July 2015 Archives

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Movie Review: The Best of the Series

Rogue Nation delivers great thrills, if you choose to accept it.
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Tom Cruise and the Impossible team, both in front of and behind the camera, have done the seemingly impossible by making the fifth Mission: Impossible film the best of the series, although to be fair, I didn’t think much of the first three. Teased at the end of Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation finds Ethan Hunt pursuing the mysterious, international organization known as the Syndicate, a group of highly trained agents from around the globe that are working to destabilize civilization. When Congress cuts off funding and support, at the request of CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), Ethan becomes a

Justice League: Gods and Monsters Blu-ray Review: A Lot of Sizzle Without a Lot at Stake

A dark and gritty alternative to the bleak and dreary comics.
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Justice League: Gods and Monsters is the all-new original movie that marks the return of Bruce Timm to the DC animated universe and features a version of the Justice League vastly different from the one we know. Imagine a brutal and violent Superman, an even more brutal and violent Batman who isn't Bruce Wayne, and a brutally violent Wonder Woman who wasn't forged from clay and you've got... well hey now, that actually doesn't sound all that different from the bleak and joyless characters currently being featured in DC films and comics, does it? Come to think of it, the

Every Secret Thing DVD Review: Chilling Crimes and Very Bad Parenting

Twisty tale of monstrous mother love wastes talents of Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, and Dakota Fanning in downbeat police procedural.
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Straining for psychological depth and taut suspense but reaching only a few notches higher than a Lifetime TV movie, Every Secret Thing squanders the talents of several excellent actresses - Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, and a relative newcomer, Danielle Macdonald. This downbeat police procedural involves the kidnapping of a three-year-old girl in the economically depressed upstate New York town of Orangeburg. The crime eerily echoes a horrific baby-snatching and murder that took place there seven years before, committed by two 11-year-old girls who, tried as juveniles, were sent up the river. Anyone who has watched more than one

Star Trek: Renegades Premieres Aug 1 at the Crest Theatre in Westwood, CA

"An exhilarating new adventure that boldly goes where no Star Trek has gone before."
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Southern California Trek fans, and those beyond willing to travel, have the opportunity to see the world premiere of the new pilot / feature film Star Trek: Renegades, which features the Federation's Section 31, led by Commander Tuvok, Voyager’s former security officer, putting together a new covert, renegade crew when space and time becomes folded around planets that are the main suppliers of dilithium crystals. Press release: Star Trek: Renegades World PremiereSaturday, August 1, 2015 The Crest Theater: 1262 Westwood Blvd; Los Angeles, CA 90024Red Carpet at 7 p.m. Premiere at 8 p.m.There will be a special fan screening at

White God is the Pick of the Week

Every dog has his day… (And cult movie collectors will have theirs this week!)
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As a certain Italian schlockumentary once reminded us many moons ago, it's a dog's world out there. And some distant cousins of the Italians - the Hungarians - have seen fit to impress that old adage upon us once more, with their multiple award-winning 2014 hit Fehér isten, better known in the English-speaking parts of the world as White God. Here, writer/director Kornél Mundruczó paints his audiences an ugly reminder that - despite our alleged progress when it comes to being humane towards everyone, animal or human alike - we're still just a bunch of stinkin' savages. Ignoring another timeless

WE tv's Law & Order Birthday Bash Kicks off with 25th Anniversary Binge-A-Thon

The two-night marathon with fan-favorite episodes airs on July 28 and 29.
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The Law & Order franchise is currently ubiquitous on the television landscape with its various programs airing on various broadcast and cable channels, including Sundance, TNT, USA, WGN. September 13 marks Law & Order's 25th anniversary and WE tv is planning an early celebration. Read on to learn more. Press release: WE tv is getting a jump start on the milestone 25th anniversary of Law & Order, the popular criminal procedural that paved the way for the drama genre with a month-long celebration in August. The festivities begin with a two-night marathon on Tuesday, July 28 and Wednesday, July 29,

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau is the Pick of the Week

A few intriguing new releases for the fan of variety.
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As an extreme film lover, I'm always torn between variety. Sometimes, there is too much to choose from, and it also depends upon the price. There isn't any doubt that I do like to have choices, it's that I like to choose from films that I would find interesting. When I'm not taking online classes, or doing horrible yard work, I only have a limited time to watch the newest releases. This week, there isn't a lot of choices, but these are some releases I found to be quite interesting and worth checking out. Yes, some of them sound strange,

I Am FEMEN DVD Review: Sex Sells Everything, Perhaps Even Revolutions

"Naked bodies and politics is an explosive combination."
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The first time I heard of the half-naked female activism group FEMEN back in 2013, it was largely by accident, a link in a comment on some loosely related Reddit post or something like that. I assumed it was a flash in a pan, something that stopped almost as soon as it started, given the hostile reception the girls received outside the Georgian embassy in July 2011. Sitting comfortably behind a desk (and the First Amendment) here in the United States, it's strange to think that protestors can just be assaulted in broad daylight for trying to spread a message.

