June 2020 Archives

Narrow Margin (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Strangers on a Canadian Train

While the plot is predictable, Gene Hackman's performance and the stunt work keep the viewer engaged.
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Journeyman Peter Hyams did triple duty (director, cinematographer, and screenwriter) on enjoyable albeit formulaic thriller Narrow Margin (1990), a remake of the 1952s' The Narrow Margin. While the plot is predictable, Gene Hackman's performance and the action scenes keep the viewer engaged. While on a blind date in Los Angeles, Carol Hunnicut (Anne Archer) witnesses Michael Tarlow (J.T. Walsh), an underworld attorney unbeknownst to her, murdered because he embezzled from crime boss Leo Watts (Harris Yulin). After learning of her whereabouts in a remote Canadian cabin, deputy district attorney Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman) heads out to bring her back to

Come and See is the Pick of the Week

A 1985 harrowing and horrifying antiwar masterpiece headlines a new week of diverse releases.
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"War is hell" is a famous phrase that many films have demonstrated, in sometimes painful or painfully graphic detail. It's not easy to get into the war film, because it opens up some major wounds, especially for veterans who really want to keep the sorrows and trauma of either killing the enemy or witnessing death all around them under the rug. There have been so many films that have shown war at its more horrible and soul-crushing, but arguably no other film in history has done so more frighteningly than Elem Klimov's deeply disturbing 1985 masterwork, Come and See. It's

South Park: The Complete Twenty-Third Season Blu-ray Review: Maintaining Their Tegridy

The show has become TV comfort food, for good and for ill.
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Written and directed by Trey Parker, the twenty-third season finds the citizens of South Park continue to deal with current events in their typical fashion as topical matters get taken to exaggerated extremes amidst gross-out humor and profanity. Fans get more of the same shenanigans and those that didn't take to the show before likely still won't this season. In the previous season, Randy Marsh moved the family out to the valley and opened up Tegridy Farms where he grows and sells marijuana. Sales are down and trying to increase them is storyline that works through the season. In "Mexican

Five Cool Things and Pearl Jam Uncensored

Here's five films I've watched this week and enjoyed.
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I'm a huge fan of Letterboxd, the social networking site for film nerds. It is a great way to track what your watching, find things to watch, and connect with other film lovers the world over. One of the many things I love about it is that it allows you to view the films you've watched through various lenses. For example, I can view data on all the films I've watched this year and sort it by the decade the films were released in. I did that earlier today and found that out of the 184 films I've viewed in

Athlete A Movie Review: Moving Documentation of an Immense Tragedy and a Gargantuan Triumph

The new Netflix original is another crucial addition to the studio's growing library of powerful documentary titles.
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The greatest achievement of any great documentary is that it can actually change lives. Indirectly, they can inspire and instigate a conversation about a particular subject matter, thereby holding the potential to alter viewer perceptions. In a direct sense, the best of the documentaries empower the humans whose story they are capturing on camera and give a voice to them. The Paradise Lost documentary trilogy by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky and the Peter Jackson-produced West of Memphis cumulatively played a vital role in cleansing the public image of three wrongfully convicted teenagers in 1993’s triple homicide case. The aforementioned

Suzi Q Movie Review: Looks at the Groundbreaking Career of Rocker Suzi Quatro

Quatro's success inspired the Runaways, Chrissie Hynde, and many female musicians to pursue careers in hard rock.
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Australian director Liam Firmager spent four years working on Suzi Q, the definitive documentary of Detroit-born rock star Suzi Quatro, who rocketed to fame in the UK and Europe in the 1970s. His modus operandi draws heavily on Quatro’s sometimes difficult relationship with her sisters, as well as her music and indefatigable spirit. Even after over 50 years as a rock star and musical icon, it took almost a lifetime for Quarto to acquire perspective and peace about her relationship with her parents and siblings. Through original and vintage interviews, film clips, and a slew of newspaper and magazine clippings,

Book Review: Run-Out Groove: Inside Capitol's 1980s Hits & Stiffs by Dave Morrell

