October 2012 Archives

Celebrate Halloween with Oingo Boingo

Relive a Southern California tradition.
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One of the joys of living is tradition, and for those of us who grew up in Southern California from 1986 to 1991, Oingo Boingo playing Halloween night at Irvine Meadows was a tradition that roughly 16,000 folks got to take part in. It was a grand party with great music, and I was lucky enough to attend in 1991 before they took a break from it in 1992. Elfman explained why they stopped in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, "It was our design not to be that predictable. To perform on Halloween means doing the audience version

Flight Movie Review: Zemeckis and Washington Soar, Script Crashes

Robert Zemeckis returns to live-action direction in a heavy drama with a light script
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After spending most of the last decade laboring over a string of motion-capture CG films I’d prefer to forget, director Robert Zemeckis finally returns to live action this weekend. To his credit, he certainly didn’t tackle an easy project for his return, choosing a challenging drama the likes of which aren’t seen very often in modern multiplexes. He’s also blessed with a fully-committed lead actor in Denzel Washington, but ultimately gets stranded by a perplexing script by screenwriter John Gatins. There’s much to like about the film, particularly the tandem of Zemeckis and Washington, but its abhorrent lead character and

Nazi Collaborators DVD Review: A Worthy Addition to any WWII Buff's Library

A disturbing, yet fascinating perspective on Nazi collaborators.
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The 13-episode, four-DVD set Nazi Collaborators offers yet another fascinating perspective on the events of World War II. It has been common knowledge for decades that the Nazis had important collaborators in all sorts of fields. Without help, it is highly unlikely that they could have gone as far as they did. Some of the collaborators are well known, while others have managed to hide themselves to a certain degree. Each 50-minute episode of The Military Channel series is concerned with a particular player in the horrible saga. The program seeks to answer the simple question: “How could anyone have

Touch: The Complete First Season DVD Review: A Complex, Entertaining Supernatural Thriller

Does being alone in the universe unite us?
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Created by Tim Kring and starring Kiefer Sutherland, Touch is one of those rare television shows that isn't afraid of challenging its audience. It discusses the connectivity of the universe, using numbers and patterns as a means to connect people. Nothing is by chance, but the audience is left pondering the beauty or boredom of the red connecting thread of all things. Kring, the creator of Heroes, has certainly mastered a certain aesthetic with his television shows. Those familiar with the extensive architecture of Heroes will find themselves on familiar ground with Touch, a series that features a range of

Copper Season One Blu-ray Review: Dodge This Bullet

BBC America’s first original scripted series misses the mark in spite of the stellar track record of its creative execs.
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Not content to just rebroadcast programming from the UK, BBC America has entered the arena of original scripted programming with this new series. They made a shrewd move by partnering with established and well-respected TV creators including Tom Fontana and exec producer Barry Levinson of Homicide: Life on the Street and Oz fame, along with co-creator Will Rokos (Monster’s Ball, Southland). Those creators came up with a sound concept, developing a gritty crime show in 19th century New York City. Homicide: The Civil War Years? Yes please! So far so good, but then we come to casting. The series hinges

Sesame Street: Old School Volume 3 DVD Review: Reliving the Sunny Days of Childhood

The newest batch of episodes, taken from 1979-1984, offers adult fans a selection of memorable episodes that are equally fun and bittersweet.
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Since 1969, the inarguable standard-bearer for educational entertainment for children has been Sesame Street. Winner of 143 Emmy Awards over the course of its four-decade-plus run, the show and its iconic characters have become invaluable denizens of the pop culture landscape, not just in the United States, but around the world. The show’s combination of humor and educational curriculum has long made it a valuable means of introducing young children to basic concepts like the alphabet and counting, while also teaching real-life lessons about the importance of sharing, compassion for others, and tolerance. In 2006, Sesame Workshop released some of

Circle Jerks: My Career As A Jerk DVD Review: A Wonderful Documentary

David Markey's film about one of L.A.'s most seminal punk bands.
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If you know anything about punk rock, you know the Circle Jerks. They were one of L.A.'s most seminal and influential punks bands. Initially comprised of former members of Red Kross and Black Flag, this band helped define the sound the the L.A. punk scene. The Circle Jerks story is a winding and complex one that involves revolving members, addiction, and infighting. Debbie Gibson even shows up at one point, no joke. But would you expect anything less from original punks? I wouldn't. David Markey has put together interviews with members of the band, other seminal punks stars, and some

Alfred Hitchock The Masterpiece Collection is the Pick of the Week

The Master of Suspense gets a big boxed set on Blu-ray.
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Halloween is quite possibly my favorite holiday. I love all the decorations, the excitement of all the little children (and some not so little) dressing up as their favorite characters and monsters. I love the weather changing into fall; the chill in the air; the smell of spiced, hot liquids. I love the candy. Every year my wife and I throw a great big party where we gut large, orange vegetables and carve them into interesting images that glow in the dark. And yes, I love to be scared. I love horror movies at any time of the year, but

Alcatraz: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review: More Mysterious Mystical Crap from JJ Abrams

More fodder for my ever-worsening mental condition.
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Every year, J.J. Abrams brings us yet another television series. Around that same time every year, I grow a little crazier. Sure, you may just consider the two seemingly-unrelated items to be nothing more than mere coincidence, but it is most assuredly not, boys and girls — as at least one-percent of my madness is unquestionably attributable to the lousy shows Mr. Abrams proudly stamps his "I am to crappy mystical TV shows what Tim Burton is to crappy, overly-artsy movies" seal of approval upon. And the short-lived 2012 Abrams-produced series Alcatraz has become more fodder for my ever-worsening mental

The Game (1997): Criterion Collection DVD Review: Edgy and Uneven, But it Grows on You

Lesson learned: never accept a gift from Sean Penn.
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There's nothing taking time out of your everyday boring routine to play a fun game with your friends. In the case of completely unlikable investment banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), his venture into The Game is not one he is too terribly willing to participate in — and his playmates are anything but friendly. When he was a young boy, Nick's secretly unhappy father committed suicide on his 48th birthday. Now, having just turned 48 himself, Van Orton is just as miserable as his deceased father to anyone with half an eye. So, his young, reckless brother Conrad (Sean

Dirty Dancing: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition Review: You Can Own It

A new package celebrates 25 years since the film--and its memorable songs--first entered popular culture.
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Anyone who grew up in the '80s can immediately identify this quote: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” Amazingly, 25 years have passed since Johnny Castle uttered those famous words to "Baby" Houseman in Dirty Dancing, the low-budget film that became a popular culture touchstone. In addition to the film, the soundtrack topped the charts and earned an Oscar and Grammy for the smash “(I've Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. To honor the milestone, RCA has released Dirty Dancing: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition, a lavishly packaged CD which includes new liner notes, a

