November 2019 Archives

The Kominsky Method: The Complete First Season DVD Review

Watching this cast perform together is a lesson in acting.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are his own. From producer Chuck Lorre and Netflix via Warner Brothers, Michael Douglas stars in this interesting series as Sandy Kminisky, an aging acting teacher known more for his coaching than his acting career. Represented by successful agent and best friend Norman Newlander (Alan Arkin), this not quite odd couple take on the challenges of getting old and surviving in youthful Hollywood. Though the two don’t cover a lot of new ground in the first eight episodes

Funan Blu-ray Review: A Genocide Through the Eyes of One Family

A beautiful telling of a tragic story.
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In the mid to late 1970s, the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia as one of the most brutal regimes in modern history. Led by Marxist leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge wanted to take Cambodia back to what they called “Year Zero” or an egalitarian, agrarian society cleaned from what they thought to be the terrible influences of capitalism. On a practical level, this meant emptying the cities and marching everyone into rural collectives where they would be forced into slave labor. Anybody thought to be an intellectual (including those who wore glasses or spoke a second language) were summarily executed.

Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

What is on your wish list this year?
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It's that gift-giving time of year again as 2019 enters its last few weeks. For those that need help shopping this holiday season on what to get the pop-culture aficinado in their life, here are some suggestions from the Sentries gang. Click on their names to read their full reviews. Please consider buying through our Amazon link to support the site. It would be appreciated. Scarface: 'The World Is Yours' Limited Edition Both versions of Scarface tell a fascinating story about the rise and fall of an ambitious criminal willing to do anything to get to the top and then

Queen & Slim Movie Review: A Poetic Form of Protest Art

A vital, politically charged story that celebrates black love.
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Among the various music videos that director Melina Matsoukas has made, the one for “Formation” by Beyonce is easily one of her most prolific. It serves as an ode to black pride in the face of racial oppression and police brutality and is shot with colorful vibrancy. As Matsoukas makes her feature film debut with Queen & Slim, she demonstrates the exact same singular vision. Even when the picture becomes hard to watch, it’s still impossible to look away. The film opens with the titular protagonists going on a first date after interacting on Tinder. Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) is a

Prophecy Blu-ray Review: Bear Loaf

John Frankenheimer's creature feature is not easily forgotten. For possibly the wrong reasons.
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It was not supposed to turn out like this. For years, the Pitney lumber mill in Maine soaked its river-borne logs in mercury, poisoning the water and wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. Tadpoles are now as big as boots, the salmon even bigger. Then there are the bears—oh God, the bears! They tower. They look like the skinned offspring of a boar and a 20-foot muskrat. And they move like the wind. On a pushcart. Told of disputes the mill has had with a local tribe of Native-Americans, Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) steps in to mediate. This is a

TV Review: Hellier: Season 2

What began as a series of emails for Greg Newkirk has become so much more than he or the rest of the team ever expected.
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Last year, Season 1 of Hellier debuted on YouTube and quickly won over fans and critics alike. The ten episodes of Hellier: Season 2 will premiere this Friday, November 29th on Amazon Prime. And after watching Season 2 of Hellier, I am telling you will want to scrap your Black Friday shopping plans and experience a different kind of madness. Don't worry, I will not be posting any spoilers. You will need to watch for yourself, but Hellier: Season 2 begins with reconnecting the audience to the investigation team and the key points from Season 1. We are reintroduced to

Stephen King's Storm of the Century (1999) DVD Review: Intriguing Premise at Snail's Pace

Perhaps the best of the run of Stephen King TV movies, Storm is atmospheric, creepy, and slow, slow, slow.
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TV made sense as its own thing until about 20 years ago. Nowadays, what constitutes TV is so sprawling and broken up that it's not really one thing anymore. Twenty years ago, cable was not king, and there weren't that many networks (though, to understand the zeitgeist of TV criticism, one should note Bruce Springsteen could chart a single in 1992 called "57 Channels and Nothin' On") and so the big TV networks competed in splashy ways to get eyes-on, especially in sweeps weeks. Sweeps were the few times during the year, one a quarter, when the Nielsen Company processed

The Circus Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Tramp Plays the Big Top

A delightful romp that finds the Tramp behave in a more enlightened manner as he puts others ahead of himself.
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Made between his classic films The Gold Rush and City Lights, Charlie Chaplin's The Circus presents an entertaining outing for the Tramp who once again finds himself in funny predicaments while saving a young woman from her cruel stepfather. The story behind the scenes is more interesting than the one on screen and is illuminated in the extras Criterion has included. While at a seaside pier, the Tramp finds a wallet and watch has been stashed in his pocket. The crook who placed it there is after him and the police after them both. This leads to not only a

