May 2014 Archives

Ripper Street: Season Two Blu-ray Review: Hey, Things Are Improving!

It's not quite dead. It's getting better.
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My initial assessment for the first series of the BBC Victorian Era police procedural Ripper Street was highlighted by the short quip "Needs Improvement". When the second season/series landed at my doorstep, a part of me wondered what I was in for. Essentially, there were three roads the makers of this television programme could go down: that of altering the formula for the worst, keeping things exactly the same, or adjusting it just enough to improve the show overall. Fortunately, it would appear that the latter path was the one chosen to travel here - as Ripper Street: Season Two

Strictly Sacred: A Film about Girl Trouble Review: The Highlight of SIFF

I believe with all of my heart that you would enjoy this film.
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The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) may not be Cannes, or Tribeca for that matter, but it sure was the place to be for fans of the band Girl Trouble this year. The world premiere of Strictly Sacred: A Film about Girl Trouble was held on May 26 at the SIFF Cinema Uptown in Seattle. I hear it was a great event, but I went to the “second premiere” on May 27 at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center. And I know that one was great. It was great because it was family. The only person who could have made

Agatha Christie: Poirot, Series 12 Blu-ray Review: Ridiculously Unrealistic Plots, Tons of Fun

Sometimes all you want at the end of a long day is a good, old-fashioned murder and some Belgian gray cells to solve them.
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When it comes to Agatha Christie’s writing I tend to agree with Raymond Chandler who wrote about her type of writing: “they do not really come off intellectually as problems, and they do not come off artistically as fiction.” That is to say her crimes are completely unrealistic and her prose not particularly good. Yet, while I’ll always prefer Chandler and his contemporary Dashiell Hammett to the likes of Christie and her ilk, dear Agatha sure did know how to keep the pages turning and sometimes that’s all you want in life. Christie’s Poirot stories tend to always involve murders

Atlantis: Season One (2013) Blu-ray Review: Let's Get Mythical

Sometimes, placing all your eggs in one basket pays off.
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I only caught Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy's alleged brainchild Merlin once a few years back, and quickly wished I had not. It was a dull fantasy series created to no doubt cash-in on some franchise about a kind of magic kid named Harry. Fortunately, someone else finally figured out the show was a dreary excuse for all things interesting, and Merlin came to an end in late 2012. But with an empty timeslot and the broadening possibility of life in the unemployment line on the horizon, TV producers Capps and Murphy had to think of something new. So, with

Like Someone in Love Criterion Collection Review: An Authentic Illusion

Iranian filmmaker creates vision of Japanese intimacy.
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Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kariostami has spent a lifetime constructing films meant to blur the line between creator and audience. Emerging in the 1960s during the first new wave in Iranian cinema, Kariostami received international acclaim following the Iranian Revolution with a series of films more reflective of life under the newly imposed Islamic rule, including The Koker Trilogy and its depiction of life in the Middle Eastern countryside. Over the past decade he has abandoned traditional filmmaking techniques in favor of suppler, more compassionate approaches evident in 2012’s Like Someone in Love. Set in Japan—one of only two movies Kariostami

Dragons: Defenders of Berk Part 2 DVD Giveaway

Do you have room for a dragon?
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After teaming together on Part 1, it seems only right that Cinema Sentries reunite with DreamWorks Animation to award one lucky reader Dragons: Defenders of Berk Part 2 on DVD. Based on the DreamWorks Animation Academy Award-nominated movie How to Train Your Dragon, Dragons: Defenders of Berk Part 2 finds Hiccup and his fearless friends embarking on new adventures and battling to protect their island home. The young Vikings must put their dragon training skills to the test to defeat dangerous and surprising new enemies! The series features original voice talent from the film including Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, and

