December 2017 Archives

General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

An important look at unchecked power, racism, nativism, and violence though the eyes of a dictator.
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General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait is the 1974 documentary film by Barbet Schroeder. Schroeder, who is known for such films as Bar Fly and Single White Female, began his filmmaking career making documneteries. In 1974, Schroeder struck a deal with a television network who was making one-hour shows about heads of state around the world. The network agreed to let him make his film first and in return give them enough footage from the shoot to turn it into a one-hour show. Schroeder and his crew traveled to Uganda to document the notorius Amin who had been in power

Best of 2017 Film Lists

So here's the first set of my 2017 lists.
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From 2005 through 2012, I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best" lists. While the blog still remains retired, I'm reviving the year-end summary. BEST MOVIES OF 2017 (Seen in theaters) 1. LADY BIRD. Maybe because it was just different than I usually see or that it was seriously well written but it was funny and touching in a way that I just don't take time to go see enough. 2. GET OUT. I went in with very few preconceptions. Symbolic and

England Is Mine Blu-ray Review: Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

Morrissey biopic explores his formative years to no great effect.
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Before he was launched to stardom in The Smiths, Steven Patrick Morrissey was just a gloomy, depressed young man in gloomy, depressed Manchester. England Is Mine attempts to take viewers into the era and environment that contributed to his singular approach to songwriting. While it succeeds in that respect, its focus on pre-fame Morrissey means that we’re left with a subject who is little more than an unremarkable, mopey young adult, mirroring any number of generic coming-of-age tales. Unfortunately, this is a music biopic without the music, making it feel like a bit of a cheat for fans more interested

Fathom Events Presents Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time

Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat get a nice send-off while paving the way for a new generation.
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Having the Doctor regenerate when he "dies" was nothing short of a genius idea. In other television programs, replacing a main character with a different actor is a doomed idea, but in Doctor Who, it's just another day at the office. Regeneration has allowed the series to run (almost) uninterrupted for over 50 years, periodically injecting new life blood into it as new actors take on the role. That isn't to say regeneration isn't without its challenges or controversies. Whenever a new Doctor appears, there is much outcry from fans. When Jodie Whitaker (the first female Doctor ever) was announced,

Call Me by Your Name Movie Review: A Deeply Felt Ode to Unrequited Love

Transcending tropes of the genre, Call Me by Your Name is a wondrous feat in expressing emotions often left unspoken.
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It’s a lazy summer somewhere in northern Italy. The year is 1983, and Elio (Timothée Chalamet) a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy lounges about his house, spending his time transcribing music or reading German poetry with his university professor parents (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar). Every year, though, his parents take in a graduate student for the summer, and much to Elio’s chagrin, in walks Oliver (Armie Hammer), the “usurper,” as Elio calls him. What initially begins as a contentious relationship between the two, Elio and Oliver bond over shared interests, sunbathing out by the pool, riding their bikes into town together.

Five Cool Things and Goodbye, 12; Hello, 13

Cool things this week include a Stephen King detective novel, a new Netflix show, and more.
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Hope everybody had an excellent Christmas. I kind of hope it was a little dull pop-culturewise or I’m about to look a little silly. We are visiting my wife’s family this week and like a good little Sentry, I got my posts in ahead of time (I wrote them last Wednesday). So if anything amazing dropped in the last few days don’t expect any commentary from me about it. But if it's been as boring as the week between Christmas and New Year's usually is then pretend you didn’t read this paragraph and imagine these are the things I discovered

Tommy Wiseau's Infamous Indie The Room Returns to U.S. Cinemas for One-Night Event on January 10

Fathom Events brings the cult classic to big screens nationwide for one night, featuring new trailer for 'Best F(r)iends'.
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Press release: Referred to as "the ‘Citizen Kane’ of bad movies," The Room is receiving a remarkable resurgence due to the popularity of James Franco’s The Disaster Artist. Movie buffs across the nation will have the opportunity to see auteur Tommy Wiseau’s opus on the big screen when “Tommy Wiseau’s The Room” comes to U.S. movie theaters on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. local time. In addition to the full-length feature, moviegoers will enjoy a special look at the new Best F(r)iends trailer, starring Wiseau and Greg Sestero. Tickets for “Tommy Wiseau’s The Room” can be purchased online

The Apartment (Arrow Academy) Blu-ray Review: A Must Own For Film Fans

Arrow releases a superb restoration of Billy Wilder's Oscar-winning classic.
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I’m amazed that I’ve gone this long without having seen Billy Wilder’s Best Picture-winning The Apartment. After falling in love with Some Like it Hot, and introducing it to many people who lose it (like I initially did) at that film’s last line, for some reason, I never got around to watching Wilder’s follow-up until Arrow’s new restoration of the film. It’s just as brilliant, edgy, and hilarious as Some Like It Hot, maybe even more so. And just like the aforementioned film, for all the incredible one-liners, there’s another side to The Apartment that is a little bit darker

