January 2015 Archives

getTV Programming Highlights for February 2015

Happy birthday to getTV and its watchers.
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Press release: getTV is turning one on Tuesday, February 3, and viewers are invited to the birthday party! To commemorate this milestone day, the network will take to Twitter and Facebook at 6 a.m. PT, encouraging viewers to share their own film stories, favorite classics, and more using #1STMovieMemory, while testing their knowledge of Oscar-themed trivia. Additionally, the month includes a new Tuesday block (The Year Was), as well as premieres of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (February 1) and HIS GIRL FRIDAY (February 4)—both making their debuts on getTV. Start each week with Jack Lemmon in 10 of the Oscar-winner’s

ANZAC Girls DVD Review: Ladies at War and in Love

The exciting true story of Australian nurses serving in WWI.
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The Australian & New Zealand Army Corps (or ANZAC for short) nurses played an extremely important and nearly untold part of World War I. They were often extremely close to the front lines and thus saw the very face of war while trying to heal the horrifically wounded men in sordid and sometimes terrible conditions. Peter Rees’ book “The Other ANZACS” tells the story of five of those nurses and the Australian Broadcasting Network has brought it to television. Now Acorn Media has brought it to America via a wonderful DVD collection. The five girls are Sisters Olive Haynes (Anna

Ratboy (1986) DVD Review: Locke and Load

And to think all it took for us to get rid of Sondra Locke was to let her direct!
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After Clint Eastwood's career skyrocketed in the late '60s following the American release of Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy, the entire world was at the actor's feet. Soon, the now-established crowd-pleaser was making one hit after another, often for his own outfit, The Malpaso Company (later Malpaso Productions). In fact, things were looking great and running smooth for several years. And then he met an anemic actress with large, lifeless black pools for eyes, stringy long concrete blonde hair, and a frail-looking frame. Her name was Sondra Locke, and for years, she generated many protesting groans of disgust from audiences members

Cracked (2013) DVD Review: "What Lies Beneath" an Incomplete Season Set?

BBC Video drops the ball with an unlabeled half-season set of an already canceled Canadian TV show.
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Between having lived in a small redneck/prison/crackhead town year-round, walked on Hollywood Boulevard during the summertime when tourist season is at its height, and flown across the country in coach on Delta Airlines, I am fully aware that there are mentally unbalanced people everywhere. Heck, most of the people that have spent more than three minutes speaking to me have probably concluded I fall into that category myself, but I haven't quite reached the point of running around in nothing but my underwear shouting about demons. And since I don't wear any such undergarments, the day I do will surely

2015 Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Films Review

An intriguing collection of characters attempting to connect with others.
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The Academy Award-nominees for this year's Live Action Short Film originated from Europe and Asia. They feature an intriguing collection of characters who are attempting to connect with others in a variety of ways. In alphabetical order, they are: "Aya": The title character is waiting at the airport when she does a driver a favor and holds a sign for an arriving passenger, a classical-music researcher who is heading to Jerusalem to serve on a competiton jury. Rather than explain what's going on, she agrees to be his driver. This short delivers a lot of suspense as Aya's motivation is

TCM Classic Film Festival Announces Ann-Margret, Astronaut Captain James Lovell, and More Titles

Which titles would you be most interested in seeing on the big screen?
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Turner Classic Movies (TCM) continues to add award-winning titles and iconic stars to the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, taking place March 26-29, 2015 in Hollywood, including world premiere restorations of: Warner Bros’ classic musicals 42nd Street (1933) and Calamity Jane (1953) and 1776 (1972) William Wyler’s delightful romance Roman Holiday (1953) from Paramount MGM’s western drama The Proud Rebel (1958) Jules Dassin’s French caper film Rififi (1958) from Rialto Pictures Festival goers will also get to enjoy other iconic films such as: David Lean’s award-winning Doctor Zhivago (1965) from Warner Bros. 70mm print of Franklin J. Schaffner’s Oscar-winning Patton

Panic Button (1964) DVD Review: When Mannix Met Mansfield

The Warner Archive Collection releases the rarely-seen comedy that may have inspired a famous Mel Brooks movie.
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Considering how many times the Italian film industry has shamelessly ripped off American productions, I suppose it's only fitting (ironic, even, depending on whether or not you're a hipster and actually use that word in the right context) that the very movie which helped to launch the career of zany American filmmaker like Mel Brooks may have been derived from an Italian production. And I use the word "may" with both apprehension and caution alike because I don't think there's a single person on the planet that has a bad thing to say about Brooks, though it's very hard to

