May 2016 Archives

The Naked Island Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Japanese film explores the travails of a poor farming family without the use of dialogue.
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Kaneto Shindo’s film about the daily struggles of a poor farming family has one major hook: a total absence of dialogue. Filmed in black and white on a rocky speck of an island off the coast of Japan, the film initially plays more like a documentary than a narrative film until a tragic event unfolds in the final act. Up until that point, the daily monotony of hardscrabble farming life wears out its welcome as a film subject long before its allotted time is over. The family consists of a middle-aged man, his younger wife, and their two young sons.

Rainbow: Monsters of Rock - Live at Donington 1980 Review

Oft bootlegged festival footage finally gets an official release.
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Rainbow Monsters of Rock is a DVD / CD combo that will be accepted differently based on your expectations. The DVD is standard stadium / festival-rock fare. Lots of sparks and flashing lights, stage theatrics and post set fireworks. The setting is Donington Park Race Track in England at the first Monsters of Rock Festival in August of 1980. It's quite a bill and Rainbow is the headlining act. The video is a time capsule, a bridge between '70s jammers and '80s hair bands and also the time when Rainbow was moving towards a more radio-friendly sound. The star here

The Assassin Blu-ray Review: Mesmerizingly Beautiful, Maddeningly Obtuse

Hsiao Hsien Hou won Best Director at Cannes for this gorgeous, but largely plotless and completely unsatisfying historical drama.
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It’s hard when reviewing a movie to admit that you don’t get it. If you have enough ego to broadcast your opinions on films, you probably have enough ego to be sure you have something interesting to say about them. So when a movie confounds you, there can be the temptation to pretend you get what it’s doing, for appearance’s sake. This movie isn’t smarter than me, after all! Well, The Assassin has confounded me, and I’m not sure if that’s because it was smarter than me, or what it was trying to do was something I am not receptive

Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us three films from Wim Wenders, a human tornado, a city of women, a blood bath and much more.
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I’ve seen exactly one Wim Wenders film (Until the End of the World - I think - or it could have been Faraway, So Close. It was definitely a U2 song title, and I don’t remember any angels so I’m pretty sure it was Until the End of the World). Obviously, I don’t remember much of the film, but I do remember not liking it. Or rather I liked the first part of the film, which felt like (and had the run time of) a full movie, but then it just kept going and became a different film entirely. By

getTV's June Programming Highlights Include Divas, Crime TV Block, and Robert Kennedy

Also a month of divas on The Judy Garland Show and more.
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Press release: getTV launches into summer with a June lineup packed with touching tributes, rare crime series, tense thrillers, and more. The roster includes a special episode of THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW, in honor of Robert F. Kennedy; a month of divas on THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW, with Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Lena Horne, and Ethel Merman; the all-new Crime TV Saturday block, featuring JOHNNY STACCATO, FELONY SQUAD, and THE LIEUTENANT; and birthday blocks celebrating Rosalind Russell, Dean Martin, and Judy Holliday. Rosalind Russell—Thurs., June 2 at 8 p.m. ET Golden Age icon Rosalind Russell shines in a night of

Carol + 2: The Original Queens of Comedy DVD Review: A Look into a Kinder, Gentler Era in TV Comedy

Iconic comediennes Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball star in the 1966 TV special, which gives viewers a glimpse of what to expect a year later on The Carol Burnett Show.
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The Carol Burnett Show, one of the most beloved variety shows of the late 20th century, debuted in 1967 and ran through 1978. Burnett’s early 1960s specials were the testing ground for the long running series. The Carol + 2 TV special aired on the CBS Television network, on March 22, 1966. Carol + 2 co-starred Carol’s precursor as TV’s first lady of comedy, Lucille Ball and Broadway actor Zero Mostel of Fiddler on the Roof fame. (Another special, co-starring Julie Andrews, aired in 1963.) In the mid-60s, before Amy Schumer, Chelsea Handler, and all of the anything-goes comediennes of

