May 2017 Archives

The Girl and the General (1967) DVD Review: All Give Some, None Give All

A shockingly subdued Rod Steiger stars in this Italian-made WWI dramedy from Pasquale Festa Campanile.
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From a screenwriting perspective, Pasquale Festa Campanile was a fairly active fellow. Beginning in the 1950s, Campanile would go on to pen nearly 60 motion pictures, including a heap of melodramas and sex comedies, most notably the Senta Berger guilty pleasure When Women Had Tails. During the early '60s, he would collaborate with both Elio Petri and Luchiano Visconti on The Assassin (1961) and The Leopard (1963). He was also the fellow responsible for writing and directing the gritty cult 1977 thriller Hitch-Hike with Franco Nero and the late David Hess, proving the late Italian filmmaker knew how to choose

Ghost World is the Pick of the Week

A great release week includes, Martin Scorsese picking some world cinema, two silent films, a Christian movie, action, horror, and more.
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It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was really less than two decades when me and my soon-to-be-wife were living in Bloomington, Indiana. Bloomington would normally be a small town in the middle of farm country were it not for the university. But getting an influx of 30,000 students every year plus all the professors, administration, and people needed to keep such a large institution running (not to mention all the various shops, restaurants, bars, etc. that feed off of it) turned what would have been a one-horse town into a rather metropolitan oasis. It wasn’t big enough (nor

Bob Hope Salutes the Troops DVD Review: Thanks for the Military Memories

Six TV specials recorded while Hope and company were on the road entertaining U.S. servicemen and women.
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Bob Hope was a great supporter of the troops and performed many USO shows for them. This 3-DVD set from Time Life presents six TV specials that aired over the years while he was on the road entertaining U.S. servicemen and women. Disc 1 start with Bob Hope's Christmas Cheer in Saudi Arabia (aired 1/12/91) - Hope went to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield, and this special features him on different stops during the trip. He gives three different monologues and his frequent digs at Saddam Hussein always go over well with the crowd. The Pointer Sisters sing "I'm

Wolf Guy Blu-ray Review: Too Much Guy, Not Enough Wolf

A bizarre genre mashup gives plenty of '70s exploitation awesomeness, but very little werewolf.
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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it on a continuous loop until it stops being true: we live in a golden age of home-video releases - a veritable utopia for film nerds and collectors. It seems like every other week a new company pops up willing to release high-class editions of seemingly every film in every genre imaginable. Here at Cinema Sentries, our hearts just gush at the amazing bounty made available every Tuesday. Let us turn our thoughts over to one of our very favorite production companies - Arrow Video. They consistently do top-shelf releases of some of

Roma (Criterion Collection) Blu-ray Review: Rome, I Love You

Federico Fellini's fever dream exploration of Rome gets the Criterion Collection treatment, and it's lovely.
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In the opening text prior to the start of Roma, we get a detailed explanation of how the original version of Federico Fellini’s movie had scenes that were shortened for international release by him, producer Turi Vasile, and screenwriter Bernardo Zapponi. Some footage never made it past the production documentation phase, and, therefore, has never been seen by the general public. I kind of wish there was a way for us to see everything that Fellini had captured, because Roma is a gorgeous look at Rome and the people living in it during a certain period of time. Fellini doesn’t

John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection Album Review

It offers essential movie music that no fan should be without plus some material that is worth being rediscovered.
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Arguably the greatest pairing of composer and director in cinema history, John Williams' scores from Steven Spielberg's films are the focus of The Ultimate Collection, a 3-CD / 1-DVD set that gathers the previously released The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration (1991) and Williams on Williams: The Classic Spielberg Scores (1995) along with the new The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration Part III, whose name will surely send a few erronously in search of Part II. Williams and Spielberg first worked together 43 years ago on The Sugarland Express, the theme of which is included, and have worked together on all Spielberg's films except for The

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 05-29-17

Suggestions to beat the June gloom.
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TCM's Memorial Day Marathon concludes on Monday, Clark Gable gets one last night as the Star-of-the-Month, and Alec Baldwin and David Letterman have a Brief Encounter on "The Essentials". The TCM Spotlight focuses on Gay Hollywood, and there's another collection of "Treasures from the Disney Vault." Memorial Day Marathon: Destination Tokyo (1944) - Monday, May 29 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A U.S. sub braves enemy waters during World War II. Star of the Month: Clark Gable - It Started in Naples (1960) - Tuesday, May 30 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) An American lawyer trying to settle his brother's affairs in

The Boy Friend (1971) Blu-ray Review: Was This the Precursor to 'The Apple'?

