August 2013 Archives

TCM Tells The Story of Film: An Odyssey with Mark Cousins

The schedule for the first five weeks of TCM's massive programming event.
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There's no better channel than Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to run the U.S. television premiere of Mark Cousins The Story of Film: An Odyssey. Beginning Sept. 2, the series will run 15 weeks and programmed alongside it on Mondays and Tuesdays will be over a hunderd films and short subjects from 29 different countries to tell the history of the medium. Cousins will join TCM host Robert Osborne to introduce each week's episode and discuss some of the highlights and themes. After the video promo, TCM's schedule for the first five weeks of the event is listed below with accompanying
The thunder rolls often in Carlos Reygadas' Post Tenebras Lux ("light after darkness"), a film that seems almost destined to polarize. The 2012 picture won Reygadas the Best Director prize at Cannes and wound up as an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, earning defenders and detractors along the way. This is no "easy" motion picture and it does not function in the traditional sense. It does not adhere to a straightforward narrative and Reygadas, like Terrence Malick and David Lynch, follows his muse. "I truly appreciate the directors that don't try to lead me by the hand

The Accursed [aka The Traitor] (1957) DVD Review: Early Christopher Lee? Sold!

Every once in a while, something gets pried out from within cracks of time.
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Every once in a while, something gets pried out from within cracks of time. In the instance of The Traitor - a 1957 mystery from the UK that was released in the US under the more ambiguous title, The Accursed in 1958 - we have at long last been given the opportunity to see one of the few feature films made by the seemingly-promising talent of a young would-be auteur by the name of Michael McCarthy. Sadly, McCarthy's true talent more than likely never had a proper chance to materialize, as he died at the tender age of 42 -

To the Wonder Blu-ray Review: Another Malick Masterwork

Despite what some have said, this is hardly the same old bag of tricks rehashed or a filmmaker devolving into self-parody.
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The Film Terrence Malick’s second film in three years hasn’t been met with quite as much enthusiasm as its predecessor, The Tree of Life, and I fear we’re getting spoiled by this current bout of prolificacy from the filmmaker, who once let two decades pass before making another film. To the Wonder is in a number of ways stylistically similar to The Tree of Life, employing intuitive editing that’s even less bound by narrative structure and amping up the roving, twirling camera so that there’s barely a static shot in the whole film. Malick’s casual naysayers will find plenty of

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Review: Charles Beaumont is the Star of This Season

The stories are what count, and there are some great ones here.
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The original Twilight Zone aired for five seasons (1959-64), on CBS. Like most of the people I know, the first-run shows were before my time, and I got to know the series via syndication. When I did catch up to it though, I was hooked. The Twilight Zone definitely deserves its reputation as one of the greatest television programs of all time. Image Entertainment have just issued The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fourth Season as a five-DVD set. It is episodes-only, and perhaps the most controversial season of the five. I say “controversial” because of the situation Rod Serling was

The Devil's Backbone (2001) Criterion Collection DVD Review: Hell Is for Children

"I don't think I need a spine. It's holding me back." -Satan
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During the mid '90s, my fascination with all things foreign and artsy-like led me into the welcoming arms of two entirely different movie directors: Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar - whose quirky comedies such as Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown greatly appealed to my youthful pretentious flair - and a Mexican-born fantasy filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who caught my eye with the inventive 1993 flick, Cronos. Needless to say, when I found out the 2001 Spanish/Mexican-made film The Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo del Diablo) was a collaboration between the two, I

The Great Gatsby (2013) is the Pick of the Week

Critical reception has been mostly poor and it didn't fair any better at the box office, but I'm still willing to give it a shot.
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I read The Great Gatsby when I was in high school, or possibly early in college. Whenever it was, I knew that it was often considered to be The Great American Novel, but not enough to understand why. I wasn't particularly impressed with what I read. Later, I began to read essays and reviews that explained why it had been critically acclaimed for so long and I developed an appreciation for, well if not for the actual book, for what it stands for, its deeper meaning. I had a similar experience with the film Citizen Kane. Upon first watching it,