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 05-30-16

There will be no June gloom with this line-up.
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The week begins with the end of TCM's Memorial Day Marathon. Actor Matthew Broderick programs Tuesday night, and the channnel puts the spotlight on stories that originally appeared on the stage, director Billy Wilder, and actor Roy Scheider. Memorial Day Marathon: Kelly's Heroes (1970) Monday, May 30 at 10:45 p.m. (ET) An American platoon tries to recover buried treasure behind enemy lines. TCM Guest Programmer: Matthew Broderick - The Doorway to Hell (1930) Tuesday, May 31 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Despite his efforts to go straight, a young gangster keeps falling back into crime. TCM Spotlight: Stage to Screen -

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

"An amalgam of all of the crap rolled in to one last hurrah before getting a break." - Kim
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In which Shawn and Kim welcome a merciful end to this half season. Shawn: We survived. I don't care about our group. It's you and I, T&A, that survived this torture of a season. I was so happy to have the cleansing power of Preacher before I sat down to watch the last episode of this half season, "Shiva". I felt such a relief at the end of that episode that I almost mentally erased the whole thing when I hit "delete" on the DVR. I've recalled a few things to finish this chapter of our reviews. Just a few.

Killer Dames - Two Gothic Chillers By Emilio Miraglia Blu-ray Review

Arrow Video creates another fantastic set featuring two Italian giallo films.
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Emilio Miraglia rose through the ranks of Italian cinema in the early '60s, making his bones as an assistant director on over 15 films before taking the reins as director. After a couple of mostly forgotten action flicks and a heist picture, he made two well regarded (at least among genre fans) giallos before turning to the Spaghetti Western genre. He directed six films between 1967 and 1972 and then completely disappeared from cinema all together. It's the giallos he is remembered for and Arrow Video has put the pair together in another of their fantastic, limited edition releases. A

Blood Bath (1966) Blu-ray Review: Alternatingly Bloody Good and Awfully Bad Stuff

Arrow Video brings us the ultimate release of the Roger Corman horror film best known for its bizarre and convoluted production history.
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Within the grand scope of filmmaking, there is perhaps no greater force than that of editing. If you take a peek at some of the deleted and alternate scenes from George Lucas' original Star Wars, you may bear witness to some truly dreadful moments which were, thankfully, excised during a frantic last minute editing session ‒ as overseen by people other than Mr. Lucas himself. You see, sometimes even the main driving force behind a feature really doesn't know what to keep and what to snip out. On the flip side of the coin, there have been more than a

Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies: Sullivan Stadium, MA - 07/02/89 Review

It was so good I am already anticipating next year's event.
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Hosted by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment at theaters across the country, the sixth annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies presented the band's performance at Sullivan Stadium, MA on July 2, 1989, which happened 17 days before the Alpine Valley concert shown at the 2015 Meet Up. While the line-up was the same (guitarist Jerry Garcia, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardist Brent Mydland, and guitarist Bob Weir), the setlist didn't repeat one song. After a promo piece for the new Grateful Dead July 1978: The Complete Recordings, which presents five complete shows on 12

Thoughtful & Abstract: Preacher: 'Pilot'

An above average start to what looks like a fun series with people blowing up.
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In which Kim and Shawn are introduced to the television world of Preacher. Kim: Here is the write-up everyone has/I have been waiting for. I’m more than a little bit excited to finally be able to write it. Start bold, Kim. Put your thoughts out there. Don’t hedge. Preacher is the TV show I have been waiting for since Sons of Anarchy ended. I was unable to watch it when it aired as it would have interfered with my daily routine of sleeping for just under seven consecutive hours every single day. So, I watched it on Monday and it

Book Review: Hollywood Cafe: Coffee with the Stars by Steven Rea

A coffee table book about coffee and the stars who drink it.
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Author Steven Rea has collected photos of over 200 Hollywood stars enjoying coffee in his book Hollywood Café: Coffee with the Stars. Rea has crafted a very funny and witty introduction to the book where he playfully mocks the modern-day hipster attitude of this timeless beverage. He discusses how he has chosen the photos for the book and the fact that he has done his due diligence in making sure to the best of his knowledge that the stars in the book are indeed enjoying coffee and not another beverage. Rea also explains how he has broken down the book