Ken Russell's hallucinogenic homage to Busby Berkeley is just that ‒ and the Warner Archive has made it even trippier via a beautiful (and uncut) restoration.
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While musicals aren't my prefered form of motion picture entertainment, I did, in fact, see many a song-and-dance flick during my youth. That said, with the exception of the glamourous Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers classics of the 1930s (all of those movies which just happened to feature a musical number don't qualify in my less-than-established but nevertheless somewhat experienced opinion), most of my interaction with musicals tended to be of a decidedly off-kilter variety. In fact, I can't even count how many times I have seen Phantom of the Paradise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pink Floyd: The Wall,

Book Review: Star Wars: The Complete Classic Newspaper Comics, Vol. 1

An enjoyable throwback to the early days as George Lucas' fictional universe was expanding.
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Before The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980, Star Wars fans who wanted more stories from George Lucas' “galaxy far, far away" had few options. Marvel Comics presented original adventures after its six-issue adaption of the film. Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye novel had been intended to be the basis for the movie sequel, so it seemed the most canonical; and of course, the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special on television. In 1979, the Star Wars Universe expanded into newspaper comic strips for five years. The Library of American Comics is releasing those strips in a

Finian's Rainbow (1968) Blu-ray Review: Dance with the Times

The Warner Archive raises the curtains on a movie that would be both Francis Ford Coppola's first studio film and Fred Astaire's last complete musical.
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As the end of the 1960s rolled around, bringing with them the many changes some people are still having a difficult time wrapping their ideologies around, the timeless tradition of the standard movie musical began to make a much-needed alteration as well. One such example was 1968's Finian's Rainbow. Directed by a young novice named Francis Ford Coppola, this big-screen version of E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy's stage success features many of the elements the '60s are so well remembered for ‒ namely, civil rights and stinkin' hippies. It's pretty hip to the times, even if it is slightly bewildering

Five Cool Things and The Gifted

Cool things this week include Alfred Hitchock's Sabotage, a new X-Men series, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, Bloom County, and more.
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Its been a tough week around here. Last weekend, the cat we’ve had for 12 years went into kidney failure, and we had to put her down. It was like losing a family member. My heart still aches. To clear my head and move away from those thoughts, I watched a lot of movies, read some funny books, and generally tried to be excited about pop culture. Here's the coolest five things I discovered this week. Sabotage I have this weird fear of early Hitchcock films. Mostly, this is due to my mother purchasing me one of those cheap-o boxed

Demon Seed (1977) Blu-ray Review: Artificial Intelligence Meets Artificial Insemination

The kooky, slightly kinky '70s sci-fi horror hybrid featuring the talents of the late Fritz Weaver and Robert Vaughn receives a beautiful makeover from the Warner Archive.
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Released just a few months before Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind would become science fiction movies to end all science fiction movies, Donald Cammell's 1977 horror hybrid Demon Seed really isn't the easiest movie in the world to fathom. Not without some combination of drugs or alcohol, at least. Based on an early story by Dean Koontz, the tale finds Fritz Weaver ‒ no stranger to either genre ‒ as a computer genius who builds the supercomputer to end all supercomputers. Little does he know, however, that his latest, greatest invention may actually turn out to

The Jacques Rivette Collection Blu-ray Review: Not For Me

Experimental French films are interesting conceptually, but hard sailing to watch.
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Inspired by Jean Cocteau to become a filmmaker, Jacques Rivette moved to Paris in the 1950s began making short films and writing for the influential French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma. It was there he met Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, and Claude Chabrol. Together, they revived the critical consensus of American genre filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchock and John Ford and started the French New Wave (Rivette directed Le Coup de Berger, which is considered the first film in that movement). In early 1975, Rivette conceived of a film cycle consisting of four films using a made-up mythology

Voodoo Black Exorcist (1974) Blu-ray Review: The Epitome of 'So Bad, It's Good'

The Film Detective brings us the first widescreen 2k scan of this truly abominable, incoherent ‒ and yet, undeniable entertaining ‒ Euro horror messterpiece. And it's glorious!
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Imagine if an amateur Spanish filmmaker, light years away from honing in on the trade he decided to briefly pick up, suddenly received word he and his friends could join a cruise to the Caribbean for free. "Free," that is, so long as they agreed to document ‒ and subsequently promote ‒ the company paying for the very generous freebie. Deciding this would be the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their limited financial means and still crank something (emphasis on "something") out in the process, they wrangled in what little talent they could (emphasis on "little") and took their

A Woman's Face (1941) / Flamingo Road (1949) DVD Reviews: The Dark Side of Joan

Two classic features from the one and only Joan Crawford return to DVD thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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While previously released to DVD by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, a number of Joan Crawford classics had fallen into that unfavorable "Out of Print" status movie collectors so hate to see. Fortunately, a total of six Crawford vehicles ‒ Dancing Lady, Sadie McKee, Strange Cargo, A Woman's Face, Flamingo Road, and Torch Song (the latter five of which comprised the bulk of The Joan Crawford Collection, Vol. 2 from 2008) ‒ have re-emerged from moratorium thanks to the Warner Archive Collection, two of which are reviewed here. In A Woman's Face, a 1941 thriller from director George Cukor, we not

