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
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An incredibly underrated and eerily atmospheric 80's slasher tops a new week of releases.
A box set of the legendary Luis Buñuel's final three masterpieces takes the top spot of a new week of releases.
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.
One of the finest American films of all-time headlines a new week of slim releases.
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.
A still fun, deliciously silly, and thoughtful 1990 cult classic takes the top spot of a new week of releases.
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
A 1967 Robert Bresson classic starts off a new week of incredible releases.
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
Cronenberg's most provocative and sexually charged film headlines a new week of interesting releases.
When you think of legendary director David Cronenberg, you picture highly original works of twisted horror and scientific madness. Whether it's Shivers (his film debut), The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, among others, you're bound to experience content, themes, and characters you've never seen before. The kinky 1996 cult masterpiece, Crash, arguably his most explicit outing, is definitely no exception. Adapted from author J.G. Ballard's future-shock novel from the '70s, the film stars James Spader, Deborah Kara Unger, and Holly Hunter as an insubordinate commercial producer, his coolly nonchalant wife, and a mysterious doctor, who are brought together after a
A massive 15-disc box set of one of the all-time greatest iconoclasts headlines a new week of interesting releases.
I don't have to tell you that Federico Fellini remains one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of film. He was an artist who crafted a cinematic spectacle all his own, creating an unique but sometimes bleak world full of dreamers, whose desires, fears, nightmares, and hopes all take center stage. Yes, you can say that he could be over-indulgent, especially when it came to color, eccentricity, so many set pieces, and larger-than-life characters, but that's what was so interesting and phenomenal about him. He made films the way he wanted to make them: full of life, humor, and
Jim Jarmusch's 1999 quirky action classic starts off a new week of interesting releases.
Legendary and celebrated indie director Jim Jarmusch is the type of filmmaker that you can't place in a certain box. Every film he makes has a style and craft that is pretty unique. Yes, they can be offbeat, slow, and low-brow, but that is what makes them striking and highly original. One of his best and most accessible films, the 1999 take on the modern hit-man Ghost Dog; The Way of the Samurai, definitely represents the eccentricity that Jarmusch is famous for. In one of his signature roles, the great Forest Whitaker plays a Zen, contract killer working for an
A 1978 modern classic about female friendship and women in the big city tops a new week of interesting releases.
In popular culture, we've seen great movies and TV shows about female friendships and the ups and downs that obviously inhabit them. There was Sex and the City, Thelma and Louise, Gilmore Girls, Booksmart, Girls, and The Golden Girls, among others. But I think they all owe a great deal of gratitude to director Claudia Weill's landmark 1978 classic Girlfriends. It's an unfairly overlooked and incredibly underrated portrait of the often tense conflicts but deep bonds and communication between women. The film stars Melanie Mayron and Anita Skinner as Susan and Anne, very best friends living togerther in Manhattan on
A now classic and highly relevant comic book saga tops a new week of releases.
When Donald Trump was unfortunately elected in 2016, that obviously set out an extreme chain of events that have turned the country inside out and upside down. Due to his tyranny, lies, dishonesty, and negligence, there has been police brutality, even more intense racism, and very deadly global epidemic. Because of this, there have been so many protests (peaceful or otherwise), and many films have depicted this, the government's hold on humanity and totalitarianism, such as 1984, Brazil, and V for Vendetta (adapted by director James McTiegue and written by Wachowskis), a solid and dystopian thriller that remains incredibly potent
Bong Joon-ho's modern masterpiece headlines a new week of stellar releases.
Everything you've heard about director Bong Joon-ho's rightly acclaimed and celebrated 2019 modern classic, Parasite, is definitely true. It's a remarkable and truly original depiction of greed and class discrimination that remains the best and most timely film of last year. When it won the Oscar for Best Picture, I was happy but not really that surprised. It's rare now that the Best Picutre Oscar goes to an actual Best Picture. It's a film in which I think is going to age incredibly well for years to come, if we should still exist then. Joon-ho's darkly comedic vision portrays the
One of the greatest trilogies in film history gets another upgrade and headlines a new week of releases.