Hired To Kill Blu-ray Review: The A-Team's Project Runway

An awesome action movie premise suffers from lack of any real interesting characters.
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There is a podcast I listen to called The Lair of the Unwanted that focuses on B movies and cult films. Between segments, hosts Jason Soto and Scott Nolahn create fake trailers. One of them featured fashion consultant Tim Gunn as a trained mercenary hired to take out the terrorists. It’s a very clever few minutes of audio which you can hear on their episode for Gamera 3. The basic plot for Hired to Kill sounds like a fake trailer itself. A mercenary posing as a famous fashion designer goes to a South America with an army of women soldiers

Killer Dames: Two Gothic Chillers is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a couple of Italian horrors, Jesus, a midwife, and Scott Baio using magic to look up girls skirts.
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I have somewhat eclectic cinematic tastes. I’m just as thrilled to see classic American films like Casablanca or To Kill a Mockingbird as I am modern blockbusters such as the Marvel movies or the new Star Wars. I can sit contemplatively through even the densest Bergman or Godard arthouse films and fist pump at creative kills in an '80s slasher flick or the sadomasochistic weirdness that is Takashi Miike movies. As such, I am perpetually feeling guilty about not watching one sort of film or another. If I start watching a bunch of big budget, smashy-smashy, exploding movies, then I

Major Crimes: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Review: The Series Found Its Groove

Season four was unique because the last five episodes followed one story arc.
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It took some time for me to stop comparing Major Crimes to The Closer. Kyra Sedgwick created an original character that was the basis for the success of the The Closer and the reason why it was not just another run-of-the-mill crime drama. The continuation of the series after she left with the re-titled Major Crimes initially didn't offer anything special other than a solid cast. Season four turned a corner and it has now found its own groove while proving to be hugely successful for TNT as its #2 ranked show. Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) leads an elite

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 05-23-16

The week concludes with the Annual Memorial Day Weekend War Movie Marathon.
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In addition to TCM's Annual Memorial Day Weekend War Movie, which features 72 hours of films including Star of the Month Robert Ryan in Battle of the Bulge, the channel presents Martin Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha as part their American International Pictures spotlight and Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It. Peabody Award Winning Films - Promise (1986) Monday, May 23 at 1:00 a.m. (ET) When his mother dies, a son inherits her house and custody of his younger brother, who suffers from schizophrenia and epilepsy. Sleeper (1973) Tuesday, May 24 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) After awaking from cryogenic suspension,

Eisenstein in Guanajuato DVD Review: An Ode to Stuff

Greenaway tackles Sergei Eisenstein with no shortage of chaotic passion.
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Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato is certainly full of a lot of things. The 2015 picture is part biopic, part comedy, part romance, part drama, part mischievous fantasy, and there isn’t a subtle moment to be found. The movie has a kitchen-sink approach and throws a host of cinematic gewgaws around in its drive to brandish itself all over the screen. Indeed, Greenaway makes it difficult to describe Eisenstein in Guanajuato in flattering terms. While many biographical works at least attempt to inform the audience about the subject, this movie happily obscures reality. It favours discord and discomfort over purpose

World Premiere of 'Star Trek Beyond' to Debut in IMAX at San Diego Comic-Con

The first-ever outdoor IMAX premiere event will include appearances by the film’s cast and crew, and a live concert performance by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.
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Press release: Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot and director Justin Lin today announced that the world premiere of Star Trek Beyond will play in the immersive IMAX format at Comic-Con International: San Diego, in partnership with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and IMAX Corporation, on Wednesday, July 20, at the Embarcadero Marina Park South. The red carpet event at San Diego Comic-Con, which marks the first-ever open-air IMAX world premiere, will feature special appearances by Lin and the Star Trek Beyond filmmakers and cast, as well as a live concert performance of Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino’s film score by

