February 2017 Archives

The Goodbye Girl (1977) Blu-ray Review: Back When Richard Dreyfuss Was Sexy

Neil Simon's Oscar-winning precursor to the contemporary rom-com receives a warm welcome from the Warner Archive Collection.
  |   Comments
If nothing else, Neil Simon's award-winning 1977 precursor to the contemporary rom-com, The Goodbye Girl is of a certain cinematically historical significance, inasmuch as it was one of a few films written by Neil Simon that didn't start out as a Broadway play. Granted, in the years since this multiple-Oscar winner first premiered, however, The Goodbye Girl has not only garnered a musical Broadway makeover, but it has also received the dubious honor of getting its own lackluster TV remake ‒ something that, sadly, has happened far too many times with Neil Simon tales (just ask anyone who had the

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Hostiles and Calamities'

"My wonder from week to week now is are we going to see anything we care about?" - Kim
  |   Comments
In which Shawn and Kim have the same thoughts about the episode where nothing happened. And they aren't positive. Shawn: Ridiculous. I guess I'd be on "Easy Street" if that was all I said about this episode. But what's an interrogation without a little torture. I sat through this and so I'll torture you too. Welcome to The Sanctuary - here's how it works around here. Oh, did we cover that already in your previous orientation? Well, did we tell you there's a number system? We did? Oh. Did we mention there's a barber? That's interesting, huh? And pickles. Really,

Moonlight is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an Oscar upset,
  |   Comments
We cut the cord year ago and our cheap antenna doesn’t really work in our new house. We pick up a few channels but not ABC which carried the Oscars last night. I had all but resigned myself to not watching the ceremony this year and in fact wrote out several paragraphs for this article about how I wasn’t going to get to watch. Then my genius wife moved the antennae upstairs to our bedroom TV and got all the channels. I missed the first twenty minutes or so and then another twenty minutes or so in the middle putting

Book Review: The Art of Selling Movies by John McElwee

Entertaining visual look at the history of American movie newspaper ads suffers from issues with accompanying text
  |   Comments
Today’s digital media dislodged or diminished a variety of other media. Some are conspicuous: VHS and VCR. Others, such as the shriveling of newspaper movie ads, less so. From its inception, newspaper advertising was a principal means of promoting movies. In addition to where and when a film was showing, these ads brought artwork, photos, and lively descriptions to the consumer. In The Art of Selling Movies, John McElwee looks at the history and evolution of this craft. As McElwee points out, his book isn't about movies but the countless, nameless ad creators and their “skill, sometimes genius of pulling

Dark Passage / On Dangerous Ground Blu-ray Reviews: Bogie. Bacall. Lupino. Ryan. Sold.

The Warner Archive Collection shows us its dark side with two more gems from the fabulous world of film noir.
  |   Comments
While history's greatest philosophers wise men may have brought forth many a pertinent question as to the purpose and situation of the human race, it was a total wise-ass the history books have unapologetically miscredited as a guy named Murphy who really seemed to hit the nail on the head with the phrase "Anything that can go wrong, will." In fact, Murphy's Law is one of the few philosophies which can be applied into storytelling without fear of alienating an audience, because if there's one thing any adult who has ever had to work for a living can tell you,

TCM to Launch New Noir-themed Programming Franchise 'Noir Alley'

New franchise hosted by Film Noir Foundation founder & president Eddie Muller premieres March 5 and airs every Sunday at 10 a.m.
  |   Comments
Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is taking up permanent residence in the shadowy world of film noir with the launch of Noir Alley, a new programming franchise hosted by Eddie Muller, founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation. Known to classic film fans as “The Czar of Noir,” Muller will explore the genre from every angle as he introduces a different noir classic each week. Noir Alley will air Sundays at 10 a.m. (ET) starting March 5 with a screening of the movie widely credited as the first film noir, The Maltese Falcon (1941). Film noir, with its

Book Review: Superman: The Atomic Age Sundays, Volume 2 (1953-1956)

An important and worthwhile historical artifact, even if it is my least favorite one so far.
  |   Comments
Superman: The Atomic Age Sundays, Volume 2 (1953-1956) is the fourth collection of classic Superman Sunday comic strips from IDW and the Library of American Comics and the third volume that I’ve had the opportunity to check out. I’ll do my best to avoid rehashing too much of the same ground I already covered in my reviews of The Golden Age Sundays (1946-1949) or the prior volume of The Atomic Age Sundays (1949-1953), but for those who don’t care to read my other reviews (that’s fine, I’m totally not offended), here’s the deal: these comic strips are sort of a

