January 2018 Archives

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978) Blu-ray Review: Mildly Amusing

It's easy to see a lot of inspiration for future filmmakers drew from this B-movie spoof, but it doesn't quite stick the landing as well as others in its genre.
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Before David and Jerry Zucker teamed up with Jim Abrahams to deliver one of the zaniest and funniest spoofs ever created, Airplane!, there was John De Bello’s Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, a satire on the low budget B-movies of the '50s - most of which wound up getting criticized on Mystery Science Theater 3000 during its initial run. The reason why I bring up Airplane! here is because it, too, went the zany, slapstick route when spoofing a particular genre. In that case, it was disaster movies such as Zero Hour! and the Airport franchise. Both Airplane! and Attack

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953) Blu-ray Review: Sunken Leisure

Young Robert Wagner sinks to new depths ‒ literally ‒ in this early CinemaScope effort, now available in a beautiful, uncut, widescreen HD transfer from Twilight Time.
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The advent of CinemaScope in the 1950s brought with it many changes to Hollywood. Sadly, in the case of 20th Century Fox's 1953 Technicolor adventure film Beneath the 12-Mile Reef ‒ the third movie to be filmed in the studio's lavish new way of luring moviegoers back in theaters ‒ director Robert D. Webb seemingly forgot to include enough subject material to fill up the width of the widened screen. The story ‒ a pivoting, bore-a-minute tale pitting sponge divers against fishermen ‒ finds young Robert Wagner as the son of aged Mexican-American actor Gilbert Roland. Naturally, they're cast as

Napping Princess Blu-ray Review: Don't Sleep on This

Veteran anime writer/director Kenji Kamiyama successfully launches a delightful new property.
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While you might not be familiar with Kenji Kamiyama’s name, he’s the force behind many successful anime projects, most notably Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East. For his latest project, he wrote and directed this charming tale of a modern high school girl who has magical dreams that might or might not be true. In 2020, as Japan is preparing for the opening of the Tokyo Olympics, Kokone Morikawa is a normal student plodding through her average life, her humdrum existence only interrupted when she dreams she’s a magical princess in her kingdom of

Captain from Castile (1947) Blu-ray Review: A Power-fully Fun Swashbuckler

Twilight Time foils foes with a splendid classic Hollywood adventure tale starring Tyrone Power.
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Even at 141 minutes in length, Henry King's lavish big-budgeted adaptation of Samuel Shellabarger's 1945 novel Captain from Castile only covers the first half of its source material. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you ‒ the 1947 swashbuckler epic from 20th Century Fox still captures the grace and beauty of classic historical adventures. It also serves as a great reminder of how outrageously preposterous Hollywood's old-school casting agents could get back then, as evidenced by co-star Lee J. Cobb (The Exorcist, Lawman) as a roaming adventurer named Juan García. One wonders if it didn't inspire Russell Mulcahy's casting

Kameradschaft Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Cry for Cooperation

Pabst's 1931 mine disaster film is swiftly paced, beautifully shot, and a heartfelt plea for comradeship between nations.
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It's difficult to separate Kameradschaft from its historical context. Released in 1931, this story of cooperation between French and Germans in a mining disaster on the border came out just two years before the Nazis gained electoral power in Germany. It was a time of street fighting and political instability, and apparently not a time when German audiences wanted to see a heartfelt plea for international community (according to the Luc Sante essay that accompanies this Criterion Collection release, it played to empty houses on release). Director G.W. Pabst's film was a cry in the dark, unheard and unheeded. So,

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a biopic about the creator of Wonder Woman, some Pink Panther cartoons, a new Richard Linklater flick and more.
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After watching Wonder Woman last year, I became a little obsessed with the character. I read loads of articles online about her and eventually picked up Jill Lepore’s excellent book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman. It details the characters birth in 1941 in Action Comics and the many changes made to her throughout the years. It also serves as a fascinating biography of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston. He graduated from Harvard, became a psychiatrist, a professor at various universities, invented the lie-detector test, worked as an advisor to Hollywood studios, was a bondage fetishist, and secretly lived

Waiting for Guffman (1996) Blu-ray Review: The Waiting is the Artist Part

The brilliant mockumentary from Christopher Guest and Co. gets a beautiful new High-Definition transfer from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Before he gave us his unique looks at dog shows and folk groups, This Is Spinal Tap co-creator and star Christopher Guest formed his first "solo" mockumentary turned his eyes towards the stage for this hilarious mockumentary revolving around one very memorable community theater presentation by way of Samuel Beckett's immortal play Waiting for Godot. Set in the fictional small town of Blaine, Missouri, 1996's Waiting for Guffman finds Guest as an ambiguously gay theater director from New York named Corky St. Clair. Clad in some of the worst fashion violations ever conceived, Corky takes on the helming of "Red,

