There are no villains in My Neighbor Totoro. No violence either. There are monsters of a kind, but when Mei the precocious four-year-old meets the largest and scariest looking one, King Totoro, she laughs then bounces on his belly and takes a nap. The adults are all generous and good. The father is neither a bumbling fool, nor hateful and sarcastic like so many fathers in feature films these days, but rather thoughtful and kind. When his children tell him they saw strange little black things crawling around his house or a giant owl-like magical creature in the forest, he
My Neighbor Totoro kicks off Studio Ghibli Fest and it's as delightful as I remember.
June closes out with the following highlights from TCM.
Audrey Hepburn begins the last week of June with her last night as the Star-of-the-Month. Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey consider The Lady Eve as one of The Essentials. Also nights of films starring James Caan, films revolving around European vacations, and epic westerns. Star of the Month: Audrey Hepburn - Paris When It Sizzles (1964) - Monday, June 26 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A Hollywood producer hires a beautiful secretary to keep his drunken screenwriter on track. Rollerball (1975) - Tuesday, June 27 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) The star of a bloodthirsty future sport tries to clean up the
More than just marching band.
Drum Corps International (or DCI as they are commonly called) was formed in 1972 as the non-profit governing body for drum and bugle corps in the U.S. and Canada (DCI is international much like how Major League Baseball's championship is the World Series though it only ever includes a tiny percentage of the planet). Every summer DCI hosts competitions throughout the United States, which concludes in August with the week-long DCI World Championship. For many years now the start of the season has begun in Indianapolis. Fathom Events hosted a live viewing of this competition last night in movie theaters
Cool things I discovered this week include La La Land, Catwoman comics, and a new Game of Thrones trailer.
I work from home which has all kinds of advantages. One being that I don't have a boss with prying eyes constantly checking out what I've got pulled up on my screen. Nerd that I am what I've got pulled up on one of my screens is usually a comic book. Whenever I need a short break I pull one up and read a few pages. Day after day, week after week I've been able to read quite a few comics. Got two read this week which is nice because the movie watching took a bit of a hit. But
This year's con proved to be a better experience for pop-culture fans than the previous year.
Ever since making its way to Sacramento in 2014, I’ve had the pleasure of covering each Wizard World convention. That was actually the first time I had attended an event of its kind, and I was completely blown away by how much of a nerd nirvana it turned out to be. Whether you are into movies, television shows, comic books, or anything pop-culture related, there was something for everyone at the event. I’ve always looked forward to each one, but, to be honest, I was a little let down by the 2016 convention. I’m not saying it was an entirely
Expect to see this on "Best Blu-rays of 2017" lists.
Not for the faint of heart, John Wick returns in another action-packed, stylish shoot-'em-up that sees our "hero" leave audiences breathless as he leaves behind another massive body count in his wake. Picking up shortly after the first film, the prologue finds retired assassin John Wick in hot pursuit of his stolen 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1, which has been stored in the chop shop of Russian mobster Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare), uncle of Iosef, who brought John back into action by stealing his car and killing his dog. It's clearly the principle of the matter to John as he
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Hanna-Barbera Animation Studio with the Diamond Collection on DVD and Digital
Ultimate Anniversary catalog features over 70 seasons of the most beloved animated series including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear and many more.
Press release: To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera’s animation studio on July 7, 1957, Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) is releasing a comprehensive catalog of classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons to date. The 60th anniversary catalog collection is a celebration of the lovable gang of animated characters that children and adults alike remember and continue to influence pop culture around the world. The Diamond Collection will include over 70 seasons of the most popular animated titles of the 50s, 60s and 70s, many of which have not been released on DVD or Digital
A most unique mystery/black comedy from Georges Franju receives a long-overdue opportunity to shine in the US thanks to Arrow Academy.
To the trained eye of an advanced mystery movie sleuth, spotting the writing team of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac as the authors of the film you're about to experience is a darn good indication you're in for a treat. Sure enough, Georges Franju's 1961's mystery, Pleins feux sur l'assassin ‒ which shall be referred to henceforth by its English title, Spotlight on a Murderer ‒ is such a treat. While it may have only been the third feature film for the late visionary filmmaker, Spotlight on a Murderer should serve as an inarguable example of just how far one
A somewhat interesting but skewed documentary about the future of jobs and mortality
The Future of Work and Death is a documentary narrated by British actor Dudley Sutton. The film is broken into two parts: work and death, and discusses the issues tied to the rapid progress of technology and what this means for human beings in regards to these areas of life. This film that features a bunch of "experts" whose credentials are not quite clear and still aren't clear to me after trying to look up their credentials. While we are a culture that loves our experts, it is always important to understand where their supposed expertise comes from. A number
A coming-of-age film with events you can see coming from a mile away.
