April 2016 Archives

The Nice Guys Present a Retro Trailer

Director Shane Black's The Nice Guys is in theaters on May 20.
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Set in 1970s Los Angeles, down-on-his-luck private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and hired enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) must work together to solve the case of a missing girl and the seemingly unrelated death of a porn star. During their investigation, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that reaches up to the highest circles of power.

Room Blu-ray Review: A Difficult but Emotionally Rewarding Cinematic Experience

A film that should that stand the test of time with its powerful performances, terrific script, and truthful message.
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There is no greater fear for a parent than the loss of a child to certain horrifying circumstances, such as death or the thought of someone kidnapping their child and doing vile things to them. The plot of director Lenny Abrahamson's 2015 moving film, Room, takes that rather basic premise and extends it into something much more harrowing, but ultimately inspiring. Based on the acclaimed novel by Emma Donoghue, the film will take hold of you emotionally, once you get past the intensity of the story. It centers on the seventh year of capitivity of Joy (Brie Larson), a woman

Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street Blu-ray Review: Sam Fuller Goes to Germany

Fuller's only feature-directing credit of the 1970s found him infiltrating the ranks of a German crime procedural.
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Half a rollicking, goofy near-parody of noir and half a queasy, German New Wave-inflected portrait of futility, Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1972) is a singular film from iconoclastic director Samuel Fuller. Dead Pigeon is actually an episode of the (still-running!) German television series Tatort, though it was also granted a theatrical release in several countries, making it Fuller’s only feature-directing credit of the decade. Olive Films presents the restored director’s cut on a stellar new Blu-ray release. Watching Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street will make you wish Fuller had directed an entire season of a crime procedural. His episodic,

Jane Got a Gun Blu-ray Review: Troubled Production, Decent Results

Natalie Portman more than holds her own as the star, but it's Joel Edgerton that really shines.
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Plagued by production difficulties, it's a wonder Jane Got a Gun ever saw the light of day. In 2011, the film made the Black List, an annual listing of popular unproduced screenplays. By May of 2012, Natalie Portman had signed on to star in the film alongside Michael Fassbender with Lynne Ramsey to direct. By the next year, Fassbender was out due to scheduling conflicts and Jude Law was in. Then Ramsey quit over artistic conflicts and out went her cinematographer with her. And Jude Law. Bradley Cooper came and went just as fast. Eventually they did make the film

Turner Classic Movies Launches TCM Backlot, the Network's First-Ever Fan Club

"Creating a fan club allows us to super-serve and further engage with our most passionate and devoted fans," said Jennifer Dorian, general manager of TCM.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today announced the launch of its first ever-official fan club, TCM Backlot, which will serve as the ultimate destination for enthusiasts of TCM. TCM Backlot will give fans unprecedented access to all things TCM including exclusive content, never-before-seen talent interviews, archival videos from the TCM vault, an exclusive TCM podcast, as well as opportunities to win visits to the TCM set, attend meet and greets with TCM hosts and the opportunity to influence programming through online votes. TCM Backlot can be accessed at tcmbacklot.com for an $87 annual fee and will be available for

The Gory Goodness of Arrow Video in May

The grue is ramped up to 11 with Arrow's latest output.
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You can't say Arrow Video isn't unpredictable! From gory horror to hard-boiled action and a biopic, Arrow has a cadre of films worth buying right now! Here are a few below: The Bride of Re-Animator (1989) Re-Animator (1985) is one of my favorite horror films. Its splatter-filled gruesomeness and Lovecraftian origins take the Frankenstein tale to Grand Guignol-level highs. Until now, I didn't realize a franchise built up around the story of brothers in blood Dan Cain and Herbert West. Thankfully, Arrow's new release of the 1989 sequel will do a lot to help fans discover it, or revisit it.

Brief Encounter Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Small but Poignant

A far cry from David Lean's big epics, but sometimes small is just as beautiful.
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Christ, David Lean knew how to compose a shot. I swear you could take all of his movies, put them in a pile, shuffle them up, and no matter what scene came up, you could make a stunning poster out of the image. We tend to think of his later, grand pictures like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago when we think about David Lean’s stunning images, but Brief Encounter proves he could create something epic out of little things as well. Filmed in 1945 in the final vestiges of the European stage of

Son of Saul is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us two movies about the Holocaust, three films from Criterion, Natalie Portman with a gun, a Christmas horror story, and more.
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The Holocaust has been milked and bilked of every possible dramatic meaning for decades on screens both big and small. One would think you couldn’t possible find another way to tell its story. Apparently one would be wrong. Son of Saul tells the story of a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando - Jewish concentration camp prisoners forced to help with disposing of their comrades' corpses or be killed themselves. I’d heard of these people before, and imagined how horrible that experience must have been, but this is the first time I’ve heard of it being presented dramatically. A fresh story

Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear The Walking Dead: 'Ouroboros'

"I may have experienced some nervous energy during last night’s episode. It lasted all of 30 seconds." - Kim
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In which crabs eat zombies eating crabs and most of the best things are the promos for upcoming shows. Shawn: When I saw the really awkward title of this episode, I should have thought that maybe there was something a little different here. And there was. Just a little. But the bar is so low that I need to examine if there was really actual entertainment happening here. 1.) THE LOST DEAD. I guess I was most excited about getting closure from all of those 30-second spots we watched during the last season of The Walking Dead. I was afraid

Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Sixth Season DVD Review: Still the Same After Five Years Forward?

