April 2015 Archives

Scooby-Doo! and Scrappy-Doo! The Complete Season 1 DVD Review: Puppy Power Does Work

Scooby and Scrappy solve mysteries back when Shawn was a pre-teen.
  |   Comments
I had known Scooby-Doo cartoons my whole life. They had always just been that Saturday morning staple and I never missed an episode. For me, the main incarnation was the umbrella of The Scooby-Doo Show from 1976 - 1978. It contained repeats of the Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? and new cartoons including the hilarious Scooby-Dum. It was paired with Dynomutt and the Blue Falcon for a time and then as part of the Laff-A Lympics. Then in the Fall of 1979, as I was eleven and about to turn twelve, my show changed pretty drastically. This was the Fall that

Fifth-Annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up Presents Previously Unreleased Footage from 1989's Alpine Valley Concert

Recorded live from the legendary concert venue in East Troy, Wisconsin on July 19, 1989.
  |   Comments
Before the band hits the concert stage in Santa Clara and Chicago to celebrate their 50th anniversary, fans can celebrate the Grateful Dead's golden anniversary with this year's Meet-Up at the Movies. To learn more, keep reading. Press release: Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment are thrilled to bring legendary rock band, the Grateful Dead, back to the big screen for the 5th annual event, “Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies 2015.” The third title in Fathom Events’ “Classic Music Series” comes to select movie theaters nationwide on Monday, May 4th at 7:00 p.m. local time. This year’s can’t-miss Meet-Up features

Book Review: Crate Digger: An Obsession with Punk Records by Bob Suren

Crate Digger tells the story of the Florida punk scene over the past 30 years through the favorite records of the author.
  |   Comments
In Crate Digger: An Obsession with Punk Rock Records, Bob Suren attaches the story of his life to 50 of his favorite records. Punk records, to be precise. For music geeks like myself, it is an interesting idea. I imagine that everyone has that certain song or album that defines a period in their life. The only problem with this method would be in choosing the records. Perhaps a bigger question is who would read such a book, unless they knew you. Suren lays out his credentials as a player in the Florida punk scene, and it sounds like he

Scooby-Doo! & Scrappy-Doo!: The Complete Season 1 DVD Giveaway

"Stock up on Scooby Snacks and dig in for some puppy-powered fun!"
  |   Comments
Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Warner Brothers Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader Scooby-Doo! & Scrappy-Doo!: The Complete Season 1 on DVD. For those wanting to learn more about the series, which is available on DVD and Digital HD, read Shawn Bourdo's review. Also, the press release reads: Scooby-Doo! and Scrappy-Doo!: The Complete Season 1 is the action-packed animated series, which features 16 entertaining episodes of the Mystery Inc. gang, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, as they travel in the Mystery Machine investigating unexplained and supernatural shenanigans. They are joined by Scooby-Doo’s precocious, pint-sized nephew, Scrappy-Doo, a

Nazi Hunters: The Heroes Who Defeated Hitler DVD Review: The Story of the Filthy Fifth

An in-depth look at the British Fifth Royal Tank Regiment and the tanks they used to overpower the Germans during World War II.
  |   Comments
It has been over 75 years since World War II began, and it would seem that by now every possible aspect of it has been explored. Yet with Nazi Hunters: The Heroes Who Defeated Hitler, the British Broadcasting Corporation have found a unique angle with which to tell the story. The program offers an in-depth look at both the Allied soldiers and the tanks they used to overpower the Axis powers. The descriptions and comparisons between the tanks used by both sides is important in understanding what happened. What really sets this series apart though is the focus on the

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Marvel Rests on Their Laurels with Lumbering Popcorn Film

The bloated runtime leaves little time for characterization, but a whole lot of time for things to go BOOM!
  |   Comments
If you've been one of the Marvel true believers for years then they've never made a bad movie. And, for the most part, I'd agree. There's just as many mediocre Marvel films out there as genuinely great ones, but Avengers: Age of Ultron stings the most because of how much it rests on what works and the fact that they're Marvel. It almost seems that that sentiment is acknowledged in director Joss Whedon's sequel, when a villainous henchman says nothing can defeat the Avengers because "They're the Avengers," and too often that adage is utilized to keep the plot rolling

Screaming Eagles (1956) DVD Review: The Allied Artists Invasion of Normandy

The Warner Archive Collection preserves a seldom seen (but highly enjoyable) WWII quickie ripe with B movie and TV veterans.
  |   Comments
With every war that breaks out on Earth, whether it be global or regional, a high amount of controversy emerges with it. While today's highly cynical civilization usually prefers to silently and passive-aggressively protest about deadly conflict online via shared Facebook memes, the generations of the past - being far less bitter and much more patriotic about their country - simply found the current war they were involved in to be too sacred to talk about. Thus, during the decade that brought us the Korean War, filmmakers in Hollywood were cranking out a whole heck of a lot of World

The Friends of Eddie Coyle Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Crime, Lowkey, and Unsentimental