TCM and Fathom Events Presents the 40th Anniversary of Smokey and the Bandit

Grab a beer, jump in your vintage Trans-Am, and get ready for a hell of a ride.
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When TCM host Ben Mankiewicz introduced Smokey and the Bandit, there was both a gleam in his eye and a smirk on his mouth. The gleam comes from his admission that as a 10-year-old boy in 1977 it was the first film that made him fall in love with movies. Moreso than even Star Wars, which also came out that year, it was the movie he watched over and over again, making him desperate to both be the Bandit and to see more movies just like it. The smirk comes from the knowledge that even on its 40th anniversary Smokey

Logan is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a new Wolverine, a great wall, a socially conscious horror film, a weird French boxed set, werewolves, thugs, midwives, and more.
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I’ve written in these pages on several occasions about how I’ve evolved in my opinions of comic-book movies several times over the years. You can track my feelings pretty well with each X-Men movie. When the first X-Men film came out in 2000, I knew hardly anything about the characters. I was not yet into comic books in any real way, nor interested in the movies based upon them. But there was a lot of fanboy excitement about it (and it's interesting to think about how fanboy excitement has changed in the last 17 years - now you get non-stop

The Sheik (1921) / The Son of the Sheik (1926) Blu-ray Review: Happy Valentino's Day

Kino Lorber unleashes two of the greatest works from legendary Silent Film heartthrob Rudolph Valentino.
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One of the civilized world's first heartthrobs and cultural icons returns in two of his most famous works, now available on Blu-ray for the first time from the folks at Kino Lorber. Although the sands [terribly pun possibly intentional] of time may have obliterated the name of Rudolph Valentino from the limited lexicons of today's youth (especially his full name at birth: Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguella!), the impression the Silent Era film legend left behind ‒ as well as the universal vogue his raw sex appeal launched ‒ are the sort of things which shall

Long Strange Trip Movie Review: All a Dream They Dreamed One Afternoon Long Ago

Ladies and gentlemen, the Grateful Dead...
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Like America itself, the Grateful Dead were a great melting pot of cultures, genres, and styles. Take a close look at the songs they chose to cover in their 30 years of existence and you’ll see nearly every brand of American music of the last century. From Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Cannon’s Jug Stompers, the Reverend Gary Davis to Howlin’ Wolf, Bob Marley, Blind Willie Johnson, Leiber and Stoller, Martha and the Vanillas?, the Dead played jazz, folk, blues, rock and roll, Appalachian folk music, reggae, and everything in between. They took all those styles and more, blended

Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition (The Complete Series) DVD Review: One of the Most Original TV Series to Ever Hit the Airwaves

Best watched while enjoying a slice of cherry pie, a few donuts, and some “damn good coffee.”
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From the minds of David Lynch and Mark Frost sprang forth one of the most original TV series to ever hit the airwaves. The opening credits signaled the viewer was going to see something different, very different. The beautiful nature shots juxtaposed with the moody, ethereal “Twin Peaks Theme” were an unusual contrast compared to the big hits of the time like The Cosby Show and Matlock, although fans of Lynch’s Blue Velvet would recognize the motif of something off-kilter in small town America that the credits evoke. One morning, a beautiful high school girl, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), is

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 05-22-17

This is a good week for fans of war movies.
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TCM presents their traditional Memorial Day Marathon, starting on Friday at 8 pm ET. Alec Baldwin and David Letterman fit in a military comedy on "The Essentials" on Saturday. Plus, more Dennis Miller hosting Creature Features, more from Star-of-the-Month Clark Gable, and a night of Grand Dame Guignol. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) - Monday, May 22 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A crazed, aging star torments her sister in a decaying Hollywood mansion. Star of the Month: Clark Gable - Gone With the Wind (1939) Tuesday, May 23 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Classic tale of Scarlett O'Hara's battle

The Yakuza (1974) Blu-ray Review: That Time Robert Mitchum Went to Japan

Like a trusty katana, the Warner Archive Collection whips out this neglected, gritty, emotional '70s cult classic with much grace and dignity.
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What can you say about a Japanese-American co-production from the director of Three Days of the Condor as written by the beautifully dark minds who penned Chinatown, Taxi Driver, and Kiss of the Spider Woman? Well, if said film also happens to star the great Robert Mitchum alongside Japanese icon Ken Takakura, and features an eclectic funky score by Dave Grusin, then the one and only official answer to that query is a heartfelt "Plenty!" ‒ as Sidney Pollack's 1974 cult classic The Yakuza should prove to even the most jaded classic movie buff beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The Red Skelton Hour in Color 3-DVD Set Review: An Entertaining, Old-fashioned Variety Show

Skelton ends every show hoping he and the gang have at least brought a moment of entertainment into the viewer's life, which they do many times over.
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Red Skelton, who became a personality in vadeville, radio, and movies, had a very impressive run with his TV program, The Red Skelton Show, which aired from 1951 to 1971. Starting in September 1962, the show expanded to an hour, leading to the name change. During the time period of the the late '60s when these episodes debuted, between January 4, 1966 and October 28, 1969, the show aired Tuesdays at 8:30-9:30 pm on CBS and ranked in the Top 10 except for the 1968-1969 season when it dipped to #11, tied with Mission: Impossible and Bewitched). Most of the

