June 2011 Archives

Whistle Down the Wind Movie Review: The Best Film You've Never Seen

Unflinchingly satirical, though never disrespectful to people of faith.
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It's April of 1962 and your kid wants to see the new Hayley Mills movie. "Please!" she begs. "She was so groovy in The Parent Trap!" (What? '62 is too early for "groovy." Okay, how about "keen" or "boss" or whatever Annette used to say to Frankie at the beach?) "The Parent Trap?" you reply. "Isn't that the one where she played singing twins who conspire to get their parents back together while trying to hide their inexplicable British accents?" It is. So you take her to see Whistle Down the Wind, because the title sounds vaguely Disney-like, and you

Insignificance Criterion Collection DVD Review: There is Significance in Everything

A film about time which itself is timeless.
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In 1954, four of the most famous people in the world were Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn Monroe, Joe McCarthy, and Albert Einstein. Playwright Terry Johnson wondered what it would be like if all four of them got together somehow one night. It is a curious premise, as these personalities could hardly be more different, yet all were equally celebrated. Underlying this unlikely event was the painful reality of the Cold War. Only nine years had passed since the bombing of Hiroshima - at 8:15 on August 6, 1945, and there was an almost palpable fear of nuclear annihilation. Cut to 1985,
Drop Dead Fred (1991) by Amanda Salazar Now honestly, there were two favorite films as a child but one of them I have already used in the first entry of this series for my favorite film, Predator. For my next favorite film as a kid it would have to be Drop Dead Fred. It is a pretty simple story about a young woman going through a rough time in her life as she is visited by her childhood imaginary friend, Fred. Doing the best that he can, Fred tries old tricks to cheer her up but is afraid that she

The Warrior's Way Blu-ray Review: Awesome Action, Awful Direction

The stunts are great, but can't counteract the terrible dialogue and cartoony world
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If The Warrior's Way was judged solely on the merits of its inventive, creatively filmed stuntwork, it would be one of the coolest movies of the year. Unfortunately, the characters talk when they're not fighting, and that's where this train runs well off the tracks. This is the story of a ninja-ish swordsman (Dong-gun Jang) named Yang, the greatest swordsman who ever lived, who betrays his clan by failing to complete his assassination mission against their rivals when he decides to spare the life of the last remaining survivor, a darling baby girl. As a result, he leaves his assassin

People on Sunday Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Lazy Sunday

Worth watching for a look at life in 1920s Berlin, but not much story.
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People on Sunday is a fascinating historical document of late 1920s Germany, offering a glimpse into the fashion, architecture, and customs of the time. It's also notable for the key group of young German creative personnel behind the camera, especially the legendary Billy Wilder, future director of such Hollywood classics as Sunset Blvd., Sabrina, and Some Like It Hot. Fellow members of the group included noir masters Robert Siodmak, Edgar G. Ulmer and Oscar winner Fred Zinnemann. Their involvement makes the film worth seeking out for a look at their early creative process, although the final product is fairly rough
ANPO (2010) by El Bicho I saw director Linda Hoaglund's ANPO at its World Premiere at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Since then, it has played at a few other film festivals and screened at several colleges across the U.S. but I don't expect a theatrical release in the States because of the unflattering light cast on the government and military. ANPO, as it is known in Japan, refers to The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, which was agreed to in 1960. It allowed for American troops and military bases in Japan,

