September 2015 Archives

Manos: The Hands of Fate Blu-ray Review: As Close to Perfect as It Will Ever Be

The infamous, long-standing contender of The Worst Movie Ever Made is ready to recruit new followers in this eagerly awaited release from Synapse Films.
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The manufacturing of a cult film is not something someone may intentionally set out to do. Sure, you can wrangle a few college kids together, get the coeds to show their boobs, and shoot a shot-on-video z-grade shitfest under the delusion you are making the next greatest midnight movie ever, but you will be sorely mistaken. Much like a great work or (real) art, making a cult movie requires more than an idea and a chisel. So much more. A deranged, rushed form of feverish perseverance. A complete lack of technical know-how that is superseded by sheer determination. But most

People, Places, Things DVD Review: This Generation's Annie Hall with Refreshing Modernity

Films like this deserve to be watched and talked about for years to come.
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When Annie Hall was released in 1977, it was a gamechanger in depicting complicated adult relationships. It was smart, witty, and intelligently modern. Thiry-eight years later, director Jim Strouse's charming and brilliant People Places Things takes it a step further while giving a fresh and funny look at flawed people just trying to find love in their own ways, no matter how awkward their journeys become. Jemaine Clement (We Live in the Shadows) gives a marvelous performance as Will, a New York graphic artist and intellect, who finds his world turned upside down after he finds the mother of his

Cop Car Blu-ray Review: All Thriller, No Filler

A tight, lean little flick that entertains then leaves just as quick.
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Two boys walk through a giant expanse of space in New Mexico. They engage in call-and-response cursing. The first boy, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson), calls out a bad word and the second, Harrison (Hays Wellford), repeats it. They come upon a barbed-wire fence. Travis pulls apart the wires and quickly moves through it with ease. Harrison approaches slowly, gingerly prying the throned wires and tentatively slipping through. In these few moments, director Jon Watts gives us a clear idea who these boys are - Travis is the leader while Harrison follows unsure of their plan. The boys have run away for

Kirby Grant and Chinook Adventure Triple Feature, Volume 3 (1949-1953) DVD Review: Chinook of the North?

The Warner Archive Collection takes off to the Great White North (eh!) for another trio of Northern adventures of RCMP Corporal Rod Webb.
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Latch your pistol to a lanyard and put your best boot forward, boys and girls, because Corporal Rod Webb is back for more adventure in the Great White North. Well, most of the time, it's Rod Webb. At first, he's named Bob McDonald, but that doesn't change the fact that he is still portrayed by Kirby Grant and is accompanied in his dangerous missions by the one and only Chinook, the Wonder Dog. As to why Grant's character was randomly changed like that is anyone's guess. But then, these were films made by the now legendary Poverty Row studio, Monogram

The Flash (2014): The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Check This Series Out as Fast as You Can

An exciting superhero series worth watching.
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When I first watched The Flash "Pilot" at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, I thought that "while there’s no denying it's a CW show and at times it comes across like Central City 90210 with its many good-looking actors and melodramatic moments, there’s a lot to like about the series." After going through the Complete First Season on Blu-ray, my assessment remains the same. Spun off from Arrow, the series presents the adventures of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), an assistant forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department, where his adoptive father, Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), works. Joe

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a bunch of dudes in costumes, a pregnant virgin, ghosts rebooted, killers, addicts and plenty more.
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Tuesday morning of last week, I woke up feeling fine. I turned off the alarm, got out of bed, got dressed and went to work. It was a perfectly average morning. Came home for lunch, drove out to a job site to finish cleaning it up. Worked about an hour and left the boys to finish. On my way back to the office, I started feeling a little off - slightly nauseated, kind of achy, and really tired. I decided to stop off at home for a minute to use the restroom, have a big glass of water, and rest

The Invisible Monster (1950) Blu-ray Review: What Are They, Nuts?

