December 2015 Archives

The Green Inferno Blu-ray Giveaway

"It shows what horror cinema can really do, beyond just blood and guts." - Davy H.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader the The Green Inferno Blu-ray (which includes the Blu-ray and a Digital HD code), set for release on January 5, 2016 on Blu-ray and DVD as well as On Demand. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: An international goodwill mission goes terrifyingly wrong in The Green Inferno, the highly anticipated return to classic cult horror from iconic director Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel 1&2 ). The Green Inferno is a gruesomely spectacular journey into the heart of darkness that will have

Hitler's Madman / Hitler's Children (1943) DVD Reviews: A Double Dose of Propaganda

The Warner Archive Collection unveils two similarly dissimilar movies from the movie industry's "rushin' front."
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Maybe it was the surprise release of Triumph of the Will on Blu-ray from Synapse Films that inspired them. Or the rise in popularity for certain presidential candidates and the decidedly questionable policies they employ about (among other controversial ideals) what to do with refugees. Perhaps it was a combination of both ‒ we may never truly know. But for whatever reason, the Warner Archive Collection decided now was the time for all classic B movie audiences to come to the aid of the anti-Nazi party with two World War II propaganda films from 1943: the MGM-released piece Hitler's Madman,

Paramount Pictures and Landmark Theatres Present a Charlie Kaufman Retrospective January 4 - 7, 2016 in NY, LA, Chicago, and SF

The exclusive event will feature five of Kaufman’s critically acclaimed films with Q&As in New York and Los Angeles.
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Press release: Paramount Pictures and Landmark Theatres present a Charlie Kaufman Retrospective featuring the work of the Academy Award®-winning filmmaker exclusively at Landmark Theatres in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. The four-day retrospective will run January 4 - 7, 2016 with special screenings of five of Kaufman’s most critically acclaimed films: BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ADAPTATION, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK, and his latest film with co-director Duke Johnson, the Golden Globe-nominated stop-motion animated feature ANOMALISA. In New York and Los Angeles, showings of ANOMALISA will include Q&As with the movie’s filmmakers and voice

Bone Tomahawk DVD Review: Rare Horror Western Hybrid

Matching a Western setting with a horror story, Bone Tomahawk is that rare genre hybrid that gets both parts right.
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One of the problems with the modern Western is the seemingly desperate need for creators to seem superior, both to the times and the people who inhabited them, and the genre itself. A modern man would doubtless be uncomfortable transported back into harder times, without modern amenities or sensibilities to buoy him. But his discomfort wouldn't necessarily be a sign of superiority any more than his inability to get alone in a foreign country would place him above the natives. The past isn't inexorably worse or better or anything but different. Bone Tomahawk understands this, and approaches its unusual story

Bone Tomahawk is the Pick of the Week

Probably the most disappointing week releases brings us a gory Western, a very flawed Fatal Attraction ripoff, a robbery flick that went nowhere, and more.
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[Editor's note: Davy is filling in while Mat is away for the holidays.] Since everyone is getting over the Christmas holidays, I think they are just too stuffed with food and having to clean up all the wrapping paper to purchase the latest releases. Fortunately this week's releases will help people save a lot of money, and help them save for New Year's. With the exception of a bloody throwback Western, I don't think that people will be upset not to own the other releases. On paper, Bone Tomahawk sounds like a very interesting, successful tribute to the ultraviolent Italian

Everything I Have is Yours DVD Review: A Disjointed MGM Musical Programmer

Husband-and-wife duo Marge and Gower Champion get upgraded to top billing.
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The lone starring vehicle for husband-and-wife duo Marge and Gower Champion, Everything I Have is Yours is several spritely dance setpieces punctuated by long stretches of backstage musical plot contortions, most of them predicated on women’s inherent fragility. Here, it’s apparent why the Champions’ usual movie status was the secondary couple supporting stars like Betty Grable and Jack Lemmon (Three for the Show) or Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson (Show Boat, Lovely to Look At); they’re terrific dancers but not exactly the most charismatic actors. Unlike top-tier backstage musicals that smartly integrate plot and musical numbers, Everything I Have is

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Blu-ray Review: Diminishing Returns