Sound of My Voice Blu-ray Review: A Taut, Controlled Thriller

Brit Marling demands your attention in this transfixing suspense film about a basement cult.
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The Film An impressively controlled and thoroughly transfixing thriller, Sound of My Voice is a film where almost nothing is wasted — no gesture goes unnoticed and only a handful of scenes featuring a federal agent feel superfluous. Clocking in at less than 90 minutes, this is a taut piece of low-budget filmmaking, more focused and ultimately more satisfying than Another Earth, last year’s lo-fi sci-fi starring and co-written by Brit Marling, who also co-stars in and co-wrote Sound of My Voice. Zal Batmanglij directs this time around as opposed to Mike Cahill, but there are unmistakable visual and thematic

Book Review: If You Like Quentin Tarantino, Here are Over 200 Films, TV Shows, and Other Oddities that You Will Love by Katherine Rife

A handy compendium of many of the obscure films Tarantino has championed over the years.
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The new If You Like… series of books from Limelight Editions focus on items that fans of a particular director or musician might find appealing. For example, If You Like The Terminator... called our attention to a number of classic science fiction books, movies, and TV shows. The same holds true for subjects as varied as Monty Python, Metallica, and The Beatles. The full title of the latest entry is If You Like Quentin Tarantino…Here are Over 200 Films, TV Shows, and Other Oddities that You Will Love by Katherine Rife. For Tarantino fans, it is a handy compendium of

Contest: Sesame Street: Old School Volume 3 on DVD

One, two, three, four, five. Five prizes available. Ah...ah... ah!
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Cinema Sentries and Warner Brothers Home Entertainment have teamed up to give five lucky readers the opportunity to win Sesame Street: Old School Volume 3 on DVD. Volume 3 of the Old School series presents the five premiere episodes from the seasons airing from 1979 to 1984. As detailed in Sentry Brandie's review, the episodes include "the gang’s trip to Puerto Rico to celebrate Maria’s birthday; Big Bird’s “first day of school,” as he nervously accompanies Kathy for “Visitor’s Day;” and a visit from actress Madeline Kahn, who plays a birdwatcher determined to protect “endangered species” Big Bird...Big Bird’s trip

Take This Waltz DVD Review: Not as Good as the Trailer

Though I’m glad I saw the actual movie, I can’t say it is entertaining or satisfying.
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Written by Muchacha Motorista Margot (Michelle Williams) writes travel brochures and is happily married to Lou (Seth Rogen), a cookbook writer. Their marriage is comfortable and quiet, which is just fine until Margot meets and instantly connects with their neighbor, hipster Daniel (Luke Kirby). Suddenly, the status quo is no longer enough. The distance grows between them as Margot feels increasingly attracted to Daniel, and Lou is left in the dark, not sure why the usual is now not good enough for her. The three main characters are all sympathetic—the viewer feels for Margot’s dilemma, the sudden change of expectations

Comic Book Review: Bob Howard, Plumber of the Unknown #4 by Rafael Nieves and Dan Dougherty

An homage to classic horror, pulp, and supernatural tales that's absolutely worth your time.
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Released in August of 2012 to coincide with the annual Wizard World Chicago Comic Convention, the fourth issue of Bob Howard, Plumber of the Unknown serves a dual purpose. For those unfamiliar with the character, created by writer Rafael Nieves and artist Dan Dougherty, this issue serves as one of those perfect jumping on points, where everything you need to know about the character is encapsulated in one story. For those of us who’ve been following Bob’s exploits for a while now, this issue is the proverbial “one you’ve been waiting for”. It’s the big origin issue in which everything

The Black Tulip Movie Review: A Cluttered, Lumbering, Simplistic Mess

Afghanistan's official entry for the 2011 Academy Awards is a corny and cartoonish experience.
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Directed by activist, director and actress Sonia Nassery Cole, The Black Tulip is Afghanistan’s official entry for the 2011 Academy Awards. The heart behind it seems impossible to discount (perhaps), but the overt and ham-fisted expression of desires that went into the film leaves a project that is cluttered, corny and sometimes cartoonish. The movie proudly demonstrates some Afghani customs, like a game called buzkashi in which men on horseback fight over a goat, but ultimately fails to illuminate the social progress that is an understandable object of pride for the filmmaker. The oversimplification of many of the film’s elements,

Doctor Who: The Ambassadors of Death DVD Review: A Hugely Convoluted Story

The Third Doctor encounters aliens from Mars who may not have come in peace.
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In January of 1970, the Seventh Season of Doctor Who started with Jon Pertwee taking the reins as the Third Doctor. Patrick Troughton had held the spot from 1966 to 1969 traveling through time and space. Pertwee would be exiled to 20th Century Earth. His appearance would bring many changes to what had become the core Doctor Who stories. The series would finally change to all-color episodes, the series would be anchored in 20th Century England, there would be a more consistent cast of characters, and the series would have shorter seasons with longer serials. The second serial of his

Les Visiteurs du Soir: Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Medieval Tale of Love and Fate

As God said to Cain: "If you want to cast people into the deepest depths of despair, send in a couple of French folks."
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In late 1942, when the surreal French fantasy Les Visiteurs du Soir was first released in good ol' gai Paris, the capital City of Lights was anything but happy. In fact, it was occupied by those ol' no-good Nazis — and the prospect of freedom was but a farfetched dream for some. Thus, the very premise of the film — wherein two of the Devil's emissaries are sent to an otherwise happy castle in 1485 to bring about despair to all — was something of a believable concept to those who were forcefully living within the Hellish confines of Hitler's

Narrow Escapes of World War II DVD Review: A Great Series

“The only new things in the world is the history you don’t know” - Harry S. Truman
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What would you do? Surrounded by your enemy; back against the wall with no way out; low on ammunition, food, and water; and no sign of help in sight, could you hold out? Would you surrender or take as many of them down with you as you go? Narrow Escapes of World War II presents 13 incredible stories of luck, heroism, and sheer determination straight from the original uncut UK broadcast edition, which aired on The Military Channel in the U.S. The big picture of war is made up of hundreds of thousands of small stories; some of them have

The Walking Dead Video Game Review: A Scary Good Time

Well-written video game jettisons familiar characters in favor of a new cast and new situations set in the same vicinity of the original property
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Creator Robert Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse tale isn’t just chewing up comic book racks and TV ratings, it’s also terrorizing video game platforms including Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. After being released episodically via digital download every couple of months starting this spring, the game's five chapters are now being compiled into a physical “full season” disc release. The individual chapters continue to be available for immediate download as well, and at a cost of only $5 per episode there’s not much incentive to wait for the $30 standard compilation unless you have to own a shiny disc or you want

Quantum of Solace Movie Review: A Rebooted James Bond Takes Two Steps Backward

After the game-changing Casino Royale, Marc Forster fell back on tired old tropes in Quantum of Solace.
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The second Daniel Craig Bond film is a good reminder that despite a new actor, new visual aesthetic, and new conception of a signature character, it's tough in Hollywood to avoid falling back on hidebound old tropes -- something the James Bond franchise has been guilty of once or twice. After the three steps forward of series reboot Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace is two steps backward -- steps so far backward that in some ways, Quantum actually resembles Die Another Day (a convincing catalyst for that reboot) more than it does Casino Royale. Visually, of course, that's not

The Slut Movie Review: A Provoking But Detached Film from Israel

Hagar Ben-Asher commits mind, body and soul.
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At the beginning of Hagar Ben-Asher’s The Slut, a horse leaps over a fence, runs freely and is eventually hit by a speeding truck. That this is the first imagery in this audacious and undaunted Israeli motion picture is no accident, but exactly what it symbolizes is ambiguous. Is it a statement about the potential risks of freedom? Or about driving too fast? Is it a statement at all? Much of the buzz pertaining to The Slut will come out of its wilfully incendiary nature. The title is clearly meant to provoke some sense of dialogue about the term itself.

