September 2014 Archives

Book Review: The Wizard of Oz FAQ by David J. Hogan: Over the Rainbow and Beyond

It covers all aspects of Oz, from Garland's recording of "Over the Rainbow" to costumes to casting, to fan reaction to the film - and yes, even includes stories about Ebsen and the Munchkins
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The Wizard of Oz is an enduring and endearing classic. Who hasn't seen it, perhaps even multiple times? It made a star out of cultural icon Judy Garland and has held up remarkably well over the years since its 1939 release, enchanting generations of young and old alike. There have been stories over the years about what went on behind-the-scenes of making the film. The most familiar factoids center around Buddy Ebsen, who was originally cast as the Tin Woodman, but had such a terrible reaction to the silver make-up that he had to quit. Another popular story concerned the

The Midnight Special Six-Disc Set Review: Offers a Glimpse at 1970s America

Wolfman Jack's celebrated '70s revue sheds light on dim decade.
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Ask me about the 1970s and two images come to mind: Joey Ramone’s jean clad crotch and Alisha “I Love the Nightlife” Bridges proto-punk disco haircut. One’s the soulful height of youth and young manhood while the other’s a glittering image of midlife femininity as it works the dance floor. Yet despite the skin-tight Levi’s versus bell bottom retrospective culture war we’re often treated to, these images are plastered on the same pole at the same of end of the spectrum, for the Seventies were a bleak and miserable decade. A chasm often existed between pop culture’s escapist tendencies and

The Bowery Boys: Volume Four (1946-1958) DVD Review: My Life Is Finally Complete

The Warner Archive unleashes the last 12 outings of what was arguably the greatest, longest-running comedy series ever made.
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Nearly two years ago, the Warner Archive released a multi-disc set containing what had previously been something of a Holy Grail amongst classic B comedy lovers: The Bowery Boys: Volume One. The following year brought forth the next two volumes, teasing fans with the prospect of a fourth and final set that would essentially serve as the closest thing to a definitive collection ever - thus enabling anyone who still held on to a few shoddy bootlegged 16mm television prints a chance to upgrade once and for all. Well, it took nearly a year for that to become a reality,

Alex Trebek Looks at Africa through Hollywood's Eyes As Host of TCM's Friday Night Spotlight in October

What is programming for armchair travelers in October?
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Award-winning television host and passionate world traveller Alex Trebek is going to take classic movie fans on a trip through Africa, as seen through Hollywood's eyes, when he hosts Turner Classic Movies' (TCM) Friday Night Spotlight in October. Four Fridays during the month, the longtime host of Jeopardy! will introduce a collection of films set in the sprawling continent, from beloved classics like The African Queen (1951) and Casablanca (1942) to more contemporary favorites like Out of Africa (1985), The English Patient (1996) and, making its first appearance on TCM, Gorillas in the Mist (1988). Each night of Friday Night

Inherent Vice Trailer

Love usually leads to trouble.
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Adapted from Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel of the same name, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's next film finds him reteaming with Joaquin Phoenix in a comedic mystery set in Los Angeles 1970. Private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello (Phoneix) gets involved in the disappearance of land developer Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), the married boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston). The film premieres at the New York Film Festival on October 4, is set for an award-qualifying limited release beginning December 12, and then goes wide on January 9, 2015. After watching the star-studded trailer, let us know your reaction

The Musketeers (2014) Blu-ray Review: Finally, A Reimagining Worth Viewing

Sporting great battles, amazing costumes, and a fresh take, this incarnation of the Alexandre Dumas tale has a lot of potential.
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As I had iterated in a somewhat recent article, there are really only a venerable handful of classic literary characters and stories that seem to re-emerge in order to be retold time and time again upon small and big screens alike. And there is certainly little doubt in my own mind that the classic Alexandre Dumas 1844 work Les Trois Mousquetaires falls somewhere at the very top of that limited grouping; its immortal characters having appeared in many various adaptations over the last couple of centuries, along with the particular tale itself. Granted, some of us may be prone to