All About Eve is the Pick of the Week

A legendary 1950 masterpiece about the perils of Hollywood headlines a week of good releases.
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What else can one say about Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1950 landmark backstage drama? It's a film that remains arguably the most quotable film ever made, a film that contains Bette Davis' greatest performance, and a film that set a record of nominations in Oscar history. It's also a bitchfest of the highest order that many gay men, besides myself, always look to for inspiration and sharp wit quips. You obviously know the tale, dim protege Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) works her way from naive, guillble waif to ambitious evil in the body of a woman, trying to steal the spotlight,

Thor Movie Review: God of Boring

It is better on second viewing, with a decade of the MCU having passed, but it is still rough going.
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Before I became a bonafide fan of the MCU, I watched their movies whenever I got around to it. Sometimes that was on DVD. Sometimes it was when it was streaming on Netflix or whatever. Rarely was it in theaters. I caught Thor on cable TV while at my in-laws for Christmas. The house was full of people, both adults, and kids, few of whom were watching the movie. Some were in the dining room playing a game, others were talking in the kitchen. Most were sitting in the living room working a puzzle or playing on their tablet. Nobody

Five Cool Things and Honey Boy

I watched some movies this week, and rediscovered an old game.
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This week, I saw consumed some new things, but mostly revisited older ones. I also found and rediscovered things I thought were gone. I bought a Kindle back when my eight-year-old daughter was just a baby. I bought the cheap one, without any fancy software that lets you do things besides reading (because I knew I'd do everything but read on it if it was available). I wanted to be able to read with one hand so I could hold her in my lap while doing it. I loved it. Still do, actually. I'm still a huge fan of real

Interview with Brian Volk-Weiss: Comedy Producer and Creator of Netflix's The Toys That Made Us

We should all be looking forward to his take on 'Star Wars'.
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Brian Volk-Weiss is most likely a name you’ve never heard before. He isn’t center stage, nor is he the star of any movies or series. He exists in the background, behind-the-scenes, orchestrating close to 300 comedy specials as a producer and over 30 specials and series as a director. In his free time, he creates and direct multiple Netflix series, including The Toys That Made Us (four seasons) and The Movies That Made Us (one season). When he was a kid, he played with Star Wars toys, LEGOs, G.I. Joes, and Transformers. He even thought Star Wars was a documentary

Hitch Hike to Hell Blu-ray Review: Put Your Thumb Down and Run

You'll wish you were in Hell instead of watching this movie.
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If you are a fan of Netflix’s excellent series Mindhunter, then you may feel a sense of familiarity with Howard (Robert Gribbin), the mild-mannered, psychotic killer from Irvin Berwick’s 1983 film Hitch Hike to Hell. He has a fair resemblance to Ed Kemper, one of the real life serial killers featured on Mindhunter. Kemper, a very large and very intelligent man, picked up eight hitchhiking college coeds in the early ‘70s then raped, mutilated, and murdered them. He sometimes blames his abusive mother for his turn to violence. In 1973, he killed his mom, cut off her head, and threw

[Updated] 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards Winners Announced

Winners, who are selected by Film Independent Members, will be announced at the Spirit Awards on Saturday, February 8, 2020.
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Press release: This morning, Film Independent announced the nominations for the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards. The Spirit Awards are the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity and inclusion in the industry. Film Independent President Josh Welsh presided over the press conference with actors Zazie Beetz and Natasha Lyonne presenting the nominations, hosted by The LINE LA. Nominees for Best Feature included A Hidden Life, Clemency, The Farewell, Marriage Story, and Uncut Gems.Thisyear marks the 35th anniversary of the Santa Monica beach-adjacent award show. Marriage Story was selected to

AFI Fest 2019 Review: The Apollo

I was left wishing I had two documentaries instead of just the one.
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Roger Ross Williams's The Apollo opens with a performance in progress as Joe Morton reads to an audience at the theater and will then take viewers back to table reads as cast members rehearse. After Morton finishes, the film cuts to a montage of black performers who appeared at the Apollo Theater as different people tell of the venue's importance to their people. This reveals to the audience that the film will tell two stories: the history of the famed Harlem theater in conjunction with a modern staging of a work based on Ta-Nehisi Coates' National Book Award-wining Between the

