February 2015 Archives

Dumber and Dumber To Blu-ray Review: Still Dumb After All These Years

While there are some laughs, it suffers like many sequels do from not being as good as the original and covering similar ground.
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It's no surprise that the directing team of Bobby and Peter Farrelly would write, produce, and direct The Three Stooges, the 2012 modern-day update with new actors playing Moe, Larry, and Curly. The Stooges' brand of dim-witted lunacy and aggressive slapstick is seen throughout the Farrelly Brothers' work, including their feature-film debut, Dumb and Dumber. Starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, who are perfectly described by the film's title, Dumb and Dumber was a smash hit, turning a $17 million budget into $247 million at the box office. It led to an animated series

Remembering Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

His work will live long and the audience will prosper from it.
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Leonard Nimoy died on February 27 due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which he claimed was due to having been a smoker even though he had kicked the habit nearly 30 years. Though he had a long career as an actor playing a variety of parts, he became forever identified the world over as Star Trek's Mr. Spock, the half-human/half-Vulcan First Officer of the Enterprise. He not only played Spock on the initial TV series for three seasons, but would return to it many times over the years from The Animated Series and the theatrical movies, and

Longmire: The Complete Third Season DVD Giveaway

Bring Sheriff Walt Longmire home.
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In conjunction with the March 3 release of Longmire: The Complete Third Season on DVD, Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to award a lucky reader one (1) copy of the DVD set. For those wanting to learn more about the release, the official synopsis reads: Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire is back for the third season of hit Big Sky crime drama Longmire, based on the “Walt Longmire” mystery novels written by best-selling author Craig Johnson. In this gripping two-disc, 10-episode set, characters must test their courage and face challenges that will ultimately define them. The

Love and Death (1975) Blu-ray Review: Dying is Easy. Loving is Hard.

The Woody Allen film that even Woody Allen likes gets the High-Def treatment.
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Though some people out there would just assume never hear his name ever again, there is ultimately no denying the contributions Woody Allen has made to the worlds of both comedy and cinema alike since he first starting writing gags for television in the late 1950s. Since then, he has directed 50 (count 'em, fifty) projects in addition to writing, producing, and/or starring in several dozen others. Heck, some of the classic comedians who would become the filmmaker's inspirations growing up did not have such a filmic output (even when combined in some instances). But it wasn't just the witty

American Sniper Movie Review: Eastwood Hits His Target

Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper unite their considerable talents in what may well be the best Eastwood film yet.
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I really didn't know what to expect when I decided to see American Sniper. I had resolved not to read anything about it that might predispose my mind to the film and the experience of seeing it. I thought in terms of “seeing it” because, as a Vietnam veteran, I had refrained from seeing all but a couple of the plethora of films about that conflict. In fact, the number of movies which attempt to deal with the ambiguities and puzzles produced as a result of America's participation in Vietnam is staggering - so many that they collectively can (and

The Story of Women and Art DVD Review: Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves

The series does a wonderful service in telling stories about some of these little-known artist's lives and shining a light on their talents.
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Art historian and host Amanda Vickery (professor of early modern history at Queen Mary University of London) poses a question at the start of her series The Story of Women and Art: Women as muses and artists' models line countless gallery and museum walls - in sculptures and paintings made by male "old masters" - but where are all of the female artists? In three one-hour episodes, Vickery travels the world to try to highlight some of the unknown heroines of art history. In the first episode, Vickery travels through Italy and Holland to showcase the work of 16th and

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967) Blu-ray Review: Corman Slays 'Em

The movie that almost put gangsters films back on the map returns for another round (of ammunition).
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While movies like Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch and Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde generally get the most credit for being the movies that really introduced gritty onscreen violence into the movies (the former was released just months after the MPAA rating system was introduced in 1968), they weren't the first to do so. Not by a long shot. In fact, copious amounts of blood were being spilled by Herschell Gordon Lewis in his outrageous horror movies that made a real killing at drive-ins for jaded teen and rural audiences during the early '60s. The occasional big-budget Cinemascope war film

getTV Programming Highlights for March 2015

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Press release: Start the week with some of Tinsel Town’s finest and most desirable actors, as getTV presents a special “Hollywood Heartthrobs” block, every Monday in March at 7 p.m. ET. The stunt pays tribute to some of the most distinguished and finely chiseled men to ever hit the silver screen and kicks off on March 2 with the incomparable Cary Grant in the Howard Hawks comedy HIS GIRL FRIDAY, and THE TALK OF THE TOWN, with Jean Arthur. Then, Steve McQueen soars as a bomber pilot in THE WAR LOVER with Robert Wagner, and BABY THE RAIN MUST FALL

