September 2013 Archives

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Season 8 DVD Review

"The day Charlie rules the world, I'll blow myself." - Dennis Reynolds
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Goodbye, Fat Mac. Hello, more hilarity. I always enjoy what the Gang is up to and Season 8 was no surprise, other than how much I would be laughing out loud. Frank, Dee, Dennis, Mac, and Charlie delivered again with the 10-episode Season 8, packed with all the quirks and backstabbing the Gang has to offer. This two-disc set comes with some extras that include bloopers/gag reel and commentary from the cast. I caught the first three episodes when they aired on TV, but uncensored is so much better, so when asked to review this season I was all about

Room 237 DVD Review: Shining a Light on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

Come play with them.
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Rodney Ascher's outstanding documentary Room 237 has come to home video, allowing viewers to comb over the film as the interview subjects did when they got their hands on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. In Room 237, we hear award-winning journalist Bill Blakemore, history professor Geoffrey Cocks, author and playwright Juli Kearns, musician John Fell Ryan, and author and filmmaker Jay Weidner make their case on what The Shining is about beyond Jack going crazy and trying to kill his family in the Overlook Hotel. Ascher and his team use The Shining, running the film forwards and backwards, pausing it on

Iron Man 3 Blu-ray Review: Would Make Tony Stark Proud

The story of the man and his iron mask.
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The Iron Man film franchise has been quite the success story, earning nearly $2.5 billion at the box office. That's a pretty impressive feat for what has traditionally been a second-tier comic book character. Marvel Studios hit a winning combination with Iron Man. While the film had great special effects and a better screenplay than most blockbusters, the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is what made director Jon Favreau's film such a critical and commercial success. Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 didn't receive the same amount of acclaim. Ron, echoing the sentiment of many, thinks it “fails miserably

3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman Criterion Collection DVD Review: The Definitive Journey

The definitive treatment of Rossellini's Journey Trilogy.
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When Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945) won the Grand Prize at Cannes in 1946, he was recognized as the de factor leader of the Italian Neorealism movement. His Paison (1946) and Germany, Year Zero (1948) completed his “War Trilogy,” and cemented his position. For his Italian countrymen, who were in the process of trying to come to terms with the aftermath of the Mussolini dictatorship of World War II, his unflinching eye for the real world was not what they wanted to see. In some respects, Rossellini himself felt this way, as is indicated by his statement that he

Metallica Hosts Through The Never Screenings

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With exclusive screenings of Metallica: Through The Never in IMAX 3D starting tonight before the film opens wide on October 4, the band is giving hundreds of their fans a great treat by introducing it at select theaters across the country. Band members, theaters, and times are as follows: Thursday, September 26, 2013 James Hetfield San Francisco, CA - AMC METREON @ 10 PM San Francisco, CA AMC EMERYVILLE @ 12:15 AM Lars Ulrich Los Angeles, CA - TCL CHINESE @ 10 PM Los Angeles, CA - AMC UNIVERSAL CITYWALK @ 12:15 AM Kirk Hammett Milwaukee, WI - AMC MAYFAIR

Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series DVD Review: Lots of Changes Make For a Less Than Steller Doctor

I liked the first half of Series 7 much more than the latter half.
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The seventh series of Doctor Who was unusual for several reasons. It was broken in half with the first part airing in the fall of 2012 and the second part not airing until the spring of 2013. We said goodbye to the Ponds and hello to Clara, who turned out to be the ongoing mystery of the second half of the series.. It was the final season for Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor. All of these changes took its toll on the series, making it not quite as good as many of the ones before it. While it is
Sergei Loznitsa's In the Fog is a compelling, careful drama about guilt and honour in the Nazi-occupied Soviet Union. Because the filmmaker refrains from making the 2012 picture a "war movie" by definition, the themes become more universal. And because the themes are more universal, In the Fog's power is seductive and masterful. Loznitsa's movie is based on a book by Vasil Bykov and takes into account the notion of proving one's innocence and holding fast to moral law. With the consistency of this parable's protagonist in mind, the director and his cinematographer Oleg Mutu crafted a "classical" visual style

ThanksKilling 3 DVD Review: What the Hell Did I Just Watch?