Second film in the Maze Runner cycle fails to build upon the strengths of its predecessor.
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While the first Maze Runner film delivered moderate thrills and sci-fi adventure, the sequel seems to be running in place. That’s partially due to the change of filming location from the humid wilds of Louisiana to the arid desolation of New Mexico, but mostly due to the film’s major plot shift. Where the first film had a great hook with kids trapped in a deadly labyrinth filled with gigantic puzzles and creatures, the new film ultimately plays like a lukewarm zombie apocalypse survival story. Our crew of heroic college-aged stars called the Gladers are set loose in a vast wilderness

Blood Rage (1987) Blu-ray Review: Because Florida

Cult cinema's perennial Thanksgiving slasher flick finally finds a home for the holidays.
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American school history books used to (and probably still do) paint a pretty picture about Christopher Columbus and a certain genocidal invasion by foreigners that would later be celebrated as a holiday known as Thanksgiving. A certain famous old television commercial would have you believe a serendipitously accidental collision between two young guys resulted in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups being born. Now, what happens when you take the great taste of Thanksgiving and combine it with the subgenre of regional horror? The answer: a seasonal slasher flick that was shot under two different names in 1983, and then released in

SYFY's 21st Annual Twilight Zone Marathon Will Air All 156 Episodes Chronologically

Visit "a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity" from December 30 through January 3. In HD!
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Press release: Syfy will take viewers into a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity during its 21st annual New Year’s Eve The Twilight Zone marathon, which will air all 156 episodes of Rod Serling’s legendary TV series in chronological order and in HD for the first time ever on the channel. The 87-hour marathon will begin Wednesday, December 30 at 7PM (ET/PT), concluding Sunday, January 3 at 12PM. The only interruption will be the telecast of WWE SmackDown on Thursday, December 31 from 8-10PM. Among The Twilight Zone fan favorites will be "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

Wild Bill Elliott Western Collection DVD Review: The End of an Era

The last of the hard-hitting, two-fisted B movie cowboys takes his final ride off into the sunset in this eight-film set from the Warner Archive Collection.
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From the moment Bill Elliott made his earliest known appearance on celluloid in 1925, he garnered the interest of grumpy old studio executives and giddy young bijou patrons alike for his rugged looks and ability to throw a punch or pull out a pair of six-shooters in a flash. Indeed, the Missouri-born personality hailed from a rural upbringing; a trait that came in most handy once Columbia Pictures spotted and cast the two-fisted man's man in his first starring role ‒ the 15-chapter serial The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok ‒ in 1938. From thereon in, Elliott appeared in

Tell Them Who You Are Movie Review: A Captivating Documentary about Cinematographer Haskell Wexler and His Son

A wonderful exploration of a father-son relationship that is identifiable to anyone who has been a parent or child.
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Tell Them Who You Are is a captivating documentary. It begins as a look at the life and career of famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler. He came on the scene in the ‘60s and has worked with such noted directors as Elia Kazan, Mike Nichols, Norman Jewison, George Lucas, Milos Forman, Hal Ashby, and John Sayles. What alters this film from being a straightforward biography is that Haskell’s son, Mark Wexler, an accomplished photojournalist, shot it. Their fractious relationship is exposed through their on-camera interactions, allowing an intimate view inside that most families would not want to share. Haskell, a two-time

TCM Programming Alert for Week of 12-28-15

Highlights from the week ahead on TCM.
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TCM presents some magnificient choices to close out 2015 and begin 2016, such as a Thin Man New Year's Eve marathon and His Girl Friday on Sunday. TCM Spotlight: Girlfriends - The Children's Hour (1961) Monday, Dec. 28 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A malicious student tries to destroy the teachers at a girls' school. Gigi (1958) Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A Parisian girl is raised to be a kept woman but dreams of love and marriage. Star of the Month: Frank Sinatra - The Joker is Wild (1957) Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 11:30 p.m. (ET) Singer Joe

Spy (2015) Blu-ray Review: License to Laugh

Writer/director Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy continue to be a comedy partnership viewers can trust.
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When the whole world is in danger because a suitcase nuke falls into the wrong hands, whom does the CIA turn to? The dashing and debonair Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law), of course. But when the villainous Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) kills Fine and the identity of all the field agents is comprised, who is left to turn to? With no other choice, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), a CIA employee who assisted Fine from her desk at the agency's Langley headquarters, is given the assignment and great hilarity ensues. Spy delivers a lot of laughs, and just from McCarthy. The