Allison asked the Liars to come home and give statements that would attest to the okay-ness of Charlotte being released. Yeah, right.
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At the end of Season Five, we left the Liars plus Mona still captured inside Big A’s lair. The girls were forced to create a creepy Prom, but kudos to them, they managed to escape the lair - only to find themselves outside, but still held within the perimeter of an electric fence. And it starts to rain. Not good. Season Six begins as the girls have been let back inside the “Dollhouse” and tortured. Season Six has a unique feature -- a five-year time jump. Before the jump, the girls of course need to be shown dealing with various

KISS Rocks Vegas in Cinemas on Wednesday, May 25

"Join us for a 'Crazy Crazy Night' at your cinema!" - Gene Simmons
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Press release: Fans worldwide are anxiously awaiting the release of KISS Rocks Vegas, and now stateside fans are one step closer to this spectacular concert event as tickets for the cinema event are now on sale domestically. Presented in the U.S. by Fathom Events, MusicScreen and Eagle Rock Entertainment on May 25 at 7:30 p.m. local time, KISS Rocks Vegas immortalizes KISS’ historic nine-show run at the infamous Hard Rock Hotel in November 2014. From this blistering live show, fans can expect sky high flames, show-stopping dramatics and more than a few drops of blood! This spectacular event also offers

Outlaw Gangster VIP: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: Gangster and Outlaw, All in One

Six Yakuza movies from the '60s, replete with knife fights, anguish, and women falling in love with the wrong gangster.
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How is being an Outlaw Gangster different from just being a gangster? By definition, they're all outlaws, aren't they? It turns out, no, it takes a very special soul to be an outlaw among gangsters. Especially if one is also, as the title of this collection implies, a VIP. This simple appellative explains a lot about the protagonist of this loose series of Yakuza movies. Goro Fujikawa, played by Tetsuya Watari in every one of the six movies included in this box set. Goro was born in poverty, lost his entire family when he was young and ended up in

The Zero Boys Blu-ray Review: Totally '80s Cheese

An odd-ball action/horror hybrid that will surely scratch that bad '80s flick itch.
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Oh the '80s! Was there a better decade for watching bad movies? The advent of home video not only meant you could watch bad movies from the comfort of your own home, but it also ushered in the era of direct-to-video productions and thousands of more bad movies coming out every year. The action and horror genres probably got the biggest boost as you could make those films on the cheap and genre fans would eat them up without necessarily caring if the production quality was all that good. Cashing in on this concept, director Nico Masorakis smashed the two

Fathom Events and TCM Present On the Waterfront

You'll believe he coulda been a contender when you see it on the big screen.
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Director Elia Kazan named names. He at first refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities but when push came to shove, he gave them the names of eight people who had been Communists. Though it angered a great many in the more liberal Hollywood circles, it saved his career. He was not blacklisted and went on to make a great many more wonderful films including On the Waterfront. That film was his own personal statement as to why he testified. It's hard to watch the film today without that baggage seeping through. Harder still is to watch

Revisiting the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival

Yet another journey with classic films on the big screen thanks to TCM.
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Through some type of technical snafu that occured who knows when, the first part of my 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival coverage for Blogcritics has disappeared off their website, so it is being reposted here. The 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival returned to Hollywood on April 25 - April 28 for its fourth annual outing for classic-film devotees, though most people I know who can't imagine watching movies all day for a number of days refer to us as something else. Aside from the usual tributes, essentials, and special presentations, this year's main theme focused on journeys, which included sub-themes

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 04-25-16

In between TCMFF 2016 updates, here's what's playing.
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As TCM returns to Hollywood for its seveth annual Classic Film Festival, here's what you can watch from the comfort of your home. TCM Spotlight: The Best of the Barrymores - Grand Hotel (1932) Monday, April 25 at 10:15 p.m. (ET) Guests at a posh Berlin hotel struggle through scandel and heartache. Because They're Young (1960) Tuesday, April 26 at 9:45 p.m. (ET) A crusading high school teacher tries to help his troubled students. Pandora's Box (1929) Wednesday, April 27 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A young innocent's sexuality destroys all who come near her. Live from the 2015 TCM Classic

