November 2017 Archives

Book Review: Tangled: The Series: Adventure is Calling

It will please the younger set of Disney fans more than your average comic book geek.
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In my family, Tangled is one of the better movies to come out of Disney’s classic animation studios in a long while. Released in 2010, it was the studio's 50th animated feature film and as such it nicely combines a bit of the old with the more modern. Like the vast majority of animated films coming out of the House of Mouse, Tangled takes an old fairy tale (in this case Rapunzel from the Brothers Grimm) adds in a few contemporary flourishes (and more than a few songs), gives it a happy ending, and calls it all good. It features

Fathom Events Unveils 2018 TCM Big Screen Classics Lineup

Audiences can experience 60 years of movie magic in the yearlong cinematic celebration.
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Press release: Six decades of Hollywood hits will fill movie theaters across the country in 2018 as Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) present stars like Humphrey Bogart, Bing Crosby, James Dean, Tom Hanks, Katharine Hepburn, Kim Novak, James Stewart, Gloria Swanson, John Travolta, Gene Wilder, Bruce Willis, Natalie Wood - and dozens more - in the yearlong “TCM Big Screen Classics” series. For the third consecutive year, the “TCM Big Screen Classics” series will present 13 unforgettable films spanning the 1930s to the 1990s, each accompanied by insightful, specially produced commentary from favorite TCM hosts. The 2018 “TCM

Freebie and the Bean (1974) Blu-ray Review: How Can Something So Wrong Feel So Right?

Look out, world ‒ because James Caan and Alan Arkin are on the loose again, thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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A classic example of "How can something so wrong feel so right?", Richard (The Stunt Man) Rush's classic 1974 action-comedy starring James Caan and Alan Arkin is a delightful politically-incorrect romp through the streets of San Francisco. The granddaddy of the buddy cop genre most of us have grown to despise today, Freebie and the Bean focuses on the outrageous antics of two rogue SFPD detectives, whom we only ever know by their eponymous nicknames: Caan plays the openly corrupt "Freebie," while Arkin ‒ an actor of Jewish heritage, mind you ‒ plays a Mexican-American everyone calls "Bean." And who

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'The King, The Widow, and Rick'

"Why do I still watch this show?" - Kim
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In which Shawn and Kim ask "Why back after?" Shawn: What did you get for Thanksgiving? AMC was kind enough to give us a turkey. And I have a few thoughts. 1.) Rosita kicks ass. The best part of the episode was finally seeing Michonne and Rosita get to do something. The season has had some of the worst flow for side characters. Michonne is a major character and other than glimpses of her, I don't remember her contributing anything to this season. So we get to see Rosita and Michonne team up to raise some hell. And lo and

Death Rides a Horse (1967) Blu-ray Review: Lee Van Cleef's Finest Hour

Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law each set out for revenge in this above-average Spaghetti Western classic, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Though it was one of several dozen Spaghetti Westerns produced just in the year of 1967 alone, Giulio Petroni's Death Rides a Horse (Da uomo a uomo; or, As Man to Man) has nevertheless managed to climb its way up through the dark and dusty trails of European westerns over the years. Boasting a memorable score by the legendary Ennio Morricone himself (both the soundtrack and film "inspired" several aspects of Quentin Tarantino's homage to just about every kind of genre movie under the desert sun, Kill Bill), the unconventional entry in the long list of Euro westerns ‒ the

The High Commissioner (1968) Blu-ray Review: The Accidental Spy from Down Under

Kino Lorber brings us a fun tale of an abrasive detective wrapped up in international intrigue starring Rod Taylor and Christopher Plummer.
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The notion of a Eurospy movie was hardly anything new in 1968. If anything, it was becoming rather mundane to European filmgoers who had been bombarded by a jaw-dropping assortment of bastardized 007 clones by the time our film in question first hit screens. And yet, the makers of The High Commissioner (aka Nobody Runs Forever) nevertheless managed to give their project a unique twist: an abrasive, unsophisticated copper straight from the Outback as the protagonist. Made before fellow Aussie George Lazenby engaged in his shortlived stint as James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the late great Rod

Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth (2007) Blu-ray Review: Science Fiction Chamber Play

Ten years after it was a sleeper sci-fi hit, Man from Earth comes visually restored to Blu-ray.
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A man is confronted by his friends after he walks out on his going-away party. He's been a local professor for 10 years, but tells them that he does this: after a while, he just moves on. He needs to. "You can't have done it too often, you're too young," one of them says. Well... that may not be strictly true. Because John Oldman is a very old man indeed. 14,000 years old, and he leaves places when it becomes too obvious that he's not like everybody else. Released in 2007, The Man From Earth is a rare thing in

Logan Lucky Blu-ray Review: Soderbergh's Back

A rougher, dumber, more redneck Ocean's 11 that's better in almost every way.
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When Steven Soderbergh declared he was retiring from feature filmmaking in 2013, nobody really took him seriously. Technically, he did take a sabbatical from “feature filmmaking” but he stayed very busy. He produced and directed two seasons of the Cinemax drama The Knick, directed the off-Broadway play The Library, helped Spike Jonze edit Her, he executive produced the Starz series The Girlfriend Experience (which was based on his film of the same name), and executive produced the Amazon series Red Oaks, and began working on the HBO series Mosaic. That’s a lot of work for a guy who was retired.

