February 2014 Archives

Legit: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Tasteless, Rude, Offensive and Very Funny

If you think the first season of Legit is funny, you should feel ashamed of yourself. I know I do.
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If you think the first season of Legit is funny, you should feel ashamed of yourself. I know I do. Legit was co-created, written, and stars Australian stand-up comedian Jim Jefferies. “Foul-mouthed” doesn’t even begin to do justice to Jefferies’ brand of vicious and hysterical truth-telling, which I first encountered in an HBO special that left me breathless with laughter. He’s the funniest thing to come out of Australia since Mel Gibson, IMHO. In his stand-up act, Jefferies does a bit on why he wouldn’t want to go to heaven (even if he believed in it), since it involves not

Roadblock (1951) / Nocturne (1946) DVD Reviews: Misplaced, Unconventional LA Noir

Two forgotten - and highly enjoyable - low-budget thrillers from RKO make their way to DVD courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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Since the inception of the Warner Archive Collection several years ago, film noir enthusiasts have become highly appreciative of the manufactured-on-demand label's tendency to dust off the occasional crime drama from the vaults. Indeed, these noir titles even receive their own special banner atop the DVD covers - indicating the Warner Archive's obvious pride in releasing these items. For the beginning of 2014, the WAC have brought out two more titles for aficionados of this dark moving picture subgenre to add to their collections - both of which were produced by RKO Radio Pictures and have their own share of

The Americans (2013): The Complete First Season Review: Spies Like Us

An enjoyable espionage drama where thrills can trump realism.
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No doubt helped along by the success of Homeland, which scored big with viewers who apparently don't mind problematic writing, FX got their own espionage thriller in The Americans, the first season of which was recently released on home video. Created by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg, the story focuses on two undercover KGB agents living in Washington D.C. during the Cold War in 1981. In the states since the mid-'60s, they are Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell), a married couple that runs a travel agency. They have two young kids, who don't know their parents'

TV Review: Ali G Rezurection: "Cannes"

Very nice. Da Ali G show back on the telly.
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FXX is bringing Sacha Baron Cohen back to television with Ali G Rezurection, which features material from the Da Ali G Show, both the Channel 4 series from 2000 that ran for six episodes and the HBO series that ran for twelve. Also included are new introductions by Cohen and interviews conducted outside the show. For those who don't know his work, Cohen has created multiple, outrageous comic personas for Candid Camera-type scenarios where he interacts with unsuspecting subjects. Ali G is a British suburban youth who fetisizes rap and British Jamaican culture. Borat is a television journalist from the

King of the Hill (1993) Criterion Collection Review: Soderbergh Goes Mainstream (Or Does He?)

There's a lot more than first meets the eye to King of the Hill.
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For those who insist on dividing Steven Soderbergh’s filmography into the reductive “one for me” and “one for them” categories, King of the Hill likely represents Soderbergh’s first foray into mainstream filmmaking. Superficially, they’re right — it was his first studio film and its coming-of-age tale set in Depression-era St. Louis is certainly more accessible than Sex, Lies, and Videotape or Kafka. But — as is generally the case when it comes to Soderbergh — there’s a lot more than first meets the eye to King of the Hill. Sure, there’s some burnished sentimentality in the film; Soderbergh himself admits

Rock 'N' Roll High School Movie Review: Nonsense. Sweet, Glorious Nonsense

There is no message here, other than "Hey! Jokes and music! Enjoy!"
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I tend to try and keep first person out of the reviews I write here, but for once I am breaking the rule, much in the way the movie Rock 'N' Roll High School breaks many rules. Rules like not having giant mutant rats attend Ramones concerts. As I watched this film, I noted on Twitter: "I am not sure if Rock 'N' Roll High School is a work of unparalled genius, or the worst movie I've ever seen." In truth, it is neither, but at times it pivots toward both. The movie has names like Roger Corman and Joe

Elmo's World: All About Animals DVD Review: Great For Toddlers, Obnoxious For Everybody Else

