September 2017 Archives

Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review: A Period of Uncertainty Awaits Team Arrow

Well worth checking out for DC Comics fans.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided us with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are the writer's own. At the end of Season Four, the heroes of Team Arrow had gone their separate ways, leaving Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) behind as the only members left. This is a comic-book series however and there are villains to be fought so, in spite of their efforts to bail on Queen, he ends up drawing them back in, albeit in somewhat different roles. Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season takes

Kid Galahad (1962) Blu-ray Review: Elvis. Bronson. Sold.

Twilight Time brings us the only film in history to feature Elvis Presley and Charles Bronson, which automatically makes it awesome by default.
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Despite having appeared in several dozen movies, there are relatively few things you can actually see Elvis do on-screen. One of them is actually get a chance to act. The other is something even more amazing: Elvis Presley training under Charles Bronson. And that right there is good enough reason for me to recommend Twilight Time's new Blu-ray offering of Kid Galahad. A musical remake (uh-oh) of the 1937 original starring Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart, this 1962 color dramedy finds The King himself as a young lad fresh who journeys to the remote countryside community he

Five Cool Things and Annihilation

This week's cool things include Body Double, Cafe Society, Wilco, and more.
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My wife had a birthday this week. I don’t want to complain that my wife’s birthday screws up my ability to consume pop culture, but it kind of does. Don’t get me wrong, if given the choice between spending quality time with my family and watching a show or movie, I’ll always choose the family (though if possible I try to enjoy the two things together) but when you are trying to write a weekly article on the pop-culture things you enjoyed this week, it's hard not to wish (just a little bit) that there was less cake and more

Longmire: The Complete Fifth Season DVD Review: The Best Season to Date

Season Five continued the series' successful formula.
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Season Five of Longmire, which aired on Netflix, continued the successful formula of a twisting and turning season-long story arc along with intermittent original and intriguing cases for our beloved sheriff to solve. Starting off with a bang, Sherriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is recovering in the hospital after being shot by an unknown assailant and having no memory of what transpired. After he starts to remember what happened, he realizes his love interest Donna (Ally Walker) is missing. What started out as a search for his shooter has turned into a hunt to find her and unravel the mystery

Book Review: Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji by Tom Mes

Arrow Books presents a critical overview of Lady Snowblood's entire career.
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To much of the post-Millennium western cinematic audience, Meiko Kaji was introduced with her voice. Both the theme songs from Lady Snowblood and Female Convict Scorpion were featured in Kill Bill. More than that, Kill Bill's story, structure and visual style (at least in the section in Japan) were all heavily influenced by Lady Snowblood. Ironically enough, though Meiko Kaji did have a successful singing career in the '70s, her most influential contributions have been visual: the way she looked, the way she dressed, embodied a fierce determination and independence that made her stand apart from other Japanese film actresses

Home for the Holidays Blu-ray Review: An Unfairly Neglected, but Wickedly Funny Take on Family Dynamics

It's essential to those who want their own escape from conflicts by laughing and relating to those of other families.
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All of us have them: that dysfunctional family that you don't want to deal most of the time, can barely tolerate, and find yourself at odds with. But deep down, you find yourself needing them, and wanting them around because they're your family, for better or worse. There have been many great films that depict the complications and brutal honesty between family, such as The Family Stone, The Royal Tenenbaums, Ordinary People, and even The Godfather trilogy. However, if there is one such movie that is always overlooked, it is iconic actress/director Jodie Foster's 1995 gem, Home For The Holidays.

The Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975) Blu-ray Review: Deep Red Something

Sergio Martino's wild giallo/poliziotteschi/comedy hybrid is just as jaw-droppingly amazing as it sounds.
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An ordinary man of an artistic nature witnesses a brutal murder, only to meet a cast of kooky characters as he sets out to find the killer since the local police captain can't or won't do anything. Even if you've only ever seen one Italian giallo in your life, the aforementioned synopsis would go on to become one of the most conventional themes in an the otherwise unconventional subgenre. The motif is especially prominent in the early (and even later) works of Dario Argento, who changed both the face and style of filmmaking forever throughout the first half of the

Garagehouse Pictures to Screen 3D 35mm Print of Frankenstein's Bloody Terror

Paul Naschy's 1971 film to be presented theatrically in original 3D format for first time in nearly 50 years.
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Press Release: Garagehouse Pictures and Independent International Pictures announce new 35mm print of FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR in 3D available for theatrical bookings. Horror fans rejoice! One of the "holy grails" of cult cinema, presumed lost forever, has been unearthed and is heading back to the big screen for the first time in nearly fifty years. Garagehouse Pictures is proud to announce a newly struck 35mm print of FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR in 3D! The story behind FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR is legendary: in 1971, famed film producer Samuel Sherman's Independent International Pictures secured theatrical rights to distribute the Spanish werewolf movie MARK

Wonder Woman (2017) Blu-ray Review: Entertaining, Uplifting, and Empowering

The viewer is invested because the good guys are compelling, thanks to the writing, and charming, thanks to the cast.
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In the on-going competition between Marvel Comics and DC Comics, the latter has struggled keeping pace with their movies this century, but this summer they scored a victory with Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, their first consensus success of the DC Extended Universe and the first from either company to feature a female hero as the lead. Although it sticks to the genre's formula of concluding with a climatic battle between hero and villain and its obvious outcome, the viewer is invested because the good guys are compelling, thanks to the writing, and charming, thanks to the cast. Opening in modern-day