The fourth volume in the Morrell Archives takes readers through the record promotion business in the decadent 1980s.
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In the 1980s, everything seemed bigger: the fashions, the drugs, the money, and even the sound of music. For Dave Morrell, who helmed Capitol Records’ East Coast FM promotion efforts during the decade, it was an era of excess and wild times. In the fourth volume of his highly entertaining series, The Morrell Archives, Run-Out Groove: Inside Capitol’s 1980s Hits & Stiffs takes readers behind the scenes of parties, the record company’s desperate attempts to promote both successful and unsuccessful acts, and the occasionally outrageous behavior of some of the era’s biggest stars. Morrell, a music fan and Beatles fanatic,

House of Hummingbird Movie Review: A Coming-of-Age Story with Peculiar Wings

Kim Bora's directorial debut soars to terrific heights.
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The aptly titled House of Hummingbird follows 14-year-old Eun-hee (Park Ji-hoo) as she tries to fly her way through life without a care in the world. Even if she undergoes a seismic life journey as she deals with neglect from her parents along with an illness potentially paralyzing her face, it still feels very composed as it captures the insouciant period known as adolescence. A time where one is largely unsure how the real world works and only gets premature glimpses of its hardships. As Eun-hee feels indifference over being devoted to school, her neglectful parents struggle to stress how

Superman: Man of Tomorrow coming to Digital (8/23) & 4K/Blu-ray (9/8)

It’s the dawn of a new age of heroes, and Metropolis has just met its first.
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Press release: Daily Planet intern Clark Kent takes learning-on-the-job to new extremes when Lobo and Parasite set their sights on Metropolis in Superman: Man of Tomorrow, the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe Movies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film will be released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting August 23, 2020, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack on September 8, 2020. Order due date is August 4, 2020. Superman: Man of Tomorrow will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (USA $39.99 SRP;

Book Review: Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes by Lun Zhang

A beautifully illustrated, personal account of a terrifying event that happened more than 30 years ago.
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I was not even five years old when the events of Tiananmen Square took place in Beijing, China in 1989. I think the first real exposure I had to it was a reference in a 2005 episode of The Simpsons called “Goo Goo Gai Pan,” in which the family goes to China to help Marge’s sister, Selma, adopt a baby. The family comes across a plaque that read “Tien An Men [sic] Square: On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.” I laughed, sure, but I wasn’t aware of the full story. That Simpsons joke is still funny to this day.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Burning Bright

This mesmerizing French film offers a fresh take on artist/muse romance and social class distinction
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Writer/director Celine Sciamma’s latest film is both exhilarating and depressing: spellbinding because of its absolute excellence and disheartening because it illuminates how far American dramas have fallen in comparison to this masterful new French work. It’s immediately evident why the film was a Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film this year, and mind-boggling that it wasn’t nominated in the same category or even outright Best Picture at the Oscars, especially considering that France was instead represented by Les Miserables, a film with both significantly lower critical and popular review scores. Awards aside, the film is an instant classic,

DC's Stargirl: The Complete First Season - Own The Blu-ray & DVD September 29th

It’s time for a new generation of justice!
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Press release: Get ready for nonstop action with the release of DC’s Stargirl: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray and DVD on September 29, 2020 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Strap yourself in for an exhilarating ride with all 13 episodes from the first season of the original series on DC UNIVERSE & The CW. DC’s Stargirl: The Complete First Season is priced to own at $24.98 SRP for the DVD and $29.98 SRP for the Blu-ray, which includes a Digital Copy. DC’s Stargirl: The Complete First Season is also available to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is the Pick of the Week

A ravishing tale of the enrapturement of love and art through the eyes of women tops a new week of releases.
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As we all know, June is #Pride month, and it is one of a celebration of the triumphs and struggles of the LGBTQ community. It can also be a reflection of how far cinema has come in its depiction of gay and lesbian relationships through love, yearning, and art. There is a sense of feminism that comes along with certain stories of same-sex companionship, and rightly acclaimed director Céline Sciamma's sexy and evocative Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), is one of the very best examples. The film also successfully details the obsessions that artists have with their subjects.

