May 2019 Archives

APOLLO 11 - The Immersive Live Show Announces Orange County Performances Starting October 10th

The show invites audiences to go on an epic journey to the Moon and back.
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Press release: The Immersive Live Show touches down in Costa Mesa, CA for a limited engagement at OC Fair & Event Center on Thursday, October 10, with tickets on sale Sunday, June 23. Groups of 10 or more can purchase their tickets now by emailing or calling 1-833-9MOON11. Costa Mesa is the second stop of this exciting new production’s 18-city tour over the next three years. As we approach the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the Moon, the time has come to tell one of the greatest stories in human history. Staged in the groundbreaking, purpose-built LUNAR

The Nun (1965) Blu-ray Review: Get Thee to a Nunnery

Jacques Rivette's riveting portrait of convent life in the 18th century is as beautifully filmed as it is horrifying to watch.
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Jacques Rivette’s 1965 adaptation of the Denis Diderot book The Nun (La Religieuse) was controversial before it was even released. The script went through several adaptations in order to gain approval for production. Even then, they had to add in a title card noting that the film is fictional and does not paint a true picture of religious institutions (which is then quickly undermined in true Rivette fashion with a short intro about how Diderot’s book was based on historical fact). Once made and approved by the censorship boards, it faced outraged protests and delays in release. Much like Martin

The Cure: Anniversary 1978-2018 Live in Hyde Park London in Theaters 7/11

In collaboration with Eagle Rock Entertainment, the film captures the acclaimed Hyde Park gig celebrating 40 years of The Cure.
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Press release: Trafalgar Releasing, in collaboration with Eagle Rock Entertainment, today announced the global cinema release of The Cure - Anniversary 1978-2018 Live in Hyde Park London, celebrating 40 years of The Cure, cementing them as one of the defining rock bands of music history. The film, slated for release from Thursday, July 11th, sees The Cure take the stage on a perfect July evening in London’s Hyde Park to deliver a set of a songs celebrating four decades of music making. The ensuing film Anniversary 1978-2018 directed by longtime collaborator Tim Pope, captures them in glorious 4K. The 5.1

Diamantino Movie Review: A Wonderfully Bizarre Camp Thriller

This queer fantasy succeeds thanks to its unapologetically schlock nature.
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Whenever the main character, soccer player Diamantino Matamouros (Carloto Cotta), steps onto the soccer field, he imagines himself seeing cute puppies and colorful mist. What the puppies represent in unclear but it’s still one of the many crazed things about this brazen queer thriller. Diamantino is quite balls-to-the-wall, attempting to mix sociopolitical context and eccentric science fiction, while featuring some exemplary character development. Once Diamantino Matamouros is introduced, he’s established as a sports icon. However, after he misses a penalty shot in the World Cup championship which results in Portugal’s loss, he becomes an immediate laughing stock. Wanting to get

Cold Pursuit Blu-ray Review: Revenge Served at the Right Temperature

An enjoyable adventure for crime fans, offering more of interest to keep the viewer engaged with the story than the standard shoot'em-up.
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Cold Pursuit finds Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland remaking an English version of his 2014 film In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten). Liam Neeson stars as Nels Coxman, a man whose particular set of skills involve driving a snowplow for the fictional town of Kehoe, Colorado not killing. Yet when his son dies, he seeks revenge against those responsible, setting off a criminal gang war in this humorous crime thriller. Nels's work driving the snowplow has made him an important figure in the community. The night he receives an award for his service his son Kyle is kidnapped and given a

Her Smell is the Pick of the Week

The reviews have been pretty mixed but everybody praises Moss's performance and I'm pretty excited to finally see it.
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I have become such a fan of Elisabeth Moss. I first noticed her as the Chelsea Clinton-esque President’s daughter on The West Wing. She had a small recurring role on it, but she really made an impression. Then, of course, she was on Mad Men, which I loved and loved her in. She was great in Top of the Lake and intense on The Handmaid’s Tale and now I want to see her in everything. Looking over her filmography, I see she’s been in lots and lots of things so I’ve got some catching up to do. It is always