The very first Saturday matinee cliffhanger serial hits Blu-ray, and it's THIS? I'll take it!
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Having been raised by my grandparents - proud members of the Greatest Generation - I was privileged in a way my peers were not: I learned to know of and love a variety of films (as well as television shows and radio programs) that had become nothing more than footnotes in the entertainment history books before I was even born. Fortunately for me, I was growing up within the great boom of the analog video era - when thousands of motion picture titles were finding their way to videocassette for the older generations to rediscover, hopefully gaining a new audience

getTV Launches Variety Night with The Judy Garland Show and Merv Griffin Oct. 12

Network also announces slate of classic variety episodes And specials.
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Press release: Expanding on its commitment to add classic TV to its vintage movie lineup, Sony Pictures Television Networks’ getTV has announced a weekly night of variety and talk programming from TV's Golden Age, to air weekly on Mondays beginning October 12th. The lineup will be headlined by The Judy Garland Show at 8PM (ET) and The Merv Griffin Show at 10PM (ET), with a rotating slate of musical variety specials and series episodes airing between the shows at 9PM (ET). Each week's programming will be repeated that same night, from 11PM to 2AM (ET). In 1963, The Judy Garland

Jane the Virgin: The Complete First Season DVD Review: A Show that Delights in the Ludicrous

A clever, satirical telenovela that will make you laugh, cry, and break your neck it moves so fast.
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Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) is a 24-year-old Latina who works hard, studies hard, and takes her religion very seriously. She is the virgin of the title because of her Catholicism and the fact that her grandmother (Ivonne Coll) scared the bejesus out of her as a young girl by using a flower to illustrate the delicate value of her budding sexuality. During a routine OB/GYN visit, Jane is accidentally inseminated by Dr. Luisa Alver (Yara Martinez) with Rafael Solano’s (Justin Baldoni) seed, which was supposed to impregnate his wife Petra (Yael Grobglas.) Rafael also happens to own the hotel where

Book Review: Turner Classic Movies Presents Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide (Third Edition)

Maltin makes film buffs happy once again with a new, complete guide of classic movies from the Silent Era through 1965.
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Although some books on cinema should be taken with a few grains of salt, not just because of some ways that movies are described, but also the movies that were chosen as well. As with the late great Roger Ebert, whose books on cinema are still the standard for anyone who wants to study movies and loves them, beloved film critic Leonard Maltin has also written his fair share of successful and sometimes infuriating books on film culture. Fortunately for us, his newest book on classic movies should enlighten and infuriate once again, which is great because it allows for

Eaten Alive Blu-ray Combo Review: A Strangely Entertaining Cult Film Worthy of Rediscovery

Another bizarre, sweaty, and dread-filled tale of Southern madness, courtesy of Tobe Hooper.
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Horror films are like the misunderstood stepchildren of cinema, and when you talk about them, one of the best examples that always seem to come into conversation is Tobe Hooper's 1974 nightmarish masterpiece, The Texas ChainSaw Massacre, which remains one of the greatest and most traumatizing movies of all-time. However, as for his 1977 underrated follow-up, Eaten Alive (aka Starlight Slaughter and Death Trap), that movie continues to get lost in the underground shuffle; mainly since it's so bizarre, campy, and not for all tastes. This is unfortunate, because it is a strangely entertaining cult film that deserves to be

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Friendship Games DVD Review: Ponies No More

The third full-length movie starring alternate universe human versions of My Little Pony characters.
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You know how kids are good for exposing you to stuff you otherwise never would have touched? This film is a prime example. Hasbro’s burgeoning My Little Pony empire has expanded its screen presence from its long-running TV series to this third film which is set in an alternate universe populated with human-like characters, not horses. Sure, it’s still a blatant marketing ploy to allow the pony franchise to compete with the older-skewing Bratz/Monster High/Ever After High doll lines, but it’s also wildly entertaining for both kids and their reluctant parents. When last we left the Girls, temporary arrival Twilight

Fathom Events and TCM Present Psycho on the Big Screen

I won't be able to shower again for weeks.
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The famous shower scene took seven days to film (of an 11-week shoot,) contained at least 70 camera setups with as many different cuts and only lasts three minutes. Three of the most original, terrifying, and famous minutes in all of film history that is. Psycho is an iconic film. It is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous and well loved films. It's also a terrific little thriller. Interestingly, Paramount, who had a contract with Hitchock for one more film, did not want anything to do with the film and refused to give him his regular budget. Hitchcock then independently

getTV Expands Saturday Showdown Line-up with The Tall Man, Whispering Smith & Laredo on Oct. 3

"These three new additions are the perfect complement to our growing lineup of rare Western television series," said Jeff Meier, SVP of Programming at getTV.
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Press release: getTV expands its all-new “Saturday Showdown” weekend block of classic Western television series, introducing three more lost favorites to the lineup starting at High Noon on Saturday, October 3. The new additions, which were licensed from NBCUniversal, include Barry Sullivan and Clu Gulager in THE TALL MAN, airing each week at 12 p.m. ET, followed by Audie Murphy in WHISPERING SMITH at 12:40 p.m. ET; and Neville Brand, Peter Brown, William Smith, and Philip Carey in back-to-back episodes of LAREDO at 2 p.m. ET and 3:15 p.m. ET. The “Saturday Showdown” block, which originally premiered on Sept. 12,