Road Games Blu-ray Review: A Rear Windowesque Road Movie

A trippy, but often overlooked thriller of the Ozploitation era.
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The Ozploitation era during the early '70s throughout the '80s had unleashed films with modest budgets, horror/comedy/action elements, nudity (mostly female), graphic violence, and cartoonish villians. This was a category of the Australian New Wave that isn't usually discussed nowadays, and that's unfortunate, because there were some really great films from the period, such as Mad Max, Long Weekend, and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. But if there is one that definitely deserves rediscovery, it is director Richard Franklin's 1981 quirky suspenser Road Games. In the obvious vein of Hitchcock, it is a Rear Windowesque road movie starring the always

[Updated] 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards Winners in Visual Media

Were your favorites selected?
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The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States released their nominees for the 2020 Grammy Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. The eligibility period was October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019. The ceremony will be held on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 8-11:30 pm ET/5-8:30 pm PT. Honoring the "best" music in Visual Media are the following categories. Links go to our coverage of the films at first mention. Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media (Award to the

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Blu-ray Review: Musical Parody Mostly Amusing

Lonely Island's first feature film is an often amusing, if toothless satire of the modern era of pop music.
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Comedy, like horror, is largely critic-proof, because the power of the genre lies in an immediate emotional reaction. You get scared. You laugh. It's difficult to put a lie to either of those gut responses. It's entirely possible to steel against them: your mood can dismiss the humor or the frights if you really try. But approaching the material openly reduces it to the immediate test: did I laugh? Was I scared? This is why comedies rarely get great reviews, because critics have no power against that reaction, and it bugs them. So, for the first test of the effectiveness

Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection is the Pick of the Week

It is another big week for Blu-ray releases, we've got your scoop.
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When I was but a wee lad, my uncle and all of my cousins were gaga over The Three Stooges. I loved those knuckleheads too, but my favorite old comedy legends were Abbott & Costello. I can remember having these long debates with my mother about why they were better than the Stooges. The slapstick comedy of the Stooges was the best, but Abbott & Costello told actual stories. Their movies weren’t just a bunch of gags. As I write that, I realize how much that thought has informed my opinion of comedy even today. I always prefer my laughs

Blinded by the Light Blu-ray Review: A Sweet Coming-of-Age Story with a Great Springsteen Soundtrack

It's hard to fault a movie that wears its sincerity on its sleeve the way that Blinded by the Light does.
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On first blush, producer/director Gurinder Chadra's Blinded by The Light can come across as a little cheesy - especially if you are not a Bruce Springsteen fan. Based on author Sarfraz Manzoor's autobiographical memoir Greetings From Bury Park (the title of which is itself derived from Springsteen's debut album Greetings From Asbury Park), the source material is so unabashed and unapologetic in its fandom, the filmmakers could have just as easily called this "Blinded by the Boss." Some may likewise be put off by the fairytale notion of a story that dares to put forth the idea that happy endings

The Farewell Blu-ray Review: Family Matters

Awkwafina excels in her first dramatic role in Lulu Wang's semi-autobiographical feature.
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When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the automatic assumption is that the person should know what they have and how much time they have left to live. At least, that’s how the American culture would perceive it. For Asian culture, they traditionally withhold the information from that person so it doesn’t cloud their mind and have them live their last days in fear and with depression - knowing they are going to die. For Billi (Awkwafina), an Asian American living in New York, she has trouble understanding how her family is able to follow a traditional method such

Doctor Who: The Sun Makers DVD Review

The Doctor, Leela, and K-9 lead the people against their oppressors, a frequent Who story trope.
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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. The Sun Makers is the 95th story of the Doctor (Tom Baker). It debuted in four weekly parts beginning November 26, 1977 on BBC 1. Humanity has moved to the planet Pluto, which is supported by artificial suns.

Concert Review: Art Alexakis - The Wayfarer, Costa Mesa, CA - 11/15/19

Alexakis took his audience through an intimate evening of songs interspersed with personal stories and anecdotes.
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I've been an Everclear fan since the beginning. I have all the albums, a ton of rare singles, and even some bootlegs. I've also had the opportunityto see Art Alexakis play solo a number of times. His songs, energy, and passion for music never disappoint and Alexakis's solo show on November 15th at the Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, CA was no exception. On tour to support his new solo album Sun Songs, Alexakis played a wonderful mixture of old and new songs, popular and deep cuts, band and solo work. He took his Wayfarer audience through an intimate evening of