The Serpent's Egg DVD Review: The Non-Bergman Bergman Film

David Carradine sleepwalks through Ingmar Bergman's one and only (and kind of weird) Hollywood production.
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I will be the first to admit that my personal experience with the work of Ingmar Bergman is decidedly limited. In fact, it almost entirely centered around a period in high school wherein my English/Drama teacher and I would privately discuss some of our favorite movies. I would recommend something like Wings of Desire, she would in exchange assist in molding my then-artistic mindset by introducing me to Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Mind you, I was the very same weird kid who was caught casually watching Doctor Butcher, M.D. in the classroom one day when she and all of the

2015 Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films Review: Feast is Far and Away the Best of the Five

If these are five of the best animated shorts, then it would appear to be a poor year for animated shorts.
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Animation would seem to be particular conducive to the short film format, as cartoons have been done in short bursts of a handful of minutes since they were invented. It’s a chance to fool around with aesthetics and cool visual effects and so on. Here’s a look at all five of the finalists for the Best Animated Short Film category. "A Single Life": This is only a couple minutes long, and the conceit of it is pretty clever. However, it is much more amusing in concept than in execution. It’s slight, but it is so short that doesn’t hurt it

A Kiss Before Dying (1956) DVD Review: Just Skip the Kiss and Kill Me Already

A tepid, presumably rushed adaptation of the Ira Levin novel that is mostly notable for being a great gathering of future B movie and television actors.
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Some things simply look better on paper. Like that time I was a kid when my friend and I worked out how to cryogenically freeze a frog and later re-animate it. It all made perfect sense in our heads, and played out quite well on the board. The reality of the situation, however - involving a Ziploc bag full of water, the upper freezer half of an old brown Frigidaire refrigerator, and the open ends of a severed electrical cord from an even older lamp - only succeeded in a bit of a mess and a story that would regularly

Above Suspicion: Complete Collection DVD Review: It's No Prime Suspect, but It Aint Half Bad

It's impossible not to compare it to La Plante's other series, but it is well worth watching.
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It is nearly impossible for the reviewer not to compare Above Suspicion with Prime Suspect. Both shows were created and largely written by Lynda La Plante, their protagonists are both young, inexperienced but intuitive and very ambitious police women tackling high-profile murder cases. Both protagonists likewise have to battle sexism, incompetence, and politics on the job. Both series are also very enjoyable though it must be said Above Suspicion (and its lead character and the actress who plays her) are no Prime Suspect (nor Jane Tennyson, nor Helen Mirren) in terms of quality, ambition, and cultural influence. Prime Suspect is

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness DVD Review: The Glorious End of an Era

Documentary shines a spotlight on the legendary animation Studio Ghibli and its visionary co-founder, Hayao Miyazaki.
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Studio Ghibli has long garnered acclaim as an animation powerhouse, and yet very little is known about its inner workings and the creative process of its primary director, Hayao Miyazaki. That all changes here, with documentary filmmaker Mami Sunada granted exclusive access to the studio over the course of an eventful year. That year found the tiny studio producing not one but two new features, The Wind Rises and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, both of which went on to earn Oscar nominations. Even during the hectic animation timeframe, there’s a heavy air of melancholy over the studio as

The 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival to Host World Premiere Screening of Harry Houdini's The Grim Game

Composer Brane Zivkovic will be on hand to conduct a live performance of his new score for the film.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is bringing the long-lost Harry Houdini classic The Grim Game (1919) back to the public eye in a world premiere screening during 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival held March 26-29 in Hollywood. This much-sought-after film - a complete print of which was only recently rediscovered and brought to TCM for restoration - features the escape artist and legendary illusionist in one of his few starring roles. The film was discovered and the restoration was produced and restored by award-winning film preservationist and silent-film scholar Rick Schmidlin, whose credits include such landmark restorations as The

