September 2019 Archives

The Shining 4K is the Pick of the Week

Kubrick's 1980 polarizing horror masterpiece headlines a rather slow week of new releases.
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What else can you say about The Shining, director Stanley Kubrick's controversial 1980 horror masterwork?! On one side, it's considered one of the most disturbing films ever made; on the other, it's reviled by many (including Stephen King himself) as a totally unfaithful adaptation of the arguably the scariest novel ever written. Is it a ghost story? A haunted house thriller? A film about the aftermath of alcoholism? A film about the unraveling of a really broken family? A film about one man's descent into complete and utter madness? No matter how you view, the film is here to stay.

Memory: The Origins of Alien Movie Review: From Whence a Legend Came

How Crohn's disease became a chestburster.
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I've seen many making-of and behind-the-scenes featurettes for movies before, especially ones with elaborate special effects. I've seen documentaries about the visionaries behind creature design. What's rare is a film that has such a breadth and wealth of inspiration that merely looking at everything it drew from and had injected into it to become an iconic, genre-defining powerhouse warrants an hour and a half discussion with experts just to get a handle on all of it. Insert Memory: The Origins of Alien, directed and written by Alexandre O. Philippe, which dives deep into all of the decades of influence that

In The Aftermath Blu-ray Review: An Odd Mishmash of Live Action and Animation

An art-house Japanese animated film gets a terrible American treatment.
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In The Path to Aftermath, an extra included in Arrow Video’s new release of In The Aftermath, producer Tom Dugan explains that in the mid-1980s it was easy to sell low budget, straight-to-video movies because video stores had lots of shelf space and not enough VHS tapes. He goes on to say that he spent part of his career filming show trailers and creating eye-catching cover art for films that didn’t even exist. He’d sell the movies based upon those things then get someone else to make the movie on the lowest possible budget. He’d also keep an eye out

Bruce Springsteen's Album 'Western Stars' Comes to the Big Screen This October

Special two-night event on October 19 & 23 showcases Springsteen’s directorial debut and his performance of the Western Stars album in its entirety backed by a 30-piece orchestra.
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Press release: On the heels of the successful world premiere of Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars at the Toronto International Film Festival, Fathom Events announces that it will bring music legend Bruce Springsteen to cinemas across America in an exclusive two-night theatrical release of Western Stars. The Fathom screenings, which will be held on October 19 and 23, will also feature an exclusive look behind the scenes with Springsteen, including never-before-seen archival footage and previously unreleased music from the Springsteen vault. “Western Stars,” the cinematic film version of his latest globally successful album, was directed by Thom Zimny, his longtime collaborator,

Five Cool Things and El Camino

Come read about all the cool things I discovered this week.
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It's the weekend. Let's get to it. The MCU's Captain America If you’ve read my writings in these pages over the last few years then you know my relationship with the MCU has changed several times. I’ve gone from complete indifference to kind-of liking it to full-on fandom in the 10-plus years they’ve been making movies. What this means is that while I have seen all of the movies they weren’t always watched as a fan, so I really need to watch them again. My daughter, who is younger than the MCU, has not seen many of those older ones

Judy Movie Review: Renee Zellweger Elevates Glorified Wikipedia Entry

Incredibly by the numbers with an emotive and committed Renee Zellweger performance.
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With Judy, Renee Zellweger has found a perfect fusion of actor and character. The story of Judy Garland trying to get back in the spotlight after Hollywood started turning her away isn’t too far from Zellweger’s own. As Zellweger moved past her prime, she took a six-year acting hiatus before making a slow comeback by starring in films like Bridget Jones’ Baby and now this. Even if Judy is quite muddled in terms of its execution, hopefully, it’ll give Zellweger the career boost she deserves. Based on the play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter, Judy follows the life

Ron's Regal Unlimited Report #1: All the Bad Movies You Want

Took in Ad Astra, Good Boys, and Villains over the weekend.
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I have a few friends that I go to the movies with regularly. One prefers the luxury theatres, so this Saturday we chose to see Ad Astra at the Cinepolis in Ranch Santa Margarita CA. Ticket price with online booking fee: $22.00. Another $10.00 for a small portion of Zebra Popcorn. You can subtract Ad Astra from your “Movies to See” list. Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is the current go-to guy when it comes to all things space, and in Ad Astra, he needs to get to Mars to make a phone call. Earth is being hit by power surges

Always in Season Movie Review: Not an Easy Watch, but an Important One

The powerful history of one family's search for justice in the face of centuries of terror.
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As a parent, the loss of a child is one of the worst and unimaginable losses you can face. But imagine if you will that the police and authorities told you your child had committed suicide, but everything else told you they were lying. Because as the parent of your child, you know your child. You know that your child was excited for his next football game. You know your child has been experiencing discrimination at the hands of his best friend's parents. You know that your African American child has been dating a white woman in a town where

TV Review: Country Music: Episode Eight 'Don't Get Above Your Raisin'' (1984 - 1996)

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and so we get the final chapter in Ken Burns's outstanding documentary.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists keeping the spirit alive like Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show and Rhiannon Giddens; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much

Fantastic Fest 2019 Review: Koko-di Koko-da: Horror Through Repetition

Dying over and over shouldn't be fun, but Koko-di Koko-da sure is a creepy joyride.
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I’ve never been a huge fan of horror movies. Jump scares, bloody creatures, and demonic possessions aren’t really my cup of tea. I see them all as one movie: a predictable, harrowing couple of hours that never ceases to keep me up at night. Johannes Nyholm’s Swedish drama Koko-di Koko-da just changed my mind. Slapping together Groundhog Day with Cabin in the Woods, Nyholm produces a low-budget, comedy-horror-drama of sorts that extends the boundaries of genre. You won’t be falling out of your seat or covering your eyes with your hands while watching the film, you will be chuckling at

