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Color of Night (1994) Blu-ray Review: Color Me Bad for Enjoying It So

Kino Lorber reminds us how great bad '90s erotic thrillers were with this two-disc Special Edition set featuring both the Theatrical and Director's Cuts.
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Much like director Richard Rush's 1980 cult classic The Stunt Man has never been the sort of film one could easily classify under just one genre, his following feature Color of Night isn't a movie anyone can describe as being merely "good" or "bad." For it is both of these things, and yet, neither. As unforgivably '90s as you could possibly ever hope to get, Color of Night is an unbelievably goofy psychological thriller with a heavy focus on sex ‒ and very little else. Making little to no sense throughout the bulk of its two-hour-plus runtime, Color of Night

Crazy Rich Asians Movie Review: An Incredibly Winning Rom-Com

It succeeds thanks to its cultural significance and crowd-pleasing nature.
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It is quite admirable to see a film like Crazy Rich Asians being greenlit so that Asian-American audiences can see themselves reflected in a positive manner. I know in 2018, it shouldn’t seem like a big deal. But even though it is 2018, the tired practice of Caucasian actors playing whitewashed Asian roles is still being practiced. So, to have a film with a cast solely made up of Asian actors is quite a big deal. Crazy Rich Asians is a key cultural touchstone and also, a great movie. It is a fun movie going experience that manages to have

Avengers: Infinity War Blu-ray Review: A Marvelous (pun intended) Superhero Movie

It was fun seeing so many characters interact, which helped distract from the plot issues.
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Starting with Iron Man (2008), the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone onto to become a multimedia behemoth. It's been so successful that other movie studios have tried to create their own shared universes, but none have matched what Marvel has created. The 19th film in the franchise, Avengers: Infinity War, keeps that streak alive with over $2 billion at the worldwide box office. This was due in part to fans' anticipation of seeing what was billed as the biggest crossover event ever, and it was fun seeing so many characters interact, which helped distract from the plot issues. With the

The Rider (2018) DVD Review: Beautiful and Poignant

A cast of non-actors leads one of the most realistic and powerful portrayals of those who risk their lives in the rodeo circuit.
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Chloe Zhao’s The Rider is a film that begins with our lead character, Brady Blackburn, removing staples from his head. His days of riding in the rodeo circuit are no more, and, as he looks in the mirror, he contemplates on what he’s going to do from here. The person who portrays the title character is Brady Jandreau, a non-actor who was once a cowboy in the rodeo circuit but had to resign following a horrific head injury. The Rider is not a documentary, but there’s never a moment where it feels like the viewer is watching something that has

What Have They Done to Your Daughters? Blu-ray Review: I Hope They're Not with Solange

The second part of Massimo Dallamano's "schoolgirl's in peril" trilogy gets an excellent release from Arrow Video.
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Two years after he directed the excellent giallo What Have You Done to Solange?, Massimo Dallamano helmed this giallo/poliziotteschi hybrid. It has some interesting moments but definitely feels like a step down in quality. It contains many of characteristics of a giallo - gruesome murders by a black clad; knife-wielding (or in this case, butcher’s-cleaver-wielding) killer; odd, off-kilter camera angles; a unique score; and a bold use of color - but in many ways the plot is closer to a poliziotteschi. It spends most of its run time following the police, detailing their procedures as they try to solve the

BlacKkKlansman Movie Review: Haunting, Hilarious, and Thought Provoking

BlacKkKlansman is a powerful and razor sharp yet timely effort from director Spike Lee.
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The best way to describe Spike Lee’s latest joint, BlacKkKlansman, is that it is haunting, humorous, and thought provoking in equal measure. It works as an acerbic buddy comedy that delves into the horrors of white supremacy which is still prevalent in today’s society. BlacKkKlansman may be based on a true story, yet it also feels like a documentation of the bigotry that the Trump presidency is currently demonstrating and not just because it features footage of last year’s Charlottesville riots. BlacKkKlansman is based on the story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first African-American detective to serve in