Outlaw Gangster VIP: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: It Don't Feel Good To Be a Gangster

Obscure Japanese films from the 1960s get an excellent release.
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In May of 1968, Japan's oldest movie studio, Nikkatsu, released a little Yakuza drama called Outlaw Gangster VIP. It proved rather popular and profitable, and so they released a remarkable five sequels to it in just under two years. It is rather understandable then that these films get a little repetitive plot-wise. Testy Watari plays Goro Fujisawa, a Yakuza warrior who has (rightfully) earned the nickname Goro the Assassin but has grown tired of the gangster lifestyle and hypocritical honor codes. In each film he tries to escape the gangs to live a normal life, meets a girl (always played

Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear the Walking Dead: 'Sicut Cervus'

"I didn't get enough Nick to make me happy and I can't bring myself to even say it was a mediocre episode." - Shawn
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In which Shawn and Kim almost like an episode and want to talk owls but largely just can't wait for Preacher. Shawn: The title of this episode has some religious significance that's related to the initial scene at the church in the past. The same way that beginning needed subtitles to make sense is kinda how I ended up feeling about the rest of the episode. I was initially ready to compliment the episode on finally making sense but the more I mulled it over I'm not sure that it doesn't need more explanation. So without further ado I'll try

The Zero Boys Blu-ray Review: A Thrill-less Thriller

Nico Mastorakis' cult horror-action movie does nothing with an interesting premise, gets great Blu-ray release anyway.
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Execution is the most important aspect of any thriller. A science fiction movie with good ideas can stand pokey pacing and indifferent acting. A drama can overcome hokey or outdated material with powerful performances. But in a purely cinematic, manipulative genre like the thriller, filmmaking is at a paramount. Holding the audience’s attention, placing them in the action, building up tension, that’s what thrillers are supposed to do. The Zero Boys does not. It starts with an interesting enough premise - what happens if slasher movies villains go up against people with some degree of combat training? And then doesn't

Book Review: Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic by J.B. Kaufman

No lie. This is a great book.
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In his introduction, author J.B. Kaufman reveals that he considers Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (1940) a member of “the fraternity of true epics,” alongside D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, Erich von Stroheim’s original Greed, and Abel Gance’s Napoleon, and he certainly makes the case with his definitive examination presented in Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic. He starts at the beginning, going back to the 19th century when writer Carlo Lorenzini took the name the Tuscany village he grew up, “Collodi,” as his pseudonym under which he published “The Story of a Puppet.” As stated in the foreword by John Canemaker, an

The Witch is the Pick of the Week

This week bring us an acclaimed horror, some women in prison, a dirty grandpa and much more.
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Last Friday was the 13th of May, my brother’s birthday, but more importantly a traditional day of horror. Normally, I’d watch the slasher series with the hockey-masked killer, but my family was having none of that. Instead, we watched one of the newest incarnations of Scooby-Doo (which strangely features a lot of heart-throbbing between the characters - yuck,) an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and part of The Mummy Returns. There wasn’t enough gore-filled stabbing in either of those for my taste, but one has to deal with all sorts of compromises when one has a family. What this

Criterion Announces August 2016 Releases

How many will you be adding to your collection?
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The five offerings from Criterion in August are four new titles to the Collection and one high-definition upgrade. The former are Stig Björkman's Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, Tony Richardson's A Taste of Honey and two by Orson Welles, Chimes at Midnight and The Immortal Story. The lone upgrade is Hiroshi Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes. Read on to learn more about them. Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words (#828) out Aug 16 Whether headlining films in Sweden, Italy, or Hollywood, Ingrid Bergman always pierced the screen with a singular soulfulness. With this new documentary, made on the occasion

