July 2014 Archives

Born Yesterday (1950) Blu-ray Review: A Memorable Holliday in DC

Twilight Time presents us with a classic comedy from Columbia Pictures that's just as big of a laugh as its own studio head.
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In 1946, writer Garson Kanin unveiled unto Manhattan a simple Broadway play entitled Born Yesterday. The story concerned a uncouth, brazen, total jerk of a millionaire - junk dealer Harry Brock - coming to Washington DC with the intent of buying a crooked congressman to work it out so that he could make even more money by screwing people over (something entirely all-too-common today). Embarrassed by the actions and words of his equally dimwitted fiancée, former chorus girl Billie Dawn, Harry hires a local reporter named Paul Verrall to educate the former showgirl with an oh-so-obnoxious voice in the hopes

Under the Skin DVD Review: Being Human...Sort Of

Glazer has crafted a careful and bizarre ode to discovering humanity.
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Based on Michael Faber’s 2000 novel, Under the Skin is a compelling motion picture about discovering humanity from an alien point of view. Directed by Jonathan Glazer, this is one of the most authentic science fiction pictures out there. From the impeccable casting of Scarlett Johansson to the use of genuine encounters with non-actors, there’s something very special about this film. Much of Under the Skin is admittedly rather nebulous, but most of it is quite straightforward for those with open minds. It’s a fever dream at times and an achingly beautiful tale at others, a vision and a nightmare

Lovejoy Series 1 DVD: Ian McShane is a Lovable Rascal (and Might Just Teach You a Thing or Two about Antiques)

The true pleasures of the show are in the charm of its star and the great settings and art objects he shares with the audience.
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When American audiences hear the name Ian McShane, the first image that comes to mind is most likely his gritty, brilliant portrayal of Al Swearengen in HBO's Deadwood. But the actor has been busy on stage and screen since 1962. And before Deadwood, he created another iconic character, Lovejoy, whose series aired in the U.K. from 1986 to 1994. The shows were picked up in the U.S. and broadcast by the A&E Network in the 1990s. They haven't been available to American audiences on DVD until recently, thanks to Acorn Media, who has released the first set, Lovejoy, Series 1,

A Threesome with Errol Flynn (Because Who Wouldn't Want To?)

The Warner Archive presents three rarities starring cinema's great swashbuckling heartbreaker.
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From his breakout starring role in 1935's Captain Blood, it was quite apparent that Errol Flynn was the sort of dashing daredevil leading man who would live on forever in the hearts of film lovers around the world. And indeed he has, though he is mostly known today for his more famous work, such as his aforementioned debut and the subsequent swashbuckling adventures that followed, and even more so for his eponymous portrayal in The Adventures of Robin Hood. But, much like every recording artist/group has a number of singles to stage a Saturday night venue at a bar with,

Need for Speed (2014) Blu-ray Review: Bad, Bad, Bad (But with Some Great Car Stunts!)

Finally, a movie for addlebrained adolescents BY addlebrained adolescents.
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Like many film critics, I frequently fantasize being on one end of the camera or another. The generalized speculation at such a regularly employed daydream is attributed to a case of us wanting to "show the professionals how to do it". Now, while the theory that many of those aforementioned professionals would be unable to tell the difference between a certain form of bodily waste and Shinola, it stands to reason that many of them are employed in their fields for a reason. And, while I quite often agree that most of the people in Hollywood don't have a clue

Save Your Legs! (2012) Blu-ray Review: Wait, Australia Has Sports?

A coming-of-age-a-bit-late-in-life tale, served with a generous serving of Curry sauce.
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I know what you're thinking: "Twilight Time finally brings us a movie from Australia, and it's about cricket?" OK, well maybe that was only what I myself was thinking as I stood there, looking down at the title in my hands with an overwhelming feeling of ambivalence, to wit I eventually loaded the 2012 Aussie comedy Save Your Legs! into my machine and sat down for something I was - as you may have already guessed - totally and completely uncertain of. Much to my surprise, it wasn't half-bad. It wasn't all that great, either - but then, this photoplay

Noah (2014) is the Pick of the Week

Darren Aronofsky used nearly all the tricks in his arsenal to create a visually stunning and well-crafted movie.
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I went to see Noah with a group of friends on opening weekend. We were a pretty diverse bunch in terms of politics, education, and cinematic interest (one guy can count on one hand the number of movies he's seen since he got married five years ago.) But we all shared an interest in religion and were interested in seeing this Biblical tale told on the big screen. Our reactions were about as diverse as who we vote for. The Biblical literalist hated it for taking liberties with the text. The Republican hated it for pushing what he thought was

Violent Saturday (1955) Blu-ray Review: The Day Before Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Twilight Time gives us a much-appreciated upgrade to its previous DVD.
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As someone who grew up and lived far too long in a small community, I learned that drama is often looming around every street corner in such an environment. Everyone tends to stick their noses into the private lives of others, people can have often-unfair labels assigned to them at the drop of a hat, and the absence of available women - or the promiscuity of taken ones - can literally drive some men to drink. Heck, I can proudly say that I have sadly been on the receiving end of all of those maddening elements at one point in

Curtains (1983) Blu-ray Review: A Shining Example of "Less Is More"

Synapse Films unveils a finely-aged Canadian slasher flick.
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If there's one memory I tend to cherish more than most others, it would be the amount of video stores we once had in the small but very spread-out community I grew up in. Why, there were three small independently-run places in the tiny town I lived near alone in the '80s, while the "heavier populated" area had its own larger mom and pop stores. As my eye for entertainment progressively turned more toward the section marked "Horror" (which, in some places, was directly below those special ones with the very large boxes boasting peculiar imagery of people in compromising,

Alive Inside Movie Review: Where There Is Music, There Is Life

Instead of pills, try music.
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"They're very musical people, aren't they?" quips Randolph in 1983's Trading Places. While he intended it as a racial and/or economic generalization against the poor African-American man being given temporary wealthy status as a social experiment, this statement could be applied honestly and objectively to the whole human race. Such is the drive behind Michael Rossato-Bennett's documentary Alive Inside. However, this isn't a catalogue of musical genres and dance styles throughout the ages. Instead, it examines the reaction that occurs when music is given to people the world has forgotten -- nursing home residents and patients without family or visitors,

