November 2013 Archives

Fathom Events Presents Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor

The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebration hits the silver screen.
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I’ve been to a few of these Fathom Events before and so I’ve come to know what to expect. The ones I’ve experienced involved television shows and before the presentation starts the movie screen shows interesting trivia questions to get the audience in the mood for what is about to come. My favorite was that in North America alone more than 1,000 sonic screwdrivers are sold daily. And then there’s also some kind of featurette that involves the making of the episode with interviews of cast and crew. This one was entitled “The Day of The Doctor: Behind The Lens,”

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

I’m hoping that the show has finally started to find its rhythm.
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Todd Karella writes... In this week’s episode, we find the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents conducting an Index, Asset Evaluation, and Intake Process on Hannah Hutchins (Laura Seay), a woman who has been exposed to unknown amounts of radiation as a particle-accelerator program she was heading exploded, killing four workers and may have given her hidden telekinetic powers. The town’s people blame her for the accident, and when strange things start happening, such as gas stations exploding and uninhabited cars start trying to run over people, the agents try to evaluate and explain to Hannah she has developed powers. But of course, their

2014 Spirit Award Nominees Announced

The 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards nominees are...
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Earlier this week, Film Independent announced the nominations for the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards, which recognized 45 films. “The nominations this year are from such an amazing pool of talented film artists,” said Josh Welsh, President of Film Independent. “Their work demonstrates the deep originality and uniqueness of vision that are at the heart of independent film. At Film Independent, we work all year round to promote that spirit, and the nominees celebrated here today are tremendous ambassadors for their crafts, both in front of and behind the camera.” Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, distributed by Fox Searchlight

The Paradise: Series One DVD Review: Love, Silk and the Big Sell

A good-looking and sharp television series that features plenty of entanglements and goings-on.
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An adaption of Émile Zola's novel Au Bonheur des Dames, this BBC television series is a sumptuous and sensual look at the first English department store. The Paradise is the creation of Bill Gallagher and has a total of two series’ under its belt thus far, with the first series now available on DVD thanks to the BBC. There are eight episodes in the first season, each one running about an hour in length. Initially airing in the United Kingdom on BBC One in September of 2012, the series recently had its debut on PBS in the United States in

In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey DVD Review: Straightforward Look at Oddball Musician

In Search of Blind Joe Death is a captivating look at the life and works of genuine musical misfit John Fahey.
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Nothing is obscure anymore - or nothing can remain obscure. Internet information proliferation flattens structures. Getting information on John Fahey is just as easy as getting information on John Lennon, or Elton John, or thousands of other musicians who sold orders of magnitude more records. Wikipedia has an extensive article on all of them, with no secret handshakes or special backrooms to go to. Obscure isn't obscure anymore, or at least it cannot remain so for long. That this is a recent thing in culture is one of the points brought home by the excellent new documentary In Search of

All the President's Men Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray Review: The Unmaking of the President

An important movie about an important time in United States history
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Alan J. Pakula's All the President's Men tells the story of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) investigation of the Watergate scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. This latest Blu-ray release differs from past versions with the inclusion of the all-new documentary All the President's Men Revisited, produced by Redford's Sundance Productions. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name and ripped from the headlines of four years prior, the film begins with failed burgulary of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters. Still considered the new guy

Breaking Bad: The Complete Series is the Pick of the Week

A pick to be thankful for.
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Who knew a show about an average, normal guy turned very, very bad (or as show creator/runner Vince Gilligan used to say Mr. Chips becoming Scarface) could be so popular, culturally significant, and so very, very good? On paper, a television show about a regular, boring chemistry teacher slowly becoming the biggest, baddest meth dealer in the Southwest sounds like a long shot. Two decades ago, it would have been laughed out of the drawing board. But in this new era of television, one ripe with anti-heroes like Tony Soprano and Don Draper, a show like Breaking Bad can not

The Mod Squad: The Complete Collection Review (Sampler): One Black, One White, and One Blonde

All 124 episodes of The Mod Squad have just been released in a massive box set from VEI.
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If you are looking for something for the classic-TV enthusiast this holiday season, the people at Visual Entertainment have you covered. Their new box-set The Mod Squad: The Complete Collection contains all 124 episodes of the series, which aired on the ABC Network from 1968-1973. To quote from the press release, the Mod Squad were "The Grooviest Gang of Fuzz Who Ever Wore a Badge." The Mod Squad was a groundbreaking series. The premise is that the police need help in solving crimes in the hippie world, so they got themselves some real hippies to get into "scenes" they could

