November 2015 Archives

Dope Blu-ray Combo Review: Geeks, Drugs, and Bitcoins

An entertaining movie with serious themes that doesn't take itself too seriously.
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Malcolm and his friends Jib and Diggy are self-proclaimed geeks who live in a suburb of Los Angeles. Bullied at school for his shoes and chased by drug dealers for his bike, Malcolm gets good grades, has near perfect SAT scores, and hopes to be accepted to Harvard. He and his friends like '90s hip-hop but play uplifting songs in their punk band Oreo. They tease each other, they talk about sex, and they swear a lot. Then one day Malcolm gets called over to chat with a local drug dealer, meets the girl of his dreams, and before he

Southpaw Blu-ray Review: Feels Like Being Punched in the Face

A nonsensical boxing movie that had the audience throwing in the towel long before it was over.
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With the film opening to a realistic depiction of the intensity in the locker room as a fighter prepares for battle, we are led to believe that we are about to witness a gritty and insightful view into the world of pugilism. Though the violence in Southpaw certainly is gritty, the script is so full of plot holes that it would be laughable if it didn’t drag on to the point of feeling like we’re being punched in the face. Jake Gyllenhaal follows up last year's underappreciated Nighcrawler with the underwhelming riches to rags to redemption Southpaw in which he

The Funhouse Massacre Movie Review: They Bled, I Laughed

Another fine entry into the horror-comedy genre.
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Sometimes you root for the protagonists in a horror movie, sometimes you root for the killer(s). However, it's rare to want more screen time on both sides of that equation, and that's exactly what The Funhouse Massacre did for me. The premise sounds familiar and even a little cheesy, with mass murderers escaping an asylum and killing people in a nearby haunted funhouse, but the team manage to make it feel fresh and even inspired in its presentation and theatrics. This particular funhouse contains areas themed after each of the killers' exploits that got them locked up in the first

Fred Claus Review: A Simple Movie the Entire Family Can Enjoy

If you're a fan of Christmas movies, you'll definitely enjoy it.
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Growing up in the shadow a seemingly perfect sibling can be tough. Constant comparisons from parents will generally lead to feelings of resentment and anger. It’s hard when parents seem to find fault in everything you do and treat your brother as though he was a saint. Imagine how hard it would be if your brother actually was a saint: St. Nick. This is the premise behind Fred Claus, which reunites director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) with Vince Vaughn, who stars as the title character. The basic gist of the film is fairly predictable, but as the saying goes, it

ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas Programming Event Starts Tuesday, December 1

Cable's biggest programming event of the year will include the network premiere of newly remastered versions of classic Jim Henson Christmas specials "The Bells of Fraggle Rock" and "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas".
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Press release: ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas,” cable’s biggest programming event of the year, returns with 25 continuous days of holiday-themed entertainment for the whole family. From December 1 - 25, viewers can ring in the holidays with holiday specials, classic holiday movies, and returning favorites. This year, “25 Days of Christmas” will feature classic Jim Henson Christmas specials The Bells of Fraggle Rock and Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, which have been remastered and are returning to television after several years. Additionally, December 13 features a marathon of Disney∙Pixar’s Toy Story films. Also, the network will air Beyond the

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

What's on your wish list?
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Before heading out to brave the sales-hunting crowds or shopping from the comfort of the Internet, some of us thought we'd offer recommendations for our loved ones--er, that is, to our readers on items that would exciting gifts. Greg Barbrick Trumbo (2015) will definitely be in my top ten this year, and watching it reminded me of the neglected classic Spartacus (1962). Although I do own a double VHS edition of it, the new Blu-ray is what I hope to see under the tree this year. The film was director Stanley Kubrick's first big-budget feature, following his critically acclaimed Paths

