January 2021 Archives

Criterion Announces April 2021 Releases

Something old, something new.
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In April, there will be five releases from The Criterion Collection. The new additions are Frank Borzage's History Is Made at Night, Bong Joon Ho's Memories of Murder, and Olivier Assayas's Irma Vep. Getting high-def upgrades are Anthony Mann's The Furies and Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin féminin. Read on to learn more about them. History Is Made at Night (#685) out Apr 13 Suffused with intoxicating romanticism, History Is Made at Night is a sublime paean to love from Frank Borzage, classic Hollywood’s supreme poet of carnal and spiritual desire. On the run through Europe from her wealthy, cruelly possessive husband,

The Marksman (2021) Movie Review: Off Target

Even during a pandemic, we get the annual generic Liam Neeson action thriller.
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There is no debating that Liam Neeson is the one big-name actor currently working in Hollywood who is able to get a standard action thriller to theaters when the film is obviously more suitable for VOD viewing. Even actors like Nicolas Cage, John Travolta, and Bruce Willis don’t have the opportunities to turn each of their 2010-and-beyond action movies into first-run theatrical releases that appear on more than 1,000 screens. A few may slip through the cracks, but most are readily available for viewing at home on the day of release. All the consumer has to do is pay the

Asian World Film Festival to Commemorate Bruce Lee's 80th Anniversary with Online Screenings of His Iconic Films

Including a celebrity panel exploring his many accolades and iconic films.
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Press release: The Asian World Film Festival (AWFF) will be presenting a “Bruce Lee Online Tribute” to commemorate the 80th anniversary of his birth including a celebrity panel exploring his many accolades and iconic films, Friday, January 15 to Monday, January 18, 2021. Films to be screened in the window of given dates are Fist of Fury (January 15), Bruce Lee, The Legend (January 16), Enter the Dragon (January 18), to be presented by actor Robert Wall (Enter the Dragon, Walker, Texas Ranger) and Be Water (late January) and can be viewed via https://awff-bruce-lee-qa.eventbrite.com. The panel, which will explore the

Versus (2000) Blu-ray Review: Samurai Zombie Yakuza Action

More than 20 years after its initial release, this wildly energetic Japanese action-horror film gets an extras packed release.
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Japanese cinema at the beginning of the 21st century was fun. There was an explosion of cinematic talent coming from the V-cinema scene (direct to video genre movies) and making a mark on the rest of the movie world, and it seems every week there was some new crazy trend or wildly prolific director that was coming suddenly to the fore. In those days before the great geek leveling of the mid-'00s to the '10s, where everything that used to be a geek concern suddenly stormed into the mainstream, it was wild to have genre mashups and crossovers. So while

Toys of Terror DVD Giveaway

Bringing the nostalgia of stop motion holiday specials to audiences.
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Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to award one lucky reader Toys of Terror on DVD. It is currently available to own via purchase from digital retailers and arrives on DVD on January 19, 2021 . For those wanting to learn more, read the press release below: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will have you on the edge of seats with an all-new original feature-length horror film, Toys of Terror, on Digital NOW and DVD January 19, 2021. The movie is priced to own at $14.99 SRP for Digital, and $19.98 SRP ($24.98 in Canada) for the

Rick and Morty: Seasons 1-4 - Bring Home The Antics on Blu-ray & DVD March 2

Get ready to binge on one of cables #1 watched comedies - and follow the misadventures of America’s favorite crazy scientist and his grandchildren with this outrageous boxed set.
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Press release: Wubba-lubba-dub-dub! From creators Justin Roiland (“Adventure Time”) and Dan Harmon (“Community”), go on an intergalactic journey across the multi-verse with the release of Rick and Morty: Seasons 1-4 boxed set from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on March 2, 2021. Get ready to binge on one of cables #1 watched comedies - and follow the misadventures of America’s favorite crazy scientist and his grandchildren with this outrageous boxed set which includes all 41 episodes from the first four seasons of the award-winning series, along with copious special features, including audio commentary, deleted scenes, “Inside the Episode” segments, numerous featurettes,

