March 2019 Archives

Inherit the Wind Blu-ray Review: Monkeys on Trial

Stanley Kramer's fictionalized telling of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial is an acting tour de force, but its messaging is exhausting.
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I grew up in rural Oklahoma. I attended a conservative evangelical church. I can remember preachers and teachers railing about the evils of evolution from the pulpit and in the classroom. I can remember silently freaking out in 7th grade science when the teacher would talk about evolution and feeling the utmost guilt when I answered test questions that went against my belief. It wasn’t until college, or if I’m being honest years after college, that I began to actually read the science of evolution. Removed from the anti-science rhetoric of my church, it actually made sense. I discovered that

Brighton Beach Memoirs Blu-ray Review: A Nice Trip Home

It’s full of well-crafted storytelling and solid performances.
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By 1986, Neil Simon had already accumulated an incredible amount of awards and accolades for his work as a writer for television, theatre, and the big screen. So what is one to do after more than 30 years of success? Go home. Brighton Beach Memoirs allows many to do just that. Based on the successful play, Shout Select brings the movie to Blu-ray, which hit shelves on March 26 with no bonus material. I like bonus material! Transitioning a play to the big screen can be challenging as the pace and overall movement tends to be slower than what the

Five Cool Things and Another Birthday

I turned a year older this week and still managed some cool things.
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I turned 43 on Monday. I took my kid ice skating on Saturday and took myself to the big used-book store afterwards. Had dinner with my extended family on Sunday (my father shares my birthday with me so we always have dinner). On the actual day, my wife made some pork egg rolls and we stayed in to watch a classic Doctor Who. It was low key, but good. I’m too old to want a big night out and young enough to appreciate being able to enjoy the things I like. It was a good rest of the week too.

The Prize (1963) Blu-ray Review: Lots of Talent, Big Disappointment

The Prize could have been a bonafide classic under a different director, instead it's just ok, but mostly forgettable.
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Based upon a popular novel by Irving Wallace, The Prize (1963) was written by six-time Academy Award-nominee Ernest Lehman and stars Hollywood hot-shot Paul Newman and Hollywood heavyweight Edward G. Robinson. It was shot on location in exotic Stockholm. It is a tale of intrigue, mistaken identities, spies, and murder. It should have been a bonafide classic. Were it directed by someone like Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles, it would have been. Instead, it was helmed by Mark Robson and we got a film that’s just okay and mostly forgettable. Newman plays Andrew Craig, a writer who is beloved by

Starting April 18 a Trio of Super Cheesy B-Movies to Be Grilled on Big Screens Nationwide with RiffTrax Live: 2019 Series

RiffTrax takes on the guy-in-a-rubber-suit creature feature Octaman, the Casper Van Dien space odyssey Star Raiders, and new HD transfer of the MST3K favorite Giant Spider Invasion.
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Press release: RiffTrax’s Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett (of Mystery Science Theater 3000® fame) are back in cinemas to celebrate the 10th anniversary of RiffTrax Live with three all-new riffs on what are sure to be fan favorites with “RiffTrax Live: 2019.” Join Mike, Kevin and Bill as they take on B-movie classics: the guy-in-a-rubber-suit creature feature Octaman, the Casper Van Dien space odyssey Star Raiders, and new HD transfer of the MST3K favorite Giant Spider Invasion. Since first partnering in 2009 with “RiffTrax Live: Plan 9 from Outer Space” the RiffTrax and Fathom Events partnership has

For A Few Dollars More Blu-ray Review: Worth Every Penny

Kino Lorber's new 4K transfer of this Leone classic is well worth your dollars.
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The western as a genre had its heyday from the 1930s through the mid 1950s. By the time 1960 rolled around, it was pretty much dead, having been written off by critics years earlier and seeing a drastic decline in ticket sales. In 1964, with A Fistful of Dollars, Italian director Sergio Leone brought it back with a vengeance. He made two more films, For a Few Dollars More in 1965 and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in 1967 which collectively are considered The Dollars Trilogy (or sometimes The Man With No Name Trilogy), though there is no

Monstrosity (1987) / Weirdo: The Beginning (1989) Blu-ray Reviews: Why? WHY?

