April 2018 Archives

Summer of '42 (1971) Blu-ray Review: There's a First Time for Everything

The obscured (if slightly controversial now) coming-of-age hit returns to home video courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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An unexpected box office sensation upon its 1971 debut, Robert Mulligan's adaptation of Herman Raucher's Summer of '42 has since become as distant to audiences as has the element of romance to the average Tinder user. Indeed, the advent of modern technology has far-removed the timeless coming-of-age motif from that of younger generations, who will more than likely find the film's characters ‒ to say nothing of their particular plights here ‒ weird, if not completely unsettling. A personal favorite of iconic rogue filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (it's the only live-action film featured in The Shining, I believe), Summer of '42

Tribeca Film Festival 2018: Mary Elizabeth Winstead Is Oscar Worthy in All About Nina

Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives a career-best performance as a struggling comedienne and deserves serious Oscar recognition.
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Mary Elizabeth Winstead is one of the most underrated actresses working today. Even though she has bounced from genre to genre and delivered a slew of quality performances, she still hasn’t been able to break through. One reason is probably because the films she’s done aren’t always as good as her talents. Well, thankfully, she has found a starring vehicle as amazing as she is. In the tragicomedy All About Nina, she not only gives the performance of her career but a performance that should put her in the awards conversation for Best Actress. The story follows Nina Geld (Mary

Have a Nice Day (2018) DVD Review: A Bag Full of Money Can't Buy Happiness

Liu Jian's animated feature is a gritty and thrilling neo-noir.
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There have been two Chinese animated features released this year that are polar opposites in terms of style and genre, but have had a pretty big impact on me as a viewer. The first was Big Fish & Begonia, which has issues but is visually stunning to behold. The second is Liu Jian’s Have a Nice Day, which is nowhere near as pretty as the former film, but makes a strong statement on humanity’s obsession with consumerism. It’s a pity that neither received much exposure here in the U.S., but I’m sure in the years to come, they will both

Tribeca Film Festival 2018: Disobedience Is a Compelling Portrait of a Defiant Romance

Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, and Alessandro Nivola give three of the year's best performances in this compelling romantic drama.
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After helming the Oscar winning foreign language film A Fantastic Woman, director Sebastian Lelio brings us Disobedience, a portrait of forbidden love that is transfixing and anchored by three flawless leading performances. Also, like A Fantastic Woman, it is a great portrayal of queer women finding their inner strength and is a gem that slowly has you under its spell by the time it’s over. Based on the novel by Naomi Alderman, Disobedience tells the story of a New York photographer named Ronit (Rachel Weisz) who returns back home to London after hearing about the death of her father. Her

While the City Sleeps / Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) Blu-ray Reviews: Puttin' on the Fritz

Fritz Lang's final two American films ‒ both starring Dana Andrews ‒ get the much-deserved Warner Archive Collection treatment.
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Metropolis. M. The Dr. Mabuse series. There are so many reasons to love Fritz Lang's early, German-language films, all of which helped define the German Expressionist movement. Following Lang's fleeing of Nazi Germany in the early '30s, the Austrian-German-born filmmaker put his expertise use of light and shadows to become a pioneer in the world of film noir ‒ helming such classics as Ministry of Fear and Scarlet Street, as well as the iconic 1953 masterpiece, The Big Heat. Even as his 20-year-plus Hollywood career began to wrap up in the late '50s, Lang's filmic contributions were as marvelously dark

Tribeca Film Festival 2018: The Miseducation of Cameron Post Is an Insightful Gem

A harrowing depiction of conversion therapy that also manages to be hearty.
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When it comes to films depicting the LGBTQ experience, we rarely get films that depict the topic of conversion therapy. Even if conversion therapy doesn’t involve physical discrimination, it still causes youths to discriminate against themselves and it is a topic that should be depicted on screen more. Thankfully, this year, we will be seeing the release of two films depicting this issue. One of them is Boy Erased starring Lucas Hedges. The other is the subject of this review and that is the earnest, well-acted gem called The Miseducation of Cameron Post. It follows the story of a lesbian

Allenesque: Five Woody Allen Movies on Blu-ray from Twilight Time

From screwball spoofs to serious dramas, this quintet of features from the one and only comedian/filmmaker offers a variety of stylings.
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Whether you are a collector, purist, enthusiast, or just someone who is trying to get through the work day, there is nothing as gratifying as being able to mark something off of a checklist. And every time Twilight Time issues a classic Woody Allen film on Blu-ray, it gives his fans a chance to experience something just as gratifying. Fortunately for all parties involved, Allen's extensive (and still-expanding, as he has rarely skipped a year without making a movie since 1965) library can come that much closer to being "complete" thanks to Twilight Time's regular releases of the filmmaker's work,