The Stuff (1985) Blu-ray Review: The Thing Nightmares Are Made From

Larry Cohen's comical, horrifying look at rampant commercialism, American gluttony, and corporate greed gets another chance to creep around thanks to Arrow Video.
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As a screenplay artist, Larry Cohen has many a unique offering under his literary belt. The New York-born auteur first started writing mysteries for television when he was only in his early twenties, and his god (told me to) given knack for penning thrillers soon found him cranking out teleplays for cult airwave favorites such as Branded, The Invaders, and Columbo during the '60s and '70s. Then, during the early '70s, Mr. Cohen was permitted to expand his filmmaking résumé with a directorial debut in the realm of a present subgenre phenomenon: blaxploitation movies. As a result, Larry was also

Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercoli Blu-ray Review: Arrow Strikes Giallo Gold

From deadly strolls about in High Heels to casual executions committed at Midnight, this two-fer from Arrow Video USA is sure to make a killing among fans of classic Italian thrillers.
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Though born in the early '60s, only a few short years before various forms of psychedelic and sexual revolutions began to spin a seemingly stuck planet in circles far too fast for even God to fathom, the giallo film truly started to roll about freely once the 1970s came to pass. The titles were unabashedly long and lurid; the storylines both baffling and beguiling; the murders downright bloody, yet immeasurably inventive. These were the thrillers ripped straight from Italy's sleazy pulp fiction crime novels boasting distinctive yellow (or, "giallo," if you will) jackets which kept moviegoing audiences glued to their

getTV adds 14 Retro Programming to Weekdays

The roster features 14 classic series at launch, divided into three blocks of rare comedies, westerns, and action/crime dramas.
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Press release: Fueled by the positive response to its programming blocks celebrating rare classic television series, getTV has launched an all-new weekday schedule focusing on hard-to-find favorites. The lineup includes 14 television series to start, with more to be added throughout the cycle. The new schedule is divided into three distinct blocks—Comedies, Westerns, and Action/Crime—airing weekdays from 7 a.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET, beginning May 2. In a special kick-off event, getTV will present the two-hour premiere of the 1984 series RIPTIDE, starring Perry King, Joe Penny, and Thom Bray, as part of the network’s Silver Screen Favorites block

Death Walks Twice Blu-ray Review: Two Times the Horror, Two Times the Fun

Two Italian giallos get the Arrow treatment.
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After the success of his first film as a director, Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, Luciano Ercoli directed two more giallos before moving on to other genres. These two films, Death Walks on High Heels, and Death Walks at Midnight have been lovingly restored and upgraded by Arrow Video into a very nice boxed set. Besides sharing similar titles, Ercoli also used the same actress, Nieves Navarro - here going by the stage name Susan Scott (his then girlfriend, later turned wife) as the lead in both films as well as using the same writer, similar themes, and

Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear The Walking Dead: 'We All Fall Down'

Does "All Fall Down" refer to all the sense in this show currently?
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In which Kim and Shawn try to make sense of the episode. Kim: We’re only on the second episode of the second season and I am seriously not even sure I can continue supporting this show with my viewing. I was happy to see a Preacher commercial, even though it wasn’t an intriguing one. Just the fact that it’s coming in just over a month is more entertaining to me than this show. This episode made zero sense and I mean "zero." So, your boat driver tells you that as soon as it’s clear, you’re heading out again. What a

MSPIFF 2016 Review: Alena

A stylish thriller that combines both Let The Right One In and Carrie.
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Bullying is one of those issues the media and the public have been ranting about in the last few years. Now that’s not to say there should not be any discussion on the subject. I just think this whole thing gets very little results. Not everyone is going to like you and no group meet-ups or tweet outs is going to change that. When you are faced with a bully, there are a few options. You can either stand up to them or you can run away. Another choice is to do what our main character does and just let

Twilight Time Presents: Our Own Personal Freedoms

A quintet of moving pictures that are guaranteed to hear your prayers (or at least be your friends when you're feeling unknown and all alone).
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Everyone strives for a little more room to breathe in this world. Some seek solace far away from others on islands previously unexplored by man. Others, beget into dystopian lies, defy omnipresent eyes around them in order to discover the truth. Still more are simply born with their own freedom, albeit one that is easily taken away with the mere flick of a trigger. To further illustrate this endeavor, I submit to you this collection of Twilight Time offerings (initially released in December of 2015), which take us into all of the aforementioned mysteries of personal freedoms ‒ and then