Peter Yates' 1973 Crime Drama explores how important, and how expendable, "Friends" can be in Boston's working-class criminal underground.
  |   Comments
Released about a year after Coppola's crime epic, The Godfather, The Friends of Eddie Coyle was seen by some critics as a kind of anti-Godfather when it was released. Both films are about the criminal world and how it suffuses the lives of those in it, but while The Godfather had a sepia-toned romanticism, Peter Yates' film, an adaptation of a George V. Higgins novel, has no room for sentimentality, or glamor. There's not much in the way of violence in the movie, either. It's a crime story, and it's about criminals, and while there's bank robberies, home invasions, gun

Our Mother's House DVD Review: The Illegitimate Dawn of an Unofficial New Wave

Seven kids raised on religion, a dead mother, and a deadbeat dad. You do the math.
  |   Comments
Though it has never been "officially" classified in the annals of genre-specific filmdom, British cinema inducted a New Wave of horror that shyly boomed in the '70s. It was then that filmmakers such as Pete Walker and Norman J. Warren began to ditch the older, romantic, gothic offerings from the former empire's glory days of what many would gently describe as "terror films" in lieu of a much more sinister menace: man. Michael Armstrong's joint-continental horror classic Mark of the Devil is often cited as being one of the first features in this unofficial New Wave to emphasise man's inhumanity

Inherent Vice is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a P.T. Anderson film that isn't as popular as I expected, a talking Bear that is, plus Mark Wahlberg, King Henry VII, and some bloody good bloody TV.
  |   Comments
For a moment I thought Inherent Vice was some kind of cheap knock-off film. Let me explain (no, no, there is too much, let me sum up), I was scanning through the new releases on Amazon as I do before writing this column. It is naturally sorted by best sellers. Inherent Vice was way down towards the bottom of the first page. I couldn’t believe that the real Inherent Vice - the one directed by P.T. Anderson and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Reese Witherspoon would not be #1 on Amazon. Well, maybe it would be behind

Ghost Story: Turn of the Screw DVD Review: Should Have Turned It Off

A completely forgettable adaptation of a novel I'll never read.
  |   Comments
I don’t believe I have ever read a single word written by Henry James. I have a BA in English so presumably have read something, but if that is true, it made absolutely no impression on me. Sadly, this adaptation of James’ story The Turn of the Screw is likely to reach the same fate. It is utterly unremarkable in every way. It stars Michelle Dickery and Dan Stevens and came out about a year before both became huge stars in Downton Abbey. Retroactively, the film suffers from their stardom because I expect so much more from both of them.

The Bounty (1984) / U Turn (1997) Blu-ray Reviews: Twilight Time Goes South

The two best bad trips you can possibly book this season.
  |   Comments
Everyone has that proverbial journey in their lifetime that can only later be described as a bad trip. My second and final visit to the allegedly magical theme park of Disneyland - committed when I was but a mere '90s adolescent, and probably against my will - resulted in a four-hour search for a corndog across the vast, bastard-riddled arena for people who probably should have been sterilized at birth, along with their spoiled rotten offspring. And you might think that a corndog would be an easily obtainable article of "confectionery with added meat of dubious origin" at a place

Tribeca Film Festival 2015: Dirty Weekend: What Happens in Albuquerque Stays in Albuquerque

Matthew Broderick timidly takes a walk on the wild side in Neil LaBute's funny but ultimately flaccid satirical fable.
  |   Comments
Since his 1997 filmmaking debut with In the Company of Men, the rap on writer/director Neil LaBute is that he’s misogynistic - or to be less judgmental, that he’s rather too comfortable portraying misogyny and other forms of “bad” behavior in his various films and plays. These have come to include the frequently nasty but often compelling Your Friends & Neighbors, Nurse Betty, The Shape of Things, the remake of The Wicker Man, and most recently Dirty Weekend, which LaBute both wrote and directed. Certainly LaBute’s view of human nature is far from rosy, but judging by Dirty Weekend I’d

Dave Ayer Releases Photo of Jared Leto as the Joker from Suicide Squad

Is this the Joker we need?
  |   Comments
I try to be open-minded. When it comes to movies, I don't immediately dismiss sequels or remakes at their announcement. I am indifferent to casting news because I have no idea what producers and directors have in mind for a script I haven't read nor how well someone may have performed at an audition. Comic-book fanatics take it to another level and seem in perpetual outrage over the creative choices made as their favorite characters are brought to life on screen. Any deviation to what has come before is frequently met with a large amount of derision, whether it be

All at Sea [aka Barnacle Bill] DVD Review: Alec Guinness in Full (Multiple) Form

The Warner Archive Collection brings us the last genuine Ealing Comedy, which also features a young (and already bald) Donald Pleasance.
  |   Comments
Television shows notwithstanding, the bulk of British filmmaking - that is to say, actual feature length films made especially for the cinema - have been unfairly lumped into two categories by American audiences: long, drawn-out, boring dramas, and comedies that only made viewers long for a Benny Hill rerun. And the bulk of the unfairness lies within the world of British comedy, as most of us have only ever been subjected to latter-day Carry On entries and, well, Benny Hill reruns. In fact, there have been many excellent British comedies manufactured since World War II that, thankfully, didn't feature Rowan