Chef is the Pick of the Week

I'm not at all a foodie, but I'd like to be.
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In college, I had a friend who majored in theater. One day he hit me up to help him out with a project. It was for his directing class and I was to be his actor. It was no big deal, he assured me, as I wasn’t meant to really act. This assignment was all about staging - where to place bodies to create an interesting picture from the audience. I didn’t need to memorize lines or nothing. I agreed and my friend Kellie and I spent a couple of days with Charlie learning where to stand when we said

My Old Lady Movie Review: Paris When it Fizzles

Maggie Smith and Kevin Kline fans beware: this self-indulgent, manipulative movie is a cold, soggy French fry.
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Maggie Smith and Kevin Kline have, collectively, given me hundreds of hours of viewing pleasure on stages and screens large and small. So I figured, how bad could a movie with both of them be, particularly one set in as photogenic a city as Paris? You’ve probably guessed the answer: pretty effing bad. The setup is promising: Kevin Kline’s Mathias Gold has inherited a Paris apartment (really more like a townhouse, complete with garden) from his father, and we soon discover that the apartment is not only the bulk of the son’s inheritance but, financially, practically his only asset. Too

Book Review: The Art of Greg Spalenka by Greg Spalenka

It is a tribute to the artist and to the liberating freedom of art itself.
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The name Greg Spalenka may or may not be a familiar one to you, but once you have seen his work in The Art of Greg Spalenka, you will never forget it. The new, oversized hardback collection features his creations in many different styles over the past 30 years, and is a tribute not only to his talent, but to the liberating freedom of art itself. I first discovered him as the creator of some of the more memorable fantasy film images I have seen. While his work on The Ant Bully (2004), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of

Thoughtful & Abstract: Sons of Anarchy: Season Two

SAMCRO is forced to deal with LOAN and lots and lots of retaliation. Throw in some rape, porn and more revenge for good measure.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) reminisce about Season Two of Sons of Anarchy. Shawn just started watching the show this Summer and Kim has been watching for years. As the Final Season revs up, here are some thoughts about the show's sophomore season in the Fall of 2009. Shawn: Well, you didn't lie to me. I got a full dose of guns, porn, overzealous law, and a bit of the ultraviolence. I feel like there's a conscious effort to expand the story right off the bat. We ended on such an emotional note last season that dealing with

Animation Abounds at Warner Archive Collection and Warner Archive Instant

Cartoon fans will rejoice at the latest offerings from the Archive.
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Warner Archive Collection (WAC) and Warner Archive Instant (WAI) continue to serve as hosts to some of the most treasured animated productions of the past half-century. The most seasoned animation fan can find plenty of WAC and WAI offerings to their liking, running the gamut from Blu-ray releases of recent super hero favorites like Young Justice, Beware the Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, to classic 1950s and 1960s cartoons like Hanna-Barbera’s Loopy Da Loop and the landmark anime series Marine Boy, to the playful silliness of the 1980s with Shirt Tales and Gilligan’s Planet. All of these

Neil Young Asks "Who's Gonna Stand Up?" in Latest Single

Will you answer the call?
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Rust never sleeps and netiher does Neil Young, who has released a brand new studio recording titled, "Who's Gonna Stand Up?," via NeilYoung.com. It is featured on his upcoming album, STOREYTONE, which will be released this November. The song was originally performed at a Crazy Horse show in the U.K. this summer and more recently was part of Young's solo acoustic set at Farm Aid this past Sept 13th, at Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh North Carolina. The audience did indeed stand up and sing along in unison in support of the song's plea to end our dependence of fossil

Thoughtful & Abstract: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Shadows"

T&A come out of the shadows to see what our crew is doing to start Season Two.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) have instant reactions to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the most fun show on network television. Shawn: Go dark. Stay in the shadows. Find the obelisk. I think I see where this season is going in a nutshell. I really needed a little more of a "Previously on . . . " to get me back up to speed. But that start caught my attention and I kinda want a whole episode of the Howling Commandos in the '40s. Back to modern day and I got the good and the bad of the series all