The Hee Haw Collection DVD Review: Stockholm Syndrome in the Cornfields

This five episode collection of the corniest TV show in history makes the show's long life understandable... a little.
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The first hour of watching The Hee Haw Collection might have been the longest hour of anything I've seen. The leaden jokes, hideous animations, Buck Owen's fake hair, Grandpa Jones frailing the banjo while it was being played Scruggs-style on the playback. Every few minutes there might be a music performance that would lift me back up just to kick me in the teeth with more... humor. By the end of the second episode, something had shifted, slightly. It may have helped that the second episode here was from the third season - these Time Life Presents collections apparently randomly

Arrow: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review: An Exciting Ride for Starling City's Most Famous Archer

Oliver Queen makes some tough choices in the excellent third season of Arrow.
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The third season of the CW’s hit series, Arrow, found the title character (Stephen Amell), adding to his team of heroes to defend Starling City. Old relationships were rekindled and characters thought to be dead turned out to be very much alive. In addition, the show spawned a spinoff in The Flash. Season three begins with “The Calm,” and finds Arrow in a much better position with the Starling City police after defeating Deathstroke (Manu Bennett). Police Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne) has called off the anti-vigilante squad that had previously not taken too well to Arrow and the costumed types.

Empire: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Birth of a Dynasty

The series marks the triumphant return of the nighttime soap opera to network TV.
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The pilot episode of this series is a huge mess. Stuffed with a random assortment of seemingly unrelated scenes, frequent poorly executed time jumps, and enough laughable dialogue to qualify it as a comedy, it’s amazing that the show ever got picked up for full series. Thankfully, it did, and quickly became “TV’s biggest smash of the past decade” according to the cover art of this new Blu-ray set. The story of music industry titan Lucious Lyon and his highly dysfunctional family makes for great soap opera moments that should ensure the show’s continued success for a few years to

Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection DVD Review: The Quality of These Specials Is Mixed

Recommended for those who need to add at least half the contents to one's library.
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In anticipation of the upcoming The Peanuts Movie and tying in with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' recent ceremony, Warner Brothers has gathered together 11 previously released specials into the new Peanuts Emmy Honored Collection. While it doesn’t contain all the Peanuts specials recognized by the Emmys, the two-disc set presents two winners, Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown (Outstanding Animated Program) and You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown (Outstanding Children’s Special), and nine others that were nominated. Like any collection of nuts, there are some that are better than others. You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown (1979) sees

Gentleman's Fate / The Phantom of Paris DVD Reviews: John Gilbert, Cinema's Forgotten Heartthrob

The Warner Archive Collection unburies several talkies from one of the Golden Age of Hollywood's many fallen stars.
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It is a sad inevitability that every era - each generation that passes - will feature a high point doomed to be forgotten come the next wave. As we move further away from the foundations of cinema, plastering over the multi-acre art deco sets of the past with small green screens in the process, more of our motion picture past is being swept under the rug. And it is here, now, as members of the Millennial generation struggle to figure out who Stan and Ollie are, that we should look back perhaps even further; to those artists that even the

Twilight Time Presents: Five Features from the Escalator of Life

"The Best Country Places in the Fabulous World," or "The Month Henry Baker Hearts Everything."
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As if they were taking a cue from the late '80s new wave musician Robert Hazard himself, Twilight Time has lassoed up another wave of feature films from yesteryear that presents civilized human beings at various stages upon what he called the "Escalator of Life." From that awkward moment in our barely-pubescent years when we first begin to obsess over people we perceive ourselves to be in love with, to that moment in adulthood when we realize things just aren't the same as they used to be. You know, like a "Change Reaction." (Yes, that was a Robert Hazard song,

The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes DVD Review: This Is Good Stuff!