Love Me Tender Blu-ray Review: Introducing Elvis Presley the Actor

While not a classic western, the story delivers enough to keep it interesting, allowing the film to be more than an answer to a trivia contest.
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Although a long-time movie devotee and a fan of Elvis Presley's music, I was rather surprised by the realization I had not seen an entire one of his 33 pictures, not even a concert film, until seeing Love Me Tender for this review. Upon reflection, I don't think I ever heard there was much to see beyond the music. And I could get that directly, so why bother sitting through movie after movie that presumably featured Elvis playing a guy that sung like Elvis who always ended up with the girl in the end? That assessment of all his films

Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: An Excellent Series

Ought to be seen by anyone who is interested in what the medium can do and certainly is a must-see for all mystery fans.
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At the time Prime Suspect first aired In 1991, there were only four female DCIs (Detective Chief Inspector) working in London. Jackie Malton was one of them and it is her story that show creator Lynda La Plante took as inspiration for the series.The fictional Jane Tennison (played to perfection by Helen Mirren) is a fierce, driven, hard-nosed, hard-boiled police officer who has clawed, scraped, and bloodied her way to the rank of DCI and spends the rest of the series fighting against sexism, politics, institutionalized racism, and her own personality to stay there and eventually rank even higher. The

From Up On Poppy Hill Blu-ray Review: The Son Also Rises

Miyazaki Jr. proves to be an adept director on his second attempt.
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Goro Miyazaki is in a tough position. As the son of beloved living legend Hayao Miyazaki, and a budding anime director himself at his father’s Studio Ghibli, he bears the weight of tremendous expectations and more than a fair share of doubt. After lackluster results on his first feature length directorial effort, Tales from Earthsea, the pressure and stakes increased significantly for this, his second attempt. Thankfully, the charming results prove that he learned from his initial missteps and is back on track to successfully continue his father’s legacy. In a departure for a Ghibli project, the film is fully

Robotech 2-Movie Collection DVD Review: The Shadow Chronicles Collector's Edition and Love Live Alive: A Robotech Sequel and A Long, Long Clip Show

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles 2-disc release includes Love Live Alive, a extended clip show of the original series.
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Robotech was the introduction to an entire generation to the wonders of anime (at the time called Japanimation), and (perhaps more importantly) of expansive genre entertainment. That is, entertainment in a specific genre (in this case sf/space opera) that had a complicated and evolving serialized plot with real drama (characters development and even death) that eventually led to a conclusion. This was not the norm for youngsters watching animated television in the '80s, where every episode of He-Man or Thundercats was essentially self-contained and interchangeable. Robotech was a TV series that was produced from the footage of three unrelated anime

Short Term 12 Movie Review: Intimate and Secretive

The indie film you should see this weekend.
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The setting is a small group home for foster kids. They are troubled teens that are only meant to spend a few months there, perhaps a year at most, living under the guidance of floor staff, therapists, and social workers before it is their time to move to their next home. Short Term 12 is the name of the facility and also the title of the film that beautifully captures the delicate nature of what it means to be damaged and how to work together to try and repair. The new feature film Short Term 12, from writer and director

Epic Blu-ray Review: Heart of Darkness

Dark animated fantasy demands parental attention to PG rating.
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I don’t ever pay attention to MPAA ratings on animated films, because why bother? After decades of reliably mild animated projects, punctuated only by very rare aberrations such as The Black Cauldron and Legend of the Guardians, the average consumer expects a certain level of saccharine status quo in our talking animal feature films, making ratings meaningless. The trailers for Epic did nothing to dispel that notion, introducing a magical forest world with tiny humans blissfully riding hummingbirds and interacting with comical snails. Big mistake, marketing department. If you have younger viewers, this is one case where you need to

The World's End Movie Review: A Perfect Blend of Action, Comedy and Drama

In a summer saturated with sequels and remakes, The World's End is welcome respite.
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The World's End left me in such an elated state after watching it that in addition to deciding it was my favorite film of the summer, it's also in the running for my favorite of 2013. What's so wonderful is that not only is it apparent that people who love films create it, but they also understand what they love about films. The World's End is a perfect blend of action, comedy and drama. With little else going on in his life, Gary King (Simon Pegg) decides to organize his old gang from high school, or whatever the UK equivalent

