July 2020 Archives

We Bare Bears The Movie Available on DVD September 8, 2020

Cartoon Network's beloved bears stack up for their first TV movie.
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Press release: It all started with a bear stack, and now TV’s most hilarious and heartwarming bears star in their first TV movie! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is bringing Cartoon Network’s hit series into your homes on September 8, 2020 with the release of We Bare Bears The Movie on DVD. The movie is an extension of the successful We Bare Bears series, created by two-time Annie Award-winner Daniel Chong, and executive produced by Cartoon Network Studios. Eric Edelstein (“Shameless,” “Clarence”), Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live,” Me Myself & I) and Demetri Martin (“Important Things with Demetri Martin”) return as

DC Showcase - Batman: Death in the Family Coming 10/13/20 to Blu-ray & Digital

Interactive storytelling allows viewers to choose & change directions of the story in retelling of landmark DC Comics event.
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Press release: Five fascinating tales from the iconic DC canon, including the first interactive film presentation in Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) history, come to animated life in DC Showcase - Batman: Death in the Family. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the anthology of 2019-2020 animated shorts arrives from WBHE on Blu-ray and Digital starting October 13, 2020. Anchoring the compilation of shorts is Batman: Death in the Family, WBHE’s first-ever venture into interactive storytelling that allows fans to choose where the story goes through an innovative navigation guided by the viewer’s remote control. Central to the extended-length

Tony Curtis Collection Blu-ray Review: Charming

Kino Lorber presents three mid-tier films from the great actor, and it is great to finally have them on Blu-ray.
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Reason #473 that I love boutique labels such a Kino Lorber: they allow us to dig into various genres and subgenres, or plumb the depths of a director or actor's career. The other day some critic was complaining on Twitter that far too many people writing about cinema weren't well versed in the lesser films of a given genre. Everybody knows the classics but few have watched the not-so-classics, or the pretty-good movies of a given genre or time period. Labels like Kino Lorber are helping me and others to fill in those gaps. Case in point: this new collection

TCM To Celebrate Legendary Actress Olivia de Havilland

24-hour programming tribute airing on August 23rd with Summer Under The Stars.
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will celebrate the life and career of iconic actress Olivia de Havilland with a 24-hour programming tribute on Sunday, August 23 as part of its Summer Under The Stars series. De Havilland, who passed away on July 26 at the age of 104, was known for her enduring work in the classic movie era. Acting in more than 45 feature films, she earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her memorable turn as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in Gone With the Wind(1940). She earned two Academy Award® wins for

Carole Lombard Collection I Blu-ray Review: An Early Glimpse of the Queen of Screwball Comedy

The set includes Fast and Loose, Man of the World, and No Man of Her Own.
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Kino Lorber's KL Studio Classics have released a Blu-ray collection of three pre-Code films featuring Golden Age of Hollywood star Carole Lombard. Film buffs know Lombard as the queen of screwball comedy classics such as Twentieth Century (1934) and Nothing Sacred (1937). Lombard starred in numerous bit parts before making it big - she started her film career at Fox Studios in 1921 at the age of 12. Six years later, a car accident left her with a small facial scar and Fox dropped her contract. She worked for Mack Sennett of Keystone Kops fame for a few years before

The Great: Season One Arrives on DVD October 20th

Own the critically acclaimed comedic drama starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult.
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Press release: The “lush, droll, boundary-pushing” (Vanity Fair) “wonderfully bombastic” (Paste) new series The Great: Season One arrives on DVD October 20, 2020 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Season One is now available for purchase on Digital platforms. Created and executive produced by Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee* Tony McNamara (The Favourite​), The Great: Season One is a satirical, comedic drama—and occasionally true story—about the rise of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) from outsider to the longest reigning female ruler in Russia's history. An idealistic romantic young girl, she arrives from Prussia for an arranged marriage to the mercurial Emperor

The Tenant is the Pick of the Week

Roman Polanski's super underrated 1976 creepfest headlines a new week of releases.
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Yes, I know that Roman Polanski is a very controversial figure today, and what he did in mid to late 1970s was incredibly wrong on every single level. However, sometimes you can separate the art from the artist, and Polanski is a true artist. From his stunning 1962 feature-length debut Knife in the Water, to his thrilling 2011 effort The Ghost Writer, he has proved that he can be a filmmaker of incredible eclecticism and sheer craft. In 1976, he concluded his 'Apartment trilogy' with perhaps his most underrated, but still creepy as hell, The Tenant, which takes paranoia to

The Outsider: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Soaked in Grief

