December 2020 Archives

Best of 2020 (Pandemic Edition): The Film Lists

Shawn kicks off his mega 2020 wrap up with the "best of movies" lists.
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From 2005 through 2012 I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best Of..." lists. While the blog still remains retired, I've revived it for a Best of List 2017-2019. I debated how I would come up with a series of lists that were even comparable to previous years in a year that was totally driven into a ditch only a couple months in. But the show must go on and I still watched things, read things, and learned even more. So without

Honest Thief Blu-ray Review: Comfort Food for Crime Fans

If all one wants is to see Liam Neeson once again using his wits and his fists to come out on top, this will satisfy that urge.
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Honest Thief is a simple crime drama with a plot that resolves unsurprisingly as one who has viewed any of the recent spate of Liam Neeson-led action films, or most movies for that matter, would expect. But for those who like to see good guys triumph over bad guys, the script by director Mark Williams and Steve Allrich presents a satisfactory story. Tom Dolan (Neeson) has been dubbed the “In-and-Out Bandit,” a nickname he hates, because he is a successful bank robber, having stolen over $9 million in cash from 12 banks across 7 states. After dating Annie (Kate Walsh)

Crash (1996) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Anti-Erotic Film

Perhaps David Cronenberg's most controversial film, it details the progressively more dangerous world of car-crash fetishists.
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"Prophecy is dirty and ragged", says Vaughan, while complaining about the cleanliness of the tattoo he gets on his chest. It's of a steering wheel, part of his attempt connect himself, as much as possible, to the object of his sexual gratification, and obsession. He loves cars, but not when they drive. He loves them when they, as the film's title says so simply, Crash. Where Vaughan and his obsessions come from is obscure, but he becomes the central figure in the life James Ballard (James Spader) after he survives a car crash. The driver of the other car does

The Curse of Frankenstein (Two-Disc Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: A Landmark in Horror Is Reborn

The film that launched a horror franchise has been restored and remastered.
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As mentioned in the extras and as horror-film fans may be aware, the dominance of the Universal Monsters on the silver screen came to an end in the 1950s. The final entries in the long-running franchise were a Creature from the Black Lagoon trilogy and a couple of team-ups with Abbott Costello. Replacing them were a new wave of monsters that arrived from space or derived from atomic energy. The UK company Hammer Film Productions picked up the mantle that same decade, first with the science fiction horror film, The Quatermass Xperiment, then launching their Gothic horror franchise, starting with

Book Review: Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood's Zen Rebel by Joseph B. Atkins

A great tribute to the life of a great actor.
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Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood’s Zen Rebel, by Joseph B. Atkins (University Press of Kentucky, 2020), is a carefully crafted tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest character actors. Easily recognizable with his gruff face but relaxed demeanor, Stanton had parts in some of the greatest films of all time: Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Godfather Part II (1974), Alien (1979), and The Straight Story (1999). He also had two lead roles: Wim Wenders, Paris, Texas (1984) and John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky (2017), his last film. Hollywood’s Zen Rebel makes it clear that Harry Dean Stanton made it big by playing himself

The Film Detective is Ringing in the New Year with a Month of Classic Comedy

Laugh along with such timeless jokesters as The Three Stooges and Groucho Marx, starting at 12AM ET on Dec. 31.
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Press release: The Film Detective (TFD), a classic media streaming network and film archive that restores and distributes classic films for today's cord-cutters and is now wholly-owned by Cinedigm (NASDAQ: CIDM), is dedicating the upcoming month to the lighthearted side of cinema. In a time of increased demand for at-home entertainment, The Film Detective is delivering the nostalgia of film’s favorite comics throughout the entire month of January. Kicking off The Film Detective’s month of comedy will be a 48-hour New Year’s Laugh-a-thon, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Laugh along with such timeless jokesters as The Three
Directed by William Wellman, this second film adaptation of P.C. Wren's 1924 adventure novel of the same name stars Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston as the three Geste brothers, Michael aka “Beau”, John, and Digby. The story's theme is revealed at the outset as the film opens with an Arabian proverb: “The love of a man for a woman waxes and wanes like the moon...but the love of brother for brother is steadfast as the stars and endures like the word of the prophet.” News of a large Arab attack on Fort Zinderneuf leads a column of French Foreign

IDW Announces Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1 Director's Cut