Though not actually "lost," this set is well worth finding.
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It’s always interesting when the term “Lost Episodes” is used to describe a new DVD release. Is that really what happened? Was there actually a conversation where someone said: “Hey, have ya seen the first five seasons of The Carol Burnett Show?" “I thought you had them”. “Did you check your pockets?” It’s not like we’re talking about car keys. We’re talking about the first five seasons of what is arguably the best variety show of all time. That’s 134 episodes. That’s a lot to misplace. In this case, it appears it was more of a legal access issue, which

Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear the Walking Dead: 'Not Fade Away'

The dead have disappeared.
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In which Shawn and Kim are grateful there are only two episodes left. Shawn: Well, I got what I asked for. I've wanted to see more of the daily life as the government cracks down and people are still completely unaware of what is happening. We've progressed another week since the military first arrived at the end of the last episode and they've developed a small community inside their neighborhood "safe zone". It's not unlike what we've seen in The Walking Dead and I think it's an interesting phenomenon for humans to want to keep recreating a comfortable, idyllic neighborhood

Pitch Perfect 2 Blu-ray Review: Re-Introducing Hailee Steinfeld

Steinfeld shines, Banks makes a fine director, but the returning characters tread water due to Kay Cannon's subpar script.
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The Barden Bellas are in trouble. After winning the hearts of a cappella aficionados and casual fans everywhere, both within the movie and through its surprising box office success, the singing sensations of Barden University are now faced with the daunting proposition of how to continue their success. After a disastrous performance in front of the U.S. President, they promptly find themselves on the outs with their college and each other, knocking them right back to square one as they search for redemption. Enter teenager Hailee Steinfeld as new Bella recruit Emily, and seemingly the only member legitimately of college

Pitch Perfect 2 Is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some a capella pitches, a lesser Wes Anderson, two more Criterions, a couple of superheroes from the CW and Gumby.
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I grew up attending the Churches of Christ. One of the things that distinguishes us from the million other churches around is that we sing a cappella - that is to say without musical instruments. While I can’t sing particularly well myself, I think sitting through all those services helped give me a great appreciation of the human voice. Growing up, I can remember various vocal groups coming to the church to perform for us. They’d usually do a set of Christian songs during the service and then afterwards they’d throw down with some secular pop numbers to keep us

Modern Family: The Complete Sixth Season DVD Giveaway

"The honeymoon is over, but the laughs continue."
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment to award one lucky reader Modern Family: The Complete Sixth Season on DVD, available on September 22nd. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: The honeymoon is over, but the laughs continue in Season Six of Modern Family, winner of five consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series (but this year Veep took home the prize). As freshly hitched Cam and Mitch acclimate to the realities of wedded bliss, Phil and Claire find their marriage stressed by annoying neighbors, Thanksgiving dinner gone awry and Claire’s online snooping.

George Strait: The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium DVD Review

What makes this concert stand out is that you can feel how truly special it is for all involved.
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Growing up, I always dreaded when my mom would put on her country music. She warned me that when I got older I would change my tune, and she couldn't have been more right. One of her favorites for as long as I can remember has been George Strait. When he announced his farewell tour, I hoped to go but his continued popularity denied me tickets. At least I was able to get the next best thing with the DVD release of his tour finale. The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium features a star-studded line-up including Vince Gill,

Book Review: Sherlock Holmes - The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove

Two "thinking machines" face off in this excellent pastiche that pits Sherlock Holmes against a Victorian precursor to the computer.
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Early in the third season of Elementary, one of its episodes offered an intriguing premise: a sentient computer was suspected of killing its creator, and Holmes’ job was to perform a Turing test in order to ascertain whether said machine could really have the intelligence to intentionally kill a human. Of course, the answer was an unsurprising “no,” because the universe of a procedural just doesn’t have space for sentient machines. Nonetheless, the episode was possibly the most interesting one of the show, as it offered an intriguing and deeply relevant theme for Sherlock Holmes: that of man vs. machine.

Supernatural: The Complete Tenth Season DVD Review: After a Decade of Fighting Evil, the Winchesters Are Still Going Strong

Most fans will enjoy the season as it stays true to the characters and keeps the feel of the show exactly where it should be.
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It’s hard to believe that Supernatural has been on the air for ten years. Not many shows make it to the magical fifth season let alone double that number. But if you’ve been watching the show all this time, you know that it’s something special. It mixes in the dark and macabre with the right amount of humor, heart, and characterization that hasn’t been seen on TV since Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At the center of the story are two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester, who have grown up as hunters, a family profession

Happy Valley: Season One DVD Review: Terrific Crime Drama from Across the Atlantic

Who says there's nothing good on Netflix?
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If you listen closely to the screaming hoards, you’ll hear plenty of complaints about the lack of content on Netflix. The loudest are usually bemoaning the lack of the latest Transformers, superheroes, or other bright, shiny, and exploding blockbuster. Those people have a point as Netflix is rather terrible at keeping up with the highest-grossing new releases. They aren’t particular good at grabbing the lower-tiered new releases either. If you are the sort of person who wants to watch a movie the moment it is available on home video, then Netflix is not the streaming service your looking for. But

