January 2019 Archives

Sundance Film Festival 2019: Geraldine Viswanathan is the Strong Center of Hala

Geraldine Viswanathan is a revelation in this affecting coming-of-age drama.
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Part coming-of-age story and part meditative portrait of religious hypocrisy, Hala is quite an effective showcase. It also takes the typical story of a teenager adjusting to life in high school and makes it feel new by focusing on a Muslim American teen and emphasizing on the importance of choice. The film is about the titular character’s fight for her individuality from within and with those around her. When the film first opens, we see Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan) reciting a prayer before the scene eventually cuts to her masturbating in a bathtub. Then, we see her skateboard to school while

Sundance Film Festival 2019: Wounds Is Indeed Rather Hurtful

Wounds starts off promising before slowly going off the rails with its overly ambiguous premise.
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One way to describe Wounds is that the experience of watching it doesn’t feel like self-inflicted pain. However, it does feel like a slight bruising in the end because it’s such a mindbender and it becomes hard to decipher how you feel about the film in general. The first half offers strong promise but things go off the rails as the film progresses to the point where you can’t comprehend what you just saw. The basic premise is as follows. Will (Armie Hammer), a bartender from New Orleans, is working a shift one night. But when a customer accidentally forgets

Sundance Film Festival 2019: The Nightingale is Frustratingly Gratuitous

The Nightingale has strong political undertones yet still succumbs to its ultraviolent nature.
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The biggest positive about The Nightingale happens at the very beginning of the film. Our main character, Clare, is singing a tune for a bunch of British soldiers before the title card is revealed. Because of the film’s title and how Clare sings a lovely tune, it seems like we’re in for a rather light film. That is until things quickly turn on a dime and Claire becomes subjected to a gang rape while her family gets killed off. Already, The Nightingale becomes a task to sit through because of its graphic nature. The film even nearly falters because of

Diamonds for Breakfast Blu-ray Review: Should Have Had Bran

This oh-so very sixties comedy could have used a little more swing and little less schwing.
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A man stands in a London museum admiring a collection of Russian artifacts including the Crown Jewels that were confiscated from the Royal Family during the revolution. He smiles at the fact that painting of the Royal Family rather resemble his own visage. It should as he is Nicholas Wladimirovitch Goduno (Marcello Mastroianni), Grand Duke and descendant of the Imperial Romanov family, who now owns a small boutique shop in London and mountains of debt. When he slips on a banana peel, knocking himself unconscious, he awakes to visions of his ancestor (also Mastorianni) begging him to take back what

Sundance Film Festival 2019: Alfre Woodard is Oscar Worthy in Clemency

Alfre Woodard quietly delivers the best film performance of her career.
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It’s no secret that ageism towards older actresses in Hollywood is a legit problem. However, one faction of that problem that feels rather ignored is ageism towards actresses of color. As they get older, it becomes more difficult than it already is for them to land prominent film roles. But thankfully, Chinonye Chukwu, the writer/director of Clemency, cast veteran actress Alfre Woodard in a role that gives her plenty to sink her teeth into. Not only does she do the best work of her career in Clemency but she delivers a performance that should already put in next year’s race

Then Came You (2019) Movie Review: Steer Clear

Maisie Williams is the only shining light in this standard coming-of-age story.
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Coming-of-age films in which cancer-stricken teens are at the forefront have become a dime-a-dozen concept, and after Then Came You, there needs to be a hold on them for a long period of time. Sure, the young-adult crowd might gobble them up, and some may win the hearts of indie-film lovers at festivals. But when your film practically tells its audience that having cancer means you can get away with anything - and I mean anything - there’s a problem. That is just one of the many reasons why Peter Hutchings’ film is one of the most dreadful experiences so

The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl Blu-ray Review: A Long, Strange Trip

Funny, bizarre, and strangely obsessed with underpants, this Japanese animated comedy deserves to be seen.
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Two strangers have a separate, but equally long, strange night where they meet an increasingly eccentric group of people. In the end, they meet, not so coincidentally, and fall in love. The Night is Short, Walk On Girl is Masaaki Yuasa’s psychedelic, dream-like animated romantic, comedic, adventure film brought to the U.S. by way of GKIDS and Shout! Factory. The girl is known as Kohai (which translates to “junior” in English) or The Girl with Black Hair (Kana Hanazawa). She is of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl variety, beautiful and quirky. She wants to spend her night partying and drinking