Largest TCM Big Screen Classics Series Ever Comes to Cinemas With a Year of Unforgettable Titles Starting January 2016

An extraordinary look at four decades of magic at the movies, from the 1940s to the 1980s, all with added insights from TCM hosts.
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Press release: Discover the stuff that dreams are made of. Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three. Take a day off with Ferris Bueller. Survive a winter in the Overlook Hotel. Movie lovers will be able to do all of this and more in 2016 as Fathom Events partners with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) for the biggest-ever “TCM Big Screen Classics” series. The not-to-miss lineup begins in January and continues monthly throughout the year as Fathom Events and TCM bring some of the greatest titles ever back into movie theaters, each for just four showings. These classics will

Night and the City Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Jules Dassin's Marvelous London Noir

Add this movie to your collection by whatever means necessary.
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Based on the novel of the same name by Gerald Kersh, although director Jules Dassin claims never to have read it, Night and the City tells the story of Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark), a con man who wants “to be somebody,” but isn't because he's not as smart as he thinks he is. The Criterion Collection presents both the U.S. version with a score by Franz Waxman and the UK version, which is five minutes longer, and has a score by Benjamin Frankel. This London noir opens with Harry on the run through darkened streets and shadowy alleyways, likely a

Antenna TV's 2015 Classic Christmas Collection Schedule

Celebrate Christmas with your favorite TV families.
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Antenna TV is presenting a 38-hour marathon of Christmas-themed episodes from their roster of classic television shows. The festivities start on Christmas Eve at 3:00 PM (ET) with Mr. Belvedere and run late into Christmas night with Maude at 4:30 AM (ET). Although there are a few repeats and the Yule Log runs at 3:00 AM for the Pacific time zone, the elves at Antenna TV offer hours of fun to those who tune in. According to their website, "Local television stations air Antenna TV as a digital multicast channel often on a .2 or .3 channel depending on the

Wake Up and Kill Blu-ray Review: Gritty but Unengaging Criminal Bio-pic

This true crime story has a lot on its mind, but it doesn't translate into arresting storytelling.
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Wake Up and Kill isn't quite a traditional gangster film. There's a philosophy to the gangster film that requires a certain sort of specific ambition from its lead characters. The gangster in a movie commits crimes to get money to do something. To better his life, to provide for family or lovers or to be a part of a community. In Wake Up and Kill, Luciano Lutring's criminality is never explained, or even deeply explored. He doesn't seem to be very good at it - all his crimes, even as they become more elaborate and require greater planning, are basically

Pan is the Pick of the Week

A rather dull week brings us another take on Peter Pan, another take on Bobby Fischer's life, a two very different takes on religion.
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If the weeks leading up to Christmas are a bonanza for home-video collectors, then the actual week of Christmas is something like the day after a party when there’s nothing left but junk nobody wanted. I guess the people who decide which Blu-rays get released when figure everybody has already purchased all their presents so there isn’t any reason to put anything out that anybody wants. There’s never more than a handful of releases at this point in the year, most of which is absolute junk. But then again there is always a release or two that could have been

The Strangler (1964) DVD Review: There's Always the Son

The great Victor Buono stars as a bastardized Boston serial killer, now available from the Warner Archive Collection.
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With school shootings occurring almost daily within the confines of the American border, and acts of terrorism (domestic and otherwise) filling in the gaps between the thousands of Star Wars-related posts on our social media feeds, the once-feared serial killer seems to have become somewhat (and I phrase this as delicately as I can, folks) "passé." To think that, as recently as two decades ago ‒ just before postal workers first started to become disgruntled ‒ the unfortunate, unpredictable actions of mentally disturbed mass murderers and/or manipulatively psychopathic cult leaders would have at least garnered a swiftly-produced, exploitative television drama

TCM Programming Alert for Week of 12-21-15

Invite these films into your home for the holidays.
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This week's top highlights from TCM feature films to remember, from Robert Osborne's Christmas Eve Pick to musicals starring Fred & Ginger, Frank Sinatra, and Little Orphan Annie. Where The Boys Are (1960) Monday, Dec. 21 at 9:45 p.m. (ET) College coeds go looking for love during spring break in Fort Lauderdale. Guest Programmer: Tina Fey - Desk Set (1957) Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A computer expert tries to prove his electronic brain can replace a television network's research staff. Star of the Month: Frank Sinatra - High Society (1956) Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 11:00 p.m. (ET)