Pretty much any toddler will no doubt love it.
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It may surprise some, but Elmo the muppet has existed since the early 1970s. In those days he was nothing more than a background character on Sesame Street. Various puppeteers picked him up and tried to create a character, but nothing materialized. It wasn’t until 1984 that Kevin Clash raised him up and created the beloved character we know today. Since then, Elmo has become one of the most popular puppets in the world. In 1996 a plush toy, Tickle Me Elmo, was introduced and quickly became the Toy of the Christmas season causing near riots in malls when supplies

The Bowery Boys, Volumes Two & Three (1946-1957) DVD Reviews: Satisfaction Guaranteed

The Warner Archive brings us 24 more classic comedies in two four-disc sets. Win.
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In late 2012, the folks at the Warner Archive brought forth into reality what had previously only been an everlasting fantasy on many a classic comedy connoisseur's list: they released a four-disc set highlighting twelve of the 48 motion pictures from the iconic Bowery Boys series. Earlier the following year, the Warner Archive unveiled The Bowery Boys, Volume Two before commencing the final quarter of the year with Volume Three. For those of you doing the math there, that means 2013 brought us an entire one-half of the whole Bowery Boys franchise. Now, for those of you who are like

Frances Ha Movie Review: Modern (Platonic) Love

Greta Gerwig is one of those tours de force you hear about from time to time.
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The first minutes of Frances Ha are a bit of a slog to get through. The way the main character, Frances, and her dear friend, Sophie, are introduced is a bit grating. At the same times, it moves too fast but also too slow. Too fast in as much as it feels sort of jolting and slapdash. Too slow because it is also irritating, so it isn't like you necessarily want it to continue. The concern is that these characters, and this script, will be too precious, too twee, too whatever word in a similar vein you want to use.

Here's (More) Johnny: Carson on TCM Returns

The popular series returns in March.
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The King of Late Night returns with more installments of the popular Carson on TCM featuring Johnny Carson chatting with some of Hollywood's biggest stars. Six interviews will air in a one-hour installment every Tuesday in March at 8pm (ET), uncut and commercial-free, (except March 25, which features seven interviews) spanning 15 years of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson from 1972-87. Each installment will be introduced by Conan O’Brien, whose late-night show Conan airs on our sister network TBS, weeknights at 11pm. The first movie to follow the Carson programming in the primetime TCM lineup will feature the actor

Book Review: Max Steel, Volume 2: Hero Overload by B. Clay Moore & Alfa Robbi

An enjoyable adventure for any age.
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Originally based on a line of toys produced by Mattel, Max Steel became an animated series made for television. Just last year, the show was rebooted and is currently running on the Disney XD channel. This current version is what this graphic novel is based on. Max McGrath is a 16-year-old high school student whose parents are both scientists. His father dies during some mysterious experiment leaving him to be raised by his mother. As he gets older, he finds that for some reason he is emitting Turbo energy, something so powerful that if he doesn’t release it from time

Book Review: Snowpiercer Vol. 1 & 2 by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette

It’s best to stick to Vol. 1 for the superior writing and art.
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This French comic is currently receiving renewed international attention thanks to its use as the source material for a new movie of the same name. The film features an intriguing international cast and crew headlined by Chris Evans (Captain America) and directed by Joon-ho Bong (The Host), and while it has already been released in much of the world to positive reviews it’s still stuck in Weinstein limbo in the U.S. As a result, these handsome new hardcover graphic novels from Titan Comics are currently our only legal way to get in on the action. The Snowpiercer is a train

Gravity is the Pick of the Week

The trailers look stunning.
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I’m really not a Sandra Bullock fan. She’s attractive and certainly charming, and I really can’t knock her acting chops, but there’s just something about her that makes me not like her. Perhaps its that she spent so many years making so many bad movies. Unlike Matthew McConaughey, who also made a slew of bad movies (some with Bullock), she didn’t start her career with interesting choices before going for the easy dollar. Both stars are now making interesting and critically acclaimed films, but while I’m quick to forgive McConaughey (and make his films my Pick of the Week), I

Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham, Season 1 Part 1 DVD Review: A New Take On An Old Character

They decided to make some pretty big changes in order to set themselves apart.
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By my count there have been no fewer than 12 movies, 16 television series, several radio shows, and countless comic books featuring Batman. With many more in the works. The character remains one of the most popular in the superhero universe. It is no surprise then that the Cartoon Network opted to make a new series, Beware the Batman, and that they decided to make some pretty big changes in order to set themselves apart from the very crowded Batman adaptation arena. It is the first Batman series to be completely CG animated. This creates a unique style for the