Book Review: Compound Cinematics: Akira Kurosawa and I by Shinobu Hashimoto

The screenwriter for some of Kurosawa's best films discusses their collaboration and more.
  |   Comments
Shinobu Hashimoto wrote the screenplays to Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Ikiru and The Seven Samurai. If you are keeping score, that’s three of the greatest films in the history of films. He wrote several more films with Kurosawa including Throne of Blood and The Hidden Fortress plus dozens more for other directors. Originally published in 2006, Compound Cinematics: Akira Kurosawa and I is finally being made available in English by Vertical Inc. Having not heard of the book (or to be honest, the writer though I’m a great lover of Kurosawa) until about a week ago, I can’t say it was

One Foot in Heaven DVD Review: Ass-Kickers, Shit-Kickers, and Methodists

Fredric March stars as Minister William Spence in this forgotten (but enjoyable) biopic.
  |   Comments
Sometimes, the whole "forgive and forget" thing just doesn't cut it. One of the more novel aspects of the seven-kajillion European westerns made during the '60s and '70s involved men of the cloth - those who had devoted their lives to preaching the word of God - flat out seeking revenge vengeance after having been wronged by their fellow man. It's plausible - even possible - given the right set of circumstances. Likewise, in the classic 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles - the film that admirably spoofed the classic style of western film that would eventually (unknowingly) give birth

Tribeca Film Festival 2015: Grandma: Lily Tomlin's Tour de Force

Tomlin inhabits a tailor-made role in this funny, touching gem; strong cast saves the film from sentimentality and plot's too-convenient construction.
  |   Comments
It’s easy to forget just how great a film actress/screen presence Lily Tomlin can be. In part, she’s a victim of her own versatility and staying power as a multi-platform performer. She’s been making us both laugh and think on TV, stage and screen since the 1960s; she first impinged on my baby boomer consciousness on Laugh-In, iconic as Ernestine the telephone operator and six-year-old Edith Ann, blowing raspberries at the audience from her oversize rocking chair. She’s in almost every frame of Paul Weitz’s film Grandma in the tailor-made role of Elle, a minor poet still mourning the loss

Long Weekend (1978) Blu-ray Review: Nature Can Be a Real Mother

The '70s Australian eco-horror classic finally gets the treatment it deserves from Synapse Films.
  |   Comments
During the the last half of the '90s, I devoted the bulk of my meager existence to the video store I worked at. One day, the owner's wife brought in a lovely terrarium to sit on the large spacious corner of the checkout counter. It sat there for a long time, being admired by the occasional customer, such as an instance when a gentleman commented on its beauty and simplicity. "Yeah," I said, "now throw in a bunch of little humans and watch it go to shit." He nodded in agreement, and for good reason: we're bastards like that. No,

Solomon and Sheba (1959) Blu-ray Review: A Show with Everything (Including Yul Brynner)

A tale as old as recorded time. The script isn't that fresh, either.
  |   Comments
The year 1959. It was a time of luscious, extravagant widescreen productions - fueled by luscious, extravagant budgets beget by big men who were in-turn fueled by luscious, extravagant proportions of booze. As television lured audiences away from the cinemas in large droves, studios made sure to promise them the moon in exchange for their hard-earned money. And, as anyone who has ever been to the moon knows, the best way to deliver it is to not deliver it, and instead remind mankind that God really doesn't want him toying around out there in the vacuum of space like that.

Compound Cinematics: Akira Kurosawa and I Book Excerpt and Giveaway

"Don't try to write cleverly or skillfully. The first draft just needs to line up the necessary elements." - Akira Kurosawa
  |   Comments
Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Vertical, Inc. to award one lucky reader Compound Cinematics: Akira Kurosawa and I by Shinobu Hashimoto, who brought the director a treatment for a film that became Rashomon. Hashimoto subsequently was part of the team that produced Ikiru and Seven Samurai. Mat Brewster highly reommends it in his review. In addition to the contest, Vertical, Inc. has provided us with an excerpt from the chapter "SEVEN SAMURAI II": Mr. Kurosawa read drafts thoroughly. No, it went beyond thorough or meticulous. He held his breath and stilled his head, his entire body not moving in

Lenny (1974) Blu-ray Review: They Call Dustin Hoffman Bruce?

Yep, it's a happy kind of picture, kids. But at least you'll be able to see sultry Valerie Perrine in the buff!
  |   Comments
In this day and age, it seems highly laughable that the very sort of individuals we pay to openly laugh at would run afoul with the law for doing what the do best. I refer to stand-up comedians, of course, and not politicians - although, to a less intentional degree, we wind up doing the same with the latter. In fact, it was the very latter who made both the life and career of a comic in the 1960s become particularly troublesome, thus whipping up a tendentious media circus that finally wrapped up a good forty years later with a

Tribeca Film Festival 2015: The Overnight: Quasi-Porn Without the Money Shot

Innocents Taylor Schilling and Adam Scott are seduced, sort of, in this weird, funny but ultimately skin-deep comedy/drama.
  |   Comments
It’s been two days since I saw The Overnight and I’m still not quite sure what to make of it. I can’t deny that it has its funny moments, mocking L.A.’s current state of hipster-speak and also effectively pressing the squirm-inducing buttons of sexual/social embarrassment comedy. Yet the film also seems to be trying for something a little deeper - but only trying. It has a titillating, almost soft-core porn vibe that distracts from, and in some cases negates, the relationship-testing drama that seems to be lurking at its core. The plot is simple enough. Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation)