Kiss Me Deadly Criterion Collection DVD Review: Endlessly Entertaining

One of the last great film noir flicks.
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Appearing at the tail end of the classic era of film noir, Kiss Me Deadly (1955) was a stylishly brutal take on the Cold War. The film is based on the Mickey Spillane novel of the same name, although screenwriter A. I. Bezzerides took a lot of liberties with the plot. Spillane's book was about a Mafia conspiracy; Bezzerides changed this to involve high-level conspiracy and a nuclear bomb. As the film opens, we find private eye Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) driving down a deserted road late at night. When a woman runs out in front of his car wearing
I've always loved the middle school and high school genre of films. There's a magic in those pre-teen and early teen years that lends itself to comedy, drama, and romance. But I've found that it's usually a genre best played out over the course of a TV series instead of in two-hour blocks in the theater. The weekly visits of a TV program lets the viewer get to know the nuances of friendships and relationships with parents. It's also the best way to draw out the arc of teenage love. Shows like The Wonder Years, Freaks and Geeks, and even
Blood Simple (1984) by Shawn Bourdo Independent films. By definition, I believe we are talking about low-budget, limited-release films. Unless it's your first student film that you're making with your buddies on your credit cards (yes, you, Robert Rodriguez) then most films aren't truly "independent" - they rely on the "system" in one form or another. But the spirit is that these are creator-owned and -directed products. That there wasn't a studio executive breathing down the neck of the director to make sure that the Coke can was properly placed. These are movies typically driven by story not by actors.
Rashomon (1950) by El Bicho This might be the unfairest category of the challenge because I love a great many foreign films and directors that I would like to draw attention to, but I knew the job was dangerous when I took it, so here goes. To come up with an answer, I focused on who was my favorite director in this category. Akira Kurosawa slightly edged out Ingmar Bergman. Then I had to narrow it down to just one title, which was again difficult because if there is any director with a surplus of outstanding films, it's Kurosawa: Yojimbo,
Dying at Grace (2003) by Dusty Somers My favorite documentary is also probably the most difficult film I've ever watched. Allan King's Dying at Grace features him taking a small crew into the palliative care ward of Toronto's Grace Health Centre and documenting the final days of five terminally ill patients, with their permission. Like most of King's documentaries, this one doesn't feature narration or interviews; it's an unblinking form of direct cinema that places the viewer squarely in the center of the action. We watch as three elderly women and an elderly man struggle with cancer and as a
The Incredibles (2004) by Shawn Bourdo The suggestion of the title for today's pic assumes that my animated film might be analagous to a children's film. And yet, it's hard to imagine picking an animated film that one would strictly classify as a children's film to be my favorite. Is someone going to pick A Extremely Goofy Movie over Bambi? One is aimed strictly at the younger audience and the other Disney film contains a storyline that would easily fit under best drama if the characters weren't furry woodland creatures. My love of animated features comes from all the different
The Maltese Falcon (1941) by El Bicho Dashiell Hammett's 1930 detective novel was the basis for multiple movies, but it's the third one (remember this when people decry all remakes) directed by John Huston that captivates me. It's a compelling tale of double-crosses and broken deals brought to life by the vivid potrayals of the brilliant cast, featuring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet. In San Francisco, Miss Ruth Wonderly (Astor) enlists the aide of private investigators Sam Spade (Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) to help retrieve her runaway sister who has taken up with a

Park Row DVD Review: Samuel Fuller's Energetic Ode to the Newspaper Business

Park Row comes to DVD for the first time ever.
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I bet I'd have a hard time finding a journalist who wouldn't have a soft spot for Samuel Fuller's Park Row, a paean to newspapers that reaches an almost propagandistic level of fervor. Before becoming a filmmaker, Fuller worked as a journalist, and Park Row is smeared with the press ink of authenticity. It's an undeniably personal film, and the energy that lends the film helps it overcome its occasional cornball moments. Using a mostly unknown cast, working on a shoestring budget, Fuller tells the tale of Phineas Mitchell (Gene Evans), reporter for The Star, one of the many competing
Peeping Tom (1960) by Dusty Somers In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock shocked the moviegoing world with Psycho. The same year in Britain, Michael Powell caused even more scandal with his psychosexual horror masterpiece Peeping Tom, but while Hitchcock's reputation as a master filmmaker was only solidified, Powell's career was effectively ruined. Peeping Tom possesses the same bold, expressionistic approach to color that Powell often used in his collaborations with Emeric Pressburger (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes). Here, the entire film is an exercise in boldness, as Powell frankly explores the voyeuristic nature of filmmaking and film viewing, seen through the lens
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) by El Bicho The films of Terry Gilliam are some of the most imaginative in terms of story ideas and visual effects in the history of the art form, and Adventures of... is no different. Based on a real 18th Century German nobleman who told outrageous tales of his adventures, which have been written about, this fantastic film delivers exactly what the title states. During the Age of Reason, an unnamed European city is at war with the Turks. In the city, a traveling theater troupe is performing the story of Baron Munchausen, when

Anti-Nazi Classics DVD Review: Germans Examine Themselves Through Art

Four historical takes on WWII from Eastern Germany.
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Before, during, and especially after America's entry into World War II, Hollywood produced an enormous number of films about the conflict. Over the years, many of these movies have come to define the era for us. But there were other points of view, even among our Allies - that the studios never considered. First Run Features' four-DVD set Anti-Nazi Classics presents another side, and a view of history quite unlike the one we have become accustomed to. The Murderers Are Among Us (1946) holds the distinction of being the first film shot in Germany after the war. As the Third

American: The Bill Hicks Story Blu-ray Review: Only the Ruthlessly Funny Die Young

