December 2016 Archives

Snowden DVD Review: Joseph Gordon Levitt's Performance is a Fun Thing to Watch

Oliver Stone plays it straight with the surprisingly subtle, subdued, and nuanced docu-drama Snowden.
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Oliver Stone has a well-documented history of adapting real-life historical events into films that often thread a finely woven, but shadowy web of conspiracy and paranoia that dares the audience to question what is actually real and what is more likely theatrically imagined. In movies like JFK and Nixon, Stone has also occasionally displayed a tendency to play somewhat loose with the factual record, perhaps most notably with his - how shall we say? - "interesting" recounting of the Jim Morrison story in The Doors, parts of which were openly disputed by the surviving band members themselves. With Edward Snowden,

Book Review: Only the Dead Know Burbank by Bradford Tatum

A literary display of the origins of horror in film, harkening back to terrors from our past.
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Dracula, Frankenstein, the Phantom of the Opera: all members of the classic horror era that continues to haunt and inspire film to this day. In his novel Only the Dead Know Burbank, Bradford Tatum explains a history in which all of these were inspired by one little girl. The story is a first-person account tracing the short life and long afterlife of a Bavarian girl who lurks in the shadows of history and serves as something of a midwife, if not true mother, of the horror cinematic genre. Tatum is rich in his telling of setting, first illustrating the narrator’s

Man Of The World: The Peter Green Story DVD Review

An often fascinating, but equally frustrating study of the guitarist and songwriter, once spoken of in the same breath as guitar-Gods like Clapton, Page, and Hendrix.
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If you know your rock history, you know that before there was the soft-rock hit machine of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac, there was "the other Fleetwood Mac," a much different sounding animal (and then some) than the one you most likely remember now. During a brief, three-year stretch that ran from roughly 1968 through about 1970, the British blues-rock band known first as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac (before dropping the Green name at his own request), recorded three well-received albums, including the classic Then Play On. But then, just as they seemed on the threshold of a Led Zeppelin sized breakthrough

Hellraiser: The Limited Edition Scarlet Box Trilogy Blu-ray Review: A Puzzle Box Worth Solving

This box has such sights to show you.
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Bringing back 1980s horror is all the rage lately. It's hard to swing a dead cat without hitting reboots of Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th, throwbacks like Hatchet, or parodies like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and Cabin in the Woods. It's about time Clive Barker's longest-running and most recognizable franchise enjoyed some of the limelight again. However, where the Nightmare and Friday box sets include every film in their respective franchises, no matter how critically revered or panned they were, The Scarlet Box includes only the first three Hellraiser flicks, which are generally considered the

Twilight Time Presents: A Quartet of Quirky Killers

Susan Hayward, Anthony Perkins, Tony Curtis, and Shelley Winters commit killer performances in this assortment of murderous movies.
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As it has been stated time and time again, the only two things we can be certain of in life are death and taxes. Onscreen, however, within the magical realms of cinematic art (where applicable), the subject of taxation ‒ with the notable exception of various legends hailing from Loxley and perhaps a song by The Beatles ‒ is one of the dullest subjects to spend your money on. Death, on the other hand, is a timeless and bankable topic. Few people would take note of a newspaper headline reading "Taxes Paid" (unless it's a politician or religious leader), but

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 20: 1961-1962 by Chester Gould

Gould's writing over the 18 months collected here is entertaining and the art remains first rate.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 20 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from February 20, 1961 through to August 26, 1962. The book has an introductory essay, Max Allan Collins' "Fate Does Funny Things" about the strips collected and about Gould "dealing with the changing times" of the '60s, and concludes with Jeff Kersten's "Echoes" about efforts to expand Dick Tracy into television. There is also a corrected version of the February 28, 1960 Sunday strip from the previous volume. Volume 20 begins with the

Moby Dick (1956) Blu-ray Review: A Newly Restored Whale of a Tale

Twilight Time brings us the most famous filmic Melville adaptation of all, lovingly restored to match the original theatrical presentation.
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Obsession seems to abound every aspect of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, from its initial published parable right down to its most famous film adaptation, right down to John Huston's 1956 cinematic version, wherein most of the obsession was to be found on the other side of the camera. With as feverish of a desire to capture the legendary white whale as was Melville's main antagonist, Mr. Huston tried (unsuccessfully) to acquire financial backing for his little pet project over the course of several years before finally finding a source of salvation in Pink Panther producer Walter Mirisch and his brothers. Thus,

American Masters: By Sidney Lumet Review: See the Master in a New Light

An engrossing and thoughtfully revealing portrait of an American cinema master.
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The great Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) was an American original, a genius storyteller, and a quintessential New York filmmaker whose versatile gifts created some of the greatest films ever made, including 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network among others. However, as amazing as he was, he is still highly underrated in film circles today. Award-winning filmmaker Nancy Buirski's enlightening documentary, By Sidney Lumet, gives viewers a chance to see the master himself in a new light, a light that should continue to shine over film history. This portrait with Lumet himself, which was filmed three years before his