Bells Are Ringing (1960) Blu-ray Review: You Found Me Just in Time

The irreplaceable Judy Holliday teams with the one and only Dean Martin for a musical extravaganza which has received a dynamic makeover from the Warner Archive.
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The history of the American musical is indeed a fascinating one, particularly once the genre was introduced to the ever-changing world of the 1960s. Far removed from filmed vaudeville acts and Broadway show adaptations from the dawn of the Sound Era in the late '20s, the once-harmless naïvety of the movie musical of yesteryear was about to be shown the door by an increasingly cynical society which would soon be surrounded by great shifts in both cultural and political trends. And the beginning of those changes are quite noticeable in the classic 1960 musical Bells Are Ringing, which is now

Brain Damage (1988) Blu-ray Review: Schlock That Loves Being Shlock

Cheerfully sleazy exploitation movie about a singing brain parasite is charmingly repellent.
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There's a certain genius to Brain Damage (1989). Thousands of horror movies are made which simply copy the last popular one, doing the bare minimum to get a (in the past) theatrical release or (more recently) a DVD distributor. These movies feel like somebody is filling out a checklist. "Creative" kills, check. Some nudity, okay. Jump scares, gore shots, blah blah blah. Brain Damage is no less puerile, in a sense, but it is knowingly puerile. It isn't copying somebody else's bad ideas, it has a sackful of its own (and some good ones, to boot.) Brain Damage tells the

Five Cool Things and Chris Cornell

Cool things this week include Arrival, Burden of Dreams, Foreign Correspondent, Bob Dylan, and Blow Out.
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It was a good week for movies in the Brewster house. I watched a couple of things I’ve been wanting to see for a long while and a couple of others I didn’t know I wanted to see until I sat down and watched them. There was a good comic book, too, and some really good music. I’ll hash it down to five cool things so let's get to it. Arrival Ever since I heard there was an alien-invasion movie whose hero was a linguist (played by the always wonderful Amy Adams), I knew this was a movie I wanted

The Commune (2017) Movie Review: Uneasy Living

Quirky characters are wasted in Thomas Vinterberg's latest.
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The Commune is a film that should be praised for its realistic depictions of a relationship growing stale and the difficulties of living with life-long friends and/or total strangers. I can imagine quite a few people will find some relation to this film in one way or another; I certainly did. But, at the same time, I also found myself wanting to be with characters that had more to them. For a good portion of the movie, I felt like I was watching something in which the script was written, but there were some glaring moments that felt like they

The Climber (1975) Blu-ray Review: The Stuff Scarfaces Are Made Of

An all-growed-up Joe Dallesandro stars in this nifty (and violent) little Italian crime drama, recently rescued from obscurity by Arrow Video.
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Fresh from appearing in several collaborations for Paul Morrissey and the legendary Andy Warhol ‒ a union which culminated with two of the most notorious horror-comedies ever made, Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula ‒ model-turned-actor Joe Dallesandro found himself alone in Europe. Much to his surprise, his underground popularity as a Warhol factory superstar in the US was synonymous with that of "famous" abroad. And it wasn't long before he was being asked (or conned) into making a handful of motion pictures in the continent. One such film was Pasquale (I Am the Law) Squitieri's L'ambizioso, aka The

Music Legends Are Featured on getTV May 28: The Who, Chuck Berry, David Bowie & More

The block also includes rare appearances and performances by Jerry Lee Lewis, Elton John, Frankie Valli, Ray Charles, Simon & Garfunkel, and more.
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Press release: Rock n’ roll rules on getTV, as the network celebrates the 30th Anniversary of LA BAMBA with a “Get Lost In TV” lineup featuring a special presentation of the 1987 classic, as well as rare appearances and performances by some of music’s most legendary artists on some of television’s most beloved variety shows, on Sunday, May 28, starting at 7:45 p.m. ET. LA BAMBA (1987)—7:45 p.m. ET Lou Diamond Phillips shines in his career-defining turn as rock n’ roll pioneer Ritchie Valens, in this critically acclaimed biopic that follows the teenage phenom from his humble beginnings in Pacoima,

Criterion Announces August 2017 Releases

New additions for your wishlist.
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As summer winds down, the Criterion Collection is releasing five titles in August to give folks an excuse to go inside and beat the heat. New to the collection are are also releasing Michael Curtiz' The Breaking Point, Mike Leigh’s Meantime, and Sacha Guitry's La poison. High-def upgrades are being provided to Ronald Neame's Hopscotch and Alex Cox's Sid & Nancy. Read on to learn more about them. The Breaking Point (#889) out Aug 8 Michael Curtiz brings a master skipper’s hand to the helm of this thriller, Hollywood’s second crack at Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not. John

