March 2018 Archives

TV Review: Supernatural: 'Scoobynatural'

A trio of Sentries team up to present their reaction to this special episode.
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In conjunction with the Supernatural gang meeting the Scooby-Doo gang, three Sentries (a Supernatural fan, a Scooby-Doo fan, and an agnostic fan) have teamed up to review the episode “ScoobyNatural” from their various perspectives. Todd Karella (Supernatural fan): When I first heard that Supernatural was going to do an animated episode where they would team up with Scooby-Doo and the gang, I shook my head. While I’ve always been a big fan of the original cartoon, they weren’t always as successful with later incarnations of the show. Even so, I had faith that the Supernatural writers would find a creative

Scalpel (1977) Blu-ray Review: Eyes with Added Face

Arrow Video releases an oft-ignored ‒ but nevertheless, awesome ‒ thriller guaranteed to get under your skin.
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If the Southern regional horror film movement of the '70s ever came anywhere close to making a giallo, there's a darn good chance 1977's Scalpel would be it. That said, the surgical roots of this delightfully twisted psychological thriller from John Grissmer ‒ the very same screenwriter/director who would later (ahem) "grace" us with the cult, late '80s slasher guilty pleasure Blood Rage ‒ go much deeper. Taking its cue from Georges Franju's face game-changing 1960 masterpiece Les yeux sans visage ‒ better known to English-speaking audiences (and certain Billy Idol fans) as Eyes Without a Face ‒ Scalpel's "Southern

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Blu-ray Review: Spectacle Trumps Story

The Blu-ray delivers a marvelous HD experience and will likely make best-of lists at the end of the year.
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The Last Jedi is an epic space fantasy filled with brilliant state-of-the-art special effects. Unfortunately, writer/director Rian Johnson's plot is overstuffed and at times nonsensical, leading to a lot of misfires in the story. Following up Episode IV retread The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi opens with an exciting, albeit illogical, action sequence. The First Order, in place of the Empire, is pursuing the Resistance, in place of the Rebellion. (It doesn't say much for the beings in this universe that so many repeatedly cave into authoritarian leaders and so many join their ranks throughout the series.) Against General Leia's

Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary Blu-ray Review: A Documentary for the Fans

Stephen King's underrated horror masterpiece gets an insightful documentary honoring its history.
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I can remember the first time I saw the film adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary. Suffice it to say, it screwed me up. Not only did it deliver a macabre, yet authentic portrait of grief and questions of the afterlife, but the character Zelda haunts me to this day. As a disabled person there was something inherently horrifying about the character. To this day Pet Sematary remains one of my favorite horror features and it's a sentiment shared by many, especially the filmmakers of Unearthed & Untold. Directors John Campopiano and Justin White create a documentary that aesthetically looks

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 Review: Saturday and Sunday

Overall, I had a much more enjoyable time this year.
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This is Part 2 of Todd's ECCC coverage. Part 1 is available if you wish to start with that. Saturday Back To The Future: This was a really good panel. It started with Tom Wilson (Biff) on stage playing his ukulele and singing a song about the movie, his career, and answers to many of the frequently asked questions he must have heard over the years. He is actually a standup comedian and I had heard the song before but it was still funny. He also let everyone know that before his role in the film he played a football

Five Cool Things and The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Here's the cool things I consumed this week.
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My birthday was last Sunday. My wife made me a nice breakfast, we went to a couple of books stores, and let the daughter play at a park. We had planned to go to a movie but that fell through and instead we went home and watched some James Bond. I’ve never been the sort of person who wants to have a big party so this was pretty much perfect. Other than that, this week has been pretty standard. I watched some good movies, read some good comic books. and here we are. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Much like

Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) Blu-ray Review: Another Kind of San Francisco Treat

Alan Ladd leaves his heart in San Francisco in this glorious re-discovery from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Made back when one could still refer to San Francisco as "Frisco" and not catch hell for it, Frank Tuttle's Hell on Frisco Bay is one of several film (noir) adaptations based on the literary work of William P. McGivern (The Big Heat). Filmed (partly) on location in and around California's iconic Bay Area city, the vehicle finds Alan Ladd as a hardened, disgraced former police detective recently released from San Quentin after serving time for a bogus murder charge. As if starting over wasn't a cumbersome ordeal to begin with, contending with the fact everyone on both sides of

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 Review: Thursday and Friday

A convention that continues to get better every year.
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Having been to my first Emerald City Comic Convention last year, I knew what to expect and was a little more prepared this time around. The first thing I knew is that the night before one of the local comic shops, Arcane Comics, in Shoreline just north of Seattle, throws an annual pre-ECCC party where they invite customers and artists to come to the store, mingle, and get ready for the upcoming convention. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. I guess my vision was people setting up tables or at

TCM to Honor Trailblazing Screen Legend Cicely Tyson with Hand and Footprint Ceremony