Pulp Blu-ray Review: A Discombobulating Crime Comedy

Michael Caine returns with his Get Carter filmmakers to make a movie that is completely different.
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In 1971, three guys named Mike (Hodges the director, Klinger the producer, and Caine the star) made Get Carter, what is now considered the seminal British gangster movie. In 1972, they teamed up together again for Pulp, something completely different. At its heart, Pulp is also a crime thriller but its tone, its writing, and its performances are something altogether weirder, funnier, and so completely out there as to defy expectations. Caine plays Mickey King, a writer of pulp novels (with titles such as My Gun is Long and The Organ Grinder) whose in it for the writer’s lifestyle more

KCET Announces Must-see Movies January Lineup

The Los Angeles channel presents next month's roster of films.
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Press release: The lineup of KCET MUST SEE MOVIE films in January will be telecast as follows (*subject to change): #201 Breakfast At Tiffany’s - Fri., Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. and Sat., Jan. 6 at 4 p.m. | Review This popular 1961 American romantic comedy film was directed by Blake Edwards and written by George Axelrod, loosely based on Truman Capote's novella of the same name. It starred Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and featuring Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney. It won two Academy Awards: Best Original Score and Best Original Song for "Moon River",

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is the Pick of the Week

This post-Christmas week brings us a surprising amount of interesting new releases.
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I love it when an actor is able to reinvent himself. I love it when you think you’ve seen everything you’re gonna see with an artist and then they create something so totally new, so completely beyond what they did before that you can only just stand and gape. I haven’t seen Brawl in Cell Block 99 so I can’t say whether or not I’ll be gaping at Vince Vaughn’s performance or not, but from the early reviews that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. I’ve never exactly been a fan of Vaughn’s work. I don’t dislike him, but I’ve never

Miracle on 34th Street (70th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review: To Believe or Not to Believe

It's easy to see how it has become a holiday classic no matter where one sits on the Idealist-Realist spectrum.
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The miracle I most appreciate in Miracle on 34th Street is how the Oscar-winning story pits realism versus idealism and allows both ideas to flourish without taking a side. A man (Edmund Gwenn), who goes by the name Kris Kringle and claims to be Santa, replaces a drunk in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. He does the job so well he gets hired to be the in-store Santa. The store manager tries to get him to push toys they are overstocked on, but Kris only wants what's best for the children, so he sends them to other stores. Word makes

The Apartment (Limited Edition) Blu-ray Review: Continues to Stand the Test of Time

Arrow pulls out all the stops for Billy Wilder's legendary 1960 masterpiece.
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When talking about the greatest director-actor collaborations in film history, you usually here of Ford & Wayne, Scorsese & DeNiro, and Herzog & Kinski. However, you can't forget the work of (Billy) Wilder & (Jack) Lemmon, who crafted some of the most popular comedies ever made: Some Like It Hot, The Fortune Cookie, Irma La Dolce, and Avanti. But The Apartment, the cynical 1960 classic, represented both of them at their apex. It's more than just an uber quotable and beautifully shot film; it's an extremely revelant tale of corporate and social malaise. Lemmon, in one of his many signature

Whiskey Galore! (2016) Blu-ray Review: Could Have Used A Stiff One

A remake that need not have bothered.
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The Isle of Todday off the coast of Scotland has largely been unaffected by World War II. They are too small, too remote to be bothered with. Until the whiskey runs out at least. Rationing only allows them a few bottles a month. After the last drop has been drunk, the locals got a bit crazy. One man literally dies. They can’t even have a proper Scottish wake for him without the whiskey. Things look completely bleak until one foggy night a ship runs smashes into some rocks. Locals investigate, thrilled to discover some 50,000 cases of whiskey are the

Book Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: The Art of the Film by Mark Salisbury

All the beauty of the movie, with none of the shortcomings.
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I don’t know you, but I’m going to make a bold assumption about the type of person you are. You probably got pretty excited when you first saw that trailer for Luc Besson’s live action adaptation of Valerian, didn’t you? I make that assumption based on the fact that you’re reading a review of a book of art from the film and the fact that I, the reviewer of said book of art from the film, also got pretty excited when I first saw that trailer. Like, really excited. While only vaguely familiar with the comics by Jean-Claude Mezieres and