Lillies DVD Review: A Bittersweet Post-war Drama

With but one season in existence, Lillies makes a nice snack between larger Television meals.
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Lillies is a costume drama that ran on the BBC for one season in 2007. It was set in Liverpool in 1920. The story revolved around three sisters: Iris (Catherine Tyldesley), Ruby (Kerrie Hayes), and May (Leanne Rowe.) Plus their father (Brian McCardie), brother Billy (Daniel Rigby), and various friends and potential lovers. It is loosely based on the stories creator Heidi Thomas' grandmother used to tell of her life in the early 1920s. The girls all dream of bigger and better lives but are held back by their loving, but often hard, harsh, and drunk father. He can’t bare

Shirley MacLaine, Peter Fonda, George Lazenby, and Others Added to 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival

The roster of guests and films has expanded.
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New additions to the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festivals line-up have been announced by The Hollywood Reporter. Shirley MacLaine will be appearing at screenings of Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960) and William Wyler's The Children's Hour (1961). She will also sit with Robert Osborne for a conversation about her career. Peter Fonda is set to introduce two films in which his father Henry was directed by John Ford, Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) and My Darling Clementine (1946). Peter will also appear at a separate interview session with author Scott Eyman, who has written a number of books about Hollywood luminaries

An Autumn Afternoon Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Master's Final Masterpiece

Yasujiro Ozu left us with one final masterpiece in An Autumn Afternoon, a culmination of many of his favorite themes.
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Before he died of cancer on his 60th birthday in 1963, Yasujiro Ozu left us with one final masterpiece in An Autumn Afternoon, a culmination of many of his favorite themes. The twilight work of many filmmakers often lends itself better to footnotes than introductions, but the remarkably consistent Ozu has a career filled with potential jumping-off points, and his last film is also an excellent first one for Ozu neophytes. I should know — An Autumn Afternoon was my gateway into Ozu’s exquisite cinematic worlds. Frequent collaborator Chishu Ryu stars as Shuhei Hirayama, a widower who comes to accept

Fright Night (1985) 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: Brewster's Thirties

Yes, it's "Still a better love story than Twilight" time.
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If someone would have told me three years ago that I would be repeating myself, well, I probably would have believed them. Indeed, when I initially sat down to work on a review for Twilight Time's 30th Anniversary Edition of the 1985 vampire horror classic, Fright Night, I nearly found myself writing the exact same words I had jotted down for my original article for the company's initial release of the film. Not wanting to repeat myself - and with little else to say on the title, I must sadly confess - I figured, since I greedily ignored my editor's

The Best of Me (2014) Blu-ray Review: Another Dopey Romance from Nicholas Sparks

As big a tearjerker as I have ever seen, but my tears are from having spent four hours of my life watching it.
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One thing is certain, Nicholas Sparks is the king of romance. Guys, if you are rolling your eyes, you should be. Sparks writes the most manipulative and frankly ludicrous plots I have ever seen. And to continue my crass generalizations, chicks eat this stuff up like candy. The author of such weepers as Message in a Bottle (1999) and The Notebook (2004) is back with The Best of Me (2014). With the new Blu-ray “Tears of Joy” edition, we actually get two movies for the price of one. The disc includes both the theatrical version (1:57) and the "Tears of

The Godfather LIVE Review: An Event You Shouldn't Refuse to See

With a live orchestra playing, it draws attention to Nino Rota's amazing soundtrack.
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While any chance to see the Francis Ford Coppola's award-winning masterpiece is a great treat, this LIVE presentation of The Godfather by CineConcerts was delightfully augmented by Nino Rota's classic score being performed on stage by the Hollywood Studio Symphony. The Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE was buzzing with excitement. Many attendees had their pictures taken in front of the stage before most the musicians were seated. I had a front row seat off to the left side of the theater. As it was set below the stage, my view was limited to a small porton of the orchestra and its

Whiplash is the Pick of the Week

This week features two Oscar winners, two Criterions, and a quaint historical drama.
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Out of all the winners (and even nominees) of last night’s Oscars, I’ve seen exactly one (The Grand Budapest Hotel). That’s low by even my standards. I’ve lamented in these pages before how I rarely get out to the movies anymore, but this year it was even worse. This is mainly due to me losing my privileges as a stay-at-home dad and having to go out and get a job. Employment means being away from the house for many hours at a time which means less time to take in a film (though I must add being a stay-at-home dad