Book Review: Superman: The Silver Age Sundays, Volume 2 (1963-1966)

The final volume in the Superman Sunday Comics series is uneven and unpredictable, but ultimately a good time.
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For more than 25 years, the Man of Steel fought for truth and justice in newspapers across the country, but only the first few years have ever seen the light of day as reprints. Thankfully, the Library of American Comics has partnered with DC Comics to bring the complete series to fans in these oversize hardcover editions. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a handful of these exquisite collections and now I’ve made my way to this, the final volume in the series. Superman: The Silver Age Sundays, Volume 2 (1963-1966) collects the final few years of the full-color Sunday

Five Cool Things and Ian Holm

We are still staying home and still finding cool things to watch.
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I was realizing today that we've been on lockdown since mid-March. That's a little over three months in which my family has hardly gone anywhere. I miss doing stuff. I've been lucky in that my job allows me to get out of the house, but in ways that remain for the most part quite safe. My wife hasn't been so lucky and I know there are times when she's gone a bit stir crazy. Me too. We were never the sort of people who were constantly out and about with a million extra-curricular activities but on Saturdays, we did like

The Cameraman Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Star Begins to Fade

A stealth double feature of Keaton's last two silent films.
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Although a talented filmmaker, Buster Keaton wasn't a great business man and his box-office struggles caused him to sign on with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The Cameraman was his first film in his deal with MGM, a decision he's on record as calling "the worst mistake of my life," the title of a chapter from his autobiography, which is included in the accompanying booklet. Although the studio began to exert control over him and his work, he was still able to turn out an amusing picture. Buster is a tintype photographer and falls in love at the sight of Sally (Marceline Day). Upon

Disclosure Movie Review: Emotionally Informative

A requisite doc about on-screen trans representation told in a stirring, matter-of-fact manner.
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Disclosure is a look at the way the trans community is represented in the media told through the voices of artists such as Laverne Cox, M.J. Rodriguez, Chaz Bono, Alexandra Billings, and Jamie Clayton. As the doc has them express the trials they’ve faced in their careers in the entertainment industry, it also forces cis artists to take a hard look in the mirror and rethink the way they portray the trans experience. It explores the history of trans representation from the days of silent cinema to the present where a series like Pose has become a TV sensation. Even

White Fire, The Wind, and Why Don't You Just Die! Blu-ray Reviews: Three From Arrow Video

Three very different films get the excellent Arrow Video treatment.
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As the world continues to move towards consuming media through an increasing number of streaming platforms, there is a niche market for physical media. In the same way that vinyl records sales have increased dramatically over the last several years, there are certain types of people who prefer physical media over digital streams. I am one of them. As a collector, I like to have a physical object that I can put on my shelf and look at. This is so much more satisfying than making a list of digital files on a computer screen. While there certainly is

The Short History of the Long Road Movie Review: A Subversive Portrayal of Adolescence

A brisk road movie that offers a refreshing take on the coming-of-age narrative.
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The Short History of the Long Road is a simple, slice-of-life road movie that takes some jarring U-turns. What starts off as a profound father-daughter story becomes a navigation through both literal and mental deserted terrain. After Nola (Sabrina Carpenter) is left on her own on a cross-country trip after her father Clint (Steven Ogg) suddenly passes, she still carries on, finding out her own place in the world. One could say the picture is a different type of coming-of-age story. It’s not about a teenager trying to find love, fit in with the popular crowd, or even have one

Legion of Superheroes: The Complete Series Coming to Blu-ray Via Warner Archive

One thousand years from now, the legendary Man of Steel inspires a group of emerging young heroes from the 31st century to band together and defend the newly formed United Planets.
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Press release: Warner Archive Collection continues its proud tradition of distributing the best of Warner Bros. Animation’s robust library of DC-based productions with the release of Legion of Superheroes: The Complete Series on Blu-ray starting July 14, 2020. Pre-orders are now available via wbshop.com and your favorite online retailer. Presented in full 16x9 widescreen across three Blu-ray discs, Legion of Superheroes: The Complete Series includes all 26 episodes of the popular show, which aired on The CW from 2006-2008, as well as a pair of bonus features: the involving featurette "We Are Legion"; and an Exclusive Audio Commentary on the

Babyteeth Movie Review: Melancholia and Merriment Go Hand-in-hand

Shannon Murphy's feature debut is bittersweet meditation of death.
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It’s been a while since I shed a tear while watching a movie. With Babyteeth, though, I shed more than a few tears, after a very long time, and the first time in a teen movie. Teen movies, as a genre, have become associated with cliches of late. There is no need to name them, throw a stone at the genre and it's highly likely that you hit a cringe-ridden movie that either considers its concept the need of the hour or the plot has little gravity to hold the whole film. However, there have been fine films, over the

Friday the 13th 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Steelbook Review: There Was This One Time at Camp Crystal Lake...