Suspiria (2018) Blu-ray Review: Wildly Reinvented, Massively Flawed

This remake of the 1977 horror classic completely reinvents the story, rarely for the better, and is very, very long.
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Suspiria is a strange film to remake, because most of what makes it an effective movie has nothing to do with the stuff that can be readily borrowed for a remake. The characters are mostly functional; the story is an excuse to string together episodes of suspense or horror. Everything good about the 1977 original comes from director Dario Argento's style, his mastery of tone. The lighting and the soundtrack are more central to its power than its story. So for a remake of Suspiria to be worth anyone's time, it would have to run in a very different direction

Sundance Film Festival 2019: Velvet Buzzsaw is Wonderfully Chaotic

Velvet Buzzsaw is incredibly off-kilter and grotesque yet brilliant.
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Writer/director Dan Gilroy has proven himself as a master of demonstrating the craving for more. Whether it’s more ratings or more money, the characters in his films have a desire for more than they possess or the best of what they seek. For instance, the sinister Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler is always on the hunt for the next juicy story and is willing to shed blood in order to get it. But in Velvet Buzzsaw, our main characters that are involved in the world of art dealing are always craving the most marketable paintings. They even go far enough to

First Man Blu-ray Review: A Giant Leap for Mankind and for a Man

Not only an exciting historical adventure, the film does an important service in telling the story of heroes such as Neil Armstrong and others who worked on the Gemini and Apollo projects.
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Based on James R. Hansen's biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, director Damien Chazelle along with his cast and crew do an amazing job presenting a portion of Armstrong's life that led to him becoming the first person to walk on the Moon. While that is a feat only 12 men in all of humankind have ever accomplished, First Man reveals that the burdens of life, which so many have experienced, are similarly harrowing and thrilling. The film opens with a tension-filled scene as Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) tests an the X-15 rocket plane in 1961. He bounces

Suspiria (2018) is the Pick of the Week

Here's all the Blu-ray releases that look interesting this week.
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It takes a certain audacity to remake Suspiria, Dario Argento’s 1977 supernatural horror film. The original is a vibrant, neon, phantasmagoria of sight and sound, and blood. It is a film unto itself. One that only Argento could make. How anyone could look at that film and think it needed to be remade is beyond me. And yet here we are. Luca Guadagino, a director best known for Call Me By Your Name, a lush, quiet little film about a gay love affair between a student and an older man, is apparently that audacious. When I first heard it was

Sundance Film Festival 2019: Awkwafina Proves Her Dramatic Range in The Farewell

Awkwafina is the strong center of the bittersweet dramedy known as The Farewell.
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A movie about a family hiding the family matriarch from her own terminal illness. On paper, it sounds rather dour. But in the hands of writer/director Lulu Wang, The Farewell becomes a bittersweet dramedy about the conflicts of cultural ties. It's also carried by an effortless leading performance from Awkwafina who, along with the incredible ensemble cast, masterfully demonstrates the movie's balance of humor and heartbreak. In The Farewell, Awkwafina plays Billi, a Chinese American woman whose grandmother, also known as her Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen), becomes fatally diagnosed with lung cancer. Due to Chinese culture traditions, Billi's family doesn't

Aircraft Carrier: Guardians of the Seas 4K Ultra HD / Blu-ray Giveaway

Find yourself aboard the USS Ronald Reagan alongside the 5,000 highly skilled sea and air personnel conducting flight operations in the midst of the simulated war exercises.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Shout! Factory and K2 Communications to award one lucky reader Aircraft Carrier: Guardians of the Seas on a 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray Combo Pack, which will be available on February 5 For those wanting to learn more, read the press release is below: On February 5, 2019 Shout! Factory will release the exhilarating ultra high-definition film IMAX Aircraft Carrier: Guardian Of The Seas in a 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital copy set, loaded with several bonus features. The mission to protect and defend the world’s oceans has become more complex and challenging

Five Cool Things and American Gods: Season Two

Doctors, Gods, superheroes and more are all cool things happening this week.
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One of the problems with having so many great television series airing on so many different services is that it's difficult to stick with one thing. I regularly find myself watching a few episodes of something, really enjoying it, but then switching over to some other show that looks awesome. The intent is to come back to the first thing but then there is not only a second show but a third and fourth one and before I know it, it's been a year since I sat down with the first show. This is especially true for me as I