Maps to the Stars Movie Review: Monsters Incorporated

Julianne Moore, John Cusack, and Mia Wasikowska in David Cronenberg's dark Hollywood satire/ghost story that's both unsettling and compelling.
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Unsettling and often unpleasant, Maps to the Stars teeters between dark (albeit funny) satire of Hollywood and luridly over-baked melodrama. Director David Cronenberg presents Bruce Wagner’s screenplay, full of greed, ambition, and multiple flavors of bad behavior, simultaneously as a ghost story, a modern-day Greek tragedy, and a peek behind the curtain at the lives of the rich, famous, and ridiculously over-privileged. (Confused yet? Don’t think seeing the movie will straighten things out for you; it’s only likely to raise more questions.) Maps’ multiple intersecting plots follow Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore, incredible as always), a famous but fortysomething movie star

Speed (1936) DVD Review: James Stewart Returns to Reclaim His Title

The Warner Archive Collection unburies the famous late actor's first starring role, wherein he is paired with Ted Healy as a sidekick!
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In-between the vast unnecessary space taken up within the confines of the virtual world by loving tributes to reality-TV celebrities and the hateful comments left behind by internet users who are an entirely different waste of space, there are a few really cool things on the web. One thing I occasionally grin with delight at are the sight of re-imagined artwork for movies - such as the fan-made poster artwork for Ghostbusters starring iconic British horror legends Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Vincent Price (with Woody Strode jokingly tossed in as the token black guy) - and even records (a

Remembering Bruce Sinofsky and How He Changed My Life

Bruce Sinofsky has passed away at 58, but the work he did for the West Memphis Three lives on.
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Part of the reason I tend to review a lot of documentaries for Cinema Sentries because I know, on a personal level, how the work of documentary filmmakers can change your life. The film community has lost one of its greats as I found out yesterday when Bruce Sinofsky died at the age of 58 from complications related to diabetes. I cannot say that I knew Bruce Sinofsky well, but his worked changed my life. I only met Bruce once, and it was at the West Memphis Three benefit I put together at the Melrose Improv back in 2004. Both

The Murder Man (1935) DVD Review: When Spencer Met Stewart

Spencer Tracy's first starring role for MGM is supported by the feature film debut by James Stewart in this unconventional murder mystery.
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It was 1935. The Hays Office had recently begun to enforce their code of morals in film. Meanwhile, film itself was finally getting used to the whole sound thing. Projects were practically bursting from the seems of studios all around town, be it over on Poverty Row or on the lot of the more prestigious outlets. And one such outlet was MGM, where a modest murder mystery was being manufactured under the direction the man who would later bring us The Thief of Bagdad - Tim Whelan - with a script written by he and future Robinson Crusoe on Mars

RiffTrax Live!: Sharknado Review: Chainsaws of Comedy

If you enjoyed MST3K at all, you will want to check this out.
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Sharknado really came and took the world by storm, which is not an intended pun no matter how much it feels like one. It's probably the most well-known bad movie in recent memory. Sure, you've got your The Room and your Birdemic, but those are more on the down low. Sharknado was on SyFy. Anybody could tune in and check it out, and many people did, and they laughed and laughed at its cheesiness and goofiness. Given this fact, it seemed inevitable that the guys at RiffTrax would eventually tackle this movie. For those not in the know, RiffTrax features

Serangoon Road DVD Review: It Might Be HBO but It Plays Like Broadcast TV

HBO Asia's first foray into original programming brings forth an entertaining, but ultimately disappointing crime drama.
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HBO has been making must-see TV for a couple of decades now. Its original programming is consistently not only the best in its time-slot but often the best that’s ever aired in the history of television. A brief glance at the shows its created - from The Larry Sanders Show to The Sopranos, from Curb Your Enthusiasm to Band of Brothers - and you wind up with a handful of the best TV the world has ever produced. It's not just a marketing gimmick to say that’s it's not just TV, it's HBO, for the cable channel really has pushed
Press release: Long Beach Comic Expo is unveiling legendary guests and buzzworthy panels, as well as innovative programs and new partners, in preparation for the 6th annual Long Beach Comic Expo, to be held at the Long Beach Convention Center on February 28 and March 1, 2015. The Expo will play host to more than 140 guests and 50 panels and, for the first time, it will be held in the full exhibit hall. Long Beach Comic Expo is proud to announce bestselling writer Chris Claremont and bestselling artist Ethan Van Sciver as the Long Beach Comic Expo Guests of