MOSS takes place over a 36-hour period in a small riverside town in rural North Carolina. The film opens with Moss (Mitchell Slaggert) waking up on his 18th birthday. The day not only marks his birthday but the 18th anniversary of his mother's death since she died giving birth to him. He lives with his dad (Billy Ray Suggs), a driftwood artist, who has never gotten over the death of his wife. The two are at odds and Moss believes his dad now blames him for his mother's death. After Moss returns from shooting some fish for breakfast, his dad
Fun, fast paced, and unexpectedly grisly for a late '50s movie, cult favorite Caltiki gets a lavish Blu-ray treatment.
Every era gets the horror monsters it deserves, I think. In the '30s and '40s old literary monsters were brought to cinema in the form of the Universal classics: Dracula, Frankenstein, and movies beyond, with one foot in the present and one in the past. The time periods of the movies were always vague - main characters dressed relatively contemporaneously, but somehow lived in ambiguously ethnic European villages. The lord of the manor may wear a modern suit, but the peasants next door had lederhosen, torches, and pitchforks always at the ready. Modern horror revolves around zombies or haunted houses
The Oscar-winning film from Denmark celebrates its 30th anniversary with a new 2K digital restoration.
You hear stories about people wanting to migrate from their home country to a new area all the time. All of them want to start a new life in a new location because their current residence is no longer fitting for them for a multitude of reasons. Many have dreams of how their new life will be once they move, and they are mostly positive. But, upon their arrival, the harsh reality sets in, and the dreams and goals they had are pushed to the wayside as they embrace their new life. That’s the basis for many films about immigration,
This week brings us a whole bunch of horror, a poignant love trilogy and a lawnmower man.
Memory is a funny thing. I can remember very clearly the first time I watched Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. I remember the apartment we were living in, which dates the viewing to around 2006-2007. I remember that small living room. I remember watching it on the floor. I remember my wife sitting on the couch doing something else - probably grading papers or studying for an exam so she wasn’t paying close attention to the movie. It was the weekend, either Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. I remember all that but hardly anything about the movie
Summer's here and the time is right for riffing on the shorts.
Working together on Rifftrax Live: MST3K Reunion Show must have been as much fun for for the cast as it was for audiences, as most of the gang reunited for RiffTrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party! which is getting a second showing on Tuesday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. (local time). Over the course of the night, they riffed on seven shorts to varying degrees of success. The RiffTrax trio (Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett) opened the night with a short directed at kids starring a bizarre animal mascot named Ricky Raccoon, who helps a young boy
Four classic titles ranging from suffocating small town drama to the wonderful world of corporate corruption highlight this must-see wave of new Blu-ray releases.
Even if you're just now joining us here on Planet Earth, there's a fair chance you've already heard someone utter that annoying catchphrase people who post nothing but inspirational memes on their Facebook page tend to use: "Go big or go home." In all honesty, however, there is absolutely nothing wrong with heading off someplace other than one's former place of residence if things don't go as "big" as you had hoped. Indeed, the protagonists of this quartet of Twilight Time releases certainly have no intention of returning home in the unlikely event of failure. But then, with an assortment
The Blu-ray's video shines as bright as the film's two lead actors.
Sam Peckinpah's second film, Ride the High Country, is a captivating Western about two old gunslingers who reunite for a dangerous job. With limited resources and futures, their relationship is tested, as is each man's character, along the journey. Former marshal Steven Judd (Joel McCrea) is hired by a bank to transport gold from the mining town of Coarse Gold. Six miners have been killed trying to make the trip, but he needs the work. Steve runs into his old deputy Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott), who is working as a hustler with a young man named Heck Longtree (Ron Starr),
Tina Fey and other highlights of the week ahead.
Audrey Hepburn continues as June's star-of-the-month, as do the Noir Alley and Gay Hollywood spotlights. Tina Fey makes her debut as The Essentials co-host, and there are nights of themed programming focusing on Cult Classics, actor Louis Wolheim, and stories set around European Vacations. Star of the Month: Audrey Hepburn - How to Steal a Million (1966) - Monday, June 19 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A legendary art collector lends his prized (replica) Cellini Venus to a prestigious Paris museum. Before tests can be done which would prove the Venus is a fake, though, the collector's daughter enlists the services
This Arrow Video set is the Blu-ray with excellent packaging.
