August 2014 Archives

ENCORE Celebrates Stephen King in September

Throughout the month of September, “The Stephen King Collection” will feature some of the author's most memorable films.
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ENCORE presents “The Stephen King Collection” featuring 19 different, uncut films dedicated to one of the most prolific horror writers of all time - Stephen King - every night starting Monday,September 1st at 8pm ET/PT only on ENCORE. ENCORE kicks off the month long celebration with the 1980 classic, The Shining starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. The horrifying month-long showcase will also celebrate King’s 67th birthday with an all-day Birthday Marathon on Sunday, September 21st beginning at 7:50am ET/PT. Throughout the month of September, “The Stephen King Collection” will feature some of the most his most memorable films including

getTV Programming Highlights for September 2014

getTV offers an assortment of movies from the classic Hollywood era.
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getTV pays tribute to film legend Mickey Rooney with a special block every Thursday in September at 7 p.m. ET. The retrospective highlights Rooney’s impressive range in a lineup featuring musicals SOUND OFF and ALL ASHORE (September 4); crime tales HE’S A COCKEYED WONDER and DRIVE A CROOKED ROAD (September 11); military comedies EVERYTHING’S DUCKY, with Buddy Hackett, and OPERATION MAD BALL, with Jack Lemmon (September 18); and BLIND DATE and THE COMIC, with Dick Van Dyke (September 25). The month kicks off with an eight-film marathon, on Monday, September 1, at 1 p.m. ET. Spend an evening with one

Enchantment (1948) DVD Review: Everlasting Loves, Friends and Lovers Divine

David Niven and Teresa Wright headline a WWII romantic drama about lost love.
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Keeping up with their brief, recent Samuel Goldwyn/David Niven motif, the Warner Archive Collection has re-issued the 1948 romantic drama oddity Enchantment, previously available on DVD from MGM. Based on the 1945 novel Take Three Tenses: A Fugue in Time by Rumer Godden (who also wrote the original literary version of Black Narcissus, which had been made into a now-classic film in 1947), Enchantment brings us a rather unique take on that which a philosopher named Jones once referred to as "an everlasting love" - wherein the narrative takes on a sort of nonlinear approach to inform us, the lovelorned

Raffles (1930) / Raffles (1939) DVD Review: Because Cricket Doesn't Pay

Two rare versions of the same story about an even rarer combination of English gentleman, jewel thief, and cricketer.
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There have been many notable, historically celebrated examples of a literary character enjoying a long and happy life (or death) over the course of several decades (or even centuries) via not only their original work, but through the lucrative cash-cow known as franchising as well. But for every Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, or Dracula, there is a staggering amount of lesser-known fictional entities that ultimately failed to make the grade within the grand scheme of things. In fact, it's quite frightening to think of how many once-briefly-popular imaginary men and women (and to some degree, those who would have to mark

Willow Creek Blu-ray Review: A New Horror Classic

A surprisingly eerie twist on a now tired genre.
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The huge, unparalled success of 1999's The Blair Witch Project was a blessing and a curse. It changed the way that independent films were made, especially horror movies, but then it spawned so many very pale, ridiculous imitations that basically drained most of the life out of the "found footage" genre of horror movies. Thankfully, Bobcat Goldthwait's 2013's surprise hit, Willow Creek, stands out from the pack and actually gives the genre some well-deserved new life. The story concerns a filmmaking couple (Bryce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore) making a documentary about the legend of Bigfoot. Jim (Johnson) has a lifelong

Panel Preview: Criminal Macabre: The Third Child #1

First you control the babies then you control the world.
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Picking up directly after Criminal Macabre: The Eyes of Frankenstein!, Criminal Macabre: The Third Child is written by Steve Niles (Breath of Bones, 30 Days of Night). Christopher Mitten provides the art and the colorist is Michelle Madsen. The first issue goes on sale September 17. The official synopsis from Dark Horse reads: Cal’s changed . . . and maybe not for the better. Locked away and drowning himself with booze and aspirin, Cal feels the evil consuming him. Will he be able to withstand its pull or will he become the monster war’s greatest weapon of destruction?

Out of the Past (1947) Blu-ray Review: Lightning Captured in a Bottle

The very epitome of film noir - and the femme fatale that goes with it - receives a jaw-dropping HD upgrade from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Some things simply aren't easy to capture. Bigfoot. Blood from a stone. Bones in ice cream. And of course, the proverbial lightning in a bottle many have alluded to throughout the years in an attempt to confuse those cerebrally challenged individuals who would only wonder why anyone would be foolish enough to hold up a glass container in a thunderstorm like a complete and total fool. Nonetheless, certain things are likely in the world of film, particularly when the timing is just right. In the instance of the 1947 RKO film Out of the Past, we are able to bear