Warner Archive Instant Review: S.O.B. (1981)

A bleak, but funny, tale of Hollywood's love/hate relationship with itself.
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I’m a sucker for satirical movies about the vanity and prestige of Hollywood. Movies like The Player, Tropic Thunder, etc. cast a dark eye on the cast of characters who provide us entertainment on a daily basis. Blake Edwards’ S.O.B. is a semi-autobiographical skewering of Hollywood movers and shakers which simultaneously netted him a Golden Globe and Writers Guild nominations, alongside Razzies wins for Worst Screenplay and Worst Director. I came to the movie with a more prurient history: S.O.B. is the movie where Julie Andrews bares her breasts, and maybe for some readers that’ll be enough to get them

Book Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London by Sylvain Cordurie and Laci

There’s not much to really draw readers into the story, leaving the art as the main attraction.
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With all of the Sherlock Holmes revisionism in movies and TV over the past few years, it’s become confusing to determine exactly what Sherlock you’re getting in any new project. In the case of this new graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics, the character hews close to the original novels, although his adventure veers far outside their grounded realism. This Sherlock and his Watson are aging, established investigators living in late 19th-century England. There’s no funny hat on Sherlock, but otherwise the characters are about what you would expect based on the original books. Likewise, the writing and art are

Free Birds Blu-ray Review: A Nice Family Film That Needed a Few More Laughs

Taking everything into consideration, Free Birds is an enjoyable film.
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Every year millions of turkeys are content on sitting around the farm letting themselves get fattened up for the Thanksgiving holiday. But Reggie (Owen Wilson) is the one turkey that stands out from the rest. He realizes why the farmer is fattening them all up and tries to warn his flock. With the easy lifestyle and as much food as they can eat, nobody is listening to what Reggie has to say. The more he tries to warn them the more ostracized he becomes from the group. But fortunately for him fate is about to step in and change his

Hidden Horror Book Review: A New Guide for Horror Hounds

Looking for a horror movie to watch? Hidden Horror is the perfect guide to recommending new favorites.
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I jump at the opportunity to read and review movie guides devoted to spotlighting movies off the beaten path. Film buffs always hear about the “must-sees” but what about the movies which continually slip under the radar de to limited budget or lack of audience? This happens the most in the horror field, a genre often glutted with so much product it’s easy to believe they’re all crappy. I remember Fangoria putting out an excellent horror film guide a few years back, but haven’t found a similar book which capitalized on blending smaller horror movies with some which have received

Midsomer Murders Set 23 DVD Review: Britain's Finest Mystery Series

Midsomer Murders is as good as it gets for television mystery programs.
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For murder mystery fans, I believe there is no better show on the air right now than Midsomer Murders. The English series has not crossed over in popularity the way Downton Abbey has, which is a pity. Midsomer does have its own share of American fans however, as is proven by the Acorn company’s continued release of it on DVD. They are now up to their 23rd set, a three-DVD collection with the elegant title Midsomer Murders Set 23. The episodes are more like made for TV movies than anything else, and each runs approximately 90 minutes. The three included

Say Anything... Movie Review: In Your Eyes

Do you like good music and incredibly enjoyable main characters?
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In reality, teenaged romances are very silly and stupid and overwrought, because teenagers are silly and stupid and overwrought by and large. Movies tend to ratchet everything up a notch or two over reality, to really hit things home for the audience. As such, a romantic comedy about teenagers would seem like a sketchy proposition. This is how you find yourself waiting until 2014 to watch a well-known movie from 1989. Then you watch Say Anything... and you wonder why you bothered waiting so long. The movie was written and directed by Cameron Crowe, a generally overpraised filmmaker, but at