Snowden is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us Oliver Stone's take on a whistleblower, Ethan Hawke committing violence, teenagers cruising around the country and more
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Turn on the news and you are bound to hear any number of stories about computer hacking of some sort. Whether it's Hillary Clinton’s e-mails (and Russia’s potential involvement) or some celebrity having their private photos released publicly, there is no escaping that we live in a world governed by our technological devices and increasingly made vulnerable by them. It used to be easy to write off those who lived in fear of what technology might bring. Back in the '80s, we used to laugh at my grandfather who would rant about how the government was spying on us through

getTV Adds Westerns and Daytime Programs in January 2017

Other highlights include David Bowie on Cher, an all-day Hondo marathon, and more.
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Press release: getTV kicks off a new year of classic films and rare series, with a January lineup offering heartfelt tributes, new programming additions, and more—airing in primetime, all month long. The roster is headlined by a month-long Cher double-shot, featuring appearances by David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, and Carol Burnett; and also includes Sally Field in the 1973 sitcom THE GIRL WITH SOMETHING EXTRA; Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson in the 1976 Western series THE QUEST; Richard Burgi in the 1996 sci-fi hit THE SENTINEL; an all-day HONDO marathon; a Sunday night Tom Selleck birthday block; stunts starring Betty White,

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 12-26-16

If you don't have plans for New Year's Eve, you can spend it with the 'That's Entertainment" franchise.
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The last week of 2016 on TCM begins with the post-apocalyptic On The Beach and ends with a day-long marathon of Alfred Hitchcock films. In between are nights featuring The Golden Years spotlight and star-of-the-month Myrna Loy. On The Beach (1959) Monday, December 26 at 12:00 a.m. (ET) After a nuclear war, U.S. sailors stationed in Australia deal with the end of civilization. TCM Spotlight: The Golden Years - Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Tuesday, December 27 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A young man about to be married discovers the two aunts who raised him have been poisoning lonely old

Sony Movie Channel January 2017 Programming Highlights

Highlights include a Godzilla Double Feature, a Samuel L. Jackson block, and stunts starring Kevin Costner, Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, & Richard Pryor, among others.
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Press release: Sony Movie Channel kicks off 2017 with an explosive January lineup full of action epics, creature features, classic comedies, award-winning dramas, and much more. This month’s roster includes Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek in an EL MARIACHI three-pack; a monstrous Godzilla block; back-to-back Samuel L. Jackson thrillers; a night of laughs starring Cheech & Chong and Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor; and Johnny Depp and Al Pacino in DONNIE BRASCO, among others. THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978)—Sun., January 1 at 7 p.m. ET Gary Busey delivers one of his finest performances, starring as rock n’ roll pioneer Buddy

American Honey Blu-ray Review: Director Andrea Arnold Takes Kids on the Road

A cross-country road movie that will either be held up as a treatise to the restlessness of youth or tossed off as pointlessly boring.
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The space between being a child and an adult - youthfulness - is full of manic energy, enormous emotions, nervous lust, and restlessness. It is a time of experimentation, of being able to let go and run off, of figuring out who we are, who we are going to be. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey captures that moment in life perfectly. First-time actress Sasha Lane plays Star, a lost child who left her meth-addicted mother in Texas to live with a family in Oklahoma and raise their two kids. The mother prefers spending time at the local bar line-dancing and the

Heart of a Dog Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Moving Meditation from a Singular Artist

Laurie Anderson's essay film sees her moving comfortably between abstractions and personal revelations.
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Can a film permeated with thoughts on death be playful? Can it be uplifting? Can it be equally cerebral and emotional, its two sides not merely coexisting but helping to inform the other? Can a film in which a person is almost wholly absent tell us innumerable amounts about the filmmaker’s relationship with that figure? In Heart of a Dog, the wondrous second feature film from multidisciplinary artist Laurie Anderson, the answer to all of the above is a resounding "yes." A deeply personal essay film narrated by Anderson in the kind of bemused monotone that features in spoken-word pieces

Bob Hope: Hope for the Holidays DVD Review: Pop-culture Relics from a Bygone Era

This disc should be enjoyed by fans of Hope and the era as well as those curious about both.
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As the DVD menu reveals, Hope for the Holidays is actually the fourth disc from the 11-DVD set titled Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials, which is not to be confused with the previously reviewed 6-DVD set of the same name. This single disc presents two Xmas specials: Bob Hope's Bag Full of Christmas, which first aired on December 15, 1993, and The Comedy Hour, which first aired on December 15, 1950. Using an Xmas party at Bob and Dolores' home as a framing device, Bob Hope's Bag Full of Christmas is a compilation special presenting old sketches

Book Review: The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen's Dossier by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry: A Reminder of the Show's Original Vision

One of the finest and most detailed companion books that I have ever seen.
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"If you are reading this, then something has gone wrong" are the first words we encounter in the new book The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen's Dossier (2016) by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry. Those handwritten words appear on a piece of notebook paper which seems to have been hastily added to a collection of FBI files, which document the first two seasons of The Blacklist. There is a motherlode of information in these files, including aspects of cases that were never even revealed in the program.. The attention to detail is so thorough that you can practically smell the coffee stains