TV Review: The Alienist: 'A Fruitful Partnership'

The investigation continues in the second episode of TNT's miniseries.
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In some ways, it’s appropriate to have a show like The Alienist airing in today’s climate to illustrate what was considered unacceptable then and how new changes have shown how far we as a society have progressed. In the opening of the second episode, “A Fruitful Partnership,” Lazlo is looking into a nearby morgue and questions on whether children are ever brought in. The mortician’s response is that they “only get the poor ones.” When Lazlo inquires about the Giorgio Santorelli, the boy found dead in the pilot episode, and asks if his business ever gets corpses that have the

Comic Con Returns to Sacramento with Fandemic Tour June 22-24

Tickets on sale now for a weekend of fun with major celebrities and artists.
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Press release: Fandemic Tour, a new type of comic con, will bring their new tour to Sacramento this June. Brought to you by the same people who originally created Wizard World Comic Con, Sacramento will be their very first official city stop, followed up by Houston, Sept. 14-16, 2018 as a make-up due to Hurricane Harvey. Fandemic Tour will feature celebrities including: Norman Reedus (“The Walking Dead”), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (“The Walking Dead”), Michael Rooker (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Sean Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Milo Ventimiglia (“This is Us”), Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) Sean Patrick Flanery (“The

The Green Slime (1968) Blu-ray Review: Would You Believe It When You're Dead?

The Warner Archive Collection gives the campy U.S./Japanese cult classic a stellar new HD transfer.
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Apart from the occasional World War II movie, there haven't been terribly many instances in film history wherein the US and Japan collaborated on something together. When they did, the results tended to vary, ranging from epic successes such as Tora! Tora! Tora! to movies almost as disastrous as WWII itself. And it is there, on the latter list of atrocities, that you will find a barely moving motion picture; one which has been sitting ‒ quite comfortably, at that ‒ in the same illustrious spot for several decades. An unofficial sequel to the mid '60s Gamma One quadrilogy from

The Long, Hot Summer (1958) Blu-ray Review: Climax Change

Twilight Time heats things up with Martin Ritt's Southern Gothic tale starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Tony Franciosa, and an inarticulate Orson Welles.
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Though the notion of someone ‒ anyone ‒ being labeled as a "barn burner" in this day and age may give you an inkling as to how outdated The Long, Hot Summer may be, the various tawdry emotions and tempers depicted in this mish-mash of several William Faulkner works sprinkled with a dash of Tennessee Williams is just as fresh as ever. Especially to anyone who may have lived in a small town. Beating Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to screens by just five months, The Long, Hot Summer finds acting legend Paul Newman as a vaguely regular rogue

Five Cool Things and Landscape with Snow

Step right up and come see the cool things I discovered this week.
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It's always a challenge for me to balance between the movies I want to see and the television shows I want to make it through. This year I seem to be hitting the sweet spot finding ways to watch plenty of both. That’s a very satisfying feeling. The Greatest Showman I initially had no interest in seeing The Greatest Showman. I’m not an enormous musical fan, don’t really like biopics, am not particularly interested in P.T. Barnum and the trailer didn’t do it for me. But then it started getting a lot of buzz on my social-media feeds. At first,

Night Moves (1975) / Scarecrow (1973) Blu-ray Reviews: The WAC Gets Hacked

The Warner Archive Collection rescues two neglected classics with Gene Hackman, including his one and only pairing with Al Pacino.
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One of the most difficult acts to follow from 20th Century film history, the great Gene Hackman returns to astonish classic filmgoers (and maybe a few Millennials curious as to why everyone else shakes their head over the mere mention of Welcome to Mooseport or Heartbreakers) in two recent Blu-ray releases from the Warner Archive Collection. Night Moves (1975, Warner Bros.) The inimitable Mr. Hackman ‒ at the height of his career as a leading man here ‒ stars in this gripping neo-noir from director Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, The Chase). One of several thrillers written for the silver