Focus Features Debuts Kill the Messenger Official Poster and Trailer

Just passing the information along.
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Directed by Michael Cuesta and written by Peter Landesman, whose script is based upon books Dark Alliance by Gary Webb and Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou, Kill the Messenger tells the remarkable true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb, Jeremy Renner stars as Webb, who stumbles onto a story which leads to the shady origins of the men who started the crack epidemic on the nation’s streets and further alleges that the CIA was aware of major dealers who were smuggling cocaine into the U.S., and using the profits to arm rebels fighting in Nicaragua. Despite warnings from

Republic of Doyle Season 1 DVD Review: Conventional Mysteries, Unconventional Setting

Father and son PIs solve crimes and crack wise in rustic Newfoundland.
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Every so often a product crosses our desks that appears to be so unique it demands a closer look. This one has a simple but immediately captivating premise: father and son private investigators in Newfoundland. Anybody out there watch much TV from Newfoundland? Me either! Although it took four years for the first season to wash up on U.S. shores, this CBC series makes good use of its beautiful location and delivers some genuinely entertaining and lighthearted crime investigations. The show is more concerned with the evolving relationships of its principal characters than the crime of the week, making for

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 4: 1953-1954 by Milton Caniff

Volume 4 clearly demonstrates what a talent Caniff was as both a writer and an artist.
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In 1946, cartoonist Milton Caniff ended a successful 12-year run on the adventure comic strip Terry and the Pirates for the opportunity of a creator-owned title where he would have more creative control and reap more the benefits of his work. Beginning in 1947 just a few weeks after his last Terry strip was published, Steve Canyon debuted. The strip ran 41 years and even continued a couple of months after Caniff's death. Since January 2012, the Library of American Comics, by way of IDW Publishing, has been releasing collections of Canyon strips, and Volume 4, which was my introduction

An Adventure in Space and Time is the Pick of the Week

I do very much enjoy Doctor Who in all of its incarnations and am very interested in how it began.
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Though I do remember watching some Tom Baker-era Doctor Who as a kid, one probably needs to call me a new Whovian. As I didn’t start watching the new series until Matt Smith took over, I’m even a late new Whovian at that. I actually didn’t watch any of the Smith episodes but started the new series at the beginning with Christopher Eccleston and worked my way through until I eventually caught up a couple of years back. Though I may be relatively new to fandom, I fully embrace the Classic Who series. Back when I had Netfli,x me and

Death Spa Blu-ray Review: Light on Creativity, Heavy on Cringe-Worthy Acting

I'd rather work out than watch it again.
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Some horror movies take themselves seriously and deliver the goods in dramatic and spectacular fashion, whether that be something like Se7en or the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Others don't take themselves seriously at all and go for creativity and nonsense -- I'm looking at you, Hatchet, ThanksKilling, and Zombie A-Hole. Then there are those that straddle the fence, being a little too serious to be campy, but missing the creativity to compensate (cough Sharknado cough). This is the sort of Twilight Zone of badness that movies like Death Spa occupy. The plot in a nutshell is that the deceased

Bachelor Flat DVD Review: Everybody Loves Terry-Thomas

Terry-Thomas' attempts to steer clear of his female fans, including the adorable Jessica the dachshund, provide the real laughs in Bachelor Flat.
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Bachelor Flat is one of those breezy, zany, battle-of the-sexes farces that were cranked out a lot in the 1960s. Although the cast is headed by actress Tuesday Weld, the film belongs to British comedian Terry-Thomas, in a role that seems styled after similar parts played by fellow-Brit David Niven. Thomas plays anthropology Professor Bruce Patterson, teaching at a California university, who is the object of mad crushes by just about every female who lays eyes on him, young and old. Is it his British charm or exotic (to the California girls) accent? Even his neighbor's dog, Jessica the dachshund,

Cardinal Richelieu / Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! DVD Reviews: There's a Reason They've Been Forgotten

It's brilliant that these sorts of films are finding their way to DVD but...
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The world has been making movies for roughly 220-plus years, producing approximately 300,000 films. That doesn’t include made-for-tv movies, featured videos, short films, documentaries, and anything not found in the IMDb database. That’s a lot of movies by any standard of measure. While the studios (both major and independent) do a good job of putting their new and catalog films to DVD, there’s still thousands of movies that have never made it to the home video market (and an even larger number that have not gone beyond VHS.) What a treat it is then for cinephiles all over that so