The Twilight Zone: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Rod Serling Creates a TV Landmark

A journey into a wondrous land of outstanding television.
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After releasing seasons two through five on DVD, Image Entertainment has just released an episode-only edition of The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series. Greg Barbrick reviewed The Complete Third Season, The Complete Fourth Season, and The Complete Fifth Season for Cinema Sentries, and now that Image has obtained it, we have the opportunity to review The Complete First Season, which presents all 36 episodes on a five-disc set. Rod Serling had a major breakthrough as a television writer with Patterns in 1955 and followed up the following year with Requiem for a Heavyweight. Frustration from censorship battles led Serling to

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

All's not well in "The Well."
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Gordon Miller writes... “The Well” finds the team in London cleaning up after some battle that took place during Thor: The Dark World. I didn't get out to see the film and don't think it was required after watching the episode. Elsewhere, two hikers, who we later discover are members of a Norse Pagan hate group, cut down a tree in a Norwegian park and find within it a silver staff, actually one of three parts as we later discover. When the female hiker touches it, the staff glows red and she receives great strength. It's an Asgardian weapon and

The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment Blu-ray Review: Absolutely Worth Watching

A comprehensive catalogue of counterfeit combat.
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This year, World Wrestling Entertainment reaches the half-century mark and celebrates in pretty much exactly the same fashion my family did when we honored our parents 50th wedding anniversary: with a documentary. But where our version consisted of an elegantly 45-minute video montage of old photographs set to old pop songs that my niece whipped up over the course of a weekend, the WWE has chosen to go a slightly more extensive route and has released a two-disc Blu-ray set complete with a two-hour documentary chronicling the rich history of this global entertainment phenomenon and a handful of important matches
As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Doctor Who, BBC America has been airing a series of monthly specials entitled The Doctors Revisited, each dedicated to one of the eleven incarnations of the character and the series during his tenure. They serve as good introductions to the different Doctors, although those already familiar with them may find the special too brief. In conjunction with the specials, a classic serial would follow. The Doctors Revisited: Fifth to Eighth is a four-disc DVD set that collects the programming devoted to the Fifth (Peter Davison), Sixth (Colin Baker), Seventh (Sylvester McCoy), and

Morrissey 25 Live Blu-ray Review: November Spawned a Monster of a Blu-ray

You're the one for me, fatty.
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OK, it actually came out in late October, but I just watched it and the tagline was too tempting to pass up. Commemorating the first 25 years of his solo career, Morrissey’s new concert Blu-ray serves as a vivid reminder of the towering body of work he has produced. Rather than utilizing a typical arena venue, the concert was filmed in the intimate 1900-seat auditorium of Hollywood High School, an unlikely and inspired choice that adds a visceral energy to the set. Unfortunately, the show gets off to a tepid start with “Alma Matters” and “Ouija Board, Ouija Board”, eliciting

The Snow Queen (2005) DVD Review: Make Believe Gets an Enchanting Makeover

This condensed cinematic version of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale illustrates how the warmth of love can overcome the icy oppressiveness of poverty and anger.
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The Snow Queen, BBC’s brief but visually and sonically hypnotic TV-movie adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale of the same name, is a testament to the way music, cinematography, and art direction can provide 99 percent of a film’s momentum when married thoughtfully and executed inventively. With no discredit to the cast, including Patrick Stewart as the voice of the raven, and Juliet Stevenson (Bend It Like Beckham, The Hour, Atlantis), it is the enchanting melodies and visuals that breathe magic into this experiment composer and executive producer Paul K. Joyce calls a “filmic opera.” Directed by Julian

The Day Kennedy Died DVD Review: One of the Darkest Days in History

This powerful documentary uses little known sources to examine the day JFK was assassinated.
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There are a few days in American history when the world just seemed to stop. November 22, 1963 is one of those days. The assassination of John F. Kennedy has been studied in just about every possible way over the past 50 years, and in some quarters at least, questions still linger. Ever since the Oliver Stone film JFK (1991), it seems that most programs about the assassination focus on the many conspiracy theories surrounding it. This is not the case with the new Smithsonian Channel documentary The Day Kennedy Died (2013) though. The 90-minute program has no ideological axe

Doctor Who: The Terror of the Zygons DVD Review: The Doctor and the Loch Ness Monster

