The biggest gap in my cinematic education has to be silent films. I’ve only seen a few of them and they were mostly a struggle. With no audible dialogue, my attention tends to wane. I start thinking about my day or things I need to do. I look outside or at the messiness of my room. I watch the cat and inevitably reach for my phone, and *poof* the movie slips by without hardly a thought from me. The one silent film I’ve ever loved was The Passion of Joan of Arc. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s telling of the trial and
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This week's new releases include a couple of Criterions, Matt Damon getting shrunk, a Robert Altman horror film, and more.
Hope you have some leftover Christmas money because there is a lot of interesting stuff coming out this week.
I hope you have some leftover Christmas money because it's gonna be an expensive week, Blu-ray fans. We’ve got blockbusters, Oscar winners, cult classics and more. Guillermo del Toro’s other-wordly, weird fantasy film The Shape of Water took home four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. It's about a girl kissing an underwater sea monster during the Cold War. Or something. I really haven’t been paying attention and his films are best seen without having preconceived notions. Luckily, Matthew St. Clair wrote us a review. Honestly, there are at least four other releases this week that I could have
Two movies battled it out for this week's pick, but ultimately, the superhero won.
The 90th Academy Awards aired last night. I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited about it this year. No idea why. I’d actually seen more of the films this year than I usually have at this point and it's the one awards ceremony I usually love to sit through. I skipped all the pre-awards stuff but did turn the TV on for the actual show. As per usual, I clicked on Twitter to see what the people were saying about it. Usually, Twitter is a pretty fun place to hang out while watching the Oscars with plenty of
Just in time for the Oscars, this week's releases include a lot of films that will no doubt win awards.
Watching Mary and the Witch’s Flower this weekend made me reflect on animated films and the studios that create them. Mary was made by Studio Ponoc, which was formed when Studio Ghibli looked like it was going to stop making films after the “retirement” of founder Hayao Miyazaki (scare quotes get added as Miyazaki has once again announced his un-retirement to make one more film). Ghibli, of course, has been one of the great animated studios of the last few decades. I’d argue their closest rival is Pixar and that’s not really a rivalry at all since Pixar’s John Lasseter
This week brings us a couple of foreign language films from the Criterion Collection, a silly horror from Arrow Video, Doctor Who, an Oscar-buzzing indie, and more.
Sean Baker has been making movies for nearly twenty years, but only recently has been given the kind of buzz that moves out of the festival circuit and to places like Oklahoma (where I live). In 2015. he made Tangerine, a movie about a couple of transgendered sex workers that was shot on iPhones and garnered a lot of critical attention. Last year. he made The Florida Project which has garnered some significant Oscar buzz. It's about life in and around a run-down motel somewhere near the vicinity of Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It shows the kids running around,
This week's new releases include some great and not-so-great horror films, Dan Gilroy's follow-up to Nightcrawler, Julia Roberts trying to make a comeback, and more.
David Simon started out as a reporter for The Baltimore Sun where he worked the crime beat. In 1991, he took a year off to follow the Baltimore Homicide squad around and wrote the excellent Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets about it. A few years later he took another year-long sabbatical with former cop Ed Burns to spend time on an inner-city street corner and wrote about the lives of the junkies, dealers, and helpers who live, work, and play there in the book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. Homicide was turned
George Clooney's take on a Coen Brothers' script leads this week's new releases.
The Coen Brothers have been some of my favorite filmmakers for a long time. I first saw their work with Raising Arizona but it wasn’t until Fargo that I actually knew who they were. That film blew me away. It remains a favorite. I love the Coens' directorial style and their quirky, dark sense of humor. George Clooney is one of my favorite actors. He is incredibly handsome and utterly charming. He’s a movie star in the old Hollywood sense. He isn’t the greatest of actors, in fact he has a pretty limited range, but he seems to understand this
This week brings us a biopic about the creator of Wonder Woman, some Pink Panther cartoons, a new Richard Linklater flick and more.