When Everything is WAC: A Visual Buffet from the Warner Archive

From one of Lucille Ball's first big roles, to one of John Carradine's last, this assortment of odds and ends from the Warner Archive Collection has it all.
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Since its humble inception at the beginning of 2009, the Warner Archive Collection has been paying its respects to many hard-to-find motion pictures which would be otherwise unavailable to classic movie buffs everywhere. And, much to the delight of the aforementioned grouping of folks who have had more than their fair share of ultra-sleek CGI-laden popcorn movies we pay a questionable lump of dough to see once in a theater packed full of people who still have yet to learn the fine art of cinema etiquette (seriously, turn your phones off, kids!), the WAC ‒ as it is so lovingly
I missed the Firefly bandwagon back when it initially aired, probably because I didn't have cable at the time or something. I recently dove into it on Netflix and wrapped up the series and Serenity movie just in time for Titan Books to release Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the 'Verse and explain a great many things to me. Heck, the title alone showed me that Netflix's subtitles were wrong -- it's spelled "gorramn," not "gorram." Across 160 pages bound in a gritty and embossed, tactilly satisfying hardcover backing, we're treated to glossy stills of the crew

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 05-16-16

"How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?" - Walter Neff, Double Indemnity
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Among the channel's highlights this week are TCM continuing to shine the spotlight on American International Pictures with a screening of Beach Party, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, and on Star of the Month Robert Ryan in The Outfit. Short Stories: O. Henry's Full House (1952) Monday, May 16 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Five stories reveal O. Henry's gift for the surprise ending Air Force (1943) Tuesday, May 17 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A bomber crew sees World War II action over the Pacific. Across the Wide Missouri (1951) Wednesday, May 18 at 10:15 p.m. (ET) An explorer leads

Justice League: The New Frontier DVD Review: An Adventure Worth Exploring

Good, superhero fun, but it noticeably falls short of the greatness it strives for.
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Darwyn Cooke's award-winning, 2004 comic-book miniseries, DC: The New Frontier was tuned into a direct-to-video DVD in 2008. Set during the 1950s, the story bridges the gap between DC's Golden and Silver Ages by presenting an origin story for the Justice League of America. The prologue informs us about THE CENTRE, a creature who has existed almost since Earth's creation. Since humans have harnessed atomic power, it has determined that the species "must be cleansed" from the planet and slowly proceeds with its plan. Cold War fears have caused many heroes to pack it in. The Justice Society of America

Dillinger (1973) Blu-ray Review: Times Were Tough, So He Got with the Times!

Arrow Video brings us John Milius' directorial debut, featuring eager performances by Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton, and Richard Dreyfuss.
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Never one to take a backseat to a popular genre, the always active brains behind the once prolific American International Pictures ‒ Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson ‒ instantly knew a moneymaker when they saw (or thought of) it. Even after Arkoff's production partner left to form his own company in 1972, only to unexpectedly leave this world from a brain tumor a few months later, Sam Arkoff continued to switch on that proverbial green light to many a low budget offering from seasoned industry professionals and total wannabes alike. And it was in July of 1973 that

The Witch Blu-ray Review: An Incredibly Spooky Descent into Gothic Madness

A chillingly original depiction of Gothic horror and familial breakdown.
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As we know, the horror genre is a rather dying one. In this case, filmmakers are forced to think up new ways to terrify their audiences. Some have failed, while others have truly succeeded. I think that director Robert Eggers definitely went far and beyond with the latter when he released his mesmerizing 2015 thriller The Witch. Not only does this film take you into some very dark places, but it also succeeds in taking the usual cliches of other horror films and turns them on their heads. The story takes place in New England during the 17th century, where

Macbeth (2015) Blu-ray Review: Heavy On Visuals, Light On Poetry

A new take on the Scottish Play is visually stunning, but skips a few too many of the Bard's words.
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Directors of both stage and screen love fiddling with the settings, periods, and sometimes even the words of William Shakespeare. His plays have been transplanted from Shakespeare’s own 16th Century to modern times and every period in between. The play's settings regularly gets moved around to suit the director’s whims and his words have been translated and modified time and time again. This speaks to how well his dramas speak to every person in every age. It also says something about how director’s attempt to mold great works under their own visions. In one of the features on the Blu-ray