Cannibal Ferox Blu-ray Review: Umberto Lenzi's Unforgiving Subgenre Swan Song

The notorious cash-in of a craze beget by the cash-in of a cash-in makes its much-needed (?) High-Definition debut courtesy the finely deranged folks at Grindhouse Releasing.
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In 1970, with the entire world in a state of change, Elliot Silverstein's A Man Called Horse was released to cinemas. Like the environment that spawned it, the film was about a transformation: a white man named John Morgan (as played by the late Richard Harris) - captured and enslaved by a group of Native Americans - soon becomes one with the very tribe that had previously seized and humiliated him. Of course, no groundbreaking work of art goes unnoticed abroad - especially in Italy, where filmmakers were keen to cash-in on anything that generated so much as a dollar-fifty

Burying the Ex DVD Review: Joe Dante Tries to Bring His Sensibilities Back From the Dead

If you are the kind of person who watches a Dante movie waiting for the Dick Miller appearance, and then get excited when you see him, this is for you.
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Joe Dante is an American treasure. He’s made some tremendous films that are iconic pieces of pop culture. He’s one of the foremost pop-culture commenters and recontexualizers in cinema. Beloved modern filmmakers such as Edgar Wright are following in Dante’s footsteps. However, while he was a major cinematic contributor in the '80s and '90s, his presence in filmmaking these days is marginal at best. After Looney Tunes: Back in Action flopped in 2003, that was about it for him. He’s made one film since then, and it was called The Hole, and it came out in 2009, and you haven’t

Once a Thief (1965) DVD Review: Post-Beat America Meets the French New Wave

The Warner Archive Collection releases an excellent, atmospheric, innovative, and gritty crime drama from yesteryear. A definite must-see.
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Filmmaker Ralph Nelson was always up for something different. While the late director is best known today for bringing the world acclaimed (and often groundbreaking) classics such as Requiem for a Heavyweight, Charly, tick... tick... tick…, and Lilies of the Field, it's some of the movies he's not known for today that perhaps deserve the most attention. And one such motion picture outing is his 1965 masterpiece Once a Thief: a spectacularly gritty black-and-white crime drama written by an actual ex-convict set in San Francisco during that precariously precocious period that bridged the gap between the beatnik era and the

Cemetery Without Crosses Blu-ray Review: An Obscure French Western Gets Its Day

The Good, The Bad, and the Boring.
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About the time the western genre was growing stale in America, European filmmakers picked it right back up. More than 600 different Westerns were made in Europe between 1960 and 1980. While they were made in just about every country on that continent, the majority came from Italians. The most famous and arguably best examples of European Westerns come from the Italian Sergio Leone and his Dollars Trilogy. While the Spaghetti Western may have ruled they day, a great many other European countries got into the western game as well. Cemetery Without Crosses is one such film. Made in 1969

Signpost to Murder DVD Review: Stuart Whitman Goes Loco for Joanne Woodward

The Warner Archive Collection brings us a seldom seen psychological thriller that has trouble finding its own direction.
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In Hollywood, it doesn't take long to become typecast. Take, for example, the early career of one Stuart Whitman. Following a breakout performance as a recently released child molester attempting to exorcise his personal demons in 1961's The Mark, the recently new to the limelight Mr. Whitman found himself earning an Oscar nomination and a few meaty parts alongside John Wayne in big studio productions. But the shadow of his most famous role (of the time) remained, and in 1962, Whitman was a supporting cast member in a prison drama entitled Convicts 4. In 1964, Stuart appeared in a psychological

Slow West Blu-ray Review: Like Death, Westerns Are Universal

German-Irish actor Michael Fassbender stars and co-produces this New Zealand-made tale from the American West, which features many a Scotsman and Aussie. How's that for diversity?
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With the American western genre all but dead, this is as good of a time as any for filmmakers from other corners of the globe to try their hand at something the Italians once perfected in the 1960s: revamping it. In 2005, Australian musician Nick Cave (our deepest of condolences to you and yours, good sir) penned a screenplay for The Proposition. In 2010, the Aussies brought us a great contemporary western entitled Red Hill. Sadly, neither film really garnered enough attention stateside in order to reignite the flame of passion for the cowboy movie. Well, here we are in

42nd Street / Ladyhawke / Wolfen Blu-ray Reviews: The Musical, Magical, and Mythical

The Warner Archive Collection brings us three classic catalogue titles out of the Standard and into the realms of High-Definition.
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In continuing their fine tradition of reviving the occasional catalogue title for today's HD-savvy generations, the Warner Archive Collection has been releasing more vintage titles to Blu-ray than ever before. Recently, three classic titles from one end of yesteryear or another - the 1933 musical 42nd Street, the oddball 1986 magical fantasy/comedy/adventure Ladyhawke, and the mythical 1981 urban horror flick Wolfen - landed on my doorstep; each as far removed from the other as can be. My trio of diversity begins with the 1933 musical 42nd Street, as choreographed by the great Busby Berkeley and directed by the one and