Favorite Time-travel Movies

Read it now before someone goes back in time and changes the responses.
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This weekend the X-Men franchise returns to theaters with Days of Future Past, which finds Wolverine being sent back in time in an attempt to save humanity from destruction. The concept of time travel is certainly a fascinating one and is used in the movies listed below: Primer (2004) by Mark Buckingham Primer takes an interesting angle on the mystery of time travel by presenting it in a really practical, approachable way. At the same time, it's not dumbed down for the masses. Four tech-minded entrepreneurs working toward the next big idea literally in their garage accidentally find a way

Billy Joel Says Hello to Hollywood Bowl - 05/17/14

A very satisfying set filled with greatest hits and deep cuts in front of "a pretty good crowd for a Saturday."
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During the first of three concerts scheduled, Billy Joel made his Hollywood Bowl debut and played a set filled with greatest hits and deep cuts in front of "a pretty good crowd for a Saturday." Though I am much more familair with the former, Joel revealed his gifts as storyteller and musician were even greater than I realized as songs new to me kept me captivated in m seat and didn't become opportunities to head off to the bathroom. Right from the opening song, "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway," it was apparent what a talented backing
Set for release on June 18, Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland #1 is written by Kim Newman & Maura McHugh and illustrated by Tyler Crook with colors by Dave Stewart. Edward Grey, who first appeared in Mike Mignola's Hellboy: Wake the Devil, is sent to Hallam to investigate a mysterious death. Once there, he hears rumors about the mysterious Unland, the wetlands around the town, and the creatures that inhabit it. Grey’s skepticism vanishes when he encounters the monsters of Unland, and he realizes that Hallam is a place of secrets.

Nikita: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: The Short Kiss Goodnight

Action series completes its run with an abbreviated final arc.
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Nikita’s long strange trip from Luc Besson’s original 1997 film to her second TV series reaches its conclusion in this brief final season. Planned from the start as a six-episode farewell, the season finds all key players returning for one last blast as they tie up loose ends and resolve their relationships. Nikita (Maggie Q) is in a serious jam at the start of the season. She’s been framed for assassinating the U.S. President, so she finds herself on the run and cut off from everyone including her loyal team of ex-Division agents. With only six episodes, she has a

Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World DVD Review: A True Gem Dug Up In Africa

We're really quite lucky to have it, and ultimately, it is quite enjoyable.
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It really is quite astonishing that they are finding various Doctor Who serials after literally believing them to be lost forever. Here at Cinema Sentries headquarters we threw quite a party when it was announced last year that all but one episode of The Web of Fear and the entire serial of The Enemy of the World had been found in Nigeria. They've only recently started to seriously scour the Earth for missing episode so who knows what they'll find next. The Enemy of the World is the fourth serial of the fifth season of Doctor Who. It originally aired

The Women (1939) Blu-ray Review: Their Own Worst Enemy

The main characters' strength, intelligence, and independence is inevitably undermined by their decisions.
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Based on Clare Boothe Luce's play of the same name, George Cukor's The Women uses the intriguing narrative device of having no men appear on screen even though their presence is felt throughout. Considering how bold a choice that would be for a film in 2014, 75 years after its release which this Blu-ray release commemorates, I am fascinated by how The Women must have been received in 1939. Unfortunately, what it suggests and what viewers are shown in regards to the main characters' strength, intelligence, and independence is inevitably undermined by their decisions. The story is set among well-to-do

3 Days to Kill Blu-ray Giveaway

2 copies of 3 Days to Kill can be won.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment to award two lucky readers Blu-ray copies of 3 Days to Kill starring Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, and Hailee Steinfeld. Costner plays a daring International spy with lethal skills and a hard-earned reputation for tackling the most dangerous missions imaginable. But when a seductive CIA operative (Heard) makes him an offer he can’t refuse, he’s forced to juggle his two toughest assignments yet: looking after his rebellious teenage daughter (Steinfeld), while hunting down the world’s most ruthless terrorist. Blu-ray Special Features: ● Extended Cut (Blu-ray Exclusive) ● The Making of