Chad Derdowski Chooses to Answer Questions about 'Fortune Favors the Bold'

"[It] is not a parody because it is a fantasy/sword n’ sorcery book - but maybe it’s safe to say that it gently teases those genres a bit." - Chad Derdowski
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The youngest of seven children, Cinema Sentries contributor Chad Derdowski survived the harsh Michigan winters by pretending he was on Hoth fighting the Empire. He grew to manhood, continued to do imaginary battle with AT-ATs every snowfall and eventually ended up writing this biography. In addition, he co-created and authored the acclaimed young adult science-fiction post-apocalyptic buddy comedy novel All Robots Must Die! and has contributed stories to the Eisner Award-winning Aw Yeah Comics! and the Spacepig Hamadeus and the Captive Planet anthology. He used to write the weekly Comicscape column for the now defunct Mania.com, but he mostly just

Book Review: Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years

A big book with only a few memorable art pieces.
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It’s been 50 years since the original Star Trek television show debuted on television. While the original series lasted only three seasons, there have been a number of television series and movies that have followed. Being that it is the 50th anniversary, there has been a lot of talk celebrating the event. Not only has there been many television specials, but Titan Books has also released an all-encompassing book of art featuring the show. The majority of the individual art pieces are displayed along with common questions and responses from the artists regarding their affiliation and interest in the Star

Book Review: The Art and Making of The Flash by Abbie Bernstein

It feels like a special feature found on a Blu-ray or DVD.
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Over the last couple of years, the CW has built up a number of television series based on the DC comics universe. While their first show featured the hero known as the Green Arrow, their second series needed to have a much lighter tone that had the feel of a comic book. Co-creator and executive producer Greg Bernlanti, who grew up reading comic books, said that The Flash was the hero who exemplified all the traits needed for this new series because he was the heart and soul of the Justice League and would make a perfect companion to the

Creepshow 2 Blu-ray Review: Stick to the Original

I'd been better off not remembering this thing exists.
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In 1982, director George Romero teamed with writer Stephen King to make Creepshow, a comedy/horror anthology film designed to wax nostalgic about the old DC and EC horror comics of their youth. It was a surprise hit and remains a classic among horror hounds to this day. Five years later, they made a sequel. Romero took over writing duties (though it was still based on King stories) and Michael Gornick directed. Arrow Video has released a newly restored Blu-ray of the sequel filled with more extras than it deserves. I have very vague memories of seeing the first one on

Book Review: To Pixar and Beyond by Lawrence Levy: Surprisingly Accessible Financial Memoir

The engaging and detailed story about the business strategies surrounding Pixar's IPO.
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If Toy Story had flopped, it would have been the end of Steve Jobs. Remembered in his later life for his keynotes, his turtlenecks, his creation and latter day resurrection of Apple, it can be easy to forget that from the mid-'80s until the late-'90s, Steve Jobs was written off. Played out. A two-time loser, with a computer-graphics company hemorrhaging money left and right. Pixar had been in the red practically since its founding as The Graphics Group by Lucasfilm (that George Lucas had, on some level, anticipated and helped bring about every aspect of the digital-video revolution, audio, visual

Finding Dory Blu-ray Combo Review: You Will Believe an Octopus Can Drive

An entertaining film though it suffers from similarities to its predecessor.
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Thirteen years after the smash-hit Finding Nemo, Disney/Pixar returns to the ocean for the sequel Finding Dory, an entertaining film that suffers from similarities to its predecessor. More accurately titled Finding Dory's Parents, the film tells the story of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a regal blue tang that suffers from severe short-term loss, remembering and seeking out her parents, whom she hasn't seen in years. After a prologue featuring an overwhelmingly adorable, tiny younger version of herself, Dory remembers her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) and seeks them out with the help of her friends, the clownfish Nemo (Hayden Rolence)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe Movie Review: Contains a Lot to Recommend

Terrifically thrilling first half is marred by too many genre cliches in its back end.
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A family is brutally murdered inside their home. We follow the local sheriff (Michael McElhatton) through the blood-soaked house down to the basement. There, they discover a beautiful, dead, naked woman half buried in the dirt. She is not a member of the family, she has no identification on her, and no one seems to know who she is. Though it is late, they take her to the Tilden house where Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox), the county coroner, and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) can perform an autopsy and discover the cause of death. Sheriff says the press will be

Moby Dick (1930) DVD Review: The Version You Never Thought Possible

For those of you who think they know Dick, the WAC salutes you.
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Anyone who has seen a single Hollywood adaptation of a classic (or even contemporary) work of literature knows full well how much Tinseltown can change even the most simple of premises. Sometimes, liberties are taken in the scriptwriting and/or filmmaking processes because of budgetary restraints or per the request of certain thespians who probably never had a very good grip on the subject matter to begin with. In other instances, time-honored tales are completely rewritten in the bold attempt at making them seem "fresh" ‒ a move which usually culminates in widely distributed box office debuts that would fare far