Fortitude is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a murder in the arctic, a sad Jennifer Aniston, Iranian vampires, Liam Neeson getting taken (again), and some arty foreign flicks.
  |   Comments
One of the best parts of writing this column every week is learning about all the movies and shows that are coming out that I’d somehow missed the first go round. I try to stay pretty well keyed in to what’s hitting the movie theaters each week and what’s showing on the TV, but there is just so much stuff coming out each and every day that it's impossible to know about it all. With this column I get to browse everything that’s coming out in a given week on DVD and Blu-ray and not a week goes by that

Tribeca Film Festival 2015: A Courtship: Christian Mingle to the Max

Disappointed by dating? Documentary shows what happens when a young woman decides to let God play matchmaker.
  |   Comments
Is there an optimal, sure-fire way to find one’s absolutely perfect mate? The owners of dating websites imply that their combination of sophisticated algorithms and multiple choices provide a path to happily-ever-after. Tinder, Grindr, and their ilk aim lower (literally), promising not Mr. (or Ms.) Right but Mr. Right Now. If Star Trek’s “Amok Time” is to be believed, the Vulcans have pon farr, but even that’s not guaranteed to get Mr. Spock laid. For those who want to go really old school, there’s Christian courtship, as explored in Amy Kohn’s documentary A Courtship. She follows Kelly Boggus, an attractive

Monkey Warriors DVD Review: A Fascinating Look at How Monkeys Have Adapted to City Life

BBC Earth takes a look at the lives of monkeys forced to live in the city.
  |   Comments
In Jodhpur, India, there’s a gang war going on. These aren’t gangs in the traditional sense, however. Hanuman Langur monkeys, displaced from their natural habitat, live on the rooftops among the people. Governed by one ruling male warlord, these monkeys often have brutal fights over territory and all-important mating rights. Their story is documented in BBC Earth’s Monkey Warriors. Narrated by Jerome Flynn, the documentary opens with scenes of the amazingly agile monkeys seemingly flying between trees and buildings. These monkeys are long-since used to human contact and coexist relatively peacefully with them, running along the rooftops even as the

Teen Titans Go! Appetite for Disruption DVD Review: Young Superheroes' Bratty Beginnings

Kids and adults (and tweens especially) will enjoy the fun, fast-paced episodes.
  |   Comments
There seems to be a never-ending desire for superheroes and their stories these days. Origin stories are all the rage. DC Comics gave their readers a glimpse into the origins of popular characters like Batman's sidekick Robin in the Teen Titans comic book series, which has been running intermittently since the mid 1960s. In 2003 an animated series based on the comics premiered on the Cartoon Network, and featured Robin as the leader of a crime-fighting crew that included Cyborg, Beast Boy, Starfire, and Raven. The five superheroes-in-training live in Titans Tower, which actually looks like a gigantic letter "T,"

Star Wars Celebration 2015: The Biggest Star Wars Convention in the Galaxy

The world's largest Star Wars convention offered stars, cosplay, exclusive merchandise and recreated film sets.
  |   Comments
Feel like getting an autograph from Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, or Anthony Daniels? Still want that autograph? The biennial Star Wars Celebration took place over the weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center, an occasionally frustrating experience in extreme fandom. This was the place for fans so hardcore that they camped out overnight for the chance to attend a panel that the rest of the world was able to instantly enjoy via livestream from the comfort of their home/office. Sure, that panel debuted the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer and featured old and new stars live on stage, but

New Trailers for Fantastic Four (2015) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Are these the heroes you need?
  |   Comments
Although many are probably still watching The Force Awakens trailer on an endless loop since it debuted Thursday, a couple of other franchises wanted to remind folks this weekend they also have new films coming out as well. But how well do they work? Does either change your interest in seeing them? Let us know if the comments below. The official synopsis for Fantastic Four (2015): A contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders (Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Jamie Bell) who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which

Tribeca Film Festival 2015: Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: Slice of Sacred Cow, Anyone?

1970s comedy nexus National Lampoon fondly remembered in a documentary with humor and humanity.
  |   Comments
For the purposes of this review, let’s accept two axioms. 1.) Nostalgia is both seductive and inevitable, and 2.) Explaining what was once funny is a sad, sad chore. So by all rights Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon should be a bummer of the first order (as should this review, but hopefully you’ll keep reading anyway). Yet this talking-heads-plus-dirty-cartoons documentary, about the glory days and subsequent disintegration of the anarchic humor magazine, is better than it has any right to be. It often transcends its “Behind the Music” limitations to reveal the sources and inspirations

Batman vs. Robin Blu-ray Review: Another Dark and Dangerous Day in Gotham

DC's latest animated film is a dark but engaging adaptation of Batman's Court of Owls storyline.
  |   Comments
The title of DC’s latest animated film is catchy, but it’s also a bait and switch. Sure, Robin briefly toys with the idea of aligning himself against Batman, but he’s not the enemy here. That honor instead goes to Talon, the head assassin of the Court of Owls. The film also serves as a superior sequel to previous entry Son of Batman. If you haven’t kept up on recent Bat history, the Court of Owls was revealed in 2011 in an instant classic comic book run by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo. The Court is a secret criminal