The film that started it all gets a brand new steelbook release, packed with tons of special features.
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Confession time. The Friday the 13th franchise is one that I’ve largely ignored my whole life. Call it snobbery, call it what you will. The horror genre - especially the cheesy, teen slasher type - was not something in which I was largely invested in my childhood and that thought/feeling has kind of continued into my adult years. I decided to finally give Sean S. Cunningham’s film a spin to have an official take on it and to see if I am able to just flip off my brain for a bit and enjoy some silly, '80s slasher flick. To

Hot Docs 2020 Review: All That I Am

A beautiful story of courage in the midst of fear
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Imagine being six years old and the stepfather who is supposed to provide for you and protect you, repeatedly violates you and steals your innocence. Imagine trying to tell adults who you trust that these terrible and violent things are happening, but they dismiss you. Imagine once you do finally find someone who trusts you that you are forced to leave your mother and siblings for five years and when you are able to return, you are not supposed to talk about what happened. Imagine that at the end of those five years, you also know that this monster now

From IDW Publishing, Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band, Amplifies the Voice of a People Long Neglected

Explore the music, history, and cultural identity of Redbone with English and Spanish language graphic novels in September.
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Press release: You've heard the hit song "Come and Get Your Love" in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, but the story of the band behind it is one of cultural, political, and social importance. This September, IDW Publishing presents Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band — an intriguing, historically accurate telling of the high-flying career of rock ‘n’ roll pioneers and talented brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas, as they influenced The Doors, jammed with Jimmy Hendrix before he was “Jimi,” and took the 1960s Sunset Strip by storm. Written by Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni

Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966) Blu-ray Review: Love and Madness

'60s British Comedy stars David Warner as a love-sick, gorilla-obsessed artist trying to win back his wife.
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Morgan is going mad. Or maybe he was always a little mad, but it became too much and wasn't as fun as it was when they were young. Either way, his wife Leonie is divorcing him. Morgan knows this, he'd promised to stay away in Greece until it was all done, but instead he comes back in an attempt to reconcile. His first salvo to get his wife back is to hide a skeleton in her bed and to skulk around her house, where he is no longer wanted. As this doesn't work, he escalates his campaign by going after

The Cameraman is the Pick of the Week

Buster Keaton's seminal 1928 masterpiece tops a new week of very interesting releases.
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What else can you say about the legendary Buster Keaton (one of three kings of silent cinema, alongside Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd)? He was known as "the Great Stone Face", capable of delivering sheer emotion using his famous deadpan expression and superb physical and otherworldly visual gags to tell stories of his underdog characters put in often dangerous situations but rising above and winning the girl. However, as much as I do love his early classics, such as The General, Steamboat Bill Jr., and Seven Chances, one of my two favorites of his has to the 1928 elaborate masterwork,

Criterion Announces September 2020 Releases

What titles will you be adding to your collection?
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The Criterion Collection expands in September with nine new titles. They are Claire Denis' Beau Travail, Francesco Rosi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli, David Lynch's The Elephant Man, and six films as part of Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 3. Also two films are given high-definition upgrades: Jules Dassin’s The Naked City and Brute Force. Read on to learn more about them. The Naked City (#380) out Sept 8 “There are eight million stories in the Naked City,” as the narrator immortally states at the close of this breathtakingly vivid film—and this is one of them. Master noir craftsman Jules

The Academy and ABC Set April 25, 2021 as New Show Date for 93rd Oscars

Museum gala kicks off Oscar Week celebrations.
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Press release: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network today announced the 93rd Oscars ceremony will move to Sunday, April 25, 2021, as a result of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. The show, which will air live on ABC, was originally scheduled for February 28, 2021. Coinciding with the Oscars celebration, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, initially scheduled to open to the public on December 14, 2020, will now open on April 30, 2021, also as a result of the health crisis. “For over a century, movies have played an important role