While walking down the street late one night, Sam (Tony Musante), an American freelance writer living in Rome, spies a man and a woman struggling inside a modern art gallery. The woman is stabbed and the man, dressed in a black trench coat, black hat, and black leather gloves slips out the back. Sam rushes in to help her but is trapped between two automated sliding doors and is thus forced to watch helplessly as the woman, bloody and dying, screams for help. A passerby calls the police and they are able to resuscitate the woman before she dies. Sam
Sorbo also talks about playing an exaggerated version of himself in a movie and some of the future projects he has lined up.
I first interviewed Kevin Sorbo back in 2013, when he was doing a promotion for a little film called Storm Rider. But, back then, I was talking to him over the phone while on my lunch break at the day job I had at the time. This year, I was able to speak to him in person for five minutes. Sure, that’s not a lot of time for an interview, but it’s enough to get in some questions while he’s on a break from signing autographs and taking pictures. Sorbo is one of the many guests lined up for the
Arrow Academy releases a trio of lengthy, esoteric, and surreal offerings which quickly turn into a case of 'mise-en-seen it.'
Sooner or later in life, everyone reaches a point where personal obsessions and rather weird views seem to overtake either their private or professional output. Indeed, Arrow Academy's box set of The Jacques Rivette Collection presents one such unique phase from one of the men most commonly associated with the French New Wave period. By the time he made the movies included in this six-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo ‒ Duelle (Une quarantaine), Noroît (Une vengeance) (both 1976), and Merry-Go-Round (1981) ‒ Jacques Rivette had veered off of the road less traveled he and his contemporaries had become so famous for frequenting.
The very '80s horror/fantasy movie series gets a lavish box-set Blu-ray release.
House II is one of the few movies I can remember seeing ads for on TV when I was watching cartoons in the afternoon. The ad would come on again and again, and it looked like everything I could want in a movie - monsters, human sacrifice, John Ratzenberger. However, it was also a horror movie (kind of) so no one in my family would take me to see it in the theater. When I eventually got to see it on VHS it didn't become a favorite, but there was so much strange content in there, so many weird little
Cool things this week include Sherlock, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Panther, Shotgun Stories, David Sedaris, and the Rolling Stones.
Summer has come to Oklahoma which means it's hot. Damn hot. Too hot to do anything but sit inside and watch movies and TV, which is exactly what I did this week. So let's get to it. Sherlock: "The Six Thatchers" The newest season of Sherlock has been out a little while but I’m just now getting to it. It comes out so sporadically (its been on since 2010 but is only in its fourth season) that my memory of what happened last time is always fuzzy. This episode focuses on Mary, John’s wife, who I barely remember as a
Which ones are you adding to your collection?
The Criterion Collection is releasing six titles in September just in time for back to (film) school. New to the collection are Murray Lerner's Festival; Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women; Michael Haneke's The Piano Teacher; Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm's David Lynch: The Art Life; and Orson Welles' Othello. A high-def upgrade is also being provided to Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca. Read on to learn more about them. Rebecca (#135) out Sept 5 Romance becomes psychodrama in Alfred Hitchcock’s elegantly crafted Rebecca, his first foray into Hollywood filmmaking. A dreamlike adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel, the film stars
Another impressive high-definition presentation in the Olive Signature line.
Created during the period in United States history when the House Un-American Activities Committee was destroying lives under the pretense of protecting the country from Communism, Fred Zimmerman's High Noon is a classic tale about an individual who must stand up alone for what he believes against seemingly insurmountable odds. Its theme is applicable to many situations where the just path can leave a person isolated because of dangerous consequences. Three men ride into Hadleyville in the New Mexico Territory and head to the train station. Dimitri Tiomkin's score and the reactions of those they pass by indicate trouble is
The Warner Archive Collection travels through time and space to bring us one of cinema's first ‒ and strangely optimistic ‒ views of a post-apocalyptic future.
While the notion of living in a world ravaged by nuclear war may be a regular staple in motion pictures today, it was just as much of a newfangled concept in the 1950s as was the very thought of a post-apocalyptic society itself. Of course, when it's an era where the basic "science" behind surviving an atomic blast suggested hiding under your school desk would do the trick, you have to expect a fair bit of silliness from the few movies that dared to tackle the subject. Certainly, Edward Bernds' World Without End ‒ a lavish Technicolor CinemaScope production from
One of the most amusingly bad drive-in monster movies ever conceived receives a beautiful new HD transfer from the Warner Archive Collection.