Isn't It Romantic Blu-ray Review: Rebel Wilson Is a Pretty (and Funny) Woman

Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine still share that "Pitch Perfect" chemistry in an anti-romantic comedy that turns out to be pretty romantic after all.
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"Isn't It Romantic opens with Roy Orbison's classic song "Oh, Pretty Woman" playing, as a young Aussie, Natalie, watches Julia Roberts in her breakthrough role in the film of the same name charm Richard Gere. Her mom (Jennifer Saunders) quickly kiboshes any romantic notions her daughter might have, and insinuates that the only way she'll get married is to give a guy a green card. The next time we see Natalie she is an all-grown-up Rebel Wilson who works in Manhattan, hates rom-coms, and is prone to getting hit by falafel trucks. After a run-in with a mugger in the

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires Blu-ray Review: The Genre Blending Works Well

"You got your horror on my martial arts!"
"You got your martial arts in my horror!"
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Released on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is the ninth and final entry in Hammer's Dracula film series and finds Hammer Film Productions teaming up with Shaw Brothers Studio to create a fun horror/martial arts mash-up. In the '70s, horror was on a down turn for Hammer but martial arts had become an international sensation thanks in part to the movies of Bruce Lee, so the blending made business sense. While Peter Cushing performs his fifth and final portrayal of Van Helsing for Hammer, Christopher Lee finally gave up the mantle of Dracula. Instead,

Five Cool Things and Bob Dylan Turns 78

How about some cool things to start your weekend?
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It has been a wild few days around these parts. We’ve had major storms all week - big thunderstorms, lots of flooding, and tornados from every directions. The Brewster’s and our property remained perfectly safe but it got a little harrowing for a few nights. Some people binge watch Netflix series; we binge watch the weatherman. When the weather was calm, I did get in some really cool stuff so lets talk about it. Chernobyl Consider me a Jared Harris fan. I liked him as Lance Pryce on Mad Men. I thought he made a great Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes:

Booksmart Movie Review: A Hilarious Romp with Immense Sincerity

A flawless and heartfelt directorial debut from Olivia Wilde.
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Booksmart may be about two high school seniors looking to go to a big party the night before graduation. However, it’s still a lot more than that. It’s an intricate depiction of female friendships that also handles generalizations high school students face while being inclusive without making a political statement. Booksmart is an astonishing coming-of-age story that hardly goes by the books and honestly, it’s hard to believe that this is Olivia Wilde’s directing debut. After getting into prestigious colleges and reaching the top of their class, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) feel like they’ve done everything according

Rocketman Movie Review: Incredibly Sublime with a Masterful Taron Egerton Performance

A fantastical musical biopic with a perfect mix of style and substance.
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It feels like it’s been a long, long time since we’ve seen a biopic depicted with as much gusto and ambition as Rocketman. Not only is it a powerful illustration of Elton John’s life, but it also has the unique structure of an escapist movie musical with his classic songs being used as musical numbers to demonstrate his life story. Even in the opening sequence, the film’s potent mix of style and substance becomes quite evident. The film opens with Elton John (Taron Egerton) attending a group therapy session at a rehab center. While there, he reflects on his turbulent

'Pavarotti' Premiere Screening Event Comes to Movie Theaters Nationwide on June 4

New documentary celebrates life and work of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti through powerful music, intimate interviews, and never-before-seen footage.
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Press release: Fathom Events will bring beloved entertainer Luciano Pavarotti’s story to movie theaters across the country on June 4 with a screening event designed to bring the life and performances of one of the great operatic voices to the masses. This exclusive screening will give audiences the first chance to experience the new documentary film “Pavarotti.” From his earliest beginnings to the very last days of his life, the Ron Howard-directed film follows the renowned singer over the course of his prolific career, revealing previously unknown details about the legendary tenor; and harnessing the incredible sounds and music from

The Shield: The Complete Series DVD Review, Part 2: Seasons 4-7

While I had some misgivings watching the first three seasons, the back half of this series is as exciting as television gets.
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This review discusses Seasons 4-7 of the FX series The Shield and the recent release of the complete series on DVD by Mill Creek Entertainment. To see Part 1 of this review, which discussed Seasons 1-3, click here. This review will also spoil several pertinent plot points of the series. You have been warned. For the first three seasons of The Shield, Captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez) acted as the main antagonist to Vic Mackey (Michael Chicklis) and his Strike Team. Aceveda was always an outsider to Farmington, the crime-ridden district of Los Angeles and the police precinct he leads.