A behind-the-scenes look at 2020's smash comic book hit.
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Press release: The debut issue of the epic TMNT miniseries, The Last Ronin, has taken comic fandom by storm as one of the biggest events of 2020 with more than 180,000 copies in print! Now, IDW welcomes hardcore fans to a special behind-the-scenes look at the creation of this instant classic with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1 Director’s Cut, due to hit stores in March 2021. Featuring never-before seen layouts from Kevin Eastman, story notes that date back decades, character designs, script pages, and much more, the Director’s Cut delves deep into the lore of The Last

Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection DVD Review: A Trio of Animated Classics

Important holiday traditions for the television generation.
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This collection features three classic Peanuts television specials, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Each is paired with a less successful Peanuts special. The Great Pumpkin is a television institution. It was the third animated Peanuts special and has been airing annually on network television since 1966. The main plotline focuses on Linus as he anticipates the arrival of The Great Pumpkin, a magical creature similar to Santa Claus, who brings toys to children. The main difference is that The Great Pumpkin only shows up at sincere pumpkin patches. Linus faces

IDW Unveils Summer 2021 Middle-Grade and YA Graphic Novels

Scientific pioneers, cute animals, surfing techniques, and spooky entities feature in original tales for young readers.
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Press release: - IDW and imprint Top Shelf Productions have unveiled their Summer 2021 lineup of middle-grade and YA graphic novels. Here’s a look at their spectacular line-up for next year: Better Place, by debut author Duane Murray and Shawn Daley (Samurai Grandpa), tells the story of Dylan, a young boy in a new neighborhood whose best (and only) friend is his grandad. Together, with the power of imagination, they entertain themselves as Red Rocket and Kid Cosmo, saving the world daily from evil. But when Dylan learns that his grandad is suddenly gone to “a better place”, the sidekick

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 15: 1953-1954 by Chester Gould

Another satisfying addition to the series.
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Chester Gould's Dick Tracy comic strip debuted on October 4, 1931 named after the lead character, a square-jawed, yellow-hat-and-jacket-wearing police detective. In 2007, the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing began publishing The Complete Dick Tracy. Volume 15 presents the dailies and Sunday Strips from April 19, 1953 - October 24, 1954. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "A Good Samaritan...Stabbed to Death," which provides commentary on the strips and stories included. The book opens with Detective Dick Tracy in the middle of a case. Odds Zonn and his daughter Little Wings are

Vigilante (1982) 4K Ultra HD Review: Gritty Death Wish Redux

A gritty early 80s vigilante film with plenty of action and some ideas that doesn't completely work in the end
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Vigilante, a Death Wish-inspired action drama from 1982, does so many interesting and fun things that it's a shame it doesn't put them all together that well. It's got urban decay, a home invasion, courtroom drama, revenge, car chases, foot chases, cars being shot up - all in an 89-minute running time. But it doesn't quite cohere into something greater than the sum of its occasionally awesome parts. It opens with Fred Williamson talking to a group of people, meeting apparently in secret, about how horrible the streets are, and how useless the cops are. It's time the people did

The Best Years of Our Lives is the Pick of the Week

One of the finest American films of all-time headlines a new week of slim releases.
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If you ask any true film lover and TCM devotee what's one of their favorite movies, they'll probably tell you The Best Years of Our Lives, legendary director William Wyler's still endearing and heartrending 1946 masterpiece, one that continues to garner new fans and admirers (young and old), and a classic that should always remain a standard during Veterans Day. By some reason you don't know the story, it's about three World War II servicemen: Captain Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), platoon sereant Al Stephenson (Fredric March), and naval petty officer Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) who return home from the war.

Jiu Jitsu (2020) DVD Review: Wasted Potential

With a premise like warriors versus aliens, with a dose of Nicolas Cage, one does not expect a movie to be so dull.
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At this point in his career, when Nicolas Cage does a paycheck movie (which feels like one every week), a viewer would expect the movie to fully embrace the Oscar-winning actor’s over-the-top style. It is especially expected if it has a premise like Jiu Jitsu. It’s basically warriors versus aliens, and Cage is seen wearing a hat made out of newspaper. It’s ripe for his wide-eyed, rage-shouting Cage-isms with which we’re all too familiar and that surprisingly never gets old. But the last-credit placement of Cage’s name on the DVD cover unintentionally serves as a warning that his presence is

Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books Sheds Light on the Struggles and Triumphs of Black Pioneers