The Search for Weng Weng DVD Review: The Height of the World's Shortest Star

Filipino cinema's least-likely leading man was only 2-foot 9-inches tall, but his appeal to cult cinema aficionados is immeasurable.
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For anyone who has only experienced the mainstream world of cinema, venturing into the output of the Filipino film industry ‒ particularly its numerous exploitation movies made during the '70s and '80s ‒ can seem akin to jumping head first into a swimming pool with very little water in it. I still vividly recall the first time I sat down to cast my disbelieving orbs on Bobby A. Suarez's The One Armed Executioner, wherein Franco Guerrero and his giant pompadour sought vengeance against the evil men who killed his bride and left him minus an extremity. It was the closest

Hitchcock/Truffaut is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us documentary about an influential book, a true life film about a pilot, some horror films, a remake, and more.
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In 1961, François Truffaut sat down in a Hollywood hotel room with Alfred Hitchcock for a week-long chat about Hitchcock’s films. That series of interviews became the landmark book Hitchcock/Truffaut. It came out at a time when American critics dismissed Hitchcock as a genre director, nothing more. He could make a very good suspense picture, but those type of things were beneath people who took cinema seriously as an art form. The French New Wave, led by Truffaut, saw Hitchcock for what he was - a true auteur. That book went a long way to convincing everybody else of that

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Movie Review: The Rebels Strike Back

A special-effects wonder filled with good action; however, the plot is not well thought out.
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Rogue One is the latest entry in the ever-expanding Star Wars cinematic universe. Reminscent of war movies like The Dirty Dozen, it tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance obtained the plans for the Galatic Empire's Death Star, which they put to good use, as those familar with Star Wars: A New Hope can attest. Rogue One is a special-effects wonder filled with good action; however, the plot, specifically character choices and motivations, is not well thought out, and at times the film gets a little too inside baseball for those not part of the cult. As a young

Dirty Dancing Returns to the Cinemas for Two Nights Only to Kick-Off 30th Anniversary Celebration

Lionsgate will continue the year-long celebration with different prodcuts and events.
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Press release: The iconic story of Baby and Johnny’s summer love, Dirty Dancing returns to the big screen on January 29 and February 1, 2017 for a 30th anniversary presentation from Fathom Events and Lionsgate. This memorable experience will also treat fans to an exclusive never-before-seen 15-minute sneak peek of the brand-new special feature “Happy 30th Birthday, Dirty Dancing,” from the upcoming Dirty Dancing 30th Anniversary home entertainment release, available February 7, 2017. A worldwide box-office sensation originally released in 1987, and generating over $213 million, Dirty Dancing captured hearts worldwide and took home the Best Original Song Oscar for

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 12-19-16

TCM offers the gift of movies this holiday week, like they do every week.
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Before the Christmas movies comes roaring in at the end of the week on TCM, it begins with The Roaring Twenties. The spotlight on the Golden Years continues and on Xmas Eve, the entire Thin Man series airs featuring star-of-the-month Myrna Loy. The Roaring Twenties (1939) Monday, December 19 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Three WWI Army buddies get mixed up with the mob in peacetime. TCM Spotlight: The Golden Years - The Old Man and the Sea (1958) Tuesday, December 20 at 9:45 p.m. (ET) A Cuban fisherman believes his long dry spell will end when he catches a legendary

Princess Mononoke: 20th Anniversary Comes to U.S. Cinemas on January 5 and 9 Only

On director Hayao Miyazaki's birthday, GKIDS and Fathom Events present the Japanese animated feature.
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Press release: Princess Mononoke, the classic animated film from groundbreaking writer/director Hayao Miyazaki and the legendary Studio Ghibli, returns to movie theaters for two nights only for a dual celebration of the beloved historical fantasy’s 20th anniversary and Miyazaki’s birthday. Hailed in 1997 by Roger Ebert as "a great achievement and a wonderful experience, and one of the best films of the year," Princess Mononoke: 20th Anniversary comes to U.S. cinemas, subtitled on Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. and English-dubbed on Monday, January 9, at 7:00 p.m. (all local times), presented by Fathom Events, in partnership with GKIDS.

Strange and Unusual Christmas Films DVD Review: I Am in Hell, Help Me

Alpha Video compiles a selection of creepy shorts guaranteed to leave your mattress well soiled.
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A longstanding idiom states "'Tis better to give than to receive" ‒ and that theory definitely holds true with Alpha Video's nightmarish gathering of vintage Christmas shorts, newly compiled and released to DVD-R. From live-action horror to unsettling animation and even bed-wetting puppet play, Strange and Unusual Christmas Films is quite possibly the greatest gift you could give to someone this season, whether they're into the whole holiday thing or not. The assortment of oddities begins with a condensed Castle Films version of the 1945 Czech treat, A Christmas Dream, which actually won an award once upon a time. The

