December 2019 Archives

Trapped (1949) Blu-ray Review: Great Restoration of a B-movie

Previously only available in murky, ugly prints, pretty good crime thriller Trapped has been beautifully restored in HD.
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Film noir are crime movies, but not all crime movies are film noir. There has to be an element of tragedy to the film noir - of a normal person (criminal or not) who takes an opportunity to do indulge their worse nature, and their world falls apart around them because of it. A real film noir needs to be about a failing of moral choice. There has to be some chance that the main character could have acted in a different way, may have wanted to, really, but they had their moment of weakness. An itch they just had

Very Bad Things Blu-ray Review: What Happens in Vegas Doesn't Always Stay in Vegas

A difficult, but hilariously dark morality tale about men behaving really, really badly.
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After Pulp Fiction (arguably the film that defined the 1990s) came out, it changed the dynamic of how violence was depicted in the movies back then. It kind of signaled a genre that could be called the "Violent New Wave," where some films used violence just as a selling point, while others used it as an important piece of the puzzle to show how far society has fallen. Actor-turned-director Peter Berg's polarizing 1998 black comedy, Very Bad Things, can be placed in between the two. On one side, it's about how masculinity can take some really unsavory turns; the other,

Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 2 Blu-ray Review: The Love Triangle Continues

The impressive work put into making these cartoons available in high definition should be commended and make one hopeful for future animated releases from Warner Archive.
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After a disclaimer about the unfortunate ethnic and racial depictions that occur in a few shorts, Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 2 presents the next 15 titles released in chronological order, which debuted during the years 1946 and 1947. For those who don't know the cartoon series, the stories make frequent use of a basic template. Popeye has a girlfriend named Olive Oyl, or at least that's what he thinks the nature of their relationship is. Bluto (or his stand-in) catches her eye and she runs off with him, but then when he gets sexually aggressive with her, she

Paleyfest LA Returns to the Iconic Dolby Theatre in Hollywood March 13-22

The premier television festival announces the first selections: with the casts and creative teams of Modern Family, Outlander, Schitt's Creek, and A Special Evening with Dolly Parton & Dolly Parton's Heartstrings.
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Press release: The Paley Center for Media today announced the return of the premier television festival, PaleyFest LA 2020, which will take place March 13-22, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Citi cardmembers, plus Paley Patron, Fellow, and Supporting Members, will have an exclusive opportunity to purchase tickets first during a special presale period from January 14-15, 2020. The first program selections announced for this year’s festival include the casts and creative teams of the global phenomenon Outlander (Starz) on March 19, the farewell seasons of the groundbreaking Emmy Award-winning Modern Family (ABC) on March 13 and the highly

Lucy in the Sky Movie Review: No Diamonds Here

Noah Hawley's feature film directorial debut fails to launch
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Hey, did you hear about the new astronaut movie starring Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm directed by Noah Hawley, the guy who made the excellent Fargo and Legion TV shows? No, I didn’t either, until I happened to stumble across a mention of it by chance last month. It’s tempting to believe this Fox Searchlight film is yet another casualty of the Fox buyout by Disney, but at least in this case, the reality is that it almost certainly would have been buried even without the studio merger. So how did a film with such stellar talent fail to achieve

IT Chapter Two Blu-ray Review: We All Bloat Down Here

In which Pennywise, the shapeshifting killer clown, strikes back! And scares no one.
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IT is back. The Losers Club, a tight-knit group of kids—good kids—with chips on their shoulders, humiliated Pennywise the dancing (and shapeshifting) killer clown (Bill Skarsgard), forcing him to hide in his hole. Now, 27 years later, Pennywise (he, she, “IT”) wakes from its slumber, hungry for flesh. Loser flesh. As conceived by director Andy Muschietti, Pennywise always looks and sounds demonic. But IT Chapter Two and its 2017 predecessor over-telegraph the evil. IT’s mouth drools. The head is bulbous, spider-like. The blood-tear makeup is sinister. Skarsgard goes all in to give us all kinds of creep. By contrast, the

