Continuing their release of the James Bond comic strips in an oversized omnibus format, Titan Books has released James Bond Omnibus 005, which features nine of the 20 original stories by Jim Lawrence with artwork by Yaroslav Horak. The first five stories that appear here ran from July 7, 1975 through to January 22, 1977 in the UK paper Daily Express. Till Death Do Us Apart opens in Austria as Bond kidnaps a British woman named Adra to stop her from revealing secrets about Bakkan resistance groups to her married lover Stefan, an agent of the Bulgarian Secret Police. They
December 2013 Archives
These are quality Bond stories that every fan should appreciate.
I like Gordon-Levitt a good deal, and it's impossible not to watch Scarlett Johansson in anything she does.
Welcome back. I decided to take last week off because me, the wife and the wee one were off visiting the wife’s folks in Kentucky along with all her siblings and assorted others. My little one brought with her a nasty bit of a head cold and she kindly passed it around to pretty much everyone under the roof. Including me. Especially me. My cold turned into sinusitis with an especially nasty ear infection. Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas, and welcome to the health clinic on Christmas Eve. So I was in no mood or shape to write a column
Forrest J. Ackerman's life and love of horror is spotlighted in this charming documentary.
If you’ve ever grown up appreciating classic movie monsters, from King Kong to the work of Ray Harryhausen, than Forrest J. Ackerman deserves credit. His Famous Monsters of Filmland has inspired everyone associated with horror from Stephen King to Joe Dante. Unfortunately, Ackerman’s final years were mired in legal troubles and ill health, but his spirit lives on. Director Jason Brock lovingly pays tribute, and creates a solid documentary with The AckerMonster Chronicles! If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the man behind the magazine, Brock’s documentary whets your appetite and delivers on all it sets out to discuss.Ackerman wasn’t
The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts Collector's Edition DVD Review: You're Nobody 'til Somebody Insults You
For fans of classic comedy, few collections deliver the variety that appears on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts.
During the ninth and final season of The Dean Martin Show, which ran from 1965 to 1974, a segment was devoted to "The Man/Woman of the Week," a TV-friendly version of the legendary Friars Club Roasts where a special guest was roasted by a group of comedians and celebrities. This segment was so popular that after Dean's show was cancelled the roasts were spun off into a series of specials over the next ten years with the honoree dubbed "The Man/Woman of the Hour." StarVista Entertainment and Time Life have released The Complete Collection featuring all 54 roasts and a
Steven Moffat strikes gold with this 50th Anniversary Special.
Previously reviewed by Todd Karella, The Day of the Doctor is the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who, the British television series that has gone on to become such a global phenomenon the special was simultaneiusly broadcast in 94 countries across six continents. Like past anniversary specials (The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors), The Day of the Doctor brings together various incarnations of the Time Lord to take on a great menace and have a bit of fun as the different personalities of the character interact. Writer and executive producer Steven Moffat delivers quite a story, as not only
Adventures rage on the high seas with Fox's latest Blu-ray
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment appeased movie fans this year with their Voice Your Choice program, wherein readers could vote for which classic films would receive a proper Blu-ray release. With the year coming to a close, Fox has released all the winners and they’re all special in their own way. The Black Swan is a quintessential swashbuckler filled with derring-do and swords aplenty. Anchored (pun kind of intended) by entertaining work from Tyrone Power, Laird Cregar, and Maureen O’Hara, The Black Swan may be out of touch at times, but the adventure on the high seas is unparalleled. When
Timeless classic enhanced by new digital restoration and bonus features.
Never ones to pass up a marketing opportunity, the fine folks at Disney lined up a two-fer with the Blu-ray debut of this classic film. Not only is this the 50th anniversary of its theatrical release, but it’s also timed to coincide with the theatrical release of Saving Mr. Banks, the new film about Walt Disney’s efforts to win the rights to make Mary Poppins. If it’s been a few years or decades since your last visit to the rooftops of London, now is the ideal time for a return trip. In case you’ve been stuck in a chimney for
Crazy Heart could so easily have been a melodrama, but instead it is a cautiously optimistic tale of redemption.