Garagehouse Pictures releases a pair of awful horror obscurities which may either induce vomiting, blindness, or death, depending on how lucky you are.
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Just when I thought the world was starting to get over its nasty habit of not making a whole heck of a lot of sense, Garagehouse Pictures dropped a major bomb on me. Sure, on the surface, the HD offerings of two Los Angeles-made minor indie horror flicks from the late '80s may seem like good cause to rejoice. Alas, both 1987's Monstrosity and 1989's The Weirdo (or, Weirdo: The Beginning, as it is also called) stem from the sadistic and unimaginative world of the late Andy Milligan, so any and all signs of something amazing being found in these

Aquaman is the Pick of the Week

All that's fit to buy from this week's new releases.
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Everybody knows that Marvel has completely destroyed DC when it comes to feature films. At this point, it really is Marvel’s world (or cinematic universe, if you will) and we’re just living in it (or at least going to the movies to watch it.). DC scored a big hit with Wonder Woman and while their other films have made lots of money, just about everybody hates them. Or at least feel they could be a thousand times better. I liked Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman a lot better than most but that was because I saw both films

The Body Snatcher (1945) Blu-ray Review: Boris Karloff's Finest Hour

One of RKO's famous Val Lewton produced horror pictures and an atmospheric, tense horror thriller.
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What makes The Body Snatcher interesting is how much it isn't like a low budget horror movie. That's what it is, of course - one of several films shepherded by producer Val Lewton at RKO. In the early 1940s the studio was in financial straits. These problems were partly the responsibility of filmmaking wunderkind and box office underperformer Orson Welles. Both Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons were expensive films to make and ultimately box office disappointments. For RKO to keep itself afloat, it needed a profitable unit. Val Lewton's horror movies were supposed to be that vehicle, and it's

Perfect Blue (1997) Blu-ray Review: Anime Psychothriller Lives Again

Satoshi Kon's animated psychological thriller is a mind-bending story of violence and personality crisis in the Japanese pop world.
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Perfect Blue was the feature film directorial debut of Satoshi Kon, one of the bright lights of anime whose career was tragically cut short in 2010 by cancer. Dying at the age of 46, he left an indelible mark on anime feature films. He was one of the few directors whom none could call "the next Miyazaki" because his films were distinct and unique: adult, abstract but in the service of narrative, critical but not cynical. Perfect Blue is a dark psychothriller, an animated giallo that made Satoshi Kon an instant top-shelf animated horror director... a genre that he only

The Street Fighter Collection Blu-ray Review: A Thrilling Action Trilogy

Well worth adding to any martial-arts fan's collection.
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Actor Sonny Chiba became an international sensation with the Japanese martial arts film, The Street Fighter, which saw him play Takuma (Terry for those watching the English dubs) Tsurugi, a man for hire that makes the impossible possible, usually at the request of criminals who inexplicably double cross him. Whereas Bruce Lee's fight scenes are graceful and Jackie Chan's are athletic, Chiba's are savage in the damage dished out. Tsurugi returned for two more films, Return of the Street Fighter and The Street Fighter's Last Revenge, and all three are part of Shout Factory's The Street Fighter Collection. Presented in

Year of the Dragon Blu-ray Review: An Underrated Cop Thriller

Warner Archive gives a solid Blu-ray upgrade to Michael Cimino’s edgy crime thriller.
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Michael Cimino may have never had another critical and/or commercial success after The Deer Hunter, but that doesn’t mean he, at least, made some films that are still worthy of a conversation piece. Heaven’s Gate was a giant bomb in 1980, but it is still talked about and gets new restored versions of it every so often - with the most recent being a 2012 release from The Criterion Collection of the film in all its three hours-plus glory. Year of the Dragon may not have the same reputation as Heaven’s Gate does of being a costly, box office failure