James White Movie Review: Formally Oppressive, Thematically Thin

There are moments when Josh Mond's directorial debut is bracing and direct, but it trades heavily in cliches about self-destructive behavior.
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For the first 20 minutes or so, James White is an oppressive experience. In its first quarter, nearly every shot of Josh Mond’s feature directorial debut is a close-up or closer, with just a couple medium shots sprinkled in here and there, and in most of them, it’s Christopher Abbott’s bleary visage that dominates the frame. Abbott stars as the titular James, a guy whose shitty run of luck is matched only by his self-destructive impulses. His estranged dad has just died, and when he’s not forcibly ejecting guests out of his mother’s (Cynthia Nixon) Upper West Side apartment during

Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Glimpses into the Heart of the Artist

Come gather 'round people and watch one of the greatest documentaries ever made.
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By the time Bob Dylan toured England in the Spring of 1965, he’d released five albums (two of which went platinum), scored a couple of number one hits, been covered by such luminaries as Joan Baez and The Byrds, written some of the greatest songs in popular music, and became the voice of a generation. Critics loved him, fans mobbed him, and journalists followed him about, asking him an endless supply of inane questions. Though he started out writing protest songs and was heavily involved in causes such as the anti-war movement and the civil rights movement, by this point

2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominations Announced

Winners will be announced at the Spirit Awards on Saturday, February 27, 2016.
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[Updated with the Winners marked in bold.] Press release: Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the LA Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA, announced nominations for the 2016 Spirit Awards this morning. Film Independent President Josh Welsh presided over the press conference held at W Hollywood, with actors John Boyega and Elizabeth Olsen presenting the nominations. Nominees for Best Feature included Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, Carol, Spotlight and Tangerine. (Links to reviews appear on film's first mention below.) 2016 FILM INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD NOMINATIONS BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer.

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Heads Up'

"It's been a season of Epic Fail." - Shawn
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In which great minds think alike and wonder about the general parenting skills of Rick. Shawn: With one episode until the mid-season break, I kind of figured this would be the calm before the storm. But the whole season has generally been a tease that way (and not the good-tease way). I will try to keep the observations short because I see a long write-up for us next week. 1.) Glenn. It was pretty much as we all surmised. And I will stick by my statement from a few weeks ago that it was a pretty logically thin and lame

Criterion's Ikiru is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a couple of classics from Criterion, some not-so-classics from Arrow, some disturbing looking stop-motion shorts, Doctor Who at Christmas, and much more.
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Not long ago my aunt was diagnosed with cancer. They initially thought it was in her lungs, which made for a very grim prognosis. For days friends and family gathered in various small groups and talked, and cried. I hugged my aunt and told her I loved her. She began making preparations for her eventual death. She gave me a ring that her father had made for her and told me to give it to my daughter when she got older. It was all so very sad. The one sliver of hope was that all of her tests had not

Thanksgiving Week Programming for AMC and El Rey Network

Do you know the Way of the Turkey?
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To help plan your holiday viewing this week, AMC offers a variety of well-known movies while the El Rey Network presents a heaping helping of Kung Fu flicks. AMC Celebrates: Home Alone 25th Anniversary - Monday, November 23 beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT, as well as Friday, November 27 and Saturday, November 28 beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET/PT, featuring back-to-back airings of Home Alone. AMC Celebrates: Jumanji 20th Anniversary - Tuesday, November 24 beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. "Gone with the Wednesday” Marathon - Wednesday, November 25 beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET/PT and featuring back-to-back airings of Gone with the

Creed Movie Review: Blood, Sweat, and Boxing

Creed ranks as one of the top films in the Rocky franchise while creating a beautiful new road to travel.
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I may not have seen all the Star Wars films, but I've watched all the films in the Rocky franchise. That counts for something, right? Having gone through the entire saga of small-time boxer turned superstar, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), the series ran its course after the 2006 "farewell," Rocky Balboa. Since then, the Rocky series has opened itself up to parody and critique - remember when Rocky singlehandedly ended the Cold War? Personally, I always found the story of Rocky's long-standing opponent, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) to have the more interesting plot. Creed was a superstar boxer unable to

Black Stone Cherry: Thank You: Livin' Live, Birmingham, UK Review: An Enjoyable Performance in Spite of the Low Vocals

The concert was fun to watch but there were some issues listening to it.
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Recorded October 30, 2014 on their Magic Mountain tour, the four-man band from Kentucky brought their brand of hard southern rock to England. The concert featured 20 songs picked from each of their four studio albums. The show was high energy, featuring a straight-forward performance with a minimal amount of visual effects and stage decoration. There’s a giant drop cloth behind the band with mountain scenery sketched on it. The only other extras on the stage are two short tables that the guitarists used to stand on giving them a little more elevation for the audience to be able to

Please Believe Me (1950) DVD Review: A Romantic Comedy from Val Lewton?