7500 Movie Review: Largely Free of Turbulence

German filmmaker Patrick Vollrath makes a promising debut with a flight-hijacking thriller that strives for realism and mostly succeeds.
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Unlike other movies based on flight-hijacking - Air Force One, Passenger 57, Operation Thunderbolt, or say Non-stop - in which the rescue efforts comprise the majority of the narrative, here is a film that observes the tension from the viewpoint of pilot, who is usually the first one to die in such films. Moreover, like the protagonist of 7500, Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an American co-pilot on board the flight from Berlin to Paris, we see the proceedings outside the cockpit only through a TV. The story-telling choice, which confines us to the cockpit for 99.2% of the runtime, invigorates the

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 Blu-ray Review: A Must-Own for Animation Fans

In these 19 cartoons, gags fly rapidly, and the rules of physics and the medium are thrown out the window.
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When it comes to the work of legendary animation director Fred “Tex” Avery, the stories typically show order giving way to chaos, which may explain why the 19 cartoons on Warner Archive Collection's Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 from his tenure at MGM aren't listed chronologically. Though some collectors may find this screwy, the amount of laughter provided should more than make up for any obsessive-compulsive anxiety caused by the randomness. Avery first made a significant impact on the medium during his time at Warner Brothers, working on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. While there, he was involved with

An Unmarried Woman Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Bold and Groundbreaking

A still fresh, unapologetically honest portrait of a woman's reawakening.
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As I mentioned in my Pick of the Week recently, the 1970s were a very pivotal time for women. There was the coming of feminism, Gloria Steinem, bras being burned, Mary Tyler Moore, etc. Arguably unlike any other decade, maybe besides the 1980s, women started to have their own say, thoughts, feelings, sexual needs, and boundaries. They didn't let men define them. They were beginning to find themselves. They had careers, children, and independence. They allowed themselves to clip the strings of men and grow their own wings. I think that director Paul Mazursky really took to that seriously with

Five Cool Things and Bill & Ted Face the Music

Here's another five cool things.
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Our house has two stories but only one HVAC unit. This means that the upstairs (where my bedroom is) always remains about ten degrees warmer than downstairs. This isn't so bad in the winter when you want it to be warm, but as summer creeps in, it gets hotter and hotter upstairs. So much so, that the afternoons are usually unbearable. Since the whole lockdown thing started, I've been doing most of my movie-watching upstairs. Our living room is usually full of hustle and bustle between my wife doing various things and my daughter running around like a lunatic. Upstairs

Pretty in Pink Blu-ray Review: A Pretty Influential Portrait of Teenage Culture

Although it's not a perfect movie, I still enjoyed it.
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Okay, let's just get this out in the open. The whole "boy falls in love with girl, girl falls in love with boy, complications and peer pressure threaten to tear them apart, but they overcome their differences and end up together" has been done to death, to the point of almost parody. However, if you put that in hands of the late John Hughes and his world of teenagers, then maybe you have something. Written by Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch, Pretty in Pink (1986) does just that. It also shows the growth of Molly Ringwald, especially as an

Mirador Movie Review: Captures The Ethos of Comraderie

Antón Terni's provocative documentary underscores the beauty of companionship.
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In Spanish, Mirador means "lookout." The word has multiple connotations. Alertness, observation, prediction, or a person assigned to keep an eye on his surroundings. The last of the aforementioned undertones befit the documentary’s subject matter, that encircles three friends and the solidarity among them. The irony, though, is all of them are visually-impaired, meaning they can’t keep an eye on each other literally, but their support is persistently up for grabs, figuratively. The locale is a secluded and sylvan rural part of Uruguay, where the film’s prime subject, Pablo Zelis, leads a simple and tranquil life. He records and listens

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema III Blu-ray Review: Gambling, Murder, and Back Alley Adoptions

Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents three more lesser-known noirs in a nice collector's box.
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If you are a fan of film noir, I hope you've been paying attention to Kino Lorber, the boutique video distributor, for they have been releasing all sorts of great noir for several years now. Recently, they've been putting out film noir collections that dig deep into the noir closet, finding all sorts of hidden gems. With Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema III, they've collected three films (Abandoned, The Sleeping City, and The Lady Gambles) that deal with the seedier sides of the city, are populated by dames, bad men, and bullets, and are full of dark shadows