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977) Blu-ray Review: When Nightmares Become Reality

Surreal, creepy, and ripe with an unmistakable element of subculture artistry.
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I suppose it isn't entirely out of the ordinary for a human being from any regular ol' walk of life to completely drop everything they're doing in order to pursue a dream. Some people even go as far as to film them, such as the great Akira Kurosawa - who constructed an entire feature based entirely on stories inspired by his own subconscious. And then there's the case of a Michigan man by the name of George Barry, who chose to stray from the aforementioned, seldom-traveled path in order to follow what surely must have been a feverish and utterly

Book Review: Overlooked / Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention by Greg Prato

Relive the days of leafing through a friend's record collection by reading the rock journalist's new guide.
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Writing a book entitled Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention is fraught with difficulty. The selections are based purely on personal taste, and are begging for readers to argue with the author. Yet rock journalist Greg Prato has tackled this challenge in his twelfth book, a work packed with suggestions for your music collection. Remember the experience of leafing through a friend’s records, CDs, and tapes, analyzing albums and recommending bands that (you think) no one knows? That memory mirrors the experience of reading Overlooked/Underappreciated. Covering mostly rock, jazz, R&B, and blues, Prato analyzes each listing using the following

Blu-ray Review: Contrived Narratives Meet Astonishing Nature Footage

Hidden Kingdoms, from BBC Earth, showcases the world of small animals, mixing fictional stories with very real, very beautiful footage.
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Nature shows have to balance the nature with the show. The point of watching animals do stuff is to see what animals really do, but an hour of just watching a dung beetle shove dung around is not going to be scintillating television. Hidden Kingdoms, a three-part nature show focusing on tiny animals (which played on the Discovery Channel under the much less elegant title Mini Monsters) goes headlong into show and contrivance, creating little manufactured narratives about its stars, complete with twists and motivations that might be a little more complex than these little animal brains can plausibly conceive.

Bloody Moon / Bloody Birthday / The Baby (1973) Blu-ray Reviews: Bad, Bizarre, & Bizarrely Beautiful

Severin Films re-releases three outrageous horror classics in High-Def.
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Several years ago, back when I first started writing for the now defunct dvdinmypants.com, a Severin Films release landed on my doorstep one day that I was literally only able to repeatedly refer to as "heinous." The film in question was Jess Franco's Bloody Moon - a 1981 German slasher flick wherein the late Spanish director was cunningly (or perhaps "conningly") lured in by some rather shady producers who promised him the dark side of the moon - or rather, the men behind the The Dark Side of the Moon themselves, Pink Floyd, as the composers of the finished work.

Chiller: The Complete Television Series DVD Review: Not Worth Your Time

Mostly, it's completely forgettable.
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Horror seems uniquely suited for an anthology series. Since horror, unlike many other genres, relies heavily on big reveals at the end it becomes difficult to keep up the thrills and chills for more than an hour or two. An anthology allows you to tell lots of different stories and (potentially) scare the hell out of everyone time and time again while likewise retaining a certain amount of name recognition under one title. It makes sense then that TV and film producers would be interested in telling unrelated tales underneath a single banner. Certainly this bares itself out with numerous

Brannigan (1975) Blu-ray Review: Dirty Duke (Done Dirt Cheap?)

For those of you who have ever wondered what would have happened had John Wayne played Harry Callahan.
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Of all the many fascinating little tidbits shuffled away within the footnotes of film history, there is nothing quite as frightening as what very well could have happened had Don Siegel's now-legendary film Dirty Harry been cast with one of the original actors the film's producers approached to play the role of Harry Callahan. Among that distinguished list of honorees were Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, and The Duke himself, John Wayne. Most of the actors approached fully realized that they were perhaps just a little bit too old for the part, while others were appalled by the story

Our Family Honor (1985) DVD Review: The Beginning of a Short-Lived Series

The Warner Archive brings us a sample of forgotten '80s TV crimetime drama.
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Years before television viewing audiences found themselves frantically tuning in on a weekly basis to see what outrageous antics were being developed - and shown - on such groundbreaking shows as NYPD Blue and The Sopranos, ABC tried out a primetime drama that theoretically could have very well proved inspirational for those future, much more popular programs that people still remember today. In fact, there's a moment in the beginning of Our Family Honor that features starlet Daphne Ashbrook removing her shirt to expose her bare back, followed by what I could only describe as a side-of-a-side-of-a-side-of-a-sideboob shot. While this

Book Review: Tarzan: In The City of Gold: The Complete Burne Hogarth Comic Strip Library

The first in a four-volume set presenting Hogarth's tenure as artist of the Tarzan newspaper comic strip.
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Tarzan of the Apes, author Edgar Rice Burroughs' legendary creation, first appeared in the October 1912 issue of The All-Story. The character was such a sensation Burroughs wrote sequels and Tarzan was adapted into film, theater, radio, and newspaper strips, making the King of the Jungle one of the twentieth century's first Kings of All Media. Titan Books' Tarzan: In The City of Gold is the first in a four-volume planned set presenting Burne Hogarth's tenure as artist of the Tarzan newspaper comic strip. Hogarth replaced Tarzan's first artist Hal Foster, who left for the more lucrative opportunity to start

High Barbaree (1947) DVD Review: Van Johnson and June Allyson Drop a Bomb

Recoil in horror as a tale with too many flashbacks literally bores its own co-star to death.
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As anyone who has ever judged a wet t-shirt contest in a college town can surely attest to, there's nothing quite like a great pairing. And the same rule applies to film - especially when the chemistry of two actors always seems to ignite a certain spark amongst audiences. A grand example of such a cinematic union would be RKO's dynamite combination of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, whose films together have withstood the test of time. But of course, for every grand pairing, there are usually some relatively minor fictional couplings. In fact, there's a strong possibility that there

GMO OMG Movie Review: What Are You Putting in Your Mouth?

