We’re less than a month away from the Oscars and I’ve seen exactly three of the nominated films - four if you count the animated feature nominees (and five more if you add in the animated shorts). This isn’t unusual for me as I rarely get to watch more than a couple of the nominees before the ceremony airs. I’ve noted many times before how difficult it is for me to get to the theatre to see new films and I won’t rehash that here. I do appreciate that many of the films now get released to home video just
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This week brings us three period dramas, a witch hunter and some zombies playing Tyler Durden.
This week brings us Doctor Who split apart, Spike Lee modernizing the ancient Greeks, Jack Black fighting children's monsters, and Bradley Cooper playing with food.
I have very vague memories of watching Doctor Who as a kid. This was the '80s when the long=scarfed Tom Baker was the titular character and the series ran late-night Saturdays on my local PBS station. I wasn’t really a fan of the series and I only watched it a few times, but I remember the Daleks. I remember being old enough to be embarrassed to ask my mother to lay down next to me afterwards but young (and terrified) enough to ask her anyways. When the new series came on, those memories weren’t enough to make me raise even
This week brings us one of the Coen Brothers' best films, some influential hip hop, a deadly mountain climb, a deadlier internship, and much more.
Many times in these pages I’ve mentioned my extraordinary love for both the Criterion Collection and the Coen Brothers. When you put them together, you pretty much have a guaranteed Pick of the Week. Surprisingly, Inside Llewyn Davis is the first time the two have met. You’d think the Coens' films would get the Criterion treatment every time like Wes Anderson films do. Seemingly, their films fit the Criterion niche perfectly. They are quirky, arty, funny and often strangely violent . They are well loved by critics and maintain a relatively small but highly devoted fanbase. I suspect there is
This week brings us two Criterions, a Victorian Sherlock, a hacking Robot, and Ridley Scott once again making great films.
I subscribed to the auteur theory before I even knew what that was. That is to say as I began to take films seriously, I naturally gravitated towards directors moreso than genres, stories and actors. There are certain directors whose films get me excited by the mere fact that it was directed by them whether or not anything else about the pictures is interesting to me at all. I’ll see anything by people like Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, and the Coen Brothers no matter if the stories or actors or anything else excites me about it. So much more is
This week brings us some cool sounding action, high-wire acts, zombies, detectives, Quentin Tarantino inspirations' and much more.
A great big thanks to Davy for helping me out last week. Extra credit since I gave him about a day's notice. At least it was an easy week for him to cover. The last week of the year always brings out very little as the studios have all shot their wads for the Christmas shoppers and they’ve not yet had time to recharge for the new year. This week brings us quite a few things I’m finding interesting though most of it was found to be disappointing by critics and audiences alike. Still there’s a lot of it and
Probably the most disappointing week releases brings us a gory Western, a very flawed Fatal Attraction ripoff, a robbery flick that went nowhere, and more.
[Editor's note: Davy is filling in while Mat is away for the holidays.] Since everyone is getting over the Christmas holidays, I think they are just too stuffed with food and having to clean up all the wrapping paper to purchase the latest releases. Fortunately this week's releases will help people save a lot of money, and help them save for New Year's. With the exception of a bloody throwback Western, I don't think that people will be upset not to own the other releases. On paper, Bone Tomahawk sounds like a very interesting, successful tribute to the ultraviolent Italian
A rather dull week brings us another take on Peter Pan, another take on Bobby Fischer's life, a two very different takes on religion.
If the weeks leading up to Christmas are a bonanza for home-video collectors, then the actual week of Christmas is something like the day after a party when there’s nothing left but junk nobody wanted. I guess the people who decide which Blu-rays get released when figure everybody has already purchased all their presents so there isn’t any reason to put anything out that anybody wants. There’s never more than a handful of releases at this point in the year, most of which is absolute junk. But then again there is always a release or two that could have been
This week brings us a couple of Italian horrors, some early Hitchcock, impossible missions, and more.