The End of the Tour DVD Review: How to Make Talking Interesting

It has some interesting things to say about writing and America and simply being alive.
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Making a movie that is just people talking is tricky. It may not be technically difficult, like a major action film, but driving a story, and making it dynamic, solely through discussions and dialogue can be an obstacle in its own right. The End of the Tour is just people talking. In fact, it is primarily two men, and self-conscious writers at that, talking. However, since one of them is the legendary, late writer David Foster Wallace, there’s a movie here. If you are not familiar, Wallace is one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation, including his iconic

The Who: Live in Hyde Park DVD Review: The 50-Year Anniversary Show

A really great bookend to an amazing career by an amazing band.
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What else can be written about The Who that hasn't already been written over the course of their 50-year career? I mean, they are the quintessential Rock 'n' Roll band. They are a singles band, they are an album band, but most of all, they have always been the best live band in the business. From Live at Leeds, The Isle of Wight, Woodstock, and more, The Who have always been a force to be reckoned with on the stage. On June 26, 2015 the band celebrated their lengthy career with a 50th Anniversary show in London and documented the

Criterion Announces March 2016 Releases

You'll always have Paris if you buy one of these new releases.
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Next March, Criterion adds four new titles to the collection. They are Jacques Rivette's Paris Belongs to Us, John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate, Edward Yang's A Brighter Summer Day, and Les Blank's A Poem is a Naked Person. Also, Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves gets a high-def upgrade. Read on to learn more about them. Paris Belongs to Us (#802) out Mar 8 One of the original critics turned filmmakers who helped jump-start the French New Wave, Jacques Rivette began shooting his debut feature in 1958, well before that cinema revolution officially kicked off with The 400 Blows and Breathless.

Jellyfish Eyes Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Surprisingly Unsurprising

Takashi Murakami’s first film is fun for the whole family but sorely lacking his usual artistic iconoclasm.
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The most surprising thing about unconventional artist Takashi Murakami’s first feature-length directorial effort is that it is entirely conventional. Based on my experience with his artwork, I expected a surreal, incoherent, but visually dazzling film, but instead found the film to be a straightforward and family-friendly update on the kids with critters movies popularized in the 1980s by the likes of E.T. and Gremlins. The film is more homage than trailblazer, which seems like a missed opportunity for the visionary Murakami. The story follows a tween boy as he moves to a new town with his recently widowed mom and

Book Review: Star Wars FAQ by Mark Clark

Everything left to know about the trilogy that changed the movies.
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Ever since Disney announced plans to continue the Star Wars film franchise, the pop-culture landscape has been flooded with products across mediums and more licensed merchandise than seems necessary. Hopefully not lost in the tsunami is Mark Clark's Star Wars FAQ, an entertaining and informative reference guide about the Original Trilogy published by Applause Books. Before rushing headlong into that galaxy far, far away, Clark grounds the book in Earth history, offering chapters on the movie business, creator George Lucas, and Lucas' influences in creating Star Wars, such as Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a

Twilight Time Presents: Various Vamps, Visitors, Bats and Vats

As another dreadful holiday season falls upon us, there is perhaps no better time to re-celebrate Halloween with this line-up of killer October chillers.
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Is it Halloween again yet? Yes, while many members of the commercialized human race rants about nightmarish presidential candidates inciting hate and discontent while obsessing over stocking stuffers amidst various prevailing paranoias concerning an imaginary war on a holiday that wasn't even theirs in the first place, the rest of us are ready to turn back the clock and revel in another ‒ more entertaining ‒ Pagan celebration. You know, the one some folks foolishly perceive to literally be of the Devil itself: Halloween. And since I was so wrapped up in my real life profession of helping people become