Turner Classic Movies Popular Summer Under the Stars Programming Event Returns in August

A 24-hour salute each day of the month including tributes to first-timers Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin as well as returning legends Fred Astaire and Katharine Hepburn.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies' (TCM) ultimate movie star showcase, Summer Under the Stars, returns August 1 for its 13th year as TCM pays tribute to 31 different stars in 31 days. This year’s Summer Under the Stars will feature a premiere interview, filmed at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, with iconic actress Ann-Margret and TCM host Ben Mankiewicz on Aug. 13, as well as a salute to Ingrid Bergman for her 100th birthday including a showing of Casablanca (1942). This year, 15 stars will receive their first Summer Under the Stars salutes, including Oscar winners: Alan Arkin (Aug.

James Bond Meets the Author of All His Pain in the New SPECTRE Trailer

Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.
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The official synopsis: A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine

Wonderfully Perfect: Fathom Events and TCM Present Double Indemnity

It's a great pleasure seeing classic films on the big screen.
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In college I had one of those special, "make an inspirational movie about him" kind of professors. He was also the theatre director, and for most of my collegiate life, I did work study under him. He was a brilliant teacher, capable of making even the dullest plays seem utterly fascinating, and a great director. It was a small college and he had a minuscule budget but he somehow managed to put up productions that rivaled the nearby million-dollar Shakespeare Festival. He helped further my academic education and schooled me in life. He was also a good friend. Sadly, he

My Beautiful Laundrette Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Film Stands the Test of Time

A groundbreakingly potent depiction of bleak social commentary
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When discussing some of the most influential LGBT films, Stephen Frears' 1985 modern classic My Beautiful Laundrette usually is one of the most talked about, because it doesn't just address the unforunate issues of homophobia, but also the brutal, sometimes tragic aspects of racism, social status, and cultural differences. One of the reasons why it remains such an influential film is because it showcases a same-sex relationship that is both tender and unusual. It is no wonder why this is considered, along side The Grifters and Dangerous Liaisons, one of his very best cinematic creations. The story centers on Omar

Rush (1991) Blu-ray Review: The '90s Drug Genre Looks Inward

A slow-burn examination of drugs and police corruption is revealed in Kino's recent Blu-ray release.
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Reflecting the times, the cinematic landscape of the 1990s found itself awash in drugs (on-screen, at least). On the heels of films like Goodfellas and New Jack City, director Lili Fini Zanuck directed Rush. Despite a setting in 1975, Rush is very 1990s in its actors - popular stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Patric - as well as starring roles for Gregg Allman and a soundtrack by Eric Clapton in his somber phase. Dated, to be sure, Rush is a slow burn that, had the budget and script gone bigger, could have presented some intriguing socio-political examinations regarding police

Limelight Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Chaplin's Coda

Age must pass as youth enters.
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My Chaplin journey hasn't been linear. I didn't start with the silent shorts and work my way through The Kid (1921) and onto A Countess From Hong Kong (1967). It was a rambling journey that went forwards and backwards through highlights of his spectacular career with Criterion including Modern Times, The Great Dictator, City Lights, and The Gold Rush. In many ways the other films were reflections and parables of the times Chaplin was living in. The newest Criterion Blu-ray release is Limelight from 1952. It's subtitled "in his human drama" and this film is his most personal story. The

TCM to Remember Legendary Actor Omar Sharif on Sep. 21

The tribute to include Doctor Zhivago and Funny Girl.
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Omar Sharif (born Michel Demitri Chalhoub) died from a heart attack in a Cairo hospital on July 10. He was an Egyptian actor who became an international sensation when he garnerd a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his first English-language role as Sharif Ali in David Lean's historical epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962). In addition to his long career as actor, which began with Devil of the Sahara (1954) and concluded with voice work in 1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham (2015), Sharif was also a world-class contract bridge players. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will be paying

What We Do In The Shadows is the Pick of the Week

Its a great week to be a horror fan.
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It's a good week to be a horror fan. I’ve no doubt complained in these pages before how I rarely get to watch horror films anymore. The wife doesn’t like them; the daughter is too young for them. I only get a slight sliver of time between the family going to bed and me not knocking off myself to watch the sort of things only I want to watch. There is a long list of those things and most of them beat out horror in the desire department so it is a real rarity that I actually watch any sort

Batman: The Television Series: The Second Season Part Two DVD Review: Back to the Batshow!