After watching Wonder Woman last year, I became a little obsessed with the character. I read loads of articles online about her and eventually picked up Jill Lepore’s excellent book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman. It details the characters birth in 1941 in Action Comics and the many changes made to her throughout the years. It also serves as a fascinating biography of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston. He graduated from Harvard, became a psychiatrist, a professor at various universities, invented the lie-detector test, worked as an advisor to Hollywood studios, was a bondage fetishist, and secretly lived
It is a light week for new releases, but there's a few titles coming out I think you might like.
It;s been a weird couple of weeks. Usually, the week after Christmas sees a huge drop off in the number and quality of new releases. This lull typically lasts until sometime in mid-February when things slowly start to pick up again. But this year thus far we’ve seen a pretty good collection of stuff coming out in this normally dry period. This week is pretty weak in terms of overall numbers, but there’s still some interesting selections to choose from. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, it's just weird. The Killing of a Sacred Deer, reviewed by Matt St. Clair,
The sequel to a sci-fi classic leads this week's new Blu-ray releases.
One of my pop-culture admissions is that I’ve never been a huge fan of Blade Runner. I’ve only seen the director’s cut, but it's generally considered the best version of the film, and I’ve seen it twice, but it's never really done it for me. I like Ridley Scott, I love sci-fi, and I appreciate a lot of the things the film does, but for whatever reason, I’ve just never particularly cared for it. All the same, I was pretty excited to hear they were finally making a sequel. I really do think the concept of Blade Runner is interesting
This week's new releases include a killer clown, a Deep Throat, a Supreme Court Justice, and more.
Miniseries have been around since the birth of television but it was the 1980s that really defined what they are and cemented them in our collective consciousness. Or at least that’s how I remember it. As a kid, I can remember grabbing the television guide from the Sunday paper and very carefully mapping out my primetime viewing for the week. I had certain shows on most nights that I watched every week, but some times there was a special - the Olympics, an awards show, or Circus of the Stars - that would take precedence over my normal TV watching.
This week brings us John Hughes getting his first Criterion plus a tennis match, an Italian murder, Tom Cruise running drugs, and more.
If you are a child of the '80s, if you are a movie fan of a certain age, then John Hughes films have a special place in your heart. Throughout the 1980s, he made movies about teenagers that felt real. His characters spoke like real teenagers spoke, they cared about things real teenagers cared about. They were funny and sad, romantic and heartbroken. They felt like they were made for…well, me. And a million other me’s. It is hard to pick a favorite John Hughes film because so many of them are so good. As a teenager, I likely would
This post-Christmas week brings us a surprising amount of interesting new releases.
I love it when an actor is able to reinvent himself. I love it when you think you’ve seen everything you’re gonna see with an artist and then they create something so totally new, so completely beyond what they did before that you can only just stand and gape. I haven’t seen Brawl in Cell Block 99 so I can’t say whether or not I’ll be gaping at Vince Vaughn’s performance or not, but from the early reviews that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. I’ve never exactly been a fan of Vaughn’s work. I don’t dislike him, but I’ve never
This final week before Christmas brings us a big war movie from Christopher Nolan, a smaller drama from Darren Aronofsky, plus Legos, Judi Dench as the Queen and more.
I love the last few weeks before Christmas, at least from a new Blu-ray release point of view. To get every last penny out of shoppers, movie companies put out their best, shiniest and most interesting films. This is also the last good week we’ll see for awhile as January and usually February our typically lousy in the new release department. I had to debate a little this week on what I’d pick but ultimately decided on what I’m most excited to see. Darren Aronofsky is one of the most interesting filmmakers around. His films (which include Pi, Requiem for
This week's new releases include a trio of Criterions, a couple of Reese Witherspoons, plus Colin Firth as an action star.