The Fog of War Movie Review: Hindsight is 20/20

"An unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates
  |   Comments
Robert S. McNamara served from 1961 to 1968 as the Secretary of Defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Errol Morris' documentary has been put together through interview sessions with McNamara, White House audiotapes, and archival footage. A large portion of this film examines his involvement in regards to both the Cuban Missile Crisis and The Vietnam War, two momentous foreign policy episodes that occurred during his tenure. McNamara’s earliest memory is of Armistice Day 1918 as the end of World War I was celebrated. It was called “the war to end all wars,” yet humans have

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not DVD Review: A Movie So Nice You'll Watch It Twice

A fun take on both the romantic comedy and femme fatale genres and so cleverly constructed that I never minded its flaws.
  |   Comments
Halfway through He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not the film literally rewinds itself and starts at the beginning. Only this time we see things through the eyes of another character and the events take on a wildly different feel. I would warn you of spoilers here but that little plot device is literally on the back of the DVD cover. It's on the Amazon description too. And IMDB. Unless you come to this movie completely blind - catch it while flipping through the channels or something - you are going to know the trick. It's a clever trick at

Book Review: In the Company of Legends by Joan Kramer and David Heeley

Classic-film fans are very fortunate they took the time to create this book.
  |   Comments
For 25 years, the award-winning filmmaking team of Joan Kramer and David Heeley lived a classic-film fan's dream many times over, as they met, produced documentaries about, and in some cases became friends with stars of the silver screen. In this mutual memoir, they reveal the wonderful stories about what it took to tell the wonderful stories about their famous subjects. Joan and David began working together in 1978 on Skyline, a local arts program produced by New York PBS affiliate, WNET. As the series was coming to an end after three seasons, they attempted to move on with a

The Big Shot / Swing Your Lady DVD Reviews: A Binary Blast of Bogey

The Warner Archive Collection delivers two entirely different sides of Humphrey Bogart, including the film he perhaps hated making the most.
  |   Comments
Just when you thought you had seen just about everything Humphrey Bogart ever made, along comes the Warner Archive Collection to set you straight, by pointing out that "just about everything" may only just scratch the surface. Once more, the MOD division of the studio that made Bogey a star back when the whole world was black-and-white has unburied a few rarities. Making their home video debuts here are two vastly different contributions to cinema starring Hollywood's Golden Age alpha bad boy himself, beginning with a serious crime/prison drama - something Bogart was quite good at. Then we have an

Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. Movie Review

A simple man asking simple questions with complex answers that he cannot understand.
  |   Comments
What happens when a simple man asks simple questions that require complex answers that he cannot understand? This is what Errol Morris explores in his 1999 documentary Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. During his childhood, Leuchter’s father worked in the Massachusetts correctional system as a transportation supervisor. Leuchter, Jr. would often go to work with his father and grew up seeing the humanity of the prisoners his father worked with and not just their criminality. He learned illegal skills from them like lock-picking and safe-cracking as well as other things he said helped him

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser #2

"Chewie, we're home."
  |   Comments
It's here. After screening at the Star Wars Celebration 2015, the new teaser trailer hits the web, and it's sure to delight fans with new footage, particularly getting to hear Luke Skywalker and see Han Solo and Chewie. Let's us know what you think of it in the comments. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters December 18, 2015.

Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn DVD Review: Lost in Translation

Tweens and fans of the Disney Channel will like seeing Jake T. Austin as Huckleberry Finn. But parents will have to hold out hope for a definitive take on the classic character.
  |   Comments
Kids will like the latest filmed version of the adventures of Mark Twain's classic characters, Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, but adults may be left wishing for more. The film features some of the most memorable moments from Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom having to paint a white picket fence, he and Huck attending their own funeral, his romance with Becky Thatcher, and their getting lost in the cave. While it is fun to see these scenes depicted, there is something missing, some sense of urgency or mischief that leaves everything feeling a bit flat. The lead actors

TCM Honors Sophia Loren on April 21

Film debut kicks off primetime tribute to legendary actress Sophia Loren.
  |   Comments
On Tuesday, April 21, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET), Turner Classic Movies follows up its celebration of Sophia Loren at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival by airing five of her films, including the most recent, Human Voice, which was shot by her son, Edoardo Ponti Press release: Turner Classic Movies will host the U.S. Television premiere of filmmaker Edoardo Ponti’s short film Human Voice, starring Sophia Loren as part of the networks five-film tribute to the actress on Tuesday, April. 21. The evening is scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. with the U.S. television debut of the internationally