Charlie's Angels (2019) Movie Review: A Heavenly Sequel Stuck in Purgatory

The three lead actresses successfully elevate an adequate continuation of the famed franchise.
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The latest sequel in the Charlie’s Angels franchise acts as both a continuation of the original story and an attempt at world building since it emphasizes on a new trio this time around. It may lose the camp value that made the first two films so appealing. Also, the absence of Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu is certainly felt. Yet in a way, Charlie’s Angels still captures the fun spirit the previous pictures possess. The newest trio, or technically duo, consists of Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart) and former MI6 agent Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) who team up with

Five Cool Things and Knives Out

Who needs Disney+ when we've got the Criterion Channel?
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Disney+ launched this week and it seems to be all anyone can talk about. When it was initially announced, I was excited about it. Figured I’d subscribe the very first day, and thought it might be a replacement for Netflix. Now that it's launched, I find I’m not all that interested. The thing is I already own the good Marvel movies, or I’ve watched them recently, and the other ones I’m not all that keen to see again. Ditto with the Star Wars films. There are some Disney animated films I’d like to see again, but those aren’t the type

AFI Fest 2019 Review: Queen & Slim

A thrilling drama infused with social commentary.
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Director Melina Matsoukas and screenwriter Lena Waithe, both of whom are also producers on the project, made an impressive feature-film debut with the tragic love story Queen & Slim, which opened this year's AFI Fest. The film tells a captivating story as the characters' journey takes them from strangers to inseparable lovers. The film opens with the two characters, whose names aren't mentioned until the end of the film but will be referred to by the titular nicknames, in Ohio eating dinner on a first date after meeting on Tinder. Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) doesn't seem impressed by the restaurant; Slim

Criterion Announces February 2020 Releases

Five for February.
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In addition to the return of Punxsutawney Phil, February will also see Criterion release some new additions to the collection. They are Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema, Jennie Livingston's Paris Is Burning, and Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman. Also available will be a Blu-ray upgrade of Hiroshi Teshigahara's Antonio Gaudí. Read on to learn more about them. Roma (2018) (#1014) out Feb 11 With his eighth and most personal film, Alfonso Cuarón recreated the early-1970s Mexico City of his childhood, narrating a tumultuous period in the life of a middle-class family through the experiences of Cleo (Yalitza

Radioflash Movie Review: A Mere Concept-Driven Post-Apocalyptic Story

An admirable yet quite shallow commentary on our tech-dependent society.
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In today’s techno-driven environment, Radioflash feels rather timely. In fact, it opens with our main character Reese (Brighton Sharbino) playing a virtual-reality game. But the film begs the question of what happened if we were suddenly stripped of our technology. How would we survive if we couldn’t update our Twitter feed or watch television on our Fire Stick? We’d like end up in the dire place like the post-apocalyptic world shown in Radioflash. After a nuclear strike causes an electromagnetic pulse, known as a “radio flash,” that cuts off all power on Earth, both Reese and her father Chris (Dominic

AFI Fest 2019 Review: The Planters

It might not be the best movie ever made, but for two female filmmakers with no crew on set, it satisfies the audience with quirky humor and a knowing sense of completion.
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Making a movie requires patience, money, time, and a huge amount of effort. Most movies will have dozens to hundreds of cast and crew members, from actors to cinematographers to makeup artists to costume designers. Calling it a "massive endeavor" might even be an understatement. For the new indie film The Planters, there was no crew on set. All of the filming, acting, directing, writing, and everything else that comes with making a movie fell on Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder. Kotcheff and Leder also star in this quirky comedy about a telemarketer named Martha Plant (Kotcheff) living in the

Teen Titans: The Complete Series Coming to Blu-ray on December 3, 2019

Warner Archive Collection remasters beloved DC super hero series.
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Press release: Continuing its dedication to mining and remastering the best of Warner Bros. Animation’s deep library of super hero productions, Warner Archive Collection proudly presents Teen Titans: The Complete Series on Blu-ray starting December 3, 2019. Single Season volumes are also available. Pre-orders are now available via and your favorite online retailer. It's a full plate of crime-fighting and chaos as Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy go up against killer villains such as Brother Blood, Mad Mod and their archenemy Slade. Get ready for all the big battles and unbreakable bonds that make these friends the

