July 2013 Archives

Combat Girls DVD Review: Looking for a Place to Happen

Combat Girls works because it avoids the cliches that often sink the genre into melodramatic terrain.
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An alarming, ceaselessly compelling motion picture from Germany, Combat Girls touches on a subject often left behind and treats its themes with respect. Directed by David Wnendt, this picture approaches the typical coming of age drama with the neo-Nazi youth movement in Germany serving as a backdrop. What's more, Combat Girls focuses on the females of the neo-Nazi movement - an often forgotten side of the story in a typically male-dominated realm. For Wnendt, there is something very powerful and intoxicating about what lures young women to such a combative, ferocious, devastating culture. Marisa (Alina Levshin) is a 20-year-old German

Robert Williams Mr. Bitchin' Movie Review: A Love Letter to the Man and His Work

A documentary about one of the greatest living artists today.
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Where to begin writing about this documentary is like asking where to begin when you look at one of Robert Williams' paintings. The answer to both of those questions is that you can start in a lot of places. If you don't know what I am referencing, open a new tab, google "Robert Williams", and then come back to this review. Or if you own a copy of Guns 'N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction, go and get it and look at the artwork on the inside cover. The painting that the record company had to move from the original

Banshee: The Complete First Season is the Pick of the Week

I'm ready to let Cinemax show me they can make good quality original programming just like their sister channel.
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There is so much good, interesting TV on these days I can hardly keep track. At the beginning of this year, I intentionally slowed down my movie watching just so I could keep up with the various television series that I've wanted to see for a long time. Still, I find myself way behind on all the shows I'd like to watch. HBO used to be the best player in the game but now we've got AMC, Showtime, PBS, FX, and many others creating innovative, interesting, top-notch television. Recently, Cinemax entered the game trying to thrust off their softcore pornography

Annika Bengtzon, Crime Reporter: Episodes 1-3 & 4-6: By-the-Book Swedish Crime Drama Needs a New Author

I found myself wishing each episode was done by about the halfway point.
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If you are a TV producer looking to make a new, popular, and successful new show, the logical choice is to do some sort of crime drama. Historically, those things make buckets of money all over the world. If you don't want to have your primary characters be actual police detectives - because that would be too cliche - you still have a myriad of ideas to choose from. Your protagonists could be medieval monks who happen to solve mysteries, or Catholic Priests, or medical examiners. Or maybe you could go with a private detective or a little old lady.

Book Review: The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time by Phil Hall

A fun read, but I wouldn't consider it a worthy collection of reviews.
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I’m a fan of “worst movie ever” books because someone’s definition of worst isn’t always yours. On top of that, it’s always fun to read someone discussing a movie that has an asinine plot or terrible actors because no one sets out to direct a terrible movie, right? Author Phil Hall has a conversational and witty writing style, and he uses that to strong effect in his book, The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time, recently released by BearManor Media. What’s at odds with his writing style is the various moments that feel as if a first-time writer wrote this;
Though the story of a lone man standing up for what is right is a common Western motif, Delmer Daves' 3:10 to Yuma, based on Elmore Leonard's short story of the same name, shows what drives someone to make such a choice. Dan Evans (Van Heflin) is a rancher in the Arizona Territory circa 1880s, but he's having a very tough time of it. As a husband and father of two, the three years of drought have led to very lean times and great disappoint. While out collecting his cattle with his two boys, they discover the notorious Ben Wade

Spotlight On San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Day Three

In which I dabble in some hip hop-related panels and a few Spotlights On.
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CAC #10: JAPAN AND GLOBAL INFLUENCE: After a morning of making a last trip around the Convention floor, I was shut out of a number of panels including Futurama, Godzilla, and YA authors. This little room caught my attention from an intellectual curiousity point of view. "CAC" stands for Comic Arts Confernce. The story of Yutsoko Chusonji should be a movie. Her story was moderated by Dexter L. Thomas Jr. and included June Madeley and Jonathan Valdez to discuss more of the sociological aspects to her story. Yutsoko's story is that of a manga artist in the '80s who went