This HBO series based upon a Stephen King novel is beautifully made, terrifically scary, and just a little disappointing.
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Stephen King is one of the most prolific and popular American novelists of the last century. He has written over 60 novels, 200 short stories, and countless essays and musings. He has sold over 300 million books in his long career. His writings have been adapted into countless movies and television series, most of them poorly. His stories are notoriously difficult to film. I've become a pretty big fan of the man over the last few years and I think part of the reason why his cinematic adaptations rarely work is that they tend to focus on his plots which

Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: A Stronger Stephen King Feel to It

It was what I was hoping for, a dark scary world with many twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat.
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Having read numerous Stephen King books and loving so many movies based on them, I was really excited for the first season of Castle Rock. The opportunity to see several of his iconic characters come together in this mythical town was exciting. However, it fell flat and left me with no interest in a second season. Upon learning a little bit about the story of the new season and that it included the introduction of one of King’s most terrifying characters, Annie Wilkes from Misery, I decided to give it a try. Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) has been traversing the

Five Cool Things and a Bookstore Haul

A cool week was made even cooler by a trip to the bookstore.
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I got out of the house today. I get out of the house most days, actually. Work takes me to the post office most days to pick up the company mail, and I usually visit one or two of the houses we're building. I gas up my truck and sometimes go inside to get a drink. But those things are done quickly and aren't much fun. Today, the wife and I dropped the kid off at my parent's house and had a proper date. Or as proper a date as two forty-something homebodies can have in the middle of a

San Diego Comic Con 2006: Same As It Ever Was

A visit from the Ghost of San Diego Comic Con Past.
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[I found these notes in the archives from an article that was never completed or published. My first visit to San Diego Comic Con was in 1996. My only memory of that visit was getting an autograph and a drawing of Homer Simpson from Matt Groening in a the first trade paperback of Simpsons Comics (see bottom of the article). My next visit was in 2006 and I returned every year until the Covid pandemic caused the 2020 iteration to go virtual, which I have sampled. Other than my being able to drive up and buy tickets the day of

Worst Cartoons Ever! DVD Review: They Stink!

Anyone can own great cartoons, but it takes a true fan of the art form to own and appreciate the worst that animation has to offer.
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[It was a tradition Friday nights at San Diego Comic Con to visit Jerry Beck's long-running panel, Worst Cartoons Ever!, which delivered on its title. Beck would provide background on the poorly created, oddly compelling, laughter-inducing shorts. Because of the pandemic, the convention has gone virtual but not Beck's panel. To give readers a taste, we are posting this 2007 review of the DVD, previously published at Blogcritics, because it contains some example. They are terrible so consider yourself warned.] Comic-Con International is the event of the year for social misfits and entertainment purveyors of the science fiction and fantasy

Dream Demon Blu-ray Review: Newly-Unearthed '80s Horror Fantasy

Rarely scary, but visually gripping, an unsuccessful attempt to copy Nightmare on Elm Street scores as a fantasy film.
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An obscure British release from 1988 that never made it to the states theatrically, Dream Demon's major problem is that it is not a good horror movie. It has horror elements, some fun gore bits, and a very spooky atmosphere but Dream Demon isn't very scary. It doesn't have a relentless sense of dread that great horror evokes. It's at best a pretty mediocre horror movie. It is a really good fantasy movie, however, and should be looked at in that light. Jemma Redgrave in her film debut plays Diana, simultaneously a small town teacher and a daughter of great

Most Wanted (2020) Movie Review: A Middling Crime Drama with Identity Crisis

A drama like Most Wanted, which heavily banks on its characters, needed a much strong emotional connection.
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Daniel Roby’s Most Wanted (also known as Target Number One) begins with Daniel Léger (Antoine Olivier Pilon) a troubled young man, receiving his first paycheque as a lumberjack. It’s a cheque, remember. Moments later, we see him talking over the phone with his mother, who is clearly suspicious of him when he asks her credit card number citing he doesn’t have money at the moment. Convinced that he’d use the credit card to buy drugs, his mother hangs upon him. With no money at his disposal, he takes off on his bike without paying i.e. robbing the store. These two

Marvel Action: Chillers Sends Shivers Up Your Spine This Halloween Season

Doctor Strange and Ironheart shine a light in the dark in IDW Publishing's bi-weekly comic miniseries, debuting in October.
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Press release: When an ancient supernatural manuscript threatens Earth’s mightiest heroes, it’s up to Doctor Strange and armored teen Ironheart to save the day in Marvel Action: Chillers, the latest thrilling addition to IDW Publishing’s line of comics aimed at middle grade readers! Written by Jeremy Whitley (Unstoppable Wasp), the bi-weekly Chillers miniseries debuts in October and runs for four issues, each one featuring a framing story starring Doctor Strange and Ironheart, with a second tale focusing on spooky adventures involving Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone, and more! Contributing artists for the series include Ahmara Smith,

