April 2019 Archives

Scared Stiff Blu-ray Review: Bored Silly

Low-budget 1980s horror flick waits until the end to get interesting, but by then it is too late.
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A little free critical advice to anyone planning to make a low-budget horror film: don’t put all of your money, your scares, and inventiveness into the last twenty minutes of the movie. You might think you need to have a grand finale so that your audience leaves the theatre with a bang, but if they are bored for the first half, they might not stick around to see what crazy stuff you can throw at them in the end. Richard Friedman (the auteur behind such classics as Doom Asylum and various episodes of Silk Stalkings and Baywatch Nights) did not

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray Review: Master Filmmaker's New Challenge

An intimate look at Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's return from retirement to make a short CGI film.
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Hayao Miyazaki has announced his retirement several times throughout his career, but in 2013 it looked like he meant it. Studio Ghibli, the anime studio formed by Hayao and his mentor/producer/competitor Isao Takahata, where he made classics like My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke, closed the doors of its production office, and disbanded the staff. Miyazaki was apparently done, leaving behind him a legacy of quality that's unrivaled in most of filmmaking, let alone animated films. But the recent announcement that both Hayao and his son Goro Miyazaki are producing feature films with the studio has made it

The Brain (1988) Blu-ray Review: Giant Brain Eats Man

A ridiculous, fun '80s horror sci-fi flick about a man-eating alien brain with hypnotic powers.
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There are levels to shlock. And inside many a terrible movie, there are seeds of interest and enjoyment. The Brain is, by most metrics, a terrible movie. Mediocre acting, a rather inert story, a screenplay that does not add up. But it has, at least for its first hour before it runs out of ideas, an assured craziness that makes it worth a watch. It is not a subtle film - we see the titular Brain in the first couple of shots, sitting in a vat of unidentifiable goo. Then we get the traditional horror movie opener: the shock death

Dragged Across Concrete Is the Pick of the Week

Lots of interesting stuff coming out this week, I've got your info.
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I’m a pretty big genre-film fan. I love the way genre films exist within a certain set or rules and then find a way to bend them in interesting ways (the good ones do anyways). S. Craig Zahler is a genre filmmaker par excellence who both revels in the the way those films are able to trigger the more sensitive members of an audience and is an actual, truly good filmmaker. His latest, Dragged Across Concrete, stars Mel Gibson (a fact all on its own that will piss some folks off) and Vince Vaughan as a couple of racist cops

Tribeca Film Festival 2019: 'Luce' Is a Well-Acted and Necessarily Searing Racial Drama

A psychological thriller with razor-sharp political context and an incredible ensemble.
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One amazing thing about the drama Luce is that practically every character is hard to pin down. Despite the film dealing with the topic of race and facets within that topic, there’s no real good or bad guy. Even characters with the best intentions have something secret to hide. As a result of its grand ambiguity, Luce is wonderfully labyrinthian and will hopefully ignite some thoughtful conversations by the time the credits roll. Luce Hodge (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) is the model student at his high school. He’s the class valedictorian, captain of his debate team, and a star athlete on

Dragged Across Concrete Blu-ray Review: Challenging, but Rewarding

S. Craig Zahler's latest film is loaded with controversy, designed to trigger pretty much everyone, but it's also really good.
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Director S. Craig Zahler is a provocateur who loves both ‘70s genre conventions and pissing off at least half his intended audience. In interview after interview, he’ll tell you that isn’t true, that he just writes interesting characters and lets them say and do what they will, but with three films under his belt (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99, and this one) and everyone one of them courting controversies, it is hard to take him at his word. With Dragged Across Concrete, he’s mixing racism and misogyny with his usual brand of extreme violence. Add to that mix

Enigma Blu-ray Review: Where Have All The Good Spy Movies Gone

Cold War spy flick from the '80s fails to excite.
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Spy movies just haven’t been the same since the Berlin Wall crumbled and Russia turned to capitalism. Without the communist menace to fight against, spies just don’t know what to do. But back in the '80s, spies had game. At least in the movies they did. Some of them anyways. Others like Enigma, the 1982 movie starring Martin Sheen and Sam Neil, have been completely forgotten and with good reason. Directed by Jeannot Szwarc, the auteur behind such classics as Jaws 2, Supergirl, and Santa Claus: The Movie, Enigma finds Alex Holbeck (Sheen) an East German dissident living in Paris

Tribeca Film Festival 2019: 'Burning Cane' Is a Visceral yet Rhythmic Directing Debut

Despite its short running time, Burning Cane offers grand, thematic impact.
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The Devil may not be an enemy that can be seen at first glance. However, he can still take many forms and find ways to plague the most untroubled souls. In Burning Cane, he manages to serve as an unseen antagonist. He creeps his way through a poverty-stricken town in Louisiana and cripples the townspeople through the use of a demon that’s hard for some people to shake off. That demon is alcoholism. In more ways than one, alcoholism is a poison. It’s a dangerous addiction that affects the lives of those around you. As Daniel Wayne (Dominique McClellan) struggles

