January 2013 Archives

2013 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts Review: Davids vs. Goliaths

Animation can do anything quite literally.
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Animated short films are often relegated to film festivals, and as a result go almost unnoticed. Unfortunately, the only time the general public cares about them is during Oscar season, and even then, most people are too wrapped up in the nominees for Best Picture and acting. Thankfully for those who enjoy them, ShortsHD is continuing their tradition of programs featuring the Oscar-nominated shorts (Live Action, Animation, and Documentary), which will be in theaters across the U.S., Canada, and Europe beginning February 1st. The 2013 Oscar-nominated animated shorts are: Maggie Simpson In "The Longest Daycare" The Simpsons has been on

The Origins of Oz DVD Review: The Story of the True "Man Behind the Curtain"

This documentary makes for a nice companion to the classic film.
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The Wizard of Oz (1939) is one of the most beloved films of all time. It is hard to believe that the movie was made over 70 years ago, as it remains a truly marvelous cinematic experience. The film was based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. (Lyman) Frank Baum (1856-1919). The new DVD The Origins of Oz tells the story behind "the first American fairy-tale." Former 10,000 Maniacs vocalist Natalie Merchant narrates this 46-minute documentary, and she is obviously a big fan of both the book and the film. At one point, she mentions

YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip DVD Review: Worth Watching

A documentary that should have gotten its own TV series.
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This documentary follows three friends, Mark Dixon and husband and wife, Ben and Julie Evans, who decide to go on a year-long ecological road trip. Their goal is to discover the people, places, and organizations that are working to make America and the rest of the world more environmentally friendly. They travel in a hybrid car and also decide to see how little trash that can accumulate and how little of a footprint they themselves can leave over the year. They do track down and find many cool environmental companies and people looking to save the planet. From people who

Two-Lane Blacktop: The Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Monte Hellman's Masterpiece

Is it weird that I can relate to every single main character in this film? Oh, well!
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As anyone who has ever experienced a truly awkward moment of puberty is well aware, growing up is an inevitable part of life. However, in most cases, we do not simply jump from Point A to Point Z -- there's usually a learning process involved that teaches us the rest of the alphabet of maturity. Valuable skills are developed upon the way -- wherein we (are supposed to) learn how to interact with the rest of humanity and how to function as the relatively-sane human beings our parents probably had hoped for in the process. And then there those of

Twenty Twelve Complete Series DVD Review: Past Its Sell-By Date

Marginally funny mockumentary series about the planning committee for the London Olympics loses something in translation.
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This irreverent British mockumentary series about the inner workings of the London Olympics planning committee takes a fantastic premise and grinds it down to a yawn-inducing final product, then somehow stretches it out over two seasons. The overblown pomp and circumstance of Olympic Games are certainly fertile ground for comedy, especially when those Games are being held in the motherland of pomp and circumstance, and yet the series somehow manages to mostly miss the extremely large target. Some of that is due to comedy that just doesn't translate, such as apparently comical discussions about celebrities like Sebastian Coe who are

Misfits Season Two DVD Review: Last of the Greats

Second season features the last appearances of the full original cast.
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What is it about the BBC that makes them incapable of maintaining original casts on their shows for prolonged periods of time? Do they just not pay enough? Do the actors and/or creators just get bored, even though they're producing such infinitesimally small season orders of episodes that we're basically just getting the equivalent of a movie or two a year? Whatever the reason, Misfits is one of the latest examples of this regrettable phenomenon, which thankfully doesn't really set in until the close of this second season. This set represents your final chance to see the breakout hit about

Boris Karloff Triple Feature DVD Review: Pleases Die-Hard Fans

Karloff is more than make-up in three interesting movies from Warner Archive Collection.
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Warner Archive continues to put out intriguing DVD collections meant to entice die-hard fans. Their latest, the Boris Karloff Triple Feature, is a three-disc set that might shock casual Karloff fans because he isn't playing a horror icon. Yes, Karloff does wear heavy make-up in one (although it's not exactly PC), but the collection is meant to emphasize the range the legend had, but didn't always get the chance to show. The movies are short, but the lack of bonus material and overall quality of the films themselves might turn off casual viewers. Thankfully, the Warner Archive creates these sets