Fathom Events Presents Spirited Away: 15th Anniversary

The rerelease of the Miyazaki classic just breathes on the big screen.
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The people at Fathom Events are the ones that bring me out to Rifftrax events a few times a year. They're also responsible for bringing some of my most favorite classic films back to theaters like Rear Window, From Here To Eternity, Jaws, and Animal House. The most recent release brings back a more recent film from the brilliant talent, Hayao Miyazaki's 2001 film Spirited Away. I have been a huge fan of this film since its release and ones like these are perfect because few people saw it in theaters when it was released. This has been the highest-grossing

Time After Time (1979) Blu-ray Review: And Now for Something Completely Different

Nicholas Meyer's quirky sci-fi classic ‒ wherein Jack the Ripper and H.G. Wells travel through time ‒ gets a much-needed makeover from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Imagine, if you will, Jack the Ripper ‒ having just committed his final murder in Victorian London ‒ hopping into a time machine built by H.G. Wells and venturing forth to modern-day (1979) San Francisco, leaving the latter famous figure no choice but to follow him. It's the sort of premise to a motion picture which definitely falls under the category of "something completely different" ‒ so much so, one might theorize the entire concept had been taken from an unfilmed Monty Python sketch. After the success of writer/director Nicholas Meyer's previous movie mashup ‒ the combination of Sherlock Holmes

Criterion Announces March 2017 Releases

A look at new additions to the collection.
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As Spring comes, so do five movies from Criterion in March with all-new additions to the collection. They are Andrew Haigh's 45 Years, Felipe Cazals' Canoa: A Shameful Memory, John Waters' Multiple Maniacs, Hal Ashby's Being There, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up. Read on to learn more about them. 45 Years (#861) out Mar 7 In this exquisitely calibrated film by Andrew Haigh, Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay perform a subtly off-kilter pas de deux as Kate and Geoff, an English couple who, on the eve of an anniversary celebration, find their long marriage shaken by the arrival of a letter

The Quiet Earth Blu-ray Review: A Brilliant Take on the Last-Man-on-Earth Scenario

One of the most beautifully ambiguous science fiction masterworks of the 1980s.
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When it comes to science fiction films dealing with the apocalypse, sometimes bad CGI and special effects overshadow characters and their emotions. Filmmakers today seem to forget the intelligence and accuracy that can elavate stories of survivors dealing with isolation and anxiety of being the last people on earth. There are only a few films that really capture the intimacy of the end of the world, including Threads (1984), The Road (2009), and On The Beach (1959). However, if there is one that may outshine them all in my opinion, it is Geoff Murphy's 1985 classic, The Quiet Earth. It

The Secret Life of Pets Blu-ray Review: Too Simple?

It fails to rise above the barrier separating the good from the iconic.
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Illumination Entertainment’s chuckle-inducing new animated feature film, The Secret Life of Pets, is an exhilarating journey through urban-domestic-animal life. From class struggles to gang culture, this film tackles many of the most critical issues facing this under-represented faction of world society. Max, the spoiled protagonist, represents the animalistic and inherent qualities that we humans share. He is prone to becoming habitual, he likes things to stay the same, and he is wary of newcomers and what threats they may bring. Louis C.K.’s seamless voice performance brings life to this character in a not-so-powerful, but satisfying way. There are some great

Jennifer Lopez: Dance Again DVD Review: An Interesting Glimpse into Life on the Road

If you’re a fan of Jennifer Lopez, then this is a DVD worth having.
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In 2012 Jennifer Lopez set off on her first ever world tour. For six months, she traveled across five continents and performed in 65 cities, starting in South America and finishing in Puerto Rico. While you might expect this to be a concert DVD, it was really a documentary about all the behind-the-scenes interactions that happened during the tour. There was some concert footage, but only to illustrate what was being discussed during the interviews and to show the different venues and crowds that they encountered. Even then, none of the songs were performed in their entirety or without considerable

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Hearts Still Beating'

"Jesus and Daryl were on the screen at the same time...was, quite possibly, the best 15 seconds in The Walking Dead's history." - Kim
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In which there is a sense of redemption of the season to this point and a reason for hope. Kim: Mid-season finales are supposed to make you antsy for the break from your show to be over from the moment you finish watching. In past years, the show would end for the winter break, and I’d instantly look up the return date and start counting down the days until I could get another fix. This year, I’m more interested in my birthday at the end of February and how many people I can fit into an Uber. Aside from the

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is the Pick of the Week

This week features Tim Burton's latest, Ridley Scott's son, zombies, never-before-seen Star Trek, and more.
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My wife and I bought a house a few months back. We are first-time home buyers. It's a bit of a fixer-upper, but we got a good deal on it. I’ve enjoyed making improvements on it. There really is something special about owning your own home. Even mowing the yard isn’t so bad because it's my yard I’m mowing. We live in what I’d call a lower middle-class neighborhood. It's filled with renters, those who have moved up a notch from renting, and first time buyers like us. The neighbors are nice if a little more redneck than I’m used