The Great American Dream Machine DVD Review: Could Be a Nightmare for Some

It makes a good Christmas present to either give to a fan of television or to bring to a white elephant gift exchange.
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For many this may be the first time you have heard of The Great American Dream Machine, which aired on PBS from 1971 to 1973 and has a new four-DVD release from S’More Entertainment. Even if you have never heard of it, when you find out that it featured the talents of Andy Rooney, Albert Brooks, Henry Winkler, Chevy Chase, Marshall Efron, Charles Grodin, Penny Marshall, Linda Lavin, Martin Mull, and more, you could easily become interested. Comparisons to Saturday Night Live, Monty Pythons Flying Circus, The Daily Show, and Laugh-in, could easily turn that interest to excitement. At first

JACO DVD Review: Portrait of a Tortured Genius

JACO presents a complicated yet fascinating portrait of a gifted musician who reinvented the bass.
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In 1976, an album was released that would revolutionize not only how the jazz bass is played, but the very concept of the instrument. Until Jaco Pastorius, few considered the bass as a lead instrument, one with as much dimension and virtuosity as the piano or guitar. The phenomenally gifted musician demonstrated the true meaning of fusion, melding together everything from Cuban to jazz to rock to R&B influences. His speedy yet tuneful style and use of harmonics changed the bass and inspired countless musicians after him. Mental illness and drug abuse cut his life and career horribly short, but

Another Language / What Every Woman Knows DVD Reviews: The Helen Hayes Code

The Warner Archive Collection proudly presents several forgotten starring vehicles for The First Lady of the American Theater.
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Unless you're an actual resident of Manhattan itself in this day and age, it's almost hard to fathom a time when Broadway ruled the world of entertainment ‒ especially when said time was long before people could upload videos to the Interweb for all to see. Personally, I can only think of five instances in my lifetime (most of which were pre-Internet) when people were raving about something related to Broadway. Three were positive: the massive successes of The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, and The Producers. And then there were two embarrassing instances that fit in much better with

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a couple of Italian horrors, some early Hitchcock, impossible missions, and more.
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It's easy to get cynical and annoyed with all the remakes, reimaginings, rehashes, and sequels that seem to come out every other day. Most of them really are terrible and it's difficult not to think that Hollywood has lost its imagination. At the same time, there are some remakes and sequels worth paying attention to. Almost two decades ago, Tom Cruise dusted off the old Mission: Impossible television series and has made a long lasting, continually interesting film franchise out of it. The secret has been its use of very different directors. Through five films, the series has hired out

Blood Rage Blu-ray Combo Review: One of Arrow's Top Releases

"It's not cranberry sauce, Artie."
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Of course the slasher genre is of an acquired taste, mainly because of the lack of unqiue dialogue or acting. It is really based on how characters are killed and when. Detail was placed more on blood and guts among everything else, but in 1984 (the golden age of slashers), Wes Craven's classic Nightmare on Elm Street, became the greatest of all the '80s bloodbaths. But after its phenomenon, the genre went into steady decline. Slasher after slasher, movies became more cheesier and less original; it was the same formula over and over again. However, Blood Rage (shot in 1983

TCM Programming Alert for Week of 12-14-15

Turner Classic Movies has some suggestions for you.
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The Top Highlights of the Week for TCM include a musical starring Star of the Month Frank Sinatra and a few Christmas Classics. TCM Spotlight: Girlfriends - The Women (1939) Monday, Dec. 14 at 10:15 p.m. (ET) A happily married woman lets her catty friends talk her into divorce when her husband strays. Topper Returns (1941) Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 9:30 p.m. (ET) An beautiful ghost enlists a henpecked husband to track down her killer. Star of the Month: Frank Sinatra - On The Town (1949) Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 9:00 p.m. (ET) Three sailors wreak havoc as they search

What Have You Done To Solange? Blu-ray Review: Giallo at Its Finest

Sex, violence, and style, or everything you want in an Italian horror film.
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In the 1930s, the Mondadori company began producing a series of paperback books in Italy. They were usually translations of English-language murder mysteries and they came in a distinctive yellow cover. Italian directors took note and began making films loosely based on those books. By the 1960s, a distinctive horror sub-genre emerged from this - giallo, the Italian word for yellow became the nickname for the books and subsequently the films that came out of them. Quickly, the films moved away from direct adaptations of the earlier novels and adopted their own characteristics. Known for their distinctive cinematography, their black-gloved