60th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees in Visual Media

The GRAMMYs meet the movies.
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The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States released their nominees for the 2018 Grammy Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. The eligibility period was October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017. The ceremony will be held on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 8-11:30 pm ET/5-8:30 pm PT. Honoring the "best" music in Visual Media are the following categories. Links go to our coverage of the films. Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media (Award to the artist(s) and/or ‘in

Animal Factory is the Pick of the Week

This week brings a bounty of new releases.
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Steve Buscemi is one of those guys. Or should I say he’s one of those “oh, that guy” in that nearly everybody who watches TV and movies knows his face but may not know his name. He’s an actor who when you see him you might smile, nod, and go something like, “Hey, it’s that guy, the one from the thing.” I’ve loved him since the '90s when I watched him in films like Resevoir Dogs, Living in Oblivion, and Fargo. Dude has been in everything. He’s like Samuel L. Jackson, who will take about any role just to keep

Silent Night, Deadly Night Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

This season, Santa is bringing more than just presents and good cheer.
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As usual, the horror genre gets a very bad rap, where many people and critics consider it to be the ugly stepchild of Film. This is none more apparent than the slasher history of the 1980s, where after the huge phenomenon of 1978's Halloween, there were variant degrees of success. Probably the most pivotal year in the '80s was 1984, where the big three were A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13: The Final Chapter, and director Charles E. Sellier, Jr's notorious Christmas slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night, which caused such a stir that it was denounced by parents

Fathom Events and GKids Present Howl's Moving Castle

It is a testament to the wonder of the film that I caught Howl's Moving Castle on Blu-ray a few weeks ago but was still enthralled to watch it again.
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Hayao Miyazaki is one of the greatest animators to have ever held a pencil. His films are magic in celluloid. He makes films that are at once fantastic, bizarre, awe inspiring, and grotesque. His style is both realistic and alien. His characters are often out of proportion and oversized, organic, and fluid. It can be off putting at first. The first film of his I ever saw, Princess Mononoke, was so strange to me initially I couldn’t quite figure out why it was receiving such praise. Its creatures were so unusual I couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening. But once

Titanic Returns to the Big Screen for 20-Year Anniversary in Exclusive Dolby Cinema at AMC Engagement

Director James Cameron invites audiences to experience the critically acclaimed film in Dolby Vision, including select 3D locations.
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Press release: Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:DLB), Paramount Pictures, and AMC Theatres (NYSE:AMC) today announced that Titanic, winner of 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, will return to select theaters nationwide for an exclusive one-week engagement in Dolby Cinema at AMC. In celebration of the film’s 20-year anniversary, audiences across the U.S. can experience Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox’s Titanic in all Dolby Cinema at AMC locations, including 20 locations supporting 3D, beginning December 1, 2017. This marks the first-ever release of Titanic in Dolby Vision in 2D and 3D, a direct result of ongoing partnerships with

Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection Review: A Box Full of Laughs

A nice set of a classic comedian's best films.
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I wonder if you approached someone under the age of 25 and asked them about Bob Hope if they’d even know who he was. I’m 41 and I mostly know him as the guy who used to do TV specials for the USO. It's a shame that he seems to be mostly forgotten except by those who grew up with him on television and the movies or for lovers of old cinema and historians of humor. For in truth, he was a pioneer in the field of comedy, a huge movie star in the '40s, a staple of light night

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Big Scary U'

"I didn’t completely hate the episode, but I didn’t really care for it either." - Kim
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In which Kim and Shawn aren't scared and kinda annoyed. Kim: Well, we got Negan back. Apparently, everyone did. Thank God for you, Negan. Whatever. I didn’t completely hate the episode, but I didn’t really care for it either. No, instead I liked snippets of it. Snippets that could have been far more interesting than they turned out to be. The rest? Complete garbage. Favorite moments: 1.) Daryl vs. Rick: This is not the first throw-down we’ve witnessed this season between comrades. It was, by far, the most intriguing though. Please note when I say "intriguing," I don’t mean I

Web of the Spider (1971) Blu-ray Review: Get Caught in This One

Garagehouse Pictures ups the ante of awesomeness by bringing us a fresh HD print of a classic cult Italian horror flick.
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There aren't a whole heck of a lot of film directors who are brave enough to remake their own work (short films notwithstanding). In fact, I can only think of four off the top of my head. At the top of that very short list are A-list contenders Alfred Hitchcock (The Man Who Knew Too Much) and Cecil B. DeMille (The Ten Commandments). The quality of motion pictures change drastically, however, come the final two entries, which consists of two cult filmmakers: Dick Maas (whose remade his bizarre killer elevator film The Lift years later as Down, both of which

Five Cool Things and an Incredibles Sequel

Cool things this week include Thor: Ragnarok, Logan Lucky, a Samurai comic, a couple of good TV shows.
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Thursday was Thanksgiving here in the United States. It has always been one of my favorite days of the year. There is a great feast of delicious food, and I get to see family members I don’t get to see all that often. It is a joyous time, yet as I get older it brings on nostalgia and a little bit of sadness. This year was especially melancholy as it was the first year without my Uncle Mike and Aunt Linda, both who succumbed to cancer in the last year. Thanksgiving is also very different now than it was when

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series, Volumes 1-6 DVD Review

Here's a perfect gift for Johnny Carson fans.
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Back in January 2017, Time Life released The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series in a 6-disc version that was the back half of a 12-disc set, which were labeled Discs 7 through 12 and was reviewed here. And on September 26, the front half of that set, Discs 1 through 6, was made available. Predominantly featuring programs from the 1970s, this collection allows viewers to see what made Carson and his show so entertaining. He was a congenial host, who allowed his guests to shine and didn't feel threatened when they did well. He also enjoyed verbally

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Movie Review: A Beautiful Story of a Brilliant Mind

Alexandra Dean's documentary tends to follow a familiar path but does a fantastic job of reexamining an underrated talent.
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"Any girl can look glamourous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid." Never one to mince words this opening quote from actress Hedy Lamarr illustrates how actuely aware she was in recognizing what was expected from female stars of her era. And yet regardless of this fact Lamarr refused to adhere to it, using film as a means to an end when her real passion was creating items that are now household items. This remarkable woman finally gets her due in Alexandra Dean's documentary Bombshell. Focusing on Lamarr's career, both on and off-screen, Bombshell isn't just