Hot Tub Time Machine (Unrated) Blu-ray Review: Round up Your Friends and Your Favorite Adult Beverages

Sure to become a cult classic among the “let’s get wasted and laugh our asses off” set.
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Hot Tub Time Machine is rated R for sexual content, nudity, drug use, and pervasive language, which are pluses in the right company when done right, and director Steve Pink and his team most certainly do it right. While certainly not a movie for everyone to be sure, HTTM is wildly over-the-top, filled with so much raunchy silliness (or silly raunchiness) it is sure to become a cult classic among the “let’s get wasted and laugh our asses off” set. After Lou (Rob Corddry) ends up in the hospital, he is reunited with former friends Nick (Craig Robinson) and Adam

Dustin Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, and Spike Lee Added to the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival Lineup

Also appearing are Oscar-winning film editor Anne V. Coates and stuntman and stunt coordinator Terry Leonard.
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Press release: TCM (Turner Classic Movies) will welcome several notable film luminaries to the already-exciting lineup for the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival. Oscar® winner Dustin Hoffman, Oscar nominee Alec Baldwin, and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee are set to appear at the festival, taking place in Hollywood March 26-29. Dustin Hoffman will sit down for an extended discussion with Oscar nominee and former co-host of TCM’s The Essentials, Alec Baldwin following a screening of Bob Fosse’s Lenny (1974). Hoffman earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as comedian Lenny Bruce. Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee will present a screening of

Crime Scene Cleaner DVD Review: A Job Ripe With Comedy

Seriously, Hollywood, take a cue from the Germans and make more shows like this.
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If you listed out jobs that seem terribly unpleasant to perform, you’d likely hit upon things like garbage man, porta-potty maintenance, and road-kill remover. I’m not sure you’d think of crime scene cleaner. I’m not even sure that’s a real job. It makes a certain amount of sense as I don’t see that the police are going to clean up after your murders and homeowners aren’t likely to fee like mopping up after Aunt Betty’s decomposed on the living-room couch. But it's not exactly the sort of job you see listed on Monster.com or the local classifieds all too often.

Criterion Announces May 2015 Releases

This month's releases may break your bank.
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In May, Criterion offers six releases. Five are new to the Collection. Those titles are Mark Rydell's The Rose, Charlie Chaplin's Limelight, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Merchant of Four Seasons, and two from Costa-Gavras' State of Siege and The Confession. Also scheduled is one high-definition digital restoration: Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow. The Rose (#757) out May 19 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions Bette Midler exploded onto the screen with her take-no-prisoners performance in this quintessential film about fame and addiction from director Mark Rydell. Midler is the rock-and-roll singer Mary Rose Foster (known as the Rose to her

Last Chance Before the Oscars to See Interstellar in IMAX

The one-day-only “An Encore Of Interstellar: The IMAX Experience” will play in AMC Theatres on Saturday, February 21, 2015.
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Press release: Paramount Pictures, IMAX Corporation and AMC Theatres are giving fans one last opportunity to see Christopher Nolan’s Academy Award-nominated film Interstellar. The critically acclaimed film will play in the IMAX format in select AMC Theatres in the U.S. on Saturday, February 21st, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. local times and will feature more than 12 minutes of never-before-seen exclusive behind-the-scenes content. Moviegoers who purchase a ticket at a participating AMC Theatres box office to see “An Encore of Interstellar: The IMAX Experience” can receive an additional ticket free. This special offer is only available at participating AMC Theatres box

Birdman is the Pick of the Week

This week has us talking about has-been super-heroes, Japanese folk-tales, dumb comedies, and life itself.
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Last year, I moved from a teeny tiny little town in Tennessee to a slightly larger one in Oklahoma. The benefit of the slightly larger one is that it's fairly close to a much larger city, namely Tulsa, Oklahoma. Now, Tulsa isn’t the most cosmopolitan of metropolises. It isn’t the biggest and brightest of places in the universe. It's not even the largest city in Oklahoma, and lord knows Oklahoma rarely shows up on anybody’s places you want to be. But it has its appeal. It has some nice shopping, some big parks, a couple of museums (and while they