3 Days to Kill (2014) Blu-ray Review: Not As Advertised

It's an okay flick as long as you know what you're getting.
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The first hurdle I had to clear when spinning up 3 Days to Kill was reminding myself that it has nothing to do with either Three Days to a Kill or The Next Three Days. Having finished watching it now, I'd have to plop them all into the "meh" category. 3 Days to Kill is about contract killer Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) finding out he has a terminal illness and, with the few months he has left to live, wants to reconnect with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld). No sooner than his heels having

The Monuments Men is the Pick of the Week

A darn good cast and a fascinating story is enough for me to make it this week's pick.
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It occurs to me that the Classic Hollywood Star no longer exists. Stars like Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, and Audrey Hepburn had fame, fortune, style, class, and a certain glamorous mystery about them that you rarely find anymore. With TMZ and a million other celebrity blogs out there, we know everything there is to know about our stars - where they are, what they are doing at any given moment, and how they look when the evening gown comes off and the worn-out gym shorts go on. With Twitter and Instagram, these celebrities can give us their own inside glimpses

Longmire: The Complete Second Season DVD Review: A Standout Show Worth Watching

Tensions slowly rise through the 13-episode season, leaving lives in balance and ensuing chaos.
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The second season of the popular A&E western crime drama Longmire continued the successful formula of interesting standalone cases along with the evolving development of the main characters. Based on Craig Johnson's best-selling western mystery series, the TV series plays like the unfolding of a novel. With each episode, layers are peeled away revealing complex characters forced to deal with the consequences of their actions. Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) struggles to come to terms with the murder of his wife but has re-committed to his job and is moving forward with the help of his new girlfriend Lizzie (Katherine

The Pleasures of Being / Out of Step Movie Review: Jazz Critic Nat Hentoff Gets the Soft-bop Treatment

It is unfortunate director David L. Lewis fails to provide the investigation a polemic figure like Hentoff so obviously deserves.
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“Mingus tries harder than anyone I know to walk naked.” - Nat Hentoff in the liner notes to Charles Mingus’ The Clown (1957). His hubris makes you wonder why Nat Hentoff never said this about himself. It certainly is applicable. As the subject of David L. Lewis’ documentary The Pleasures of Being/Out of Step, showing in exclusive engagements throughout the summer, Hentoff carries a deep, sympathetic intellect with the kind of graceful confidence most outspoken cultural critics never know. Nat Hentoff made his name alongside guys like Ralph Gleason and Ira Gitler writing about jazz at the height of its

Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack

A great example of having something for everyone.
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This volume of Dylan’s Bootleg Series is the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, which debuted on PBS as part of the American Masters series on September 26 & 27, 2005. Disc 1 covers the years 1959-65, during Dylan’s Woody Guthrie period when he was the eloquent poet of the people, voicing their anger, fear, hope, and concerns with acoustic folk songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Masters of War,” and “Chimes of Freedom.” The 16 tracks that comprise this disc include early recordings, such as “When I Got Troubles,” which is likely to be the

Conversations with Robert Osborne DVD Review: Enlightening Interviews from the TCM Vaults

An outstanding set for those fascinated by the Classic Hollywood era.
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If there was any doubt how big of a star Robert Osborne has become, one only need look at the Conversations with... DVD cover where the TCM host's face is the only one to appear and no font comes close to the size of the one used for his name. It's a testament to how beloved he has become to classic-film fans over the 20 years he has been visiting their living rooms that he is the collection's main selling point. One disc contains two episodes of Private Screenings episodes, which first began in 1995 as Reel Memories, and the