Celebration to take place April 27 as part of the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today announced it will honor industry icon Cicely Tyson with a hand and footprint ceremony at the world-famous TCL Chinese Theater IMAX in Hollywood during the ninth annual TCM Classic Film Festival on Friday, April 27. Tyson, an Emmy- and Tony Award-winner and an Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominee, has worked in the entertainment industry for more than sixty years and has long been known for both her activism efforts and for the dynamic characters she has brought to life in film, television and theater. From her acclaimed performance in the groundbreaking film Sounder (1972)

Fathom Events Presents Ponyo on Its Tenth Anniversary

And so the Studio Ghibli Fest 2018 begins.
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There is nothing like a Hayao Miyazaki movie. Released in 2008, Ponyo was the tenth film Miyazaki directed (his eighth for Studio Ghibli). To celebrate its tenth anniversary, GKIDS and Fathom Events gave it a limited theatrical run. A small goldfish wanders off from her four-flippered home, narrowly escapes a fishing trawler dredging up piles of garbage from the bottom of the sea, and gets stuck inside a glass jar. She is rescued by Sosuke, a five-year-old boy who places her in a bucket and shows her off to his mom and the old ladies at the retirement home where

Oh God, They're Singing: Three Classic Musicals on Blu-ray

The Warner Archive and Twilight Time give us some old song and dance routines, available in High-Definition (and in one case, widescreen) for the first time.
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You know the feeling. You're sitting there, minding your own business, enjoying the sights and sounds of a classic motion picture. Suddenly, the gears seem to shift: orchestral accompaniment appears out of nowhere as characters begin to step in pace with one another, speaking in lyrical rhymes before breaking out in full-out song and dance routines. "Oh God, they're singing!," you cry out, realizing you have been sucked in once more by a movie musical. But don't worry, I won't judge ye. In fact, after witnessing all of the toe-tapping antics found in these three titles ‒ all of which

Ready Player One Movie Review: A Fun yet Hollow Escapist Journey

Ready Player One is entertaining popcorn fare drenched in nostalgia and not much else.
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Coming off of the Best Picture-nominated film The Post, Steven Spielberg makes the jump back to blockbusters with Ready Player One, continuing his “one for me, one for them” model of balancing historical dramas and blockbusters and Ready Player One surely feels like it was made for audiences with its stunning visuals and crowd pleasing action sequences. Yet, Spielberg's flair for substance over style that was present in his earlier blockbusters like Jurassic Park and E.T. is lost here. While Ready Player One is an entertaining thrill ride, its storytelling still feels rather empty. Based on the novel by Ernest

The Teenage Prostitution Racket (1975) Blu-ray Review: Don't Try This at Home, Kids

Unapologetically sleazy and unintentionally hilarious, another Italian exploitation mess-terpiece arrives in the U.S. from RaroVideo.
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If you can envision what might happen were someone to create a ’50s style propaganda movie à la George Weiss in the vein of ’60s arthouse roughie by Doris Wishman fused with all of the sense and sensibilities of a cheap ’70s exploitation flick written by Ed Wood, there’s a fairly good possibility you might be prepared for everything The Teenage Prostitution Racket has to offer. Even then, however, you still might not be ready. Sewn together much in the same way a five-year-old would darn a pair of socks ‒ replete with plenty of awkward stitchings that make a

The Last Movie Star Blu-ray Review: Good Intentions, Disappointing Movie

Burt Reynolds plays an actor coming to grips with his past in this underwhelming meta-drama.
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The message behind Adam Rifkin’s The Last Movie Star is too on the nose and too undercooked to be effectively earnest. As Rifkin explains in one of the Blu-ray’s special features, he’s a massive fan of Burt Reynolds, and he always thought the once-popular actor, who is facing health and financial woes, has never had the recognition he deserves. So what does he do? Well, he makes a movie about a once-popular actor, who is facing health and financial woes, getting recognition from the fans that think he deserves it. The Last Movie Star, as Rifkin described it, was written

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Do Not Send Us Astray'

"I am hopeful, once again, that they’ll give me something to miss over the summer." - Kim
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In which Kim and Shawn give this week's a grade of B-. Kim: This week marks two episodes in a row that held my interest. No, it’s not without its faults (which you just know I’m going to be listing here.) They nearly ruined my enjoyment of the episode, but overall, I’m giving it a C+. Maybe a B- because Daryl showed up on a bike, shooting stuff. Where do I begin? I’m unsure of the order of the events, so I’ll just start with the things that stand out in my mind. 1.) Morgan. Yeah, we get it. He’s

TV Review: The Alienist: 'Castle in the Sky'

The final episode of the TNT miniseries ends with some questions still remaining.
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Although The Alienist has always been proposed as a miniseries, and its main story comes to an end in “Castle in the Sky,” there are still some subplots that go unanswered, and it’s as if TNT hopes they can continue the show as a full-fledged television series, as opposed to just one run of 10 episodes. “Castle in the Sky” has its characters facing something, whether it is from their past or some decision or decisions that have cost them in their present situation. It’s a moment for each of them to self-reflect before diving back into the investigation and