The Talented Mr. Ripley Movie Review: Supporters Carry The Show

If you like to watch people acting for the sake of watching great acting, then The Talented Mr. Ripley is for you.
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In the wake of the death of one Philip Seymour Hoffman, many folks went back to watch movies from the filmography he left behind. Of course, if you had already seen the vast majority of it, and wanted something new, you may not have had much to choose from, especially if you didn't want to bother with something like Along Came Polly. As such, you could perhaps have found yourself in the position of watching 1999's The Talented Mr. Ripley. Sure, Hoffman's role is small, but he is quite impressive, even if it is Cate Blanchett who really steals the

Panel Preview: Dark Horse Comics: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1

Buffy returns in Season 10.
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The canonical continuation of Buffy's adventures in Season 10 appear on the pages of Dark Horse Comics thanks to the Season Nine Angel & Faith creative team of writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs along with colorist Dan Jackson. The first issue is available March 19 and features a cover by Steve Morris. New season. New rules. The age-old battle of Slayer vs. vampire is the focus of Buffy’s life once again—it’s downright nostalgic! But with all the toying with magic she’s done lately, this girl should know it’s time for another game change . . . Shouldn’t she?

The Jungle Book (1967) Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review: Trust in Me and Own It

It's a necessity for your video library.
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Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories The Jungle Book is the 19th animated feature by Walt Disney and the last he worked on, dying 10 months before its release. Set in the jungles of India, Bagheera the panther finds the man-cub Mowgli abandoned in a wrecked boat and takes him to be raised by wolves. When it is learned that Shere Khan the tiger is returning to the jungle, the wolfpack decides Mowgli needs to be returned to the man village for his own protection and theirs. Bagheera volunteers to take him, but Mowgli resists, leading to a series of

Khartoum (1966) / Man in the Dark 3D (1953) / Titus (1999) / Zulu (1964) Blu-ray Reviews: Twilight Time Gets Serious

The niche HD label unveils a venerable wave of odds and ends.
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When my regularly scheduled package of Twilight Time items showed up last month (Look, I'm rarely on time about anything, alright? It's the only way I can guarantee I'll be late for my own funeral!), I was a bit shocked to discover that, instead of two or three items, as I/we reviewers usually received, I had four movies to experience. All for the first time, mind you. And, while I can't say I was overly impressed with one genuinely pretentious piece of horse droppings in particular, Twilight Time definitely started out 2014 with a bang. (And we're scheduled to get

The Fantastic Mr. Fox Criterion Collection Review: It is Quote-Unquote Fantastic

It's absolutely worth upgrading to this Criterion disk.
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Like most great directors, Wes Anderson has created a very distinctive style for his films. They live in a world that is not quite real. It's a world filled with pastel colors and 1960s rock and roll. Where quirky characters do things that aren’t quite realistic, but neither are they unbelievable. Where every child has parental issues, and every parent is funny, adventurous, and sad. It is a world in which every scene, no matter how small or short, is filled with the tiniest of details, all distinctive to the director’s style. Wes Anderson films are like retro live-action cartoons

Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season is the Pick of the Week

They do an amazing job of bringing these characters and the huge scope of their stories to the screen.
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In the months after my daughter was born, I watched an enormous amount of movies and television. As anyone who has children can tell you, there simply isn’t much that you can do in those early days. The child, of course, cannot do anything on her own, relying on you to do everything from feed to change diapers to make increasingly silly faces in order to keep her from crying. We tried to take her out as little as possible to avoid all of the germs floating around public spaces, but also because taking a baby anywhere is an enormous

Sherlock: Season Three (2014) Blu-ray Review: Back from the Dead?

The wait is over. But was it worth it?
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Two years ago, Sherlock creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat left their titular modernization of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's timeless creation at the edge of a very awkward and uncertain fate, in a season finale that seemed to channel the very vibe of a good ol' Saturday Matinee Cliffhanger Serial. And, while Baker Street Irregulars around the world started spinning webs of fanciful conspiracy in order to explain what they think happened, it was only a matter of time until the two men who constructed what has since become the UK's most watched drama series within the past thirteen years

Killing Kennedy Blu-ray Review: The Assassination Fox News Style

Killing Kennedy represents 89 minutes of my life that I will not get back.
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If Killing Kennedy did not present itself so seriously, I would swear that it was a parody of the whole “lone gunman” theory. It bends over backwards to present the findings of the Warren Commission as irrefutable fact, even when those findings directly contradict themselves. There were times when I laughed out loud at how ludicrous some of it was, then the credits rolled and I realized what I had been watching. Killing Kennedy is based on the book of the same name by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. The film has the same relationship to what actually happened as