Lonely Are the Brave Blu-ray Review: The Last Cowboy

Kirk Douglas gives one of his best performances in this 1962 neo-Western lament.
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Based on Edward Abbey’s novel, The Brave Cowboy, Lonely Are the Brave (1962) came and went without a fuss. Now known as Kirk Douglas’s favorite of his own films, it has gained a following as a neo-Western classic, and deservedly so. It gives the man-out-of-place element a wistful touch. Douglas plays Jack Burns, a ranch hand just off the grid. On horseback, he rides from the desert to get arrested so he can visit a friend in jail. He then escapes and flees the police as he high-tails it to Mexico. Along the way, he meets an unrequited love (Gena

The Booksellers DVD Review: Like a Good Book, You Won't Want It to End

The overall experience of The Booksellers is a positive one - books are special and so are the people who collect and read them.
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Calling all bibliophiles - The Booksellers is a documentary that you won't want to miss. And like a good book, you won't want it to end. Director D. W. Young (A Hole in a Fence) takes viewers on a colorful behind-the-scenes tour of New York's collectors and dealers of rare books. A dedicated and passionate community, rare booksellers come from varied ethnic and financial backgrounds, but they all seem to share an enthusiasm for books and book lovers. The film highlights dedicated collectors and collections of a wide range of subject matter, from singular items like a Gutenberg bible or

The Woman Blu-ray Review: Dares to Depict the Dark Side of the American Family

The great folks at Arrow continue their amazing streak with Lucky McKee's notorious 2011 shocker in a new 4K restoration.
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On one side, I see why most people don't hold kindly to "torture porn", the infamous phase of the horror genre that started in the early 2000s, which combines elements of splatter and slasher film. There have been many movies that have illustrated this often maligned category of cinema, including Hostel, Saw, A Serbian Film, and The Human Centipede series that detailed rape, mutilation, nudity, disenbowlment, and even necrophila, quite graphically. However, the other side of me thinks that there is some serious overreaction to it all, especially films that have been given the stamp of disapproval make a lot

Sixteen Candles Blu-ray Review: A Problematic but Worthwhile Film

Arrow Video does a great job of presenting this controversial '80s classic.
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As someone who grew up in the 1980s, the films of John Hughes, especially the teen comedies he wrote during that decade, fill me with joy. It isn't just the rose tint of nostalgia either (though certainly, that plays a part). Those films spoke to me. They've become part of my cinematic DNA. It is hard to remember now, but the early 1980s were devoid of really good media and art directed at teenagers. The YA book genre wasn't what it is today. On television, there were Afternoon Specials which were meant to both entertain and instruct but were really

Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes Provides Rare First-Person Perspective of China's Most Infamous Moment

The autobiographical story, available in June from IDW Publishing, draws back the curtain on the tragic, often-censored Tiananmen Square Massacre.
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Press release: Thirty-one years ago, more than one million students stood at Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing, China, calling for democracy - the infamous event widely known as the June Fourth Incident, is explored in the upcoming autobiographical IDW graphic novel Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes. Following the same vein as the challenging but vital graphic novels Springtime in Chernobyl, Burmese Moons, and After the Spring, IDW Publishing is proud to share the eye-opening story of Tiananmen 1989 by first-hand participant Lun Zhang, French journalist and Asia specialist Adrien Gombeaud, and artist Ameziane. Slated for a June 16,

Updated: 2020 TCM Big Screen Classics Series from Fathom Events Resumes

Eleven more films coming soon in the popular, fan-favorite series, including A League of Their Own, Airplane!, and Psycho.
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Press release: As movie theaters across the country make plans to safely re-open their doors, the 2020 TCM Big Screen Classics Series from Fathom Events is returning to welcome movie lovers back. Eleven unforgettable films are coming through the end of the year, with all previously slated events being rescheduled to the second half of 2020. Tickets and participating theaters will be available at www.FathomEvents.com. For specific safety precautions, please contact your local movie theater. The planned TCM Big Screen Classics series schedule for the remainder of 2020 is: Ghost - July 19 & 22 The Blues Brothers - July

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark Blu-ray Review: A Delightfully Silly Flick

The good folks at Arrow bring back to life a delightfully campy and fun tribute to horror films.
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With Elvira's Movie Macabre (which ran from 1981 to 1986), its icon and pop culture mainstay Elvira (a.k.a Cassandra Peterson) immediately became a success with late movie buffs, particularly with horror fanatics. It's not difficult to see why; her satire, double-entendres, and wittisicm, not to mention her infamous tight-fitting, low-cut black gown that showed her ample cleavage (which has obviously become a source of many dirty jokes), struck a chord that still manages to cut through with a good set of sharp heels. And with her film debut, the 1988 cult classic, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, she reached her