A new, meticulously-researched hardcover from IDW imprint Yoe Books presents the life stories and rare masterpieces of the Black artists who shaped the industry.
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Press release: During the formative years of the comic book industry, talented Black artists worked behind-the-scenes to create thrilling tales of superheroes, horror, and romance. Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books, a new hardcover book by comics historian Ken Quattro, is a riveting exploration of this little-known history, published by Yoe Books, an IDW imprint, and debuting today. Using primary source material from World War II-era Black newspapers and magazines, this compelling book profiles pioneers like E.C. Stoner, a renowned fine artist of the Harlem Renaissance and the first Black artist to draw comic books; Owen Middleton,

The 2020 World Series Blu-ray Review: It's Time for Dodgers Baseball

Narrated by the legendary Vin Scully, the documentary presents highlights of the six games of the Fall Classic between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays.
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Major League Baseball presents The 2020 World Series, the official 85-minute documentary of the six-game series played between the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had won six of the previous 23 times that they played in the World Series, and the Tampa Bay Rays, who didn't win in their single previous appearance. Narrated by former Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster, the legendary Vin Scully, who retired after 67 seasons in 2016, the documentary presents highlights of the six games of the Fall Classic held at Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, which opened in 2020. The neutral

Amores Perros Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Alejandro González Iñárritu's Greatest Masterpiece

A snarling, ferocious debut by one of today's most innovative and fearless directors.
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The most celebrated and well-known filmmakers of the Mexican New Wave are Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. All of three of them have made incredible and compelling films; they've also become very popular. However, their most impactful creations (for me personally) are the early ones: del Toro with Cronos (1993), Cuaron with Solo con Tu Pareja (1991), and Inarritu with his blazing, unflinching 2000 debut Amores Perros, which is the one that perhaps reinvented Mexican cinema, and many people's reinterest in it. The story is about three characters (played by Gael Garcia Bernal, Goya Toledo, and

Book Review: Maureen O'Hara: The Biography by Aubrey Malone

A heartfelt tribute to "the queen of Technicolor."
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Maureen O’Hara: The Biography by Aubrey Malone (University Press of Kentucky - 2020) is a heartfelt biography of the screen legend. Beginning with her birth as Maureen FitzSimmons in Dublin on August 17, 1920, we learn that O’Hara was set on an acting career from her early teens. Before her twentieth birthday she had four movies under her belt, including starring roles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939, William Dieterle) and Jamaica Inn (1939, Alfred Hitchcock). From her twenties onward, we learn that, for the most part, Maureen O’Hara had a fine life filled with fame and fortune and

The Midnight Sky Movie Review: Astronomically Insipid

The Midnight Sky aims for the stars, but should've been brought down to Earth.
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Clearly, George Clooney can’t get enough of space. After previously getting stranded with Sandra Bullock in space in Gravity, he remains on Earth this time around in The Midnight Sky where he plays Augustine, a scientist who must tread his way across Antarctica to communicate with a group of astronauts in order to prevent them from entering what’s become a post-apocalyptic Earth. It’s a storyline that on paper, sounds like an intriguing spectacle since we venture into the grand depths of space while dealing with the storyline involving Augustine who lives in isolation as he goes on a race against

2021's TCM Big Screen Classics Series Brings 12 Cinematic Masterworks to Cinemas Nationwide

From German East Africa to the mean streets of NYC to Egypt to South-Central L.A., movie lovers can take a trip around the globe and through 80 years of movie magic.
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Press release: Next year, film aficionados can enjoy a yearlong journey spanning nine decades of cinema history, through a dozen of some of the movie industry’s greatest titles, as Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies present the seventh annual TCM Big Screen Classics series. Featuring acclaimed films released from 1941 to 1996, and encompassing legendary dramas, iconic musicals, beloved comedies, a thrilling adventure, a stylish film noir, a stirring epic, a crackling mystery, and a suspenseful horror, the TCM Big Screen Classics series has something for everyone in 2021. Each film is presented with pristine digital projection, movie-theater-quality sound, and

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Two Takes Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

A still strangely intriguing pseudo work about filmmaking and its more emotional follow-up gets a new upgrade by Criterion.
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As a passionately dedicated lover of film, I really enjoy that not every film has to be a cliche, meaning that there are lots of films that don't neatly fit into one particular box; they seem to operate on a much different stratosphere of cinema. These types of cinematic works are so outside the norm that they don't seem like movies; they seem like real life unfolding right in front of you. This is definitely the case with celebrated filmmaker William Greaves' 1968 landmark avant-garde portrait Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, a subtle head-scratcher that showcases the often deep art of moviemaking