Book Review: Disney's Christmas Classics

A delightful gift to readers from Disney and the Library of American Comics.
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Considering how beloved Disney characters and Christmas are by children, it was surprising to learn in Alberto Becattini's introductory essay "Merry Christmas, Disney Style" that they weren't paired together in newspapers strips until "Peter Pan's Christmas Story" debuted in November 28, 1960 after managing editor / administrator of Disney's Comic Strip Department Frank Reilly pitched the idea to distributor Kings Features Syndicate. The annual "Disney Christmas Story" ran 27 times, concluding with "Snow White's Sinister Christmas Gift" in 1987. Rebranded in 1992 as the "Disney Holiday Story," these strips were tied into the films of the Disney Renaissance, ranging from

Five Cool Things and a Merry Christmas

This week's cool things include one of Martin Scorsese's favorite films, The Last Jedi and lots of stuff I found on Acorn TV.
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Apologies for the absence of Five Cool Things last week. I usually try to write them on Thursday night and last week I got a bit sick then. Slept until 11 in the AM Friday morning and woke up feeling better. But by then my day was so thrown off with work stuff that I had no time to play catch up with my writing. Then we were invited to some friends that evening for food and games and the Cool Things got lost in the shuffle. But here we are with a new week and I’ve still got cool

The Fox with a Velvet Tail (1971) Blu-ray Review: An Engaging Twist on the Giallo

Mondo Macabro brings us a fascinatingly unique romantic thriller take on the cult subgenre.
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From the surreal (and trippy) animated opening credits accompanied by a spectacular track by the mysterious talents of one Shawn Robinson (a tune which serves as the underlying theme throughout the bulk of the production), it is rather obvious this Italian/Spanish co-production is very different from other gialli of the time. Or any time, for that matter. Indeed, as the intriguing (if somewhat predictable) film ‒ also known as to English-speaking audiences as In the Eye of the Hurricane ‒ plays out, it seems to transgress from the routinely bloody and sex-laden Euro "whodunit" the giallo is now known for

Detroit Blu-ray Review: Intense, But Not Wholly Satisfying

It does a great job making the audience feel the absolute horror of this racially motivated instance but falters when putting that moment into a greater context.
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Detroit is a docudrama about the Algiers Motel incident during the 1967 Detroit riot in which a group of white cops bullied and tortured several black men and two white women, murdering at least two of them. It was written by Mark Boal, a white man, produced by Megan Ellison a white woman, and directed by Kathryn Bigelow a white woman. There has been much controversy over a group of rich white people making a film about the black experience against police brutality. As a middle-aged, middle-class white man myself, I’ll let that (perfectly legitimate) debate carry on elsewhere. What

Cop-Out (1967) Blu-ray Review: A Boring Stranger in the House

Kino Lorber's dated mod pic features a drunken James Mason, Bobby Darin as a total creep, and that's about it.
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By the time Belgian author Georges Simenon's 1940 book Les Inconnus dans le maison was adapted into a 1967 British movie by Bulgarian exile Pierre Rouve, the source material was probably already fairly out of touch with modern times. Looking at Rouve's Stranger in the House now, however ‒ or, Cop-Out, as it is known to the select group of American audiences who have actually heard of or seen it ‒ it seems about as dated as could be. Its story, set within the era of England's counterculture of the late '60s, finds the one and only James Mason as

The Whales of August Blu-ray Review: An Actor Lover's Dream

Acting legends Bette Davis and Lillian Gish together for the first (and last) time.
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Two old sisters spend every summer at a little cottage off the coast of Maine. They love each other, but they are also very different and quarrel constantly. Libby (Bette Davis) is the youngest, but is in worse health and has gone blind. She has turned bitter and spiteful. Sarah (Lillian Gish) is full of life and is kind but can hold her own in verbal sparring with her sister. Though it is not outwardly stated (and there are a lot of things not outwardly stated), this summer will likely be their last on the island. It is based on

Maigret Sets a Trap / Maigret and the St. Fiacre Case Blu-ray Reviews: America's Introduction to the Great French Detective

Jean Gabin plays the French detective in two of the earliest adaptations of Georges Simenon's stories to reach the States.
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Georges Simenon created Commissaire Maigret in 1931. The character starred in 76 of the author’s novels and 28 short stories. They have been translated into dozens of languages and adapted into numerous films and television series. Like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot before him, Maigret has become one of the world’s most famous fictional detectives. I’ve never read a single word of the stories but have previously watched and reviewed two other adaptations (one with Bruno Cremer as the great detective, the other with Michael Gambon) and now with Maigret Sets a Trap and Maigret and the St.Fiacre Case that