Book Review: Steven Spielberg's America by Fredrick Wasser

A really great read about a really a great director.
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There are tons of books about film and film directors that actually miss the mark, but Fredrick Wasser's Steven Spielberg's America gets it completely right. It is one of the best books about one of the best directors of all time. Not only does it explain in great detail Spielberg's rise in television, but it also talks about the reasons why he would go to become one of the biggest names in film history. Spielberg redefined the term "blockbuster" with his still heart-pounding summer sensation Jaws (1975); he brought us to tears for life with his masterpiece E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Sin City Blu-ray Review: Almost Everything Is Black and White

Jackie-Boy was unprepared for what Sin City had in store and the results were not good. Don't make the same mistake.
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In Frank Miller's award-winning, graphic novel series Sin City everything is black and white with a rare splash of color. That's the way the books are drawn. That's the way the film is shot. That's the way life is in Sin City. Black and white. Good guys and bad guys. The eternal struggle. Sure, the divide gets blurry occasionally when good guys do bad things, at times very bad things, but these Old Testament avenging angels mete out justice with "a bit of the old ultraviolence" only for the right reasons. It might be hard to see through the uniquely

Wizard World Chicago 2014: You Can Go Home Again

Chad Derdowski returns to Wizard World after a long hiatus... but is there any magic left?
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Once upon a time, I couldn’t have imagined missing a Wizard World event in Chicago. Even though I lived in Michigan, and more often than not, found myself taking the affordable, but not exactly enjoyable Mega Bus in order to make the long journey to the Windy City, it was always worth it. Greeted by old friends, aged whiskey, and the promise of scads of sequential art, the idea of missing this grand event was as impossible to imagine as a blockbuster film featuring Rocket Raccoon. But “once upon a time” was a long time ago, in what often feels

Circle the Wagen DVD Review: Definitely Worth Watching

Two guys, one bus, and the road trip they never expected to take.
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The term, "circle the wagons" come from the period of pioneer expansion in America. If one wagon in a wagon train was in distress, the other wagons would form a circle around to protect them from attacks. This type of helpful community is the idea behind the documentary, Circle the Wagen. In Circle the Wagen, Dave Torstenson fullfills his long held dream to purchase a Volkswagen bus and to hit the road with it. The dream sounds simple enough, except Dave doesn't know the first thing about cars. The bus, a 1972 Deluxe Transporter named "The Croc," Dave purchases from

Blandings, Series 2 is the Pick of the Week

P.G. Wodehouse's wonderful characters make it to the small screen.
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I can’t remember when I first heard of P.G. Wodehouse. He seems to just always exist in my memory. I do remember the first time I read one of his books - I wasn’t particularly impressed. His writing was good and there were lots of funny parts, but nothing very much really happened. The plot was as light as a puff pastry just out of the oven. This threw me at first, but after reading a couple more I learned to just let go and enjoy the wonderfulness of his prose. The thing to me about Wodehouse is that he’s

Adventure Time: Princess Day and Regular Show: Rigby Pack DVD Reviews

For those who enjoy these small releases or want to sample the series, I recommend them...and so does my mom.
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In addition to Complete Season sets, Warner Brothers continues to release themed DVD collections from both Cartoon Network's hit series Adventure Time and Regular Show. The episodes for each series runs about 11 minutes and the DVDs run about three hours. On sale now, Adventure Time: Princess Day is the series' seventh themed DVD and features episodes about many of the princesses from the Land of Ooo, such as Princess Bubblegum, Flame Princess, Ghost Princess, and of course, Lumpy Space Princess. Over half the disc's episodes are from Season 5 (nine) while the remaining come from Season 2 (two), Season

Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season DVD Review

One of the best shows on television.
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Created by Pendleton Ward, Adventure Time is an animated fantasy filled with great imagination and humor that airs on the Cartoon Network. Set in the Land of Ooo more than thousand years in the future after the Great Mushroom War, the series presents the audacious adventures of a 13-year-old human boy named Finn (Jeremy Shada) and his best friend Jake (John DiMaggio), a dog with the ability to shapeshift. Among their pals are Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch), who is made out of bubblegum; Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson); and their roommate BMO (Niki Yang), the living game console. A

Life Of Crime Giveaway

This is the right contest for you to enter.
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Cinema Sentries have teamed up with PartnersHub to award one lucky visitor a $15 Fandango gift card in conjunction with the release of Life Of Crime. When a pair of low-level criminals kidnap the wife of a corrupt real-estate developer, they get both more and less than they bargained for in Life Of Crime, a dark caper comedy based on legendary author Elmore Leonard’s novel The Switch. Starring Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, yasiin bey, Mark Boone Junior, Isla Fisher, Will Forte and Tim Robbins, Life Of Crime is packed with the outrageously eccentric characters, black comedy and unexpected twists that

2 by Ken Loach: Riff-Raff (1991) / Raining Stones (1993) Blu-ray Review: Depressingly Fascinating

Two low-key, very sincere movies about everyday average people get a High-Def release from Twilight Time.
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If there's one thing you may have noticed amidst all of the screaming and flailing mechanical bits in the latest Transformers film, many a movie today seems to lack a genuinely honest sense of realism. But that is not the case for British filmmaker Ken Loach, who has delivered one true-to-life motion picture after another throughout his career in an industry that strongly believes it should give the people what they want. Loach, on the other hand, gives the people what they are: people. Everyday, average people just-a-doin' their thing, come rain or shine, good or bad, do or die.