The Muppet Movie: The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: How Things Got Started

For the lovers, the dreamers, and you.
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Celebrating its nearly 35th anniversary, an intentionally sillier designation than 34th, the Walt Disney Company has recently released The Muppet Movie on Blu-ray. Ten years after debuting on Sesame Street and three years after their syndicated-television variety show, the brilliant Jim Henson and his company debuted these beloved characters on the silver screen in an enjoyable family film that still stands the test of time, a claim similar films can't always make. Starring the Muppets, as opposed to 2011's disappointing The Muppets where they were unwisely relegated to supporting characters, The Muppet Movie begins with the Muppets congregating in a

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Review: A Flash in the Pan

What should have been a showcase for the talents and entertainment value of the Scarlet Speedster lags far behind his potential.
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Look, here’s the deal: if you have to travel through time, or to another dimension, to tell your story, you’re officially out of ideas. There is a reason the DC Universe has not translated as well to the big screen as Marvel. Some of it is the depth of the characters, but it’s more the ability to tell stories and the stories they choose to tell. The Green Lantern was not a good choice to be the next JLA member to put on film in 2011. On July 30th 2013, Warner Home Video brought us Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox,

The Big City Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Girl Power

Satyajit Ray’s first portrayal of contemporary Indian life reveals the impact of women in the workplace.
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Prior to The Big City, director Satyajit Ray had never tackled a contemporary project, choosing to focus on explorations of traditional Indian life. Those traditions are upended here, as his move to the 1960s allows for a look at the rise of women in the urban workplace, as well as the resulting fallout in the home environment. As in much of his work, he zooms in on one family in particular, utilizing them as a microcosm of the prevailing cultural changes of the time. In order to make ends meet, a plucky wife named Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee) searches for and
An extensive and intelligent collection that should be part of the library of any Bill Moyers fan, the Faith & Reason Collection provides an invaluable exploration of the things we believe and the reasons we believe them. This box set from Athena includes three PBS documentaries (On Faith & Reason, The Wisdom of Faith and Amazing Grace) on six discs, amounting to over a dozen hours of intellectually-stimulating programming. On Faith & Reason features interviews with a dozen writers and intellectuals, with Moyers proving a sharp and entertaining presence while allowing his subjects to talk without interruption or needless fireworks.

Charulata Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Indian Film, European Sensibility

Exquisite sets, direction and performances serve a far too predictable tale.
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This is not a Bollywood film, at least not in the accepted modern-day definition of the term. Half a century ago, the Indian film industry was not constrained by today’s formulaic insistence on bloated three-hour lengths, paper-thin rom-com and action plots, cartoonish one-dimensional characters, and song-and-dance numbers. Instead, talented creators such as Satyajit Ray had the latitude to explore the artistry of film, contributing meaningful works that measure up well against the best of the rest of world cinema. Out of all of his films, Ray was most proud of this one because it had the “fewest flaws”, and it’s

Babette's Feast Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Tale of Love, Life, and Food

A venerable banquet unto itself.
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Gabriel Axel's multiple award-winning film Babette's Feast takes place almost entirely in a tiny, remote, 19th century village somewhere near the western Denmark coast. That's right, kids: it's a movie that doesn't have to rely on cell phone reception - so you can exclude this one as a kooky cannibalistic horror film right off the bat. No, Babette's Feast is instead a drama about something contemporary cinema seems to have missed the mark on: the human factor. Based on the novel by Danish author Karen Blixen (1885-1962), the 1987 Academy Award-winning film begins with a tale of two elderly sisters,

The World's End Is Coming!