Doctor Detroit Blu-ray Review: Cancel Your Appointment

Dan Aykroyd is called upon to carry the comedy on his own with a script that fails to truly allow him to stretch his comedic muscles.
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By 1983, Dan Aykroyd had established himself as one of the most bankable team players in show business. Surround him with funny people and he could not only hold his own, but he could shine. The year 1983 should have been no different as he partnered with Eddie Murphy for the hugely successful Trading Places. Sadly, 1983 would be slightly different. Said difference is Doctor Detroit. In his first film since the passing of his good friend and comedic partner John Belushi, Aykroyd is surrounded by capable character actors. Unfortunately, there is no other strong comedic presence in the film,

Paddington 2 is the Pick of the Week

Never underestimate the power of a bear.
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Truly great family films are hard to come by. They are either too sappy or silly or both to be enjoyed by adults or otherwise too busy trying to be clever to keep a kid’s attention. Every once in awhile, the balance comes out just right and the whole family finds themselves enthralled. From the sound of it, Paddington 2 is one such movie. Based on the children’s series by Michael Bond, the film follows the adventures of a Peruvian bear who has been adopted by a family in London. It stars Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Grant,

Paddington 2 Blu-ray Review: A Film Sweeter Than a Marmalade Sandwich

Paddington is earnest and sincere, as is the film, which is why it all works so well.
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Based on the children’s book series by Michael Bond and following up the successful first film, which I haven't see yet but soon will, Paddington 2 is as sweet and good natured as its lead character, a young, English-speaking Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who lives with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens. The script by director Paul King and Simon Farnaby is as well, which is why the film is so wonderful. Paddington wants to get his Aunt Lucy, who still resides in in Peru, a birthday present. He decides upon a pop-up book of London because she

Fathom Events Presents The Cat Returns

Studio Ghibli Fest continues.
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A quiet and shy schoolgirl named Haru (Anne Hathaway) is having a bad day. She overslept and has to skip breakfast; she loses her shoe on the way to school. She is caught by her teacher sneaking into class, which makes all her classmates laugh at her, including the boy she likes who otherwise barely knows she’s alive. While walking home with her friend Hiromi (Kristen Bell), she saves a cat from getting run over by a truck and is nearly killed herself. Much to her surprise, the cat stands on two legs, thanks her, and mentions he’ll be back

Women in Love Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Naked Men, Wrestling

Ken Russell's controversial adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's controversial novel gets a maginficent release from Criterion.
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It's difficult not to compare the time in which Ken Russell adapted Women in Love (1969) to the time in which D.H. Lawrence wrote the novel and the film are set (1920). Both periods were times in which Britain’s social norms were changing. The film’s setting, just after World War I, finds the Victorian-era moral codes along with the staunch upper classes crumbling. The film was made at the height of the sexual revolution when young people were once again throwing off the chains of their parents' moralizing for newfound freedom. It is impossible then to view the film’s story

Tribeca Film Festival 2018: Dry Martina Is a Bewildering yet Engaging Star Vehicle

Despite the efforts of its cast, especially leading actress Antonella Costa, Dry Martina still succumbs to its complicated storytelling.
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In the opening scene of Dry Martina, our main character is performing at a concert and about midway through her performance, she immediately takes off her wig and steps out of the stage. The minute she stops performing, we see her turn into a different, more troubled person. That small moment is an indication of what Dry Martina is about. It is a character study about a woman on the verge of self-destruction that is successfully anchored by its leading actress even though the film itself is rather, shall I say, slightly dry. Martina (Antonella Costa) is a former pop

The Flight of Dragons (1982) Blu-ray Review: Colonel Potter vs Darth Vader?

The Warner Archive Collection clears the runway for this neglected Rankin-Bass animated fantasy.
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Even to contemporary animation fans caught up in the neverending sea of anime, the Rankin-Bass brand is both familiar and holy. Best-known to the majority of the masses as the company which produced two of the most iconic perennial holiday treats ever made ‒ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman ‒ Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr.'s love for family-friendly fantasies stretched beyond the borders of commercialized Christmases. In fact, they were the fellers responsible for the original animated versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and Return of the King in the late '70s and early '80s ‒

Tribeca Film Festival 2018: Cargo Is a Powerful Zombie Drama

Cargo puts a refreshing spin on the zombie genre and is anchored by a career-best Martin Freeman performance.
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When it comes to films depicting the zombie apocalypse, we see the same repetitive formula: Survivors must fight for their lives against the undead and try not to get infected. The latest entry in the zombie film genre, Cargo, demonstrates that same formula but puts a whole new spin on it. Yolanda Ramke, who wrote and co-directed the film with Ben Howling, has crafted a story about fatherhood set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse and it is packed with both horror and heart. Cargo follows the story of Andy (Martin Freeman) and Kay (Susie Porter), an Australian couple

Five Cool Things and Nothing Compares 2 U

This week's cool things include a couple of Humphrey Bogart films, another Stephen King novel, Bob Dylan, and more.
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As mentioned last week, my in-laws were in town this week, also as mentioned they put a damper on my pop-culture consumption. In the early evening hours, we tend to play games or chat or do some activity other than sit in front of the TV. After I put my daughter to bed, some times we'd throw a movie on but usually there was this awkward space in which we’re all sitting around not knowing what to do. Then, of course, there is the fact that they are older and more conservative and many of the things I want to