My Old Lady Blu-ray Review: or, Secrets & Lies: The Previous Generations

Aging author/playwright Israel Horovitz finally makes his feature film directorial debut. But is he too late in doing so?
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In this great big muddled world of ours, we seem to be divided into large groups of individuals. On the one side, you have picky people who will dispiritingly say that you cannot teach an old dog a brand new trick. And then there are those seemingly rare factions of folks who will encouragingly state that it is never too late to learn. My Old Lady, the indie feature from 2014 starring Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Maggie Smith, seems to fall somewhere in the middle of that. For here, author/playwright Israel Horovitz (creator of both Author! Author! and

The Bride Wore Black (1968) Blu-ray Review: The Roots of '70s Grindhouse Cinema

Fran├žois Truffaut's homage to Hitchcock makes a stunning Blu-ray debut from Twilight Time.
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While it is frequently reiterated that we are unable to take it with us, it should be noted that we do manage to take some of it along into the next life. No, I'm not attempting to wax some fruity spiritualism on you here (that's a job for those weird people handing out pamphlets in parking lots to tackle), I'm actually referring to things such as fashion and entertainment. As each craze fades out, it carries a little bit with it over into the new (usually worse) fad. In the world of music, we witnessed punk music (the real kind,

A Walk Among The Tombstones Blu-ray review: Somber, Slow Detective Throwback

This adaptation of Lawrence Block's alcoholic detective series is true to the character, maybe to a fault.
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Looking at the trailer for A Walk Among The Tombstones, one would be forgiven for assuming it is a Liam Neeson movie. That is, about man with a particular set of skills. Terrorists (or just murderers, here) being killed. Action mayhem, a hero who will stop at nothing. But this movie, an adaptation of Lawrence Block's novel, the tenth in his series featuring recovering alcoholic and recovering police detective Matt Scudder, is by no means an action movie. It involves no revenge (at least not for the main character). It involves no obession. Central to Scudder's character in his work

Stay Hungry DVD Review: A Special Peculiarity as Sports Films Go

An oddly interesting mix of socialism and bodybuilding politics.
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Usually, when discussing movies of the 1970s, even the bad ones, there are some films that continue to get lost in the shuffle, and that includes director Bob Rafelson's 1976 bizarre comedy drama, Stay Hungry, adapted from a novel by Charles Gaines, who co-wrote the screenplay with Rafelson. I guess because of its weird story, a movie like this doesn't come around too often, and that is unfortunate, since the film is actually pretty good, once you get past its almost laughable premise. Future Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges stars as Craig Blake, the sole-surviving part of an affluent Birmingham, Alabama family.

TCM Announces Sally Field as Co-host for New Season of The Essentials

"I can't imagine any one more delightful to sit and talk with about movies on a regular basis." - Robert Osborne
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Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today announced Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, and Screen Actors Guild Award winner Sally Field will co-host the 15th season of TCM’s signature showcase: The Essentials. Field will take the chair opposite TCM host Robert Osborne each week to introduce a hand-picked classic film and offer commentary on its cultural relevance and what makes it a timeless, must-see movie. The new season of The Essentials, which airs on Saturday nights premieres Saturday, March 7, at 8 p.m. (ET) with a screening of William Wyler’s classic, Roman Holiday. “We couldn't be happier that Sally will be joining us

Atlas Shrugged Part III Blu-ray Review: Fool's Gold

Producer John Aglialoro completes his quixotic quest to adapt Ayn Rand's epic novel to the screen.
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The final act of this unlikely trilogy spotlights a strong-willed individual who ignores public opinion and forges ahead with his own vision. That’s John Galt, the messianic character of the work, but also John Aglialoro, the financier behind the entire endeavor. Operating far outside of the studio system and critical approval, Aglialoro here completes the daunting task of bringing author Ayn Rand’s magnum opus to the screen. That in itself is a measure of success, albeit the only success the film is likely to experience. If you’ve been following along with the prior installments (Part I and Part II), it

Breaking Away (1979) Blu-ray Review: How Kids Grew Up Before the Internet

Quite possibly the only movie in history to partly focus on cycling and not suck in the process.
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Following the near collapse of the American film industry somewhere between the end of the '60s and the beginning of the '70s - a semi-catastrophe brought on (mostly) thanks to lavishly over-budget and egotistical studio productions, a war in Vietnam, and something the history books refer to as the "Hippie Movement" - the few folks who were still going to the picture show seemed to demand more realism. That, or the once lavish budgets that used to be handed out to filmmakers at the drop of a hat, and which were now being frequently slashed by some now very nervous