Burton and Taylor DVD Review: Glitz and Camp the BBC Way

An intriguing look at a little known time in their lives.
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Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were immortalized as the tempestuous George and Martha in 1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The twice married (to each other) and divorced couple were life-long friends and their relationship is the poster child for on-again/off-again couples. In 2012, Lindsay Lohan scandalized the late Taylor in Lifetime’s screeching Liz & Dick, so when the BBC announced their own take on the Burton//Taylor relationship, simply dubbed Burton and Taylor, it was believed the British channel was riding Lifetime’s coattails. Burton and Taylor is head and shoulders above Liz & Dick, but it’s far from an enduring

Dallas (2012): The Complete Second Season DVD Review: Who Killed J.R.?

Breaking Bad may have gotten all the ink, but the second season of the Dallas reboot was excellent.
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Through an extraordinary set of circumstances, the legendary J.R. Ewing actually got a proper send-off from Dallas. In 1980, the question was “Who shot J.R.?” In 2013, the question became “Who killed J.R.?” The first season and a half of the Dallas reboot was ok, but nothing special. Things changed dramatically with the death of Larry Hagman on November 23, 2012 though. The second half of the second season was scrapped and re-written, and became the most compelling storyline since the early ‘80s heyday of the original. The core conflict in Dallas has always been the Ewing-Barnes feud. The backstory

Spend Valentine's Day with Warner Archive Instant

Whatcha watching on Valentine's Day?
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Today is Valentine's Day, named after Valentinus, a third-century Roman saint. Many enjoy the communal celebration of romance that has been a centuries-long tradition on February 14, while others reject the trivializiation of romance that has occurred due to the over-commercialization as well as the diminished sincerity resulting from the holiday spurring the profession of romance. They simply refer to today as Friday. No matter which group a person identifies with, the streaming service Warner Archive Instant, available through a browser on a PC or a Mac or on TV via a Roku 2 or 3 connected device, offers titles

Borgen Season 3 DVD Review: Once More Unto the Breach

Final season of show that put Danish TV on the US map exits gracefully
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When we last saw feisty Danish Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg (the stellar Sidse Babett Knudsen), she was calling for a general election for Prime Mininster, seemingly signifying the end of her political career and the series. Flash forward two years in both real and series time, and she’s back, but not the same as before. As expected, she’s no longer PM, no longer involved in Danish politics, but also no less opinionated or driven. As a civilian, she’s taken up with a dashing British businessman and is enjoying domestic life, but soon yearns for a return to the political arena,

Justice League: War Blu-ray Review: Take a Walk on the Darkseid

Great action but not much story.
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A few years ago, DC Comics rebooted their entire superhero line under the audacious New 52 plan, throwing out decades of comic-book history in favor of fresh takes on their legendary characters. No simple renumbering stunt, the plan resulted in characters being taken back to their origins, meeting their allies and foes for the first time. Justice League was the most high-profile book in the launch due to DC’s heaviest hitters at the helm: Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns writing and Co-Publisher Jim Lee on pencils. Now the first arc of their Justice League relaunch has been turned into the

The Agatha Christie Hour Complete Collection DVD Review: Agatha Christie's Also Rans

The Agatha Christie Hour adapted 10 short stories featuring lesser known characters from Christie's canon
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When I was a young television viewer, I had romantic notions about TV in Britain. The only British TV I had ever seen was Monty Python and The Young Ones (back when they used to run on MTV) and there was something different about the way it looked, never mind how wild the content seemed. The rare times I would watch Mystery! on PBS (which had an incredible credits sequence animated by Edward Gorey) I was struck by the same feeling of difference. Maybe I felt it was classier than American TV, or more refined. Now, as an older, more
Diarmuid Lawrence directs The Lady Vanishes, a BBC and Masterpiece Films production that originally aired in March of 2013. Now available on DVD from BBC Home Entertainment, this movie comes based on the Ethel Lina White novel The Wheel Spins and adheres more to the source material than the Alfred Hitchcock adaptation from 1938. For one thing, this version of The Lady Vanishes is less comic and more ominous. Lawrence and screenwriter Fiona Seres use the close quarters of a cross-Europe train to unfurl the dramatics from White’s work, providing a mesh of characters who are impossible to trust. The