The Robert Mitchum Film Collection DVD Review: A Gallant Line-up of Shamelessly Repackaged Releases

Any actor who shares the same name as my deodorant is A-OK in my book.
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In keeping up with their recent line-up of Film Collection releases (box sets featuring highlights from Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Denzel Washington, Liam Neeson, et al), the folks at Twentieth Century Fox have once again assembled a set of classic, well-known titles from one of Hollywood's most legendary bad boys: the one and only Robert Mitchum. The Robert Mitchum Film Collection repackages ten of the most famous titles from the Fox and MGM libraries (in two volumes) to star the iconic actor (any actor who shares the same name as my deodorant is A-OK in my book), and includes feature

Kingdom Season One DVD Review: No Treasure Here

Stephen Fry is charming as a country solicitor, but his show is a snooze.
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A long time ago in a country far, far away, two young comedians were introduced by Emma Thompson while all three were attending college. The comedians decided to team up to conquer their country, and went on to become the wildly successful UK duo Fry & Laurie. Hugh Laurie later went on to even greater fame and fortune in the States playing a misanthropic doctor named House, while Stephen Fry stayed home and eventually ended up in this project. Poor Fry. While he’s charming enough as a personable country solicitor, his latest show is largely a snooze. It’s the kind

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye DVD Review: Should be Titled Plastic Surgery Disasters

A flawed, yet ultimately moving account of the "pandrogynous" couple.
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At its core, the tale of Genesis P-Orridge and Lady Jaye is a heartbreaking love story. As everything the musical agent provocateur P-Orridge has done over his long career, their love affair was couched in the guise of Art with a capital “A.” The newly released DVD The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye tells this tale, and ends on a bittersweet note. As an avowed fan of the former head of Throbbing Gristle, and Psychic TV, even I have cringed at some of the antics of Genesis. This documentary attempts to explain what it was they were aiming for

The Ice House (1997) DVD Review: A Twisty Mystery Sporting a Young James Bond

What’s that, guv’nah? A good British mystery movie? I say!
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In the U.S., it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that people only know Daniel Craig as James Bond and possibly “that guy from Dragon Tattoo.” But, lo and behold, he started working his way up the ranks in 1992 in bit parts in American films and British TV series, and five years into his budding acting career, landed the part of Andy McLoughlin in BBC’s television adaptation of Minette Walters’ novel The Ice House. It also features other stars of stage and screen (Penny Downie, Frances Barber, Kitty Aldridge, and Corin Redgrave), but while the old cover sports all five

Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition is the Pick of the Week

I'm not a huge fan of the film but this is a tremendous boxed set.
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There comes a time in every movie fan and critics life when he must make certain admissions. Perhaps it is a secret love for big, dumb action films, or a soft spot for something like Showgirls or Zombie Cheerleaders From Outer Space, but we have have affectionate feelings for films that any lover of serious film really shouldn't care for at all. Even more damning is when the movie fan just can't get into a piece of cinema that rests in the pantheon of critically acclaimed masterpieces. Admitting that Citizen Kane does nothing for you or that you think Casablanca

Beatles Stories DVD Review: Tales Even Hardcore Beatles Fans May Not Know

Captivating hearsay delivered by Beatles fans for Beatles fans.
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It’s difficult not to be wary of new Beatles-related documentaries, especially considering some of the Netflix titles that appear alluring but leave you feeling regretful and robbed of valuable time following 90 minutes of Beatles Muzak and unfortunate production work. Unless it’s put out by Apple Corps, what’s the point, right? Well, for any Beatles fan new material is the point, and, unfortunately, even the most legitimate contributions to this very saturated brand provide very little of it these days. That’s where songwriter, author, and filmmaker Seth Swirsky comes in. Just be sure to remember his name so you don’t

The Raven (2012) Blu-ray Review: Quoth the Reviewer, "Worth Watching"

For fans of murder mysteries and John Cusack.
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I love murder mysteries; given my choice of any genre, this is what I will pick every time. To get ready for Halloween, I was hoping The Raven would not only satisfy my desire for a good whodunit but provide some chills as well. Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) is a peculiar fellow who writes of the macabre in 19th century Baltimore, Maryland. Poe is struggling financially due to a period of writer’s block, has alienated himself socially due to his drinking, and is attempting to win the heart of Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), but is being thwarted by her

Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story Movie Review: An Enlightening Documentary

A look at the legacy of a man and his music.
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While I’ve been familiar with their name for some time, most often hearing it spoken with reverence, I can’t say that I’m all too familiar with the music of Morphine. I wasn’t even aware of the fact that their lead singer, Mark Sandman, had passed away in 1999. Needless to say, I found Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story, which takes its name from the band’s 1993 album, to be quite an enlightening documentary and through watching it, I learned more than a thing or two about the music Mark Sandman and his band mates created as well as

Turn Me On, Dammit! Movie Review: Ghost World with a Libido

An honest portrayal of girls during the awkward teenage years.
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Written by Muchacha Motorista How many teenage movies are about boys hoping to hook up with girls? Yeah, a lot of them. From Grease to American Pie to Superbad and beyond because sex is on the mind of the majority of teenage boys. But guess what? Teenage girls also have a libido (gasp!), are curious about sex (gasp!), and have plenty of dirty day-dreams (gasp!). Hollywood tends to tilt teenage girl movies toward getting The Love Interest to see The Main Character for the beautiful person she really is. Even the funny, quirky Easy A is more about boys thinking

Iron Man 3 Trailer: Iron Man's Search for Meaning [Movie Recon]

Take a peek at the beginning of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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For those like myself who wondered how the Marvel superheroes would fare returning to their own franchises after appearing in the epic adventure The Avengers, the trailer for Iron Man 3 should set minds at ease for the time being. Directed by Shane Black, who co-wrote the screenplay with Drew Pearce, the trailer reveals a film with a darker tone in comparison to the previous two installments. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) seems deeply affected by the events that took place in New York (helping to stop an alien invasion), but he has little time to deal with his existential

Contest: Happiness is…Peanuts: Go Snoopy Go! on DVD

It doesn't even cost a nickel to enter.
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Cinema Sentries and Warner Home Entertainment have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win Happiness is…Peanuts: Go Snoopy Go! on DVD. Go Snoopy Go! is the fifth and most recent release in the Happiness is…Peanuts series. It features the 35th Peanuts special  It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown, which finds manager Charlie Brown needing to turn his team into a winner so they can get a local business to sponsor their uniforms. Also included is the 12th episode of the Saturday morning cartoon show The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, which aired on CBS in the 1980s. As