What can you say about a monster movie featuring a walking, stalking, murderous tree on a wooden rampage? In the instance of From Hell It Came, you can say a whole heck of a lot just by saying very little. In fact, the most commonly referenced review of the movie was a six-word piece which read nothing more than "And to Hell it can go!" But ne'er fear, kiddies ‒ From Hell It Came has managed to uproot itself and terrorize unsuspecting filmgoers once again. This time, however, bad movie aficionados 'round the world will be able to fully immerse
This week brings us Keanu Reeves kicking butt once again, plus vampires, LEGO Batman, fairy tales, and more.
I mostly outgrew action films a couple of decades ago. I came of age during the late '80s/early '90s, which I’d argue created some of the very best and very worst action films. Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, Seagal - if those names don’t mean anything to you, then you missed out on some kick-ass, utterly ridiculous action flicks. During those years, I watched nearly every action movie I could get my hands on. I loved every explosion, every increasingly gigantic gun, every dumb one-liner. But, as noted, at some point I got tired of them. Explosions became boring, car chases
The series features six of Studio Ghibli’s revered animated classics offering both dubbed and subtitled versions.
Press release: Following the success of the Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke cinema events, GKIDS, the acclaimed distributor of multiple Academy Award-nominated animated features, and Fathom Events, the leading distributor of event cinema, are proud to announce a partnership to bring the biggest series of anime titles to U.S audiences throughout 2017. The series features Studio Ghibli’s revered animated classics, a selection of GKIDS new release titles and an ongoing animated short film mini-festival. The 2017 partnership kicks off with the iconic My Neighbor Totoro, from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, on Sunday, June 25 and Monday, June 26. Totoro
The live-action adaptation of the Disney classic comes to Blu-ray with a lot of great special features.
Walt Disney is continually proving its efforts at adapting every animated classic in its vault is financially successful, and, because of that, there will be more coming down the pipeline. The Lion King, Mulan, and Dumbo are currently in pre-production, and there are plenty of others that have already been announced. Don’t be shocked if they announce live-action adaptations of Aladdin, The Aristocats, or anything else for that matter. The formula works, and people will flock to see whatever Disney puts out. That being said, Bill Condon’s update of Beauty and the Beast is practically an exact replica of the
There is just too much stuff here to pass up.
Can you sit down with three children ages seven, nine, and eleven, and watch a 75-year-old animated film without them getting restless? Yes, and no one was more surprised than I. Surprised simply because I had forgotten just how good, and ahead of its time, Bambi was. All of the children found the film “sad”, “cute”, and “fun”, with the ending being their favorite part, and all would definitely watch it again. I can’t recall the last time I saw the brilliant telling of the life, loves, and losses, of the Prince of the Forest and his friends, but I
What are you watching this week?
TCM can have breakfast or dinner with star-of-the-month Audrey Hepburn on Monday night. David Letterman and Alec Baldwin talk about The Big Sleep. In addition to more entries in Gay Hollywood and Noir Alley, there are nights of programming focused on Marlene Dietrich, Powell & Pressburger, and Father's Day. Star of the Month: Audrey Hepburn - Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) - Monday, June 12 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A young writer gets caught up in a party girl's carefree existence. Desire (1936) - Tuesday, June 13 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Before they can marry, two society types run off with
Spanish horror legend Paul Naschy's directorial debut gets the full treatment in this shocking, sleazy, and sinful release now available from Mondo Macabro.
As a small child, Jacinto Molina became heavily captivated and inspired by the classic Universal horror movies of the '30s and '40s. So much so, in fact, that he would later craft his own series of bloody horror outings in his native Spain under his better-known alias, Paul Naschy. All but begetting the Spanish horror boom of the late '60s and '70s, Naschy's more celebrated character would be that of a tormented lycanthrope named Waldemar Daninsky, whom his creator (and portrayer) continued to torture onscreen more than a dozen times over a span of 36 years in-between his many varied
A book no Bat-fan of the series should be without.