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the Pick of the Week

See what's new in Blu-ray this week.
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It's a great time to be a Star Wars fan. I’m not quite old enough to have seen either A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back in the theaters but I have distinct memories of seeing Return of the Jedi at least three times at the local cinema. I used to rent the entire trilogy over and over on VHS as a youngster and my mother says I saw them on HBO dozens of times in those early years. The space between the original trilogy and the prequels were filled with countless hours discussing what was then only rumors

The Rape of Recy Taylor Movie Review: An Important Story, but a Problematic Film

While there are some things about this documentary I liked, overall I came away disappointed and angry.
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In September of 1944, Recy Taylor and two friends were walking home from church when a carload of six white teenagers came upon them and, under the threat of death, took Recy Taylor and raped her. Each one of the six teens taking a turn. The documentary, The Rape of Recy Taylor, follows the story of Recy Taylor speaking out against her attackers and her and her family's search for justice in the Jim Crow South. In this documentary, director Nancy Buirski uses interviews, footage from race films, artifacts, and music to retell Mrs. Taylor's story. Buirski credits her inspiration

A Trio of WAC Pre-Codes: Oh, the Horror Icons!

The Warner Archive Collection presents three pre-Code rarities featuring a serendipitous number of classic early horror movie stars.
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Perhaps it's just the many years I spent wasting my youth away in front of a television set, but I almost always seem to find some sort of odd little connection between home video releases from the Warner Archive Collection. This time around, we have three pre-Production Code flicks from the early 1930s with a rather unique common thread: the notable presence(s) of classic horror movie stars such as Fay Wray and a hilariously miscast Boris Karloff. But they aren't the only faces from vintage creature features to be found here, as you will soon discover for yourself. And if

The Super (1991) DVD Review: Low Rent Entertainment

The Warner Archive Collection raises the roof on Joe Pesci's flop.
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Epitomizing just about every bad decision made by the world of domestic entertainment in the early '90s to its fullest extent ‒ be it the questionable tastes in fashion and music or the peculiar, career-killing choice to cast movie tough guys in family-friendly comedies ‒ The Super stars the Joe Pesci no one really wanted to see. Cast as the vehemently loathsome spoiled jerk son of a racist ol' New York City real estate magnate (gee, I wonder who served as inspiration for that?), Pesci is at his squirmiest, scene-chewing best here as Louie Kritski ‒ the slumlord of a

Love, Simon Movie Review: An Applaudable, Crowd-pleasing Gem

Love, Simon is a tremendously acted crowd pleaser that also deserves applause for its cultural importance as well.
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While Love, Simon is deserving of admiration because of its depiction of queer representation on a mainstream level, it should still be lauded for being a well-acted crowd pleaser that is bound to have people laughing, crying, and applauding by the time the credits roll. Despite there being some familiar beats in the storyline, they're still easy to overlook because Love, Simon is a winning film-going experience that tugs the heartstrings with absolute ease. Based on the novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon follows the story of a high schooler named Simon Spier (Nick

Five Cool Things and Mr. Rogers

Come read about all the cool stuff I watched this week.
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It is the start of my birthday weekend (I turn 42 on Sunday). My mother just picked up my daughter for a sleepover. I should be out celebrating. Instead, I’m here writing this. Later, I’ll watch TV. Honestly, I’m pretty okay with that. We were going to go see a movie, but we’re still in the post-Christmas / pre-Spring blockbuster lull for movies at theatres. Good stuff is coming soon, but there really isn’t much I want to see and nothing the wife and I could agree on. Luckily, I have access to all sorts of cool stuff on the

IDW Brings Big Exclusives and Debuts to WonderCon

Be one of the first to get your hands on Sonic the Hedgehog #1 and other titles.
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Press release: IDW Publishing is returning to one of Southern California’s favorite comic conventions- the one and only WonderCon! Held at the Anaheim Convention Center from March 23rd to March 25th, attendees can stop by and see the IDW crew at booth #1109 all weekend. Kick off your convention season with a show full of creator signings, announcements, panels, giveaways, and so much more! Join IDW in welcoming the long-anticipated arrival of the blue blur, Sonic The Hedgehog, at the show! Be one of the first to pick up a world premiere convention exclusive copy of Sonic #1 and get

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

A mid-season episode made me say "I can't wait until next week." for the first time in years. - Shawn
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In which Kim and Shawn regain their interest in the show. Kim: It finally happened! No, Negan’s not dead. No, Rick didn’t shoot himself. So what could prompt my response? I spent 75% of the episode actually interested in what was going to happen next. Furthermore, when it was over, I actually said, “Wow! I can’t wait to see how this turns out!” First of all, we got to see Jerry. Deuces! I’ve missed seeing him on the screen, even if this was a more subdued version of him, he was there. Daryl got in a nod and a few

TV Review: The Alienist: 'Requiem'

Sara and John continue the investigation, while Lazlo spends this episode in mourning.
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For a miniseries called The Alienist, the second-to-last episode took some chances by making its titular character not the main focus, and instead devoted more time to its supporting cast. It’s a rather bold move, especially since Daniel Brühl has been the show’s best character since the beginning. Both Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans have been intriguing to watch, too, although the latter’s stumbling into trouble has become an unnecessary gag. At the same time, though, neither of them has the same intensity as Brühl, nor do their characters have the same amount of intellect. It’s been interesting watching the