What else can one say about the Back to the Future trilogy that hasn't been said already? It is still one of the most wildly inventive and popular trilogies in the history of film, inspiring so many filmmakers, imitations, and some realistic depictions of the future. There is spirit, humor, and just the right amount of danger to fully win over even the most unimpressed film lover, or people who aren't into these types of movies. The original classic stars Michael J. Fox as iconic character Marty McFly, who gets sent back in time to 30 years earlier to 1955
Scream Factory's deluxe edition of one of horror history's most iconic franchises tops a new week of solid releases.
Halloween (1978), when it was released, set the standard for the slasher genre, which would go on to have an extreme boom throughtout the 1980s. However, as fantastic as it was and still is, it was tense and suspenseful, but not gory nor bloody. The original Friday the 13th (1980) took it even further by adding blood and gore, which was a big hit when it was released. But unlike Halloween, Friday was reviled by critics for its lack of originality and excessive violent content. When you see it now, it's not the gorefest that many people said it was.
Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 stylish masterpiece starts off a new week of releases.
I know that legendary director Jean-Luc Godard, by many, should be taken with a grain of salt (or ten), but for me, he is one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time. He marches to be beat of his own drum, and he makes films the way he wants to. Obviously, he always includes politics in his movies, whether subtle or outrageous, and his characters (at least some of them) feel as if they're from another planet. However, that is what's so unique about them. There are so many references in his work to history, relationships, religion, and of course, the
David Lynch's most conventional but beautifully humanistic 1980 masterpiece tops a new week of releases.
Obviously, the great David Lynch is isn't exactly known for depicting humanity and subtlety, even in some of his greatest films (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mullholland Dr., etc), but when he actually does, he does do it well. This is the case with his strange and savagely humanistic 1980 biopic The Elephant Man, which touches upon themes that he wouldn't explore again until The Straight Story (1999). Based on a true story, the film centers on John Merrick, a deformed Briton who was discovered at a circus as the sideshow attraction by a compassionate doctor, Frederick Treves, during the 19th century.
Kubrick's harrowing 1987 anti-War masterpiece headlines a new week of releases.
Stanley Kubrick remains one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. He didn't make a lot of films, but when he did, he really made them. He had a severely keen visual sense of detail, but he could also be a brute, a perfectionist, cold, and a madman behind the camera. Whether showcasing cowardice during wartime (Paths of Glory), doomsday black comedy (Dr. Strangelove), the complex journey of mankind (2001: A Space Odyssey), or modern ultra-violence (A Clockwork Orange), he always brought his own savage style to any genre. And with his supremely brutal 1987 masterpiece, Full Metal
David Cronenberg's highly underrated directorial debut top a new week of interesting releases.
If you ask any true film buff who's the master of "Body Horror", and they tell you it's the legendary David Cronenberg, then I'll will 100% agree with you. I think that Cronenberg, more any director, has successfully showcased how we've fully lost control of our bodies, and how they can turn on you in an instant. Many will say that their favorite films by the icon include Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers, and The Dead Zone. As much as I love those films, my pick would have to be his 1975 disturbing (and disgusting) shocker SHIVERS (aka They Came
A new 4K collection of four Hitchcock classics headlines a new week of solid releases.
What else can be mentioned about the legendary Alfred Hitchcock that hasn't already been so? There are so many reasons why he remains the Master of Suspense. His immense attention to detail; the way he set up scenes and their payoff; how he treated his actors; how he storyboarded every film he ever made; how he was able to craft tensions and suspense; and how he influenced a generation of filmmakers that are still asking themselves, "What would Hitchcock do?" This week, Universal Home Entertainment brings four of his greatest thrillers/films to 4K UHD for the first time ever in
Tim Burton's 1988 horror comedy classic makes its 4K UHD debut, among other releases this week.
Usually, most films about dead people are serious, bleak, and grim as all get out. However, there are those that make fun of the deceased, while not taking themselves too seriously. There's Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, and Return of the Living Dead, among others, that have become classics in their own right. But I think my favorite has to be Beetlejuice, Tim Burton's deliciously morbid comedy classic that both celebrates the dead and also mocks them in a loving way. Obviously, everyone by the now knows the plot of the film, but I do have to mention it a
An offbeat, underrated character drama from one of the all-time greatest directors starts off a new week of releases.