Jeff, Who Lives at Home Movie Review: A Well-done Emotional Film About a Family

It is funny on the occasion, but it is also genuinely emotionally engaging as well.
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Jeff, Who Lives at Home talks a lot about signs. Both in terms of omens and portents, and also the terrible M. Night Shyamalan film. Fortunately, it is better than the latter, but its use of the former serves as a detriment at times. The movie is written and directed by Mark and Jay Duplass, known for them ramshackle, low-key, low-fi movies and their appearances on The Mindy Project. They managed to generate an excellent cast for this film. The titular Jeff is played by Jason Segal. His obnoxious jerk of an older brother Pat is a goateed Ed Helms.

Three Stars DVD Review: A Pretty Good Documentary

The CliffsNotes version of being an elite chef with a three-star restaurant.
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The world of the restaurant business and food has become much more prominent in the realm of television. Of course, a lot of it seems to be in the vein of Guy Fieri going places and yelling about how good the food is without edifying anybody. The movie Three Stars deals with slightly higher fare than Fieri's ouevre, however. The title of the film is not a bold suggestion for a critic's rating. It references the Michelin star-ranking system. If they give you three stars, you have accomplished one of the biggest achievements a chef can attain. Three Stars is

Agatha Christie's Poirot and Marple Fan Favorites Collection DVD Review: Super Tales of Super Sleuths

It serves as an excellent introduction to the author's two most popular creations: Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple.
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In her 85 years on this earth, celebrated novelist Agatha Christie published just about as many books, and even today, more than three decades after her death, she remains the best-selling novelist of all time. Over the years, Christie presented readers with two of the most indelible crime-solving characters in all of literature: the brilliant and painfully exact Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and the intelligent and observant British spinster Miss Jane Marple. The various adventures of Poirot and Marple have been brought to the screen several times in the past, most notably in the four Marple films starring Margaret Rutherford

Midsomer Murders Set 21 DVD Review: The Fictional British County of Midsomer is Beautiful and Deadly

Four new murder mysteries from the long-running English series.
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The fictional Midsomer County is one of the most beautiful areas on British television. It is also home to a dreadful number of killers. Midsomer Murders explores this strange situation, and is now in its 16th season on the ITV Network. For those of us who do not get ITV, Acorn Media have released many of the programs on DVD. The latest is the four-disc Midsomer Murders Set 21, with each DVD devoted to a full 93-minute case. The premise of the series has not changed much over time, but the cast has. Set 21 introduces the new Detective Chief

Following Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Christopher Nolan's Memorable Debut

A writer finds himself in the middle of a crime drama.
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Before creating his own following with the sensational Memento, Christopher Nolan made his feature-film directorial debut with Following. It is a modern noir thriller about an aspiring writer (Jeremy Theobald), identified in the credits as The Young Man, who avoids writing by following people around town to learn their story but gets caught up in a strange tale of his own. Thankfully, Nolan didn't avoid writing or directing because he delivers an impressive start to what is currently an outstanding career. In search of inspiration for his work, The Young Man thinks he might be able to find it in

J.J. Abrams Set to Direct Star Wars Episode VII

There's a disturbance in the Nerd Force.
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If you had trouble with the Internet today, it's likely because of the interactive overload resulting from the news that J.J. Abrams, director of the 2009 Star Trek reboot and its upcoming sequel Star Trek Into Darkness and now the envy of many a nerd across the planet, has signed on to direct Star Wars Episode VII, which is being written by Michael Arndt and is scheduled for release by Disney in 2015.  After the Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm in October, Abrams was one of the names mentioned in regards to taking over the next Star Wars trilogy, but

