In a year of dysfunctional families, alien horror, and more superhero nonsense, it was refreshing to finally find a film that doesn't cater to the usual tropes of what a film is supposed to be. You know, a depressing tale of a very emotionless woman who seems to be lost to everyone and everything around her, and director Christina Choe's troubling orchestration of the bizarre premise is arguably, for me, the true discovery of 2018. The film is NANCY. The story centers on a very lonely young woman, Nancy Freeman, who craves connection with others by creating distinctive indentities and
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The acting, direction, and writing represent a uniqueness rarely found in cinema.
Boy Erased has its heart in the right place but doesn't have a proper voice.
Boy Erased is one of those movies that has its heart is in the right place but almost falters due to its slightly hampered execution. It does have its high qualities and it does its part by keeping the message alive about conversion therapy which is sadly legal in some states. However, it still doesn’t quite come together despite its admirable efforts. The film is based on a true story about the life of Garrard Conley who was sent to conversion therapy by his parents after being outed as gay. But Jared Eamons, who is the main character played by
Blue Underground gives Lucio Fulci's groundbreaking "massacre-piece" a gorgeous new 4K restoration, and the results are even more shocking than ever.
It's hard to keep a good zombie down, and the regular re-emergence of Lucio Fulci's seminal Dawn of the Dead rip-off onto home video is quite the indication it will never go out of style. One of the most quintessential Italian splatter flicks ever made, this epic bastard sequel to George A. Romero's masterpiece launched the horror movie career for director Fulci, whilst simultaneously leaving a noticeable boot print on the map for Italy itself. Known around the world by an oft-bizarre assortment of alternate titles ‒ including Zombi 2 (its original title, as christened to cash-in on the release
Criterion continues their welcome attention to the works of director Kenji Mizoguchi with this superb new Blu-ray release.
When an adulterous nobleman learns that his wife is rumored to be carrying on an affair with a member of his staff, he seeks to punish both of them. Sure, it’s fine for the man to brazenly step out on his wife, but when the smallest hint of initially untrue impropriety is leveled against her, his righteous indignation speaks volumes about the vast gender morality imbalance. There’s also the matter of his continued noble status, as his failure to punish his perceived transgressors carries the risk of loss of his esteemed title. With that setup in place, director Kenji Mizoguchi
The second of the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan-starring films is a delightful and witty romantic comedy.
A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were watching a movie when a trailer for Fathom Events’ presentation of Sleepless in Seattle came on. She smiled and stated how much she loved the movie. I ashamedly admitted that I had never seen it. To be honest, when I was growing up, I didn’t find myself getting attached to romantic comedies that much - or even romantic dramas. I think I had watched some here and there, but I always dismissed them as cheesy, sentimental goo. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to appreciate a lot of them more
The documentary gives us an interesting glimpse Hollywood’s gay “underground” during the 1940s and '50s.
Movie studios kept a close watch on their actors’ private lives in the 1940s to the 1970s. It was important at that time for stars to have a wholesome image. That wholesomeness meant gay actors and actresses had to stay in the closest. Even heterosexual thespians had to project a squeaky-clean image, even if it was contrary to their real, off-screen lives. Scott Tyrnauer’s Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood explores the wild life of Scotty Bowers, a 95-year-old author and former Hollywood pimp to the stars.(Tyrnauer’s previous documentaries include Valentino: The Last Emperor and Studio 54). Bowers wrote
Documentarian Steve Mitchell pays respect to Larry Cohen and his interesting filmography.
While many argue about the subjective success of a movie, there is one indisputable objective marker of a movie's success and that is whether it has recovered its cost. Regardless of the former, those who have repeatedly accomplished the latter make careers for themselves in the business and deserve respect. Documentarian Steve Mitchell pays that respect to Larry Cohen and his interesting filmography with King Cohen, which La-La Land Entertainment is releasing in a Limited Edition set of 5,000 that includes the film on Blu-ray accompanied by its soundtrack by Joe Kraemer on CD. Mitchell tells Cohen's story through an
I am happy that it ended on such a high note but will always feel the wanting for more.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions share are her own. I am so grateful to Netflix for giving us three more seasons of Longmire after it was cancelled by A&E. While I was still not ready for it to end, at least we got a final season to leave these characters in a thoughtful and fulfilled way. Our beloved Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) continues to face intense personal and professional challenges. His best friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Philips)
The Favourite is completely innovative and easily Yorgos Lanthimos' most actor-driven picture.