Nicolas Le Floch Volume Two DVD Review: Sword Fights and Laughter

A silly French historical crime drama delivers good mysteries and some hearty laughs.
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Nicolas Le Floch is a French crime series that began in France in October of 2008. Each series contains two episodic short films (lasting roughly 90 minutes each.) It is being brought to the US market by MHZ Mysteries. Volume Two contains episodes 7-10. It stars Jérôme Robart as Nicholas Le Floch, Marquis of Ranreuil, Commissaire of the Châtelet which is the flowery French way of saying detective. He solves crimes in 18th century Paris. It is based upon a series of novels by Jean-François Parot. I had not seen any previous episodes before coming to this set, but jumping

Batman: The Television Series: The Second Season Part One DVD Review: Holy Classic TV Comedy!

It would be a crime not to own this.
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After years of legal rights issues needing to be sorted out (and likely a fascinating story in its own right), the legendary Batman television series (1966-68) finally made its Blu-ray/DVD debut last November with The Complete Series set and the simultaneous release of The Complete First Season on DVD. Those who bought the latter can continue adding to their Bat-collection with the next installment from Warner Brothers, The Complete Second Season, Part One. The camp comedy style from the '60s series was so successful it was how the DC Comics character was best known to the general public until Tim

D.W. Smith Has A Whole Nuther Kind of Spy Novel For Ya

"He remembered that bone was called the humerus, and he had a little chuckle as he heard it snap."
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D.W. Smith is a screenwriter, novelist, and podcaster living in Orange County, California with his wife and two little girls. He co-wrote the movies Replicant (2001) and Assassin’s Code (2011) and would like to take this opportunity to apologize for both. Whiskey Tango: A Whole 'Nuther Kind of Spy Novel is his first book. His podcast, The Indispensable Thursday Show, can be heard weekly at an internet-connected device near you. What's the origin and/or inspiration of 'Nuther? It always bugged me in the back of my mind that Superman went out of his way not to kill really bad people

Lovejoy Series 3 DVD Review: Is Lovejoy Looking for Love?

A great edition in the series, with lots of the usual fun that Ian McShane's Lovejoy brings.
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In the second season of Lovejoy, the last time we saw the irascible but ever-charming antiques dealer played by Ian McShane, he was swindling (for a good cause, naturally) crooked antiques dealer Harry Catapodis (Brian Blessed) in order to help out a Japanese businessman (Mako) and a lovely widow Victoria (Joanna Lumley) who had both been cheated by Harry. Lovejoy Series 3, recently released on DVD by Acorn Media, picks up a year later, after Lovejoy has been taking a holiday in Spain, where he has enjoyed (and spent) all the proceeds from that last big deal. He returns home

Born Reckless (1958) DVD Review: My Long Hard Ride with Mamie Van Doren

A delightfully dumb ditty that is bursting with equestrian euphemisms and great B-grade bombshells.
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Though the notion of an actor or actress being a "sex symbol" had been in existence well before the someone coined the phrase in the '50s, it wasn't until that glamorous decade itself rolled around that things really started busting out all over. Quite literally in some cases - so much so that the concept of "skill" was often regarded as secondary when it came to some of America's "biggest" sex symbols, such as a legendary trio of lasses who would become known as The Three Ms in some circles: Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Mamie Van Doren. They were

Crazy Bitches Movie Review: Women Behaving Badly, And Paying For It

It's like Lena Dunham's 'Girls,' but for guys.
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Jane Clark's Crazy Bitches describes itself as a "horror comedy sex romp." It's definitely at least two of those things. We kick off with a group of former sorority sisters and their gay best friend (Andy Gala) reuniting for a weekend in a cabin off the beaten path. Each of the characters represents an obvious stereotype common to the genre, be it the good girl (Liz McGeever), the innocent virgin (Samantha Colburn), the athletic dyke (Cathy DeBuono), the fashionista (Guinevere Turner), the bombshell slut (Candis Cayne), the homely nerd (Mary Jane Wells), the quiet voice of reason (Nayo Wallace), or