Star Dust DVD Review: B-movie about Hollywood

Linda Darnell shines in a lesser-known good, but not great dramedy about Hollywood.
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Making a film about the ups and downs of Hollywood is a pretty bold feat. Some have surpassed perfection: All About Eve (1950), Sunset Boulevard (1950), The Player (1992), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), and the criminally underrated masterpiece, The Stunt Man (1980). Others, such as Last Action Hero (1993), Delirious (1991), Full Frontal (2002), and Simone (2002), have totally missed the cut. As for Star Dust (1940), the third film starring the beautiful Linda Darnell, I would have to put in between. On one hand, it is a good comedy-drama about the accurate heartbreak of Hollywood, the other; the

Favorite Monster Movies

We unleash our picks upon the world.
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With Gareth Edwards' Godzilla roaring into theaters this weekend, it seemed as good a time as any to reveal our favorite monster movies, which feature creatures of various shapes and sizes delivering chills and thrills to audiences around the world. Some love monster movies so much, they couldn't pick just one. The Invisible Man (1933) by Adam Blair Not a monster movie in the Godzilla/Mothra/giant mutated ants mode, the 1933 Invisible Man is about an ordinary, misguided guy who becomes a monster. Made by the illustrious James Whale midway between his triumphant original Frankenstein in 1931 and his now- camp-classic

New Trailer for Transformers: Age of Extinction

"We need a new army."
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Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth film in director Michael Bay’s global blockbuster franchise. Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Li Bingbing , Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, T. J. Miller, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor and Titus Welliver star. The film begins after an epic battle that left a great city torn, but with the world saved. As humanity picks up the pieces, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history… while an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in its crosshairs. With help from a new cast of humans, Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen)

Maleficent is Coming May 30

The untold story of Disney's most iconic villain from the classic "Sleeping Beauty."
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Maleficent, in theaters May 30, explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic Sleeping Beauty and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora (Elle Fanning). As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora

The Class: The Complete Series DVD Review: An Updated, Expanded Friends

The Warner Archive set features all 19 episodes of the "lost" 2006-07 series.
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Warner Archive have been releasing some very interesting DVD sets this year, especially in the realm of “lost” television programs. Search was a one-season wonder from 1972 - 1973, and now there is The Class, which aired during the 2006 - 2007 season. The Class: The Complete Series contains all 19 episodes of the program, which was created by David Crane and Jeffry Klarik. Both had big hits in the ’90s, Klarik with Mad About You, and Crane with Friends. In a lot of ways, The Class could be seen as an updated and expanded Friends. Obviously it did not

Trust Me Movie Review: Jerry Maguire With an Unfortunate Ending

It's so good until it suddenly isn't.
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To review the story of Trust Me without addressing the ending is to overlook perhaps the most glaring issue in the entire film, so buckle up for some spoilers. I've been watching a lot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and while I'm a fan of Clark Gregg, I wasn't sure what he was capable of outside the Marvel sphere, or if he'd be able to get inside another character persona well enough to make me forget he spends most of his screen time as Agent Coulson. Taking the roles of writer, director, and lead actor on Trust Me, I thought this

Her is the Pick of the Week

It's just the sort of story that Spike Jonze does well.
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Spike Jonze is an immensely talented, eternally creative, and absolutely brilliant artist. Yet I can’t say that I really like him. Well, that’s not exactly true I do like him, but I find I don’t want to watch his films more than once. When Being John Malkovich came out, I thought it was just about the most imaginative thing I’d seen in a long, long time. It still is, actually, but over the years whenever I’ve tried to watch it again I can never make it all the way through. Its just not that enjoyable to watch. Ditto Adaptation. Wonderful

When Jews Were Funny DVD Review: Looking for Mr. Goodman

The potential of what could have been is squandered.
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With the star-studded roster of talented comedians interviewed for this project, Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig's When Jews Were Funny begins as if intended as an oral history about the stand-up comedy tradition. However, the film is actually about Zweig trying to get a better sense of the Jewish tradition he strayed from years ago now that at sixty-one he is the father of a two-year-old girl. For those familiar with Zweig's work, this likely won't come as a surprise. In Vinyl, about record collectors, and I, Curmugdeon, Zweig is not only the director; he's also one of the subjects. Unfortunately,