Yorgos Lanthimos tackling a period piece is a segway as unorthodox as his previous work. However, as it turns out, The Favourite proves to possess the same absurdist touch as The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer even if the script isn’t written by Lanthimos this time around. Admittedly, because Lanthimos didn’t pen the script, it is easily his most accessible film. But thanks to the use of techniques like the disorienting cinematography and the acting from two of his leading ladies who have previously collaborated with him and understand his esoteric vision, The Favourite still remains in
A good introduction of Aquaman into this iteration of the Justice League,
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are the writer's own. Previously released direct to video in 2015, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, inspired by the graphic novel of the same name, serves as an origin story for Aquaman and shows the Justice League growing into a formal group. It has been now been released in a new Commemorative Edition as a tie-in with James Wan's Aquaman, set for release on December 21. The new edition presents the animated film remastered in
It will certainly be on my "Xmas movies to watch" list every year.
It’s that time of year again where Christmas music, lights, and goodwill towards all is in the air. So of course, it’s the perfect time to release all the new holiday films that hope to thrill and delight people of all ages. And the newest animated film to come out this Friday is about the littlest reindeer. Well, he’s not really a reindeer. Elliot (Josh Hutcherson) is actually a miniature horse whose job it is to wrangle goats on Whittick’s Whitty Bitty Farm & Petting Zoo. But he has bigger aspirations than what his current station allows. He looks at
Shoplifters is a well-acted, bittersweet ode to the impoverished.
One thing that’s so amazing about Shoplifters is that it succeeds in areas where it could’ve easily gone wrong. It’s an insightful look at a family living in poverty without becoming preachy and demonstrates people with misguided yet good intentions without acting judgmental. Director/writer Hirokazu Kore-eda handles the film with a pragmatic yet empathetic eye and as a result, crafts together one of the year’s best movies that clutches the heartstrings by the time the credits roll. The story follows Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky) and his wife Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), a couple that barely makes ends meet since they work
Jon M. Chu's box-office success is a wickedly smart romantic comedy.
By now, it’s already very well known that Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians marked a milestone for Hollywood as the first major motion picture in 25 years to feature a predominantly Asian cast. It’s something definitely worth celebrating. It’s also a good thing that the movie itself takes the rom-com formula and doesn’t exactly reinvent it, but makes it worthwhile again. Some of the familiar beats are just that, but there’s hardly a moment that doesn’t make you grin ear to ear. The plot is familiar, but Jon M. Chu injects a lot of fervor into Crazy Rich Asians,
Green Book is a safe crowd-pleaser but still badly antiquated.
The best way to describe Green Book is that it’s a topical movie that has its heart in the right place but still falters because of its safe and narrow-minded nature. Despite the poster saying it’s inspired by a true friendship, the film is mainly interested in one half of that friendship. As a result, we get a look at historical American racism that is made presentable in a way that it’s problematic. In a rather awkward fashion, Green Book is chiefly about Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a New York club bouncer who chauffeured a famed pianist named Don Shirley
Strait-Jacket / Berserk! Double Feature Blu-ray Review: A Pair from the End of Joan Crawford's Career
Fans of Crawford and horror should have some fun with these two.
Mill Creek Entertainment presents two Joan Crawford films, Strait-Jacket and Berserk!, on a single Blu-ray disc. Dubbed a “Psycho Biddy Double Feature,” the pair come from the latter stage of the actress' career after her resurgence in Robert Aldrich's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? After the reteaming of Crawford and Bette Davis in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte fell apart during production due to the actresses' acrimonious off-screen behavior, resulting in Crawford being replaced by Olivia de Havilland, Crawford replaced Joan Blondell in William Castle's Strait-Jacket, an entertaining low-budget horror film. Somehow, Lucy (Joan Crawford) only has to do 20 years at
Mary Pickford's waif character is charming in a rural comedy about a wild child and the townsman she loves.