Basket Case (1982) Blu-ray Review: Enthusiastically Silly and Sleazy

Frank Henenlotter's feature debut comes on a ridiculously stuffed Blu-ray, a must for any fan.
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My conscience tells me I have to recommend this release, because it is a superb home video version of Basket Case, with an absolutely comprehensive set of bonus features, impeccable video and soundtrack (mono and thankfully not upconverted into fake surround) and something that should thrill any fan of the movie or series. But the entire aesthetic of Basket Case rebels against the archival perfection of a Blu-ray release. This is the sort of movie that should be seen in a seedy little theater where you'd never use your credit card. It has '70s (or, more accurately, early '80s) New

My (Tentative) 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule

I've done this nine years and picking what to watch at the fest never gets easier.
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Although I am fortunate enough to attend both events, I am disappointed that CinemaCon and TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) are both occurring next week. I have to leave Las Vegas Thursday morning, missing out on the final day of movie studio presentations and on the pre-TCMFF activities that will take place on Wednesday. Hopefully, I'll make it in time for Meet TCM at Club TCM, so I can ask how the staffers react to the social media outage that their programming has generated over the past year. Thursday Since I am not attending the official Opening Night selection, The

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) Blu-ray Review: Indie Codependent

The Warner Archive Collection revs up the gas for Jeff Burr's controversial buzzer.
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Bridging the gap between pure psychological horror with a touch of humor and gore into something polarly opposite isn't an easy task. And there is no better example of that in the realm of scary movies than New Line Cinema's maligned 1990 slasher sequel, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Though technically an '80s flick, Jeff Burr's 1990 contribution to the famous film franchise ‒ which still exists today via an occasional, unnecessary reboot every couple of years ‒ became an instant target for fans and foes alike. Several years before, the Cannon Group released Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) Blu-ray Review: Krazy, Kampy Fun

Take a ride on the nightmare merry-go-round with Arrow Video’s excellent restoration of the Chiodo brothers’ cult classic.
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During the 1990s, my father and I had an annual tradition on or near Halloween. Whenever Killer Klowns from Outer Space came on the television, we would stop whatever we were doing and watch it. We didn’t have cable back then, and my parents still don’t to this day. Oddly enough, we also never owned the movie on VHS or DVD. But one of the local stations (CBS, I believe) would air it each year as Halloween drew closer. I think it was always being shown during the middle of the day on a weekend, when the network had no

Harper (1966) / The Drowning Pool (1975) Blu-ray Reviews: Newman's Own Detective Series

The Warner Archive Collection brings us two excellent transfers of two contrasting tales starring the great Paul Newman.
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Lew Harper is back on the case ‒ twice over ‒ in these two new Blu-ray releases from the Warner Archive Collection. Adapted from Ross Macdonald's literary adventures of Lew Archer (because who in their right mind could take a character named Archer seriously, especially now?), 1966's Harper brings us a misadventure of a modern-day Southern Californian private investigator. Seemingly inspired by every classic detective from books to film alike ‒ and every bit as cynical, to boot ‒ the role was brought to magnificent life on-screen by the one and only Paul Newman (The Hustler). Nine years later, Newman

Survival Sunday: The Walking Dead & Fear The Walking Dead Exclusive Fan Event Review

Not quite what you've come to expect from a Fathom Event, but was still worth attending.
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The Walking Dead (TWD) has been a ratings juggernaut for the last eight seasons. While it has declined some over time, it still finishes near the top every year. And with this success, AMC network continues to add to the franchise. First, it was an after show called The Talking Dead where host Chris Hardwick discusses with various cast members and fans about the episode that just premiered. Then, there was Fear The Walking Dead (FTWD), which is a show set in the same universe that follows another group of survivors. Along with these variations on a theme, the premieres

New Multicultural Film Festival, MissionFest, Coming to SF July 19-21, 2018

“Our mission is to make it easier for content creators to showcase intriguing programming that reflects this generation’s rich diversity,” said Founder and Executive Director Cary Grant.
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Press release: MissionFest, a new multicultural film festival, will bring together content creators, industry executives, and fans at San Francisco’s The Midway July 19-21, 2018 to promote, discuss, and support inclusive and culturally-diverse film, series and digital short-form programs. In today’s fragmented media environment, consumers have a vast number of content outlets to choose from, and mainstream platforms struggle to accurately represent the world around us. It is harder than ever for creators of inclusive, authentic storytelling to stand out. “Our mission is to make it easier for content creators to showcase intriguing programming that reflects this generation’s rich diversity,”

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: Wrath

"This may be the shark just waiting to be jumped." - Shawn
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In which The Walking Dead sees the wrath of Kim and Shawn. Kim: It's over, and by "it's," I mean The Walking Dead series. And by over, I mean for the season as well as the "war" on the show. I certainly have thoughts on it and you bet your sweet ass I’m going to share them. This will go down in history as the absolute worst season finale in all of The Walking Dead history. Like everything else they have done this season, what should have been an amazing and incredible end to this chapter was just some bullshit