The Dead Center Blu-ray Review: Mostly Effective Psychological Horror

Primer's Shane Carruth stars in psychological and supernatural horror tale, where a suicide returns from the dead... but not alone.
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A spiral is integral to The Dead Center's imagery and story. A spiral appears on the photographs of a body from a crime scene, some sort of scar or lumps of tissue on his person. It wasn't seen in the autopsy because none was performed - the man breathes back to life on the gurney in the morgue, sneaks out, and ends up in a psychiatric ward. He was long dead when the paramedics brought him in; now he's catatonic, staring, and has become two doctors' problem: the medical examiner whose corpse has gone missing, and the psychiatrist who wants

Flowers in the Attic (1987) Blu-ray Review: I Think They Wilted

The best-selling novel gets a neutered adaptation but an excellent release by Arrow Video.
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I have this memory in which my mother gives me a copy of V.C. Andrews’ 1979 novel Flowers in the Attic. I was in my early 20s at the time and my mother gave the book great praise. For some reason, I thought the book was about the Holocaust, that it was a story similar to Anne Frank’s, where a group of young siblings were hiding from the Nazis in an attic of an old mansion. For anyone who has read the book, you know how far my idea is from the truth. The actual novel is about a group

Feast of the Seven Fishes Movie Review: A Genuine Italian Christmas

Though the script is uneven and the jokes often don't land, Robert Tinnell's film bursts with the kind of familial love and joy expected from a Christmas movie.
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In the next few months, Christmas movies will constantly be on television and in the theaters. For most people, new releases will be peppered into their usuals, the classics they rewatch every single year. Robert Tinnell's new film attempts to break into that cycle, with big families, big hugs, and big meals. Feast of the Seven Fishes follows Tony (a rapidly rising Skyler Gisondo), an artsy young man stuck in the family store, as he meets Ivy-leaguer Beth (an adorable Madison Iseman). Tony comes from a large Italian-American family, while Beth is a "cake-eater" or non-Italian. They spend a night

Charley Varrick Blu-ray Review: No Country For Walter Matthau

Don Siegel's 1973 crime thriller is yet one more reason to love Walter Matthau.
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When I think of Walter Matthau, which is more often than you’d think, I think of him as a comic actor. My first memories of him are as a Grumpy Old Man, or as 1/2 of an Odd Couple. Certainly he was great in comedies and brought a light, hilarious touch to more serious films, but he was also a wonderful dramatic actor as well. He starred in numerous serious dramas like Fail Safe and JFK. He also starred in a number of action thrillers and spy movies like Charade, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Hopscotch, and the

Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles Blu-ray Review: Historical Animation Paired with a Dichotomy-Filled Story

Following the story of Luis Buñuel's compelling 1933 documentary, this animated feature combines surrealism and a real story that is sure to satisfy international audiences.
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Though not always the case, animated movies have a presumption of innocence, providing a movie-going experience for the whole family. Let me say this first: Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles is not a family film. Salvador Simó’s film depicts violence, death, and much heavier topics than usually seen in the animated genre. It’s not even completely animated, as the film follow Luis Buñuel’s journey in making his 1933 documentary Land Without Bread, a depiction of the very poor Las Hurdes region in Spain. This 2019 film combines real footage of that documentary with an animated plotline of Buñuel

Sesame Street: 50 Years and Counting DVD Review: A Golden Celebration

Having to compile a greatest hits for a 50-year-old show is a daunting task and the makers of this collection do a great job considering there are thousands of episodes to choose and the number of viewers the show has had.
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Sesame Street: 50 Years and Counting, available on DVD and as a digital download, celebrates the most successful children's entertainment television program of all time. Although in recent years, there have been dramatic changes due to children's changing viewing habits and economics of producing the show. Sesame Street has been shortened from an hour to 30 minutes and episodes air first on HBO before running on PBS stations and its affiliated websites nine months later. Yet, it still continues its core mission of educating children in entertaining ways. I was born in 1967 and grew up with the show, which

The Farewell is the Pick of the Week

It's a big, beautiful week for new releases.
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Every now and again, my wife will load up the daughter with her in the car and take off to visit her parents or some other such thing, leaving me alone in the house for a few days. I always take this opportunity to go to the movie theater and see things we normally wouldn't see on the big screen. The wife doesn't consult the movie listings before she goes to ensure there is something I really want to watch, so it is always a bit of hit and miss as to what is available to watch. This last summer

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Blu-ray Review: A High-Quality, High-Definition Experience

Fast and furious enough to please fans and those looking for a ridiculous action movie.
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The folks behind the Fast & Furious franchise took two of their most bankable actors, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham to lead the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw and followed the series' successful formula: over-the-top action scenes set around the world combined with a focus on family. The movie was previously reviewed this summer. The Blu-ray's video has given a satisfying 1080P/AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.39.1. The colors shine in brilliant hues. Blacks are inky and whites are accurate. These elements contribute to the strong contrast which is most evident during the split-screen introduction of our