Warner Archive Collection at WonderCon 2019

Surprise guests join trio of exciting WAC panels over WonderCon weekend.
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Press release: Warner Archive Collection (WAC) presents a trio of exhilarating panels at WonderCon over the March 29-31 weekend in Anaheim with the focus on newly-remastered, coming-to-Blu-ray presentations of the original Man From Atlantis TV movie pilot and the entire original Jonny Quest animated series, plus a special 10th anniversary celebration of Warner Archive Collection itself. WAC’s guest panelists include an extraordinary array of talent ranging from Man From Atlantis star Patrick Duffy and Shazam! TV series heartthrob Michael Gray to renowned voice actress Julie Nathanson and Daniel Zaldivar, the original voice of Hadji on Jonny Quest. WAC’s programming for

Five Cool Things and Pride and Prejudice

It is a big week for big trailers to drop (plus some other cool things).
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As someone who pretends to be an entertainment writer, I can tell you there are weeks when there just isn’t anything going on. No new big movies in the theater or on home video. No trailer drops or casting rumors. Nothing. Then there are weeks when there is so much going on you are afraid to refresh your browser for fear of yet another thing to get excited about appearing. Holy cow, this was a big week. So let's get to it. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood There have been rumors and speculation about Quentin Tarantino’s '60s Hollywood movie

IDW Announces Panels, Booth Signings, and Exclusives for WonderCon 2019

Check out their complete list of booth guests, panels, and convention exclusives.
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Press release: Next week, IDW Publishing will be headed to Anaheim for WonderCon, and we’re bringing a sensational assemblage of creative talent for booth signings and panel discussions! Feast your eyes on our creative roster, including such fan-favorites as the world-famous Joe Hill (of Locke & Key fame, naturally), New York Times bestseller Delilah S. Dawson, rising superstar Vita Ayala, the entire writer’s room of Star Trek: Year Five, and so many more! And don’t forget, we’ll be bringing special variant editions of your favorite comic books - from G.I. Joe to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from GLOW to the

Us Movie Review: Discomforting and Hauntingly Ambiguous

Jordan Peele's sophomore effort is another simplistic look at the dark parts of humanity.
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With his directorial debut Get Out, Jordan Peele presented us with a searing, satirical portrait of liberal racism in America. Now, with his sophomore effort Us, he takes another look into the darkest facets of people’s souls. Us may seem like a home-invasion thriller with effective jump scares. But at its core, it’s really about the beast within ourselves that we desperately try to keep hidden. When the Wilson family goes on vacation only for it to be disrupted by their doppelgangers, they must literally come face to face with manifestations of the darkness within them. It’s unclear what exactly

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Brings Premieres, Panels to WonderCon 2019

In addition, WBHE is hosting autograph signings for both Justice League vs. The Fatal Five and Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the DC booth.
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Press release: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) will host World Premieres for two highly-anticipated DC-themed animated films at WonderCon (March 29-31, 2019), focusing the spotlight on Justice League vs. The Fatal Five and Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the Arena at the Anaheim Convention Center. Justice League vs. The Fatal Five will kick-off the weekend as Friday night’s featured premiere in the Arena, and Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will bookend the weekend with a Sunday afternoon premiere, also in the Arena. Both panels will include a panel discussion amongst filmmakers and voice cast members. In addition,

Pride & Prejudice (1995) Blu-ray Review: The Best Adaptation

Whereby I do repent of my sins and learn to love Jane Austen.
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My wife has been trying to get me to like Jane Austen for the 20-some years she’s known me. It has been an uphill battle. One that she has constantly failed at. It isn’t for a lack of trying on my part. I’ve seen the Ang Lee adaptation of Sense and Sensibility and at least a couple of versions of Emma. I liked them alright, but not enough to enter me into fandom. I’ve tried reading her books on more than one occasion but can never get past the first chapter. The biggest disappointment as far as my wife is

The World Before Your Feet DVD Review: One Very Must-see Documentary

A fascinating and utterly charming documentary about the true beauty of New York City.
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There are 8,000 miles in New York City; miles that we all know, or have seen in movies and TV. But, what do we really know, especially about the unknown miles that remain usually ignored in this greatest of cities. That's what Matt Green discovers in Jeremy Workman's endearing 2018 documentary, The World Before Your Feet, which not only shows how beautiful New York City really is, but also how our curiosity can sometimes lead us to big and interesting adventures. This doc depicts Matt Green, an enigmatic modern-day Thoreau who goes on a five-borough journey from the many barbershops