It's like a cross between Team America: World Police and Legend or The Neverending Story.
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When a friend asked what I thought of ThanksKilling 3, after unscrewing the puzzled look off my face, I said, "Well, I didn't NOT enjoy it." He jokingly said that's all the endorsement he needed. I suspect you, dear reader, will need more. Something happened between the original ThanksKilling and ThanksKilling 3. No, not a sequel, though the mythical "never-released" sequel is the McGuffin for this flick. The original movie was an extremely low budget (about $3500), campy, yet genuine attempt at a horror flick about a cursed zombie turkey summoned by a Native American shaman to punish the Pilgrims.

TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Pilot"

Contains the Whedonesque humor we've come to expect in his productions.
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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has now expanded into television with the debut of The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot episode written by Joss Whedon, who also directed; Jed Whedon; and Maurissa Tancharoen. Following the events of The Avengers movie (also written and directed by Joss) and because of them, the series opens with S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) organizing an elite team down to a manageable size of good-looking agents for no other reason than to make it easier to keep track of on a television series because there's no other reason S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn't use all of its

The League: The Complete Season Four DVD Review: A Bad Season For The Gang Makes For a Good Season For Viewers

Most fans will be pleasantly satisfied with the season's overall storyline.
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It’s that time of year again when gladiators of the gridiron strap on their armor and march boldly onto the field of battle to valiantly conquer their opponents and achieve ultimate victory. But that’s only for the small percentage of the male population. The other 99.9% play Fantasy Football. A game where such things as strength, speed, endurance, and even intelligence are not necessary skills needed to rise to the level of champion. A game where middle-aged men of all shapes and sizes can rise to exalted levels. While this may not sound like the most exciting of settings
Director Édouard Molinaro considered the making of his La Cage aux Folles as "utter hell," but it's hard not to adore the final results. Now available on Blu-ray thanks to Criterion Collection, this French comedy is a farce with heart and a social conscience. It is a film as funny and necessary today as it was when it came out in 1978. The movie was based on the play of the same name by Jean Poiret. The production ran on stage for nearly 1,800 performances between 1973 and 1978. Poiret is among the writers of Molinaro's film version, bringing his

Two and a Half Men: The Complete Tenth Season DVD Review: Getting Better

The second of the Kutcher Years is a marked improvement over the first.
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The fact that Two and a Half Men survived the firing of Charlie Sheen is nothing short of a miracle. It was so focused on him that it should have been called The Charlie Sheen Show. His infamous meltdown seemed like the end of the line for the series. Through no fault of his own, expectations were not high when it was announced that Ashton Kutcher would be hired for the ninth season. It was an interesting move, and while the situation was not great, the show did manage to hang on. I think long-time fans will agree that the

Doctor Who The Complete Seventh Series is the Pick of the Week

How could it not be?
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I watched Doctor Who periodically as a kid. It wasn't a show I loved, or made sure I was home to watch, but if it was on and nothing else was, I'd sit still for it. This was during the Tom Baker years and honestly I have very few memories of the show except for his long scarf and one episode that I caught late at night that spooked me enough to wake up my parents though I was probably 13 or 14 years old. I was late catching on to the new series as well. My wife used to

Adventure Time: Jake the Dad DVD Review: The Fun Hasn't Ended

The show continues to impress with its creativity in these 16 episodes.
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Coming in at just over three hours, the 16 episodes on Adventure Time: Jake the Dad, the fifth DVD volume not counting Complete Seasons, comes in at just over three hours and presents a random collection of episodes from the fourth season (six) and fifth season (10). The DVD also contains the special feature "Little Did You Know", a text gallery that provides info about Jake and Lady Rainicorn's five puppies, and a Collectible Jake Hat is part of the package. Some of the guest voices from these episodes include Kristen Schaal, Miguel Ferrer, Andy Milonakis, Jonathan Katz, and Brian