The Post Blu-ray Review: All the News That Fits

Spielberg surrounds himself with an incredible cast and crew for an average story.
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While The Post boasts an incredible cast and crew overflowing with legends, the actual movie fails to hold much interest. That’s almost entirely due to the script, a yawner about the brave actions of The Washington Post staff in reporting on the leaked Pentagon Papers condemning U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The topic is a clear and at times a heavy-handed allusion to today’s charged political climate regarding news agencies and government medling, but it’s just not very compelling as a feature film. We already know how the story plays out, and it's presented with precious little drama and no direct

A Woman's Devotion (1956) Blu-ray Review: Mangled PTSD Crime Drama

Kino Lorber Studio Classics unburies Paul Henreid's butchered, noir-esque tale with Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule.
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Misunderstood in its own time, forgotten in the next, Paul (Casablanca) Henreid's thriller A Woman's Devotion never had an opportunity to deliver its message to audiences when first released in 1956. Instead, the Republic Pictures production was ushered onto screens with a decidedly deceptive ad campaign cashing-in on the film's leads ‒ Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule ‒ who had recent appeared in a successful stage adaptation of the classic melodrama, Picnic. Needless to say, it wasn't the best method to promote a minor film noir-esque title concerning a World War II veteran with a really bad case of Post-Traumatic

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert Blu-ray Giveaway

Time Life and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame give home audiences front row seats to the four most recent incredible induction ceremonies
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Time Life to award three lucky readers the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert Blu-ray, which goes on sale April 24 and is currently available for pre-order. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: Each year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors rock music's pioneering figures during a prestigious, black-tie ceremony. As the Hall of Fame enters its third decade, it's these singular induction ceremonies -- featuring the biggest names in classic rock from the '60s, '70s, and '80s - that have become nearly as iconic as

The Post is the Pick of the Week

Didn't I write this already?
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Do you ever have one of those days where you thought you did something, are absolutely sure of it, are so sure there really isn’t any need of double checking that you did it, only to later realize you didn’t do it at all? Yea, that was me, today, with my Pick of the Week. This weekend I think I must have looked through this week’s new releases thought about what I would pick, what I would say about that pick, and then promptly killed my web browser without actually writing anything. Somewhere in the fogginess of my brain I

Criterion Announces July 2018 Releases

These Criterion titles might affect your summer-vacation budget.
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In July, Criterion plans on releasing five new titles. The first is Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood, a six-movie collection featuring work by Josef von Sternberg and actress Marlene Dietrich. That will be followed by Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham; King Hu's Dragon Inn; Steven Soderbergh's sex, lies, and videotape; and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death. Read on to learn more about them. Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood (#930) out July 3 Tasked by studio executives with finding the next great screen siren, visionary Hollywood director Josef von Sternberg joined forces with rising

The Maze (1953) Blu-ray 3D Review: Riddle Without a Clue

The folks at Kino Lorber Studio Classics do a real Grade-A job with one really B-Grade 3D movie.
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Made during that glorious 3D movie boom of the early '50s, Monogram Pictures' The Maze is cinematic evidence that filmmakers would try just about anything to hop on the three-dimensional bus. The final film in which the legendary William Cameron Menzies (The Whip Hand, Invaders from Mars, Gone with the Wind) served as both director and production designer, The Maze stars another icon of '50s sci-fi and horror films ‒ the great Richard Carlson ‒ as an accent-less Scotsman who goes from a high-profile social feller with a loving fiancée to being a reclusive oddball after his equally eremitic uncle

Book Review: The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic by Richard Sandomir

A well-researched book that gives you the nuts and bolts of how one of the first major movie biopics was made.
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Field of Dreams, The Natural, and Bull Durham may be the first movies that come to mind when you think of baseball, but the first classic baseball film, The Pride of the Yankees, was made in 1942. The story of Yankees’ great Lou Gehrig, who played in 2,130 consecutive games until he developed - and later died of - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), starred Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, and Walter Brennan, and is considered the first blockbuster sports movie. The climax of the movie is Cooper’s reenactment of Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man in the World” speech before his retirement, which is

The City of the Dead (1960) Blu-ray Review: A City Still Worth Visiting

After an marred first release, VCI's second check-in to this Horror Hotel with Christopher Lee checks out.
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Revisiting a classic horror movie you loved as a kid after you've aged a bit can always be a tricky thing to do. It had been at least 20 years since I last cast eyes on The City of the Dead, which I initially discovered via a fuzzy ol' Public Domain VHS copy in the early '90s. Needless to say, when it came time to see the movie again after all that time, I was rather worried that the experience would not be the same. Fortunately, just like the eponymous village itself, time has done very little to age the

Five Cool Things and Ocean's 8

This week's cool things mostly include things I reviewed for this site.
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Last week, I noted that I had started several things and not finished them. My hope was to talk about them this week. As it turns out, I still haven’t finished some of them (damn, Andrei Tarkovsky movies are long) and the ones I did finish weren’t very good (I’m looking at you Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Sacha Guitry). Next week, my in-laws will be in town which will further much with my ability to watch the things I want to watch. Unexpectedly, I still managed to watch and read some cool stuff this week. And away we