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Blu-ray Review: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

The motion picture that single-handedly brought about the fall of the Hays Code receives a fearless restoration from the Warner Archive Collection.
  |   Comments
Sixteen years after Elizabeth Taylor transcended from child actress into a full-fledged "adult" in Father of the Bride ‒ wherein, it should be noted, she entered her first of eight failed marriages ‒ the still-famous actress showed us just how big of a girl she could be. In every respect. For here, in 1966's motion picture landmark, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, we see a 32-year-old Liz donning more than a little stage padding as she stars alongside her most "popular" husband, Richard Burton, as Martha: an obnoxious, alcoholic, middle-aged shrew whose outward vulgarity is only complimented by the infinite

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 02-27-17

Curious how Days of Oscar From A to Z concludes?
  |   Comments
TCM's 31 Days of Oscar From A to Z concludes this week, starting with Three Comrades, co-scripted by F. Scott Fitzgerald, about three life-long friends sharing their love for a dying woman against the turbulent backdrop of Germany between the wars, which earned Margaret Sullavan a nomination for Best Actress. The finl selection is Z about a political assassination that uncovers a hotbed of corruption. It won for Best Film Editing (Françoise Bonnot) and Best Foreign Language Film, and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Costa-Gavras), and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Jorge Semprún and

Father of the Bride (1950) Blu-ray Review: RSVP to the WAC BD ASAP

The original classic receives a makeover to die for thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
  |   Comments
Let's take a brief gander at marriage, folks. While many of us are keen to issue a timeless, fool proof slice of advice when it comes to matrimony ‒ that of "Don't do it, it's not worth it" ‒ the fact is those darn kids never listen to us. Just ask Spencer Tracy's Stanley T. Banks in the three-time Oscar-nominated, AFI-approved 1950 classic, Father of the Bride. Though the trendsetting favorite is one of the few instances where a Steve Martin remake garnered critical praise (yes, we're still upset over that Pink Panther reboot), the original film possesses its own

Nocturnal Animals Blu-ray Review: Tom Ford's Dark Masterpiece

Tom Ford's follow-up to A Single Man is a moody and evocative thriller you can't ignore.
  |   Comments
Eight years ago, designer Tom Ford segued into the world of filmmaking with the critical darling A Single Man. He meticulously took his time with his crafty follow-up, an adaptation of Austin Wright's novel called Nocturnal Animals. Conjuring up comparisons to the work of Sam Peckinpah, Ford creates a film both shocking and gaudy, pulpy, and deathly authentic that captures the bleak beauty and horrible depravity within us all. Susan (Amy Adams) seemingly lives the perfect life. Her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) sends her a copy of his finished novel, and while reading the dark and twisted tale of murder and

Shmaltz Brewing Releases Star Trek Klingon Imperial Porter

The first of three limited Star Trek releases in 2017.
  |   Comments
Press release: In 2016, Shmaltz Brewing debuted two critically acclaimed Star Trek Golden Anniversary Ales to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the iconic franchise, Star Trek. 2017 brings triple the excitement with the limited release of three Star Trek specialty beers rolling out throughout the year. Under license by CBS Consumer Products, the first extraterrestrial elixir of 2017 is Star Trek Klingon Imperial Porter (7.3% ABV). Six malts including Specialty 2-Row, Vienna, Melanoidin, Crystal, Honey, and Pale Chocolate are masterfully brewed with two hops, Columbus and Vanguard. Lifting off this week, Star TrekKlingon Imperial Porter transports itself in 4-packs to

Five Cool Things and an Early Spring

Everyday is a new battle with sickness around here, but there's plenty of cool things to find as well.
  |   Comments
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but once again sickness found its way into the Brewster house this week. I really think it was the remnants of the previous week’s nastiness, but my daughter spent the weekend with a low fever and I spent most of the week feeling completely and utterly exhausted. I was in bed by 9:30 every night like I’ve turned into my parents. Still, some cool things came around and here’s five of them. Grateful Dead: May 1977: Get Shown the Light Barton Hall, Ithaca, NY, May 8, 1977. Those words mean a great

Moonlight Blu-ray Review: Will Take Its Place Alongside the Greatest Films Ever Made