People Like Us (2012) Blu-ray Review: Wait, This Isn't the Sequel to Spies Like Us

A movie that doesn't live up to its title: I don't like these people at all!
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Family. Yes, there's nothing like your own flesh and blood to screw up your entire existence and make you never want to socialize with any single member of the human race ever again. Yet, somehow, there's nothing strangely satisfying in life than discovering a new branch on your family tree — a finding that gives you the false hope that, just perhaps, they will make your term on this Earth all the more complete. Or, at the very minimum, they won't be as crazy as the rest of folks in your clan. Of course, I don't know very much about

Casino Royale (2006) Movie Review: James Bond Gets a Reboot in a Remake and It's Remarkable

After a long slump, everybody's favorite super spy comes back in style.
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We were very big Remington Steele fans, my family and I. So much so that we still tell this story to this very day. Our television was on the fritz; its picture was fuzzy and it kept doing that that thing where the screen would rotate around and around like TVs did back then. My father, in his infinite wisdom, decided that he was going to fix it by doing what he called "degmagnitzing it" which meant in actuality that he was going to rub a big speaker magnet all over the screen. This, of course, did not at

Book Review: Classic Hollywood Style by Caroline Young

A rich, fetching collection that offers plenty of substance with its style
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Hardcover books selling Hollywood style are notorious for ending up in the bargain section of Barnes and Noble following a brief reign as pricy eye candy for end caps, but far too often they’re simply regurgitated imagery and content packaged in new, enticing ways. In the case of Classic Hollywood Style (Francis Lincoln Limited Publishers) Edinburgh-based writer and journalist Caroline Young saves the film and fashion aficionados who will likely gravitate toward her book from such disappointment by not merely detailing the iconic looks donned by film stars of the 1920s through the 1960s but contextualizing them within film and

The League: The Complete Season Three DVD Review: The Best Season Thus Far

A raunchy comedy about the three Fs: friends and fantasy football
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The recently released Season Three of the raunchy FX comedy about a group of fantasy football owners pushes the envelope even further than the first two seasons. The unscrupulous attorney and all-around a-hole, Ruxin (Nick Kroll), is the reigning Shiva Bowl Champion. And to prove his obnoxiousness he starts off the new season by hiring several NFL players, including Sidney Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew to create a Shiva Bowl Shuffle video based on the 1986’s Chicago Bears’ "Super Bowl Shuffle." Not only does he constantly berate his league members as champion but he even buys a giant gold ring to

Happiness is...Peanuts: Go Snoopy Go! DVD Review: It's Mildly Entertaining, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown and the gang are ready to play ball, but this collection of Peanuts shorts is not all fun and games.
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Charlie Brown, tirelessly optimistic manager of a baseball team that has never won a single game, is determined to finally have a successful season. But there are a few obstacles standing in his way: outfielder Lucy can’t catch a ball to save her life (not that the rest of the team is any better); “calisthenics expert” Snoopy would rather sleep on the bench; little Leland, who wants to move up to the “big leagues” from the t-ball circuit, keeps getting smacked in the head; and Charlie Brown himself is not exactly the best pitcher. On top of that, their team

In the Mood for Love Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Astonishing Meditation on Longing

"Feelings can creep up just like that."
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Wong Kar-wai’s wonderful, stunning In the Mood for Love sparkles on Blu-ray thanks to Criterion Collection. The 2000 film, nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, is a subtle and sensitive piece on isolation and love in many forms. It features incredible performances and a reserved but intimate style that captivates from the opening frame. With his spectacular Chungking Express earning tremendous critical acclaim and other awards pouring in for the director, Wong’s construction of a career has been as close to flawless as a modern filmmaker can get. His Happy Together won him both mainstream and critical success in

Best of Bond...James Bond: 50 Years - 50 Tracks Review: An Outstanding Collection

A wonderful set containing timeless theme songs and intense incidental music as well.
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Bond. James Bond. For some, it's the man itself that makes them jump up and down with delight -- personal choice in actors notwithstanding, of course. For others, it's the endless array of post-kill puns, sexual euphemisms, and gadgetry. Finally, folks, there are those in this world who love 007 movies just for the musical contributions they have brought to the world; whether it be a kick-ass theme song or just some tense incidental music. And that, boys and girls, brings me to the very point of this piece: the music that has been accompanying James Bond on his

Chernobyl Diaries Blu-ray Review: A Radioactive Turd

What may have sounded like an interesting premise on paper ended up as an absolute mess by the time it hit the screen.
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What’s the worst that could happen when a group of vacationing teens decide to embark on a bit of “extreme vacationing” in the abandoned town of Prypiat, which sits in the shadow of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant? If the first thing that came to your mind was “a horrific and lifelong battle with cancer, ultimately ending in death”, or perhaps even “two harrowing days filled with mutated cannibals and feral dogs”, you’d definitely be awarded a gold star or some sort of medal of honor for doing your best but ultimately falling short of the mark. No, the worst

The Face of Fu Manchu DVD Review: Obey Fu Manchu or: Hey, Nice Moustache!

The forces of evil may be very much alive, but this film is not.
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Designed strictly for lovers of pulp serials and potboilers, The Face of Fu Manchu is a dated Don Sharp joint making an appearance on DVD thanks to Warner Brothers’ Archive Collection. The 1965 picture is the first in a series of five films featuring the Sax Rohmer-created character. The heavy made appearances in early films like 1935’s Mask of Fu Manchu, in which he was played by Boris Karloff. The malevolent rise of foreign cultures has almost always proven as effective grounds for super-villains and Rohmer’s character was no different. His descriptions of purported “Yellow Peril” sound absolutely foul by

Down in The Flood DVD Review: Bob Dylan and The Band Examined in New DVD Documentary

Don't think twice, this film is more than alright.
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Bob Dylan had just rewritten his own rules and those of nearly every other popular musician as well by abandoning the confines of acoustic folk in favor of amped-up rock and roll. Having pissed off the folk-movement purists with his infamous “electric” set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and defying every fathomable songwriting convention with Bringing It All Back Home and, then, Highway 61 Revisited (which boasted the epic single, “Like A Rolling Stone”), Dylan sought a stable of road-tested, resilient musicians with whom to make his latest stand. Down in The Flood - Associations and Collaborations chronicles the

Bait 3D (2012) Blu-ray Review: Sharks in a Supermarket

This shark is even more dangerous roaming the aisles of a grocery store than I am.
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Russell Mulcahy, ladies and gentlemen. Fans of a certain franchise about an immortal Scotsman who says "There can be only one!" know him as the man who directed the one true, original Highlander movie. '80s music lovers know him as the guy that helmed a few videos for Duran Duran, Billy Idol, and The Tubes. And then there are all those rednecks who probably don't know any better than to associate him with the made-for-TV biopic 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story, but that's probably for the best since most of Russell's crappier films have — fortunately — gone mostly unnoticed

The War Room Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Peek Behind the Campaign Curtain