Marie's Mind For Murder Set One DVD Review: The German Mr. Monk

For detective genre fans, Marie's Mind for Murder is a nice bit of diversionary television.
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If you took Mr. Monk with all his eccentricities, but dialed back the OCD then mixed him with Dr. House without the anger issues, you’d have something approaching Marie Brand. She’s a bit eccentric but she’s got a brilliant mind. She’s retired from the police force but is unexpectedly brought back to solve a murder. She works best alone, but is teamed up with her exact opposite. Still, they are good at what they do and compliment each other superbly. Marie’s Mind For Murder takes the classic police procedural cliches and runs with it. It stars a mix-matched pair of

Dumb and Dumber To Blu-ray Combo Pack Giveaway

You'd be dumb not to enter.
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In conjunction with the February 17 release of Dumb and Dumber To on Blu-ray and DVD, Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to award a lucky reader one (1) copy of the Blu-ray set paired with a decal cling. For those wanting to learn more about the film, the official synopsis reads: Two decades after Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels’ endearingly dense pairing spun slapstick comedy into box office gold in Dumb and Dumber, the long-awaited sequel, Dumb and Dumber To, arrives on Digital HD on February 3, 2015 and on DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack

Bandit Queen Blu-ray Review: A Brutal, Boring, Bolly-less Biopic

Twilight Time gives the controversial Phoolan Devi biography an upgrade. But is that really a good thing?
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As sad as this may sound to you, my earliest memories of childhood revolve around watching movies. My parents, for whatever reason, decided to take my three-year-old self to a showing of Alien when it was making its initial rounds in theaters back in '79. Eddie Parker's sorry-looking monster in Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy stands out prominently in my singular image visual databank due to a very early encounter with late night television. I had carte blanche from my guardians to rent virtually anything I wanted to at the local video stores (barring X-rated films, of course, which

The Story of Adele H DVD Review: Of Love and Madness

The tragic true story of Victor Hugo's daughter.
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Though Americans often think of his novels (and the musical based upon one novel), Victor Hugo is better known in his native France as a poet. During his lifetime, he was also a politician and his writings against the death penalty helped abolish the act in many places. His politics also got him into a great deal of trouble as he became exiled from France after Napoleon III seized power and declared himself emperor. Hugo had five children - one died in infancy, the second drowned at 19, his two boys were both well-loved artists, and his daughter, Adèle, like

Rosewater Blu-ray Combo Pack Giveaway

A journalist in Iran endures an unthinkable ordeal when he is falsely accused of spying.
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In conjunction with the February 10 release of Rosewater on Blu-ray and DVD, Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to award two lucky readers one (1) copy of the Blu-ray Combo Pack. For those wanting to learn more about the film, the official synopsis reads: Rosewater marks the feature-film writing and directing debut of comedian and political The Daily Show host Jon Stewart. Gael García Bernal (Cesar Chavez, The Loneliest Planet) stars as Maziar Bahari, turning in a performance described as “exceptional” by Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, along with Oscar-nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo (On the Inside,

Adventure in Baltimore DVD Review: Pastor Robert Young Hasn't Got a Prayer

Unhappy honeymooners Shirley Temple and John Agar appear on-screen together for the second and final time in this odd 1949 dud.
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Exactly one year ago today, America's quintessential child star, Shirley Temple departed from this world - leaving behind an iconic legacy in the world of film. Many mourned her death as the end of an era, whether it be due to her work in Hollywood as that darling little song-and-dance girl, her victory over breast cancer as an adult, her unwitting commitment to the sales of grenadine syrup in bars and restaurants everywhere, or even her involvement in politics between the late '60s to early '90s. To the slightly off-kilter people around the globe like me, however - those of

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Blu-Ray Review: Embraces Optimism over Snarky Fantasy

Beloved children's classic from the 1970s finally gets its turn on the big screen.
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Where have all the family films gone? Movies that cross genres and give every generation of kinfolk a little bit of the film-going experience they’re asking for. I’m talking action and adventure coupled with romance and fart jokes and out-dated references sailing clear over kids' heads and into the deep, nostalgic recesses of parental minds dragged yet again to the theatre for something dull and overexposed. What passes for family fare these days are often dark and brooding films, like Into the Woods, or crass excursions into the juvenile, think Sponge-Bob Square Pants, movies whose adult elements are laced with

Wrestling with Satan DVD Review: Putting Beelzebub in a Sleeper Hold

Taking aim at Satan from the top rope.
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Directed by Paul Aldridge and Tom Borden, the 2009 documentary Wrestling with Satan explores the Christian Wrestling Federation over the course of about six years. This is one of those low budget operations, comprised almost entirely of interviews and footage from the CWF’s wrestling matches. The latter usually take place in front of a crowds of perhaps 100 or so people. There isn’t a lot of criticism or stoutness to Wrestling with Satan and Borden and Aldridge don’t have much to offer when it comes to the theology behind the CWF. The good news is that there is a major