I’m not necessarily a country fan, at least not if we’re talking the “achy-breaky heart” variety. Then, on the other hand, there’s Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, and … yeah, those guys. Crazy Heart lives at that end of the street, just for a reference. Written and directed by Scott Cooper and based on the novel with the same name by Thomas Cobb, this is the story of a country music singer-songwriter called “Bad” Blake played brilliantly by Jeff Bridges. The whole narrative is actually pretty neatly summed up by the featured song “Fallin’ & Flyin’”. Well,
Silent Night, Bloody Night (aka Death House) DVD Review: Attack of the Killer Warhol Factory Inmates
A constantly forgotten slasher film prototype gets another budget label release.
While some major holidays always seem to get the short end of the axe handle when it comes to having their own scare films, Christmas is perhaps even more popular than Halloween when it comes to slasher movies. And indeed, as one sits there watching the mostly forgotten no-budget horror flick Silent Night, Bloody Night, they cannot help but notice a number of minor similarities between it and the original (real) 1978 version of Halloween. It comes as a great surprise, however, when one also takes note that Silent Night, Bloody Night was, in fact, made several years earlier than
From Orson Welles to Oliver Reed and Karl Marx, too.
If I were asked to pick two things the folks at Twilight Time certainly don't believe in, I would have to shoot for both biasness and uniformity. Every month, the niche (and now exclusively Blu-ray) label releases an assortment of movies from its two current licensors - Fox and Sony - never showing any particular favoritism to either studio, but releasing equal amounts of titles from both companies. What's more, Twilight Time has a wonderful knack of redefining the very world "eclectic" nearly every month. And November 2013 was certainly no exception for what has become a favorite label for
Veteran series wraps up its run with a dark and dreary arc.
USA Network’s veteran spy show took a turn for the deadly serious in Season 6 with the murder of a supporting character, a dark tone that continues throughout the seventh and final season. What started as a light-hearted action show devolves here into a grueling test of viewer loyalty as lead character Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) enters a deep cover mission working for an evil mastermind, leaving us and Michael questioning whether or not he’s still a good guy. It’s as if creator Matt Nix forgot his show was on USA, land of breezy comfort TV, and instead wanted it
Twisty tale supported by strong performances.
Child-abduction movies aren’t ranked high on the must-see lists of most viewers, making the stellar cast assembled for this project all the more remarkable. That cast should be a hint that this isn’t your average hostage flick, but is instead a twisty and surprising tale that quite literally put me on the edge of my seat. That’s not to say the plot is without holes, and it’s best not to think about the details too hard, but viewers willing to let the story take them for a ride will be in for a delightfully suspenseful trip. Hugh Jackman stars as
For those who enjoy off-screen stories as much as on, this release delivers a wealth of entertainment.
20th Century Fox celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Cleopatra (1963) with an impressive two-disc Blu-ray set. Historical in two ways, this epic mirrors real life as pride and ego of the main players, in front of and behind the camera, led to their downfall. The story is told in two parts, each centering upon a romance of Cleopatra. In 48 BC, Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and his forces arrive in Egypt in pursuit of Roman general Pompey the Great. Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII (Richard O'Sullivan) and his sister Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor), she 18 and he even younger, are fighting for rule
The first of Otto Preminger's all-black musicals is a little staid, but the lead performance is superb.
The Film The great, cantankerous, Austrian-American auteur Otto Preminger doesn’t seem like the likeliest candidate to have helmed a film adaptation of an all-black stage musical, but he actually did it more than once, first in 1954 with Carmen Jones and again in 1959 with Porgy and Bess. Rights issues have rendered Porgy and Bess virtually unavailable, but Carmen Jones has just received the Blu-ray treatment from Fox. Watching the film, it’s readily apparent that the musical was not a genre that Preminger had a great touch for, but his social awareness and disregard for controversy were certainly instrumental in
The movie is good and representative of this classic period of Hollywood filmmaking.