Un Coeur En Hiver Blu-ray Review: A Man Without Feelings

In a cinematic landscape filled with emotionless psychopaths, it is thrilling to find one who is a nice guy.
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In movies and on television, a sociopath - someone who doesn’t have real feelings or emotions - is usually depicted as a serial killer, or someone capable of great violence and horror against others. These people are evil because to have no emotion means not caring for anyone and that means doing whatever the hell you want. Un Coeur en Hiver (A Heart In Winter) is the rare film in which someone with sociopathic tendencies turns out to be a pretty nice guy. This man, Stéphane (Daniel Auteuil), is a highly sought-out violin repairer. His partner Maxime (André Dussollier) is

Dogtooth Blu-ray Review: Takes the Theme of Bad Parenting to an All-time High

Director Yorgos Lanthimos crafts a disturbingly hilarious portrait of twisted family life.
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Acclaimed Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has become one of the most idiosyncratic directors working today. With such unclassifibly original films including The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Alps, it's clear that he has the ability to make audiences squirm with either weird humor or absolute horror. However, none come more shocking and transgressive than his 2009 breakthrough, Dogtooth, which takes the theme of bad parenting to an all-time high. An Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, the film tells the story of an unscrupulos father (Christos Stergioglou), along with his wife (Michele Valley), trying to

New Documentary 'Depeche Mode: SPIRITS in the Forest' in Cinemas Worldwide on November 21

Featuring emotional stories highlighting the universal power of music, interwoven with performances from the band’s record-breaking 2017/2018 Global Spirit tour.
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Press release: Depeche Mode, along with Trafalgar Releasing, Sony Music Entertainment and BBH Entertainment, are excited to announce the upcoming release of the new feature-length documentary and concert film, SPIRITS in the Forest, coming to cinemas worldwide for a one-night event on November 21. The film will bring fans together around the world to celebrate the impact of Depeche Mode’s music and performances. SPIRITS in the Forest will be screened in more than 2,400 cinemas, from Adelaide to Zagreb, in over 70 countries. Directed by award-winning filmmaker and long-time artistic collaborator Anton Corbijn, the release of Depeche Mode: SPIRITS in

TV Review: Country Music: Episode Seven 'Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way' (1973 - 1983)

In this episode, we see the biggest stars of this era are the folks who got successful doing things their way and expanding the genre's perceived boundaries.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much like Shelby Foote served as a frequent contributor to Ken Burns's The Civil War, Marty

DC's Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: Legendary Fun

This series keeps getting better and better.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. I recently spent a lot of time zipping through the fourth season of Supergirl. I like that show but it has a tendency to stop the action dead in order to preach at the audience. It is a series that gets so focused on its righteousness that it forgets to entertain at the same time. When it remembers it is a lot of fun, but it can be exhausting when it forgets.

The Circus is the Pick of the Week

A 1928 Charlie Chaplin gem headlines a new week of great releases.
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When it comes to humor and heart, there was probably no one better to deliver that wonderful mixture than the great Charlie Chaplin. His characters represented outsiders who are just trying to belong in a world that continues to shut them out. Although his 1928 effort, The Circus, wasn't as impactful nor profound as City Lights, Modern Times, or even The Great Dictator, it still has enough pathos and reality to win over the most jaded of movie lovers. Chaplin plays a falsly accused thief running away from the police, who ends up in a traveling circus. He interupts a

TV Review: Country Music: Episode Six 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken?' (1968 - 1972)

During this era, the country found itself in a turmoil that affected everything, including country music. But as some were facing division within the business, others were coming together and uniting.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much like Shelby Foote served as a frequent contributor to Ken Burns's The Civil War, Marty

Anna 4K Ultra HD Review: La Femme Anna

Luc Besson returns to his favorite plot subject: a resourceful woman in peril
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A tough, beautiful woman faces seemingly impossible odds as she battles her way to freedom. Can you name that Luc Besson film? Dating all the way back to his first major international success nearly 30 years ago with La Femme Nikita, French writer/director Luc Besson has established a cottage industry in bringing outrageous action tales of fierce females to the screen, most recently adding Lucy and Laureline from Valerian to his roster. His latest film eschews sci fi in favor of international intrigue, marking it as a spiritual successor to La Femme Nikita. Russian model Sasha Luss plays the lead

Ad Astra Movie Review: A Wonderfully Philosophical Sci-Fi Opus

A career-best Brad Pitt carries this simplistic gem about the wonders and perils of space.
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After starring in The Tree of Life, Brad Pitt stars in Ad Astra which feels like Terrence Malick in space. While not a complete replication of Malick’s style, it still retains his philosophical notions as it deals with a man questioning his life purpose while on a journey across a crumbling solar system. It’s a seamless mood piece about loneliness, colonization, and fatherhood and ranks highly among the current onslaught of space movies. Once astronaut Ray McBride (Brad Pitt) goes in search of his father (Tommy Lee Jones) who went missing during a space expedition years ago, his emotional journey

QT8: The First Eight, Exploring the Career of Quentin Tarantino, Is Coming to Movie Theaters Nationwide on October 21