Stronger (2017) Blu-ray Review: Not Strong Enough

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany soar in this so-so biopic.
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Shortly after its opening scenes, David Gordon Green’s Stronger has the look and feel of what appears to be a made-for-television movie. The lighting and cinematography looks almost exactly like something that would appear on the Hallmark Channel, and the subject matter revolving around a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing is appropriate for that station. But the difference between a typical made-for-TV movie and Stronger is that Green’s film doesn’t go straight for the idolization aspect of its main character. This is good, because it’s exactly what the main character is like. He doesn’t see himself as a hero,

mother! is the Pick of the Week

This final week before Christmas brings us a big war movie from Christopher Nolan, a smaller drama from Darren Aronofsky, plus Legos, Judi Dench as the Queen and more.
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I love the last few weeks before Christmas, at least from a new Blu-ray release point of view. To get every last penny out of shoppers, movie companies put out their best, shiniest and most interesting films. This is also the last good week we’ll see for awhile as January and usually February our typically lousy in the new release department. I had to debate a little this week on what I’d pick but ultimately decided on what I’m most excited to see. Darren Aronofsky is one of the most interesting filmmakers around. His films (which include Pi, Requiem for

A Town Called Panic: The Collection Blu-ray Review: Belgium's Greatest Export

GKIDS and Shout Factory! present what is arguably the funniest Blu-ray of 2017.
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Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s A Town Called Panic is a stop-motion animated Belgium TV series that began in 2002. Set in an idyllic countryside where toy figures of people and animals live together, the 20 five-minute episodes present delightfully absurd adventures, most of which feature the antics of roommates Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. Standouts include “Cow-Hulk,” which finds Cowboy transforming into various creatures after unintentionally swallowing a tiny piece if a meteorite, a number of the gang fighting over a flower in “Still Life,” and “Robin,” whose inaccurate bow and arrow cause farmer Steven quite a bit of trouble,

Victoria & Abul Blu-ray Review: East Meets West

A lively historical romp that loses steam in its back half.
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Judi Dench has played the Queen of England three times in her career. She played Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love, Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown and again in Victoria & Abdul. She is acting royalty having won nearly every award available to her including one Oscar, ten BAFTAs, two Golden Globes, a Tony, and a host of others. She’s actual royalty, too, becoming Dame Judi Dench in 1988. She is magnificent in Victoria & Abdul. At the time of her Golden Jubilee, Queen Victoria has grown lonely and tired of her fawning courtiers, the countless celebrations, and official

Book Review: Star Wars: On the Front Lines by Daniel Wallace

It's not to often something comes along that makes Star Wars better, but this book does just that.
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The Star Wars universe is defined by conflict. Whether it’s the internal struggle of a young Jedi finding his way in the world while dealing with some pretty heavy family baggage or a ragtag group of rogues trying to pass along some top secret plans, there’s always a lot of fighting going on in these stories. With Star Wars: On the Front Lines, author Daniel Wallace offers fans a unique perspective on eleven pivotal battles from the Star Wars chronology. Starting with the Battle of Naboo and taking us all the way through the attack on Starkiller Base, Wallace uses

The Shape of Water Movie Review: A Poetic Love Letter to Cinema

The Shape Of Water is a poetic and transcendent film-watching experience that captures you from the first frame.
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One word can be used to describe The Shape Of Water: Poetic. The Shape Of Water is a poetic demonstration of the magic of storytelling and after the ambitious yet divisive Crimson Peak, it is a return to form for director Guillermo Del Toro who has proven himself to be a master at crafting poetic genre fare like The Devil’s Backbone and one of the best movies ever made, Pan’s Labyrinth. While those two films are classifiable horror films, The Shape Of Water offers a little something for everyone: It’s romantic, adventurous, funny, musical, and horrific, and its eclectic experience

Fargo: Season 3 DVD Review: Oh, You Betcha It's Great!

Season 3 of the acclaimed FX series is just as quirky and brilliant as the previous two seasons.
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It may be a while until Fargo returns to television screens, since there has been no news of a fourth season, and showrunner Noah Hawley has his hands filled with Legion and other projects. Heck, this might even be the last time the series is on the air. It was already brutal for fans such as myself to wait a year for a whole new season, when they had to delay it in order to film in the correct weather climates. But now, we won’t even know if the show is coming back again. Thankfully, each season is a new

Platoon Leader / Soldier Boyz Blu-ray Review: The Dudikoff Abides

Kino Lorber gives us a double feature offering of two 'lesser' Michael Dudikoff actioneers.
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Yes, that's right, kids ‒ our favorite American Ninja has returned to kick a little ass on Blu-ray once more. This time around, the folks at Kino Lorber have given us a double feature of Vietnam-focused films to star the one and only Michael Dudikoff: 1988's Platoon Leader and 1995's Soldier Boyz. Our first selection, Platoon Leader, hails from the Dudikoff's propitious Cannon days. Oddly enough, however, this was one of very few Cannon releases to not actually be produced by company founders Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus; rather, this drama set during the Vietnam War (and filmed in South

Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal Returns for Two Nights Only This February

From co-directors Jim Henson and Frank Oz, the film returns to U.S. cinemas February 25 and 28, featuring an exclusive interview with Lisa Henson.
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Press release: Thirty-five years after it first stunned audiences and critics with its unprecedented visions and mythic storytelling, Jim Henson’s 1982 epic fantasy-adventure The Dark Crystal, co-directed by Henson and Frank Oz, will return to big screens nationwide in a special two-night presentation from Fathom Events, The Jim Henson Company and Universal Pictures. Newly restored in 4K (at select theaters), The Dark Crystal is a visually spectacular tale of a young hero who must find a legendary relic in order restore harmony to the universe. A watershed in fantasy filmmaking produced by Gary Kurtz (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back),

Desert Hearts Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Unsung Queer Classic

Desert Hearts is a groundbreaking yet underrated romantic gem for the history books.
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I never wanted Desert Hearts to end. I didn’t want to leave behind the breathtaking scenery of the desert and I definitely wanted to see more of the chemistry between the two leads. Desert Hearts is an intimate yet flawless gem that captures forbidden love that is apolitical yet groundbreaking during its time of release because it was the first film about a same-sex relationship between two women that isn’t tragic. While LGBTQ+ films that have a political agenda are meant to be told, Desert Hearts is proof that those aren’t the only stories that should be told. Based on

Criterion Announces March 2018 Releases

Set aside some holiday money for these upcoming titles.
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In March, Criterion plams on releasing five titles. New to the collection are Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence, Volker Schlöndorff's Baal, John Murray Anderson's King of Jazz, and Ken Russell's Women in Love. Getting an HD upgrade are Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc. Read on to learn more about them. The Age of Innocence (#913) out Mar 13 No filmmaker captures the grandeur and energy of New York like Martin Scorsese. With this sumptuous romance, he meticulously adapted the work of another great New York artist, Edith Wharton, bringing to life her tragic novel of

The Art of Wonder Woman & Justice League Books Giveaway

Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza Day #10
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. The Extravaganza concludes with a prize pack of books for fans of the DC Expanded Universe franchise. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: The Art and Making of Wonder Woman Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman sees the hero brought to the big screen for the first time in her own movie, and fully realizes the breathtaking wonder, strength, and grace of such an historic character. Wonder Woman: The Art & Making of the

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'How It's Gotta Be'

"This show is the 2017-18 Green Bay Packer season, but it is headed to a much darker place." - Kim
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In which The Walking Dead finale is the Cleveland Browns. Shawn: I'm not going to lie - I'm just going to put out some observations and let you tie them all together with an amazing conclusion to this piece. I'm still processing some of the events and what they mean for the long term story of the show. How It's Gotta Be. Carl has to die. Not that he had to die before the episode started but they've painted themselves into that corner now. If you save him, then every time someone got barely scratched on the arm or leg

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: The Art of the Film Book Giveaway

Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza Day #9
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. Today's prize is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: The Art of the Film. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: Rooted in the classic graphic novel series, Valerian and Laureline, visionary writer/director Luc Besson advances this iconic source material into a contemporary, unique and epic science fiction saga. Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout

Mel Brooks to Open 2018 TCM Classic Film Fest with The Producers

Fiftieth anniversary screening celebrates the seminal filmmaker.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will kick off the 9th annual TCM Classic Film Festival on Thursday, April 26th, with a 50th anniversary world premiere restoration screening of the Mel Brooks groundbreaking comedy The Producers with the legendary director, producer, writer and actor in attendance. Recognized as one of the funniest movies ever made, The Producers won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Brooks and a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Gene Wilder, it would be the gift that kept on giving. Thirty years after its theatrical release, Brooks turned it into a Tony-Award winning Broadway musical,

The Art and Making of Kong: Skull Island Book Giveaway

Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza Day #8
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. Today's prize is the book The Art and Making of Kong: Skull Island. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: When a scientific expedition to an uncharted island awakens titanic forces of nature, a mission of discovery becomes an explosive war between monster and man. Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly star in a thrilling and original new adventure that reveals the untold story of

Ruby (1977) / Satan's Cheerleaders Blu-ray Reviews: Tales from the Drive-In

VCI Entertainment goes retro with two imperfect releases for two equally flawed horror flicks.
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VCI Entertainment is no stranger to the world of home video. In fact, it's (quite possibly) the only label in the US to have survived all of these years without a parental company in the active motion picture business (Universal, Paramount, et al). And while their current library of classic films and forgotten flicks is anything less than impressive, certain "niche" enthusiasts such as myself will always associate the outfit with cult movies. This Fall, VCI has returned to its roots (replete with retro logo) by releasing several cult classics to Blu-ray. Both originally gracing flickering silver screens in 1977,