Winners of 65th Primetime Emmy Awards

How did the TV academy do?
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Last night, the Academy of Televison Arts and Sciences handed out Emmy Awards for outstanding achievement during the 2012-2013 season. The awards were spread out as no television series earned more than two and HBO's Behind the Candelabra won three. Modern Family went four for four, winning Best Comedy for every season it's been on the air. Breaking Bad won its first Best Drama award for the first half of its fifth season. How did the Academy voters do? Let us know in the comments below the list of winners. Comedy Supporting Actress: Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie Comedy Writing: Tina

The Earrings of Madame de ... Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Direction of Max Ophuls Dazzles Like a Diamond

The entire experience of film, presentation, and extras makes it worth having.
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Director Max Ophuls' penultimate film The Earrings of Madame de ... is a classic French '50s melodrama that rivals its Hollywood contemporaries. The film tells a tragic love story, loosely based on Louise Leveque de Vilmorin's novel. So loosely in fact she can be seen in the special features saying, “they bought the title but they didn't adapt the book.” Regardless of how accurate an adaptation it is, The Earrings of Madame de ... succeeds because of the acting of its leads, the impressive cinematography, and the wonderful production design, all under the marvelous guidance of Ophuls. Louise, a countess

The Devil's Backbone Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: One of Guillermo del Toro's Most Personal Films

A somewhat traditional ghost story that offers surprises.
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Guillermo del Toro is one of the most interesting directors currently making films because of his unique vision and style. His 2001 feature The Devil's Backbone is a somewhat traditional ghost story that offers surprises. Dr. Casares (Federico Luppi) and principal Carmen (Marisa Paredes) run an orphanage for the children of the republican militia during the Spanish Civil War. Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is their latest ward. He thinks he is visiting with his tutor and is shocked to be left behind as he is unaware that his father has been killed in battle. After Carlos is assigned to the bed

A Letter to Three Wives Blu-ray Review: A Bit of a Trifle, but an Enjoyable Trifle

A mildly clever conceit, a capable cast and sure-handed direction make A Letter to Three Wives a genial experience.
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The FilmA mildly clever conceit, a very capable cast and the sure-handed direction of Joseph L. Mankiewicz make A Letter to Three Wives a genial experience, even if the script, an adaptation of John Klempner’s Cosmopolitan Magazine novel, is neither all that trenchant in its depiction of marital strife or urgent in its narrative of possible domestic betrayal. The film doesn’t set out to be a trifle, but it kind of feels like one; only a handful of scenes in this crisscrossing flashback marathon possess that much staying power. Starring Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern and Linda Darnell as good friends
Many of television's heavy-hitters are filled with wrenching moments, whether "red weddings" or situations so presumably staggering that they set the entire TV-watching crowd ablaze. Sinbad, produced by Impossible Pictures and initially broadcast on Sky1 in the United Kingdom, is no such show. Yet its single season of a dozen episodes offers a sea of delights all its own, especially for the less fussy viewer. What winds up being the complete Sinbad is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. The Malta-filmed series brims with the sort of youthful cool that might prove annoying in other circumstances, but its diverse cast

The Odd Angry Shot (1979) Blu-ray Review: The Occasionally Aggressive Movie

Further proof Australia may, in fact, actually exist.
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While the various horrors in Southesast Asia were rarely ever touched upon by any significantly major movie studios during the Vietnam War itself - with many a World War II or Korean War flick made in order to passively "commentate" on the ongoing battles between countries - it wasn't until it was all said and done with that anyone really started to make movies about it. And make movies, they did. In the late '70s alone, moviegoers witnessed powerful tales of madness such as Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter - both of which were created by American filmmakers who

Slacker Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Formally Fascinating, Warmly Hilarious Film

Don't be so apathetic. Get this Blu-ray.
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The FilmRichard Linklater’s Slacker is a film that sounds like a doodle on paper, a fun little experiment from the burgeoning American independent cinema movement in the early ’90s, but the sophomore feature from one of modern film’s unsung chameleons is surprisingly robust, both stylistically and thematically. The concept sounds like the ultimate shaggy dog story — a series of vignettes about mostly twenty-something Austin residents, most of them overeducated and apathetic. The camera doesn’t stay with any one character much longer than five minutes, shifting to someone new when his or her path crosses with the previous focal point.