Legendary Comics' New Graphic Novel Godzilla: Aftershock Now on Sale

Thrilling companion prequel to upcoming summer blockbuster Godzilla: King of the Monsters pits the iconic Titan against a mythic new adversary.
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Press release: Fans eagerly awaiting Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ summer’s big-screen blockbuster Godzilla: King of the Monsters, set to hit theaters worldwide on May 31, can get a sneak peek at the monstrous action with Legendary Comics’ thrilling companion graphic novel Godzilla: Aftershock, now on sale in comic stores and online. Continuing the story of 2014’s Godzilla after the catastrophic events in San Francisco, the King of the Monsters finds himself once again threatened as a terrifying new foe rises from the depths of the earth, unleashing a series of devastating earthquakes and driven by an unstoppable primal

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the Pick of the Week

It is an interesting batch of new releases coming out this week.
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I have taken several overseas flights. They are always long. They are always exhausting. The only thing that makes them bearable is being able to watch movies. The best airlines have little TVs in front of every seat, each programmed with a large selection of movies and TV shows that you can control. The worst have a few select screens that pop down at random intervals throughout the plane and only play the same films. Unless you are seated in the right spot, it is difficult to see what is happening on those screens and anytime someone gets up to

Todd McFarlane's Spawn Set to Make History with 300th Issue

The 72-page full-color comic book, celebrating 27 years, and counting, of the hit independent series with an all-star lineup of comics creators, will be in stores August 29, 2019.
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Press release: Todd McFarlane’s SPAWN character sets the stage for a historic celebration as it breaks the record for the longest-running creator-owned comic in the world! To mark this momentous occasion, McFarlane has gathered a team of superstars from the comic industry to contribute to this giant sized 72-page book. The big news for SPAWN #300 is that award-winning artist, Greg Capullo (Batman), returns to illustrate SPAWN. Capullo first brought his talents to Image Comic’s longest running title, with issue #16, leading to a visually-stunning run as the book’s featured artist, culminating in the hallmark 100th issue. Following his seminal

A Delicate Balance Blu-ray Review: A Caustic Bore

A cinematic adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play performed by award-winning actors shouldn't be this dull.
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In the mid 1970s, producer Ely Landau created a subscription-based film series that attempted to recreate a theater experience at the movies. He called it "The American Film Theater." He used 500 or so movie theaters to sell subscriptions to a series of films, all of which were cinematic adaptations of renowned plays. They were to be translated to film but with a complete faithfulness to the original play script. He hired critically acclaimed directors and actors to make the films, which were only shown four times in the specific theaters. Subscriptions for each season were sold by mail-order. It

Book Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection Vol. 5, 1985-1986 by Stan Lee, Floro Dery, and Dan Barry

Stan Lee completely eschews supervillains for a two-year comic strip run of real-world issues.
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In its early years, the daily Spider-Man comic strip had typically followed a comfortable pattern of Spider-Man facing off against one classic supervillain after another, similar to his monthly comic book adventures. By the mid-‘80s, Stan Lee switched up his writing formula to inject a heavy dose of realism into the strip, with not one super-powered baddie appearing in the strip. His stories also played out over months rather than weeks, with only four primary story arcs appearing in the two years presented in this collection. Even more amazing, the most sensitive story subject of all got the longest runtime

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part Blu-ray Review: A Delightful Continuation of the Franchise

In addition to the laughs, the story has heart and works for the whole family.
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I try to be open-minded about movies before I see them, but like Osgood Fielding III said in Some Like It Hot, “nobody's perfect,” so in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I was a huge skeptic when I first heard that a LEGO movie was being made. It just seemed like a calculated corporate decision by the studio to maximize merchandising by bringing a two-hour toy catalog to life. And while there was certainly merchandising to be had, it turned out that the filmmakers had created an entertaining, inventive comedy with impressive visuals and a story with

The Image Book Blu-ray Review: Godard Expresses the Hell of the Contemporary World

A hypnotizing and provocative film essay of a world reaching oblivion from one of cinema's most radical filmmakers.
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Have you ever watched a film and wondered what's actually in the images you're seeing? Have you every looked at the world around you and asked yourself, "How did we get here?" Well, legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard does just that with his 2018 immersive film collage, The Image Book, where he, with his celebrated and also polarizing iconoclasticism, brings the viewer deeper into the cinema process and the difficult world we live in. Godard takes and pieces together fragments and clips from some of the greatest films ever made; digitally alters, bleaches, and washes them, all in the name