The Last Movie Star Blu-ray Giveaway

A hilarious fish-out-of-water adventure and an unexpectedly poignant journey into his past.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Lionsgate to award one lucky reader The Last Movie Star on Blu-ray, which will be available on March 27. For those wanting to learn more, Hollywood legends Burt Reynolds and Chevy Chase star in The Last Movie Star, the uproarious story about getting older, arriving on Blu-ray and Digital on March 27 from Lionsgate. Written and directed by Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City), The Last Movie Star centers around a former movie star facing the reality that his glory days are behind him when he accepts an invitation to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award

Criterion Collection's The Passion of Joan of Arc is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a couple of Criterions, Matt Damon getting shrunk, a Robert Altman horror film, and more.
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The biggest gap in my cinematic education has to be silent films. I’ve only seen a few of them and they were mostly a struggle. With no audible dialogue, my attention tends to wane. I start thinking about my day or things I need to do. I look outside or at the messiness of my room. I watch the cat and inevitably reach for my phone, and *poof* the movie slips by without hardly a thought from me. The one silent film I’ve ever loved was The Passion of Joan of Arc. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s telling of the trial and

Night School (1981) Blu-ray Review: Maybe Some of It Will Rub Off on You

The Warner Archive Collection cordially invites you to attend the premiere of Rachel Ward's slasher movie debut in High-Definition.
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One of several kajillion slasher movies manufactured in the early '80s alone, the American-made Night School sports an oddly Canadian aura about it throughout ‒ from the British director (Ken Hughes, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Internecine Project) and starlet Rachel Ward (in her film debut) to the vaguely familiar, mostly nocturnal urban New England location photography by Scanners cinematographer Mark Irwin, right down to the finale which honors the horror sub-genre's giallo roots. When viewed in this erroneous light, Night School feels like some sort of underrated cult classic. Amusing enough, however, if you stare directly into the big

TCM and Fathom Events Present Vertigo

Don't miss your chance to see this Alfred Hitchcock classic on the big screen.
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I started collecting movies sometime in college. Initially, I swore to only purchase really interesting movies - stone-cold classics and interesting arthouse films - but soon enough I was buying all sorts of horrible things if they were cheap enough (somewhere I still have a copy of To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, bought unseen from the used Blockbuster bin for less money than it would have cost to rent it). Whenever I had some extra money, I’d head to the mall to browse the aisles at the Suncoast Motion Picture Company. On one of those visits, I came across

Walking Out Blu-ray Review: A Father-Son Hunting Trip That Fails to Deliver in Many Ways

While the film had a lot of potential in being a survival film with a heartfelt story, it failed to capture the elements I was looking for.
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David (Josh Wiggins) is a child of divorce. He lives with his mother in a big city in Texas while his father, Cal (Matt Bomer), lives out in a remote area of Montana. The father and son have had a difficult time connecting over the years, and when 14-year-old David comes for a visit, their relationship is still as strained and awkward as it has always been. But Cal looks to change this by getting his son away from the technological entrapments of his phone and taking him deep into the wilderness to hunt for moose. Hunting was something that

Sunday Program Highlights for WonderCon 2018

A preview of six more panels you might find me at WonderCon.
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WonderCon 2018 gets underway on Friday March 23. The programming slate has been announced on their website, and these are the panels you will likely find me, though my schedule is not set in stone and there are no guarantees at a convention unless you are part of the panel. Make Ours Marvel: Eight Decades of Iconic Creators and Characters11:00am - 12:00pmRoom 207 Over the last eight decades, Marvel has created an expansive universe filled with timeless stories and spectacular visuals. Today, Marvel's films, TV series, and comics continue to bring complex and diverse worlds to life, From an ethnically

Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno Blu-ray Review: Lost Masterpiece or Dodged Bullet?

Documentary details Clouzot's experimental Inferno, using recently discovered footage from the failed production, to mixed results.
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There's a little cottage industry of documentaries about movies that didn't get made. Every few years one of them pops up - Lost in La Mancha about Terry Gilliam's early, disastrous attempt to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote or Jodorowsky's Dune. Implicit in the premise is that the world of cinema is missing out on a masterpiece - that a world of perhaps game-changing potential is lost to us because of some unfortunate timing, a couple of bad days on a set, or a miscalculation that metastasizes into a disaster. Honestly, whenever I see or read these stories,

Justice League Blu-ray Review: The DC Cinematic Universe Is Heading in the Right Direction

Will leave fans looking forward to the next film in the DC franchise.
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It’s been some time since the last film Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice where the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill) gave his life fighting Doomsday. The loss of the world’s most powerful superhero affected the entire planet, leaving most without hope. Even Batman (Ben Affleck) feels the loss as he takes responsibility for the death of Superman. But there isn’t time for everyone to grieve. The Dark Knight is still patrolling the streets and has stumbled upon a new threat. Some strange insect-like creatures have been appearing around the world attracted by the scent of fear. After defeating one,