An absolutely lyrical, and near-perfect story about love, race, and sexuality rarely depicted in film.
  |   Comments
When it comes to films about sexuality, especially those from the LGBT point of view, you don't often see it mixed with race. It is usually about stereotypes, explicit imagery, and desperation to arouse the viewer just to get his or her reaction. Fortunately, director Barry Jenkins' stunning 2016 drama, Moonlight, breaks through those cliches to deliver a story as truthful and universal as one can and needs to get. Based on the unfinished play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney (who wrote the story), the film centers on the character of Chiron in three parts

National Event Day Screening of '1984' Hosted by Arthouse Theaters, Including OC's The Frida Cinema

All participating theaters will be donating a portion of the proceeds to local charities and organizations.
  |   Comments
Press release: On April 4, 2017, The Frida Cinema joins almost 90 art house movie theaters across the country in 79 cities and in 34 states, plus one location in Canada, in participating collectively in a National Event Day screening of the film 1984. This date was chosen because it's the day novelist George Orwell's protagonist Winston Smith begins rebelling against his oppressive government by keeping a forbidden diary. These theaters owners strongly believe in supporting the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and see any attempt to scuttle that program as an attack on free speech and creative expression

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'New Best Friends'

"I feel like I have a bigger picture of where this is all going now and there's a certain satisfaction of watching the pieces fall into place like an old familiar movie." - Shawn
  |   Comments
In which Shawn and Kim have some pretty separate takes on the latest twist in the story. Shawn: If I felt like portions of the first half of the season were just long form advertisements for a new Walking Dead video game, then this week was a free playable demo that should be available for X-Box and PlayStation this week. Don't take that as too much of a criticism though because even though I will have some things to say and observations about some little things, I really didn't mind this episode at all. I feel like I have a

Nocturnal Animals is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us another Amy Adams pick, a couple of Criterions, Mel Gibson's return, a Doctor Who Christmas special, and more.
  |   Comments
As I sit down to write out why Nocturnal Animals is my pick of this week, I realize I know next to nothing about the film. I know it stars Amy Adams and that it's gotten some critical buzz. I also really like its title. But other than that - nothing. Yet here I am ready to make it my pick. It's not like one of those weeks where there is nothing else coming out either. There’s a Doctor Who Christmas special, an Oscar-nominated Mel Gibson flick, and a couple of wonderful Criterion releases. Yet here I am, picking something

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man Blu-ray Review: An Awkward Documentary Hybrid

From the department of celebrity death cash-ins: An unnecessary Blu-ray upgrade of a forgettable concert film/biography mash-up.
  |   Comments
We’d already hit capacity overload on the “Fuck 2016” meme by the time Leonard Cohen’s death was announced on Nov. 10, but that didn’t mean the gut-punch of his passing hurt any less. Less than a month before, Cohen had solemnly announced, “I am ready to die” in David Remnick’s exhaustive New Yorker profile, before abruptly reversing course a few days after the interview’s publication at a listening session for his final album, You Want It Darker. “I said I was ready to die recently, and I think I was exaggerating. I’ve always been into self-dramatization. I intend to live

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 02-20-17

See what's playing during the last full week of TCM's 31 Days of Oscar From A to Z.
  |   Comments
TCM's 31 Days of Oscar From A to Z continues this week, starting with Penny Serenade about a woman on the verge of divorce recalling her heartbreaking attempts to adopt a child, which earned Cary Grant a nomination for Best Actor, through to Thousands Cheer about an egotistical acrobat who joins the Army and falls in love with his commander's daughter. It was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Score and Best Art Direction. A Place in the Sun (1951) Monday, February 20 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) An ambitious young man wins an heiress' heart but has to cope with his

Book Review: Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies Vol. 2 (1935-1939)

A beautiful collection of historically important comics.
  |   Comments
From 1929 to 1939, the Walt Disney company created 75 original animated short films under its Silly Symphonies line. As opposed to the Micky Mouse short films Disney was producing at the same time the Symphonies were designed to be whimsical pieces devoid of continuity or the need to feature regular characters (though several characters quickly stood out and became regulars in the films). In many ways, these shorts were a means by which Disney could experiment with the animation without fear of hurting his brand. The films helped dramatically improve what could be done with animation in terms of

Cameraperson Blu-ray Giveaway

A moving glimpse into one filmmaker's personal journey and a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world.
  |   Comments
Cinema Sentries has teamed up with the Criterion Collection to award two lucky readers Cameraperson on Blu-ray . For those wanting to learn more, the official synopsis reads: A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home with the director: Kirsten Johnson weaves these scenes and others into her film Cameraperson, a tapestry of footage captured over her twenty-five-year career as a documentary cinematographer. Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity

Five Cool Things and George 'The Animal' Steele

Prince is now available on all streaming services - if that's not cool, I don't know what is.
  |   Comments
A great big thanks to Gordon and Shawn for helping out last week. A couple of weeks ago I noted that my family and I had been passing around The Crud for awhile, well last week it turned into full-blown sickness. There’s been a nasty stomach virus being passed around these parts - my daughter got it over the weekend, then I got it, and then my wife. I won’t go into the details except to say it was an awful experience and I was in no shape to write. But now I’m back and healthy and have plenty to

Criterion Announces May 2017 Releases

See what's in store for May.
  |   Comments
May begins with the Criterion Collection giving high-def upgrades to Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles and Yasujiro Ozu's Good Morning. In addition, they are putting out releasing four new titles. They are Orson Welles' Othello, Jacques Audiard's Dheepan, Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World and Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2, which includes Insiang, Mysterious Object at Noon, Revenge, Limite, Law of the Border, and Taipei Story. Read on to learn more about them. Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (#484) out May 9 A singular work in film history, Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman,

Manchester By The Sea Blu-ray Review: A Modern Masterpiece

Kenneth Lonergan crafts a near-perfect, and superb tale of humanity through the darkness.
  |   Comments
Last year, 2016, was actually a great time for thought-provoking cinema. You had a modern musical; a story of a young man's coming-of-age; a scifi tale of alien contact; a tale of revenge, among others; and acclaimed director Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester By The Sea, a tale of redemption/courage/compassion through unbearable tragedy was a perfect reason why. It's a film or experience of a family's journey of hope through pain; community through extreme loss, and connection through personal struggle that everyone can relate to. Casey Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, a Boston janitor, who suddenly becomes the sole guardian of his

Book Review: Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics Vol. 3, 1969-1972

Final collection of Silver Age Batman daily comic strips finds our hero in decline due to diminishing publication and artistic changes.
  |   Comments
Long before most of us were reading the funny pages, Batman was finishing up a six-year comic strip run fueled by the popularity of his ‘60s TV show. While the early years found the strip mirroring the show’s campiness, the final era diverged into a tone similar to Batman’s more serious comic book stories. That’s the timeframe covered by this final entry in IDW’s Batman reprint editions, a collection that traces the decline of the strip from its fine artistry and full-week publishing schedule to hackneyed art and stories published six days a week by a radically reduced roster of
I’ve been very fortunate to see Def Leppard several times over the years since their monumentally explosive Hysteria album took the world by storm in the late ‘80s. And while I have one or two bands that I like slightly better than them, they have always been the most consistent in regards to their live performances. The music is flawless, the vocals pristine, and they play the songs the way we know them. They don’t try the gimmicky tricks by trying to flip one of their best songs and give it a reggae feel, doing it acoustically, or making up

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Rock In The Road'

"Overall, I think this episode was much better than the first half of the season as a whole." - Kim
  |   Comments
In which Rick is Rick again and zombies are dying by the handful. Kim: The Walking Dead has returned and here we are, all revved up and ready to tell you what we thought of the second-half premiere. I have two thoughts to start with and we’ll just go from there. 1) This was everything I wanted it to be.2) This was everything I didn’t want it to be. Now, I know you’re wondering how the heck I could possibly have such bipolar feelings regarding a show. I mean, you either love it or you hate it, right? Wrong. I

Arrival is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us Amy Adams' language skills, a new Cinemax show, an Ang Lee Iraq War movie, a PBS Civil War show, and a gay porn crime drama starring James Franco.
  |   Comments
My wife is a language nerd. Technically, she’s a master linguist having received her degree from Indiana University many years ago. As such, she has many language-nerd friends. Which means I have many language-nerd friends. Arrival is a film in which Amy Adams plays a linguist who saves the world from an alien invasion using her language-nerd powers. All of those aforementioned friends were terribly excited by this film. I am not a language nerd. I’m not particularly interested in grammatical intricacies as one can easily tell by constant abuse of the rules in these weekly picks. I do however

Fiftieth Anniversary Screening of 'In the Heat of the Night' to Open 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