Dragon Inn Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Villains Check In but They Don't Check Out

Fans of the genre will do themselves a favor if they plan a stop at Dragon Inn.
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King Hu's second entry into the Criterion Collection is Dragon Inn (1967), his first film after leaving the Shaw Brothers Studios in Hong King and moving to seek greater artistic liberties as a director in Taiwan. Set against a backdrop of political intrigue, writer/director Hu does very well with both job duties, creating visually interesting action sequences that blend into an entertaining story. Set in 1457 A.D. during China's Ming Dynasty, eunuchs led by Cao Shao-qin (Bai Ying), who is “unsurpassed in the martial arts,” seize power. This gives them control over two espionage agencies, the Eastern Depot and the

Street Mobster Blu-ray Review: Gritty, Nasty Yakuza Drama

Kinji Fukasaku's brings docu-drama realism and brutal ugliness to the Yakuza genre in this gritty film.
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Street Mobster is a rough, often ugly story about Okita, a common street thug who tries to eke out a living as a low-level yakuza, but whose temper and inability to kowtow to his bosses lead him to disaster. He's not a gallant rogue or a tragic figure. His father was killed in the war; his mother was a whore who walked drunk into a river and was fished out dead the next day. He turned to crime as soon as he was capable, and one of his jobs was grabbing country girls who'd just moved to the city and

Marrowbone (2018) Blu-ray Review: A Cure for Insomnia

A talented young cast and impressive production pieces can't save this meandering debut from Sergio G. Sánchez.
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Based on its trailer, its look, and the fact that it has Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) and Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness), one could easily mistake Sergio G. Sánchez’s directorial debut, Marrowbone, for a horror movie. And while there are certainly horror elements that appear throughout, Marrowbone plays more like a drama about a family trying to stick together than it does a terrifying, haunted-house thrill ride. It’s especially frustrating because there are moments within the movie where Sanchez implements the tacky jump scare method and then retreats to focus on the issues the family faces - which

Riverdale: The Complete Second Season DVD Review: The Archie Gang Finds Their Groove

The second season has given us more of what we loved in the first and is even better.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided us with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are the writer's. There are very few overly dramatic shows that I will devote anytime to these days. However, Riverdale has earned my full devotion. Growing up reading the comics is a huge reason for it. It was my guilty pleasure every summer and it is the same now. The second season has given us more of what we loved in the first and is even better. Now that the characters have been established, they have found their groove.

The Spy Who Dumped Me Movie Review: Kate McKinnon Provides Non-Stop Laughs

A PSA that Kate McKinnon is a true blue comedic movie star.
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Not only is The Spy Who Dumped Me a fun movie-going experience but it is proof that we should put any potential talk of introducing “Jane Bond” to rest. I mean, why build off an already established property when we have original female-centered spy films like The Spy Who Dumped Me that can become their own franchises? Even if this film isn’t perfect or anything groundbreaking, I’d still gladly watch a sequel should one get made. The Spy Who Dumped Me follows the story of Audrey (Mila Kunis), a retail clerk who’s been dumped by her boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux)

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: A 'Strange and Wondrous' TV Show

Highly recommend for fans and for those curious to learn about this marvelous series because both the show and the Blu-ray presentation are of such high quality.
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Described by creator Alex Hirsh as a cross between The X-Files and The Simpsons (presumably the early seasons back when both shows were great), Gravity Falls is an entertaining animated series that deals in science fiction and the supernatural. The two-season, 40-episode series is set in the town of Gravity Falls, OR where 12-year-old fraternal twins Dipper Pines (Jason Ritter) and sister Mabel (Kristen Schaal) are sent to stay the summer with their great Uncle Stan Pines (Hirsch), whom they call “Grunkle.” He runs the Mystery Shack, an appropriately named tourist trap/gift shop because mysteries abound inside as well as