There aren't now and haven't been many comedians like Bill Hicks.
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Stand-up comedian Bill Hicks (1961-1994) was a provocateur, wanting his audiences to think just as much as they laughed. Referring to himself as "Chomsky with dick jokes," Hicks' material frequently delved into politics, religion, and the media and was frequently delivered in an aggressive, confrontational style. No surprise that his act didn't break big in the United States considering how critical he was of the citizenry and their way of life, but he went to the United Kingdom in 1990 and became a hit. Tragically, cancer took his life in 1994 at the age of 32, but he continues to
Punch-Drunk Love (2002) by Dusty Somers My list of favorite movies is overflowing with romantic films made long before I was born. The Earrings of Madame de..., Casablanca, All That Heaven Allows, A Matter of Life and Death -- all achingly romantic and superb films. Finding a truly romantic modern film -- at least one made in the U.S. -- is a much more difficult proposition that becomes nigh impossible when you narrow it down to romantic comedies. That most turgid of genres is responsible for perhaps the bulk of insipid Hollywood studio fare these days (although the comic book

TrollHunter Movie Review: Trolls Are Fun, Hunt Is Not

The trolls are scary and fun, but the trip to get to them is fraught with boredom.
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TrollHunter has been building some international buzz since its debut in its native Norway last year, apparently due to the novel concept of normal humans discovering that trolls are terrifyingly real. Well, that and its Norwegian origin. Seriously, can you name one other Norwegian film you've ever seen or you've ever had the opportunity to screen in a U.S. theater? As it turns out, that unique local flavor is really the only thing it has going for it, as its story is definitely nothing special. The movie utilizes the "found footage" concept beaten to death in the wake of The
Speed (1994) by Amanda Salazar This was a difficult one to pick as well, but I had to go with my gut on this one and for my favorite action film I would have to pick Speed. This early '90s classic, if I may call it that, is about as action packed as you can get, with car chases (it all takes place on a bus), FBI agents, bad guys with missing fingers, and a great score that kicks up the pace of the entire film. Keanu Reeves is the rogue FBI agent that gets himself on a bus that

Orgasm Inc. DVD Review: The Sick Practices of the Pharmaceutical Industry

A though-provoking documentary about the search for a female Viagra.
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As Michael Moore showed us with Sicko (2007) the pharmaceutical industry is ruthless in their pursuit of profits. Since there has never been a drug as successful as Viagra, there was an immediate push to come up with a form of Viagra for women. Director Liz Canner's Orgasm Inc. is a documentary about the drug companies' race to get FDA approval to treat the newly-minted medical syndrome "female sexual dysfunction." Canner's film has been nine years in the making, and exposes a number of shady deals between doctors and the drug companies. The most blatant is the creation of FSD

Monte Hellman's Road to Nowhere (2010) Movie Review: A Cinematic Dream

"This dream is over now. Time to put your shoes on and hit the streets."
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Midway through Monte Hellman's noirish head-scratcher Road to Nowhere, an actress asks a director a seemingly simple question: "How many movies have you seen?" "You shouldn't really ask a filmmaker that," the director replies, gently scolding his leading lady. "We don't want people to know how much time we spend obsessing over other people's dreams." Road to Nowhere is Hellman's first full-length feature -- or cinematic dream, if you prefer -- in two decades, and I've been obsessing over it for more than a week now. I saw the film three times during its limited run in New York City,

30-Day Film Challenge: Your Favorite Comedy

Day 18
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It's A Gift (1934) by El Bicho Narrowing it down to one is tough. I could probably take part in a "30 Days of Comedy" challenge with all my favorites, but I'd like to draw your attention to this gem by W.C. Fields that leaves me in stiches every time. Fields plays grocery store owner Harold Bissonette (pronounced "bis-on-ay"), though like many iconic comic actors, he just plays his infamous person fans loved: "a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist who remained a sympathetic character despite his snarling contempt for dogs, children and women," perfectly described by an unknown writer at Wikipedia.