Nightcrawler is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us social commentaries, based-on true stories, foreign horror, and a drugged-up nurse.
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In Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a seedy young man who makes a name for himself filming crime scenes and selling them to a local Los Angeles news station which in turn uses it to draw larger and larger viewers to their screens. They come, of course, in droves, leading Lou to make more videos with more lurid crimes and eventually pushes him to manipulate the scenes. That’s an interesting set up and one rife with social commentary. It is almost cliche to talk about the media-saturated world in which we live, and yet here we are. The standard

White Comanche DVD Review: 40% Cotton, 230% Shatner

The Warner Archive Collection brings us a much-needed improved print of the campy Shatner vs Shatner Euro western cult classic.
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Though many roads were constructed during the European western era of the '60s, very few paths were created that lead to fame for stardom-starved individuals on either side of the camera. And those went down such lonely, rugged trails dared not tread lightly. Providing fate was on your side, you could find yourself walking in the footsteps of Clint Eastwood - who was little more than a television actor appearing in a weekly western show before Sergio Leone opened the door to international acclaim for him. If lady luck was not guiding you along the way, however, there was the

The Wonder Years: Season Two DVD Giveaway

A great way to spend six hours.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with StarVista Entertainment/Time Life to award three lucky readers the Season Two DVD set of The Wonder Years, which was reviewed for us by Ron. For those wanting to learn more about the release, the official synopsis reads: In The Wonder Years: Season Two the next retail installment from StarVista Entertainment/Time Life, Kevin confronts the day-to-day pressures of junior high school life: kids don't know what they want, and the girls are just as confused as the boys. On the home front, older brother Wayne (Jason Hervey) continues his bullying ways, but Kevin fights back

Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness DVD Review: Scooby Doo Meets Alien

There's a mystery to be solved, and it will be solved.
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When people think of Scooby-Doo, they probably think of those early Hanna-Barbera iterations. The cheap, repeating animation; the ersatz bubblegum pop songs; the reptitive stories. If you are particularly haunted, you may recall the visage of Scrappy-Doo in your mind's eye. However, the most recent version of Scooby-Doo (as of the moment, as there is another new one on the way), which was called Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, was actually quite good. It was funny and well animated and it has serialization and actual characterization. Martha Quinn cameoed as herself, so you know the show was thinking about a potential adult
Disney's 101 Dalmatians is narrated by Pongo (Rod Taylor), an adult male Dalmatian, and starts cleverly with him introducing us to his human pet, Roger. Both are bachelors and Pongo is trying to find them suitable mates. He spots a lovely female Dalmatian, Perdita (Cate Bauer), and her pet, Anita, walking in the park. He manages to orchestrate a meeting and both couples are married soon after. Fast-forward several months and Perdita is now about to give birth to puppies. This brings Cruella De Vil (voiced fabulously by Betty Lou Gerson), a long-time friend of Anita’s, into the picture. One

Regular Show: Mordecai Pack DVD Review: As Good as the Series Gets

While the show delivers great laughs, it's the tender moments that make the characters beloved.
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Cartoon Network's Regular Show is currently in its six season. The series presents the outlandish adventures of twenty-something friends Mordecai, a blue jay, and Rigby, a raccoon, who work as park groundskeepers alongside Hi-Five Ghost, a yeti named Skips, and an unidentifiable creature named Muscle Man. Benson, an anthropomorphic gumball machine, is their supervisor, and the park is owned by the father of Pops, a lollipop-shaped man. Following the release of last year's Rigby Pack, Warner Bros Home Entertainment has released Mordecai Pack, a new collection of 16 eleven-minute episodes with over half coming from Season 5 (eleven) and the

International Settlement DVD Review: A Forgotten, Forgettable Film That Has Its Pleasures

A minor and forgotten B-picture winds up being surprisingly entertaining.
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Fox Cinema Archives continues to release nearly everything from their extensive vault whether or not anyone actually cares for them to, or if the films are even worth the effort. Case in point is the 1938 film International Settlement. I can’t imagine anyone really pushing for it to come out on DVD. I did a little searching for information about the film and found very little. Most of the websites that come up are various stores wanting to sell it to you, with little information about the film itself or even the DVD. Leonard Maltin dedicates two sentences to it