Stick Blu-ray Review: Burt Reynolds Should Have Stuck to Acting

A sluggish, limp and completely uninteresting Elmore Leonard adaptation.
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More than half of Elmore Leonard’s novels have been turned into movies (and more than a few were adapted twice, not to mention television shows based on his work). It is easy to see why. Leonard writes like he’s got a movie in mind. His books are full of actions, his characters well-drawn, and he’s got an ear for dialogue. Sometimes, he’ll break long sections of dialogue down like a script with the character's name written out at the beginning of each line followed by what they say. He doesn’t spend a lot of time on a character’s inner dialogue

Atlantics Movie Review: A Frighteningly Romantic Mood Piece

Mati Diop's directorial debut is a blissfully romantic ghost story that captivates the senses.
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Atlantics, the Senegalese submission for the Best International Feature Oscar, walks a thin tightrope as it balances two genres rather seamlessly. It serves as a romantic ghost story that provides commentary on class division, resulting in a poetic package crafted by writer/director Mati Diop. Set in a suburb of Dakar, Atlantics feels as if it takes place in a ghost town. The decrepit buildings shown illustrate its disconnect from the tall, luxurious tower being owned by capitalists who haven’t paid the construction workers that are building it. One of them named Souleiman (Ibrahima Traore) tries starting a relationship with Ada

The Aeronauts Movie Review: Almost Reaches the Peak It Set Out For

This jarring adventure has an endearing story of two individuals beneath.
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There is something I'm concerned about and have to address it in this review considering its relevance with this film. With biggies like Netflix and Amazon jumping in, Over-The-Top media services are undoubtedly reshaping the way movies are consumed. But I wish I had seen this film on the big screen, but somehow I couldn't because Amazon opted for a direct streaming release in most parts of world, with an exception of some major markets, where the film received a limited theatrical release. I can certainly imagine how beautiful a giant balloon flying above the clouds would have looked stunning

Universal Horror Collection, Volume 3 Blu-ray Review: Not Quite Scary

Volume 3 of this ongoing collection features four lesser films from the Universal Horror archives which will thrill any fan.
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Universal horror will always be synonymous with a handful of monsters and the dozens of films the studio made starring them. We’re talking Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Wolf Man. These are the enduring staples of a genre that lasted from the 1920s through the 1950s and whose legacy lasts even today. But Universal Studios made loads of other horror films staring dozens of other monsters, murderers, and villains. Most of these have long been forgotten, but now Scream Factory is bringing them back in high definition in their

The Dick Cavett Show: New York Radio Pioneers DVD Review

This release showcases some of the medium's great talkers.
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The Dick Cavett Show was a talk show that aired on different TV channels, broadcast and cable, from 1968 to 1996. S'More Entertainment is releasing The Dick Cavett Show on DVD, gathering episodes together under themes. New York Radio Pioneers showcases some of the medium's great talkers. Although the two disc's labels list all four men, they don't appear on both discs. Disc 1 presents two episodes featuring the comedy team Bob (Elliot) & Ray (Goulding). The June 1, 1972 show aired on ABC and the fellas do a routine where Bob interviews Ray, playing a government official. They were

She (1984) Blu-ray Review: Post Apocalyptic Nonsense

A low budget, low frills, completely ridiculous, and totally awesome early '80s masterpiece.
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I wonder if you could draw a line from the sword and sandal epics from the early 1960s to the post-apocalyptic movies of the 1980s. In other words, did movies like Spartacus and Hercules in the Haunted World influence films like Mad Max, The Beastmaster, and the movie I’m currently reviewing, She. All of these films feature both men and women in revealing costumes, whether it be form-fitting togas, short skirts with those feather-looking pterugas (and who says you don’t learn new words when writing movie reviews?), or general leg- and navel-bearing clothing. They do battle against hordes of evil

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Review: The Sinking of the Sequel Trilogy