A straight-up classic Tom Baker-era Who.
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Like a lot of Americans of a certain age - that is to say old enough to remember Doctor Who before the modern series - Tom Baker is my Doctor. From my understanding, the show didn’t really air in America until Baker’s run in the late '70s. His incarnation as the Fourth Doctor was certainly the one that got the most mileage in reruns being shown over and over again on PBS. In fact, it wasn’t until I started watching the modern series that I realized there were other Doctors besides him. As such, he is my favorite of the

Sanguivorous DVD Review: Super-Arty Asian Vampires

Sanguivorous is a horror film more interested in abstract visuals than narrative, or scares.
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At 56 minutes, Sanguivorous has a quality rare in experimental/avant garde cinema - it knows if it isn't going to give a traditional film-going experience, it can't afford to outwear its welcome. Still, it comes close. Its story is told in an abstract fashion, in that avant-garde way that keeps the audience at a distance. Sometimes scenes follow logically, sometimes the images carry the emotional weight of the story while having no discernible narrative content. Sometimes it is silent, with title cards, sometimes there is production sound and dialog (which makes the advertising claims that this is a "silent movie"

Contest: 2 Guns on Blu-ray

Bring home the movie and a cup.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with Universal Home Entertainment to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win 2 Guns on Blu-ray and a red Solo cup. In her review, Kristen Lopez reveals, "Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) is an undercover DEA agent, while Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) is undercover naval intelligence. Neither one knows the other’s true identity, but they end up pairing together to rob a prominent drug dealer (Edward James Olmos). When money goes missing, and the men are being hunted down, Bobby and Stig will have to band together to stay alive." There are three ways to

MOMO: The Sam Giancana Story DVD Review: Rat Pack Gangster

The story of one of the most fascinating gangsters of the 20th Century.
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Sam “Momo” Giancana (1908-1975) was one of the most fascinating gangsters of the 20th century. He has been the subject of numerous documentaries, the most recent of which is MOMO: The Sam Giancana Story (2013). In this film, Giancana’s life is traced from his rough childhood to his involvement with the Kennedy administration and beyond. As boss of the Chicago Outfit, Giancana was a major figure in the underworld, but that was not enough. He also became something of a celebrity, and his high-profile lifestyle was one of the reasons he was killed. Giancana’s childhood is described as rather brutal.

Turbo Blu-ray Review: The Fast and the Cautious

Plucky little snail makes for a winning tale of hope and brotherly love.
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An unusual thing happened in the world of feature film animation this year: DreamWorks didn’t release any sequels. The home of Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda has long been derided as a sequel factory, making their full focus on original projects this year a welcome change of pace. While The Croods ended up becoming a box-office success early this year, DreamWorks hit a rough patch with Turbo this summer, with the speedy little snail seemingly getting lost in the busy seasonal release schedule. Now that the film is available for home consumption, it's time for the general public to

Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection DVD Review

Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection showcases one of the "buried gems" of early TV variety shows.
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After Ernie Kovacs’ untimely death in a car crash in 1962, his widow, actress/singer Edie Adams, devoted herself to preserving his legacy - and tying up some loose ends Saddled with Kovacs’ unpaid tax bill, she set out to work to pay the IRS and ended up building an entertainment and business empire of her own. Her variety show, Here’s Edie (the name was changed to The Edie Adams Show for the second season) ran from April 1962 to March 1964, alternating with the Sid Caesar Show Thursdays on ABC. MVD Visuals four DVD Set, Here’s Edie: The Edie Adams

Poirot Series 9 Blu-ray Review: Well-made Mysteries

A pretty grand thing when you get down to it.
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Agatha Christie was as prolific a writer as she was popular. According to Guinness, she is the best-selling novelist of all time. She has sold some four billion novels and her works have been translated into at least 103 languages. At her death, she had written 66 mystery novels, six romance novels (under the pen name Mary Westmacott), 153 short stories, 22 plays/radio plays/teleplays, and a handful of other works. Hercule Poirot is, perhaps, her most famous and long-lived characters, and possibly her best. She wrote 33 novels featuring the Belgian detective and more than 50 short stories. He has

Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet DVD Review: It's Far From Being Over

The first transformation of the Doctor and first appearance of the Cybermen make this a very significant serial.
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There have been many milestones in the 50-year history of Doctor Who, but there may be none more significant than what happens at the end of The Tenth Planet. With the words “It’s far from being all over!” the First Doctor (William Hartnell) goes inside the TARDIS and is transformed into the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton). This happens right before our very eyes, so there is no question as to what has happened. It was one of the boldest moments a television show has ever made, and with it, Doctor Who could theoretically go on forever. Low ratings may have