Good Morning (1959) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Japanese Master's Flatulent Comedy

One of the great filmmakers of the 20th century fills his domestic comedy with wistfulness, charm...and fart jokes.
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Comedy doesn't tend to get the respect of drama in movie writing. Like horror, its effectiveness depends on whether or not the audience laughs - it demands, when done right, an immediate physical response. It's hard to write oneself out of having laughed at a comedy a writer doesn't want to enjoy for whatever reason, or to write oneself into praising a comedy that didn't raise a yuck. Dramas have more stuff for writers to write about, and writers are the ones who make the lists of what's important in cinema and what isn't. I've seen reviews of 1959's Good

Alien: Covenant Movie Review: Ridley Scott Returns to the Bloody Basics

Although it recycles a lot from the previous films, Alien: Covenant is still a gorgeously shot, thrilling sci-fi feature.
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More than 30 years after he terrified us with Alien, Ridley Scott returned to the franchise with Prometheus, a film that proved to be more ambitious than fans of the sci-fi franchise were expecting. Sure, it had the origins aspect that fans were expecting, but a lot of the Alien prequel side of the film felt subtle to the exploration of life and creation of man on which Scott ended up focusing. The result was a film that was divisive amongst the Alien fan base, and even Scott admitted recently that he was going in the wrong direction with Prometheus.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is the Pick of the Week

A pretty slow week brings us zombies, mummys, Martians, Ozu and the return of Xander Cage.
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When I was a boy, I was what they would nowadays call a gamer. It started with a little Texas Instruments device my father bought when I was maybe six years old. It had a little keyboard and a place to insert cartridges to play some very rudimentary games. A year or two later, we got an Atari 2600 and I was completely hooked. In 1985, the first Nintendo Entertainment System came out and I played it nearly every waking hour. My brother used to taunt me about it calling me a “Nintendo Nerd” or “NN” for short. He was

Kiss of Death (1947) / Edge of Eternity (1959) Blu-ray Reviews: Homicidal Tendencies

Twilight Time brings us two remarkable, unforgettable, trend-setting thrillers from yesteryear in two equally beautifully transfers.
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Kiss of Death (1947) One of the most quintessential titles to ever emerge from the annals of film noir, Henry Hathaway's Kiss of Death still packs quite a punch today, long after a bastardized 1995 remake from the same studio left many with a foul aftertaste. Here, however, the flavor from the fatal lips administering the eponymous smooch is both robust and plentiful. This is particularly true whenever the movie's most famous character ‒ a giggling psychopathic killer sporting the time-honored moniker of Tommy Udo, as played in a groundbreaking debut by a young Richard Widmark ‒ livens up the

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 05-15-17

A look at what's playing this week.
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This week on TCM David Letterman continues his appearances on "The Essentials", Dennis Miller presents another night of Creature Features, and fans gets another night featuring Star-of-the-Month Clark Gable. There are also themed nights that focus on films made by brothers, starring Frances Dee, and more from the year 1967. Grey Gardens (1976) - Monday, May 15 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Documentary of a reclusive mother and her daughter who created their own world in their mansion known as "Grey Gardens". Star of the Month: Clark Gable - China Seas (1935) Tuesday, May 16 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A sea

TNT to Premiere AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Diane Keaton Thursday, June 15, at 10 p.m.

Encore presentation will air on sister network TCM.
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Press release: Following the 45th AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Diane Keaton on June 8 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Turner's TNT will televise the celebration as a one-hour special, AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Diane Keaton, premiering Thursday, June 15, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT). Sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will then encore the special on Monday, July 31, during a night of programming dedicated to Keaton's work. This marks the fifth year the Emmy-winning AFI special has aired on Turner networks. In addition to the encore presentations of the special, TCM's July 31 tribute

Ludwig (1973) Blu-ray Review: The Historical Epic Wherein Nothing Really Happens

Love it or hate it, Arrow Academy has unveiled an undeniably beautiful box set for one of Luchino Visconti's final films.
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I would only be slightly remiss were I to openly admit history was never my strongest subject in school. Truth be told, when I wasn't having assorted slurs shouted at me in the hallways or eluding those who wanted to stuff me in a locker, I was safe in my room at home watching movies most people had forgotten about. And the truly beautiful part about those otherwise terrible years was my ability to sit through even the longest, most boring film known to man and still be able to focus on it. Sadly, enduring great strides of monotony is

L'assassino (The Assassin) Blu-ray Review: The Lady-Killer of Rome Returns

Elio Petri's forgotten, strange, and very dark satire makes a long-overdue debut in the US from the newly launched Arrow Academy.
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The first feature film from Property Is No Longer a Theft director Elio Petri, The Assassin (L'assassino) is an interesting, early test run for the filmmaker's later (and better known) 1970 hit Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion by way of Franz Kafka's The Trial. Albeit a very Elio Petri fashion, of course. Interestingly, some Italo movie aficionados around the globe see The Assassin as something of a proto-giallo, as many elements would later become staples in the gialli movement. It also, coincidentally enough, features a character similar to legendary TV detective Columbo, a year after the character first appeared