For any Bat collector who doesn't already have them, this is a must-own.
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On the off chance someone doesn't know about the iconic Batman TV series from the 1960s (there must be at least one person at any given moment), let me offer a brief explanation of the show. In the city of Gotham, millionaire Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and his young ward, Dick Grayson (Burt Ward), protect the citizenry as costumed superheroes, Batman and Robin, against a colorful collection of criminals as they had done in the pages of DC Comics. With an emphasis on "comic," the show has a silly sensibility from Bruce/Batman's uberserious goodness to the wacky crimes and traps

Shark Blu-ray Review: Swim Along with Charismatic Killers

You won't need four rows of teeth to chew through this delicious Planet Earth appetizer.
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Fresh off reviewing BBC's Planet Ant, I find myself confronted with a series about a much larger, deadlier animal up for investigation -- the timeless predators who rule the seas detailed in Shark, another new chapter in the BBC Earth series. From scary Ragged-Tooths to Makos that could outrun Usain Bolt, Paul McGann narrates four one-hour segments that cover everything from what sharks eat to how they interact and socialize, and how these creatures who've barely evolved since the age of the dinosaurs are paving the way for scientific breakthroughs. Spinning up the disk reveals two "parts" in the episode

Here is Your Life Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Engrossing and Enervating Debut

The first feature film from Swedish filmmaker Jan Troell has its visual merits, but it's bogged down by a leaden narrative.
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A film that’s both engrossing and enervating at turns, Here is Your Life kicked off the feature-film career of Swedish director Jan Troell, an art house sensation in the ’70s with breakthrough duo The Emigrants and The New Land. The multi-talented Troell directed, shot, edited, and co-wrote the screenplay for Here is Your Life, based on one of a series of semi-autobiographical novels by Eyvind Johnson, and though Troell’s camerawork and editing are often inventive, the film never really breaks free from its novelistic shackles. After his father falls ill, teenager Olof (Eddie Axberg) is forced to leave his sickness-ridden

Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police DVD Review: An Inside Look at a Legendary Band

Based on Andy Summers' memoir, the documentary reveals the rise and demise of the defining 1980s band.
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When the Police ceased recording in 1984, rumors swirled as to the cause. Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland became infamous for their constant fighting, sometimes ending up in fisticuffs (such as during a 1983 MTV interview with Martha Quinn). Summers and Copeland’s intense jealousy of Sting’s notoriety was cited as another factor. The new documentary Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police presents Summers’ side of the story, suggesting that the Police’s dissolution resulted from a multitude of complicated reasons. As hard on himself as on the other band members, Summers provides narration while archival footage as well as

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Blu-ray Review: Not As Exotic As the First, but Still Charming

Were it not for those remarkable actors even Liftime would be embarrassed by this.
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God bless the Brits. Or at least British actors of a certain age. They can rescue even the most tiresome of films and make it a thousand times better. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a surprise hit in 2012 earning some $136 million which was quite a bit more than its meager $10 million budget. It was about a random group of British seniors who decide to spend their golden years living inexpensively in India. They come to the titular hotel based upon its fancy webpage, but find out that it is quite less than they expected save for

Book Review: Bravo For Adventure by Alex Toth

Bravo for Alex Toth!
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Legendary artist and noted curmudgeon Alex Toth never made a secret of his continued frustrations with editorial interference, bad scripts, and the continued trend toward gritty anti-heroes in mainstream comics. So when given the opportunity to create his own comic series, he took a look back in time to the halcyon days when dashing film heroes like Errol Flynn and comic adventurers such as Terry and the Pirates buckled swash and took part in all manner of high adventure and derring-do. The end result was Bravo for Adventure, a throwback adventure that many consider to be Toth's seminal work -

Book Review: The Ultimate Woody Allen Film Companion by Jason Bailey

It's a book to be savored, yet it's so good one may rush through to discover all it offers.
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The first thing I thought when I got a hold of this book was that if there was any filmmaker who would quickly make a book like this incomplete because of how fast he works it would be Woody Allen. Author Jason Bailey obviously had the same thought because the Prologue offers a link to a website "for a discussion of Magic in the Moonlight and other future Woody Allen projects...for updates and new essays." Seeing as we had similar concerns, I figured I was in good hands as a reader and I was right. Each film (from What's Up,

getTV Celebrates Cary Grant in August

A month of classics featuring the Howard Hawks' hit His Girl Friday and Grant's final film Walk, Don't Run, Thursdays in August.
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Want to spend the evening with Cary Grant? getTV offers everyone the opportunity for a few nights during the month of August. Read on to learn all about it Press release: getTV pays tribute to the incomparable Cary Grant in eight unforgettable classics, airing every Thursday in August at 7 p.m. ET. The month kicks off on August 6 with 1937’s THE AWFUL TRUTH, the film that established Grant both as a leading man and comedic genius, starring alongside Irene Dunne as a soon-to-be-divorced couple who go to extremes to undermine each other’s romantic prospects. The 1938 George Cukor romance