Saturday Program Highlights for WonderCon 2018

A preview of another seven panels you might find me at WonderCon.
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WonderCon 2018 gets underway on Friday March 23. The programming slate has been announced on their website, and these are the panels you will likely find me, though my schedule is not set in stone and there are no guarantees at a convention unless you are part of the panel. World Premiere of Batman Ninja10:15am - 12:15pmArena Witness the Dark Knight as you've never seen him before at the first public screening of the highly anticipated anime film. Batman Ninja takes a journey across the ages as Gorilla Grodd's time displacement machine transports many of Batman's worst enemies to feudal

Five Cool Things and Isle of Dogs

This week's cool things are strange and wonderful.
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After a long, dreary winter, spring is finally here. Our backyard tree is blooming, the temperatures are warming up, and the sun is shining. The daughter is out of school next week, which will likely curb my pop-culture consuming, but this week was full of interesting things. I can’t wait to start talking about them. Tiny Desk Concert: John Prine John Price is a national treasure. He is one of the greatest songwriters of our age. He’s an old man now, but he’s always written songs beyond his years. He just released a new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, and

Friday Program Highlights for WonderCon 2018

A preview of seven panels you might find me at WonderCon.
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WonderCon 2018 gets underway on Friday March 23. The programming slate has been announced on their website, and these are the panels you will likely find me, though my schedule is not set in stone and there are no guarantees at a convention unless you are part of the panel. Jack Kirby's Centennial Artwork Extravaganza 1:00pm - 2:00pm Room 209 The Jack Kirby Centennial celebration continues with this final presentation of the King's original comic artwork. Hosted by IDW president and publisher Greg Goldstein, this special tribute features a multimedia display of more than 1,300 pages of Kirby's original artwork

Tomb Raider Movie Review: Dead on Arrival

There's a tomb and some raiding, but weak direction and scripting doom this one to an early grave.
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Alicia Vikander is an inspired choice to play legendary adventurer Lara Croft. She’s a close physical match to the current youthful videogame incarnation of the character, especially after getting in peak shape for the role. She brings Oscar-winning acting chops to the role, ensuring that the character carries dramatic weight. Her attempt at an English accent is mostly laughable, alternating between posh, street, and outright American, but it’s forgivable and almost endearing. Unfortunately, the film’s inspiration begins and ends with the casting of Vikander. Unlike the prior two movies starring fellow Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie as an already formidable adventurer, this

Criterion Announces June 2018 Releases

School might get out, but you don't need to stop learning about movies.
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In June, Criterion plans on releasing four new titles and a high-definition upgrade. Joining the collection are Lino Brocka's Manila in the Claws of Light, John Waters' Female Trouble, Víctor Erice's El Sur, and Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. Getting an upgrade is Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring. Read on to learn more about them. Manila in the Claws of Light (#926) out June 12 Lino Brocka broke through to international acclaim with this candid portrait of 1970s Manila, the second film in the director’s turn to more serious-minded filmmaking after building a career on mainstream films he described as

Allure (2018) Movie Review: Only Mildly Alluring

Some strong performances can't elevate the film's dour tone.
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Bearing witness to a toxic relationship unfolding in front of you is not a pleasing task, and brothers Carlos and Jason Sanchez are well aware of that. Their feature film debut, Allure, is a realistic portrayal of someone who’s gone off the deep end and redemption seems to be nowhere in reach. You can’t exactly feel sympathy for her, as she destroys her life and damages those around her. Unfortunately, that’s also a major problem with the film. Our main character’s actions are irredeemable, and the movie’s focus is way too serious to get fully engaged. No matter how displeasing

Robert Altman's Images Blu-ray Review: Nothing Like Altman

A surrealistic horror film that feels more like Ingmar Bergman than Robert Altman.
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Made in the middle of his incredible 1970s run of films that includes M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye ,and Nashville, Robert Altman’s Images is unlike any of those films and in fact is different from pretty much anything in his long, storied career. There is none of the overlapping dialogue that Altman pioneered and his camera, which he typically inserts into a scene letting it rummage around for a story, is more beautiful, constructed, and poetic. Made in 1972, Images premiered at the Cannes film festival where it won Susannah York the award for Best Actress. It

Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) Blu-ray Review: Friendship in the Face of Evil

Heartfelt if slight documentary about a rock band's return to Paris in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
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Until the Paris Terrorist attack on November 13, 2015 where their concert at the Bataclan was targeted leaving 89 dead, for non-fans Eagles of Death Metal, if they had heard of them at all, were mostly thought of as Josh Homme's other band. Queens of the Stone Age, Homme's central musical outlet, has been a staple of the American hard rock scene for two decades, while Eagles of Death Metal was the weird side project where he co-wrote the songs, was the rhythm section, and hardly ever toured with the band. If the first third of Eagles of Death Metal:

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Dead Or Alive Or'