Replicas (2018) Blu-ray Review: Attack of the Keanu Clones

Replicas is a crazy, silly sci-fi movie. But as outlandish as its premise is, and unbelievable its plot, it is still fun to watch.
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Keanu Reeves plays Will, a neuroscientist who has more than a little bit of Victor Frankenstein to his personality. His specialty is the neural mapping of brains - thoughts, memories, knowledge. BRAINS! He is working at an experimental research base in Puerto Rico on a top-secret project, as one does. The project doesn't make a whole lot of sense, honestly. We meet Will and his staff and watch the lab on stand-by - until they get a call that a viable body is en route. Their subject turns out to be a dead soldier that will be used as guinea

Frida Cinema's 2nd Annual Overnight Sci-Fi Marathon 'Starship Frida' to Blast Off Saturday, May 4th!

A special prize will be given to all guests who stay through the entire experience.
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Press release: Orange County's non-profit art house theater The Frida Cinema invites guests to embark on a 12-hour overnight odyssey through some of sci-fi cinema’s most fantastic, thrilling, terrifying, and mind-bending worlds at their 2nd Annual Starship Frida overnight event! One of the cinema's two annual overnight film marathons, along with October's overnight horror marathon Camp Frida, Starship Frida is a twelve-hour marathon of science-fiction classics that kicks off at 8pm on May the 4th (Star Wars reference fully intended), and continues through to 8am. Starship Frida's event coordinator Alissa Flores says of the event, "Our amazing team of Starship

Glass Blu-ray Review: It's Half Full

The film is filled with contrived situations and inconsistent performances.
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As a fan of the works of M Night Shyamalan, the end of his 2016 film Split featuring James McAvoy in an award-worthy performance as a kidnapper with multiple personalities, filled me with anticipation. The brief appearance by the unbreakable David Dunn (Bruce Willis) indicated that not only were we in the brilliant world that Shyamalan had created sixteen years earlier in Unbreakable, but that there was more to come. Indeed the story of David Dunn, Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy), and Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson) does continue in Glass, but that which fans were greatly anticipating, plays out like

Five Cool Things and Notre Dame

Here's five cool things I discovered this week.
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For most of our married life, my wife and I have intentionally not had a television in our bedroom. This was mostly her idea. The thought being that the bedroom is sort-of a special place. A place of intimacies, where we slough off the weariness of the day and rest. It is a place where we can talk and cuddle before diving off to sleep. To place a television set in it where we would inevitably sit mindlessly in those final hours of rest would be an invasion of that space. Also I’m too cheap to spend the money on

Ava DuVernay to Join TCM's The Essentials

Curated season to feature hand-picked films by DuVernay premieres May 4 and airs Saturdays at 8 p.m.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today announced that Oscar-nominee Ava DuVernay will join The Essentials, TCM’s popular franchise showcasing “must see” classic films. Emmy®, BAFTA® and Peabody® winning DuVernay joins TCM primetime host Ben Mankiewicz for the new season where they will introduce a hand-picked film each Saturday and offer commentary on its cultural significance, its influence on other films, behind-the-scenes stories and their own personal reflections. The new season of The Essentials, which airs every Saturday night, premieres May 4 at 8 p.m. (ET). “What a thrill to be invited to select films for TCM’s The Essentials. And

Keoma Blu-ray Review: The Spaghetti Western's Last Breath

Franco Nero stars in this later-period spaghetti western that's got a lot of style, and little else.
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With his Dollars trilogy, Sergio Leone revived the failing western genre, infused it with European sensibilities, and created his own subgenre, the Spaghetti Western. With their scruffy, loner heroes, off-kilter visual design, and unusual scores, Leone’s films gave the western a new and distinctive style. Their worldwide success created a numerous imitators, some more successful than others. By 1970, the genre had slipped into parody or outright slapstick. By 1976 it had all but died out. With Keomo, director Enzo G. Castellari along with star Fraco Nero gave it one last gasp, but by then we had all moved on.

Diamonds of the Night Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Story of Youth Under Fire with a Brilliantly Fractured Eye

A startling and very tense debut from the most unflinching director of the now-ancient Czechoslovak New Wave.
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There are many similarities between Luis Bunuel and underrated auteur/director Jan Nemec. They both use surrealism to dictate the often limitless boundaries of human behavior. When it comes to their films, you don't really know which is reality, and which is fantasy. However, you want to watch their cinema repeatedly to uncover more details that missed the first time around. While Bunuel depicts human behavior with a satirical edge, Nemec directs his films with surrealist details, but which a more serious viewpoint, especially when it comes to war and how it affects people in a certain time and place. This