It's The Criterion Collection, stupid.
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While the campaigns for United States President seem to grow increasingly relentless with every cycle, especially in so-called battleground states, it's hard to dispute what a fascinating endeavor the entire process is. While some countries still experience violent overthrows of their government, at the hands of their people or from outside forces, the United States is one of the lucky countries where factions change power peacefully. For the most part. Before the Internet and cable news became the huge presence that they are now in modern society, the general public had much smaller access to what went on behind the

The Forgiveness of Blood Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Nik Full of Angst

Joshua Marston's first full film since Maria Full of Grace explores an Albanian blood feud and its impact on a teen boy
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Remember Maria Full of Grace? Writer/director Joshua Marston’s 2004 film about a Colombian drug mule garnered international acclaim and recognition including an Oscar nomination, but since its release he has mostly only surfaced to occasionally helm episodes of various US TV shows and a segment of the anthology film New York, I Love You. His return here to feature films will be familiar to all Maria viewers, as he again takes the approach of following a small, personal story set in a foreign land and a foreign language. This time his story is set in Albania instead of Colombia. Raise

Alcatraz: The Complete Series DVD Review: Lost on The Rock

Bogged down in a confusing sea of pretension.
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Is Alcatraz "Lost on The Rock?" Well, sort of. J.J. Abrams is the mastermind of both shows, and he brought Jorge Garcia along to Alcatraz as sort of a chubby, pony-tailed talisman. It didn’t work though, as Alcatraz was canceled after 13 episodes. Those shows plus a couple of bonus features make up the new triple-DVD set Alcatraz: The Complete Series, which has just been released by Warner Home Video. The basic premise of Alcatraz is that the 256 prisoners and 46 guards at the prison disappeared into thin air in 1963. A cover story was created for the public

One Bright Shining Moment Movie Review: What Made George McGovern Run

An insightful documentary that examines the candidacy of Senator George McGovern sans gonzo journalism.
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For political junkies, there is no greater spectacle than the election of the President of the United States. The appeal of this long, torrid quadrennial affair stems from its ability to simultaneously showcase the best and worst aspects that democracy and mankind has to offer. For about a year, this soap opera with global implications engulfs the nation’s media as they cover all the victories and missteps by the field of candidates who are pursuing the office of the President, a position awarded to only 43 men in 223 years. One Bright Shining Moment is an insightful documentary that examines

October Baby DVD Review: Pro-Life Christian Propaganda from a Hate Group

Wake me up when October ends.
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I suppose being an depressed asthmatic epileptic is something of a load unto itself for a college coed with dreams of being an actress. Now, try tossing in the discovery that your parents aren't really your parents after all — and you are, in fact, the result of a botched abortion. Not exactly an uplifting thought, eh? I suppose things could get worse, of course — and you could actually be some thinly-disguised plot point of a rotten, boring pro-life Christian propaganda flick that surely escaped from some sort of kooky Conservative Hell. Well, that's about the gist of October

Confessions of an Opium Eater DVD Review: Would You Like a Side of Beef, or a Side of Man?

Casting Vincent Price as a "good guy" action hero is a sure sign of drug use itself.
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By 1962, motion picture producer Albert Zugsmith had been far removed from the Universal science fiction classics that he will forever be remembered for with "serious" moviegoers (i.e. The Incredible Shrinking Man) and returned to what was best at: making cheap, independent exploitation flicks. The Allied Artists release Confessions of an Opium Eater is a prime slice of beef (or is it a slice of man, to mock a corny philosophical conversation that takes place within the confines of the film) wherein we learn one truly important thing: casting Vincent Price as a "good guy" action hero was a sure

Moonrise Kingdom Blu-ray Review: Love in the Time of Eccentricity

Wes Anderson’s unmistakably heavy-handed style threatens but fails to derail innocent love story.
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There’s no mistaking a Wes Anderson movie, and with his latest work he’s more distinctive than ever. That’s both a good and bad thing. While it’s great to have a defiantly original writer/director operating successfully within Hollywood, his heavily stylized, almost theatrical approach is so overpoweringly quirky that it threatens to obscure the plot and message of the film. If you’re not a fan of Anderson, this film won’t change your mind. However, if you’re onboard with his oddball oeuvre you’ll be right at home in his lighthearted and nostalgic new world. On a small island off the coast of

Mad Men: Season Five is the Pick of the Week

Not my favorite season of the show, but still a darn good one.
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I came late to the Mad Men game, not watching an episode until about a year and a half ago, but once I started I couldn't quit. Marathoninig through the first four seasons in a couple of weeks and then waiting with baited breath for Season Five to come out I was easily, and quickly addicted. It isn't a perfect show - I've always found Don's mysterious past to be at best a distraction and at worse a total bore - but when it's good it's bottled magic. The fifth season slumped a little in the begining but eventually found

12 Angry Men Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Guilty of Being Great

This edition will make you one happy person.
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Set almost entirely in a single room, 12 Angry Men appears to be a small film yet the story reveals great thematic depth. It not only explores the U.S. judicial system, but also looks at larger philosophical issues such as perception and knowledge. After having sat through a six-day trial, twelve men, who are only identified by their juror number, must determine if an 18-year-old boy is guilty of murdering his father as claimed by the police and witnesses. Almost immediately upon entering the jury room, a vote is taken. Eleven say guilty and one, Juror 8 (Henry Fonda, who

G.I. Joe: Renegades: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: It Seems You Can, In Fact, Go Home Again

This take on the franchise atones for the sins of the live-action movie, takes a nomadic approach to character introduction, and tells a much-needed mature and interesting story along the way.
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Reviving 1980s cartoon franchises continues to be all the rage. Transformers managed to garner interest and ticket sales at the box office (though beyond the tolerable first entry, I can’t understand how), and despite personally being deeply annoyed by the creative liberties taken in 2009’s live-action G.I. Joe movie, others apparently found enough value in it to warrant a sequel. Neither franchise has been perfect since their heyday in the mid-’80s -- for every Beast Wars there’s a Sigma 6 to race it to the bottom -- but it’s always possible to still get a reboot right. The all-too-brief 2009

Eating Raoul Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Equal Parts High Camp and Urbane Comedy of Manners

Paul Bartel's little-known 1982 film is a truly unique comedy.
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The Film A delightful black comedy that’s equal parts high camp and urbane comedy of manners, Paul Bartel’s Eating Raoul is a little-known jewel of the burgeoning American independent film movement. A protégé of the Roger Corman school of quick-and-dirty filmmaking, Bartel shot the film in pieces over the course of a year, adding new scenes whenever he had money to shoot. $500,000 and a priceless amount of inspiration later, Eating Raoul emerged. Bartel and Mary Woronov star as Paul and Mary Bland, a milquetoast married couple who lives up to their surname. Paul has recently lost his job at

Cinderella (1950) Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review: Sparkles Like a Glass Slipper in the Moonlight