Am sorry to see the film and this new trilogy falter as much as it did.
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This franchise became so controversial after The Last Jedi I should probably state where I stand in the Star Wars wars. As stated in my reviews, The Force Awakens has “enough entertainment to satisfy fans new and old, even though the script is filled with repurposed plot points and questionable character motivation.” “The plot [of Rogue One], specifically character choices and motivations, is not well thought out, and at times the film gets a little too inside baseball for those not part of the cult.” The Last Jedi's “plot is overstuffed and at times nonsensical, leading to a lot of

A Sunday in the Country Blu-ray Review: A Day in the Life

A loving portrait of country living, and a life full of regrets.
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Never was a film so aptly titled as A Sunday in the Country. The only way to make it more accurate would be to call it "Very Little Happens on a Sunday in the Country." Or perhaps "An Old Man’s Family Visits Him in the Country and Nothing Much Happens." As you might surmise from my snark, A Sunday in the Country is a film in which the plot is inconsequential. It isn’t about what is happening on screen but rather the mood it evokes, and the emotions it characters are feeling. The old man is Monsieur Admiral (Louis Ducreux),

Tell Me Who I Am Movie Review: Childhood Horror, Brotherhood, Life, and Love

A strikingly intimate portrayal of brotherhood that'll shake you from within.
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Before anything, I'm craving to grasp how filmmaker Ed Perkin persuaded the subjects of Tell Me Who I Am to share their darkest secrets, not just with him, but with the entire world. For that case, I have a stronger desire to listen to their conversations before they captureded a single second of the film. It isn't a kind of concept that lets a documentary filmmaker meet the subjects, spend some time, get to know them and start filming. That doesn't apply here because Perkins set out answer questions which were weighing heavy on Alex Lewis, one of the subjects,

Judy (2019) Blu-ray Review: A Look at Life After the Rainbow

Renee Zellweger's outstanding performance is the sole reason to see this otherwise formulaic biopic.
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There is no denying that all of the praise and awards attention that Renee Zellweger has been receiving for her performance as Judy Garland is justified. Zellweger disappears into the role of the troubled star in her final days when her acting career was behind her and she turned to performing at various venues to try to get by. It’s a devastating performance, and it wouldn’t be a shock if she took home all of the awards. I just wish the movie surrounding her performance was as captivating as she is. Director Rupert Goold brushes through so many aspects of

Tunes of Glory Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Acting Tour de Force

Alec Guinness (with a Scottish brogue) squares off with John Mills in this military drama.
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I have been on a bit of an Alec Guinness kick of late. He’s an actor I knew and loved from epic dramas like The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia and of course as the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars films. It has been a true treat then to dive deeper into his filmography and find so many wonderful performances. He was known to me mostly as a dramatic actor and so it has been a delight finding what a charming comedic actor he also was in films like The Man in the

One Child Nation Movie Review: Harsh and Distressing Because It Is Real

This documentary is an unapologetic description of the unpleasant aftermath of China's One-Child Policy.
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The more brutal and tragic our world gets, the deeper and interesting the films based on it get. It is cruel of me to expect a cold and callous world, but when a filmmaker captures the chaos and catastrophe with purity, we can't help but immerse into the story. Filmmakers Zhang Lynn and Nanfu Wang tell a powerful personal story with their own voice (literally) in One Child Nation. The film studies China's One-Child Policy, which restricted Chinese citizens to have only one child. And more than the policy itself, the film throws light on the aftermath by investigating the

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC Present Beloved Elseworlds Tale 'Superman: Red Son'

Coming February 25, 2020 to Digital; arriving March 17, 2020 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, & Blu-ray Combo Pack.
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Press release: What if the Man of Steel was raised behind the Iron Curtain? So begins DC’s acclaimed Elseworlds story, Superman: Red Son, now the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe Movies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film arrives - along with a new DC Showcase animated short, Phantom Stranger - from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting February 25, 2020, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack on March 17, 2020. Superman: Red Son will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (USA $39.99 SRP;