Coco Movie Review: Pixar's Best Since Inside Out

Despite following a standard Pixar formula, Coco is still entertaining and profound regardless.
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Even though Coco follows a standard Disney formula with its storyline about a young child trying to find their true calling, like with Mulan and Moana, it still manages to find ways to reinvent itself. Coco is not just about listening to your inner voice and taking control of your destiny. It’s also about family, forgiveness, and remembrance and it manages to be both entertaining and poignant. Coco follows the story of a boy named Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez), who dreams of becoming a musician and idolizes the late, famed singer Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). However, his family

Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection Blu-ray Review: A Treasure Trove of Delight

A big box of Hitchcock's greatest films (and a few of his lesser ones, too).
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Alfred Hitchcock began his movie career in 1919 as a title card designer for silent films. He quickly moved up through the ranks at Paramount Pictures in Islington, England and became a scriptwriter, art director, and assistant director. In 1922, he was given his first job as director but after shooting just a few scenes, the finances were lost and filming was shut down. In 1925, he was given another directing opportunity and this one, The Pleasure Garden actually saw theatrical release. It flopped. As did The Mountain Eagle, made in 1926, a film which is now lost to history

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Movie Review: The Most Timely Film Of 2017

A dark comedy that is also the film America needs right now.
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Martin McDonagh may be a director from Ireland, but it is eerie how he has crafted a film about America that is so timely with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It deals with a woman starting a rampage against a patriarchal society which could easily mirror how women are standing up to the male-dominated Hollywood in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. There’s a line that the main character gives about how the police are “too busy torturing black folks to solve actual crimes” which is a demonstration of the ongoing nationwide issue of police brutality against minorities. Lastly,

Woodshock (2017) Blu-ray Review: Shockingly Bad

The feature film debut from fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy is a hypnotic mess.
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Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy may have established themselves well in the fashion world with their brand, Rodarte. But when it comes to trying to get noticed in the world of film, they need some work. Okay, a lot of work. Although the duo helped create some gorgeous outfits for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, their directorial debut, Woodshock, is the result of someone (in this case, two people) with an eye for visuals and nothing else. It looks pretty in both the wardrobe and cinematography departments, but it’s so self-indulgent that it forgets to make the viewer care for the

He Walked By Night (1948) Blu-ray Review: The Dawn of Dragnet

The film that helped form the world of police procedurals receives a beautiful restoration from ClassicFlix.
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Although He Walked By Night may not be considered a household movie title today, it nevertheless remains a founding pillar to the entertainment industry. For had it not been for this atmospheric 1948 film noir from screenwriter Crane Wilbur (House of Wax), a certain minor actor (and music lover) by the name of Jack Webb would not have struck up a friendship with an LA police detective. And had that not have happened, younger generations, a series known as Dragnet would not have come to pass, which means the gigantic world of police procedurals and forensic dramas may never have

Lady Bird Movie Review: Greta Gerwig Soars in Her Directorial Debut

Lady Bird takes the tired coming-of-age genre and makes it feel refreshing and naturalistic.
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Actress Greta Gerwig has proven her naturalistic acting chops in films like 20th Century Women, No Strings Attached, and Jackie. But now, she has announced herself as an exciting new filmmaking voice with Lady Bird, her solo directorial debut. Lady Bird may tread into a familiar genre: The coming-of-age dramedy. Yet, it feels distinctive because of how it hits close to home. It may be about a teenager trying to navigate high school but it also speaks to those who long to escape their small-town life and the parents who work tirelessly to make sure their children have a better

SVCC 2018 Registration Opens with Stan Lee Announcement

Other guests announced were Sean Astin, Matthew Lewis, and Jewel Staite.
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Press release: Registration is now open for Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC) 2018. The first guests for the April event were announced today by SVCC, including special guest of honor Stan Lee. Other guests announced were Sean Astin, Matthew Lewis, and Jewel Staite. “We are excited to launch SVCC 3.0 with such an amazing group of guests, including the legendary Stan Lee”, said Trip Hunter, Chairman of SVCC. “This is just the first of a long list of exciting announcements about guests and events that we will be adding to our lineup to make SVCC the best science, technology, and

The Woman in Red Blu-ray Review: A Light Comedy Not Without Its Charms

I just called, to say, your film's not that good.
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Teddy Pierce (Gene Wilder) has a good life. He’s got a good job in advertising. He lives in a nice suburban house. He’s got a pretty wife and a couple of good kids. His life might be a little on the dull side, but he’s happy. He doesn’t need anything else. Then one day while parking in his office’s underground garage, he spies Charlotte (Kelly LeBrock), a gorgeous model passing by. As she walks over a grate, a gust of wind pushes her skirt over her head. Embarrassed, she quickly jumps off and walks away. But then she turns around,

2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominations Announced

Winners, who are selected by Film Independent Members, will be announced at the Spirit Awards on Saturday, March 3, 2018.
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Press release: This morning, Film Independent announced the nominations for the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards and revealed that director Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th, A Wrinkle in Time) will be this year’s Honorary Chair. Past Honorary Chairs include David Oyelowo, Jessica Chastain, Kerry Washington, Ang Lee and Martin Scorsese. The Spirit Awards are the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity in the industry. Film Independent President Josh Welsh presided over the press conference held at the Jeremy Hotel in West Hollywood, with actors Lily Collins and Tessa Thompson presenting

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a a sci-fi epic from Luc Besson, an animated film from France, a slew of silent films, most of Monty Python, and more.
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It's funny how time messes with your mind the older you get. My mind is filled with all of these wonderful little snippets of memories. I can wrap them up in short story form and tell you all about them. But if you were to ask me to place them inside my own timeline precisely, I’d be at a loss. That time from high school to just post college - a time that was so important to me back then - has all become a blur. This is especially true when remembering the movie I saw back then, movies that