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness Blu-ray Review: Ingrid Bergman Saves China

A lovely film though overly long and slightly racist to modern eyes.
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Christian missionary Gladys Aylward was a diminutive, unattractive, uneducated, utterly British woman. So of course they got the tall, glamorous, immensely beautiful, and completely Swedish Ingrid Bergman to portray her in the movie version of her life. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is in the historical epic tradition from the 1950s which was the decade of grand historical epics. It is a lovely film though overly long and slightly racist to modern eyes. Like most films based on real events, the movie plays pretty fast and loose with the facts, changing details where it sees fit, condensing time, and
Based on John Ball's 1965 novel of the same name, Academy Award Best Picture-winner In the Heat of the Night (1967) takes a police procedural and ratchets up the tension and intrigue by having an African American police officer from Phildelphia working to solve a murder in a small Mississippi town where the locals treat his kind poorly. I didn't catch the exact year it's set, but if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been passed, not many in Sparta, MI recognize it. After Ray Charles delivers a marvelous performance singing the theme song, Sergeant Sam Wood (Warren Oates)

LEGO Legends of Chima: The Lion, the Crocodile, and the Power of CHI! Season 1 Part 1 DVD Review

The familiar tale of good versus evil in the land of Chima,
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With the theatrical release of The LEGO Movie (2014), the famous building-block company have gone wide with their latest animated adventure, but they have been quietly working in the medium for some time now. Their first foray was LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, and now there is Legends of Chima. The show premiered on the Cartoon Network in January 2013, and all ten half-hour episodes are now available on DVD in a two-disc package. The full title is LEGO Legends of Chima: The Lion, the Crocodile, and the Power of Chi!. The LEGO brand is a great one, but at

Ender's Game is the Pick of the Week

The Internet has got me excited about something and that excitement gets passed around and shared.
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In the world of science fiction I consider myself a fan, but not a fan-boy. By which I mean that while I do love many of the films in the genre - from 2001 to Alien, Close Encounters to Moon - I do not obsess over them. I don’t relentlessly watch every movie in the genre, nor endlessly debate the realities and potential realities of the films in online forums. I watch the films I hear good things about, sometimes like them (sometimes not), and move on to other films in other genres. I’ve also read very few books that

After the Dark Movie Review: This is What "Trying Too Hard" Looks Like

A good idea spoiled with pretentiousness.
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I feel like I was just lied to. The pitch for After the Dark started with, "Faced with an impending nuclear apocalypse, a group of twenty college students must determine which ten of them would take shelter underground and reboot the human race" when in reality it should have read "Faced with the last day of high school, a group of seniors enter a bad episode of Dawson's Creek masquerading as a philosophy class." This film is the very definition of decent idea but flawed execution. Bear in mind there are going to be spoilers below because I'd rather save

Alien: Out of the Shadows Book Review: That Old Familiar Feeling

Doesn't take many risks or push the boundaries of established canon, but for franchise fans, it's still worth picking up.
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Tim Lebbon's Alien: Out of the Shadows kicks off a trilogy of books set around the events of the Alien and Aliens films. This one kicks off 37 years after Ellen Ripley detonated the engines on the Nostromo in the hopes of frying a creature that wiped out her entire crew. Her nearly four-decade hypersleep is interrupted when her shuttle docks unexpectedly with the Marion, a mining vessel that's recently experienced its own set of xenomorph problems. Why is she here? What lies ahead for her and the crew of the Marion? Most importantly, how the heck will they get
When Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he broke an unwritten color rule in Major League Baseball, becoming the first African-American ballplayer to play professional baseball since the 1880s. Undeterred by the segregation prior to Robinson’s arrival, African-American players formed the Negro Leagues, which featured many great players, many of who were sadly never given the chance to shine on the Major League stage. While the Negro Leagues proved popular, with the teams often playing (or barnstorming as they called it) against Major League teams, it has never been very well documented. Pride And Perseverance:

A Chorus Line Blu-ray Review: A Pale Imitation of the Stage Show ... and of a Passable Movie

A successful film adaptation of "A Chorus Line" was possible. This is not that film.
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The Film A Chorus Line isn’t merely a terrible adaptation; it’s a downright awful movie regardless of its source material’s pedigree. The Pulitzer Prize-winning 1975 stage musical can be clunky and over-earnest in parts, but mostly, it’s a moving look at the compulsion to be an artist. Made a decade later, the movie jettisons most of that art mumbo-jumbo in favor of pumping up a breathless romantic subplot and subs out some of the musical’s most charming songs for a couple of atrocious synthy numbers. Director Richard Attenborough, that frequently acknowledged titan of musical theater, shoots the film’s numbers with

The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival Adds Guests and Films to Lineup

News about who and what are going to be at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival.
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From Thursday, April 10 - Sunday, April 13, 2014, the TCM Classic Film Festival returns to Hollywood for its fifth annual celebration filled with screenings and events intended to delight and entertain attendees once again. Four new guests have been recently announced. Mel Brooks, who spoke before Young Frankenstein at the 2012 Festival, will likely do the same in conjunction with Blazing Saddles (1974), which is being released in a new 40th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray in May 6th. Margaret O'Brien will attend the screening of the Vincente Minnelli's Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), a film for which she

Space Voyages DVD Review: The Real Continuing Missions

This miniseries is mandatory viewing for anyone interested in our real explorations into space.
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The Smithsonian Channel’s Space Voyages miniseries was one of the best programs I saw last year, and for anyone who missed it, the four-episode show is now available on DVD. The Smithsonian Channel can always be counted on for riveting documentaries, and the continuing story of our journeys into space are highly intriguing. The first episode is titled "Into the Unknown," and it begins with the launch of the Curiousity on November 26, 2011. The Curiousity is a robotic Mars Rover, and its journey to the red planet was nine months. The craft landed safely and on time, and has

Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection Review: Something Old, Barely Anything New

A repackaging of old DVDs complete with all the old material!
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Author Nicholas Sparks writes tales of love and loss. The movies that have been generated out of his books can be summed up as a story where two people fall in love against all odds then somebody dies. Although his films are formulaic, I thought perhaps the Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection might take the formulaic feeling out of his films and become a sweeping collection of love and loss that keeps its audience emotionally involved at every turn. It does not. This "Limited Edition" collection of movies is just a repackaging of seven films based on Sparks novels.
A patient, musically-driven motion picture about the breakdown of a marriage, I Used To Be Darker analyzes the fallout of said marriage through the eyes of various involved parties. In particular, it utilizes the point of view of a young runaway from Northern Ireland (Deragh Campbell) as she drops in for the worst possible moment. I Used To Be Darker is the third film by director Matt Porterfield. Together with co-writer Amy Belk, Porterfield set out to depict divorce in an authentic fashion. It feels like a deeply personal project, one that takes its time to set scenes and knows

Jules and Jim Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Seminal French New Wave Love Triangle

Truffaut's Jules and Jim is a brilliant rendering of a love triangly gone awry.
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The greatest literature is often inspired by true events, and the story behind Francois Truffaut’s Jules and Jim (1962) is a perfect example. The film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, which was written by Henri-Pierre Roche in 1953. Roche was 73 years old at the time Jules and Jim was published, and it was his first book. I think every would-be writer might find that little bit of trivia inspiring, but for Truffaut Jules and Jim was also an irresistible story. His film was hailed as an instant classi, and has just been released as

Naked Lunch Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Enter the Interzone

As unique today as it was when it was released.
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By incorporating elements of William S. Burroughs' life into the screenplay, David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch is not a straight adaptation of Burrough's classic Beat novel but more a story about its making. Cronenberg has created a captivating hallucinatory tale reminiscent of the book by retaining some stylistic and thematic elements. In New York City 1953, Bill Lee (Peter Weller) works as an exterminator killing bugs, but his jobs are difficult to complete because his wife Joan (Judy Davis) shoots up the poisonous bug powder. While sitting around with a couple of writer friends, Hank and Martin (stand-ins for fellow Beat
Cinema Sentries have teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox to award one lucky reader a Blu-ray combo pack of The Americans: The Complete First Season, as well as a Russian-styled Ushanka hat. Available on February 11 on Blu-ray and DVD, The Americans is a suspenseful thriller about undercover Russian spies in 1980s Washington. Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) seem to be a typical suburban couple, but they’re actually lethal KGB agents plotting to bring down America. As the Cold War escalates, Philip and Elizabeth must take extreme measures to continue their mission and keep their true identities