Mötley Crüe: The End, the Band's Final Show, Comes to Select U.S. Cinemas on June 14

"While not everyone was able to see their Final Show live, Crüe fans can now catch all the action."
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Press release: On December 31, 2015, legendary rock icons Mötley Crüe completed their 35-year touring career as a band with a spectacular final concert at Staples Center in their hometown of Los Angeles, CA, just 10 miles from the Sunset Strip where the band’s infamous and decadent career first launched. The band thrilled the sold-out arena with performances of such mega-hits as “Kickstart My Heart,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Home Sweet Home” and “Dr. Feelgood.” While not everyone was able to see their Final Show live, Crüe fans can now catch all the action when Fathom Events, Live Alliance, Eagle Rock

Money Monster Review: More Like Mediocre Monster

Jodie Foster's latest turn as director is too little, too late.
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In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, Hollywood did everything to help audiences understand what happened in a multitude of ways, from the serious, jargon-heavy work of Margin Call to the light-hearted, if condescending discussion in last year's Oscar-nominated film The Big Short. With an audience already aware of how heartless corporations, and, more specifically, investment companies are, Jodie Foster's Money Monster can only ever come off as a well-informed also-ran. Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the unlikable anchor of a popular investment program called Money Monster. When an unstable man (Jack O'Connell) straps a bomb to Gates,

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

"Can we have more Patsy Cline tunes in future episodes?" - Kim
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In which Shawn and Kim agree on two things: They are counting down to Preacher and they love Patsy Cline. Shawn: I think all we need to do to start each of these reviews is just include the countdown to the first episode of Preacher. That commercial was the best 30 seconds of this episode. But instead I'll start to unpack what I saw or at least think I saw in-between yawns. 1.) STEAK-UMMS. In the most uncomfortable seduction move of the season, Connor made Alicia a cheap steak that I think spelled out the words "do you like me

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Four

Each year, I always wonder when they will run out of great films to fill the schedule and there was no shortage again this year.
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[Editor's Note: Lorna previously reviewed Day One and Two together, and Day Three.] Heading into the last day, I was already starting to feel sad that it was almost over. No matter how many movies I manage to fit in, it always goes too fast and I feel like it is never enough. The final day started with The Longest Yard (1974), which was another film I thought would be fun with a crowd. Burt Reynolds was supposed to be in attendance but regrettably cancelled before the festival began. Producer Al Ruddy provided his perspective on the making of the

Steven Spielberg to Present John Williams with AFI Life Achievement Award

This marks the first time in AFI history that it will be bestowed upon a composer.
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Press release: Steven Spielberg will present John Williams with the American Film Institute's (AFI) 44th Life Achievement Award. This marks the first time in AFI history that America's highest honor for a career in film will be bestowed upon a composer. Williams' career will be celebrated at the private Gala Tribute on June 9, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA. The televised special, AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to John Williams, will air on TNT on June 15 at 10:00 p.m. (ET/ PT), followed by an encore presentation on sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) on September

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Three

Which film "still brings tears to [her] eyes"?
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[Editor's Note: Day One and Two has been previously reviewed.] I decided to sleep in to prepare for another big day ahead since there wasn’t anything that I really wanted to see in the 9am time slot. Additionally, I wanted to make absolutely sure that I got a good spot in line for Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) featuring Illeana Douglas interviewing director/co-writer Carl Reiner. I have seen Carl talk before but he is always a treat and was this time as well. I had never seen the film and it is one of the best I saw all

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Blu-ray Review: A Disappointing End to a Disappointing Series

The Hunger Games series concludes with a dull roar.
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After the inert and exposition-heavy The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, the final chapter of the dystopic “trilogy” rumbles to its inevitable conclusion in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Based on Suzanne Collins’ novel of the same name, this 2015 movie is directed by Francis Lawrence with a screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong. It’s hard to argue that Mockingjay - Part 2 is an improvement on its first portion, as Lawrence is up to the same tricks and the script dribbles with the same instructive dialogue. The personality has long since been drained from the