Sinatra: All or Nothing at All Blu-ray Review: That's His Life

A thorough documentary that still leaves the viewer curious to learn more about Sinatra and explore his work.
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Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling singers of all time, won an Academy Award as a supporting actor, and drew big audiences with his TV specials and his concerts. His life off the stage was even more compelling, and together they are presented in Alex Gibney's HBO documentary Sinatra: All or Nothing At All, available on Blu-ray and DVD. In 1971, Sinatra held a farewell concert to announce his (what would be short-lived) retirement at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theater. He picked 11 milestone songs from his career

The Bat (1959) / A Bucket of Blood Blu-ray Reviews: The Film Detective Goes Public (Domain)

A new indie label releases BD-R versions of two late '50s cult classics.
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Hailing from an era where it was never uncommon to see fly-by-night video distribution labels pop up with a couple of public domain titles, it is somewhat unsurprising to still see DVDs hit the shelves that have seen the light of day a good dozen times before. When it comes to the still forming world of Blu-ray, however, public domain issues are highly unusual ‒ especially since anyone could copy the data and release the same damn thing under their own label. Providing, that is, that said material was spectacular enough to warrant copying in the first place. When a

Bobby Ware is Missing DVD Review: And Starring Neville Brand as Indiana Jones

One missing little film featuring two lost little boys has been rescued by the great big Warner Archive Collection.
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Twenty-three years after his death at the age of 71, Neville Brand remains one of B moviedom's greatest heavies. From his standout performance in one of classic film noir's most popular titles, D.O.A. ‒ in which he played a psychotic killer ‒ to his subtly magnificent starring role in Tobe (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) Hooper's less-than-subtle horror outing Eaten Alive in 1976 ‒ in which he played a psychotic killer for a change (with a hungry pet crocodile, to boot!), Brand always left his mark. One year after his dynamic performance as the leader of the Riot in Cell

Cry of the Hunted / Wind Across the Everglades DVD Reviews: Attack of the Swamp Features

Two entirely different '50s bayou flicks ‒ now available on home video from the Warner Archive Collection ‒ receive a mite good scrutinizin'.
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The strange allure of musty, humid air and untold perils that only an untamed marshland can offer has fascinated many a mere mortal ever since man first ventured into such beautiful, disease-ridden quagmires. But the equal abundance of a wide variety of life (whether it be that of an animal, plant, or parasite) is rarely examined as much as a swamp's keen ability to suck the life out of any creature with nary a lick of sense in its noggin. And so, most of the movies set in a bayou usually tend to be of either hicksploitation or monster origins.

2016 Golden Globes Nominations Announced

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Press release: Carol, The Revenant, Steve Jobs and The Big Short led the the nominations for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards, announced early in the morning today, December 10. Among the TV nominees the highlights were American Crime, Fargo, Mr. Robot, Outlander, Transparent and Wolf Hall, with three nominations each. The nominations were introduced by HFPA president Lorenzo Soria and announced by America Ferrera, Angela Bassett, Chloe Grace Moretz and Dennis Quaid. For both films and TV this year’s nominations made it clear that this would be a wide open race, with no clear favorites. With five nominations - best

getTV's December Programming Highlights

A star-studded December lineup of golden age classics featuring a Frank Sinatra 100th birthday block on Dec. 13, and over 24 hours of Christmas specials on Dec. 24 & 25
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Press releaase: getTV delivers an A-list December programming lineup, packed with rarely-seen specials and beloved favorites, starring some of cinema’s biggest names, airing in primetime all month long. The eclectic roster features a Frank Sinatra birthday block, Ray Harryhausen creature features, and award-winning dramas, headlined by two days of classic Christmas specials starring Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and more, kicking off on Thurs., Dec. 24, at 12 p.m. ET. Ray Harryhausen Tribute—Thurs., Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. ET getTV honors FX legend Ray Harryhausen with a career-spanning event that includes Harryhausen’s swashbuckling epic SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER

The Big Short Movie Review: Adam McKay Tries to Get Serious

Despite its dramatic aspirations, 'The Big Short' is cut from a similar cloth as McKay's bro-y comedies.
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Adam McKay is not the filmmaker to give us a sober, lucid account of the financial crisis of the mid-2000s, and for a while, he seems to understand that in The Big Short, an ingratiating but often quite entertaining adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book of the same name. McKay can’t even dream of approaching the freewheeling energy of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street or the way that film’s anarchic satire suddenly went for blood, especially in its chilling final shot. McKay’s examination of wealthy vultures bears some superficial similarities to Wolf, but its DNA is much closer to