Before you take another bite, watch this.
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Jeremy Seifert is your every-man American. Wife, kids, and concerned about the well being of his family. He tries to help them all make healthy eating choices, going so far as to grow their own food whenever possible. One of his sons has taken a particular interest in planting and harvesting seeds. When talk of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) started coming up and that they appeared to have made their way into the food supply, he decided to take a closer look. The results of this investigation are chronicled in Seifert's documentary GMO OMG. Genetically modified seeds have grown in

Rio 2 Blu-ray Review: Welcome to the Jungle

Blu on Blu-ray is the best way to experience this musical, colorful jungle, although the lackluster story falls short.
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Although the first Rio didn’t really set the box office on fire or generate frantic demand for further adventures, it was apparently successful enough that the studio forged ahead with this direct sequel. Mostly, it seems like an excuse for Brazilian creator/director Carlos Saldanha to further promote his homeland and its music around the world, and viewed as a travel documentary it’s fairly successful in that quest. As in the original, Rio 2 is filled with authentic and energetic Brazilian music, as well as vibrant representations of the country’s landscape. If only it had a story to match the sumptuous

Bret Maverick: The Complete Series (1981-1982) DVD Review: James Garner's Final Round

The Warner Archive brings us the last series starring one of the industry's finest.
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The late great James Garner left a lasting impression upon the world of film and television, but there was perhaps no greater character he brought to life than that of gambler Bret Maverick. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. The character of Jim Rockford could very well vie for the title too, of course - though we must take into consideration that Garner was one of four lead actors to be cast in the original Maverick, and still managed to come out ahead of the others (like there was any contest with Robert Colbert!). As the late '70s rolled around,

The Essential Jacques Demy is the Pick of the Week

What I have seen looks like pure joy.
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Living with my parents is beginning to take its toll. After much looking and consideration, we decided to move into an apartment while we start the process of building our own home. It's much smaller than the rental houses we looked at but the money saved makes it worth the irritation. However, the apartment we wanted is not available until August 5, which is why we’re still living with my parents. My parents are lovely people and incredibly kind. While their house is rather large, it’s still pretty cramped when you put both of our families (and all of our

Thoughtful & Abstract: Changes at Marvel Comics Fail To Impress

The reboot of the Avengers' core characters, while not surprising, is disheartening.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@KimFreakinB) consider the news about changes coing to a couple Marvel Comics characters: Shawn: This past week brought the announcement of a few changes coming to the Marvel Universe this Fall. It's funny what changes in the comic industry make the mainstream news and which ones go unnoticed. First, we're talking about fictional characters. Second, over the past 75 years, comic companies have proven that no change is permanent. I think the current changes caught the attention of Social Media because of a confluence of events. The week around San Diego Comic-Con always brings
Author John Grant has assembled a massive tome cataloging film noir that rightly deserves to be called a “comprehensive encyclopedia.” Over the book's 700-plus pages, there are entries for more than 3,250 films, beginning with Stephen Gaghan's Abandon (2002) and ending with John Penney's Zyzzyx Rd (2005). Covering nearly 100 years of cinema, the book's earliest entry is Chester M. Franklin's Going Straight (1916) and the latest is Allen Hughes' Broken City (2013). Understandably, those four films might not immediately leap to anyone's mind when thinking about film noir, which is why Grant begins his Introduction with the question “What

Persona (1966) Criterion Collection Review: An Absolute Must-have

A great film that should be watched and revered by any serious cinephile
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Everyone agrees that Ingmar Bergman is one of the greatest director’s of world cinema. Almost no one disagrees that his films can be difficult to watch and even more so to understand. I’ve long held the theory than when Americans say that they do no like foreign language films they really just don’t like Bergman. Even if they’ve never heard his name or watched his films, his style of intellectual, arty, often-incomprehensible cinema is exactly the sort of thing that turns people off from non-Hollywood movies. I’ll admit that while I do hold the director in the highest esteem, and

A Summer's Tale Movie Review: Dissecting Love and Sex with Philosophical Precision

Eric Rohmer's 1996 joyful musing finally gets a U.S. release, sixteen years later.
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French filmmaker Eric Rohmer was in his mid-seventies when in 1996 he wrote and directed A Summer's Tale, the third in a quartet of features grouped together as Tales of the Four Seasons. It would take another sixteen years for the film to find distribution in America. Dissecting love and sex with philosophical precision, A Summer's Tale—like most of Rohmer’s films—avoids ideologies, opting to unpack the contemplative emotions of man infatuated. It’s a marvel that Rohmer, at his age, captured the uncertain and self-serious nature of being on the cusp of adulthood. Over the days of summer, Rohmer breaths a

Twilight Time Presents: Men of Action (and Reaction)

An assortment of adult drama featuring some of classic cinema's biggest names are now yours to enjoy on Blu-ray.
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If today's box office blockbusters are capable of delivering any kind of message at all, it would be that a vast majority of moviegoers seem to prefer their action movies to be riddled with non-stop bullet ballets, edited together via one giant shaky cam CGI-laden experience completely devoid of any character development, actual emotion, and - quite often - halfway decent writing. Lens flares get tossed in at the drop of a hat, seemingly added solely to distract audiences from the lack of acting occurring on the screen on the part of the way-too-young and aesthetically-pleasing faces of performers cast

Sabotage (2014) Blu-ray Review: A Lesson in Self-Sabotage

A somewhat progressive '80s throwback eschewing story for blood-letting.
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Since his return to acting post-Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger hasn’t exactly been embraced with open arms by the action junkies of the world. His films are fun, but they aren’t the boffo box-office juggernauts they once were, and, along with his compatriots Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis (all of whom have found success as a package deal in The Expendables series), represent a dying era of action films audiences find cheesy and retro. Schwarzenegger’s latest, Sabotage, is certainly a brutal throwback to the ‘80s actioners of Schwarzenegger’s youth, and while there's some fantastic work from the females of the

Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th DVD Review: Jason, Jason, and More Jason

If you love this series, then this will no doubt get your slasher-juices flowing.
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Looking to cash in on the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Paramount Pictures hired Sean S. Cunningham to produce and direct a new horror film. That movie was 1980's Friday the 13th. It was not the first slasher film ever nor anything close to the best but something about it spoke to audiences all over the world to the tune of nearly $40 million. It spawned nine sequels, a television series, a Nightmare on Elm Street crossover film, a 2009 reboot, and numerous novels and comic books. Jason Voorhees and his hockey-mask-wearing, machete-yielding self has become a horror icon. The

Under the Skin DVD Review: Well, The Cinematography is Beautiful

Clearly, I didn't get it.
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Have you ever visited a museum with a friend and as you both stand starring at a painting, your friend begins to extol the beauty of the work and talent of the artist while you look upon it wondering who spilled paint on that canvas? You wonder how it is possible that you are missing all the symbolism that your friend continues to describe. What would you do if someone asked you to write a review on the piece of art? Well, here we go. According to the packaging, Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson, which hit store shelves on

Hinterland Series 1 DVD Review: The Prints of Wales

Atmospheric and deadly serious mystery show set in the dramatic Welsh countryside.
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Although we Yanks are mostly familiar with Wales in relation to “Prince/Princess/Duchess of”, it is very much a real place with its own distinct language and customs. That Welsh air of mystique gives Hinterland a leg up on other UK mystery series right out of the gate, and the expertly crafted cases and exceptional production design keep that momentum going throughout this excellent first season. It’s also worth pointing out that we’re getting the season very quickly, as it was just broadcast in the UK this May and is already here on DVD. New DCI Tom Mathias (Richard Harrington) is

The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968) DVD Review: Well, Not Really, No

Raquel Welch's fripples and Edward G. Robinson's dancing highlight a rather lackluster comical caper.
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In all the annals of crime fiction, there can perhaps be no greater task assigned to any filmmaker than the execution of a heist or caper tale. Such a photoplay must be handled with complete and total confidence, caution, care, and subsequently carried out with great attention paid to each and every detail. In fact, making a caper isn't too terribly dissimilar than the act of performing for a daring robbery itself: you need a crew of professionals who not only having the fine art of perfect timing down to a science, but who are also utterly suave and sophisticated

Criterion Announces October 2014 Releases

Which one are you most interested in owning?
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In October, the Criterion Collection offers new digital restorations of Orson Welles' F for Fake documentary and George Sluizer’s Dutch thriller, The Vanishing. They also add to the collection John Ford's take on Wyatt Earp and the O.K. Corral, My Darling Clementine, and Federico Fellini's international breakthrough, La dolce vita. Last but not least, The Complete Jacques Tati is a six-film set that collects previous Criterion titles, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, Mon oncle, PlayTime, and Trafic My Darling Clementine (#732) out Oct 14 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions John Ford takes on the legend of the O.K. Corral shoot-out in this

Panel Preview: Dark Horse Comics: Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #1

"I pray I do not regret my inaction." - Usagi
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Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #1 goes on sale August 6. The official synopsis for the six-issue mini-series, inspired by H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, reads: Twenty years in his future, Miyamoto Usagi fights as a general for Lord Noriyuki, against the treacherous Lord Hikiji. In the fury of the final battle, a metal rocket crashes to earth—and inside is an enemy that neither side could have ever imagined! Witness the final fates of your favorite Usagi characters, in this all-new samurai epic with a startling science fiction twist! Dark Horse Comics has provided a preview. Tell us what

Under the Skin is the Pick of the Week

I pray that it becomes more than another footnote on the Mr. Skin webpage.
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Random story: my father recently got on my mother’s computer which is set up slightly different than his own device. Mom’s homepage is set to Google, whereas my father prefers Yahoo. Dad actually googled “yahoo” then clicked on the link and searched for whatever it was he was actually looking for. Thing is, my dad is actually relatively computer literate. He’s had a computer since the early '90s, been online since 1996, was an early adapter to digital photography and can draw house plans on his CAD program like a master. Yet somehow search engines still elude him. I frackin’

Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano Blu-ray Review: Fans Should Invest in It

They could all be your songs.
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From 2004 to 2009, Elton John served a five-year residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. That evening of music was dubbed The Red Piano. After a hiatus, Elton returned in 2011 for another residency with The Million Dollar Piano, which repeated two-thirds of the previous set list but expanded the number of songs played. Now available on home video, a performance recorded in February 2012 features Elton playing some of his biggest hits alongside a few deep cuts. The show begins with Elton taking the stage in a glittery cape that would have made Liberace proud. During much of

The Sunshine Boys (1975) DVD Review: Walter Matthau and George Burns Are Forever Young

One of those rare Neil Simon dramedies that still makes you laugh in all the right places for all the right reasons.
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The mid '70s was essentially the zenith of a now-occasionally-questioned-by-film-scholars craze wherein virtually every melodramatic Broadway hit penned by playwright Neil Simon's simply had to be turned into a movie. And, while several of the umpteen kajillion Simon plays transformed into cinema fare - like, say, Chapter Two - wouldn't even be worth the price of admission into a free upscale theater with an open snack bar and the guarantee of a personal Q&A with God himself to take place immediately thereafter, there are those other filmic works of the famous writer that would be worth viewing even if you

The Future, the Past, and Creepy Dolls: Twilight Time Breaks the Eclectic Mold

The niche Blu-ray label unveils, among other things, its first double feature release.
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A little over three years ago, a tiny niche distributor began to issue limited edition releases of movies that didn't quite fit the norm on DVD, before quickly deciding to give viewers these exclusives only on Blu-ray instead. Films that, for one reason or another, had either become concealed in film vaults by excessive dust, archival copies of the six-thousand superhero movies produced this year alone, or which their parental studios didn't quite have enough faith in to release single-handed (because, you know, why spend money to make the fans of classic movies happy when you have six-thousand superhero movies

