Recently in Pick of the Week

Jason Bourne is the Pick of the Week

This week bring us a new Bourne movie, a couple of Criterions, Mad Max in black and white and more.
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My wife and I lived in Strasbourg, France for about ten months back in 2004. We sublet a tiny studio apartment from a university student who was spending a year living in England. There was hardly any furniture - a small desk, a coffee table, and a couple of half-broken chairs. She’d taken the bed out as it was only a single. A friend of ours let us borrow a blow-up mattress, but it had a tiny hole in it so as the night crept on we got lower and lower to the floor. After about a week of that,

Don't Breathe is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some thrilling horrors, some weird anime, and at least two friendly monsters.
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It's strange this writing things that get published on the internet. You never really know who is reading what your wrote, if anyone actually is at all. This afternoon I went to see a Fathom screening of Breakfast at Tiffany's. When I got to the theater, I tweeted about it and shared my location on Facebook. Then later this afternoon, in real life, no fewer than three people asked me how the movie was. That always throws me. It took me a minute to realize how they knew I’d gone to the movies. It makes perfect sense that people I

Hell or High Water is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a modern western, and old horror flick, a couple of Criterions, Marlon Brando directing and much more.
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I’m much too young to have grown up during the heyday of westerns. As a kid I didn’t like them. They were too old, too old-fashioned for me to take any interest in. When I’d complain about my uncle watching them, he’d laugh and say I really did like westerns I just didn’t know it. Star Wars, he’d explain, was really just a western in outer space, so maybe I should give John Wayne a try. I’d make a face and go play with my Han Solo figure. It was Young Guns that turned me around. That 1988 film about

Finding Dory is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a forgetful fish, a killer king (or two), several Criterions, and lots of Buster Keaton.
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I have lamented numerous times in these pages about how my young daughter has kept me from seeing a great many movies. For years it was inappropriate to take her to the theatre and babysitters were hard to come by. Many movies that I want to watch at home should surely not be viewed with toddlers by my side. Thing is she’s five and a half now. She loves going to the movies. She has a greater attention span so she can watch longer and more complicated plot lines with at least some comprehension. I'm also pretty liberal in what

Taxi Driver (40th Anniversary Edition) Is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a blind crime fighter, a killer taxi driver, raunchy sausages, and more.
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If The Avengers are all about saving the world from alien annihilation, then the Defenders have far less loftier goals - they protect the dirty neighborhood streets of New York City from thugs and gangsters (and the occasional ninja). Four seasons in (two of Daredevil and one each of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage) and I am totally on board with Marvel’s street level superheroes. With these Netflix series, Marvel is proving yet again that their aim is to take over every possible entertainment venue we have as puny humans. They’ve ruled the comics market for decades and every few

Batman: The Return of the Caped Crusaders is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an animated Caped Crusader, a sea of trees, bad moms and more.
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As a teenager living in the '80s I developed a great fondness for old '50s, '60s, and '70s television shows. A lot of fledgling cable channels found it valuable (and no doubt cheap) to rerun old shows rather than create original programming. I’d sit every afternoon watching that old stuff. I loved just about all of it from the cheesy shows of the '50s like Donna Reed and Father Knows Best to more urban and socially conscious '70s series such as Good Times and The Jeffersons. It was during these classic TV afternoons that I discovered two of my all-time

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an enormous gore feast, Norman Lear, Bob Dylan, Viggo Mortensen in the woods, and much more.
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Halloween is really sneaking up on me this year. October is normally one of my favorite months of the year as it is the beginning of cooler weather, hot drinks, the smell of burning wood, and beautiful colors. It's also the only month of the year when everybody wants to watch scary movies. I don’t know if it's the warm weather, or the fact that we bought a house and have been spending all our excess time and energy fixing it up or what, but I just haven’t been feeling October this year. We had our annual pumpkin-carving party a

Cafe Society is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a new Woody Allen, lots of old Marx Brothers comedies, a couple of Criterions, an Independence Day sequel nobody really wanted, and much more.
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There are a handful of directors that will get me to the theatre sight unseen. Martin Scorsese, The Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, and a few others make films that I know I want to see even if I know nothing going in. Even if the critical evaluations have been poor. I don’t always love their movies and on occasion I've even come close to outright loathing them, but I am never disappointed in having seen them. Directors with a true vision can be a rare thing in Hollywood, and I’m always ready to see what they can do with it.