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Two is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a couple of obscure Criterions, a hungry serial killer, silly little yellow creatures and lots of super heroes.
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When I picked Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as my Pick of the Week back in April of 2013, I noted that I wasn’t really a comic-book movie fan. That’s changed in the interim. I've since read many of the books upon which the films are based, which has given me a much greater understanding of the characters and their motivations. I’ve also learned to put aside my art-house critic hat and engage in the terrific fun these movies are having. That’s the thing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are not always really great films, but they

TCM Programming Alert for Week of 12-07-15

Some TV-watching suggestions from the Turner Classic Movies channel.
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The folks at TCM would like you to be aware of their Top Highlights of the Week. Will you be tuning in? Where Angels Go Trouble Follows! (1968) Monday, Dec. 7 at 10:00 p.m. (ET) A young progressive nun creates headaches for the Mother Superior. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) An academic couple reveal their deepest secret to a pair of newcomers during an all-night booze fest. Star of the Month: Frank Sinatra- From Here to Eternity (1953) Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 9:15 p.m. (ET) Enlisted men in Hawaii fight for love

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Start to Finish'

The season comes to a half end and after a little time to think about it, Kim and Shawn react.
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In which Kim and Shawn find themselves happy to be on a break. Kim: Well, here we are. Half-way done with Season 6. Mid-season finale complete. Long break until mid-February. This is the time of year when I’m usually a little bit whiny, wishing there wasn’t so much time between shows. This is just the way it goes when you’re a fan of The Walking Dead. This year, I’m grateful for a lot of things in my life, but nothing stands out quite as much as the strange feeling of gratitude I have that the first half of the season

Carol Movie Review: A Moving, Gorgeous Melodrama

Todd Haynes builds a deeply felt romance from deferred moments.
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Having already proved himself as the biggest Douglas Sirk fan on the planet, Todd Haynes improves upon the homage/pastiche of Far From Heaven, delivering a full-blooded melodrama in Carol. Far From Heaven is an achingly beautiful film (shot, like Carol, by the great Edward Lachman), but it sits back a bit, the emotions not nearly as expressive as the sublimely saturated color photography. In Carol, as sublimated as the emotions are in a film about lesbian lovers set in 1950s New York, the passion still burns in every frame, thanks both to the yearning, deeply felt performances by Cate Blanchett

Walt Before Mickey Movie Review: Missing the Magic that Made Disney Disney

A difficult film to recommend to even the most die-hard Walt Disney fan.
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When The Passion of the Christ was released in 2004, comedian Patton Oswalt compared it to making a movie about Albert Einstein but focusing it only on two days he spent in the bathroom with really bad food poisoning. In a way, Walt Before Mickey is like Oswalt's jokingly proposed Einstein movie. It shows a great man at the lowest points of his life, so miserable and broke that he is actually shown fishing a half-eaten sandwich out of the trash to eat it. Walt Before Mickey dramatizes a portion of Walt Disney's life, starting from just after World War

Fathom Events and TCM Present Roman Holiday

Once again Fathom Events and TCM have put a wonderful classic on the big screen.
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In my last discussion of a Fathom/TCM event, I praised my local Cinemark for being a very excellent cinema. This time, I must complain. Whenever I have passes to these events, the teenagers behind the ticket booth never know what to do. Management is always called and usually they are very congenial and happy to have someone there to give them a little buzz. This time management took their time coming down and looked at us like we were keeping them from all the joy in their lives. I don’t expect the royal treatment, but a little polite customer service

Amy Blu-ray Review: The Permeability of Private and Public Footage

Asif Kapadia's documentary on Amy Winehouse transcends the typical with an unusually and uncomfortably intimate collage.
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The narrative beats of Asif Kapadia’s documentary on Amy Winehouse are eminently familiar, tracing a musician’s rise to fame and the subsequent downfall fueled by substance abuse. Like a number of showbiz stories, Amy is possessed by a heartbreaking sense of inevitability. Nonetheless, Kapadia — best known for 2010’s Formula 1 doc Senna — transcends the typical with an unusually and uncomfortably intimate collage of almost entirely pre-existing footage, structured around audio-only interviews with collaborators, friends, and romantic partners. Home video of Winehouse goofing around with childhood friends bleeds into on-air interviews promoting her 2003 debut album Frank, which gives