Book Review: Underground:The Subterranean Culture of DIY Punk Shows by Daniel Makagon

It covers the history, and future, of backyard and basement punk-rock shows.
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Pure punk rock, regardless of a band’s popularity or the decade in which they’ve performed, has pretty much been an underground form of music. Long associated with violence, destruction, and all-around malfeasance, young punk bands have always had a hard time getting gigs in normal, clean-cut venues. Daniel Makagon’s book, Underground: The Subterranean Culture of DIY Shows covers the scene in cities and towns of all sizes across the U.S., proving that punk is alive and well in places other than New York and Southern California. This informative, 192-page book is packed with interviews and histories of the DIY punk

The Who in Hyde Park 50th Anniversary Concert to Premiere in Select U.S. Cinemas on October 8

"It’s a good gig. You draw from all over the country, but a London crowd is always a good crowd." - Pete Townshend
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Fans are likely disappointed by today's news that all remaining dates of “THE WHO HITS 50!” North American tour have been postponed due to singer Roger Daltrey being diagnosed with viral Meningitis. But there's still an opportunity to celebrate the band next month. Press release: On Thursday, October 8, 2015, Fathom Events and Arts Alliance will showcase one of rock’s most legendary and influential bands of all time with “The Who in Hyde Park” in cinemas nationwide at 7:30 p.m. local time. Recently recorded on June 26, 2015, the cinema event features The Who as they celebrate their 50th anniversary

Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear the Walking Dead: 'The Dog'

The third episode moves the needle a bit.
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In which Kim and Shawn search for something positive to say about Fear the Walking Dead. Kim: Maddie! Travis! Liza! Alicia! Nick! Chris! I have all of the main family’s names memorized halfway through this short series. This is nothing short of a miracle, especially for characters I have zero regard for at this point. But wait! There’s the barber shop family! I don’t remember the patriarch’s name. The chicks are Ofelia and Griselda or something similar. Hey, I’m close and that’s all I need to be. Having not had much of anything to say about the first two episodes,

Doctor Who: Dark Water / Death in Heaven in 3D Review

Watching Doctor Who on the big screen is always a treat.
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We’re kind of in love with Fathom Events here at Cinema Sentries. We constantly promote their shows, many of us have written reviews of them (I myself have written two, not including this one). At some point you have to wonder where we cross the line from critics into shills. Thing is they really do put on fantastic events. From advanced showing of upcoming films to putting the classics back on the big screen, plus opera, world class theatre and more special events than you can imagine - often packed with behind-the-scenes peeks, interviews and commentaries - Fathom is creating

Criterion Announces December 2015 Releases

A little something for everyone during the holidays
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Criterion ends the year with four titles. The three that are new to the collection are Takashi Murakami's Jellyfish Eyes, Ted Wilde's Speedy starring Harold Lloyd, and Howard Brookner’s 1983 documentary Burroughs: The Movie. Also available is a new digital restoration of Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer. Read on to learn more about them. Downhill Racer (#494) out Dec 1 Astonishing Alpine location photography and a young Robert Redford in one of his earliest starring roles are just two of the visual splendors of Downhill Racer, the visceral debut feature by Michael Ritchie. In a beautifully understated performance, Redford is David

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Eighth Season Blu-ray Review: Still Funny After All These Years (and Changes)

Eight seasons in, The Big Bang Theory keeps the laughs while allowing for character growth.
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The eighth season of the hit sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, included several changes to its main characters, all while staying true to the shows roots about a group of brainy, socially awkward scientists. It’s a testament to the show’s longevity that its creators have managed to continuously make changes, all while remaining wildly popular. Gone were Penny’s (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) job at the Cheesecake Factory as well as her long hair, the latter a source of much debate among online fans of the show, to be replaced by a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep and much shorter locks. Comic-book-store

Finding Neighbors DVD Review: A Rare, Charmingly Adult Take on Unlikely Relationships

It remarkably delves into human connection and understanding that is needed in cinema.
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In the midst of the overbaked summer blockbuster season, which means having to hear endlessly about big moneymakers such as The Avengers, it's very nice to settle down with complex character studies, films that focus on people and their limitless hangups. Unfortunately, most filmgoers steer clear from these types of films because of the lack of special effects and spectacle that makes most movies look way overdone. They do not want to relate to the characters; they just want to check their brains at the door. They miss out on the reality, emotion, and humanity/ Finding Neighbors (2013) successfully finds

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is the Pick of the Week

Sometimes true life makes for more compelling TV than fiction.
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There have been a lot of discussions of late about the injustices of our justice system. About how if you are rich and white, you can literally get away with murder, but if you are poor and of color, you will more than likely find yourself staring at the wrong end of the system no matter your guilt or innocence. Though not its primary intent The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst goes a long way in proving just how far rich white dudes can get away with. Durst is the eldest son of Seymour Durst, who formed

Love & Mercy Blu-ray Review: It's What You Need Tonight!