Condemned! | The Devil to Pay! DVD Reviews: Both Worthy of Exclamation Points

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off two pre-Code Ronald Colman classics featuring Ann Harding, Loretta Young, Myrna Loy, and a familiar-looking terrier.
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Once again, the Warner Archive Collection has unveiled a couple of forgotten titles starring Ronald Colman, the British-born talent who transcended from stage to silents to talkies with the greatest of ease, resulting in three Oscar-nominations during his 40+ career in the world of entertainment. Here, the WAC presents us with two pre-Code rarities ‒ a serious drama and a madcap comedy ‒ both of which are well worth the cost of admission. Condemned! (1929, United Artists) Set on the isle of Cayenne ‒ the infamous French penal colony better known as "Devil's Island", from whence Humphrey Bogart would repeatedly

Brotherly Love (2018) Movie Review: Neither Heavenly nor Unholy

Thanks to two of its supporting actors, Brotherly Love thrives on a wing and a prayer.
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Based on the novel Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza, Brotherly Love follows the story of Vito Fortunato (Anthony J. Caruso), a seminarian in the Catholic Church who must decide between his religious vows of chastity and his sexual freedom before becoming a Brother. Contributing to his dilemma is both his sex-crazed partner Tim (Chance McKee) and a landscaper named Gabe (Derek Babb) whom Vito falls in love with while away at a retreat. When Vito first meets Gabe, that is when the film kicks into high gear. That is in large part due to Derek Babb who gives a

Mac and Me (Collector's Edition) Blu-ray Review: E.T. Phone Lawyer

A blatant E.T. rip-off that is also the longest advertisement for both McDonald's and Coca Cola.
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It’s one thing to pay homage to a certain film. It’s another to do an almost beat-for-beat replica and try to pass it off as something original. Stewart Raffill’s 1988 flop, Mac and Me, certainly falls in the latter category. It’s a movie that so desperately tries to be like Steven Spielberg’s box-office hit, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and it painfully shows with every passing scene and is heard with every note of Alan Silvestri’s musical score. It’s amazing that a lawsuit was never filed. Then again, the movie disappeared from theaters after two weeks due to low attendance. The damage

Irma La Douce Blu-ray Review: An Oft-forgotten Classic

Billy Wilder finds a way to work in another stellar project into his later career.
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In 1963, Billy Wilder is three years removed from a pinnacle movie of his career with The Apartment. His amazing decade of the 1950s almost goes unmatched among directors except maybe Hitchcock and Spielberg. A decade that started with Sunset Boulevard and included Some Like It Hot, Sabrina, and The Seven Year Itch among others. By 1963, Billy Wilder was basking in the freedom that a pattern of successful films brings to a director. This is the year that Billy brings back two of his favorites, Jack Lemmon (almost a stand-in for Billy one would believe) and Shirley MacLaine to

Nico, 1988 Movie Review: Both Simplistic and Unsentimental

A sublime biopic carried by Trine Dyrholm who excels as the late famed musician.
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During the opening montage of Nico, 1988, the song “These Days” starts playing over it. A song that may be familiar to anyone who’s seen The Royal Tenenbaums and which might be the titular singer’s best-known song because of that movie. Even though Nico might not be familiar to modern audiences, the film Nico, 1988 makes a strong case as to why more people should know her story. It is a simplistic yet unsentimental depiction of an artist who had a passion for music even when it became difficult to hold onto it. Nico, 1988 follows the last three years

Book Review: Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales, Volume Three

It's wonderful to experience the strips as readers did over 50 years ago and see the artistry on display.
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As mentioned in reviews of the previous volumes in the series, Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales was a Sunday strip that featured 129 stories, running from July 13, 1952 until February 15, 1987. The Library of American Comics is republishing them and the 14 stories in Volume Three, which are collected in a book for the first time, include adaptations of films, both live-action and animated. Written by Frank A. Reilly and drawn by Jesse March, except where noted, they are: Darby O'Gill and the Little People (May 3, 1959-August 30, 1959) Third Man on the Mountain (September 6,