The famous horror visionary's penultimate film ‒ which stars Deborah Kerr, Robert Walker, Mark Stevens, and Peter Lawford ‒ finally hits home video thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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Sooner or later in life, everyone encounters a seemingly inescapable element of disappointment. And I should know, as it happens to me every damn day, usually around the time I wake up. Ultimately however, there is always a bit of good to come out of every let down ‒ depending on one's perception, of course. For me, it's the satisfaction of knowing I'll be able to return to bed at the end of the day. For Deborah Kerr in the 1950 MGM rom-com Please Believe Me, it's the prospect of true love following a seemingly life-changing inheritance. After an aging
Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd had quite the homecoming this year. More than 50 years after Jacksonville teenagers Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, and Ronnie Van Zant formed their first band, My Backyard, Rossington brought the current incarnation of Lynyrd Skynyrd to Jacksonville’s Florida Theater. Over the course of two nights in April, they performed the band’s debut album and follow-up, (pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) and Second Helping, in their entirety for the first time. Although Rossington is the sole member to have played on those albums, the 2015 line-up does the music and former members proud with their faithful recreations. Playing both

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Bastard Executioner

In which the bastardness of the executioner is debated and characters questioned.
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The following entries were written simultaneously by Shawn and Kim as a summary of the one and only season of The Bastard Executioner. Any repeated observations are strictly because their twisted minds think alike. Kim: I’m pretty sad that Kurt Sutter pulled the plug on The Bastard Executioner just as I felt it was starting to really get going. I get it though. It was plagued by a pretty complex storyline that really couldn’t be done in an hour(ish) a week, plus, a shitty time slot. I know I had to DVR on Tuesdays and would get around to watching

Twilight Time Presents: Hard Pills to Swallow and Hard Acts to Follow

From tales of vengeance to yarns of violence, this quintet of feature films shows some great men who are truly down on their luck.
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At some point or another in life, we've experienced something that can be best summed up as being that of a hard pill to swallow. Likewise, we have seen at least one thing within our own lifespans that we can safely label as being a hard act to follow. Well, for their September 2015 line-up of Blu-ray exclusives, Twilight Time has somehow managed to wrangle up films that fall under both of those two categories, be it one or the other separately, or ‒ in the rare instance ‒ both. Here, we bear witness to both life and death (but

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Always Accountable'

"This show is quickly losing me." - Kim
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In which Shawn and Kim try to figure out who is accountable for the mess over the past few weeks. Shawn: Always accountable? Someone's got to answer to this week's episode. Here's my thoughts on what little happened. 1.) C'mon!!! That's what I seem to say every other week. Like an impatient kid on the way to Disneyland - I don't want to stop off to see the world's biggest amethyst. And I really know I don't need to know diabetes girl, cuffed-jeans guy, and his bad babysitter girlfriend. They are so throw away that the only name I remembered

getTV Airs Classic Christmas Variety Specials Beginning Nov. 23

getTV is beginning a new TV Christmas tradition.
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Press release: It’s beginning to look and sound a lot like Christmas on getTV, as the network presents a month of classic Yuletide specials hosted by some of Hollywood’s most legendary variety stars, every Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, from November 25 through December 23. As part of the festivities, getTV will also air a Christmas-themed Monday Night Variety Block packed with holiday episodes of THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW, THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW and THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW on November 23 at 8 p.m. ET; as well as a comprehensive 30-hour marathon featuring all of getTV’s holiday

Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour Live Blu-ray Review: Visually Impressive, Thematically Confusing

While the visual and the musical aspects of the concert were well done, there were a few things that were not so good.
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Capturing Katy Perry’s 2014/2015 concert tour recorded in Sydney, Australia last December, the show features seven different acts, nine costume changes, five hair changes, and a giant triangular stage that runs throughout the arena floor. Everything included is sixty tons of equipment requiring thirty trucks to transport. With everything needed to put on a show of this magnitude you would expect it to be an impressive performance, and visually it is. The giant triangle-shaped video screen behind the stage was crisp and clear as it projected various pictures and videos that went along with the different themes. During “Dark Horse”

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a big box of awesome Japanese animated films, some early silent films, a couple of Criterions, another Hobbit, and much more.
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I remember distinctly the first time I ever watched a Hayao Miyazaki film. I was still single, but heavily into the girl who would become my wife. I was a film buff who was interested in foreign films but who had not yet seen all that many, certainly not any foreign animation outside of a Robotech series or two. I’d started hearing really good things about Princess Mononoke, and the English language cast for it was pretty awesome (Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver, and Gillian Anderson to name a few) so I went out and rented

AFI Fest 2015 Review: Flying Down to Rio

You'll never think of airplanes the same way again.
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Notable for being the first on-screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, dancing the Carioca in one of their few scenes together, Flying Down to Rio stars Delores Del Rio and Gene Raymond in this pre-Code love story, which screened at AFI Fest 2015 as part of the festival’s Cinema Legacy program. Opening in a Miami, bandleader Roger Bond (Raymond) becomes smitten with the looks of hotel guest Belinha (Del Rio). There’s a rule about fraternization that has been ignored, so Bond ends up losing the gig for the entire band. However, he quickly gets them booked in Rio

Criterion Announces February 2016 Releases

Presenting six classics from U.S. and world cinema.
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No matter what the groundhog does, Criterion is supposed to deliver six new titles in February. They are Jan Troell's The Emigrants / The New Land set, Nagisa Oshima's Death by Hanging, Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, Mike Nichols' The Graduate, and Antonio Pietrangeli's I Knew Her Well. Read on to learn more about them. The Emigrants / The New Land (#796 & 797) out Feb 9 This monumental mid-nineteenth-century epic from Jan Troell (Here Is Your Life) charts, over the course of two films, a poor Swedish farming family’s voyage to America and their efforts to put down roots in

Alien Next Door Book Review: The Softer Side of the Perfect Killing Machine

It's an express elevator to laughs.
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In a most unexpected crossover, Joey Spiotto combines murderous monsters with children's books in Alien Next Door: In Space, No One Can Hear You Clean. In the introduction, Spiotto describes how original alien-designer H.R. Giger saw some of Spiotto's work and reached out to collaborate on a collection of lighter-themed art, something that reached Giger's inner child -- something I became recently acquainted with -- but Giger's penchant for creating gothic, industrial, often phallic art wasn't well suited to making art for kids. Unfortunately, Giger passed before the collaboration could commence, but Spiotto moved forward with the project, and has

RiffTrax Live: Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny Brings the Laughs in Select U.S. Cinemas on December 3 and 15

"Santa’s sleigh is stuck on the beach, and only one creature can help him: The Ice Cream Bunny!"
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Press release: Don't miss the former stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike Nelson, Bill "Crow" Corbett and Kevin "Tom Servo" Murphy, as they aim their trademark funny commentary at the long-lost holiday film Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny! Thursday, December 3 live at 8pm ET/ 7pm CT, tape-delayed to 7pm MT/ 8pm PT/HI/AK, and Tuesday, December 15 at 7:30pm (local time). One of the strangest Christmas titles ever made, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny defies logic, reason and several laws of physics. In a warped nutshell: Santa’s sleigh is stuck on the beach, and only one creature