Criterion Announces July 2015 Releases

A killer line-up of titles this month.
  |   Comments
In July, Criterion adds Carroll Ballard's The Black Stallion, Jan Troell's Here Is Your Life, Stephen Frears' My Beautiful Laundrette, and Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom to its illustrious collection. They also present new digitial restorations of both Robert Siodmak and Don Siegel's versions of The Killers, and Alain Resnais' directorial debut, the French New Wave classic Hiroshima mon amour. Read on to learn more about the films and the releases. The Killers (#176) out Jul 7 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions Ernest Hemingway’s simple but gripping short tale “The Killers” is a model of economical storytelling. Two directors adapted it

Midsomer Murders Set 25 Blu-ray Review: Deadly Doings in Midsomer

The 25th Midsomer Murders set celebrates such events as the birth of Betty Barnaby, and the 100th episode of the series.
  |   Comments
Before I begin, let me just say how nice it is to have Midsomer Murders available on the Blu-ray format. Coupled with a high-def television, it is a sumptuous feast for the eyes. The show has been that way for the seventeen seasons it has been on the air, shot in the most beautiful and bucolic areas in Britain, as a backdrop for some very sinister murders. Set 25 is the most recent, and it contains five episodes that originally aired in the 2013-14 season, including the 100th installment. Most television shows record upwards of 20 episodes per season, and

The Immigrant DVD Review: Finding Grace In the Worst of Times

If this is the American dream, why would anyone come here?
  |   Comments
Fleeing war torn Poland sisters Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and Magda (Angela Sarafyan) endure hardships and humiliations during the long boat ride to (hopefully) newfound freedom in America. It is not until later that we will get details of those horrors, but we catch a glimpse on Ellis Island when Magda is diagnosed with tuberculosis and Ewa is put into holding due to her “low morals.” Magda is put into the sick ward and Ewa is threatened with deportation until Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) dashes in to claim and (hopefully) save her.Though Bruno is exceedingly kind at first and offers Ewa a

The Alphabet Murders (1965) DVD Review: Oh, My Aching Little Grey Cells!

Tony Randall makes for one of cinema's least memorable Hercule Poirots in this dire British spoof of the Agatha Christie novel.
  |   Comments
Along with the various adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the most celebrated - as well as imitated - fictional sleuth of the male gender in nearly every possible form of media is that of Agatha Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Brought to life time and time again by the famous face (and sometimes figure) of celebrated actors such as Peter Ustinov, Ian Holm, Orson Welles, Albert Finney, Alfred Molina, and - perhaps most famously - David Suchet, the unforgettable caricature of Poirot has been copied and infused into other fictional detectives, as well. Tony Shalhoub's obsessive-compulsive detective Monk was an excellent

Daryl Hall & John Oates: Live in Dublin DVD Review: 90 Minutes of Hits

Singles kings Hall & Oates are served well with this 2014 concert in Dublin.
  |   Comments
My connection to the music of Hall & Oates goes back a long way. I remember “She’s Gone” in 1973, “Sara Smile” in 1976, and so many more. I first saw them in concert in 1984, on the Big Bam Boom tour. Incredibly, it seemed as if they had peaked at that moment, after having one hell of a run. But those things come and go, with that incident now some 32 years ago. So what have they been up to since? Doesn't matter, does it? Hall & Oates is the brand, and classics such as “Maneater,” “Say It Isn’t

Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) Blu-ray Review: A Magnificent Festering!

If you avoid certain NFL-oriented video games, does that mean you're Far from the Madden Crowd?
  |   Comments
Having never been a very literary-minded lad, I must confess that I did not devote quite as much of my time as a youth to that which was printed. Well, there were those issues of Psychotronic, European Trash Cinema, Filmfax, and, of course, my father's old Playboy and Penthouse magazines. I even buried my nose in the occasional movie reference item, such as several of the late great Phil Hardy's encyclopedias. Needless to say, Phil Hardy was about as close as I ever got to Thomas Hardy when it came to published materials. On film, I had seen the works

Maps to the Stars is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us new films by David Croneberg, Jean-Luc Goddard, and Tim Burton plus old films by Carol Reed and Preston Sturges and much more.
  |   Comments
Since I first started watching films, or at least taking them seriously, I’ve consumed them for their directors more than anything else. Writers develop the building blocks of a movie, actors add the color, producers build the scaffolding, but it's the directors who really make the movie what it is. I guess I was a fan of the auteur theory long before I even knew what that was. Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to watch some of my favorite directors' entire oeuvres. I started with the Coen Brothers, then moved onto Martin Scorsese, and am about to
Shania: Still the One Live from Vegas captures the complete stage performance of Shania Twain from her two-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace that ended in December 2014. The 90-minute concert features 25 songs covering her biggest hits, country songs, and crossover favorites. I have always been a big fan of Shania with several of her CDs adorning my shelves but for some reason I've never considered seeing her live. Watching this has me very disappointed about that, especially missing this show in Las Vegas. The concert is visually stunning and would have been even better to experience

Odd Man Out Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Deft and Thrilling Storytelling

An extremely overlooked masterpiece of personal and spiritual redemption.
  |   Comments
There have been many films about personal and conflicted crisis of conscience, such as American Beauty (1999), The Apostle (1997), and Magnolia (1999). However, as wonderful as these films are, I think that director Carol Reed's unjustly overlooked masterpiece Odd Man Out, easily outdoes them all, especially because of its subtle and sensitive depiction of ordinary people caught up in a web of troubles. This was one of Reed's breakthrough films, not just for its deft and thrilling storytelling, but it was also one of the first to address the circumstances of terrorism in human terms. It was adapted for