For what was mostly set up to be a time-waste episode...I was entertained and maybe that's my new standard for this show. - Shawn
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In which Shawn and Kim wonder was it just the title that was incomplete or was it the episode? Shawn: Is this episode a Mad Libs where we get to fill in the final NOUN in the title? Was it a typo? Does it obliquely refer to one of the best Peter Jackson films or New Wave bands from the mid-Eighties? DEAD OR ALIVE OR GABRIEL. It was interesting that the most consistent beginning, middle, and end of a story of the past few seasons was with Father Gabriel and Carson the Doctor. I don't know how much screen time

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Blu-ray Review: Definitely Not For Kids

Animated film from Spain tells a dark, sad tale that retains a hint of hope.
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In a post-apocalyptic landscape, three friends, a mouse, a piglet, and a little fox, dream of escaping their horrible little island and moving to the city where they might breath the clean air, drink the clean water, and live their lives out prosperously. But they neither have the ability or the means to leave. Dinky the mouse steals “happy pills” from her fundamentalist parents, who constantly berate her and use a baby Jesus doll that literally cries blood to fill her with guilt. Zachariah the piglet lives with his drug-addicted mother who turns into a giant spider when she gets

Allure Movie Review: A Troubled Depiction of a Troubled Romance

Allure is hard to watch at times and is rather troubled but its leading actresses, Evan Rachel Wood and Julia Sarah Stone, still give it their all.
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Allure follows the story of Laura (Evan Rachel Wood), a troubled 30-year-old woman who works as a house cleaner for her father’s company. She’s someone who lives a life in solitude and has had trouble finding love. But that all changes once she meets a teenage girl named Eva (Julia Sarah Stone), a pianist who is dissatisfied with her privileged life with her overbearing mother. Once Laura persuades Eva to stay at her house and inadvertently kidnaps her, both women end up in a relationship fueled by manipulation and obsession. The best way to describe Allure is that despite its

TV Review: The Alienist: 'Psychopathia Sexualis'

John and Lazlo head to Washington, D.C. to further investigate the case, while Sara goes rogue to uncover more clues.
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At the end of last week’s The Alienist, Mary and Lazlo shared a kiss. It was a moment for both of them, when they felt like the whole world didn’t understand them and who they were, only to have them both come together and realize they are what the other needs. This week’s episode begins with both characters looking forward to being together. Mary had an upgrade in her wardrobe and a smile on her face, while Lazlo was smiling as he was on a train to Washington D.C. But “Psychopathia Sexualis” doesn’t really put all of its focus on

The Shape of Water is the Pick of the Week

Hope you have some leftover Christmas money because there is a lot of interesting stuff coming out this week.
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I hope you have some leftover Christmas money because it's gonna be an expensive week, Blu-ray fans. We’ve got blockbusters, Oscar winners, cult classics and more. Guillermo del Toro’s other-wordly, weird fantasy film The Shape of Water took home four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. It's about a girl kissing an underwater sea monster during the Cold War. Or something. I really haven’t been paying attention and his films are best seen without having preconceived notions. Luckily, Matthew St. Clair wrote us a review. Honestly, there are at least four other releases this week that I could have

Ichi the Killer Blu-ray Review: Blood-soaked Fun

Well Go USA's new 4K transfer of Takashi Miike's splatter classic gives you all the gore you can handle in pristine high definition.
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While watching Well Go USA’s new 4K transfer of Takashi Miike’s classic splatter flick Ichi the Killer, you may ask yourself whether or not one needs to see all that gore in super high-definition. Is it necessary, you may ponder, to see the insides of a man cut straight down the middle, or the viscera of a dozen nameless foes sloshed across the floor, blood dripping from the ceiling, or even the title cards rising from a puddle of semen in all its digitally restored, detailed resolution? For fans of the highly influential, totally disgusting, and surprisingly funny film, the

Eaten Alive! (1980) Blu-ray Review: Lenzi Frenzy from the Cannibal Craze

Severin Films sinks its teeth into Umberto Lenzi's hilariously tasteless cult flick. Break out the ketchup.
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Though Ruggero Deodato is perhaps Italy's (if not the world's) most "famous" director of gory cannibal movies, the entire bloody movie subgenre can be attributed to the late great Umberto Lenzi (Eyeball, Cannibal Ferox). Eight years after accidentally forming the concept with his 1972 shocker The Man from Deep River ‒ a strange "mondo" take on A Man Called Horse ‒ Lenzi returned to the jungle for something even stranger. Fusing the cannibal flick with a literal cult movie, Eaten Alive! (Mangiati vivi!) manages to exploit the real-life horrors of Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre. It also serves as

Midnighters Movie Review: Small Scale Horror

Even if they don't quite stick the landing, the Ramsay Brothers establish themselves as a duo to watch out for.
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People are screaming, kissing, and hugging. They don silly garments and hats as they celebrate the New Year. Standing in the middle of the throng is Lindsey (Alex Essoe), as she scans the crowd in search of her husband, Jeff (Dylan McTee). She finds him outside, smoking a cigarette and avoiding Lindsey’s work friends. Their marriage is clearly fraught with tension and unspoken resentment for one another. Lindsey is the breadwinner; working at a bank to support Jeff, a failed athlete. Their language is clipped and strained. They appear to be in a marital rut. What doesn’t help matters is