The Psychopath (1966) Blu-ray Review: Columbo Goes Psycho

Robert Bloch and Freddie Francis' unique, offbeat thriller finally hits home video thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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If you ever wondered what might happen if Columbo had been born in England, you needn't look any further than the 1966 Amicus production of The Psychopath. A joint effort between American author/screenwriter Robert Bloch and Britain's famed director/cinematographer Freddie Francis, the rampant success of Bloch's Psycho obviously paved the way for this tale of murder, revenge, and creepy dolls. One of several titles unfairly unavailable on home video for entirely too long, this almost-forgotten thriller from England's other horror studio ‒ Amicus Productions ‒ has finally found its way to Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. After

The Twilight People (1972) Blu-ray Review: The Island of Dr. Romero

John Ashley and Pam Grier highlight this hilariously cheesy slice of Filipino rip-off cinema.
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When fans of sleazy exploitation movies get together to discuss their favorite contributions to bad filmmaking from the Philippines, Eddie Romero's name is rarely left out. In fact, the late B-movie guru from the same country that brought us national treasures like the films of Weng Weng is undoubtedly one of the "best" known directors to hail from the country, thanks to a series of mind-numbing mad scientist flicks from the late '60s and early '70s informally referred to as the Blood Island movies. Following the conclusion of the aforementioned series, the late Mr. Romero found himself cranking out a

Baal Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Unbearable, Unflinching, and Savage

Fassbinder's mythic performance fuels this vicious depiction of West German's social malaise.
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When the legendary Rainer Werner Fassbinder died in 1982 at the age of 37, he really did leave behind an amazing body of work. He lived a hard life of drinking and drugs, but that didn't stop him from making films about human fragility and emotion. Also, he didn't just direct films. He also acted in many of them. His boorish, devil-may-care persona began with his 1969 feature debut, Love is Colder than Death, but it didn't reach its apotheosis until one year later in director Volker Schlondorff's controversial 1970 adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's 1918 debut play, BAAL. Fassbinder brilliantly

A Trip to the Moon Blu-ray Review: Simply Magnificent

A newly restored print makes this classic silent film even better.
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As still-photography technology developed and exposure times dropped, the idea of taking a series of photographs and piecing them together to form a moving picture began to percolate in the brains of some of the world’s greatest minds. In May of 1887, a Frenchman, Louis Le Prince, created the first motion-picture film, Roundhay Garden Scene, which consists of a few seconds of people walking in a garden. Others tinkered with similar devices but they were all bulky and unreliable, and the images came out poorly. In 1891, Thomas Edison created the Kinetograph, which took a series of instantaneous photographs on

Molly's Game Blu-ray Review: All In!

Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut is a slick and entertaining fact-based feature.
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Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is known for having his characters spout out lines of dialogue as fast as a typewriter in constant motion. They speak intellectually and, for the most part, have some intense conversation laced with a moment of humor for levity. After his departure from The West Wing in 2003 (he still received credit for being the show’s creator until its ending in 2006), and a flop in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sorkin has put most of his focus on recounting true stories of flawed people taking giant risks in their industries. Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg

Director Leena Pendharkar on Her Latest Film '20 Weeks'

She talked about bringing the authentic relationship between the two main characters to life, the filmmaking aesthetics, and the backstory behind the screenplay as well.
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Abortion is a topic that feels as if it is rarely discussed on film. We’ve seen films about failing marriages and pregnancies before. But it is rare to get a film that depicts certain complications of pregnancy that some couples face. However, 20 Weeks dares to touch on the hot-button topic of abortion and it does so in a nonjudgmental manner. Anna Margaret Hollyman and Amir Arisan play Maya and Ronan, a couple that is faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to abort their unborn child when they discover that he has a severe birth defect. The

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Worth'

"Let me fill you in on what happened in this episode: absolutely nothing nearly as exciting as it should have been." - Kim
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In which Kim and Shawn ruminate on the penultimate episode. Kim: Well, here we are. This was the penultimate episode of the season. According to Merriam-Webster, the word ultimate itself comes from the Latin word for “last, final, or farthest.” The pen- part of penultimate is simply the Latin prefix that means “almost,” so the word literally means “almost last.” There’s also the word penult (pronounced PEE-nult), which means “the next-to-last member of a series,” or “the next to last syllable of a word.” In the word presentation, for example, the accent or stress is on the penult. Another related

Hammer Films Double Feature, Vols. 3 & 4 Blu-ray Reviews: How Iconic

Mill Creek pounds out a few more nail-biters from Britain's famed house of horror.
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Precisely a year-and-a-half to the day since their first two double feature releases, Mill Creek has returned to the House of Hammer once more for another hefty dose of classic '60s thrills and chills, Britannia-style. This time around, there's a heavy focus on some of the less-remembered (but nevertheless, good) titles from the famed studio, many of which were previously seen on DVD by Sony under various Icons of... sets. The first double feature offering from Mill Creek opens with 1963's Maniac. Back in the glorious analog days, trying to find a copy of this one usually resulted in a