Regular Show: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: Another Eggscellent Season

For those who enjoy laughing and cartoons on a regular basis, The Complete Third Season is highly recommended.
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Using variations of characters that first appeared in The Naive Man from Lolliland and 2 in the AM PM, shorts films he created while attending the California Institute of the Arts, J. G. Quintel's Regular Show continued its inspired run of laughable lunacy during its third season, which debuted on the Cartoon Network from September 2011 to September 2012. Some of the 39 episodes have been previously available in the smaller compilation DVD sets, but for completists like myself, The Complete Third Season is now available on DVD. For those not in the know, Regular Show is anything but regular

A Young Doctor's Notebook DVD Review: And You Thought Don Draper Was A Dark Character

Dead babies, botched amputations, and lots of laughs.
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It must be a difficult experience for an actor to try and move beyond starring in a successful series. You work so hard to find success and then when it comes you can be overshadowed by it. There are examples after examples after examples of actors finding success in a movie or television series only to either get caught playing the same sorts of characters for the rest of their careers or to sink into obscurity. Both Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe know all about this struggle. Radcliffe having starred as Harry Potter in eight hugely successful films and Hamm

Panel Preview: Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1

The Alien universe expands in this new Dark Horse Comics series.
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Prometheus: Fire and Stone by Paul Tobin and artist Juan Ferreyra, with cover art by David Palumbo, ties directly into the motion picture Prometheus, directed by Ridely Scott. The first issue goes on sale September 10. The official synopsis from Dark Horse reads: When the Prometheus never returned from her fateful journey to LV-223, the questions surrounding the origins of man went unanswered. Now a new team of explorers seeks to uncover the dark mystery that holds not only the fate of the original mission, but possibly their own damnation.

A Very Honorable Guy (1934) DVD Review: A Lighter Look at Dark Humor

Few men will lay their life on the line, but Joe E. Brown is one of 'em in this Vitaphone rarity.
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Eighty years ago, a man's reputation meant everything - whether he was a high society snob who looked down at the struggling day-to-day plight of the common people, or he was, in fact, one of those very subculture individuals who was just trying to get by. In the instance of the 1934 Vitaphone comedy A Very Honorable Guy, a luckless, hapless schmuck by the handle of "Feet" Samuels (played with a rather honorable amount of gusto by comedian Joe E. Brown) is so worried about his own reputation amongst the venerable sea of ruffians and conmen, that he would rather

Boredom DVD Review: A State This Documentary Won't Leave You

A very entertaining, but logical depiction of a worldwide epidemic.
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While boredom is a very intimidating condition that affects all of us at some point in our lives, Albert Nerenberg's funny, bizarre, and anything but boring documentary, Boredom, finds a really interesting way of skewering that. It not only entertains us, but also makes us think of why we are bored, and how we can find ways of relieving our boredom. While only running 61 minutes, there is still a lot of good, solid information that pokes fun at the really challenging "disease" known as "being bored." There are a lot of people being interviewed who give us lots of

You Said a Mouthful (1932) DVD Review: Pre-Code and Pre-Politically Correct

A tale of "sink or swim" with Joe E. Brown and a barely-recognizable Ginger Rogers.
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I suppose there's little argument to be had in the speculation that we as a species have a tendency to assign labels and stereotypes onto individuals within certain fields. And one of two prime examples that you can find in the pre-Code 1932 Vitaphone comedy You Said a Mouthful is in its very own leading comedian, the great Joe E. Brown. Thanks to our habit of socially profiling comics as unathletic eccentrics, it can really slap you in the face when you note that Brown was not only a professional baseball player in his earlier years, but that he kept

To Be Takei Movie Review: To Somewhat Boldly Go

Charming portrait of courageous, good-humored George Takei that nevertheless lacks the urgency and conflict that the best documentaries can provide.
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If you drew a Venn diagram of target audiences for the documentary To Be Takei, I would be right smack in the middle of multiple intersecting circles: gay male, Trekkie since tweendom, politically liberal, history buff, musical-theater aficionado. Given this incredible over-determination, I’m wondering why I liked, but didn’t love, this charming movie about charming, courageous George Takei. Perhaps it’s because the best documentaries are invested with a sense of urgency and conflict that To Be Takei fatally lacks. The movie’s dynamism deficit is all the more perplexing because Takei’s real-life story is packed with drama. As a child, he

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is the Pick of the Week

This week sees two foreign releases from Criterion and some excellent television.
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Some folks wax nostalgic about the days when MTV actually played music videos; I get all teary eyed thinking about the days when Bravo showed independent and foreign films commercial free. It was there, on this channel that is now full of Top Chefs and Real Housewives, where I got my first taste of world cinema. As a teenager who had grown up watching family-oriented blockbusters like The Goonies, The Karate Kid, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, seeing art-house films from places like Italy, France, and Sweden was an exotic revelation. I don’t know that I really understood what

Broadminded (1931) DVD Review: Pre-Code Comedy with...Wait, Bela Lugosi?!