The festival to celebrate Oscar-winner Sidney Poitier, producer Walter Mirisch, director Norman Jewison, actress Lee Grant, and composer Quincy Jones.
  |   Comments
Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will kick off the 8th annual TCM Classic Film Festival on Thursday, April 6th with a 50th anniversary screening of the Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger classic In the Heat of the Night (1967). The iconic actor Sidney Poitier, who will attend the screening, broke stereotypes and new ground when he starred in this five-time Academy Award winner about a black detective from the north who finds himself investigating a murder in a small-town in Mississippi. Producer Walter Mirisch and Director Norman Jewison along with actress Lee Grant and composer Quincy Jones will be

The Survivor (1981) Blu-ray Review: I Guess Fate Really IS the Hunter

Severin Films brings us the seldom-seen supernatural thriller which seems to have inspired others more than itself.
  |   Comments
While he is perhaps best known to cult horror and sci-fi audiences today as the guy who was in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup, Dario Argento's Deep Red, and Roger Vadim's Barbarella, the career of one-time Alfred the Great star David Hemmings was much more extensive than that. Off-screen, the late English actor/filmmaker was the co-founder of the Hemdale Film Corporation ‒ the very busy production company responsible for several iconic films from the '80s, including several Oliver Stone hits (Platoon and Salvador), Hoosiers, The Last Emperor, and even still-mimicked trendsetters such as James Cameron's The Terminator and Dan O'Bannon's zombie horror

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 02-13-17

The parade of films recognized by the Academy Awards continues.
  |   Comments
TCM's 31 Days of Oscar From A to Z continues this week, starting with I'll Cry Tomorrow, a biography about actress Lillian Roth, which won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for Helen Rose, through to the musical Pennies from Heaven, which saw Dennis Potter nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay based on the 1978 BBC Series he wrote. Inherit the Wind (1960) Monday, February 13 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) In the twenties, a schoolteacher creates a national furor when he breaks the law against teaching evolution. The Lady Eve (1941) Tuesday, February 14 at 8:00

Cameraperson Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: No Better Film Experience Last Year

A soulful and illuminating document of the human experience.
  |   Comments
When it comes to human honesty, there is no better genre of film stronger than the documentary. In a time where special effects, explosions, CGI, and even 3D basically dominate the box office, it is very refreshing to know that some movies would rather deal with reality and what the world is really like. Director Kirsten Johnson's fascinating 2016 film, Cameraperson, shows us what being human truly means to be. In this brilliant snapshot, or series of tableux, Johnson captures in real time, stories of people, places, and things. Whether it is a young boxer in his first match in

Five Cool Things and Greta Anderson

Mat gets by with a little help from his friends.
  |   Comments
As Mat mentioned in the previous installment of Five Cool Things and, "For the last couple of months, my wife and I have been passing The Crud back and forth between each other. She’ll get sick one week - coughing, sneezing, head full of mucus - then just as she gets better, I’ll get it." Well, he's still got it so fellow Sentries Shawn Bourdo and Gordon S. Miller are filling in this week. Shawn's Three Cool Things: Riverdale I didn't think that Twin Peaks remake was for another few months. The Archie series meets David Lynch hybrid has been

2017 Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films Review

And the nominees are...
  |   Comments
North America owned the Animation Short Film category this year with three from the United States and two from Canada, though one was a co-production with the United Kingdom. The art is where the shorts all stand out. Unfortunately, a couple falter because of the story. Blind Vaysha (director Theodore Ushev, Canada, 8 min) - A young girl is born in a village with one eye that sees the future and one that sees the past. The narrator offers viewers the opportunity to see as Vaysha, but offers no resolution to her story. The short has an interesting look as

2017 Oscar-nominated Documentary Short Films Review

The rundown on the five nominees for the documentary short subject category.
  |   Comments
Through the wars of the past and the present to the wars that we battle in our own bodies, this year’s Academy Award nominees in the Documentary Short Film category all tackle remarkable subject matter that reflect the power and courage of the human spirit. They show that human connection and caring for one another is one of the greatest gifts we can give or receive. All these films center on the theme of hope. 4.1 Miles (director Daphne Matziraki, USA, 26 minutes) This documentary follows Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a captain in the Greek Coast Guard who is caught in the

The Handmaiden DVD Review: Period Thriller, Twisty and Twisted

Chan-wook Park's sumptuous period piece is masterfully mounted, compelling, erotic, but is more compelling than involving.
  |   Comments
Movies that depend on plot twists have a number of complications forced on them, in order to be good and not just "twisty". The first problem is that the twists have to be big enough that they change the audience's perception of what has gone before, but not so wild that they discount everything that has happened. You want to twist the audience's head from one side to the other, but not clean off. And since most twists occur in order to bring characters into a new light, it's important that the audience has a firm grasp on character before