Five Cool Things and Doris Day

Here's all the cool things I consumed this week.
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It has been a crazy week for me work-wise. I have been busy, busy, busy, most of which kept me in my truck driving from town to town all over the county. I probably put a 1,000 on the odometer while never going more than 40 miles from my house. This meant when I finally got home I was exhausted. Luckily there was TV and movies to provide their endless comfort. Here’s what I watched and enjoyed. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) I watched the Phillip Kaufman remake of this science fiction classic a few weeks back and decided

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC Present Batman: Hush

The Dark Knight matches wits with his most formidable adversary.
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Press release: A mysterious villain puppeteering Gotham’s most dangerous forces leads the Dark Knight into uncharted waters in Batman: Hush, the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe Movies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film arrives from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting July 20, 2019, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, , Blu-ray Combo Pack and the DC Universe streaming service on August 6, 2019. Batman: Hush will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack ($39.99 SRP) and Blu-ray Combo Pack ($24.98 SRP) as well as on Digital ($19.99

Becoming Evil: Serial Killers DVD Review: This Academic Series Has a Lot of Challenges

Interesting subject matter wrapped into a not-so-interesting series.
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I love true crime. I listen to true-crime podcasts. I will watch true-crime television shows. And I absolutely love documentaries about true crime. So of course, I was excited when I was offered the chance to review a 6-1/2 hour investigative documentary series on serial killers. While Becoming Evil:Serial Killers covers a lot different serial killers, some more notorious than others, this academic series has a lot of challenges. From the beginning, Becoming Evil feels dated as if the series was over a decade or so old. However, this is a new series released this week. And while it is

The Shield: The Complete Series DVD Review, Part 1: Seasons 1-3

The Shield was revolutionary television, but will it hold up upon a revisit?
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There is a scene in the pilot episode of The Shield in which Detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) has been brought in to interrogate a pedophile who has kidnapped a very young girl for his own pleasure. Mackey comes in with a brown paper sack then proceeds to take out a bottle of liquor, an old telephone book, a lighter, and a utility knife. The smirking pedophile asks, “Your turn to play bad cop?” to which Mackey responds “Nah, 'good cop, bad cop' left for the day. I’m a different kind of cop.” If it clear right from the beginning

Criterion Announces August 2019 Releases

Something old, something new in the seven titles.
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Close out the summer with these August titles from Criterion. New to the collection are Lucille Carra's The Inland Sea, Abbas Kiarostami's The Koker Trilogy, and Yasujiro Ozu's The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice. Getting Blu-ray upgrades are Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table and Douglas Sirk's Magnificent Obsession. Read on to learn more about them. An Angel at My Table (#301) out Aug 6 With An Angel at My Table, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jane Campion brought to the screen the harrowing autobiography of Janet Frame, New Zealand’s most distinguished author. Three actors in turn take on the

Eyes of Laura Mars Blu-ray Review: Fashion Can Be Deadly

A great example of late-'70s urban cinema, Eyes of Laura Mars is an involving thriller, taking advantage of its New York City and New Jersey locations.
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In 1978 hairdresser-turned movie mogul Jon Peters bought a murder-mystery screenplay, Eyes of Laura Mars, for his then-girlfriend, Barbra Streisand. She turned it down. She thought the screenplay about a photographer who stages controversial, sexy, violent fashion shoots (a la Helmut Newton) was a bit much for her, but she did agree to sing the film's theme song, "Prisoner." The elaborate photo sessions in the film featuring lingerie- and evening dress-clad models (including Darlanne Fluegel) staged in front of car wrecks in the middle of Columbus Circle that are attributed to Laura were taken by Newton and commercial director Rebecca

Her Smell Movie Review: Elisabeth Moss Roars with Greatness

Elisabeth Moss is next-level amazing as a troubled rock star.
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If there are performances from leading ladies this year more brazen and committed than Elisabeth Moss’ in Her Smell, then it’s going to be a Best Actress field for the ages. As a cruel and self-destructive rock star, Moss delivers a performance that provides shades of Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence. While the film as a whole is exemplary, it’s Moss’s performance that single handedly makes it one of the year’s best. Her Smell is essentially five short vignettes that make up a singular narrative. Initially, in the first few sequences, Becky is essentially presented as a

The Kid Who Would Be King Blu-ray Review: Merlin's Beard, Kids Should Like It

Younger movie goers will like that most of the action and story focuses on its young actors.
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The Kid Who Would Be King is a modern take on the King Arthur legend. Directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), based on an idea that he had as a kid, the film wants to have fun with its source material, and be sure that you will, too. Fans of Arthurian legend will appreciate all the references to the original story: Excalibur, the Sword in the Stone; the Lady of the Lake, the rivalry between Merlin and Morgana, etc. Younger moviegoers will like that most of the action and story focuses on its young actors. Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis,