And film-goers are all the luckier for it.
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The World's End, the third chapter in Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy, hits U.S. theatres on Friday, August 23rd. The story finds middle-aged Gary King (Simon Pegg) bringing together his four childhood friends to complete the Golden Mile, their hometown's infamous pub crawl. While his friends discover Gary hasn't changed much since he was a teenager, the same can't be said about the town, and the discovery of the latter puts them all in great peril. To tide fans over, Focus Features has released a few featurettes about the film for your viewing pleasure. While the idea started off as joke,

Doctor Who: The Green Death Special Edition DVD Review: Hello, Giant Maggots; Goodbye, Jo Grant

Katy Manning went out on a high note with The Green Death.
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“So the fledgling flies the coop,” states the Doctor in one of the opening scenes of The Green Death. It is an interesting moment, as the Third Doctor’s (Jon Pertwee) companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning) has just declined his offer to take a trip in the TARDIS. At this particular juncture, going anywhere in the TARDIS is something of a new experience, as the Third Doctor had been exiled to Earth by the Time Lords for most of his tenure. He has been “forgiven” at this point, and the TARDIS is now operational. The Doctor is headed to Metebelis Three,

Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space Blu-ray Review: New Doctor, New Everything Really

A great introduction to Pertwee's Doctor.
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There is a lot of trivia connected to Spearhead from Space but it is not at all a trivial episode. It was the first serial of the seventh season. The first to star Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and Caroline John as his companion Dr. Liz Shaw. It was also the first Who to be shot in color. That last bit combined with the fact that a strike caused the series to be shot entirely on film (usually at least part of an episode would be shot on cheaper-looking video) makes this the first Classic Doctor Who to be released

Amour is the Pick of the Week

Amour seems much more accessible than the rest of Haneke's work and I suspect I'll be watching it soon
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I rarely go to the theatre anymore - too much trouble, too expensive, and audiences are way too obnoxious. Even when I do, it is rarely to see a small, critically acclaimed drama. The nearest city is still a small one, and while they have three movie theaters, they all play the same movies and they are always the biggest, shiniest, most expensive films out and never anything you'd consider small, art-house or critically acclaimed. I don't tend to read a lot of movie reviews either, and accepting the occasional Movie Recon on these pages, I don't really pay that
If you are familiar with the works of Armando Ianucci, and you are American, it is likely from his HBO show Veep or the movie In The Loop. If you are aware of the latter, then you already know some of the characters from his TV show The Thick of It, which recently had seasons one through four, which likely comprises the entire series, released on DVD in the United States. From the box, you will see Peter Capaldi's pensive face gazing upon you, which makes sense, because his Malcolm Tucker is the most prominent character from the show and

To Be Or Not to Be (1942) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: You'll Get a 'Terrific Laugh' Out of This One

Ernst Lubitsch and the Criterion Collection are a match made in comedic heaven.
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In 1942, the US hadn’t entered World War II and audiences were unaware of the horrific monster that Adolf Hitler would be identified as. Director Ernst Lubitsch was aware of the chaos going on in Europe and documented it - while still remaining comic and romantic - in his play within a play (or in this case film), To Be or Not to Be. Upon release it was a failure (only getting an Academy Award nomination for Best Music…seriously?), and only now has it come to be identified as a slice of life for the Europeans while opening up American

Shoah Criterion Collection DVD Review: Superb Release of Haunting, Tragic Film

Criterion Collection's release of Shoah is a superb packaging of the powerful, haunting Holocaust documentary.
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Shoah is a film about trains. Inside its nearly 10 hours of running time, the image and movement of the train itself is the most common visual motif. There are innumerable shots of trains moving, shots from inside trains, or mounted on the front of them. Though the camera rarely moves in the film, when it does, it often mimics the inexorable movement of the train, dollying forward slowly and surely on the subject which grows in the frame, particularly in shots of the camps. That's where these trains were going, in Eastern Europe in the '40s - Treblinka, Belzec,

I Give It A Year Movie Review: In Which Funny People Save a So-So Story

In the age of disposable marriages, two newlyweds struggle to decide whether they can be bothered to make good on "till death do us part."
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There are romantic comedies with premises so trite they morph into tragedies, others so saccharin you leave the theater with actual pain, and still others with writing that make typically wonderful actors look like amateurs a couple one-liners in. But there are a few that suffer from such standard rom-com pitfalls as predictability and sappy endings and still fare decently because the cast is so strong and the dialogue is so punchy; and that’s the safe spot where the Dan Mazer-directed I Give It a Year falls. Nat and Josh, played by Australian actress Rose Byrne (Adam, Bridesmaids, The Place

Paradise: Love Movie Review: Ulrich Seidl's Grim Arcadia

A hopeless motion picture.
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The first film in Austrian director Ulrich Seidl's Paradise trilogy is the fascinating and troubling Paradise: Love. Initially, Seidl had intended on shooting Paradise as one complete picture. But after four years and over 80 hours of rushes, the only decision that made sense was to split it into three features about three women from one family. Paradise: Love deals with sex tourism in Kenya. The trilogy also includes Paradise: Faith and Paradise: Hope, respectively dealing with a Catholic missionary and a diet camp. For this picture, Seidl's "paradise" is barren; his view is of a culture of necessary exploitation.