The Sound of Music (1965) to Open 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival with Appearances by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer

Is one of your favorite things opening up the sixth annual festival?
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Press release: Hollywood will come alive with The Sound of Music (1965) this spring as the beloved, Oscar-winning classic returns to the big screen to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a gala opening-night screening on Thursday, March 26 at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival. Legendary stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer will join Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne at the world-famous TCL Chinese Theater IMAX to introduce the beautifully restored film and kick off the sixth annual festival, which will run March 26-29, 2015, in Hollywood. The film is being presented in collaboration with Twentieth Century Fox, in

The Drop (2014) is the Pick of the Week

Rest in peace, James Gandolfini.
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It was a rough year to be a celebrity in 2014. It seems like we lost a lot of greats. There were some such as Richard Attenborough, Lauren Bacall, and Shirley Temple whose deaths, while very sad, were not a shock to hear about. But then there were others, Harold Ramis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Robin Williams - whose deaths were like a blow to the head. A great bit punch in our collective guts. Hoffman and Williams especially, their deaths made more tragic by the means in which they happened. I want to include James Gandolfini in that list,

The Purple Rose of Cairo Blu-ray Review: When Worlds Collide

Twilight Time continues its legacy of giving a damn about Woody Allen's classic, truly good movies.
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As a reasonably mature adult male who has been involved in an unending war with depression and mood swings since he was but a wee lad, I know how easy it is to seek solace from the cinema. To find a sense of purpose within the imaginary realms as designed by far-greater dreamers. I have danced the same steps as timeless American icons Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. I have romantically wooed the jaw-dropping charms of international B movie actresses like Barbara Bouchet and Margaret Lee. Espionage? Exploration? Elimination? I've done it all just by becoming immersed in a movie,

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Red Band Trailer

You've been warned.
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Official synopsis: When Lou (Rob Corddry) finds himself in trouble, Nick (Craig Robinson) and Jacob (Clark Duke) fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past. But they inadvertently land in the future with Adam Jr. (Adam Scott). Now they have to alter the future in order to save the past... which is really the present, in the sequel from the same team that brought you the original cult hit. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is in theaters February 20th

The 2015 Oscar-nominated Short Films in Theaters January 30

Get a leg up in your Oscar office pool.
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Press release: ShortsHD is once again bringing the wildly popular Oscar-nominated Short Film program (Live Action, Animation, and Documentary) in over 350 theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada starting January 30 and will continue to expand in the following weeks. A list of participating theaters is available here. Together with the theatrical run, the nominated short films will be available on Vimeo OnDemand, iTunes Stores in 54 countries, Amazon Instant Video, Verizon and will be released across the U.S. on VOD/Pay Per View platforms. LIVE ACTION AYAIsrael & France / 39 minsDirectors: Mihal Brezis and Oded BinnunProducers: Yael Abecassis, Hilel

The Party (1968) Blu-ray Review: Psychedelic Comedy of Errors

Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers team up for a subversive, slightly racist classic.
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We open on a desert film set, the high-strung director—played with ‘look at me, Ma’ gusto by eternal character actor Herb Ellis—appears over budget and out of time in constructing his latest, Gunga-Din style epic. There’s elaborate sets and high priced explosives, an expanse of extras to coordinate and Hrundi V. Bakshi, a bumbling Indian character actor hot off the Bollywood Express. He’s here to goof it all up, infuriating the extras until they turn their guns on him on like a prop armored firing squad. Bakshi manages to make it through the shoot, pun intended, until the last day

Criterion Announces April 2015 Releases

What are you most interested in?
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In April, Criterion offers six releases. Three are new to the Collection. Those titles are Carol Reed's Odd Man Out, Jean-Pierre Melville's Le silence de la mer, and Eclipse Series 42: Silent Ozu—Three Crime Dramas. Also scheduled are three high-definition digital restorations: Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels, Jean Renoir's The River, and Peter Yates' The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Odd Man Out (#754) out Apr 14 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions Taking place largely over the course of one tense night, Carol Reed’s psychological noir, set in an unnamed Belfast, stars James Mason as a revolutionary ex-con leading a robbery that