IDW Assembles a Writer's Room of Comic Book Visionaries for Brand-New Star Trek: Year Five Series

Celebrate #1 launch with cover by legendary sci-fi / fantasy artist Greg Hildebrandt painting Star Trek for the first time.
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Press release: IDW Publishing proudly embarks on the U.S.S. Enterprise’s homeward journey with Star Trek: Year Five, a monthly comic book series debuting in April 2019. A sweeping space odyssey developed by a brain trust of exceptional writers, Year Five welcomes co-writers Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, and artist Stephen Thompson for its opening story arc, and - painting Star Trek for the first time in all his 60 years of professional illustration - Greg Hildebrandt as cover artist for the debut issue. In Star Trek: Year Five, the crew of the Enterprise have traveled to strange new worlds, defeated impossible

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Blu-ray Review: Pros and Cons on the French Riviera

Who will come out the victor as con men try to con each other in Frank Oz's light and airy Riviera comedy?
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Steve Martin and Michael Caine are a dynamic duo vying for the fortune, and affections, of American heiress Glenne Headly, in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Shout Select has released the film for the first time ever on Blu-ray and it is great to look at. The film is as bright and sharp as the con men at its core. The new release has been mastered from a new 2K scan of the film and looks very bright, detailed, and colorful on a large-scale high-definition television screen. Of course the fact that it was shot by renowned cinematographer Michael Ballhaus helps,

Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic Blu-ray Review: A Powerful Performance by Linda Blair

A sobering, if slight look at teenage alcoholism.
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After The Exorcist, Linda Blair's career got a bad rap because nothing else came close to the level of success she got from that film. Her later films such as Exorcist II, Roller Boogie, and Repossessed tarnished her credibility as a serious actress, especially considering the many Razzie nominations she unfortunately received throughtout. However, she did excel in demanding TV-movies where she played the much-abused victim. In director Richard Donner's 1977 TV movie, Sarah T.- Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, she proved that she could handle uncomfortable subject matter, giving an unusually realistic portrayal of a young girl on the

Update: 2019 Academy Award Winners Announced

Did your favorites get chosen or overlooked?
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have revealed their nominees for outstanding film achievement of 2018. Roma and The Favourite tied for the most nominations with 10. The Oscars will be presented on Sunday, February 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center and televised live on the ABC Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The winners (with links to our reviews where first listed) are in Bold: Best Picture Black Panther | Review BlacKkKlansman | Review Bohemian Rhapsody | Review The Favourite | Review Green Book | Review Roma | Review A

First Man is the Pick of the Week

The Criterion Collection, Humphrey Bogart, Neil Armstrong, and more are coming to a Blu-ray near you.
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Last night, the wife, the daughter, and I sat in our car in the freezing cold at 11:30 at night looking at the Super Blood Wolf Moon. It was awesome. We are big fans of space and astronomy around here. My daughter thought it was the coolest thing ever. I kind of did, too. I am forever blown away by the fact that we’ve sent robots and real, live human beings into space and lived to tell the tale. One such tale is First Man, Damien Chazelle’s movie about Neil Armstrong, the first man to have set foot on the

Melies: Fairy Tales in Color Blu-ray Review: When Special Effects Were Magic

A collection of 13 short films by the early effects genius of Silent Cinema.
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Georges Melies was one of the first special-effects wizards in the history of Cinema. He was so early on the scene that, in fact, he initially built his own camera, projector, and learned to develop his own film because the facilities for all of these did not exist and the Lumiere brothers wouldn't sell him theirs. While the Lumiere's believe cinema would have mostly academic or educational applications, Melies focused on creating spectacles - commercial films before there was really any commerce in film. He pioneered techniques using dissolves, multiple exposures, hand-tinting films, and more in the service of creating

Book Review: Superman: The Silver Age Sundays, Volume 1 (1959-1963)

Extremely entertaining and occasionally quite troubling, these stories are the groundwork for the Superman myth.
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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Maybe that’s a bit much, but it’s not a wholly inaccurate description of Superman: The Silver Age Sundays, Volume 1 (1959-1963), which depicts a version of Superman from a bygone era that is both classic and clumsy. This isn’t the Superman of the modern film era, blistering with smoldering looks and Kryptonian abs, but more of a square-jawed and barrel-chested father-figure type. And just like your actual human parents, the Superman we find in this elegant hardcover collection can both inspire love and trust and turn absolutely cringeworthy