Young Mr. Lincoln Criterion Collection DVD Review: Ford's Greatest Overlooked Film

Although it will never be as celebrated as Stagecoach or The Searchers, it is unquestionably one of John Ford's greatest achievements.
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Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) may be the greatest overlooked film John Ford (1894 - 1973) ever made. To call a picture like this “overlooked” would be ridiculous in just about any other case. But Young Mr. Lincoln was one of three movies Ford directed that year. The other two were Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), and Best Picture nominee Stagecoach (1939). Ford’s own films are the competition, and I had no idea of just how good Young Mr. Lincoln was was until a friend gave me the two-DVD Criterion Collection edition of it. The film opens in 1832, where young

The Wonder Years: Season Two DVD Review: Still a Wonder

A great way to spend six hours.
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ABC launched The Wonder Years on January 31, 1988 following Super Bowl XXII. The placement of the show would indicate a great deal of confidence, yet ABC only invested in six episodes for Season One. Due to the legendary music used in the series, it took StarVista and TimeLife Entertainment until October 7, 2014 to bring those original six episodes to stores shelves on DVD. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait as long to get some more help from our friends as season two was released on February 3, 2015. The second season of The Wonder Years continues to chronicle

The RKO Brown and Carney Comedy Collection DVD Review: The Lonely Quartet of a Forgotten Duo

Four highlights from the short-lived comic pairing include the final villainous teaming of Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill, as well as a newly discovered Robert Mitchum in drag!
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It is often stated that history is written by the victors. This expression (usually attributed to Winston Churchill, although without any definite evidence) holds true not only when it comes to mankind's dire obsession with the deadly serious subject of war, but also within the equally serious battlefield of comedy. While historical reference books on comedians will always include classic two-man partnerships such as Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy, there are a multitude of other acts who have been tucked away in-between footnotes of the appendix - many of which rose from the same humble vaudeville/music hall origins

Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 13 DVD Review: The Very End of Poirot

With these five movies David Suchet has now played the detective in every Poirot story Agatha Christie ever wrote.
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All good things must eventually end. And so it it with Poirot. After 22 years, 13 series, and 65 films Agatha Christie’s Poirot has come to its conclusion. With Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, David Suchet has played Hercule Poirot in every story Agatha Christie wrote about the famed detective.That is quite a spectacular achievement when you think about it. Now anytime you read a Poirot story you can sit back and watch the movie too. Students everywhere studying the Belgian sleuth can now literally watch all the movies before they read the stories. That’s quite wonderful, really. This last season

Dracula Untold Blu-ray Review: Unsurprising and Unnecessary, but Unexpectedly Entertaining

Universal's unofficially official entry to their forthcoming monster series reboot actually has a bit of bite to it.
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Since that fateful day back in the late 1890s when Bram Stoker first introduced the world to Count Dracula, the vampiric vessel of villainy has grown to become one of filmdom's most frequently filmed (or even referenced) characters. In fact, he has been around for so long, that it's hard to imagine a world without him! And despite the fact that he has been killed off time and time again, he has always managed to return in usually unrelated films or franchises. In some instances, he re-emerged under a new name, such as Nosferatu, Alucard, Leighos, Drake, or Orlok (the

John Wick is the Pick of the Week

After missing a week I'm back talking about Keanu Reeves, the search for happiness, Australian nurses and more.
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My computer crashed last week. Well, no, that is not exactly true, my computer got very sick so I reformatted it. It had been running very slow for a few months. Strangely, it got ridiculously slow whenever I ran iTunes. Like every 90 seconds or so, it would just lock up for a minute or two, then run fine only to freak out again after a little while. This would be exasperating to anyone but it was hopeless to someone like me who spends inordinate amounts of time listening to and manipulating music. I looked around a bit online to

2015 Oscar-nominated Documentary Short Films Review:

The run down on the five nominees for the documentary short subject category.
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This year's nominated short-subject documentaries include two films from Poland, two films from the United States, and one film from Mexico. Although they all focus on different subject matter, all five focus on aspects of the human journey. The other tie that binds the nominees together is that these are the first Academy Award-nominations for all the filmmakers and producers in this category. The first film out of Poland is "Joanna," which is the story of a young mother dying from cancer. As she faces her illness, she also writes a blog and letters to her young son Johnny in

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