January 2019 Archives

Criterion Announces April 2019 Releases

I pity the fool who doesn't find something to buy this month.
  |   Comments
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?
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.
  |   Comments
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.

Follow Us