And Then There Were None (2015) Blu-ray Review: And Then There Was Yet Another

There can be only one. But is this much-anticipated (and greatly needed) BBC miniseries event truly 'it'?
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Of all the stories written and published by Britain's crowned queen of mysteries, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None has had the privilege of being adapted, staged, filmed, re-adapted, re-staged, re-written, re-published, remade, and ripped-off more than any other tale in the literate world. And it stands to reason that it should: it is, after all, one of the most ‒ if not the most ‒ successful mysteries ever published. Originally published in its native country with a far less respectable title taken from an 1860s blackface song (you may look it up at your discretion and leisure), the

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review - Winter Turns Around in Embarassment

This unnecessary prequel/sequel piles on opulence in lieu of interest.
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When Snow White and the Hunstman debuted in 2012, it marked the beginning of what's become sloppily known as the "revisionist fairy tale" genre, a genre that still hasn't found the presumably fervid audiences that'll eat every morsel Hollywood serves up to us. The Huntsman: Winter's War will leave you near starving with the lack of anything that passes for intrigue or stakes, with its beautifully costumed cast aimlessly wandering a landscape so unsure of itself it refuses to declare itself a sequel or prequel and becomes both. Freya (Emily Blunt), the sister of Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), has spent

Southwest of Salem Film Review: Texas' Modern-day Witch Hunt

A documentary that both fascinates and infuriates audiences to action.
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In a true-crime landscape of Serial and Making a Murderer there's absolutely no better time for Deborah Esquenazi's documentary Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four. Similar to Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's Paradise Lost series with its exploration of small town conservatism and a group of outcasts accused of a heinous crime with little evidence, Esquenazi's documenting of the women collectively known as the San Antonio Four infuriates and terrifies in equal measure. With the case still being investigated currently the story is only beginning... In 2000 four women were accuses of sexually assaulting two little

The Lady in the Van Blu-ray Review: Impound This Vehicle

Maggie Smith as a one-note character is the only good thing in this very droll comedy.
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When watching a movie, there are some things that are good to reveal about a character right away and some things that should be left toward the third act. How would we respond as viewers, if for example in the movie Psycho, Norman Bates was seen wearing his mother’s clothing and then we cut to the moment when he first meets Marion. It would feel a bit out of place and that is how I felt when I watched this movie. At the very start, we see an elderly lady driving away from one of the most backwards cops ever

The Revenant is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us Leonardo DiCaprio getting torture porned, Maggie Smith living in a van, Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing politics, and much more.
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If you relentlessly abuse your no-name actors, then your film gets called torture porn, but if you treat Leonardo DiCaprio in the same manner, then you win Oscars. Or something. There’s a lot of nonsense politics involved in the Academy Awards and with critical evaluations of genres, and just general movie watchng. Just read the message boards on IMDB on any given film and you’ll see nothing but nonsense. Personally, I can dig a little low-brow torture porn alongside my high-minded films where big named stars get mauled viciously by bears. The Revenant certainly does abuse Leonardo DiCaprio over and

Criterion Announces July 2016 Releases

Here's a cure for the summertime blues.
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The six offerings from Criterion in July are four new titles to the Collection and two upgrades. The former are Arthur Hiller's The In-laws; Alain Resnais’ Muriel, or The Time of Return; King Hu's A Touch of Zen; and Terrence Malick's The New World. The latter are Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls and a second Resnais title, Night and Fog. Read on to learn more about them. The In-laws (#823) out Jul 5 Peter Falk and Alan Arkin make for a hilarious dream team in this beloved American sidesplitter. Directed by Arthur Hiller from an ingenious script by Andrew Bergman,

Bride of Re-Animator Blu-ray Review: A Gallows Worth of Fun

All the gore (and humor) you want from the franchise.
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Brian Yuzna’s sequel to the cult classic Re-Animator is the very definition of a film that is not for everyone. For your humble reviewer, it was about the point when the re-animated dismembered fingers, which have been attached to an eyeball, escape the lab and are accidentally squished by the police lieutenant that I knew Bride of Re-Animator was a film totally for me. Bride strips the original of its - well I don’t want to say import as Re-Animator isn’t much more than a hilariously gory zombie romp - so let's say artistic meaning and gleefully reproduces its blood-splattered

Book Review: Batman V Superman - Dawn of Justice: The Art of the Film by Peter Aperlo

A highly detailed look at the art of this superhero blockbuster.
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Batman V Superman — Dawn Of Justice is a landmark event in the DC Extended Universe. It marks the first time the company’s big three — Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman — have shared the screen together in a major motion picture. With decades of visually stunning comic pages to pull material from, the film needed to be equally impressive, and it largely succeeds in this aspect. Batman V Superman — Dawn Of Justice: The Art Of The Film takes a look at what goes into making such a film, from concept to finished product, detailing these legendary characters’ worlds.