Excellent performances abound in this simultaneously bouncy and somber biopic.
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There's an uncategorized subgenre in the biopic world - geniuses struggling through mental illness. It's been well documented that the smartest people in the world were often marred, and aided, by their "madness." Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was one such genius desperate to recreate the symphony in his head and turning out an album considered one of the best ever made, Pet Sounds. Director Bill Pohlad presents that with Love & Mercy, the story of Wilson's return from the brink, particularly after the Beach Boys broke up. Not breaking any new ground narratively, Love & Mercy is a

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine Movie Review: Steve Jobs iSummarized

Director Alex Gibney's book report on Walter Isaacson's more impressive exploration of the Apple founder.
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Steve Jobs has always been a hot commodity, but no more so than right now when not one but two films are casting an eye on the tech genius. Danny Boyle's upcoming narrative on the Apple founder, starring Michael Fassbender, won't hit theaters till October, but in the meantime there's Alex Gibney's documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. Touted as showing the "real" Steve Jobs, Gibney's documentary is woefully underwhelming, particularly to anyone who's read Walter Isaacson's exhaustive, 656 page biography on the man. Having just finished that book not two days ago, 90% of Gibney's doc simply

Book Review: LOAC Essentials Vol. 7: Tarzan of the Apes

Highly recommend for fans of adventure stories and comic strips.
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Volume 7 in the Library of American Comics Essentials series focuses on the comic strip starring Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan. The Lord of the Jungle debuted in 1912 when Tarzan of the Apes appeared on the pages of All-Story Magazine. It was such a sensation Burroughs wrote numerous sequels, and allowed the story and character to appear in other medium. Tarzan of the Apes also became the title of a 1918 film and a 1921 Broadway production. Harry G. Franke III, editor of The Burroughs Bibliophiles, writes a very informative introductory essay explaining how advertising executive Joseph H. Neebe of

Van Morrison: Another Glorious Decade DVD Review: For Dedicated Fans Only

An informative, yet rather dull documentary about an transitive period in his career.
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In the summer of 1973 after a grueling tour and an emotionally devastating divorce, Van Morrison took a several-weeks vacation to Ireland. Living in America for the better part of the preceding decade, he’d not been to his homeland in about six years. Due to the Troubles, he was not even able to go to his actual home in Northern Ireland during the visit. It was during this emotionally distraught time that he wrote Veedon Fleece, his eighth studio album. Though it was an intensely personal album, it was critically panned at the time and sold quite poorly. Afterwards he

The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes DVD Giveaway

Better move faster than Tim Conway's Old Man or you may miss your chance to enter.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Time Life to award three lucky readers The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes 6-disc Collector's Edition set. For those wanting to learn more about the release, the official synopsis reads: The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes features original broadcast episodes from Seasons 1-5 (1967-1972), hand-picked by Carol herself. And across 16 magical episodes - true treasures from the vault, not seen since their original airing more than forty years ago - consumers will see the very first steps of a TV icon, the magic of Carol's cast coming together, and an incredible

The Hunger (1983) Blu-ray Review: The Longest Anti-Smoking PSA Ever

Bowie. Babes. Blood. Bauhaus. Carcinogens. That is all.
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For the most part, the world's most famous forms of monsters - epitomized by Universal's Classic Horror films as the Frankenstein Monster, The Wolf-Man, Dracula, and The Mummy - represent different stages of human development. We start out as awkward man-made creatures, only to transform into hairy beasts with a ravenous appetite as we mature. Soon comes the vampire stage - where our very innocence is lost in a (sometimes) bloody act of penetration, only to become a dreaded creature of the night (or, "experienced," if you will). Finally - and there is much ground left uncovered here - we
Press release: Fathom events and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) continue their TCM Presents series with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho on September 20 and 23. The event will include a special introduction by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. Phoenix office worker Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a

