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Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection Blu-ray Review: A Treasure Trove of Delight

A big box of Hitchcock's greatest films (and a few of his lesser ones, too).
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Alfred Hitchcock began his movie career in 1919 as a title card designer for silent films. He quickly moved up through the ranks at Paramount Pictures in Islington, England and became a scriptwriter, art director, and assistant director. In 1922, he was given his first job as director but after shooting just a few scenes, the finances were lost and filming was shut down. In 1925, he was given another directing opportunity and this one, The Pleasure Garden actually saw theatrical release. It flopped. As did The Mountain Eagle, made in 1926, a film which is now lost to history

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Movie Review: The Most Timely Film Of 2017

A dark comedy that is also the film America needs right now.
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Martin McDonagh may be a director from Ireland, but it is eerie how he has crafted a film about America that is so timely with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It deals with a woman starting a rampage against a patriarchal society which could easily mirror how women are standing up to the male-dominated Hollywood in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. There’s a line that the main character gives about how the police are “too busy torturing black folks to solve actual crimes” which is a demonstration of the ongoing nationwide issue of police brutality against minorities. Lastly,

Woodshock (2017) Blu-ray Review: Shockingly Bad

The feature film debut from fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy is a hypnotic mess.
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Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy may have established themselves well in the fashion world with their brand, Rodarte. But when it comes to trying to get noticed in the world of film, they need some work. Okay, a lot of work. Although the duo helped create some gorgeous outfits for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, their directorial debut, Woodshock, is the result of someone (in this case, two people) with an eye for visuals and nothing else. It looks pretty in both the wardrobe and cinematography departments, but it’s so self-indulgent that it forgets to make the viewer care for the

Lady Bird Movie Review: Greta Gerwig Soars in Her Directorial Debut

Lady Bird takes the tired coming-of-age genre and makes it feel refreshing and naturalistic.
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Actress Greta Gerwig has proven her naturalistic acting chops in films like 20th Century Women, No Strings Attached, and Jackie. But now, she has announced herself as an exciting new filmmaking voice with Lady Bird, her solo directorial debut. Lady Bird may tread into a familiar genre: The coming-of-age dramedy. Yet, it feels distinctive because of how it hits close to home. It may be about a teenager trying to navigate high school but it also speaks to those who long to escape their small-town life and the parents who work tirelessly to make sure their children have a better

The Woman in Red Blu-ray Review: A Light Comedy Not Without Its Charms

I just called, to say, your film's not that good.
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Teddy Pierce (Gene Wilder) has a good life. He’s got a good job in advertising. He lives in a nice suburban house. He’s got a pretty wife and a couple of good kids. His life might be a little on the dull side, but he’s happy. He doesn’t need anything else. Then one day while parking in his office’s underground garage, he spies Charlotte (Kelly LeBrock), a gorgeous model passing by. As she walks over a grate, a gust of wind pushes her skirt over her head. Embarrassed, she quickly jumps off and walks away. But then she turns around,

Superman: The Movie - Extended Cut (1978/82) Blu-ray Review: A DC Miracle

The Warner Archive Collection soars with this rare, three-hour TV cut of Richard Donner's superhero classic.
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Of all the variable incarnations of motion pictures that exist within the world, there is perhaps none more elusive than the legendary TV version. This holds particularly true in the instance of films made before television censors officially threw up their arms and said "We give up" after Dennis Franz's flabby backside first appeared on late night television airings. Prior to that, many theatrical outings underwent sometimes drastic re-edits before they could be shown to the still-sensitive primetime audiences of the late '70s and early '80s. One good example is the near-legendary network-added prologue to Sergio Leone's A Fistful of

The Villainess Blu-ray Review: Villainous Melodrama Mars Mind-Blowing Action

Korean import mixes hyperkinetic action scenes with insufferable melodrama and confusing flashbacks.
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The Villainess opens with one of the most insane action scenes ever committed to film, both for its stunts and its camera work. Like Hardcore Henry, the harrowing fight scene is shot from a first-person perspective, making it look more like a shooter video game such as Call of Duty instead of a film. Unlike that film, the carefully constructed pseudo-continuous take eventually switches to a standard third-person perspective, revealing that our protagonist is a woman who is handily dismembering and demolishing dozens of men in a multi-story building. The intense close-quarters fighting is heightened by incredible camera work that