It's a must-own, particularly for those who don't own the previous DVD edition.
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Cinderella, the 12th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, has found its way to Blu-ray with an impressive high-definition presentation and an extensive collection of bonus material. An adaptation of Charles Perrault's “Cendrillion,” Disney's version opens with a prologue that reveals Cinderella's widowed father remarried Lady Tremaine, a woman with two girls about Cinderella's age, Anastasia and Drizella. When Cinderella's father died, the true, cruel nature of her stepmother and stepsisters was revealed, and she became their servant. Cinderella is another Disney princess in tune with animals, such as the birds and the mice, because of her kindness

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [Movie Recon]

Posters, wallpapers, other images and videos for the upcoming Hobbit film.
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With the Lord of the Rings trilogy director Peter Jackson recreated writer J.R.R. Tolkein's fantasy world of Middle Earth to perfection. The films satisfied critics and the general public, die-hard fans and those new to the world of hobbits and wizards, orcs and dwarves. Now, after much debate and deal-making, Jackson is back to bring to life the prequel to the Lord of the Rings movies, The Hobbit. He is breaking the book into three separate movies which, like the original trilogy will come out in consecutive years. The first movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters December

Brave New World with Stephen Hawking DVD Review: The Hunt for Humanity's Next Great Leap Forward

Hawking and a cadre of brilliant scientific minds examine the modern technological breakthroughs that promise a "brave new world" for humankind.
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Making science both fun and educational can be a difficult task. If the “techie talk” falls into that dry wasteland of too much monotonous detail, you risk losing a portion of the audience to boredom or confusion. Conversely, gloss over some of that detail, and the nuances of the discussion are lost, resulting in an incomplete understanding of the subject matter that shortchanges the viewer. To be successful, the presentation must be balanced—sometimes delicately—between informative and entertaining, without coming across as overly didactic. Thankfully, Brave New World, 2011’s successful BBC documentary series hosted by legendary physicist Stephen Hawking, maintains that

The Raven (2012) Blu-ray Review: A Miscast Muddle

"A long agony."
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Directed by James McTeigue, The Raven is a silly film with a silly premise that has no idea how silly it needs to be. The 2012 thriller comes written by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare and purports to be a fictionalized account of Edgar Allen Poe’s mysterious last days. With the audacity to take such brave creative license comes no levity, however, and the film’s stone-serious tenor sinks the ordeal. The writers apparently used some details of Poe’s life in putting together the screenplay, with insinuations to his alcoholism and peculiarity coursing through the movie’s dark veins. There were indeed

The Sorcerers DVD Review: Old Folks Supply Old School Horror

If films like this are your sort of thing, it will make a great addition to your collection.
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Despite what the title may suggest, The Sorcerers does not feature Boris Karloff as a magician, warlock, mage or other such magical being. In fact, there isn’t really any magic at all, unless you count the magic of science and psychedelic swingin’ London of the 1960’s. But oh, what a magical time it was when an aged hypnotist, long since disgraced and discredited by his peers, finally sees his life’s work come to fruition in the form of a machine that can control the minds of others. After finding a suitable test subject, Dr. Monserret (Karloff) hopes to use his

Die Another Day Movie Review: The Epitome of 007's Descent into Dumb Action Tropes

Pierce Brosnan's final outing as Bond makes it clear why the franchise desperately needed a reboot.
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The final outing for Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, Die Another Day doesn't seem totally execrable -- but that might be mostly due to the severely lowered expectations fostered by the previous three Brosnan entries. All right, GoldenEye is OK, but I doubt it would be remembered nearly as fondly (or much at all) if it weren't for its accompanying video game, which was unquestionably a lot more fun. Brosnan certainly looked the part, infusing the character with equal parts aloof coolness and suave charm, but there's something intangible missing from the character in all of his entries. That
Widely hailed as one of the finest French films of all time, Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise is an astounding piece of art and a dazzling historical document. Now available thanks to the good people at Criterion Collection, this 1945 motion picture was actually made during the Nazi occupation of France. Constraints on the production were significant, but Carné still created one of the most expensive pictures in the country at the time. There is some discussion as to the suitability of filming such a movie during the occupation (even Carné considered it “madness to make such a film in

Tight DVD Review: Can Porn Stars Become Rock Stars?

Just as shallow as porn, but with far fewer sexy bits.
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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to give instruments to four girls who bang on camera for a living and try to turn them from porn stars into rock stars? Tight strives to give viewers that experience, reality-TV-show-style, but the whole experience comes off as more confusing than interesting. Watching Tight is a strange experience. Is it wrong to berate porn stars for their lack of creativity or utter inability to act in a convincing manner? Typically this is tolerated because it makes up about 5% of the experience, the other 95% being about her and the

Contest: The Cottage (2012) on DVD

Be one of three lucky winners.
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Cinema Sentries and Entertainment One have teamed up to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win director Chris Jaymes' The Cottage on DVD. Based on true events and similar to movies like Pacific Heights and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, The Cottage stars David Arquette (Scream), Kristen Dalton (The Departed) and Victor Brown (TV’s One Life to Live) in a story about a financially struggling couple (Dalton and Brown) with a new baby girl that needs to rent out the cottage behind their house to make ends meet. When a prospective tenant has a sudden accident and is

Contest: Best Of Bond...James Bond: 50 Years - 50 Tracks

You only win once since we've only got one to give away.
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Cinema Sentries and Capitol/EMI have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win the 2-CD set Best Of Bond… James Bond “50 Years - 50 Tracks”. Best Of Bond… James Bond is now available to own on as a 23-track single-disc edition and a 50-track deluxe edition. As the Bond franchise celebrates its 50th anniversary with the upcoming release of Skyfall, fans can join in the festivities by picking up Best Of Bond… James Bond, which features the themes from all 22 Bond films released since 1962, including The John Barry Orchestra’s seminal “James Bond Theme”

Reflections on Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die"

A trio of Sentries offer their thoughts about the theme song.
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James Bond films are known for many things, especially the gadgets, the girls, and the music. John Barry's "James Bond Theme" from Dr. No has gone on to become one of the most iconic pieces of music in the history of cinema. The theme songs from the films have become so popular the announcement of the performer has become big event in entertainment news. Many of the biggest artists of the day are usually involved from Duran Duran to U2, from Madonna to Adele. Paul McCartney was asked to create the theme song for Live and Let Die, the

Eating Raoul Criterion Collection DVD Review: A Biting Social Satire

Paul & Mary's Country Kitchen is open for business.
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Independent cinema of 1982 did not resemble today's genre in any shape or form. Viewers had to work to find access to see these films. They would show in small, dingy theaters for a week at a time but rarely be seen beyond the largest cities. But in 1982 things were starting to change with the expansion of cable television and the advent of the VHS player. As a teenager in this period, I was discovering all kinds of films I had never heard of thanks to HBO and local video rental stores. One of the underground films that fascinated

Contest: The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour on DVD

You may be the lucky winner.
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Cinema Sentries and EMI have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win the Beatles's Magical Mystery Tour on DVD. Magical Mystery Tour is the Beatles' third film and it originally aired on BBC1 on December 26, 1967, though the channel only broadcasted in black and white at the time.  It was an unscripted affair that followed a group of people taking a British mystery tour by bus when "strange things begin to happen" as a result of "four or five magicians" who look very familar.  The film's main attraction was that it presented six new songs: 