Contest: Win Cedar Rapids on DVD

Ed Helms and John C. Reilly star in this business-trip comedy.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win Cedar Rapids on DVD.  Learn how to enter below after this fun feature FHE has provided. Cedar Rapids is the hilarious story about Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) who is sent by his insurance company which he work for to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at an annual insurance convention, where he quickly finds himself under the guidance of three convention veterans.  My, How You’ve Changed? In Cedar Rapids, Tim Lippe’s character undergoes a huge personality transformation, going from

30-Day Film Challenge: Your Favorite Drama

Day 17
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Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969) by Shawn Bourdo We're headed into a run of genre specific film choices. It's always a bit difficult because the best films seem to defy genre definitions. Or certainly they crossover between multiple genres. Is Frankenstein a horror picture or a thoughtful drama? It's a bit of both depending on your mood when watching. And it'd be easy to take the obvious route and choose Shawshank Redemption or Citizen Kane because they are so widely regarded. And those films might rank higher on my overall enjoyment list, but I'm particularly fond of the
Dead Poets Society (1989) by Dusty SomersI used to be a sucker for Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society, excited by the film's themes of nonconformity, devastated by the tragedy that befalls one of the characters, and inspired by the iconic, desk-standing conclusion. This movie played me like a fiddle. Now, all I see is a series of empty manipulations wrapped in the shiny packaging of Hollywood sentimentality. It's a film with no convictions other than to tread the safest, most predictable path where the dividing line between who is a good adult and who is a bad adult are drawn

The Makioka Sisters Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: No Joy No Luck Club

Beautiful kimonos and decent acting, but not much else to recommend
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Director Kon Ichikawa's late career work centers on the relationships between four adult sisters as they run their family kimono business in the days before the Pacific War. The two eldest sisters have been married for some time, while the youngest sister chafes about the tradition that dictates that she can't marry until their other shy, conservative sister finds a husband. So in short, it's about girls talking to each other. And talking. And talking. It's something like a precursor to The Joy Luck Club, except that this project is even more insular and claustrophobic in its tight focus on
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) by El Bicho This holiday classic by Frank Capra offers a great message about people unable to see the big picture of how good they have it. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a selfless man who sacrifices his own dreams and ambitions for the benefit of others throughout his life. Distraught over his own struggles, George considers suicide because with his insurance policy he thinks he's worth more dead than alive to his family. However, Clarence the Angel (Henry Travers) appears and shows George his notion that life would have better if he hadn't been
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) by Dusty Somers When I told my wife I wanted to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams, she asked me incredulously, "You want to see a 3-D movie?" The reaction was understandable. My dislike of the gimmicky technology reaches Roger Ebert levels of curmudgeonly. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is the latest documentary from Werner Herzog, and it wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows my movie tastes that I'd be all about seeing it. But I surprised even myself with my appreciation for Herzog's functional use of 3-D. The film explores the Chauvet caves
Inspired by the adventure serials they grew up with, George Lucas and Philip Kaufman worked on the story. Lucas then brought in Steven Spielberg, who had a desire at the time to make a James Bond film, to direct because Lucas was in the middle of working on the original Star Wars trilogy. Tom Selleck was initially cast as Jones, but his duties on the television series Magnum P.I. made him unavailable, which opened the door for Harrison Ford to play the role. Retitled in the canon for the 1999 VHS re-issue to match the others, Indiana Jones and the

30-Day Film Challenge: Guilty Pleasure

Day 13
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Spaceballs (1987) by Dusty Somers Mel Brooks' cinematic output is reliably hit-or-miss, but he's got a couple of bona fide classics under his belt, including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. But I'll be honest with you -- there's a different Brooks film that gets more play in my house, and that's Spaceballs, a Star Wars parody that throws in references to Alien, Star Trek and Lawrence of Arabia, among others. Spaceballs doesn't touch Brooks' best work in terms of farce, satire or cleverly lowbrow humor. For the most part, it's just juvenile and packed to the brim with lazy jokes
Night Shift (1982) by El Bicho Had to think about this a bit, but taking the words "least" and "favorite" into account as opposed to "most despised," I decided to go with Ron Howard. Though I haven't seen all of his directorial efforts, I've enjoyed quite a number of his films (such as Splash, Parenthood, and Apollo 13) and intensely disliked a couple others (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Beautiful Mind). Yet in all of them I don't get any sense of a personal style while watching his work. He's not an auteur whose imprint on a film