The Dogs of War (1980) Blu-ray Review: These Boots Are Made for Walken

Recommended. Even if we don't get to hear Christopher Walken recite Shakespeare.
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Despite the claims of many an adult website author, bigger is not always better. Take the contemporary action film genre, for example: things must explode continuously, actors must shout a lot, cameras must shake wherever and whenever possible in order to convey a general feeling of queasiness, and any and all probability or indication of intelligence must be sucked out of the room immediately. Sure, it sells, but at what cost to the view with a brain? Alas, whenever somebody tries to construct an action flick that isn't completely braindead, it usually flops at the box office when the disappointed

Sony Movie Channel Programming Highlights for October 2014

Check out the great slate of movies SMC has planned.
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Creatures of the night take over October, as Sony Movie Channel unleashes a “Killer Thursdays” block loaded with tricks and treats every week at 10 p.m. ET. The lineup features genre icon Tony Todd in the Clive Barker classic CANDYMAN (October 2); Tom Atkins fights alien parasites in NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (October 9); Stephen King’s feline terror SLEEPWALKERS (October 16); Tobin Bell in BOOGEYMAN 2 (October 23); old favorites get a modern twist in the ‘06 thriller WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION, starring Matthew McConaughey and RenĂ©e Zellweger (October 30); and more. The
Come Morning has been compared to A Simple Plan, which was a movie I enjoyed a great deal. Simple Plan's characters were engaging, smart, and constantly trying to stay one step ahead of each other. Both movies are about the lengths to which people will go to keep a secret and conceal evidence. However, where A Simple Plan kept me on the edge of my seat and kept the stakes rising throughout, Come Morning hints at more backstory than it actually tells and is fraught with a slow, dull plot and a bunch of lukewarm character archetypes. Nothing interesting happens

Inspector Manara Season One DVD Review: Crime-solving, Italian style

Inspector Manara features a winning mixture of comedy and mystery.
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MHz has released another international series on DVD, Inspector Manara (Il Comisario Manara). Part police procedural, part romantic comedy, it is a very engaging show with likable characters that American audiences should take to immediately. Set in a small Tuscan town by the seaside, Inspector Manara features Guido Caprino as Luca Manara, who has been transferred from his beloved and fast-paced Milan to be the new police commissioner of what he thinks is a tiny, boring, crime-free town. He will soon learn that murder is as frequent an occurrence here as in some other mythical television hamlets like Cabot Cove

The Moonshine War (1970) DVD Review: Early Hicksploitation with an Unlikely Cast

Alan Alda and Patrick McGoohan portray Southerners in this tale from the disgraced director of the television remake of Catch-22.
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Essentially, there are two types of hicksploitation genres: you either have a group of Yankees wandering into the South only to be terrorized by a group of rampaging rednecks - be they alive, dead, or somewhere in-between - or one bears witness to a war between two factions of undereducated (but nevertheless cunning) mountain men who go toe-to-toe over something like women or whiskey. But all of those unofficial rules are tossed out the window when it comes to the 1970 film adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel The Moonshine War - which, despite the seemingly self-explanatory title, tells an enthralling

Criterion Announces December 2014 Releases

Some Christmas present options for the cinephile in the family.
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In December, Criterion offers new 2K digital restorations of Liliana Cavani's bizarre love story, The Night Porter, and Terry Gilliam’s time-travel fantasy, The Time Bandits. It also welcomes to the collection Todd Haynes' acclaimed second feature, Safe. The latest addition to the Eclipse Series is Kinoshita and World War II, a five-film set of Japanese director Keisuke Kinoshita's early work, which includes collects Port of Flowers, The Living Magoroku, Jubilation Street, Army, and Morning for the Osone Family The Night Porter (#59) out Dec 9 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions In this unsettling drama from Italian filmmaker Liliana Cavani (Ripley’s

The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology and Halloween: The Complete Collection Are the Picks of the Week