Yessongs: 40th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray Review: For Fans Only

An enjoyable Yes concert but the audio comes close to the edge of unacceptability.
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Originally released on Blu-ray in the UK for the actual 40th anniversary in 2012, Yessongs, also the name of a live album with a larger selection of songs, is now available for the rest of us. The film presents the band playing at the Rainbow Theatre in London during their Close to the Edge Tour on December 15, 1972. The members are vocalist Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Alan White, replacement for Bill Bruford who quit eleven days before the tour was set to commence. After a brief "Overture" of some sort,

Glass Movie Review: An Ambitiously Uneven Thriller

Despite some overt exposition and disjointed character development, Glass still features admirable ambition and a terrific James McAvoy performance.
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Glass, the final film in M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy that includes Unbreakable and Split, proves to be quite fragile. It does attempt to be a thoughtful deconstruction of the superhero mythos but it almost gets broken by its grand ambition. Partially because it’s rather disjointed in terms of character focus and also, it sometimes feels the need to spell out its comic-book parallels for the audience. But in spite of its needless exposition, Glass still thrives thanks to its attempts at dissecting comic book lore within a psychological thriller canvas. Also, it boasts some killer villainous performances. After being

The House That Would Not Die (1970) Blu-ray Review: A Clear Case of Repossession

Barbara Stanwyck's lackluster TV-movie debut is pulled out of the vault by Kino Lorber.
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Originally broadcast as an ABC Movie of the Week just four days before Halloween in 1970, The House That Would Not Die was one of umpteen-gazillion TV movies produced by the one and only Aaron Spelling. In this strange little blast from the past, former screen goddess Barbara Stanwyck ‒ one of many Hollywood stars who found much-needed work during the TV-movie heyday (in fact, she makes her debut in one here) ‒ stars as a silver-haired woman who has inherited a Revolutionary War-era home in Pennsylvania's Amish country. Yeah, it sounds positively terrifying already, I know. Moving into the

Five Cool Things and I Am the Night

I got me some HBO and found some cool things.
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I cancelled Britbox this week, not because they are a bad service but because I like switching my streaming services up now and again. I wasn’t sure what I was going to subscribe to next, spent entirely too much time going through them all before making a decision, actually. Then I saw that the third season of True Detective was starting, and I immediately signed up to HBO. I caught the first two episodes (which I’ll talk more about in a minute) then started in on several other HBO shows I’ve been hearing good things about (one of which I’ll

Tom Baker's Final Doctor Who Adventure, Logopolis, Coming to U.S. Theaters as a Special One-Night Event

"It's the end. But the moment has been prepared for." - The Doctor
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Audiences now have the chance to see the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker’s 100-minute final adventure, Logopolis, on big screens nationwide. The Doctor Who episode features the first appearance of companion Teegan, played by Janet Fielding, Anthony Ainley as the Doctor’s archenemy, The Master, and the regeneration of Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker into Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. In addition to the feature content, fans will also get an exclusive look at a brand new interview with Tom Baker and companions Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton. Following the cinema event, Tom Baker’s complete final season on Doctor Who comes to Blu-ray on

Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938 Volume One DVD Review: Strong to the Finish

The 60 cartoons alone would be worth owning, but the Special Features put this collection in a special category.
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Popeye the spinach-eating sailor is an animation icon known the world over for his adventures, many of which involve fighting his arch-nemesis Bluto over the hand and honor of Olive Oyl, who didn’t always deserve it due to her occasional two-timing ways. Released in 2007, Warner Brothers’ impressive Popeye The Sailor, Volume One is a four-disc set that not only presents the first 60 Popeye cartoons from the original masters, but after watching the extensive and informative Special Features, the viewer might qualify as an animation historian. Popeye first appeared in 1929 in Elzie Crisler Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theater.