Underwater Dreams Movie Review: Good in Spite of Its Marketing

There's more to this story than mere robots that go splish splash.
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The synopses for the documentary Underwater Dreams talk about undocumented Mexican high school students building an underwater robot for a competition with the likes of MIT's best and brightest. They also talk of "lasting effects" and "inspiration" and "activism." What none of them mention is that the last third of the documentary is essentially a mouthpiece for the benefits of the DREAM Act legislation and immigration reform. That's a perfectly good and relevant topic to discuss, but it threw off the film's pacing and my expectations going in. Act One is all about the unlikely Davids from Carl Hayden Community

Chad Hanna DVD Review: Henry Fonda Joins the Circus

Harmless, mildly enjoyable corn featuring strong performances by Fonda, Dorothy Lamour, Linda Darnell, a lion, a horse, and an elephant.
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There are two 1940 movies starring Henry Fonda, both featuring Jane Darwell and the basso-voiced character actor John Carradine, that involve the Fonda character hitting the road to escape trouble at home. Movie buffs will quickly be able to identify one as The Grapes of Wrath, with Fonda as ex-con Tom Joad, joining his family of dispossessed Okies on their trek to the promised land of California from the drought-ravaged Midwest. This stark black-and-white document of the Depression is justly famous, featuring direction by John Ford and masterful deep-focus cinematography by Gregg Toland (Wuthering Heights, Citizen Kane, The Best Years

Persona (1966) Criterion Collection Review: Chilling, Strange, and Metaphysical

Bergman outdoes himself with an influential tale of identical madness.
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In my own opinion, no other film in history has garnered so much critical analysis as Ingmar Bergman's 1966 masterpiece, Persona. It remains a film unlike no other that continues to one of the most chilling, strange, and metaphysical films ever made. Is it a film about two women's psychological neurosises? Or, is it a tale about the switching of personal identities? Maybe it's both, or something much creepier. Whatever it is, it remains one of my favorite films of all-time, one that I constantly watch, especially to uncover its many smoldering mysteries. It also a study of transcendental acting,

RiffTrax Live!: Sharknado Review: Wisecracks That Cut Deeper Than Shark Bites

If you're not watching RiffTrax, you should be.
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RiffTrax was borne out of the '90s cult hit show Mystery Science Theater 3000 where three smart-alecks would snipe witty, snarky, and above all else funny comments during terrible movies for the viewer's amusement. After 11 years on the air, the gang wanted to see if they could bring their wit to more movies by producing play-along audio tracks that would rib the movies while you watched them at home. Now the format has grown to hosting live shows broadcast to movie theaters around the country by Fathom Events, and works just as well (or in some cases, better) as

Musical Oddities From the Warner Archive

Two forgotten musicals, a neglected homage, and The Cars, too.
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While Friedrich Nietzsche is perhaps best known today by underread Facebook users as the guy who said "Without music, life would be a mistake," the general idea of such an idiom makes a great deal of sense. That said, however, the combination of music and film has resulted in a venerable slew of items - ranging from movie musicals for the big screen to music videos for television - being produced and quickly forgotten about throughout the better part of an entire century. Prior to television becoming the norm for entertainment, wherein variety shows (another casualty of the passing of

The 66th Primetime Emmy Nominations Have Been Announced

What do you think of them?
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This morning, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced their 66th Primetime Emmy Award nominations for outstanding achievement by programs that aired from June 1, 2013 until May 31, 2014, recognizing what they consider the best of the medium and allowing TV writers the world over the opportunity to again misuse the word "snub." It's the usual mix of overly familiar names like last year's series winners with Modern Family (will they go five in a row?) and Breaking Bad (will it win for each half of its final season or will non-miniseries True Detective trump?), and a few

Losers, Lineages, Lust, Lemons, and Lynch: Five Comedies From Twilight Time

What do Woody Allen, James Stewart, Kurt Russell, David Lynch, and a couple of horny teenage girls have in common? They're all on Blu-ray now.
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That which makes something "the funny" is something we as human beings utterly fail to see eye-to-eye on far too regularly. You don't know how many times I've projected an episode of SCTV onto the television set in a desperate attempt to educate today's unimpressionable youth, or stalked the aisles of a video store looking for people to start fistfights with just because they were under the false impression Haunted House was a good movie. But I guess our respective taste in comedy (or lack thereof) is just another example of that which makes us individuals. You know, just like

Book Review: Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War by Mark Harris

Fascinating, lively group bio chronicling the WWII service of Hollywood legends Frank Capra, George Stevens, John Ford, William Wyler, and John Huston.
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Five seems to be a lucky number for author Mark Harris. His previous book, Pictures at a Revolution, artfully captured a key inflection point in movie and American history by examining the five Best Picture nominees from 1967 (a group that included Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde and the eventual winner, In the Heat of the Night, as well as the joker in the pack, the dreadful Rex Harrison musical version of Dr. Dolittle). Now he has successfully tackled a tough genre, the group biography, with Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the

Bronies vs. A Brony Tale: A "Tail" of Two Brony Documentaries

I tell you who did it better.
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When I get a movie to review, I really try not to compare it with other films that cover the same subject matter. However I find it impossible not to review A Brony Tale without discussing the film Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. (For the most part, I will refer to this movie as just Bronies.) I have now seen both of these documentaries and the similarities are hard to ignore. It was as if a professor assigned the topic of Bronies to a filmmaking class and each doc had to include the same sub-topics

Wildcat Bus (1940) DVD Review: As Outdated as Public Transportation Itself

Fay Wray highlights this slow-moving ride that's too proud to ask for direction.
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Prior to the days of Big Oil coyly destroying America's public transportation system in favor of urging everyone to buy huge gas-guzzling cars, there existed a different kind of criminal to the owners and operators of bus travel. Wildcat Bus tells of such activity, though its sense of direction could do with some navigation control. We begin with the carefree inheritor of old money (Charles Lang) having everything he owns but his car and his chauffeur/best friend (the great Paul Guilfoyle) being taken away from him by the powers that be, who declare him incompetent and incapable for some unknown