Mary Poppins Returns Blu-ray Review: Entertaining for the Whole Family

My expectation was that the movie would be magical, musical fun, and it did not disappoint.
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When I first heard that there would be a Mary Poppins sequel, I was extremely skeptical. How could anything possibly compare to Julie Andrews’ performance along with those songs? As further information was announced, I changed my tune. Learning that Rob Marshall would be directing was the main reason for piquing my interest. I consider his adaptation of Chicago one of the best films of a Broadway musical ever made. Finding out that Emily Blunt would play the iconic character, with supporting roles by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Mortimer, guaranteed that I would be watching. My expectation was that, if

The Wedding Guest Movie Review: Dev Patel Brilliantly Carries This Deceptive Thriller

A solid reminder that Dev Patel is a definite leading man.
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When The Wedding Guest first begins, it seems like it’s going to go in a dark direction. Our main character Jay (Dev Patel) is traveling to Pakistan and buys items like a gun and some duct tape. It’s clear he’s up to no good and little is known about him. But we’re still wondering what his plan is and why he even has a gun. But after his purpose becomes revealed and he kidnaps Samira (Radhika Apte), a bride to be, the tone slowly turns on a dime. At first, the ominous score and the restraint of Dev Patel’s performance

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Is the Pick of the Week

Superheroes, Doctor Who, film noir, and black-gloved killers, this week has it all.
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Since Sam Raimi introduced Spider-Man into the summer blockbuster tradition 16 years ago, there have been no fewer than seven films featuring the webslinger. Raimi’s first two entries into the Spidey Cinematic Universe were well received both critically and at the box office. His third entry, made in 2007, spun off the rails and Spidey spent the next five years cooling his heels in the comics pages. Then there were two films starring Andrew Garfield before Marvel introduced the character to the MCU in 2016 with Captain America: Civil War, and finally he got his own standalone film, Spider-Man: Homecoming

The Deadly Mantis (1957) Blu-ray Review: It's Not Great, but There's Entertainment to Be Had

Editor Chester Schaeffer does a masterful job piecing together a visual narrative.
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Combining/stealing ideas from previous atomic-monster movies, The Deadly Mantis was unleashed upon the world in 1957. Scream Factory is responsible for the creature feature resurfacing on Blu-ray. It's not great, but there's entertainment to be had from this cheaply made production and the disc's extras. On an island in the South Seas, explosions from the testing of atomic bombs trigger the melting of glaciers near Greenland because the world is interconnected. An iceberg topples over, revealing to the audience (dun dun dun) a giant mantis frozen inside it. The characters take a while longer to discover what's happening. After an

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coming to Digital (5/14) & 4K / Blu-ray (6/4)

Gotham City reaches new levels of danger when Shredder joins forces with Ra's al Ghul to enact a nefarious plan
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Press release: It’ll take the unlikely unification of the Dark Knight and the Heroes in a Half-shell to overcome combined villainous forces afoot in Gotham City in the all-new, feature-length animated thriller, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, Nickelodeon and DC, the film arrives from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting May 14, 2019, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack on June 4, 2019. Order due date is April 30, 2019. Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack ($39.99 SRP) and

Five Cool Things and Midsommar

It was a very cool week.
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I went to see a special showing of Tom Baker’s last story as the Doctor in the theater this week. It was lots of fun but at some point the realization hit me that I’d just spent about $40 (tickets plus drinks and popcorn for two of us) to watch an old television show that I already own on DVD. These are the times we are living in. It was totally worth it though, to see it on the big screen and be surrounded by fans. I saw some other cool stuff to so let's talk about it. The Lobster

Criterion Announces June 2019 Releases

Criterion helps with the June Gloom through this roster of releases.
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Here's what film fans can look for to in June. New to the collection are George Stevens's Swing Time, two by Bruno Dumont: L’humanité and La vie de Jésus, John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace. Three films released separately from Ingmar Bergman's Cinema, A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman includes Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence. Read on to learn more about them. A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman (#208) out Jun 4 In 1960, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman began work on three of his most powerful and representative