Gamera: The Complete Collection Limited Edition Box Set Coming 8/18 (North America) and 8/17 (UK)

For the first time ever worldwide, all twelve tales of the adventures of everyone's favorite titanic terrapin are collected together in one deluxe Blu-ray boxset
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Press release: This limited edition collectors' set traces the decades-long evolution of Gamera, from the "friend of all children" in his more light-hearted earlier films, to the Guardian of the Universe in the groundbreaking 1990s reboot series, often hailed as three of the best kaiju films ever made. COLLECTOR'S EDITION BOX SET CONTENTS Limited collectors' edition packaging, housed in a large-format rigid box, fully illustrated by Matt Frank Casebound, fully-illustrated disc book containing eight Blu-ray discs High Definition (1080p) versions of all twelve films, with lossless original Japanese audio and a complete collection of English dub tracks, including classic American

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Celebrates at Comic-Con@Home 2020

Online panels held for Bugs Bunny's 80th Anniversary, Secret Origins of Saturday Morning Cartoons, and Deep Blue Sea 3.
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Press release: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings three entertaining panels to showcase at Comic-Con@Home, the all-virtual 2020 edition of the world’s largest comic and pop culture festival. The WBHE presentations coming this weekend - July 23-26 - will feature stars, filmmakers and animation experts celebrating the 80th anniversary of the legendary Bugs Bunny, exploring the secret origins of iconic Saturday morning cartoons, and giving fans a preview of the upcoming original film, Deep Blue Sea 3. Here’s a description of each of the panels, including the participants: Bugs Bunny’s 80th Anniversary Extravaganza — Take a trip through eight decades

Image Comics' Comic-Con@Home Programming

Follow along and connect with the fandom when you use the official hashtag, #ComicConAtHome.
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Press release: Image Comics is pleased to participate in Comic-Con@Home—a virtual alternative to the usual San Diego Comic-Con festivities hosted by Comic-Con International in light of COVID-19. It will be held on July 22-26, 2020 at the Comic-Con website. Follow along and connect with the fandom when you use the official hashtag, #ComicConAtHome. —PANELS SCHEDULE— Comics as a Conduit | Wednesday, 07/22/20, 4:00 PM Henry Barajas (LA VOZ DE M.A.Y.O.: TATA RAMBO), Rodney Barnes (KILLADELPHIA), Darcy Van Poelgeest (LITTLE BIRD), and David F. Walker (BITTER ROOT) discuss comic books that tackle real world issues; be it environmental activism, civic engagement,

Shout! Factory Announces Lineup for Comic-Con@Home 2020

MSTies worldwide can tune into the Comic-Con@Home channel on Thursday, July 23 at 6 pm PT, for Mystery Science Theater 3000 - A Panel Panorama.
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Press release: Pop culture fans rejoice! Although the traditional San Diego Comic-Con will not be held this year, Shout! Factory is pleased to announce it will be participating in the convention’s official virtual event, Comic-Con@Home, as well as programming supplementary content for the company’s streaming channel, Shout! Factory TV. Comic-Con@Home will be held on the same dates as the previously canceled Comic-Con, July 22-26, 2020. All aspects of Comic-Con@Home 2020 are free and there are no limits to how many can attend a panel. MSTies worldwide can tune into the Comic-Con@Home channel on Thursday, July 23 at 6 pm PT,

The Whistlers (2020) Movie Review: Barely a Peep

It's exciting in some areas, but never quite amounts to anything spectacular.
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One of the review pull quotes I originally saw for The Whistlers noted that it was like something the Coen brothers would make “if [they] were Romanian.” That automatically sold me on it, and my anticipation for the film skyrocketed. Maybe I shouldn’t have set such high hopes. It’s not that The Whistlers is a bad movie; it’s just one that never quite finds its footing. It’s effectively shot and captures the noir feel. There is a lot to like about it. But, as a whole, it doesn’t engage the viewer as well as it should have. The film follows

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break Blu-ray Review: W.C. Fields' Last Star Turn Delivers Laughs

Although it's a presentation of a series of sketches rather than a unified story being told, that doesn't make it any less funny.
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Never Give a Sucker an Even Break is W.C, Fields last outing as the star of a film. He also came up with its original story, credited to Otis Criblecoblis. Although it's a presentation of a series of sketches rather than a unified story being told, that doesn't make it any less funny. Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents it on Blu-ray. (Bear with me as this might get a little confusing) Fields plays a fictional version of himself, referred to in the credits as the Great Man but no matter the name, his trademark cantankerous, put-upon persona is on display.