The World's End is the Pick of the Week

To say that when it came out on DVD it would be my Pick of the Week would be putting it exactly.
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The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy is not so much a trilogy as it is three films made by the same people with the loose theme of satirizing a very specific genre. In fact, the entire trilogy is named after a joke. Cornetto’s are a type of ice cream snack in England and after characters ate some in both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz an interviewer pointed out the connection and director Edgar Wright joked that it would be a trilogy in the vein of Krystof Kieslowki’s Three Colours Trilogy (with a different colored Cornetto representing different themes in

Book Review: The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew Robinson, and Kyle Baker

The graphic novel attempts to tell the story of the Beatles' manager--with mixed results.
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This holiday season has seen an astonishing number of Beatles-related books and CDs, some tying in with the upcoming 50th anniversary of the group’s first visit to America. One figure that remains a mystery, however, is the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein. Through the years he has emerged as a tragic figure, a drug-addicted man tortured by his homosexuality (in the 1960s, homosexuality was illegal in Britain), hopelessly in love with the unattainable John Lennon, and a good-intentioned but ultimately naive businessman. The graphic novel The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story attempts to reveal his life through a cinematic technique—not

The Secret of Crickley Hall DVD Review: Two Interesting Stories Marred by Their Own Connections

It's good, but not nearly good enough.
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There is something about ghosts, and ghost stories that I just can’t buy into. I have no problem with other supernatural beings. I’m cool with demons and vampires, werewolves and zombies. I love me some creature features. But for some reason I can only rarely suspend my disbelief for ghosts and spirits. One might think that ghosts would be easier to accept than the others as many people across the world believe in their actual existence and they are not far from the spirits that religions of all types believe are real. Perhaps this is the reason I find fiction

The Doctor Prepares for War in "The Night of the Doctor"

This prequel offers an important bit of Who history.
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Debuting online on November 14, 2013, the mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor" revealed the origins of the Doctor played by John Hurt, who first appeared in "The Name of the Doctor," the final episode of the seventh series, and is now identified in the credits of "Night" as the War Doctor. Watch it below before reading any further: First off, it's wonderful to see the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) return for the 50th Anniversary celebration since he never got a fair shot at playing the character due to the poor reception the FOX TV-movie received. And to do so

Tales of the City: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD Review: Wild Times in San Francisco

Hedonism and intrigues abound in San Francisco during the final three months of 1976.
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The six-part mini-series Tales of the City (1993) boasts an all-star cast, including the city of San Francisco itself. The year is 1976, and young Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) has just moved to the city from the Midwest. She takes a room at 28 Barbary Lane, a boarding house run by a mysterious older woman named Mrs. Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis), and her life becomes more interesting than she could have imagined. In fact, all of the tenants at 28 Barbary Lane will lead very intriguing lives over the three-month period depicted in Tales of the City. The series

AMPAS Honors Angelina Jolie, Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin, and Piero Tosi at 2013 Governors Awards

Watch last night's Governors Awards ceremony.
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Last night, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held its 5th Annual Governors Awards at the Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood, CA. “The Governors Awards pay tribute to individuals who’ve made indelible contributions in their respective fields,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We couldn’t be more excited for this year’s honorees and look forward to bringing their peers and colleagues together to celebrate their extraordinary achievements.” Honorary Awards are intended “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to

The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) DVD Review: Let's Give the Boy a Hand

An oft-neglected horror classic makes its digital debut courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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As DVD quickly started to become the norm in the late '90s, many a classic horror film was brushed off and cleaned up so that its parent company could market yet another fan favorite in the then-new digital medium. To date, we've seen every notable thriller starring the likes of Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney Jr. released on disc - but there was one noticeable entry from the filmography of one Peter Lorre that has always eluded us. Until now, that is. Penned by frequent Universal Horror scribe Curt Siodmak, the 1946 Warner Brothers chiller The

AFI Fest 2013 Review: Her: O.S. I Love You

An authentic, insightful story about connections and relationships
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Although set in a future version of Los Angeles, Spike Jonze's Her is a tale for all time because of how honestly and accurately it portrays love and relationships. When Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is introduced, he is shown expressing his feeling to a loved one. It is quickly revealed that he is working, dictating a letter for a woman who uses his company's services and is apparently too busy or incapable of expressing herself. Theodore, who is separated from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), is similarly withdrawn and like many of this era use technology to distract and fulfill

Contest: The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas with Carol on DVD

