June 2018 Archives

Under Capricorn Blu-ray Review: Hitchcock Goes Down Under

Kino Lorber does a decent job restoring one of Hitchcock's lesser films.
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In his interviews with Francois Truffaut (which is included in this set via audio format), Alfred Hitchcock admits that Under Capricorn was a bit of a failure. He believed this was due to his over-excitement over Ingrid Bergman (then one of the world’s biggest stars) agreeing to be in the picture. He paid so much attention to her and the media fawning over her that he didn’t give the script the good working over it needed. Based upon a book by Helen Simpson, it was adapted by Hithcock’s friend Hume Cronyn (an actor with little writing experience) and written by

Boundaries Movie Review: A Solid Escapist Road Movie

Despite its predictability, Boundaries still succeeds thanks to its profound storytelling and great acting.
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One good way to describe Boundaries is that it does yet doesn’t live up to its title. It doesn’t offer any boundary-breaking storytelling. But it still is a poignant demonstration of what happens when one does or doesn’t impose limitations on the behavior of their children. Again, it isn’t anything we haven’t seen or been told before. But Boundaries is still worth recommending for being a simplistic, well-acted escapist road film. Boundaries follows the story of a single mother named Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga) whose life is in slight chaos. Her artistic son Henry (Lewis MacDougall) keeps getting into trouble

Director Christian Papierniak on His Feature Film Debut, Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town

"Whatever scene you’re doing is just about trying to grab whatever the truth is in that moment whether it’s a video game or whether it’s a movie." - Christian Papierniak
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In Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town, perennial scene-stealer Mackenzie Davis gets a rare opportunity to carry a film on her shoulders. But she manages to do it with ferocious gusto. As Izzy, a struggling riot grrrrl rock star, Davis delivers a performance that possesses both dramatic insecurity and deadpan comic bite. Izzy may not be the easiest character to like and in many ways, is a complete mess. But Davis still makes her a protagonist worth watching thanks to her charisma that shines through in every single frame of the picture in which she appears. The film follows her

The Addiction Blu-ray Review: A Very Disturbing but Highly Intelligent Tale of Urban Vampirism

I definitely have to recommend this shocking and masterful film.
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As a filmmaker, Abel Ferrara has always stepped outside of the mold to deliver highly provocative works of humanity going completely awry. Whether it's insanity (The Driller Killer), female revenge (Ms. 45), hip-hop culture (King of New York), or police corruption (Bad Lieutenant), you can always count on him to piss off critics and audiences everywhere. He is a director of amazing extremity and unapologetic cruelty, and his very underrated 1995 cerebral horror classic, The Addiction, represents both at its most low-key and uncomfortable stride. Shot in crisp black and white, the film stars the always amazing Lili Taylor as

Interview with Jason David Frank about Fandemic Tour Sacramento and Power Rangers

Jason David Frank talks about the upcoming Fandemic Tour and his work on the Power Rangers franchise.
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This weekend marks the start of a new type of comic convention hitting the national market. Fandemic Tour, which was started by former Wizard World CEO John Macaluso, is set to kick off its inaugural show in Sacramento, CA, on Friday, June 22 and will run until Sunday, June 24. Pop-culture fans will have the opportunity to meet many actors from a variety of their favorite television shows and movies, as well as numerous artists and, of course, some incredible cosplayers. One of the actors who will be attending all three days of the event is Jason David Frank of

The Bloodthirsty Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Dracula Goes East

Three Japanese movies directed by Michio Yamamoto that involve Western-style vampires, with style, atmosphere, and some decent sprays of blood.
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As one of the great national cinemas, the Japanese movie industry has invented whole cloth many genres and excelled in many non-native filmic conventions… except arguably the Western-style horror movie. Until the late '90s, when The Ring brought out a rather short-lived craze of ghost stories (usually with a long black-haired ghost, which is cribbed from Japanese folk-lore), Japanese example of horror were rather sparse, and rather different than Western films. In the West some of the acknowledged greatest movies of the silent era are horror films. There are several distinct studio and national traditions: Universal horror creatures, the '50s

Bonus Features Unveiled for Gravity Falls: The Complete Series Collector's Edition

Beloved Disney series available as a Complete Series Box Set on Blu-ray and DVD for the First Time July 24th, 2018 from Shout! Factory.
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Press release: The wait is over - the final list of bonus features for Gravity Falls: The Complete Series has been unveiled, and this exciting array of brand-new content is sure to keep fans of the series entertained well past the end of summer vacation! Available on Blu-ray and DVD, the complete series will be available in two editions. The Collector’s Edition will be a seven-disc box set that includes an entire disc of bonus features, including audio commentaries on all 40 episodes with series creator Alex Hirsch and members of the cast and crew; a new feature-length documentary “One