Doctor Zhivago (2002) DVD Review: Decidedly Less than Epic

This television miniseries adaptation ultimately suffers in comparison to both the original novel and David Lean’s 1965 film version.
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Upon its controversial publication in 1957, Dr. Zhivago—an epic tale of love and betrayal set amidst the turbulent Russian conflicts of the early twentieth century—virtually begged for a film adaptation. British director David Lean complied in 1965 with a lush, ambitious version that won five Academy Awards, including one for its iconic musical score (indeed, the film’s main leitmotif, “Lara’s Theme,” remains an immensely popular tune that rivals “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for its prevalent use in music boxes). The Oscar-winning screenplay by Robert Bolt plays quite loosely with the novel, borrowing and discarding some characters and plotlines almost at

Ivan's Childhood Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: War is Hell, But Looks Superb

Stunning craftsmanship elevates this meditation on the effects of war as experienced by a child
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On the surface, this film might not seem to offer much enticement for viewing considering its decidedly downbeat subject matter of the effects of war on a child. Surprisingly, quite the opposite is true. Director Andrei Tarkovsky spins a rich tapestry that primarily utilizes the horrors of World War II as a backdrop for this dreamy, at times almost surreal, and exquisitely filmed work of art that is far more notable for its craftsmanship than its narrative. Shockingly, it was Tarkovsky’s debut feature, marking as even more impressive his total mastery of the medium. Ivan is just a carefree young

Doctor Who: Shada DVD Review: The Doctor Goes to Cambridge to Save the Universe

The fabled, never-aired 1980 serial has one of the strangest histories in the franchise.
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The story behind Shada is one of the strangest in the long history of Doctor Who. The six-part serial was originally scheduled to close out the 17th season of the show, to air from January into February of 1980. Tom Baker starred as the fourth incarnation of the Doctor, and the script was written by Douglas Adams. Production was halted mid-way through the shoot due to a strike though, and was never completed. Shada sat on the shelf for over 10 years, and was finally finished with the help of Baker, for a straight-to-VHS release in 1992. The serial has
A dazzlingly dark and often very funny fable, The Tin Drum is a terrific motion picture. The 1979 film by German director Volker Schlöndorff is an adaptation of the Günter Grass novel of the same name. The movie generated considerable controversy at the time of its release, but it won the Palme d’Or at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and also scooped the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film that year. Schlöndorff’s picture is presented in its director’s cut format thanks to the good people at Criterion Collection. This version of the film is 163 minutes long, about 20 minutes

Young Justice Invasion: Destiny Calling, Season Two Part One DVD Review: The Students Have Finally Become The Masters

If you’re a fan of the DC world or just like a good story, then this series will not disappoint.
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Season Two Part One of the Cartoon Network's popular DC Comics animated series was released in stores today. But if you’re looking for a continuation of the previous season you’re going to be in for quite a shock. Right from the first episode, you’ll find yourself confused. While most shows pick up fairly close to where they left off in the previous season, Young Justice isn’t even close. It’s been five years since Red Arrow’s (Crispin Freeman) imbedded programming took over his mind and forced him to help Vandal Savage (Miguel Ferrer) enslave the Justice League. And while five years

Red Dwarf X DVD Review: Who Would Have Thought Being The Last Human in Existence Could Be This Fun?

One of the best comedies to come from the BBC.
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Once again the crazy adventures of the misfit crew aboard the mining ship, Red Dwarf, have been released on DVD. Debuting in 1988 on BBC, the popular series releases a new season every few years. This latest season is its tenth although there never really was a season nine, but that really doesn’t matter because in a strange way it kind of fits in with the goofiness of the sci-fi theme and logic that completely distorts any rational theory of space and time. In other words, if you’re looking for a show that seems scientifically plausible, then you’re looking in

Contest: Young Justice Season Two Part One on DVD

Are you destined to win?
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Cinema Sentries and Warner Home Video have teamed up to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win Young Justice Season Two Part One. Titled Young Justice: Invasion for its second season, the Cartoon Network TV series jumps aheadfive years and The Team has altered its roster, adding heroes such as Batgirl, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Bumblebee, and Wonder Girl. Robin is still in the fold with Tim Drak edonning the mask after Dick Grayson becomesNightwing. Rocket and Zatanna have been promoted to the Justice League. The two-disc set offers 10 episodes where the heroes deal with the disappearance of Justice