State of Grace Blu-ray Review: Characters Anchor Crime Drama Neo-Noir

Twilight Time releases this underseen 1990s noir.
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Unlike some niche Blu-ray distributors, Twilight Time doesn't just release classic films. Oftentimes their release output includes underrated or little seen gems that wouldn't immediately warrant an HD disc. In the case of their latest, the 1990 crime thriller State of Grace, rewatching this on Blu was a great way to re-familiarize myself with a film that I'd forgotten I enjoyed. After a decade-long absence, Terry Noonan (Sean Penn) returns to his hometown of Hell's Kitchen, immediately getting back into the good graces of small-time hood Jackie Flannery (Gary Oldman). As Terry becomes more comfortable with his old friend, he

Stray Cats: Live at Rockpalast DVD Review: A Great Live Concert DVD

Two amazing Stray Cats concerts from 1981 and 1983 recorded live in Germany.
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The American Rockabilly scene would not be what it is today without the influential music of the Stray Cats. Their rocking sound introduced a new generation to the sounds of the 1950s while helping change the 1980's music scene with their original sounds and songs. Stray Cats: Live at Rockpalast features two early Stray Cats concerts, both recorded in Germany in the early 1980s. The earlier concert footage is from Satrory-Sale Cologne on July 16th, 1981, and the later concert is from Open Air Loreley on August 20th,1983. This is the first time in over 30 years this concert footage

Criterion Announces October 2015 Releases

As Halloween approaches, Criterion offers a slate of films filled with various scares.
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In October, Criterion offers five releases. New to the collection are David Cronenberg's The Brood, Ettore Scola’s A Special Day, and David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. Also available are new digital restorations of Masaki Kobayashi’s original cut of Kwaidan and Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho. Read on to learn more about them. My Own Private Idaho (#277) out Oct 6 River Phoenix (Stand by Me) and Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) star in this haunting tale from Gus Van Sant (Mala Noche), about two young street hustlers: Mike Waters, a sensitive narcoleptic who dreams of the mother who abandoned him,

'71 DVD Review: A Winning Depiction of a Losing Battle

In tackling the divisive topic of The Troubles in Northern Ireland director Yann Demange blurs the boundaries of loyalty and highlights humanity.
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On Monday, rioting broke out amid a Protestant Orange Order parade in Belfast after it reached a stretch of road inhabited mostly by Catholics, republicans, and nationalists; at least eight people were injured. This, nearly 44 years after the Ballymurphy Massacre, which occurred in Belfast in early August 1971 and today remains a dark spot in the hearts of the Irish. At surface level, it can be easy to pick sides when reviewing history or current resurgences of turmoil. But what director Yann Demange asks in the extremely gripping and often gut-wrenching ’71 is: Can you always trust your loyalties?

Stray Cat Rock Blu-ray Review: Motorcycle Girl Gangs and Hippy Crime Sprees

Five loosely connected Japanese exploitation movies capture the spirit, and looseness of their age.
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On an interview on this disc, director Yasuharu Hasebe talks about how ephemeral the movies he made were. “I expected it to last a week,” he says about one of the three movies he made on this box set. They were not made with posterity in mind, but were very much of their time and in their time. This is true of any movie, of course - however carefully constructed or intentionally contrived, a movie cannot help but be made in the time when it is made and by the people who make it. And there are movements and trends

A Newly Widened Screen, Part II: Alibis and Those Who Sympathize

The Warner Archive Collection brings us two more titles from the early days of DVD in widescreen for the first time.
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As they had done in the latter part of 2014 with several titles that truly deserved it, the folks at the Warner Archive Collection have once more taken two completely different catalog titles from the earliest days of DVD and given them the widescreen treatment they should have had back in 1998. Alas, these two titles are not on the same level as The Black Scorpion or a couple of classic Steve Martin comedies. Instead, this batch of newly widened screenings consists of movies that even I didn't rent on video when I was a teenager. And mind you, I

The Maltese Bippy DVD Review: Rowan and Martin Comedy is No 'Laugh-In' Matter

The first and only post-fame feature-length film from the classic sketch comedy hosts is a mostly dreadful horror spoof.
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During a time when five crazy Britons and one expatriate American were producing bizarre sketch comedy for the BBC, two US-born contemporaries on the other side of The Pond were running amok on national television. Thus, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (complete with a soon-to-be-dated title about the hippie revolution) amassed a huge following, launching its hosts, comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, to success status for a brief period. Naturally, no one in the motion picture business was about to let a hot commodity like Rowan and Martin slip past them; because, as anyone who has ever seen any Saturday

Ex Machina is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us sexy artificial intelligence, sexually transmitted haunting, boys with horses, exotic sequels and more.
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At work today, I was listening to the Invisibilia podcast, specifically the one entitled “Our Computers, Ourselves.” It was all about how computers and technology have changed us as a society, culturally, and individually. I was especially fascinated with the segment on Thad Starner who has essentially been wearing a computer (kind of a prototype of Google Glass - which he helped invent actually) for the last couple of decades. He swears it has been nothing but helpful, with no downside at all. He constantly types information into his hard drive about what he’s thinking, what he’s doing, and the

Twilight Time Presents: Rebellion! Turmoil! Endless Talking!