Saturday Programming Highlights for Fandemic Tour Sacramento

These are the panels in which you will find me.
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Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make the first day of the inaugural Fandemic Tour due to getting off work late. But I will be making the second day, which is Saturday, June 23, at the Sacramento Convention Center. Here are the panels I plan on attending. This is subject to change, as is the case with all conventions. Click here for a full programming list. 12:00 p.m. Building Star Wars with the 501st LegionLocation: Stage Two The 501st Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which

Tom Baker's Complete First Season of Doctor Who is the Pick of the Week

See what's new in the world of Blu-rays.
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In 1978, the first four seasons of Tom Baker’s Doctor Who episodes were sold to PBS stations across the United States. This was not the first time The Doctor had come to America. Several years prior, Time Life bought up some of Jon Pertwee’s episodes and syndicated it to commercial stations in the U.S. However, none of the stations seemed to understand the nature of the serialized show and were constantly shuffling it about in their schedule keeping audiences from getting it. PBS hired Howard Da Silva to read voiceover recaps before each episode and teasers at the end, allowing

Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken by Tipton, Tipton, Woodward, Kirchoff

This collection serves as a very good origin story, setting the stage for future adventures.
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In the Star Trek franchise, there is a parallel universe dubbed the "Mirror Universe" where the evil Terran Empire, which rules through terror, stands in place of the United Federation of Planets. Its first appearance was in the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror," when a transporter malfunction during an ion storm causes the landing party of Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura to switch places with their counterparts. It was a very compelling episode and the Mirror Universe has been revisited in different TV series and assorted non-canonical Trek media. IDW's Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken collects

Special 50th Anniversary of Elvis Presley's Iconic '68 Comeback Special Hits Cinemas August 16 and 20

From Fathom Events and Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the two-day screening event will feature newly produced content about the famed rocker.
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Press release: Elvis Presley’s legendary ’68 Comeback Special, directed and produced by Steve Binder, will hit the big screen this summer in celebration of its 50th anniversary. The two-day cinema event will take place across the globe on August 16, with an encore screening on August 20. Each screening will include the legendary television special, plus an exclusive look at the making of the special, featuring a walkthrough of the NBC soundstage with insights from Binder and others influenced by Presley, his music and this iconic event. This brand new content is produced by Spencer Proffer, CEO of Meteor 17,

Five Cool Things and the Grand Tetons

After a week off, I'm talking about Stephen King, Doctor Who, Humphrey Bogart, and independent film.
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A big thanks to Gordon and Shawn for filling in for me last week. As noted, I spent the week in Wyoming visiting both the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. Both were extraordinarily gorgeous. For those of you playing along, the man in the photo posted last week was fly fishing. I didn’t get word on whether he caught anything or not. During that week I did not consume much pop culture as that’s just not what you do while standing in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. However, the week before (and my vacation really

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Portrait of the Artist As a Fascinating Man

Director Paul Schrader crafts a daring, spellbinding biography of Japanese writer Yukio Mishima.
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Yukio Mishima carved out a career as an esteemed playwright and author before ending his life by taking over a military facility and performing seppuku, a ritualistic form of suicide. Paul Schrader's daring film traces his life by having actors perform vignettes from some of Mishima's most famous works, painting a brilliant picture of this intriguing man. The film is notable not just for its subject but for its structure. After a brief color intro, it moves to black and white for the story of Mishima's childhood, then shifts to color for multiple vignettes that represent later stages of his

Criterion Announces September 2018 Releases

September is alright for upgrades.
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In September, some Criterion aficinados will have an opportunity to upgrade their favorite films as three of the five titles debut in high-definition. They are Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage, Gregory La Cava's My Man Godfrey, and Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev New to the collection are Olivier Assayas' Cold Water and Daniel Petrie's A Raisin in the Sun. Read on to learn more about them. Scenes from a Marriage (#229) out Sept 4 Scenes from a Marriage chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind Marianne and Johan, tracking their relationship through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent

The Jackie Gleason Show in Color DVD Review: Plenty of Good Stuff Here

It's a wonderful walk down memory lane, but keep the walks short.
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Jackie Gleason was one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century. Too bold of a statement? With an acting career that spanned over forty years, numerous incarnations of his variety show including an ongoing sketch that became its own iconic series, and an incredibly successful record-producing career including the 1953 Music for Lovers Only which spent 153 weeks on Billboard's Top Ten, I think the statement is pretty accurate.. The Tony winner and Oscar nominee was appropriately named; “The Great One”. Gleason was successfully not only because of his incredible talent, but also because of his relatability. No matter

The Woman in the Window (1944) Blu-ray Review: Early Noir is Excellent

Fritz Lang's classic noir is nearly ruined by a terrible ending, but what comes before it is quite good.
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Fritz Lang’s 1944 crime drama The Woman in the Window is one of a handful of films that became the basis for what the Cahiers du Cinema called "film noir." These films (which include The Maltese Falcon, Murder My Sweet, Double Indemnity, and others) were beloved by French critics and filmmakers in the 1950s and '60s and helped usher in the French New Wave. The Woman in the Window was named as the best film noir of all time by Paste magazine. I wouldn’t go quite that far, especially as it is marred by a tacked on happy ending that

Ocean's 8 Movie Review: A Fun Escapist Spinoff

Ocean's 8 is entertaining popcorn fare. Nothing more, nothing less.
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Even though it could’ve been its own original property rather than an Ocean’s spinoff, Ocean’s 8 is still enjoyable popcorn fare. It may not be perfect but it’s still a fun moviegoing experience featuring terrific, witty performances from its A-list cast. Ocean’s 8 follows the story of Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the sister of con artist Danny Ocean. After being released from prison on parole, Debbie quickly turns back to her life of crime. Debbie quickly assembles a group of women: Lou (Cate Blanchett), Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Nine Ball (Rihanna), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), and Constance (Awkwafina),

Tom Baker's Complete First Season of Doctor Who on Blu-ray for the First Time with over 17 Hours of Bonus Content

The season is accompanied by extensive bonus features - over seventeen hours in total - with brand new exclusive material.
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Press release: The Fourth Doctor is heading to Blu-ray on June 19, 2018 in Doctor Who: Tom Baker Complete Season One from the home entertainment division of BBC Studios, featuring over five and a half hours of all-new exclusive bonus content. The earliest adventures of the beloved Classic-era Fourth Doctor - Robot, The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks, and Revenge of the Cybermen - have been restored for Blu-ray and are available in one collection for the very first time. The Ark in Space was previously reviewed by Greg Barbrick, who wrote that “it is

George Carlin Commemorative Collection is the Pick of the Week

Here are a few titles worth picking up this week.
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Mat continues his family road trip, so I am picking up the reins to write about what looks interesting. It feels like we've been living in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes" for the past few years as the public discourse gets increasingly less trustworthy due to certain players reveling in and profiting from the chaos of misinformation. It makes one wish for more people in the public square, like the child of Andersen's story, to call out the nonsense on display in society. I enjoy those rabble-rousers, firebrands, and troublemakers who don't go along with the status quo,

Hereditary Movie Review: Give Toni Collette The Best Actress Oscar

The film itself is a twisted experience that had me quivering by the time the credits rolled.
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It’s hard to know how exactly to describe Hereditary as a film. On one hand, it’s a dark descent into a person’s damaged psyche. On the other hand, it’s an enigmatic supernatural thriller that serves an allegory for the “demons” we inherit from our family. The film itself is a twisted experience that had me quivering by the time the credits rolled. But one thing about Hereditary that is perfectly describable is the brilliance of Toni Collette’s leading performance. Collette gives what is perhaps the best performance in a horror film in recent memory. One that will potentially join the

AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to George Clooney Gathers Artists and Icons for Historic Evening

Special to premiere Thursday, June 21, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.
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Press release: Actor, director, writer and producer George Clooney was honored with the American Film Institute's 46th AFI Life Achievement Award — America's highest honor for a career in film — on Thursday, June 7, in an evening filled with laughter, stories, music and emotion at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. TNT will premiere the hour-and-a-half special, The 46th AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to George Clooney, on Thursday, June 21, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by an encore at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT. Sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will also air the special in September 2018 during a