Zoology Blu-ray Review: A Fable In Search of a Metaphor

A grown woman grows a tail, but what does it all mean?
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A lonely, dowdy, middle-aged woman lives in a small seaside village in rural Russia. She has no friends, her coworkers are excessively cruel, and she lives with her religious and superstitious mother. Life for her, in a word, is depressing. Then she grows a tail. A large, long, fleshy rat-like tail. Zoology, the second film from writer director Ivan I. Tverdovsky, is in search of a metaphor. Its fable-like structure and the fact that it's a movie about a woman growing a flipping tail makes us search for allegory, to find some meaning in its story. But the film never

Black Sabbath: The End Blu-ray Review: A Fitting Swan Song

The Blu-ray deserves to recognized on "Best of 2017" lists.
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On February 4, 2017 at Genting Arena in their hometown of Birmingham, England, Black Sabbath (sans founding drummer Bill Ward) played the final show of their farewell tour. The set list focused primarily on the band's first four albums, including six of the eight songs from Paranoid. The remaining four albums from Ozzy's initial tenure were only represented three times: "Dirty Women" and two songs performed during the instrumental medley. Unfortunately, nothing for fans of Never Say Die! The concert opens with the sound of the bell tolling at the beginning of "Black Sabbath". Ozzy acts as cheerleader between lyrics,

Glory (2016) DVD Review: Bulgarian Tragicomedy Depressed Me

A railway lineman ruins his life by doing the right thing in this semi-comic, biting and ultimately depressing film.
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One of the reviews quoted on the box for Glory describes it as "Frank Capra Meets the Dardenne Brothers". I do not know anything about the Dardenne Brothers, but from the evidence of this film, I can only assume they make puppy snuff films, because the tone, theme and conclusion of Glory is about as far from a Frank Capra movie as I can conceive. Capra's central theme was about the dignity of humanity when pressed against the impersonal forces of society; Glory is about a man who has all of his dignity stripped from him until he is crushed

George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn Blu-ray Review: Between Great and Awful

Three of Romero's earliest films get a nice boxed set.
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Made on a minuscule budget and featuring no-name local Pittsburgh actors George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead became a huge worldwide success, essentially invented the modern zombie craze, influenced countless horror films, and is now in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Not wanting to be pigeonholed as just a horror/zombie director, Romero branched out making a variety of films before returning to the zombie well in 1978 with Dawn of the Dead. Three of those films (There’s Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch, and The Crazies) are included in a new boxed set from

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Some Guy'

"I ain't nothing. I'm just some guy."
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Shawn: I'm not your King. I'm not your Majesty. I ain't nothing. I'm just some guy." - Ezekiel I'm always fascinated by the episodes that focus mostly on the arc of a single character. It's a challenge on a show that has at any given point about 15-25 main characters. I think that it's been a mixed bag in the past. There's a challenge to give us an in-depth look at character and not bring the whole show to a grinding halt. It worked with T-Dog but it was pretty annoying when it was Morgan because it felt like an

D.C. Follies: The Complete Series DVD Review: It's Valuable to Have Shows Like This Back on the Market

Sid and Marty Krofft puppets in a vintage series that captures pop culture and politics of the late '80s.
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If you watched Saturday morning TV in the late '60s and through the '70s, then you knew all about Sid and Marty Krofft. The puppet and human combination adventures of H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monster, and Land of the Lost were familiar fixtures to children of that generation. Puppets had made the mainstream with The Muppet Show airing in syndication starting in the late '70s. As the children of the '70s became the politically aware adults of the '80s, Sid and Marty Krofft entered prime time with a syndicated show called D.C. Follies that brought them back

The Captive (1915) Blu-ray Review: War, Romance, Forced Labor

Olive Films releases an obscure film from epic director Cecil B. DeMille's silent cinema days.
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The Captive is a story of war-time deprivation and how terrible circumstances can bring disparate people together. There's gun battles, and romance. It's also a thematic precursor to the Seinfeld sitcom pilot within the show, where Jerry gets a man assigned to be his butler by the courts. Set during the Balkan Wars in 1913, The Captive is a silent film made by Cecil B. DeMille. It was one of more than a dozen films he made in 1915 in his first couple years of filmmaking, and it demonstrates the meticulous attention to detail the were a hallmark of his

8-Bit Generation: The Commodore Wars DVD Review: The Real Halt and Catch Fire

Documentary chronicles the rise and fall of Commodore Business Machines.
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Trivia time: what is the top-selling single computer of all time? If you guessed something in the Mac or IBM families, you’re wrong. No, the all-time champ is still the Commodore 64, first released 35 years ago and ultimately notching upwards of 17 million units sold. Led by the scrappy Jack Tramiel, Commodore made it their mission in the 1980s to popularize the concept of home computers, delivering competent product at reasonable prices to stimulate sales to casual users (including me) instead of just hardcore hobbyists. At the height of their popularity, the company imploded after the forced departure of

The Man Who Died Twice (1958) Blu-ray Review: Um, Is That a Spoiler Alert?