Mission: Impossible - Fallout Movie Review: Best Action Movie of the Summer

It is both the best action film of the summer and the franchise's best film.
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The Mission: Impossible franchise manages to live up to its title because it attains a feat that franchises rarely accomplish. It does the unthinkable by getting better with each installment and Fallout, the latest entry, is the best one yet. It features satisfying action and humor while also being a deep character study. Not to mention, it is extremely well-acted across the board. Mission Impossible - Fallout basically has everything one could want in a blockbuster which makes it a perfect summer movie going experience. Because it’s a sequel, that also means greater stakes are involved. The Syndicate, the crime

A Strange Adventure (1956) Blu-ray Review: An Unremarkable Thriller

Young Nick Adams highlights this entertainingly cheapo Republic Pictures crime flick, now available from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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While the cliffhanger serial formula Republic Pictures would be so well remembered for had already been extinct by the time they cranked out the aptly-titled ‒ and noticeably cheap ‒ A Strange Adventure in 1956, I think it's safe to say the spirit of the ol' chapterplay was still alive and kickin' in this production. Helmed by ace serial director William Witney (The Adventures of Captain Marvel), this lukewarm hard-boiled thriller from writer Houston Branch (Mr. Wong, Detective) opens with Ben Cooper (as one very grown-up teenager) getting hooked on Marla English (The She-Creature). Alas, Marla is one of them

I Walk Alone (1947) Blu-ray Review: A Fine, Slow-Burning Film Noir

Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas go toe-to-toe for the very first time in this classic crime drama from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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The first of what would ultimately tally up to be seven feature films starring the talents of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas ‒ a collaboration that would span nearly four decades, concluding with Tough Guys in 1986 ‒ I Walk Alone takes us back to when the two iconic performers were still essentially strangers to one another. In the case of this fine, slow-burning film noir from first-time (solo) director Byron Haskin (Robinson Crusoe on Mars, September Storm), the separation between the two leads only helps to add fuel to the fire. Here, Mr. Lancaster plays Frankie Madison, a one-time

San Diego Comic-Con International 2018 Review: Go for the Comics, Stay for the Stories

Another year of Con but this time it's the Big Picture
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Is it as easy as copy and paste? If you have followed my writings even tangentially over the past eight years, you know I thrive on two things - consistency and nostalgia. I attend many of the same panels each year, like reuniting with old friends or watching an old familiar film for comfort. The annual gathering of misfits known as the San Diego Comic-Con International brings together tribes from all over the world. If you're there - badge or not, costume or not, Captain America shield, Batman mask, or Stormtrooper helmet - you are among your brethren. Usually this

Ready Player One Blu-ray Review: A Grand Spectacle Lacking Substance

The movie's story has lessons to pass onto viewers, yet somehow they are overlooked by the filmmakers.
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Based on Ernest Cline's book of the same name, Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One is a fantastic adventure in the vein of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Upon his death, video-game maker James Halliday set forth a way to pass on his ownership of the OASIS, the virtual-reality universe that has captivated the world, to whomever can solve the three puzzles he has hidden within it. The movie's story has lessons to pass onto viewers, yet somehow they are overlooked by the filmmakers. RP1 opens in in Columbus, Ohio, 2045, in an area called The Stacks, which is a

The Day After Blu-ray Review: Still Has a Probing Effect on Society Today

A slightly crude, but still chillingly effective TV classic about nuclear horror.
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When it comes to nuclear annihilation, there have been many successful cinematic attempts to truly justify the horrifying reality of doomsday, such as Fail-Safe, Threads, The War Game, and On The Beach. However, in my opinion, director Nicholas Meyer's 1983 landmark, The Day After, is the outing that most people remember. It may have been a TV movie, but that didn't stop it from traumatizing an entire generation, telling a story of nuclear catastrophe experienced by everyday people. Set mostly in Kansas and Missouri, the film takes place before, during, and after the U.S. and Russia go to war with