When discussing the legendary Jean Renoir, you're talking about one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. His films were noted for their humanity and strong romanticism that continues to be renowned by famous directors such as Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Wes Anderson, and Paul Thomas Anderson, among others. He was brilliant at making films about different subject matter, whether it was critiquing the French class (The Rules of the Game), war (Grand Illusion), or film noir (La bete Humaine), he proved that he could really do anything. And with his 1935 portrait of everyday French society,
A spirited, and not-so ancient battle-of-the-sexes documentary headlines a new week of interesting releases.
Norman Mailer was arugably the most influential writer during postwar America. He wasn't afraid to be outspoken of what he thought was truth. However, he was also a polarizing, brutish, sexist figure who had a penchant for womanizing (he was married six times after all), violence (he once stabbed his second wife with a penknife and beat his fourth one), drugs, and often repellent behavior. But for better or worse (again), he did possess intelligence and an undeniable charisma that made one of the most unforgettable intellectuals in the history of literature. There were many documentaries about his life, persona,
Criterion's mammoth box set of the work of the legendary Agnes Varda tops a new week of releases.
A master filmmaker like the great Agnes Varda needs no introduction. When she passed away at the age of 90, she definitely left behind a very influential and eclectic body of work. She also left a huge gap in film that arugably no other filmmaker can fill. Not only she did pave the way for modern feminism in both French and global cinema, but she was the only female director of the French New Wave. She was a pivotal director who made films on her own terms, with a unique verite style and realism including those of absolute documentaries and
Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta's 1975 disturbingly modern political thriller tops a new week of releases.
In today's extremely terrifying times, where Donald Trump continues his reign of terror, you have to look back at the paranoid thrillers in the past, especially in the 1960s and 70s, to see how eerily relevant their stories have remained. There was The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days In May, Z, The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, among others. However, I think that 1975's quietly brutal The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, directed by Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta, takes it even further with its stinging commentary on absued power, individual morals, and media manipulation. The film stars
Roman Polanski's super underrated 1976 creepfest headlines a new week of releases.
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
Noah Baumbach's marvelous portrait of a marriage reaching its not-so-simple end tops a new week of interesting releases.
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
A mammoth box set featuring five standout films of the greatest martial artist of all-time tops a new week of great releases.
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
A slightly dated, but very chilling sci-fi classic tops a new week of releases.
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
A 1985 harrowing and horrifying antiwar masterpiece headlines a new week of diverse releases.
"War is hell" is a famous phrase that many films have demonstrated, in sometimes painful or painfully graphic detail. It's not easy to get into the war film, because it opens up some major wounds, especially for veterans who really want to keep the sorrows and trauma of either killing the enemy or witnessing death all around them under the rug. There have been so many films that have shown war at its more horrible and soul-crushing, but arguably no other film in history has done so more frighteningly than Elem Klimov's deeply disturbing 1985 masterwork, Come and See. It's
A ravishing tale of the enrapturement of love and art through the eyes of women tops a new week of releases.
As we all know, June is #Pride month, and it is one of a celebration of the triumphs and struggles of the LGBTQ community. It can also be a reflection of how far cinema has come in its depiction of gay and lesbian relationships through love, yearning, and art. There is a sense of feminism that comes along with certain stories of same-sex companionship, and rightly acclaimed director Céline Sciamma's sexy and evocative Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), is one of the very best examples. The film also successfully details the obsessions that artists have with their subjects.
Buster Keaton's seminal 1928 masterpiece tops a new week of very interesting releases.
What else can you say about the legendary Buster Keaton (one of three kings of silent cinema, alongside Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd)? He was known as "the Great Stone Face", capable of delivering sheer emotion using his famous deadpan expression and superb physical and otherworldly visual gags to tell stories of his underdog characters put in often dangerous situations but rising above and winning the girl. However, as much as I do love his early classics, such as The General, Steamboat Bill Jr., and Seven Chances, one of my two favorites of his has to the 1928 elaborate masterwork,