Five Cool Things and Season Two of The Handmaid's Tale

This week's cool things include Tom Cruise, George Clooney directing the Coens, and more Stephen King.
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I have a tendency to be watching, reading and listening to multiple things at once. My wife laughs and scoffs at this as she doesn’t understand how I can keep things straight in my head. I’m not entirely sure that I do keep things straight, but this is the way I’ve always consumed pop culture. Right now I’m watching two movies (Salem’s Lot and Robert Altman’s Images) reading at least three books (A Christmas Carol, Freedomland, Pet Sematary) and probably have a few more laying around that I started and have forgotten about. I’m in the middle of more TV

Book Review: Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg

No matter your political affiliation, there are plenty of great stories to read about the former president and First Lady and their love of the movies.
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During their eight years in office, Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, watched a total of 363 movies during their weekends at Camp David. Not only were they the big box-office hits of that time (1980-1988), but they also consisted of the classics before that era, as well as what Ronald Reagan referred to as the “golden oldies,” which were the films in which he starred. In Movie Nights with the Reagans, Mark Weinberg, a former spokesperson, adviser, and speechwriter to President Reagan, focuses primarily on the films of the 1980s that made the biggest impressions on the couple and

A Wrinkle in Time Movie Review: Wondrous Yet Muddled

While it reaches for the stars with its jaw-dropping visuals, it still is bogged down by its storytelling and short length.
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After delivering the powerful Best Picture nominee Selma and helming the gripping, Oscar-nominated documentary 13th, director Ava DuVernay jumps into the big leagues with the $100 million blockbuster A Wrinkle in Time. However, while the film does reach for the stars with its jaw-dropping visuals mixed with emotional thematic material, it still is nearly bogged down by its predictable and hastily written story. Based on the children’s novel by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time follows the story of a girl named Meg Murry (Storm Reid) whose physicist father (Chris Pine) has gone missing for four years, leaving her withdrawn.

The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Announces More Special Guests and Films

Including Gillian Armstrong, Eva Marie Saint, Jacqueline Bisset, Melvin Van Peebles, and Michael York.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies is pleased to announce the following have been added to the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival. Multi-award-winning director Gillian Armstrong will join Robert Benton as a recipient of a special tribute at the Festival. Armstrong will be in attendance for a screening of her film MY BRILLIANT CAREER (1979). This year’s Festival also welcomes the recent Oscar-winning screenwriter and director James Ivory, who will be in attendance with his film MAURICE (1987). Stars Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting and Michael York will all be in attendance for the 50th anniversary screening of ROMEO AND JULIET (1968).

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'The Lost and the Plunderers'

"I hate how hard it has gotten for me to watch this show and actually enjoy it or feel anything about the characters." - Kim
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In which Shawn and Kim debate to "Just give up." Shawn: After seven seasons and nine episodes, the show finally gave me title cards. Just in case I don't get around to it - thank you. Not to sound ungrateful but locations and dates and times might be considered for future upgrades. MICHONNE. The show has had this annoying pattern of following up major deaths with much less intense episodes that usually carry no weight. I figured that this was either going to be some version of a Benny Hill episode or 74 minutes of Rick and Michonne wringing their

Los Angeles Wide Retrospective Celebrating a Century of Ingmar Bergman's Cinema

The retrospective begins May 4 and continues through June 23.
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Press release: No name is more synonymous with the postwar explosion of art-house cinema than Ingmar Bergman, a master storyteller who startled the world with his stark intensity and naked pursuit of the most profound metaphysical and spiritual questions. In a career that spanned six decades, Bergman directed more than forty films in an astonishing array of tones, ranging from comedies whose lightness and complexity betray their brooding hearts to groundbreaking formal experiments and excruciatingly intimate explorations of family relationships. Starting Friday, May 4th at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre with THE SEVENTH SEAL and continuing through June 23rd, this

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Blu-ray Review: The Marvel Cinematic Universe Holiday Special

Chris Hemsworth lets his hair down (and sleeps with one eye open) in this highly enjoyable change of pace from director Taika Waititi.
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Admittedly, I am not the biggest contemporary superhero movie enthusiast. At one point in time, I would have fallen somewhere in the vicinity of such a category, but I essentially dropped out around the same time the current Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as we know it came into existence in 2008. Sure, I catch the occasional superhero flick here and there (including the occasional new DC abomination, which usually only helps me appreciate Marvel's contributions all the more), but I generally remain indifferent to what I see. And then there is Thor: Ragnarok ‒ a film which proves even a

TV Review: The Alienist: 'Many Sainted Men'

The latest death brings rising tension not just amongst the crew, but also the general public.
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Last week, The Alienist ended with the death of another boy prostitute, but unlike the others, this victim had just one missing eye (instead of two), a severed hand, and a scalped head. It’s as if the killer was in the middle of leaving his signature trademark and was interrupted by something. That is also something noted by the crew as they try to find the killer. As Stevie is still traumatized by the fact that he could have possibly been the killer’s next victim, he tries to recall to John what the person looked like. Lazlo accuses John of