A Slight Case of Larceny (1953) DVD Review: Bottom of the Barrel Comedy

The beginning of the end for Mickey Rooney and Eddie Bracken.
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It's always interesting to watch a titan fall within the realm of film - even one who was as diminutive as the late Mickey Rooney. Hailed as a prodigy in his youth, Rooney escalated into the bright limelight of Tinseltown as an adult, starring in the ever-popular Andy Hardy series. As the 1950s rolled around, however, Rooney found himself in a precarious situation. He had been married and divorced several times over already (those numbers would keep growing as time went on), and was only nine years away from declaring bankruptcy when A Slight Case of Larceny was released to

Nymphomaniac Volume 1 & Volume 2 is the Pick of the Week

I've been meaning to check out Lars von Trier's films for a long time. This week's pick just might get me there.
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I suppose every film lover keeps some sort of list of films they feel they should watch at some point. Mine is an ever increasingly growing and perpetually changing list. The films I watch from that list are chosen from a variety of factors ranging from free time to accessibility to mood. There are quite a few films that I very much want to watch but that I feel like I have to be in a certain head space to really appreciate. There are some directors whose work often falls into this category. I generally love the films of Ingmar

Boyhood's 12 Years in the Making: Jumping into the Void

Director Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, and Ellar Coltrane on creating an "epic of minutia."
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That Boyhood, Richard Linklater’s “epic of minutia,” had an unconventional production schedule is something of an understatement. For an even dozen years, the cast and crew met once a year to chronicle both the aging and maturing (two distinct and separate processes) of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), his sister Samantha (played by the director’s daughter Lorelei Linklater), and their parents Olivia and Mason Sr. (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke). What for some less fearless actors and filmmakers would have been a quixotically crazy commitment has produced a unique film, not without its flaws, that effectively plays with audience expectations about plot,

Girl Trouble DVD Review: Romantic Comedy Lite

Girl Crazy is an extremely silly romantic comedy, but offers fast-paced fun.
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Hollywood churned out romantic comedies by the dozens in the 1930s and 1940s. Wacky heiresses, bumbling suitors, and their faithful sidekicks made up most of the casts, along with some situational impediments to romance until the final few minutes. 1942's Girl Trouble, starring Joan Bennett and Don Ameche, is one of the genre's lighter, fluffier entries, but it is good fun all the same. Bennett stars as socialite June Delaney, who is informed in the first few moments of the film that she is currently broke. The stylish young woman isn't exactly thrilled at the news, and is reluctant to

Book Review: Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, Vol. 4: 1942-1944 by Alex Raymond

This LOAC series comes to a close as Raymond proves to be the kind of hero he wrote about.
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This fourth and final volume of The Library of American Comics' series reprinting Alex Raymond's Sunday strips of Flash Gordon and its topper Jungle Jim begins on January 4, 1942, less than a month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the U.S. joining the Allied Forces. World War II had a great impact on the strip. Jim Bradley's adventures found the character travelling the globe to foil plots by the Japanese and the Germans. Flash Gordon did his part for the war effort as well, but his mission required a return to the planet Mongo to retrieve radium. Once

Book Review: Archie: The Swingin' Sixties, Volume Two: 1963-1965 by Bob Montana and Bruce Canwell

A swingin' good time with Archie and the gang.
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Almost anyone can name the first comic book they ever read. For many, it’s some type of superhero in either the Marvel or DC universe, but, for me, it was Archie and his gang from Riverdale. Yes, Archie and crew are very tame, and were also a highly idealized product of their time (attempts to break into other avenues to break their cookie-cutter image are on-going). My experience was with the various “digests,” containing several stories pasted into one book. Recently, IDW Publishing started putting out collections comprised of Archie’s adventures in the newspapers. Their latest collection, Archie: The Swingin’

uRexsoft DVD Ripper Platinum v7.1 Software Review: What It Lacks In Polish, It Makes Up For In Results

Reasonably priced tool with a balanced interface.
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There are many reasons DVD and Blu-ray ripping has gotten popular, ranging from backing up scratch-prone discs, easing concerns about decay or decline of the medium, compressing movies for easy viewing on a tablet or phone on the go, or the less legal act of distributing of content to others. The task has gotten harder and harder to do over the years as publishers have learned to encrypt and lock away the disc's contents more and more, preventing the end user from shrinking the files or playing back on unapproved devices. In a crowded field with other contenders like DVDFab,

Sky Full of Moon (1952) DVD Review: And a Script Full of Maroons

Notable for being as genuinely dumb as its name implies.
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Throughout the annals of romantic history, ladies and gentlemen - whether it be pressed onto paper, matted into music, or solidified on celluloid - there has never been anything quite like the moonlight to bring out the lustful lycanthropes within us. Even that one time when Bugs Bunny was in drag on the moon commenting that there was "a beautiful Earth out tonight", you can't help but suspect it was the very lunar surface itself that was responsible. And yet, were someone to say to me "Look at that sky full of moon," I think all romantic notions would come

The Way, Way Back Blu-ray Review: A Coming-of-Age Classic

Awkward teen finds real life is manageable.
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As far as coming-of-age movies go The Way, Way Back is the exception. Most in the genre fall in one of two camps; the Porky’s, "everybody gets laid until someone has sex with a pie" camp, or the She’s All That "everybody emotionally blossoms until somebody kisses the girl" camp. Both have their merits and occasionally cross stitch a classic like Sixteen Candles, equal parts sexual immaturity and teenage sensitivity. They revel in the milieu of adolescence with grown-ups often serving as the oblivious and aggravating folly. It’s rare for these films to maintain a looseness and sense of humor

And Now for Something Completely Different: Fathom Presents Monty Python Live (mostly)