Tito and the Birds Blu-ray Review: Slight Story, Gorgeous Animation

Definitely not just for the birds.
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While computer-generated animation moves closer and closer to photorealism, it is always nice to see an animated film that revels in its unrealistic form. When the camera was invented, some painters felt free to move away from realism and made impressionistic art. In a similar way, it is interesting to see how some animators are choosing to create painting-like films as CGI becomes more realistic. Tito and the Birds, the recent Brazilian animated film brought to Blu-ray by Shout! Factory!, looks like a thickly brushed oil painting come to life. As a young boy, Tito’s father (voiced Matheus Nachtergaele) taught

The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Four

Each year, I seem to enjoy the TCM Film Festival more and more.
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The last day started with my first 9 am block viewing. While I was tempted to sleep in, I couldn’t pass up seeing Bill Hader introducing Mad Love (1935). Not only did Hader make it worthwhile but so did the film's crazy story about a surgeon (Peter Lorre) who is so obsessed with an actress (Frances Drake) that he replaces her pianist husband’s hands with those of a knife-throwing murderer. Lorre is at his creepy best here and totally enthralling. It is also visually impressive and said to have inspired Citizen Kane. Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) was the only
Press release: The Toys That Made Us is an American television series created by Brian Volk-Weiss, the founder of Comedy Dynamics. The first four episodes of the series began streaming on Netflix on December 22, 2017, and the next four were released on May 25, 2018. Narrated by Donald Ian Black, the eight-episode documentary series, as it was originally touted, focused on the history of important toy lines. The first four episodes focus on the Star Wars, He-Man and G.I. Joe toy lines with subsequent episodes featuring LEGO, Transformers, Hello Kitty, and Star Trek. Check out the Season 1 Trailer

The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Three

My schedule ended up changing from what I had originally planned.
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Day Three started with what turned out to be my favorite film of the festival, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). This black comedy stars Dennis Price as a disowned heir determined to claim his rightful place and avenge his dead mother by killing the remaining eight members ahead of him, all played by Alec Guinness. The 70th anniversary world premiere restoration by the British Film Institute involved taking the original 35mm nitrate negative, scanning in 4K resolution, and then extensive manual corrections to remove debris, warping, tears and scratches frame by frame. The result is extremely impressive. It is understandable

Noir Archive - Volume 1: 1944-1954 is the Pick of the Week

A full week of classic releases and a few new ones.
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Last November (or Noirvember, as I like to call it), I set out to watch as many film noirs as I could. I watched a pretty broad selection of classics, not-so classics, and neo-noirs. I’ve always liked the genre, but watching so many in such a short period of time really made me a fan. Since then, I’ve continued to watch the genre as often as I can (Amazon Prime has a surprisingly good selection of them). Throughout the 1940s, Columbia Studios made a whole bunch of them. Most of them don’t fall into the category of classic. In fact,

Road to Zanzibar (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Welcome to the Jungle, Hope and Crosby Got Fun and Games

The movie succeeds as a sequel because it repeats what "...Singapore" did well and offers enough new things to make the picture stand on its own.
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Kino Lorber Studio Classics has added to their roster Special Edition Blu-ray releases of the first four Road pictures starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, making the first six of the seven movies now available from them. Road to Zanzibar (1941) is the second in the series and not only sees the return of the acting trio but screenwriters Frank Butler and Don Hartman and director Victor Schertinger as well. Set in Zanzibar, Africa, the premise is basically the same. Hope and Crosby, who gets three songs, are up to their usual wacky shenanigans and rapid-fire banter, and

The Strange Door Blu-ray Review: Not Strange Enough

Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff star in this Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation that's slight but entertaining.
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Very loosely based upon the Robert Louis Stevenson story, The Sire de Maletroit's Door, The Strange Door stars Charles Laughton as Sire Alain de Maletroit, a rich aristocrat with devious plans. He sets up a drunken cad named Denis de Beaulieu (Richard Stapley) by making him believe he has murdered someone. In a bar, one of Maletroit’s men starts a fight with Beaulieu and fires his pistol at him. Beaulieu then grabs a planted gun filled with blanks from the bar and shoots back. The man pretends to be dead, forcing Beaulieu to run away from the angry mob. They

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 9: 1963-1964 by Milton Caniff

This two-year collection provides plenty of thrilling mid-20th century adventures.
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The Library of American Comics continues publishing the adventures of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon with Volume 9, which presents the newspaper comic strips from December 31, 1962 to January 2, 1964, covering the 16th and 17th year of the strip's 41-year run. Air Force Colonel Steve Canyon continues to travel the globe conducting official and unofficial missions, and Caniff continues to deliver outstanding artwork. Library of American Comics associate editor Bruce Canwell wrote the essay "When Truth Strengthens Fiction," which provides annotations to the strips. The book opens in media res with a kerfuffle at Maumee University as actor Clipper

The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Two

What ended up being one of my favorites of the festival?
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My first full day started with one of my all-time favorite actors Gary Cooper starring in Love in the Afternoon (1957): This romantic comedy offered the reteaming of Billy Wilder and Audrey Hepburn three years after the hit Sabrina. The romance between the womanizing American tycoon Cooper and the much younger Hepburn is rather ridiculous but yet I still found it heartwarming. Maurice Chevalier as Hepburn’s father steals the film and makes it truly worth watching. Kate Flannery, best known for her role in the television show The Office, was delightfully charming and funny during the introduction. While she may