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) Blu-ray Review: The Adaptations Keep Ringing and Ringing

The Blu-ray has its flaws, but this is likely the best version we’re ever going to see of it.
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People like to complain these days about the death of Hollywood, about how the studios have no original ideas, and everything is a sequel, a reimagining or a remake. But it seems to me that this has always been the case, at least to some degree. Even the most precursory glance through film history will show you that Hollywood has been adapting and remaking their movies since they started making pictures in the first place. James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice is as good an example as any. Written in 1934, the classic crime noir was adapted into

Contest: Diana on Blu-ray

The princess requests you enter this contest.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with Entertainment One to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win Diana on Blu-ray. Coming to VOD on February 4, and DVD and Blu-ray on February 11, Diana stars two-time Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts as the Princess of Wales during the last two years of her life. The movie was inspired by the book Diana: Her Last Love by Kate Snell, which was created from extensive interviews with close friends and confidantes. There are three ways to enter the contest, which is only open to residents of the continental U.S. For your first entry, follow
After making The Sword in the Stone, story man Bill Peet came to Walt Disney claiming that they could do more interesting animal characters and suggested adapting Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Disney agreed, but took a more hands-on approach than he had during the last several pictures because The Sword in the Stone had received a rather negative reaction. In fact, Disney threw out most of the original version of the screenplay and fired Peet and composer Terry Gilkyson due to it taking on a darker and more sinister tone. Disney wanted something lighter and more fun. It is
Less than two short decades ago, '80s action megastars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger began to feel the world changing around them. Having arm-wrestled and last-action-heroed their way into early retirement on account of several decidedly futile battles with the increasing boredom of box office patrons, they gave way to a rising boom in the demand for direct-to-video fare: articles of B-moviemaking best suited for their lower-rent counterparts such as former marquee heralders Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. From there, Stallone stuck to opening Hard Rock Cafes, while Schwarzenegger opted to take up a career in politics. And, while

The 2014 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films Review: Great Talent and Creativity on Display

The five Animated Short Film nominees are well worth seeking out.
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The Oscar® Nominated Short Films is the perfect opportunity for general theater-goers to see the Live Action, Animation and Documentary nominees. Presented by ShortsHD with Magnolia Pictures, the shorts are programmed as three separate events in over 250 theaters across the United States, Canada and Europe with more than 400 theaters slated to screen the films during its theatrical release. The winners will be announced at the 86th Academy Awards® ceremony on Sunday, March 2, 2014 from the following five nominees in the Best Animated Short Film category: “Feral” (Directors Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden, USA/Non-dialogue). Synopsis: A wild boy

Being Human: The Complete Third Season Review: A Melting Pot of the Supernatural

Sixteen-year-old girls should love Being Human.
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Giving good-looking vampires their own shows has become standard practice in television these days, so with Being Human, the Syfy Channel have upped the ante a bit. The program is a melting pot of the supernatural and celebrates the differences of the multi-cultural paranormal world. In addition to studly vampire Aidan Waite (Sam Witwer), the show originally featured a lovely ghost by the name of Sally Malik (Meaghan Rath) and the buff werewolf Josh Levison (Sam Huntington). The series has just begun its fourth season, and for those looking to catch up, Being Human: The Complete Third Season is now

Panel Preview: Dark Horse Comics: Tomb Raider #1

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Cited as the official continuation of Lara Croft’s story from the 2013 video game, which sold over 3.5 million copies, the British archaeologist's adventures appear on the pages of Dark Horse Comics thanks to writer Gail Simone, penciller Nicolás Daniel Selma, inker Juan Gedeon and colorist Michael Atiyeh The first issue is available February 26 and features a cover by Dan Dos Santos.

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