single level. However, sometimes you can separate the art from the artist, and Polanski is a true artist. From his stunning 1962 feature-length debut Knife in the Water, to his thrilling 2011 effort The Ghost Writer, he has proved that he can be a filmmaker of incredible eclecticism and sheer craft. In 1976, he concluded his 'Apartment trilogy' with perhaps his most underrated, but still creepy as hell, The Tenant, which takes paranoia to
This HBO series based upon a Stephen King novel is beautifully made, terrifically scary, and just a little disappointing.
Stephen King is one of the most prolific and popular American novelists of the last century. He has written over 60 novels, 200 short stories, and countless essays and musings. He has sold over 300 million books in his long career. His writings have been adapted into countless movies and television series, most of them poorly. His stories are notoriously difficult to film. I've become a pretty big fan of the man over the last few years and I think part of the reason why his cinematic adaptations rarely work is that they tend to focus on his plots which
It was what I was hoping for, a dark scary world with many twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat.
Having read numerous Stephen King books and loving so many movies based on them, I was really excited for the first season of Castle Rock. The opportunity to see several of his iconic characters come together in this mythical town was exciting. However, it fell flat and left me with no interest in a second season. Upon learning a little bit about the story of the new season and that it included the introduction of one of King’s most terrifying characters, Annie Wilkes from Misery, I decided to give it a try. Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) has been traversing the
A cool week was made even cooler by a trip to the bookstore.
I got out of the house today. I get out of the house most days, actually. Work takes me to the post office most days to pick up the company mail, and I usually visit one or two of the houses we're building. I gas up my truck and sometimes go inside to get a drink. But those things are done quickly and aren't much fun. Today, the wife and I dropped the kid off at my parent's house and had a proper date. Or as proper a date as two forty-something homebodies can have in the middle of a
A visit from the Ghost of San Diego Comic Con Past.
[I found these notes in the archives from an article that was never completed or published. My first visit to San Diego Comic Con was in 1996. My only memory of that visit was getting an autograph and a drawing of Homer Simpson from Matt Groening in a the first trade paperback of Simpsons Comics (see bottom of the article). My next visit was in 2006 and I returned every year until the Covid pandemic caused the 2020 iteration to go virtual, which I have sampled. Other than my being able to drive up and buy tickets the day of
Anyone can own great cartoons, but it takes a true fan of the art form to own and appreciate the worst that animation has to offer.
[It was a tradition Friday nights at San Diego Comic Con to visit Jerry Beck's long-running panel, Worst Cartoons Ever!, which delivered on its title. Beck would provide background on the poorly created, oddly compelling, laughter-inducing shorts. Because of the pandemic, the convention has gone virtual but not Beck's panel. To give readers a taste, we are posting this 2007 review of the DVD, previously published at Blogcritics, because it contains some example. They are terrible so consider yourself warned.] Comic-Con International is the event of the year for social misfits and entertainment purveyors of the science fiction and fantasy
Rarely scary, but visually gripping, an unsuccessful attempt to copy Nightmare on Elm Street scores as a fantasy film.
An obscure British release from 1988 that never made it to the states theatrically, Dream Demon's major problem is that it is not a good horror movie. It has horror elements, some fun gore bits, and a very spooky atmosphere but Dream Demon isn't very scary. It doesn't have a relentless sense of dread that great horror evokes. It's at best a pretty mediocre horror movie. It is a really good fantasy movie, however, and should be looked at in that light. Jemma Redgrave in her film debut plays Diana, simultaneously a small town teacher and a daughter of great
A drama like Most Wanted, which heavily banks on its characters, needed a much strong emotional connection.
Daniel Roby’s Most Wanted (also known as Target Number One) begins with Daniel Léger (Antoine Olivier Pilon) a troubled young man, receiving his first paycheque as a lumberjack. It’s a cheque, remember. Moments later, we see him talking over the phone with his mother, who is clearly suspicious of him when he asks her credit card number citing he doesn’t have money at the moment. Convinced that he’d use the credit card to buy drugs, his mother hangs upon him. With no money at his disposal, he takes off on his bike without paying i.e. robbing the store. These two
Doctor Strange and Ironheart shine a light in the dark in IDW Publishing's bi-weekly comic miniseries, debuting in October.