Celebrate the holidays with Carol.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with StarVista Entertainment to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas with Carol on DVD. The DVD contains two Christmas-themed episodes from 1974 and 1977. The 1974 episode features a Family sketch and guest star Alan Alda while the 1977 episode features Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins and guest stars Ken Berry and Helen Reddy. Bonus sketches include Sid Caeser and Jonathan Winters. There are three ways to enter the contest, which is only open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada. For your first entry, follow us

Contest: CeeLo Green is Loberace: Live in Vegas on Blu-ray

See Ceelo for yourself.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with Eagle Rock Entertainment to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win CeeLo Green is Loberace: Live in Vegas on Blu-ray. Recorded at Planet Hollywood in a performance created especially for Las Vegas, the setlist features many of CeeLo's hit tracks including “Crazy,” “Forget You,” “Ladykiller,” “Smiley Faces,” and “Bright Lights, Bigger City.” For longtime fans it includes an appearance by the Goodie Mob and the Showbiz Pizza gang. There are three ways to enter the contest, which is only open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada. For your first entry, follow

CeeLo Green is Loberace: Live in Vegas Blu-ray Review

Skip Loberace and just watch Liberace.
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Oh, Ceelo. I had such high hopes when your disc arrived in the mail. I am a fan of the Goodie Mob, Gnarls Barkley, and your zany ways on The Voice. (Your assortment of different pets is just amazing). I don't know if something was lost in translation from the Las Vegas stage to the screen in my living room, but this show just fell flat. While I appreciate an homage to Liberace, or Lee as many of his fans refer to him, your choice of songs and acts felt like a rehash of old Vegas acts for an audience

Silk: Series One DVD Review: A Capable British Courtroom Drama

A compact procedural that draws on the sorts of moral quandaries barristers find themselves in as part of the job.
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British screenwriter Peter Moffat is no stranger to the legal system in his home and native land. A former barrister, he has created three television shows centred on the legal system: North Square, Criminal Justice and Silk. The latter, which commenced in February of 2011 and is now in its third series, has made its way to DVD thanks to the BBC. The two-disc set features all six episodes from Series One and a behind-the-scenes bonus feature. Silk stars Maxine Peake as Martha Costello, a defence barrister hoping to gain the rank of Queen’s Counsel - a notion known as

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

What's all the hubbub about "The Hub", bub?
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Todd Karella writes... After tracking down Agent Shaw who was embedded in a Siberian prison and extricating a data nodule from his nose in a scene very reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film Total Recall, the team is called into the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters known as The Hub. Here the team learns that a rebel Russian group that wishes to secede from the country has developed a weapon called the Overkill Device. The secret to the device is that it uses sonic waves to detonate enemy weapons if they come within its range, essentially using their own weapons against

The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas with Carol DVD Review

A Christmas present better left unopened.
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Just in time for the holidays, Time Life Entertainment brings us this single disc release featuring two episodes from the classic Carol Burnett Show plus bonus material. One will certainly open this case with the anticipation and excitement of a Christmas morning in hopes of finding something truly special. Unfortunately, the gift garners the same disappointment as finding socks and underwear wrapped up under the tree. The two episodes we receive are from transitional periods in the show's history and thus lack the comedic chemistry the show was known for. Lyle Waggoner may have been known more for his looks

Line of Duty: Series 1 DVD Review: The Thin Gray Line

A terrific bit of television.
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In television and in the movies, Internal Affairs officers are often seen as out of touch with real police work, bullies, and even masters of corruption themselves. Often they are the antagonists going after our heroes (or anti-heroes) and trying to stop them from performing their duties. Almost always Internal Affairs is the enemy. In reality, we ought to be very thankful for Internal Affairs as they are what stand between us and corrupt cops. It should also be said that the line between good cops making mistakes and true corruption is a thin one and can be very difficult

The Uninvited (1944) Criterion Collection DVD Review: Who 'Ya Gonna Call?

The first American film to take ghosts seriously gets the elite treatment.
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In today's era of mishmash horror moviemaking - wherein there's a new Paranormal Activity flick released every other year - it's almost hard to believe that there was once a point in time when Hollywood, along with the rest of the world, didn't take the concept of ghosts likely. Nevertheless, it's true: prior to the final days of World War II, movies featuring "spooks" were usually contributions to the comedy genre - and nary an apparition ever turned out to be anything but a fellow masquerading as a specter as the film in question drew its own conclusion. But this

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

The lack of interesting characters and mythology keeps it as a standard TV procedural.
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Gordon S. Miller writes... During an overnight scouting trip, a man suffers what I believe is termed an electrostatic event, leaving him not only dead but floating a few feet off the ground with wounds in his forehead. After a second victim is found in a similar manner, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is able to deduce what the men had in common: they were firemen, first-responders during the Avengers battle in New York. Further investigation reveals what the firemen suffered from was an infection from a Chitauri helmet they found and kept as a souvenir. They activated the virus by cleaning