Ford v Ferrari Movie Review: Bale and Damon Rev Up This Engine

Both Matt Damon and Christian Bale elevate a racing drama put in neutral gear.
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If Ford v Ferrari had come out in the 1990’s or 2000’s, it would’ve been a guaranteed box-office success. In today’s tentpole climate where superheroes have more drawing power, a film like this thriving financially is slightly up for debate. However, with its old-fashioned crowd-pleasing nature and central performances from its two central actors, Ford v Ferrari should hopefully perform well. While the film may seem like another racing movie, it still provides thematic poignancy by depicting a real-life story involving a combat against egotistical wealth and putting one’s differences aside to achieve a common goal. Both race car driver

Woman in Hiding Blu-ray Review: Worth Looking For

Ida Lupino stars in this excellent melodrama with noir trappings.
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It is funny how when you discover something you'd never noticed before you suddenly start seeing it everywhere you look. Ida Lupino has been that way with me recently. Her’s was a name I’d heard before but wasn’t really familiar with. It was one of those names I’d seen in reviews or movie discussions that stuck in my brain but that I didn’t really associate with anything. I’d seen her in High Sierra with Humphrey Bogart years ago, but whatever impression she left had long since slipped my memory. Then a few weeks ago I randomly watched On Dangerous Ground.

Five Cool Things and Martin Scorsese Takes on the MCU

I am joined by a guest this week.
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We are right smack in the middle of Noirvember and it has been super fun reading everybody's discussions on the various film noirs they've been watching. My own experience has been pretty good. I've seen some excellent noirs, some not so excellent, and I've gotten distracted by films that aren't noirs at all. I finished a couple of horror films that I didn't get to during last month's 31 Days of Horror film watch. Also cool this week, I am joined by a guest and fellow Sentry, so let's get started. The Blob (1958) The wife and I started this

Ringu Collection Blu-ray Review: Ghostly Revenge, Again and Again

Four weird, gripping and often terrifying films of spectral revenge that began the J-horror boom are now on Blu-ray.
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Horror as a genre tends to go through brief periods of inspiration, followed by long slogs of imitation. If you're unlucky, the inspired breakout hit is something like Saw, and as a horror fan you have to sit through years of vile dreck until something better comes along to rejigger the landscape. In the late '90s, horror was in one of its down-turn phases: the mid-'90s crackdown on letting youngsters into R-rated movies had the effect (still felt today) that to get the primary audience for horror, the young, you needed to be PG-13, which means violence has to be

Dreamworks Ultimate Holiday Collection Blu-ray Review: Holiday Specials for a New Generation

Having them all in one set is too much to pass up.
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As my friends and family can attest, Christmas is my favorite time of year. Not only do I decorate the inside and outside of my home and throw my own party, but on Christmas Eve, I have created my own special tradition. I make hot chocolate, open a box of See’s Candies, and watch all my favorite holiday movies. Most of those end up being various half-hour animated specials. Several of those I watch every year are on this new collection and there are a few that I had never seen before. Trolls Holiday is a lot more musical than

It Always Rains on Sunday Blu-ray Review: A Slice of Post-War London

If you allow yourself to relax and let its myriad of stories wash over you, there is plenty to like.
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A man breaks out of prison and returns to the home of his former fiancee. They were set to be married but he got caught in a bash and grab and was put away for years. In the time between, she met another man, dull but kind, who has children of his own; settled down; and created a life for herself. But when she finds him hiding out in the air-raid shelter those old feelings return. With a house full of people, she can hardly let him inside. It is even difficult to smuggle him a little food. Elsewhere, three

Willie Movie Review: A Sports Hero's Story Worthy of Recognition

'Willie' tells the incredible story of a man that changed hockey, and continues to radiate positivity for friends, family, strangers, and the youth of North America.
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We've all heard of Jackie Robinson. He changed baseball forever. He changed sports forever. He is a chief sports hero of the 20th century, a man that continues to deserve recognition. There have been movies, documentaries, and plays written about him, and his story has been told countless times. Up until one week ago, the name Willie O'Ree had never touched my ears. A new documentary titled Willie explores Willie O'Ree's life, accomplishments, and attempt to enter into the Hockey Hall of Fame. If you're like me and have never heard O'Ree's name, his story is one to behold. Willie

The Man Between Blu-ray Review: Out of The Third Man's Shadow

Excellent film noir from Carol Reed might not be as good as "The Third Man," but it isn't too far off either.
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It is difficult not to compare The Man Between, Carol Reed’s 1953 thriller to a film he made four years earlier, The Third Man. Both films are set in bombed-out, post-war European cities (The Third Man in Vienna, The Man Between in Berlin). Both films feature espionage, intrigue, and flexible sympathies towards some of the main cast. I won’t argue that The Man Between is the better of the films, but it deserves to be a part of the conversation. Hopefully, this new Blu-ray transfer from Kino Lorber Studio Classics will pull it out from underneath The Third Man’s shadow.