David Lynch: The Art Life is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases bring us a couple of Criterions, a couple of live albums, Texas football, and something scripted by Ed Wood.
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David Lynch is one of the most fascinating directors working today. His films aren’t always good but they are always interesting. He creates nightmarish, surreal landscapes in which plot doesn’t always make sense and which leave themselves up for various interpretations. His career has taken all sorts of strange detours and loops. He’s made very personal, very experimental films; he’s worked on broadcast television; adapted popular science fiction novels; and made several things that were initially only released on his website. It's the sort of career that’s ripe for a good documentary. With any luck David Lynch: The Art Life

Children of the Corn (1984) Blu-ray Review: Killer Kids Get Religion

'80s cult horror film based on a Stephen King short story gets seriously loaded Blu-ray release.
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Cult movies aren't the same as good movies. Good movies generally have decent production values, interesting stories and scripts, nuanced performances, and resonant themes. Cult movies can have any or all of the above, but can often dispense with most or even all of the markers of quality to create their cult moments. That weird scene, that creepy image, that one thing you couldn't believe you were seeing. Children of the Corn misses a lot of marks as a good movie, but it sure has more than its share of cult-making moments. The premise helps a lot - in the

Caïn: Season One & Season Two DVD Review: Like House Meets Sherlock, But French

French crime series is enjoyable but never quite enthralls.
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By my count there are at least 825,732.5 crime series currently running on television. In order to distinguish themselves, these shows need a hook, something to make them stand out. About half of them go with a brooding, sarcastic, and downright mean lead character, which doesn’t make them stand out at all. If your main character is going to be obnoxious, then I’ve got two rules. First, he (or she, but inevitably it's a he) needs to be a genius. He needs to be able to solve impossible cases using just his brain power. That gives the show a reason

TCM Launches Final Year of Trailblazing Women Initiative Celebrating Women's Contribution to the Film Industry

Month-long programming event begins Oct. 2 hosted by Illeana Douglas.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today announced the final year of Trailblazing Women, a three-year initiative in partnership with Women In Film Los Angeles (WIF) to raise awareness about the historical contributions of women in the film industry. This year’s programming event will examine the substantial impact that female writers, editors and producers have held within the film industry. Hosted by actress, producer and director Illeana Douglas, Trailblazing Women premieres Oct. 2 and airs every Monday throughout October. The theme of the 2017 programming slate - Trailblazing Women: Creators That Made a Difference - highlights female creative influences during

TV Review: Star Trek: Discovery: 'The Vulcan Hello'

Star Trek: Discovery seems better suited for those who know little about Star Trek and those without hard, fast rules of what it should be
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Set 10 years before The Original Series, which makes no sense in terms of continuity with the technology, aliens, and characters for longtime fans, Star Trek: Discovery debuted on CBS before the series moved to the streaming channel CBS All Access. The episode "The Vulcan Hello" set forth some interesting premises and expands the boundaries of what a Star Trek series will deal with, which may be too far for some. After a brief reveal of yet another variation of Klingon, Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) of the USS Shenzhou are on a

Garagehouse Pictures to Bring Web of the Spider to Blu-ray in October

A classic Italian gothic horror ghost story directed by Antonio Margheriti.
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Press release: An intrepid reporter by the name of Alan Foster (Anthony Franciosa, TENEBRE), accepts a wager from Edgar Allan Poe (Klaus Kinski, NOSFERATU THE VAMPIRE) and his companion, Thomas Blackwood, to spend a single night in the reputedly haunted Blackwood Castle on All Souls Eve. Shortly after settling into the spooky abode, the reporter meets the beautiful Elisabeth Blackwood (Michele Mercier, BLACK SABBATH), and begins to witness ghostly phenomena and visitations from beyond the grave, as an assortment of specters relive the last moments before their ghastly murders. Soon, Foster realizes that the damned spirits of Blackwood Castle require
It’s rare these days to get your expectations exceeded. Even rarer is to come upon a treasure that elicits both joy and sorrow. This happened to Zachary Auburn and will happen to everyone who ventures into the world of Joshua Chapman and his Field Guide to the Aliens of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the field guide, which hit shelves on September 12, we learn how Zachary Auburn discovered the works of young Chapman and his incredible efforts to share said works with the world. As a fan of Star Trek, I was mildly interested when hearing of A

Five Cool Things and Joan Crawford

Cool Things I (re)discovered this week include Swiss Family Robinson, E.T., Hawkeye, Lost at Sea, and Blow-Up.
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I don't know about you but I spend inordinate amounts of time searching for something to watch. You will regularly find me standing in front of my movie shelves trying to decide which one I should put in. Or, as is the case more often these days, you’ll find me scrolling through Netflix or Amazon Prime trying to make that same decision. The perpetual question I must ask myself is whether I want to watch something new or that I have previously viewed. There is comfort in watching something again. Knowing what happens enables you to either catch things you

The Big Knife (1955) Blu-ray Review: Poison Pen Letter to Hollywood

Based on a Clifford Odets stageplay, this story of 50s Hollywood corruption is melodramatic candy for classic cinema fans.
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The Big Knife (1955) is several things at once. It's a Hollywood movie about how awful Hollywood is. It's a noir crime story where the studio boss is the gangster and the caper never quite gets off the ground. It's a lurid melodrama with a larger than life central character who acts in larger than life overreactions right up to the end. And it's quite obviously adapted from a stage play with not a whole lot in the way of (apparent) adapting going on. It's also, for fans of classic Hollywood glitz and classic Hollywood sleaze, a lot of fun.