Hatchet III Blu-ray Review: The Proper End to a Trilogy

A buckets-of-blood throwback to classic horror.
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Back in 2006, Adam Green set out with Hatchet to recapture the 1980's campy gory horror vibe established by iconic slashers like Freddy Kruger and Jason Vorhees. In some ways, he succeeded -- there's certainly no shortage of blood, guts, and nudity in the original. On the other hand, there was no lingering sense of dread when the movie was over due to everything being so comically ridiculous. It didn't feel like it could happen to you. This was not nightmare fuel; I doubt anyone lost sleep over visions of Victor Crowley dancing in (or maybe on) their heads. However,

The Mindy Project is the Pick of the Week

The Mindy Project is very silly and has not a inch of real depth but it's tons of fun.
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I have an odd relationship with the American version of The Office. For the first few seasons I loved it. Though my wife found it obnoxious, every Thursday evening I'd kick her out of the living room so I could sit and watch it in peace. It was awkward and funny and sweet and really one of the best comedies on television at the time. Somewhere around season five I tuned out. It wasn't that I no longer enjoyed the show, or didn't find it funny it was just one of those weird life things. Where before I was home

Frank Zappa: A Token of His Extreme DVD Review: FZ TV Circa 1974

Great 1974 studio concert from Zappa and company.
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In 1974, Frank Zappa recorded a concert for television titled A Token of His Extreme. It was intended as a 90-minute special, and in addition to the musical numbers, featured some wonderful claymation sequences by Bruce Bickford. Despite the fact that A Token of His Extreme was shown in France and Switzerland, none of the networks or syndication outlets in America would touch it. Outside of a two-minute excerpt shown on The Midnight Special, the program never aired in the United States. Thanks to Eagle Rock and the Zappa family’s Honker Video, A Token of His Extreme has finally been
There's a dazzling moment with the antagonists of Mel Brooks' comedy classic Blazing Saddles wherein the always-excellent Slim Whitman suggests killing "the first born male child in every household" in order to permit the bad guys to prevail. To this, the great Harvey Korman to deliver the line "Too Jewish" - a line many a magnificent comedic writer has heard in his or her attempts to get a laugh from their audience. One such talent is the one and only Rick Moranis (yes, he's still alive), who stresses in the liner notes of his new album, My Mother's Brisket &

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

A great addition to the bad-movie library.
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The celebration of the worst films ever made has become something of a cottage industry over the years. Although college kids were watching Reefer Madness (1936) and laughing at it during the ‘70s, it was probably the appearance of The Golden Turkey Awards that really set things off. The book was published in 1980, and there have been many more since. The latest is The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time, written by Phil Hall. The author is a contributing editor to Film Threat, and he is something of a bad-film aficionado. The challenge for Hall was to come up
George Smiley is the polar opposite of James Bond. They’re both spies for the British Secret Intelligence Service, but Smiley is a retired old desk jockey who gets by entirely on his clever mind rather than any feats of derring-do. As once again fully embodied by veteran screen legend Alec Guinness, following his masterful turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Smiley is a cunning, dogged individual who uses his wits to navigate the murky politics of the SIS as well as their clean-up operation for a dead informant. Unlike its predecessor, Smiley’s People also features a screenplay written by original

The Beasts Are on the Streets (1978) DVD Review: Live-Action Hanna-Barbera Mayhem!