The World Is Not Enough Movie Review: This Bond is Not Enough

Michael Apted's misstep.
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As the 19th entry in the James Bond film series, The World Is Not Enough is a disappointment. Directed by Michael Apted, this 1999 picture is the first 007 film to be released officially by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as opposed to United Artists. It is the third film to star Pierce Brosnan and sadly the last to feature the late Desmond Llewelyn as the unmatched Q. The Bond series has been at its best when it manages to find the right balance, delivering its cocktail of sexy Bond girls, kooky gadgets, sly one-liners, malevolent villains, exotic locales, and over-the-top-action with just

Chillers (1987) DVD Review: Generic Grape Juice Does Not Fine Wine Make

A cheapo horror film gets an equally cheapo DVD release.
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For those of you who — like me — miss those days of wandering through mom-and-pop video stores in search of weird, wild, and sometimes wonderful movies, its sometimes nice to see a retro scary flick find its way to digital home video. In the case of Troma's "first time" DVD release of Daniel Boyd's Chillers however, I have to wonder where the fascination is. For starters, the movie has been released on disc before: eight years ago, actually (by BCI), as part of a Toxie's Triple Terror set — so any anticipation one might have had for this no-budget

How I Met Your Mother: The Complete Season 7 The Ducky Tie Edition DVD Review: A Not-Too-Ugly Duckling

Though the show has already jumped the shark, its buoyant cast keeps this ducky afloat.
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While How I Met Your Mother may have jumped the shark last season, Season Seven, now available in "The Ducky Tie Edition" on DVD, still has a lot of good to offer, though not as much as earlier, more exemplary seasons. How I Met Your Mother in Season Seven is starting to feel a lot like another TV show, Lost. The show is crammed full of flashbacks and flash forwards (oftentimes piling them onto each other like a heaping stack of DHARMA Initiative pancakes). References to past and future episodes abound as the show meticulously keeps in line with the
Peter Gabriel is currently touring to celebrate the 25th anniversary of So, which has been remasterd and will be available on October 23 in multiple formats. On Saturday Oct 6, he and his supporting band played the Hollywood Bowl, a concert performance that will long be remembered for one brief moment. Before the show began, Gabriel announced the show was broken into three parts like a meal, with an appetizer, the main course, and dessert. The appetizer was a short, acoustic set of four songs. Showing great confidence, likely bolstered by the fact that he was going to give the

Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos Special Edition DVD Review: The Doctor Prescribes Death

There are enough good moments to make for the flaws.
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Doctor Who is a long-running British science-fiction television series featuring The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey whose adventures see him travel through time and space. Over the years, different actors have starred in the role, and to compensate for the realities of the television business Time Lords were given the ingenious ability to regenerate their bodies when they die. Vengeance on Varos is the 139th story of the Doctor, first broadcast in two parts on January 19 and 26, 1985 on BBC 1. "Part One" finds the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and his companion Peri (Nicola Bryant),

Prometheus is the Pick of the Week

I've avoided the spoilers and now I'm ready to watch Ridley Scott's prequel to Alien.
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Used to be people gathered around the water cooler to chat about television, movies, and music They'd get a refreshment and this discuss the show that aired last night or the movie they saw over the weekend. I suppose they still do that, but now the Internet is the world's water cooler and there is always someone to talk about whatever you want whenever you want. As a stay-at-home dad, this is both extraordinarily cool and somewhat exasperating.I love that I have easy access to reviews, trailers, and all the buzz of upcoming and recently released films. Yet, as someone

American Horror Story: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Incredibly Watchable and Well Crafted

The Shining meets Peyton Place in a combination of creativity and cliche.
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The mash-up is all the rage these days, isn’t it? With books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies topping the charts and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter being adapted for the big screen, it was only a matter of time before someone had the good sense to combine The Shining with Peyton Place and come up with the torrid, tawdry, and occasionally even terrifying American Horror Story. Buoyed by a fantastic cast and compelling storyline, AHS pushed the envelope of television for 12 episodes while combining elements of daytime soap operas and Marilyn Manson videos to create a combination of creativity

New Girl: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Nothing New to See Here

A formulaic sitcom that hinges entirely on Deschanel's "adorkable" appeal.
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How much one enjoys New Girl is entirely contingent on how much one enjoys the geek chic of star Zooey Deschanel. Beyond her syrupy act, the sitcom is as unoriginal as they come. Deschanel stars as Jess Day, a newly single teacher looking for a place to live after she catches her boyfriend cheating. She immediately lands with law-school dropout Nick (Jake Johnson), womanizer Schmidt (Max Greenfield), and sports dude Winston (Lamorne Morris). In the pilot, the character that becomes Winston is Coach (Damon Wayons, Jr.). Jess ticks all the boxes on the “adorkable” chart, from so-called ignorance of her

Give Up Tomorrow: A Story That Needs to be Watched and Shared

"In the face of injustice, no one is safe."
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On July 16th, 1997, Marijoy and Jackie Chiong went missing on their native island of Cebu in the Phillipines. Shortly after, seven young men who would become known as the Chiong Seven are rounded up by Phillipine police. One of those men is Francisco Larranaga, also known as Paco, who was over 300 miles away on the island of Manila at the time of the Chiong daughters disappearance. Paco had been in culinary school all day and then later went out with and was surrounded by friends and classmates. What seems like a clear-cut case of a young man's innocence

Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live Blu-ray Review: An Impressive Combination of Music and Visuals

Gabriel is a phenomenal musician/performer and this document proves it.
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The Grammy Award-winning Secret World Live finds Peter Gabriel in Modena, Italy over the course of two November nights 1993, in spite of what the liner notes say, while touring in support of his album Us. Gabriel demonstrates great confidence in the material, which dealt with deteriorating relationships in his life, by playing seven of the album's ten tracks. Manu Katche (drums), Tony Levin (bass, vocals), and David Rhodes (guitar, vocals), all of who played on Us, join him on stage, as do Jean Claude Naimro (keyboards, vocals), Paula Cole (vocals), Shankar (violin, vocals), Levon Minassian (doudouk), and guests Papa

Waterloo Road Series 1 DVD Review: The Headmaster Ritual

The marketing blurb “U.K.’s most popular drama series” seems a bit farfetched based on this uninspired material
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This long-running UK drama series has been airing in its native land since 2006 and has appeared on BBC America, but is only just now reaching U.S. DVD racks. It’s rare for a current UK series to surpass 100 episodes with little visibility here (ok, it’s rare to surpass 100 episodes period), so I was intrigued to find out how this flew under my radar for so long. I can’t speak for its ongoing quality in current episodes, but at least at its start, the series is a fairly uninvolving and uninspired look at the lives of students and teachers