As Halloween creeps near its time to start bringing out the big horror collections.
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A couple of years back I decided to finally sit down and watch the notoriously graphic horror movie A Serbian Film. My wife was at work so she couldn’t complain and my daughter was maybe 9 or 10 months old and also unable to protest. I like horror movies. I have since I was a teen. I even dig some of the really gory stuff. Or at least I like to be able to say I've watched the grossest of the gross. So it was with A Serbian Film. Its reputation as one of the nastiest films ever made only

getTV Programming Highlights for October 2014

An assortment of movies from the classic Hollywood era with the spotlight shining on Rita Hayworth, the Durango Kid, and spooky films.
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getTV conjures a monster marathon loaded with witches, ghosts, vampires, and a slew of genre icons, on Friday, October 31. The mayhem begins at 7 p.m. ET, as James Stewart becomes bewitched and bewildered by Kim Novak in BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE; bombs resurrect Bela Lugosi in THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE; Peter Cushing gets back to business in THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN; THE WEREWOLF goes on the prowl; and a family moves in with 13 GHOSTS in the original William Castle classic. Thursdays in October, getTV pays tribute to the incomparable Rita Hayworth, with a special block every week

Che! (1969) Blu-ray Review: A Prime Example of "What Were They Thinking?"

Omar Sharif as Che Guevara. Jack Palance as Fidel Castro. A match made in bad movie heaven.
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Every now and then, a motion picture comes along that is so positively astute in its own sense of being, so sure it knows what it is and why it's there, that it becomes painfully clear there isn't a single soul within the confines of the cosmos who could tell you what the hell was going on there. Rather, movies such as these tend to ignore all fundamental elements of filmmaking (i.e. consumer demand and/or a plot) boil down to a quip British comedian Eddie Izzard once made regarding the fine art of making speeches: that people only pay 70%

Any Given Sunday 15th Anniversary Blu-ray Review: Oversized Game Meets Oversized Filmmaker

Sprawling football epic looks at the game from all sides.
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Recently at lunch, I was watching ESPN with the sound off at a local bar. For 20 minutes, the anchors talked about child abuse, spousal abuse, whether or not Roger Goddell should step down. There wasn't a score on the screen the entire time, and not a single game talked about. Regardless of the importance of the issues surrounding football, there is no small part of me that wishes football talk could be about the game. No issues, no important business. Not about money or politics or anything but moving the ball. That's because, when it comes to football, I'm

Neighbors Blu-ray Review: All Good in This Hood

The 2nd biggest live-action comedy of 2014 has an incredibly simple premise but surprises with its refreshing delivery.
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This summer’s breakout comedy hit delivers on its deceptively simple concept via some fresh character development, largely avoiding what could have been a one-dimensional yawner. That concept, expertly conveyed by the poster, finds a nice young family facing off against a raucous fraternity that moves in directly next door to their home. Instead of leaning on hoary stereotypes for the two warring sides, the film switches up the formula by making them more similar and hence more sympathetic to each other’s situation, in the process weaving in coming-of-age themes for the residents of both houses. Don’t worry, it’s far from

Prom Night (1980) Blu-ray Review: Disco! Dancing! Death!

Synapse Films brings us the definitive transfer of the classic Canadian slasher flick.
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Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a classic slasher flick, only to wonder "Man, I sure wish they would have included a lot of disco tunes on the soundtrack"? Or perhaps you are of the persuasion that would find themselves in the midst of a disco movie before they began to envision how much better it would be were there people getting slashed? Well, either way, the 1980 American/Canadian slasher film Prom Night proves that you can have your cake and eat it too - as it not only features murder, but disco dancing as well. And

Neighbors Blu-ray Combo Giveaway

Only one will win.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment to award one lucky reader a Blu-ray set of Neigbors, which will be released on Blu-ray and DVD, on September 23. The official synopsis reads: By all appearances, new parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are living the American Dream - complete with an adorable baby girl and a beautiful new starter home in the suburbs. Still, the early-thirtysomethings want to believe they have a modicum of coolness left within them. So when they discover that their new next-door neighbors are none other than dozens of Delta

Death in Paradise Season Two DVD Review: Conventional Murder Mysteries, Unconventional Setting

Second season of this tropical murder series flirts with interdepartmental romance but otherwise maintains staid formula.
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A stuffy English investigator gets transplanted to a laidback Caribbean island to solve their murders and his own misanthropy. Even after a year on the island, Detective Investigator Richard Poole (Ben Miller) foolishly clings to his stodgy habits, wearing full dark suits in the blazing tropical sun, searching for a decent cup of tea, and gathering his suspects at the end of each case for his grand chamber reveal of the culprit. He’s completely out of place in his environment, and makes barely any attempt to adjust, but boasts a stunning closure rate on his cases. Meanwhile, the local police

The One I Love Movie Review: Do I Know You?

