December 2019 Archives

Millennium Actress Blu-ray Review: Animated Japanese Film Fantasia

Satoshi Kon's second anime feature film about an actress' pursuit of a lost love intertwines fiction and reality.
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It's a love letter to film, a historical overview of early to mid-century Japan, and a biography of an actress told through scenes from her films. Millennium Actress is an incredibly ambitious, assured, and unconventional animated film, but it's unconventional in a different way than most out-there animated films. The animation isn't abstract or particularly mind-bending. There's no bizarre shock scenes or wild camera movements that would be impossible in the real world. Watching just individual scenes, one would think it could be made as a live action film without substantially changing a single shot. But Millennium Actress has such

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review: One of the Most Beloved Sitcoms Comes to a Beautiful Conclusion

As difficult as it is to believe how long the show ran, it's even more difficult to accept that it won't be returning.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this article. The opinions shared are his own. It’s hard to believe that it was 12 years ago that the two loveable nerds, Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), first walked into Penny’s (Kaley Cuoco) life and into television history. Over that time, the show was nominated for 46 Primetime Emmy Awards and holds the record of most episodes for a multi-camera sitcom at 279. The premise was fairly simple. You take two socially awkward physicists and put them next to

Bombshell (2019) Movie Review: A Well-Acted Yet Slightly Empty Procedural Drama

Bombshell tries being fair but isn't quite balanced.
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Given how Bombshell has a seriocomic tone, depicts conservative media figures, and is written by Oscar-winner Charles Randolph who collaborated with Adam McKay, comparisons to Vice or even McKay’s previous work feel inevitable. However, Bombshell mainly works best when it isn’t trying to be a McKay clone. Its nonchalant, procedural direction successfully negates the need to have characters breaking the fourth wall. Additionally, the comical elements make Bombshell even more uncomfortable than it already is since it delves into sexual misconduct taking place within a very right-wing television network complicit in getting a sexual predator elected as President. One particular

TV Review: Batwoman: 'Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 2'

"Finding Paragons is a boring side quest. And I don't really get the purpose as it relates to the story." Shawn Bourdo
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A pair of Sentries are teaming up to take on the five-part "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event. If you would like to start at the beginning, please read Part 1. Gordon S. Miller This was my first Batwoman episode so I have no idea about any of the storylines other than what I may have heard in Supergirl. There seems to be some serious family battles and intrigue taking place with Kate, but a few hours removed, I'm not sure how I would do on a pop quiz. It is very odd for “CoIE Part 1” to have contained

The Fly Collection Blu-ray Review: Be Excited, Be Very Excited to Own This

Scream Factory brings the entire The Fly series into a terrific boxed set that makes a perfect Christmas gift.
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It is a deceptively simply story. A man invents a machine that can instantly teleport matter from one place to another (like the transporters on Star Trek). At first, he teleports inanimate objects then moves on to animals and eventually himself. It is that last bit where things turn horrific. While teleporting himself, an innocuous house fly accidentally flies into the device, causing it to fuse both man and fly into one horrifying beast. But that simple (and let’s be honest, kind of silly) concept which initially came into existence through a short story became a 1950s science fiction movie

Until the End of the World is the Pick of the Week

Wim Wenders' 1992 epic headlines a new week of stellar releases.
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As we all know, Wim Wenders is a master filmmaker, who has given us an amazing and eclectic career of films such as Alice in the Cities; Paris, Texas; Wings of Desire; Buena Vista Social Club; and Pina. These films are mediations on life, death, music, and humanity, in such a way that arguably very few directors have ever attempted. However, if there is one Wenders film that I'm excited for, it is his 1992 scifi road movie, Until the End of the World, which is honestly one that I've never seen or heard of until Criterion announced it for