Homeland: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: Falling Short of Greatness

To be sure, Homeland: Season 2 is good television.
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The line between a great show and a really good one is a thin one. For me it is all about resonance - the ability of a show to stick with you long after it's gone. That and a show's ability to say something about the world outside of its fictional space. Shows like The Sopranos, The Wire' and The West Wing not only were immensely entertaining, but also shone a light on our own culture and who we are as a people. Really good shows can be very well made, and entertaining but fail in either their ability to

Revolution: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: The Revolution Is Televised

When the lights go out, it becomes a dangerous world.
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How does one describe a show as wild as Revolution? It is one of the most action-packed, science fiction programs I have ever seen. It is actually classified as a drama, not the dreaded “sci-fi,” but whatever they want to call it, I think it is great. I came late to the party, and did not see any episodes of Revolution when they were originally televised on NBC. Fortunately I had heard enough good things about it to watch the newly released Revolution: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray though. I came away a huge fan. The premise is strong.

Brainwave DVD Review: Interesting Lectures, but Missed Opportunity

Brainwave, a lecture series that pair an artist with a neuroscientist, is an intriguing, if rather random, DVD release.
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Brainwave is an annual lecture/conversation series that has been presented by the Rubin Museum of Art in New York since 2008. Each presentation pairs two thinkers from different walks of life - generally a creative with a scientist - and has them discuss some aspect of the brain and consciousness - happiness, fear, emotions, dreams - anything that goes on inside the mind. The general idea is to get two smart people who think in different ways to compare their notions in front of an audience. The Brainwave DVD release contains 10 of these presentations, each around an hour long,

The Bling Ring is the Pick of the Week

Sofia Coppola has proven herself to be a true auteur, a director with a clear and concise vision.
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Sofia Coppola has only directed five films in her entire career. I've only seen three of them, and I wasn't all that fond of The Virgin Suicides. And yet, I still consider her to be one of the more interesting directors making films today. This is largely based on how much I love Lost in Translation. It is a near perfect film for me. It is funny, sad, lyrical, poetic, moving, and wonderfully made. It contains both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson's best work. Coppola shows she learned a lot from her famous daddy and imbues the film with a

Hands of a Stranger (1962) DVD Review: Different Take, Same Ol' Story

The umpteenth film incarnation of "The Hands of Orlac" is a botched operation unto itself.
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From the opening shot of Hands of a Stranger, one gets the distinct impression that the director of this low-budget fiasco was intent on doing things differently. And, when you stop to consider that the inspiration of this horror flick - Maurice Renard's 1920 classic novel, Les Mains d'Orlac (The Hands of Orlac) had already been filmed at least sixty or seventy-thousand times prior in the 1930s alone, with another adaptation having been made only two short years before this mess premiered, you really can't blame the director for wanting to take a different approach to it all. Of course,

Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors DVD Review: A Classic

Frightening, hissing Martians break out of the ice.
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Whether you are a new fan of Doctor Who, or have been watching the show since its debut in November 1963, you are probably aware of the BBC’s notorious “wiping” policy, which erased a huge number of episodes. The majority of the episodes that were wiped were from the first years of the series, in the ‘60s. William Hartnell portrayed the First Doctor from 1963-1966, and Patrick Troughton was the Second Doctor from 1966-1969. Thanks to the amazing efforts of fans all over the world, a great deal of the missing episodes have been found, but not all of them.

Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka DVD Review: A Cartoon Doctor For the 40th Anniversary

A fascinating bit of Who history.
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In 1989 after 26 seasons, Doctor Who was cancelled. There continued to be various radio programs and novels, but the television series was effectively dead. In 1996, a television movie was produced by an American studio but the ratings were not good enough to turn it into a regular series again. The series was so dead that as the 40th anniversary of the program began to creep closer the BBC had no desire to celebrate the still-very-popular series. The Doctor Who website, at this time, was very popular and the managers of the site had previously created some very rudimentary

An American Hippie in Israel (1972) Blu-ray Review: The Rocky Hebrew Picture Show