Green Lantern: The Animated Series Blu-ray Review: Don't Let It Escape Your Sight

Get yourself a copy and make your friends green with envy.
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I should state at the onset that I know nothing about all the factors involved for a company, like Warner Brothers, to continue making an animated television show, like Green Lantern: The Animated Series, based on one of the comic-book properties it owns, Green Lantern, airing on one of the cable channels it owns, The Cartoon Network. What I do know, as will anyone who watches this Blu-ray available from Warner Archive, is unfortunately just being a very good show wasn't enough. All 26 episodes are evenly divided across two discs, which is how the major story arcs of the

Songs Ruined by Movies

Pandora's box was opened when original music not written for the screen was incorporated into soundtracks.
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Even before the advent of sound, movies had live accompaniment as they played in theaters. That's because music's intrinsic ability to convey moods greatly augmented what audience's were experiencing as they watched the visuals on the screen. Once the sound era was ushered in, talented composers joined the collection of artists working in Hollywood. Later, Broadway musicals began to be adapted for the silver screen. Eventually, original music not written for the screen was incorporated into soundtracks, opening up a Pandora's box. There are countless memorable pairings of music with movies, ranging from classical (Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra" in 2001)

The Deep End Blu-Ray Review: An Excellent, Realistic Thriller

Well worth watching.
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Having children changes you. I’m not talking about the sentimental Hallmark-card emotionalism that goes something like, “I didn’t know what love was until I had kids.” From my perspective that’s mostly BS. No, I’m speaking about how children completely wreck your day-to-day activities. We didn’t have our daughter until I was 35. I had a good life, full of good things. I’d watch movies, go to concerts, read graphic novels in their entirety at the book store, stay up late binging on TV, surfing the web, and blogging. That might not be the most exciting life, but it was mine

Cold in July Movie Review: Suspense Thriller Degenerates into Gratuitous Violence

Michael C. Hall and other good actors wasted in a pseudo-profound drama culminating in a pointless blood bath.
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I never thought I’d be typing these words, and please believe me when I write that this is not a backhanded compliment: Don Johnson is the best thing in Cold in July. Playing a large-living private investigator who drives a fire-engine-red Cadillac with longhorns attached to the grille (the film takes place in 1978 Texas, ‘nuff said), Johnson struts into the story about 30 minutes in and provides some much-needed vigor and comic relief. Unfortunately, Johnson’s entrance is also where the film itself takes the first of several seriously warped turns. The plot is kicked off when suburban family man

The Art of the Steal (2013) DVD Review: A Canadian Caper Film

Kurt Russell and Matt Dillon team-up for a funny, slick caper flick heavy on the dialogue and light on the excess.
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A viewer’s got to be leery of a film with so many production companies attached to it, eight on the box, four in the credits on The Art of the Steal—not to be confused with the 2009 documentary film of the same name, both of which deal with stolen art work. This is a heist flick carried by legendary screen charm from the likes of Kurt Russell, Terrence Stamp, and Matt Dillon. I mean what’s going on in the world when movies for men have to scrape together funding. On paper, let alone in print, this film should be green-lit.

Riot in Cell Block 11 Criterion Collection DVD Review: Stuck in Folsom Prison

By removing any pointless embellishments and focusing on the action, Siegel weaves a tale that is as authentic as can be.
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Directed by Don Siegel, the 1954 movie Riot in Cell Block 11 offers a gritty, authentic look at the prison system and the chaos behind a riot. The picture was shot in Folsom State Prison in California with several real inmates and guards filling in background roles. Producer Walter Wanger had also been in jail and relied on his experiences to charge his passion for the film. Now presented by the good people at Criterion Collection, Riot in Cell Block 11 sheds light on an issue that still doesn’t get a lot of press. The treatment of the convicts forms