Western Classics I Blu-ray Review: Dust, Grit and Cowboys A-Plenty

Kino Lorber presents this nice collection of westerns from the 1940s.
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The western is a uniquely American film genre. It tells stories of cowboys and natives, of a country lighting out for an adventure into the great unknown. The people that populate westerns are those who are looking for a new life, who ventured across hundreds and thousands of miles of uncharted land to find a place of their own. There are brave cowboys, evil outlaws, and women with grit. They are usually set in the 19th Century amongst the great Plains or rugged mountains of the American West, giving their grand stories and even greater backdrop. Certainly, other countries made

An Unmarried Woman is the Pick of the Week

A groundbreaking 1978 classic about a woman's reawakening starts off a new week of several low-key releases.
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In a way, the 1970s was the decade of the woman. There were many films about women coming into their own, especially during the time of feminism. However, if there was one film that really captured the essence of the new, liberated woman, it was Paul Mazursky's 1978 game-changer, An Unmarried Woman, which also gave the late, great Jill Clayburgh not only her first Oscar nomination, but the most defining role of her career as a woman on the verge of a breakdown, but eventually picks herself up, dusts herself off, and begins life anew. Clayburgh stars as Erica Benton,

Escape from L.A. Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: A More Expensive yet Inferior Remake

While it's fun to see Snake Plissken back in action, it's a shame his mission is so similar to the previous film.
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Director John Carpenter developed a cult following among horror and science fiction fans from his work in the 1970s and '80s. During that run, the post-apocalyptic Escape from New York (1981) was notable for introducing the eye-patch-wearing, antihero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), who had to rescue the President from Manhattan, which had been walled off and turned into a prison where criminals ran wild. It took 15 years for Carpenter and Russell to return Snake to the silver screen in Escape from L.A. Unfortunately, the sequel is essentially a more expensive yet inferior remake. In 2000, a 9.6 earthquake hits

Five Cool Things and Lovecraft Country

I love me some boutique movie labels.
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Over the last few years, I've really upped my movie-watching game. I've gone from watching around 10 movies per week to watching at least 20. I've also tried to be deliberate with what I choose to watch. Instead of just throwing something on, I've created monthly themes and tried to watch more movies I have never seen before. While I've definitely tried to watch more classics, I've also enjoyed watching more older films that aren't necessarily classics. I've been helped in this endeavor by boutique labels like Shout! Factory, Arrow Video, and Kino Lorber. These labels and more are putting

Sound! Euphonium: The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day Blu-ray Review: One More Year of Music

A slice of life anime feature continuing the story of the Kitauji High School music club.
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Does anything one does in high school matter? At the time, it seems all dreadfully important, and some people see it as a pivotal time in their life. But how much of what one actually does in high school has meaning, has relevance, outside of the immediate impact: was it fun to be in the play? To win the debate? To play in the school band? And is that enough, that it was just a fun experience, or does it have to mean more? The Sound! Euphonium series is about that nexus from childhood to adulthood, and how much of

Spring Night Summer Night Blu-ray Review: An Honest Portrait of Small Town Woes and Broken Dreams

Flicker Alley brings much needed new life to a nearly obscure, minimalist, but extraordinary gem of a film.
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What I truly love about Independent film is the attention to people and places, and the issues that take place underneath the surface. There are no car chases, explosions, or overbaked spectacles. It's about the realities of characters trying to live each day, with regret, sadness, but also dreams of a better life/future. And even better, it's always a privilege to discover unknown/neglected works of cinematic art, because you never know when you may find your next masterpiece. This is definitely the case with director Joseph L. Anderson's exquisite 1967 small wonder of a film, Spring Night Summer Night, which
Horror movies often manifest from a culture's deepest and darkest fears. It is no coincidence that Godzilla was born in Japan only a few shorts years after two atomic bombs were dropped on its cities. As nuclear energy became a reliable power source, more and more horror movies created monsters from various nuclear accidents. Mad scientists are a trope of their own. What is Jurassic Park but a cautionary tale about scientists playing God? Unfortunately, all too often our fears are dark indeed, and the horror films from those times expose our culture's black soul. Horror films often rely on