Marriage Story is the Pick of the Week

Noah Baumbach's marvelous portrait of a marriage reaching its not-so-simple end tops a new week of interesting releases.
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As I pointed out in my recent review for Marriage Story, director Noah Baumbach's soulful and deeply intense 2019 film, is an incredibly rich and sublimely acted portrait of a very broken marriage consisting of two people who realize that their journey together has really run its course. Like Kramer vs. Kramer, The Squid and the Whale (also directed by Baumbach), and Scenes from a Marriage, the film (at times funny and brutal) refuses to take sides, because Charlie and Nicole Barber (beautifully played by both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson) both have logical viewpoints. Charlie, a New York theater

Book Review: Picturing Peter Bogdanovich: My Conversations with the New Hollywood Director by Peter Tonguette

Bogdanovich was lucky, but he was also terribly unlucky.
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Director Peter Bogdanovich is neither misunderstood nor unappreciated, I think. His claim to fame as a movie brat (though he might wince at that description) is secure. His early ‘70s trifecta—The Last Picture Show, What’s Up Doc?, and Paper Moon—cements the legend. Those films endure. And they do so, because---as Picturing Peter Bogdanovich: My Conversations with the New Hollywood Director (Peter Tonguette; publisher: the University Press of Kentucky) makes clear—he had the talent and the ambition to direct films that could have sat alongside the classics of the old studio system of the '30s and '40s, but films imbued with

Taste of Cherry Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Not to Everyone's Taste

Iranian classic finally gets a Criterion Blu-ray release.
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Abbas Kiarostami’s understated film won the prestigious Palme d’Or Award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, leading to its initial Criterion DVD release way back in 1999. After being out of print for a number of years, Criterion is finally bringing the film to Blu-ray this week with new cover art and some new special features. While its methodical pace isn’t for everyone, the film’s concept remains intriguing. The film centers on a middle-aged man named Mr. Badii who is shown driving aimlessly around the outskirts of Tehran, taking nearly the first half hour before revealing the plot. He has

Five Cool Things and Possessor

I'm getting tired of staying home, but at least there are still cool things to consume.
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For nearly four months now, my family and I have gotten up on Saturday mornings, piddled around, watched TV, and then sometime after lunch, we start talking about what we want to do. We all agree we'd love to leave the house but to do what is always the question. There were a few times when the weather was cooler that we'd make our way to a park or hiking trail. But these are the dog days of summer and the answer is always nothing. Covid numbers continue to rise in my neck of the woods and there is no

Studio Ghibli Steelbooks 'My Neighbor Totoro' & 'Princess Mononoke' out October 20 from GKIDS, Shout! Factory

With this release, two renowned films from one of the world's most coveted animation collections can come home to collectors in limited edition SteelBook packaging for the first time in North America.
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Press release: Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, with distribution by Shout! Factory, will release My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke, from the famed Studio Ghibli library of films, on October 20, 2020 in limited edition SteelBook packaging with striking new art. Each SteelBook will house a Blu-ray & DVD combo pack, presenting the film alongside hours of bonus features and a booklet with stunning art and statements from the filmmakers. With this release, two renowned films from one of the world’s most coveted animation collections can come home to collectors in limited edition SteelBook packaging for the first time in North

Marriage Story Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Emotionally Brutal and Full of Life

Noah Baumbach crafts a searingly intense and sometimes humorous examination of a very broken marriage.
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I'm not an expert on marriage, but seeing many films about it, I guess I can at least say that from my viewpoint, it can be quite the emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically draining journey. There have been many films, including Faces, Kramer vs Kramer, Shoot the Moon, The Squid and the Whale, and most notably, Ingmar Bergman 1973's masterpiece, Scenes from a Marriage, that have put their own distinctive spin on the subject. I think it's safe to say that director Noah Baumbach's marvelous 2019 film, Marriage Story, is destined to join the ranks of highly accurate and piercingly

The World in His Arms Blu-ray Review: Swashbuckling Gregory Peck

A high-flying adventure on the high seas.
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Last week I watched three films that are part of Kino Lorber's ongoing Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema collection. After watching the first two, I threw in what I thought was the third film and laid back to watch it. Gregory Peck played a ship's captain come to port in 1850s San Francisco. It was a very jaunty film. He gets into a couple of fights, meets a girl, and wait a minute...this is a strange kind of film noir. Those types of films usually take place in the 1940s or 1950s. And this movie is awfully goofy

Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection Remastered & Coming to Blu-ray on July 28

The Blu-ray box set complete with all 59 episodes, plus the treasured pilot movie, across 10 discs.
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Press release: Wonder Woman, the beloved 1970s live-action television series starring Lynda Carter, has been remastered and is coming to Blu-ray! Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection arrives from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on July 28, 2020. Save the world? That’s a man’s job. Then along comes star-spangled Wonder Woman with her bullet-deflecting bracelets and golden lariat to set everyone straight. With Lynda Carter staring as the title character, Season One features adventures in Wonder Woman’s original World War II era, while Seasons Two and Three whoosh forward to the disco-loving ‘70s. Times change. The need to smash evil, calamity and

The Mad Fox Blu-ray Review: Kabuki-styled Cinematic Fantasia

Sometimes kabuki, sometimes animated, always fascinating, The Mad Fox is rife with political intrigue and forbidden romance.
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Tomu Uchida is not one of the big names of Japanese cinema in the West, even though he had been at the game from early in the 20th century - his first credits date to 1924. He's made movies, excellent movies, throughout his career, but only recently have they been coming to light on home video releases. That Uchida doesn't have more recognition is a deep shame because, on the basis of this and a few other of his film available now in the West, he may be one of the Japanese greats, able to stand with his contemporaries Ichikawa,

Murder by Decree (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Fogbound

A bland Sherlock Holmes seeks to unmask Jack the Ripper, in Bob Clark's sluggish and tame (but still fun) ensemble mystery.
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Murder by Decree is one of the better Sherlock Holmes movies. Directed by Bob Clark, it features an all-star cast. Christopher Plummer plays Sherlock Holmes and James Mason plays Dr. John H. Watson. As they become embroiled in the Jack the Ripper slayings, they follow the trail of blood to the highest echelons of political power. Along the way, Robert Lees (Donald Sutherland in perhaps the film's most effective supporting role) offers psychic counsel, and Holmes and Watson brush up against bureaucratic figures (Frank Finlay, David Hemmings, and Anthony Quayle) and folks from the London slums (Susan Clark plays Mary

Book Review: Gramercy Park by Timothée de Fombelle and Christian Cailleaux

The rare comic that uses the trappings of noir to tell a new story.
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On top of a tall building stands a woman. She keeps bees. She talks to them. She loves them. Across the street is a man. A bad man. A gangster. The woman watches him. She spies him through his window. She notes when he leaves and when he comes back. She does not love him. He is isolated inside his cavernous, luxurious apartment, except for the people who work for him. He never leaves except for a weekly departure on Sundays. On the street below, two cops sit in their car. They talk. They grow bored. They argue. They are

Criterion Announces October 2020 Releases

Which ones will you be buying?
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This October, the best houses will be giving out one of the new Criterion Collection releases for Halloween. They are John Berry's Claudine, Henry King’s The Gunfighter, and Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, along with two films given high-definition upgrades: Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou and Stephen Frears’s The Hit. Read on to learn more about them. Pierrot le fou (#421) out Oct 6 Dissatisfied in marriage and life, Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo) takes to the road with the babysitter, his ex-lover Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina), and leaves the bourgeois world behind. Yet this is no normal road trip: the tenth feature

This Island Earth Blu-ray Review: Highly Recommended for the Sci-fi Film Buff

Scream Factory has done impressive work with this title.
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Based on Raymond F. Jones's 1952 novel of the same name, which appeared in Thrilling Wonder Stories as a trilogy of novelettes: "The Alien Machine" (June 1949), "The Shroud of Secrecy" (December 1949), and "The Greater Conflict" (February 1950), This Island Earth is an iconic science fiction film, notable for its special effects. On July 9, 2019, Scream Factory released the film on Blu-ray from a new 4K scan. After a few unexplained technological incidents, scientist Dr. Cal Meacham (Rex Reason) is sent 2486 parts and coded instructions to build a device called an Interocitor. Unbeknownst to him, building the

Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits is the Pick of the Week

A mammoth box set featuring five standout films of the greatest martial artist of all-time tops a new week of great releases.
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As we all know, the legendary Bruce Lee is/was the most influential figure in the history of martial arts, bar none. His legacy still continues to leave its mark on icons from Jackie Chan to Jet Li to Donnie Yen to Chow Yun Fat, and so on. He wasn't just a very physically perfect specimen; he also had the magnetism and charisma to complete the whole package. Although many of the films he made didn't have the best and most coherent plots, it didn't matter because he was in them. He was so amazing in his unfortunately brief time on-screen