Shout! Factory Celebrates Pride Month with Four Definitive Home Entertainment Releases

“At Shout, we celebrate and champion the universal movement for equality, and drive creative expression and diversity in independent storytelling,” says Jeff Nelson, Senior Director of Marketing at Shout! Factory and Scream Factory.
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Press release: In honor of this year’s LGBTQ Pride Month, Shout! Factory is proud to present an eclectic slate of pop culture-defining movies arriving for the first time on Blu-ray. “At Shout, we celebrate and champion the universal movement for equality, and drive creative expression and diversity in independent storytelling,” says Jeff Nelson, Senior Director of Marketing at Shout! Factory and Scream Factory. “We’re thrilled to bring these fun films back into the market! There’s something for everyone: Outrageous camp, disco-pumped extravaganzas and heartfelt stories of love and acceptance. Each movie still strikes a chord of with audiences who remember

The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day One

The TCM Classic Film Festival is an event that I look forward to and always enjoy. My ninth year was no different.
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The festival is held over four days and spread out between the TCL Chinese Theater, the Chinese Multiplex, the Egyptian Theater, and for the first time, the Hollywood Post 43 of the American Legion. There are typically five films playing in any given time slot along with various interviews and presentations taking place. This requires thoughtful scheduling and often leads to a difficult decision-making process. The lines for the films start at least an hour before the screening; depending on the popularity of a film, it starts even earlier. Planning is critical to make sure you get into the films

Archer: Danger Island: The Complete Season Nine DVD Review: One of the Funniest Comedies on TV

It continues the ridiculous situations and wacky dialogue filled with recurring gags, obscure references, and unrelenting insults in which the series excels.
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Season Nine finds Archer still in a coma after having been shot in Season Seven, but his dreams have changed setting, moving from Los Angeles 1947 (Season Eight: Dreamland) to a South Seas island 1938, hence the subtitle: Danger Island. The voice cast play variations of their characters in this new setting. Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) is a pilot like Jake Cutter from Tales of the Gold Monkey, which creator Matt Read told A.V. Club was "one of my favorite shows ever." Pam (Amber Nash) is Sterling's co-pilot and considers him her best friend. Malory Archer (Jessica Walter) runs

Star Wars Celebration 2019 Review: One Man's Journey to Find Kindness

It's the end of Star Wars as we know it (and I feel fine).
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If I were a gambling man, I’d bet dollars to donuts that Star Wars Celebration is on your bucket list. Assuming you have a bucket list, of course. I don’t; I have more of a list of Cool Things I’ve Already Done, because in addition to not being gambling man, I’m also not a man who sets goals for himself that he’s not likely see to fruition. After all, tickets for the event sold out seemingly instantaneously and a man of my economic stature would very nearly have to win the lottery to afford it anyway. And as we’ve already

Five Cool Things and Alice in Wonderland

Here's five cool things I watched this week.
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My daughter celebrated her eighth year of life this week. That seems an incredibly long time and yet it seems like just yesterday we were at the hospital ready for her to be born. There are other cliches I could spout, but instead I’ll just say I’m so very happy she’s in my life. The in-laws are in town for the celebrations, which always messes with my ability to consume pop-culture items, but I still managed to squeeze some cool stuff in. Cleo from 5 to 7 I hang my head in shame as an amateur film critic and cinephile

Project Blue Book: Season 1 Blu-ray Review: The Plot Is Intriguing, but the Pacing Is Slow

UFO's and government cover-ups that don't come off as exciting as they should.
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Project Blue Book follows Dr. J. Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen) who is a college professor recruited by the U.S. military to investigate UFO sightings around the United States. While his new partner, Air Force Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey) tows the official government line that all of the sighting can be explained away, Dr. Hyneck sees that there is something more than weather balloons and owls mistaken for aliens and spacecrafts. While Project Blue Book is a fictional show, it is based on true events and real people. This is a realm that the History Channel has ventured into over

Scream and Scream Again Blu-ray Review: You'll Scream for It to Be Over

Three horror legends barely star in a ridiculously confusing early 1970s British horror.
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In London, a jogger runs toward the camera and collapses. He wakes up in a hospital bed while a nurse tends to him. When she leaves, he pulls down the sheet to discover one of his legs has been amputated. In some unnamed fascist county, a soldier named Konartz (Marshall Jones) gives the old death grip to what appears to be his superior officer. Back in London, DS Bellaver (Alfred Marks) investigates a series of brutal sex murders where women are being killed and drained of their blood. One of the girls worked for Dr. Browning (Vincent Price), a mad

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 25: 1969-1970 by Chester Gould