Il Sorpasso Criterion Collection Review: An Endearing, Incisive Road Movie

Risi's film is simultaneously breezily fun and slyly satiric, a film full of immediate pleasures and more thought-provoking asides.
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The comedy of Dino Risi’s road movie Il Sorpasso hums along beautifully, just like the gorgeous Lancia Aurelia convertible one of its main characters drives. A prime example of the Commedia all’italiana movement that evolved partly as a response to Neorealism, Risi’s film is simultaneously breezily fun and slyly satiric, a film full of immediate pleasures and more thought-provoking asides. It also features two great performances from Vittoria Gassman as the uninhibited Bruno and Jean-Louis Trintignant as shy law student Roberto, who gets roped into a road trip crisscrossing Rome and its surrounding areas after Bruno comes into his apartment

Bullets Over Broadway Panel Discussion: How Woody Allen Burst into Song

Director/choreographer Susan Stroman reveals the trajectory from 1994 film comedy to hit Broadway musical
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If your memories of the 1994 Woody Allen film Bullets Over Broadway are a bit hazy, there’s a reason: a complicated rights dispute has largely kept the film out of the home-viewing market. If it is remembered today, it’s probably for Dianne Wiest’s Oscar-winning turn as boozy Broadway diva Helen Sinclair, turning on a dime from purple-prosed odes to the magic of the thea-tah to snarled put-downs of her fellow actors, along with her amazing ability to turn the two words “Don’t speak!” into a side-splitting catch phrase. My memory was refreshed at a May 5 screening of the film,

The Veronica Mars Movie is the Pick of the Week

I'm kind of excited that they were able to publicly fund a movie so many years after cancellation.
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There has been so much great TV playing over the last decade that its really impossible to keep up with it all. Sure, Netflix and Hulu make it easier than ever to catch up, and what you can’t find through streaming methods, you can buy fairly cheaply via full seasons of DVD collections. Still, there is just so much that's been produced and is continuing to air that unless you do nothing but watch television all day, every day you are going to be behind somewhere. I have a constantly updated list of shows I need to catch up on

The Stuff Dreams are Made of: The Maltese Falcon (1941) on Blu-ray

When Huston, Bogart, Astor, and the rest of the crew got together it was movie magic.
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Continuing my Humphrey Bogart film-watching... Set in 1941 San Francisco, The Maltese Falcon follows detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) who gets mixed up with a group of adventurers who are in search of a treasure - the eponymous Maltese Falcon, which the opening credits tell the audience was "... a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels ..." On the trail of this priceless and mythical artifact are some wonderful characters: Sydney Greenstreet (in his first screen appearance) as "the Fat Man" Kasper Gutman, Mary Astor as the unforgettably lethal femme fatale Brigid O'Shaughnessy, Peter Lorre as

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Blu-ray Review: Thar's Murder in Them Hills!

Owning The Treasure of the Sierra Madre on Blu-ray is easier than finding the treasure itself.
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If The Maltese Falcon was “the stuff that dreams are made of,” then The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is the stuff which gets you sent to Hell. John Huston’s comment on greed and materialism utilizes film noir tropes to create a multilayered experience as profound as it is entertaining. Beautifully rendered for Blu-ray from Warner Brothers, Treasure of the Sierra Madre ensnares you. Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) is a bum living in Tampico, Mexico whose aspirations are grander than his current situation. When he meets up with a young man named Curtain (Tim Holt) and a crazy old-timer

Midsomer Murders: Village Case Files DVD Review: Probably the Greatest Current British Mystery Series

If you enjoy a good British mystery, here are 16 of them in a very reasonably-priced package.
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Midsomer Murders is probably the greatest British mystery series currently on the air. The show is in its 17th season, having begun on the ITV network in 1997. Actually, the proper term is 17th “series,” for the Brits call each TV season a TV series. Although Midsomer is shown on PBS in the U.S., it has never garnered much more than a cult audience, for whatever reason. Still, I get the impression that the show has its share of fans, as the DVD sets of it from Acorn Media continue to sell well. Acorn have released quite a number of