Twixt Blu-ray Review: Imagined in a Dream, Should Have Stayed in Bed

Coppola still knows how to shoot a beautiful film; it's just too bad he's forgotten how to write one.
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It should probably tell the viewer something that Twixt - a film written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Val Kilmer, Elle Fanning, and Bruce Dern - was only shown in theaters at festivals before going straight to video. Yeah, a movie with those names behind it that can't get a nationwide release is not going to be any good. Still, this reviewer couldn't help but get his hopes up.Coppola says the idea for the film came to him in a drunken dream in Istanbul. Before the dream could end, the call to prayer woke him and he

Preview: Itty Bitty Hellboy #1 from Dark Horse Comics

Get a sneak peek at the upcoming debut of Itty Bitty Hellboy #1.
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Back in April during Chicago's C2E2, it was announced that the Eisner Award-winning team of Art Baltazar and Franco would be creating an all-ages version of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy in the brand new series, Itty Bitty Hellboy. “Given the recent developments in Hellboy’s life—falling in love, discovering that he’s the rightful king of England, having his heart torn out and dropped into hell—this is clearly the next logical step in his evolution,” said Mignola. According to Baltazar, "It is truly an honor to be the next creative team to add to the Hellboy saga." The first issue will be available

Fringe: The Complete Fifth and Final Season DVD Review: Observing the End

A good wrap-up to a series.
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Thanks to the powers that be at FOX Television and to the delight of the series' creators and their fans, Fringe was renewed for a fifth season in order to wrap up its story. It's actually more of a half season at 13 episodes, but at least it offers some closure. How satisfying it is for viewers is debatable. This season takes place in 2036, a future previously glimpsed in Season Four's Episode 19, “Letters of Transit.” Giving up their role as watchers of events, though I am not sure I ever really understood why, or more accurately didn't buy

Trance is the Pick of the Week

I'm totally on board and looking forward to seeing what Boyle has in store.
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I don't always love Danny Boyle's movies, but they are always interesting. From the pounding music and jump-cuts of Trainspotting to the more meditative 127 Hours, Boyle has proved himself over and over as a director who knows exactly what he is doing. Even when his films miss (The Beach, Sunshine), I'm never bored and never feel like I've wasted my time. His newest film, Trance, reviewed by Sentry Lorna Miller, is a psychological thriller that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, it also blurred the lines between critically acclaimed and critically trashed. Earning a 68% fresh on Rotten

Contest: Twixt on Blu-ray

You'll be haunted by regret if you don't enter.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win Twixt. Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Twixt finds the filmmaker returning to the horror genre with a story that the press release reveals "follows Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer), a writer on a book tour who uncovers a disturbing murder that could be source material for his next novel. But as Hall investigates the killing, he finds himself confronted by chilling nightmares, including the ghost of a young girl (Elle Fanning). As he uncovers more horrifying revelations, Hall discovers

Laura (1944) Blu-ray Revew: The Sum is Better than Its Parts

An odd film that never really should have worked, and yet it does.
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Laura is a murder mystery in which it really doesn't matter who actually committed the murder. It is a love triangle that generates about as much heat as my refrigerator on the lowest setting. It is a film noir without many of aspects one generally associate with such films. It is a movie in which the titular character is the least interesting of the cast. Yet despite all that it is really a marvelous bit of cinema. The film begins with narration by Waldo Lydercker (a delightful Clifton Webb) who explains how much he cares for Laura (Gene Tierney) and