The Harvey Girls Blu-ray Review: MGM Misses the Bullseye

The musical misses the mark, but is worth viewing for key contributions from Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, and Angela Lansbury
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Despite the top billing of mega-star Judy Garland and some pricey-looking location shooting and hundreds of extras, The Harvey Girls feels like a lesser MGM musical. Maybe it’s the Wild West setting, maybe it’s the lackluster story, or possibly it’s the poor fit of the unappealing leading man, John Hodiak, but for whatever reason the film just never really clicks, leaving a bunch of mostly appealing songs by Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren searching for a compelling reason to exist. That’s not to say the film is bad, it’s probably just best viewed as a musical revue rather than a

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 Blu-ray Review: A Second Helping of Silliness

As with the previous volume, this is a must-own for animation fans.
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The Warner Archive Collection has released the second volume of their Tex Avery Screwball Classics line, bringing the total number of cartoons in this series up to 40 out of the 67 Avery directed during his time at MGM As mentioned in my review of Volume 1, “Avery first made a significant impact on the [animation] medium during his time at Warner Brothers” before he “signed on at MGM in 1941.” After a disclaimer about the ethnic and racial depictions contained within that were unfortunately common for the era, the 21 cartoons, are divided into four categories. It begins with

Mank Movie Review: The Big Crack-up

With style and flair, David Fincher's new Netflix film looks at one of the creative minds responsible for Citizen Kane. (Hint: It's not Orson Welles.)
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In the past few years, Netflix has enticed some of our best filmmakers—Joel & Ethan Coen, Alfonso Cuaron, David Fincher, and Martin Scorsese—to its stable, and no surprise: Decently paid, and promised final cut (or “creative control,” however that shakes out), these directors would be foolish to resist. The results of their labor, we should note, have so far not disappointed. Cuaron’s Roma (2018) was a passion project of the first degree, shot in black & white—a career best for the gifted director. And while the Coens turned in a fun but mixed Western anthology, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Criterion Announces March 2021 Releases

Prepare to spring for these movies.
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The Criterion Collection marches into March with five releases. The new addition are Jacques Rivette's Céline and Julie Go Boating, Mike Leigh's Secrets & Lies, Albert Brooks' Defending Your Life, and the seven-disc set World of Wong Kar Wai. Getting a high-def upgrade is Djibril Diop Mambéty's Touki bouki. Read on to learn more about them. Touki bouki (#685) out Mar 9 With a stunning mix of the surreal and the naturalistic, Djibril Diop Mambéty paints a fractured portrait of the disenchantment of postindependence Senegal in the early 1970s. In this picaresque fantasy-drama, the disaffected young lovers Anta and Mory,

Tremors from Arrow Video is the Pick of the Week

A still fun, deliciously silly, and thoughtful 1990 cult classic takes the top spot of a new week of releases.
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There have been so many movies that have been throwbacks or tributes to the horror/science fiction/creatures features of the 1950s. These wonderful flicks include Joe Dante's Gremlins (1984), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) The 'Burbs (1989) and Matinee (1993), but the one that I always come back to is Tremors (1990), director Ron Underwood's modest but highly entertaining gem, that contains a near-perfect blend of thrlls, chills, and spills (in more ways than one). Val McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Basset (Fred Ward) are frustrated with their dull and boring lives in a small Nevada town. But just as

Thoughtful & Abstract: Watching TV While the Band Plays On

The theaters might not be coming back in our near future but there are plenty of entertainment opportunities for those who prospect the apps.
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Kim and Shawn reflect on five positives from a weird year of entertainment. Five Shows Kim Watched Since March You know, a while back, The Walking Dead ruined all interest I had in TV. I never finished the last season. I know it’s there waiting for me, I’m just not sure I’m ready to be let down. After all, 2020 has been a shit show all on its own and I’m not sure I want to add to that just yet. Let me ease into 2021 first and then I can start the disappointing ride all over again. The thing

Mouchette Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: So Beautiful, So Sad

A few days in the sad little life of a French girl.
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The opening scene to Mouchette, Robert Bresson's 1967 drama, finds a young man tying little loops of wire to branches and then setting them low to the ground so that when birds run past their heads get trapped in the loops. The film watches them get caught, flaying about, unable to set themselves free. This works as a metaphor for every character in the film. Set in a small village in the French countryside, all of the story's inhabitants seem caught in their own traps. There are few scenes of joy and happiness but many of despair and loneliness. Our