“We are very excited that not only do we get the chance to screw up on stage, we get a chance to screw up live in cinemas too." - Eric Idle
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For the first time in more than three decades, Monty Python comedy legends John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin have reunited on stage for a special, historic trip down memory lane. Later this month, fans from around the world will have the opportunity to join one of the most anticipated live events of the year, and bid farewell on this final curtain call of the Pythons live from London’s O2 Arena performance. Presented by Fathom Events and Picturehouse Entertainment, Monty Python Live (mostly) will be broadcast live to cinemas on Sunday, July 20 at 2:30

Woman's World DVD Review: It's Frothy, '50s Fun

This welcome arrival to DVD is good fun and should be enjoyed on repeat viewings.
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Woman's World is a glossy, mid-'50s drama, with comedic undertones provided by June Allyson, and finally available on DVD on-demand from Fox Cinema Archives. The plot centers on automobile mogul Ernest Gifford (Clifton Webb) and his search for a new general manager from a small pool — three of his best and brightest salesmen. Gifford Motors' (not so loosely based on Ford Motor Company) corporate headquarters is in New York City, and Gifford intends to bring his three top candidates — and their wives — for a long-form interview and look-see. Bill and Katie Baxter (Cornel Wilde and June Allyson),

Caged (1950) DVD Review: Polished Prototype of a Sleazy Subgenre

The Warner Archive gives this lifelong classic a deserving second chance.
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You know when the words "Pile out, you tramps! It's the end of the line!" are uttered by a grumpy, disgusted prisoner transport driver at the opening of a movie that you're in for a good one. And while they say nothing quite changes a man like prison, it goes doubly so for women - something we all learned from numerous late-night viewings of those wonderfully sleazy Women In Prison (WIP) movies we watched as horny adolescents (and which we still view on occasion today as grown, oversexed men). But long before the days of those mouth-watering, gratuitous scenes of

Never Too Late to Learn? Twilight Time's Quintet Examines Human Nature

Five films making their High-Def debut take a good long look at depraved elements like violence, greed, sports, and Jon Voight.
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If there was one particular collection of words that I would repeatedly hear and subsequently remind myself during those brutal mornings when I would wake up with a staggeringly, seemingly-undefeatable hangover during my years as a twentysomething, it was that it was never too late to learn. And, much like the idiot I was then (as opposed to the idiot I am now), I didn't listen. Similarly, this assortment of titles released by our friends at Twilight Time in March of 2014 deals with people from all walks of life finding themselves with the same epiphany - though most of
Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment are excited to present the annual “Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies: Beat Club 4/21/72” in cinemas nationwide on July 17 at 7:30 p.m. local time. The event will feature a complete rare live studio performance of the Grateful Dead captured during their legendary European tour in 1972 with audio remastered from the original analog tapes. Never officially released and never before seen in its entirety, the Bremen, West Germany’s Beat Club TV program studio performance features the classic 1972 lineup, and captures the Dead in their prime, playing at the height of the powers

The Document of the Dead DVD Review: An Absolutely Wonderful Labor of Zombie Love

One of the very best documentaries ever made about the horror genre.
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There have been many documentaries about the making of movies, especially about the horror genre, but Roy Frumkes' 32 year-old classic documentary, Document of the Dead, stands out as one of the very best ever made about the horror genre, period. Actually this review is about the re-edited, updated, and repolished 2011 version with new footage and new interviews. This is a brilliant showcase of director George A. Romero's legendary career, spanning from the late 1960s with his famous zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead in 1968, to his masterpiece 1978 sequel, Dawn of the Dead, which is mostly

Performance (1970) Blu-ray Review: Mick Jagger Highlights Psychedelic Cult Classic

For those of you who wonder what that whole "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" thing is like.
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Whenever people ask me how my day was, I tend to tell them that I won't honestly be able to give them an answer to their inquiry until a little after 11:59pm. And my slightly-sane reasoning behind my sarcasm offers up the argument that it is hard to sum something up that hasn't fully concluded yet. Likewise, if one were to make a movie about the life of a famous person whilst the individual in question is still alive, the entire point seems a bit moot. The same goes for motion pictures that are all about an entire decade: it's

Barbary Coast (1975) DVD Review: Frisco, The Western Frontier

William Shatner is a man of a thousand faces in this lighthearted TV series.
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In between starring in Star Trek and T.J. Hooker, William Shatner also led Barbary Coast, a lesser-known, short-lived TV series in a role where he got to showcase his comedic abilities. Making its debut on DVD thanks to Acorn Media, the TV-movie and 13 episodes have been collected in a four-disc set sans bonus features. Owing a bit to The Wild, Wild West, Shatner plays Jeff Cable, former Union soldier and current undercover government agent patrolling the streets of 1880s San Francisco. Like Ross Martin's Artemis Gordon, Cable makes frequent use of costumes and make-up, and Shatner seems to be

Brain Donors (1992) DVD Review: An Underrated and Extremely Neglected Comedy

The Zucker Brothers take on the Marx Brothers in a rare example of someone actually succeeding in recreating classic comedy.
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Capturing the elements that made classic comedies classic for a contemporary comedy is ne'er an easy task. In fact, it can be near impossible to accomplish such a feat. Who can forget that time Harvey Korman and Buddy Hackett attempted to recreate Abbott & Costello's timed-to-perfection routines for the the 1978 TV biopic Bud and Lou? Actually, it turns out that everybody forgot about that, and rightfully so, I dare say. How about a more timely topic, like the Farrelly Brothers' abysmal take on The Three Stooges from 2012? Yes, the same project that managed to bring a Curly Howard

TCM's Friday Night Spotlight Shines on the 100th Anniversary of World War I

Spend Fridays in July watching WWI films with General Wesley Clark.
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In observance of the centenary of World War I, which lasted from July 1914 to November 1918, TCM devotes its popular Friday Night Spotlight franchise to films about this conflict. Primetime films in the Spotlight are hosted by retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, a veteran of 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense. A winner of the Silver Star for his service in Vietnam, Clark later commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War during his term as the Supreme Allied Commander and Commander in Chief of the U.S. European Command. The lineup is set to