If you read the words I put onto this little website, then you know that I am a Game of Thrones fan. It was about the time my daughter was born that the HBO series came out. I watched a few episodes then decided the story was so dense I really needed to read the books. I put the show on pause and read the first couple of books then returned to the series. I managed to read ahead of the show, but now things have reversed and the show has caught up to the books and then some. Season
They were some of the earliest looks American audiences had at Maigret, and I, for one, am excited to give them a chance.
I have reviewed two different series (one English, the other French) based upon the Georges Simenon character of Maigret. I have never read any of the books, nor do I have a real affinity for the character. Why then do I keep watching and reviewing these things? You can blame my wife. She is a great francophile - a lover of all things French - and she turned me on to Maigret. Honestly, I don’t think she’s ever read one of the books either, but as he is one of the great detectives to come out of France (or Belgium,
This week brings a bounty of new releases.
Steve Buscemi is one of those guys. Or should I say he’s one of those “oh, that guy” in that nearly everybody who watches TV and movies knows his face but may not know his name. He’s an actor who when you see him you might smile, nod, and go something like, “Hey, it’s that guy, the one from the thing.” I’ve loved him since the '90s when I watched him in films like Resevoir Dogs, Living in Oblivion, and Fargo. Dude has been in everything. He’s like Samuel L. Jackson, who will take about any role just to keep
This week's new releases include a a sci-fi epic from Luc Besson, an animated film from France, a slew of silent films, most of Monty Python, and more.
It's funny how time messes with your mind the older you get. My mind is filled with all of these wonderful little snippets of memories. I can wrap them up in short story form and tell you all about them. But if you were to ask me to place them inside my own timeline precisely, I’d be at a loss. That time from high school to just post college - a time that was so important to me back then - has all become a blur. This is especially true when remembering the movie I saw back then, movies that
This week brings us a surprising number of horror films plus some cool concert videos, Doctor Who, and some cute cats.
I’ve loved movies for as long as I can remember. My mother tells the story of the first time I went to the cinema. I was maybe five or six years old at the time. I saw in the front row with my brother and cousins, but I kept walking back to where my mom was exclaiming how excited I was and how magical being at the moves felt. I no longer sit in the front row but movies are still magic. I’ve written plenty of times in these pages about how I’m also a big fan of horror films.
This week's new releases include animated anthropomorphic autos, a boxed set of DC animated movies, a boxed set inside a plastic head, and more.
I've been obsessed with golems since I first read about them in Michael Chabon's novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I don't remember much about what that story but the idea of a golem, a creature made of clay who comes to life, stuck with me. Golems are a part of Jewish folklore. They are made of any inanimate object but usually it's mud or clay. They are not sculpted well, more like clumped together as made by a child and given life. They can be creatures of good, but in the best stories they turn evil and
This week's new releases include more horror films for Halloween, some packaged TV for Christmas, and a flopped Stephen King adaptation.
I’d call myself a casual Stephen King fan. I’ve read maybe half a dozen of his books and seen about as many of his movie adaptations. I’ve always liked him but considering how prolific he is as a writer, I cannot even began to call myself a true believer. Actual fans could argue all day over which of his many books are the best but the general consensus seems to be that his Dark Tower series is up towards the top. To call it an epic is to not understand who Stephen King is as an author. He’s written single
This week's new blu-ray releases include some really terrible (and terribly awesome) looking horror, the last of the Planet of the Apes trilogy, and more.
I've often wondered why I like bad movies. Not even bad movies, but bad horror movies, which are set apart on the bad-movie scale. Why do I enjoy watching people be torn apart in the most violent, gore-filled way? What makes a bloody decapitation or a close-up on a knife slicing the skin so much fun to watch? I abhor violence in real life but show me a man getting hacked to death on the big or little screen and I'm in my happy place. I don't have a good answer for that. Part of it is an appreciation of
This week brings us a web-crawling superhero, a couple of Criterions, some raunchy ladies, and several nice boxed sets.