The Moderns (1988) Blu-ray Review: Land of the Lost

Keith Carradine, Linda Fiorentino, and a dolled-up Wallace Shawn highlight this fascinating piece set in Roaring Twenties Paris.
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At one point in time, filmmaker Alan Rudolph described his 1988 film The Moderns ‒ a project which took him a full 12 years to nurture ‒ as "the most rejected screenplay in Hollywood." That in itself is the sort of thing which should fuel more artistically-inclined minds to take note of this underrated cult drama, particularly once you stop to take a good long look at the very sort of cinematic ilk the industry has descended into cranking out on a perpetual weekly basis ever since then. Set in 1926 Paris (and doubled by Montreal), Rudolph's fascinatingly oddball character

The Big Sick Blu-ray Review: The Most Heartfelt and Realistic Romantic Comedy of the Year

We need films like this, especially now more than ever.
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When it comes to the romantic-comedy genre, the cliches are always there, front and center. You always get the same story: boy and girl meet, fall in love, separate for a while, and reunite because they realize that they are right for each other. This is one of the many reasons why this particular genre has really faltered. Fortunately, this year's The Big Sick, written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, produced by Judd Apatow, and directed by Michael Showalter, throws all of those usual tripes out of the water, while also bringing real heart and soul to a

Samurai Jack: The Premiere Movie Event Plays Big Screens Nationwide on October 16 Only

The first look at the show’s epic Season One movie remastered in high definition, exclusive extras from Samurai Jack: The Complete Series Box Set, and special surprises for fans.
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Press release: Created by famed animation director Genndy Tartakovsky, the fully remastered Emmy-nominated premiere movie from acclaimed Season 1 of the Adult Swim series, Samurai Jack, will debut for the first time in remastered HD when “Samurai Jack: The Premiere Movie Event” arrives in movie theaters nationwide. Presented by Fathom Events and Adult Swim, “Samurai Jack: The Premiere Movie Event” will be shown in U.S. cinemas for one night on Monday, October 16 at 7:00 p.m. local time. Offering fans the ultimate Samurai Jack experience, the exclusive one-night cinema event will captivate audiences with special content filmed for this exclusive

Hana-bi Blu-ray Review: Violence, Beauty, and Beautiful Violence

Takeshi Kitano’s first international success is unique, enigmatic and frequently beautiful.
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Off-beat and enigmatic, with a timeline that eschews strict linearity, Hana-bi (originally released in 1997 in the states as Fireworks) is a “cop movie” only insofar as the main characters are police officers, and there is violence between them and gangsters. The film’s main focus (without ever getting weepy or talky) is the response to grief and trauma - a response that includes robbing banks and shoving chopsticks into people’s eyes. Written, directed and edited by as well as starring Takeshi Kitano, Hana-bi follows detective Nishi, a man on the edge. His wife is sick, and his daughter has recently

8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997) Blu-ray Review: As Braindead as Its Name Implies

Joe Pesci's waning career gets ahead of itself in this delightfully dumb film now available in HD from Twilight Time.
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Though it may not be something I'm particularly proud of, movies from the late '90s are a source of bittersweet wisdom for me, having spent the entire duration of said era as a very devoted video store manager. It was there I discovered it was one of the few professions where you could actually benefit from being your own best customer, but I didn't necessarily watch everything that went out on the shelves. Not that we received everything released (not unless there was some sort of bulk discount involved), but I did watch an awful lot of the moving pictures

Loving Vincent Movie Review: Painting Life

The world's first film to be made entirely with oil painting is a visually stunning work of art.
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At the end of each Laika Studios feature film (Coraline, Kubo & the Two Strings, etc.), we get a time-lapsed, behind-the-scenes look into how the preceding movie was made, and we’re shown how much detail and hard work was put into crafting one particular scene. I kind of wish there was something like that at the end of Loving Vincent, a new biopic about the late Vincent van Gogh that was made entirely with oil paintings on canvas. Granted, you can find clips online, but having it readily available for viewing during the credits, especially after something as experimental and

Wonder Woman is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a couple of DC superheroes, a really old Marvel one, plus Ken Burns in Vietnam, and more.
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I like to think I was something of a feminist before I had a daughter. Certainly, I was for equal rights, equal opportunity, and equal pay before she was born, but now it's like all of that is in sharp relief. It's shocking to watch films and shows with my daughter and see how often women are either objectified on screen or have nothing more to do than be the love interest. Together, we’ve become huge fans of superhero movies but it's always been disappointing that the female characters in those movies are constantly relegated to the sidelines. Many others