In modern films, it seems that everybody who wandered anywhere in the vicinity of the set gets an on-screen credit. Credits stretch on and on - some unfortunate movies like Darkness Falls (2003) even pad their credits out to get the films to a releasable length. Mary Pickford, in contrast, was one of the very first screen stars to get an on-screen credit in her films. In the first 20 years or so of cinema, the cultural status of films was uncertain: were they entertainment or art? Throwaway fad or works that would stand some test of time? Mary Pickford
Teruo Ishii's strange anthology of period stories of sex and torture is more bizarre than erotic, though entertaining.
When a form of entertainment is facing a crisis, when other forms of media cut into its business and make it more and more difficult to be profitable, the most tried-and-true formula for clawing your banks books out of the red: exploitation! This was what faced the Japanese film industry from the early '60s onward, when television had finally become more pervasive and people could get their entertainment without having to go to the movie theater. Movie studios worked hard to show on the movie screen material you just can't get on television...which in the case of the Japanese studios
It's evident the studio takes as much care with creating their shorts as they do their features.
Volume 3 is the latest release in the Pixar Short Films Collection series, presenting 13 shorts that were released between 2012 to 2018. The feature film the short has been paired with will be identified in parentheses and can be found on its home media release. Presented in reverse chronological order on the menu, the following shorts come with optional introduction and audio commentaries: Bao (Incredibles 2) is notable as the first Pixar short directed by a woman, Domee Shi. It is a touching, humorous story about the relationship between a mother and son. Academy Award-nominated Lou (Cars 3) is
While I was entertained, the film fell a little flat.
Serious comic-book fans know that the Teen Titans have been around since the 1960s, but with comic-book culture hitting the mainstream, many people were first made aware of this superhero team when the animated Teen Titans series premiered on Cartoon Network in 2003. The show starred five teenaged superheroes with varying powers that solved crime and fought super villains, much like their Justice League counterparts. They were led by Robin (Scott Menville), who had no super powers of his own but had learned from one of the greatest super heroes, Batman. The other team members included: Cyborg (Khary Payton), a
Herschell Gordon Lewis's splatter classic is terrible in the best possible way.
If there’s one thing I know for sure after watching The Wizard of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis's splatter classic is that Lewis was no auteur. Hell, he was hardly even a director. If you are feeling generous, you might call him a filmmaker. He was, however, one heck of a salesman. After spending a few years doing various jobs - teaching at university, managing radio stations, and working in advertising - Lewis turned his sights on movies. Not because he had any artistic dreams, but because he figured he could make a few bucks at it. Teaming with notorious exploitation
An uneven, sci-fi mess, but the Blu-ray is handled quite nicely.
Jonathan and Josh Baker’s directorial debut, Kin, is just further proof that not all short films deserve the feature-length treatment. The inspiration comes from the brothers’ 14-minute short called Bag Man, which is available in the Special Features section of the Kin Blu-ray. Bag Man tells the story of a troubled boy living at home with his widowed mother. He carries around a bag, which, it later reveals, contains a high-powered weapon that can destroy vehicles and incinerate any individual that comes within its path. By the short film’s end, the viewer is left with intrigue and craving more. This
An entertaining release that collects the Grinch's TV specials.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray Combo Pack reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are the writer's own. Released on October 23, because it's never too early to start getting folks buying stuff for Christmas, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The Ultimate Edition was made available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital. Based on his 1957 book of the same name, Dr. Seuss teamed with legendary animator Chuck Jones and created a TV special in 1966 that has become a perennial holiday favorite for many. Boris Karloff narrates and voices
Inspired by Osamu Tezuka’s manga and Fritz Lang’s movie, this anime has style in excess...but lacks a cohesive story.
The cliché about Osamu Tezuka is to call him the Walt Disney of Japan. He was, indeed, a pioneer of modern manga and anime, including creating the world famous Astro Boy, both as a manga and anime. But while he was wildly successful and astoundingly prolific, Tezuka was able to make inroads with his illustrated stories that Disney never realized: He created entertainments for adults as well as children, including a 3000-page biography of the Buddha. Metropolis, published in 1949, was a graphic novel from 30 years before the term was coined: a standalone comic book story, telling a complex
Spike Lee’s latest joint recounts a true tale of an African-American cop’s infiltration of the KKK.