Ever wondered what cinema's most famous Dracula would have looked like wooing Thelma Todd? Look no further.
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As any halfway decent stand-up artist can attest to (or at least should be perfectly aware of), the element of timing means everything in the field of comedy. The same also applies to the food and beverage industry, of course. And most probably definitely surgery too, I suppose - but I'm probably going to go way outside of my personal everyday comfort zone if I keep thinking about that. Actually, the subject of being outside of one's personal everyday comfort zone happens to be entirely relevant with the subject of this review, 1931's Joe E. Brown Vitaphone comedy Broadminded -

Divergent Blu-ray Combo Review: Shailene Woodley Has a Dauntless Task

The film stays faithful to the lessons and themes of the book, which are not just for young adults.
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Being a big fan of Veronica Roth's book series, I was thrilled to hear that Divergent was being made into a film. It suffers from being compared to the Hunger Games trilogy and admittedly, the first film isn't nearly as good. However, the overall themes and messages behind Divergent make it worth watching. In the future, society has been divided into five factions based on a persons aptitudes and values. The Dauntless are the brave, Amity focuses on being peaceful, Erudite is for the intelligent, Abnegation is the selfless, and, if honesty is your strong suit, then you are Candor.

The Buddy Holly Story (1978) Blu-ray Review: And I Suppose You're Mary Tyler Moore?

Even when cast as a legendary rock and roll icon, Gary Busey still looks friggin' nuts.
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As I had briefly eluded to in my less-than-coherent rambling for Twilight Time's Blu-ray release of the Elvis flick Follow That Dream, some people only know a legend by the fact that they've become an icon within the world, as opposed to being remembered for what they actually did. And while the memory of Mr. Presley could very well outlive all of us, I sometimes fear that the image of Buddy Holly is perhaps only known these days to poor, misguided souls who are under the delusion that Weezer was a good group. Someday, an astronaut by the name of

RiffTrax Live!: Godzilla (1998) Review: Catastrophic Laughs

RiffTrax makes lousy movies so much better.
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The RiffTrax boys are at it again. This time, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, and Mike Nelson have chosen to skewer Roland Emmerich's 1998 take on iconic city-destroyer Godzilla. Not that Godzilla movies have been known for their gripping and detailed stories, but this iteration seems to have earned black-sheep status among fans for its departure from some series conventions and just how unlikely many of the characters prove to be. Of course, this just gives the Riffers even more to work with. The worse the film, the better they get, and this event was no exception. Godzilla's first appearance in

Follow That Dream (1962) Blu-ray Review: Elvis Presley Stands His Ground in Florida

One of The King's better-known lesser-known works goes HD thanks to Twilight Time.
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Of the umpteen gazillion pop culture icons and references that circle throughout both my delicately-balanced conscious mind and that bizarre latent being that lies within on a regular basis like a poorly-loaded cheap washing machine, there is perhaps no name as popular as that of Elvis. In fact, so amused were a close grade-school friend and myself over the numerous tabloid headlines that popped up during the '80s amidst the Elvis Lives era, that we even started to write our own ridiculous magazines, complete with headlines such as "Elvis Possesses Woman's Toaster - And She Marries It!" and so forth

Criterion Announces November 2014 Releases

Get your Xmas shopping for the movie fan in your life done a month early.
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In November, the Criterion Collection offers a new restoration of Michelangelo Antonioni's L’avventura. Debuting in the collection are two westerns by Monte Hellman The Shooting / Ride in the Whirlwind, two classic comedies in Frank Capra's It Happened One Night and Sydney Pollack's Tootsie and a collection of 14 documentaries in Les Blank: Always For Pleasure. The Shooting / Ride in the Whirlwind (#734/735) out Nov 14 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions In the mid-sixties, the maverick American director Monte Hellman conceived of two westerns at the same time. Dreamlike and gritty by turns, the two films would prove their

Batman: Assault on Arkham Blu-ray Review: Better than Its Straight to Video Release Implies