AMC to Host Pop-up Fan Screenings of the Highly-anticipated Preacher Series Premiere

Screening of pilot episode to take place in four select cities.
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Press release: AMC announced today a social media campaign that will bring special pop-up screenings of the highly-anticipated new series Preacher to super fans’ hometowns in the weeks leading into the show’s May 22 premiere. Beginning today, fans can visit Twitter or Instagram to post their most creative photos, videos or comments about why their hometown deserves an exclusive “Preacher” screening using the hashtag #PreacherFanScreenings. AMC will select four cities or towns for a screening of the series’ pilot episode on April 30, May 7, 15 and 21. Fans can visit PreacherFanScreenings.com for more information. Based on Garth Ennis and

John Carradine Goes Fishing DVD Review: Oh, the Horror

After nearly 70 years of anticipation, the documentary nobody ever asked for is unearthed from the sands of tides ‒ and it still stinks to high heaven.
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By the time Fish Story had been shot, scored, and pasted together for its (presumably very limited) theatrical debut in 1947, the recently-added category for Best Documentary in the Oscars was only five years old. And, upon even the most casual, non-committed viewing of Fish Story ‒ which has recently been rediscovered after nearly 70 years of obscurity and released on DVD-R via budget label Alpha Video under the more "marketable" moniker of John Carradine Goes Fishing ‒ it's easy to see why this documentary never found its way to the Academy for award-worthy approval. Granted, a good part of

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 04-18-16

Ladies dominate the highlights this week. If that bothers you, seek professional help.
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This week on TCM finds Ethel as the Barrymore in the spotlight, Gloria Steinham guest programming, and more than one "Funny Girl." TCM Spotlight: The Best of the Barrymores - The Spiral Staircase (1946) Monday, April 18 at 10:00 p.m. (ET) A serial killer stalks a mute servant girl in a remote mansion. Guest Programmer: Gloria Steinem - Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) Tuesday, April 19 at 10:00 p.m. (ET) A young writer gets caught up in a party girl's carefree existence. Metropolis (1926) Wednesday, April 20 at 3:00 a.m. (ET) In this silent film, a city of the future is

Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear the Walking Dead: 'Monster'

T&A are on the job trying to make sense of this season of FTWD.
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In which Shawn and Kim head out on the a one-hour tour with our cast. Shawn: Is this just some backhanded way to get me to watch a show that I might bail on? Is it some morbid curiosity? 1.) PREVIOUSLY ON FTWD. Before that little montage at the beginning (and truthfully afterwards too), I remember these few things about the initial season. Kim Dickens is hot. There's a boat that not-Morgan led them to. Drug teen was annoying. After much teeth gnashing, some lady was killed. And the Army was going to bomb Los Angeles. This show had moved

MSPIFF 2016 Review: Here Comes The Videofreex

A very interesting portrait of a group that made an impact in our lives but have never been recognized for it until now.
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Now that everyone can post all sorts of videos on the internet today, it’s easy to take the technology we use for granted. Anyone with a cell phone can now be considered a journalist. They just have to be at the right place at the right time or the wrong time depending on what the occasion is. I remember when the beating of Rodney King first aired and how it sparked a revolution/riot. People were talking and debating about that tape for a long time. In my mind, I thought that this was the first time independent video got into

The Forest Blu-ray Review: It May Make You Want To Give Up Camping

You may not want to go hiking or camping anytime soon after viewing The Forest, but you are likely to want to seek out Natalie Dormer in her next feature.
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Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, The Tudors) stars in the supernatural thriller The Forest. The film is an old-school jump-scare movie that substitutes a haunted house for a creepy forest in Japan. The only problem with this conceit is that the spooky forest featured in the film, Japan's Aokigahara Forest, at the foot of Mount Fuji, is a real place, with a real and poignant modern history of being a site where people choose to go to die. The Forest quickly presents this fact and then...does not much with it, proceeding with its fairly traditional ghost story.

Book Review: The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ by Dave Thompson

The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ covers everything you need to know about Frank-N-Furter and company and then some.
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Richard O’ Brien’s gender-bending musical The Rocky Horror Show premiered in London in 1973, at the height of the U.K.’s glam-rock craze. Although most glam entertainment eventually dissipated, Rocky Horror remained the one true constant from that time, retaining its kitschy ‘70s glory throughout the decades. The film version introduced Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf to a worldwide audience and taught millions of devoted fans how to do “The Time Warp”. The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ from the Applause Books FAQ series, covers everything you need to know about Frank-N-Furter and company and then some.