Wander Darkly Movie Review: A Decent Meditation on Love in the Afterlife

Diego Luna and Sienna Miller are an emotive dual force in this neutrally executed sci-fi romance.
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Wander Darkly follows Matteo (Diego Luna) and Adrienne (Sienna Miller), a couple whose relationship is on the rocks. Once they get into a fatal accident, they find themselves in limbo, revisiting past memories as they try to figure out where things went wrong and how they can move forward even if it might be impossible since they may not escape the limbo they’re in. Their dilemma makes Wander Darkly an interesting meditation on the importance of savoring each moment. Appreciate each moment we’re on this Earth, and the people in our lives, because our lives could be taken in an

Greendale Movie Review: Neil Young's Uplifting Musical Novel

The songs are very good and their sum is better than the individual parts.
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In 2003, Neil Young released Greendale, a concept album, or what he called a "musical novel" that found him backed by Crazy Horse. Young didn't stop there though. He also directed (under his Bernard Shakey psuedonym) a long form video to accompany the music. The story is about the Green family who live in Greendale, a fictional town in Northern California. The audience meets Grandpa, who reflects on the problems of the world. He is so aware that he's even able to comment on the narrator of the story. As Grandpa reads the paper one morning, he reveals that with

Popeye (1980) Blu-ray Review: A Strange Little Miracle

It is amazing this film ever got made and that it is actually good.
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That Popeye got made at all is a small wonder. That it is really quite wonderful is nothing short of miraculous. This was 1980, a time when comic book movies were barely a blip in anyone's radar. Superman had been a huge success in 1978 but that's pretty much it. Director Robert Altman had big successes with M*A*S*H and Nashville but most of his movies were critically acclaimed and box-office duds. His Hollywood outsider status and unusual directing style would presumably not make anyone automatically think of him as the guy to direct a musical based upon a comic strip

The Shop Around the Corner Blu-ray Review: An Example of Ernst Lubitsch's Genius

A still enchanting and emotionally grounded romantic comedy gem from one of the greatest directors of all-time.
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I don't have to tell you that legendary director Ernst Lubitsch remains one of the pioneers of the romantic-comedy genre of cinema. He always added his signature style and charm to every film he ever made. There is a reason why you still hear the phrase "the Lubitsch touch," especially in film circles. With his trademark humor, delicacy, and masterful way with words/dialogue, he was acclaimed to be a sheer influence by the likes of many iconic filmmakers, including Hitchcock, Welles, Truffaut, among others. He also wasn't afraid to bring some much-needed humanity and a sense of emotional realism to

Five John Hughes Favorites Arrive in One Must-Own Blu-ray Collection February 23

The set includes Pretty in Pink; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; as well as the Blu-ray debuts of She’s Having a Baby and Some Kind of Wonderful.
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Press release: Five essential John Hughes classics arrive in one fantastic Blu-ray Collection on February 23, 2021 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The JOHN HUGHES 5-MOVIE COLLECTION includes the beloved favorites Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, as well as the Blu-ray debuts of She’s Having a Baby and Some Kind of Wonderful. The Collection also includes access to a digital copy of each film. Originally released on February 28, 1986, Pretty In Pink celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2021. Produced and written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch, the film stars Molly Ringwald

Young Man with a Horn Blu-ray Review: Birth of the Cool

Kirk Douglas helps to start a sea change in the Hollywood status quo with this ultra-cool performance
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Kirk Douglas was a force in Hollywood for so many decades that it’s easy to forget that he was a struggling young actor at one point. Only a few years into his career, he landed his second top-billed role in this stirring drama, bringing effortless cool to the story of a rising jazz musician. With massive assists from legendary leading ladies Doris Day and Lauren Bacall, along with direction by Casablanca helmer Michael Curtiz, Douglas ushered in the 1950s with this genre-defying film, helping to move Hollywood from the era of formulaic musicals and superficial, slick actors to something with

Mouchette is the Pick of the Week

A 1967 Robert Bresson classic starts off a new week of incredible releases.
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The legendary Robert Bresson remains one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. His portraits (often harrowing, yet poetic) of humanity being tested, continues to be a benchmark/influence for later filmmakers, especially with their own versions of humanisitic struggles. Mouchette, Bresson's 1967 masterpiece, is one of his best and most unsettling tales of how bleak and grim life can really be, especially for children. The film tells the heartbreaking story of Mouchette (Nadine Nortier), a young girl trying to survive in the French countryside. Her mother is on her deathbed, her father is absent, and her baby brother