Gloria Bell Movie Review: Julianne Moore Is Utterly Captivating

A stylistically crafted acting showcase for the marvelous Julianne Moore.
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One trademark from director Sebastian Lelio is that he makes vivid, complex movies about women. He made his breakthrough with the 2013 film Gloria which depicts a middle-aged woman trying to find herself. In addition, A Fantastic Woman starring trans actress Daniela Vega won the Foreign Language Film Oscar. Also, just last year, he did the immensely overlooked lesbian drama Disobedience. Now, he has recreated the film that put him on the map with the remake Gloria Bell starring Julianne Moore in the role previously occupied by Paulina Garcia. It goes without saying that Julianne Moore is terrific as the

Foreigner: Live at the Rainbow '78 Blu-ray Review: On Their Way to Becoming Juke Box Heroes

The setlist is "Foreigner" in its entirety, out of sequence, and two songs from "Double Vision."
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Foreigner began as vocalist Lou Gramm, guitarist Mick Jones, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, drummer Dennis Elliott, keyboardist Al Greenwood and bassist Ed Gagliardi. Recorded on April 27, a year after their smash self-titled debut and about six weeks before the release of their second album, Live at the Rainbow '78 is a 75-minute concert film that spotlights a talented band on the rise. The setlist is Foreigner in its entirety, out of sequence, and two songs from Double Vision. The band opens with a boisterous “Long, Long Way from Home” getting fans enthused right from the start. At song's end, the

Unknown Soldier (2017) Blu-ray Review: A Gripping World War II Drama

Finland's most expensive film comes to Blu-ray in the U.S. thanks to the folks at Kino Lorber.
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One of the great things about the Finnish war drama, Unknown Soldier, is that it doesn’t rely on copious amounts of blood and carnage to make an impact on the viewer, nor does it ramp up the score to trigger some kind of emotional nerve. All too often, war films - especially those coming out of Hollywood - are plagued by cliches that involve the director increasing these departments to 11 as a way to elicit some type of response from the audience, and they fail to capture the human element of the story, which is what matters the most.

Second Act Blu-ray Review: Not Exactly Working Girl

Lying about one's (or one's child's) accomplishments are all over the news lately, which points out another unpleasant aspect of the film and Maya's character that is never fully addressed.
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Second Act features Jennifer Lopez as Maya, a 40-year-old assistant manager at a Walmart-like chain store full of big ideas, but who is hampered in her desire to move forward with her career because she lacks a college degree. Cue the fairy godmother, in the form of her best buddy Joan's (Leah Remini) internet-savvy son, who overnight creates a brilliant, completely false college-plus-plus online existence for Maya. But wait, there's more - he also has submitted her faux resume to a bunch of companies, and believe it or not, one of the firms, which just so happens to also be

HBO and Insight Editions Announce Official Game of Thrones 2019 Publishing Program

Award-winning entertainment publisher to commemorate the era-defining Game of Thrones television series with four signature books.
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Press release: Insight Editions and HBO Licensing and Retail announced today a comprehensive new Game of Thrones publishing program. In celebration of the conclusion of the worldwide cultural phenomenon, this definitive four-book collection will offer a fitting tribute to a show that has redefined the scale and impact of what television can offer. “We’ve been faithful fans of Game of Thrones for many years and have enjoyed a fruitful partnership with HBO for nearly just as long,” said Raoul Goff, founder and publisher at Insight Editions. “We’re thrilled to be able to participate in the grand farewell of one of

Green Book is the Pick of the Week

It's a big week for Blu-ray releases and we've got your details.
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I care nothing for the Oscars in any meaningful way, but I do love to watch the ceremony and listen to the chatter that comes from the various entertainment writers I follow. There is always at least one long-shot movie that my critic friends champion and another front-runner that they hate. This year there were two hated films - Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book. It was the latter that received the most scorn. Not so much because it is a bad movie as most critics seem to agree it is a decent film, but because of its treatment of race

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Blu-ray Review: A Crime Itself

David Yates's second venture into the Harry Potter prequel series is a dull, tedious effort.
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Maybe five films is a bit too much to look at everything in the pre-Harry Potter universe. Or, maybe it’s not enough. It depends on how you view it. There’s quite a bit of information unloaded on the viewer in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald that it feels like there should be 10 movies just to explore everything J.K. Rowling has in mind. But there’s also this feeling, after sitting through The Crimes of Grindelwald, of how much of a chore it will be to get through the already-planned three future films. Picking up where Fantastic Beasts and Where