New documentary features interviews about the legacy of Tarantino with stars including Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx, and Kurt Russell.
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Press release: Fathom Events is bringing a new documentary film chronicling the thrilling journey of Quentin Tarantino’s first eight movies to theaters nationwide for just one night on October 21. QT8: The First Eight, directed by Tara Wood (21 Years: Richard Linklater), gives its audience an inside look at the legendary filmmaker’s body of work through interviews with former cast members, film industry experts. Tickets for QT8: The First Eight can be purchased at and participating theater box offices. Fathom Events presents QT8: The First Eight in more than 800 select movie theaters on Monday, October 21 at 7:00pm

TV Review: Country Music: Episode Five 'The Sons and Daughters of America' (1964 - 1968)

In this episode, Burns shows that the country's societal upheaval made its way into the music.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews by country artists like Loretta Lynn and Charlie Pride; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much like Shelby Foote served as a frequent contributor to Ken Burns's The Civil War, Marty Stuart performs the same role, sharing stories, offering

The Major and the Minor Blu-ray Review: Wild Comedy from Billy Wilder

The Major and the Minor may have been the first Hollywood film directed by Wilder, but it is also one of his best.
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Susan Applegate (Ginger Rogers) has had it up to here with New York City, with fighting off men making passes at her on her job, with just about everything. She's packing it in and heading back to her hometown of Stevenson, Iowa. There's just one problem. She's broke and doesn't have enough for the one-way fare. That is, an adult fare. She could manage the cost of a child's fare ticket. After a quick trip to the ladies' room, she scrubs off her sophisticated New York city-girl face, changes her fancy hair-do to pigtails, and pushes her hat on the

Toni Morrison, The Pieces I Am DVD Review: Dense with Content That Pulls in the Viewer

A compelling look at the life of Toni Morrison and the world she worked to change through the power of words.
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On August 5, 2019, Toni Morrison shed her mortal coil and the world lost one of its most important literary voices. Morrison was not just an important literary voice for African-Americans, but for all Americans. She did not hold back in her writing as she confronted issues of race and gender and Black life through different decades of American culture like no other writer before her. Morrison was the author of Beloved, Sula, Tar Baby, Song of Soloman, Jazz, and many others. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was awarded the Presidential

Five Cool Things and Ric Ocasek

Let's hope next week is cooler than this one.
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I went to a late showing of It Chapter Two last night. It was not good. It was not cool. I watched several movies this week which were also not cool (some of which you can find reviews of on this site). I started Doom Patrol yesterday and immediately regretted it. If this article feels a little sparse this week, you now know why. If I don't watch something that blows me away soon I may have to turn this article into 5 Kind of OK Things. Kid Icarus Every now and again, I like to play some old games

Hussy Blu-ray Review: You'll Wonder If You Haven't Seen It Before

Even a saucy Dame Helen Mirren can't save this clunker.
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If there was a template for the movie genre where a nice boy falls for a hooker and complications ensue then Hussy would have followed it to a “T”. If there isn’t and you needed to write one, then you’d need to look no further than this film. Its story is so average, so full of everything you've seen in similar films, you'll wonder if you haven't seen it before. Follow along with me: boy falls for the hooker, boy gets jealous of hooker for sleeping with other people, hooker’s abusive ex enters the scene, boy hatches a shady scheme

This Magnificent Cake! Blu-ray Review: This Magnificent Movie!

A beautifully crafted anthology and one worthy of an Oscar nomination in the animated short films category.
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At just 44 minutes, This Magnificent Cake! zooms by, but it also leaves the viewer speechless. An exploration of 1800s Belgian history told through stop-motion animation that uses felt, wool, and cloth for its characters and settings, this is one of the most ground-breaking films to ever be made. And despite its heavy themes, the beautiful craftwork left me wanting to be in the world more than what we’re allowed. The title derives from King Leopold II’s statement, “I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.” Five stories showcase

Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison Movie Review: A Collective Concert of Shared Heritage

The norteño supergroup pays homage to Johnny Cash and to Latinos everywhere through heartfelt time spent at this California prison.
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Though norteño music will be new to many who stumble across Netflix’s new documentary, Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison, it has been a staple of Mexican culture for decades. Los Tigres del Norte, a family band that has popularized an entire genre of regional music by releasing over 50 albums, have been family picnic regulars of Mexican-American households since the early 1970s. The San Jose natives travel to Folsom Prison, a California institution that is famous for visitors, not inmates. Los Tigres, or “little tigers” as they were known by immigration officials, are beloved for singing songs, rather

Who Saw Her Die? Blu-ray Review: Bond Does Giallo

George Lazenby should have been a star.
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Poor old George Lazenby. When Sean Connery quit the James Bond gig (for the first, but not last time) after You Only Live Twice, Lazenby won the coveted role. It should have been the beginning of a long and successful career. Instead after just one film, the underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he walked away from Bond. His acting career never recovered. He kept making films through the '70s, but other than Bond, he’s probably best known for his appearances in several made-for-cable erotic films that were part of the Emmanuelle series. Watching him in the 1972 giallo Who

Downton Abbey Movie Review: Fans Are Invited Back for a Royal Visit

With only a two-hour run time, it was always going to be hard to get enough screen time for all the main characters, and it was made even harder with most of the stories that focused on new ones.
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After ending in 2015, Downton Abbey, the hit trans-Atlantic TV series that ran for six seasons, returns with a theatrical film with the same name about the on-going exploits of the Crawley family and their servants. Although the last episode debuted four years ago, the story only jumps ahead a year to 1927 on the occasion of a Royal visit to Downton Abbey by King George V and Queen Mary. While it's delightful getting another chance to spend time with the beloved characters, brought to life by the talented cast, Julian Fellowes's screenplay is hit and miss, much like the

Supergirl: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: Too Much Preaching