John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars Blu-ray Review: Sad Retread from a Master

This rote sci-fi horror thriller from a former master has some good ideas that it does nothing with.
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The hero of John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars is introduced asleep and handcuffed to a train. It seems like an apt metaphor for the entire film itself - tired, uninspired, and forced to move forward on a rail. Unsurprisingly, it was while making this film that John Carpenter decided he had better things to do than make movies he didn't like, and he mostly turned his back on the film industry since, with only three projects directed by him in the nine years following, and none since 2011's The Ward. John Carpenter's films have always had firm grasps on the

Apollo 11 is the Pick of the Week

Here's what looks interesting in this week's Blu-ray releases.
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I am not a scientist. The math was always too difficult for me. I intentionally steered away from the sciences in college for that very reason. However, I am constantly amazed at what science is able to do and to understand. This is no more true than in space travel. The vastness of the universe boggles the mind. That we have managed to send crafts and humans into space is nothing short of awesome. That we landed men on the moon with less technology that what I carry around in my pocket blows me away. Yet we did. There are

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray Review: Return of the King, or Don Quixote?

The legendary anime director emerges from retirement once again, with a documentary crew in tow exploring whether he's still the master or just chasing an old man's folly.
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Workaholic anime legend Hayao Miyazaki has “retired” so many times after completing difficult films that each announcement is met with a great deal of public bemusement. However, after the completion of his last feature film in 2013, The Wind Rises, and the virtual shuttering of his Studio Ghibli production offices, it appeared like his retirement might have a better-than-average chance of success. This documentary opens in that fallow period after his latest retirement, as he whiles away his days puttering around his house and bemoaning his increasing age. It’s an odd choice of timeframe for a documentary, until Miyazaki suddenly

Pasolini Movie Review: An Ambitious Biopic with a Brilliantly Refined Willem Dafoe Performance

An exemplary biopic that features a rather understated gusto.
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Pasolini seems like it has similar DNA to the work of Lars von Trier. It features grainy, Dogme-style cinematography along with voiceover narration from Willem Dafoe who’s a frequent von Trier collaborator. In addition, its cynical main character mirrors the often melancholic outlook of the pictures in von Trier’s filmography. That being said, the biggest differences are that Pasolini has a shorter length at 84 minutes and it is based on a real-life subject as opposed to von Trier’s mainly fictionalized work. When it comes to the film’s length, it does fit into the storyline since it takes place during

TCM to Celebrate Actress Doris Day with 24-Hour Marathon

Programming tribute airing on June 9 to include Pillow Talk (1959) & Please Don't Eat The Daisies (1960).
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will celebrate the life and career of iconic actress, singer and animal activist Doris Day with a 24-hour, 13-film tribute on Sunday, June 9. Day, who passed away on May 13 at the age of 97, started her career as a singer. Her first hit was 1945’s “Sentimental Journey,” which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2008, the Recording Academy honored her with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for her “outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.” She went on to become one of the biggest film stars

Charlie Says Movie Review: The Manson Family from the Girls' Point of View

The film chronicles their descent from hippie teenagers to cold-blooded murderers brainwashed by Charles Manson.
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This take on the Manson family and the gruesome 1969 murders of Sharon Tate, Rosemary and Leo LaBianca, and others focuses on the young women who committed the murders, not cult leader Manson. Traditionally, the Manson girls are portrayed as brainless, bloodthirsty robots programmed by Charlie, without much backstory. Charlie Says explores the process that turned the girls from confused runaways to murderers. The male characters (except for Manson) aren’t given much camera time. Matt Smith portrays Manson as a charmastic manipulator weaving his way into the girls’ psyches, as he coerces them into doing his biding. The girls are

Five Cool Things and It Chapter Two

It is the weekend so let's talk about some cool things.
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I follow a lot of entertainment writers on social media. Usually, this is great as I enjoy reading all the discussions about new movies and television shows. It is also a bit of a minefield as there are often posts about things I’ve not yet seen and while most writers are careful to avoid big spoilers, it's still a possibility and so I must always tread carefully. This has been especially true the last few weeks. The last season of HBO's hugely popular series Game of Thrones has been running this month and there was some other gigantic blockbuster that