Alfred the Great (1969) DVD Review: Greater Things Have Happened

The Warner Archive Collection presents the home video debut of this legendary box office failure featuring a young Ian McKellen.
  |   Comments
Sprawling epics were all the rage in the 1950s, with fantastical biblical yarns and timeless tales of undefeatable conquerors popping up in theaters near and far, usually presented to eager audiences via the modern miracle of of CinemaScope and stereo sound. And yet, long after American filmgoers had had their fill of wildly inaccurate and often preposterous cinematic blockbusters which damn near bankrupted Hollywood's biggest studios, the Brits decided it was their turn to rewrite history and produce a large-scale saga which people would avoid in droves. Thus, Alfred the Great ‒ the UK's 1969 throwback to the great epics

When a Feller Needs a Friend (1932) DVD Review: How About a Break Instead?

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off one of the sappiest, nerve-wracking, Depression-era family melodramas ever made. Enjoy.
  |   Comments
While I am always eager to point out how wretched contemporary filmmaking seems to have become, I can never dismiss the notion that bad movies have been getting cranked out by Hollywood since the beginning. In fact, as the type of feller who appreciates that certain kind of maligned movie manufacturing (see: just about any of my articles), I don't mind discovering a previously unseen Tinseltown atrocity from yesteryear in the least bit. That is, until I stumble across something as wretched as When a Feller Needs a Friend, of course. That's when I feel like gnawing my own arm

Black Society Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Madman Miike's (Relatively) Somber Saga

In these three films about criminal outsiders, Takashi Miike tones down his frenetic style demonstrating a commitment to craft.
  |   Comments
Takashi Miike is the Japanese director who will, seemingly, film anything. And anything does not just mean he'll put the ugliest or craziest images on screen, but he will try literally anything. Hyperbolic nastiness, vicious violence, creepy sex including necrophilia? Yes. A madwoman chopping off a man's foot with piano-wire to teach him a lesson? Sure. A children's fantasy film with talking umbrellas? Why not? Or, in the so-called Black Society Trilogy, three (relatively) restrained movies about the difficulty of being an outsider, even in the outsider society of organized crime, where the need for family both sustains and destroys

Howards End Blu-ray Review: Luxuriously Lush

A magnificent presentations of a wonderful period drama
  |   Comments
Upon watching the new 4K restoration of Howards End by the Cohen Film Collection, I come to realize it was my very first time watching a Merchant-Ivory Production. This surprises me as I feel like I know exactly the sort of films they made. Founded in 1961 by producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory, the film production company became well known in the '80s and '90s for their beautifully made period films that often adapted literary works set in Edwardian England. Working with modest budget (often adapting books from the likes of Henry James and E.M. Forster that were

The Black Dragon's Revenge (1975) Blu-ray Review: Bruce Lee Van Clief

Blaxploitation meets Brucesploitation in an utterly shameless, completely inept, no-budget cash-in on the demise of a martial arts master.
  |   Comments
A brief disclaimer beginning with "The names and characters in this film, based upon the Death of Bruce Lee, are fictitious..." cautiously alerts anyone with a lick of common sense or taste as to what sort of tripe awaits them. And yet, The Black Dragon's Revenge still manages to hit way below one's expectations of a cheapo martial arts flick produced in the wake (pun very much intended, since it's more than obvious the producers of this particular atrocity showed no remorse or honor whatsoever) of Bruce Lee's controversial death. Here, two equally tendentious subgenres of exploitation filmmaking ‒ that

The Internecine Project (1974) Blu-ray Review: Don't Ask, Don't Tell... Die Anyway

An overlooked, underrated slice of internal political espionage is probably more relevant today than you realize.
  |   Comments
Given the right amount of time, the natural progress of corruption can make even the lowliest tale of espionage and assassination seem relevant. Take Ken Hughes' The Internecine Project, for example. Originally penned as a freebie favor by screenwriter Jonathan Lynn for writer/producer Barry Levinson (no, not that Barry Levinson, but another guy with the same name), The Internecine Project started out as an espionage thriller about a sleeper KGB agent in the US who ‒ upon activation ‒ must dispose of the few people who are aware of his true identity. And while Ken Hughes and an unknown ghost