Book Review: LOAC Essentials Vol. 5: The Bungle Family 1930 by Harry J. Tuthill: Marvelously Subtle Satire Circa 1930

The Bungle Family provides an incredible opportunity to step back in time with a man who knew the con inside and out.
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Art Spiegelman calls Harry J. Tuthill’s The Bungle Family comic strip, “One of the darkest visions of American life this side of Nathanael West.” That may be true, but with the new Library of American Comics Essentials Vol. 5: The Bungle Family 1930, there is much more than simply a dark vision. The daily strips from that year provide a cultural historical record of the moment unlike any other. As writer Paul Tumey points out in his Introduction, Tuthill knew the con inside and out. It is an incredible experience to step back in time with The Bungle Family.Tuthill’s formative

Boyhood Movie Review: As Time Goes By

Literally 12 years in the making, Richard Linklater creates a naturalistic slice of life that's equal parts interesting and maddeningly anti-dramatic.
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Boyhood is a paradox of a film, equal parts interesting and maddeningly mundane. It was made over the span of a dozen years by fearless writer/director Richard Linklater, who gathered the same key cast members at regular intervals to chronicle the childhood and teen years of Mason and his sister Samantha (Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater), along with the aging, gracefully and un-, of their parents, played by Ethan Hawke and an exceptionally good Patricia Arquette. Unlike movies that are forced to use makeup (or CGI) to age-appropriate their actors, or that use younger look-alikes to show “Mason at 12”

Search for the Gods (1975) DVD Review: What, Another Failed TV Pilot? You Bet!

Pre-action star Kurt Russell highlights this amusing piece of '70s pseudoscience schlock.
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In the late '60s, a fellow named Erich von Däniken published a book entitled Chariots of the Gods?, which - among other things, highlighted the concept of ancient astronauts. Now, perhaps it was the seemingly-godless state of the world at the time or the fact that everyone was on drugs then, but it wasn't long until the public had a keen interest in all things pseudoscience shortly after the rather-controversial title's release. Soon after and well into the late '70s, movies and TV shows were popping up left and right that showed ordinary men looking for Bigfoot, the Loch Ness

Death Among Friends (1975) DVD Review: Lighthearted Murder Fare = Failed TV Pilot

Not quite as nice as sex among friends, but I suppose it'll do.
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While many of you will no doubt agree with Christopher Lloyd's line in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock that a failure is the most powerful destructive force ever created, I have to beg to differ when it comes to television pilots. When it was quite clear that these vehicles would never be able to spread their wings and learn to fly, they wound up banished to the hoary netherworlds known as vaults, wherein they practiced the fine art of collecting dust. It is only when studio folk start rummaging through these motion picture relics of yesteryear that we

Cannibal Holocaust is the Pick of the Week

It is absolutely not a film for everyone, but it is an essential viewing for horror fanatics.
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In the small town in Oklahoma where I grew up, we had a surprisingly big video store. They had taken over a Burger King that had gone out of business (and that tells you right there how "small town" we were) so the floor space was rather large and they had a really wonderful and eclectic selection of odd-ball movies. I especially enjoyed their horror section. They had the usual collection of psycho killers slashing at sexy teens (this was the '80s after all) but they also had more unusual stuff like the Faces of Death series, Shocking Asia, Vampyros

RiffTrax Live: Sharknado Hits Theaters on Two Nights in July

"We're gonna need a bigger chopper." - Nova
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Produced by The Asylum, Sharknado is the story of beachside bar regulars including owner Fin (Ian Ziering), bartender Nova (Casie Scerbo) and local drunk George (John Heard) as they team up with Fin’s ex-wife April (Tara Reid) to investigate the ecological nightmare that has sharks swimming through the streets of Los Angeles and falling from the skies. Before you think it couldn’t get any more absurd, consider what will happen when the stars of RiffTrax (Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett) get a hold of the film. RiffTrax Live: Sharknado will be broadcast live from the historic State

Death in Paradise Season 1 DVD Review: British Mysteries with a Tropical Twist

Traditional British sleuthing set in the easy-going Caribbean.
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Given the sheer volume of British mystery series available, it’s almost essential to have a hook to differentiate from the crowd. This one has a gem, transplanting a stuffy English detective from London’s Metropolitan Police to a backwater tropical paradise in the Caribbean. While the humor of the situation is entirely predictable, it’s still a fine setup for this fish-out-of-water series that initially feels more like Northern Exposure than Midsomer Murders. That humor, while fairly pedestrian, keeps the entire series light-hearted in spite of its murder-based premise. DI Richard Poole (Ben Miller) is dispatched to the fictional island of Saint

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure DVD Review: A Different Kind of Disaster

Still, it's better than the 2006 remake of the original film!
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If you've never seen the original version of Irwin Allen's disaster movie masterpiece The Poseidon Adventure, allow me to sum it up for you in a short gathering of words: it's about a big boat that flips over. If you've never seen Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, Irwin Allen's very own attempt at grabbing more moolah from the same cash cow he himself nurtured and brought to market in the first place, then please permit me to inform you that you really aren't missing all that much. Nothing at all, in fact - unless you happen to have a soft spot

Testament (1983) DVD Review: Still Waiting for the World to Deserve It

One of the most powerfully realistic (and yet simplistic) post-apocalyptic movies ever made.
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Every single time one of my patented and less-than-stellar efforts at conversing with a fellow human being in the interest of that mysterious dating thing occurs - and subsequently fails - I often find myself devoting a fraction of my imagination and time to the possibility that somewhere, in an alternate timeline, it succeeded. This, of course, opens up the floodgates to a variety of silliness on my part, wherein I ponder what might have happened to world had various individuals and places taken different paths than the ones we know and remember them for today. And I'm not the

Syfy's Twilight Zone Marathon Schedule for Friday, July 4, 2014

Celebrate America with one of the best TV programs.
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For those with no plans this Fourth of July, Syfy channel would like you to accompany them on their traditional holiday trip "to a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone." Starting in the morning and running into the wee hours,

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