The Hills Have Eyes (Arrow Video Edition) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us nuclear mutants, Mel Gibson, Tarzan, the music of Jerry Garcia, lady ghostbusters, and much more.
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This weekend I gave away the vast majority of my CD collection. I am a collector of things, especially entertainment media things, so this was a very difficult thing to do. I love physical objects. Books line my walls, my DVD shelves are overflowing, and CDs stack up everywhere. At least they used to. Truth is, most of my CDs have been sitting in boxes for several years because I’ve not had room in my homes to put them anywhere. Truth is, I really haven’t minded. I’ve long since had all my music ripped to my hard drive and I

Preacher: Season One is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us comic books brought to screens both big and small, an election year purge, lots of TV and more.
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In this new Golden Age of Television, it's easy to feel a bit like King Midas where every show you turn to is beautiful. Yet much like the legend, this can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing. There is just too much great TV available and not enough time to watch it. I now not only have a list of shows I want to watch but I now have to keep another list of shows I’ve started, really loved, but have not yet caught up with because I keep getting distracted with all the other

The Neon Demon is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us sinister models, shark attacks, goofy horror flicks, critically acclaimed Polish films and so much more.
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I used to say that the best part of going to the movies was watching the movie trailers before the show started. That wasn’t really true of course (unless the film was bad), but in those days that was about the only place I could find out what movies were coming up. It wasn’t like today where there are a hundred million sites dedicated to giving us every scrap of information about every upcoming movie from here to eternity. Truth be told, I don’t really pay that much attention to those things anyway. My Facebook and Twitter feeds get filled

Beauty and the Beast (25th Anniversary Edition) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a Disney classic, David Bowie with crazy hair, an early Coen Brothers film, teenaged turtles and more.
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Memory is a funny thing. It changes and mutates along the way as we get older. My memory says I was a great fan of the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s, but looking back at those films it seems I really wasn’t. The Little Mermaid kicked things off in 1989. I was 13. I love that film. I think I saw it in theaters upon first release, but honestly, it's become such a part of my cinematic DNA, I can no longer remember the first time I saw it. Beauty and the Beast was released two years later, and I’m

Aliens: 30th Anniversary Edition is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a special anniversary, a ghost story sequel, a comic book nerd's dream come true, and lots of classic films getting nice upgrades.
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I can’t remember when I first saw Aliens. It was definitely the plural and not the singular (it would be years later than I’d finally sit down with the original Ridley Scott film). I vaguely remember seeing it with my cousins. I certainly discussed it with them and we quoted it regularly. But the details fade. My strongest memory of the actual film is the scene in which two of the marines are caught in a tunnel and one decides to take out as many aliens as she can by letting them come in close and exploding a grenade. As

Money Monster is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a World War II film from Carol Reed, Bryan Cranston as a president, Salma Hayek in an Italian fairy tale, and George Clooney's charm.
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My wife and I have never, nor will we ever make a freebie list - a list of five celebrities whom we can sleep with without the other getting upset over it - but if we did, George Clooney would be at the top of hers. Hell, he’d be pretty close to the top of mine, and I don’t begin to even swing that way. But he’s just so damn handsome and he just bathes in charm, and push come to shove, I don’t think I’d be able to help myself. He’s one of my all-time favorite movie stars, which

The Jungle Book (2016) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a Disney remake, a couple of Orson Welles' Criterion releases, a hotel manager, and more.
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I suppose it's not all that strange that in this world of constant remakes, reboots, prequels, sequels and cinematic universes that Disney would be reimagining their classic animated catalog as (more or less) live-action films. No that seems perfectly normal to me. What is sort-of amazing to my mind is just how many terrific people they are getting to perform in them, and in the case of The Jungle Book, just how rather good the final product is. This new version of The Jungle Book was directed by Jon Favreau and stars Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o,

Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us the return of the Evil Dead, more zombies, the devil living in L.A., and much more.
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I turned 18 in 1994. So though I consider myself a child of the '80s, it was really the early '90s that informed who I am culturally. I have a great fondness for much of the TV, movies, and music that came from the '80s but when I really break it down, it was that period from 1990 to 1994 that I began to take the culture’s artistic mediums seriously. I may reach a nostalgic sort of glee when I hear Tiffany sing “I Think We’re Alone Now” or I catch Gremlins running amok, but its not until I hear

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Movie Ever Made is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us fan films, angry birds, murders by appliances, Elvis, and more.
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Movies were a huge part of my childhood. I have all sorts of fond memories of going to the cinema and watching them on TV. My parents were early adopters to the Beta and VHS home-movie formats and nearly every weekend we’d wind up at the rental place finding something to watch. As a teenager, I thought my parents were completely lame and I didn’t get along with them most of the time, but I still went with them to the movies regularly. It was the one way in which we could enjoy each others company. But I never went

11.22.63 is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us time travel, holograms, superheroes, and more.
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The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 looms large in our American identity. Hell, it looms over my own identity and I wasn’t born until 13 years later. The 1960s as a whole were greatly influential upon our culture. It gave us the Beatles, the Stones, Dr. Strangelove, Lawrence of Arabia, hippies, free love, Woodstock, Altamont, the Civil Rights Movement and the murder of a President. In the years since that decade died, countless amount of words have been written, documentaries filmed, and art created praising those ten years as monumental. Sometimes, it feels like that from the very

Key & Peele: The Complete Series is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us the funniest comedy duo of the decade, a sci-fi remake, a sci-fi original, a motion comic, and more.
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Mat Brewster is on vacation this week, so I am filling in. Two weeks ago, I was preparing to go to the world famous San Diego Comic-Con where I would immerse myself in entertainment and pop culture for five days with over 130,000 like-minded folks. It can be a hectic schedule running around the convention center and outer locations, through throngs of cosplayers, autograph seekers, memorbilia purchasers, to then stand in long lines or wait through panels in an effort to get into one's desired programs. The sleep and feeding schedules are usually thrown off, and of course with my

Pioneers of African-American Cinema is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a huge collection of African-American films, several revenge style flicks, Pocahontas. and much more.
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I consider myself an amateur cinephile. By which I mean I take films seriously - I watch with a critical eye, I attempt to understand the artistry and craftsmanship of cinema, and I do my best to dig into the history of the medium. But I also have a life, a job, a family, and not nearly the time I need to dedicate myself full-time to watching movies. This means there are large gaps in both genre and history of movies that I’ve never seen. There is a very long list of movies I really ought to watch before I

O.J.: Made In America is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us O.J., Elvis meeting Nixon, three films from Criterion, and much more.
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In the summer of 1994, I was 18, had just graduated high school, and was doing my best to have "The Best Summer Ever" while college loomed just over my shoulder. I was looking forward to that experience, but I had signed on to University in Alabama - a good 800 miles away from my home in Oklahoma - so I was a little nervous about leaving everything I knew for something new. At the same time, the entire world became obsessed with a football player turned actor and the lurid murder of his wife and her friend. Somehow, I

Green Room is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a green room, a carnival of souls, passionate crimes and much more.
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Last week I wrote about buying a house and noted that we would be moving in on Tuesday. We did exactly that and then moved right back out. The very evening we moved in the wife and I both took showers. Upon exiting, I noted that the tub was very slow to drain. An hour or so later my wife asked me if I had made a mess getting out of the tub as the towel I had put down was sopping wet. Further investigation noted large amounts of water filling in around the toilet. Our lines were clogged and

Blood and Black Lace is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some Italian horror, Studio Ghibli animation, a '90s indie, some sorority babes, and much more.
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The wife and I recently bought a house. It's the first time we’ve ever done that. We talked about it for years but had never been stable enough in our jobs or location that we felt it was possible. When we moved back to my hometown a couple of years ago, we started talking about it seriously. A little over a year ago we started looking. Got pre-approved from the bank, connected with a realtor, and visited every house within our price range within a 50-mile radius. Turns out it's really quite difficult to choose a place that you are

Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a nuclear comedy, killer tomatoes, a special effects wizard and much more.
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If you’ve watched a movie with any sort of special-effects-laden creature in the last century, you’ve watched a film influenced by Ray Harryhausen. Inspired by watching King Kong (1933), Harryhausen went on to pioneer the use of stop motion effects and created what he called Dynamation in which he super imposed his stop-motion effects onto a previously shot scene, enabling real life actors to interact with his puppets. His films often fall into the science-fiction/fantasy gutter of the 1960s era, and I’ve honestly not seen the majority of them, but just seeing clips of those effects is jaw-dropping. Knowing that

Knight of Cups is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a bunch of Shakespearean adaptations, a fun-looking sci-fi thriller, a Norwegian disaster flick, and the award for worst titled film to ever get my pick.
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I hope someone was fired over this. Knight of Cups is a terrible name for a film. Terrence Malick has a difficult enough time selling his films to an audience in the first place so there is no need to give it the worst title possible. I mean, I’m rooting for the guy. I’ve loved the films of his that I’ve seen and I want him to make many more, but even I totally cringed at this title and stayed away from it in the theatre. It doesn’t help that his movies are becoming more and more experimental. Knight of

The X-Files: Event Series is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us new X-Files, a couple of sequels, a couple of Criterions, a young Jesus, and much more.
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For one reason or another, I never got into The X-Files when it first ran. Truth be known, I’m not even sure how aware I was of its existence. Surely I’d seen some adverts for it, but I didn’t know anybody who watched it and it just wasn’t part of my cultural consciousness. Late in my college career, this would be around 1997-98, some friends dropped in for a weekend and they were fans so we watched that week’s episode. I was not impressed. The effects looked cheap, the monsters were silly, and I was completely lost in terms of

Hail, Caesar! is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us the Coen Brothers playing with old Hollywood, U2 performing live in Paris, Michael Bay exploding things in Benghazi, and more.
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The Coen Brothers last took on Hollywood in 1991 with Barton Fink. That movie was a dark, cynical, symbolic look at the motion-picture business (and a whole lot of other things) that was rather relentless in its black comedy. Their newest Hail, Caesar! is a much breezier, lighter (if no less brilliant) affair that indicates, perhaps, a brighter view of Hollywood. Or maybe it's just the Coens being zany again. The plot (what little there is) follows Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) as he oversees various projects for Capitol Pictures and mostly “fixes” a multitude of problems created by the stars

Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us three films from Wim Wenders, a human tornado, a city of women, a blood bath and much more.
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I’ve seen exactly one Wim Wenders film (Until the End of the World - I think - or it could have been Faraway, So Close. It was definitely a U2 song title, and I don’t remember any angels so I’m pretty sure it was Until the End of the World). Obviously, I don’t remember much of the film, but I do remember not liking it. Or rather I liked the first part of the film, which felt like (and had the run time of) a full movie, but then it just kept going and became a different film entirely. By

Killer Dames: Two Gothic Chillers is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a couple of Italian horrors, Jesus, a midwife, and Scott Baio using magic to look up girls skirts.
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I have somewhat eclectic cinematic tastes. I’m just as thrilled to see classic American films like Casablanca or To Kill a Mockingbird as I am modern blockbusters such as the Marvel movies or the new Star Wars. I can sit contemplatively through even the densest Bergman or Godard arthouse films and fist pump at creative kills in an '80s slasher flick or the sadomasochistic weirdness that is Takashi Miike movies. As such, I am perpetually feeling guilty about not watching one sort of film or another. If I start watching a bunch of big budget, smashy-smashy, exploding movies, then I

The Witch is the Pick of the Week

This week bring us an acclaimed horror, some women in prison, a dirty grandpa and much more.
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Last Friday was the 13th of May, my brother’s birthday, but more importantly a traditional day of horror. Normally, I’d watch the slasher series with the hockey-masked killer, but my family was having none of that. Instead, we watched one of the newest incarnations of Scooby-Doo (which strangely features a lot of heart-throbbing between the characters - yuck,) an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and part of The Mummy Returns. There wasn’t enough gore-filled stabbing in either of those for my taste, but one has to deal with all sorts of compromises when one has a family. What this

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