Loving is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an Oscar nominee, another release of Dirty Dancing, Trolls, psychedelic horror, and much more.
  |   Comments
I first noticed Ruth Negga on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. where she played Raina, a villain who was working for the mysterious Centipede Group before becoming a spiky headed Inhuman. She was a striking presence but honestly didn’t make that much of an impression on me. After watching her in Preacher, I realize just how poorly used in S.H.I.E.L.D. as she is magnetic in that show. After watching the first season, I put a mental peg in her name as someone to always watch. It seems I wasn’t the only one as she’s getting all kind of accolades for her performance

Binge-Worthy Collections from the Warner Archive

From forgotten comedy duos to early travelogues to matinee cowboy pictures, the WAC has just a bit of everything for classic film collectors.
  |   Comments
In this time where people will often sit and binge-watch an entire television series, half of the population gleefully engages in such sittings regularly, while the other half will sit and wonder why the term "binge-watch" was added to the dictionary, especially since there was already a perfectly good word selected for marathon viewings in the first place: "marathon." But no matter what side of the vernacular you're on, there truly is nothing quite like being able to sit down and get a good proper feel for a particular performer or series. Thankfully, even film history's lesser-remembered talents continue to

Book Review: Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 by Robert Matzen

Using numerous interviews, a personal climb to the crash site, and government documents, Matzen constructs the story deliberately.
  |   Comments
Like the rest of America, World War II transformed Hollywood. Within 10 days of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a "coordinator of government films" as a liaison between the government and the motion picture industry and to advise Hollywood in supporting the war effort. And just 40 days after Pearl Harbor, the first Hollywood star would die in pursuit of the latter. Known for her beauty and her roles in popular screwball comedies, Carole Lombard became one of the highest paid actresses during the 1930s. She appeared in more than 30 films that decade. In 1999, the American Film

Inferno (2016) Blu-ray Review: Well, It Certainly is Hellish...

Tom Hanks and Ron Howard reunite for another apocalyptic Dan Brown/Robert Langdon adaptation. But is it a bit too late?
  |   Comments
If there's one grouping author Dan Brown never imagined he would be lumped into, it's that of the works by purported novelists E.L. James, Stephanie Meyer, and whoever it is we have to blame for those Hunger Games and Divergent books. And yet, thanks to terrible film adaptations of the works of Dan Brown ‒ to say nothing of other (real) writers whose works have been equally massacred by Tinseltown scribes who keep appearing to miss the moral of the story ‒ it has almost become virtually impossible to distinguish legitimate writers from hacks. Brown's messages to humanity first became

The Watermelon Woman (Restored 20th Anniversary Edition) DVD Review: Completely Universal and Extremely Relevant

A fresh and sassy take on movies and LGBT culture, especially from an African American perspective.
  |   Comments
With the exception of last year's immensely stunning Moonlight, there rarely have been films that tackle gay and lesbian counterculture, especially in terms of race. Usually, when it comes to the African American experience, being LGBT still seems to be taboo in today's society. Fortunately, director Cheryl Dunye's 1996 landmark film, The Watermelon Woman, broke the mold of not just gay and lesbian society, but also its viewpoint from the lives of black women. Even after twenty years, it remains a sharp and funny observation of love and filmmaking. Dunye herself stars as a twenty-something black lesbian working in a

Transformers: The Last Knight - Extended Super Bowl Spot!

Only one world will survive: theirs, or ours.
  |   Comments
The Last Knight shatters the core myths of the Transformers franchise, and redefines what it means to be a hero. Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Saving our world falls upon the shoulders of an unlikely alliance: Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg); Bumblebee; an English Lord (Sir Anthony Hopkins); and an Oxford Professor (Laura Haddock). There comes a moment in everyone’s life when we are called upon to make a difference. In Transformers: The Last

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 02-06-17

Another week to catch up on your Academy Award bucket list.
  |   Comments
TCM's 31 Days of Oscar From A to Z continues this week, starting with the 1943 version of The Constant Nymph, which saw Joan Fontaine nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, through to Ice Station Zebra, which was nominated for Best Visual Effects and for Best Cinematography (Daniel L. Fapp). Days of Wine and Roses (1962) Monday, February 6 at 10:15 p.m. (ET) A husband and wife fight to conquer alcoholism. Dreamgirls (2006) Tuesday, February 7 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) An unscrupulous promoter takes a girl group to the top but dumps their lead singer. Foreign Correspondent (1940)

Gimme Danger DVD Review: Jim Jarmusch Pays Loving Tribute to Iggy and the Stooges, but Misses Some Opportunities