The Gangster (2012) Blu-ray Review: Ambitious but Flawed Gangland Epic

Sixties-era Thailand gangs rumble in the streets of Bangkok in The Gangster, an ambitious but flawed new film.
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Classic gangster movies followed a specific arc, probably best codified in the original Scarface (1932) - the audience follows the gangster from his lowly beginnings to the giddy heights of crime-bossery, and then watches as the gangster, who is a bad guy, falls from these heights. The thrill of vicarious transgression combined with the self-satisfaction of righteous condemnation. In the move away from the studio system and strict controls over content, artistic freedom, and fashion of the time shifted the paradigm toward moral ambiguity, the gangster became less of a tragic figure, and more aspirational: the man who has transcended

Babette's Feast Criterion Collection DVD Review: Eye- and Mouth-Watering Delights

An absolute must-have for any lover of film.
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About once a month, we host a Foreign Film Night at our house. We invite a few friends over, we munch on some grub, imbibe some drinks, enjoy a film, and then sit around talking about it. Always, it is a great time. Normally we don't pick out the film beforehand. Sometimes, there will be a specific genre planned or maybe we'll grab a few choices but then we let whoever is coming take a vote. This past March we held a bonus film night, a special Easter presentation, and I specifically chose Babette's Feast for us to watch.It is

Jubal Criterion Collection DVD Review: An Underrated Western Gem

A true stand-out in the genre.
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Delmer Daves’ 1956 film Jubal is sometimes dismissed as simply a cowboy retelling of William Shakespeare’s Othello. But while the film shares some similarities with the Bard’s great tragedy, the film ultimately stands as its own gripping story. This underrated gem of a Western boasts a strong, talented cast that brings an intriguing and well-constructed plot to life. Glenn Ford plays the title character, Jubal Troop, a wandering cowpoke who spends his life moving from place to place. Shep Horgan (Ernest Borgnine) happens upon an exhausted Ford and takes him back to his sprawling ranch. Shep offers Jubal a job,

When Comedy Went To School Movie Review: Spends Too Much Time on Where It Went to School

Since the show business philosophy is "Leave them wanting more," this may be a huge hit when it is released.
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There is no question that the post-Vaudeville era of comedy and that which was exhibited in the resorts located in upstate New York during the 1940s and '50s was truly innovative. The performers that honed their skills in the Catskills are truly legendary and many are featured in this 77-minute documentary due for release in NYC on July 31st before opening in other markets at later dates. While the interviews with such performers as Sid Caesar, Jerry Lewis, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl, Jerry Stiller, and more are certainly entertaining and informative, they are simply too brief. The audience may appreciate
William Golding was 43 years old when his first book was published. The year was 1954, and the title of the book was Lord of the Flies. It is hard to imagine a publisher, or even an agent looking twice at a 43-year-old novice writer these days, as “youth” has become our religion. When it came time to bring Lord of the Flies to the screen a few years later, the producers took as big a risk as Golding’s publisher had. They chose Peter Brook as director, a man who had done impressive work in experimental theatre, but had only

From the Head Movie Review: What Happens in the Bathroom Stays in the Bathroom

Spend a little while with the unusual yet familiar psyches of strip club patrons and the man who gives them soap.
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If you want to see truly raw, unadulterated portrait of humanity, you don’t go to a church or a library. You go to the haunts of the seedier, more colorful elements in society. In what I consider to be an excellent companion piece to Diablo Cody’s autobiographical Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, George Griffith wrote, directed, and stars in From the Head, the story of a few hours in the life of a strip club bathroom attendant whose anecdotes are based on Griffith’s real-life experiences doing that very job. Shoes (Griffith) is working a

Bullet to the Head (2012) Blu-ray Review: Stallone Takes Us Back to the Past. Again.