The Cure: 40 Live - Curætion-25 + Anniversary Blu-ray Review: A Black Ruby Jubilee

A must-own set for fans and a perfect introduction to the band's great talents.
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The Cure: 40 Live collects two outstanding concerts performed in the summer of 2018 as founder Robert Smith, bassist Simon Gallup (1979-1982, 1985-present), drummer Jason Cooper (1995-present), keyboardist Roger O’Donnell (1987-1990, 1995-2005, 2011-present), and Reeves Gabrels (2012-present) celebrated the band's 40th anniversary, Disc 1 contains CURÆTION-25: From There To Here | From Here To There, a concert held on the 10th and final night of Robert Smith's Meltdown Festival on June 24 at London's Royal Festival Hall, an intimate theater with a capacity of 2,700. The lucky group of fans who attended got to hear a retrospective 28-song set that

Seven Days To Noon Blu-ray Review: A Very Good Drama

This post-war thriller might not be a white-knuckler, but its attention to detail and observations on humanity make it quite thrilling.
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The atomic bomb not only helped win World War II and fueled the Cold War for years after it, but it spurred our cultural imaginations and fears for decades to come. It spawned a huge wave of nuclear monster movies from Godzilla to all sorts of giant insect monsters and deadly amorphous blobs. Science-fiction films in the 1950s and beyond often relied on nuclear energy to create its deadly foes. There were also plenty of much more serious dramas like Sidney Lumet’s Fail-Safe about the potential of nuclear disaster. Released in 1950, Seven Days to Noon is a British drama

Good Omens is the Pick of the Week

Come and see all the cool new releases coming out this week.
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Davey is still missing in action so I’m keeping the reigns this week. I love me some Neil Gaiman. I love me some David Tennant. I’m quire fond of Michael Sheen. Put those three together for an Amazon Prime series and I’m all in. Good Omens is based upon the novel by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It follows Tennant and Sheen as two angels playing for opposite sides of the moral spectrum. They are supposed to be preparing the world for Armageddon - the ultimate war between Satan and God, but they both rather enjoy Earth a little too much.

Polyester Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: John Waters' First Big-Budget Film

Polyester introduced the one-time only Odorama card to offend viewers' sense of smell as well as their sense of decorum.
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Polyester, John Waters’ first big budget, mainstream film, was released by in 1981 by New Line Cinema. Its $300,000 budget may give it a high-rent look, but the low-rent appeal is still there, albeit way toned down from early Waters' films like Pink Flamingos and Multiple Maniacs. Divine plays Francine Fishpaw, a sweet, submissive housewife married to Elmer Fishpaw (David Samson), a porno theater owner with a bad toupee. Their kids are juvenile delinquents. Her daughter Lu-lu (Mary Garington) is a slutty girl who causes havoc with her greaser boyfriend Bo-Bo (Stiv Baters). Her son Dexter (Ken King) is a

Queen of Hearts (2019) Movie Review: Trine Dyrholm Guides This Effective Melodrama

A precisely mundane allegory for "Alice in Wonderland."
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Queen of Hearts, Denmark’s Oscar submission for Best International Feature Film, is indeed a slight parable to Alice in Wonderland. However, Anne (Trine Dyrholm) initially acts as the “Alice” of the storyline, falling down a rabbit hole of conflicting desire before slowly becoming the titular Queen and acting as her own worst enemy. While her incestuous affair with her teenage stepson Gustav (Gustav Lindh) gives her bliss, their forbidden love leads to a web of lies and betrayal. Before both Anne and Gustav consummate their feelings, the film presents Anne’s sedate daily routine as a way of indicating her motivations