Body Snatchers (1993) Blu-ray Review: Uneven, But Not Unnecessary

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off filmdom's oddest pod people Invasion yet.
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Imagine a science fiction parable ‒ one for Communism, paranoia, conformity, or whatever ‒ where, should you fall asleep, you will be replaced by an unemotional clone grown from a pod. Sound familiar? Well, of course it does: we've been seeing such shenanigans on-screen since the mid '50s, when the first official adaptation of Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers hit theaters and sent chills up our spines. Since then, we have witnessed a number of bad imitations and three big-screen remakes ‒ the last of which, 2007's big-budgeted dud The Invasion starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, failed to garner

(Updated) 2017 Golden Globes Winners Announced

And the nominees are...
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The Hollywood Foreign Press has selected their nominations in film and television for the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Hosted by Jimmy Fallon, the Golden Globe Awards will air live coast-to-coast on NBC on Sunday, Jan. 8 at 5-8 p.m. PT/8-11 p.m. ET from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. [Updated with winners in Bold] Best Motion Picture - Drama Hacksaw Ridge Hell or High Water | Review Lion Manchester by the Sea Moonlight Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Amy Adams, Arrival Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane Isabelle Huppert, Elle Ruth Negga, Loving Natalie Portman, Jackie Best

Little Men (2016) DVD Review: An Amazing Film About People and Their Lives

A minimalist but sharply observed depiction of friendship and family turmoil in modern New York.
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Personally, I prefer the smaller films, films that tell stories about humanity and its complexities. I feel that they make more impact than the overblown, big budgeted extravaganzas that we are faced with. Smaller films focus more on actually plot rather than special effects; they deal with people, places, and things on more realistic terms. Director Ira Sachs' beautifully realized Little Men is a prime example of how to make an amazing film about people and their lives. It is also a tribute to the complex beauty of New York, and how it can bring out the best in human

Michael Collins / Man in the Wilderness Blu-ray Reviews: Super Heroes

The Warner Archive Collection brings us both a legendary man and a man of legend in these two High-Def offerings.
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Some things simply go well together, hands down. Things like chocolate and peanut butter, Burt and Loni, and ‒ of course ‒ the fine art of combining totally true stories with complete and utter bullshit. And apart from politics and people on social media who should not be permitted to access the Internet, there is no great force behind blending fact with fiction than Hollywood. And for those of you who can't handle a little truth without a bit of falsehoods being thrown into the fray, these two "true stories" ‒ recently released to Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 12-12-16

Which of these are you going to plan to watch?
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The TCM Spotlight on The Golden Years is quite the highlight because in addition to Bergman's Wild Strawberries, the channel is also airing other world cinema classics, Kurosawa's Ikiru and De Sica's Umberto D. In addition to another night featuring of star-of-the-month Myrna Loy, the Christmas movies continue to roll out. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Monday, December 12 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Young love and childish fears highlight a year in the life of a turn-of-the-century family. TCM Spotlight: The Golden Years - Wild Strawberries (1957) Tuesday, December 13 at 9:45 p.m. (ET) On his way to an

The Driller Killer Blu-ray Review: If Looking for a Routine Slasher Film, Look Elsewhere

A misunderstood cult masterpiece of late '70s New York urban squalor.
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New York is argubly the most cinematic city of all-time. It has been filmed by the likes of Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Sidney Lumet, among others. On the surface, there is so much life, elegance, and sophistication that comes out of every pore of this most famous of cities. However, there is always a very dark side to every beauty; the dark side that usually goes unnoticed, especially in film. With its authentic ugliness, raw documentary-like atmosphere, and punk-rock insanity, director Abel Ferrara's 1979 notorious masterwork, The Driller Killer, is probably the ultimate depiction of New York's grim underbelly.

TCM Big Screen Classics Returns to Cinemas Nationwide in 2017 for 14 Legendary Films Over 12 Months

Each title returns for four showings only, making the TCM Big Screen Classics series a monthly must-see for movie buffs of all ages.
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Press release: Gene Kelly will sing in the rain, Bette Davis will fasten her seatbelt for a bumpy night, Marlon Brando will make an offer no one can refuse, Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint will scurry across Mount Rushmore, and Elliott and E.T. will fly over the moon - and they’ll do it all on the silver screen in 2017. Today, Fathom Events and TCM announce their continuing partnership to bring monthly screenings of their “TCM Big Screen Classics” series to movie theaters nationwide throughout the year. For the second consecutive year, “TCM Big Screen Classics” offers film fans

808 Movie Review: All About That Bass

Documentary about the Roland TR-808 drum machine explores its indelible contributions to modern music.
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The singular defining aspect of all modern popular music is its deep, thumping bass. This new documentary explores the principal electronic architect of that bass, the Roland TR-808 drum machine. No other piece of musical equipment in history is known so globally by its model number, and that 808 moniker continues to receive frequent shoutouts and respect in all genres with a beat, including electronic, pop, R&B, and hip hop. The filmmakers take a historical approach to the subject, tracing the 808’s emergence as a powerful music tool in the 1970s through to its continued current use. While they don’t