Truth really is stranger than fiction. Based on author Ron Stallworth’s biographical book, Spike Lee’s latest film follows the police infiltration of the KKK in Colorado in the 1970s. The kicker: the infiltration is initiated by an African-American cop. After approaching the Klan over the phone and winning their trust during follow-up phone calls, he’s partnered with a white cop to appear in his place for Klan meetings as they continue to gather intel. It’s a high-wire game as they try to avoid detection by the Klan while simultaneously working to prevent any wrongdoing by their new acquaintances. The cast
Jason Statham squares off against a giant shark in Jon Turteltaub's fun action thriller.
The Meg is almost exactly the type of movie one would expect if you told them the basic premise is Jason Statham and a crew of people go after a giant, prehistoric shark. I say almost because there’s this hint that director Jon Turteltaub wanted to make the movie more extreme, more over-the-top, and more graphic than it is, as far as a PG-13 rating can go. Turteltaub and Statham have both expressed how that was the initial plan, but the studio told them that they had to make it appeal to a mass audience. An R-rating, obviously, wouldn’t attract
This deeply flawed, yet entertaining series gets a nice release price for Christmas presents.
Rescue Me was a darkly funny, utterly crass comedy/drama about a group of New York City firefighters dealing with survivor's guilt in the years following 9/11. It was created by and stars Denis Leary, who also served as head writer. It aired on the F/X network, which had recently scored a huge hit with The Shield. It similarly pushed the envelope in terms of language, sex, and nudity for a basic-cable series. But where The Shield aimed for edge-of-your-seat thrills, Rescue Me opted for pitch-black comedy and insightful, though soapish drama. It is a difficult show to watch in light
A wonderfully somber portrait of women at a crossroads.
As I have mentioned time and time again, the essence and importance of women filmmakers continues to be taken for granted. It is really a damn shame, because women have excellent ability to make their own films about life, love, and everything in-between. And fortunately, director Allison Anders is definitely one of them. With her stunning 1992 landmark, Gas Food Lodging, she elevates familiar territory while adding her own distinctive flair for women in emotional peril. Based on a novel by Richard Peck, the film takes place in a small New Mexico town where Nora (Brooke Adams), a single mother
This collection repackages previous Stooges releases from Sony Pictures and Mill Creek Entertainment.
The Three Stooges were one of the most notable comedic acts of the 20th Century due to their violent slapstick antics and iconic personas. A brief history about them starts in 1922 when brothers Moe and Shemp Howard were “the Stooges” of the vaudeville act Ted Healy and the Stooges. In 1928, Larry Fine joined them. In 1930, the act made its way to Hollywood and appeared in Soup to Nuts. Shemp quit the act in 1932 and went solo. He was replaced by his brother Jerry, known as Curly. After splitting from Healy, the act was billed as “The
Widows is an incredibly thematic crime drama with a killer acting ensemble.
Steve McQueen may be a director that hails from the U.K. but he has successfully demonstrated his ability to venture into the darkest depths of American society. Previously, he crafted a harrowing portrait of historical American slavery with the Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave. Now, with Widows, he has constructed a modern-day morality tale about race, police brutality, gender, class, and politics which presents itself under the guise of a popcorn heist thriller. While the film does demonstrate an exciting buildup to the climactic heist, at its core, it’s really about trying to survive in a lawless world
Writer/director Brad Bird and his talented cast and crew bring back beloved characters, expand their world, and tell the story in a visually engaging way.
Picking up where The Incredibles left off, Incredibles 2 sees the Parr family take on the Under Miner, but the damage caused in the melee is so costly, the government shuts down the superhero program and makes their work illegal. Into their lives comes, wealthy tech industrialist Winston Dever (Bob Odenkirk), who along with his sister Evelyn (Christine Keener), wants to help re-establish the perception of superheros. In a blow to Bob (Craig T. Nelson)/Mr. Incredible's ego, Elasti-girl (Helen Hunt) is chosen to begin the rehabilitation of their image with the public. The Parrs move into Winston's state-of-the-art luxury home