Terminator: Dark Fate Movie Review: History (and the Franchise) Repeats Itself

I'd recommend Dark Fate, but it's too bad there's not a better story.
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Terminator: Dark Fate occurs in a timeline three years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and ignores Rise of the Machines, Salvation, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Genisys though I am not well versed in the franchise and didn't watch the last two titles listed. The film opens 1998, three years after Judgment Day. Sarah Connor and John are in Guatemala when a T-800 appears and kills John before he can lead the human resistance against the machines in the future. This is a surprise as Skynet was supposed to have been stopped. Turns out a different AI,

Naked Alibi Blu-ray Review: Gloria Grahame Steals the Show

Gloria Grahame elevates a pretty decent film noir into something you must see.
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The cops pick up a guy on a drunk and disorderly. He doesn’t have any identification but says he’s a baker and a family man. He doesn’t look like a family man. He looks like a tough guy. He talks like a tough guy. The cops are on edge because there has been a string of unsolved robberies of late and the higher-ups are on their case. The drunk gets mouthy and punches one of the cops. The cops hit back. And how. He promises to get even with the cops. Police Chief Conroy (Sterling Hayden) comes in just as

Terminator Salvation Movie Review: An Adequate Continuation of the Franchise

Director McG delivers an over-the-top, frenetic, action-packed movie.
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A prologue set in 2003 introduces death row prisoner Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) as he grants his body be used for research. A brief rundown of the current situation in 2018 during the opening credits tells of Skynet having humanity on the brink of extinction, but a resistance is fighting back. One of its leaders is a familiar character to those following the Terminator franchise, grown-up John Connor (Christian Bale) who resides in war-ravaged Southern California. After a botched operation that John alone escapes from, Marcus awakes and tries to make his way in the world. In Los Angeles, he

The Wizard of Oz 4K Ultra HD Review: Somewhere Over the HDR Rainbow

The classic arrives on 4K for the first time
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Dorothy and the gang are back in a sparkling new 80th anniversary edition of the classic film, released in 4K Ultra HD for the first time. The legendary tale is just as great as you remember it, and now looks better than ever thanks to a totally spotless, newly restored 8K 16-bit scan of the original Technicolor camera negative. Ensuring the best possible home presentation, the 4K disc includes Dolby Vision HDR, as well as HDR10+ to optimize brightness levels and contrast for each scene. Although the original soundtrack was mono, it has been enhanced to DTS-HD MA 5.1 on

Five Cool Things and The Witcher

Halloween may be over but we've got some scary cool things to talk about.
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My apologies for missing last week. My wife and I both came down with some nasty cold/allergy/flu thing and I just wasn’t up to writing about cool things when I was feeling so bad. But never fear, dear reader, I consumed many cool things during these last two weeks and I am ready to talk about them. Today, is, of course, November 2nd, which technically means the end of Halloween season (and begins the most excellent Noirvember), but for one more day, we will be talking about a lot of horror movies. So sit back, grab your best stabbing knife,

Scars of Dracula Blu-ray Review: A Bit of a Retread but Still Enjoyable

While understandably not held in high regard, there's still some fun to be had seeing Lee back as the Count.
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Scars of Dracula is Hammer's sixth Dracula film and the fifth to feature Christopher Lee. It follows a familiar template: Dracula is resurrected, causes mayhem among the local citizenry, sets his sights--er, fangs on one particular lovely maiden, and is defeated in the end. It's one of the lesser of the series because it's a bit of a retread, but it was still enjoyable when one is in the mood for some classic horror. Scars opens in Dracula's castle, not the church where he died in the previous film, Taste the Blood of Dracula. As stated in the extras, this

Apprentice to Murder Blu-ray Review: Graduated to Boring

This 1980s folk horror is light on scares and heavy on nothing happening.
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The early 1970s saw several British films being released that have been defined as “folk horror” by fans. These are films like Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man, which incorporated old folk tales and pagan rituals into horror movies. In the 1980s, movies like Children of the Corn moved the setting to rural America but the idea was the same. These films often dealt with isolated communities living in picturesque, yet somehow unsettling rural areas. They are inhabited by deeply religious people who incorporate pagan or satanic rituals into their daily lives. This mix of isolationism and “weird” belief systems

The Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2 Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

A pleasant stroll through your childhood toy box.
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Ever have that experience of pulling a box out of the closet and finding a bunch of your old toys? It’s hard not to sit down and start examining each one up close. Do the wheels still roll? Are all the pieces still there? Does everything still work? You start to remember the fun you had playing with those toys. Specific memories pop into your head like the time you threw the toy and hit your sister in the face? Ok, that one might just be me? The Netflix Docu-series The Toys that Made Us is a trip down memory

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