2 Guns Blu-ray Review: Bullets and Jokes Go Hand-in-Hand

Washington and Wahlberg band together to shoot guns and make you laugh.
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In a year where '80s throwbacks are all the rage, 2 Guns is probably the best example of throwback done right. The plot is unnecessarily convoluted, filled with too many villains to keep track of, but anchored firmly by charismatic leads, Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. Their chemistry together is worth the price of admission, and could be the beginnings of a burgeoning movie friendship if they play their cards right. Bobby Trench (Washington) is an undercover DEA agent, while Michael Stigman (Wahlberg) is undercover naval intelligence. Neither one knows the other’s true identity, but they end up pairing together

Nosferatu (1922): Deluxe Remastered Edition is the Pick of the Week

It stands right up there with my all-time favorites.
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My transition from a kid who really liked going to the movies to a full-blown cineaste was long and slow. In junior high the opening credits of To Kill a Mockingbird showed me how beautiful a movie could be. The rest of the film was both beautiful and extraordinarily moving. A little later, Night of the Living Dead proved to me that even a horror movie could be artful. Over time, movies became more than just an entertaining diversion, but genuine Art with a capitol A. Late in high school. I caught the last ten minutes or so of Nosferatu.

The Three Faces of Eve Blu-ray Review: Dated, but Fun

Quite charming in its own way.
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By my count, The Three Faces of Eve is only the second movie ever to deal with Multiple Personality Disorder (or Dissociative Identity Disorder as they now call it.) The first was Lizzie which was released but a few months before Eve and it didn’t do nearly as well critically or commercially as Eve. In 1957 when these films were released, the general public knew very little about the disorder (and in truth it is still controversial and widely misunderstood.) In the fifty-odd years since then, there have been countless movies, television shows, and books involving multiple personalities both realistic

BBC America Celebrates Doctor Who 50th Anniversary

Hey, Whovians. Get ready to mark your calendars.
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BBC America will be presenting a week-long Doctor Who Takeover later this month beginning Monday, November 18, at 9:00am ET in celebration of the British television program's 50th anniversary. On November 23, 1963, Doctor Who debuted on BBC, the story of its creation told in the TV-movie An Adventure in Space and Time, and has gone on to become a worldwide phenomonon that the Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special, Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor is going be simulcast in more than 75 countries. Leading up to it, BBC America's programming includes a heavy focus on the Eleventh Doctor
After watching the phenomenal documentary, CinemAbility, I was excited to sit down and talk to the movie’s director, Jenni Gold about her time as a Hollywood director and her amazing work. I’m wont to performing formal interviews, especially fearing I’ll run out of questions, but while talking to Jenni I found myself deferring the questions and having an amazing conversation with her about disability, movies, and everything in between.Our conversation started with me gushing about the documentary and discussing the merits of wheelchair use with Jenni. Take note, they have as many advantages as disadvantages. The thing I loved the

John Cassavetes: Five Films Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Independent Spirit

An enlightening collection of the seminal works from the godfather of American independent film.
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Whether or not you enjoy the directorial efforts of John Cassavetes, it’s impossible to overlook his contribution to the rise of American independent film. In an era when it was virtually unheard of to operate outside of the studio system, Cassavetes did so multiple times, and to wide acclaim, virtually crafting the blueprint for all manner of scruffy auteurs who followed in his wake. Thanks to Criterion’s Blu-ray release of this essential box set, five of his strongest works are now available for viewing in high definition, and they’re well worth your time. Cassavetes operated on both sides of the

Friday at Stan Lee's Comikaze 2013

I was impressed by how much things had changed.
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The last time I attended Comikaze was during its inaugural convention two years ago. It was also at the L.A. Convention Center but it felt like you were in the parking garage where all the exhibitors were crammed together and the panel rooms were black curtains hung up in a few areas of the floor pretending to be walls that gave no privacy or filtered any sound, The admission line was insanely long and it took two hours before we were bored enough to leave. So two years later, when I had the opportunity to attend once again, I wasn’t