Spetters Blu-ray Review: A Dirt Bike Drama that Lives in the Gutter

Paul Verhoeven's dirt bike drama is a vile, sexist, homophobic piece of work that just might tell the truth of teenaged boys' life in Holland during the 1980s.
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Paul Verhoeven’s 1980 dirt-bike drama Spetters is a vile piece of work. It's the sort of film that finds sexual assault hilarious and believes a closeted gay man only needs a brutal gang raping to figure out who he is. Yet for all its disgusting brutishness, it has moments of surprising tenderness and has the feeling of truth in terms of Dutch youth culture in the 1980s. It's about three young men, Rien (Hans van Tongeren) and Hans (Maarten Spanjer,) both dirt-biker racers, and their mechanic Eef (Toon Agterberg), who dreams of fame, fortune, and beautiful women. Their lives are

Five Cool Things and Anthony Bourdain

Three different fellas have a say in what was and wasn't cool this week.
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As Mat stated last week, he's currently off in Wyoming celebrating his in-laws' 50th anniversary. But that doesn't mean people stopped enjoying cool things, so Shawn Bourdo and Gordon S. Miller are joining forces to fill in during Mat's absence, but that doesn't mean he's not going to take part this week. Snow in Wyoming From Mat's trip comes this beautiful photo of the Wyoming landscape from just a few days ago. If you look close, there's a gentleman in the water. What's he's doing there is up to you to decide. Wonder if we should make it a contest

RBG Movie Review: Evidence Why Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Definitely the 'Notorious RBG'

Besides being a great documentary, I can see this film being taught in classrooms across disciplines in the future.
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As a woman living in 2018, it can be easy to take the rights and opportunities that women currently have for granted. These rights and opportunities were never guaranteed to women and plenty of men fought to keep women "in their place." It was not just the natural progression of things that got women things like the right to vote, the ability to work outside the home, the right to get credit without a husband, or the right to join the military. It was the perseverance of activists and advocates that fought against the institution of patriarchy that helped get

The Workers Cup Movie Review: Simplistic Almost to a Fault

Neither sentimental nor filled with heavy dramatic stakes, The Workers Cup is a simple demonstration of why people play sports.
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In 2022, Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup and its stadium is being built by 1.6 million migrant workers. Sixty percent of the workers are some of the world’s poorest people like India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. They work tirelessly to ensure that the one of the world’s biggest events can be held in the world’s richest country. The Workers Cup focuses on a select amount of workers who are chosen to compete in The Workers Cup, a football tournament for laborers. The tournament is sponsored by the 2022 World Cup and 24 construction companies were invited to select teams

Jackass: Complete Movie and TV Collection DVD Review: Not for the Faint of Heart

Watching Jackass is a challenge in and of itself, but it's hard not to laugh at the sheer idiocy and recklessness on display.
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Tied to the release of Johnny Knoxville's Action Point, Paramount has released Jackass: Complete Movie and TV Collection, an 11-disc set of previously released DVDs of their movies and TV shows that showcase the outrageous high jinks, stunts, and pranks performed by the Jackass cast, which besides Knoxville includes Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Dave England, and Ehren McGhehey as well as a number of recurring folks behind the camera. The Jackass fellas are like those troublesome kids who cause a commotion in the neighborhood with their crazy antics, pestering the old

Black Venus Blu-ray Review: A Horrible Mark in Our History

A devastating portrait of abuse.
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Black Venus tells the true life story of Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman, a South African woman who was mistreated her entire life due to her large buttocks and genitals. Though not technically a slave, she lived like one for several years in Captetown serving as a washwoman and nursemaid to the Caezar family. Eventually, Hendrik Caezar and his friend William Dunlop took Sarah to England and France where they exhibited her in a freak show like a wild animal. She was put into a cage, dressed like a stereotypical native, laughed and scoffed at by the rabble who poked and prodded

Dead Heads to Gather in Movie Theaters Nationwide August 1 for 8th Annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up

Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment present newly remastered 1989 JFK Stadium concert on what would have been Jerry Garcia’s 76th birthday.
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Press release: The Grateful Dead returns to cinemas this summer for its highly anticipated annual event, “8th Annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies.” For the eighth year in a row, a special concert presentation will bring fans together across the country for a unique celebration of the band. This year’s concert is a presentation of the July 7, 1989 show from Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Stadium, and highlights the band’s exuberant resurgence, a peak that rivals any that came before it. When this show was recorded, the band included guitarist Jerry Garcia, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist

Thoroughbreds is the Pick of the Week

Here's all that's interesting in the world of new Blu-ray releases this week.
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Thoroughbreds is about two upper-class teenage girls (Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy) who rekindle a friendship after growing apart over many years. One of them is completely aloof, feeling virtually nothing for anybody. The other is over emotional. They hatch a plan to murder the oppressive step-father and hire Anton Yelchin to do the deed. The trailer looks hilarious. They had me the moment they called it a cross between Heathers and American Psycho. I cannot wait to see it. Also out this week that looks interesting: A Wrinkle In Time: Madeline L’Engle’s classic book gets a big-budget adaptation starring