The Brain That Wouldn't Die Blu-ray Review: The Head of No Class

The decapitated grandparent of grindhouse cinema gets a beautiful HD makeover in this, the definitive release of a true cult classic.
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Ah, the distant, slightly faded memory of a momentous moment during my wasted youth. I can still recall perusing the shelves of the long-defunct Video Outlet in rural Janesville, CA one fateful day, setting my eyes upon a large Warner Home Video clamshell of a flick called The Brain That Wouldn't Die. It was like a call to arms for a young genre lover such as myself: a film that focused on the wild notion of a mad scientist keeping his freshly decapitated fiancée's head alive in a pan while he ventures out to strip clubs to find a body

Best of Enemies DVD Review: The Whole World Was Watching

How the 1968 Debates between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal shaped our current news reporting.
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In 1968, ABC News ran a series of debates featuring William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal to air during the presidential conventions. At the time, ABC was running third in the news ratings and hoped the debates would help spark interest in their coverage. Buckley, the conservative and publisher of The National Review, and Gore, a noted author and liberal would verbally spar during their segments. Best of Enemies documents these debates. Because of the political nature of the film and subject matter, and the polarization that still exists today, I think people will view this documentary differently given their

J.J. Abrams Talks Star Wars: The Force Awakens with Howard Stern

If you can't get enough Star Wars, come listen to J.J., Howard, and Mick the Nerd.
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As the seemingly endless marketing juggernaut for Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to roll on, director J.J. Abrams sat down for an interview on SiriusXM's The Howard Stern Show on November 30. Below are selected highlights. J.J. Abrams On Why He Directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens J.J. Abrams Discusses The Controversies Surrounding Star Wars J.J. Abrams discusses injuries on the Star Wars set J.J. Abrams on screening Star Wars for Bob Iger and Disney J.J. Abrams on Leonard Nimoy J.J. Abrams on George Lucas Mick The Nerd Asks J.J. Abrams Star Wars Questions

Mad Max: Fury Road Named 2015 Best Film of the Year by the National Board of Review

For 106 years, the National Board of Review has dedicated its efforts to the support of domestic and foreign cinema as both art and entertainment.
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NBR President Annie Schulhof said, “2015 has been a banner year for popular cinema. We are thrilled to be awarding George Miller and Ridley Scott, two iconic filmmakers at the top of their game, while also celebrating the next generation of talent.” Below is a full list of the awards given by the National Board of Review: Links for films we've reviewed. Best Film: Mad Max: Fury Road [Ron's dissenting opinion] Best Director: Ridley Scott - The Martian Best Actor: Matt Damon - The Martian Best Actress: Brie Larson - Room Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone - Creed Best Supporting

Requiescant Blu-ray Review: Massacred Mexican Communist Revenge

Offbeat scenes and a determined Communist undertone offset this otherwise standard tale of Western revenge.
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As Westerns go, Requiescant is an odd one. Its story isn't all that unusual - a young boy's entire Mexican clan is massacred by a greedy landowner and his gang of thieves. The boy is mistakenly left alive, found by a wandering preacher and raised to believe in non-violence and the Bible. When his "sister," whom he's in love with, takes off, he resolves to go find her, and his entire past comes crashing back around him. Eventually he becomes, almost inadvertently, the leader of a band of Mexican revolutionaries, taking back the land that was stolen from them. Boy

Cooties is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an ice-skiing Robert Redford, an inside look at Amy Winehouse, Roger Water's performing The Wall, and lots of zombies.
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I don’t know about you, but I had a mighty fine Thanksgiving. The weather outside was frightful, but inside was nice and warm, cozy and delicious. With that behind us, everybody turns to Christmas. The trees and lights go up, the holiday music plays on repeat, and everybody has a certain kind of cheerfulness. I really do love the season, even if so much of it is artificial. I used to be quite the grinch, but marriage and perhaps age has led me to enjoy all things Christmas. We buy a real tree every year and decorate it with our

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