American Experience: Walt Disney Review: An Experience Not to Be Missed

American Experience reveals the darkness and the light behind the man who invented the mouse.
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I'm a Disney nut. There, I said it. Too often I'm asked "Why do you love a company known for its phony aesthetic values?" or "You're 27. How can you still love Disney?" I never come up with the proper answers to these questions outside of "Disney makes me happy." PBS' latest installment of their American Experience series lifts the veil off the man who extrapolated (and, in some cases, commidified) childhood happiness with their examination of Walt Disney. The American Experience: Walt Disney humanizes a man often canonized as the patron saint of exuberance, portraying him as a devoted

Gotham: The Complete First Season is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some not-quite superhero origins, a lady who doesn't age, a thriller that's more than a pair of legs. and a TV show trying to be relevant again.
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Steven Spielberg recently predicted that the superhero movie (and presumably the superhero TV show) will eventually go the way of the Western, by which he means it will almost completely disappear. He is, of course, completely correct as we will inevitably get tired of dudes in costumes saving the world, but judging by their popularity (and massive box-office receipts) I think that day is a long, long ways in the future. We are completely, utterly over-saturated in superheroes. From the Avengers (and all of their solo films) to X-Men, Batman and about 15 different versions of Spider-Man you can hardly

Trumbo Book Giveaway

"A fascinating look at a tumultuous time in recent American history."
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Grand Central Publishing to award one lucky reader the trade paperback edition of the 1977 biography TRUMBO by Bruce Cook (on-sale: September 8, 2015; ISBN: 9781455564972; $15.99), in coordination with the Nov 6 release of the film of the same name starring Bryan Cranston. For those wanting to learn more: Dalton Trumbo was the central figure in the "Hollywood Ten," the blacklisted and jailed screenwriters. One of several hundred film-industry professionals who were deprived of the opportunity to work in the motion picture industry from 1947 to 1960, he was the first to see

Two Days, One Night Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Devastatingly Beautiful

Marion Cotillard gives an intense, subtle performance in this moving drama.
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In the industrial town of Seraing, Belgium, Sandra (Marion Cotillard) has been on sick leave from her manufacturing job after a nervous breakdown. In her absence, her coworkers realize they can cover her shift by collectively working slightly longer hours. Just as Sandra is ready to return to work, she finds out that the bosses have given her coworkers a choice - they can either return to their normal shifts and have Sandra come back to work, or they can continue working the longer shifts and receive a €1,000 bonus. By accepting the bonus, Sandra will no longer be employed.

Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 Blu-ray Review: The Band Keeps A-Rollin'

You won't want to miss a thing once Aerosmith hits the stage.
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The Blu-ray for Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 takes the viewer straight into the main feature rather than offering the menu. This is quite apropos because once this June 15 headlining performance from the Download Festival begins with a raucous cover of "Train Kept A-Rollin'" the band keeps a rollin', reeling off 20 songs comprised of classic-rock staples, crossover pop hits, and a few deep cuts from across their impressive 40-plus career. Watching this performance, it's easy to forget the band members (vocals Steven Tyler, lead guitarist Joe Perry, drummer Joey Kramer, bassist Tom Hamilton, and rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford) are

Gotham (2014): The Complete First Season DVD Review: Jim Gordon Steps Up to Bat

Warner Bros. and DC Comics' preboot series is good bloody fun - even if it does feature Jada Pinkett Smith.
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Being a more "reserved" nerd - one who does not attend conventions, camp out in line for things, spend time playing games, watch animated shows, or read comics - I generally do not obsess too terribly much over adaptations of famous graphic novel characters. Generally. Especially in today's filmic world of oversaturated, overhyped overhauls - which have sucked all the life out of once-sacred heroes of printed pages for the sake of other printed pieces of paper. Marvel's movie-making machine has managed to produce seventeen-gajillion motion pictures this year alone, including reboots that officials are already set to reboot once

Stray Cat Rock Blu-ray/DVD Review: Bento Box of '70s Delights

Box set compiles five groovy '70s Japanese films.
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Starting in 1970, Japan’s Nikkatsu studio produced the five films presented here, labelling them all under the Stray Cat Rock umbrella even though they aren’t really related. Although they have different characters and mostly different actors, their one common thread is their examination of Japan’s counterculture of the time. Characters are young, brash, and cool, existing in an underground of dance clubs, biker gangs, and vice, with nary a salaryman or authority figure in sight. The films are all about shaking up the status quo, but they also never venture too far out into leftfield like the works of earlier