The Great Wall: The Art of the Film Book Giveaway

Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza Day #7
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. Today's prize is the book The Great Wall: The Art of the Film. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: When a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within The Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of our world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army

Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a trio of Criterions, a couple of Reese Witherspoons, plus Colin Firth as an action star.
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If you read the words I put onto this little website, then you know that I am a Game of Thrones fan. It was about the time my daughter was born that the HBO series came out. I watched a few episodes then decided the story was so dense I really needed to read the books. I put the show on pause and read the first couple of books then returned to the series. I managed to read ahead of the show, but now things have reversed and the show has caught up to the books and then some. Season

(Updated) 2018 Golden Globes Winners Announced

Did your favorite films and TV shows get nominated or overlooked?
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The Hollywood Foreign Press has selected their nominations in film and television for the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Hosted by Seth Meyers, the Golden Globe Awards will air live coast-to-coast on NBC on Sunday, Jan. 7 at 5-8 p.m. PT/8-11 p.m. ET from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Winners highlighted in Bold. Best Motion Picture, Drama Call Me by Your Name | Review Dunkirk | Review The Post The Shape of Water | Review Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | Review Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy The Disaster Artist Get Out | Review The Greatest Showman I, Tonya |

Director Alexandra Dean Discusses 'Bombshell' Hedy Lamarr

Director Alexandra Dean sits down to talk about Hedy Lamarr and her documentary, Bombshell.
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Between the rise of the #metoo movement and Time Magazine naming "the Silence Breakers" as their Person of the Year, the role of courageous women has only intensified in 2017. Adding onto the pile is director Alexandra Dean's investigative documentary on Hedy Lamarr, Bombshell. In the last 24 hours it took home the Best Documentary prize from the New York Film Critics Circle in what's hoped to be the first of many awards. Dean sat down to talk to Cinema Sentries about researching her complex subject and Lamarr's renewed place in history. What was your history with Hedy Lamarr before

The Art of Ferdinand Book Giveaway

Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza Day #6
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. Today's prize is the book The Art of Ferdinand. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: Set in the fabulously colorful world of modern day Spain, Ferdinand is the story of a gentle giant who is nothing like you would expect. Ferdinand’s life of leisure on the family farm is disrupted when he is taken to a school for fighting bulls, where his kind and peaceful manner is at odds with that

Book Review: Justice League: The Art of the Film by Abbie Bernstein

As nice as this book looks, it still looks like the Justice League movie.
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Let’s get this out of the way right here at the beginning: I haven’t seen Justice League. Nor do I particularly want to see Justice League. Despite being a lifelong fan of comic books and superheroes, I’m not quite sold on Warner Brothers' vision for the DC characters (with the exception of Wonder Woman, which was absolutely stunning), and it’s nearly impossible to avoid, or remain unaffected by the flurry of bad press the film has gotten from the often unfair online media prior to its release. But none of those reasons speak to why I remain uninterested in the

Alien: Covenant Books Prize Pack Giveaway

Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza Day #5
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. Today's prize pack contains books for fans of the Alien franchise. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created with Alien: Covenant, a new chapter in the groundbreaking Alien franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but it is actually a dark, dangerous world, whose sole inhabitant is the synthetic

Five Cool Things and Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom

This week's cool things include John Denver singing with the Muppets, a classic James Bond film, Wilco, samurai, and more.
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Winter is no longer coming, but is here, and with a vengeance. I woke up to temperatures in the teens this morning. Oklahoma always has wonky weather. We get broiling hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter and the wind always blows. Which makes it perfect for staying inside and enjoying some cool pop culture, so here’s five cool things I consumed this week. John Denver & The Muppets - A Christmas Together In 1979, John Denver joined the Muppets for a Christmas special on ABC. As far as I can tell, it only aired once and

The Wrong Guy (1997) Blu-ray Review: The Right Release

Kino Lorber's Studio Classics releases the quirky late '90s Canadian comedy starring Dave Foley, David Anthony Higgins, and Jennifer Tilly.
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What would happen if comedians from The Kids in the Hall, SCTV, and Mike and Molly got together with a writer from The Simpsons? Well, depending on the circumstances surrounding your first viewing of The Wrong Guy, the end-result can be seen as one of two things: a silly Canadian comedy, or a subtly brilliant neglected masterpiece. Spawned from a sketch lead performer/writer Dave Foley once wrote during his days as one of the The Kids in the Hall, the quirky farce finds Mr. Foley as a meager ‒ and startlingly naïve ‒ executive at a major city high-rise office