From the hormonally-charged historical wrongdoings of King Henry VIII to David Mamet's acclaimed verbal diarrhea, this batch of flicks has all bases covered.
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Once more, the folks at Twilight Time have resurrected five photoplays from yesteryear - and this time, they're not holding back on the dramatics one bit. We begin our line-up with perhaps the most epic motion pictures of epic motion pictures ever; the fact that A Man for All Seasons features a supporting performance by the one and only Orson Welles himself doesn't even enter into it, believe it or not! Rather, Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons focuses on the charisma and talents of the late Paul Scofield, cast here as Sir Thomas More. Now, for my fellow

Ash vs Evil Dead Will Be Unleashed on Halloween

The series from original filmmakers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell is set to premiere Saturday, October 31 at 9 PM.
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Press release: STARZ announced the highly anticipated premiere of original series Ash vs Evil Dead on Saturday, October 31 at 9 PM ET/PT and released the first live action trailer during the series’ Comic Con panel in San Diego. The 10-episode first season of the half-hour series is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, the original filmmakers of the franchise, and Craig DiGregorio who serves as executive producer and showrunner. Ash vs Evil Dead, which is currently in production in New Zealand, is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead. Campbell reprises

Rifftrax Live: Sharknado 2 Review - The Second One is Still Funny!

While not as raunchy as The Room, Sharknado 2 has the Rifftrax guys doing what they do best.
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The Rifftrax gang is back with the second of four films set to receive the live riff treatment in 2014. Dubbed "The Crappening," Rifftrax Live recently did the first of two shows around the Syfy "masterpiece," Sharknado 2, a continuation of the magical story of a tornado with sharks taking over New York City. As a standalone movie, Sharknado 2 lacks the campy humor of the first film, acknowleding its self-awareness and loading the film with cameos, and the Riff guys aren't as sharp as they were with the R-rated The Room, but it's hard not to love being seduced

Sesame Street: Count On Elmo DVD Review: That's One Ah-Ah-Ah Great Family DVD

Don't be a grump, a grouch or a Trump, and fall in love with Sesame Street again.
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I grew up watching Sesame Street. My now four-year-old daughter continues to grow up watching Sesame Street. My mother swears that my brother learned to read watching Sesame Street. Some 77 million other Americans grew up watching Sesame Street. Millions more found Sesame Street (or International versions of Sesame Street) in their home countries all over the world. I love Sesame Street. My family loves Sesame Street. Everybody loves Sesame Street. Well, that’s not true. Some people don’t like Sesame Street. But those people are grumps, grouches, and Donald Trumps. Luckily for everybody but the grouches, we can watch Sesame

Enter the Ninja Blu-ray Review: It Is Awesome

For fans of '80's action / exploitation / genre films, this disc is a must-have.
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If, in 1981, you had the chance to invest in throwing stars or something else, and you chose something else, Enter The Ninja is most likely the reason you lost everything and curse your life to this very day. The absolute obsession with ninjas that this film instilled in teenage boys lasted for years. Some would call it a craze while others just shook their heads and went on with their maskless and nunchuck-free lives; never to know the joys of spelling the word "assassin" without looking it up. Would moms worry? Maybe. But at least you weren't playing Dungeons

The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001) Blu-ray Review: Anarchy, Sentiment, Family, Karaoke

Takashi Miike's surrealist musical comedy finds its way to Blu-ray thanks to Arrow Video.
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Director Takashi Miike is credited with seven or eight films in the year 2001 alone, depending on who you ask. One of the most energetic and life-affirming of these pictures is The Happiness of the Katakuris. This is an absolutely joyful and bizarre flick, a musical comedy complete with stop-motion sequences, a pile of dead bodies and the ever-looming presence of Mount Fuji. The Happiness of the Katakuris is an unabashed remake of Kim Jee-woon’s 1998 film The Quiet Ones, with Miike paying direct homage to several of the shots and scenes in the Korean movie. He certainly strays at

For the Die-hard Die Hard Fan: Nakatomi Plaza: Die Hard Limited Edition Collection

Own all five explosive Die Hard movies On Blu-ray housed in a replica of the iconic building - Available October 13.
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You are gonna need a bigger shelf and maybe a bigger room to add this new, ultimate Die Hard limited edition set to your collection in October. To learn more, read on: Press release: Ever wanted to scale Nakatomi Plaza with John McClane, just like in the first Die Hard? On October 13, fans can do just that with the Nakatomi Plaza: Die Hard Collection! Featuring all five of the franchise’s action-packed films in a replica of the legendary Los Angeles tower, this limited edition collection is McClane-approved and like nothing you’ve ever seen before, making it the perfect gift