Who needs Batman when you've got the Suicide Squad?
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A title that should have more appropriately been called Suicide Squad: Assault on Arkham is never-the-less an enjoyable entry into the DC animated universe. Batman is nothing more than a secondary character here used mainly to move some plotting along. No doubt the marketing people had a play in the title knowing that Batman is a much more marketable name than Suicide Squad. I can’t say it doesn’t work as I never would have been interested in reviewing it as until now I’d never heard of the Suicide Squad. To catch up those not in the know, the Suicide Squad

Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies: Beat Club 4/21/72 Review

Live from Bremen. It's the Grateful Dead.
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On July 17, Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment teamed up to present the annual “Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies” in cinemas nationwide. This year's edition featured Beat Club 4/21/72, a live television-studio performance of the band recorded for a West German TV program during their highly regarded European tour of that year. The band's line up at this time featured lead guitar/vocal Jerry Garcia, drums Bill Kreutzmann, bass Phil Lesh, keyboards Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, rhythm guitar/vocal Bob Weir, and the recent additions of married couple keyboards Keith (Oct. '71) and back-up singer Donna Jean (Mar. '72) Godchaux. They played

To Be Takei Director Jennifer Kroot: The Past and Present of a Cheerful Bulldozer

"I just couldn't figure out how the U.S. government could have imprisoned Mr. Sulu as a five-year-old."
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The new documentary To Be Takei looks at the fascinating past and exciting present of the one and only Mr. Sulu, George Takei. Cinema Sentries’ Adam Blair caught up with the documentary’s director Jennifer M. Kroot, who revealed the intricacies involved in getting an interview with Takei nemesis William Shatner, and how Takei’s relationship with husband Brad Altman unexpectedly became an important element in the finished film, which is being released in select cities, VOD platforms and on iTunes August 22. How did you get involved with this project? I was always a Star Trek fan, but I didn’t really

The Other Woman (2014) Blu-ray Review: An Average Comedy That Needed to Push the Envelope a Lot More

Just knowing the basic plot, most people will be able to tell how everything’s going to play out.
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Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) had finally found Mr. Right. He had a great job, tons of money, is good looking and perfect in just about every way. At least that’s what she thought before she arrived at his house to surprise him and ended up meeting Kate (Leslie Mann) his wife instead. While dating multiple men at the same time and not bothering to remember their names was something she did often, dating a married man was the one line she won’t cross. Trying to backpedal and remove herself from the uncomfortable confrontation with the wife, Carly went back home

Battling the Bear: Reflections on Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)

It is important to focus on his life and the whole picture of who he was, not how he died.
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“Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you” - Preacher Roe That quote is what has been running through my head as I write this piece. I first read it when I was reading about Spalding Gray after he took his life in 2004. I thought about that same quote a lot when my friend Andrew took his life in 2010. And I am thinking about it now as I am still reeling from the news about Robin Williams' suicide. I read headline after headline hoping that each one would be followed by the news that it

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Killing: Season Four Gets Sent Off

The fourth season of The Killing tries to go out with a bang.
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This conversation takes place between Kim (@kimfreakinB) who watched The Killing as it aired and Shawn (@genx13) who watched every episode in the past five weeks. It centers around the six episodes of season four that debuted on Netflix on August 1st. Shawn: I have to wrap my head around this in segments. I'm still working through my opinions. In short, I'm not satisfied. At all. But why? I asked myself a couple questions to start. Were the characters consistent between the initial three seasons and this last season? And was it the story that let me down? That doesn't

Snob Seven: Favorite Robin Williams Performances

Did your favorite make the list?
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As news of Robin Williams' death at the age of 63 broke across the media landscape, there was a slow groundswell of sadness for the man that had entertained so many for decades. Once details hinted, which have since been confirmed, that he had committed suicide, there was a palpable, collective grief that still lingers as the world continues on with its triumphs and tribulations. It's hard to fathom how someone whose purpose appeared to be, as his wife Susan Schneider referred to in a public statement, “the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions,” had such

Insomnia (1997) Criterion Collection Review: An Influential Thriller

Psychological thriller spins a tale without darkness.
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I sat down to write this upon the day of hearing of the passing of Robin Williams. He took a big chance in a serious role in the Christopher Nolan 2002 remake of this 1997 Norwegian film. Nolan's follow-up to Memento was a dark tale of madness. The movie poster shows the dark silhouetted faces of Al Pacino and Robin Williams. That is all you need to know about the differences between these films. Insomnia as directed by Erik Skjoldbjaerg is unblinkingly bright. So much so that it hurts. There was never a doubt in my mind it would be

Man Hunt (1941) Blu-ray Review: Ein Film von Fritz Lang? Oh Heck, Ja!