Friday the 13th Collection (Deluxe Edition) Available for Purchase October 13, 2020

Scream Factory presents the definitive Blu-ray collection of one of the most popular and iconic horror franchises ever created.
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Press release: In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the original and groundbreaking 1980 film Friday the 13th, Scream Factory, the fan-driven entertainment brand devoted to all things horror, has announced the Friday the 13th Collection (Deluxe Edition), to be released on Tuesday, October 13th, 2020. The 16-disc set is the definitive Blu-ray collection of one of the most influential horror franchises ever created and includes all 12 original films from Paramount Pictures and New Line Cinema. It also includes NEW and existing extras, a NEW collectible rigid slipcover with newly-commissioned art, a NEW 40-pg collectible essay booklet with archival

Sunday Program Highlights for San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020

What will the Sentries be watching?
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many folks around the globe, including those who had planned to attend this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Its cancellation was a great disappointment but the resourceful folks behind the scenes are putting on a virtual convention by hosting a variety of panels over the dates the convention was supposed to occur. According to their site: Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works: Once the daily schedules go live, you’ll be able to

Five Cool Things and Gillian Welch's All the Good Times Are Past and Gone

Some of the cool things from this past week.
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Hamilton I finally got to see the show everyone has been talking about for five years. When Hamilton first became a sensation on Broadway, it seemed like everyone was talking about it. All my podcasts and entertainment critic Twitter friends were raving about the show and it was some sort of rite of passage for them to see it live. My real-life friends all seemed to have been listening to the original cast album. I listened to the first few songs through YouTube and while I liked it, I could never listen to the whole thing (it is 2 1/2

Saturday Program Highlights for San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020

What will the Sentries be watching?
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many folks around the globe, including those who had planned to attend this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Its cancellation was a great disappointment but the resourceful folks behind the scenes are putting on a virtual convention by hosting a variety of panels over the dates the convention was supposed to occur. According to their site: Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works: Once the daily schedules go live, you’ll be able to

The Old Guard Movie Review: An Insightful Thrill Ride

Gina Prince-Bythewood breathes all sorts of new life into the realm of comic book cinema.
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Unlike usual film adaptations of comic books, it’s hard to necessarily label The Old Guard as a superhero film. It does feature a group of superpowered beings trying to save the day, but they’re still a group of immortal mercenaries whose occasional missions vary from villainous to heroic. While it possesses the action spectacle one would expect in a picture like this, and even opens with a bombastic fight sequence, director Gina Prince-Bythewood and co. emphasize on making The Old Guard a somber character drama present within a blockbuster canvas. The eldest leader of the group called Andromache of

Friday Program Highlights for San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020

What will the Sentries be watching?
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many folks around the globe, including those who had planned to attend this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Its cancellation was a great disappointment but the resourceful folks behind the scenes are putting on a virtual convention by hosting a variety of panels over the dates the convention was supposed to occur. According to their site: Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works: Once the daily schedules go live, you’ll be able to

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema IV Blu-ray Review: Too Much Melodrama, Not Enough Noir

These three films are decent enough dramas but lack the edge of a good film noir.
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For Part IV of their Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema series Kino Lorber Studio Classics is releasing three films from the late 1940s - mid 1950s that aren't exactly the type of film you think about when you want to watch a noir, but there is enough crime, enough stark black and white, and enough dark nights of the soul to call it that anyway. If nothing else, there's a young Tony Curtis being as charming as ever. Calcutta (1947) is an interesting blend of World War II-era exotic location drama mixed with touches of film noir. Alan

Thursday Program Highlights for San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020

What will the Sentries be watching?
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many folks around the globe, including those who had planned to attend this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Its cancellation was a great disappointment but the resourceful folks behind the scenes are putting on a virtual convention by hosting a variety of panels over the dates the convention was supposed to occur. According to their site: Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works: Once the daily schedules go live, you’ll be able to

America as Seen by a Frenchman Blu-ray Review: A Fascinating Snapshot in Time

A glimpse into my country's past a viewed from a foreigner.
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I've been lucky enough to have done a bit of traveling in my life. I've lived in France, Belgium, and China. I've seen most of Western Europe, a good chunk of Eastern Europe, and bits and pieces of Asia. Wherever I go, I take a camera with me. I'm not a professional, nor an expert photographer but I enjoy the process and sometimes the result. I try to take lots of photos of different things. I hit the big landmarks of course. I have lots of photos of the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, Big Ben, etc., but