Springsteen & I DVD Review: You Either Get It or You Don't

I’m not quite sure it’s going to appeal to every fan
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One theory of the etymology of the word “fan” is that it derives from “fanatic,” a fact that’s probably worth keeping in mind when viewing Springsteen & I, a fan-made documentary that purports to explain the relationship between an artist (in this case Bruce Springsteen, still going strong some 40-odd years into his career) and an audience. Released under the auspices of Ridley Scott’s production company and directed by Baillie Walsh, the film is a sometimes interesting, sometimes touching, and sometimes weird collage of fan-made tributes that attempt to explain the meaning of Boss fandom, interspersed with previously unseen archival

Tupac: Conspiracy and Aftermath DVD Review: An Inconsistent Look at Inconsistencies

Both films are really hard to get through because of the poor technical execution and editing.
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Written by DJ Darkness Tupac: Conspiracy and Aftermath is a double-DVD set released to commemorate the 17-year anniversary of Tupac Shakur's death. Filmmaker Richard Bond tries to expose the inconsistencies and innaccuracies of the still unsolved death of the famous rapper. The first film, Conspiracy, discusses Tupac's rise to fame as well as the evidence the filmmaker feel builds the conspiracy case around his death in September of 1996. The belief conveyed in the film is that Suge Knight of Death Row Records and Reggie Wright of Wright Way Security were the men behind the shooting. Bond contends that Shakur

East End Babylon: The Cockney Rejects Story DVD Review: Punk Hooligans for Life

The Cockney Rejects seem to have chosen football hooliganism over a career as punk rockers.
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For a guy from the northwest corner of America, watching the story of the Cockney Rejects in East End Babylon is almost like watching a documentary of people from another planet. As we are constantly reminded throughout this documentary, the band is from the East End of London. Apparently this is a sovereign nation, with customs and rituals known only to the inhabitants. They also seem to have their own language, as guys in the band have such thick accents that subtitles should have been used. Despite all of this, or maybe even because of it, I found East End

Monsters University Blu-ray Review: When Mikey Met Sulley

A pleasant though not essential return to the Pixar's world of monsters.
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Disney's sequelization of Pixar properties made its way to the world of Monsters Inc. this summer, allowing audiences to discover how Mike and Sully met at Monsters University. Ever since he was a young monster, Mike (Billy Crystal) dreamed of being a scarer. This leads him to Monsters University. Mike studies hard and is clinical in his approach to scaring, which puts him at odds with some monsters, like James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman), who coasts on his natural ability and family name. Though we know they'll be great friends, their differences cause quite a clash of personalities. So

Sunday at Stan Lee's Comikaze 2013: The Final Day

My first time at Stan Lee's Comikaze 2013.
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Up early on a Sunday morning for my first trip to Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo. Though this was day three, it was my first trip up to the Los Angeles Convention Center to see Mr. Lee and all that he, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), and Regina Carpinelli (Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo) had created. Luckily, I was joined by fellow member of the Cinema Sentries team Gordon Miller, who was facing his third day of the event with a modicum of enthusiasm. Arriving in Los Angeles, we immediately took advantage of Gordon’s experience

Stan Lee's Comikaze 2013: Three Days of the Octopus

The diary of my return to LA's Comikaze.
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The third Comikaze was my second time attending. I skipped last year because the inaugural event was a tad disappointing, coming off more like a swap meet of vendors gathered together on a floor that was easy to cover in two hours. There were also some panels that were held on the floor behind curtains held up by PVC tubing. This year the convention, now known as Stan Lee's Comikaze was a much more impressive affair as they took up more real estate at the L.A. Convention Center and offered more for attendees to do, My first panel was "Learn

Spiral: Season 2 DVD Review: A Superb, Layered French Crime Drama

Spiral Season 2 is fantastic television.
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The original title for this French crime drama is Engrenages which literally translates to "gears." That’s fitting as the show is comprised of many smaller parts that sometimes fit (and sometimes grind) together to create a larger machine. The English translation of Spiral works better if you add on spiral of violence as it concentrates on the ever-downward spiral that crime and corruption causes. I have not watched any of season one so I must admit up front that there may be intricacies of plot and nuances of character that I have completely missed within season two. This season is

The Story of Film Continues Its Odyssey Through November on TCM

The Story of Film, from the 1970s through the 1990s.
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As Turner Classic Movies continues to air Mark Cousins' 15-part The Story of Film: An Odyssey, the programming of the documentary and related films has been limited to Monday nights. The Story of Film previously aired in prime time, but in November the installments are being shown during the late-night hours. I am not sure if this has to do with the documentary's past ratings or if the focus on World Cinema is presumed not to draw big numbers. (Titles in bold indicate TCM Premieres.) Monday, Nov. 4 8 p.m. - My Brilliant Career (1979) (Australia) 10:15 p.m. - Picnic