A mind-warping lump of coal that has magically turned into gold.
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At first glance of the title, An American Hippie in Israel seems like some sort of joke. And indeed, it was - on the investors who shelled out the cash to produce this flick back in the early '70s. The film, known in its native land as Ha-Trempist (The Hitch Hiker), started out as a social commentary by one-time filmmaker Amos Sefer before being shelved completely on account of its complete lack of any aptitude whatsoever. That, however, did not stop the film from becoming something of a popular item in Israel - much like The Rocky Horror Picture Show's

Autumn Sonata Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Utterly Sad and Nearly Perfect

A wonderful portrayal of these characters and of life.
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Our monthly Foreign Film Night is typically very sparsely attended. This is not unexpected as one cannot plan for a lot of people in small-town West Tennessee to come to a showing of a very old, expressionist German film about a child murderer, or b-grade Norwegian ninja flick. I think about it a lot though, and how we might get more attendees. One problem is that I think when most Americans think of foreign cinema they think of European art-house fare, which is to say they think the films are difficult, intellectual, arty, and incomprehensible. That isn't fair, of course

Hands of the Ripper (1971) Blu-ray Review: Jack the Ripper's Bastard Daughter Goes Psycho!

Never mind her hands - take a look at those perky l'il boobies!
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Oh, it never fails, does it? You grow up in squalor, the young teenaged ward of a nefarious phony séance mistress who frequently lends your nubile assets to the demands of oversexed men of parliament. Worse still - and somewhat unbeknownst to you, at that - you turn out to be the orphaned child of the one and only Jack the Ripper, who murdered your mother before your very eyes the night he disappeared off the face of the Earth once and for all; an act that has, as that already bad twist of luck would have it, resulted in

Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk DVD Review: Love Will Tear Logan Apart

Ultimately it comes down to what was the writer's intention.
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The six-issue miniseries Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk by writer Damon Lindelof and artist Leinil Francis Yu has been given the motion-comic treatment under the Marvel Knights Animation banner. Although very familiar with the characters and stories of Marvel Comics from the 1960s to the early ‘80s, I couldn't tell you what's been going on since. This is my second encounter with the Ultimate Marvel Universe and the first with these versions of the titular characters. Suffice it to say, I was a little more than surprised when the first episode opened to reveal Wolverine literally ripped apart in two. His

Contest: Leverage: The 5th Season on DVD

Enter for your chance to win the final season.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win Leverage: The 5th Season on DVD. Luigi Bastardo called Leverage "the modern-day spin on the classic espionage series Mission: Impossible" in his review of the 4th Season. As described in the press release, the TNT drama "focuses on a team led by former insurance investigator turned thief, Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton). Together, they try to level the playing field for people whose lives have been destroyed by the rich and powerful. In the final season, the team will be forced

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season DVD Review: The End of the Line

The final episodes-only set of Rod Serling's classic series is now out on DVD.
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The fifth and final season of The Twilight Zone aired during the 1963-1964 season, almost exactly 50 years ago. I suppose as we work our way through the teen-years of the 21st century, we will get to plenty of 50-year anniversaries. We are a couple of months away from the one for Doctor Who, and I can’t wait for the upcoming refrains of “It was 50 years ago today,” in 2017 to celebrate the release of Sgt. Pepper. Baby Boomer nostalgia or not though, 50 years is a very long time, and it certainly puts things into perspective. Some things

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: For Those Who Enjoy Good Storytelling

The performances are top notch and the characters being created are worth watching.
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After an amazing first season in which the landscape of horror, gore, and to an extent, drama, on television changed, the dead kept walking, but the series got bogged down. Finding a place to hold up in Season Two did not serve the series well, as the farm kept to the cast of characters, and the stories were too safe. There was optimism at the end of Season Two as the farm fell and our heroes were on the run again. Unfortunately, they would trade in the farm for a prison in Season Three, and once again, only the dead