America's late wake-up call to World War II receives a lovely upgrade from Twilight Time.
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Once, as a child in the 1980s, I found myself sitting up late one night watching TV. It was nothing entirely new for me - it still isn't, in fact - but the sensation I experienced that particular night was, as I became privy to what has since become an all-time favorite episode of the ingenious '60s television series The Outer Limits, "The Man Who Was Never Born". Moreover, it was then and there that the closing narration of that particular episode - as delivered by the series' "Control Voice", Vic Perrin, revealed a piece of well-written dialogue. "It is

The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) Blu-ray Review: Because Nothing Brings a Town Together Like Booze

Stanley Kramer's wonderful World War II comedy/drama is an absolute must-see.
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As anyone who has ever seen the likes of Wall-E or even Army of Darkness knows all-too-well, heroes can sometimes spawn from the most unlikely of sources. In the case of Stanley Kramer's 1969 World War II comedy/drama The Secret of Santa Vittoria, our protagonist is essentially little more than the village idiot. As word reaches the sleepy Italian winemaking village of Santa Vittoria that Mussolini is dead and that the good, simple people of the community are now free from the tyranny of fascism, local wine seller Italo Bombolini (Anthony Quinn) ascends to the top of a water tower

The Railway Man is the Pick of the Week

I’m always interested in seeing the films Colin Firth is in because even if the film's rubbish, you can count on his performance.
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My wife, like all red-blooded women (and more than a few red-blooded men) loves Colin Firth. She practically drools anytime his name gets mentioned and goes weak in the knees when he appears on screen. This is mostly due to his appearance as Mr. Darcy in an old A&E miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I’ve tried to watch that thing several times myself, but can never get more than half an hour in before I’m digging my eyes out with a salad spoon out of sheer boredom. But I can see what she means about old Colin. He has

Wizards and Warriors: The Complete Series (1983) DVD Review: Long Overdue

The cult, short-lived, tongue-in-cheek '80s adventure/comedy finally hits home video.
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Although the concept of the sword and sorcery line of adventure films had been in employment for several decades prior to the 1980s - most notably in the guise of Italian peplum movies that permitted some new stars to rise and old ones to fall just like the Roman Empire itself - it wasn't until the beginning of that magical MTV era that the subgenre reached its very own zenith. Movies such as Excalibur, The Beastmaster, and Conan the Barbarian excited many a young soul's imagination whilst simultaneously delighting the nerdy fantasies of older moviegoers whose adolescence had long been

Panel Preview: Grendel and The Shadow #1

"To have the chance to both write and draw The Shadow facing my own creation is something of a dream come true!" - Matt Wagner
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Matt Wagner's Grendel and The Shadow #1 goes on sale September 3. The official synopsis reads: Sparks fly and bullets blaze when the original Grendel, Hunter Rose, is transported to 1930s New York and faces off with the original dark-night avenger, the Shadow! Two pulp-noir icons go head to head in this three-issue prestige-format series written and drawn by legendary Grendel creator Matt Wagner. “Ever since the smash success of my two previous crossover events [with Batman], I’ve had many offers over the years to see Grendel cross blades with a varied host of other characters,” says Matt Wagner. “But

Previewing Epic Ink, A&E's New Tattoo Series

A&E's new show about Area 51 Tattoo and its artists who specialize in all things nerd, geek, and pop culture.
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Tattoos and tattoo parlors have not always been part of mainstream American culture; however, the times have changed and more now than ever, people are making the choice to get permanent artwork put on their body. Once a person decides to take that step, it is always good to research your artist before you let them go to town on your skin. By no means should every tattoo artist be doing every type of tattoo. To add to that, not every tattoo artist specializes in specific subject matter. This in where the artists on A&E's new show Epic Ink come

GMO OMG Movie Review: Where is the H.O.P.E?

Jeremy Seifert informs but also manipulates in this documentary
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Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert has returned to teach the world about food again, but this time he is not talking about dumpster diving. (Dive! 2010) This time Seifert is taking us on his journey as he learns about GMOs in his new documentary GMO OMG. Like his previous film, Seifert has a lot of good investigative and eye-opening information in this documentary. He and his team travel the within America, Haiti, France, and Norway to discover what GMOs really are and what damage these products are to the Earth and to its population. Seifert visits a well-rounded group of people on

Blue Ruin Blu-ray Review: An Intense, Visceral Experience

A ferociously brilliant, new American classic
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There have been many films that center on the nature of revenge, but it is very rare that any of them will ever match the haunting strength of Jeremy Saulnier's 2013 modern masterwork, Blue Ruin. I don't think I have ever have seen such a raw, grim depiction of the flawed nature that comes with masculinity and the devastating truths that surround humanity, or the dark side of it. It is one of those films where everything came together like a flash of lightning that is so strong, I was left visibly shaken and stunned. The story concerns a quiet,

Grace Kelly Collection DVD Review: From a Queen to a Princess

"You know, I just love Grace Kelly." - Jimmy Stewart, from his eulogy
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It is an impressive feat that Grace Kelly (November 12, 1929 - September 14, 1982) is such an iconic figure from Classic Hollywood even though she only appeared in 11 films released over a five-year period. She succeeded not only on her beauty but her talent, which was frequently matched by the many familiar names she worked alongside. She was a queen of the silver screen during the '50s, but unfortunately for filmmakers and filmgoers, her career came to an immediate end in 1956 when she became the Princess of Monaco. Warner Brothers is repackaging six films previously released on

Beyond Westworld (1980) DVD Review: ...Where EVERYTHING Went Worng!