Little Women (2019) Movie Review: A Heartwarming Story Reinvigoration

Greta Gerwig miraculously makes this classic story feel new and exciting.
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After making the masterpiece that was Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig followed that up with an adaptation of Little Women and initially, its announcement was a little befuddling. Not because it wouldn’t be good but it was uncertain as to how Gerwig would make her version different from the previous adaptations of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel. As it turns out, I knew well to trust in Gerwig since she indeed offers a fresh spin by infusing her humanistic directorial voice while remaining loyal to the timeless story. The film is told in a nonlinear fashion with the main storyline

Long Day's Journey into Night (2018) Blu-ray Review: A Beautiful Dream

An incredible feat of filmmaking that left me breathless and confused.
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You gotta love marketers. They can make you lots of money and screw you at the same time. Bi Gan’s second feature film Long Day’s Journey into Night (which has nothing to do with the Eugene O'Neill play) was marketed in his homeland of China as a romantic event. For its opening night on New Year's Eve, the film was scheduled so that it would end as the clock struck midnight. It was suggested its closing scene, which involved two people engaged in a romantic kiss, would make a perfect time for couples to bring a kiss into the new

A Holly Jolly H&I Schedule

H&I has you covered with multiple days of holiday programming from all your favorite shows.
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Snowed in this holiday season? Want to watch something good with the family? Or maybe you want to watch something good while avoiding the family. H&I has you covered with multiple days of holiday programming from all your favorite shows. Thursday, December 19 Monk "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa" / "Mr. Monk Meets His Dad" / "Mr. Monk and the Man Who Shot Santa" 5/6/7p ET | 4/5/6p CT When a detective dies at the police department Christmas party after drinking from a poisoned bottle of port intended for Captain Stottlemeyer, can Monk find the killer? Monk's estranged father,

Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection Blu-ray Review: Becoming a Master

Five early Hitchcock films come to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and show the Master of Suspense learning his craft.
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From a very early age, Alfred Hitchcock knew he wanted to be in the filmmaking business. He read the trade papers and went to the cinema and knew that's what he wanted to do. He landed his first job in the industry at age 20 in 1919 as a title card designer. From there, he began co-writing scripts and working as an art director and then a production manager. By 1922, he was set to direct his first film, Number 13, but financing ran out after only two reels had been shot and production was shut down. Sadly, all footage

Silver Bullet is the Pick of the Week

A 1985 cult horror classic headlines a new week of eclectic releases.
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As far as Stephen King adaptations go, 1985's Silver Bullet does rank up there with other great '80s adaptations such as The Shining, The Dead Zone, Christine, Cujo, and Stand By Me. As we all know, the story of Marty Colsaw (the late Corey Haim), a young handicapped kid who thinks the local priest (Everett McGill) is a serial killer, especially after a series of bizarre murders that have taken place in the small town he lives in, isn't exactly compelling material, but director Daniel Attias infuses the film with enough campy teen humor with gory thrills that definitely makes

Criterion Announces March 2020 Releases

Spring brings four additions and two HD upgrades.
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March Madness happens for movies in addition to basketball as Criterion releases six titles. The four new additions to the collection are Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, John M. Stahl's Leave Her to Heaven, James Whale's Show Boat, and Barbra Streisand's The Prince of Tides. Also available will be Blu-ray upgrades of Mikhail Kalatozov's The Cranes Are Flying and David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin's Salesman. Read on to learn more about them. Salesman (#122) out Mar 10 This radically influential portrait of American dreams and disillusionment from Direct Cinema pioneers David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin captures, with indelible

Christmas in July Blu-ray Review: A Gift in Any Month

It's impressive how much ground Preston Sturges' story covers in its brief 67-minute runtime while neither feeling overstuffed nor rushed.
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Christmas in July, the second outing for Preston Sturges as a writer/director, is based on his play A Cup of Coffee. Despite the film's title and artwork containing a wreath, this is not a Christmas movie. It's an entertaining comedy and the message it contains about the value in believing in one's self and having the belief of others is a gift to audiences. Maxford House Coffee is holding a slogan contest with a first prize of $25,000. The jury is deadlocked on picking a winner because of lone holdout, Mr. Bildocker (William Demarest). One of the entrants is Jimmy