Think of it as enjoyably brainless entertainment.
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When I first saw some sort of shrapnel about Sylvester Stallone being in a film entitled Bullet to the Head, I immediately figured the American film industry had stooped so low as to attempt to remake a John Woo film. Again. I thought for sure we were all set to return to the world of '90s action films - which, needless to say, did not pump the caffeine-riddled sludge passing itself off as blood in my veins. Thus, you can imagine my delight once I realized that Bullet to the Head was indeed not a reboot of the 1990 Hong

Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: Good Croc, Bad Croc DVD Review: Over Two Hours of Animated Fun

A good mix of action and humor that kids should enjoy.
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Nickelodeon's animated television series Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness presents the adventures of Po the Panda, who became protector of the Valley of Peace after being discovered to be the prophesied Dragon Warrior. At times, he is assisted by the Furious Five: Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane, and Viper. Chronologically, the stories take place after the film Kung Fu Panda (2008), which was reviewed by Lorna Miller, and the two shorts, Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five (2008) and Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special (2010) and before Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011). Rather than a complete season, the

Lord of the Flies (1963) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Definitive Version of a Classic Text

The Criterion Collection adds a bevy of compelling bonus content on top of a fantastic adaptation of William Golding's novel.
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I vividly remember the Lord of the Flies unit in my seventh grade class. I’m not sure if my seventh-grade mind could truly take in the myriad themes and motifs within William Golding’s book; my disappointment stemmed from not being able to watch the film version. There are two adaptations of Golding’s book, one being the 1990s version (banned in my classroom due to its R-rating) and this 1963 adaptation (which we didn’t have time to watch). Thankfully, the purer adaptation has received the Criterion treatment and has hit Blu-ray in a beautiful transfer that will hopefully inspire a legion

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited: First to Fourth DVD Review: The Fantastic Four

Fabulous intoduction to the first four Doctors.
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The fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who is coming up, and the BBC is pulling out all the stops. There have been a couple of high profile golden anniversaries recently, including those of The Beach Boys and Rolling Stones. There is no television show in the world that is even close to that mark other than Who though. The fact that they made it is incredible, given the history of the show. It is a journey worthy of an eleven-part serial of its own. I say eleven parts because there have been eleven Doctors. Telling the story of the show from

The Life of Oharu Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Mizoguchi's Breakthrough Masterpiece

The Life of Oharu is devastating and gorgeous.
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The FilmThe film that made Kenji Mizoguchi an international sensation and the first in a string of masterpieces that includes Ugetsu and Sansho the Bailiff, The Life of Oharu is a relentless tale of downward mobility. Mizoguchi often focused on the trials of women in his films, and there’s little but trial for Oharu (Kinuyo Tanaka), once an imperial lady-in-waiting in 17th Century Japan, but reduced to a prostitute by the start of the film, attempting to shroud herself in shadow and makeup to obscure her age. Told mostly in flashback, the film chronicles every fall from grace with an

Orphan Black Season One DVD Review: Send in the Clones

I cannot recommend Orphan Black highly enough.
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I wish I had seen this show without knowing the premise--a premise that, with the title of this post, I admittedly have now ruined for anyone who does not yet know the treatise behind Orphan Black, the new BBC series starring Tatiana Maslany as a young woman drawn into a far-reaching mystery. Of course, the DVD release of season one already spoils the mystery in its tagline: "A clone is never alone." Still, it would have been interesting to watch this intriguing show from the start not knowing the twist that lay ahead--even if that twist is the crux of
There’s a point in this sci fi series that one clone is asked to temporarily impersonate another clone and you wonder how she’ll pull it off, completely forgetting that star Tatiana Maslany is playing both roles. That’s the depth and strength of her performances in this mind-bending show that finds her portraying multiple wildly different characters sharing the same genetic makeup. While she’s the key reason to watch, the series as a whole is deliriously mesmerizing and highly addictive. In the season opener, a streetwise outsider named Sarah witnesses a professional young lady calmly taking off and folding her jacket,

Elmo the Musical DVD Review: Not Recommended for Adult Consumption

President Elmo. Our long national nightmare is over.
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The perennially popular little red monster from Sesame Street is at it again. Warner Bros. has brought Elmo, arguably Sesame's most iconic character (yes, even more so than the giant yellow bird), back to DVD on the recent release Elmo the Musical. And let me just warn parents of young children who may be tempted to purchase this video for their children: yes, they will probably learn something by watching, or at the very least be entertained for an hour--but it may very well be at the expense of your sanity. Calling this Elmo the Musical is a little misleading,