Julia Reichert, 50 Years in Film, Touring Retrospective Includes Academy Award-nominated Docs and Shorts

Starts May 30, 2019 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, tours nationally through 2020.
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Press release: A three-time Academy Award nominee, Ohio-based filmmaker Julia Reichert has dedicated her career to capturing stories that explore class, gender, and race in America. In honor of nearly five decades in filmmaking, a touring retrospective, organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts, will celebrate one of the most distinguished bodies of work in American independent film and one of our most accomplished documentarians. The series will showcase all of Reichert’s feature documentaries, beginning with Growing Up Female (made with Jim Klein in 1971), considered the first feature documentary of the modern women’s movement—and a recent addition to

The Skin of the Teeth Movie Review: A Rare Queer Horror Flick Done with Effort and Intent

A terrifically inviting and rather progressive thriller.
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If there are any fallacies within the horror genre that people like to bring up, it’s the never-ending set of plot cliches. Ranging from characters making stupid decisions to knowing who will live or die, there are a fair amount of machinations that are constantly subjected to criticism. However, one thing that should be a point of criticism is its poor to near lack of queer representation. Usually, gay horror characters are either portrayed as psychosexual villains or are just completely nonexistent. The latest psychological thriller The Skin of the Teeth proves to be a rare exception, though. In addition,

Tribeca Film Festival 2019: 'In Fabric' is Terrifically Sewn Together

An atmospheric horror-comedy with classic schlock value.
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Pardon the pun, but In Fabric feels like it’s cut from the same cloth as classic giallo fare. The emphasis on color along with the euphoric sound design recall what feels like a forgotten era within the horror genre. Even the opening sequence makes watching the film in theaters seem like a retro screening. As a film, In Fabric isn’t entirely stitched together properly. However, it’s still applaudable thanks to its craftsmanship as well as its unorthodox premise. The story involves a dress that curses and leaves an imprint on anyone who tries it on. Its victims include a single

Five New DC Showcase Animated Shorts Coming from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, Death, The Phantom Stranger and Batman: Death In The Family spotlight ambitious quintet of new titles.
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Press release: Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, in partnership with DC, are currently in production on five new DC Showcase animated shorts for release in 2019-2020. Inspired by characters and stories from DC’s robust portfolio, the all-new series of shorts will be included on upcoming DC Universe Movies releases, with exception of an innovative Batman: Death in the Family long-form animated short, which will anchor a compilation set for distribution in late 2020. Each of the five shorts - entitled Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, Death, The Phantom Stranger and Batman: Death in the Family - opens with

The Toys That Made Us: Season 1 & 2 DVD Review: An Informative, Entertaining TV Series

Am glad to see Netflix is making these shows available beyond their streaming service because, like a toy, these stories deserve to be shared.
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The Toys That Made Us is a Netflix documentary series that looks at the histories of famous toy lines. The seasons are short, running only four episodes each. The first covers Star Wars, Barbie, He-Man, and G.I. Joe, which all debuted on the streaming service on December 22, 2017. The second covers Star Trek, Transformers, LEGO, and Hello Kitty, which all debuted on May 25, 2018. The episodes tell compelling stories about those involved in the toy's creation and the cultural impact they had. The “Star Wars” episode opens with a historical re-enactment, which had me concerned we were going

Tribeca Film Festival 2019: Julianne Nicholson is Pitch Perfect in the Wonderfully Distorted 'Initials S.G.'

Julianne Nicholson is the bright spot of this already worthy genre bender.
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What happens when you put soccer, romance, a dead body, music, and porn into one movie? You get Initials S.G., a rather bold dark comedy about two broken people yearning for some adventure. The best way to describe Initials S.G. is that it’s wonderfully chaotic and while some will feel it swings for the fences a little too much, its genre bending efforts are still quite applaudable. Sergio (Diego Peretti) is a porn actor who’s obsessed with the music of Serge Gainsbourg and is a little down on his luck. So much so that he hopes for the Argentinian soccer

Blaze (2018) Blu-ray Review: Hits the Right Notes

A musical biopic that avoids the typical beats of the genre.
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You may not know the name Blaze Foley, and that’s OK. A lot of other people - myself included - had never heard of the late singer-songwriter until Ethan Hawke decided to bring his story to the big screen. And while he may not have the same name recognition as someone like Willie Nelson or Merle Haggard, some popular songs by those artists and others were initially sung and/or written by Foley. It’s doubtful that Foley will become a household name now with this movie, but those unaware of his musical prowess can now experience the true story of the