The Illustrated Man (1969) Blu-ray Review: Rod Steiger's Shorts, Illustrated

The Warner Archive Collection puts an awful lot of effort into an awful Ray Bradbury adaptation.
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In 1951, genre novelist (and all-around legendary icon) Ray Bradbury published The Illustrated Man ‒ a collection of eighteen short stories based around a former carnival sideshow freak whose body is covered in an assortment of mysterious tattoos which come to animated life as they relay bizarre tales hailing from different corners of time and space. Were that not already a recipe for box-office poison, the people behind Warner Bros./Seven Arts' 1969 feature adaptation of the same name threw out more than just five-sixths of Bradbury's tales: they also threw out all of the coherency. There is also a very

Westfront 1918 Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Unglamorously Shows War the Way That It Is

A harrowing, if slightly polished, depiction of the sheer horrors of war.
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When depicting war, no other medium can do it as mercilessly as film. War movies can be as dire and depressing as real-life war, especially when showing the emotional and physical toll that can inflict on soldiers. There are those as savage as Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, Oliver Stone's Platoon, and Elem Klimov's very disturbing Come and See. Then there are those as highly emotional as Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line and Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. However, director G.W. Pabst's 1930 early sound film, Westfront 1918, is a mixture of both. The film centers on four infantrymen: Karl (Gustav

Psychotic! Movie Review: Cheech and Chong's Millennial Mass Murder Misadventure

I'm about as apathetic toward the movie as the characters are about being murdered.
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I remember how horror movies that came out when I was growing up had a kind of message -- that if you drink underage or do drugs or have sex out of wedlock, some monster would come out of the woods and turn you inside out. They were intended as cautionary tales and they weren't terribly subtle about it. These days, disturbing cinema sometimes still has a message, but it seems to be less obvious. If you recall, Hans Crippleton earned my ire and admiration all at once for being a spot on parody one of the things I loathe

A Quintet of Pre-Codes from the Warner Archive

The WAC has more early '30s fun to offer, featuring young Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, leading man Edward Everett Horton, and a pre-wheelchair Lionel Barrymore.
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While the days of their Forbidden Hollywood sets may be behind us now, the folks at the Warner Archive Collection have nevertheless kept their promise we would see more Pre-Code rarities released to DVD. In recent months, the Warner Archive has unleashed several forgotten ditties from the vaults to MOD discs, all of which feature the classic same risqué elements, lovely lassies, and ambiguously fey men of the era whom we have grown to admire in the decades that have since passed. Among the talent included in these individually released titles are the likes of Alice White, Edward Everett Horton,

Trailer Trauma 4: Television Trauma (2017) Blu-ray Review: TV Spots-a-Go-Go

Garagehouse Pictures unveils its most ambitious compilation ever ‒ and the result is nothing but incredible.
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Once more, Garagehouse Pictures has assembled another magnificent gathering of movie trailers for fans of genre flicks to drool over. This time, however, they have put together something entirely (well, partly) different from previous trailer compilation outings: a Blu-ray devoted entirely to television spots for a variety of exploitation movies released to theaters over the course of several decades. Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking, "An entire Blu-ray of nothing but TV spots?" Well, yes, dummy, that's exactly what this is! Sure, it may seem like a rather ambitious project to put together, but you have to

The Best of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition 6-DVD Set Review

A must-own for fans of sketch comedy and variety shows.
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Time Life has been churning out DVD releases for The Carol Burnett Show over the past few years, and last year, they commemorated its 50th Anniversary with a variety of sets. The 6-DVD set contained 16 episodes, with at least one from each season, including the debut, which aired September 11, 1967, and the series finale, called “A Special Evening with Carol Burnett”. Featuring one of the television's funniest ensembles, Burnett was joined by cast mates Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner (who left in 1974), Harvey Korman (who left in 1977), and Tim Conway (a frequent guest star who joined the

Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983) Blu-ray Review: Still the Man

Mill Creek Entertainment releases Antonio Margheriti's wild fantasy movie mashup, complete with an all-new commentary by star Reb Brown.
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The early 1980s brought with it many marvels in the world of film, including a swarm of trend-setting horror, science fiction, and fantasy films ‒ the likes of which still inspire filmmakers to this day. Naturally, such a surge in genre fables did not go unnoticed in countries like Italy, where imitation was considered the sincerest form of infringement-worthy flattery. But just simply copying the premise of one popular American (or Australian) flick in particular was too easy of a task for certain Italian exploitation filmmakers, leading them to mash various movies (and genres) together in order to make something