The Crimson Kimono (1959) Blu-ray Review: A Crash Course in Orientation

Samuel Fuller's powerful (and still topical) look at racism gets a beautiful HD release from Sony Pictures and Twilight Time.
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As someone whose entire adolescence coincided with the late '80s and early '90s, I was able to witness firsthand a remarkable movement in Hollywood during that time. It was a period on the calendar when the term "political correctness" first started to become an actual thing. Sure, it would eventually culminate in some really ridiculous casting as the years rolled by (to say nothing of what it did for a serial womanizer such as the character of James Bond), but, all in all, there was one really fascination thread in particular to emerge out of the period. For you see,

TCM and Fathom Events Present E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

See it again on the big screen, bring your family.
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In the encyclopedia of 1980s movies, Steven Spielberg gets his own volume. No other filmmaker so fully exhibits what cinema was doing in that decade than Spielberg. He directed some of the most entertaining and popular films of the decade including E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the Indiana Jones movies. As a producer he was, perhaps, more influential, putting his distinctive aesthetic on such films as Gremlins, Goonies, Poltergeist, Back to the Future and more. Films he had his hands on are quite simply the movies of the 1980s. He helped create and shape blockbuster cinema. HIs films would influence countless

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) Blu-ray Review: Who's Afraid?

Twilight Time brings us Woody Allen's legendary farce, highlighted by appearances from such greats as Gene Wilder and John Carradine.
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In the late '60s, physician David Reuben started to turn repressed and undereducated Americans near and far with a breakthrough manual about something most people weren't comfortable talking about at the time: sex. Originally published in '69 (because, well, yeah...!), Reuben's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) soon became a Number 1 best-seller the world over, going on to enlighten more than just prudes in the States. Now, with the subject literally staring them all in the face, it was finally time for some long overdue sex education; a movement which, in turn,

State Fair (1962) Blu-ray Review: Suppose They Held an Exhibition and Nobody Came?

Jose Ferrer directs Pat Boone, Bobby Darin, and Ann-Margret in an awkward musical remake of a musical remake.
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Were Twilight Time's double-bill of the Reader's Digest-produced early '70s musical adaptations of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn just not enough to satisfy the song-and-dance movie lover in you, don't worry. Because now they've added another musical remake of a classic tale to their lineup with Rodgers and Hammerstein's State Fair. But this isn't the famous 1945 musical remake of the original non-musical 1933 pre-Code film State Fair, boys and girls. Rather, this particular version is the (hold onto your straw hats, kids) musical remake of the musical remake of the original non-musical movie. You may take a

Criterion Announces December 2017 Releases

Some selections for your holiday wish list.
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The year closes out with the largest entry in Criterion Collection, one new addition, and three upgrades. New to the collection are 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912-2012 and Alexander Payne’s Election. Getting HD upgrades are D. A. Pennebaker's three Monterey Pop films Barbet Schroeder's General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait. Read on to learn more about them. 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912-2012 (#900) out Dec 5 Spanning fifty-three movies and forty-one editions of the Olympic Games, 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912-2012 is the culmination of a monumental, award-winning archival project encompassing dozens of new restorations by the

Tom Sawyer / Huckleberry Finn Blu-ray Review: Wild Oates and Foster Kids

Twilight Time proudly proclaims "I'll be your Huckleberry" with these '70s Mark Twain musicals from Arthur P. Jacobs and Reader's Digest.
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Years before they preyed upon lonely elderly folks with unfulfilled promises of winning phony lotteries even Ed McMahon wouldn't stamp his name on, the folks at Reader's Digest set out to lure entire families into theaters for motion pictures they produced. Thus begins one ‒ or rather, two, as it were ‒ of the strangest incarnations of Mark Twain ever to appear on any screen, big or small: the Reader's Digest Musical Adaptation. Appearing on the worn-out heels of a now-forgotten cinematic fad ‒ that of MGM's Children Matinees, wherein classic features were re-released and targeted at kids with nothing

Five Cool Things and The Shape of Water

Cool things I discovered this week include a new season of Top of the Lake, an old Doctor Who, and a red band Guillermo del Toro trailer.
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I watched one movie every day in the month of August. This is quite unusual for me as I usually average about 15 movies a month. I’m back in my normal track this month as there is just too much good TV out there to only watch movies. So much TV that I made a pact with myself awhile back that I would not watch any new shows until I’d caught up with all the ones I’m currently watching. As you’ll see I’ve already broken that pact. Top of the Lake: China Girl Top of the Lake was originally intended

Phantasm: 5 Movie DVD Collection Review: The NeverEnding Horror Story

Don Coscarelli's franchise has always reflected the times. Now, the time has come to repackage and re-release it. Again.
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Although I was routinely exposed to the few horror film franchises that existed within the world of film before movies like Scream started to pop up all over the place, there was always something about the Phantasm series which appealed to my youthful self. Perhaps it was the creepy, lawless atmosphere where the dreaded Tall Man (as played by the late Grammy-winning Angus Scrimm, in what would become his claim to filmic fame, be it for better or worse) and his otherworldly demonic dwarfed minions reigned over the living, usually to quite cataclysmic extents. Or the iconic flying silver spheres