2015 Academy Award Nominations Have Been Announced

Everything is awesome for some people this today.
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Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2014 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center and televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The nominees are: Best Animated FeatureBig Hero 6The BoxtrollsHow To Train Your Dragon 2Song of the SeaThe Tale of Princess Kaguya Best Documentary FeatureCITIZENFOURLast Days In VietnamVirungaFinding Vivian MaierThe Salt of the Earth Best Documentary ShortCrisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1JoannaOur CurseThe Reaper (La Parka)White Earth Best Film EditingAmerican SniperBoyhoodThe Imitation GameWhiplashThe Grand Budapest Hotel Best Original Song"Everything is Awesome," The

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power Blu-ray Review: "The Search for More Money"

Thoroughly mindless entertainment. Minus the whole "entertainment" part.
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A few years ago, I had the misfortune of seeing the last movie in Universal's Scorpion King legacy (which was itself a secondary subsidiary to the studio's ongoing attempt at burying Stephen Sommers' career, and was something that officially started immediately after he made his debut film with 1989's Catch Me If You Can). Fortunately, I don't remember a single solitary frame of the previous entry. In fact, I had to look up an old review of mine (published elsewhere) just to make sure that I actually did see it; it was that memorable. Well, once more, the powers that

Favorite Films of 2014

Did we mention yours?
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When the Academy Award nominations are revealed in just a few hours, the final stage of marketing/recognizing films and filmmakers of 2014 will commence. With all the shenanigans that go on behind the scenes by those campaigning and by those voting, it's understandable why people like Woody Allen, who has himself been nominated 24 times and won four Oscars, says "the whole concept of awards is silly." That's a sentiment a few of us around these parts agree with. Considering how different people's tastes are, can any group actually determine what work is the "Best"? Humphrey Bogart suggests the answer

Adam Blair's 2014 Roundup

My 10 most overlooked and eight most overpraised.
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I saw about 30 movies in theaters in 2014. Some are getting tons of attention during awards season, and rightfully so. Others have disappeared seemingly without a sound, not rightfully so. Following are my 10 Most Overlooked and Eight Most Overpraised for 2014, in no particular order. 10 Most Overlooked The One I Love: Trippy and intriguing relationship dramedy with Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass Rosewater: Serious, scary but ultimately uplifting directing debut by Jon Stewart Top Five: Super-timely comedy from truth-teller extraordinaire Chris Rock Life of Crime: Dumb criminals are always funny, plus a fine Jennifer Aniston performance Venus

2015 Razzie Nominations Have Been Announced

"[Blended] is offensive on many levels." - RonsReviews
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Press Release: Hollywood was not happy with box office returns for 2014, their lowest-grossing year in recent history. Despite a handful of high-grossing hits, there were way more major misses — movies based on recycled premises and re-worked concepts that were already tired a decade or more ago, the cinematic equivalent of re-treaded tires. Those are the films The Golden Raspberry Awards have annually "saluted" since 1980. Nominees for the 35th Annual Razzie Awards, satirizing the Worst Achievements in Film for 2014, include new names and several Repeat Offenders, returning for more pie-in-the-face/light-hearted joshing by the one Tinsel Town trophy

Gone Girl is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us David Fincher's latest thriller, an empires final boardwalk, a Hendrix biopic, a space documentary and The Facts of Life.
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I very much like to read, I’m just not very good at it. Or rather I’m not very good at making the time to read more than a few pages at a time. Between movies, TV, games, Facebook, music, work, and family I rarely make myself sit down for long stretches with a good book. Honestly, I do most of my reading on the toilet, or sometimes at the dinner table (when my wife doesn’t let out that groaning sigh that tells me she’d like a little attention rather than the pages in front of me). Now and again I’ll

Wetlands (2013) Blu-ray Review: Filth Presented as Frankness

German director David Wnendt's misguided and NSFW tale of filthy femininity finds its on to Blu-ray.
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I’ve seen plenty of repugnant films, the kind that shock for the sake of shocking. I’m not just talking Death the Ultimate Horror either, an hour-long collage of real-life murders, mishaps, and violent pratfalls set to the unrelenting pummel of speed metal. They bore a morbid fascination for me at seventeen, the same sick and twisted attraction driving teenagers into the arms of GG Allin or to the midnight cinema for Spike & Mike’s. No, I’m thinking more of Catherine Breillat’s stark explorations on female sexuality, or a certain coming-of-age pie-screwer, or Jackass, or Harmony Korine’s Gummo—easily one of the