The Goldfinch Blu-ray Review: A Beautiful but Messy Underachievement

The Goldfinch boasts an impressive cast and gorgeous cinematography, but fails to capture the intensity or depth of its adapted novel.
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Every few years, a book comes along that everyone reads. Every book club picks it as a must-do, and it becomes a cultural capstone. Books like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Road become shoe-ins to be adapted into films. One of these books was Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. The book nears 800 pages, winning the Pulitzer Prize and several other "Book of the Year" awards across publications and organizations. It polarized critics and audiences alike, becoming a source of dinner table conversation in the end of 2013 and through 2014. With a book of that magnitude, there

TV Review: Supergirl: 'Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 1'

"Am really curious where the story goes from here and to see some of the things already leaked to the press." Gordon S. Miller
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A pair of Sentries are teaming up to take on the five-part "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event. Gordon S. Miller Based on the epic 12-part miniseries “that rocked the comics community, tragically dooming some of DC's most beloved characters and drastically altering others,” as stated on the trade paperback; hinted at in the previous CW/DC crossover “Elseworlds”; and referred to frequently during this season of The Flash (the only Arrowverse series I watch regularly); “Crisis on Infinite Earths” begins with a cool introduction. The writers gives the audience a few Easter eggs as characters from parallel universes, such as

The Fan (1981) Blu-ray Review: Bloody '80s Stalking Thriller

Michael Biehn is a creepy but underdeveloped stalker obsessed Lauren Bacall in '80s New York.
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The Fan was made in 1981. It's about a deranged man who kills people. He uses a special weapon to do so...and yet, somehow it is not a cheap, cheesy slasher movie. This is against all odds (and apparently against the film's best efforts). A psychopath obsessed with a woman in the early '80s by all cinematic law should defy laws of physics, find new and interesting ways to kill all his victims, and should be implacable, speak no dialogue, and have a catchy name in case we need The Fan II. Instead, The Fan becomes an often interesting, if

2020 Golden Globes Nominees Announced

The nominees are...
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The Hollywood Foreign Press has selected their nominations in film and television for the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Hosted by Ricky Gervais, the Golden Globe Awards will air live coast-to-coast on NBC on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 5-8 p.m. PT/8-11 p.m. ET from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Reviews appear next to a title's first appearance on the list. Best Motion Picture - DramaThe Irishman (Netflix)Marriage Story (Netflix)1917 (Universal)Joker (Warner Bros.) | ReviewThe Two Popes (Netflix) Best Actress in a Motion Picture - DramaCynthia Erivo (Harriet) | ReviewScarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)Saoirse Ronan (Little Women)Charlize Theron (Bombshell)Renée Zellweger (Judy) | Review

Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire Joins The Criterion Collection Library in 2020

"We couldn't be more thrilled that our first collaboration with The Criterion Collection is Céline's breathtakingly beautiful and utterly captivating Portrait of a Lady on Fire." - NEON
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Press release: NEON and The Criterion Collection are excited to announce the addition of Céline Sciamma’s award winning, Portrait of a Lady on Fire to The Criterion Collection library. The Cannes winner was recently nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Language Film, nominated by the Hollywood Critics Association for Best Foreign Language Film and was awarded Best Cinematography by the New York Film Critics. Matthew St. Clair called it an "immensely well-crafted" film in his review. Set in France, 1760, Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left

Five Cool Things and No Time to Die

Even a head full of junk can't keep me from cool things.
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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I enjoyed some time with my family (who I don’t see that often even though we all live in the same town) and ate way too much turkey and pie. Obviously, I took the week off from writing about Five Cool Things, but I did, in fact, consume many cool things over the last few weeks, so let’s talk about them. Briefly. Truth be told, this post-Thanksgiving week I’ve felt pretty miserable. Change in seasons always mess with my allergies and this week has been a doozy. I’ve not been sick-sick, so I’ve

I'll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd DVD Review

This documentary looks at the events leading up to the plane crash that claimed the lives of singer Ronnie Van Zant and five other people
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I'll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours Of Lynyrd Skynyrd is the second recent documentary about Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd and the plane crash that claimed the lives of singer Ronnie Vant Zant and five other members of the band and the crew in 1977. The 2018 documentary, If I Leave Here Tomorrow, covered the entire history of the band in depth. It was narrated by Gary Rossington, the last surviving member of the original lineup, and had lots of archival footage of the band. I'll Never Forget You deals with the last three days of the original