6 Underground Movie Review: Michael Bay All over the Place

No amount of high-budget action can make up for what it lacks on paper.
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I've always admired people who defeat their inhibitions and fully embrace what they want to achieve, provided that I like what they are trying to make piercing way through their restraints. In 6 Underground, Michael Bay explicitly lets go of his inhibitions as a filmmaker, and somehow, I had to change my opinion about his impediments. Over the years, Michael Bay set some ground rules in his films which the general movie fans are quite familiar with. So, after viewing 13 of his films, do you think critically dissecting the editing style employed, the way the film is shot, or

Old Joy Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Quite Reflective and Moving

I have nothing but rave things to say about this terrific film.
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Director Kelly Reichardt has become one of my favorite directors. She is one of the very few maverick filmmakers of landscape and how the supposedly promising aspects of the American Dream can shallow you up. Whether it's women trying to forge their own paths through life (Certain Women), danger for settlers in 1840s Oregon (Meek's Cutoff), a drifter and her dog trying to find their places in the world (Wendy and Lucy), or outsiders fleeing their boring lives but not getting very far (River of Grass), Reichardt has a created a singular body of work that has proven that women

Five Cool Things and Wonder Woman 1984

My last cool things until 2020
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It is, as the song says, beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Around here anyway. The tree is up, stockings are hung, presents are piling around the room. We don’t have a fireplace and there is no snow, but Christmas is certainly coming. This means two things for me and this little column. This time of year means the prestige, Oscar-hopeful films are all in the theaters and the big boxed sets and designer blu-rays are being released in hopes of catching all that Christmas money. I’ve spent the last week or so watching numerous films in a couple

The Report Movie Review: A Story That Needs to Be Told

An efficacious and heroic story of a desk-employee dealing with the stain on a country.
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When we see a film or documentary which closely observes a real person or an incident, recollecting thoughts and summoning them in words, nonchalantly turns into our personal take on the subject. I believe it's one of the attributes of a good film dealing with such subjects, and The Report is one such addition to that unseen list. Four minutes into the film, Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver) answers the question, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Run for office?" with "No. No politics for me. I think I'll be more effective behinds the scenes, somewhere I can

The Anne Bancroft Collection Blu-ray Review: Prepare to Be Seduced

A lovingly curated (if cheaply put together) collection that highlights one of the all-time great actresses' careers.
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Anne Bancroft landed her first film role in 1952 as a lounge singer in Don’t Bother to Knock. For the next 50+ years, she worked steadily on both the big and small screen and on stage. In that time, she won an Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globes, two Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards plus a slew of others and garnered many more nominations. Today, she is mostly known as Mrs. Robinson, the older woman trying to seduce a young Dustin Hoffman (though in reality, she was just six years older than him) in The Graduate. But the

Marriage Story Movie Review: A Story of an Extremely Competitive Couple on the Verge of Separation

This divorce story unfolds with debates on various things like life in New York vs. Los Angeles, parenting, gender roles which come in between and ruin their successful marriage.
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Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story starts with the over-the-top dramatic score by Randy Newman and then enters the star Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) in the most dramatic way possible, the first few lines are in the form of a first-person voice-over by Charlie (Adam Driver) telling us why he loves Nicole. You will almost feel like you are watching a documentary or a television show because of the aspect ratio this film plays out in. This whole sequence unfolds in like an overture in a play. Then the perspective of the wife follows and she says, “He is competitive,” and he says

Hustlers Blu-ray Review: Hustles the Audience

Aside from some energetic performances, the film shows very little hustle.
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Inspired by a true story, Hustlers follows a group of conniving strippers as they turn the tables on their clients for illicit gains. The film aspires to be some sort of postmodern female-empowerment tale, but has such a paper-thin plot, weak character development, and wan direction that it ends up being an utterly bland, disposable affair. Even the casting of this film is a bit of a hustle, since Jennifer Lopez is clearly the biggest name and draw in the cast but acts as a secondary character in the story told from the perspective of Constance Wu’s newbie stripper character,