Frankenstein's Army Blu-ray Review: For the Folks Back Home in Russia

It is an innovative picture and an entertaining one.
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In Richard Raaphorst's entertaining Frankenstein's Army, history is a fluid thing. Applying traditional logic, or perhaps what Alfred Hitchcock would call “moronic logic,” is a fool's errand and this 2013 flick makes no attempts at being realistic. What it does do is attempt to splice classic monster and mad scientist material with more modern, “found footage” horror. Sometimes this gory stew is highly effective, while other moments require characters to lug cameras places where they aren't the least bit useful. The good news is that Raaphorst convinces the audience to scarcely notice the difference. The tale opens with World War

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Sixth Season DVD Review: Best Sitcom Since Seinfeld

The sixth season of funniest sitcom on TV has just been released.
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Is The Big Bang Theory the funniest show on network TV? It is to me, and apparently to a whole lot of other people as well. The 2012-2013 season was the show’s sixth, and was the highest-rated sitcom in America. The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Sixth Season has just been released as a three-DVD set from Warner Home Video. It contains all 24 episodes of the season, plus some very cool bonus features. Season Six picks up right where Season Five left off. In the final episode of the fifth season, Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and his fiancee Bernadette

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Masterfully Acted and Presented

Martin Ritt's adaptation of this classic spy novel is a gritty view of Cold War-era spy life.
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The 1960s Cold War era proved a fertile time for the spy movie genre. James Bond offered a glamorous, high-tech version of events, with exciting locales and beautiful women. The spy game is not always glamorous, however, and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold represents the seedy underbelly of this dangerous practice. Based on the John le Carré novel of the same name, Martin Ritt’s gritty movie adaptation is getting the Blu-ray treatment, courtesy of The Criterion Collection. The movie tells the tale of Alec Leamas (Richard Burton), an aging British spy in charge of British intelligence in

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review: High Expectations Result in Unsatisfying Season

The writers once again show that nobody is safe.
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The end of Season Two left high expectations for what was to come in the third season of the highly popular, zombie apocalypse television series. Not only was there a glimpse of the prison, which caused fans of the comic book series the show is based on to salivate in anticipation, but it also introduced the character of Michonne (Danai Gurira), who is one of the most bad-ass characters in comic history. Along with these two events, The Governor (David Morrissey), Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln ) biggest enemy, had been cast for Season Three, leaving many wondering if it was even

Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray Review: The Wrath of Fans

A step down from the first entry, but not without its charms - until the final act.
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Remember how in the original Star Trek film series the even-numbered movies were the best? Apparently the current revisionist Abramsverse has flipped the script on that old adage, as this second entry is a step down from the superior first film. Some bitter fans have recently taken to calling this the worst Trek film of all time, which is complete rubbish when comparing it to clear winner Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, or even the last Next Generation film if you want to bring them into play. No, this isn’t an entirely bad film, it just falls into the

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction Review: Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction isn't that meaty, but there is enough to keep the audience's interest most of the time.
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Harry Dean Stanton is a legendary character actor. If you watch movies with any regularity, you've seen him, and you can probably recognize him, even if you can't place the name. If you are fortunate enough to have seen Repo Man, you have definitely seen him. He's had a long, successful career, and a long, busy life. He just turned 87, and he's showing his age, and the weathering of a life of age and drinking, and so somebody decided it was the time to do a documentary on him. That movie is Sophia Huber's Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction.

Sample This Movie Review: How One Song Sparked a Music Revolution

The documentary tells how an obscure song spurred the creation of hip hop.
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Can a documentary about a song by an obscure band sustain interest for 85 minutes? Surprisingly yes, as proven by the new film Sample This, which chronicles how “Apache” by the Incredible Bongo Band became a cornerstone in the creation of hip hop. While not a hit, the track was rediscovered by early 1970s DJ Kool Herc; by remixing it and playing it at New York street parties, he inspired a generation of emerging artists to sample it for their own tunes. The story centers on Michael Viner, an unknown music producer who found himself overseeing the music for the

Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection is the Pick of the Week