While Dick Tracy and his team work four cases, the art by Gould and his assistants is top notch.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 25 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from April 3, 1969 through to December 23, 1970. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Fate Is Strange," which provides commentary on the strips included, and concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Bushed and Ugly," about Gould's political subtext and the business of Dick Tracy. As the book opens, readers meet cartoonist Vera Alldid, whose name is a groan-inducing pun based on his father's broken English. The

The House of the Seven Gables Blu-ray Review: A Fine Adaptation of a Classic Novel

Seven gables, two deaths, one curse, and lots of melodrama.
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Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, Universal Studios was known for their horror films. They unleashed into cinemas a string of successful monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, and the Wolfman. Countless sequels and imitators followed. In 1935, they released The Raven with two of their biggest stars, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. They expected a huge hit. They got a dud that stirred controversy for its use of torture, disfigurement, and revenge, which ultimately led to horror films being briefly banned in England and stopped all production of the genre at Universal. But within a few years,

NostalgiaCon, SoCal's First All-80's Celebration, Debuts in Anaheim July 4-6

An All-'80s-all-the-time destination for hit TV show cast reunions, box office mega stars, unforgettable live concerts, memorabilia, and so much more.
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Press release: If you miss the 1980’s, then you’re going to love NostalgiaCon 2019 (www.nostalgiacon80s.com), an exciting showcasing of the stars, music, fashion, fun and excitement that made the ‘80’s the decade to remember. Kicking off with an opening celebration on July 4, the full event will be open on July 5 and 6 at the Anaheim Convention Center. NostalgiaCon 2019 is an All-‘80s-all-the-time destination for hit TV show cast reunions, box office mega stars, unforgettable live concerts, exclusive panel sessions, cosplay competitions, memorabilia and collectibles and so much more. Among the NostagiaCon 2019 highlights… Back to the Future star

The Kid Brother Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Comedic Gem

Harold Lloyd's slapstick masterpiece gets a fantastic upgrade from the folks at Criterion.
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I’m not too familiar with the work of Harold Lloyd, and The Kid Brother is actually the first film of his that I’ve seen in its entirety. Of course, now that I’ve finally experienced one of his films, it makes me want to go and seek out what else he has done. The Kid Brother is a hysterical comedy from the silent era, and also one that has a strong emotional core and a few exciting action scenes. It’s the perfect genre blend of a movie, one that is hard to come by in modern Hollywood. Lloyd plays Harold Hickory,

Rafiki Movie Review: A Harmonious Portrayal of Queer Love

A simple yet incredibly effective demonstration of love facing adversity.
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One way to describe Rafiki is that it feels triumphant. Partially because it was able to overcome its country-wide ban that nearly prevented it from being eligible to compete as Kenya's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar last year. Another reason is because it’s a harmonious story about love overcoming adversity. A love between two women that defies the homophobic community where they reside. The love that Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) have faces its fair share of hardships and enters political territory. But for the most part, the film feels breezy in its execution. Particularly,

Glass is the Pick of the Week

Here's all that's interesting coming out this week in the world of Blu-ray.
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With the huge success of The Sixth Sense, director M. Night Shyamalan was able to make just about any film he wanted. He followed it with a series of similarly themed films full of dark emotion, supernatural mysteries, and a twist ending. He quickly went from critical darling to critical punching bag. Apparently, his movies still make money because he’s still making them, but I tuned out after The Happening. In truth, I turned out earlier than that, but that was the last film of his I actually watched. Of the films I have seen, Unbreakable is my favorite. It

Criterion Announces July 2019 Releases

Declare your independence from streaming and buy these in July.
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Do the right thing and add these July titles to your home library. New to the collection are Agnieszka Holland’s Europa Europa, Marcel Pagnol's The Baker’s Wife, Alan J. Pakula's Klute, and Michael Radford’s 1984. Getting Blu-ray Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The BRD Trilogy and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. Read on to learn more about them. The BRD Trilogy (#203) out Jul 4 In 1977, German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was thirty-two years old and had already directed more than twenty-five feature films. That summer, he embarked on a project to trace the postwar history of West Germany in

Little Movie Review: Typical yet Amusing Body-Swap Comedy

Despite the story's grand familiarity, the laughs are anything but pint-sized.
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The central premise of Little is that it's pretty much a reverse Big. It depicts a 30-something woman who magically becomes her 13-year-old self. However, while Big and its female counterpart 13 Going on 30 handle the perils of wanting to grow up too fast, Little offers its own distinct storyline. Little attempts to handle the topic of bullying and how it turns us into the tormentors we despise. When the film first opens, 13-year-old Jordan Sanders (Marsai Martin) is performing a science act at her school talent show. But when she gets ridiculed, she swears that she will never

The Land Unknown Blu-ray Review: A Hot Time in Antarctica

A forgotten film about lost world that really ought to be remembered.
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We live in a world without mystery. We have the collective knowledge of humanity at our fingertips. We have explored every inch of the Earth’s surface, and plunged its depths. We have sent probes into the outer reaches of the solar system and mapped our own DNA. It is hard to imagine a time when we really didn’t know what was just over the horizon. When we truly thought monsters might lie in the dark places. To be sure, the 1950s were not that time. We didn’t know what we do know now, but we definitely knew there weren’t dinosaurs