[Updated] Winners Announced for 2020 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

IDW and Image received the most nominations: IDW with 13 (plus 1 shared) and Image with 11 (plus 6 shared).
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Press release: Comic-Con is proud to announce the nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2020. The nominees are for works published between January 1 and December 31, 2019 and were chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges. Once again, this year’s nominees in 31 categories reflect the wide range of material being published in the U.S. today in comics and graphic novel media, representing over 170 print and online titles from more than 60 publishers and produced by creators from all over the world. IDW and Image received the most nominations: IDW with 13 (plus 1 shared) and

The Deeper You Dig (2020) Movie Review: An Effective DIY Thriller

A slim, smart, and scary family affair.
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In the world of filmmaking, it’s not rare to see siblings make movies together (the Coen brothers, for example). Nor is it rare to see the children of famous actors make their own stamp in the world (Michael Douglas is just one of many). What is rare is to see a whole family work together on a film in which they all direct and star, and the parental units of said team also serve as writers and in other departments in order to bring their cinematic effort to life. This is the case with The Deeper You Dig, which is

Tommaso Movie Review: A Humanistic Drama That's Devoid of the Drama

The evident creative choices, intentions, and a towering performance from Willem Dafoe fail to succor this pretentious, tasteless film.
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In 2007’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Willem Dafoe played Carson Clay, a filmmaker whose film ‘Playback Time’ premieres at Cannes. Tommaso, which also premiered at Cannes last year, reminded of the aforementioned film-within-film, only less absorbing and exponentially more pretentious. The film brings back Dafoe into an Abel Ferrara contemplation for the fifth time, with their last collaboration being Pasaloni (2014), a film that chronicles the life of Italian filmmaker, Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose film Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom remains in the books of history as one of the most infamous films to be ever made. Over the

The Invisible Man (2020) Blu-ray Review: We Needed to See More of Him

It's like watching Jaws without the shark.
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It’s been twenty years since director Paul Verhoeven gave us Kevin Bacon as Hollow Man, which allowed Bacon to return to his slasher film roots. Hollow Man is a slasher film at its core, with superior special effects to that of a Friday the 13th outing, and Jason is Invisible! Writer and director Leigh Whannell gives us a story with more depth and a film with stronger performances in his The Invisible Man, though the Hollow Man cast had little to work with. Whannell wastes no time in setting things up for us. Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) is escaping the Tony

Beanpole Blu-ray Review: Love and Suffering in Post War Russia

An extraordinary movie about how women suffer both during and after the war.
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It seems a rare thing these days where a movie about war is able to make an effective statement. War movies naturally tend towards battles full of explosions, gunfire, heroism, and blood. But there are only so many times you can see that before it becomes old hat and boring. Rarer still is the war movie about the emotional damage the battles do to the psyche of individuals and the souls of a nation. What's left when the fighting ends? Rarer than that is a war movie that concentrates on the women, what they had to endure during the war,

Jaws: 45th Anniversary is the Pick of the Week

The greatest shark attack film ever made celebrates its 45th anniversary and tops a new week of releases.
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What else can be said about Steven Spielberg's 1975 masterpiece Jaws that hasn't been said already? The legendary film has influenced pop culture ever since its release 45 years ago. Its now-famous (albeit complicated) production; superb direction; John Williams score; the amazing performances from Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw; and the still iconic opening remain the stuff of movie lore. Whether you've seen the film countless times or coming into it as a newbie, you're guaranteed to opt to stay on dry land. It continues to be one of the greatest films ever made, and a definite cautionary

Shirley (2020) Movie Review: Seriously Great

Elisabeth Moss knocks it out of the park as novelist Shirley Jackson in Josephine Decker's terrific new film.
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Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) has just become one of the most talked-about writers of her time, with the publishing of her short story, The Lottery, in The New Yorker. It attracts the attention of many, including Rose (Odessa Young), who, along with her husband, Fred (Logan Lerman), is traveling to go live with Jackson and her husband, college professor Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg). The young couple is looking to start a new life together, as Fred has just recently accepted a part-time position as Stanley’s teacher’s assistant. You’re probably thinking that this is just another biopic of a beloved author

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