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: An Epiphany

Thirty-seven episodes of one of the greatest television shows ever made.
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I had what you might call an epiphany the other night. It happened while I was watching “The Hunt,“ an episode from The Twilight Zone: The Complete Third Season. The story concerns an old man who takes his dog out raccoon hunting. The two of them drown, but do not realize it until they return and see the funeral preparations. They walk off, and the man almost walks right in to Hell. His trusty dog knows better though, and will not go. They walk a little further up the road, and are welcomed in to Heaven. The first time I

Blu-ray Review: Dio: Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986

Executive produced by Wendy Dio, Finding the Sacred Heart documents Ronnie James Dio at the top of his game.
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First released in 1986 on VHS as an edited concert video, the full performance of late rock icon Ronnie James Dio and band at the Philadelphia Spectrum in 1986 is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment. Remastered for optimal sound quality and restored for cleaner, clearer visuals, Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986 captures Dio during the height of his popularity (and the hard rock/metal craze of the ‘80s). This review describes the contents of the Blu-ray edition. Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986 is 100 minutes long and contains the Spectrum

Evil Dead is the Pick of the Week

Word is director Fede Alvarez took the basic story ramped up the adrenaline and gore and made a terrific, no-frill horror flick. That's enough to get me on board.
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People love to slag on sequels and especially remakes. Whenever one is announced, the Internet explodes with righteous anger calling the remake stupid, ridiculous, a complete failure, and a slew of other words not fit to print. This is especially true with remakes of beloved genre pictures. Technology has made the world small and now fans of obscure movies in various genres be it sci-fi, horror, or rainbow ponies can bond together with other like-minded folks across the planet. We love to geek out at the good and raise our collective middle fingers to the bad, even if we've not

San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Day 2 Highlights and Lowlights

Want to know what's going on Friday?
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Friday, July 19 Cartoon Network: Regular Show Care to join the not so regular cast and crew for an eventful hour of over the top regular? Yeeeeeeeeuh you do! Check out exclusive content and get the inside scoop on your favorite slackers and some of their closest friends. The panel features: Regular Show creator J. G. Quintel (voice of Mordecai), William Salyers (voice of Rigby), Sam Marin (voice of Benson, Pops, and Muscle Man), Sean Szeles (supervising director), Matt Price (writer), and storyboard artists Toby Jones and Calvin Wong. Cartoon Network: Adventure Time What's algebraic and schmowzow and righteous all

Contest: Blood and Sand (1941) on Blu-ray

No bull. We're giving this away.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win Blood and Sand (1941). As reviewed by our own Luigi Bastardo, this adaptation of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez's 1909 novel tells the story of Matador Gallardo (Tyrone Power), "embraced by the love of an entire country who is proud this handsome illiterate man has been able to distinguish himself from other men who can't read or write by being the best-dressed individual to slaughtering bulls before the eyes of an otherwise bored public." There are three ways to enter the contest,

Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special Blu-ray Review: Aquaman's Identity Crisis

Robot Chicken focuses on the DC Universe for laughs.
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Originally premiering on Sept 9, the Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special pokes fun at heroes and villains from DC Comics universe, but the material isn't limited to in-jokes, allowing casual viewers to enjoy it as well. For those that don't know the show, Robot Chicken parodies pop culture with stop-motion animation of toys, dolls--er, I mean action figures, and other assorted objects. This double-length episode of adult swim's sketch-comedy show has amusing moments, but it runs only 23 minutes, which may dissuade some from adding it to their collection. The special has a main story about Aquaman being mistreated by

Blood and Sand (1941) Blu-ray Review: Three-strip Technicolor Death in the Afternoon