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Announces the Batman Four-Film Collection

The films will be available as 4K UHD singles on June 4 and will also be available as a four-film collection on September 17. The
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Press release: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC announced today that four Batman titles will be released on 4K UHD to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the DC Super Hero created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. The films include 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns, directed by Tim Burton, and 1995’s Batman Forever and 1997’s Batman & Robin, directed by Joel Schumacher. The four films, which earned more than $1.2 billion in global box office, have been remastered in 4K UHD for the first time. The films will be available as 4K UHD singles on June 4 and will

Five Cool Things and The Rise of Skywalker

Here's some cool things I saw this week.
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For reasons I won’t get into here, I’ve decided to shut my little music blog down. Probably permanently. There are a lot of emotions involved with that. I’ve run The Midnight Cafe since 2004 and I’ve been talking about live music since 2008. That is more than a decade of my life. For most of that, I have writen at least one post every day. The blog had become a part of me. It was in my DNA. To walk away from it feels like losing something essential. The emotion I wasn't expecting from this was a sense of relief.

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Lands in Movie Theaters for One Night Only on May 13

Features behind-the-scenes footage of the making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, interviews with cast, creators, and more.
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Press release: Fans will get a special look into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the new documentary - What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - arrives in movie theaters across the country for one night only on May 13, 2019. The film presents a fascinating in-depth look at the past, present and future of a series whose dark, edgy take on Gene Roddenberry’s vision was often misunderstood when it premiered but has grown into a beloved mainstay in the Star Trek franchise. Featuring extensive new interviews with the cast and crew of Star

The Miseducation of Cameron Post Blu-ray Review: Understated and Challenging

Chloe Grace Moretz's amazing performance anchors this timely, funny, and at times difficult film of a sadly still existing subject.
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The fact that conversion therapy still exists is appalling to me, and it is still a controversial topic that rarely gets talked about. However, there have been at least a few films that dealt with it in their own satirical or dramatic ways, such as But I'm A Cheerleader (1999), and last year's Boy Erased. But for me, I think that director Desiree Akhavan's understated and challenging The Miseducation of Cameron Post, also from last year, gets it right the most with its mix of humor, drama, and honesty. Based on the acclaimed novel by Emily M. Danforth, the film

Space: 1999 - The Complete Series Comes to Blu-ray & DVD July 16, 2019

Attention all sections Alpha: prepare for transmission!
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Press release: From Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, the legendary masterminds behind Thunderbirds, comes the epic sci-fi series, Space: 1999. On July 16, 2019, Shout! Factory will release Space: 1999: The Complete Series on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in North America. This set comes jam-packed, including all 48 episodes and an entire disc of bonus features, which are currently in progress and will be announced at a later date. Shout! Factory will also offer a limited edition set that includes a snow globe featuring an Eagle Transporter landing on the Moon, available for pre-order now at shoutfactory.com. The

Pandas Movie Review: Simply Adorable

A gorgeous documentary that makes you want to spend your whole day with panda bears.
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One of the things about animal/nature documentaries is that a lot of them aim to be overly cutesy in their narration and stylistic approach as a way to keep the attention of the young ones. Disney’s Born in China did that quite a bit in 2017, and, while it was cute and gorgeous in its imagery, the narration came across as pandering to only a certain demographic and not being informational enough for everyone else. IMAX’s Pandas kind of does that, but it’s not as cloying and off-putting. In the 40 minutes we get to witness the pandas in action,

Celebrating Batman's 80th Anniversary, Fathom Events Brings Four Adventures Back to the Big Screen This May

Movie theaters nationwide will present Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin, each for one day only.
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Press release: This May, only in movie theaters nationwide, Batman returns followed by Batman Returns, plus Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin. All four blockbuster cinematic adventures are coming back to movie theaters as Fathom Events presents a can’t-miss Batman movie event in honor of DC’s Batman 80th anniversary. Each Batman film will play one day only in more than 600 movie theaters nationwide, beginning with director Tim Burton’s visionary Batman, a film whose unprecedented success and acclaim helped propel superhero movies that continue to reign supreme at the box office. Tickets to each of the four Batman films are

Bancroft: Season One DVD Review: Completely Bonkers

Sometimes you need to take a break from all the prestige television demanding your attention and watch something completely ridiculous.
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In this world of seemingly endless must-watch, prestige TV filled with award-winning writers, directors, and actors, it is nice to see a series that is so utterly bonkers, so completely ridiculous in its plotting, and over the top in its performances that it only wants to entertain, not garner awards and stacks of internet think pieces over what it all means. Bancroft stars Sarah Parish as Detective Superintendent Elizabeth Bancroft, a hard-as-nails copper trying to take down a vicious drug syndicate which she hopes will earn her a promotion. Faye Marsay plays Elizabeth Stevens an up-and-coming detective who looks to