A little less self-righteousness, a little more superhero action would help this show a lot.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. Supergirl has got to be the most woke show on television. Sure its titular character is an attractive, young, white girl, but there are numerous people of color in major roles, the LGBTQ+ community is well represented (Supergirl’s sister is not only gay, but a major character and a strong female one at that), and now it has introduced to televisions first trans superhero. All of this is a good thing. I

TIFF 2019 Capsule Reviews: 'Pain and Glory' and 'Bad Education'

Two terrific yet polar opposite depictions of the middle-aged gay perspective.
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Both Pain and Glory and Bad Education are completely different films, yet they’re connected by their depictions of middle-aged gay protagonists. Even if one has slightly more quality than the other, both pictures still showcase gay men in their complicated glory. Speaking of the word “glory,” Pain and Glory certainly lives up to the latter half of its title. Pedro Almodovar’s latest picture is a gem about the power of art being used as a form of catharsis. Acting as a stand-in for Almodovar, Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, an aging filmmaker facing a career decline. As he questions where

Warner Bros. TV Box Sets and Holiday Film Collections for 2019

A variety of gift ideas for the TV fan this holiday season.
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Press release: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment wants folks to know they have some great gift ideas this holiday season. Some of the highlights are: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The Complete Series Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Mystery Machine - Available Now on Blu-ray Jinkies! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment salutes that lovable Great Dane, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang with the release of Scooby-Doo, Where are You!: The Complete Series Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Mystery Mansion. This release is packaged in an eye-catching, limited edition collectible mystery mansion giftset that includes all 41 episodes of the original series, Scooby-Doo! Where are

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: In Concert DVD Boxed Set Review: Tell Tchaikovsky the News

It makes a very convincing argument that those pesky rumors of rock's imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated. Tell Tchaikovsky the news, indeed.
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With the passings of Eddie Money and Ric Ocasek this past week, aging music fans received not only the latest reminder of their own mortality, but that of their beloved rock and roll as well. Which is why it is so comforting to know that another closely related, aging institution - The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - contnues to preach the word that although rock's commercial viability may be on life support these days, its continued artistic and creative vitality is anything but. Musical historian and E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt makes specific reference to this

TV Review: Country Music: Episodes Three and Four

An intriguing concept presented is that in addition to talent, chance encounters can be just as important to an artist's career.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists keeping the spirit alive like Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show and Rhiannon Giddens; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much

The Chairman Blu-ray Review: Mr. Peck Goes to China

Gregory Peck and J. Lee Thompson team up for a third and final time in this dullard of a spy flick.
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For their third and final collaboration director J. Lee Thompson and Gregory Peck made The Chairman, a spy thriller about an anti-violence academic sent to Communist China to steal a plant enzyme. It is just exactly as exciting as that sounds. Peck plays John Hathaway, a Nobel Prize-winning professor who used to do a little espionage on the side. He gave that and violence up altogether when his wife died in a car crash that caused him to realize all life is precious. But when the President calls asking him to go to China because they’ve developed a secret enzyme

Criterion Announces December 2019 Releases

Only two weeks of releases close out the year.
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This December, Criterion is releasing three new titles to the collection. They are Stephen Roberts's The Story of Temple Drake, Wim Wenders's Until the End of the World, and Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy. Also available will be a Blu-ray upgrade of Ronald Neame’s Tunes of Glory. Read on to learn more about them. The Story of Temple Drake (#1006) out Dec 3 Loosely adapted from William Faulkner’s controversial novel Sanctuary, this notorious pre-Code melodrama stars Miriam Hopkins as Temple Drake, the coquettish granddaughter of a respected small-town judge. When a boozehound date strands her at a bootleggers’ hideout, Temple is

Polyester is the Pick of the Week

John Waters's 1981 biting domestic classic tops a week of solid releases.
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John Waters is one of our greatest filmmakers. He is a singular director of outrageous bad state, but he dares to show a side of society that usually doesn't get depicted too often in film. He also found the perfect alter ego in his greatest actor: the legendary Divine. They had made many movies together (Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Multiple Maniacs, among others), but in 1981, I think they both hit their stride with Waters's first studio feature, Polyester. In a twisted reversal of Douglas Sirk, Divine brilliantly plays Francine Fishpaw, a long-suffering Baltimore housewife grappling with her keen sense

The Beatles: Made on Merseyside DVD Review: Offers Little New Information

New or casual Beatles fans may find the documentary to be interesting only if they are largely unfamiliar with the group's history.
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In 1964, Americans viewed the Beatles as seemingly coming out of nowhere, rapidly scoring hits and inciting Beatlemania. In reality, the group painstakingly learned their craft, toiling in Liverpool and Hamburg clubs until finally signing with the EMI label in 1962. The documentary The Beatles Made on Merseyside attempts to trace this early period, following them from teen years through 1962. Now available on DVD, the film may appeal to casual Beatles fans, but hardcore enthusiasts will find little new information. Wisely dispensing with narration, The Beatles Made on Merseyside relies on interviews with Beatles insiders and archival footage. Beatles

Echo in the Canyon Blu-ray Review: You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

An important chapter in the history of rock is examined by those involved with it and those influenced by it.
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The “canyon” in question is Laurel Canyon, located in the Hollywood Hills of Southern California. With Jakob Dylan as host, Andrew Slater's documentary looks back at some of the musicians who lived, thrived, and influenced each other in that neighborhood, creating the folk-rock California Sound of 1965-67. The oral history is told through interviews of those who were there, such as David Crosby, Michelle Phillips, and producer Lou Adler; the next generation of musicians who were influenced by them, such as Tom Petty and Jackson Brown; and later generations who appreciate their accomplishments, such as Beck and Regina Specktor. The