The torrid tale of a man who dreams of single-handedly exterminating the world of its excessive amounts of male bovines.
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Growing up in the shadow of your father is never an easy task for a young lad - especially when dead ol' dad is dead. As a hot-headed boy, Juan Gallardo dreamed of following in his deceased bullfighter father's footsteps, and to massacre many a poor, hapless animal that the great Tom Lehrer once described as a "half a ton of angry pot roast." Fortunately for the young, impoverished Spaniard youth - who has suspiciously blue eyes and speaks with nary an accent - he runs away with his buddies and grows up to be the equally non-Hispanic Tyrone Power,

The Life of Oharu Criterion Collection DVD Review: The Downward Spiral

Portrait of a Japanese woman's gradually declining station in life takes far too long to make its entirely obvious point.
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While watching this film, I was reminded of another tale of a classy lady who gradually becomes marginalized: Anna Karenina. Like Tolstoy’s character, Oharu spends her young adult life in the pampered upper class before losing her status due to infidelity. Although Oharu’s end isn’t as tragic, her inevitable social decline is immediately revealed from the framing sequence of the opening scene, making for a less than compelling and completely obvious story prolonged far past its ability to hold my attention. Unlike Anna, Oharu has many stops on her road to ruin, with her initial affair just the first of

American Courtesans Movie Review: More Case Study than Documentary

A documentary about the lives of American escorts.
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American Courtesans is a documentary by Kristen DiAngelo and James Johnson about the world of women who work as escorts in America. This documentary chronicles the lives of eleven women who have been or currently are working in the adult sex industry as escorts. The film fell flat for me, but not because of the women or their stories. American Courtesans had a hard time holding my attention because it was mostly a "talking heads" doc without any extra narrative to help direct the stories, struggle, and triumphs of these women. Diangelo and Johnson could have done more with this

The Way, Way Back Visits Other Films Along the Way

Ultimately, we've seem similar stories told better.
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Writers/directors Nay Faxon and Jim Rash certainly provide the audience with intriguing characters in The Way, Way Back, each with an interesting storyline, but they fail to tell enough of any one story. Socially awkward fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James) is dragged to the beach for summer vacation by his insecure mother (Toni Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell). Along for the ride is Trent’s stuck-up teenage daughter (Zoe Levin) who wants nothing to do with Duncan. Trent and his daughter are regulars in the beach community that includes Alison Janney as the gossipy, intoxicated neighbor with a daughter

San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Shout! Factory Events

What will you be attending?
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Those purveyors of pop-culture products at Shout! Factory are attending this year's San Diego Comic-Con and they are featuring a special panel event, five film screenings, a showcase of new home entertainment products, Comic-Con exclusive items, prize sweepstakes, surprise star appearances, and engaging fan interactive activities. Their schedule is as follows: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 Shout! Factory invites fans to celebrate its 10th Anniversary at Shout! booth #4248. Stop by for a Free 10th Anniv. tote bag. Other Com-Con exclusives include: a My Little Pony PrinceSS Twilight Sparkle crown and a collectible SCREAM FACTORY™ Button Pack Thursday, July 18, 2013
Ever wonder about how Wolverine got his start? So did the rest of the Marvel Comics Universe and its readers, until this comic book miniseries launched in 2001. Now the series has been repurposed into this motion comic DVD, making for a thrilling new experience for first-timers as well as forgetful readers of the book. From his introduction to the Marvel Universe, Wolverine was always a shadowy character with a murky past made even more perplexing by his own memory loss. We knew he aged slowly, we knew he had been around a long time, but not exactly how long

Spring Breakers is the Pick of the Week

I don't expect to really like the results, but I'm definitely interested.
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It makes a certain amount of sense that actresses who have spent their childhoods on squeaky clean television shows to want to break free from that image whether in their careers (Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls) or their personal lives (Lindsay Lohan battle with the law and drugs.) These women have grown up in front of millions of people yet no doubt their real lives are much different than the made-for-children characters they play every day on the small screen. Who wouldn't want to show the world they are mature adults after that? It makes a certain amount of sense that