Sauvage Movie Review: A Fiercely Unsentimental Character Study

Felix Maritaud is the strong center of this unflinching look at a queer sex worker's life.
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When Sauvage first opens, Leo (Felix Maritaud) is in what seems to be a doctor’s office. The older man examining Leo asks him to take his clothes off. Right after that, the scene turns on a dime and the man gives him sexual pleasure. The scene establishes the tone for the entire film which is a chaotic and rather unflinching look at the life of a sex worker. It’s quite graphic in terms of its sexual content. However, it still thrives thanks to its central performance and impartial filmmaking style. Twenty-two-year old Leo (Felix Maritaud) lives on the streets as

Glass Blu-ray Giveaway

Writer-Director M. Night Shyamalan (Unbreakable, Split) completes a mind-bending trilogy created nearly twenty years ago.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader a Glass Blu-ray Combo Pack. Glass is available on Digital now, and it will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand April 16. For those wanting to learn more, read the press release is below: Writer-Director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) completes a mind-bending trilogy created nearly twenty years ago with GLASS, a comic book thriller available on Digital via the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on April 2, 2019 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On

On the Basis of Sex is the Pick of the Week

A future Supreme Court Justice, a Sherlock Holmes parody, erotic adventures, tiny dolls, and more come out this week.
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The Supreme Court has been in the news a lot lately. Obviously, they make a lot of major decisions that affect everyday life in America and so they are watched very carefully. Donald Trump has now appointed two justices, which will have an enormous effect on the Court for decades to come. Depending on which side of the aisle you sit, this is either a great time to be an American or the signaling of end times. I hate talking politics online but I will say his choices did not meet my approval. But as always, there is a light

Road to Singapore (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: On the Road to a Franchise

It sets forth the template for these entertaining, musical romantic comedies wherein Hope and Crosby compete for the affections of Dorothy Lamour in exotic locations.
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Kino Lorber Studio Classics has added to their roster Special Edition Blu-ray releases of the first four Roadpictures starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, making the first six of the seven movies now available from them. Road to Singapore (1940) is the first in the series and sets forth the template for these entertaining, musical romantic comedies wherein Hope and Crosby compete for the affections of Lamour in exotic locations. Originally a project planned for others, including Burns and Allen, Paramount struck box-office gold when ... Singapore became a vehicle for Hope and Crosby, whose ad-libs and writing

Emmanuelle Blu-ray Review: A Young Girl's Strange Erotic Journey From Paris to Bangkok

The movie that started a softcore franchise.
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The 1970s were a fascinating time for American cinema. The studio system that dominated the Golden Age of Hollywood was dying by the end of the 1960s and with it, the Hays Code and its internal censorship. The '70s saw a new wave in movies with fresh new directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, and host of others. They created films like never before seen in Hollywood. Their films often tackled themes that just a few years prior had been taboo. They were often pessimistic, dark films that didn’t hold back, graphically using violence, sex, and language

Vice (2018) Blu-ray Review: A Smug, Insulting Biopic

Once again, Adam McKay proves he can't direct true stories.
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In a perfect world, the cast of Vice would be in a movie that is compelling and maybe doesn’t play to the beat of every other biopic out there. But this is not a perfect world, and, while the film is certainly different from others that are based on true events, it's far from being a compelling feature. Instead, what we are given is Adam McKay’s tonally inconsistent, self-indulgent satire that wastes its cast and spends too much time trying to determine if it wants to mock all of its characters or be serious and try to earn some brownie

My (Tentative) 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule

I try to balance my selections with films I have never seen or beloved films I haven't seen on the big screen.
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With the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival only days away, I have started planning my schedule. This is always a difficult process since there are usually several films in the same time slot that I want to see. I try to balance my selections with films I have never seen or beloved films I haven’t seen on the big screen. The guests who will participate in the discussions also plays a big part of the decision. Below is the list of the top films I am most excited about and likely to attend. Thursday: Night World (1932): My festival will

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (2019) Blu-ray Review: Girl Sleuth, Girl Power

Sophia Lillis is definitely a star on the rise and movies with strong, smart, young female protagonists are always welcome.
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Do kids still read Nancy Drew? I hope so. She was the original girl power hero, solving mysteries and having adventures. There have been many adaptations of the character and books over the years, with Sophia Lillis (It, Sharp Objects) the latest to portray the plucky heroine. We meet this new Nancy as she is skateboarding her way through town, ear buds blasting. She is a smart, contemporary teen who has a gift for solving mysteries and righting wrongs (like when one of her friends is being cyber-bullied). But this Nancy also has a degree of angst. She is mourning

Five Cool Things and The Dead Don't Die

I want to celebrate things that make life better. So here we go.
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It has been one rough week. My professional and personal life have been filled with much stress. I don’t want to get into the gory details except to say that even when life bogs me down, I can always turn to art to cheer me up. And on that front, it was a very good week. I watched some interesting movies and enjoyed the trailers on some movies that haven’t been released yet. That’s why I do this. I want to celebrate things that make life better. So here we go. House on Haunted Hill (1959) This isn’t exactly a