Deadpool is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an R-rated superhero, a classic Bogart, a miniseries take on Tolstoy, and much more.
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For the foreseeable future, it is a blockbuster world and we’re just living in it. Marvel has been churning out massive, gigantic, skyscraper busting mega-hits since 2008 and they show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. With the huge success of The Force Awakens, the Star Wars universe will be joining in with at least a couple of lightsaber flicks every year. Then you’ve got Michael Bay, those furiously fast folks, and a horde of others all who will ensure that pretty much anytime you go to your local megaplex you will be seeing a film that contains no

Bandits (2001) Blu-ray Review: Not As Bad As You've Heard

Come sleep around with the sleepover bandits.
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Even if you didn’t know Bandits was made in 2001, you’d automatically know it was made in the late '90s to early oughts. There’s just something about the film that screams that time period. It’s not so much the period aspect of it - the clothes, cars, etc - but rather I think it stems from both Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis having the lead roles in a Barry Levinson film. Those two actors have had long, storied careers and certainly have made plenty of films since Bandits, but there’s a certain something about those years that pits them

Rifftrax Live: Time Chasers Review - The Weakest Rifftrax is Still Fun!

This '90s cheese fest could only be elevated by our Rifftrax trio.
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Rifftrax Live returns this month with another foray into the world of bad cinema, this time discussing the 1994 time-travel adventure Time Chasers. Led by Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, the Rifftrax gang is back talking bad time travel, horrific office locations, and chimp firemen. Time Chasers and its Rifftrax presentation aren't the funniest or most memorable of the Rifftrax live events, but it will still put a smile on your face! Time Chasers follows pilot Nick Miller (Matthew Bruch) who discovers the means of time travel. He makes a deal to sell his time travel "transport"

The Stuff Blu-ray Review: Once Is More Than Enough

A creature feature that would work much better today than it would back in 1985.
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When I was a kid, there was a new type of desert that had everyone talking. It was called TCBY (aka the country’s best yogurt) and I remember there being centers all around the midwest. Okay, maybe not the entire midwest but there was more than one restaurant in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, which is where I grew up. Everyone flocked to this place to try this yogurt and I remember it being very good. I also recall one night as I was eating some of it before bedtime. My dad told me about this movie he’s seen called The Stuff

Barcelona Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Innocent Imperialists Abroad

Whit Stillman's winning romantic comedy about politics set in late Cold War Spain.
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The first thing to get about Barcelona is the movie is sympathetic to its protagonists. Fred and Ted are cousins who haven’t seen eye to eye on anything since Fred stole Ted’s kayak when they were 10 - though Fred says he was only borrowing it, and the thing was a death trap anyway. They bicker. Ted, an expatriate living in Barcelona, is full of pretension and self-consciousness. Fred is a naval officer, sent to Spain ahead of the fleet to plan recreation. He wears his uniform everywhere, is proud of it, and will be damned if all of Barcelona

Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear The Walking Dead: 'Blood In The Streets'

Blood in the streets, Strand in the sheets.
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In which Kim and Shawn look forward to Preacher. Kim: Yes, yes, yes. I tuned in for another week of this show. I don’t know why I’m still doing it. Notice it took a lot longer this time around to get my opinions down on paper (so to speak). Oh well, here goes nothing. This time-jumping shit has got to go. It was fairly ridiculous to start with the future, move to the past, then to present with a parallel story, to more past and Strand is gay (I told you) or at least pretending to be. I think I