The Tribes of Palos Verdes Blu-ray Giveaway

A stirring look at how life’s greatest challenges forge who we become.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Shout Factory to award one lucky reader The Tribes of Palos Verdes on Blu-ray, which is also currently available on DVD. For those wanting to learn more: Surf’s up in paradise. The 2017 feature film The Tribes of Palos Verdes, starring Jennifer Garner, Maika Monroe, Cody Fern, Justin Kirk and Alicia Silverstone, comes to Blu-ray on April 10, 2018, from Shout! Factory, in conjunction with IFC Films. Nine minutes of deleted scenes are included as a bonus feature. When teenage Medina (Maika Monroe) moves with her family to the picture-perfect paradise of Palos Verdes,

Phantom Thread is the Pick of the Week

It's a big week full of interesting new releases.
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The first words out of my mouth--er, keyboard, this week was going to be that I’m a huge Paul Thomas Anderson fan. Then I looked at his filmography and realize I’ve not seen his last three films. I am very much a fan of his first five films (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood). But somewhere along the way I seem to have stopped watching him. It started with The Master, his sort-of take on Scientology with Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing the charismatic leader of a crazy cult. When it came out, it

The Outlaw (1943) Blu-ray Review: Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime

While not a traditional western, The Outlaw does enough right to make it an entertaining watch.
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The Outlaw was produced and directed by Howard Hughes (with some uncredited directing at the beginning of the production by Howard Hawks). It is one of the more unusual westerns in cinema and not just because it is notable for introducing Jane Russell and her cleavage to audiences. The characters include legendary names of the old American West, such as Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday. The story places them in a traditional heterosexual love triangle while at the same time a more subtle homosexual love triangle is occurring with some of the same characters. Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) comes

TCM and Fathom Events Present Grease for Its 40th Anniversary

Grease is still the word.
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Every month, Fathom Events and TCM present a classic movie for the big screen. Nearly every month, my wife and I go. Normally, I grab my passes without even asking her. When Grease was announced, I asked her if she wanted to see it. I was reluctant about it. She was excited. Passes were secured. On the day of, neither of us were particularly thrilled. We kept coming up with excuses to not go. I first caught Grease sometime in the mid 1980s as a junior high kid. I was flipping through the channels on the little TV in my

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay Blu-ray Review: Engaging with Exciting Twists and Turns

I enjoyed this movie so much more than the live action film.
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Not having been impressed by the recent live-action version, I admit the only reason I was interested in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay was because Christian Slater voices one of the characters, but it ended up being lots of fun. Amanda Waller (Vanessa Williams) is the warden at Belle Reve penitentiary. Her unorthodox methods involve forming Task Force X with inmates Deadshot (Slater), Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre), Killer Frost (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Copperhead (Gideon Emery), and Bronze Tiger (Billy Brown). This team of antiheros is required to take on missions at her direction with promises

Manhandled Blu-ray Review: Come for the Opening Sequence, Stay for Gloria Swanson

A forgettable silent comedy is made watchable by the great Gloria Swanson, and worth buying by a terrific scene on a subway.
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As the working day ends, we see tired feet marching down steps, and a pair of worn-out hands clock out. A shopgirl tries to buy her ticket for the subway but is pushed this way and that way by the hordes coming in and out of the station. Once on the train, she is jostled and pushed, pried and prodded. She spills the contents of her purse. Two men reach for the handle bars when the train moves, accidentally lifting the girl off her feet when they do. Her hat is knocked to the floor, stepped on, and smooshed. When

Book Review: Al Capp's Li'l Abner, Volume Nine: Complete Sundays and Dailies 1951-1952

Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae tie the knot in this latest volume of Li'l Abner comic strips.
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Al Capp’s Li’l Abner had the kind of success most comic strips only dream of. Running for 43 years, it captured the heart of pop culture long before the Marvel movies and big-screen blockbusters we have today. The strip introduced the idea of Sadie Hawkins Day into the lexicon, where in a role reversal, young ladies asked young men out for dates. Not a big deal now, but it was a major deal in the 1930s when Capp brought it into his strip. The strip turned Capp into a celebrity, with Capp presenting Kitty Pankey the title of “Sweetest Face

Sacha Guitry: Four Films (1936-1938) Arrow Academy Blu-ray Review: A Historical Bore

A nice boxed set from Arrow Academy presents four films from the popular French director.
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You could say Sacha Guitry was born into the theater. His father, Lucien Guitry, was a very famous French actor who was friends with such luminaries as Tchaikovsky (Guitry convinced the great composer to write his works for Shakespeare’s Hamlet). As a teenager, Sacha began writing for the stage. He was quite prolific at it, having penned more than 120 plays in his lifetime. As movies began taking cultural prominence over the stage, Guitry stayed in the theatre feeling that silent pictures without the use of dialogue were not as dramatically satisfying. By the 1930s, he had changed his mind

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 6 by John Byrne

Welcome these stories into your Star Trek library.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, "John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the [TV show] combined with new material such as dialogue [in word balloons], narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones." Volume 6 collects issues #15-17. “The Traveler” finds the Enterprise crew boarding a ship that's bigger on the inside,