Book Review: Silly Symphonies Volume 3: The Complete Disney Classics 1939-1942

Contains only one Silly Symphonies adaptation, but plenty of other Disney magic.
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The Silly Symphonies comic strip started as a venue for adaptations of Disney’s long-running series of animated shorts, but by the time of the Sunday color strips presented in this collection, the title was far less indicative of its contents. While the artistic merits remained high, the strips only adapted one animated short, The Ugly Duckling, while devoting the rest of the space to Pluto one-offs, a lengthy adaptation of Pinocchio, and ongoing original adventures of Little Hiawatha. As such, the brand name doesn’t really match the strips, but the contents are still decidedly Disney and completely entertaining. The collection

Free to Rock DVD Review: Documentary Explores Music's Role in Toppling Communism

The film tells a lesser-known part of rock history, but the hour-long format barely scratches the surface.
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“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” Janis Joplin sang in “Me and Bobby McGee.” For teens living behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s, rock itself became a symbol of freedom. The documentary Free to Rock explores the role the rebellious music played in ending the Cold War, ending with the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989. Through interviews with Western musicians as well as Russian artists, the film makes the case that rock ’n’ roll’s attitude changed culture and helped bring about changes that reverberate today. Executive producers Nicholas Brinkley and Douglas Yeager spent ten years

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) Blu-ray Review: Uncovering Cinematic Buried Treasures

This documentary about a 1978 find of a cache of "lost" silent films traces the history of Dawson City.
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In an industry that is lately obsessed with making films available in multiple different versions, both in medium of delivery and in the actual content, it's astounding to conceive just how disposable film was in its early days. Cinema was more curiosity than art form, and it's estimated that nearly 75% of all the films made in the early, silent era are lost. There's a number of reasons for this (not least of which that early film stock, made with silver nitrate, was highly flammable and could even spontaneously combust in the right conditions) but in the end it means

Star Wars: On the Front Lines Book Giveaway

Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza Day #4
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. Today's prize is the book Star Wars: On the Front Lines. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: From the Clone Wars and the Rebellion to the clashes with the First Order, the galaxy is defined by war. Star Wars: On the Front Lines chronicles the tactics, weapons, and armor used in pivotal battles along with profiling acts of valor achieved during the campaign. By focusing on elements of the battles that occurred

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Time For After'

"This episode brings us one step closer to ending the agony of this two-day-long half-season." - Shawn
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In which Kim and Shawn determine what they would rather do than watch next week's episode. Kim: Well, now they’ve done it. They wrote a show that was complete bullshit without one single redeeming quality. Not a one. I don’t even know where to start voicing my displeasure. And so, right now I will happily present to you a list of things I would rather do next Sunday than spend 90 minutes of my time watching complete bullshit. I would rather pull out my old craft bag and try to work on the blanket I’ve been trying to crochet for

The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist Book Giveaway

Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza Day #3
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. Today's prize is the book The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: Syd Mead is one of the most accomplished and widely respected artists and industrial designers alive today. His career boasts an incredible array of projects from designing cars to drafting architectural renderings, but he is most famous for his work as a concept artist on some of the most visually arresting films

War for the Planet of the Apes Blu-ray Review: Hail, Caesar and the Film Crew!

War for the Planet of the Apes works as both the end of a trilogy or the continuation of the franchise, depending on what happens next.
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Taking place 15 years after the events of Rise and the release of the Simian virus, which made apes smarter and killed many humans, and two years after "a distress call to a military base" was made in Dawn, humans and apes find themselves embroiled in a war in this thrilling third installment of the Apes reboot. A devastating attack on their home causes the apes to flee, but they must go without their leader Caesar (Andy Serkis), who is consumed by anger due to the death of his family members. He seeks revenge against the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), and

The Mercenary (1968) Blu-ray Review: This Fun for Hire

Franco Nero, Tony Musante, and a flamboyant Jack Palance highlight this Sergio Corbucci western, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Amongst the many subgenres of the European western ‒ the tombstones of which typically bear the headings of "Revenge" and "Betrayal" ‒ is another category, informally referred to by devout aficionados as the "Zapata Western." Set during the Mexican Revolution (see: History), these plates of Spaghetti usually feature a pair of protagonists, neither of whom truly adore one another or ever see eye-to-eye, but who form an alliance nevertheless in their individual, alternating quests for glory, money, and/or freedom. Naturally, the American(ized) lead is always the one in pursuit of a fistful of dollars within the confines of these fairly

The Art of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Book Giveaway

Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza Day #2
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Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. Today's prize is the book The Art of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: From DreamWorks Animation comes a movie event based on the global sensation and best-selling book series by Dav Pilkey, Captain Underpants. This comedy for the entire family tells the story of two pranksters named George and Harold, who hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain

Two Maigret Films Starring Jean Gabin Are the Picks of the Week

They were some of the earliest looks American audiences had at Maigret, and I, for one, am excited to give them a chance.
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I have reviewed two different series (one English, the other French) based upon the Georges Simenon character of Maigret. I have never read any of the books, nor do I have a real affinity for the character. Why then do I keep watching and reviewing these things? You can blame my wife. She is a great francophile - a lover of all things French - and she turned me on to Maigret. Honestly, I don’t think she’s ever read one of the books either, but as he is one of the great detectives to come out of France (or Belgium,
Cinema Sentries is teaming up with Titan Books for a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza this month, presenting 10 days of contests for pop-culture fans. First up is a prize pack of books for fans of the modern Star Trek franchise. For those wanting to learn more, read the official synposes below: Star Trek Beyond: The Makeup Artistry of Joel Harlow With the release of Star Trek Beyond in 2016, viewers were given a spectacular visual treat as a whole host of new aliens made their appearance for the first time in the rebooted franchise. At the heart of the process of

Book Review: Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales, Volume Two

The artwork is the real stand out.
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While Disney had previously run newspaper comic strips before it, their Treasury of Classic Tales was a Sunday strip that featured 129 stories, running from July 13, 1952 until February 15, 1987. The Library of American Comics is republishing them and the 13 stories in Volume Two, which are collected in a book for the first time, include adaptations of films, both animated and live-action, and original stories. Animation historian Michael Barrier provides Introductions for the book and for each strip. Written by Frank A. Reilly and drawn by Jesse March, except where noted, they are: The Legends of Davy

The Incredible Shrinking Woman Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

Lily Tomlin is funny but also charming, smart, and conveys such resilience as a mom fighting for her family and her values.
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Pat Kramer (Lily Tomlin) is a normal housewife trying her best to take care of her husband (Charles Grodin) and two children. Her household responsibilities require a myriad of chemical products, the combination of which have a strange effect, causing her to shrink. She goes through every test imaginable and eventually gets so small that she must endure intense media and public scrutiny. As she struggles to keep out of the public eye while continuing to be a proper wife and mother, a group of scientists have their own ideas on how to take advantage of her. The result is

The Gumball Rally (1976) Blu-ray Review: Real Cars. Real Actors. Real Fun.

The Warner Archive Collection revs its engines up for one of the greatest cross-country race flicks to hail from the '70s.
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It never fails to amuse me how many road/race flicks spawned from the same decade now synonymous with "gas shortage." Similarly, those very motion pictures never fail to delight. And now, thanks to the ever-diligent efforts of the Warner Archive Collection, one of the first films to capitalize on Brock Yates' Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash ‒ which Yates himself would cash-in on a few years later with The Cannonball Run, after Burt Reynolds already had in Smokey and the Bandit ‒ has hit Blu-ray for home media enthusiasts who love seeing vintage (and very expensive) automobiles darting across

Five Cool Things and The Avengers: Infinity War Trailer

Cool things this week include The Punisher, two films by Werner Herzog, an animated moving castle and more.
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I cut the cord many years ago. Netflix and my DVD collection do me just fine, thank you very much. Until it doesn’t and I start looking for other means to get the videos I want, morally solid or not. I had an Amazon Prime account before I ever used their streaming services, but after purchasing an Amazon Fire box, I use that aspect of the service regularly. Recently, I’ve also started using a third service, but I like switching those around. I started with Filmstruck, which is run by Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion people, and offers up

The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running Blu-ray Review: Beating the Inevitability of Death Just a Little Bit

A fantastic behind-the-scenes look at how the band, their team, and their fans dealt with this farewell tour.
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On May 24, 2016, it was announced that The Tragically Hip's lead singer Gord Downie had incurable brain cancer. In spite of that, they intended to tour in support their thirteenth studio album, Man Machine Poem, set for release a few weeks later. They played 15 shows across Canada in just under a month, concluding with a hometown show on August 20, 2016, at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario. It was an unofficial, though presumed, farewell tour, which became official with the passing of Downie on October 17, 2017. The final concert was broadcast to nearly 12 million

The Man with Two Brains / My Blue Heaven Blu-ray Reviews: Get Martinized

The Warner Archive Collection re-releases two of Steve Martin's best films, this time in glorious High-Definition.
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From his early days as a collaborator on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Steve Martin's unique brand of humor has always left an impression. Even on people who have never been able to tune in to his sense of comedy, such as my father and just about every critic who saw The Jerk upon its initial release. Fortunately, time has always been on Mr. Martin's side. Well, maybe so not so much in the case of those Pink Panther remakes, but his original classics have maintained their popularity over the years, especially these two new Warner Archive Blu-ray issues. Originally

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