Soul on a String DVD Review: Astonishing Vistas, Ambiguous Story

Zhang Yang's Tibetan Buddhist western is long on beautiful landscapes, short on clear narrative.
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Soul on a String offers the visuals (and the length) of an epic Western, and even some of the story beats, but it certainly doesn't share another hallmark typical of the Western: straightforward storytelling. It plays with different narrative timelines that even begin to confuse some of the film's characters. Events seem to happen simultaneously in the past and in the present, converging in points that make any attempt to suss out a definitive timeline impossible and maybe irrelevant. All of this is in service to a pretty simple narrative: a man has to get to a mountain, while other

Stormy Monday Blu-ray Review: Not As Bad As Tuesday

Mike Figgis' directorial debut is an effective stylish néo-noir (as long as you don't watch Body Heat right after).
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Stop me if this sounds familiar. A regular, working-class schlub takes a job working for a guy with connections to gangsters. He meets a girl who works as an escort for a guy with connections to gangsters. They fall in love and hatch a plan to get from under the thumbs of guys with gangster connections. Mike Figgis debut film, Stormy Monday, owes a lot of debt to the countless noirs that came before it. But like the Godfather of Noir, Raymond Chandler, once said, “it aint the story you tell, but how you tell it.” Figgis tells his tale

Blood Alley / The Sea Chase (1955) Blu-ray Reviews: The Duke Turns to The Drink

John Wayne runs ashore with Commies, Nazis, Lauren Bacall, and Lana Turner in two seafaring melodramas from the Warner Archive.
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Following in the wake of the Warner Archive Collection's 2016 debuts of John Wayne's They Were Expendable and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, the WAC has assembled another two-fisted encounter with The Duke himself. This time, however, we are treated to two of Wayne's more unusual endeavors, Blood Alley and The Sea Chase, both of which were released in 1955 to less than triumphant box office debuts. And it's pretty darn easy to see why neither movie became the must-see hit of the year, too. Ironically, the trouble with each title is our larger-than-life star himself. Far removed from the

It Comes at Night is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a superhero in his underpants, a bunch of classic Universal monsters, a not-so classic updating of the Mummy, and more.
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One of the best, and most difficult things to do as a movie lover is to come to a movie clean, with no preconceived notions. To be able to watch a movie knowing nothing coming in is kind of marvelous. It is also a very rare occurrence. There is simply too much promotion for movies (at least the kind of movies that get shown around here) to go completely unnoticed. I subscribe to way too many entertainment sites and podcasts for me to not know anything going into a movie. Or I should say in order for me to watch

Supernatural: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray Review: An Enjoyable Comprehensive Season

The Winchesters may know how to deal with monsters and demons, but have no clue how to handle the return of their mother.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. In Season 11, the Winchester brothers took on one of the most powerful beings in the universe, Amara (Emily Swallow), who is God’s sister. But even teaming up with angel Castiel (Misha Collins), the King of Hell Crowley (Mark Sheppard), and Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino), they couldn’t stop her. It took a heavenly intervention by God (Rob Benedict) himself to stop the omnipotent threat. So what possibly could follow an entity that big

The Mummy (2017) Blu-ray Review: The League of Rather Average Gentlemen

Tom Cruise teams up with visually-impaired paint-by-numbers artist Alex Kurtzman to bring us something as old as ancient Egypt itself.
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First off, make no mistake, Universal's latest attempt at rebranding one of their many legendary classic horror movie franchises is a very inferior film. It didn't necessarily need to be so, however. In fact, I dare say I had relatively high hopes the film would be at least halfway entertaining in a manner which didn't involve shaking one's head in disbelief every couple of minutes. Alas, the studio that brought us the legendary 1932 tale of undead romance starring Boris Karloff is now the same company responsible for a slew of increasingly ridiculous Fast and Furious movies, horrifically written Fifty

Fathom Events Presents Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

You haven't lived until you've seen Kirk scream "Khaaaaaan!" on the big screen.
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Star Trek: The Original Series ran on television from 1966 to 1969. It was cancelled after its third season due to dismal ratings. Surprisingly after a few years in syndication, the show became a cult hit and then a cultural phenomenon. So much so that by 1979 Paramount Pictures was willing to spend $46 million on a movie based on the series. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a hit taking in $139 million, but because the high cost of making and promoting it, plus the expectations it would be a Star Wars-like blockbuster Paramount considered it a failure. It

ANIMATION IS FILM Festival Announces Initial Feature Competition Line-up and Jury

Inaugural edition takes place October 20-22, 2017 at the TCL Chinese 6 theaters, Hollywood.
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Press release: ANIMATION IS FILM launches October 20-22 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood. The Festival will present a highly selective showcase of animated films from around the world, plus red carpet, filmmaker Q&As, special events, receptions, and both juried and audience awards. The festival is being produced by GKIDS in partnership with Annecy International Animation Film Festival and Variety, with additional sponsors and media partners Google and Fathom Events. 2017 FILMS IN COMPETITION (additional titles to be announced) THE BIG BAD FOX & OTHER TALES (U.S. Premiere)Directors Patrick Imbert, Benjamin Renner, France, 2017Benjamin Renner received an Oscar