Towards the end of Captain America: Civil War, there is a sweeping scene in which Captain America and Black Widow prepare to train War Machine, Vision, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch to be new Avengers. It was a "passing of the torch" moment. Truth is, over the last decade and dozens of films. the old Avengers are getting, well, old. The actors are all getting tired of playing the same characters and I suspect many fans are ready to move on as well. Marvel has constantly been expanding their cinematic universe and it seems they are preparing to allow some of
October is here and with it comes a slew of new horror releases.
I love October. The long, sweltering days of summer are gone. The air is crisp and cool. Sweatshirts go back into the closet to be worn once again. The leaves start turning. The smell of burning wood in fireplaces and fire pits fill the air. It is a glorious time. It is the month of Halloween and with it scary movies. As you’ll see from the list of movies coming out this week, October means horror. For a genre fan like me, October is like Christmas. Surprisingly, my Pick of the Week isn’t supposed to be all that scary, violent,
This week's new releases bring us a couple of Criterions, a couple of live albums, Texas football, and something scripted by Ed Wood.
David Lynch is one of the most fascinating directors working today. His films aren’t always good but they are always interesting. He creates nightmarish, surreal landscapes in which plot doesn’t always make sense and which leave themselves up for various interpretations. His career has taken all sorts of strange detours and loops. He’s made very personal, very experimental films; he’s worked on broadcast television; adapted popular science fiction novels; and made several things that were initially only released on his website. It's the sort of career that’s ripe for a good documentary. With any luck David Lynch: The Art Life
This week's new releases include a couple of DC superheroes, a really old Marvel one, plus Ken Burns in Vietnam, and more.
I like to think I was something of a feminist before I had a daughter. Certainly, I was for equal rights, equal opportunity, and equal pay before she was born, but now it's like all of that is in sharp relief. It's shocking to watch films and shows with my daughter and see how often women are either objectified on screen or have nothing more to do than be the love interest. Together, we’ve become huge fans of superhero movies but it's always been disappointing that the female characters in those movies are constantly relegated to the sidelines. Many others
This week's new releases include a superhero in his underpants, a bunch of classic Universal monsters, a not-so classic updating of the Mummy, and more.
One of the best, and most difficult things to do as a movie lover is to come to a movie clean, with no preconceived notions. To be able to watch a movie knowing nothing coming in is kind of marvelous. It is also a very rare occurrence. There is simply too much promotion for movies (at least the kind of movies that get shown around here) to go completely unnoticed. I subscribe to way too many entertainment sites and podcasts for me to not know anything going into a movie. Or I should say in order for me to watch
This week's new releases include a new season of The Flash, an old Hitchock plus Scarlet Johansson getting raunchy, and Pablo Escobar being bad.
The more films I watch by Alfred Hitchock the more I’m convinced of his genius. He might have called himself the Master of Suspense but really he was the true master of pure cinema. He used all the tools of his trade - lighting, music, editing, etc. to tell his stories as only can be told in the movies. Francis of Assisi is supposed to have once said “Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words.” I don’t know how Hitch felt about Jesus but he made great movies and only used dialogue when necessary. I first watched Rebecca at a
This week brings us two series from DC, plus pirates, rippers, and spies with flowered underwear.
It is easy to think that Marvel beats DC when it comes to the whole cinematic universe thing. Certainly, they have created a more cohesive landscape for which to play. Their theatrical releases pretty seamlessly come together to form one larger mosaic. The Netflix series do the same and while they don’t really interact with the movies, they’ve done a nice job of keeping them in the same universe. DC however is a bit of a mess in this regard. The movies have done a decent job of blending together the various characters (we’ll see how well they really put
A very full week brings us superhero galore, zombies, Deadites, punks, and much more.
Almost a year ago to the day, I made Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season my Pick of the Week. I noted then my great fondness for the Evil Dead movies and my great excitement over the new series. I also noted that by the time the Blu-ray was hitting the store shelves I’d not yet seen the entire series. Well, Season 2 has now hit the shelves and while I’ve watched a few more episodes of Season 1, I’ve still not made it all the way through. I like the show, I really do. It is a