The Case of Hana & Alice Blu-ray Review: An Animated Slice of Life

GKids brings us this animated prequel to Shunji Iwai's Hana & Alice which is a lovely, episodic, charming day in the life of a burgeoning friendship.
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In 2004 Japanese director Shunji Iwai made Hana & Alice, a live-action movie about two high school students who both fall in love with the same boy. Slightly more than a decade later, he made The Case of Hana & Alice which is the story of how those two began their friendship. Rather than cast two different actresses to portray the protagonists younger selves in this prequel, Iwai decided to animate the film and keep the actresses for their voices. Fourteen-year-old Tetsuko Arisugawa, who will later get nicknamed “Alice” (Yû Aoi ) moves to the suburbs (or the “sticks” as

TV Review: Country Music: Episodes One and Two

Harlan Howard declared, “Country music is three chords and the truth.”
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary that airs on and streams through PBS, beginning tonight. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists keeping the spirit alive like Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show and Rhiannon Giddens; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of

The Quiller Memorandum Blu-ray Review: Next Time Make It a Mission Statement

A stacked cast can't make this limp anti-Bond spy thriller the least bit interesting.
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With the success of the first James Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962 there was a mad rush of spy films trying to cash in on the Bond phenomenon. Many of these films were quite clearly ripping off the Bond series with similar plots, similar aesthetics, and spies called Charles, Bind, James Tont, and the like. It got so bad in Italy that United Artists threatened legal action over the use of the 007 designations (which only caused them to switch it to similar numbers like 077). This, in turn, created the anti-Bond sub-genre of films that threw out all

TIFF 2019 Movie Review: Dev Patel Dazzles in 'The Personal History of David Copperfield'

A work of uplifting, majestic art.
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One way to describe The Personal History of David Copperfield is that it's a change of pace. It's a stretch for director Armando Ianucci who is best known for his razor sharp satire. Also, it features color-blind casting that should set a new template for period dramas going forward. It’s an old-fashioned story about a man whose ordinary life became an extraordinary tale. Yet, it proves to be effective while properly utilizing the star power of lead actor Dev Patel. Based on the acclaimed novel by Charles Dickens, The Personal History of David Copperfield follows the titular protagonist from his

Supernatural: The Complete Fourteenth Season Blu-ray Review: An Emotional Season with the Show's Most Shocking Cliffhanger

Season 14 delivers what is expected with solid stories, a mix of comical moments, and familiar characters that are real and believable.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. When we last left our wayward Winchesters in Season 13, they had managed to vanquish Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) once and for all. With Lucifer stealing Jack’s (Alexander Calvert) grace in order to regain his full power, Dean (Jensen Ackles) had no choice but to let the apocalyptic Earth’s archangel Michael (Christian Keyes) inhabit his body in order to stop him. The deal was that Dean would be in control, but after the

TIFF 2019 Movie Review: Riz Ahmed is a Powerhouse in 'Sound of Metal'

Incredibly rhythmic with an awards-worthy turn from Riz Ahmed.
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Sound of Metal is definitely my tempo. One key reason is that it’s a starring vehicle for Riz Ahmed. He’s been a consummate supporting player in films such as Nightcrawler and Rogue One. Now, he gets an opportunity to show he’s leading man material and effortlessly seizes it. As Ruben, a drummer that loses his ability to hear, Ahmed is a complete powerhouse. Because drumming is all Ruben knows, it feels like his world is starting to crumble. His struggle is an encapsulation of what happens when an artist is deprived of their canvas. How is the artist able to

Five Cool Things and Friday the 13th

I might be getting old, but I'm still watching cool things.
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This getting older thing is kind of a bummer. The other day I was bemoaning how old I'm getting and noted that I'm already 42 stinking years of age. My wife kindly reminded me that I'm actually 43. I'm now on blood-pressure meds, I wear reading glasses, and I've got to watch my cholesterol. I used to be a night owl. I'd stay up to all hours of the night and still be able to get up for work and get things done. For the last few years, I've been able to stay up until midnight but after that, I

TIFF 2019 Capsule Reviews: 'Jojo Rabbit' and 'Knives Out' Allow Change in Directorial Pace

Two solid examples of auteur directors using franchise cache to make bold, original material.
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One major plus of being in a franchise is using your clout to make bold, original material. Whether you’re an actor or a director, getting involved in a tentpole property gives you enough cache to make a smaller passion project, allowing the “one for them, one for me” model to continuously formulate. Interestingly, two of the last three films I saw at Toronto involved directors doing just that. Thankfully, both pictures had pretty spectacular results. First off is the WWII satire Jojo Rabbit directed by Taika Waititi. Helming the comical Thor: Ragnarok allowed Waititi to make a satire that walks

True Believer (1989) Blu-ray Review: Blisteringly Performed Courtroom Drama

Briskly paced, excellent acted late 80s drama stars a disillusioned James Woods and a young, idealistic Robert Downey Jr.
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True Believer has been released on Blu-ray in one of Mill Creek's Retro VHS Look packages. While it's the same dimensions as a Blu-ray case, the slip-case over the disc has an old VHS cover on it, complete with a fake genre sticker attached. True Believer's says "Drama" and harkens from an era where drama was one of the dominant genres for motion pictures, back when it was assumed that an actual adult might, under some circumstance, accidentally wander into a movie theater and want to watch something that might arrest their intelligence. And True Believer is one of those

John Carpenter's Vampires Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Put a Stake in It

