November 2019 Archives

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 wb.com/warnerarchive 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

The Twilight Zone: A 60th Anniversary Celebration Ticket Giveaway

We are in search of five winners.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Fathom Events and CBS Home Entertainment to award five lucky readers a pair of tickets to see their presentaton of The Twilight Zone: A 60th Anniversary Celebration, which is playing in hundreds of select movie theaters nationwide on November 14. To find a theater near you, check www.FathomEvents.com. For those wanting to learn more, read the press release below: “The Twilight Zone: A 60th Anniversary Celebration” will combine digitally restored versions of six quintessential episodes with an all-new documentary short titled “Remembering Rod Serling” about the life, imagination and creativity of creator Serling, whose

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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