Given its own yellow utility belt, Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series is a marvelous compendium about the TV series which ran for three seasons from 1966-69 and is still currently airing in syndication. Adam West, the first Bruce Wayne/Batman for many, gave his blessing to the book by writing the Introduction in which he thanks fans for the life he has been granted thanks to their love of the show. Authors Bob Garcia and Joe Desris were very thorough, beginning the story by acquainting readers with the three ABC executives, understandably referred to as “wise men,” who
The world hears from Christopher Lee's most infamous character again in Blue Underground's HD double feature of two cult collaborations from Jesus Franco and Harry Alan Towers.
Even though nearly everyone involved in the creation of Harry Alan Towers' legendary film series have since passed on, the world has nevertheless heard from Fu Manchu again thanks to the efforts of Blue Underground. To the uninitiated (or at least overly-sensitive), Towers' Fu Manchu franchise started out in 1965 with The Face of Fu Manchu ‒ effectively reviving the long-absent (and nowhere near politically correct) villain from Sax Rohmer's legendary master of "yellow peril" thanks largely to the late great horror icon Christopher Lee and his effortless ability to play a baddie. Even when the 6' 5" British actor
For the seventh year in a row, DCI kicks off its season with top competitive drum corps performances live on the big screen.
Press release: Top ensembles of Marching Music’s Major League will come together for a night of dramatic, passionate and exceptional performances during “Drum Corps at the Cinema: 2017 DCI Tour Premiere.” The event will feature the season-opening debuts of six of Drum Corps International’s (DCI) groups: Blue Stars (La Crosse, WI), Bluecoats (Canton, OH), The Cadets (Allentown, PA), Carolina Crown (Ft. Mill, SC), The Cavaliers (Rosemont, IL) and Crossmen (San Antonio, TX). Presented by Fathom Events and Drum Corps International, this exclusive live event will show in U.S. cinemas on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 8:30 p.m. ET/ 7:30 p.m.
Cool things this week also include Bruce Springsteen, The Godfather, American Gods, and Alfred Hitchcock.
I spent much of last week catching up on all the DC films to prepare myself for the release of Wonder Woman. We had planned to see it on Saturday, but we all got ourselves too excited and wound up catching it Friday night. More on that in a moment. The rest of the week was brimming with lots of cool things. So many in fact, I had to spend a little time narrowing down exactly what I wanted to talk about. Which is my definition of a great week. So let's get to it. Wonder Woman This is the
Georges Franju's follow-up to Eyes Without a Face is more atmospheric than actually scary.
Count Hervé de Kerloquen (Pierre Brasseur) is told he won’t live through the night. Before he expires, he slips into a hidden room deep within his castle. The next day, his seven cousins show up at the estate to claim their inheritance only to be told they will have to wait five years. While the doctors are sure he died during the night, no one can find his body so the law considers him only missing. The cousins cannot afford the upkeep on the castle and its many lands for that long so they launch a desperate search for the
Where the Buffalo Roam Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Its Appeal Is Likely Limited to Hunter S. Thompson Fans
An enjoyable excursion, but the film never gets weird enough for me.
Billed as “a movie based on the twisted legend of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” and inspired by his Rolling Stone article "The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat" about attorney, activist, and author Oscar Acosta, Where the Buffalo Roam tells of their friendship and how their paths diverged, with Bill Murray starring as the good doctor and Peter Coyle playing Acosta stand-in, Carl Lazlo. The 1980 cult film is being released by Shout Select (#21), but its audience will likely continue to be limited to Thompson fans. Where the Buffalo Roam opens with Hunter typing away in his snow-covered Aspen, Colorado
The Warner Archive Collection dusts off an odd comic rarity with Ida Lupino and an epic battle of dirty looks between Jack Oakie and Billy Gilbert.
If the Academy ever opted to include a category for the goofiest faces made on film, RKO's 1937 production of Fight for Your Lady would have to win one of the first posthumous awards. One of three movies director Benjamin Stoloff made with a young unknown actress by the name of Ida Lupino (a few years away from becoming the film noir femme fatale and pioneering producer/director she is best remembered for today), this charming little lighthearted ditty from yesteryear finds John Boles (the third wheel of James Whale's love triangle in 1931's Frankenstein) as a famous singer with a
David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike shine in this true story of a forbidden love.
Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom has the feel of something that just missed the window for Oscar consideration and was dropped into limited release in February of this year, since the studio couldn’t think of any other month to put it in. It’s a pristine-looking picture that carries the textbook moments of a historical biopic, and never misses a beat in making sure it has all the things it needs in order to make a successful, crowd-pleasing feature. A grandiose score, beautiful scenery, and big speeches are all featured here. By now, the formula is overdone, and, in most cases,