Aquaman Blu-ray Review: The Man Who Would Be Sea King

The movie covers familiar territory in a thrilling manner.
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After appearing in Justice League, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) gets his own solo outing in the sixth installment of the DC Extended Universe. The movie is a stuffed-to-the-gills blockbuster, more in line with the successful Wonder Woman than the franchise's previous misfires as it covers familiar territory in a thrilling manner. Aquaman opens with the meeting of his parents, Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison), lighthouse keeper of Maine, and Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), queen of Atlantis. He found her unconscious and injured along the rocks near his home. She recovers, falling for Thomas and having Arthur, a child who she says one day

The Wind Movie Review: A Traditional Psychological Thriller with Unsettling Flair

A promising feature-film debut that provides effective scares despite its loose structure.
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Loneliness can be killer. Living in a world of both physical and mental isolation can cause a whirlwind of despair and madness. The latest horror film The Wind is a well-orchestrated demonstration of the severe toll isolation takes. While the film may have a rather confusing start, as it progresses, it becomes an effective exercise in psychological terror. In addition, it proves that director Emma Tammi who makes her solo feature-film debut has a distinctive filmmaking voice. When Lizzie (Caitlin Gerard) is left alone in her cabin while her husband (Ashley Zukerman) runs some errands, she becomes haunted by possible

The Mule (2018) Blu-ray Review: The Old Man and the Drugs

Clint Eastwood makes a strong return to acting and also directs a solidly crafted film.
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At this point, it’s hard to take an actor seriously when he or she announces retirement from being in front of the camera. Recently, there was news going around that Robert Redford won’t star in another movie after The Old Man and the Gun. While that may be true for the time being, there was another person who claimed to be retiring from acting, only to reemerge years after making that statement. In 2008, Clint Eastwood said he would no longer star in a movie after Gran Torino. And while more of his time is now dedicated to working behind

The Mule (2018) is the Pick of the Week

I might be late in writing about it, but there is still some good stuff coming out this week.
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I turned 43 last week. Apparently, I not only got a year older but I completely lost my memory too. I woke up this morning thinking everything was fine. I thought about the stack of Blu-ray movies I received in the mail yesterday and about the dates they needed to be reviewed. For a moment, I thought one of them was coming out this week and I panicked. Then I thought about my weekly article on new Blu-ray releases. Then I tried to think about what came out this week. Then I remembered I didn’t know what came out this

A Silent Voice Blu-ray Review: Bully Redemption in a Subdued Tone

An animated drama about a school bully picking on a deaf girl tells a story quiet about redemption and consequences.
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There's a certain style in Japanese storytelling and film-making where the important things are what is not shown, what is not said, what is not expressed. The subtext between the characters tells the story. Both Uzo and Kore-eda, in very different ways, based most of their careers on putting together stories where the truth beneath the veneer is only revealed by implication and by accident. By a simple gesture. A minor scene. Animation is a broader art form than live-action film-making, since all the visuals are drawn and, of course, by nature abstracted. There can be nuance, but only up

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2011: Presenting Music and the Movies

A wide variety of material to see for the first time or revisit on the silver screen.
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No longer available online, this review is being re-published. The 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival returned to Hollywood Blvd for its second run presenting films well-known "Essentials" and obscure "Discoveries." "Music and the Movies" was a major theme this year so there was programming highlighting Disney's Musical Legacy, the work of composers George and Ira Gershwin and Bernard Herrmann, and famous musicals like West Side Story and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Just like last year, the festival had so many interesting things to do and see it was impossible to take everything in but there's something for everyone. My

The Mustang Movie Review: Matthias Schoenaerts Carries This Poetic Gem

An incredibly moving and poignant character study.
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When The Mustang first opens, it seems like it’s going to be a preachy, political demonstration of how endangered wild mustangs currently are. The film’s opening sequence shows a horde of horses being captured, making us believe it’s going to be a glimpse at the system trying to capture them. That is until the sequence cuts to Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts), our main character, waking up from his sleep. Thanks to that neat editing trick, the theme for the film becomes established. As it turns out, The Mustang is simply about the strong bond between man and animal. It shows us

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2010: A Festival Is Born

The festival's programming spanned the medium's history, and as a bonus, many of the selections featured introductions and Q&A's from participants, their relatives, and peers.
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No longer available online, this review is being re-published. The inaugural TCM Classic Film Festival brought the cable channel to the silver screens of Hollywood Blvd. movie theaters for four days playing the likes of Grauman's Chinese and the Egyptian. Much like the channel, the festival's programming spanned the medium's history, and as a bonus, many of the selections featured introductions and Q&A's from participants, their relatives, and peers. Living in Los Angeles, I am spoiled. There are quite a number of venues throughout the county to catch classic films, some of which include discussions with participants, so while I

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