Now and again, I like to throw on some goofy slasher flicks and relive memories through hundreds of pointless, over-the-top violence.
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I grew up in the late '80s/early '90s and slasher flicks informed my early film life. Sort-of. My parents wouldn't let me go see those movies in the theater and with few exceptions they wouldn't let me rent them either. But thanks to the USA Network and there tendency to show bad horror movies on Friday and Saturday night (and there was always a Friday the 13th marathon any weekend that included that unlucky number) I got to see lots of Freddie, Jason, Mike Meyers, and the rest. At least in edited form. A great deal of that early love

Cavalcade (1933) Blu-ray Review: An Important Film from the Early Days

Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Old film finds new audience.
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For the past year, I've been on a kick to discover and rediscover films of the 1920s and 1930s. I've been seeking out films that are award winning and star notable actors and made by notable directors. I've been aided slightly by Netflix and helped greatly by feature nights on TCM. The release of films from this era on DVD and Blu-ray is more rare. The release of Cavalcade by 20th Century Fox brings a 1933 film to home video that won three Academy Awards. I set down to review the film as compared to films of its day and
After reviewing the nigh unwatchable War of the Dead, you'd think me a fool to want to watch another World War II movie where a small squad of soldiers faces off with a zombie horde, right? Richard Raaphorst's Frankenstein's Army taps a legendary literary character and the trailer is teeming with creative creature designs, but was it enough to make it tolerable? There are a few things this flick does better than others of its ilk. The found-footage style in which it's filmed lends a claustrophobic feel to the events, never quite giving you the view you want of the

Contest: Haven: The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray

Enter the Haven contest to alleviate your Troubles.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with Entertainment One to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win Haven: The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray. As reviewed by our own Kent Conrad, the Syfy channel television series "nominally based on Stephen King's The Colorado Kid...is about former FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), who finds herself in the little Maine town of Haven, investigating a regularly recurring series of strange events in town, known as The Troubles." Specific to the third season, he went on to write that "along with the Trouble-of-the-Week storylines that make up the bulk of the series

The Best and Worst of Summer 2013

Three writers give a postmortem on the Summer of 2013.
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Although summer officially ends on September 21, for movie fans, summer ends Labor Day. Hollywood blockbusters fade from the multiplex screens and the focus turns towards more serious fare that will be competing for year-end awards. But before moving, we here at Cinema Sentries, along with some friends, wanted to take a moment and look back at the highlights and disappointments from the summer. Gordon S. Miller's Picks If it hadn't debuted in April and missed our arbitrary starting point by a week, Jeff Nichols' Mud would have gone wire to wire. It'll certainly be on my year-end list. By

Me and My Gal DVD Review: A Pre-Code Delight from Raoul Walsh

The film is fantastic; the disc? Well, let's be grateful for what we got, I guess.
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Oh boy, it’s another mixed blessing from the burn-on-demand department, that simultaneous lifter and dasher of cinephile hopes and dreams. I suppose we should be glad Raoul Walsh’s delightful little pre-code cracker Me and My Gal has finally received a DVD(-R) release courtesy of the folks at Fox Cinema Archives, but you can go ahead and add this to the pile of films that deserve a whole lot better than a burned disc and a middling, dusty old transfer. The ever-versatile Walsh would go on to make some of the most accomplished gangster films ever in The Roaring Twenties and

The Beatles' Former Secretary and President of Their Fan Club Tells Her Story in Good Ol' Freda

The good-hearted documentary tells the story the Beatles from the perspective of a true fan and onetime employee.
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Those who think that the onslaught of books and films constantly arriving on the market have told the Beatles’ complete story--think again. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and pure perseverance, the eagerly awaited Good Ol’ Freda presents another side of the Beatles’ story: that from the perspective of manager Brian Epstein’s assistant and president of the Official Beatles Fan Club. Freda Kelly, a charming and very private woman, lifts the curtain to allow fans a peek at life inside the group’s inner circle. At the same time, she refuses to violate the members’ privacy and remains steadfastly loyal to her