Lamb DVD Review: A Heartbreaking Tale of Two Broken Individuals

A soulfully creepy and courageous depiction of two lost souls crossing paths.
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Films that deal with uneasy relationships, such as Sundays and Cybele, can have a certain uncomfortable effect on audiences. Maybe they can't deal with stories about characters who have questionable interactions with other people, or that they are in denial about their own lives, but however you see it, these types of films do start conversations. Director Ross Partridge's 2015 film, Lamb, is one such film. Despite the film's unhealthy subject matter, it is more of a heartbreaking tale of two broken individuals finding each other at just the exact moment. Partridge himself stars as David Lamb, a lonely and

The Jungle Book (2016) Movie Review: A Loving Spin on an Old Tale

Jon Favreau recreates The Jungle Book lusher and grander than ever before.
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Almost fifty years have passed since The Jungle Book graced movies screen, marking the end of an era as the last film personally overseen by Walt Disney. Disney's corporate jungle has changed a lot in 49 years but director Jon Favreau brings the magic back with his interpretation of Rudyard Kipling's tale, engaging audiences in a lush world beautifully rendered in photo-realistic CGI while introducing old characters with added nuance and pathos. Favreau treads a new path by simply repainting and expanding the old one, creating a new tale Uncle Walt would be proud of. Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi) has

MSPIFF 2016 Review: Norman Lear: Just Another Version Of You

The creator of television's greatest hits is the focus in this great documentary.
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Before I explain anything about Norman Lear or this documentary, I feel that It’s important to give a quick, little lesson on early TV programs. Most of the sitcoms that were made in the early '50s were ones that did not reflect society but were ones a lot of people thought society wanted to be. Shows like Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it To Beaver showed a very idealistic way the moral majority viewed the American family. Most of the problems involved simple things like the boss coming over for dinner and little Jimmy cheating on a test. All that

RiffTrax Live: MST3K Reunion Show Set for June 28 and July 12

Fathom Events and RiffTrax present a side-splitting get together with beloved MST3K cast of characters.
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Press release: Get ready for a Satellite of Love-fest as the guys of RiffTrax -- Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett (best known for the groundbreaking Mystery Science Theater 3000) -- celebrate their 10th year at RiffTrax by producing “RiffTrax Live: MST3K Reunion Show,” an amazing night of riffing and comedy with most of the original MST3K stars. Joining Mike, Kevin and Bill live, in front of a packed house at the State Theater in Minneapolis, will be none other than MST3K creator Joel Hodgson (“Joel Robinson”), Trace Beaulieu (“Dr. Clayton Forrester,” “Crow T. Robot”), Frank Conniff (“TV’s

Memories of a Penitent Heart Movie Review: Memories of a Fragmented Heart

Desires and religion clash in this absorbing familial documentary.
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Blood is thicker than water is a common adage trotted out in order to emphasize the unbreakable bonds of family. Our family, in theory, should be comprised of the people who know us best and, conversely, whom we know as well as ourselves. Director Cecilia Aldarondo questions familial authenticity in the gripping documentary Memories a Penitent Heart. Turning the camera inward, Aldarondo explores her own family and identity through investigating her deceased uncle. Comparisons to Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell abound, but Aldarondo tackles something beyond just her insular family world, casting a net which comprises the religious and cultural

Bride of Re-Animator is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us reanimated corpses getting married, Cray Grant as a fly-boy, DC comic heroes fighting, other Heroes being reborn and much more.
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When I was a young teen, I used to daydream about the day when I’d turn 16 and could take myself to see R-rated movies (or rent them at the video store). My parents were not ridiculously strict with these things. I’d seen plenty of R-rated movies but those were mostly action movies. In my family, like many American families, violence on the screen was okay for us young ones to watch. We could get away with a certain amount of cursing in movies, but sex and nudity were big no-nos. On the occasions my mother was out of town,

Justice League vs. Teen Titans Blu-ray Review: That's So Raven, Damian

Weak plotting in the first half undermines a terrific final act.
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DC appears determined to cater to all manner of Justice League fans this year. If the dark, brooding Batman V Superman movie isn’t your cup of tea, and you think you’re too grown up for the blissfully fun hijinks of Lego Justice League: Cosmic Clash, here’s your middle-of-the-road alternative. Sure, it leans more to the dark side, but in a welcome departure from many recent DC animated releases, it doesn’t resort to adult language or mature themes to hit its perceived demographic. Continuing the Damian Wayne (Robin) story followed in the past couple of Batman animated films, the latest entry

Sugar Kisses DVD Review: Young Love in Misshapen Chaos

A tale of young love, domestic strife and a safe place with a hell of a view.
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Carlos Cuarón’s 2013 film Sugar Kisses is part street fable and part Shakespearean tragedy. The screenplay by Cuarón and Luis Usabiaga brims with the clarity of young love and juxtaposes it against the darkness of crime and domestic punishment. It’s a familiar tale and at times Cuarón’s affection for clichés gets in the way, but there’s still a lot to like about this picture. Cuarón is the brother of Gravity and Y Tu Mamá También director Alfonso Cuarón and he wrote the screenplay for the latter, which was a sensual coming-of-age narrative that shares a lot with Sugar Kisses. But