The most interesting part of The Call of the Wild didn’t actually take place on screen. It seems the very married Clark Gable had a torrid love affair with costar Loretta Young and impregnated her. Young decided to keep it, but due to the strict moral code at the time had to disappear to Europe through most of the pregnancy and later pretended to adopt what was in fact her very own child. Though often rumored, this story was not confirmed until 1999. This has nothing to do with the actual film, of course, but its a fun bit of
An outstanding collection of classic Hollywood imagery.
According to his online biography, "Australian-born David Wills is an author, independent curator, photographic preservationist, and editor who has accrued one of the world's largest independent archives of original photographs, negatives, and transparencies." Taking from his collection and that of others, Willis and designer Stephen Schmidt have teamed to create Hollywood in Kodachrome, an outstanding collection of classic Hollywood imagery. In his introduction, Wills tells the history of the film known as Kodachrome, invented by Leopold Godowsky and Leopold Mannes, and credits many of the studio photographers from Hollywood's golden era, such as Frank Powolny at Fox, George Hurrell and
The plot is interesting enough, but it lacks the tension that the title suggests.
If you were expecting the Robert Luketic-directed film Paranoia to be anything like Joseph Finder’s best-selling novel, you will be disappointed. If you expect to watch a “maddening race against time” in an “electrifying film,” you might be quite out of luck there too. Overall, there hasn’t been a great history of film adaptations. For every Shawshank Redemption and Lord of the Rings, there have been too many like The Scarlet Letter and I am Legend. In these cases “adaptation” should be swapped out for something like “was supposed to be inspired by” or “possibly has a minor resemblance to.”
It's compelling stuff that's both fun thrilling and meaningful.
Detective Zane Malik (Don Hany) is a tough, smart, and sometimes difficult detective working in the elite Major Crime Squad on the police force of Sydney, Australia. He’s also a Muslim living in the racially divided country in a post-9/11 world. Like all detectives, he must live with the daily grind of dealing with some of the worst, most hardened criminals around. Drug dealers, gangsters, murderers are all faced down, fought, and captured on a regular basis. There is also the balance of family to contend with in a schedule that isn’t exactly 9-5. But unlike most cops, Malik must
It looks to be an intense, violent, really good bit of cinema.
While I am very much a fan of horror, gore, violence, and bloody, anger-filled cinema, my wife is most certainly not. This means I do not get to watch them in her presence. She doesn’t mind if I watch them on my own; she just doesn’t want to to be involved. This was no problem as I’d just watch them when she was off to work or had gone to bed. Even for the first couple of years of our daughter's life, this was no biggie as I could throw it on while the girl was napping or playing with
It delivers lighthearted humor and noteworthy life lessons.
Big is one of those movies that I thoroughly enjoyed when it was released but haven't seen or thought about it since. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, there is a new Blu-ray/DVD combo edition. Being 40 years old now as compared to 15 when it came out, I appreciate a lot more of the story's depth and thoughtfulness rather than just finding it funny and cute. Twelve-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) is a normal kid who enjoys spending time with his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) and playing on his computer. While at a carnival with his parents, Josh
The Rifftrax crew once again helps Santa Claus conquer the Martians
If you are not familiar with Fathom Events, the company does one-night-only events of films, operas, and other special events that give audiences a wider access to things they may not be able to see on television or the big screen. They also give audiences a chance to participate in one-night only events that may be far away from them. This was the case with the Rifftrax crew taking on the short Santa Claus and the Fairy Snow Queen and the feature Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. This event was broadcast to almost 600 theaters across the country while formers
Robert Evans goes to hell and back in his new autobiography.