Superman: The Movie - Extended Cut (1978/82) Blu-ray Review: A DC Miracle

The Warner Archive Collection soars with this rare, three-hour TV cut of Richard Donner's superhero classic.
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Of all the variable incarnations of motion pictures that exist within the world, there is perhaps none more elusive than the legendary TV version. This holds particularly true in the instance of films made before television censors officially threw up their arms and said "We give up" after Dennis Franz's flabby backside first appeared on late night television airings. Prior to that, many theatrical outings underwent sometimes drastic re-edits before they could be shown to the still-sensitive primetime audiences of the late '70s and early '80s. One good example is the near-legendary network-added prologue to Sergio Leone's A Fistful of

The Villainess Blu-ray Review: Villainous Melodrama Mars Mind-Blowing Action

Korean import mixes hyperkinetic action scenes with insufferable melodrama and confusing flashbacks.
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The Villainess opens with one of the most insane action scenes ever committed to film, both for its stunts and its camera work. Like Hardcore Henry, the harrowing fight scene is shot from a first-person perspective, making it look more like a shooter video game such as Call of Duty instead of a film. Unlike that film, the carefully constructed pseudo-continuous take eventually switches to a standard third-person perspective, revealing that our protagonist is a woman who is handily dismembering and demolishing dozens of men in a multi-story building. The intense close-quarters fighting is heightened by incredible camera work that

Zoology Blu-ray Review: A Fable In Search of a Metaphor

A grown woman grows a tail, but what does it all mean?
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A lonely, dowdy, middle-aged woman lives in a small seaside village in rural Russia. She has no friends, her coworkers are excessively cruel, and she lives with her religious and superstitious mother. Life for her, in a word, is depressing. Then she grows a tail. A large, long, fleshy rat-like tail. Zoology, the second film from writer director Ivan I. Tverdovsky, is in search of a metaphor. Its fable-like structure and the fact that it's a movie about a woman growing a flipping tail makes us search for allegory, to find some meaning in its story. But the film never

Black Sabbath: The End Blu-ray Review: A Fitting Swan Song

The Blu-ray deserves to recognized on "Best of 2017" lists.
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On February 4, 2017 at Genting Arena in their hometown of Birmingham, England, Black Sabbath (sans founding drummer Bill Ward) played the final show of their farewell tour. The set list focused primarily on the band's first four albums, including six of the eight songs from Paranoid. The remaining four albums from Ozzy's initial tenure were only represented three times: "Dirty Women" and two songs performed during the instrumental medley. Unfortunately, nothing for fans of Never Say Die! The concert opens with the sound of the bell tolling at the beginning of "Black Sabbath". Ozzy acts as cheerleader between lyrics,

Five Cool Things and Dragon's Lair

This week's pop culture consumption includes some classic films, some modern films, more Doctor Who, and a video game from my youth.
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Last week, I feared I was going to get sick like the rest of my family, which put me to bed earlier than usual and kept me from consuming as much pop culture as I normally do. That sickness never came to pass (keeping fingers crossed, continuously knocking on wood) and this week saw me watching a slew of movies, some great, some not so much. So lets get started. Casablanca I cannot remember the first time I watched Casablanca. It seems to have always existed in my memories. It's not that I watched it at a really early age

Glory (2016) DVD Review: Bulgarian Tragicomedy Depressed Me

A railway lineman ruins his life by doing the right thing in this semi-comic, biting and ultimately depressing film.
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One of the reviews quoted on the box for Glory describes it as "Frank Capra Meets the Dardenne Brothers". I do not know anything about the Dardenne Brothers, but from the evidence of this film, I can only assume they make puppy snuff films, because the tone, theme and conclusion of Glory is about as far from a Frank Capra movie as I can conceive. Capra's central theme was about the dignity of humanity when pressed against the impersonal forces of society; Glory is about a man who has all of his dignity stripped from him until he is crushed

George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn Blu-ray Review: Between Great and Awful

Three of Romero's earliest films get a nice boxed set.
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Made on a minuscule budget and featuring no-name local Pittsburgh actors George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead became a huge worldwide success, essentially invented the modern zombie craze, influenced countless horror films, and is now in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Not wanting to be pigeonholed as just a horror/zombie director, Romero branched out making a variety of films before returning to the zombie well in 1978 with Dawn of the Dead. Three of those films (There’s Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch, and The Crazies) are included in a new boxed set from

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Some Guy'

"I ain't nothing. I'm just some guy."
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Shawn: I'm not your King. I'm not your Majesty. I ain't nothing. I'm just some guy." - Ezekiel I'm always fascinated by the episodes that focus mostly on the arc of a single character. It's a challenge on a show that has at any given point about 15-25 main characters. I think that it's been a mixed bag in the past. There's a challenge to give us an in-depth look at character and not bring the whole show to a grinding halt. It worked with T-Dog but it was pretty annoying when it was Morgan because it felt like an

The Tragically Hip Documentary Film and Kingston Concert Video Available in December

For more than 30 years, The Tragically Hip have occupied a singular place in the Canadian musical zeitgeist.
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Press release: Two powerful and poignant narratives of The Tragically Hip’s 2016 Man Machine Poem tour will be released this fall via Universal Music Canada (UMC), the country’s leading music company. A National Celebration encompasses the band’s hometown concert in Kingston from August 20 while Long Time Running is the feature film documentary of the preparations for and completion of the tour. Long Time Running was created in collaboration between the band, Banger Films, and SHED Creative Agency, a division of UMC. The film was directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier (Watermark, Manufactured Landscapes) and chronicles the rehearsals

D.C. Follies: The Complete Series DVD Review: It's Valuable to Have Shows Like This Back on the Market