The Sword and the Claw (1982) Blu-ray Review: Witness the Unbelievable

The AGFA returns with a double-billing of ham-fisted fighting flicks which may cause you to question your sanity.
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Imagine if a small gathering of very serious grade schoolers miraculously collected enough money to write and produce an entire motion picture. Now let's envision they cast their teachers, parents, and the latter's various associates from the PTA, borrowing plot points and music from other, legitimate Hollywood productions with nary a concern for copyright infringement to be had. Now picture them fusing their tale with the very sort of feverish storytelling one might expect from a bunch of little kids, but set amidst production standards akin to that of a posh community theater project (or perhaps something you might see

2018 Academy Award Winners Announced

Celebrating its 90th year, the Oscar nominees are...
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have revealed their nominees for outstanding film achievement of 2017. Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water had the most nominations with 13. Hosted again by Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars will be presented on Sunday, March 4, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center and televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The nominees (with links to our reviews where first listed) are: Best Picture Call Me By Your Name | Review Darkest Hour | Review Dunkirk | Review Get Out | Review

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the Pick of the Week

It is a light week for new releases, but there's a few titles coming out I think you might like.
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It;s been a weird couple of weeks. Usually, the week after Christmas sees a huge drop off in the number and quality of new releases. This lull typically lasts until sometime in mid-February when things slowly start to pick up again. But this year thus far we’ve seen a pretty good collection of stuff coming out in this normally dry period. This week is pretty weak in terms of overall numbers, but there’s still some interesting selections to choose from. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, it's just weird. The Killing of a Sacred Deer, reviewed by Matt St. Clair,

Phantom Thread Movie Review: An Ambiguous Tour De Force

Paul Thomas Anderson's most cerebral, genre-bending effort to date with a tremendous swan song performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.
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One way to describe Phantom Thread is that it is very cerebral. There’s always a lot of focus on the faces of the characters, forcing you to analyze what is going on in their heads which will be frustrating for some viewers. Yet, in spite of its nearly aimless ambiguity, Phantom Thread is still a masterpiece thanks to its Gothic atmosphere along with the mysterious and alluring performances by its main acting trio. Phantom Thread is set 1950’s post-war London and follows the story of dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) along with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville). Reynolds has a

TV Review: The Alienist: 'The Boy on the Bridge'

TNT's new miniseries, based on Caleb Carr's novel, gets off to a strong start.
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TNT’s adaptation of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist comes across as something bold and daring for the network. It has the feel of something that would make it seem like it’s a strong competitor against other cable networks such as AMC or FX, both of which have featured shows that can be graphic in detail but also rich in production values and have a tendency to showcase some strong, award-worthy performances. Mostly known for its procedural and science fiction programming, The Alienist proves that TNT is willing to take risks, especially on something that has been in the process for a

Be Cool, Scooby-Doo: Season 1 Part 2 DVD Review: Teamwork Screamwork

Scooby-Doo going out with a bust instead of a bang.
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It was almost two years ago that I reviewed the first volume of this series. As your resident, Scooby enthusiast, I had pretty much lost faith in the rest of this series to make it to DVD. To my surprise, the rest of Season 1 has finally arrived. Stating the obvious, it's hard to maintain much momentum when you are two years to finish a single season of a show. This two-disc set covers the disjointed history of this twelfth incarnation of the Scooby-Doo series. The first disc represents the episodes that aired on Cartoon Network from Christmas 2015 until

Book Review: The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist by Syd Mead & Craig Hodgetts

A giant collection of art from the man who showed us what the future looked like.
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If you’re a fan of science fiction films, there’s a pretty good chance you’re a fan of Syd Mead. Even if you don’t know him by name, it would be almost impossible to avoid his work. And even if you somehow managed to miss films like Aliens, Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Elysium or Tron, it’s safe to say that you are familiar with something or someone that borrowed a bit from Mead’s style. The man has played a pivotal role in shaping cinema’s vision of the future for nearly 40 years and his fingerprints can be seen

It (2017) Blu-ray Review: Growing up Is Scary

A scarier version of Stand By Me, It offers thrills and chills and more importantly interesting characters to care about.
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Andy Muschietti's adaption of Steve King's It tells the first part of the novel's story as a group of misfit teenagers, dubbed “The Losers,” battle against an entity (It) that periodically terrorizes the town of Derry, Maine. Although a horror film, the coming-of-age elements are much more engaging due to the talented cast creating authentic characters. It opens in the fall of 1988 when a young boy named Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) has a gruesome encounter with Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) the Dancing Clown, a form It frequently takes in order to taunt its victims before killing them. The film cuts