Beyond Fest Announces 2015 Programming

Presented by Shudder, Beyond Fest returns to Hollywood's famed Egyptian Theatre for 11 days of movies, music and mayhem in October.
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Press release: Beyond Fest, the highest attended genre film festival in the US, is excited to announce its full slate of 2015 programming featuring 25 events of mind-bending, movie madness. Presented by Shudder, Beyond Fest returns to Hollywood's famed Egyptian Theatre for 11 days of movies, music and mayhem spanning Thursday, October 1st - Monday, October 12th to generate funds for co-presenter, the nonprofit American Cinematheque. With a diverse slate that includes films from all corners of the globe Beyond Fest is proud to present 18 West Coast premieres including Brian Hegeland's masterful LEGEND as opening night film and Hsiao-hsien

TCM Announces Trailblazing Women Initiative Celebrating Women's Contribution To The Film Industry

Month-long programming event hosted by Illeana Douglas begins Oct. 1 and airs every Tuesday & Thursday in October.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) announced Trailblazing Women, a multi-year initiative created to raise awareness about the historical contributions of women working behind the camera. The programming event, hosted by actress, producer and director Illeana Douglas, premieres October 1 and airs every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the entire month, and will shine a spotlight on cinema's greatest female filmmakers and women who challenged gender stereotypes while carving out successful careers in an industry where men hold the bulk of the power. The Trailblazing Women initiative marks a multi-year partnership between TCM and Women In Film (WIF), Los Angeles that

Showdown in Little Tokyo Blu-ray Review: The Ultimate Guilty Pleasure of the 90s

"We're so far outside on this one, it's not even funny." Oh, but it is, Dolph. It is.
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In Hollywood, all it takes is one strike before you're tossed out of the game. And it usually doesn't actually have to be your own fault. Just ask Mark L. Lester, the man who brought us several '80s classics including the cult classic Firestarter, the guilty pleasure Armed and Dangerous, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger's guilty pleasure of a cult classic, Commando. The latter film almost seemed to pave the way for Lester's next foray into the world of outrageous violent action films filled to the brim with snappy lines most fifth graders cringe with disbelief: the almost legendary 1991 motion

The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season & The Originals: The Complete Second Season Giveaway

Enter to invite a vampire to your home.
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Cinema Sentries and the TetherGroup have teamed up to offer one lucky reader either The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season or The Originals: The Complete Second Season (Both the title and the format (Blu-ray or DVD will be chosen at random). Both seasons are currently available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD. To learn about each series, continue on: The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season continues with more delicious drama to sink your teeth into. In season five, after a passionate summer with Damon, Elena headed to Whitmore College with Caroline, not knowing Bonnie sacrificed her life for

Cemetery Without Crosses Blu-ray Review: Franco-Spanish Spaghetti Western

Robert Hossein's Euro-Western is long on style and brooding, short on story and character.
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Filmed in Spain, with a mostly French cast directed by (and starring) the French Robert Hossein and with a screenplay co-credited to the Italian Dario Argento, Cemetery Without Crosses is, of course, a Western set in Texas. It’s interesting to consider how the Western, which had captured the imagination of the world enough that a cottage industry of European Westerns existed for decades, has now almost completely disappeared. Genres come and go (the screwball comedy has never been really successfully revived, and whenever a modern musical comes around to “revive the genre” is does so by not looking, or feeling

Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear the Walking Dead: 'So Close, Yet So Far'

"Is this a parallel universe where no one has ever seen a zombie movie, except for that one kid?"
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In which Shawn and Kim (and some fictional characters) offer advice to the gang from Fear the Walking Dead. Shawn: I intercepted some correspondence from The Walking Dead characters. I've quoted just some of the pertinent parts. 1. Carl writes - "Hey, Matt. Get your crap together. I was shot and whined less than you. And Chris, put away the camera and get some knives. I almost bit it like four times by messing around. Everyone get their shit together before your dad goes crazy and starts killing other dads." 2. Shane writes - "Travis, go ahead and sleep with

Mad Max: Fury Road is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us more Mad Max, Robin Williams final film, a war film, a dumb comedy and the creepy world of H.R. Giger.
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My parents were early adapters to the home-video market. They were given a Betamax sometime in the early '80s, but for reasons that were never quite clear to me, they switched to the VHS format fairly quickly thereafter. In the early days, there weren’t very many places around in which to rent videos. I recall only two places in our area. I remember very clearly that our favorite one, Silver Screens, on the outskirts of town, displayed the movies they had on shelves with little hooks holding these little tags on them. Each movie had two hooks under it, one

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