End of Watch Blu-ray Review: Or, Training Day 2

Gritty and tense, it does almost everything I want a cop drama to do.
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At its core, End of Watch is a gritty buddy cop movie. Lots of buzzwords leap out of the packaging like “Great” and “Powerful” and “Gripping,” and it is definitely all of these things. Personally, there were a few details that were overlooked to tie the whole package together, though. It’s a good flick, don’t get me wrong, but for the pretense it builds, in a couple areas it doesn’t fully measure up. Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) are LAPD partners assigned to one of the worst, most gang-violence ridden parts of south central Los Angeles.

Frankenweenie (2012) Blu-ray Review: A Technically Impressive Animated Endeavor

Tim Burton returns to his filmmaking roots.
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Based on his 1984 live-action short of the same name, Tim Burton's feature-length, stop-motion Frankenweenie finds the story about holding onto the things you love expanded and reinforced through the use of references to many horror movies the director cherished as a young man. Unfortunately, the story doesn't succeed as well as the animation does. Victor Frankenstein is a bit different in a high school filled with children who are all a bit different. He makes movies and has a fascination with science. He also has a dog Sparky who means the world to him and is his only friend.

Bill Moyers: Becoming American DVD Review: An Engrossing, Absorbing Documentary

Bill Moyers details the Chinese American experience.
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Now available on DVD from the good people at Athena, Bill Moyers: Becoming American is an engrossing three-part documentary about the Chinese American experience. The series debuted on PBS in March of 2003 and was nominated for four Emmys. The Chinese American experience is one of divergence and difficulty, an often agonizing antiquity that runs through judicial challenges, endemic racism, social hopes, and individual discoveries. The first episode of Becoming American, “Gold Mountain Dreams,” runs about 80 minutes and details early experiences of Chinese arriving in what would become the United States of America. To the Chinese in Guangdong province,

Hanna-Barbera and Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials DVD Review: A Belated Animated Christmas

Not as well-known as their more ubiquitous counterparts, they are (with two exceptions) entertaining additions to your yearly holiday viewing.
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Yeah, yeah—Christmas is over, the holidays have passed once again, and it’s too late (or too early, depending upon how you look at it) to start thinking about them once again. But, hey—there’s never a bad time of year for a great Christmas cartoon, right? Right …? Christmas specials are an indelible part of the holiday entertainment for many families. Over the years, gathering around the television to watch Charlie Brown learn about the true meaning of Christmas, or to witness the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes with love, or to sympathize with Rudolph as all of the other reindeer

Red Dwarf X Blu-ray Review: Series IX? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Series IX!

The Boys from the Dwarf make their long-awaited return with a full six-episode series in glorious High-Definition.
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More than 24 years after it first hit the airwaves of a perplexed BBC and delighted jaded science-fiction comedy viewers near and far, Red Dwarf made a triumphant return to television in the final quarter of 2012 — only this time, under the compassionate guidance of Dave TV (no, not the fictitious David Lee Roth network from the mid '80s). Previously, the Boys from the Dwarf had made a minor comeback with a three-part special in 2009, subtitled Back to Earth, which took place nine years after Series VIII — which concluded with a cliffhanger many hoped would be resolved

Archer: The Complete Season Three DVD Review: Not Just Your Ordinary International Spy, He's Much Worse

Creative, fun, and left me looking forward to the next one.
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I’ve never been a big fan of the spy genre. I couldn’t care less if they made another James Bond movie or Mission Impossible. Sure, I’ll see them if a friend wants to go see the film, but left to my own devices I won’t venture forth on my own to watch them. And to prove just how apathetic I am, I still have yet to see any of the three Daniel Craig Bond films even though I own two of them on DVD. So when the animated series Archer first appeared on FX three seasons ago I had absolutely

The Tin Drum Criterion Collection DVD Review: Familial Insanity Mirrors that of Nazi Germany