Phantom (2013) Blu-ray Review: This Submarine Story Sinks Fast

Take my advice and avoid having it sneak up on you.
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Back in the Golden Age of Hollywood, it seemed that there were two types of actors: Americans playing Americans and Brits playing every other nationality. The examples are endless, and of course there are exceptions, but it’s hard to watch a drama from the 1930s and 1940s that features characters from somewhere other than the US or UK and not see British actors portraying those characters. (Just look at Claude Rains, a British actor who played a Frenchman in Casablanca and a German in Notorious. Come to think of it, he even played an American in Mr. Smith Goes to

The Life After Death Project DVD Review: An Academic Approach to the Afterlife

Your doubts will be challenged.
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Paul Davids’ Life After Death Project has had an interesting stay in my house. Hearing it was a SyFy project had me wondering if it would be good or out-there, as I’ve seen more than a couple unfortunate SyFy original movies. It’s based almost entirely on anecdotal recollections -- no spooks or spectres caught on camera here. I spun it up, hoping for the best, and found myself dozing off about 20 minutes in. However, these are all unfair criticisms and biases. If a viewer goes in with a truly open mind, what separately look like a bunch of utter

San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Preview Night and Day 1 Highlights and Lowlights

A few suggestions and snarky comments on what sounds good and what doesn't.
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San Diego Comic-Con 2013, one of the world's largest pop-culture events, is about to commence. A few suggestions and snarky comments on what sounds good and what doesn't. Wednesday, July 17 While most folks will be on the exhibition floor trying to scoop up exclusive merchandise, Warner Bros. Television will again deliver an evening of programming that few attendees will be concerned about. The pilot episodes are for Almost Human, The Tomorrow People, The 100, and The Vampire Diaries spinoff series, The Originals. At least four Sentries will be the Adam Ant concert so don't look for us there. Ballroom

Paul McCartney and Wings: Rockshow Blu-ray Review: Listen to What the Band Played

A great document of a memorable tour for both devoted and casual fans.
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It is unfortunate Wings has always been overshadowed, and understandably so, by leader Paul McCartney's previous musical group because they had a run in the '70s most bands would envy. In the U.S., all 23 singles made the Top 40, six hitting #1, and their eight albums, seven studio and one live, all went top 10, with five in a row peaking at #1. With the recent Blu-ray release of the concert film Rockshow, Wings gets some overdue time back in the spotlight. Complied from four different performances in New York, May 25 (four songs); Seattle, Washington, June 10 (five

The Matador (2005) Review: A Hitman Movie That Misses

Brosnan did the best he could getting the chance to step out of the role of James Bond. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.
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If people know Pierce Brosnan as an actor at all, it is probably from his stint as James Bond. Unless they are kicking it old school as Remington Steele fans, of course. However, all actors eventually have to move on from that iconic role, and when Brosnan did he stepped into the lead role in The Matador, a "dark comedy" starring him and Greg Kinnear. Dark comedy is in quotation marks because to consider this a "comedy" is to stretch the definition of the word. That, or the comedy is real hard to find in this movie. Perhaps Richard Shepard,

Todd & the Book of Pure Evil Season Two DVD Review: Once More With Feeling

Second season finds the show firing on all cylinders, making its cancellation all the more baffling.
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A group of high school outcasts battles supernatural beasties and their dastardly principal. Oh, and there’s a musical episode. Nope, not Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the further shenanigans of this deliciously entertaining Canadian import. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Todd and his buds balance bawdy comedy with gory horror, resulting in a show that is most definitely not for kids but pure heaven for genre aficionados. Todd is a typical slacker metal fan, far more interested in hitting the sheets than hitting the books. The mysterious Book of Evil is still terrorizing his school, flitting around like a