Five Cool Things and Blade Runner 2049

Cool things this week include the Hulk, Blade Runner, Midnight Special, a new Wolverine, more aliens, and the Grateful Dead.
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My wife came down with something nasty last week. I’m sure I've complained in these pages about the numerous times my entire family was passing around The Crud a few months back. For awhile, it felt like we were experiencing the plague around here. We’ve had a few glorious weeks of good health of late so it was crushing to see her sick again. For awhile, it seemed like I was going to escape this round. Last Thursday, I started writing this article rejoicing that I had not gotten sick. Then I got sick. My lymph nodes swelled, the muscles

Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go! DVD Review: An Excellent Addition to the Peanuts Family

In which the Peanuts strips come to life with a collection of sports-themed shorts.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own. It would have been easy to just take my review for Peanuts by Schulz, Volume 1: Snoopy Tales and copy and paste it generally into a review here with a couple tweaks. Warner Bros. is releasing Volume 2 of the new series under the subtitle of Go Team Go! with over two hours of sports-themed shorts. I lauded the first volume for capturing the comic pace of the strips instead of being in the tradition

Kiju Yoshida: Love + Anarchism Blu-ray Review: Radical Politics and Radical Filmmaking

Thematic trilogy from a Japanese master, these three films are designed to be as beautiful, and baffling, as possible.
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Some movies offer formal challenges as part of their appeal. They might have sequences of the narrative where the viewer doesn't know exactly what's going on or in what sequences they're shown. They might have elliptical stories that really require an interpretation rather than just unfolding the narrative directly for the viewer, like a David Lynch film. Or they might have a different way of showing images on screen that is unconventional. Entire film movements are built around recognizing the "rules" by which films are made, and then subverting or even ignoring them. And then there's Kiju Yoshida's Japanese New

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review: Eh-Calibur

Guy Ritchie's King Arthur re-telling is flashy but dull.
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The one question I had after the screening of Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was, “Why does this exist?” I’m still trying to find an answer for it. Granted, this is a different take on the King Arthur story that we’ve all known to grow and love. And by different, I mean, there are gigantic elephants getting ready to destroy Camelot in the opening sequence. Not only that, but there are strange, octopus mermaids led by one that looks like a cross between The Little Mermaid’s Ursula and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’s Mama June. But my

Book Review: Donald Duck: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics, Vol. 3 & The Complete Sunday Newspaper Comics, Vol. 2 (1943-1945)

IDW Publishing's latest Donald Duck comic strip collections drive home the U.S. domestic impact of World War II while also serving up laughs aplenty.
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There’s something decidedly comforting about reading old Disney comic strips, as they’re reliably funny, relatable, and finely crafted. These latest collections add a rare aspect: they’re also educational. The reason for that is the timeframe these strips were originally released, smack dab in the waning years of World War II. While they’re not ostensibly war books, there’s no escaping its influence throughout these pages. Although Donald didn’t go to war in the comic strip (flat feet), its impact is felt throughout this run, as he frequently deals with the domestic hardships endured by U.S. civilians. Among those travails are gas

Time Life Will Release the Groundbreaking Variety Show, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete Series

A deluxe complete series collector's set available for the very first time for its landmark 50th anniversary.
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Press release: Named by TV Guide as one of the "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time," Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, was also one of the most groundbreaking. A fast moving barrage of rapid-fire one-liners, on-going sketches, musical numbers and hilarious social and political satire, it was an instant hit following its NBC prime-time debut in 1968. Hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, the unique variety series - a psychedelic take-off of a '60s-style happening - perfectly captured the spirit of an era, launched the careers of many a comic actor and writer and fed a new generation's conversations

Heat: Director's Definitive Edition is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us Michael Mann's heist classic, girls in prison, serial killers, mutants and much more.
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Though they’ve both delved into self parody over the last decade or two, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro will go down in history as two of the greatest actors to ever be filmed. Surprisingly, they’ve only appeared together on screen once (The Godfather, Part II doesn’t count as they don’t share any screen time) in Michael Mann’s 1995 thriller Heat. It's a great film with great performances all around. De Niro plays the mastermind of a professional heist crew that stick to a strict moral code. Pacino is the cop chasing him down. Though it has some nice action

Dead or Alive Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Literally Explosive Cinematic Madness

Yakuza blow up the world, and that's just first film of this loose trilogy starring Show Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi.
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The opening six minutes of Dead or Alive, one of the first films of Takashi Miike to get international attention, are some of the most energetic, aggressive, and propulsive filmmaking of the '90s (or, hell, of any era.) Several characters are introduced and plots are put into motion, interwoven with quick cuts of various people engaged in various debaucheries: stealing drugs, sex in bathrooms, stripping, a man doing a six-foot line of cocaine off an enormous ramp, and a man shoveling in bowl after bowl of ramen (which then memorably gets blown out of his stomach in a shotgun blast).