The Comancheros Blu-ray Review: The Duke Doesn't Abide Bad Guys

"It would break my heart if I had to put a bullet in your back." - Capt. Jake Cutter
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Though not considered one his classic Westerns, The Comancheros is an enjoyable picture in John Wayne's filmography, though I wouldn't argue with any Native Americans who disagreed, but more about that later. The film opens in New Orleans 1843. Gambler Paul Regret (Stuart Hamilton) wins a duel by unintentionally killing his opponent who steps into the bullet. Though there are rules regarding such matters, the deceased was a judge's son, so Regret has to take flight to escape murder charges. On a riverboat, a beautiful young woman named Pilar (Ina Balin) takes great interest in Regret. Though how great is
Strangers on a Train (1951) by Amanda Salazar When it comes to directors I am really only obsessed with one: Alfred Hitchcock. I definitely enjoy, respect, and appreciate others (P.T. Anderson, Christopher Nolan, to name a few) but I have not been as ardent a follower and as dedicated to their filmography as Hitchcock's. It is hard to choose a favorite when it comes to Alfred so I went with one of the first films that I saw of his and one that I often re-watch when I'm in the mood to see anything that he has done. Strangers on

Contest: Win a Blu-ray of The Boondock Saints Truth & Justice Edition

Three lucky readers get to take this Blu-ray home.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win The Boondock Saints: Truth & Justice Edition on Blu-ray. Troy Duffy's The Boondock Saints had a very poor showing at the box office in 1999, playing on five screens for a week and pulling in a measly $30,471. Yet when released on home video, the hyperviolent action flick went on to become a cult-hit sensation.  The film tells the story of Irish brothers Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) MacManus, who become vigilantes to clean up the city
Sabrina (1954) by Steve Geise She may not have been the most technically impressive actress, but there's no denying that Audrey Hepburn was a captivating screen presence. This is the movie where she first worked her magic on me, and it's still my favorite of hers. Frankly, I'm not at all fond of her later hits such as My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany's, or Charade (especially Charade), but her fresh-faced innocence here was completely winning in this fairy tale of a working-class girl finding love among the wealthy, nicely paralleling her own journey from ingenue to film royalty. It's
Straight Time (1978) by Dusty Somers Like any of the categories that force me to pick a favorite, with this one, I eventually just have to commit, even if I really don't want to. It pains me to neglect Humphrey Bogart, Toshiro Mifune, Jean-Paul Belmondo and countless others, but going with my namesake -- Dustin Hoffman -- just feels right. Ignore the past 20-some years, and you have one of the finest American actors of his generation. I could talk affectionately about The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, Straw Dogs, Lenny and hell, even Tootsie. But here, let's talk about Straight Time,
A Christmas Story (1983) by El Bicho It was a close race, but currently A Christmas Story exhibits the most control over my speech patterns. Doesn't even have to be the holiday season for me to let loose some of author Jean Shepherd's brilliant gems. When there's a package on the step, I say "Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian." When something doesn't go right, I'll say "fudge" and then in a quick aside point out, "only I didn't say 'fudge'." I've even been known to breach etiquette and go straight to the triple-dog dare. With some of the most memorable

True Grit (2010) Blu-ray Review: Fill Your Hand With It

The high standards set by True Grit the film have been maintained by those responsible for creating the Blu-ray.
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Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) because of his reputation for having grit and reveals that at the age of 14 she did also. The Coen Brothers possess the same trait as well, evidenced by their ignoring those who scoffed at the notion of their remaking a well-known film, which featured an iconic performance by an iconic actor, and created another classic in their oeuvre. Most of True Grit is told in a flashback as Mattie (Elizabeth Marvel) reflects on the time she left home to avenge the death of her father at the hands of
Now and Then (1995) by Amanda Salazar Not only did I watch this movie when I was younger, reminiscing about my childhood with my girlfriends but this movie is all about past to present and "the good ol' days." The film that will always remind me of my past is Now and Then. Perhaps it is the sleepovers that we had watching this film or even us deciding which character we were most like in the movie but I can't help thinking this film not only reminds me of my past but also of my best girlfriends. Yes, it falls
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) by El Bicho I was 17 when Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out on May 23, 1984, and that would be the first time I waited in line overnight with a group of high school friends. Though I vividly remember strecthing out on lawn chairs under the stars, I can't remember who all was there. The location was Orange, CA at the theaters formerly known as the Cinedome. Although we took off school (I had Mom's permission) in order to be part of the first group to
Sunrise (1927) by Dusty Somers I consider it part of my duty as an older brother to help educate my 15-year-old brother on some of the finer points of culture. Sometimes it feels like a lost cause, but then I think back to when I was 15 and I empathize. Earlier this year, I took my brother to see a screening with live score of the sublime Sunrise -- his first silent film. Perhaps Sunrise isn't the best silent film with which to introduce an uninitiated teenager -- maybe something from Chaplin or Keaton would have been a better choice