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 04-11-16

Nosferatu won't be the only one running silent this week.
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This week on TCM finds the Barrymores back in the spotlight, star-of-the-month Judy Garland planning to meet you in St. Louis, and the Jets and Sharks fighting/dancing in the streets. TCM Spotlight: The Best of the Barrymores - One Man's Journey (1933) Monday, April 11 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Father and son doctors disagree over the son's materialistic goals. Juke Girl (1942) Tuesday, April 12 at 10:15 p.m. (ET) A migrant laborer becomes a champion of farm worker's rights. Nosferatu (1922) Wednesday, April 13 at 11:30 p.m. (ET) In this silent film, a beautiful woman risks her life to end

French New Wave Super-star Anna Karina to Appear in Person at Hollywood & NYC Tributes

Restoration of Godard’s Band of Outsiders, starring Karina, to bow at TCN Classic Film Festival & Film Forum.
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Press release: In a rare visit to the United States, screen idol Anna Karina, a darling of the French New Wave, will appear in person at tributes in Los Angeles and New York City. Karina will make an appearance at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, where she will be interviewed following the U.S. premiere of a new restoration of Jean-Luc Godard’s offbeat crime comedy, Band of Outsiders, in which she stars with Sami Frey and Claude Brasseur. Karina will also appear at L.A.’s Cinefamily on April 29, followed by a three-borough New York tour: BAM Cinematek, Brooklyn

Shakespeare Adaptations Screen for Free Saturdays in April at The Frida Cinema

Four rarely-screened stage adaptations of works by William Shakespeare as BBC and the world celebrate his 400th birthday.
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Press release: With the partnership of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), The Frida Cinema will be offering our community to see four rarely-screened stage adaptations of works by William Shakespeare as BBC and the world celebrate the 400th Birthday of theatre's most celebrated playwright, William Shakespeare. The Shakespeare at 400 series will present: Saturday, April 9 - 1:30pmAS YOU LIKE IT (1963) Directors Michael Elliott and Ronald Eyre's 1963 adaptation of Shakespeare's 1603 comedy was originally produced for television, and has very rarely presented on the big screen! This charming black and white adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company production

The Forest (2016) Blu-ray Review: Beautiful, but Dull

Not even Natalie Dormer can save this dud.
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At the base of Mt. Fuji, Japan, lies the Aokigahara forest. With its large rocky ice caverns, it is a popular tourist destination. With its densely packed trees and vegetation, all visitors are warned to stay on the trails or get lost. In Japanese mythology, the forest is populated with angry ghosts called Yūrei. For decades now, it has also been a popular site for suicides. Despondent men and women wander into the forest, hang themselves, overdose, or sometimes intentionally get lost and starve to death. That’s a terrific set-up for a great horror movie. Unfortunately The Forest isn’t it.

Book Review: Batman V Superman - Dawn of Justice: Tech Manual by Adam Newell and Sharon Gosling

This new book details the technology in the film belonging to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
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Through the years, the Batman character has been known for his gadgets and technology. These have ranged from the ridiculous (Bat Shark Repellent, anyone?) to the really cool (The Batmobile, the Batcave, and the Batsuit and cowl, itself). There is no shortage of this tech in the new movie, Batman V Superman — Dawn of Justice as, after all, Batman is just a man, and taking on the likes of Superman requires more than just fists. The Batman V Superman — Dawn Of Justice: Tech Manual takes an in-depth look at the many varied bits of technology used in the

Sixth Annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up Features Previously Unreleased 1989 Sullivan Stadium Concert

Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment continue annual “Meet-Up at the Movies” with a special one-night showing of a classic concert on May 11.
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Press release: Legendary rock band, the Grateful Dead, comes back to the big screen for the 6th annual event, “Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies 2016,” presented by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m. local time. This special cinema event features the previously unreleased Grateful Dead concert from Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on July 2, 1989. It captures the Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Brent Mydland and Bob Weir), as the band opens their tour in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 60,000 fans. Audiences will

The Invitation Movie Review: An Invitation You Won't Pass Up

Karyn Kusama creates a slow-burn with a stellar cast.
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A group of people reuniting after a certain period of time always makes for awkward fun, whether it's the story of a high school reunion or, as in Karyn Kusama's The Invitation, friends meeting two years later after one of their own has gone on a mysterious retreat to Mexico. The Invitation is a slow-burn thriller with elements heavily borrowed from the work of Ti West - the comparison alone dictates whether you'll enjoy the film or not - that blends the awkward humor of The Overnight with the terror of The Sacrament. Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'The Last Day on Earth'