Thor: Ragnarok is the Pick of the Week

Two movies battled it out for this week's pick, but ultimately, the superhero won.
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The 90th Academy Awards aired last night. I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited about it this year. No idea why. I’d actually seen more of the films this year than I usually have at this point and it's the one awards ceremony I usually love to sit through. I skipped all the pre-awards stuff but did turn the TV on for the actual show. As per usual, I clicked on Twitter to see what the people were saying about it. Usually, Twitter is a pretty fun place to hang out while watching the Oscars with plenty of

TV Review: The Alienist: 'Ascension'

The gang set up a sting operation to catch the killer, while Lazlo's past reveals a particular clue that could harm his friendship with others.
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The sixth episode of The Alienist, “Ascension,” begins with a rather long glimpse at a dead horse lying in the streets of New York. It also ends with a death, but this time, it is that of another boy prostitute near the Statue of Liberty. The first death shown has no ties to the story of The Alienist, other than it maybe serves more as a symbol that the genre with which the miniseries is affiliated may in fact be that of a dead horse, but the writers keep finding ways to get around it rather than continuously beat it.

Darkest Hour Blu-ray Review: Gary Oldman Gives a Riveting Portrayal as Winston Churchill

A compelling historical drama about standing up for one's beliefs in the face of great adversity.
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Joe Wright's Darkest Hour tells the story of Winston Churchill's first few weeks in office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a tumultuous time as World War II raged in Europe and the leaders of Parliament couldn't agree on the direction to take. Gary Oldman gives a riveting portrayal of Churchill that will long be remembered, It was helped realized by the outstanding make-up work of Kazuhiro Tsuji and his team. On May 9, 1940, the Labour Party in the British Parliament wants to replace Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) as Prime Minister because of his capitulation to

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Blu-ray Review: Kenneth Branagh Dunnit (Pulled Off Poirot, That Is)

Branagh is in his element here and whether one is previously familiar with the great Belgian detective or not, there is a lot to enjoy in Murder on the Orient Express.
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As an avid fan of Agatha Christie mysteries on book and screen - especially David Suchet's excellent portrayal of her most famous detective, Hercule Poirot - I had to admit that the preview images of Kenneth Branagh and his take on Poirot's inimitable moustache put me off. What was he thinking? It was simply too ridiculous to be taken seriously. But I am happy to report that Branagh not only pulls off the Belgian sleuth, but he approaches the character and Christie's most famous puzzle with originality and enthusiasm. Branagh is not only the lead actor in the film, but

Crossing the Bridge / Indian Summer Blu-ray Review

Kino Lorber Studio Classics releases a double feature from writer-director Mike Binder.
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I first became aware of Mike Binder when he was a talented young stand-up comedian in the late '70s. I truly started to appreciate the range of his talent when he showed up in the low-budget 1980 American Graffiti rip-off The Hollywood Knights which also featured Tony Danza and Robert Wuhl, and which I enjoyed far more than I should have. I continued to see Binder doing stand-up on numerous shows throughout the '80s, but then I lost track of him. While sitting in a theatre in 1993 watching what I described at the time as “The Big Chill goes

Five Cool Things and a Yellowstone TV Series

See what's cool this week.
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In my continual playing of roulette with the many streaming services one can subscribe to, I landed on HBO this week. It is part of the Amazon system now which makes it super convenient. I can easily subscribe and unsubscribe to it via my Amazon Fire so there is no messing around with internet sites and new apps and credit cards. It's a great service, too. It has all the HBO shows plus lots of movies and they even let you watch the various HBO channels streaming live. Its a little pricier than I like (just under $15) but they

Martin Scorsese to Receive Inaugural Robert Osborne Award

Award recognizing an individual who has significantly contributed to preserving the cultural heritage of classic films to be given annually in honor of TCM’s iconic host.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today announced that filmmaker Martin Scorsese will be given the inaugural Robert Osborne Award in recognition of his work as a film preservationist and impassioned classic movie fan. The Robert Osborne Award will be given out annually at the TCM Classic Film Festival to a recipient whose work has helped keep the cultural heritage of classic films alive and thriving for generations to come. The award will be presented on April 26 during opening night of the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival. “I am truly honored to be the first recipient of the Robert

Sunday Program Highlights for Emerald City Comic Con 2018

These panels are where you might find our roving reporter.
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Held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington, Emerald City Comic Con's fourth and final day of programming on Sunday day, March 4. My highlights are below. Their entire listing is available on the official website. MARK SHEPPARD SPOTLIGHTMar 04, 2018, 12:15 PM - 1:15 PMMain Stage - WSCC 4A Crowley may have left the Supernatural realm, but their loss is Emerald City’s gain. Mark Sheppard returns to Seattle with more stories of the crossroads and so much more from his amazing career appearing in a lot of our favorite shows. EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW

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