On the Basis of Sex Movie Review: An Effective Crowd-pleaser

On the Basis of Sex is impactful thanks to its subject matter and central performances by Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer.
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It seems like we’re catching Ruth Bader Ginsburg fever. The documentary RBG, which depicts Ginsburg’s journey to the Supreme Court, came out early last year. Now, we have On the Basis of Sex, a fictionalized account on Ginsburg’s life that doesn’t necessarily focus on her road to being a Supreme Court Justice. Instead, it narrowly focuses on the case that became a major starting point in her ongoing fight for equality. There are parts of her personal life that the film does explore like when she started out as a Harvard law student before she transferred to Columbia. Also, it

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 4 (1971-1975) Blu-ray Review

While I recommend the entire series to date, Volume 4 is as good a place to jump as any.
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As originally mentioned in my review of Volume 1, Friz Freleng was an instrumental figure in animation history because of his work on Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. He and producer David H. DePatie went on to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Kino Lorber Animation has been releasing that company's work on Blu-ray. After a few years of creating theatrical cartoons, DePatie-Freleng brought them to television with The Pink Panther Show, which premiered on NBC on September 6, 1969. DePatie-Freleng resumed producing theatrical shorts again in 1971. The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 4 presents the next 22 cartoons in

Criterion Announces April 2019 Releases

I pity the fool who doesn't find something to buy this month.
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You'd be a fool to miss out on these April releases from Criterion. New to the collection are Jan Němec's Diamonds of the Night, Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd, Jackie Chan's Police Story and Police Story 2, and Gillian Armstrong's My Brilliant Career. Two by Jim Jarmusch are getting a Blu-ray upgrade: Stranger Than Paradise and Night on Earth. Read on to learn more about them. Stranger Than Paradise (#400) out Apr 9 With this breakout film, Jim Jarmusch established himself as one of the most exciting voices in the burgeoning independent-film scene, a road-movie poet with an

The Old Man & the Gun is The Pick of The Week

Who knew January was such a great time for new releases?
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Robert Redford is one of the all-time classic movie stars. He has the looks, the charm, and the acting chops. He starred in lots of great movies over his long career including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, Out of Africa, and The Horse Whisperer. With The Old Man & the Gun, he has declared he is retiring from film acting. At 82 years of age and a whole lot of films to his credit as actor, director, and producer, I think he’s earned it. The Old Man & the Gun is based on the true

Don't Come Back from the Moon Movie Review: Stay Seated for This

Bruce Thierry Cheung's new film is a beautiful, poetic approach to the importance of fatherhood.
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Although I have yet to experience fatherhood, I do know from close friends and family members that any type of parenting is a challenge. At the same time, though, many say it is a blessing. In some cases, however, there have been people that could no longer handle it, and, unfortunately, walked away - leaving their child and significant other behind in an attempt to find something that they feel is more suited for them. That’s essentially the premise of Bruce Thierry Cheung’s Don’t Come Back from the Moon, which is based on Dean Bakopoulos’ novel, Please Don’t Come Back

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Beyond Suspicion Blu-ray Review: Proto-Giallo

More psycho-sexual thriller than giallo, this film nevertheless delivers the goods.
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Giallo films had been around for several years before Dario Argento revolutionized and popularized the genre in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. These early films tended to be less lurid, much less graphically violent, and had plots that actually made some sense. Such it is with Luciano Ercoli’s Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. But enough genre talk, the real question is does the movie work? The answer actually depends on which parts of the genre you like. It is surprisingly bloodless, has no black-gloved killer, does have some interesting camera work, and a wonderfully baroque set. The

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World Review: Revealing a Lesser-Known Story of Rock 'n' Roll

The new documentary reveals the numerous contributions Native Americans have made to rock, blues, gospel, folk, and more.
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Just when it seems like books and documentaries have thoroughly covered the history of rock ’n’ roll, along comes a film that reveals a rarely told story: the influence of Native Americans on the genre. From Link Wray to the Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo, Native Americans have impacted rock rhythmically, vocally, thematically, and culturally. Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World explores rock’s Native American roots through interviews and archival footage, demonstrating how the blues, jazz, and rock all owe a debt to Indian rhythms and vocal style. The documentary borrows its title from Wray’s seminal 1958 song “Rumble,” with

When Harry Met Sally... (30th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review: A Sweet, Funny Love Story