The Director’s Cut of the acclaimed 1979 Film is finally available from Criterion.
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For a film that won both the Palme d’Or and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, The Tin Drum (1979) faced a huge outcry when it was screened in the United States. The Criterion Collection have just issued a two-DVD Director’s Cut of the film. After viewing it, I cannot say that I am surprised at the furious reaction. The movie is a very artistic, at times even pretentious adaptation of the novel by Gunter Grass. But there are scenes in The Tin Drum which I found very difficult to watch. The story revolves around young Oskar Matzerath

Lapland Odyssey DVD Review: Karukoski's Jussi-winning Comedy is a Middling Affair

This Finnish comedy boasts charming cinematography and little else.
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Directed by Finnish filmmaker Dome Karukoski, Lapland Odyssey is a pretty standard guy movie wrapped up with a cute bow. It features most of the genre’s clichés, including the “endearing” band of underdogs, the blistering and “too-serious” girlfriend, the wild supporting characters, the nudity, and the violence against reindeers. Karukoski directs a Pekko Pesonen screenplay, marking the second pairing between filmmaker and writer. The first was 2005’s Beauty and the Bastard. 2010’s Lapland Odyssey has its heart in the right place, describing a tale that seems at least somewhat based in the economic and social realities of its lead characters,

The Impossible (2012) is Impossible to Sit Through

A story meant to be heartfelt only frustrates with its all-white cast and manipulative storytelling.
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I’m going to be incredibly blunt in this review: I hated The Impossible. It’s been described as realistic, moving, and life-affirming. I counter that with words like manipulative, bloated, and shameful. Actress Naomi Watts is nominated as a Best Actress contender for this film, and to that I ask: Was Nicole Kidman’s role in The Paperboy too good? I need to actually explain why I hated this film right? Okay, here goes. The Impossible depicts the events of the 2004 tsunami that decimated Thailand, Indonesia, and other locations in the Indian Ocean. Maria and Henry Bennett (Watts, Ewan McGregor) have

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 Blu-ray Review: A Great Adaptation of Frank Miller's Work

The plot is faithful, the animation outstanding, and the voice acting impressive.
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The year 1986 is considered a landmark for comics because of the debuts of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. Their successes demonstrated an interest in dark, gritty superhero stories dealing with adult subject matters beyond the cult audiences that read alternative comics. They helped change the perception of what comics could be and had a great influence on the comic-book industry and Hollywood. While the influence of The Dark Knight Returns can be seen in the Batman films of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, the first two books of the miniseries were adapted into

Police Academy: The Animated Series, Volume One DVD Review: From Caddish to Kiddie

Some things simply will not lay down and suffer a painfully natural death like they should.
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It never fails to amuse me how something so decidedly adult in nature can sometimes turn into a franchise aimed solely at children. In Japan, the epic Godzilla character was conceived as a serious science-fiction look at the horrors of America's nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. A few years and several sequels down the line, Godzilla had somehow malformed into a heroic favorite with the kiddies. Several decades down the line, America itself was treated to similar-but-altogether different mutation. The popular Police Academy series started in 1984 with an R-rated comedy strictly for adults, complete with nudity, drug use, public acts

To Rome with Love is the Pick of the Week

I always go with Woody.
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Woody Allen is New York City. The celebrated director set the majority of his films in the city, and often, as in the case of Manhattan, they can be seen as sort-of love letters to the Big Apple. Lately though, he has found his way out of the City that Never Sleeps and has been wondering around Europe. He started in London for a few films (Match Point, Scoop, and Cassandra's Dream) then moved to Barcelona (Vicky Christina Barcelona.) He spent the night in Paris (Midnight in Paris) and lastly he visited the Eternal City of Rome (To Rome with

Favorite Film of 2012 [Snob Seven]

Did yours make the list?
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Joining in the award-season festivities, we here at the site wanted to mention a few of our favorites from 2012. That's "favorite" not "best" as so many groups falsely designate their award categories. Woody Allen's assessment that "the whole concept of awards is silly" is an apt one when it comes to art, yet that won't stop the most of us from tuning into award show. And now, our choices for Favorite Film of 2012 are: Central Park Five selected by Gordon S. Miller Though I haven't see a few of the more notable releases earning critical acclaim, I enjoyed