Five Cool Things and a New Heathers

Cool things this week include a Hitchock from the Criterion Collection, a French animated film, a Rogue Cut, and lots of gods.
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I try to write little pieces of this article as I watch, read, and listen to cool things throughout the week. If I do it right, then on Friday morning all I have to do is assemble the pieces and write an intro. Sometimes that actually works, other times no so much. Last week was one of those times that I was scrambling to put all my thoughts together about all the five things before my deadline. In that rush I forgot to write an intro. Then I got sick. It was a weird sickness. One moment I felt fine

Legendary Spinal Tap Bassist Derek Smalls Returns with First Solo Record and Tour

"Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)" out 4/13.
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Press release: Derek Smalls, the bass force formerly of the fabled heavy metal band formerly known as Spinal Tap, returns with the release of his first full length solo venture Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing), out globally April 13 via Twanky Records/BMG on digital, CD and vinyl. Additionally, Smalls launches his U.S. tour “Lukewarm Water Live: An Adventure in Loud Music” on April 14 in concert with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at the Saenger Theater, New Orleans. Subsequent dates include June 29 in Atlanta at the Atlanta Symphony Hall with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and a special appearance with the

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 23: 1966-1967 by Chester Gould

Those who prefer their Dick Tracy Earthbound will be pleased as will anyone who enjoys crime stories filled with sex and violence.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 23 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from December 27, 1965 through to July 2, 1967. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Now Back to Our Story," about the strips collected. It concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Hard as Hell - Act One" about matters relating to Gould and the strip during this time period offering references to allusions Gould makes to the JFK's assassination and Washington Post publisher Phillip Graham's divorce. He

Proud Mary Movie Review: A Frustratingly Bad Taraji P. Henson Vehicle

Taraji P. Henson does all she can to salvage greatness out of what is a complete snoozer of an action flick.
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When watching the retro opening credits of Proud Mary where our main heroine is getting prepped up with the song “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” playing the background, it seems like we’re in for an action thrill ride in the vein of '70s blaxploitation films. But then, within the first thirty seconds, our expectations immediately become squandered. It seemed like it would be an exciting John Wick-style vehicle for Taraji P. Henson but it ended up being a complete misfire that does a disservice to her talents. Proud Mary follows the story of a hit woman named Mary (Taraji P.

Criterion Announces April 2018 Releases

No fooling. Here's what's coming.
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In April, Criterion plans on releasing five titles, including a new entry in the Eclipse Series. New to the collection are Leo McCarey's The Awful Truth, Sergei Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates, Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, and Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides, and Eclipse Series 46: Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish Years. Read on to learn more about them. Eclipse Series 46: Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish Years out Apr 10 Ingrid Bergman appeared in ten films in her native Sweden before the age of twenty-five, and while that work tends to be overshadowed by her time in Hollywood, it showcases the actor summoning

Blade Runner 2049 is the Pick of the Week

The sequel to a sci-fi classic leads this week's new Blu-ray releases.
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One of my pop-culture admissions is that I’ve never been a huge fan of Blade Runner. I’ve only seen the director’s cut, but it's generally considered the best version of the film, and I’ve seen it twice, but it's never really done it for me. I like Ridley Scott, I love sci-fi, and I appreciate a lot of the things the film does, but for whatever reason, I’ve just never particularly cared for it. All the same, I was pretty excited to hear they were finally making a sequel. I really do think the concept of Blade Runner is interesting

TCM and Fathom Events Present The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Go see it on the big screen while you can.
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Based upon the book by B. Traven, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is generally considered one of the greatest movies ever made. Interestingly, Traven was such a recluse, he would only make notes on the script via letter. Eventually, he did send his representative, a man named Hal Croves, to the set as technical advisor. It was greatly suspected Croves was in fact Traven, but never proven. Mostly shot in Mexico over six months, it was one of the first American films to be shot on location, much to the chagrin of Jack Warner who was footing the bill.

The Tragically Hip: National Celebration Blu-ray Review: Armed with Will and Determination and Grace, Too

Ironically, the 30 songs played here make a brilliant introduction to the band as they said goodbye to their fans.
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As I wrote in my review of the documentary The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running, "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

Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) Blu-ray Review: For Loads of Fun, Just Say 'Shazam!'