Mama's Family: The Complete First and Second Season DVD Review

Contains the season that aired on NBC.
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The "Mama" in Mama's Family is Thelma Harper, a character Vicki Lawrence first played on The Carol Burnett Show in a series of sketches called The Family, in which she was the mother of Burnett's character Eunice along with four other children. The characters were so popular a 1982 TV-movie was created, Eunice, and then Mama was spun-off into her own TV series that aired on NBC for its first two seasons before moving to first-run syndication for the remaining four. StarVista Entertainment/Time Life has released all 130 episodes in a Collector's Set available to order online. This review covers

The Right Stuff: 30th Anniversary Edition is the Pick of the Week

A classic American film about classic Americans gets the nod.
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Halloween has just ended. Thanksgiving is still weeks away. Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas? The makers of home video apparently think not for they sure have released a bunch of nice looking Blu-rays and DVDs that are sure to go on my Santa’s wish list. It was difficult to choose just one thing as my Pick of the Week, and likely I’ll change my mind if I think about it some more, but for now I’m going with the 30th anniversary of Phillip Kaufman’s masterful telling of the early days of the Space Race in The
There’s a moment in the middle of Move Me Brightly where David Hidalgo talks about the time Jerry Garcia showed up back stage just before Los Lobos was about to perform. He says they chatted for a bit and then he invited Garcia to join them onstage for a few songs. Garcia then flashed his tickets with a smile and said he was there to enjoy the show. In a great many ways that sums up Jerry Garcia perfectly. He was first and foremost a fan of music. By all accounts, he was a living, breathing encyclopedia of music history.

Saturday at Stan Lee's Comikaze 2013

What I did this weekend.
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Held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Stan Lee's Comikaze offers pop culture delights on a much smaller scale. I had hoped to have more success in attending some of the panels on Saturday since it has become such a difficult feat at San Diego Comic Con. Alas, no such luck. I attempted to start off with "Super-Heroines of Pop Culture," focusing on the challenges of creating female heroes in a male-dominated field but it had already started and the line was as far as I could see. "Voice-Nado" featuring voice talents in a Whose Line is it Anyways?-type improvisation

CinemAbility Movie Review: One of the Most Important Documentaries Everyone Should See

Disability is at the forefront of this amazing documentary.
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I recall a prophetic moment in my life when my mother told me, “There are not many people you can emulate who look like you.” Growing up with a disability, it was always frustrating for me to dream of a job as a writer, especially in the entertainment arena, and realize I was a minority (female) within a minority (disabled) dreaming of a job where appearance is everything. As I’ve grown older, I never once thought of analyzing movies with regards to disabilities, even though I myself am disabled. It’s a bizarre contradiction at the heart of director Jenni Gold’s

Various Artists: Mad Men Christmas Music Review: Smell the Booze, Feel the Christmas Angst

Spend Christmas with Don and Megan Draper this year.
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The only question I had about the Mad Men Christmas collection was what took them so long? This 12-song compilation features ten early ‘60s Christmas classics, and two Mad Men classics. You can almost smell the booze, and feel the eternal Mad Men angst wafting off the cover art. The picture is of Don Draper (Jon Hamm) relaxing on the sofa with ever-present cigarette in hand, wearing a Santa hat. It is the perfect compliment to the DVD/Blu-ray release of the sixth season of the series on November 5. We know this is a Mad Men Christmas with the opening

I Married a Witch Criterion Blu-ray Review: Veronica Lake Bewitches, Bothers, and Bewilders

Love can be a witch if you're Veronica Lake.
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Halloween may be over, but any time is a good time for a new Halloween classic to mix in with your films next year. I’ve waited over a decade for Criterion to put out Veronica Lake’s bewitching classic, I Married a Witch. Thankfully, Criterion has taken my advice (yes, I’m claiming it), and the movie itself makes up for any deficiencies in bonus content.Jennifer (Veronica Lake) is a Salem witch burned at the stake by the founding member of the Wooley clan (Frederic March). Before her death she places a curse on the Wooley men, dooming them to a life
Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Faith is the second film in the Austrian director’s Paradise trilogy. It comes on the heels of Paradise: Love and precedes Paradise: Hope. Seidl’s series explores the stories of three women as they search for purpose and a sense of belonging in the world. Where the journey of Paradise: Love took its Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel) to Kenya for sex tourism, Paradise: Faith takes its lead character on a journey inward. The picture explores the impact of the protagonist’s religious life and how faith can prove a dominant and distinctively gratifying entity. Maria Hofstätter is Anna Maria, a

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