The Hour 2 DVD Review: Some of the Best Drama From Either Side of the Pond

This Cold War drama keeps getting better and better.
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In my Pick of the Week I called The Hour “Mad Men who tell the news,” and that is an apt enough description. You could also call it Broadcast News in the ‘50s. With Hector Madden (Dominick West) as William Hurt's beautiful face of the news, Bel Rowley (Ramola Garai) as Holly Hunter, and Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) as the Albert Brooks’ character with his hard-hitting, investigative journalist, smartest-man-in-the-room, but completely forgettable public persona existence. But The Hour is all that and more. Series 2 even more so than the first. With the first season of The Hour the show

2013 Oscar Nominations: Let's Start Speculating

Lincoln leads the nominations and is likely to lead the wins as well.
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'Tis the season for Oscar forecasting, so let's get started. This year I've held off of seeing most of the candidates, so my speculation is purely fueled by best guesses of how the votes will likely go down based on traditional patterns of the Academy. At first glance, it appears that the results this year will largely be determined by how the Academy feels about Lincoln. If the uncanny performance by previous winner Daniel Day-Lewis is enough to override general exhaustion about Spielberg's return, this is going to be a year dominated by Lincoln wins. Aside from that juggernaut, a
I would like to preface this review by mentioning that I was about as far from being a “math-lete” in school as one could possibly imagine. If I were able to go back in time and tell the ninth-grade me that one day I would have willingly watched an eight-hour program about math, I probably would have ended it all right then. That is how much I hated geometry. Yet all these years later, I have not only watched said program, but actually enjoyed every minute of it. The Story of Math Collection is a five-DVD set, hosted by noted

The Hour 2 Blu-ray Review: Six Gripping Hours of Corruption, Blackmail, and Love Triangles

In 1957, The Hour’s heavy hitters continue to expose corruption as they secretly battle personal demons and daily dramas.
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After having viewed the second six-episode installment of one of the BBC’s most little-known and underrated shows in the United States, I can only say that I sure hope this isn’t the final hour for The Hour. From the moment a bearded Freddie returns from his beatnik sojourn abroad with his pixie-haired French activist wife by his side, to the climax, which shall not be spoiled for you in this review, the momentum of the show increases so much that ceasing the series would be as big a blow to the storyline as it would be to the show’s most
Ah, movie-award season, that silly, nauseating time of year. The business of show business is currently in high gear as filmmakers compete for awards to win a bit of prestige from their peers and praise from numerous groups of critics no one pays attention since they don't live in Los Angeles or New York. It means very little in terms of the quality or longevity of the work, which is why I enjoy the counter silliness that is the Golden Raspberry Award "created in 1980 as a logical antidote to Tinsel Town's annual glut of self-congratulatory awards by John Wilson."

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) Criterion Collection DVD Review: See the Master of Suspense Invent Himself

An early Hitchcock classic gets cleaned up and looks better than ever.
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In 1934 Alfred Hitchcock was not considered the great director we know him as today. Nor was he the Master of Suspense. He wasn’t even particularly well known outside of Britain and was hardly a household name there. He’d had a couple of successes as a director but was having trouble finding a home studio and kept being forced to make pictures like Waltzes from Vienna that were completely uninteresting to both the director and audiences alike. While making that film, producer Michael Balcon (who had originally discovered Hitchock and allowed him to make his first completed film as director,

House at the End of the Street Blu-ray Review: Not Befitting of the Talent It Attracted

If I wanted pointless twists, I’d have eaten a plate of rotini pasta.
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House at the End of the Street starts out strong. You witness the murder of two parents by their deranged young daughter, who then flees into the woods behind the house, presumably never to be seen again. Four years go by, and new neighbors move in next door, knowing what transpired in the Jacobson house, but capitalizing on the ensuing diminished real estate values in the wake of the murders. The Jacobson house is said to be empty. The first night in their new house, mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) looks out a window across the yard at the Jacobson house