Kolobos Blu-ray Review: Terrible Name, Even Worse Movie

A '90s slasher has plenty of violence and little else.
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If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to cross MTV’s seminal reality TV series The Real World with a trapped house horror film on an extremely low budget and a totally late '90s aesthetic then look no further than Kolobos. It is all those things and more. Now with an Arrow Video release, you can see it in all its restored glory with plenty of extras to fill you in on all the behind the scenes trivia. Answering a classified ad, a group of attractive, young, obnoxious people show up at a house filled with video cameras to

Book Review: First Man: The Annotated Screenplay by Josh Singer

An enjoyable read and an insightful one for those who want to learn about how to write screenplays.
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As stated in my review of First Man, “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.” Based on James R. Hansen's biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, the screenplay was written by Josh Singer, an Oscar winner for Spotlight. Titan Books presents an annotated version of the script from three weeks prior to picture lock, so there's a note that “there may be some discrepancies with the finished film.” In his Introduction, Singer

The Prisoner (1955) Blu-ray Review: A Forgotten Gem

Not quite a classic, this mostly forgotten Alec Guinness drama gets a much needed spotlight shined on it from Arrow Academy.
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Despite starring Alec Guinness, being nominated for numerous BAFTAs, and being banned in several countries (as either being too pro-communist or too anti-communist depending on which way the country leaned), Peter Glenville’s 1965 film The Prisoner has mostly been forgotten today. With a new HD transfer and numerous extras, Arrow Academy makes a pretty good case on why we ought to start remembering it. In an unnamed European country, the communist government wants to bring down the Church. They plan to do so by having a well-respected Cardinal (Alec Guinness) confess to treason which will cause the people to lose

Doctor Who: Peter Davison: Complete Season One Blu-ray Review

A marvelous collection that Whovians should be happy to have on their shelf.
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The BBC has released Doctor Who: Peter Davison - Complete Season One, the second in its series of classic Doctor Who seasons on Blu-ray and the first featuring Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor. This season, also known as the 19th season of the classic run, aired from January 4 to March 30, 1982 and contains the stories: Castrovalva, Four to Doomsday, Kinda, The Visitation, Black Orchid, Earthshock, and Time-Flight. In addition to Special Features from previously released DVDs, there are also brand new special features throughout the eight-disc set. Peter Davison had no easy task, following the very popular Tom

Doctor Who: Resolution Blu-ray Review: The New Cast Finally Comes Together

The Thirteenth Doctor and her new companions have found their groove.
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The Daleks are one of the oldest and most popular villains on Doctor Who. They were created by Terry Nation for the second story ever made for the series. They have appeared in more stories and episodes than any other villain. They have become true icons of popular culture all over the world. Yet, and let's be honest here, they aren’t really that scary or effective characters. From a design standpoint, they are basically tin cans with a whisk and toilet plunger for hands. Depending on the story needs, they can sometimes withstand the blasts from a tank and yet

Far From Heaven Blu-ray Review: Subtle and Graceful Filmmaking

A remarkable and impeccably acted portrait of 1950s suburban malaise from the early 2000s.
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The partnership of acclaimed director Todd Haynes and actress Julianne Moore should be ranked up there with the collaborative works of Scorsese/De Niro, Allen/Keaton, and Burton/Depp, among others. Haynes and Moore have crafted some major and incredible films in the past two decades, such as Safe (1995), I'm Not There (2007), and Wonderstruck (2017). However, 2002's Far From Heaven, is where they both hit their stride. With this film, you truly get the essence of how brilliantly they work together. The story (an obvious tribute to Douglas Sirk's melodramas, especially All That Heaven Allows) is set in 1950s Connecticut, where