It's easy to get cynical and annoyed with all the remakes, reimaginings, rehashes, and sequels that seem to come out every other day. Most of them really are terrible and it's difficult not to think that Hollywood has lost its imagination. At the same time, there are some remakes and sequels worth paying attention to. Almost two decades ago, Tom Cruise dusted off the old Mission: Impossible television series and has made a long lasting, continually interesting film franchise out of it. The secret has been its use of very different directors. Through five films, the series has hired out
This week brings us a couple of obscure Criterions, a hungry serial killer, silly little yellow creatures and lots of super heroes.
When I picked Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as my Pick of the Week back in April of 2013, I noted that I wasn’t really a comic-book movie fan. That’s changed in the interim. I've since read many of the books upon which the films are based, which has given me a much greater understanding of the characters and their motivations. I’ve also learned to put aside my art-house critic hat and engage in the terrific fun these movies are having. That’s the thing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are not always really great films, but they
This week brings us an ice-skiing Robert Redford, an inside look at Amy Winehouse, Roger Water's performing The Wall, and lots of zombies.
I don’t know about you, but I had a mighty fine Thanksgiving. The weather outside was frightful, but inside was nice and warm, cozy and delicious. With that behind us, everybody turns to Christmas. The trees and lights go up, the holiday music plays on repeat, and everybody has a certain kind of cheerfulness. I really do love the season, even if so much of it is artificial. I used to be quite the grinch, but marriage and perhaps age has led me to enjoy all things Christmas. We buy a real tree every year and decorate it with our
This week brings us a couple of classics from Criterion, some not-so-classics from Arrow, some disturbing looking stop-motion shorts, Doctor Who at Christmas, and much more.
Not long ago my aunt was diagnosed with cancer. They initially thought it was in her lungs, which made for a very grim prognosis. For days friends and family gathered in various small groups and talked, and cried. I hugged my aunt and told her I loved her. She began making preparations for her eventual death. She gave me a ring that her father had made for her and told me to give it to my daughter when she got older. It was all so very sad. The one sliver of hope was that all of her tests had not
This week brings us a big box of awesome Japanese animated films, some early silent films, a couple of Criterions, another Hobbit, and much more.
I remember distinctly the first time I ever watched a Hayao Miyazaki film. I was still single, but heavily into the girl who would become my wife. I was a film buff who was interested in foreign films but who had not yet seen all that many, certainly not any foreign animation outside of a Robotech series or two. I’d started hearing really good things about Princess Mononoke, and the English language cast for it was pretty awesome (Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver, and Gillian Anderson to name a few) so I went out and rented
This week brings us yet more adaptations of Conan Doyle's detective, a Kurt Cobain documentary, a french sci-fi flick, Terminators, con men and much more.
By my count, there have been over 800 kajillion filmic adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. Within the last few years we’ve had two films from Guy Richie, a BBC series, and a separate CBS series. There has hardly been a time in the last century when someone hasn’t been adapting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's sleuth to screens either big or small. When you start counting all the derivatives, pastiches, and out-right stolen works that use similar characters then one has to start wondering if theirs anything produced in the last century that hasn’t been influenced by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
This week brings us some big emotions and little toys from Pixar, half a season of Doctor Who, dark pirates, final girls and much more.
It was a tough October. I got strep throat and followed it with a nasty virus that turned into an eternal coughing session. A friend of mine - actually an ex-girlfriend from college who I stay in touch with via Facebook - her three-year-old son was diagnosed with brain cancer. Ms. Roberta, a lady I don’t know but who I have associations with, ran an orphanage and food shelter in poverty-stricken Haiti. She was recently murdered while getting gasoline and her young son was kidnapped and presumably sold into slavery. Another friend of mine went to the hospital thinking he
This week brings us two takes on an Edgar Allan Poe story, Jake Gyllenhall in the boxing ring, a fair lady, a Mulholland drive, an invasion by classic arcade games, and The Rolling Stones in Japan.
Autumn is by far my favorite season. The dog days of summer slip into the cool, crisp nights of fall. The leaves turn from dull brown to bright oranges, reds, and yellows. The air smells of fire, of warmth, of cider and home. Jackets are put on, marshmallows are roasted, and all is well with the world. Even football can’t bring down this perfect of all seasons. Best of all is Halloween, a holiday that lets us dress up, turn into other people, eat loads of sugary sweets, and scare the dickens out of each other. I’ve written in these
This week brings us dinosaurs on the loose, British mysteries starring Doctor Who alum, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee in a crazy horror flick, Japanese ghosts, and much more.