First Official Trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming

What do you think of the trailer?
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Coming to theaters on July 7, 2017, Spider-Man: Homecoming stars Tom Holland as the third incarnation of the web-slinger to hit the silver screen (unless we are going to count Nicholas Hammond). Directed by Jon Watts, with a screenplay by Jonathan M. Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers, the sixteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the film follows the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student with fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man. His first

Comics Review: Motor Crush #1 by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr

Batgirl of Burnside creative team now release Motor Crush from Image Comics.
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Last year, a team of creatives re-designed a popular DC Comics heroine known as Batgirl. (Note: If you haven't read Batgirl of Burnside yet, you are wrong and must go fix this mistake immediately.) When DC announced their plans to launch Rebirth over the summer, readers were sad to discover that this team would not be continuing forward with our beloved heroine. So, it was a surprise and a thrill when they announced yet another collaboration on a new title from Image Comics called Motor Crush. Now, I want to cut the formality and say that Batgirl of Burnside is

The Right Stuff (30th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review: A Real Superhero Movie

A marvelous look at the men who risked their lives to make the impossible possible.
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Based on Tom Wolfe’s award-winning non-fiction book, writer-director Phillip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff is a marvelous look at the men who served the United States, and all of mankind, by risking their lives to make the impossible possible. Black and white archival footage (1.33:1), with new material blended in, helps set the stage that the story we are about to see is based on true events. A narrator (Levon Helm) warns of what’s beyond the known as legend tells of a demon that will kill all comers who challenge it. A fiery crash explodes the image, which is now in

Director Matthew Ross Talks Low Budgets and Big Stars With 'Frank & Lola'

Director Matthew Ross talks about making his directorial debut with the romantic drama Frank & Lola
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Director Matt Ross is a lucky guy. It isn't often that you make your feature-film debut with stars like Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots. And yet Ross takes Shannon and Poots and puts them through their paces, with the end result being the smooth, confident romantic drama Frank & Lola. Ross talked with me about shooting on a low budget, working with big stars, and reveals how great an actor Michael Shannon truly is. With all the emphasis on food and watching Michael Shannon cook I was pretty hungry afterwards! Mike doesn’t cook at all in real life. My friend

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Sing Me A Song'

"'It's going to be hard to watch.' - Negan warning us a little too late into the episode." - Shawn
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In which Kim and Shawn are 50% more bored after being slapped in the face by this episode. Shawn: "Keep Going. Only thing here 4 you is boredom." - me paraphrasing one of the few things I still remember about this episode. "You know what's going to happen. It's going to be hard to watch." - Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) warning us a little too late into the episode. At some point our zombie show became The Negan Show. The network was kind enough to extend the episodes this season so we can figure out key plot points such as

59th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees in Visual Media

How did they do? What would you have nominated?
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The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States released their nominees for the 2017 Grammy Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. The eligibility period was October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. The ceremony will be held on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 8-11:30 pm ET/5-8:30 pm PT. Honoring the "best" music in Visual Media are the following categories. Links go to our coverage of the films. Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media Amy [Republic Records] Miles Ahead [Columbia/Legacy]

Lone Wolf and Cub Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Manga Comes to Life

Chanbara film series is aided by the screenwriting of the manga series creator, Kazuo Koike.
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As the shogun executioner, Ogami Itto has a comfortable gig until he falls from grace and endures the death of his beloved wife. Facing almost certain death at the hands of his enemies, the dreaded Yagyu clan, he’s forced to flee and gives his toddler son a choice: die at his hand or join him in a life of hardship on the “demon road”. With no home, no money, and no seeming future, the father becomes an assassin for hire and stays on the move, pushing his son around the countryside in a rickety cart from one misadventure to the

Jason Bourne is the Pick of the Week

This week bring us a new Bourne movie, a couple of Criterions, Mad Max in black and white and more.
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My wife and I lived in Strasbourg, France for about ten months back in 2004. We sublet a tiny studio apartment from a university student who was spending a year living in England. There was hardly any furniture - a small desk, a coffee table, and a couple of half-broken chairs. She’d taken the bed out as it was only a single. A friend of ours let us borrow a blow-up mattress, but it had a tiny hole in it so as the night crept on we got lower and lower to the floor. After about a week of that,

Mifune: The Last Samurai Movie Review: A Wonderful Remembrance

A straightforward biography that reveals little more than the story of the man's life.
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Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazak's documentary tells the story of Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, who together with director Akira Kurosawa became worldwide sensations because of their work together on 16 films, from Drunken Angel (1948) to Red Beard (1965). Narrator Reeves says they were "some of the greatest movies ever made...Together, they influenced filmmaking and popular culture around the world." Their partnership was such an integral part of their lives, it's not a surprise it's an integral part of this documentary as well. Because film was such an important part of what he became, the story of Mifune: The Last Samurai