Kino Lorber gives the Blu-ray treatment to Republic's most popular serial.
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Although the format went extinct long before I was born, I’ve always been fascinated by serials. They’re short-formatted adventures that leave you wanting to come back for more. In the age of Netflix and binge-watching, we don’t really get the same thrill of heading to the local multiplex and seeing the latest chapter that shows us what happened to the hero(es) after the previous week’s cliffhanger. It’s easy to take for granted that we have full seasons available to watch at home and on demand. Back when something like Adventures of Captain Marvel was released, that wasn’t the case. It

Five Cool Things and Fahrenheit 451

This week's cool things include a classic Doctor Who, two new adaptations of old books and lots of violence.
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Mat was felled by a stomach bug before he could finish writing his article, which is not a cool thing, so dive in without his traditional introduction. Make sure to wash your hands when you are done reading. - The Management Brawl in Cell Block 99 I’d been hearing really good things about Brawl in Cell Block 99 for a few weeks. So much so that I made it my Pick of the Week awhile back. It is streaming on Amazon so I gave it a shot. It is a really interesting mix of the art house with the grindhouse.

The Breakfast Club Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Don't You Forget About These Bonus Features

Criterion's new edition of the classic '80s film is packed with hours of fascinating bonus features.
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While The Breakfast Club is justifiably revered as a classic teen film, primarily due to the involvement of masterful writer/director John Hughes, its insightful approach to teen angst makes it just as timely today as it was the ‘80s. Hughes understood more than any of his contemporaries that teens aren’t just stereotypical comic fodder, they’re universally relatable when treated as complex characters. In Criterion’s expansive new Blu-ray release, hours of bonus features delve into the production details and legacy of this important work. The setup of the film is so simple that it seems more like a play. Five high

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete Second Season DVD Giveaway

The Fickle Finger of Fate might pick you as one of the winners.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Time Life to award three lucky readers Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete Second Season seven-DVD set, which is currently on sale. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: When, in 1968, presidential nominee Richard Nixon rhetorically queried "Sock it to me?" on "Laugh-In," it helped to elevate him to the White House and was named by Time Magazine as one of the "Top 10 Presidential Pop Culture Moments." That's just one of the many unforgettable pop culture highlights in a transformative season full of them. Home audiences are sure to

Valdez Is Coming (1971) Blu-ray Review: They Just Messed with the Wrong Mexican

Despite casting Burt Lancaster as a Latino, this early revisionist western from Kino Lorber still deserves a look.
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Originally envisioned as a project for director Sydney Pollack and the starpower of Marlon Brando and Burt Lancaster, novelist Elmore Leonard's Valdez Is Coming was once set to contend against the Spaghetti Western craze dominating screens throughout the latter half of the '60s. That didn't happen, of course. In fact, Valdez wouldn't come until 1971 ‒ when the European variation of the genre was quickly being paved over by the American revisionist western ‒ with an entirely different cast and crew attached to the project. With Pollack out, Broadway/TV director Edwin Sherin took over directing. It would be the first

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete Second Season DVD Review: Still Funny? You Bet Your Bippy!

The humor of Laugh-In holds up, remaining just as wonderfully wacky as when it premiered.
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After previously releasing the Complete Series in June 2017, Time Life is releasing Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In as Complete Season sets. The Second Season, now available, presents 26 episodes, airing between September 16, 1968 and March 31, 1969, spread across seven DVDs. The comedy team of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin hosted Laugh-In, an anarchic take on the variety show that matched the youthful spirit of the era with fresh faces of its main cast; presented material that dealt with sex, politics, and drugs; and had a visual form with more in common with French New Wave films than anything

Book Review: The Art of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie by Ramin Zahed

Awe-inspiring and just regular inspiring too. And a whole lot of fun.
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We can all agree that Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was pretty sweet, right? It was cute, it was charming, it had a good message about friendship and being kind, and it was basically just a bunch of fart jokes for little kids. And isn’t that what life is all about? No, not fart jokes, but little kids. Laughter. Friendship. If the sound of a child’s laughter doesn’t warm your heart and put a smile on your face, I’m sorry, but there’s just something wrong with you. And nothing makes a child laugh harder than a good fart joke.