Kino Lorber digs up a beautiful print of a less-than-remembered guilty pleasure B-noir from Republic Pictures.
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The career of the late Vera Ralston was perhaps more fascinating off-screen than it was on. After escaping her native Czechoslovakia immediately before the Nazis closed the borders off during World War II, the former ice skater later became Republic Pictures head Herbert J. Yates' personal discovery, and he frequently cast her in pictures. Alas, even Ralston's thick Czech accent ‒ coupled with the fact she she didn't speak English terribly well and had to learn her lines phonetically ‒ was not enough to excuse her "unique" acting skills, and it was only a matter of time before her career

Wind River Blu-ray Review: A Compelling Murder Mystery

Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are excellent in this tense, deeply affecting thriller.
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There’s a sudden chill that makes its way down the viewer’s back after the opening scene of Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River. The film is a murder mystery set in an Indian reservation in Wyoming. The murder itself is not the reason why a sudden shock hits the person’s nervous system in the beginning. The reasoning for that is Ben Richardson’s lovely cinematography, which exquisitely captures a chilly Wyoming winter so well that we’re suddenly immersed into the film’s setting. The multiple feet of snow crunching under the characters’ feet and the constant blowing of the cold air bring us that

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Movie Review: An Ambiguous yet Intriguing Nightmare

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is unsure of its genre identity which makes it an exciting watch.
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When The Killing Of A Sacred Deer first starts, we get a glimpse of a beating heart being operated on with an ominous choir singing in the background. Right then and there, it becomes evident that the film will be a particular kind of experience. While Sacred Deer is a film with a traditional linear narrative, for the most part, it is more of an experience. It is an experimental nightmare that dares you to enter and piece the puzzle together. While you’re watching, you’re trying to figure out what kind of film you’re even seeing which makes The Killing

TCM and Fathom Events Present Casablanca

Round up the usual suspects and come watch the greatest movie ever made on the big screen.
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At lunch when I told a friend of mine that I was going to go see Casablanca on the big screen, I could barely contain my excitement. When I told him it was my favorite movie, he, in all sincerity, asked why. He liked the movie, sure, but it was a long ways from his favorite movie so he wondered why it was mine. Genuinely confused as to how anyone could not love Casablanca as much as I do, the only answer I could come up with was, “because it's awesome”. And it is. But now having watched it again,

Since You Went Away Blu-ray Review: An Epic Bore

I've never watched a movie so long and so dull in which so very little happens.
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After the enormous success of Gone With The Wind producer extraordinaire David O. Selznick was looking for another epic melodrama to make. This was 1944. The world was at war and Hollywood loved to make movies about it just as much as audiences loved watching them. But war movies with their big sets and action sequences were expensive. Selznick came upon an idea - everybody was making movies about the boys overseas fighting, why not make a movie about those they left behind? He found a book by Margaret Buell Wilder in which a wife writes a series of letters

Only Noirs and Horses: Four Flicks from the Warner Archive

From classic psychological thrillers to obscure westerns, these WAC releases are worth betting money on.
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In keeping with their tradition of debuting and re-issuing timeless and forgotten classics alike, the Warner Archive Collection has recently brought forth four titles from its vaults. Among this quartet is the classic psychological thriller Undercurrent, and three new-to-DVD rarities: Full Confession, which may very well be the darkest "religious" film I have ever seen; the fascinating western noir Cow Country; and ‒ branching out from the cowboy motif ‒ the long lost '50s family-friendly adventure, The Lion and the Horse. Undercurrent (1946) By and far the most recognized title in the mix, Vincente Minnelli's Undercurrent (also known as You

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review: Marvel's Best Comedy to Date

Despite a slight mismatch in tone, Thor: Ragnarok still manages to be the best film in the Thor trilogy.
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The previous Thor films have proven to be quite a mixed bag. The first film by Kenneth Branagh was interesting because of how it played into Branagh’s Shakespearean sensibilities. But its sequel Thor: The Dark World was a giant black hole of mediocrity with no creative vision and is the worst film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Thank goodness for the idiosyncratic visions of director Taika Waititi who does a complete 180 on the first two films by making Thor: Ragnarok into a superhero comedy. While there are moments where Thor: Ragnarok attempts to go serious that don’t