Knives and Skin Movie Review: A Wonderfully Hazy Suburban Nightmare

Writer/director Jennifer Reeder makes a trippy psychological chiller about grief, recovery, and coming of age.
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When looking at just the title for Knives and Skin, one might understandably expect a fair amount of violence to be involved. Its title proves to be a genius form of deception as it turns out to be a hazy, labyrinthian look at the troubled nature of suburban life. There is mystery and slight violence but it’s mostly about what happens when a community comes to grips with a disappearance of one of their own. Despite the enigmatic storyline, it is unclear what kind of tone the picture is aiming for. With its kaleidoscopic cinematography by Christopher Rejano, is it

Variety and PBS SoCal Announce New Season And Talent Lineup for Variety Studio: Actors on Actors

Eleventh season of conversations with "A List" talent premieres on PBS stations nationwide starting with presenting station PBS SoCal Jan. 2.
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Press release: Variety and PBS SoCal, Southern California's home for the premieres of new PBS programs, announced today the schedule for the 11th season of the Emmy Award-winning series Variety Studio: Actors on Actors. Co-produced by PBS SoCal, the new season of half-hour specials take you inside the biggest movies of the year through candid conversations between some of today's most acclaimed actors. All four episodes of the new season will premiere back-to-back on PBS SoCal on Thurs., Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. on PBS SoCal. All episodes will stream on pbssocal.org following their premieres on the free PBS Video

63 UP Movie Review: The Best Reality Show of All Time

Michael Apted’s legendary documentary series returns with its latest seven-year installment.
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Decades before we were deluged with a never-ending stream of “reality” TV shows, a British TV crew selected a group of 14 seven-year-old schoolchildren as documentary subjects, initially as a study of how social class impacted their upbringing. Every seven years since, a new installment has been filmed with the same subjects, all under the direction and narration of esteemed feature-film director Michael Apted. While Apted was just a young researcher on the original installment who took part in selecting the subjects, he’s been the lynchpin of the entire project for every subsequent film, taking such a personal approach that

Now, Voyager Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Superior Tearjerker

A beloved 1942 Bette Davis classic gets a stellar release from the Criterion Collection.
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With her saucer eyes, unparalled intensity, and unbridled non-vanity, Bette Davis has been and still is regarded as one of the greatest stars in Hollywood history, and rightly so. She always brought her signature style to every role she portrayed, even the lesser ones, with honesty and unapologetic passion. Arguably, her performance in Irving Rapper's celebrated 1942 adaptation of Olive Higgins Prouty's novel of psychotherapy and family dynamics: Now, Voyager, was her at the pinnacle of her gifts, at least until her most cherished role as Margo Channing in All About Eve. She plays Charlotte Vale, a nervous and neurotic

14 All-Time Movie Classics are Returning to the Big Screen in 2020

More than 60 years of incredible Hollywood history will be back on the big screen in the 2020 TCM Big Screen Classics Series.
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Press release: “Surely, you can’t be serious!” In 2020, 14 of movie history’s greatest romances, funniest comedies, scariest monsters, boldest visions, ultimate adventures, and most unforgettable dramas will be back in movie theaters across the country as Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies present the fourth annual, yearlong TCM Big Screen Classics series. Among the highlights are the first national theatrical release of 1933’s King Kong in more than 60 years; the tear-jerking Love Story for Valentine’s Day; the 60th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho; and a rare big-screen appearance of Fiddler on the Roof. Plus, 2020 is the 40th

All About Eve Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: All the World's a Stage