Hell Night (1981) Blu-ray Review: A for Effort

Scream Factory goes all-out for the minor low-budget college slasher flick with Linda Blair.
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One of several dozen slasher movies to find its way to screens during the slasher horror movie boom of the late '70s and early '80s, Tom DeSimone's Hell Night always seems like the one that gets left out in the cold. Granted, there's very little to outwardly discern the 1981 shocker starring The Exorcist's Linda Blair from any other movie of the era featuring a group of annoying college kids being murdered in an isolated setting. (Well, other than the fact that it stars Linda Blair, of course!) In fact, were one to make a check-list of '80s college slasher

Book Review: The Complete David Bowie (Revised and Updated 2016 Edition) by Nicholas Pegg

Expanded and updated with 35,000 words of new material, this edition is likely to be the last, until a number of the inevitable posthumous releases dictates another.
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"Complete" is an accurate description of this astoundingly thorough encyclopedia of Bowie's work. The book naturally opens with "The Songs from A to Z," starting with "Abdulmajid," an instrumental by Bowie and Brian Eno that appeared as a bonus track for a "Heroes" reissue in the early '90s as well as All Saints: Collected Instrumentals 1977-1999. Over the next 300-plus pages, readers are presented in-depth details about greatest hits, covers, and deep cuts, through to "Zion," a "rambling six-minute demo from 1973 which has also appeared on bootlegs under the various titles 'Aladdin Vein', ' Love Aladdin Vein', and '

It (2017) is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a killer clown, a Deep Throat, a Supreme Court Justice, and more.
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Miniseries have been around since the birth of television but it was the 1980s that really defined what they are and cemented them in our collective consciousness. Or at least that’s how I remember it. As a kid, I can remember grabbing the television guide from the Sunday paper and very carefully mapping out my primetime viewing for the week. I had certain shows on most nights that I watched every week, but some times there was a special - the Olympics, an awards show, or Circus of the Stars - that would take precedence over my normal TV watching.

Dunkirk (2017) Blu-ray Review: Bring the Boys Back Home

An outstanding war film that strikes a great balance between the inhumanity of the weaponry and the humanity of the individuals.
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Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk is an impressive World War II epic about the Allied military evacuation on the beaches of Dunkirk, France while under siege. The film weaves together three different narratives (on land, on sea, and in air) and delivers spectacular action sequences, but it's the smaller moments of men exhibiting heroism and fear in the face of death all around when it is at its most captivating. The Axis powers had "driven the British and French armies to the sea. Trapped at Dunkirk, they await their fate." The film opens with six young soldiers walking deserted streets as Nazi

I, Tonya Movie Review: Using Camp to Deconstruct It

Although an imperfect film, I, Tonya celebrates the imperfections of its leading lady with surprising emotional resonance.
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If the year was 1994, and you were to turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper, or chat with friends and family, all discourse would be about the epic scandal known as Tonya Harding v. Nancy Kerrigan. Tonya, a lower-class figure skater from Portland, Oregon is suddenly entrenched in a social, not to mention legal battle to defend her name - a name that, until this point in time, did not really seem to matter. But after her triumph at U.S. figure skating, jettisoning her to the 1994 Olympics, she soon became a household name. Well, that and the

My Little Pony: The Movie Blu-ray Review: Friendship Is Magic

The veteran animated series makes a successful jump to a feature film.
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After seven seasons of animated TV adventures, the "mane" six ponies of Hasbro’s current My Little Pony series have finally made the jump to a proper feature-length film. Unlike the prior series of quickie spinoff movies featuring the ponies morphed into animated human form as Equestria Girls, this film is a legitimate movie with an obviously bigger production budget and stars to match. Although the pony character designs have been updated to take advantage of the elevated effects budget, Hasbro wisely kept the primary voice actors, composer Daniel Ingram, and long-time series director Jayson Thiessen in place to ensure continuity

Five Cool Things and The Grateful Dead

This week found me reading some cool comics, watching some non Doctor Who-related Peter Capaldi TV, and more.
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As noted in last week’s entry, I spent the week between Christmas and New Year's at my in-laws spending time with my wife’s family. They are lovely people but not very pop-cultural savvy. We tend to spend our time playing board games and chatting with each other rather than watching movies and television. Luckily, I always get a few comic books for Christmas and as you’ll see I’ve already read a few of them. The Avengers: Age of Ultron(comic book) In the comics, Ultron has existed since the late '60s and appeared as one of the great Avengers' villains periodically