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Monsters'

"I’m struggling with the show. I will openly admit that." - Kim
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In which Kim and Shawn debate a character that hasn't even appeared in two episodes. Kim: Episode #3 is done. I had hopes after last week that we’d pick up some interesting stories, get moving, and find a new way for Rick to mess up a decent living situation (which is what happens every time they get comfortable somewhere). I know Negan is an integral part of the comics, and therefore the show, but I’m going to share an unpopular opinion here. Ready? I am already done with him. The story arc involving him is old and played out. I

Nightkill Blu-ray Review: A Deadly Bore

Never trust a movie by its poster, Nightkill is neither sexy nor scary.
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Intended to be Jaclyn Smith’s break-out role into movies (this was was right in the middle of Charlie’s Angels mania), Nightkill instead went almost straight to TV (after a very, very limited theatrical run) where it died a quick death. One look at its lurid poster featuring Jaclyn Smith naked in a shower while a sinister-looking shadow comes in behind her or the cast list featuring Robert Mitchum and Mike Connors (fresh in the middle of his popular Mannix role) and you might wonder why its taken so long for it to come to home video. After watching, I have

Joe Versus the Volcano Blu-ray Review: An Overlooked Tom Hanks Gem

It's a lot of fun, and sometimes that's all you want, or need, from a movie.
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When you have a lengthy and acclaimed filmography like Tom Hanks, some films are going to fall through the cracks. That has certainly been the case of 1990's Joe Versus the Volcano. Even among early-career comedies, this is a movie that gets overlooked. People remember Splash. They remember Big even if it is just to make jokes about the fact the movie features a grown woman having a sexual relationship with a child in a man's body. You rarely hear about Joe Versus the Volcano. That's a mistake, because it is the best of the early-period Hanks comedies. In fact,

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 5 by John Byrne

Byrne understands the essence of what Star Trek is and why the Original Series was so successful.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, "John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the [TV show] combined with new material such as dialogue [in word balloons], narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones." Volume 5 collects issues #12-14 and the story "More of the Serpent Than the Dove," which was previously only

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review: A Bittersweet Glass Of Eggnog

It's like deja vu in terms of plot but the cast makes it immensely watchable.
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When the film Bad Moms came out last year, it managed to become a massive summer hit towards the ends of the summer season. It made $183.9 million worldwide and became the highest-grossing film for newbie distributor STX Entertainment. But because the film did incredibly well, that meant it would get a sequel. As it turns out, A Bad Moms Christmas is a slight retread of the original but it is still a slight improvement in terms of laughs. A Bad Moms Christmas continues the story of Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) who are

DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection Bonus Disc Review

If this ever becomes available for sale individually, DC fans would enjoy it.
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The DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection is a comprehensive box set of all 30 films, five animated shorts, new special features, and exclusive collectible items including a 40-page adult coloring book featuring key art from all DC Universe films and exclusive collector coins featuring the DC “trinity” - Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. It is limited to 20,000 units and each box will be individually numbered. The films in the set are listed below along with reviews by various Sentries. Warner Brothers has provided the Bonus Disc for review, which contains the following new content (HD unless specified)

Westworld: Season One Blu-ray Review: Do Enjoy Your Stay

HBO's new series is light on AI theories, but has an exceptional cast and storyline to keep it chugging along.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. Much like Jurassic Park did with people’s fascination of living in the time of the dinosaurs, Westworld focuses on a theme park in which people can experience what it was like living in the Old West. The robots, a.k.a. hosts, of this theme park are so life-like in their speech and reaction, the setting so impeccably crafted, that people are immersed into the scenario the minute they step foot in the park.

Superman / Batman: Apocalypse Blu-ray Review: Destined to Be a Fan Favorite

It's great to see so much effort put into delivering a robust and informative package.
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Here’s a recipe for surefire fanboy satisfaction: pair the two most recognizable superheroes in the world with their most well-known and beloved vocal actors, stir in a great story adapted from comics stars Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner, season with eye-popping visuals and thumping sound, and simmer to perfection. The latest DC Universe Animated direct-to-video film once again proves that theatrical blockbusters aren’t the only top chefs in the home video market, delivering a winning package destined to be a fan favorite. Although Superman and Batman get top billing, the film is actually centered on the mysterious arrival and origin

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