Robert Evans is one of the few remaining producers anyone can name in Hollywood. After the smashing success of his autobiography, and subsequent documentary, The Kid Stays in the Picture, Evans became the poster child for Hollywood rambunctiousness and at the age of eighty he isn’t quitting yet. His second book, The Fat Lady Sang, isn’t necessarily an autobiography with loose lips and gossip dripping from every page; it’s an introspective story about a man who almost dies and is reborn into a body which refuses to cooperate. Writing the book kept Evans sane, and while it isn’t a page
North to Alaska (1960) / The Undefeated (1969) Blu-ray Reviews: The Duke Finds a Duchess and Gets a Piece of the Rock
Two vastly different John Wayne titles make their High-Def debut.
While his own personal range as a performer may have left something to be desired for many a graduate of The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the one and only John Wayne nevertheless managed to leave a rather eclectic filmography unto the world. From his early days as a bad actor in B-Westerns up until those last few films he made following that disaster of a Genghis Khan biopic, The Duke reigned supreme - in just about every fashion of fiction (from non to highly fabricated) possible. And 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's latest pair of Blu-ray discs - North
Documentary about the quest to re-create a Vermeer masterpiece is alternately fascinating and like watching paint dry.
We’re well into the age of instant images; anyone with a smartphone is, or can be, a photographer and/or videographer. Perhaps because these handy photo-realistic images are so plentiful, they’re also ephemeral. One social media sharing site, Snapchat, turns this liability into a virtue, making the images its members send each other disappear soon after they’re viewed. Tim’s Vermeer, a documentary about a guy who took the better part of a decade to re-create a famous work from the 17th-century golden age of Dutch painting, represents a drastic alternative to the ease and speed of image-making today. The film’s underlying
Not bad, but I would have liked a better story and better art.
Heroes United brings together Iron Man and Hulk in a CG-animated adventure that is more likely to please the younger Marvel fans than adults with its emphasis on action over story and character. It opens with a fight between the Hulk and the Abomination. From his speech, the Hulk appears smarter than normal, which will prove to be the case. The Abomination is working with the organization Hydra, but in a good plot twist, they trick him, siphoning the gamma radiation from both of them. However, the experiment goes wrong, and they unintentionally create a being made out of energy,
Bryan Ferry's Live in Lyon live concert DVD features songs from every phase of the crooner's career, respectably performed.
After a certain age, all British rock musicians seem to funnel into one style of music. It begins gradually (and most often in "solo" careers) - a second guitarist is added to the live band to fill out the sound. Then one or two extra keyboard players come on board, to help sound more like the record. Then, inevitably, the backup singers (usually black and female). Edges are smoothed over. The whole thing begins to sound respectable. David Bowie has had this sound for the last decade, as has David Gilmour. And in Live In Lyon, Bryan Ferry's band goes
And the nominees are...
This morning, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association revealed their nominees for the 2014 Golden Globe. There were a lot of familar names for those who waste time paying attention to film-award bloviators, 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle tied with the most at seven nominations each, although seeing American Hustle along with Her, Nebraska, and The Wolf Of Wall Street in the Comedy category seemed a bit odd and questionable. For example, Spike Jonze's Her has humor in it, but I want to see a producer or HFPA representative tell me with a straight face how that romantic drama
A landmark documentary film receives a gorgeous Blu-ray upgrade.
The Film A landmark in documentary filmmaking and possibly the most well known work from the school of direct cinema, the Maysles Brothers’ Grey Gardens is fascinating, hilarious, disturbing and uncomfortable. It’s about as incisive a portrait as you could get of crumbling aristocracy, but it’s even more remarkable as a deeply empathetic, humanist picture of living life in the face of crushing disappointment. The subjects — mother and daughter duo Big and Little Edie Beale, reclusive cousins of Jackie Onassis — are irresistible, and Little Edie’s unabashed showmanship for the camera has understandably made her a cult icon. The
The last chance to enjoy the adventures of Fry, Bender, Scruffy, and the rest.