Book Review: Star Hawks, Volume Two: 1978-1979 by Gil Kane and Ron Goulart

Reminiscent of a million things but totally unique - I've never seen anything quite like it!
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I’ve never seen anything quite like Gil Kane and Ron Goulart’s Star Hawks. And yeah, I know we geeks are prone to hyperbole; we like to rant and rave online about how mind-blowingly transcendent the stuff we love is and we like to say that things we don’t like somehow travelled through time to assault our childhood. It’s all pretty ridiculous, but it seems like Geek Hyperbole is part and parcel with internet nerdery, doesn’t it? So much so, that you probably didn’t bat an eye when I capitalized it! So yeah, we who fly on the geeky side of

D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage Blu-ray Review: Nevermind the Bollocks, Watch This Film

Seminal punk documentary finally gets a digital release.
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A few years back, maybe ten come to think of it, I was getting to know a girl, Pamela, who eventually became a good friend. I asked her, like I always ask people I’m getting to know, what kind of music she liked. She said she was a big punk fan. Intrigued, as she didn’t look like your typical punk rocker, I asked for details. “Who do you like,” I asked. “The Dead Kennedys? The Minutemen?” “Who?” she replied. Pushing further, I asked “The Misfits? Black Flag?” I got blank stares. “How about the Ramones or Green Day?” Nothing. “Well,

Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) Blu-ray Review: When Tom Met Meg

John Patrick Shanley's quirky fantastical romance hits Blu waves with a stellar transfer from the Warner Archive Collection.
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After his Academy Award-winning screenplay for 1987's Moonstruck, playwright John Patrick Shanley launched into the '90s by taking the world into a different corner of comedy altogether. It was the first time Shanley directed a film ‒ something he wouldn't do again until crafting his own stage work for the screen in 2008 ‒ but it would go on to become a genuine American cult classic. A fairytale romance perfect for pairing with The Princess Bride, Joe Versus the Volcano was also the first time filmgoers were treated to the award-winning chemistry of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who would

Samurai Jack: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review: Watch It!

One of the best television programs of 2017.
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Nearly 13 years since the end of its fourth season, the epic story of Samurai Jack concluded with this 10-part fifth season, an impressive piece of television led by creator Genndy Tartakovsky, and the Blu-ray highlights the visual artwork. As the season opens, fifty years have passed, although Jack (Phil LaMarr) hasn't aged, and he is still tortured by memories of his family left behind after the demon Aku (Greg Baldwin, replacing the late Mako) flug him into the future. Jack's hair has grown long, he wears a beard, and he uses a gun because he has lost his katana,

Six Shooters: A Full Round of Classic Westerns New to Blu-ray

Twilight Time and the Warner Archive present us with a gunslingin' good time.
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The ageless allure of life in the Old West is just as timely as ever with these six classics, now available on Blu-ray courtesy the efforts of Twilight Time and the Warner Archive Collection. Boasting many common themes (including a few connections between home media distributors!) and ranging from early cinematic 3D productions to the earliest revisionist westerns by genre rule-breaker Sam Peckinpah, there's an awful lot of reason to shoot up the joint over here. Gun Fury 3D (1953, Twilight Time, Limited Edition of 3,000) One of several movies conceived and released during the early '50s 3D phenomenon (and

Best of 2017 Assorted Lists

So here's the final 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. BY THE NUMBERS 4,216,588 steps (that is less the four weeks in June that I went without a FitBit) 246 beers logged - 130 that were new to me this year. 0 times with the hiccups 25 books read (2nd year in a row of meeting 25 book goal) 0 concerts attended 55 films directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

The Breakfast Club Criterion Collection is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us John Hughes getting his first Criterion plus a tennis match, an Italian murder, Tom Cruise running drugs, and more.
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If you are a child of the '80s, if you are a movie fan of a certain age, then John Hughes films have a special place in your heart. Throughout the 1980s, he made movies about teenagers that felt real. His characters spoke like real teenagers spoke, they cared about things real teenagers cared about. They were funny and sad, romantic and heartbroken. They felt like they were made for…well, me. And a million other me’s. It is hard to pick a favorite John Hughes film because so many of them are so good. As a teenager, I likely would

Best of 2017 TV Lists

So here's the next set of my 2017 lists.
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We live in a very high-quality TV-show era now. Maybe the top end isn't as strong as a decade ago but the number of very good shows is amazing. It's hard to even keep up with shows that aren't on your sourcing radar - HBO, Showtime, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, etc. This list is as fluid as any here - ask me tomorrow and it might be different - but here it is at this time and place. BEST TV SHOWS OF 2017 1. TWIN PEAKS (SHOW) I don't know that I was completely in love with this show as it

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