Press release: When an ancient supernatural manuscript threatens Earth’s mightiest heroes, it’s up to Doctor Strange and armored teen Ironheart to save the day in Marvel Action: Chillers, the latest thrilling addition to IDW Publishing’s line of comics aimed at middle grade readers! Written by Jeremy Whitley (Unstoppable Wasp), the bi-weekly Chillers miniseries debuts in October and runs for four issues, each one featuring a framing story starring Doctor Strange and Ironheart, with a second tale focusing on spooky adventures involving Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone, and more! Contributing artists for the series include Ahmara Smith,
For the first time ever worldwide, all twelve tales of the adventures of everyone's favorite titanic terrapin are collected together in one deluxe Blu-ray boxset
Press release: This limited edition collectors' set traces the decades-long evolution of Gamera, from the "friend of all children" in his more light-hearted earlier films, to the Guardian of the Universe in the groundbreaking 1990s reboot series, often hailed as three of the best kaiju films ever made. COLLECTOR'S EDITION BOX SET CONTENTS Limited collectors' edition packaging, housed in a large-format rigid box, fully illustrated by Matt Frank Casebound, fully-illustrated disc book containing eight Blu-ray discs High Definition (1080p) versions of all twelve films, with lossless original Japanese audio and a complete collection of English dub tracks, including classic American
Online panels held for Bugs Bunny's 80th Anniversary, Secret Origins of Saturday Morning Cartoons, and Deep Blue Sea 3.
Press release: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings three entertaining panels to showcase at Comic-Con@Home, the all-virtual 2020 edition of the world’s largest comic and pop culture festival. The WBHE presentations coming this weekend - July 23-26 - will feature stars, filmmakers and animation experts celebrating the 80th anniversary of the legendary Bugs Bunny, exploring the secret origins of iconic Saturday morning cartoons, and giving fans a preview of the upcoming original film, Deep Blue Sea 3. Here’s a description of each of the panels, including the participants: Bugs Bunny’s 80th Anniversary Extravaganza — Take a trip through eight decades
Follow along and connect with the fandom when you use the official hashtag, #ComicConAtHome.
Press release: Image Comics is pleased to participate in Comic-Con@Home—a virtual alternative to the usual San Diego Comic-Con festivities hosted by Comic-Con International in light of COVID-19. It will be held on July 22-26, 2020 at the Comic-Con website. Follow along and connect with the fandom when you use the official hashtag, #ComicConAtHome. —PANELS SCHEDULE— Comics as a Conduit | Wednesday, 07/22/20, 4:00 PM Henry Barajas (LA VOZ DE M.A.Y.O.: TATA RAMBO), Rodney Barnes (KILLADELPHIA), Darcy Van Poelgeest (LITTLE BIRD), and David F. Walker (BITTER ROOT) discuss comic books that tackle real world issues; be it environmental activism, civic engagement,
MSTies worldwide can tune into the Comic-Con@Home channel on Thursday, July 23 at 6 pm PT, for Mystery Science Theater 3000 - A Panel Panorama.
Press release: Pop culture fans rejoice! Although the traditional San Diego Comic-Con will not be held this year, Shout! Factory is pleased to announce it will be participating in the convention’s official virtual event, Comic-Con@Home, as well as programming supplementary content for the company’s streaming channel, Shout! Factory TV. Comic-Con@Home will be held on the same dates as the previously canceled Comic-Con, July 22-26, 2020. All aspects of Comic-Con@Home 2020 are free and there are no limits to how many can attend a panel. MSTies worldwide can tune into the Comic-Con@Home channel on Thursday, July 23 at 6 pm PT,
It's exciting in some areas, but never quite amounts to anything spectacular.