Futurama had one of the more unusual runs in television history. It began as a network show, running a few seasons on FOX, mostly as the black sheep of the Sunday-night family. If a show was going to be preempted by football running late, it would be Futurama. So then it got cancelled, but it came back with four direct-to-DVD movies, which developed enough of a following, alongside Futurama reruns on channels like Cartoon Network, that got Comedy Central to bring it back for another run. Its seventh season was split into two parts, and that second part, which makes
There goes Tokyo.
Legendary describes their upcoming film as "An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence." Set for release on May 16, 2014, Gareth Edwards directs based on a screenplay by Frank Darabont, Max Borenstein, and David Callaham. A brief look in now available: While crafting your response to share below, enjoy this amateur video for Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" starring the big fella.
Recommended for fans of mysteries and crime dramas.
John Sayles' 18th film as writer/director, Go for Sisters, tells the story of characters dealing with fractured lives and relationships as they attempt to find a missing person who may not want to be found. Although the plot progresses a little too easily at times while solving the mystery, discovering the characters' stories and their interactions is what makes the film worth seeing. Bernice Stokes' (LisaGay Hamilton) is a Los Angeles parole officer and is temporarily assigned recovering addict Fontayne Gamble (Yolonda Ross). They were childhood friends who were so close they could "go for sisters," but had a falling
Though a bit dated and terribly inaccurate, it is a joy to watch and is immensely entertaining.
Jesse James was a notorious outlaw, bank and train robber and murderer. Historically speaking, he was nothing but a violent and horrible human being. Yet while he was alive, he was celebrated as a Robin Hood-type character and since his death, his legend has continued to grow. As it so often happens, the mythological person has turned into a much better person than the actual human ever was. There have been untold number of stories and books written about him, songs have been sung since just about the moment the “coward” Robert Ford shot him down. There have been more
A recommendation from Scorsese and the Criterion people makes this collection an easy choice.
With some regularity we invite various people, usually university students, over to the house to watch films. Several of them come regularly and we’ve developed something of a disorganized film-studies class. Not that I am qualified to teach such a class but we have great fun, and learn a great deal, watching these films and then discussing them together. Usually these films are of the foreign variety. I’m rather proud of my foreign-film collection actually. We own over 200 foreign films and are constantly buying more. Again, I don’t consider myself an expert but rather an ever-learning student. One of
See U2 and INXS in their early years and relive other '80s music in this music festival documentary.
When hot summer winds blow, music festivals are sure to follow. Today, multi-day events such as Lollapalooza and Coachella are relatively common; back in the early 1980s, such concerts were in their infancy. In 1982, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sponsored the first US Festival (standing for “United Us in Song,”), an event he envisioned as an '80s version of Woodstock. Staged near San Bernadino, California, the three days boasted an impressive lineup of the era’s biggest artists. Wozniak produced the second and final US Festival in 1983; despite a 670,000 attendance figure, the production lost millions for the entrepreneur. Thankfully
The film comes highly recommended.
Walt Disney pursued the rights to P.L. Traver’s Mary Poppins books for decades before she finally relented. Even then, she retained script approval and was apparently a pain in everyone’s chim chim-in-ey throughout the entire process of making the movie. She rather hated the final product and bad-mouthed it until the day she died. One can understand how a writer might be protective of their work and might be hesitant to allow movie-makers (even one as beloved as Walt Disney) to have their way with the writings. But in this case one has to wonder if there wasn’t something terribly
And the Grammy nominees are...
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States released their nominees for the 2014 Grammy Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. The eligibility period was October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. The ceremony will be held on January 26, 2014, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and portions will be broadcast on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/P. I am surprised they don't go live across the country so stay off social media that night if you don't want it spoiled. Honoring the "best" music in Visual Media are the following categories.
Alicia Scherson’s The Future is an absorbing motion picture with no shortage of challenges for the audience. The 2013 feature from the Chilean director of 2009’s Turistas is a little hard to dig into at times but its resolve and distinctiveness carries many rewards. Based on the 2002 novel Una Novelita Lumpen by Roberto Bolaño, which still hasn’t been translated into English, The Future weaves a tale that is as bizarre as it is erotic and as ridiculous as it is emotional. Scherson’s flick pushes through countless twists and turns to achieve what is less a satiating conclusion and more
What makes it watchable, even rather enjoyable, is the two main actors.
