Recently in Pick of the Week

Criterion's Ikiru is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Mr. Holmes is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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.

Pixar's Inside Out is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Black Cats is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Jurassic World is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Nakatomi Plaza Die Hard Collection is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a bunch of double dipping special editions, complete sets of two excellent shows, early Cronenberg and more.
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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

Tremors 5: Bloodlines is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a bunch of dudes in costumes, a pregnant virgin, ghosts rebooted, killers, addicts and plenty more.
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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

Pitch Perfect 2 Is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some a capella pitches, a lesser Wes Anderson, two more Criterions, a couple of superheroes from the CW and Gumby.
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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

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is the Pick of the Week

Sometimes true life makes for more compelling TV than fiction.
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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

Gotham: The Complete First Season is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Mad Max: Fury Road is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Criterion's Release of Two Days, One Night is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a timely drama from Belgium, a terribly reviewed comedy from Hawaii, a serious documentary, and a gory zombie show.
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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,

Day For Night is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is the Pick of the Week

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.
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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

Orphan Black: Season Three is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us crazy clones, casual vacancies, a couple of film noirs and lots of TV.
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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

White God is the Pick of the Week

Every dog has his day… (And cult movie collectors will have theirs this week!)
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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

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau is the Pick of the Week

A few intriguing new releases for the fan of variety.
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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,

What We Do In The Shadows is the Pick of the Week

Its a great week to be a horror fan.
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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

Ex Machina is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us sexy artificial intelligence, sexually transmitted haunting, boys with horses, exotic sequels and more.
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At work today, I was listening to the Invisibilia podcast, specifically the one entitled “Our Computers, Ourselves.” It was all about how computers and technology have changed us as a society, culturally, and individually. I was especially fascinated with the segment on Thad Starner who has essentially been wearing a computer (kind of a prototype of Google Glass - which he helped invent actually) for the last couple of decades. He swears it has been nothing but helpful, with no downside at all. He constantly types information into his hard drive about what he’s thinking, what he’s doing, and the

Criterion Re-releases The Big Chill and It Is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some nostalgia via the Criterion Collection, Mick Jagger as an outlaw, two versions of a Hemingway story, the Governator battling zombies, and much more.
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I've been writing about new DVDs and Blu-rays for a few years now. You'd think this would give me some special insight into release cycles and that I might possess a long memory of what's hit the home video market over the years. You might think that, but you'd be wrong. I have no real idea of how or why various movies get released when they do. I also have a terrible memory which makes me forget what's been released moments after I write about it. This week I totally forgot that Criterion had released The Big Chill almost exactly

The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982 is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some live rock and roll, classic Jack Nicholson, weird Czechoslovakians and Will Ferrell in corn rows.
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It's Summer. It's hot. School’s out. Vacations are on. Everybody is busy. I have to yell at my wife every now and again just to keep us from doing something. Every. Single. Weekend. It gets a bit ridiculous how busy we are. Everybody else is too it seems, if the state of traffic has anything to do with it. It's so stinking hot outside and yet nobody is staying in doors where it's cool. Where the AC runs. I don’t know what we’re all doing, but apparently its not sitting inside watching DVDs. This week's pickings are once again very

The Fisher King from Criterion is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some classic Terry Gilliam, live Rolling Stones, resurrected British Crime TV, John Travolta forging Monet, and much more.
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At some point during my early teens, we had Showtime or HBO or some such pay-cable channel. Whatever it was, they played Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits over and over again. I was absolutely mesmerized by it. It was so weird and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Its hero was a little boy and a bunch of little people and the story was full of fantasy so it seemed like it was made for children. Yet it was also very dark, weird, and adult feeling. Everyone talked really funny too, and I remember very specifically how strange the police sirens

Chappie is the Pick of the Week

This week features some critically panned sci-fi, some critically adored art-house, some wonderful animation and much more.
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It's always amazing to see a new and interesting director come onto the scene, and then utterly disappointing to see them crash and burn. I was as excited as anyone to see what M. Night Shyamalan would do after The Sixth Sense and maintained that excitement through Unbreakable (under appreciated in my opinion and holds up way better than Sense in repeat viewings). But I have slowly gone from great anticipation over what he’s doing next to complete ambivalence as he continues to make the same movie over and over (in increasingly disappointingly fashion again and again). In a similar

Kingsman: The Secret Service is the Pick of the Week

Slim pickings this week my friends
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As I’m browsing through the new releases each week and putting all the interesting ones in new tabs, I make a little mental checklist. There are things that sound interesting, things that are interesting, things that will almost certainly be picked, and others that most assuredly will not be but that I think are important enough to at least mention. Every once in a while those last things get bumped up and I actually wind up picking them. We now find ourselves in one of those weeks. Living now in close proximity to my parents means that me and the

Parks and Recreation: Season Seven is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us the conclusions of two great shows, the high definition upgrade of a better one, plus Kevin Costner, loads of cannibals and a naked Helen Mirren.
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Like a lot of people, it seems, I at first dismissed Parks and Recreation as another The Office clone and didn’t much bother with it. I remember seeing the first couple of episodes, thought it was pretty funny but I’d seen enough of that schtick with The Office and put it down thinking I’d never come back. And I didn’t for a good two, maybe three more seasons. Then I started hearing some good buzz about it. When a friend commented about it on Netflix, I made my The Office dismissal, and she countered with I should skip season one

The Confession and State of Siege are the Picks of the Week

This week brings us some interesting Criterions, Bob Dylan in the Basement and lots of TV collections.
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My freshman year of college I started collecting movies on VHS tape. I think I realized that with the parents no longer renting me films every weekend it was cheaper on my minuscule budget to buy them periodically and build a collection that I could watch over and over again. I quickly decided that I was going to build a world-class collection of only the best movies. I’d buy classics and modern masterpieces with some cool art-house numbers thrown in for good measure. I’d stay away from big, dumb blockbusters with their ridiculous plot and giant explosions. This concept lasted

The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us Larry Sanders, Cybermen, women in prison, midwives, Charlie Chaplin, Bette Midler playing Janis Joplin, and more.
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“This is the theme to Garry’s show / the theme to Garry’s show / Garry called me up and asked me if I would write his theme song.” That’s the opening lines to the theme song to The Garry Shandling Show. It goes on like that, referencing itself and describing how the singer came to write the song. The show does that too, references itself, the characters seem to know they are on a television show and often bring the audience in on the gag. It was a great show. Or at least I think it was. I watched it

Broadchurch: The Complete Second Season is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us the wonderful David Tennant, cyber hackers, Alzheimer's dramas, cartoon burgers, lesbian vampires, and more.
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A big thanks goes out to Gordon for finishing last week’s pick for me. I had actually written an entire article and submitted it with Broadchurch: The Complete Second Season as my pick. I was then informed that despite what Amazon said the release date had been pushed back a week. No problem, I thought I’ll just pick something else, write on it, and use what I’d said for Broadchurch the next week, and all would be well. Then my computer died. Gordon was kind enough to step in, chose a new pick, and all was right with the plan.

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