Borgen Season 2 DVD Review: Nothing's Rotten in Denmark

Denmark's first female prime minister continues to battle adversity at home and work.
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Who knew Danish politics could be so much fun? Picking up a year after the first season, this collection finds Birgitte Nyborg, the first female Prime Minister of Denmark, fully in control of her elected position and no longer the tenuous newbie of before. That professional mastery comes at the expense of her personal life, as she remains separated from her husband and faces a new challenge in the form of her now clinically depressed teenage daughter. Meanwhile, her press secretary and closest aide, Kasper Juul, finds himself living with a girlfriend he doesn’t love, all the while carrying a

The Dark Knight Returns in Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy Ultimate Collector's Edition

The Dark Knight Trilogy rises on September 24.
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On September 24, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition, which collects Christopher Nolan’s three Batman films - Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises. The six-disc set presents the films with their existing content, plus two new featurettes and exclusive new collectible memorabilia, so it appears geared at fans, who somehow avoided buying the previous releases, and completists who have to have every latest release. The new Special Features are: The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of The Dark Knight Trilogy - The inside perspective on the fascinating story
Nearly nine years in the making, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is the creation of director Paul Bunnell. This black-and-white science fiction musical is generally energetic, but it’s also excessively self-aware. The problem with this is that the ample bouts of cheese and ham fall flat more than they hit target, resulting in more than a few of the wrong kind of eye-rolls. Bunnell actually got the idea for The Ghastly Love of Johnny X after seeing Teenagers from Outer Space. The resultant homage to the science fiction lunacy of the 1950s certainly takes its prompts from Tom Graeff’s

Life Is Sweet Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Mike Leigh's International Breakout

Life is sweet but it can hurt too in Mike Leigh's tribute to family love in north London.
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Mike Leigh films can be comedies but you'd never put the phrase "light hearted" in front of that description. His films are usually described as "gritty" and "realistic". The latest Criterion Collection release of his work is Life Is Sweet from 1990, part of what I consider a trilogy of real stories of love and clashing cultures in modern-day England. It is bookended by the under-appreciated High Hopes (1989) and the generally revered or hated Naked (1993). The middle of the three, Life Is Sweet, would seemingly take place in the same universe as the other two. This tale of

The House I Live In is the Pick of the Week

It features David Simon a great deal and I've never been disappointed in anything he's ever been involved with.
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Several months ago I made a very deliberate decision to avoid the news in general and politics in specific. It isn't that those things aren't important, but that my obsessions with them were driving me crazy. I would spend entirely too much time debating politics on Facebook and Google+ and any of the various other social sites out there. I'd pace the house in a fury coming up with just the right wordage to put my opponent in his place. I'd Google for hours making sure all my points and beliefs were just exactly perfectly correct. I'd get mad, I'd

The Guard Movie Review: When Irish Guys Are Quipping

There is enough done well to make The Guard a decent watch.
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The Guard, the 2011 debut film from John Michael McDonagh, is both fairly original and overly familiar. It is also apparently the most successful Irish movie of all-time, so, you know, there's that. More than that, the movie was fairly well-received critically, even in the United States. Maybe it was reminding them of similar, better films? Or maybe they just enjoyed it quite a bit despite its handful of flaws. Honorable men can differ. The movie stars Brendan Gleeson as Sergeant Jerry Boyle. He lives in pastoral Western Ireland and is part of some sort of police force. However, he

Stoker Blu-ray Review: A Film to be Savored

“Stoker” is visually stunning and satisfied my desire for a suspenseful and thoughtful film.
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India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is a shy, isolated young girl devistated by the loss of her father Richard (Dermot Mulroney) to a strange and horrible accident. Her mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), is distant and selfish and does not provide any comfort. Richard's brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), shows up at the Stoker home after the funeral and offers to stay indefinitely. India never knew of his existence as he has spent his life traveling the world. Charlie evokes immediate fear in the head caretaker of the house, Mrs. McGarrick (Phyllis Somerville), who suddenly and mysterously disappears. India grows suspicious as she

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