Five Cool Things and Don Williams

Cool things this week include two neo-noirs, a classic Doctor Who, Close Encounters, and a Handmaid's Tale.
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Just jumping right in... Close Encounters of the Third Time There is a scene relatively early in Close Encounters where an alien ship has landed outside a farmhouse in rural Indiana. The mother, panicked, is rushing about the house closing all the windows and locking the doors. Her son, just a toddler, opens the front door. We see nothing outside the door, just dazzling bright lights and then it cuts to a shot of the boy's face bathed in light, full of wonder. In a sense, that one moment exemplifies the entire film, maybe even Steven Spielberg’s entire career. His

Running on Empty (1988) Blu-ray Review: Fam on the Run

Sidney Lumet's stunning drama, featuring a standout performance by an Oscar-nominated River Phoenix, hits BD from the Warner Archive.
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While I may not be able to recall every single feature I have ever seen in a moviehouse (and, believe me, there have been many), Sidney Lumet's 1988 drama Running on Empty has always managed to stand out in my mind for some reason, despite the fact that I really don't remember much of the movie itself. And yet, at the same time, I found myself saying "Oh yeah, this happens" an awful lot upon my recent second viewing of the film, nearly 30 years after seeing it on the big screen in '88. I suppose the film must have

Beatriz at Dinner DVD Review: A Great Feel-bad Film of the Trump Era

Salma Hayek's brilliant performance highlights a brutal dramedy of today's cultural insanity.
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When it comes to making audiences squirm, dark comedies pretty much have that at a lock. However, with some of the best satires, they have something to say; they comment on genre cliches, certains directors/actors, and they unmask the choas of what's happening in the world. Director Miguel Arieta's razor-sharp Beatriz at Dinner successfully does just that. It is also one of the first great feel-bad films of the Trump era. Salma Hayek (in a marvelous, career-best performance) is Beatriz, an immigrant from a poor Mexican town who inputs wisdom and kindness as a spirtual-health practitioner/message in Los Angeles. She

Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: An Exciting Final Season Filled with Action and Surprising Twists

If you like pirates, it is very authentic to the genre and is certainly worth watching.
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At the end of Season Three, most of the pirates had been run out of Nassau by the new governor Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) and his British soldiers. Licking their wounds, Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and John Silver (Luke Arnold) had made an alliance with a hidden city of former slaves that had escaped and formed their own community. At the beginning of Season Four Flint, Silver and the slave leader Madi (Zethu Dlomo) have returned with an army, a fleet of ships, and the most feared pirate of all, Captain Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach (Ray Stevenson) to retake Nassau in

Seven Days in May (1964) Blu-ray Review: The Terror from Within

John Frankenheimer's political paranoia thriller ‒ featuring a script by Rod Serling ‒ receives a beautiful makeover from the Warner Archive.
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The looming threat of nuclear war. A less-than-favorable US President sporting the lowest approval on record in a heap of trouble concerning Russia. No, it's not something ripped straight from today's news; rather, it's the setting for Seven Days in May ‒ a tense 1964 political thriller from Ronin director John Frankenheimer and Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. Released theatrically by Paramount Pictures just two years after the director's previous offering, The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May reunites Frankenheimer with one of his best-known on-screen collaborators, the great Burt Lancaster (Birdman of Alcatraz). Set in an early Cold War-era

The Flash: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review: The Fastest (and Best) Superhero Show On TV

Season Three had some growing pains and is overloaded with characters but is still the shining star on The CW.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. The Flash is by far my favorite of the CW superhero shows. I’m not alone in this as it routinely beats all the other super shows in ratings. For good reason too, it's action packed, has a great cast of characters, it generally nails its tone of lighthearted action adventure with a dash of romance, and is a joy to watch. Grant Gustin brings an innocence to Barry Allen/the Flash, along with

Peanuts by Schulz: School Days DVD Review: I Still Highly Recommend This Series

Another three hours of new animation based on the classic strips.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. The third collection of Peanuts by Schulz shorts has arrived on DVD from Warner Bros. The two-disc set collects over three hours of material from the recent show on Boomerang in 29 shorts. It's interesting that Warner Bros has gone against form to release the episodes by theme instead of the order in which they aired. Previous volumes based around Snoopy and Sports have earned high marks in previous reviews of mine.