A long overdue official history lesson documenting the "greatest rock and roll band ever." Or, at least one of them.
  |   Comments
From the first few minutes of Gimme Danger, Jim Jarmusch's loving tribute to Iggy and the Stooges, the director makes his unabashed fandom abundantly clear - even going so far as to label them "the greatest rock and roll band ever " (a claim repeated numerous times throughout the film). While that label is debatable at best, there is still no denying the enormous influence of the Stooges on a subsequent generation of rock bands ranging from the Ramones and the Clash, to Sonic Youth and Nirvana. Jarmusch is of course no stranger to the rock-doc form, with a resume

Five Cool Things and Frederick Douglass

Sometimes, even during sickness, one can find cool things.
  |   Comments
For the last couple of months, my wife and I have been passing The Crud back and forth between each other. She’ll get sick one week - coughing, sneezing, head full of mucus - then just as she gets better, I’ll get it. We routinely either blame our daughter, who is very likely bringing new germs home from her classmates, or our house and its potential for mold and who knows else what. It's been pretty miserable experience. This week it was my turn. I felt it coming on last Saturday and should have stayed in bed all day Sunday

The BFG DVD Review: Steven Spielberg Captures the Essence of Roald Dahl's Story

An uplifting and magical story of a little girl and her unlikely friend.
  |   Comments
The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is based on the book by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl. It is the story of Sophie, who, after the death of her parents, is forced to live in a London orphanage. While the other orphans have no trouble sleeping, Sophie suffers from insomnia and spends her nights roaming the orphanage. One night while Sophie is awake and looking out onto the empty streets of London, she encounters the BFG at work. His job is to deliver dreams to people while they sleep. Since Sophie sees the BFG, he decides that he needs to take

Disney's Pinocchio: The Signature Collection Blu-ray Review: Much Here to be Appreciated

This is a great addition to any collection whether you have children or are a big kid.
  |   Comments
On the weekend of November 21, 2016 at D23’s Destination D: Amazing Adventures event at Walt Disney World Resort, the addition of Disney’s triumphant animated classic Pinocchio to the celebrated Walt Disney Signature Collection was announced. Pinocchio, which inspired the world to wish upon a star, arrived for the first time on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on Jan. 10, and on Blu-ray and DVD on Jan. 31 with hours of new and classic bonus features. So once again Disney opens the vault to allow those of us who don’t already own the movie to take another walk down

getTV Celebrates Black History Month with Epic Performances

Highlights include rare appearances by Whitney Houston, Muhammad Ali, Lena Horne, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Patti LaBelle, Lola Falana, and more.
  |   Comments
Press release: getTV pays tribute to Black History Month in a lineup packed with classic appearances from some of the biggest African-American stars of all time, including four straight weeks of Sonny & Cher guest performances by Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 each Monday at 9 p.m. ET, followed by rare TV specials starring Lena Horne, Lola Falana, and more at at 10 p.m. ET. As part of the network’s Sunday overnight “Get Lost In TV” block celebrating classic TV rarities, getTV will also present a Night Of Soul on Sunday, February 12, at 11 p.m. ET, in honor

Peanuts by Schulz: Snoopy Tales DVD Review: Captures the Spirit of the Source Material

Thirty-two new shorts bring the classic comic strip to life for a new generation.
  |   Comments
Over the years, I've tasked myself with watching and writing about new updates of shows that I loved as a kid. These updated versions would sometimes be simple revamps of the old show and sometimes they would be very different, modern takes on the characters. The most common example is Scooby-Doo. I've seen versions recently that expanded upon the mystery-solving attraction of the show and other versions that try to meld the trends in animation and culture to retell the old stories. Both failed and succeeded to varying degrees. I tried to entertain the new Peanuts animated shorts with the

Scavenger Hunt Blu-ray Review: A Long Overdue Release That Stands the Test of Time

It compares to It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, mainly because it contains an overabundance of celebrities racing around to win a prize.
  |   Comments
When game designer, Milton Parker (Vincent Price), passes away, his $200 million fortune is left to be distributed between his family. At least that’s what they expect to happen. Being the game player that he is and invoking his motto of “Play to Win,” his last will and testament states that the person or persons to receive his entire fortune will be whoever collects the most points in a scavenger hunt. The items that need to be collected are written in riddle format, and the only rule is that they cannot purchase the items, but must obtain them by any

Follow Us