Road to Morocco (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Third Time's a Charm

Not only as entertaining as the previous films in the series, it's arguably the most entertaining.
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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 Morocco (1942) is the third in the series and not only sees the return of the acting trio but screenwriters Frank Butler and Don Hartman with an original screenplay and Anthony Quinn back playing their nemesis. Director David Butler joins them for his only time as the franchise returns to the African continent. A freighter explodes off the coast

Tribeca Film Festival 2019: 'Charlie Says' is an Insightful Look Into a Heart of Darkness

An incredibly well-acted yet harrowing account of one of America's most infamous crime sprees.
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Director Mary Harron may be famous for the 2000 pitch black satire American Psycho. But now, she has helmed a project about a real-life american psycho, Charles Manson. However, it’s more about the point of view of the three women that have served him: Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie van Houten, and Susan Atkins. Neither judgmental nor sentimental, Charlie Says is a nonchalant yet incredibly effective telling of one of America’s most infamous crime sprees. Admittedly, there isn’t much graphic violence shown but the nature of the murders is already quite apparent. Also, the film is mostly about the three Manson girls

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 5 (1976-1978) Blu-ray Review

Although the collection sees a higher rate of recycling ideas with the end of the original production run near, the cartoons presented still provide a lot of laughs.
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As mentioned in my past reviews of past volumes, Friz Freleng was an instrumental figure in animation history because of his work on Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. He and producer David H. DePatie went on to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Kino Lorber Animation has been releasing that company's work on Blu-ray. After a few years of creating theatrical Pink Panther cartoons, DePatie-Freleng brought them to television with The Pink Panther Show, which premiered on NBC on September 6, 1969. DePatie-Freleng resumed producing theatrical shorts again in 1971. The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 5 presents 22 cartoons, including

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire Blu-ray Review: Confusing and Dull

This giallo/poliziotteschi has too much confusing plot and not enough style to be interesting to anyone but fans of the genres.
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Following the success of Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Italian cinema was awash in lurid crime stories with baroque titles featuring one animal or another. The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire came out about one year after Argento’s quintessential giallo, and it's clearly aping some of that films tropes while also blending in Poliziotteschi crime elements. It has a masked killer, graphic violence, and lurid sexuality, but it's told in a much more conventional way without the typical giallo camera flourishes and wild color schemes. It is much more centered on the crime, catching the killer,

Tribeca Film Festival 2019: Sasheer Zamata Successfully Carries 'The Weekend,' An Ingenious Rom Com

A breezy romantic comedy that features great acting and bent cliches.
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After helming the decently made disability tearjerker Everything, Everything, Stella Meghie not only does something completely different but a slight reinvigoration of the genre it falls into. The romantic comedy The Weekend illustrates the familiar struggles of getting over your ex but in a way that is rather multifaceted in terms of its character focus. In addition, it juggles its various characterizations over the course of under 90 minutes. Over the course of one weekend, stand-up comic Zadie (Sasheer Zamata) stays with her ex Bradford (Tone Bell) at a resort run by her mother (Kym Whitley). However, things get complicated

At the Drive-In DVD Review: A Compelling David vs. Goliath Story

The manager of rural Pennsylvania a drive-in and a few young film fanatics struggle to keep the theater in business by showing 35mm prints of retro films.
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Director Alexander Monelli originally intended the documentary At the Drive In to focus on the near-extinct drive-in movie theatre industry in the U.S. After meeting the crew at Mahoning Drive-In in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, he discovered that the Mahoning’s story offered enough material for a film on its own. We meet Jeff Mattox, the drive-in’s manager and projectionist, who has worked in the theatre-exhibition industry for most of his life, during the fim's first scene, as he opens up the concession stand/projection room. He still runs 35mm prints on a behemoth, analog projector, since he can’t afford the industry-mandated $50,000 digital

Five Cool Things and Peter Mayhew

May the Force be with us.
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My wife and I become first-time homeowners about three years ago. Our little house isn’t perfect but it meets our needs and the price was right. As any homeowner will tell you, there is tons of maintenance involved. There are yards to mow, fences to fix, plumbing issues, and a constant stream of things that need your time, attention, and money. We’ve been mostly lucky thus far as the things we’ve needed to repair haven’t been too bad. This week that luck ran out. First, the little doohickey that lets you move the ice from the freezer and into your