So it's a television spin-off set between the original film and its sequel, but which wholly ignores them and is set in a weird unannounced alternate reality. Got it.
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There are simply some ideas that look better on paper than they do on film. The impending JJ Abrams' HBO reboot of the 1973 creepy science fiction masterpiece Westworld - a tale written and directed by author Michael Crichton, wherein an adult theme park with eerily human-like robots goes to Hell when the androids begin to act out in a most inefficient (read: deadly) manner - certainly seems like one to me. After all, once the circuits hit the fan in the show, where can you possibly go without any hope of things becoming a bit redundant and silly? Well,

Book Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History by Andrew Farago

A must-have for fans and highly recommend for pop-culture aficionados.
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Regardless of what one may think about the vast assortment of various products that have been spun off, it's amazing that 30 years ago this past May the pop culture world was forever changed when two men (Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman) realized a dream by publishing their own comic book, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. In this outstanding book, Andrew Farago documents the franchise's history from how the creators met, how the turtles made their big splash when they transitioned from the comics to an animated television series, and how the Turtles have evolved in different mediums, up to

To Catch a Thief DVD Review: Crime Never Looked So Good

Hitchcock delivers a high quality film that combines romance and intrigue.
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Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief is his first film shot in the short-lived widescreen format VitsaVision, and his second film shot for Paramount. It finds the director covering very familiar territory, both thematically as it deals with an innocent man trying to clear his name and interpersonally as Hitch had previously worked with actors Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, and John Williams; screenwriter John Michael Hayes; and cinematographer Robert Burks who won an Academy Award for this film. Based on the novel by David Dodge, former jewel thief John “The Cat” Robie (Grant) is retired in France; however, a recent

Orphan Black: Season Two Blu-ray Review: Attack of the Clones

Tatiana Maslany continues to impress in her multiple characters, but the show has cooled.
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Here’s some breaking news: Tatiana Maslany is amazing. Although the Emmys don’t seem to recognize her existence, or the existence of sci fi in general, she continues to impress as the star who breathes credible and distinctly individual life into her multiple clone characters. Unfortunately, the show writers are running a bit ahead of themselves this season, concocting an occasionally confusing and overly ambitious season that is less effective than the first. Maslany’s fiery lead character Sarah starts the season in a desperate search for her young daughter, Kira, who has been kidnapped by the icy, evil, mastermind clone Rachel.

Ransom! (1956) DVD Review: "And Introducing Leslie Nielsen"

Glenn Ford sets the stage for Mel Gibson's 1996 remake (and shows that young buck how to do it in the process).
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Although television was basically considered to be the bastard cousin of the cinema during the '50s, it nevertheless proved to be a successful launching point for many a future talent in the industry - as well a venerable fountain of resources whenever filmmakers needed something that wasn't so heavily copied to death in the realm of film. A relevant case in point would be an episode of the long-running (and long-defunct) anthology series The United States Steel Hour, which once presented a dramatized account of a family's reactions after they learn their child has been kidnapped. Soon after, a big-screen,

Thoughtful & Abstract: An Awesome Mix of Ideas about Guardians of the Galaxy

The current state of the Marvel film empire is considered.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@KimFreakinB) consider Guardians of the Galaxy and other Marvel Comics movies: Shawn: I am Groot! Spoiler alert - I loved it. I don't know when I've left a theater more satisfied with a superhero film than with Guardians of the Galaxy. I think it's partially the lack of hype of the previous films this year and that it sneaks in at the tail end of Summer when there isn't much competition. But I was surprised that it even exceeded my expectations. So where does it fit in the spectrum for you, Kim? What are

Radio Days (1987) Blu-ray Review: Twilight Time Strikes Gold(en Age of Radio)

Woody Allen bridges a couple of generational gaps with a heartfelt look at growing up.
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Although I was one of those kids born at the very tail-end of the Generation X era - a mark in history that rendered me sufficiently incapable of clicking with anyone from my own generation or the one that followed - I was also a kid who had that non-too-rare-these-days distinction of being raised by my grandparents, who were born at the very beginning of the Greatest Generation. Which, of course, made it even harder for me to click with people in the long run, but which I like to think was a good thing overall. In fact, having been

Childrens Hospital - The Complete Fifth Season (2013) DVD Review: So Darwin Was Right, Apparently