Twilight Time Presents: Five Selections of Summer

From Peter Gallagher's superfluous face and body hair to the bloody waters of a Samuel Fuller bathhouse, this quintet has it all.
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Once again, a seemingly brief period of time has passed by, leaving in its wake a stack of movies on my proverbial workbench that is almost as long as summer itself. So it's only fitting I start my analysis of this quintet off ‒ which was made available to the public during the summer ‒ examining the titles that blatantly exploit said season. Speaking of "exploit," the term "exploitation" certainly comes to mind for many whenever Randal Kleiser's 1982 flick Summer Lovers is brought up. That, and the occasional "had me a blast" joke when people realize Kleiser also directed

Trainwreck Blu-ray Review: Apatow Wrecks the Comedy

Schumer gets some laughs, but Apatow seems determined to be a drama director.
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Judd Apatow’s latest directorial effort has its problems, but first-time leading lady Amy Schumer isn’t one of them. Working from Schumer’s script, Apatow largely reins in the outspoken star, turning what should have been an outrageous raunchfest into a melancholy rumination on coming to turns with adulthood. The film’s somber tone continues the path of Apatow’s most recent feature film directorial efforts, This is 40 and Funny People, and even to some extent Knocked Up, reaching all the way back to 2007. In all of these cases and again in Trainwreck, the focus is on growing up and accepting adult

Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies Present Roman Holiday In Select U.S. Cinemas on November 29 and December 1

Roman Holiday won three Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Costume Design and Best Writing.
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Press release: Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) continue their TCM Presents series with William Wyler’s Roman Holiday on Sunday, November 29, 2015 and Tuesday, December 1, 2015 2:00 p.m. local time and 7:00 p.m. local time (both dates). The event will include a special introduction by TCM host Robert Osborne. Starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn and directed by William Wyler, Roman Holiday won three Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Costume Design and Best Writing. In this timeless classic, Hepburn is at her transcendent best as a sheltered princess who falls for an

Frank Zappa's Roxy: The Movie DVD Review: A Necessary Purchase for Any Zappa Fan

The Wait is Over: Frank Zappa and the Mothers legendary Roxy shows revisited.
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The concert film Roxy:The Movie starring Frank Zappa and the Mothers, filmed in 1973 during a three-night engagement at Sunset Strip’s 500-seat Roxy Theatre, captures Zappa at a pivotal point - post-hippiedom and pre-mainstream media attention for Valley Girl and the PMRC hearings. We’ve heard bits and pieces of these concerts before, in Roxy and Elsewhere and You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, but an entire concert film escaped release due to a technical glitch at the time of recording. Forty-two years later, Roxy: The Movie has been released by Eagle Rock Entertainment, after some intense film and audio

Batman: The Television Series: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: And Batgirl Makes Three

One of the best TV series to bring a comic book to life because of its writing, cinematography, and production design.
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Warner Brothers has completed the entire run of Batman on DVD with the recent release of The Complete Third Season. Although the series remains well known 50 years later, and still airs on Me-TV and IFC at the time of this writing, the second season must not have performed well in the ratings because the third season was cut from 60 episodes airing biweekly to 26 episodes airing once a week. The majority of the stories now took place in one episode. The most notable change was the addition of Batgirl / Commissioner Gordon's daughter, Barbara (Yvonne Craig). She appears

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Now'

"The Walking Dead returned with a little more excitement, and I do mean 'little'." - Kim
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In which "Now" just means "What?" Kim: After the excruciatingly long "Tale of Morgan" episode of last week, The Walking Dead returned with a little more excitement, and I do mean "little." I have to believe that all of the talky and feely and stuff is setting up for an epic mid-season finale - and yes, it’s already time to start talking about that because it’s coming up very quickly. This episode left me with far too many questions, and while I’m used to questions in this show, these are the kinds of questions that I don’t really want to

Before We Go Blu-ray Review: A Quaint Little Film

The relationship between the main characters ends up feeling so natural it overshadows the film's initial flaws.
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Nick (Chris Evans) is sitting on the floor of Grand Central Station thinking about something important in his life when suddenly Brooke (Alice Eve) rushes by, dropping her cell phone, shattering at his feet. Without a moment’s thought, he picks up the phone and sets off after the obviously distraught woman. As the station is closing for the night, he returns the phone only to find that not only has she missed the last train of the evening, but her purse with all of her money and identification has been stolen. Knowing Brooke has no way to take care of