Do I Sound Gay? Movie Review: Not Your Typical LGBT Documentary

An often hilarious, but very timely depiction of the 'gay voice'.
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There have been many documentaries about the depiction of the gay stereotype, such as The Celluoid Closet and Word Is Out. They showcased not just how the LGBT community was depicted since the 1920s, but how gays and lesbians live and continue to do so. Some are very funny (Alec Mapa: Baby Daddy), but there are others that are really serious and often tragic (The Times of Harvey Milk, The Case Against 8). However, David Thorpe's Do I Sound Gay? is a mixture of the two, in which he explores the the history of the "gay voice". After breaking up

Book Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection Vol. 1: Black and White and Read All Over

Collection provides ideal format for cohesively enjoying the long-form stories.
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Let’s face it: daily newspaper comic strips have never been a great way to follow serialized stories. When a story is doled out in just a few panels a day, it’s difficult to follow and even more difficult to appreciate as a whole. Thankfully, IDW Publishing is here to save the day with their latest archival comic strip project covering the first two years of Spider-Man’s daily adventures. This comic strip wasn’t just handed off to junior hacks; it was written by the character’s creator and architect of much of the Marvel universe, Stan “The Man” Lee. Likewise, the art

Society Blu-ray Review: Glorious Mess of an '80s Horror Movie

Brian Yuzna's bizarre directorial debut is wildly uneven, but never less than fascinating.
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Horror movies are often critiqued as metaphors, largely in an attempt to approach them in terms that distance critics from the act of watching the horror movie. I'm not watching a guy with a knife stab some poor, mostly undressed girl, and enjoying it! I'm watching a metaphor! And filmmakers, who sometimes make the mistake of listening to critics, have built metaphorical aspects of their stories into genre codes (all skewered in Scream and its imitators) so the filmmaker is not filming mock-rape scenarios that end in violence for titillation's sake - they're filming a metaphor! Except it's always the

Cartoon Network Re-Ups Five of its Hit Original Series

Adventure Time, Regular Show, Steven Universe, Uncle Grandpa, and Clarence will return for additional seasons.
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Press release: In advance of Cartoon Network’s ultimate fan experience at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the Network announced today that Cartoon Network Studios’ original series; Adventure Time, Regular Show, Steven Universe, Uncle Grandpa and Clarence, will return for additional seasons. Coming on the heels of worldwide ratings and critical acclaim are orders for Season 8 of the Peabody Award-winning Adventure Time, Season 8 of the Emmy-winning Regular Show, Season 3 of the Emmy-winning Uncle Grandpa, Season 3 of Steven Universe and Season 2 of Clarence. Regular Show, Uncle Grandpa, Steven Universe and Clarence all originated from the prolific artist-driven

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series DVD Review: This Is Good Stuff

This series is worthy of new recruits.
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In 1964, CBS was cruising with hits such as the rural comedy The Andy Griffith Show, and the fish-out-of-water hit The Beverly Hillbillies. So why not take a supporting character from Mayberry and make him the proverbial fish out of water? CBS did just that by taking gas-station attendant Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) and placing him in the United States Marine Corps, as seen in the final episode of season four of The Andy Griffith Show. Throw in an overbearing yet bumbling Sergeant (Frank Sutton) and you’ve got yourself a hit. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was indeed a hit for CBS

The Killers (1946) / (1964) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Intriguing Double Feature

A great opportunity to see how artists and craftsmen handle the same material and obtain different results.
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Like taking a comparative literature class, The Killers from the Criterion Collection offers a great opportunity to see how artists and craftsmen handle the same material and obtain different results. In this instance, the source is Ernest Hemingway's short story "The Killers," which first appeared in a 1927 issue of Scribner's Magazine. An audio version of the story read by Stacy Keach is available as an extra and it tells of two hitmen who go to a diner looking to kill Ole Andreson, a Swedish boxer who frequents the place. When Ole doesn’t show, the men leave. Frequent Hemingway character

Five Easy Pieces Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: One Easy Role to Nicholson's Stardom

Nicholson breaks out in this early headlining role.
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A year removed from his breakout supporting turn in Easy Rider, Jack Nicholson moved to headliner status in this 1970 character study. Filmed during a time when character studies weren’t exactly prevalent in Hollywood, director Bob Rafelson’s film helped to lead a shift in the industry that paved the way for subsequent ‘70s greats. That’s not to say it holds up well, as it now seems to be a dated relic of a bygone era. Nicholson’s character Bobby Dupea is introduced as a lackadaisical oil-field worker, content to toil away in his job during the day and blow his pay

Criterion Re-releases The Big Chill and It Is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some nostalgia via the Criterion Collection, Mick Jagger as an outlaw, two versions of a Hemingway story, the Governator battling zombies, and much more.
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I've been writing about new DVDs and Blu-rays for a few years now. You'd think this would give me some special insight into release cycles and that I might possess a long memory of what's hit the home video market over the years. You might think that, but you'd be wrong. I have no real idea of how or why various movies get released when they do. I also have a terrible memory which makes me forget what's been released moments after I write about it. This week I totally forgot that Criterion had released The Big Chill almost exactly