Buena Vista Social Club Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Cuban Musicians Get the Recognition They Deserve

A landmark and infectious documentary about the joy of Cuban music and the great individuals who brought it to life.
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When it comes to music, there are many styles and cultures: Mexican, Spanish, Portugese, etc. However, Cuban music seems to be for only certain tastes, and even sadder, the singular individuals who created it have become virtually forgotten. Thankfully, Wim Wenders' 1999 influential documentary, Buena Vista Social Club, gives new life to these all-but-ancient musical talents and gives the recognition they extremely deserve. It is also a documentary of how music, in general, can be a lifelong desire and reason for living. Wenders' camera and the legendary Ry Cooper, along with his son Joachim, travel to Cuba to find and

TCM and Fathom Events Return Smokey and the Bandit to U.S. Cinemas May 21 and 24

Returns to big screens nationwide for 40th Anniversary as part of TCM Big Screen Classics series.
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Press release: The summer of 1977 might be best known for a certain intergalactic adventure, but across the country the other summertime smash combined three things America couldn’t get enough of: Burt Reynolds, CB radio, and Coors beer. Forty years later, Smokey and the Bandit makes its way back to movie screens nationwide for two days only on Sunday, May 21 and Wednesday, May 24 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (local time) as part of the year-long TCM Big Screen Classics series from Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events. This screening will also include specially-produced commentary from TCM host

TCM Programming Alert for the Week of 05-08-17

For those planning their week.
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This week on TCM David Letterman continues to talk with Alec Baldwin about "The Essentials", Dennis Miller returns to host another night of Creature Features, and fans gets another night featuring Star-of-the-Month Clark Gable. There are themed nights about cattle drives, models, the year 1967, and Mother's Day. The Far Country (1955) - Monday, May 8 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Two cowboys on the road to Alaska help a wagon train in trouble. Star of the Month: Clark Gable - Possessed (1931) Tuesday, May 9 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) A factory girl rises to the top as mistress of a

The Dismembered (1962) Blu-ray Review: I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia

Garagehouse Pictures digs up one of the goofiest ‒ and yet, strangely intriguing ‒ lost regional horror comedies ever.
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Picture, if you can, what might have happened had a very bored Charles Addams sat down for a few hours one sunny afternoon to jot down the general outline for a lighthearted episode of The Twilight Zone. But rather than seeing his little side project achieve fruition via its intended nationally broadcast television medium, the story wound up in the hands of amateur filmmakers instead. Expanding his original story into something that would still pass for "feature-length" by cinematic standards in 1962, an indie filmmaker in Philadelphia subsequently gathered together a few friends, even fewer dollars, and said "What the

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review: A Solid Start to the Summer Movie Season

This sequel to the 2014 smash hit is entertaining, but doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor.
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Superhero movies are going to be coming down the cinematic pipeline for many years to come. The same can be said for superhero sequels. It’s inevitable, but, when they bring in the big bucks, it’s also understandable. And yet, for many reviewers out there, who sit through more than 100 movies each year, it also becomes wearisome to see another origins story and another sequel to said origins story. You have to watch so many different movies to figure out who or what fits where in the timeline that, at a certain point, there comes a level of fatigue. Mine

Book Review: Red Barry: Undercover Man, Vol. 1 (1934-1935) by Will Gould

A lesser known detective comic from the 1930s gets a fine new release.
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I adored newspaper comic strips as I was growing up. My parents took in the Tulsa World, which was a morning paper, and the Claremore Progress, which ran in the afternoon. There was a lot of overlap in the two paper’s comics pages, but the Progress had a few strips that the World did not. My sister and I would fight over who got to read the World over breakfast and then again over who could get home the fastest and grab the Progress. I read almost all of the strips but my favorites were Calvin & Hobbes, The Far

Book Review: The Marvel Vault by Thomas, Sanderson, and Manning

A fascinating trip down memory lane for those curious about what went on behind the pages.
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Originally published in 2007, Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson's The Marvel Vault was clearly in need of Matthew K. Manning's 2016 update. There's no clear delineation identified when the first edition ended and the new one begins, but somewhere around the “One More Day”/ “Brand New Day” reboot of Spider-Man is as close as I can pin down. Although the book tells “the history of Marvel Comics (or Timely, as it was in initially called), from 1939 to present,” it was a classy touch to give credit to crosstown rivals National Allied Publications' (before they became DC Comics) Action Comics

Mondo Unveils First Board Game: The Thing: Infection

Available in stores and online wherever games are sold October 2017.
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Press release: Mondo and USAopoly are excited to announce the release and share a sneak peek at the design for The Thing Infection at Outpost 31, the first board game collaboration with USAopoly's designer games division, Project Raygun. The regular version of the game will be in stores and online nationwide this October, and a limited edition Mondo exclusive version will be available at MondoTees.com. An alien lifeform has infiltrated a bleak and desolate Antarctic research station assimilating other organisms and then imitating them. In the hidden identity game The Thing Infection at Outpost 31, you will relive John Carpenter's