The Wizard of Oz Movie Review: TCM and Fathom Events Lovingly Present a Timeless Classic

Run, don't walk, to the merry ole land of Oz with TCM and Fathom Events!
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It's such a cliche adage but it holds true nonetheless: There's something about seeing certain movies in a theater. I've watched The Wizard of Oz countless times on television, but I've never had the opportunity to experience the Judy Garland classic on a big screen. After making it their closing night film at the TCM Classic Film Festival last year - an event I missed! - Turner Classic Movies, Warner Bros. and Fathom Events worked together to bring the movie back into theaters in honor of its 75th anniversary. With another showing scheduled for this Wednesday stop what you're doing

Panel Preview: Rat God #1

"How in the seven hells did I come to this?" - Clark Elwood
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From Eisner Award Hall of Fame inductee Richard Corben, best known for his work in Heavy Metal, comes Rat God, an original story that finds the artist once again inspired H.P. Lovecraft, published by Dark Horse Comics. The first issue goes on sale February 4, 2015 and is available to preorder. The official synopsis reads: Terrible things stalk the forests outside Arkham in this chilling original tale from comics master Richard Corben! An arrogant city slicker on a quest to uncover the background of a young woman from the backwoods finds horrors beyond imagining, combining Lovecraftian mutations with Native American

Still Alice Movie Review: Going, Going, Gone, Girl

A luminous Julianne Moore takes us inside the horror of Alzheimer’s by disappearing while in plain sight.
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There are a lot of poignant moments in Still Alice, the new movie about the slow but inexorable disappearance of the title character played by Julianne Moore. Stricken with early onset Alzheimer’s disease that robs her of memory, language, her sense of herself, her place in the world and within her family, the luminous, emotionally transparent Moore says, in a voice that combines matter-of-fact acceptance with desperation, “I don’t know what I’m going to lose next.” In essence, Still Alice is a horror movie, but instead of Jason or Freddy Kreuger the villain is a terrifying, incurable disease. This sensitive

Left Behind (2014) Blu-ray Review: Ungodly in Every Sense of the Word

A movie about people who are lost made by people who couldn't find their asses with both hands and flashlights.
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Reaching out to a target audience with a speciality motion picture is never an easy task, particularly when said target audience is intelligent or - at the very least - has expectations that scale only slightly above "public access TV production values." First, let's turn back the clock a bit to the original filmic adaptation of Left Behind (subtitled The Movie, in case its target audience was unable to distinguish the difference between a paperback book and a videocassette - which certainly wasn't insulting to their intelligence in any way) from 2000 starring former teen heartthrob-turned-evangelist Kirk Cameron. Based on

Taken Movie Review: A Fun-tastic Action Revenge Flick

A good old-fashioned bad-guys-getting-their-butts-handed-to-them kinda movie.
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Written by DW Smith Was he Secret Service? Was he FBI? Was he CIA? To be honest, I can't really remember, but he could snap your clavicle before you could say, "is that accent Irish or Scottish?" Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a highly skilled, but now retired, "preventer" as he refers to himself, in the fun-tastic action revenge flick Taken. Okay, so it's a fairly well-worn plot: the good guy retires from his dangerous, highly skilled job; wants to spend more time with his daughter (Maggie Grace); strained relationship with the bitter and snotty ex-wife (Famke Janssen) who has

Archer (Vice): The Complete Season Five Blu-ray Review: Smugglers' Blues

With season five, Archer continued to be one of the funniest shows going.
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As the season-five premiere, "White Elephant," opens, show creator Adam Reed creates a perfect visual metaphor. Life for the ISIS team is comfortable and serene, like many TV shows entering their fifth season. But Reed is not going to coast and continue to give viewers the same old show, evidenced by the ISIS offices getting blown up before the episode's opening credits. Turns out Malory (Jessica Walters) never got sanctioned by the U.S. government to conduct espionage operations, making the adventures of the past four seasons even funnier without altering them, and they get hauled in by the FBI. She