Magic Mike XXL Movie Review: Flesh and Fantasy

The relaxed, sexy vibe of this ode to the male body beautiful almost makes up for its lack of narrative momentum.
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Well, I know why I wanted to see Magic Mike XXL: hunky guys taking their clothes off at regular intervals is a de facto winning formula for this middle-aged gay guy. Also, I’d liked the first Magic Mike movie, from 2012, as more than just a Playgirl calendar come to life: that film’s director Steven Soderbergh has the knack of making entertaining genre pictures seem deep, and making deep, arty pictures entertaining. (Soderbergh executive-produced this sequel and, under pseudonyms, did the cinematography and editing; Gregory Jacobs directed.) But sequels are often a tough balancing act, as filmmakers seek to create

The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe Blu-ray Review: Forgettable but Fun French Farce

A spy comedy that's silly but never ridiculous.
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The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe is a '70s French spy comedy that never ventures into spoof or even too far into ridiculousness. It's not hilariously funny, nor so brilliant that it will replace anything on any of your top-ten lists. It is, however, a thoroughly enjoyable film with some hearty laughs and enough je ne sais quoi to keep you feeling happy the rest of the day. Like all good spy stories, the plot is as complicated as it is convoluted. France’s #2 man in counter-espionage, Bernard Milan (Bernard Blier), wants to discredit his chief, Louis Toulouse

Book Review: Secret Agent X-9: 1934-1936 by Dashiell Hammett & Alex Raymond

Sometimes a "Dream Team" is better left to the imagination.
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Everyone loves a dream team. Who can forget Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage joining forces to form the Mega-Powers or Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison coming together as the musical Voltron known as The Traveling Wilburys? Much like the magical combination of chocolate and peanut butter, a dream team represents a union of the good, the great, and the totally sweet, and not only lays to rest the question of “What If?” that lurks inside the hearts and minds of all fans, but also threatens to tear the very fabric of the

Doctor Who: The Daleks (2015) DVD Review: Purchase It Just for the Tom Baker Story

BBC Entertainment releases a recent Daleks Greatest Hits but the real gem is a 1975 classic hidden on Disc 2.
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The latest release from BBC Home Entertainment brings together a diverse collection of recent episodes to satisfy the true Doctor Who fans. The thing about compilation releases is that you are going to have to generally be familiar with the characters and history to enjoy the references and continuity issues. It's hard to review as a single story because Doctor Who stories exist in order and are not necessarily meant to be viewed singularly. Here's what you get with the purchase of Doctor Who: The Daleks. "Dalek" featuring the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) The reboot of the series was only

Sesame Street: Count on Elmo DVD Giveaway

There's one, one prize. Ah ah ah.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader Sesame Street: Count on Elmo on DVD, set for release on Jul 7. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: For more than 45 years, families across America have looked towards Sesame Street's beloved Muppets to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder by learning their ABCs, building their inner strength and developing their moral compass - along with a lasting love of learning. These important lessons continue in the latest Sesame Street DVD, as Elmo and friends teach children to

Director Bryan Singer Teases X-Men: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut

Go deeper into the X-Men universe than ever before.
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Press release: X-Men: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut will be available on Digital HD, Blu-ray, and DVD July 14th, but while you wait we're pleased to release this exciting 30-second first look of the film, first debuted by director Bryan Singer on his Instagram account this morning. With a never-before-seen, alternate cut of the film—plus nearly 90 minutes of all-new, immersive special features, the X-Men: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut takes you deeper into the X-Men universe than ever before. Rogue (Anna Paquin) makes her return as the all-star characters from the original X-Men film trilogy

The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982 Blu-ray Review: Long Live Rock

If this was the only concert of the band on record, there'd be no doubt why they are rock 'n' roll legends.
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Reading up on The Who, it appears what was intended to be a tour in support of It's Hard became a farewell tour because of Pete Townshend's personal issues and the friction they contributed to between he and his bandmates Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle. Although they have reunited many times since, and Daltrey and Townshend, the last living original members, are currently touring in celebration of the band's 50th anniversary, it's fantastic to see this document of The Who still at the peak of their abilities. Taken from their October 13, 1982 performance, the second of a two-night stand

Spider Baby Blu-ray / DVD Review: An Extremely Offbeat but Amazing Movie

This really is the most maddening story every told, but in a good way.
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In this 1960s, the independent film boom was well under way of becoming the next big thing in cinema. The indie films of the '60s, included 'nudie cuties', drive-in flicks, rebel-youth outings, and most importantly, horror movies. These horror movies were a mixture of blood, gore, cheesy but method acting, and dated production values. However, for better or worse, they changed the way that underground films would be made since then. In this case, director Jack Hill's 1963 cult masterpiece, Spider Baby, remains one of the best of the bunch. Yes, it's not as serious as George Romero's 1968 revolutionary

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