Hans Crippleton: Talk To the Hans Movie Review: It's So Good, I Almost Hated It

It does to reality television what Napoleon Dynamite did to Idaho.
  |   Comments
Hans Crippleton: Talk to the Hans opens with an introduction by Barnaby Hunt (Andy Hankins) to Horror Hunts, Hunt's macabre-flavored show devoted to getting to know popular figures and personalities in the horror community. Think of it as VH1's Behind the Music, but for freak-show exhibits and haunted-house employees. Titular Hans Crippleton (Kevon Ward) and his inbred hillbilly family are the subjects of this installment, delving into the zombie curse has plagued the Crippletons, how "One Legged Sis" (Katie Bevard) earned her name/handicap, cousin Bumpkin's (Heath C. Heine) skill at making varieties of moonshine, and their Doctor's (Ryan Manley-Rohrer) ethically

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control Movie Review: Skewed Look at Human Behavior

Errol Morris's meditation on human behavior as seen from four men with very strange jobs.
  |   Comments
The title might throw a viewer off - 'Out of Control'. A documentary about things being out of control sounds like a warning, or a plea for sanity. Early on when the subjects of the doc were talking, I was waiting for the filmmaker's negative point of view to show itself, for the unspoken question of "what's wrong with them?" But it does not occur, because the goal in this film is not to hector, but to observe. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control profiles (without narration, just interviews and footage) four men in disparate, seemingly unrelated lines of work,

TV Review: The Comedians (2015) - Pilot / Louie - Potluck

FX presents Must-Squirm TV.
  |   Comments
FX's 10 o'clock block on Thursdays nights could be labelled Must-Squirm TV due to the shared humor of the two sitcoms, which are rooted in awkward interactions between clueless characters. Based on the Swedish series Ulveson & Herngern, Billy Crystal and Josh Gad star as caricatures of themselves (hopefully) in a mockumentary about the creation of a fictional sketch show. Billy is a struggling comedian past his prime and is paired with brash up-and-comer Josh for a 13-week run. They can't stand each other but both need the money so they do their best, which really comes across as doing

A Most Violent Year Blu-ray Review: A Most Underrated Film

One of 2014's best films hopes to discover new eyes on Blu.
  |   Comments
It still stings a bit knowing J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year was all but ignored by the Academy last year. After Chandor's win for his screenplay on the equally exemplary Margin Call, it seemed all but expected that the film would nab an award or two. Unfortunately, outside of securing the National Board of Review's distinction as Best Film of the Year, it sailed under the radar. Thankfully, its reputation, blistering performances, and multilayered narrative can be rectified with the fantastic Blu-ray out now. 1981, New York, the "most violent year" in the city's history. Enmeshed within it all

A Brief History of Time Criterion Collection Review: A Quirky, Idiosyncratic Tribute

A deep examination of a very complex, but legendary visionary
  |   Comments
Everyone knows the story of Stephen Hawking, the iconic physicist, cosmologist, author, and director of research. They also know that he struggles with a rare form of ALS that has afflicted him over many decades, but the coolest thing is that he doesn't let that unfortunate disease keep him doing his life's work. A Brief History of Time is director Errol Morris' quirky, idiosyncratic tribute to Hawking and his controversial ideas. In terms of Morris' other documentaries, including The Thin Blue Line, Gates of Heaven, and The Fog of War, Brief History ranks up there with those great works, while

To Sir, with Love (1967) Blu-ray Review: Twilight Time Goes to School

Sidney Poitier's students have a bad reputation. What they need is a little adult education.
  |   Comments
By today's standards, the classic movie motif of a determined teacher reaching a group of tough, underprivileged kids in an urban school is hardly anything new. Granted, it isn't commonly seen in cinematic outings as much as it used to be, as evidenced by viral Facebook videos of inner-city youths finding out firsthand the perils of applying a fully functional taser to an article of golden jewelry (or "bling", as I believe they call it). Indeed, were Sidney Poitier's Mark Thackeray - or even Mr. Wizard, for that matter - around in this day and age to teach kids a

The Man with the Iron Fists 2 Blu-ray Giveaway

RZA reprises his role as the enigmatic blacksmith Thaddeus.
  |   Comments
Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader The Man with the Iron Fists 2 Blu-ray, set for release on Apr 14. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: A mysterious stranger leads a rebellion to liberate a Chinese village from its oppressive overlord in The Man with the Iron Fists 2, available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD as well as On Demand on April 14, 2015, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Global hip-hop superstar, actor and filmmaker RZA reprises his role as the enigmatic blacksmith Thaddeus in this

Stormy Weather (1943) Blu-ray Review: What an Eye for Beauty This Storm Has!