Tribeca Film Festival 2019: Zoey Deutch is a Force of Nature in 'Buffaloed'

Zoey Deutch is pure dynamite as a fast talking anti-heroine in this biting black comedy.
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Zoey Deutch is one of those performers who should have a bigger movie star career yet hasn't quite taken off. Even though she's been in big studio films, the films she's appeared in haven't served her talents very well. In addition, her latest film Buffaloed proves that she's ready to reach leading-lady status since she is an absolute force of nature. She's a force as a producer on the film and of course, as a performer. In Buffaloed, Deutch plays Peg, an overly ambitious girl from a working-class part of Buffalo who lives with her loving mother (Judy Greer) and

Terra Formars Blu-ray Review: Miike Can Do Better

Takashi Miike's sci-fi adventure on Mars should have stayed on Earth a little longer.
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Japanese director Takashi Miike is probably best known for his ultra-violent splatter films like Ichi the Killer and Audition. Or perhaps for his deviant, bizarre films such as Visitor Q (featuring incest, rape, and something known as lactation sex) or MPD Psycho (about a detective with multiple-personality disorder working on a case in which the killer makes flower pots out of severed heads). But with over 100 films to his name, he’s made films in nearly every genre including westerns, samurai flicks, and even a family film or two. Not all of them are great, in fact quite a few

Tell It to the Bees Movie Review: Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger Carry Uneven Romance

Despite an uneven narrative, Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger still allow Tell It To The Bees to buzz.
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Tell It to the Bees may be about a romance between two women who defy the conservative community they reside in. However, this is far from another Disobedience. But rather than compare the two films since they're completely unrelated, it’s best to delve into how Tell It to the Bees manages to be a noteworthy depiction of lesbian love. Even if it doesn't make much buzz, it still never stings. Where the film falters, though, is how it's unclear who has the chief vantage point. The love between both Dr. Jean Markham (Anna Paquin) and Lydia (Holliday Grainger) may be

Strip Nude for Your Killer Blu-ray Review: Keep Your Clothes On

Salacious 1970s giallo is quite dull despite being packed full of sex and violence.
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There are certain expectations that come with genre films. What is a genre except a set of criteria that help define different types of films? Once in a while, a film will come along that is so inventive, so creative that it breaks free of a genre’s expectations which then sets the standard for all films in that genre that come after it. When a film is so inventive, it sometimes creates its own subgenre. Afterwards, many subsequent films try to imitate the first film's success with diminishing returns. Eventually what was inventive becomes cliche and films can slip into

Tribeca Film Festival 2019: 'Flawless' Brilliantly Offers a Profound Story About Self-Acceptance

A bold yet sincere coming-of-age story about learning to love yourself.
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Typically, films about high school students deal with conflicts like trying to fit in or the outcasts overcoming the villainous popular clique. However, the Israeli film Flawless chooses to slightly break free from the traditional narrative found within such films. Instead of being about trying to be popular, Flawless is more about learning to love who you are on the outside. One reason high school can be a harsh place is because teenagers tend to feel insecure about the way they look. For instance, best friends Keshet (Noam Lugasy) and Tigist (Netsanet Zenaneh Mekonen) are insecure to the point where

Fantômas Three Film Collection Blu-ray Review: Tres Silly

Trilogy of very silly spy films from France features one of the country's most famous characters.
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Fantômas was originally first created in 1911 by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre. He appeared in some 43 stories over a period of about 50 years. He is one of the most famous fictional characters in France. He’s appeared in multiple movie, television, and comic-book adaptations and has influenced countless works in the century since he first appeared on the page. In the 1960s, a trilogy of films was released starring Jean Marais as Fantômas and directed by André Hunebelle. They were France’s answer to the success of the James Bond films. Kino Lorber has just released the trilogy in

Tribeca Film Festival 2019: 'Lucky Grandma' Hits the Jackpot

A master class performance from Tsai Chin is the film's luckiest charm.
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There are moments in life where we feel our luck runs out completely. However, for Grandma Wang (Tsai Chin), it feels like she never has much luck. Even though she has a loving family, she still lives a life of solitude. She does take a trip to the casino so she can maybe get rich. However, after one losing game, she loses every chip that she won. When the camera focuses on Grandma’s saddened face after that doomed match, it’s clear that she’s had enough with her rotten luck. She’s a woman who’s fed up with the misfortune that seems

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