Five Cool Things and Good Omens

Another week, another five cool things.
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It has been a weird week. Last weekend, it snowed. Monday the temperature dropped to nearly zero degrees Fahrenheit. Tomorrow, it is supposed to be sunny and the high temperature is in the 60s. We’ll probably go to the park. Last week, we were throwing snow balls. Work has been stressful too. We’ve got over a million dollars in houses either being built or recently completed. They need to be sold, and soon, or we are in a world of trouble. I didn’t watch a lot of movies either. I got in a couple and a little television, but mostly

The Magnificent Ambersons Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Flawed Masterpiece, but Still a Worthwhile Film

The Criterion Collection has stacked this beautiful release of Welles's troubled second production with a plethora of extras.
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Before getting into the history of the film: the mangling by the studio, the likely deliberately destroyed edited footage, and all of that intrigue, first we have to see the movie itself: The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles's follow-up to his explosive debut Citizen Kane. Based on a novel by Booth Tarkington about the downfall of a noveau riche mid-Western family, The Magnificent Ambersons has elements of drama and comedy and some sense of tragedy, but most of all it is the portrait of a changing country, and world. George Amberson, the only son of Isabel and heir to the fortune,

Captain Marvel Movie Review: Traditional with Supernova Levels of Fun

Brie Larson goes full movie star in this familiar yet adrenaline-fueled thrill ride.
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It goes without saying that Captain Marvel is a pretty big deal. It’s the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have a female superhero at the center. Also, it is co-directed by a woman, Anna Boden. However, it still possesses similar storytelling beats to other origin films in the MCU. But that doesn't mean Captain Marvel is forgettable or interchangeable. In fact, it manages to surpass other origin films like Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger thanks to its supernova levels of fun. It may not go overboard with gender politics or anything like that despite depicting

Creed II Blu-ray Review: A Worthy Addition to the Rocky Franchise

Although it contains familiar plot points from other films in the series, the filmmakers do a good job of blending engaging characters with thrilling fight sequences.
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Creed II opens with two boxers on the rise: Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) and Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). Both young men have complicated relationships with their fathers, each of whom made a name for themselves in the ring. In Rocky IV, Apollo (Carl Weathers) and Ivan (Dolph Lundgren) battled in an exhibition fight, which led to Apollo's death, so after Adonis becomes the WBC Heavyweight Champion and Viktor has won a number of matches, a savvy promoter wants the sons to fight. Ivan relishes the idea, seeking a return to glory through his son because after his loss to

Greta Movie Review: Isabelle Huppert is Deliciously Sinister

Isabelle Huppert easily elevates this old school schlocky thriller.
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Greta may fall under traditional trappings of the stalker genre. However, it does attempt to distinct itself from other films within that genre by heavily focusing on the female gaze. Typically, these films involve a crazy woman in pursuit of a male protagonist with the only exceptions that come to mind being Single White Female and its clone, The Roommate. But Greta, which involves an older woman terrorizing a younger woman, proves to be another exception. In addition, it boasts a killer leading performance as Isabelle Huppert. As the titular antagonist, Isabelle Huppert is insanely chilly with a touch of

Sorry Angel Movie Review: A Sensible Depiction of a Doomed Romance

A profound, well-acted love story that is a whirlwind of emotion.
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It’s 1993. Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps) is a writer battling AIDS and coming to grips with his impending doom. He still lives with his child and has his friend Matthieu (Denis Podalydes) as a form of support. However, he develops a slight new outlook on life when he meets the youthful Arthur (Vincent Lacoste), a student and camp counselor. Once they fall in love, complications begin to emerge. Meanwhile, Arthur slowly discovers his own perspective on sexual activity. When Jacques and Arthur first meet, it is at a screening of The Piano. They immediately become smitten with each other and after

Starfish (2019) Movie Review: A Gorgeous, Moving Portrayal of Grief

A.T. White's debut feature is visually stunning and may require more than one viewing to fully understand.
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When the phrase “Based on a true story” pops on the screen, that is usually a signal that the following feature may be formulaic in its approach to recounting the events that took place. That is certainly not the case with A.T. White’s directorial debut, Starfish, which is based on a personal story and goes far beyond any conventional trappings. Yet, White’s film, while daring and visually striking, has a big problem with being cohesive. Maybe those are just the initial reactions and upon further exploration, the film will flow more smoothly and whatever questions I had will be answered.

