Recently in Pick of the Week

I Kill Giants is the Pick of the Week

See what's coming out on Blu-ray this week.
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I have to start this week with an apology. Last week, somehow or another I completely and utterly missed talking about Black Panther. For some reason I thought that it was coming out this week. It wasn’t until I had already posted my pick of the week and actually had gone to the store on Tuesday that I realized Black Panther was out. Obviously, I would have mentioned, if not outright picked, one of the biggest releases of the year were I not a complete idiot and missed the release date. Hopefully I’m not missing something quite as colossal as

The Sacrifice is the Pick of the Week

Here's what's coming to Blu-ray this week.
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There are so many different options in terms of what one can watch these days that I often feel overwhelmed. My wife makes fun of me because I’ll often spend half my evening scanning through the various streaming services trying to make a decision on what to watch. What I choose often seems random but whenever I step back and analyze my choices, patterns tend to arise. Over the course of several weeks and months, I tend to watch movies from specific genres or that deal with certain themes, or more often than not, ones by the same director or

The Sinner: Season One Is the Pick of the Week

If you are looking for sex and nudity in your new releases, then this week is for you.
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Sex sells, or so they say. I suppose they are right as sexy things seem to abound in advertisements and the media. Lord knows I am not immune. This week’s new releases are filled with sex in a variety of forms, but not my pick of the week. Well not as far as I can tell anyways. I haven't seen any of it so maybe it's filled with sex and I'm just not aware. The Sinner stars Jessica Biel (who also executive produced) as a young mother who, in an inexplicable fit of rage, commits a great act of very

Mary and the Witch's Flower is the Pick of the Week

Here's the best of this week's Blu-ray releases.
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There are a number of directors whose work I follow closely. I watch all of their films even if the story doesn’t look that interesting. There are some actors who I like a lot and whose work I’ll usually check out regardless of whether the film looks good. There's maybe a handful of screenwriters whose name I know and whose films I’ll usually see. For all other films, it depends on the story, the trailer, and the buzz. I don’t really follow studios at all. Except for Pixar and Studio Ghibli. Two animation studios that consistently put out great movies.

Paddington 2 is the Pick of the Week

Never underestimate the power of a bear.
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Truly great family films are hard to come by. They are either too sappy or silly or both to be enjoyed by adults or otherwise too busy trying to be clever to keep a kid’s attention. Every once in awhile, the balance comes out just right and the whole family finds themselves enthralled. From the sound of it, Paddington 2 is one such movie. Based on the children’s series by Michael Bond, the film follows the adventures of a Peruvian bear who has been adopted by a family in London. It stars Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Grant,

The Post is the Pick of the Week

Didn't I write this already?
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Do you ever have one of those days where you thought you did something, are absolutely sure of it, are so sure there really isn’t any need of double checking that you did it, only to later realize you didn’t do it at all? Yea, that was me, today, with my Pick of the Week. This weekend I think I must have looked through this week’s new releases thought about what I would pick, what I would say about that pick, and then promptly killed my web browser without actually writing anything. Somewhere in the fogginess of my brain I

Phantom Thread is the Pick of the Week

It's a big week full of interesting new releases.
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The first words out of my mouth--er, keyboard, this week was going to be that I’m a huge Paul Thomas Anderson fan. Then I looked at his filmography and realize I’ve not seen his last three films. I am very much a fan of his first five films (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood). But somewhere along the way I seem to have stopped watching him. It started with The Master, his sort-of take on Scientology with Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing the charismatic leader of a crazy cult. When it came out, it

Insidious: The Last Key is the Pick of the Week

What can I say? It is a slow week.
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I’ve been writing this column for several years now and I still have no idea how the people who make decisions on when Blu-rays are going to be released decide on when a Blu-ray is going to be released. Last week, we had loads of great stuff coming out. This week we’ve a bunch of junk. Well, that’s not quite true; there are several semi-interesting things coming out just nothing really big and exciting. I have no idea why that is. Do people buy a lot of movies for Easter? Are chocolate bunnies out and Blu-rays in? Next week finds

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the Pick of the Week

See what's new in Blu-ray this week.
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It's a great time to be a Star Wars fan. I’m not quite old enough to have seen either A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back in the theaters but I have distinct memories of seeing Return of the Jedi at least three times at the local cinema. I used to rent the entire trilogy over and over on VHS as a youngster and my mother says I saw them on HBO dozens of times in those early years. The space between the original trilogy and the prequels were filled with countless hours discussing what was then only rumors

Criterion Collection's The Passion of Joan of Arc is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a couple of Criterions, Matt Damon getting shrunk, a Robert Altman horror film, and more.
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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

The Shape of Water is the Pick of the Week

Hope you have some leftover Christmas money because there is a lot of interesting stuff coming out this week.
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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

Thor: Ragnarok is the Pick of the Week

Two movies battled it out for this week's pick, but ultimately, the superhero won.
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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

Coco is the Pick of the Week

Just in time for the Oscars, this week's releases include a lot of films that will no doubt win awards.
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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

The Florida Project is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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,

The Deuce: The Complete First Season Is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Suburbicon is the Pick of the Week

George Clooney's take on a Coen Brothers' script leads this week's new releases.
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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

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a biopic about the creator of Wonder Woman, some Pink Panther cartoons, a new Richard Linklater flick and more.
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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

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the Pick of the Week

It is a light week for new releases, but there's a few titles coming out I think you might like.
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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,

Blade Runner 2049 is the Pick of the Week

The sequel to a sci-fi classic leads this week's new Blu-ray releases.
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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

It (2017) is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a killer clown, a Deep Throat, a Supreme Court Justice, and more.
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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.

The Breakfast Club Criterion Collection is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us John Hughes getting his first Criterion plus a tennis match, an Italian murder, Tom Cruise running drugs, and more.
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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

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is the Pick of the Week

This post-Christmas week brings us a surprising amount of interesting new releases.
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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

mother! is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a trio of Criterions, a couple of Reese Witherspoons, plus Colin Firth as an action star.
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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

Two Maigret Films Starring Jean Gabin Are the Picks of the Week

They were some of the earliest looks American audiences had at Maigret, and I, for one, am excited to give them a chance.
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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,

Animal Factory is the Pick of the Week

This week brings a bounty of new releases.
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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

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a surprising number of horror films plus some cool concert videos, Doctor Who, and some cute cats.
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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.

The Limehouse Golum is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

The Dark Tower is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include more horror films for Halloween, some packaged TV for Christmas, and a flopped Stephen King adaptation.
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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

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