Book Review: Star Hawks, Volume One: 1977-1978 by Gil Kane and Ron Goulart

Innovative science-fiction newspaper strip suffers from poor writing, but Gil Kane's art really shines.
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In early 1977, right at the start of the cultural science-fiction boom of the late '70s, the newspaper syndicate NEA hired Ron Goulart and Gil Kane to do a daily Star Trek-like strip. They came up with Star Hawks about a couple of interplanetary peacekeepers policing the universe from the space station Hoosegow. Inventive for its use of a two-tiered format which made it twice as tall as the usual newspaper strip allowing Kane to create some really interesting artwork. Goulart is probably best known today for his histories of comic books and pulp fiction, but Kane is a legend

Divorce: The Complete First Season DVD Giveaway

Divorce is about two people at the most difficult moment in their lives, feeling more intense emotions for each other than they've felt in years.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with HBO Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader Divorce: The Complete First Season on DVD. For those wanting to learn more, the official synopsis reads: The woman who brought to life one of HBO’s most iconic characters in Sex and the City now stars in the HBO comedy Divorce. See for yourself why the “terrifically on point” (Washington Post) Sarah Jessica Parker earned a Golden Globe nomination (Best Actress in a Comedy Series) for her role in the new hit series. Available on Blu-ray and DVD on May 9th, Divorce: The Complete First Season

The Red Turtle is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a Studio Ghibli-esque animated film, the director's cut of Gene Siskel's favorite movie, a big boxed set of some cult classics and much more.
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I’ve been writing this column for almost three years now. That’s roughly 156 picks of the week. Yet, I’m still not entirely sure why I pick some films. Or rather what is it that makes me (or anyone) think I’ll like certain films over others? Some weeks include films that I’ve seen and love. Some weeks have films released in special packages. But I’d say the majority of my picks are films that I’ve not seen but are very much interested in. The question becomes what makes me want to see one film more than another? What makes me pick

Interiors (1978) / Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979) Blu-ray Reviews: Suicidal Tendencies

Twilight Time unveils the HD debuts of two distinctly different dramas featuring Mary Beth Hurt.
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Interiors (1978) As anyone who has ever straddled a bicycle, slipped into something made out of lamé, or walked into a brothel full well knows, there's a first time for everything. In the case of Interiors, we witness comedian/filmmaker Woody Allen's first uncompromising move into the world of motion picture drama. Following his unparalleled triumph at the Academy Awards the following year with the Oscar-winning Annie Hall ‒ something die-hard Star Wars fans still haven't forgiven him for ‒ the Woodster decided it was time to tell a different kind of story: one that didn't have to rely on elements

Book Review: Superman: The Golden Age Newspaper Dailies: 1942-1944

New Library of American Comics collection of World War II era daily newspaper Superman comic strips shows why the the superhero stayed on the home front instead of the battlefield.
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Imagine the conundrum. America recently entered World War II, a war the government pronounces a battle between the “free world” and a “slave world.” Less than four years before, the first page of the first story about the now nationally popular Superman called him the “champion of the oppressed.” He’s since displayed not only invulnerability but superpowers that could make quick work of the Axis. How can Superman morally allow the war to continue? The problem facing Superman’s creators, writers, and artists wasn’t just an internal one. TIME magazine wrote about “Superman’s Dilemma” in its April 13, 1942, issue. It

Property Is No Longer a Theft Blu-ray Review: More Political Treatise than Film

It will steal your valuable time.
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Elio Petri’s 1973 film Property is No Longer a Theft is a political film (barely) disguised as a comedic thriller. Its messaging is so heavy-handed it nearly pummels you with ideology while neglecting to tell an interesting story. Total (Flavio Bucci) is a bank clerk who is (and the symbolism will escape no one) literally allergic to money - he has to wear gloves and is constantly scratching himself. Though he sees customers, such as the rich butcher (Ugo Tognazzi), come into the bank every day with loads of cash, he, himself, has none. Obsessed with the idea that property

NPG Records and Warner Bros. Records Announce Prince's Purple Rain Deluxe and Purple Rain Deluxe (Expanded Edition)

Set for release on June 23, the pre-order offers instant grat track of the previously unreleased studio version of "Electric Intercourse".
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Press release: NPG Records and Warner Bros. Records announce the 2017 release of Prince's Academy Award and GRAMMY Award-winning, RIAA diamond-certified masterpiece Purple Rain in new Deluxe and Deluxe - Expanded Edition formats on June 23, 2017. A special fan pre-order goes live on Friday, April 28 and unlocks an instant grat download of the previously unreleased "Electric Intercourse." Recorded in 1983 and heard only in its live incarnations, this marks the very first time fans will experience the studio version of this song. The two-CD Purple Rain Deluxe set includes the official 2015 Paisley Park Remaster of the original

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