Frank & Lola Movie Review: Not Your Average Love Story

First-time director Matthew Ross proves he's someone to keep watching.
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Michael Shannon is such an intense actor I don’t know that I could ever see him as a romantic lead. Even when he’s whispering sweet nothings, I’d always feel like there was something sinister happening underneath. So it is with Frank & Lola, the new film starring Shannon and Imogen Poots as the titular characters. He’s a respected Las Vegas chef and she’s a fashion designer-hopeful just out of school. First-time director Matthew Ross shows us the beginnings of their relationship in fits and starts. He strings together snippets of scenes, flashing both backwards and forward, giving us snapshots of

Kristen's Book Club for December 2016

What's worth reading this month?
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Winter is upon us. Snow is falling, cocoa is plentiful and there's no better time to curl up and let the stress of Christmas pass you by with a good book. Here's a trio of titles worth reading. Elizabeth Taylor by Ellis Cashmore Paparazzi everywhere; TMZ covering every celebrity's move 24/7. It's nearly impossible to imagine a time where this didn't exist. Ellis Cashmore's Elizabeth Taylor seeks to pinpoint when this oppressive obsession with celebrity first started, zeroing in on Elizabeth Taylor's public affair with Richard Burton. Cashmore doesn't rehash Taylor's biography. Instead, the book charts Taylor's rise from child

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 12-05-16

See what gifts TCM has in store for you this week.
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As you prepare for the impending holidays, TCM has plenty of films to allow you to procrastinate. Friday brings another roster of films with Star-of-the-Month Myrna Loy while Tuesday offers a slate of stories about elderly parents. Why Be Good? (1929) Monday, December 5 at 11:00 p.m. (ET) A virtuous flapper gets into a compromising situation with the boss's son. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) Tuesday, December 6 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A devoted couple faces the harsh economic realities of growing older. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) Wednesday, December 7 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) The Japanese take advantage of American

Pete's Dragon (2016) Blu-ray Review: A Fine Film If You Simply Change the Name

I would recommend ignoring the title and viewing it as a completely new movie featuring a dragon.
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The original Pete's Dragon (1977) is one of my all-time favorite Disney films. When I heard a remake was in process, I couldn't wait to see it. Unfortunately, the people behind the new film had no idea what made the original so special. Rather than creating a new version of a beloved film, they ended up with something completely unconnected to the original. Five-year-old Pete (Oakes Fegley) is on a road trip with his parents when, in an effort to avoid a deer, they crash the car. His parents are instantly killed and wolves force Pete into the woods where

C.H.U.D. (1984) Blu-ray Review: The A-List B-Grade Latchkey Monster Flick

Arrow Video's two-disc Limited Edition release of this '80s horror flick is worth crawling through a mutant-infested sewer for.
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Like many of the "classic" horror flicks I tend to review, C.H.U.D. first crawled its way out of the manhole and into my life via videocassette. Even then, during that awkward span of existence known as my teenaged years, I couldn't help but shake the feeling there was something equally thorny about the film ‒ and it had absolutely nothing to do with the titular flesh-eating creatures within the picture itself. Rather, the peculiar odor C.H.U.D. emitted was of an entirely different variety of cumbersome: it was almost as if it was simultaneously trying to be something it ultimately wasn't

TV Review: Legends of Tomorrow: 'Invasion'

The Sentries' responses are mixed.
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The Cinema Sentries are having their own crossover event to cover the DC Superheroes four-part crossover event entitled "Invasion," running this week on the CW. It began (briefly) on Supergirl, formally began on The Flash and continued on Arrow (sorta) and concluded on Legends of Tomorrow. Todd Karella: The final chapter of the CW’s crossover event ended with the Legends of Tomorrow episode and started with the band of superheroes meeting up at STAR Laboratories in Central City to plan their next move. Having been abducted by aliens, Oliver (Green Arrow) is more rattled than he realizes and his first

Hannie Caulder (Olive Signature) Blu-ray Review: Rape, Revenge, and Raquel

There are trappings of the subversive in Burt Kennedy's western, but not their convictions.
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An early entry in the rape-revenge subgenre, Burt Kennedy’s western Hannie Caulder requires you to squint pretty hard to read it as a proto-feminist work. The framework is there — Raquel Welch’s titular character wreaks violent vengeance on a trio of men who raped her — but the details don’t really support it, from the way Kennedy films the rape to the way he portrays her assaulters to the repeated narrative beat where Hannie must rely on a man for help. One could easily argue that Kennedy (who wrote the screenplay using the pen name Z.X. Jones) is more interested

TV Review: Arrow: 'Invasion'

"Tell Felicity this isn't 'the Best. Team-up. Ever.'" - Gordon
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The Cinema Sentries are having their own crossover event to cover the DC Superheroes four-part crossover event entitled "Invasion," running this week on the CW. It began (briefly) on Supergirl, formally began on The Flash and continued on Arrow (or did it?). Todd Karella: At the end of last night’s crossover episode, five of the heroes ended up being abducted by the alien invaders. But tonight’s episode of Arrow started with Oliver living his dream life. He was getting married to his first love. He was surrounded by loving friends and family. He was living his dream life. But that

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