Twilight Time brings an early precursor to the blaxploitation subgenre (seriously, it is!) to Blu-ray.
  |   Comments
Having essentially gone through the growing up part of my wasted youth engaging in the fine art of bad film, I have encountered many different exploitation genres. Some movies were made solely to sell the element of sex. Others devised to gather a crowd of a different kind of deviants altogether, who flocked in like sheep to see just how gruesome and gory things could get at the drive-in. But of all the notable subgenres that have hailed from the annals of exploitation filmmaking, there is perhaps no greater pleasure - or perhaps guiltier pleasure - to be had than

The Star Wars Saga Is Available on Digital HD April 10

The Walt Disney Studios will “finally bring all six films to Digital HD for the first time.”
  |   Comments
Press release: As anticipation builds for the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first new film in the Star Wars Saga in a decade, The Walt Disney Studios, Lucasfilm Ltd., and 20th Century Fox today announced the upcoming release of The Star Wars Digital Movie Collection. For the first time ever, all six epic films in the Saga, from The Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi, will be available on Digital HD throughout the galaxy - or at least here on Earth - globally beginning Friday, April 10. “Since the debut of the first film nearly

A Most Violent Year is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us the Netflix rabbit hole, the Fighters of Foo, The Immigrant and some TV boxed sets.
  |   Comments
One of the best things about Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and the other streaming services is finding something you’d never know about if not for them. I love browsing through the various suggestions on Netflix, clicking on something, then looking at what they suggest if I like that movie, then clicking on an actor from that film to see what else they have by him, etc, etc, and so forth. Down the rabbit hole, we go until something pops and I click play, often having never heard of the film before. I discovered Margin Call that way. That’s the 2011 drama

Wild (2014) Blu-ray Review: Embrace the Beauty

It is an inspiring, thought-provoking film, with every moment to be savored.
  |   Comments
The death of her mom Bobbi (Laura Dern), a divorce from her husband (Thomas Sadoski), and years of self-destructive choices cause Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) to rashly decide on a trek from the Mexican border to Canada. The audience sees flashbacks illustrating the painful memories that brought Cheryl to this drastic measure as she encounters people along the way that help her heal. Through the hike, which Strayed wrote about in her best-selling book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl is able to rediscover who she is, shed the past, and learn how to move

Teen Titans Go!: Appetite for Disruption Season 2 Part 1 DVD Giveaway

It's a titan red alert with 26 gut-punching, gut-busting adventures in this all-new collection.
  |   Comments
Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Warner Brothers Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader Teen Titans Go!: Appetite for Disruption Season 2 Part 1 on DVD. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: Teen Titans fans can relive the latest adventures when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Teen Titans Go!: Appetite for Disruption Season 2 Part 1 on DVD April 14, 2015. The two-disc DVD set is priced to own for $19.97 SRP. The Teen Titans return with a whole new bevy of baddies, beverages, and adventures! Partner up with Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, and Beast

Gone with the Pope Blu-ray Review: Duke Mitchell's Unsung Swan Song Finds a Voice

The film that takes the expression "Years in the Making" to a whole new level finally gets a chance to be seen by all.
  |   Comments
If Massacre Mafia Style was Duke Mitchell's antithesis to Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, the late Southern California Italian/American crooning personality's final (known) work, Gone with the Pope could very well be his own flip side to the entire world of filmmaking in general. Massacre Mafia Style was a delirious - and highly enjoyable - assault on the senses, made in the wake of the famous gangster picture, with plenty of oomph and random bits of lunacy thrown in for good measure. Gone with the Pope, on the other hand, is pretty much a feature-length film full of random bits

The Thin Blue Line Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Paradigm Shift

Errol Morris changes the documentary game in 102 minutes.
  |   Comments
Rarely do you watch a film and actually pinpoint where a genre actually changes. You watch Clerks or Pulp Fiction and see where the genre is being moved forward. You can see in Batman and then again in Iron Man where a genre is being reinvigorated. But in 1988, Errol Morris made The Thin Blue Line and the field of documentaries would radically change. I was surprised that it had taken this long for the Criterion Collection to release this important film on Blu-ray. Documentary. The definition for years was simply to "document reality". The popular documentaries were often nature

Gates of Heaven / Vernon, Florida Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Loving the Absurd

The characters Errol Morris speaks to in his first two films are living embodiments of the old maxim that truth is stranger than fiction.
  |   Comments
“I love the absurd,” says Errol Morris in one of the extras on the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of Gates of Heaven (1978) / Vernon, Florida (1981). These are the first two films from the director of such notable documentaries as The Thin Blue Line (1988), A Brief History of Time (1991), and the Academy Award-winning The Fog of War: Eleven Lesson from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003), among others. To call the people he interviews in both of these pictures “absurd” is probably an understatement, but it will do. The characters Morris speaks to are true

Thoughtful & Abstract: Looking at The Walking Dead's Glenn Rhee

T&A focuses their attention of the young, unlikely leader of the group: Glenn.
  |   Comments
In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) continue to discuss their favorite characters on television. "No one is impressed, man. Walk away." - Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) Shawn: I want to continue our talk about our favorite characters with Glenn Rhee from The Walking Dead. He's the most likable post-apocalyptic pizza delivery guy ever. I've loved him ever since his introduction to us as just a voice. Rick is trapped in the tank in Atlanta and over the radio we hear the "Hey you...dumbass." It's appropriate that we first hear him because I see him as our "voice of reason"

Follow Us