Contest: Win a DVD of N-Secure

Cinema Sentries and Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to bring three lucky readers a chance to win N-Secure on DVD.
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Cinema Sentries and Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to bring three lucky readers a chance to win the thriller N-Secure on DVD. Coming to Blu-ray and DVD on June 14th, David M. Matthews' N-Secure is about successful businessman David Washington (Cordell Moore, Diary of a Mad Black Woman) whose need to control everything in his life costs him his plan for a perfect marriage when girlfriend Robin (Essence Atkins, Are We There Yet?) leaves him. David is determined not to let that happen again and when he begins a new relationship with Tina (Denise Boutte, Meet the Browns),
Requiem for a Dream (2000) by El Bicho Although I don't watch films to purposely feel down, I know this title will take me there because writer/director Darren Aronofsky created one of the most disturbing, visceral experiences I've ever had in a movie theater. Based on Hubert Selby, Jr.'s 1978 novel of the same name, Requiem for a Dream is a brutal examination of drug addiction through the lives of four characters. Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) is an elderly widow in Brooklyn who dreams of being on TV. When the opportunity to appear on a game show arises, she begins

Platoon Blu-ray Review: A Balanced, Realistic Portrayal of War

"Somebody once wrote: 'Hell is the impossibility of reason.' That's what this place feels like. Hell." - Pvt. Chris Taylor
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MGM commemorates the 25th anniversary of Oliver Stone's Academy Award-winning Platoon with its debut on Blu-ray. The film tells the story of Private Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) and the men he served with during his tour of duty in Vietnam. Taylor stands in for writer/director Oliver Stone, whose own experiences in Vietnam were the basis of the story, and he provides a glimpse of what went on for those who weren't there. Taylor volunteered to join the Infantry, wanting to serve his country the same way his father and grandfather had, and in September of 1967 he became a member
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) by Shawn Bourdo Is anyone going to pick anything other than a comedy? Do you watch Kramer Vs. Kramer to feel good? But the term "to feel good" all by itself suggests that you are feeling bad to start. Well, The Naked Gun is a perfect tonic to that for me. It's even crazier and more simple than Airplane. I can drop in on this film at any point and start to instantly feel better. The combination of non-stop gags, not worrying about a plot and the fun of guessing

One Lucky Elephant Movie Review: One Dissatisfied Viewer

Elephant's tale is worthwhile, but her humans breed skepticism
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I initially hesitated to cover this film, primarily because I expected a tear-jerker documentary that would use one elephant's tale to play on viewer emotions while condemning the ongoing use of elephants in circuses and zoos. Thankfully, that wasn't really the objective here, as the production team wisely kept a narrow focus on their star elephant's perilous but triumphant transition from circus performer to retiree. Unfortunately, Flora the elephant's tale is solely recounted by her primary caregivers, odd people who spend the entirety of their screen time anthropomorphizing Flora's every move, theorizing on what she's feeling and attempting to apply
Saving Private Ryan (1998) by El Bicho Set during WWII, three Ryan brothers have died within days of each other. The higher-ups don't want this family to suffer any more so they order Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men behind enemy lines in France to find Private James Frances Ryan (Matt Damon) so he can return home. Aside from the technically stellar sequence of the landing at Omaha Beach and a couple of compelling characters, Saving Private Ryan falls short in a number of areas that almost cause me to dislike the film more than I like it. Tom

30-Day Film Challenge: Favorite Film

The Cinema Sentries are taking part in the 30-Day Film Challenge during June. Join them.
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Citizen Kane (1941) by El Bicho There are quite a number of films I love. Many of which I could easily call my favorite on any given day, but if forced to pick one that demonstrates outstanding talent across the board and would be the most accessible, I have to go with Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, which impresses me greatly every time I watch it. Inside a palatial estate, an old man dies alone in the middle of the night. A newsreel reveals him to be Charles Foster Kane, once powerful newspaper tycoon and heir to the third richest goldmine.

Adua and Her Friends DVD Review: A Moving Italian Drama

Adua and Her Friends reveals why director Antonio Pietrangeli should be more well known in the United States.
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Antonio Pietrangeli isn't a particularly well-known filmmaker within the United States, but his wonderful 1960 film Adua and Her Friends suggests that shouldn't be the case. The blurbs on the DVD from RaroVideo peg Pietrangeli as a member of the Italian Neorealism movement, but Adua isn't really a Neorealist film. Its content -- regular people beleaguered by an oppressive societal construct -- certainly fits broadly within the category, but its form, which teeters on the edge of melodrama and is backed by a jazzy score -- decidedly does not. In addition, the film is populated with a starry cast at

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