Were this directed by anyone but John Carpenter, it would be a cult classic, but as it is one can only wonder what went wrong.
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An armored van pulls up to a dilapidated house. A group of scruffy-looking men and a priest get out. The van is full of weapons: guns, knives, stakes, and crossbows. The men arm themselves. Out front stands Jack Crow (James Woods). He takes a crossbow, barks orders, and looks cool in his sunglasses. Inside the house is a nest of vampires and this crew has been hired by the Vatican to kill them. The priest blesses them and then it's in for some stabbing. The guns don’t seem to hurt the vamps but they do knock them around. Shots are

TIFF 2019 Movie Review: 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood' Is Incredibly Wondrous

A meticulously crafted tribute to the kindness of a beloved icon.
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Just last year, the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? offered a heart wrenching look at the life of the iconic Mister Rogers. Because it covered quite a bit of his legacy, it begs the question of how the new biopic, A Beautiful Day on the Neighborhood, could offer any newer insight into Mister Rogers’s life. As it turns out, Beautiful Day isn’t much of a Mister Rogers biopic. Instead, it’s more about the power of his uncanny kindness and the ability to see the good in the most troubled souls. Souls like journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) who begrudgingly

Reap the Wild Wind Blu-ray Review: An Antebellum Epic of Thrilling Adventure and Questionable Romance

For those seeking classic Hollywood adventure, Reap the Wild Wind will fit the bill.
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Based on Thelma Strabel's story that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind is an Antebellum epic filled with thrilling adventure but a puzzling love triangle, but the former makes up the latter. Set in 1840, the dangers of seafaring are revealed as the Jubilee, with Captain Jack Stuart (John Wayne) knocked out, wrecks along the rocks off Key West, Florida. Ships head out to save the cargo and crew. Loxi (Paulette Goddard), much more independent than the other women of her era, has taken over her late father's salvage business, though she develop

Chained for Life (2019) Movie Review: Unchained Filmmaking

A darkly funny and scathing examination on how Hollywood treats disability.
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As history has proven time and time again, Hollywood is not always the kindest place for certain people. All of those who want to pursue acting can give it their all and still come up short. And the answer to why they can’t make it simply lies in the fact that they don’t fit the Hollywood mold. Or a certain something about them can only limit them to playing one type. And yet, the big executives are too afraid to really say the truth and simply resort to the usual “You aren’t what we’re seeking” excuse. Even going back into

Universal Home Entertainment Catalogue Titles Available for the Holidays

Need some gift ideas? Give these a look.
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Press release: Universal Home Entertainment is offering some familar titles this holiday season. They are: Scarface (1932 & 1983) Gift Set out 10/15 In the spring of 1980, the port at Mariel Harbor was opened, and thousands set sail for the United States. They came in search of the American Dream. One of them found it on the sun-washed avenues of Miami... wealth, power and passion beyond his wildest dreams. He was Tony Montana. The world will remember him by another name... Scarface. Starring Al Pacino as Tony Montana along with Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Robert

TIFF 2019 Capsule Reviews: Two Cannes Favorites Make a Big Splash

Parasite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire prove to be TIFF highlights.
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At this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, we’ve gotten two Cannes premieres from foreign directors exercising films that are simultaneous departures from their usual style and an example of their respective singular visions. Furthermore, they’re both handled by NEON and potential Oscar hopefuls for Best International Feature Film (formerly titled Best Foreign Language Film). Those masterpieces are Parasite by Bong Joon-ho and Portrait of a Lady on Fire by Celine Sciamma. Parasite isn’t a work of science fiction like Okja or Snowpiercer. Yet, it still retains themes involving class division and capitalism present in those two films from Bong Joon-ho.

Dial M for Murder is the Pick of the Week

An odd 1954 Hitchcock thriller caps off a week of low-key releases.
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There is a reason why the term "Hitchcockian" exists. Film history just wouldn't be what it is without good ol' Hitchcock. His film set the template for suspense, romance, danger, and old-fashioned leaps around censorship. He also knew how to pick his leading ladies, and the late, but super lovely Grace Kelly was one of his finest "Hitchcock blondes." She represented for him elegance, sophistication, and a little touch of mischief. Dial M for Murder, his 1954 effort, isn't the best film to highlight Kelly's legendary oomph, but it's still an interesting and twisty thriller. She plays the adulterous wife

TIFF 2019 Movie Review: 'Waves' Is Emotionally Shattering and Immersive

A poetically visceral indie gem.
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Given how Waves is a coming-of-age story about an African-American male growing up in south Florida made by A24 Films, comparisons between this and Moonlight feel inevitable. However, the comparisons end right there. Instead, Waves is a poetically visceral gem about masculinity, forgiveness, and family. Even when it gets hard to watch, it still becomes hard to look away. Partially because of the kaleidoscopic cinematography by Drew Daniels, this look at the life of Tyler (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.), a teenager dealing with his turbulent house life along with particular girlfriend troubles, becomes a marvel to glance at even as it’s

TCM Welcomes Jacqueline Stewart as New Host of Silent Sunday Nights

Film professor and archivist to host every Sunday evening beginning September 15.
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Press release: Author, archivist and film professor Jacqueline Stewart will join Turner Classic Movies (TCM) as the host of Silent Sunday Nights, where she will introduce films and provide historical context for the franchise. Stewart is a professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, specializing in the history of African American cinema from the silent era to present. A passionate film archivist and advocate for film preservation, she is a three-term appointee to the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB), which advises the Librarian of Congress on film preservation policy, and is the Chair

TIFF 2019 Movie Review: Jennifer Lopez Is Oscar Worthy in 'Hustlers'