It's one of the best films on the resumes of everyone involved with it.
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Shout Factory celebrates the 30th anniversary of Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally... with a new Blu-ray release that includes a new picture struck from a 4K scan of the original camera negative and a new special feature of a conversation between Reiner and Billy Crystal. Opening with white titles on a background as an instrumental version of “It Had to Be You” plays, it's not a surprise the film, a romantic comedy about the relationship between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman, set mostly in New York City, gets compared to Woody Allen's work, particularly Annie Hall. But

The Paley Center for Media Announces Festival Lineup for Paleyfest LA 2019

The premier Television festival takes place at the Dolby Theatre March 15-24, 2019.
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Press release: The Paley Center for Media today announced the lineup for PaleyFest LA 2019, which will take place March 15-24 at the iconic Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Citi cardmembers, plus Paley Patron, Fellow, and Supporting Members, will have an exclusive opportunity to purchase tickets first during a special presale from January 15-16. This year’s festival will open with the cast and creative team from Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (March 15 at 7:30 pm) followed by Netflix’s Grace and Frankie (March 16 at 2:00 pm); CBS’s An Evening with Stephen Colbert (March 16 at 7:00 pm); VH1’s

Four Times That Night Blu-ray Review: Rashomon Remade As a Sex Comedy

A single date is told from four perspectives in this Mario Bava comedy. None of them really work.
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A woman and a man meet at a park. They agree to go dancing later that evening. Afterwards, they go back to his flat. At some point, her dress is torn and his forehead is scratched. These are the facts of the movie. The details, well the details are a bit fuzzy. Mario Bava’s 1970 drama Four Times That Night takes Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon and turns it into a goofy sex comedy. We see the events of the night from three character's points of view and then a final "this is what really happened" segment. (It may not actually

Five Cool Things and Jordan Peele's Us

This week was back to school and back to watching lots of movies.
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It was back-to-school week for my daughter, which means some adjustments for everybody. Baths need to be taken every night (we let her slide a lot more often on vacation days) and bed times are earlier. The mornings go from lazy to frantic and we have to remember to pick her up in the afternoon. But the days are free, which allows for more mature lunchtime viewings and those early bedtimes mean more time for movies for me. It wound up being a week full of review material. I had initially planned January to be a month of Oscar movies

Mid90s Blu-ray Review: An Authentic Coming-of-age Story

Best known as an actor, Jonah Hill's first outing as a director is a stunning debut because of his creative choices.
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Written and directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s is an authentic coming-of-age story about a young teenager named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) looking for a family that he misses at home. The film opens with a jarring scene as Stevie bursts into the frame, thrown into the hallway by his half-brother Ian (Lucas Hedges), who frequently uses Stevie as a punching bag. Their single mom Dabney (Katherine Waterston) is too busy working to provide much supervision. Stevie finds a brotherhood in a group of skaterboarders: Ray (Na-kel Smith), Ruben (Gio Galicia), and two kids who go by nicknames, "Fuckshit" (Olan Prenatt), derived

Halloween (2018) Blu-ray Review: A Pleasing Sequel

Eleven films into the franchise and Halloween is suddenly looking fresh again.
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Up front I’ve got to admit that out of the eleven films in the Halloween franchise, I’ve only seen John Carpetner’s original Halloween (1978), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, and Rob Zombie’s remake Halloween (2007). That means there are eight films in the franchise that I’m missing. I’m not an expert on the franchise. Which winds up being a good thing because this new film, Halloween (2018) - and can we talk just for a moment how there are now three films in this series simply named "Halloween"? I mean, come on guys, stop making everybody put dates behind your

The 2019 Short Shorts Film Festival in Hollywood Takes Place January 17

Academy Awards-accredited festival celebrates 20 years in the industry as it returns to Hollywood with premier Japanese film talent Naomi Kawase.
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Press release: JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles and Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia (SSFF & Asia) have partnered to showcase Short Shorts Film Festival in Hollywood on January 17, 2019. The free one-day film festival will bring together premier film talent from Japan, including Cannes Film Festival judge Naomi Kawase and actor and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) member Tetsuya Bessho, at the historic TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. The two-part program aims to bring a sense of intrigue and cultural discovery to festival attendees through the art of short contemporary visual storytelling. The festival opens with Master Class with Naomi Kawase:

Knives of the Avenger Blu-ray Review: Swords, Sandals, and Not Much Else

Almost as good as the Beastmaster.
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Come with me, my friends, for a trip down memory lane. The year is 1982 and a little fantasy film called The Beastmaster is released. It does poorly at the box office but then cable stations like HBO and TBS pick it up and run it incessantly over the next few years. The Beastmaster is not a good film. In every conceivable way, it is a bad film. Yet there is something charming about it. It stars a loincloth-wearing Marc Singer battling S&M dungeon master-looking bad guys by telepathically talking to animals. I watched that film probably a couple of

Castle Rock: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: So Much Potential Wasted

For fans of Stephen King, I would give a slight recommendation to try it.
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My love of reading and addiction to Stephen King started at a young age thanks to my Uncle Vern. King’s short story “The Raft” was given to me one Christmas and I was never the same since. Spending many nights locked in the bathroom while reading It was to follow. I have enjoyed almost every movie and series adaptation of King’s novels so as soon as I learned about Castle Rock, I was intrigued. On the other hand, the new series is a collaboration with J.J. Abrams who, while having created some of my favorite television shows of all time

Let the Corpses Tan Blu-ray Review: An Assult on the Senses

A modern, psychedelic take on the Spaghetti Western is visually stylish and exhausting.
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With The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, French directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani created a modern giallo that was a psychedelic audio/visual delight which had virtually no story or plot. With Let the Corpses Tan, they've added a touch more story and moved their Italian influences into Spaghetti Western territory but continue the sensory overload. It is a beautiful, strange, exhausting film. A group of men violently rob a stack of gold bricks from an armored truck, killing everyone aboard. They rush to their hideout but are stopped by a woman standing in the middle of the road.

Castle Rock: The Complete First Season Is the Pick of the Week

Hope you have some Christmas money left because this week brings some interesting new releases.
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Over the last year or so, I’ve become quite the Stephen King fan. I’d read some of his work before then and seen many of the cinematic adaptations based upon his words, but I’d never really engulfed myself into his stories. It started with the audio book of his recent novel Mr. Mercedes and blossomed from there. I’m currently in the middle of IT which, if my pace continues, I’ll finish sometime in 2021. It's a really big book, and I’m a slow reader. But I dig it. I don’t know it that behemoth will cure me of my King

The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection DVD Review: A Fine Mess of Films

An interesting and entertaining mix of early 20th Century silent comedy shorts.
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Tying in with the release of Stan & Ollie, The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection by Mill Creek Entertainment presents two discs of films starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, both together and on their own. Disc One is "Laurel & Hardy Shorts and Features." Labeled as "an extract," The Lucky Dog (1921) is the first film the men appeared together with Laurel starring and Hardy as a robber and his nemesis. A crackle can be heard on the audio. While technically they both worked on it, Yes, Yes, Nanette (1925) is a James Finlayson short where he meets his

Kusama: Infinity DVD Review: Connecting the Dots in a Great Artist's Life

As fascinating as Yayoi Kusama's biography is, what truly enthralls is her art.
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Eighty-nine-year-old Yayoi Kusama is currently the top-selling artist in the world, but her path to success has not been a smooth one. Magnolia Home Entertainment's Kusama: Infinity follows the artist's career, from her childhood in Japan to her present reign as the popular artist of Infinity Mirrored Rooms and so much more. Kusama was born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan. Through use of family photos and quotes from the artist, the film traces Yayoi's difficult childhood, where her physically abusive mother discouraged her artistic talent (to the point of tearing up her drawings) and prodded her daughter to spy

Book Review: Hooked on Hollywood by Leonard Maltin

For those that have been hooked deeply by the Classic Hollywood era, it's an intriguing read.
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Leonard Maltin has made a career for himself out of his love of movies, starting as an unpaid freelance writer for fan zines at the age of 13, His latest book, Hooked on Hollywood, has the subtitle “Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom,” which sounds like it might be a memoir, and after reading Maltin's Introduction, that is certainly a book I would want to read by him. Instead, this is a archival collection of articles and interviews, some of which originally appeared in the magazine Film Fan Monthly and Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy newsletter. Maltin takes readers on

Five Cool Things and The ABC Murders

I'm back and healthy and have many cool things to talk about.
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A great big pile of appreciation to my fellow Sentries who helped me out while I was on vacation. I’m back now and feeling mostly better (still got a weird ear thing going on but I’m upright and working and watching films so that’s a big improvement). There were many cool things consumed this week, so lets get to it. Spider-Man When Sam Raimi’s version of Spider-Man came out, I was none too impressed. I had similar feelings about Bryan Singer’s X-Men which came out two years before. The burgeoning nerd culture on the internet had gone bonkers over both