Super Troopers 2 Blu-ray Review: Stick with the First One

Although there are some laughs to be had, most of it feels recycled.
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One of my main concerns about a sequel to a film being released more than a decade later is the amount of callbacks that are going to be littered throughout. I remember watching one of the trailers for Jurassic World and - while listening to the slow, piano version of the original theme song - thinking that it was going to be filled with key moments that make the viewer remember how much they love the first one and also try to trick them in thinking the sequel is a good movie. In reality, it’s a terrible movie, filled with

Arrow Video Presents Director Vincent Ward's First Two Features

'Vigil' shows much of the talent and promise that would be delivered in 'The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey.'
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There's a funny thing about favorite movies. You can easily find people to share a love for anything Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. You can go a little further and find friends who enjoy 2001, On The Waterfront, or The Philadelphia Story. Then there's another level where you might mention a movie you love that not everyone has heard of but mostly they are aware of like Eraserhead, Freaks, or 8 1/2. Those are part of the popular-culture vernacular and you don't get weird looks when bringing them up in discussion. Then there's that final

The Third Murder Movie Review: All Justice, No Truth

Hirokazu Kore-eda's keen observation of human interaction is brought to a courtroom drama, winner of six Japanese Academy awards.
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There shouldn't be much to the murder trial. After all, the murderer has already confessed. The prosecution is pushing for the death penalty, though, after as much as guaranteeing the defendant Misumi they wouldn't if he just says he did it. His current attorney in over his head, new counsel is pressed in to do what can be done to make sure Misumi only spends the rest of his life in prison. The new attorney Shigemori is barely interested. He resents being brought in to the case when it's already set to go to trial. Misumi was only two years

You Were Never Really Here Blu-ray Review: A Dark, Masterful Thriller

Joaquin Phoenix gives one of the best performances of his career.
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Prior to watching Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, I came across one short comment on Letterboxd in which the person noted that it was like an artistic version of Pierre Morel’s Taken. To an extent, that is true. Yes, Joaquin Phoenix’s character, Joe, has a particular set of skills, and, yes, his character tries to rescue young girls from sex traffickers. But as I was watching You Were Never Really Here, I came to the realization that it is more of a hybrid between Taken and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. It’s a slow-burning thriller that intrigues its audience

Tiger by the Tail (1970) Blu-ray Review: The Lyons' Tiger's a Bear, Oh My

Christopher George, Tippi Hedren, Charo, and a lot of wood paneling star in this odd little thriller from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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Outwardly, there isn't much for the average contemporary moviegoer to get excited about over R.G. Springsteen's Tiger by the Tail. But before you go wandering off in search of something else to view, consider what this fairly tepid, tiny thriller has to offer internally. Shot in the late '60s, this, the final film from one of the most prolific B-western directors ever, centers on a slightly disgraced Vietnam veteran who gets caught up in a thoroughly predictable web of conspiracy after his racetrack-owner brother is murdered during a hold-up coordinated by one (or more) of his corrupt colleagues amid the

Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973) Blu-ray Review: Please, Don't Act So Sheepish

The American Genre Film Archive and Something Weird Video present something so delightfully awful, it'll leave you ecstatically screaming "Ewe!"
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Even established connoisseurs of strange little motion pictures generally regarded as "bad" can occasionally step into something they are wholly unprepared for. And that can certainly apply to anyone who decides to leap off the beaten path only to set foot into the sulphuric pile of sheep dip that is Godmonster of Indian Flats. The fourth and final feature film from recently departed artist/filmmaker (and Cornell graduate also, I might add) Fredric C. Hobbs, this bizarre 1973 offering is truly difficult to categorize, as it appears to be an environmentally-conscious retrograde science fiction/horror hybrid about an eight-foot-tall mutant sheep housed

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