A natural selection of comedic evolution if ever I did see one.
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The work of Charles Darwin has always proven to be a bit of a cumbersome to discuss, particularly when there are people who can't do math or have a complete lack of a brain in the room. And yet, time and time again, there have been little bits and pieces of various stuff and things throughout the bulk of history that seem to indicate Darwin's theory of natural selection is in fact alive and well. Naturally, I cannot speak for the whole of the human race - that would just be silly. And I should perhaps clarify that I am

Community: The Complete Fifth Season is the Pick of the Week

It's a reasonable bet that I’ll be buying it on DVD sooner or later.
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We finally get high speed internet last Wednesday. It is a little ridiculous how excited I am about it. I spent a good chunk of this evening resubscribing to Netflix and adding new stuff to my queue. Thing is, because I’m still with terrible internet, this process took me a couple of hours. I got to the home page, clicked on "sign in" and waited, and waited. And waited some more. I’d refresh and wait. Close out and start again. And wait. Then it let me sign in except I couldn’t remember my password. I’d ask it for a new

Dom Hemingway Blu-ray Review: A Seedy and Sordid Bit of Charm

Jude Law taps into his inner savage brute for the latest from Richard Shepard.
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“I’ve got a peasant’s heart,” Dom Hemingway says. It’s a fair self-assessment for a British crook with no blue blood in his veins; he doesn’t carry an air of gentry or nobility about him. No, Dom Hemingway is an underclass degenerate all the way—the mannish demeanor, the criminal intellect, the sleazy clothes, all of it. And I mean underclass. Dom Hemingway is no working-class hero, he’s not even an anti-hero. He’s a fresh-out-of-jail, angry, crass, loudmouth safecracker with no prospects and no respect. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s charm to writer/director Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemingway, a seedy and sordid

Book Review: The Killing: Uncommon Denominator by Karen Dionne

A prequel novel every bit as addicting as the TV show.
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Fans of AMC’s The Killing who are jonesing for more are in luck: as Stephen Holder, the skinny strung-out-looking undercover cop would say, they can “get a taste of a little sumthing-sumthing” to tide them over with this prequel novel, The Killing - Uncommon Denominator. An original novel based on the AMC series developed by Veena Sud, the book The Killing faithfully captures the tone and characters of Holder and his partner, Detective Sarah Linden (played by Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos) perfectly. The book’s author, Karen Dionne, has a good ear for dialogue and a director’s eye for setting

The Dog Movie Review: What Really Happened on a Dog Day Afternoon

The story of the brash man who robbed a bank for love...so he says
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It’s an unspoken rule in Hollywood’s appropriation of true events that said events are either painfully underwhelming or infinitely juicer than what ends up on the screen. So it is with the story of John Wojtowicz, the man who inspired Sidney Lumet’s 1975 drama, Dog Day Afternoon. Wojtowicz’s story is fascinating, but the flaw of a documentary with one predominant voice is bias smothers the filmmakers' intention of burrowing under the surface. Much like Dog Day Afternoon itself, there’s way more left off-screen than presented within. On a hot August day in 1972, John Wojtowicz and an accomplice robbed the

1948 Film Noir in Review: Three Thrillers from Poverty Row's Monogram Pictures

The Warner Archive Collection unleashes a handful of B film noir tales.
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Being as how I dive into a handful of Warner Archive releases on a weekly basis, I have to wonder if the powers that be pick out a certain now-neglected B movie actor to sort of "highlight within the shadows" over a period of time. That, of certain actors just happened to be in everything. One character player in particular that has been popping up in at least one selection from the assortment of titles released within the last couple of weeks is Anthony Caruso. Best known to fans of the original Star Trek series as a gangster boss in

The Warner Archive Presents Alan Ladd, Cinema's Very Own Napoleon

From way out west to war in the east, a little Ladd goes a long way.
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There are two things most vintage movie buffs will instantly think of whenever Alan Ladd's name is mentioned: the movie Shane and the word "short". Originally rejected by the very industry that later made him a star due to his height and extremely blonde hair, one has to wonder if that didn't spawn some sort of Napoleon Complex with the actor. Indeed, after becoming a force to be reckoned with in 1942's This Gun for Hire as a tormented assassin with a damning moral sense of right and wrong, Ladd managed to escalate to his own victory as the drifting,

Peter Gabriel: Back to Front: Live in London Blu-ray Review

Peter Gabriel and Eagle Rock Entertainment have released another winner.
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Recorded over two nights in October 2013 at London's The O2, Back to Front presents Peter Gabriel in concert during his two-year tour commemorating So, which was played in its entirety. Supported by the musicians that had backed him on the So tour, bassist Tony Levin, drummer Manu Katche, David Sancious, and guitarist David Rhodes, the assembled songs document an outstanding performance of audio and visual delights. Before the show began, Gabriel announced the show would be presented in three parts like a meal, with an appetizer, the main course, and dessert. The appetizer was a short, acoustic set of

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