Thoughtful & Abstract: Catching Up on the TV Season, Volume 2

Kim and Shawn take another walk down TV Street and look back at their March thoughts.
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In which Kim and Shawn riff again on some recent TV thingies... Kim: Back in March, we talked a bit about what we’d been watching on TV that season and I thought it would be interesting to have a look back at what we wrote and see how things have changed. As an aside, I hate change. I realize it’s a part of life and I do put on my big-girl panties and deal with it, but I don’t like it. I also don’t like the word "panties." Or wearing them. But those are different subjects. Let’s take a quick

Mr. Holmes is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us yet more adaptations of Conan Doyle's detective, a Kurt Cobain documentary, a french sci-fi flick, Terminators, con men and much more.
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By my count, there have been over 800 kajillion filmic adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. Within the last few years we’ve had two films from Guy Richie, a BBC series, and a separate CBS series. There has hardly been a time in the last century when someone hasn’t been adapting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's sleuth to screens either big or small. When you start counting all the derivatives, pastiches, and out-right stolen works that use similar characters then one has to start wondering if theirs anything produced in the last century that hasn’t been influenced by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Why We Watch: Looking at our TV Choices

Genre? Cast? Plot? Storytelling? What factors entice you to tune in to a show, or take a pass?
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Even with DVR and on-Demand viewing to allow maximum scheduling opportunities, the amount of tv content available to us far exceeds that amount that we can actually consume. To that end, we must make conscious choices about what we choose to view, and when. I got to thinking about this the other day when I went to add Elementary to my Netflix queue only to find it isn't available. I wondered why I didn't start watching it from the beginning even though I remember finding the premise interesting. That got me to thinking about that choice we make - do

Mr. Holmes Blu-ray Review: A Study in Relationships

Not a thrilling mystery, but a lovely tale about growing older.
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It is hard to believe that the fictional character Sherlock Homes first appeared in print in 1887. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created what would become one of the most well-known, iconic characters that is still intriguing to people today. Not only is he the basis for two current televisions shows in Elementary and Sherlock, but many films since he was originally introduced. One of the most unique tellings of this famous detective is Mr. Holmes. Based on Mitch Cullin's novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, it tells the story of Holmes seeking to solve his final case.At age 93,

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words Movie Review: Here's Looking at You, Kid

Sharp insights and touching reminiscence about a Hollywood icon struggle to shine through a mountain of repetitive filler.
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One of the best moments in Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words is one of the quietest. It’s just a makeup test for the young actress - maybe 45 seconds of her ravishing yet approachable face. She doesn’t speak, doesn’t really do anything, but she runs through an entire gamut of emotional states, from happiness to fear, pride, anger, infatuation, coy flirtiness and sadness. Like her fellow Swede Greta Garbo, and even this early in her career, she had that camera-ready communicative power that seems to be equal parts magic and mental telepathy. The documentary also includes personal insights into

Sony Movie Channel Presents a Veterans Day Marathon Featuring Ronald Reagan and Alan Ladd

Other Highlights Include Gregory Peck and Stacy Keach in The Blue and the Gray, Jack Lemmon in The Wackiest Ship in the Army, and more.
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Press release: Sony Movie Channel (SMC) salutes the men and women of America’s Armed Forces with a special Veterans Day Marathon on Wednesday, November 11, starting at 6:30 a.m. ET. The 13-film block kicks off with a pair of critically acclaimed television epics, featuring Robert Altman’s celebrated courtroom drama THE CAINE MUTINY COURT-MARTIAL, as Eric Bogosian stands trial for relieving troubled Lieutenant Commander Brad Davis of his duties—an action that may have saved the lives of his ship and crew. The film follows the events of the Humphrey Bogart classic THE CAINE MUTINY, and also stars Jeff Daniels and Peter