Solid Metal Nightmares: The Films of Shinya Tsukamoto Blu-ray Box Set Review

Arrow's impressive box set contains a whopping 10 films surveying the career of this film auteur.
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If you’ve seen one Tsukamoto film, you definitely haven’t seen them all, as evidenced by this amazing new box set that houses a dizzying sampling of the many different genres and film formats he has touched on in the past 30 years. As an independent film director, he has the freedom to pursue whatever tickles his fancy at any given time, and as a clearly restless creative force, the results of his experiments presented here are always rewarding. While he may still be best known in the U.S. for his early black-and-white industrial schlockfest Tetsuo: The Iron Man, the films

Relic (2020) Movie Review: Gritty Familial Horror with Supernatural Elements

Natalie Erika James' directorial debut offers a blend of lingering frights and melancholia.
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Relic is a rare example of an atmospheric horror film that opts for sadness rather than scares. While it does present usual haunted house conventions, Relic mainly thrives due to its emphasis on putting the past away and how we make our loved ones indeed feel like artifacts of the past. One could even say it’s an exaggerated telling as to why a nursing home might not be a good place for our grandparents. Once the illness-stricken Edna (Robyn Nevin) returns home after being missing, both her daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) decide to take care

Blood Tide Blu-ray Review: Fun and Monsters in the Greek Sun

James Earl Jones quotes Shakespeare and conjures a barely seen monster in this masterpiece from Greek auteur Nico Mastorakis.
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Can I consider myself a fan of a filmmaker after hating one of his films, liking another one, and kind-of enjoying a third which he only produced? What if I watched a bunch of trailers for movies he made and that I haven't seen but got rather excited just thinking about them? If so, then consider me a fan of Nico Mastorakis, the Greek filmmaker who directed and/or produced a handful of goofy, low budget flicks in the 1980s. I wasn't at all fond of The Zero Boys, his action/horror hybrid that didn't exactly thrill (though I was impressed with

Inferno of Torture Blu-ray Review: Torsos, Tattoos, and Torture

Another in Teruo Ishii's series of films depicting sadistic practices in Japanese history, all of which involve disrobing women.
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Inferno of Torture is the third of Teruo Ishii's ero-guro (erotic grotesque) films that have recently been released by Arrow Video. Orgies of Edo and Yakuza Law were anthology films, each with three stories ostensibly about the brutal systems of torture used by, respectively, the ruling class and the criminal class. Made in the late '60s and early '70s, these films are framed as historical docu-dramas, but are in fact exploitation films with historical themes. Whatever the intent, the films themselves consist mainly as ways to display sado-masochistic soft-core pornography, punctuated with sequences of gruesome horror. More specifically, topless women

Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo Movie Review: A Complex and Compelling Story

The compelling documentary about the life of actor, businessman, and activist Danny Trejo.
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As a culture, we love all kinds of stories. Stories of people coming from nothing to achieve great success. Stories of addicts and criminals who change their lives and in turn change the world. Stories of parents who want to give their kids everything they never had. Stories of love, and stories of loss. And while we have all watched these stories play out in the movies we love, not everyone has lived all of these stories in a single lifetime. But Danny Trejo has. Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo is the new documentary about the life of

The War of the Worlds (1953) is the Pick of the Week

A slightly dated, but very chilling sci-fi classic tops a new week of releases.
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The 1950s was decade of sheer uncertainty and paranoia due to the threat of the Cold War and imminent doom for the entire human race. Because of this, there were many incredible sci-fi films that emulated that while also taking the themes of impending danger and aliens invading Earth even further into reality, where the stories and plots didn't seem so far-fetched. Director Bryon Haskin and legendary producer George Pal's influential 1953 classic, The War of the Worlds, is definitely one of the very best of them. The film starts off with a strange, mysterious meteor-like object landing in a

Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray and DVD July 21, 2020

Release includes all 10 Season-Two episodes plus all new bonus content.
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Press release: Get set for another visit to Castle Rock, the small town that’s inhabited by author Stephen King’s most infamous literary characters, when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) releases Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season, on Blu-ray and DVD July 21, 2020. The release of the second season of Warner Bros. Television’s critically acclaimed series will feature all 10 episodes, plus all-new bonus content. Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season is priced to own at $24.98 SRP ($29.98 in Canada) for the DVD and $29.98 SRP ($39.99 in Canada) for the Blu-ray which includes a Digital Code (US Only).