Brewster McCloud Blu-ray Review: A Weird, Strange Trip into the Altmanverse

Robert Altman's follow-up to M*A*S*H is an idiosyncratic, weird little film that only he could make.
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After spending a decade or so making industrial films then directing television episodes, Robert Altman finally connected with critics and audiences on a feature film. Released in 1970, M*A*S*H, a satirical account of a medical unit in the Korean War, was a smash hit. It won awards, made big money (and spawned a hugely successful TV series), and put Altman on the map as an exciting filmmaker. With the success of M*A*S*H, the studios gave Altman a green light to make any film he wanted. He chose the hottest screenplay around, Brewster McCloud, a black comedy about a New York

Best of 2018 Assorted Lists

In which Shawn ranks things that happened through 2018 and counts all the things in his life
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From 2005 through 2012, I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best of" lists. While the blog still remains retired, I'm revived it last year for a Best of 2017. The feedback was enough for me to compile it again this year. Here's the Return of the Jedi of my "Best of" trilogy. BEST OF THE REST 2018 BY THE NUMBERS 4,722,870 steps taken this year (2,290 miles) 365 Days walking over 5 miles in 2018 3 Days not walking over 5

Bright Lights, Big City: 30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition Review

While some aspects of this film are dated, most of it still holds up in this tale of addiction and grief avoidance.
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Bright Lights, Big City is being released in a Special Collector's Edition for its 30th Anniversary celebration. The film is based on Jay McInerney's novel of the same title. Directed by James Bridges and produced by Sydney Pollack, the movie follows Jamie Conway (Michael J. Fox) through his need to escape his daily reality after his mother (Dianne Wiest) dies and his model wife Amanda (Phoebe Cates) leaves him for a new life. Jamie spends his days as a fact-checker at a New York magazine where his co-worker Megan (Swoosie Kurtz) tries to help him survive, while Jamie spends his

Best of 2018 TV Lists

In which Shawn ranks some television from 2018 and 1988.
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From 2005 through 2012, I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best of" lists. While the blog still remains retired, I'm revived it last year for a Best of 2017. The feedback was enough for me to compile it again this year. Here's the middle entry of the "Best of" trilogy. BEST OF TV 2018 We live in a very high-quality TV-show era now. Maybe the top end isn't as strong as a decade ago but the number of very good shows

Hallelujah the Hills Blu-ray Review: Did Not Hit the Mark

The characters come across as flat and unlikable, so it was difficult to invest in any of them.
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Hallelujah the Hills was written and directed by Adolfas Mekas. The film was a hit at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival and in turn was invited to 27 other festivals after its appearance at Cannes. Until now, it has not been available to own and has only been shown in limited viewings over the past five decades. The film has been touted by some reviewers as the funniest movie you have never seen, but perhaps I just don't get it. While I have a deep love for older comedies, from the slapstick of Buster Keaton, to the zaniness of films

Best of 2018 Film Lists

In which Shawn ranks a bunch of movies from 2018 and 1988.
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From 2005 through 2012, I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best of" lists. While the blog still remains retired, I'm revived it last year for a Best of 2017. The feedback was enough for me to compile it again this year. For your convenience, it's broken into bite-sized pieces. BEST OF MOVIES 2018 No other blogger is brave enough to pick their favorites before they see them. Here's what I boldly thought I'd be writing about in December 2018. PREDICTED BEST

Love, Gilda Movie Review: A Beautiful and Personal Portrait

Director Lisa D'Apolito does a wonderful job of bringing in the audience on some of the toughest parts of Gilda's life.
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If you notice, as you are reading this review, that I sound sentimental for Gilda Radner, it's because I am. I have been watching Saturday Night Live since birth in both its live broadcasts and its reruns in syndication. I was enamored by Gilda Radner and her Judy Miller character from very early on. But there was also Roseanne Roseannadanna, Lisa Loopner, Emily Litella, and Baba Wawa. Radner's physicality and her femininity would influence my own performances later in life. I know I am only one of many comedians who were drawn in by her characters and her incredible smile.

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