TV Review: The Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer

The series traces the 1985 summer of terror.
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The summer of 1985 was filled with terror for Southern California residents. A serial killer, who would come to be known as “The Night Stalker,” was on the loose and no one knew if or when he would stop. No one was safe as his horrifying rampage did not discriminate as his victims ranged from small children to people in their 80s. I can personally remember that summer. While we lived in a quiet neighborhood at the time, my family began locking the front door and bought locks for the windows of our house. We placed sticks in the windowsills

Skyfire Movie Review: Utterly Predictable but Harmless

Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, Skyfire makes for fun, forgettable viewing.
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Skyfire is directed by Simon West, a filmmaker with a not-so-good track record. Two out of his previous four films have a score of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, while one stands at 32%, and the last one has no score. The filmmaker's most well-received work in the previous decade is The Expendables 2, which itself is far from a perfect movie. With this in mind, I knew Skyfire wouldn’t be the next 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, I didn't expect it to be a watchable fare. Surprisingly, it is far from unwatchable. It's no 2001, but it ain’t Gun

Just Before Dawn is the Pick of the Week

An incredibly underrated and eerily atmospheric 80's slasher tops a new week of releases.
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When Halloween, John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece was released, it became the essential template on how to successfully create a thrill-ride, especially with a limited budget. It was such a game-changer that it spawned a decade of imitations, including its sequels and the Friday the 13th franchise. But the one so-called riproff that may be the best of them all (in my opinion) is Jeff Lieberman's vastly underappreciated 1981 backwoods slasher, Just Before Dawn. On the surface, it has that same unoriginal formula, where a group of fun-loving youths go off on a weekend of frolic, drinking, and skinny dipping on

Book Review: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Crusader's Curse by Stuart Douglas

The Crusader's Curse is fast-paced and fun and will be enjoyed by fans of Sherlock Holmes and mystery lovers in general.
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The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Crusader’s Curse (2020) by Stuart Douglas is the thirty-second entry in the Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series published by Titan Books. In The Crusader’s Curse, Holmes and Watson are suffering through a slow-crime period in London and are happy to be hired to spend a few days in the country at a centuries-old manse that is up for auction after the recent death of the owner. There is a mysteriously missing art collection; a lost, priceless ruby; and a deathly curse associated with the decidedly odd house and the dangerous caverns that

Book Review: Marvel Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Wings of Fury by Brittney Morris

A slow burn that should appeal to Spider-Man fans; especially teenage Spider-Man fans and fans who identify as people-of-color.
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Marvel Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Wings of Fury by Brittney Morris is a prequel to the video game Marvel Spider-Man: Miles Morales released on both the PS4 and PS5. Wings of Fury opens with Miles reeling from the recent death of his father and a move with his mother out of Brooklyn to his Abuela’s home in Spanish Harlem. This novel begins to move Miles out of the shadow of Peter Parker. It is a novel about coming into your own and tries to begin to answer two central questions: what does it take to be Spider-Man, and, the more

Tourist Trap (VHS Retro Big Box Collection) Review: A Solid, Offbeat Flick

A late '70s cult horror gem with ideas, even if those ideas are not entirely successful.
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When it comes to the horror genre, there's always going to be the usual movies steeped in typical cliches, such as possessions, creepy children, zombies, etc. However, once in awhile, there are others that come out of nowhere and contain such originality, that they can get sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Tourist Trap (1979), directed by David Schmoeller, which is for better and/or worse, one of those films. As with most slasher films, the film starts off with a group of fun-loving youths (including Jocelyn Jones and the late Tanya Roberts) making one of the biggest mistakes characters usually

Cinema Paradiso Blu-ray Review: Heaven-Sent

Giuseppe Tornatore's wonderful tribute to cinema gets a terrific treatment from Arrow Academy.
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The winner for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1989 Golden Globes and Academy Awards ceremonies, and deservedly so, Cinema Paradiso is a terrific reminder as to why people go to the movies. It’s not just to see the latest from their favorite actor or director; it’s also to get the experience of watching it with others around you on the biggest screen possible with the best sound available. Granted, there are those who don’t have respect for others in the cinema and rain on their parade. But that doesn’t stop people from getting out and enjoying the latest release.