Sid and Marty Krofft puppets in a vintage series that captures pop culture and politics of the late '80s.
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If you watched Saturday morning TV in the late '60s and through the '70s, then you knew all about Sid and Marty Krofft. The puppet and human combination adventures of H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monster, and Land of the Lost were familiar fixtures to children of that generation. Puppets had made the mainstream with The Muppet Show airing in syndication starting in the late '70s. As the children of the '70s became the politically aware adults of the '80s, Sid and Marty Krofft entered prime time with a syndicated show called D.C. Follies that brought them back

Criterion Announces February 2018 Releases

Film lovers can find plentu of options for Valentine's Day
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February finds Criterion delivering another six titles. New to the collection are George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Satyajit Ray's The Hero, Kon Ichikawa's An Actor’s Revenge and Tony Richardson's Tom Jones. Getting an HD upgrade are Loius Malle's Elevator to the Gallows and Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs. Read on to learn more about them. Elevator to the Gallows (#335) out Feb 6 For his feature debut, twenty-four-year-old Louis Malle brought together a mesmerizing performance by Jeanne Moreau, evocative cinematography by Henri Decaë, and a now legendary jazz score by Miles Davis. Taking place over

The Captive (1915) Blu-ray Review: War, Romance, Forced Labor

Olive Films releases an obscure film from epic director Cecil B. DeMille's silent cinema days.
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The Captive is a story of war-time deprivation and how terrible circumstances can bring disparate people together. There's gun battles, and romance. It's also a thematic precursor to the Seinfeld sitcom pilot within the show, where Jerry gets a man assigned to be his butler by the courts. Set during the Balkan Wars in 1913, The Captive is a silent film made by Cecil B. DeMille. It was one of more than a dozen films he made in 1915 in his first couple years of filmmaking, and it demonstrates the meticulous attention to detail the were a hallmark of his

8-Bit Generation: The Commodore Wars DVD Review: The Real Halt and Catch Fire

Documentary chronicles the rise and fall of Commodore Business Machines.
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Trivia time: what is the top-selling single computer of all time? If you guessed something in the Mac or IBM families, you’re wrong. No, the all-time champ is still the Commodore 64, first released 35 years ago and ultimately notching upwards of 17 million units sold. Led by the scrappy Jack Tramiel, Commodore made it their mission in the 1980s to popularize the concept of home computers, delivering competent product at reasonable prices to stimulate sales to casual users (including me) instead of just hardcore hobbyists. At the height of their popularity, the company imploded after the forced departure of

The Man Who Died Twice (1958) Blu-ray Review: Um, Is That a Spoiler Alert?

Kino Lorber digs up a beautiful print of a less-than-remembered guilty pleasure B-noir from Republic Pictures.
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The career of the late Vera Ralston was perhaps more fascinating off-screen than it was on. After escaping her native Czechoslovakia immediately before the Nazis closed the borders off during World War II, the former ice skater later became Republic Pictures head Herbert J. Yates' personal discovery, and he frequently cast her in pictures. Alas, even Ralston's thick Czech accent ‒ coupled with the fact she she didn't speak English terribly well and had to learn her lines phonetically ‒ was not enough to excuse her "unique" acting skills, and it was only a matter of time before her career

The Villainess Blu-ray Combo Pack Giveaway

A welcome shot of adrenaline to the classic femme fatale story follows a ruthless female assassin who leaves a trail of bodies behind her as she seeks her blood-spattered revenge.
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Well Go USA Entertainment to award four lucky readers The Villainess Blu-ray Combo Pack directed by Jung Byung-Gil. For those wanting to learn more, read Steve Geise's review and the press release below: Bloody revenge is at the heart of the stylish, kinetic action-thriller The Villainess, debuting on digital November 7 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD November 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Certified “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, this welcome shot of adrenaline to the classic femme fatale story follows a ruthless female assassin who leaves a trail of bodies behind her

Wind River Blu-ray Review: A Compelling Murder Mystery

Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are excellent in this tense, deeply affecting thriller.
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There’s a sudden chill that makes its way down the viewer’s back after the opening scene of Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River. The film is a murder mystery set in an Indian reservation in Wyoming. The murder itself is not the reason why a sudden shock hits the person’s nervous system in the beginning. The reasoning for that is Ben Richardson’s lovely cinematography, which exquisitely captures a chilly Wyoming winter so well that we’re suddenly immersed into the film’s setting. The multiple feet of snow crunching under the characters’ feet and the constant blowing of the cold air bring us that

George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a surprising number of horror films plus some cool concert videos, Doctor Who, and some cute cats.
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I’ve loved movies for as long as I can remember. My mother tells the story of the first time I went to the cinema. I was maybe five or six years old at the time. I saw in the front row with my brother and cousins, but I kept walking back to where my mom was exclaiming how excited I was and how magical being at the moves felt. I no longer sit in the front row but movies are still magic. I’ve written plenty of times in these pages about how I’m also a big fan of horror films.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Movie Review: An Ambiguous yet Intriguing Nightmare

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is unsure of its genre identity which makes it an exciting watch.
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When The Killing Of A Sacred Deer first starts, we get a glimpse of a beating heart being operated on with an ominous choir singing in the background. Right then and there, it becomes evident that the film will be a particular kind of experience. While Sacred Deer is a film with a traditional linear narrative, for the most part, it is more of an experience. It is an experimental nightmare that dares you to enter and piece the puzzle together. While you’re watching, you’re trying to figure out what kind of film you’re even seeing which makes The Killing

TCM and Fathom Events Present Casablanca

Round up the usual suspects and come watch the greatest movie ever made on the big screen.
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At lunch when I told a friend of mine that I was going to go see Casablanca on the big screen, I could barely contain my excitement. When I told him it was my favorite movie, he, in all sincerity, asked why. He liked the movie, sure, but it was a long ways from his favorite movie so he wondered why it was mine. Genuinely confused as to how anyone could not love Casablanca as much as I do, the only answer I could come up with was, “because it's awesome”. And it is. But now having watched it again,