The forgotten disaster flick from the famous animators finally makes its home video debut.
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From the earliest days of cinema, filmdom's original filmmakers - those brave, experimental individuals who would pave the way for their industrial descendents' hits and misses with their own blood, sweat, and tears - found there was no truer onscreen battle to behold than pitting man against nature. Thus, the disaster film was born - even though it really technically didn't become a whole genre unto itself until the '70s, wherein movies like Earthquake!, Airport, and The Poseidon Adventure loomed their tales of adversity over the horizon of foldable theaters seats near and far. Towards the latter half of the

The Thin Red Line Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Impressive Movie

Malick's masterpiece unfolds for the patient.
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There's something to be said about be prolific. Take Alfred Hitchcock's work for example - there are runs of three-four films over a two- to three-year span that are so brilliant that you are willing to forgive the clunkers like Torn Curtain. But there's also something rare and amazing about the director that picks his pieces carefully. Terrence Malick hit the ground running in 1973 with Badlands. The well received film set in South Dakota and middle America in the 1950s starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek has gained in respect since its release. His second film came five years

Strike Back: Cinemax Season Two Blu-ray Review: 21st Century Production Values, '80s Action Sensibility

'80s action cinema made anew. Whether you find that damning, or high praise, will determine whether or not the show's for you.
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Throughout Strike Back's second season, a single episode did not go by where someone was not shot in the head at point blank range or had their throat slit. Similarly, if the show's brash American ex-Delta force hero Damien Scott hasn't bedded one of his female contacts, there's certain to be a scene set in a strip club or by a swimming pool where some woman is swimming topless in order to fulfill the episode quota of nudity. Strike Back is '80s action cinema made anew. Whether you find that damning, or high praise, will determine whether or not the
There is a moment in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm, now available on Criterion Collection Blu-ray, where the 14-year-old Mikey Carver (Elijah Wood) plays on the icy diving board to an empty swimming pool in the middle of the titular weather event. The camera fixes at his feet as they slip on the surface, then pans up to his face where he appears elated to have survived his dim dalliance with disaster. In many ways, this scene sums up what the characters in this 1997 motion picture attempt. Their relationships are dances atop precarious slabs of frozen material and they

Aerosmith: Rock for the Rising Sun Blu-ray Review: Any Fan Would Be Happy to Own It

Their performances are flawless and as good as they’ve ever been.
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It’s been more than 40 years since Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, and Brad Whitford came together to form the legendary rock band Aerosmith. Over that time, they have dealt with their share of obstacles such as alcohol and drug abuse. But their struggle and eventual overcoming of their hardships is what has made them such a strong and focused band. To prove that they are still one of the biggest and baddest bands out there the Boston natives their latest release features their recent tour of Japan and their first return to the island in seven

Mitchell (1975) DVD Review: Uncut, Uncensored, and Uncouth - The Way It Should Be!

Break out the Schlitz and enjoy.
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After quickly rising out of the mists in an uncredited bit in Cool Hand Luke in 1967, Texas-born character actor Joe Don Baker found himself nearing that proverbial spotlight many performers out there dream of. He starred in the surprise breakout hit Walking Tall - a fictionalized 1973 account of Sheriff Buford Pusser's well-known one-man battle with the State Line Mob - which was followed up via a memorable, BAFTA-winning role as the sadistic hitman hired to kill Walter Matthau's Charley Varrick later that same year. After that, Baker moved on from exploitation oddities like Golden Needles to the short-lived

Niagara (1953) Blu-ray Review: A Decidedly Different Marilyn

At its best, the film is a lurid noir starring Monroe in an unlikely role.
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The FilmIt sometimes seems like director Henry Hathaway wasn’t sure if Niagara was a lugubrious melodrama or a white-knuckle thriller, but the film is at its best when it hints toward a third option: a lurid, blazingly bright film noir starring Marilyn Monroe in perhaps her unlikeliest role ever — a sexually supercharged femme fatale. We’re used to seeing Monroe play flouncy, breathy dimwits, either oblivious to her own sexuality or using it to casually manipulate men. Here, her sexual agency can be downright terrifying, and even though the film eventually undercuts her and its own noirish tendencies, there’s enough