Sharp, perceptive, subtly mind-blowing movie that explores reality and relationships with a light touch, helped by stars Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss.
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If you haven’t yet seen The One I Love, please consider this article a giant SPOILER ALERT! and read no further. The reviews I read before seeing the film, which has been shown at numerous film festivals and began a limited U.S. release in August, did a good job of providing just enough information to preserve the surprises in this tricky, subtly mind-blowing movie, and I’ll try to do the same. However, if you’re one of those people whose enjoyment is ruined by even the slightest bit of foreknowledge, move right along. (Note re: Titanic: the ship sinks). With a

Criterion's Eraserhead is the Pick of the Week

David Lynch's bizarre, brilliant masterpiece gets the Criterion make-over.
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People always carry on about how wonderful children are - how amazing and beautiful they can be, how they change your life and show you what love truly is. Mostly I find all that crap to be B.S., but there is some truth in how they change your life. Before I had a kid I actually had a life. Now I spend every waking moment feeding, cleaning up after, bathing, changing, and otherwise taking care of the little rugrat. I love my daughter more than anything in this entire universe, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days

Ben 10: Omniverse, Volume 5: Galactic Monsters DVD Giveaway

You could throw a "Rad Monster Party" if you win this.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Warner Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader Ben 10: Omniverse Volume 5: Galactic Monsters, which is available on September 16 priced at $14.97 SRP. From the offical press release: Sometimes it takes a real monster to defeat a real monster. So Ben is transforming into some awesome monster heroes in the latest DVD release Ben 10 Omniverse: Galactic Monsters. Watch for almost 2 action packed hours as Ben transforms into heroes like Frankenstrike and Whampire as he battles the most vile villains in the galaxy including the evil Lord Transyl on Monster Planet.

42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection, Volume 1 DVD Review: Show Some Respect For Your Elders

Frisky frolicking from forty years ago, or a glimpse at sexual revolution history? You decide.
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When I first spun this disc up, I wasn't sure what to expect. I always had this impression of a "peep show" as being opposing urges separated by a pane of glass -- someone stripping while the other watches and gets off on it. Instead, this DVD acts as a snapshot of scenes of '70s porn, featuring stars like Annie Sprinkle, Susan Nero, and Lisa DeLeeuw. Admittedly, I didn't recognize them, but I'm probably not quite old enough to be expected to. All the stereotypes you would expect are here -- feathery 'dos and man-perms, bold moustaches, torpedo boobs (all

Rifftrax Host Mike Nelson Talks Anaconda, Michael Bay and More

Nelson also covers the joys of Jon Voight, how hard it is to watch movies out of riff mode, and whether he thinks time is a flat circle.
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If I interview Bill Corbett, I'll have talked to all three members of the Rifftrax crew! Maybe that sounds like bragging on my part, but these guys are the coolest trio on the planet, responsible for creating hilarious "riffs" on your favorite (and films whose favoritism you refuse to acknowledge) films via their site, Rifftrax. After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, and the presentation of Roland Emmerich's Godzilla on the big screen (which was reviewed by Mark Buckingham), the trio are back with a Halloween treat: performing a live Riff on Anaconda! I sat down with Mike Nelson to

Donna Detective: Season 1 DVD Review: Ahhh, Roma...