A solid crime dramedy that acts as a tremendous showcase for Jennifer Lopez.
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While Jennifer Lopez has proven herself to be a successful movie star, it feels like it’s been a while since she’s starred in a film as good as her. She’s always been terrific yet hasn’t always tackled challenging roles that solidify how great of an actress she can be. Her latest film Hustlers has relievingly changed that. It’s easily her best performance since her breakout turn in Selena and if we lived in a just world, she’d be an Oscar frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress. In Hustlers, Lopez plays Ramona, a veteran stripper who takes newcomer Destiny (Constance Wu) under

The Snake Pit Blu-ray Review: One of the First and Best Motion Pictures to Bring Mental Illness to Life

A controversial, watershed classic that taps into a relatable topic that afflicts many of us.
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The topic of mental illness today is still a really prickly issue that may people refuse to discuss with others. Either they are dealing with it and don't want anyone else to know, or that they may have someone in their family that's suffering from it. However, there are modern films, such as One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest (1975), A Beautiful Mind (2001), and Melancholia (2011) that depict in their own way, the confusion and misunderstandings that comes with mental illness. Way before all of those films, the 1948 classic The Snake Pit, directed by Anatole Litvak, was one

Wizard World Tulsa 2019 Review: My Last Con, This Time I Mean It

I'm too old (and grumpy) for this stuff.
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Several years ago while chaperoning a group of college students through Europe as part of a study-abroad program my wife was leading, we took a cruise through the Greek islands. I was clearly not enjoying myself and one of the students gave me a piece of advice. She said that the way to make a cruise fun was to realize that you were stuck on a boat for a few days and that even though most of the entertainment was cheesy and dumb, that was all you had. So you might as well make the best of it. Take it

TIFF 2019 Movie Review: Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx are the Strong Force of 'Just Mercy'

An old-fashioned courtroom drama with strong political urgency and exemplary performances.
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When Destin Daniel Cretton arrived with Short Term 12, he announced himself as a humanistic voice in the indie world. While his voice didn’t quite shine through in his follow-up feature, The Glass Castle, it certainly shines in Just Mercy, his latest film. Just Mercy has the makings of a typical studio courtroom drama, but it still thrives thanks to its political urgency and central performances. Based on a true story, Just Mercy follows the life story of Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), a former Harvard Law School graduate looking to represent people poorly oppressed by the legal system. His

Five Cool Things and JoJo Rabbit

With a week this cool, it is hard to believe it's still technically summer.
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It has been a weird summer. June was filled with torrential rains, flooding most of the area for weeks on end. It was for the most part unusually cool. Oh sure, we had several days in the mid-90s but I don't think we ever broke 100 degrees, which is super weird for Oklahoma. We mostly stayed in the upper-80s, which is quite warm but nothing like the horror show summer usually is. Now that it is the middle of September, when temperatures should start cooling off, we are back in the mid- to upper-90s. Who knows what the winter will

The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Gentle Ozu Comedy

Grandmaster filmmaker Ozu's minor, observant comedy about the growing differences between a middle-aged married couple.
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The first thing to get used to in an Ozu film is the camera perspective. He never (or at least rarely) does the normal over-the-shoulder shot and counter shot for conversations. Ozu tends to shoot things from a constant upward angle. It has been analogized to a POV from someone sitting, in traditional Japanese style on a mat, legs folded underneath. The view is tilted slightly upward, never straight on or from above. The second element of Ozu's filmmaking that has to be taken into consideration is the secondary nature of the plot. There are stories in all of his

Spider-Man: Far From Home arrives on Digital 9/17 and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray & DVD 10/1

Complete your collection with special features including an original short, never-before-seen alternate and extended scenes, and much more!
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Press release: The billion dollar blockbuster, Spider-Man: Far From Home, comes home on Digital September 17 and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD on October 1 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. From Spider-Man: Homecoming Director, Jon Watts, comes a global adventure for everyone. Spider-Man: Far From Home is now the biggest Spider-Man film of all time! Tom Holland returns as everyone’s favorite web-slinger in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the next chapter after Spider-Man: Homecoming. Our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European

The Lavender Hill Mob / The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray Reviews: An Alec Guinness Two-Fer

Alec Guinness shows off his comedic side in the two classics from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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This weekend I caught a Fathom events screening of Lawrence of Arabia. That is a movie made for the big screen and I was thrilled to finally see it in that format. Alec Guinness plays a relatively minor, yet important role in that film and it made me think of his long career. Today, he is probably best known as Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise old Jedi in Star Wars. After that, he’s likely known for his performances in David Lean epics like the aforementioned Lawrence, or The Bridge on the River Kwai. He is such an impressive dramatic actor it

The Koker Trilogy Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Rise of Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami’s mid-career trio of films announced him to the international film community
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This series of Iranian films is a trilogy in only the loosest sense, as they don’t share overlapping casts or themes. Their only real common denominators are their writer/director, Abbas Kiarostami, and their filming location of Koker in a remote, rural area of northern Iran. The later films are influenced by the first film, especially since they explore the effects of a devastating earthquake that occurred after the first film, but there is no narrative throughline tying them together. Taken as a whole, they paint a picture of a region in transition, grappling with modernization and disaster recovery as old

Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy Blu-ray Review: New Wave Filmmaking, Naked Ladies

Challenging, evocative films from the Japanese New Wave that contemplate aspects of the Buddhist religion, with lots of sex.
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It's difficult to put a modern film-fan in the mind of a viewer from the past, because of the nature of the medium. Editing and compositional techniques that were once avant-garde become incorporated into the language of cinema so quickly that it can be hard to appreciate how mold-breaking films could be, since the most effective techniques of the vanguard rapidly become the de riguer filmmaking of the commercial set. Jump cuts and non-linear narrative used to be wildly experimental - just a decade later they're regularly used in network television, the most staid and crowd-friendly of visual entertainment. This