Emelie Blu-ray Review: Strong Performances Elevate Generic Horror

From the Tudors to terror, actress Sarah Bolger shines as an unhinged babysitter.
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The horror genre cannibalizes itself, and I'm not talking about movies about cannibals. Unlike other genres, horror stereotypes are so ingrained in the collective consciousness that it's near impossible not to watch a horror movie through the lens of a previous one. Emelie immediately conjures up similarities to The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and that's not a bad thing in my book, being one of my favorite "rogue babysitter" films. Sarah Bolger and the child actors assemble work wonders with a script that tries to avoid the pitfalls but never sticks the landing. A couple's anniversary sees them hiring

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day One and Two

Illustrations of why I love this festival.
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Each year as I am heading home from the TCM Classic Film Festival, I am sure that the next year couldn’t be any better and I am always proved wrong. My sixth year was no different and after 17 movies, I only wanted more. The festival was held over four days, mostly at locations on Hollywood Blvd, such as the Roosevelt Hotel, the TCL Chinese Theater, and the Egyptian Theater. There were frequently five films playing at any one time along with various interviews and presentations. This makes for a difficult decision-making process once the schedule is posted. Lines start

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray Review: Return of the Franchise (to Great Heights)

One of the more memorable blockbusters in recent years, and the high-def presentation is a fantastic showcase for it.
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens might well have been one of the most anticipated films of all time if the numerous box-office records it set are any indication. Since Star Wars (released in 1977, amended in 1981 with the subtitle Episode IV: A New Hope), the franchise went on to become a major pop-culture juggernaut with a presence in every medium thanks to its devoted fan base and the talented contributors who expanded the fictional universe. The Force Awakens, “Episode VII” of the main film series and the first of a planned sequel trilogy, is an action-packed, thrilling space adventure

Independence Day 20th Anniversary Edition is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us invasions, counterculture icons, Holocaust survivors, and a fancy mop.
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Twenty years ago, I was a sophomore in college. That was the first summer where I didn’t go home for break and instead stayed at school and got a few more credits. I went to a small, private university and it was absolutely dead in the summer. Almost everybody took off, leaving only a hundred of us or so staying on campus. We formed a strange bond, those of us that stayed, hanging out though we weren’t really friends in the normal school months. My roommate stayed too and we mostly just hung out watching TV when we weren’t in

Dangerous Men Blu-ray Review: Professionally, Thoroughly Terrible

A greater package than the movie itself warrants.
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Back in 2005, Dangerous Men had an extremely limited release -- the writer/director/composer/costume designer/etc. John S. Rad spent thousands of dollars to rent out four theaters in Los Angeles for a week to show his film, and its take was a whopping $70. It's not a coincidence. It's not simply a result of having almost no marketing (an ad even ran for it during Fear Factor). It's just a bad movie, evident in every trailer I've seen for it. The very first character we meet inadvertently sets the tone for the entire movie. His credited name is "Police Detective." Yes,

Kristen's Book Club for May 2016

What's worth reading in the month of May?
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Our Gang: A Racial History of the Little Rascals by Julia Lee The cherubic innocence of Hal Roach's Our Gang series delighted children and adults throughout the nation in the early years of cinema. But as racial politics changed the adventures of Alfalfa and his friends were criticized for their past connections to racism. Author Julia Lee attempts to debunk the cries of Our Gang's fraught past by looking at the series from a racial angle. Blending individual episode analysis with the history of the series, Lee tells the tale of Roach's desire to make a series about real children

getTV Presents War Movies, a Mother's Day Salute, and Birthday Blocks in May

Thrilling war epics, sidesplitting comedies, and star-studded dramas airing in primetime all month long.
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Press release: getTV deploys an A-list lineup of Golden Age classics this May, featuring thrilling war epics, sidesplitting comedies, and star-studded dramas, airing in primetime all month long. The roster includes a month of war-time favorites starring Humphrey Bogart, Steve McQueen, and Jack Lemmon, every Thursday in May, in honor of Memorial Day; as well as a Mothers’ Day block featuring Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, and Lucille Ball, among others; and birthday blocks celebrating John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Frank Capra. War Epics—Every Thursday in May, at 8 p.m. ET getTV salutes the troops with eight war epics, airing every

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