You could say that I’ve been a fan of crime dramas, police procedurals, mystery shows, or whatever you want to call them most of my life. From Remington Steele and Moonlighting to Law and Order and The Closer to The Shield and The Wire, I’ve watched thousands of hours of people committing crimes (usually murders) and cops, private eyes, journalists, priests, and little old ladies solving them. The best shows tend to subvert or break out of the confines of the genre and show us what its like to be a cop, or the humanity of a criminal, and say
You've heard the prevailing wisdom on The Simpsons. The show was great up to a certain point, a point that vacillates depending on who you are being harangued by, and then it fell off a cliff and now it sucks and the person knows it sucks even though they haven't watched the show in years. Obviously, it makes sense that the general consensus would be that The Simpsons experienced a decline in quality. How could it not? You can only generate so many stories with a limited staff and a limited series of characters and maintain the lofty glories the
A good film about a great story of humanity that deserves to be remembered.
Based on the book Playing the Enemy by John Carlin, Invictus tells an amazing story that needs to be told and passed on about the power of people uniting. The film is set in South Africa, and the story briefly begins on February 11th, 1990, the day of Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years in prison as a result of his fighting against the country’s apartheid policies of racial segregation. The difference between the peoples is immediately evident. White kids are shown at a prep school practicing rugby on a well-manicured lawn while across the road black children are playing
The first dramatic comedy by Chaplin teaches us how to see clearly despite the blinding lights.
The Criterion Collection has returned to the well again this month. They are releasing the fifth film in their Charlie Chaplin series. I've shared my thoughts on Modern Times, The Great Dictator and The Gold Rush in previous reviews. By not releasing the films in chronological order, the exposure to the arc of his career is very disjointed. We've seen the mature Chaplin films including talkies and the final evolution of his Tramp character. Only one has given us a glimpse into the early years of the character - The Gold Rush (1925). I thought it was time to explore
It’s difficult to believe that even hardcore fans of the first two films would find this satisfying.
On June 22, 1990, a group of young men attempted a heroic feat in their small town of Newton Haven. They attempted to walk the Golden Mile, which meant drinking a pint of beer at 12 different taverns along the way that ended at the front door of the pub known as The World’s End. But the journey they embarked upon 23 years ago ended in failure. Not only did some of them not have the stamina to make the journey, but they also lost focus and found themselves easily distracted. After that fateful day, the five men slowly grew
A very nicely priced set of a really wonderful show.
I really thought that the first week of December would find us with loads of great new releases. I really thought wrong. I guess with Black Friday and Cyber Monday over by the release date they figure our wallets are empty and they needn’t bother much with this week. Looking over the next few weeks of releases as we inch towards Christmas, I see there are some much bigger releases coming so I guess they are hoping our wallets get a little fuller as the month goes on. This week’’s pick is a boxed set of a short-lived Showtime series
Irwin Allen develops the prototype to the Roland Emmerich formula.
Before he became well known throughout the world as the "Master of Disaster" - to wit he created and directed a number of memorable (as well as some highly forgettable) star-studded disaster films and television movies in the '70s and '80s - Irwin Allen was one of the most prolific science-fiction producers during the '60s, responsible for such TV greats as Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The latter item - which was actually the producer's longest-running series - started out several years earlier as a lavish sci-fi adventure with an
Classic science-fiction with a Cold War edge.
The Proteus is just about the coolest movie ship ever. The only real competition would be the Nautilus from Mysterious Island (1961). But while the Nautilus is undoubtedly something special, in the end it is just a submarine. In Fantastic Voyage (1966), the Proteus is a miniaturized ship that sails through the arteries of the human body. This classic science fiction film has recently been released to Blu-ray, and its arrival on the format offers a fine excuse to watch and enjoy it again. While the focus of the film is the voyage, there is a Cold War edge and