The Loved One (1965) Blu-ray Review: I'm Lovin' It

The Warner Archive unleashes an outrageous black comedy cult classic that covers a lot of desecrated ground.
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Whereas motion pictures deliberately constructed to shock and offend people with even the most lenient sense of humor are hardly unusual today, I have to wonder how audiences must have reacted when MGM first premiered The Loved One in 1965. Freely adapted from British author Evelyn Waugh's novel The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy (with shades of Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death thrown in for good measure) by satirist Terry Southern ‒ who previously co-wrote Dr. Strangelove with Stanley Kubrick ‒ The Loved One could quite possibly be the darkest comedy ever to hail from the '60s. In

Phantasm: Five Movie DVD Collection Review: More Silver Balls Than a Tall Man Can Handle

Collecting the entire franchise together for the first time in one cheaply made box.
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Take a moment and conjure up some images of horror-movie icons. Likely you’re picturing Jason’s hockey mask, or Freddy Kreuger’s knife fingers. If you are a little older, you might envision Frankenstein’s Monster or Count Dracula. Younger, and you’re imagining the Scream mask or that creepy little puppet from the Saw movies. Think a little harder and eventually you’ll remember a shiny metal ball drilling into someone’s skull. Phantasm’s little ball of death might not be as iconic as some of the above monster’s but it's pretty close. Call it second-tier horror iconography. Made in 1979, Phantasm never drew the

Effects (1980) Blu-ray Review: The First Snuff Movie to Get Snuffed Out

The AGFA releases the previously lost flick bout an entirely different sort of in-house FX, co-starring and featuring make-up by Tom Savini.
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Following in the wake of their previous release, The Zodiac Killer, the American Genre Film Archive is back with another killer offering. Put together by a group of aspiring young talent in rural Pennsylvania ‒ all of whom had met whilst working under the guidance of the late great George A. Romero during the filming of Martin in 1978 ‒ Effects was one of the first features to both tackle the latest urban legend of the time: the rumored existence of the "snuff" film. Two years prior to Effects raising its meager $55,000 budget, the controversial subject of the snuff

Down Down the Deep River DVD Review: A Tribute to an '80s Childhood

Okkervil River's songwriter expands a song into an intriguing short film about nostalgia.
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It seems rare in American arts that people are allowed to do more than one thing. It seems almost greedy for someone who is successful in one art form to go and fill up space in another. So Will Sheff, songwriter and apparently only permanent member of Okkervil River, a celebrated indie folk-rock group, has plenty to prove on this venture into filmmaking. An expansion of a song by the same name off their 2013 release The Silver Gymnasium, Down Down the Deep River is a 40-minute short film that turn the song about childhood experience into a narrative about

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 35th Anniversary Blu-ray Combo Pack Giveaway

The 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack along with the new Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD editions are available on September 12, 2017.
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 35th Anniversary Blu-ray Combo Pack. For those wanting to learn more, the press release is below: In 1982, acclaimed director Steven Spielberg created iconic movie magic with his classic film, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the unforgettable and emotional adventure of an adorable alien lost on Earth and the lonely boy who befriends him. Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Music, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial has become a cinematic touchstone for generations of moviegoers and one of the most beloved films of all

Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series DVD Review: A Classic Sitcom That Should Be Known As One of the Greats

Even 20 years later from the airing of the first episode, this show holds up.
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Releasing today by Shout! Factory, Just Shoot Me! is a television series that ran for seven seasons on NBC from March 4, 1997 until its series finale on August 16, 2003. The show was based around a fictional fashion magazine called Blush, much like Vogue or Cosmopolitan. The story begins when Maya Gallo (Laura San Giacomo) is fired from her job as a television editor when she decides to get back at a snotty reporter by replacing her teleprompter script with some inappropriate dialogue. With her rent due and no other employment offers, she decides to turn to her estranged

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Highly Recommended for the Comedy Fan

While the first season has a late-'60s sensibility and some of the references might slip by modern viewers, Laugh-In remains fresh and delivers a lot of laughs.
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After previously releasing the Complete Series in June, Time Life will be releasing Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In as Complete Season sets. The First Season, now available, was only 14 episodes, airing between January 22 and April 22, 1968, and is spread across four DVDs. Disc 1 has all the Bonus Features. They are the Laugh-In Pilot Episode; a George Schlatter Interview (41 min) where the co-creator/producer discusses the show; 25th Anniversary Cast Reunion Highlights (15 min), which is a Q&A, although not clear who the people asking the questions are, with the cast in 1993; and Laugh-In Bloopers (24 min),

Rebecca (1940) is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a new season of The Flash, an old Hitchock plus Scarlet Johansson getting raunchy, and Pablo Escobar being bad.
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The more films I watch by Alfred Hitchock the more I’m convinced of his genius. He might have called himself the Master of Suspense but really he was the true master of pure cinema. He used all the tools of his trade - lighting, music, editing, etc. to tell his stories as only can be told in the movies. Francis of Assisi is supposed to have once said “Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words.” I don’t know how Hitch felt about Jesus but he made great movies and only used dialogue when necessary. I first watched Rebecca at a

Where the Boys Are (1960) Blu-ray Review: Life Was a Beach Even Then

The Warner Archive Collection unveils the film that inspired the whole Beach Party Movie genre.
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Three years before the marketing genii at American International Pictures first discovered there was gold in the banks beside the sea with what would become the Beach Party series (and the many bad clones that came with it), the folks at MGM were having a little soiree in the sand all to themselves. Much like the later AIP franchise (which, technically, saw its roots in the late '50s via a couple of drag racing flicks), Henry Levin's Where the Boys Are features a group of kids heading off to the beach for a little fun ‒ something that, amazingly enough,

Veep: The Complete Sixth Season DVD Giveaway

Season 6 finds Selina and her band of fellow misfits hilariously attempting to make their mark while navigating the political landscape in Washington and beyond.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with HBO Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader Veep: The Complete Sixth Season on DVD. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: Season six of the Emmy-winning Outstanding Comedy Series VEEP is available on Digital Download, with the critically acclaimed latest season coming to Blu-ray and DVD on September 12, 2017. The “gleefully foul as ever” (The New York Times) new season stars 5-time consecutive Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus as former VP and one-time President Selina Meyer, who is struggling to navigate uncharted political territory now that her brief presidency has ended.