I was 17 when Jurassic Park came out in 1993. Even then, I knew it wasn’t a great film, artistically speaking. It was too silly to be taken seriously. But I didn’t care. Don’t care now. It was great fun. Terrifically entertaining and exciting. It's hard to remember now - when seemingly every effect, special or not is rendered in CGI - but Jurassic Park was revolutionary in its use of computer-generated effects mixed with real puppets and effects by Stan Winston. It was a technological marvel. The culmination of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster powers. It's fascinating to think that while
This week brings us a bunch of double dipping special editions, complete sets of two excellent shows, early Cronenberg and more.
Forgive me if I begin this Pick of the Week with a bit of a rant. In all forms of media, the companies who make media have a tendency to double, triple, and even quadruple dip. What I mean is a company will release a movie onto a new format - we’ll say Blu-ray since that’s what I tend to talk about - and it will either come pretty bare bones, just the movie and a minimal of extras, or maybe they’ll tack on some extras from some previous DVD edition. Then a few months later they’ll come out with
This week brings us a documentary about Tom Cruise's religion, another dying teenager, Gus Van Sant's best film, greased-up naked dudes, possibly the last Ghibli, a nostalgic sequel, and so much more.
I was 14 when the original Tremors came out. I loved it. We all did, my family and me. It was the perfect mix of action, adventure, comedy, and horror. It had Kevin Bacon at the height of his powers, Michael Gross just off of his long run in Family Ties, Reba McEntire in her first acting role, and Finn Carter in her underwear (oh man, my 14-year-old self memorized every frame of the scene where she gets caught in barbed wire and has to take off her pants, but I digress.) I caught it again not too long ago
This week brings us a bunch of dudes in costumes, a pregnant virgin, ghosts rebooted, killers, addicts and plenty more.
Tuesday morning of last week, I woke up feeling fine. I turned off the alarm, got out of bed, got dressed and went to work. It was a perfectly average morning. Came home for lunch, drove out to a job site to finish cleaning it up. Worked about an hour and left the boys to finish. On my way back to the office, I started feeling a little off - slightly nauseated, kind of achy, and really tired. I decided to stop off at home for a minute to use the restroom, have a big glass of water, and rest
This week brings us some a capella pitches, a lesser Wes Anderson, two more Criterions, a couple of superheroes from the CW and Gumby.
I grew up attending the Churches of Christ. One of the things that distinguishes us from the million other churches around is that we sing a cappella - that is to say without musical instruments. While I can’t sing particularly well myself, I think sitting through all those services helped give me a great appreciation of the human voice. Growing up, I can remember various vocal groups coming to the church to perform for us. They’d usually do a set of Christian songs during the service and then afterwards they’d throw down with some secular pop numbers to keep us
Sometimes true life makes for more compelling TV than fiction.
There have been a lot of discussions of late about the injustices of our justice system. About how if you are rich and white, you can literally get away with murder, but if you are poor and of color, you will more than likely find yourself staring at the wrong end of the system no matter your guilt or innocence. Though not its primary intent The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst goes a long way in proving just how far rich white dudes can get away with. Durst is the eldest son of Seymour Durst, who formed
This week brings us some not-quite superhero origins, a lady who doesn't age, a thriller that's more than a pair of legs. and a TV show trying to be relevant again.
Steven Spielberg recently predicted that the superhero movie (and presumably the superhero TV show) will eventually go the way of the Western, by which he means it will almost completely disappear. He is, of course, completely correct as we will inevitably get tired of dudes in costumes saving the world, but judging by their popularity (and massive box-office receipts) I think that day is a long, long ways in the future. We are completely, utterly over-saturated in superheroes. From the Avengers (and all of their solo films) to X-Men, Batman and about 15 different versions of Spider-Man you can hardly
This week brings us more Mad Max, Robin Williams final film, a war film, a dumb comedy and the creepy world of H.R. Giger.