It may seem impossible to American viewers to take Lisa seriously when watching her switch gears so quickly but that is exactly the show's charm.
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Donna Detective is one of the latest offerings from MHz Networks, which releases international television shows on DVD. Originally aired in 2007, Donna Detective: Season 1 is a three-disc set of six feature-length episodes, which should appeal to American audiences. Each movie is in Italian, with English subtitles. The widescreen episodes have a total running time of 608 minutes. There are no extras on the discs. A twist on a typical detective procedural, Donna Detective features cop Lisa Milani (Lucrezia Lante Della Rovere) in the title role. Once a top detective in Rome, Lisa requested a desk job so that

Line of Duty Series 2 DVD Review: A Tired Genre Made Good

Series Two doesn't stray too far from the premise it set up in Series One, but that's not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all.
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When we talk about this new golden age of television, we seem to always be talking about American TV. Certainly there has been a wealth of great American TV to enter our households over the last many years, but it seems a shame that British television is so often neglected in those discussions. I’d argue that the Brits have not yet created a show with the scope and depth of something like The Wire or Breaking Bad (though Life on Mars gets close) but they are really great at taking a classic genre and making it as good as it

Fed Up Movie Review: Oh Sugar, It's a Drag

A vital documentary that aims high and comes up short.
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The subject of Stephanie Soechtig’s Fed Up could not be more pressing. The numbers presented in this 2014 documentary are staggering, exploring the root causes of obesity as being significantly more complex than the “calories in, calories out” claptrap often suggested. When one considers that it takes an hour and a half of swimming to work off one medium order of fries, the mind boggles. Fed Up is at its best when it deals against the conventional wisdom shoveled by the food industry and the government, but its focus is oddly quite narrow. Without question, the health and welfare of

Doctor Who: Deep Breath DVD Review: You Don't Need to Hold Your Breath to Bring the 12th Doctor Home on DVD or Blu-ray

Peter Capaldi's first outing as the Doctor time-travels onto DVD/Blu-ray.
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The new Doctor has arrived...on DVD and Blu-ray! Doctor Who: Deep Breath sees actor Peter Capaldi stepping into the role of The Doctor for his first full-length episode (having made brief appearances in episodes The Day of the Doctor and Time of the Doctor). Wasting little time, the BBC has already produced a DVD and Blu-ray of the episode for those who, like me, can't watch the BBC or BBC America, giving us our first real look at the new 12th Doctor. Having just regenerated, the Doctor finds himself having trouble remembering important information, like the identity of his friends

Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide Book Review: The End of an Era

The book is very substantive, and full of information
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Leonard Maltin appears in the movie Gremlins 2: The New Batch, lampooning his own negative review of the original Gremlins. He was also in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but that's not relevant from a cinematic perspective. This is brought up to illuminate how long Maltin has been a prominent film critic, and not just because of Doug Benson's movie podcast where they play the Leonard Maltin Game. However, an era is coming to an end. In addition to his Leonard Maltin app going out of commission, the most recent edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, the 2015

A Long Way Down is the Pick of the Week

Despite not liking a good number of his books, I can't help but love Nick Hornby.
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I first heard of Nick Hornby through the movie version of his musically obsessed book High Fidelity. The film stars John Cusack as Rob, a down-on-his-luck, record-store owner whose entire life has been influenced by pop songs and who tends to spend his day making mix tapes for pretty girls and Top Five lists of favorite every things. After watching that film, pretty much all of my friends turned to me and mentioned that it must have been based on my life. That’s not true, of course, but it could have been. Certainly large chunks of my life have been

Revolution: The Complete Second and Final Season DVD Review : A Lack of Direction Leads the Show into Cancellation

Learn what ultimately turned the lights out for good on Revolution.
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At the end of Season One, which was reviewed by Greg Barbrick, Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Aaron (Zak Orth) succeeded in their quest to turn the power back on by shutting down the nanites that had been suppressing the use of electricity. But to their dismay Randall (Colm Feore) took advantage of the situation and launched nuclear missiles that obliterated the cities of Philadelphia and Atlanta, forcing the two scientists to flip the switch again and turn the power back off. When Season Two begins, it’s six months from the event and the group is scattered all over the country.