Book Review: Making Moon by Simon Ward

The behind-the-scenes story of the conception and filming of one of the 21st century's best sci-fi movies.
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Hard sci-fi differentiates itself from the other kind by trying to follow the rules of physics and take place in a universe that might actually occur. Which doesn't mean the story is necessarily dry or dull, but it tries to be plausible. Moon (2009) certainly doesn't explain all of the scientific advancements that would make the story possible, but it keeps up at least the pretense of realism. How it achieved this and more is described in the lovely new book, Making Moon by Simon Ward. Taking a linear approach, Ward follows director Duncan Jones from his early ambitions to

ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band from Texas Available on DVD, Blu-ray & Digitally February 28, 2020

The film traces ZZ Top’s rich legacy, from their bar gig beginnings to their defining MTV era and meteoric rise to fame.
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Press release: ZZ Top’s big, brazen blues-rock, combined with a surrealist charisma that continues to intrigue fans, catapulted the band into worldwide stardom. Their history is deeply explored in ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas, which will be released via Eagle Rock Entertainment on DVD, Blu-ray and digitally on February 28, 2020. The release is available along with exclusive That Little Ol’ Band merchandise bundles from https://smarturl.it/ZZTopDoc now. Produced by the award-winning Banger Films (Super Duper Alice Cooper; Peabody/ International Emmy award-winning Netflix series Hip-Hop Evolution), ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas, presented through the unique

Road Games (1981) Blu-ray Review: Today's Roadkill, Tomorrow's Bacon

Fans of this 1981 Ozploitation nailbiter claim it is worthy of Hitchcock's best. They are not wrong.
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From scene one of Road Games, the film grabs us. There is an extended moment, however, when we realize we are in the hands of a director who knows exactly what he wants and has the chops to pull it off, and it comes several minutes into the picture: Stopping at a diner in the Australian outback to fuel up and stretch his legs—but most importantly call the cops—a well-read trucker, Quid (Stacy Keach), tries in vain to be heard over the other customers. Reception on the line is bad. Shifty-looking dudes play a loud tune on the jukebox, and

TV Review: The Flash: 'Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 3'

What did you think of the Crisis cliffhanger? Do you agree with Gordon and Shawn?
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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 with previous episodes, please read Part 1 and Part 2. Gordon S. Miller I have been disappointed that Black Lightning hadn't taken part in previous crossovers. Even though it was a DC Comics character in a show airing on the CW, the series set itself apart from the Arrowverse. Thankfully, that changed this year although Black Lightning wouldn't be one of the five shows presenting “Crisis.” However, similar to a comic book that is apart from

35th Anniversary Screening of Back to the Future Opens 2020 TCM Classic Film Festival

Screening of blockbuster film - for the first time in 4K - kicks off TCM’s 11th annual classic film festival on April 16th, 2020.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will kick off the 11th annual TCM Classic Film Festival on Thursday, April 16th with a 35th anniversary screening of the seminal science fiction film Back to the Future with beloved stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson with co-writer & co-producer Bob Gale in attendance. This will also be the world premiere of a new 4k remaster of the film. The 2020 TCM Classic Film Festival, held in the heart of Hollywood April 16th-19th, will center around the theme “Grand Illusions: Fantastic Worlds on Film.” Celebrated actor Michael J. Fox stars

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator Movie Review: A Minimalistic yet Potent Documentation

The film raises relevant questions while documenting a preposterous person.
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When a news anchor displays disbelief in his claims of sleeping less than 30 hours a month, Bikram Choudhury replies, "I'm the weirdest man you'll ever come across". This plausibly is the only accurate statement about Bikram's persona out of the myriad self-appreciating comments he makes over the 90-minute runtime of the film and most likely, his entire life. Eva Orner's documentary, Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator follows the standard investigative exemplar as it explores the highly public life of the bad boy of yoga, Bikram, the founder of 'Bikram Yoga', well, at least that's what he claims to. A significant

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

[Updated] 2020 Golden Globes Winners Announced

The winners 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) | Review1917 (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) | ReviewRenée

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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