Alps Blu-ray Review: Weird, Wild, and Confusing

Yorgos Lanthimos' follow-up to Dogtooth is an obtuse, obfuscated, thrilling piece of filmmaking that is worth the watching even if you come out of it completely confused.
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Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos often makes movies about insular groups of people who live in absurdist worlds that create and uphold outlandish rules. Yet he somehow makes them seem real and often surprisingly sympathetic. Coming off the festival circuit success of Dogtooth - in which two parents keep their three children locked inside a compound teaching them the outside world is full of violence and make up new definitions for common words - he wrote and directed Alps about a group of people who, for a fee, pretend to be the recently deceased for their grieving relatives. It is just

Book Review: Cult Filmmakers: 50 Movie Mavericks You Need to Know by Ian Haydn Smith

Smith's essays make a compelling case for all of them, which will leave readers eager to seek out their films.
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Cult Filmmakers finds author Ian Haydn Smith shining the spotlight on 50 movie mavericks. The illustration on the cover by Kristelle Rodeia, who provides all the drawings of directors that accompany Smith's essays, is a dancing Quentin Tarantino dressed as Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction, revealing that Mr. Smith's definition of “cult” might not be what everyone expects. In his Introduction, he explains that “rather than offering an authoritative guide through a rich history of cult filmmaking, this book aims to be another voice in the conversation about cult cinema.” The book focuses on 39 men and 11 women, over

Queen & Slim World Premiere to Open AFI Fest 2019 Presented by Audi

AFI Alumna Melina Matsoukas's feature film directorial debut to launch 33rd edition of festival on Thursday, November 14.
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Press release: Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced that the 33rd edition of AFI FEST presented by Audi will open with the World Premiere of Makeready and Universal Pictures’ Queen & Slim. Directed by two-time Grammy winner Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005) and written by Emmy winner Lena Waithe from a story by Waithe and James Frey, the film is a consciousness-raising love story that confronts the staggering human toll of racism and the life-shattering price of violence. The film stars Academy Award nominee Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Academy Award nominee Chloë Sevigny, Flea, Sturgill Simpson

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Mystery Mansion Review

A fabulous package arrives to celebrate 50 years of Scooby-Doo.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray giftset reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I shared are the writer's own. When Warner Bros announced a year of Scooby-Doo celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the show, this is the release (along with The New Scooby-Doo Movies) that I had most wanted to see. The September 3, 2019 release is just short of the September 13, 1969 Saturday morning debut of the series on CBS. The complete first series is finally available on Blu-ray. The 41 episodes over four discs represent the first

Fists in the Pocket is the Pick of the Week

A darkly funny 1965 slap in the face to family values headlines a week of releases.
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Director Marco Bellocchio's 1965 savage masterpiece, Fists in the Pocket, remains argubly the most definitive portrait of brutal family dysfunction in the history of cinema. It was like a swan dive into a pit of needles and razor wire, as it dealt with subject matter that most of us could actually relate to. Many people (myself included) wish that they could escape the families they were born into. Unfortunately, the impulse of doing away with the folks can sometimes lead to murder and mayhem. This theme occurs as Alessandro (a brilliant Lou Castel), a young epileptic man who tries to

Doctor Who: Planet of the Spiders DVD Review

Although the end of Jon Pertwee's run, this serial is a good introduction to the character, the mythology, and the actor in the role
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Doctor Who is a long-running British science-fiction television series featuring the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey whose adventures see him travel through time and space. Over the years, different actors have starred in the role, and to compensate for the realities of the television business, Time Lords were given the ingenious ability to regenerate their bodies when they die. Planet of the Spiders is the 74th story of the Doctor and concludes with the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) regenerating into the Fourth (Tom Baker). It debuted in six weekly parts beginning May 4, 1974 on BBC 1

Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray Review: An Influential Cinema Landmark

The 1949 black comedy masterpiece from Ealing Studios gets a new upgrade, courtesy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I prefer British comedy over American comedy. The British have a lock on deadpan humor; you either get or you don't. There are themes of class, wealth, and sexual mores that surface every level of this type of humor, that there is a certain reality to it all. Director Robert Hamer's 1949 celebrated satrical classic, Kind Hearts and Coronets, just may be the best of them all, and also the greatest that Ealing Studios produced during the golden age of British cinema. Loosely based on a novel by

Straight Forward: Series 1 DVD Review: Should Have Taken a Curve

This Danish/New Zealand co-production is full of bad storytelling, but it still hooked me enough to keep watching.
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One of the worst parts of being a semi-professional reviewer is that you sometimes have to watch and talk about terrible movies and television shows. One of the nicer things about only being semi-professional is that I actually have some choice in what I review. At least I get a moment to watch a trailer or listen to the word of mouth before I throw my hand up and make a request to review something. Of course, trailers can be deceiving and word of mouth is sometimes wrong so I still wind up with my fair share of not very

Arrow: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray Review: Nothing Can Keep Down the Green Arrow and His Team

While the show has remained true to its original vision and quality, it’s not too difficult to see the end coming.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. When we last saw Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his team, the FBI was breathing down their necks, and they had managed to stop, but not capture Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) who is a psychopathic crime boss intent on taking over Star City and destroying the Green Arrow. But in order to stop him, Oliver had to do the unimaginable. He had to confess to not only being the vigilante but also

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