Cosmopolis Blu-ray Review: Cronenberg and DeLillo are a Perfect Match

David Cronenberg's adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel is no inert literary exercise.
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The Film Another triumph for David Cronenberg, Cosmopolis sees the director further extending the definition of a “Cronenberg movie” with a dread-entrenched, terribly funny, impossibly slick adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel. Those who only saw a staid, costumed period piece in A Dangerous Method might also mistake Cosmopolis for an inert literary adaptation, but both find Cronenberg working well within his wheelhouse — there’s not just body paranoia in Cosmopolis, but existential and spiritual displacement as well, filtered through the cascading collapse of capitalism. To be sure, Cosmopolis is often relentlessly literary, with large swaths of dialogue taken directly from

The Hour 2 is the Pick of the Week

More than just a Mad Men clone.
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With the huge success of Mad Men there have been a number of shows who have tried to capture a similar retro vibe. Pan Am is about the workers for the fabled airline in the '60s while Playboy was Mad Men with less clothes. Neither was able to really capture the heart of Mad Men itself nor its critical claim. Nor its audience. The English have climbed on the same train with The Hour which you might call Mad Men Tell the News. Ah, but the British have been able to do something those other shows haven't. While it too

War of the Dead Blu-ray Review: It Forgot to Make Me Care

Follows the formulas and cliches of action and horror, but never gives any reason to stick with it.
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When a marketer finds it necessary to promote a movie based on the fact that it is “the most expensive movie ever shot in Lithuania,” you can’t help but lower your expectations. I didn’t think Marko Mäkilaakso’s War of the Dead would amount to much more than 90 minutes of popcorn ridiculousness, but thought it could at least give me a reason to keep watching. We begin with some prisoners being escorted into a Nazi facility of some sort, and the scene ends with one of the prisoners being injected with something that makes him into something approximating a zombie.

56 Up Movie Review: Still Going Strong After Nearly 50 Years

Acclaimed director Michael Apted continues his legendary documentary series in its latest seven-year installment.
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For nearly 50 years now, a group of ordinary English citizens have been participating in an ongoing sociological study that checks in on them every seven years. Esteemed feature film director Michael Apted (The World is Not Enough, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) has been involved from the very beginning in 1964 when the subjects were just seven years old, and returns here once again as the director and interviewer. Now the subjects are 56 years old. If you’ve seen any of the films in the series, you’ll know exactly what to expect here, but

Inglourious Basterds Movie Review: Liquid Modernity and Alternate History

You've never seen World War II quite like this before.
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Inglourious Basterds (2009) directed by Quantin Tarantino stars Mélanie Laurent (Shosanna Dreyfus), Christoph Waltz (Col. Hans Landa), Brad Pitt (Lt.Aldo Raine), Eli Roth (Sgt. Donny Donowitz), Michael Fassbender (Archie Hicox), Diane Kruger (Bridget von Hammersmark), Daniel Brühl (Fredrick Zoller), Til Schweiger (Hugo Stiglitz), Sylvester Groth (Joseph Goebbels), Martin Wuttke (Adolph Hitler), Rod Taylor (Winston Churchill) et al. There is always a lot going on in Tarantino's movies, and that is putting it mildly. Not only are they riddled and rife with movie connections and intertextuality, references to more or less obscure movie stars and directors, but in this case there

Book Review: If You Like Quentin Tarantino …, by Katherine Rife

Rife’s book is an excellent reference for those new fans who can’t get enough of Quentin Tarantino.
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After opening to great reviews on Christmas Day (and presently flaunting an 80 on Metacritic after 39 critics’ reviews), and fueled by controversy created by Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained grossed $77.8MM through New Year’s Day, putting it third on the director’s list of all-time box office receipts. The fact that the film is having this kind of success, even though it is Tarantino’s first movie in over three years, is proof that the director - and his style of filmmaking - is as popular as ever. So to feed the hunger of those who can’t get enough QT

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