Five Cool Things and Eels' 'Bone Dry'

It was a weird week determined to distract me, but I still found some cool stuff.
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Last weekend, we went to Tennessee to visit some old friends for Easter. This week, Oklahoma teachers staged a walk-out in an attempt to get decent wages and more money for their classrooms. I don’t want to get to far into either of those things because I never want to write about religion or politics. I really don’t want to belittle the teachers and what they are doing in terms of how it has negatively affected my ability to consume pop culture. I do support the teachers and their important cause, but darn, if it hasn’t messed up my ability

A Quiet Place Movie Review: Silence Has Never Been So Scary

A Quiet Place is a simplistic yet masterful gem that is destined to become a modern horror classic.
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Even though just saying the title now gives me chills, I will not stay silent on how amazing A Quiet Place is. Actor-turned-director John Krasinski takes a film with an intriguing, minimalist premise and executes it with precision while directing a masterclass acting ensemble in the process. Unsettling at every single turn and gripping from the first frame to last, A Quiet Place seems destined to become a modern day horror classic. A Quiet Place is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been taken over by alien creatures who will hunt down anyone who makes sounds of any kind.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (30th Ann. Steelbook) and the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (Limited Ed. Steelbook) to Be Released by Shout! Factory

Only 10,000 of each will be available, and they are available now on Amazon and ShoutFactory.
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Press release: Shout! Factory will be releasing Steelbook editions of two cult-favorite films on May 15, 2018: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (30th Anniversary Edition Steelbook), and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (Limited Edition Steelbook). Only 10,000 of each will be available, and they are available now on Amazon.com and ShoutFactory.com. Customers ordering The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (Limited Edition Steelbook) from ShoutFactory.com will receive a free 18x24 rolled poster featuring our brand new artwork, while supplies last, and get it shipped two weeks early. In Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the

Big Fish & Begonia Movie Review: Visually Sumptuous

Despite its issues with its story, this is a stunningly animated feature from China.
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It took 12 years for directors Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang to bring their animated feature film, Big Fish & Begonia, to the big screen. For the most part, the long wait was well worth it. It’s a gorgeously animated feature that seems heavily inspired by the likes of filmmakers such as Hayao Miyazaki, but it doesn’t borrow too much from his work to seem like a complete imitation. On the negative side, though, the story is bogged down heavily by exposition and a muddled storyline that tries to incorporate as much about Chinese mythology as it can while weaving

Auntie Mame (1958) Blu-ray Review: And It's Completely Lucille Ball-Free, Too!

The Warner Archive Collection brings us a beautiful restoration of Rosalind Russell's original great aunt.
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Beginning as a best-selling novel by Patrick Dennis in 1955, Auntie Mame became a Broadway success starring the one and only Rosalind Russell a few years later. As was customary with just about every (even minor) stage triumph in those days, a film version wasn't too far behind. Released to theaters at the tail end of 1958, Warner Bros.' Auntie Mame became the highest-grossing film of 1959. While that may not seem like much of an accomplishment at first glance, it should be noted the films it vanquished at the box office included North by Northwest, Ben-Hur, Anatomy of a

The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who's Walking DVD Review

This "Walking Dead" parody is a nice companion to the show.
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We live in the era of the parody. Entrance to the joke arena is very easy. Within moments of any particular episode of Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, or even Empire ending and there are funny tweets, YouTube songs, and memes aplenty. Anyone with a smart phone and half a sense of humor makes funny of popular culture. So how do you stay ahead of that curve? Robot Chicken has been a stalwart on Adult Swim for years and is an established parody franchise. This release of a crossover with The Walking Dead dates back to the start of this

Sweet Virginia Blu-ray Giveaway

A mysterious stranger sends shock waves through a close-knit community in this nerve-jangling slice of raw suspense.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Shout Factory to award one lucky reader Sweet Virginia on Blu-ray, which is also currently available on DVD. For those wanting to learn more: A mysterious stranger sends shock waves through a close-knit community in this nerve-jangling slice of raw suspense. In the wake of a triple murder that leaves the residents of a remote Alaskan outpost on edge, tightly wound drifter Elwood (Christopher Abbott, Girls) checks into a motel run by Sam (Jon Bernthal, The Walking Dead), a former rodeo champion whose imposing physical presence conceals a troubled soul. Bound together by their

Sweet Country (2018) Movie Review: Tense, Terrific Aussie Western

Warwick Thornton's new feature is a gritty, brilliant take on the genre.
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As I watched Warwick Thornton’s wonderful new film, Sweet Country, there were many thoughts going through my mind. One was how Thornton decided to let the story play out as it is, without any accompanying music. All too often, certain things can take the viewer out of a movie, and one of those can be its score. Sometimes, in the case of something like Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s a necessity, and it works extremely well. But in the case of Sweet Country, a dark and brutal western that explores a particular moment in the country’s history, there’s no need.