Three Films by Luis Buñuel Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Don's Swan Songs

Legendary director wraps up a five decade career with three impressive films
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As Luis Buñuel neared the end of his life, he swore each time he made a film that it would be his last, not because he wanted to quit, but because he feared dying before completion. Known as Don Luis to his crews and cast members, he reportedly made his sets welcoming, joyous environments, even as he grappled with his own mortality. Death factors into the plots of each of the films included in this new Criterion box set, but Buñuel’s wry comedic sensibilities ensure that the films never seem morbid, instead seemingly implying that life is but a farce.

New Nichelle Nichols Documentary Feature 'Woman in Motion' Lands in Movie Theaters Nationwide on February 2

"Nichelle Nichols helped create the brighter future we are living in today by proclaiming that space exploration is for everyone." - director Todd Thompson
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Press release: The inspiring true story of how renowned Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols pioneered the NASA recruiting program to hire people of color and the first female astronauts for the space agency in the late 1970s and 1980s, Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA will open in movie theaters nationwide for one night only on February 2, 2021. Directed by Todd Thompson (The Highwaymen, PRE FAB!), the film chronicles how Nichols transformed her sci-fi television stardom into a real-life science career when, in 1977, she embarked on a campaign to bring diversity to

Three Films by Luis Bunuel is the Pick of the Week

A box set of the legendary Luis Buñuel's final three masterpieces takes the top spot of a new week of releases.
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What else can any self-respecting film critic or lover say about the one and only Luis Buñuel (the father of Surrealism)?! He remains arguably cinema's greatest provocateur and troublemaker, who made often radical films that went against and definitely satirized class distinctions and sexual politics, which are themes that still exist today. From his notorious short Un Chien Andalou (1929, co-written with Salvador Dali) to his final and seductive masterwork That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), his delicious and anti-establishmental influence surfaces in the works of many other filmmakers, especially those in the works of Pedro Almodovar and Woody Allen.

Lupin III: The First Blu-ray Review: Lots of Fun

Lupin III's first foray into digital animation is a lovely looking, fun adventure for the family.
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Arsène Lupin the great master of disguise and gentleman thief was created by Maurice Leblanc in 1905. The character originally came to life through a series of short stories within a French magazine. Popularity pushed him into novels and over the last century or so he has been found in various manga series, television programs, movies, games, and more. In 1967, Japanese artist Monkey Punch created Lupin III, grandson of Arsène Lupin for a series of mangas. This character became hugely popular in its own right spawning its own multi-media empire. I first discovered the character via The Castle of

Best of 2020 (Pandemic Edition): Best of the Rest

The books, the music, the tacos, and even more of the rest of my entertainment projects of 2020.
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2020 BY THE NUMBERS 4,872,686 steps taken this year (2361 miles, 64 less than 2019)365 Days walking over 5 miles in 20203 Days not walking over 5 miles since 1/1/15.56 days with over 7 hours of sleep (twice of the 2019 number)100 beers logged that were new to me this year.0 times with the hiccups32 books read (5th year in a row of meeting 25-book goal)12,833 pages read in completed books0 concerts attended1 time swimming36 films released in 1970 watched17 unique taco joints visited4 movies seen in theaters (short of 25 goal) 9 States visited296 albums released in 1970 listened

Best of 2020 (Pandemic Edition): The TV/Streaming Lists

Here's what filled my days and nights this year.
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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

The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee Movie Review: Curb Your Enthusiasm

I can’t get past the fact that I enjoyed watching Paul Hogan struggle through this project.
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Looking to kill 90 minutes on New Year's Day? Head to Amazon Prime and cue up The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee. I am of course referring to Crocodile Dundee, the character created and portrayed by Paul Hogan in three Crocodile Dundee Films. Yes, there were three. So for the seven of you who have wondered what became of Paul Hogan, the answer comes in the form of The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee. A new film from writers Robert Mond and Dean Murphy, who also directed, that plays out like a long, plodding, contrived episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with Paul

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