Trading Places Blu-ray Review: A Comedic Look at Nature vs. Nurture

Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy team in this funny role-reversal story that's a throwback to the screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s.
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Paramount has recently released John Landis' Trading Places, a funny role-reversal story that's a throwback to the screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s, along with The Golden Child and 4K Ultra editions of Coming to America and Beverly Hills Cop. The Duke brothers, Randolph and Mortimer (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche), are wealthy commodity brokers and terrible people. After disagreeing about whether heredity or environment is a prevailing factor in a person's life, they wager on trading the places of Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), an esteemed employee at the Dukes' brokerage firm, and street hustler Billy Ray Valentine

Zappa Movie Review: A Compelling Look at One of History's Most Intruguing Musicians

Alex Winter delivers a fine documentary about a musical enigma with Zappa.
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From director Alex Winter of Bill and Ted fame comes Zappa, a deep dive into the life and career of Frank Zappa -- an artist as talented as he was controversial. Made in conjunction with the Zappa Family Trust (Zappa’s son Ahmet served as producer) and narrated by Zappa himself through archival interviews, Winter had access to countless hours of audio and video and conducted numerous interviews with former bandmembers, Zappa collaborators, and Zappa’s widow Gail. While Winter is clearly a fan and the film is very much a labor of love for him, he does his best to present

Dear Santa (2020) Movie Review: A Lesson in Miracles

How the USPS helps make Christmas happen every year.
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The United States Post Office has had quite a challenging year. Leadership changes, cutbacks, setbacks, and financial woes are just a few of the things that this government agency has faced due to our current administration. But understanding how important timely mail delivery is, from letters and packages to medications and ballots, people from all across the United States showed their support for those whose work motto is "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." But what many Americans may not know is that since 1907,

Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan Movie Review

A holistic picture of the complex poet and musician Shane MacGowan
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Do you listen to the Pogues? If your answer is "no" or "I'm not sure", as the holidays are upon us, and Christmas music fills the air, you will more than likely hear "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues and the late Kristy MacColl at some time during the month. The haunting and beautiful opening lyrics filling the air: It was Christmas Eve, babeIn the drunk tankAn old man said to me, "Won't see another one"And then he sang a song"The Rare Old Mountain Dew"I turned my face awayAnd dreamed about you But if your answer to "do you

Weathering With You (Limited Collector's Edition) 4K Ultra HD Review: Prettier Colors, More Insight

This 4K limited edition of the anime film includes the film's soundtrack and a fascinating feature-length making-of documentary.
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Whatever misgivings I had about 2019's Weathering With You when I reviewed it a couple of months ago in its initial Blu-ray release, it is a remarkably pretty film. While the character designs and animation are definitely within the typical anime style (big eyes, simplified facial designs) the backgrounds are nearly photorealistic, with just enough push in their colors and movement of the elements to keep them from looking like staid still images. The story, about a Tokyo drowning in rain, a runaway who needs to find his place, and the girl who can change the weather who becomes his

The Golden Child Blu-ray Review: A Classic Callback to When Films Were Fun

A perfect blend of comedy and action staring Eddie Murphy.
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Once upon a time, in a century past, during a decade called the Eighties, there was a legendary man who was no mere mortal. He was loved by millions for his edgy comedic style. But not only was he known for his standup comedy, but he also starred in some of the most famous sketches on a television show called Saturday Night Live. As he blossomed into stardom a small television show could no longer contain his immense talents and the silver screen beckoned him away. In that magical place his celebrity intensified as he became the biggest box-office star

Ammonite Movie Review: Winslet and Ronan Get Lost at Sea

A slow-burn romance that's disappointingly too measured.
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Similar to director Francis Lee’s feature debut God’s Own Country, Ammonite is an incredibly minimalist romance set against the backdrop of a luscious landscape. A similar reliance on the actors’ faces to convey the romance at hand as we hear winds and waves blowing instead of an ominous musical score. Even the story elements are pretty similar to God’s Own Country as it involves a working-class protagonist feeling cut off from the world around her only for a person from a different background, whether it’s a different country or social background, to enter her environment and reshape her life. The

Chernobyl (2019) 4K Ultra HD Review: Harrowing, Horrifying Disaster Story

This five-part miniseries depicts the 1986 nuclear disaster, and the cover ups and lies that made it worse.
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Chernobyl is a horror story with two monsters. One is technological, the other is human. The human horror caused the technological, which wreaked its havoc upon an unsuspecting, completely unknowing populace. It's a story about the terror of an unseen monster wantonly destroying lives, and about a system of men desperate to avoid responsibility and accountability, letting more die rather than stepping in and doing what little they could to stop it. The historical facts are, of course, now well known: on April 24th of 1986, a reactor at a Soviet nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded, sending up swaths

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