One of the review pull quotes I originally saw for The Whistlers noted that it was like something the Coen brothers would make “if [they] were Romanian.” That automatically sold me on it, and my anticipation for the film skyrocketed. Maybe I shouldn’t have set such high hopes. It’s not that The Whistlers is a bad movie; it’s just one that never quite finds its footing. It’s effectively shot and captures the noir feel. There is a lot to like about it. But, as a whole, it doesn’t engage the viewer as well as it should have. The film follows
Although it's a presentation of a series of sketches rather than a unified story being told, that doesn't make it any less funny.
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break is W.C, Fields last outing as the star of a film. He also came up with its original story, credited to Otis Criblecoblis. Although it's a presentation of a series of sketches rather than a unified story being told, that doesn't make it any less funny. Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents it on Blu-ray. (Bear with me as this might get a little confusing) Fields plays a fictional version of himself, referred to in the credits as the Great Man but no matter the name, his trademark cantankerous, put-upon persona is on display.
Noah Baumbach's marvelous portrait of a marriage reaching its not-so-simple end tops a new week of interesting releases.
As I pointed out in my recent review for Marriage Story, director Noah Baumbach's soulful and deeply intense 2019 film, is an incredibly rich and sublimely acted portrait of a very broken marriage consisting of two people who realize that their journey together has really run its course. Like Kramer vs. Kramer, The Squid and the Whale (also directed by Baumbach), and Scenes from a Marriage, the film (at times funny and brutal) refuses to take sides, because Charlie and Nicole Barber (beautifully played by both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson) both have logical viewpoints. Charlie, a New York theater
Book Review: Picturing Peter Bogdanovich: My Conversations with the New Hollywood Director by Peter Tonguette
Bogdanovich was lucky, but he was also terribly unlucky.
Director Peter Bogdanovich is neither misunderstood nor unappreciated, I think. His claim to fame as a movie brat (though he might wince at that description) is secure. His early ‘70s trifecta—The Last Picture Show, What’s Up Doc?, and Paper Moon—cements the legend. Those films endure. And they do so, because---as Picturing Peter Bogdanovich: My Conversations with the New Hollywood Director (Peter Tonguette; publisher: the University Press of Kentucky) makes clear—he had the talent and the ambition to direct films that could have sat alongside the classics of the old studio system of the '30s and '40s, but films imbued with
Iranian classic finally gets a Criterion Blu-ray release.
Abbas Kiarostami’s understated film won the prestigious Palme d’Or Award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, leading to its initial Criterion DVD release way back in 1999. After being out of print for a number of years, Criterion is finally bringing the film to Blu-ray this week with new cover art and some new special features. While its methodical pace isn’t for everyone, the film’s concept remains intriguing. The film centers on a middle-aged man named Mr. Badii who is shown driving aimlessly around the outskirts of Tehran, taking nearly the first half hour before revealing the plot. He has
I'm getting tired of staying home, but at least there are still cool things to consume.
For nearly four months now, my family and I have gotten up on Saturday mornings, piddled around, watched TV, and then sometime after lunch, we start talking about what we want to do. We all agree we'd love to leave the house but to do what is always the question. There were a few times when the weather was cooler that we'd make our way to a park or hiking trail. But these are the dog days of summer and the answer is always nothing. Covid numbers continue to rise in my neck of the woods and there is no
Studio Ghibli Steelbooks 'My Neighbor Totoro' & 'Princess Mononoke' out October 20 from GKIDS, Shout! Factory
With this release, two renowned films from one of the world's most coveted animation collections can come home to collectors in limited edition SteelBook packaging for the first time in North America.
Press release: Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, with distribution by Shout! Factory, will release My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke, from the famed Studio Ghibli library of films, on October 20, 2020 in limited edition SteelBook packaging with striking new art. Each SteelBook will house a Blu-ray & DVD combo pack, presenting the film alongside hours of bonus features and a booklet with stunning art and statements from the filmmakers. With this release, two renowned films from one of the world’s most coveted animation collections can come home to collectors in limited edition SteelBook packaging for the first time in North