Liz and the Blue Bird Blu-ray Review: Take a Flyer on This Moving Anime Film

Close friends face the end of high school and differing plans for the future
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High school life is a favorite topic of anime productions, but this one differentiates itself by having a very narrow focus on the unresolved relationship between two senior girls as they near graduation. Mizore and Nozomi are close friends destined for different paths after high school, but still going about their daily school routines, including intensive orchestra rehearsals, as they try to ignore their future. In order to ease their upcoming transition, Nozomi encourages Mizore to study the story behind the orchestral work they’re rehearsing, a tale of a human who keeps a wild bird as a pet before setting

CNN's Anderson Cooper and Carl Bernstein Join TCM to Spotlight Journalism in the Movies

Month-long programming event will feature more than 15 acclaimed films about journalism airing every Thursday in March.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is examining the role journalism played in the world of cinema, with perspectives ranging from His Girl Friday and Network to The Year Of Living Dangerously, while highlighting the importance of the profession throughout the years. Joining TCM host Ben Mankiewicz to discuss the films are CNN’s Anderson Cooper and CNN's political analyst Carl Bernstein. Programming kicks off March 7 with All The President’s Men, Alan J. Pakula’s riveting film based on the book by Bernstein and fellow Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, and continues every Thursday throughout the month in primetime. TCM’s salute

The Favourite Is the Pick of the Week

Here's all the interesting Blu-rays coming out this week.
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While I do love the cinema, I very rarely get to go to an actual theater. As a family, we often catch the big blockbusters, and now and again, the wife and I will see something more adult in nature with the young daughter at her grandparents. But even that winds up being something more mainstream as we don’t often have the time to run anywhere but to the local cinema, which doesn’t run anything that isn’t going to make hundreds of millions of dollars. So it was a real treat a few weeks back to get to go to

The Craft Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Witches be Crazy!

A definitive '90s movie and also not nearly as good as I remember.
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It’s a funny thing, really, to revisit films that defined your adolescent years. Sometimes, they can be just as good as you remember. Other times, they aren’t, and you are left questioning why you thought it was a good film in the first place. I think, when I first saw The Craft, it had just premiered on HBO and I had heard some positive chatter from the people at my school. Therefore, I was eager to check it out myself. I didn’t have cable, but a relative did, so I watched it with her and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 8 by John Byrne

These are some of the best stories of the entire run.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the TV show combined with new material such as dialogue in word balloons, narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones. Volume 8 collects issues #21-22 and New Visions Special: The Cage. "The Enemy of My Enemy" finds Captain James

Coming to Sleepy Hollow, NY - Fall 2019: Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival

A celebration of outstanding genre cinema in the historic cradle of the American supernatural!
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Press release: Announcing the first annual Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival (SHIFF) to take place in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, New York, on October 10-13, 2019. The fest’s official site is now accepting film and script submissions! Exciting premiere feature films and groundbreaking new films in competition will screen alongside thrilling retrospectives, live events and panels. Venues include the historic Tarrytown Music Hall, the Warner Library and others to be announced. “Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to

Five Cool Things and Detective Pikachu

It is once again cold outside, but here are some cool things to keep you occupied.
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We moved back to Oklahoma a few years ago, but no matter how long I am here, I will never get used to the weather. After a long winter for the last week or so, it was starting to feel like Spring. The sun is setting later. The weather has been reasonably warm. My daughter has been playing outside. Then it turned cold again. I am so ready for this to end. It isn’t that this winter has been that brutal. It has gotten below freezing quite a bit but nothing anywhere near zero degrees. We haven’t had a huge

Soldier of War (2019) Movie Review: A Total Bore

John Rhys-Davies helps police find a killer in this low-budgeted, schlocky horror film.
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Every now and then, a well-known actor will appear in a low-budget effort for a brief period of time. But, since this person is the only recognizable name in the film, they are given top billing. Take, for example, Danny Trejo. The Machete star’s name was placed at the front of all the marketing for Voodoo Possession, a direct-to-DVD effort that only gave him about 10 minutes of screen time. Then again, none of the other actors in Voodoo Possession had the same amount of star power as Trejo and, therefore, they weren’t given top billing. The same can kind

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