Tomorrow Never Dies Movie Review: Enter The Dragon

The addition of martial arts star Michelle Yeoh kickstarts the franchise and breaks the mold of the typical Bond girl.
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I've seen all of the Bond movies. I've read all of the original Fleming novels. And yet, this DVD is the only Bond item I've ever owned. Is it the best Bond film of all time? Probably not, but it is a completely worthwhile and accomplished entry in the series that's worth another look. It's also the first Bond film with no relation to Fleming's life or work, and the first Bond film made after the death of Cubby Broccoli, who had been involved with production of the series since its start. As such, the producers had added incentive

Global James Bond Day Celebrates 50 Years of Movies

Friday Night Videos gets James Bond in its sights.
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It was 50 years ago today that 'Bond...James Bond" first introduced himself to moviegoers when Dr. No had its world premiere in London. Based on the sixth Bond novel by Ian Fleming, the film turned Sean Connery into a household name and served as a template as things like its exotic setting, Maurice Binder's opening gun barrel sequence, and Bond ending up with the girl became familiar elements in the franchise. Dr. No was even endorsed by JFK as seen in this clip from Stevan Riley's Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, which premieres Friday, October 5th,
“There’s nothing more peaceful than a night on Wisteria Lane, until someone comes along, and disturbs the peace,” says Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong) at the opening of “Suspicion Song,” the eighth program of the eighth season of Desperate Housewives, and it is a bit of an understatement. As anyone who has ever watched the show knows, there has never been any peace on Wisteria Lane, at least not since viewers were first introduced to the suburban paradise back in 2004. Desperate Housewives began as something of a satire of nighttime soap-operas, and kept that edge throughout its run. There

GoldenEye Movie Review: The Best, Though Most Conservative, Modern James Bond Film

Pierce Brosnan's debut is the last Bond movie to really feel like a Bond movie.
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I am far too young to remember most Bond movies opening, and GoldenEye is no exception. Released in 1995, GoldenEye marked Pierce Brosnan's first Bond film, and the last appearance of the Walther PPK as Bond's trusted sidearm. It was the first 007 movie produced after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and end of the Cold War, which provided a wonderful backdrop for the plot. In true 007 fashion, GoldenEye opens with our hero rappelling down a dam in Soviet Russia (1986) to destroy an illicit chemical weapons factory. Things go bad when Bond's partner - 006 -

Rock of Ages Blu-ray Review: Overstuffed Rock That Lasts Ages

“Oh, the movie never ends, it goes on and on and on and on.” Don’t Stop Believin’, Journey
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Sherrie and Drew are destined to meet and fall in love. She’s just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world. He’s a city boy, taking the midnight train to a career dead end in the music industry. In director Alan Shankman’s big-screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, the star-crossed lovers battle career adversity to realize their 1980s rock’n’roll dreams on the fabulous Sunset Strip. Since the theatrical run time of 123 minutes apparently wasn’t long enough, the new Blu-ray now offers an even more extended cut that pushes the length to 136 minutes by adding another song

Produced by George Martin Blu-ray Review: A Stroll Down Melody Lane with Britain’s Most Lauded Music Maker

Record producer George Martin talks wartime, music school, comedy records, The Beatles, and beyond.
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This January, Sir George Martin CBE turns 87. The reserved, seemingly guarded young man with movie-star looks and ears that helped transform raw tracks into treasures of music history is now the stately elder of popular music. He requires a hearing aid following years of positioning himself in the studio’s vortex of sound, but as you watch him audibly review his contributions to music throughout the duration of Produced by George Martin, it’s obvious that whatever frequencies he can no longer discern, he hears in his heart. Made for BBC Two’s Arena series last year, this Francis Hanly-directed documentary is

Holy Flying Circus Blu-ray Review: A Docudrama in the Style of Monty Python

While it doesn't approach the inspired lunacy of the Pythons, this fitfully successful film is still worth a look.
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The Film A wildly inconsistent but generally enjoyable docudrama about the controversy surrounding Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Holy Flying Circus overcomes its schizophrenia by embracing it wholeheartedly. Originally aired on BBC4 in 2011, this thing is a hodgepodge of faithful fictionalization, meta asides, surreal interjections, impressions of varying quality and irreverent humor. In other words, it’s like a docudrama as produced by the Pythons themselves, even if writer Tony Roche can’t really hold a candle to the Pythons’ brand of inspired lunacy and never achieves the blistering specificity of the satire of In the Loop, which he co-wrote. In

Joseph Campbell: Mythos The Complete Series DVD Review: "The One Great Story of Mankind"

His lecture series is a fascinating examination of the evolution of mythology and the archetypes that define us.
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If you’ve ever taken a literature course, it stands to reason that the name "Joseph Campbell" may have popped up in discussions of the books and poems you likely studied. A longtime professor at Sarah Lawrence College and world-renowned expert on comparative mythology and religion, Campbell’s remarkable body of work traces the evolution of myths throughout the course of civilization and elucidates the patterns and symbology associated with them—basic elements, or archetypes, that transcend the limits of culture, recurring in all forms of human expression from literature to art to various modes of storytelling, since the dawn of man. His

Contest: Iron Sky on Blu-ray

Be one of three lucky winners.
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Cinema Sentries and Entertainment One have teamed up to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win director Timo Vuorensola's Iron Sky on Blu-ray. While most of us were taught in school that the Nazis were defeated during WWII, according to Vuorensola's bizarre science fiction comedy, it turns out they actually sent a small contingent to a secret moonbase where they would build up their forces over the decades before returning to continue the fight. According to the press release, "When American astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby) puts down his Lunar Lander a bit too close to the secret Nazi

Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection is the Pick of the Week

All the classic Universal monster movies in one box.
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Halloween has become one of my favorite holidays. In the 10 years we've been married, the wife and I have thrown an annual pumpkin-carving party. Generally speaking, we're kind of homebodies and as such don't go out all that much nor do we have lots of people over all that often but for the pumpkin bash we go all out. The house gets decorated with ghouls, ghosts, and monsters. I spend hours upon hours creating the perfect mix of scary songs, horror movie scores, and all those goofy Halloween-themed ditties like "The Witchdoctor" into a great blend of music for

Licence to Kill Movie Review: Reconsidering the Revoking

This is a different kind of James Bond, and that's a good thing.
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Licence to Kill is the 16th installment in the James Bond franchise and was the second and ultimately final appearance for Timothy Dalton. The film has a bad reputation, which is likely influenced by its grim tone and poor box-office performance. Though it may appear Dalton's departure was a response to the latter, he was originally contracted for three films, but as a result of legal matters tying up the production for so long, he eventually moved on in 1994. After rewatching Licence to Kill, it was much better than I remembered and I'm not sure why it's held

Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Intriguing Premise and Great Acting Defeated by Terrible Writing

The season offers great moments, which is likely why the bad ones deliver such disappointment.
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Based on the Israeli TV series Hatufim (aka Prisoners of War) created by Gideon Raff, Homeland is a political thriller that offers up a compelling scenario populated with intriguing characters. Unfortunately, the writers waste the great potential they begin with by forcing too many unbelievable plot points into the story. U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is rescued after having been captured in Iraq in 2003, held captive by Al-Qaeda during that time, and presumed dead. He has trouble transitioning into normal life back in the states for a number of reasons. His wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin) started up

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