"Sure am glad that’s not how I spent my last day on Earth." - Kim
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In which Kim and Shawn wonder what could have been. Kim: I spent many anxiety-ridden weeks waiting for the season finale. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was coming. Someone was going to die. Tension was rampant. There were nights spent being irritated at the pace of the show, but hoping that it was leading somewhere incredible. I was ready to be wowed. I was ready to be devastated. As I sat to watch the 90-minute finale, I reminded myself that the only reason it was 90 minutes, was because AMC knew they’d make a killing by selling ad time. There wasn’t

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us Star Wars! And some other stuff.
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From the moment George Lucas announced the sale of his Star Wars franchise to Disney and that there would then be more movies, the hype has been astronomical. Every day there were dispatches from TV, radio, podcasts, and more websites than one can imagine. We learned about each cast member as they got hired, about the crew, the caterers, about the shooting locations, the title, the posters, the trailers, the teaser posters for the trailer, and when J.J. Abrams sneezed on his way home. They hype was colossal. It was absolutely insane. I totally loved it. Well, that's not entirely

Book Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection Vol. 2, 1979-1981 by Stan Lee and John Romita

Marvel legend John Romita's four-year run on on Spidey's daily comic strip adventures draws to a close.
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The trouble with a daily serialized story is how long it takes for anything to happen. Thanks to IDW’s continuing collections of notable comic strip runs, that trouble has been eliminated. Here in one handy book is two full years of Spidey adventures, notable not just for its complete stories but for its top-notch contributors: Spidey co-creator Stan Lee and Marvel legend John Romita. Lee spins a web of memorable tales here, but the real hero is Romita due to his masterful output of fantastic daily artwork for four years, starting at the strip’s inception in 1977 through most of

Book Review: Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970 by Karie Bible & Mary Mallory

It's a wonderful celebration of a bygone era.
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Joseph Campbell is quoted telling others to follow their bliss and fans of Classic Hollywood should be glad co-authors Karie Bible and Mary Mallory have heeded that advice as their own love for the era and its stars have led to them sharing photographs from their collections, which they found by “scouring eBay, searching vintage paper shows, and visiting movie collectible stores,” as revealed in the book’s Introduction. The objects of their shared desire compromise the majority of the images in Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays 1920-1970 from Schiffer Publishing. The book is a treasure trove of 221 fantastic photos, with

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 04-04-16

Probably not the first time New Orleans and a Lost Weekend have occurred in the same week.
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This week finds TCM celebrating the Barrymores, Gregory Peck's 100th Birthday, and Star-of-the-Month Judy Garland on her iconic trip to the Land of Oz. TCM Spotlight: The Best of the Barrymores - A Bill of Divorcement (1932) Monday, April 4 at 10:00 p.m. (ET) A recovered madman learns his ex-wife and daughter are about to marry Gregory Peck 100th Birthday Tribute - To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) Tuesday, April 5 at 10:00 p.m. (ET) A young girl grows up fast when her lawyer father defends a black man accused of raping a white woman (review) Starring Arturo De Cordova -

Book Review: The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen's Dossier by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry

A deeper look at the colorful characters of The Blacklist.
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Now in its third season, The Blacklist, which stars James Spader as Raymond Reddington, a former Navy Officer turned super criminal turned FBI informant, is one of the more riveting dramas on television, network or otherwise. The premise of the show is that Reddington willingly hands over a list of the worst of the worst criminals — the blacklisters — in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The catch is that he will only work with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a young agent who may or may not be his daughter. Keen keeps a detailed dossier of all the blacklist members,

Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Blu-ray Review: The Acting and Directing Elevate the Writing

Robert Altman and his cast turn a second-tier script into something worth watching.
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Based upon a stage play of the same name this movie was written by the playwright (Ed Graczyk) and directed by Robert Altman (who also directed it on the stage). It tells the story of six women who come together for a twenty-year reunion of a James Dean fan club inside an old Woolworths in a tiny town in Texas. There they laugh, reminisce, open up old wounds, and reveal secrets long since buried. The story itself is nothing special, old friends coming together to drudge up the past is pretty boilerplate storytelling, and the script adds nothing new. The

getTV's Variety Programming Block in April Features Warhol, Mays, Parton, and More

Highlights include Chita Rivera, Peter Lawford & Louis Jourdan on THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW, and specials starring Woody Allen, Andy Williams, Dolly Parton, & Dick Van Dyke.
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Press release: getTV unveils a star-studded Monday Night Variety block in April, as some of entertainment’s biggest names deliver unforgettable performances, shine in charming skits, and sit down for insightful interviews, every week starting at 8 p.m. ET. This month’s roster includes classic episodes of THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW featuring appearances by Vic Damone, Chita Rivera, Peter Lawford, and Louis Jourdan; and rare specials starring Woody Allen, Andy Williams, Dolly Parton, and Dick Van Dyke at 9 p.m. ET; followed by some of THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW’s most iconic episodes at 10 p.m. ET, with special guests Bette Davis, Olivia

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