SPECTRE Movie Review: The Story That Baffled Me

SPECTRE works best when it delivers action, but stumbles when it slows down to tell its story.
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SPECTRE is Eon Productions' 24th James Bond film and the fourth starring Daniel Craig. The title is the name of a villainous global organization revealed to have been working behind the scenes of all Craig’s films, but it turns out the real nemesis is modern Hollywood. While past films with other actors playing 007 have had loose connections to one another, the stories stood on their own, allowing audiences easy entry into the series. However, being made in this era when people bingewatch because some TV series are serialized and multiple superhero titles are set within a single cinematic universe,

Just Let Go: Lenny Kravitz Live Blu-ray Review: A Giant Directorial Miscue

It's very difficult to enjoy the presentation as a whole, which is a shame because the music is so good.
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In support of his tenth studio album, Strut, Lenny Kravitz has released a live concert film that was recorded over a three-month period during the European leg of his 2014 tour. While there are twelve songs on the disk, it does come across more as a documentary than a concert performance. Between songs and sometimes right in the middle of them, there are interviews with Kravitz and the band. It’s a strange combination because just as the viewer is getting into the songs the entire vibe changes as you listen to philosophical explanations of what music is, and how the

Toy Story That Time Forgot Blu-ray Review: A TV Special Accessible to All Viewers Throughout the Year

It's good to see the care Disney/Pixar put into delivering a stunning Blu-ray.
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Toy Story That Time Forgot is the Disney/Pixar franchise's second television special following the 2013 Halloween special, Toy Story of Terror! It first aired in December 2014, and although it is set a couple days after Christmas, the story and message aren’t specific to the holiday, making the program accessible to all viewers throughout the year. Trixe the Triceratops (Kristen Schaal) feels frustrated because Bonnie plays with her as everything but a dinosaur. When Bonnie visits her friend Mason, she tosses the toys she brought over (Woody, Buzz, Rex, Trixie, and Angel Kitty) aside into his playroom and joins him

getTV Presents Columbia Pictures Crime Classics and a Thanksgiving Day Marathon

Other highlights include Glenn Ford in the Fritz Lang drama Human Desire, Aldo Ray in Nightfall, and more.
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Press release: getTV puts the spotlight on some of Columbia Pictures’ finest Film Noir classics in the 15-film “Noirvember” block, every Thursday in November starting at 7 p.m. ET. The arresting event opens on November 5 with a triple feature starring Oscar-winning icon Humphrey Bogart as an Army captain tangled in a web of lust and murder in DEAD RECKONING, with Lizabeth Scott. Then, Bogart defends a troubled young man on trial for murder in the 1949 crime drama KNOCK ON ANY DOOR, with John Derek and George Macready, at 9:30 p.m. ET. And Gloria Grahame starts to second-guess her

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Here's Not Here'

"I am always worried about a whole episode where we abandon our huge cast and follow just one person or story." - Shawn
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In which an episode inspires talk of sex, Star Wars, and Eastern philosophy. Shawn: It was 90 minutes and I feel like I have less to say than I did about any episode this season. 1.) I don't care if it's The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad or All In The Family, I am always worried about a whole episode where we abandon our huge cast and follow just one person or story. There wasn't ever an episode of Love Boat that only followed Gopher trying to steal Charo away from Dom DeLuise. I think this show is tempted to

The Beginning or the End (1947) DVD Review: Are You Gonna Drop the Bomb or Not?