A Will for the Woods DVD Review: A Documentary That Deserves to Be Seen

The story of Clark Wang and his journey to have a green burial.
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“Honor the dead, heal the living, and invite in the divine.” These are the words of Joe Sehee, founder and program officer for the Green Burial Council. Sehee is one of the people the audience meets in the story of doctor, musician, and folk dancer Clark Wang and his journey to have a green burial in the documentary, A Will for the Woods. I requested to review this documentary not only because it looked interesting, but also for personal reasons. Since my father passed in 2013, I have looked for ways to help those who are entering the end of

The Vanishing (1988) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Thriller as Character Study

A woman's disappearance creates a terrible bond between the man who took her, and the one who lost her.
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The missing person is the greatest motif of the mystery story. Even if the murder story is more common (and perhaps the majority of missing-person stories become murder stories in the fullness of time) the missing-person story contains more questions: not just who did it, but what did they do? What really happened? Is the missing person dead, captured, tortured, or did they even just leave of their own accord? The relationship between the missing and those looking for them can be complicated and fascinating. In one line of The Vanishing, Rex Hofman, after years of looking for the long-missing

'Rebel, Rebel': Six Tales of Defiance from Twilight Time

From Streisand to Stone, controversies to conniving, this sextet offers it all.
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Since the dawn of mankind itself, there have been notable examples of individuals willing to break any rules that have been established, question whatever authority may be in command, and just try to have a good time in general - especially when it's all-but forbidden to do so. And that motif of rebellious folk is in fine form in the latest collection of movies from Twilight Time. Released in late December, this batch of six films ranges from highly acclaimed classics to somewhat forgotten features from yesteryear, as directed by the likes of Stanley Kramer, Oliver Stone, Mike Nichols, and

Boyhood is the Pick of the Week

After a week off I'm looking for movies about boys, girls, a former wizard growing horns, and Nick Cage in his most inexplicable role ever.
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I took last week off to spend some time with my wife’s family. Her clan are a bit spread out with the parents living in Kentucky, one brother in North Carolina, the other in Nashville. We now live in Oklahoma, all of which makes it rather difficult for us all to see each other at the same time. We always try to meet up over the Christmas break, and if the star align properly, we might all of us gather sometime in the summer. The brothers have three boys amongst them, two born months apart some 13 years ago and

Rye Coalition: The Story of the Hard Luck Five DVD Review: A Band of Brothers Bound Together

New Jersey underground rockers take a look back at a career unknown.
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There’s an old essay by Sarah Vowell, “These Little Town Blues,” it’s in the Take the Cannoli collection from a few years back. The piece talks about why New Jersey turns out great musicians. She’s talking mostly about how Sinatra, and Springsteen for that matter, embody the essential elements of punk. She writes “Punk is rhythm, style, poetry, comedy…Punk means moral indignation,” referring to Sinatra forming Reprise Records on his own, referring to Springsteen’s early endless desire to bust loose. Vowell taps into the desire for change or transformation that punk rock facilitates. That being from Nowhere, New Jersey—and believe

Holiday in Spain Blu-ray Review: Scent of a Mystery Woman

With so much work invested into a weird little gimmick flick starring Denholm Elliott and Peter Lorre, what's there not to love?
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Three-dimensional television sets with Ultra High-Definition 4K resolution. A kajllion-and-one useless apps for our increasingly useless smartphones. A vast array of challenging social networks that only go to make people vastly socially-challenged. With some new revolutionary thing we allegedly cannot live without coming 'round the bend every other week, it's easy to not fully realize we live in a world that is literally littered with nothing more than a shitload of gimmicks. More than half a century ago, studios and distributors alike were also worried the public might soon stoop so low as to pick up a book and learn

Panel Preview: Conan Red Sonja #1

"Two hunters stalking the same prey?" - Conan
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Writers Gail Simone and Jim Zub have teamed up to create the sword and sorcery team-up Conan Red Sonja for Dark Horse Comics. Dan Panosian is the artist, and Dave Stewart is the colorist. The first issue goes on sale January 14, 2015 and is available to preorder. The official synopsis reads: In a story spanning multiple eras in the lives of these classic characters, Conan and Red Sonja become comrades to take down a sorcerer-priest hell bent on creating a dark new age in Hyborian warfare! Here's a look at Issue #1 and the cover of Issue #2:

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