Beggars of Life (1928) Blu-ray Review: All Aboard

Kino Lorber reveals the dynamic Silent Era offering starring imposing vagabond Wallace Beery and a crossdressing, rail-hoppin' Louise Brooks.
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Although it was technically the first moving picture for Paramount to include a newly (however crude) developed invention known as "sound," William A. Wellman's 1928 classic Beggars of Life was never intended to be classified as a "talkie" by its creators. The year before its theatrical release, Warner Bros. unveiled the groundbreaking Al Jolson musical The Jazz Singer, effectively calling out to the industry to bring the curtain down on the Silent Era. With the forthcoming medium approaching them like a runaway train, Wellman reluctantly went along with the studio's request to incorporate sound into his project. Alas, the proverbial

Dean DVD Review: Funny, Uncomfortable, Emotional, and Beautiful

A film about the first thing you never get over.
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Dean is a film about grief and how people deal with the aftermath of death differently. In the the film, Dean (Demetri Martin) and his father Robert (Kevin Kline) are dealing with all of the turbulence and unpredictability of life after the loss of a loved one. While Dean is mourning the loss of his mother by escaping into his art and to Los Angeles from New York, Robert is dealing with the loss of his wife be trying to carve out a new identity. While the two have great love for one another, their vastly different ways of grieving

The Bridge at Remagen (1969) Blu-ray Review: A Much Shorter Longest Day

Cigar-chomping George Segal and Ben Gazzara act against Nazi Robert Vaughn in this WWII action flick, now available in beautiful High-Definition from Twilight Time.
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From John Guillerman, the late visionary of The Blue Max, The Towering Inferno, The Day They Robbed the Bank of England, and that one version of King Kong everyone suddenly began to like after Peter Jackson's remake came out (though they still ignore that sequel) comes one of the first American productions to be filmed behind the Iron Curtain. While based on real life people and events, 1969's World War II action picture The Bridge at Remagen takes hold of its story with a decidedly loose grip, giving director Guillerman the opportunity to let exercise a different kind of liberty.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: Much Stronger and More Coherent than Season One

Facing off against the Legion Of Doom may not be good for the world, but it makes for an exciting adventure.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. During Season One, the newly formed Legends managed to vanquish Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), an immortal madman set on the total conquest of Earth. During their adventures, they managed to lose a few crewmembers, defeat the Time Masters, and ended up becoming the only ones to watch over time and history for any time aberrations to occur and repair them. But things didn’t work out so well for our heroes as the

New Battles Without Honor and Humanity: The Complete Trilogy Blu-ray Review: More Frenzied Yakuza Madness

Returning to his Yakuza series a whole six months after the last, Fukasaku covers similar ground, but finds new angles.
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Battles Without Honor and Humanity has been called the Japanese Godfather, and while it has some similarities (depicting daily life of gangsters, where formality and ritual places a veneer of civility on brutal criminality) it has a completely different tone. There's a sepia-tinged nostalgia to The Godfather, with Michael Corleone's rise in power and his subsequent decline in humanity looked on with a sense of tragedy. The Battles series, directed by Kinji Fukasaku and largely written by Kasahara Kazuo, was an intentional demystification of the yakuza. Gone are the stoic and honor-bound modern samurai of earlier yakuza films. In Battles,

Five Cool Things And Hurricane Harvey

Five cool things this week include seeing Castle in the Sky on the big screen, the entire Phantasm series on the little screen plus Arrow Video's release of Re-Animator, and the comics Paper Girls and The Boys.
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As a semi-professional movie reviewer (meaning I get some free perks, but not an actual pay check), I try to find a balance between the things I agree to write about and the things I simply want to enjoy. Sometimes, those things are one and the same. Other times, I find myself carefully watching some god-awful thing pencil in hand, taking notes because, well, that’s what semi-professionals do. This week provided me with a little of both. Castle in the Sky One of those perks is getting press passes to various Fathom Events. Recently they’ve been showing Studio Ghibli films

Hell and High Water (1954) Blu-ray Review: CinemaScope Claustrophobia

Richard Widmark and Samuel Fuller sink to new heights in this wonderful Cold War sub thriller, now available in HD from the folks at Twilight Time.
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Ever the cinematic pioneer, director Samuel Fuller broke new ground ‒ by removing it completely ‒ with his 1954 Cold War thriller Hell and High Water, which would prove to be the first time audiences were exposed to a different kind of submersion. Previously, the wonders of CinemaScope (Hollywood's fancy way of pulling people away from their newly purchased 500lb TV sets at home) were limited solely to majestic Biblical epics, sprawling western dramas, and romantic comedies. Fuller, however ‒ hailing from that rare breed of filmmaker, the kind who created his own path ‒ sensed 20th Century Fox's newfound

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