Hollywood's first depiction of the Manhattan Project ‒ itself a bomb at the box office ‒ hits home video at last thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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"First was your firecracker, a harmless explosive. Then your hand grenade: you began to kill your own people, a few at a time. Then, the bomb. Then, a larger bomb: many people are killed at one time. Then your scientists stumbled upon the atom bomb, split the atom." ‒Eros (Dudley Manlove), in Plan 9 from Outer Space While the words of Edward D. Wood, Jr. are usually laughed at, the above passage from the late B-movie auteur's best-known messterpiece is almost as pithy as Wood intended it to be when it comes to describing Hollywood's first (and perhaps least-known) attempt

Book Review: The X-Files FAQ by John Kenneth Muir

Each chapter feels like a lecture in an X-Files course that Mr Muir should be teaching.
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I have been a confessed horror and science fiction TV show fan my whole life. It's a tradition that came from being part of the Star Wars Generation that clung to Battlestar Galactica and Space:1999 to get our fixes. I loved Frankenstein and Dracula but on TV I could only find that same subject matter on Kolchak: The Night Stalker and The Twilight Zone. I was a huge fan of The X-Files from 1993 through the bitter end (almost - I mean, ratings don't lie, most of us didn't watch that last season). The end of the show left me

Tenderness of the Wolves Blu-ray Review: Serial Killer Social Drama

Fassbinder proteges Ulli Lommel and Kurt Raab bring the disturbing story of child-murderer Fritz Haarman to lurid life.
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Seventies German cinema belonged to Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The director incredibly prolific from an annoyingly precocious age. He directed his first feature when he was 22, died when he was 37, and in that 15 years he made over 40 films and TV productions, all while directing plays and living the sort of wild hedonism that, well, leaves you dead at 37. Along the way, he built up a kind of commune/repertoire of actors, filmmakers, and hangers-on, all working on various projects. One of these was Kurt Raab, an actor and production designer who was deeply interested in the Fritz

Pixar's Inside Out is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some big emotions and little toys from Pixar, half a season of Doctor Who, dark pirates, final girls and much more.
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It was a tough October. I got strep throat and followed it with a nasty virus that turned into an eternal coughing session. A friend of mine - actually an ex-girlfriend from college who I stay in touch with via Facebook - her three-year-old son was diagnosed with brain cancer. Ms. Roberta, a lady I don’t know but who I have associations with, ran an orphanage and food shelter in poverty-stricken Haiti. She was recently murdered while getting gasoline and her young son was kidnapped and presumably sold into slavery. Another friend of mine went to the hospital thinking he

The Hoodlum Saint DVD Review: When Nick Charles Met Jessica Fletcher

William Powell, Esther Williams, and Angela Lansbury star in a forgotten footnote of film history, newly available to DVD via the Warner Archive Collection.
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Many actors often own, or are generally known as, their most famous roles. During his memorable screen time in Wim Wender's Wings of Desire, the late Peter Falk ‒ playing a fictionalized personification of his self ‒ is sometimes referred to as Lt. Columbo. Likewise, Sean Connery was hard-pressed to walk into any room without someone calling him James Bond. Whilst watching the 1946 MGM drama The Hoodlum Saint recently, it dawned on me when two of the film's three major characters shared the frame together that I was witnessing the one and only time in film history in which

Book Review: Beyond Mars: The Complete Series by Jack Williamson and Lee Elias

Beyond Mars is beyond awesome.
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If you’ve never heard of Beyond Mars, don’t feel too bad; the strip was only featured in one newspaper, the New York Sunday News, and it only ran for three years (1952-1955). So there are probably a whole lot of fans that have overlooked the strip and some of them might even be pretty knowledgeable folks. But what it might lack in notoriety, Beyond Mars certainly made up for with pedigree. How many Sunday comic strips can boast one of the architects of the Golden Age of comic books and a Grand Master of Science Fiction as its creative team?

iZombie: The Complete First Season DVD Review: An Enjoyable Take on the Zombie Narrative

A young medical resident's perfect life is turned upside down when she becomes a zombie.
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The CW series iZombie is loosely based on the DC/Vertigo comic of the same name by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred. It follows Olivia “Liv” Moore, a young, beautiful, and brilliant medical resident who is engaged to the love of her life, Major, and whose successful life is all mapped out. One night she accepts an invitation to go to a party with her fellow residents where other party-goers take a new drug called “Utopium,” which turns them into ravenous flesh-eating zombies. Liv awakes the morning after the attack in a body bag on the shore and finds that she

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