Since You Went Away Blu-ray Review: An Epic Bore

I've never watched a movie so long and so dull in which so very little happens.
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After the enormous success of Gone With The Wind producer extraordinaire David O. Selznick was looking for another epic melodrama to make. This was 1944. The world was at war and Hollywood loved to make movies about it just as much as audiences loved watching them. But war movies with their big sets and action sequences were expensive. Selznick came upon an idea - everybody was making movies about the boys overseas fighting, why not make a movie about those they left behind? He found a book by Margaret Buell Wilder in which a wife writes a series of letters

Five Cool Things and R.E.M's Automatic for the People

I'm enlisting a little help this week, and away we go.
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Sickness has been passing through my family. Both my parents got crazy sick a couple of weeks ago. Then my wife got a bad cold earlier this week and now my daughter has been running a fever the last couple of days. I fear I am next. Every little cough or sniffle I get freaks me out. I’m guzzling orange juice and eating zinc tablets like they were candy. It's also put me in bed earlier than normal in the belief that more rest might keep me from getting really sick. This in turn has meant less late-night movie-watching, but

Only Noirs and Horses: Four Flicks from the Warner Archive

From classic psychological thrillers to obscure westerns, these WAC releases are worth betting money on.
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In keeping with their tradition of debuting and re-issuing timeless and forgotten classics alike, the Warner Archive Collection has recently brought forth four titles from its vaults. Among this quartet is the classic psychological thriller Undercurrent, and three new-to-DVD rarities: Full Confession, which may very well be the darkest "religious" film I have ever seen; the fascinating western noir Cow Country; and ‒ branching out from the cowboy motif ‒ the long lost '50s family-friendly adventure, The Lion and the Horse. Undercurrent (1946) By and far the most recognized title in the mix, Vincente Minnelli's Undercurrent (also known as You

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review: Marvel's Best Comedy to Date

Despite a slight mismatch in tone, Thor: Ragnarok still manages to be the best film in the Thor trilogy.
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The previous Thor films have proven to be quite a mixed bag. The first film by Kenneth Branagh was interesting because of how it played into Branagh’s Shakespearean sensibilities. But its sequel Thor: The Dark World was a giant black hole of mediocrity with no creative vision and is the worst film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Thank goodness for the idiosyncratic visions of director Taika Waititi who does a complete 180 on the first two films by making Thor: Ragnarok into a superhero comedy. While there are moments where Thor: Ragnarok attempts to go serious that don’t

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Monsters'

"I’m struggling with the show. I will openly admit that." - Kim
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In which Kim and Shawn debate a character that hasn't even appeared in two episodes. Kim: Episode #3 is done. I had hopes after last week that we’d pick up some interesting stories, get moving, and find a new way for Rick to mess up a decent living situation (which is what happens every time they get comfortable somewhere). I know Negan is an integral part of the comics, and therefore the show, but I’m going to share an unpopular opinion here. Ready? I am already done with him. The story arc involving him is old and played out. I

Nightkill Blu-ray Review: A Deadly Bore

Never trust a movie by its poster, Nightkill is neither sexy nor scary.
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Intended to be Jaclyn Smith’s break-out role into movies (this was was right in the middle of Charlie’s Angels mania), Nightkill instead went almost straight to TV (after a very, very limited theatrical run) where it died a quick death. One look at its lurid poster featuring Jaclyn Smith naked in a shower while a sinister-looking shadow comes in behind her or the cast list featuring Robert Mitchum and Mike Connors (fresh in the middle of his popular Mannix role) and you might wonder why its taken so long for it to come to home video. After watching, I have

Joe Versus the Volcano Blu-ray Review: An Overlooked Tom Hanks Gem

It's a lot of fun, and sometimes that's all you want, or need, from a movie.
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When you have a lengthy and acclaimed filmography like Tom Hanks, some films are going to fall through the cracks. That has certainly been the case of 1990's Joe Versus the Volcano. Even among early-career comedies, this is a movie that gets overlooked. People remember Splash. They remember Big even if it is just to make jokes about the fact the movie features a grown woman having a sexual relationship with a child in a man's body. You rarely hear about Joe Versus the Volcano. That's a mistake, because it is the best of the early-period Hanks comedies. In fact,

Atomic Blonde Blu-ray Combo Pack Giveaway

Currently Available on Digital and coming to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand November 14.
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Focus Features to award one lucky reader Atomic Blonde Blu-ray Combo Pack starring Charlize Theron and directed by David Leitch. For those wanting to learn more, read the press release below: Double-crossed while sent to collect stolen intelligence in East Germany, elusive secret agent Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Fate of the Furious) unleashes a deadly arsenal of skills in Atomic Blonde, the adrenaline pumping, stylish spy-thriller, currently available on Digital and coming to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on November 14, 2017, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Adapted

The Limehouse Golum is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include animated anthropomorphic autos, a boxed set of DC animated movies, a boxed set inside a plastic head, and more.
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I've been obsessed with golems since I first read about them in Michael Chabon's novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I don't remember much about what that story but the idea of a golem, a creature made of clay who comes to life, stuck with me. Golems are a part of Jewish folklore. They are made of any inanimate object but usually it's mud or clay. They are not sculpted well, more like clumped together as made by a child and given life. They can be creatures of good, but in the best stories they turn evil and

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 5 by John Byrne

Byrne understands the essence of what Star Trek is and why the Original Series was so successful.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, "John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the [TV show] combined with new material such as dialogue [in word balloons], narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones." Volume 5 collects issues #12-14 and the story "More of the Serpent Than the Dove," which was previously only

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review: A Bittersweet Glass Of Eggnog

It's like deja vu in terms of plot but the cast makes it immensely watchable.
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When the film Bad Moms came out last year, it managed to become a massive summer hit towards the ends of the summer season. It made $183.9 million worldwide and became the highest-grossing film for newbie distributor STX Entertainment. But because the film did incredibly well, that meant it would get a sequel. As it turns out, A Bad Moms Christmas is a slight retread of the original but it is still a slight improvement in terms of laughs. A Bad Moms Christmas continues the story of Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) who are

DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection Bonus Disc Review

If this ever becomes available for sale individually, DC fans would enjoy it.
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The DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection is a comprehensive box set of all 30 films, five animated shorts, new special features, and exclusive collectible items including a 40-page adult coloring book featuring key art from all DC Universe films and exclusive collector coins featuring the DC “trinity” - Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. It is limited to 20,000 units and each box will be individually numbered. The films in the set are listed below along with reviews by various Sentries. Warner Brothers has provided the Bonus Disc for review, which contains the following new content (HD unless specified)

Westworld: Season One Blu-ray Review: Do Enjoy Your Stay

HBO's new series is light on AI theories, but has an exceptional cast and storyline to keep it chugging along.
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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. Much like Jurassic Park did with people’s fascination of living in the time of the dinosaurs, Westworld focuses on a theme park in which people can experience what it was like living in the Old West. The robots, a.k.a. hosts, of this theme park are so life-like in their speech and reaction, the setting so impeccably crafted, that people are immersed into the scenario the minute they step foot in the park.

Superman / Batman: Apocalypse Blu-ray Review: Destined to Be a Fan Favorite

It's great to see so much effort put into delivering a robust and informative package.
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Here’s a recipe for surefire fanboy satisfaction: pair the two most recognizable superheroes in the world with their most well-known and beloved vocal actors, stir in a great story adapted from comics stars Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner, season with eye-popping visuals and thumping sound, and simmer to perfection. The latest DC Universe Animated direct-to-video film once again proves that theatrical blockbusters aren’t the only top chefs in the home video market, delivering a winning package destined to be a fan favorite. Although Superman and Batman get top billing, the film is actually centered on the mysterious arrival and origin

Batman: Under the Red Hood Blu-ray Review: Pays off Better Than Expected

With a strong story, quality art, and a very good audio track, Batman: Under the Red Hood is recommend for fans of the character.
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Writer Judd Winick brings his “Under the Hood” story arc from Batman comics to the animated DC Universe with Under the Red Hood. The movie opens with a prologue taken from Jim Starlin’s infamous “A Death in a Family” story arc as the Joker kills Jason Todd, the young man who had taken up the mantle of Robin after Dick Grayson moved on and became Nightwing. The story jumps five years forward, and someone identifying himself as the Red Hood comes to Gotham. He sets up a meeting with some drug dealers and makes them an offer they can’t refuse,

Cars 3 Blu-ray Review: Plenty of Zoom, Not Enough Vroom Vroom

It's a good movie, just not Pixar good, which disappoints.
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In discussions about the best Pixar movies, Cars always comes up short. It's not that its a bad film, but it simply doesn’t compare to the very best of what Pixar can do. It has none of the heart of the Toy Story films, or the inventive storytelling of Wall-E, nor the thoroughly compelling genius of Inside Out. It's got some great visuals and its a lot of fun to watch. It's a good, solid family entertainment. But when it comes to Pixar good just isn’t enough for some people. I like it more than most but it's definitely second-tier

Superman / Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray Review: A Lot of Comic-Book Fun

It's a good team-up story, and there's plenty of action
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Based on the first six issues of Superman / Batman by writer Jeph Loeb and illustrator Ed McGuinness, Public Enemies finds Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown) taking advantage of a poor economy and launching a third-party bid that wins him the Presidency of the United States. One of his first acts mandates superheroes must serve the government rather than act on their own as vigilantes. While some agree to serve Luthor and the country, Superman (Tim Daly) and Batman (Kevin Conroy) refuse. When a large meteor of kryptonite is discovered heading towards Earth, Luthor uses it to suggest its effects are

Green Lantern: First Flight (Two-Disc Special Edition) DVD Review

Full of enough action to please the kids, the story will do nothing to endear adults to these animated features.
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The title First Flight is detrimentally accurate, as little back story into the life of our hero, test pilot Hal Jordan (voiced by Christopher Meloni), is provided prior to him receiving his green power ring, and taking off on his first flight. He is quite skilled at using the powerful piece of jewelry, and the only explanation given is that he had been practicing. Sadly, this is a huge opportunity lost. Seeing our hero adapt to his new role would not only have been entertaining, but it would have endeared him more and allowed him to become relatable to the

Wonder Woman (2009) (Two-Disc Special Edition) DVD Review

It’s a wonder this got made considering how many bad choices the creative team made.
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The film opens during a 300-influenced battle sequence between the Amazons and the forces of Ares, the God of War (Alfred Molina). It is poorly presented as director Lauren Montgomery chose to create the illusion of action scenes from a live-action movie by simulating the perspective of a shaky camera. The Amazons win and Queen Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) is about to kill Ares when his father Zeus demands she stop, although it’s rather hypocritical considering all the deaths has Ares has just caused. Ares' mother, the goddess Hera, offers a compromise. She binds Ares with gauntlets that suppress his powers

Batman: Gotham Knight (Two-Disc Special Edition) DVD Review

A worthy addition to your DVD shelf, especially if you're a big Batman fan.
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When you gather six totally awesome writers and six totally awesome directors, the end product should be nothing less than totally awesome, right? While Batman: Gotham Knight falls just shy of the "totally awesome" mark, it definitely deserves a spot in the pantheon of animated superhero offerings and a place on your DVD shelf. The movie boasts a host of comicdom’s finest writers such as Greg Rucka, Brian Azzarello, Batman Begins scriptwriter David Goyer, and some of the (allegedly) top directors from the world of anime. I say “allegedly” because to be totally honest with you, my interest in anime

Superman: Doomsday DVD Review: It Over Simplifies and Trivializes this Brilliant Story