Trance (2013) Blu-ray Review: Suspenseful and Surprising

It was a treat to see Danny Boyle return to this style of film and he didn't disappoint.
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Danny Boyle is one of the few directors who garners instance attention for any new film. His history of interesting and unique films is continued with Trance, a psychological thriller with twists and turns you won't see coming. Simon (James McAvoy) is involved in security for fine-art auctions. We quickly learn that due to his insider connections, he is behind a complicated heist of a $27 million painting with local gangster Franck (Vincent Cassel) and his gang of thugs. In order to escape, Franck is forced to hit Simon in the head with a shotgun. Once Franck gets away, he

The Sapphires is the Pick of the Week

Thanks, Technology, for making me interested in films like The Sapphires.
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Sometimes it pisses me off knowing that I'm gonna die before so much cool stuff is invented. Every day I am amazed at how many incredible things already exists and I know even more mind-boggling stuff is coming. The fact that I won't be around for all of it depresses me to no end. My mother used to joke about how we were so privileged as kids. Like many of her generation, she would tell me stories of how she had to walk ten miles to school (uphill both ways in the snow, of course) and she did her homework

Bus Stop (1956) Blu-ray Review: Marilyn Monroe Finally Goes to Acting School

The "too little, too late" spot on the route.
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Fifty-one years after her tragic death, Marilyn Monroe has managed to land a number of personas in the public eye. First, there's the Iconic Model Marilyn, whom we all know and love, if the numerous cutouts of her in various low-key '50s-themed diners across the country is testament to anything. Next, we have Naughty Marilyn: that which is attributed to her drug and alcohol abuse, as well as the many highly publicized and clandestine affairs she (often allegedly) had during her brief period on Earth - including several husbands, two Kennedys, and God know who else. Why heck, there's even

Dragons: Riders of Berk Part 1 and 2: More Vikings, More Dragons

Dragons: Riders of Berk continues from How To Train Your Dragon, with more Vikings and more Dragons.
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How To Train Your Dragon was a surprise, a CGI-animated action adventure story with humor and real heart coming from Dreamworks Animation, whose output tends towards the juvenilie (Madagascar) or the base and vulgar (the Shrek series). In the world of HTTYD, lead character Hiccup plays a viking out of step with his time and culture - while all the men of his village, Berk, are huge slabs of meat with face covering beards, he is spindly, thin and weak. The village is locked in a constant life and death struggle with dragon raids, which Hiccup tends to make worse

Prince Avalanche Movie Review: A Meditative Study of People

A quite, methodical exploration of man's ability to connect with each other.
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Director David Gordon Green has been hot or cold with the critics (and audiences the last few years). After creating breakout indies that garnered attention, Green turned to comedy with the stoner hit, Pineapple Express. After that it was back-to-back duds with Your Highness and The Sitter. Audiences were starting to wonder if Green’s past success was a fluke. Prince Avalanche is a return to the quiet, methodical independent spirit that Green started out with; and while it’s anchored by two distinctive performances by Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, its pace can start to feel incredibly sluggish. If you can

American Hustle (2013) Debuts Trailer

A first look at David O. Russell's American Hustle.
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American Hustle is David O. Russell's follow-up to his Academy Award Best Picture-nominee Silver Linings Playbook. The director re-teams with SLP actors Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro and Amy Adams and Christian Bale from The Fighter. All earned Oscar nominations for their work, with Bale and Lawrence bringing home the prize. The story finds FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) recruiting con artist Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his mistress/partner Sydney Prosser (Adams) in a fictionalized account of the ABSCAM operation, a public corruption investigation that resulted in "the conviction of a United States Senator, six members of the

Detective Inspector Irene Huss, Episodes 7-9 & 10-12 DVD Review: Cliched Plots, Excellent Execution

You could call it the Swedish "The Closer" if you wanted.
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In my recent review of Annika Bengtzon, I noted that there are many crime dramas able to push through the clichés of the genre and still create good television. With great writing and good characters, the plots can still be contrived and I'll still be riveted. Detective Inspector Irene Huss is one such show. Irene Huss (Angela Kovacs) is the lead detective for the Violent Crimes Unit in Gothenburg, Sweden. She has a curmudgeon-y old-man boss who cringes at her no-nonsense methods; a group of eclectic, wise-cracking police on her team; and a loving family at home. You could call

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