My parents were early adapters to the home-video market. They were given a Betamax sometime in the early '80s, but for reasons that were never quite clear to me, they switched to the VHS format fairly quickly thereafter. In the early days, there weren’t very many places around in which to rent videos. I recall only two places in our area. I remember very clearly that our favorite one, Silver Screens, on the outskirts of town, displayed the movies they had on shelves with little hooks holding these little tags on them. Each movie had two hooks under it, one
This week brings us a timely drama from Belgium, a terribly reviewed comedy from Hawaii, a serious documentary, and a gory zombie show.
My DVD/Blu-ray collection is divided up into a few different categories. There are TV shows, foreign films, my main collection, and then the Criterions. I mention this because over the last week I’ve had two different sets of people over to the house admiring my collection who had no idea what the Criterion Collection was. They were both movies lovers with decent collections themselves, not some noobs with only a couple of Disney flicks in their home library. It was shocking to me that they hadn’t heard of Criterion. In the small, nerdy world in which I tend to live,
This week brings us Francois Truffaut's film about filmmaking, a Spaghetti Western, a French-Italian film about eating yourself to death, and some Disney shorts.
As someone who has never made a film but absolutely loves watching them, I’m completely fascinated by movies about making movies. Through the history of film, there have been a surprisingly number of them, many of which are great films in their own right. From the Coen Brothers making one of the greatest movies about writer’s block (Barton Fink) while trying to work through their own writer’s block (they were stuck in the middle of Miller’s Crossing) to Tim Burton’s glorious take on Ed Wood making one of the worst films ever made (Plan 9 From Outer Space), filmmakers have
This week brings us an adult version of Harry Potter, a TV show from a film director, a classic film that was later made into an even more classic film and much more.
I have a good friend who is probably the smartest guy I’ve ever met. I like to joke that he’s like a human version of Wikipedia. He knows stuff about everything. It's embarrassing how smart he is sometimes because he’ll casually start talking about the minutest details of some obscure something or other and I have to pretend I have the foggiest idea I know what he’s talking about. Or I just admit I’m completely lost, and as a testament to how cool he is, he never lets on how dumb I really am and just moves on to something
This week brings us crazy clones, casual vacancies, a couple of film noirs and lots of TV.
I have this completely random rule that I have to watch at least 10 movies every month. Now to all you movie buffs out there in Cinema Sentry-land that’s probably nothing. You probably watch 10 movies a week. But to this "self-employed, works weird hours, and has a wife and a four-year-old daughter" dude, 10 movies is hard to achieve. I usually get home sometime after 4pm to find the wife exhausted from dealing with the endlessly energetic child. So it becomes my duty to play with her while supper is cooked. Then there is eating, after which we take
Every dog has his day… (And cult movie collectors will have theirs this week!)
As a certain Italian schlockumentary once reminded us many moons ago, it's a dog's world out there. And some distant cousins of the Italians - the Hungarians - have seen fit to impress that old adage upon us once more, with their multiple award-winning 2014 hit Fehér isten, better known in the English-speaking parts of the world as White God. Here, writer/director Kornél Mundruczó paints his audiences an ugly reminder that - despite our alleged progress when it comes to being humane towards everyone, animal or human alike - we're still just a bunch of stinkin' savages. Ignoring another timeless
A few intriguing new releases for the fan of variety.
As an extreme film lover, I'm always torn between variety. Sometimes, there is too much to choose from, and it also depends upon the price. There isn't any doubt that I do like to have choices, it's that I like to choose from films that I would find interesting. When I'm not taking online classes, or doing horrible yard work, I only have a limited time to watch the newest releases. This week, there isn't a lot of choices, but these are some releases I found to be quite interesting and worth checking out. Yes, some of them sound strange,
Its a great week to be a horror fan.
It's a good week to be a horror fan. I’ve no doubt complained in these pages before how I rarely get to watch horror films anymore. The wife doesn’t like them; the daughter is too young for them. I only get a slight sliver of time between the family going to bed and me not knocking off myself to watch the sort of things only I want to watch. There is a long list of those things and most of them beat out horror in the desire department so it is a real rarity that I actually watch any sort