Suspiria (1977) Blu-ray Review: Dario Argento at His Non-Giallo Peak

The only thing more beautiful than the last 12 minutes of this Synapse Films restoration are the first 86.
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Best described as a surrealistic fairytale nightmare come to life, Dario Argento's Suspiria has been leaving its mark on audiences and filmmakers alike since its debut in 1977. Truly, it's hard not to become immersed in its breathtaking (sometimes literally) visuals, stunning cinematography, or that wild and pounding soundtrack by Goblin. And now, thanks to a drop-dead gorgeous new 4K transfer by Synapse Films, Argento's amazing masterpiece almost feels like an entirely new feature. Equal parts horror, giallo, and fantasy, Suspiria finds cult favorite star Jessica Harper (Phantom of the Paradise, Shock Treatment, Inserts) as an American ballet student named

The Beatles' Yellow Submarine in Theaters Across North America This July to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary

The restored 4K theatrical version comes with remixed 5.1 Stereo Surround Sound.
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Press release: Abramorama announced today a deal with Apple Corps Ltd. and Universal Music Group (UMG) to theatrically release The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, across North America this July in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Abramorama, Apple Corps Ltd. and UMG have teamed to give Beatles fans of all ages the opportunity to come together and share in this visually stunning movie and soundtrack. Abramorama originally partnered with Apple Corps, Imagine Entertainment, White Horse Pictures, StudioCanal and UMG’s Polygram Entertainment on the Ron Howard documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years. Abramorama

Racy Reels from the Something Weird Vault, Vols. 1 & 2 Blu-ray Reviews: A for Effort

Pop Cinema releases two cool SWV double features, albeit in compressed, condensed form.
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There's an unofficial saying pertaining to the world of adult-oriented filmmaking which goes something along the lines of "If you can think it, someone has already filmed it." Various horrors which shall undoubtedly spew forth from your subconscious once you've thought long and hard about that notwithstanding, there is that occasional moment in time wherein you witness something you had actually wanted to see. For years, I had imagined a scenario involving a man and woman in a post-apocalyptic setting whose first meeting is interrupted by a kung fu fight to the finish with roaming bandits. You can imagine the

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Still Gotta Mean Something'

"I have that good nervous feeling for next week." - Shawn
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In which Kim and Shawn look at character pairings. Kim: My feelings about this episode would best be expressed by a monologue from this episode during this episode. And in this monologue, I will be playing Negan. “What the shit?” *Superstar!* This episode was full of things I didn’t really see coming and left me with one burning question. Sure, you can count “what the shit?” and then I have two burning questions, but they are actually related. And so, unlike the writers, I will walk you through my thought process, and together we will arrive at the only question

Insidious: The Last Key is the Pick of the Week

What can I say? It is a slow week.
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I’ve been writing this column for several years now and I still have no idea how the people who make decisions on when Blu-rays are going to be released decide on when a Blu-ray is going to be released. Last week, we had loads of great stuff coming out. This week we’ve a bunch of junk. Well, that’s not quite true; there are several semi-interesting things coming out just nothing really big and exciting. I have no idea why that is. Do people buy a lot of movies for Easter? Are chocolate bunnies out and Blu-rays in? Next week finds

My Father the Hero (1994) Blu-ray Review: Gerard Depar-don't. Please.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics re-releases the awkward, awful remake starring doughy Gérard Depardieu and jailbait Katherine Heigl.
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The amazing world of French cinema is unquestionably a unique artform unto itself. So it the remaking of French features for American audiences, for that matter. Alas, the latter skill is something very few people have ever been able to master, and has mostly ever resulted in a heap of bad '90s movies floated into theaters under one Disney distribution label or another. Which brings me to My Father the Hero ‒ Disney's lamentable 1994 attempt at remaking the 1991 French comedy, Mon père, ce héros ‒ as helmed by director Steve Miner (Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken) for release

Skirball Cultural Center Celebrates the Creative Vision of Jim Henson in New Exhibition June 1-September 2, 2018

Puppets from Sesame Street, The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, and The Dark Crystal, as well as handwritten scripts, and more, are featured in this interactive exploration of the visionary entertainer's work.
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Press release: The Skirball Cultural Center announces the June 1 opening of The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited, a dynamic new visitor experience exploring the legacy of Jim Henson (1936-1990). Featuring more than 100 objects drawn from the beloved worlds of Sesame Street, The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and much more, the traveling exhibition highlights Henson's groundbreaking work for film and television and his transformative impact on popular culture. It reveals how Henson - together with his team of builders, performers, and writers - created an unparalleled body of work that continues to delight and inspire people

Doc Hollywood (1991) Blu-ray Review: A Crash, a Clash, a Fox Office Splash

Michael J. Fox goes country in this early '90s rom-com now available on BD from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Doc Hollywood was exactly the sort of early '90s filmfare I recall going to see every weekend at the local cinema in the small hick town I grew up in. In fact, I actually did see Doc Hollywood when the nearby theater of my teen-aged youth, where nary another soul was in attendance, leading me to (falsely) concur the movie must not have made a big splash at the box office. In reality, the film was something of a box office hit, but due to prolonged exposed to something called "aging", very little of that remained in my memory banks.

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