It's A Wrap: The 2014 Humphrey Bogart Film Festival

It is quickly becoming a wonderful tradition for film buffs and Bogie enthusiasts - in a relaxed and beautiful setting.
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I just got back from the second annual Humphrey Bogart Film Festival in Key Largo, FL, and like many of my fellow attendees, I am already looking forward to next year's festival. Attendees were treated to a series of events where they could meet and greet festival organizer and son of the actor, Stephen Bogart (host of WXEL's Bogart on Movies), and renowned film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, as well as take in a list of over twenty classic films, all celebrating the theme of "Romance." I was lucky to be able to see some classic Humphrey Bogart-Lauren Bacall

Book Review: Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Volume 2: 1961-1963: Super-Ridiculous, Super-Fun

A terrific collection of strips that would otherwise be lost to the world.
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Created in 1933, Superman has gone on to become one of the most popular and successful comic-book characters in the world. He has appeared in countless comics, newspapers strips, radio shows, and movies. In 1939, the character began appearing in daily newspapers where he remained a fixture of the comics page until 1966. The Library of American Comics in conjunction with DC Comics has binded together and printed for the first time a comprehensive collection of those newspaper strips. This book covers the years between 1961-1963 and contains over 700 individual strips. This era of the strip is notable for

Master of the House Criterion Collection DVD Review: As Boring as it is Important

For film buffs and those interested in movie history, it is essential.
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As a self-confessed film buff, I have to admit that my knowledge is severely lacking when it comes to silent films. I’ve seen a couple of Charlie Chaplin movies, some Buster Keaton shorts, The Passion of Joan of Arc, and Nosferatu. That’s about it. I’ve tried a few others like The Birth of a Nation and about half of Metropolis. The thing is, I generally find silent films difficult to watch. Like various kinds of great art, silent films take a certain amount of education and practice to appreciate. Decades of fast-paced, dialog-driven movies have led me to expect a

Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2014

The Sentries and friends are looking forward to the following films.
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While the calendar says different, movie-goers know the first weekend of May is when summer begins. Over four months, Hollywood will unleash a roster of blockbusters, and consumers will flock to theaters in hopes that the filmmakers will come thorugh on their implicit promise to entertain. The Sentries and friends are looking forward to the following: Godzilla in theaters May 16 Godzilla should trounce America (properly) via Legendary's respectful do over, set to thrash buildings as often as it does memories of the 1998 Dean Devlin “oops.” Building upon familiar (and inherent) nuclear themes, Gareth Edwards has been touting source

Book Review: Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics, Volume One: 1986-1989 by Bobby London: Absolutely Fabulous

This anthology of Bobby London's Popeye comic strips of the late '80s is mandatory for fans.
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When it comes to reprints of classic comics, The Library of American Comics from IDW Publishing are the absolute gold standard. I own a half-dozen of their books, including collections of Felix the Cat, Blondie, and Polly and Her Pals. Popeye has also been a longtime favorite, although I was sadly unfamiliar with the Bobby London period, from 1986-‘89. So the new Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics, Volume One: 1986-1989 was a bit of a gamble for me. After reading this fat collection of daily strips, I am now embarrassed to admit that I was not hip to London’s Popeye

Book Review: Weird Fantasy, Volume 1: Glossy Reprint of Classic SF Comic

The latest hardcover EC Archives release features the first six issues of this series digitally recolored.
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EC Comics holds a special place in comic book history. After all, it was EC comics in particular that were singled out in the mid-'50s comic book panic, by both Frederic Wertham, whose book Seduction of the Innocent was about the mind-bending, anti-socializing power comic books had on the minds of the young, and in actual congressional inquiries. All of which led to the Comics Code Authority, that little symbol that was underneath the issue number on comics for years, and without which comics could not easily get distribution. It was private sector de facto censorship and a major influence

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