The Frozen Dead (1966) DVD Review: Pre-Hip Unhip Nazi Zombies

Triumph of the shrill.
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Throughout the annals of filmdom, there has been an trait wherein filmmakers aspire to live up to the old adage "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" the only way they know how: by downright copying someone else's work. Usually, the culprits are lazy American filmmakers, who commonly tend to (ahem) "borrow" the titles, plots, and sometimes even directors of movies made in magical, far-off lands such as France, Australia, and a mythical realm called England. The results are usually laughable at best, yes - but what happens when, say the British, hire an American-born director to write, produce, and

American Guerrilla in the Philippines DVD Review: An Interesting Detour

Fritz Lang cheers for America.
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By 1950, it appears that Fritz Lang had gone from being one of the most innovative and daring directors in the world, to becoming a real Yankee Doodle Dandy. At least that is my take after viewing his American Guerrilla in the Philippines (1950). The film has just been released to DVD as part of the Fox Cinema Archives, and while it is pretty good for what it is, I found it hard to believe that it was actually directed by Lang. This only thing missing from this jingoistic romp is Ronald Reagan. Tyrone Power stars as Ensign Chuck Palmer,

My Father and the Man in Black Movie Review: Beautifully Moving

A reluctant son's story about his father whose life was eclipsed by a legend.
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My Father and the Man in Black is the beautifully moving documentary by Jonathan Holiff about his father Saul Holiff. Saul was not just Jonathan's father, but also Johnny Cash's manager and friend for many years. Jonathan grew up with the idea that Saul had not wanted to be a father and that he had chosen Cash over him, his brother Joshua, and his mother Barbara. In Jonathan's later life, he followed in his father's show-business footsteps by becoming a talent agent to some of Hollywood's most well-known names. For most of his adult life and up until Saul's death,

Haven: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: Supernatural TV Series Dives into Some Pitfalls

Haven Season 3 continues the supernatural series with a mixed-bag of episodes, some good, some real dogs.
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There are two major pitfalls that supernaturally themed TV shows can easily fall into. First, since these shows have to walk a narrow path between the familiar and the extraordinary, it can be all too easy to have stories that, however well intentioned and honed, are just kind of silly. The other major pitfall is that, as the number of stories expands, the universe of possibility has to expand, as well - and that can lead to mythology bloat, where the supernatural world is so overloaded with nuances and histories and backstories that watching the show becomes impossible without eidetic

Blandings Series 1 DVD Review: The Great Wodehouse (Somewhat) Well Adapted

Blandings, adapted from the stories by P.G. Wodehouse, wonderfully performed, but deviates somewhat from Woderhouse's innocent spirit.
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P. G. Wodehouse, an incredibly prolific British humorist (writing nearly 100 books, and many plays, movies and short stories) was one of the greatest prose writers of his or any other century. Hardly a paragraph goes past without some witticism, some pithy, beautifully made remark that turns a phrase in a direction it hasn't gone before, often with humorous results. No words ever wasted, no dialogue indistinct or bland. And he spent all that wonderful talent writing light comedies about the misadventures of the British aristocratic class. His work is not trenchant satire. No one's ox is really being gored,

Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man (Director's Cut Special Edition) DVD Review: A Must for Fans

The fascinating life story of the Twilight Zone master.
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Charles Beaumont (1929-1967) is credited with writing 22 episodes of the original Twilight Zone (1959-1964). That number is only about a quarter of creator Rod Serling’s 92 episodes, and while it may sound a bit outlandish to say, I contend that Beaumont was the best writer of the series. There is a brilliance to stories such as “Dead Man’s Shoes,“ “Valley of the Shadow,“ and “Printer’s Devil” that is truly magic. As it turns out, I am not the only one who feels this way. Comments to that effect are made throughout Jason V. Brock’s Charles Beaumont: The Short Life

Five Dolls For an August Moon is the Pick of the Week

Whatever the reason, there is a ton of stuff coming out for lovers of all things boob tube.
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It is a weird week for releases. There is a ton of television coming out - both old and new plus several boxed sets of previously released seasons, but very little in the way of interesting films coming out. I've pondered in these pages numerous times before how they decide on what to release and when, and I'm doing it again. Was it purposeful that we have so many television sets out this week and so few big movie releases? It makes perfect sense to release the previous seasons set just before the new season airs on television. Likewise, I

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