The Special Feature documentary "Requiem and Rebirth: Superman Lives!" makes this DVD worth the purchase price.
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It had been fifteen years since The Death of Superman at the hands of Doomsday, a virtually indestructible super villain, played out in the pages of DC comics when the story became available in an animated film from Warner Brothers and DC. Surprisingly, it is the Special Feature documentary “Requiem and Rebirth: Superman Lives!” that makes this DVD worth the purchase price. The in-depth effort into how the DC comics team decided Superman’s fate, how it played out in the comics and in real life, and how the turn of events impacted the characters in the comics and the comic

Book Review: For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library, Volume One (1979-1982)

Funny, heartwarming, and familiar, but above all, real.
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Since Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse launched in 1979, it has been syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide and has received many accolades, including the Gemini Award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and the Order of Canada, the highest honor a Canadian civilian can get, not to mention Johnston’s Pulitzer Prize nomination and her Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society. In addition to being the first woman to receive the award, she was also the Society’s first female president. And while it may not be nearly as prestigious or famous of an accolade, For

The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Lost Christmas DVD Review

Carol and friends deliver some classic Christmas comedy and holiday hilarity that comes up a bit short.
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The packaging here states “For the first time ever, Carol Burnett has opened the CBS archives to release Christmas shows from the first four seasons of her Emmy Award-winning program.” But they were lost!? How big is the CBS archives!? Don’t they have some type of filing system!? Sigh. Well, in 2013 Time life gave us Christmas with Carol, which featured two episodes from the later years of the classic series. It was a Christmas gift better left unopened. This new release had me filled with optimism. An episode from 1967 with Jonathan Winters and Barbara Eden? That has gold

God's Own Country Movie Review: Love Abounds On-Screen

An emotionally sensitive look at intimacy and identity.
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The tentative steps towards understanding one's sexuality has been a staple of cinema since sex itself was allowed on-screen. As sexuality has become more fluid, the stories about love from a homosexual perspective have come forward, most prominently Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. This year alone sees the glossy Call Me By Your Name attempt to tell a similar story about first love between two young men, and it is that feature which pairs alongside - and yet is completely removed - from Francis Lee's feature film debut, God's Own Country. The bucolic setting will draw comparisons to Lee's film, but

Five Cool Things and The Disaster Artist

This week's cool things include replicants, man-eating plants, mind hunters, and more.
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My wife and I are not party people. We are much more comfortable sitting at home, watching movies, playing games, or reading. But once a year we throw a great big pumpkin-carving party. We invite all of our friends over. We make big batches of soup and chili. I make a special Halloween playlist. We decorate the house. We go all out. Except for this year. I don’t know if it was the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having all this Autumn or that I’ve been really busy at work or what, but this year I just wasn’t feeling it.

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'The Damned'

"You have to admit this episode was exactly what we asked for." - Kim
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In which Shawn and Kim get what they asked for, but not everyone is happy about it. Shawn: How are we only two episodes in and it feels like that episode was just a repeat of parts of the last year of shows. Remember oldey timey Rick from the future? Well don't worry about that because it doesn't matter this week. I vaguely remember this Negan character. Seems like he was pretty important to the story they were telling. Wasn't he stuck in a trailer with Gabriel? Must not be too important because the writers felt like we'd be interested

Frasier: Christmas Episodes DVD Review: Eight Shows for Viewing

Frasier built its success on solid performances, well-crafted scripts, and comedy that would sneak up on you in the most subtle of ways. All elements are in evidence here.
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On October 10th, just in time for Halloween, Paramount released not one, but eight Christmas-themed episodes of Frasier. Each one like a gift of laughter to be plucked from under the tree, opened, and enjoyed. Now, we all know that what we find under the tree is not always what we are hoping for. There are the occasional pair of socks. Such is the case here, but the majority of these episodes are exactly what we asked for. Ultimately, It’s hard to go wrong with one of the most successful spinoffs (from Cheers for those too young to know or

Richard Simmons: Sweatin' to the Oldies: The Complete Collection DVD Giveaway

Includes the uncut, original platinum-selling releases of "Sweatin' to the Oldies," Volumes 1-5, plus exclusive bonuses.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Time Life to award one lucky reader Richard Simmons: Sweatin' to the Oldies: The Complete Collection six-DVD set, which is currently available on Amazon. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: The energetic 6-disc set includes the complete collection of Simmons' best-selling Sweatin' to the Oldies workout programs. Pairing lively classics from the '50s and '60s with rockin' low impact routines and Simmons' humorous banter, encouragement and sparkly tank tops, Sweatin' to the Oldies: The Complete Collection offers fun for the entire family. Across five discs, home exercisers will find forty-one

Book Review: Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics, Volume Three (1972-1979)

A fun space adventure comic that looks like Star Trek but doesn't exactly stay true to its roots.
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I have no doubt that when he created Star Trek: The Original Series Gene Roddenberry was hoping for a smash success. But there is no way he could have known it would have spawned the enormous multimedia empire that continues to this day, some 51 years later. While The Original Series didn’t even manage to finish its “five-year mission,” it did spawn an animated series, five other live-action TV series, six films starring the original cast, four films from The Next Generation, and three films in the rebooted series plus books, comics, magazines, games, and a cultural phenomena. The Original

TCM Announces Month-Long Spotlight on 70th Anniversary of the Hollywood Blacklist

Airs every Monday and Tuesday in November beginning Nov 6 co-hosted by blacklisted actress Lee Grant and author Glenn Frankel.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies will spotlight the 70th anniversary of “The Hollywood Blacklist,” a turbulent period during the Cold War that was the result of the American government embarking on what some considered to be a “witch hunt” against communism, ruining many careers and lives. The month-long programming event begins Nov. 6 and will continue every Monday and Tuesday in November highlighting the professionals that were affected along with the films they worked on. Joining TCM Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz as co-hosts are blacklisted actress and director Lee Grant (The Landlord) and author Glenn Frankel (High Noon: The Hollywood

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