All That Jazz Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Lord of the Dance

Bob Fosse’s crowning directorial achievement shines in the Criterion spotlight.
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Joe Gideon is tired. Tired of women, tired of choreography, tired of drugs, and yet inexplicably driven to continue pursuing all of them, to the detriment of his health. As a legendary Broadway director, he’s at his peak but so burned out that he struggles to remind himself “it’s showtime” as he drugs himself awake each day for more rehearsals leading up to the debut of his new musical. As Gideon, Roy Scheider nails the world-weary lead character, especially impressive given that he was directed by the character’s thinly veiled inspiration, Bob Fosse. Fosse’s immense talent for choreography is on

No No: A Dockumentary Film Review: Covers All the Bases

Covers all the bases in the life of controversial pitcher Dock Ellis.
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No No: A Dockumentary traces the colorful and complex career of MLB pitcher Dock Ellis, who pitched a no-hitter (or No No) on LSD in 1971. The infamous “no-no” is revisited by Dock, his teammates and sportswriters in No No, but director Jeff Radice’s film doesn’t dwell on that dubious achievement. It gives viewers a complex portrait of Ellis, who became a successful major league pitcher despite his battles with drug and alcohol addiction. Dock Ellis played in the major leagues from 1968 to 1979, most famously with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and later with the Mets and the Texas Rangers.

Book Review: Alfred Hitchcock's America by Murray Pomerance: Not for the Faint of Heart

My suspicion is unless you are a frenzied scholar this book might notoriously turn you psycho.
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In 1939, at the age of 40, Alfred Hitchcock moved to America. He’d had huge success as a filmmaker in Britain, but Hollywood was calling, and as so many others before him and after, Hitchcock answered that call. As scholar Murray Pomerance writes in Alfred Hitchcock’s America, the famed director loved America and was both highly influenced by and greatly influenced it himself. Certainly he made his greatest films while living in America, many of which have come to represent the very ideals of this country. Pomerance comes to these films from a cultural and political standpoint and this book

Rocks in My Pockets Film Review: Animated Exploration of Suicide and Depression

Rock in My Pockets, an independent animated film, explores the depths of suicide and depression, without itself being suicidally depressing.
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Rocks in My Pockets begins with a detailed discussion of suicide by hanging, with all angles fully explored, from how to make sure the rope doesn't slip to how to take care of potential messes involved in the process, obviously by someone who has given it a lot of thought. This is not "cry for help catch me" talk, but "how can I make sure I end my existence" - preferably without inconveniencing anyone else too much. It's chilling, and even off-putting - if this is where the movie starts, how dark is it going to be when it really

Nasty Habits (1977) DVD Review: Nunsploitation of a Different Denomination

Watergate set in a convent. Seriously.
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There truly is no separation of church and state when it comes to a movie like Nasty Habits, a late '70s comedy that remains in a classification of its own to this day. Inspired by the famously notorious exploits of a certain tricky American president (read: Watergate), this off-the-wall entirely different take on the nunsploitation subgenre centers on a little-known abbey in Philadelphia chock-full of vice and corruption. When its reigning head abbess dies before she has a chance to officially make her chosen successor public, Sister Alexandra (Glenda Jackson) decides the best way to assure her proper place is

My 2014 Toronto International Film Festival Schedule...So Far

Please read and comment upon my TIFF itinerary.
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The 39th Annual Toronto Internationa Film Festival runs from Sept 4-14, and I, your humble correspondent, will be heading to the Queen City for a few days to feast on films. The titles listed below, accompanied by brief synopses, are the ones I plan on attending. Follow me on twitter at ElBicho_CS for snap judgements and witty reactions to the films and other goings-on at the festival. Full reviews will be posted on the site at a later date. Which of these sound interesting to you? Sunday September 7 The New Girlfriend - After the death of her best friend,

Thoughtful & Abstract: Sons of Anarchy: Season One: Ain't Your Father's MC

The Sons of Anarchy are introduced to T & A by way of Season One.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) reminisce about Season One of Sons of Anarchy. Shawn just started watching the show this Summer and Kim has been watching for years. As we run up to the final season, here are some thoughts about the show's debut season in the Fall of 2008. Shawn: Sons of Anarchy has always been one of those shows that I didn't watch but knew that I'd love. I loved Kurt Sutter's work on The Shield and this show has lots of the touches of that show that made it unique in the police drama genre.