Five Cool Things and the Fourth of July

Happy Birthday, United States of America.
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It is a holiday weekend and I'm making the most of it. So let's get right into this week's cool things. Woman in the Dark I've been watching a lot of movies from the 1930s of late and it is fascinating to me how the ones that aren't that great (like this one) are still strangely interesting. Like somehow the ways in which a not-great movie from the 1930s is so different from a not-great movie made today. If I watched a movie that was similar to this but made in the last few years, I'd find it completely forgettable,

Game of HAM Review: Outrageous Fun for Those Not Easily Offended

Folks should use their imagination and make of the game and its accompanying paraphernalia what they will.
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Much in the way that the makers of Cards Against Humanity created their “adult” version of Apples to Apples by putting a risque spin on the idea of filling in a blank with offensive, inappropriate responses, the makers of Game of HAM (Hating All Mankind) have done something similar but also expanded matters by including a board and an instruction manual filled with a plethora of variations to keep people entertained. Needing a minimum of three players, 18 and older (but I guarantee teens getting a hold of this will play), the basic gameplay has everyone selecting 10 pink cards

The Flesh and The Fiends Blu-ray Review: Selling Corpses in Scotland

Donald Pleasence steals the show.
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For centuries the science of anatomy lagged behind other fields of study due to cultural norms and religious beliefs concerning the handling of corpses. By the 18th Century, things were changing and medical schools across Europe were allowing the dissection and study of the human body. But while the scientific institutions pushed forward, the laws regarding which bodies were acceptable to desecrate lagged behind. Edinburgh, Scotland had become one of the premier cities in the study of anatomy and yet the law still only allowed for the bodies of criminals and suicides to be used as cadavers for study. During

Factory Entertainment Announces Consolation-Con

Here’s what collectors and fans can expect.
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Press release: Factory Entertainment, Inc announced today that it will be launching “Consolation-Con,” a virtual replacement for its annual San Diego Comic-Con booth, on July 6, 2020. “Our annual trip to San Diego Comic-Con is usually the highlight of our year” said Jordan Schwartz, President and CEO of Factory Entertainment. “There’s no substitute for interacting face-to-face with the many fans who share our passion and love our products and with the attendees who may be encountering us at the show for the first time. Due to the cancellation of San Diego Comic-Con, we can’t do so this July, but that

The Truth Movie Review: Truthfully Middle-Ground

Both an adequately understated family drama and a missed opportunity.
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In a way, The Truth feels like a spiritual sequel to Clouds of Sils Maria. Another film distributed by IFC Films dealing with a French actress diva grappling with aging in the film industry as she works on a new project. Only this time, Juliette Binoche plays the daughter of said actress instead of the actress herself and gets to have Catherine Deneuve, a fellow screen icon, playing her mother. A pairing like this is enough to get any film buff giddy with excitement and “truthfully,” it’s the most saleable thing the picture has going for it. Watching Binoche and

Urban Cowboy Blu-ray Review: The Devil Should Have Gone Down to Texas Instead

This 1980 cash-in on the country pop craze has little to say, and isn't much fun.
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Urban Cowboy (1980) is one of those faddish films that has aged poorly. John Travolta plays Bud Davis, a country boy from Spur, Texas, who goes to Houston to work in an oil refinery. After hours, he frequents Gilley’s, a honkey-tonk the size of a football field, with a dance floor and mechanical bull. Bud’s day job is just a means to his nightlife. At Gilley’s, he gets his girl, Sissy (Debra Winger, in her breakout performance), loses her to an ex-convict stud in a mesh shirt, Wes (Scott Glenn), and fights to win her back. Love and strife among

TCM To Celebrate Legendary Funny Man Carl Reiner

Programming tribute airing on July 28 to include Where's Poppa? (1970) and Oh, God! (1977).
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Press release: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will celebrate the life and career of seminal writer, director, actor and author Carl Reiner with a programming tribute on Tuesday, July 28. Reiner, who passed away on June 29 at the age of 98, won many awards including nine Emmy Awards, a Grammy, and the Mark Twain prize for American Humor. His prolific career spanned more than 70 years, and he gained a loyal following for his sketch comedy work alongside Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks and for directing such beloved films as Oh, God! (1977), Dead Men Don’t War Plaid (1982), Where’s

Wild Palms Blu-ray Review: It's No Twin Peaks

Futuristic miniseries throws in so many ideas that it never settles on one
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In the wake of the spectacular rise and fall of the original Twin Peaks, its network ABC was keen to produce another offbeat series that might trigger the same kind of national water-cooler fervor. Along came Oliver Stone, at that time a creator in very high demand, with a suitably surreal idea based on a comic strip by Bruce Wagner. To eliminate the possibility of another Twin Peaks Season Two disaster, ABC insisted that Stone’s Wild Palms show had a complete story with a clear end up front, leading to the format of this five-episode miniseries. While the resulting project

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