The legendary Oscar-winning film arrives in a brand-new 4K restoration, just in time for its 70th anniversary.
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Best Picture Oscar winners don’t always age well, but as All About Eve approaches its 70th anniversary, it’s every bit as entertaining and relevant as ever. The film garnered six well-deserved Oscars out of a lofty total of 14 nominations, including two wins for Joseph L. Mankiewicz as writer and director. The plot is a fascinating study of betrayal, as a young up-and-coming actress named Eve (Anne Baxter) seeks to supplant her idol, aging stage star Margo (Bette Davis). The story should be required viewing for every aspiring actor as a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of success, although its

Ultimate Twin Peaks Collection Available 12/10 For Limited Time

The Deluxe Edition brings together all three TV seasons, Fire Walk with Me and The Missing Pieces, a wealth of new and existing special features, and exclusive collectibles in a unique packaging structure.
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Press release: The whole universe of the hauntingly mysterious cultural phenomenon Twin Peaks is now packaged together in one definitive, limited edition: Twin Peaks: From Z to A. Limited to only 25,000 copies, the collection will hit shelves in the U.S. and Canada on December 10 (with international release dates to be announced at a later date). Twin Peaks: From Z to A includes both seasons of the original series, with the U.S. and international versions of the pilot; A Limited Event Series, Fire Walk with Me and its deleted scenes: The Missing Pieces; never-before-released behind-the-scenes footage from the making

Jake Speed Blu-ray Review: When Indiana Jones and Brendan Fraser Aren't Available, Call Jake Speed

Action, adventure, romance! What more could a teenage boy want?
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My mother likes to call the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies “a poor man’s Indiana Jones.” What she means is that both series star attractive, charismatic male leads who embark on thrilling adventures dealing with archeology and ancient myths, but that the Mummy series doesn’t have quite the high quality as the Indiana Jones films. Like a Big Mac, The Mummy might satisfy a certain type of hunger, but they’ll never be as satisfying as a good steak. Well, if The Mummy is a poor man’s Indiana Jones, then Jake Speed is a poor man’s Mummy. It is the Taco Bell

Big Trouble in Little China is the Pick of the Week

A John Carpenter cult classic rounds up a new week of releases.
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Director John Carpenter has had a long-standing career of making great movies, especially in the horror genre. Some of them (Halloween, The Thing, The Fog, Escape from New York) are absolutely iconic; while others (1995's Village of the Damned, Vampires, Ghosts of Mars, Escape from LA) are not so much. Fortunately, his 1986 exciting action horror comedy, Big Trouble in Little China, is definitely one of his more accessible films. It's pretty clear that he was influenced by the comic books of the '50s, and it totally shows here. It has a fun and refreshing performance by Kurt Russell, amazing

BBC AMERICA's Doctor Who Premiere Date, Trailer and Screening Event

Doctor Who returns with a brand-new season New Year’s Day at 8pm ET/PT
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Press release: BBC AMERICA’s hit action-adventure series, Doctor Who, is back! Kicking off 2020, the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) returns with the launch of the latest season on Wednesday, January 1 at 8pm ET/PT, resuming her time-and-space travels with friends Ryan (Tosin Cole), Yasmin (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh). Subsequent episodes will air Sundays at 8pm ET/PT beginning January 5 on BBC AMERICA. Starting with a blockbuster, action-packed two-part episode entitled Spyfall, the Thirteenth Doctor is well and truly back with a bang. BBC AMERICA also released today the official global trailer for Jodie Whittaker’s second season as the

The Fare Blu-ray Review: Groundhog Day in a Cab

Low budget sci-fi thriller has some interesting ideas, but can't quite pull it off.
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A taxicab driver named Harris (Gino Anthony Pese) gets a call to pick up someone in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing on the radio except alien conspiracy theories and discussions on the female orgasm. Dispatch calls to ask his ETA to the fare. A few minutes later, he picks up Penny (Brinna Kelly). They talk amicably for awhile then she disappears. Poof! Gone. He slams on the brakes and looks around, but she is nowhere to be found. His seatbelt won’t unfasten. He calls in to dispatch but only gets questions about his sobriety. Being a good cabbie,

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