Book Review: The Art of Neil Gaiman by Haley Campbell

A fantastic accounting of his life and career.
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I was first introduced to Neil Gaiman through his Sandman comics at a time when most people were introduced to Neil Gaiman through his Sandman comics. I read the collected trade paperbacks of The Sandman at end of the millenium while working at a Barnes & Noble, a few years after the series' monthly run had ended. I hadn't been a comic-book reader since 1985, deciding to take a stand and quit cold turkey when the prices went up to a whopping 65 cents an issue, which was more than my limited budget could stand, as gasoline and women became

Book Review: Brainquake, Samuel Fuller's Lost Novel

Samuel Fuller's "lost" noir novel finally gets published in the U.S.
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Best known for provocative films such as Shock Corridor, The Crimson Kimono, or The Big Red One, Samuel Fuller spent his life making inescapable art. He was a filmmaker’s filmmaker and a writer’s writer, whom director Wim Wenders—Paris, Texas among others—once called “one of the great movie directors of the 20th century, most certainly its greatest storyteller.” Fuller had spunk and punch, and very little of what drags most artists to the ground, excess. His ideas were straightforward and to the point. Take for example his most controversial work White Dog, the tale of a virulent racist German Sheppard and
Every Friday in September, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is heading back in time to the pre-Code era, before American films fell under the censor's eye and began to avoid topics and situations that were considered morally dubious. TCM will shine a light on this freewheeling cinematic period, presenting a weekly 24-hour festival of pre-Code movies, with award-winning actor Alec Baldwin and TCM's Robert Osborne set to introduce the primetime lineups as part of TCM's Friday Night Spotlight. Pre-Code Hollywood is the era in the American film industry between the introduction of sound in the late 1920s and the strict enforcement

LEGO Ninjago Rebooted: Battle for New Ninjago City, Season 3 Part 1

Although this could be thought of as a series for boys, it is just as accessible to girls as well.
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LEGO has brought back Ninjago for a third season to the Cartoon Network. It begins with the Ninjas as teachers in a school outside of New Ninjago City. Since they belive they have defeated the Overlord, their powers are not needed, and Lloyd, the Golden Ninja, is off receiving awards and accolades all around the world. So while the rest of the Ninjas (Zane, Kai, Jay, and Cole) are helping shape the minds of the youth, they are also bored out of their minds because they aren't getting to be Ninjas. Nya is teaching with them and still falling for

Rip Kirby: The First Modern Detective: Complete Comic Strips: 1962-1964 by John Prentice

The first modern detective meets a master of modern storytelling and finds a convert in this reviewer.
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I can’t remember a time when sequential art didn’t play a huge role in my life. Whether it was riding my bike to the local 7-11 to pick up comic books filled with colorful superheroes or tearing apart the Sunday paper to get to “the funny section” before my siblings, I’ve always been enamored of this unique form of storytelling. As time has gone by, my appreciation for the medium has led me down many avenues and I’ve done my best to educate myself on various styles, genres, and methods of telling stories through pictures. But there was always one

Line of Duty Series 2 is the Pick of the Week

This week brings some good TV and some classic monsters.
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It seems like forever since I’ve had a really challenging pick of the week. Hardly at all this summer have I had to really choose between two or three items that I was really interested in. More than once the picks have been between something kind of interesting and something else that might be ok. It not that there hasn’t been anything that I think will be good, and looking back on the things I did pick I recognize there’s been some really nice releases. But I don’t recall a week where I was blown away by all the great

Seven Psychopaths DVD Review: It's Like Adaptation Meets Fight Club

A killer cast of outright maniacs.
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Seven Psychopaths centers around Marty (Colin Farrell), a struggling Hollywood screenwriter overdue to finalize his next project which he has barely begun. His girlfriend Kaya (Abbie Cornish) quarrels with him over his tendencies to drink too much and sleep too late. His friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) means well, but often catalyzes chaos that upends Marty's life and his relationships with others. Once Billy learns about Marty's pending project -- conveniently also titled Seven Psychopaths -- Billy starts out just trying to help get the story rolling so his friend can write it down. Little does Marty know, between Billy's complicated

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