Freak Show Blu-ray Giveaway

This proudly offbeat comedy is an irresistible ode to outsiders and nonconformists of all stripes.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Shout Factory and IFC Films to award one lucky reader Freak Show on Blu-ray, which will be available on June 54. For those wanting to learn more: Featuring an all-star cast that includes Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game, The End of the F***ing World), Bette Midler (Ruthless People), Larry Pine (The Royal Tenenbaums), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) and AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia), this proudly offbeat comedy is an irresistible ode to outsiders and nonconformists of all stripes. Billy Bloom (Lawther) is one-of-a-kind: a fabulous, glitter-bedecked,

Death Smiles on a Murderer Blu-ray Review: I'm Not Smiling

Joe D'Amato's first horror film is a strange mixture of weird, gore, and boredom.
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In 1973, Joe D’Amato, the Italian auteur behind such masterpieces as Anthropophagus, Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals, and Anal Strippers X-posed, directed his first horror movie, Death Smiles on a Murderer. He thought it was so good he put his real name, Aristide Massaccesi, in the credits. He should have kept the pseudonym and directed Anal Strippers 2 instead. In a movie that stars Klaus Kinski as a mad doctor, who uses ancient Incan magic to re-animate the dead, and includes scenes in which a shotgun blows the skin off a person’s face, a cat that scratches the eyes out

Lights of New York (1928) DVD Review: The Most Sublime Milestone in Cinema

The Warner Archive Collection brings us the first all-talking motion picture ever, which deserves a look-see for that very reason alone.
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Given that even the cheapest films produced today can be presented in faux widescreen with 7-channel surround sound and special effects manufactured entirely via computer software, it's extremely easy to take some of cinema's most important milestones for granted. Much like the very first motion pictures to be shot digitally as far back as the early 2000s have already faded from the memory of the general public, the movies which introduced the world to surround (let alone stereo) sound and the phenomenon once known as CinemaScope have become little more than mere footnotes in cinematic history. One such milestone ‒

2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Four

My eighth year of the festival was my favorite, yet I probably think that at the end every festival.
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The last day of the festival is always started with a mix of emotions, sadness that it is almost over and a bit of gladness due to the film fatigue that has set in. This year it was mostly sadness since there had been so many great movies, and I wasn’t ready to stop seeing more. Luckily, the day started with one of my most anticipated films, Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). I am so grateful that I waited to see this for the first time on the big screen. It is stunning and truly one of

Five Cool Things and Florence + the Machine

Come see the cool stuff I discovered this week.
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My in-laws came to town again this week. Diligent readers will remember they were here not very long ago and perhaps wonder why the return trip. As it so happens, they are celebrating their 50th anniversary by taking a long vacation through various western parts of the country. They took my wife and daughter with them to Arizona and Utah. Next week, I’l be joining them in Wyoming. I miss them terribly but it is nice to have a few days all on my own. It's too hot to do anything but sit in the air conditioning and I’ve seen

The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited Review: A Marvelous Remembrance of the Man and his Work

"As children, we all live in a world of imagination, of fantasy, and for some of us that world of make-believe continues into adulthood." — Jim Henson
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Running June 1-September 2, 2018 at The Skirball Cultural Center, The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited pays tribute to Jim Henson (1936-1990), a major creative force in the latter half of the 20th Century. With the help of his collaborators, Henson's Muppets (a combination of marionette and puppet) remain one the most popular groups of imaginary characters, rivaling the cartoon characters from Looney Tunes and Walt Disney and Charles Schulz's Peanuts. Organized by the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), New York, this traveling exhibition is a version of MoMI’s ongoing The Jim Henson Exhibition. It is divided into sections:

Peter Pan (1953) Blu-ray Review: Soars With Hours of Bonus Features

The latest release of this animated classic includes over two hours of bonus features.
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Peter Pan was previously released on Blu-ray back in 2013 in a Diamond Edition, but after being briefly consigned to the dreaded Disney vault it has now re-emerged in their current Walt Disney Signature Collection edition. If you already have the prior release, the principal reason to give this one a look is a handful of new bonus features. A secondary perk is the addition of a digital copy that wasn’t present in the prior release, giving cloud movie fans reason to rejoice. Other than that, this version appears to be technically identical to the version released less than five

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