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TV Review: American Masters: B.B. King: The Life of Riley

The documentary examines the blues legend's life and music.
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The latest installment of the PBS series, American Masters, documents the life and music of blues maestro Riley “B.B.” King. A sharecropper’s son who first played guitar in church, he also worked as a DJ before becoming the undisputed king of American blues (and an inspiration to countless rock musicians). This documentary features interviews with Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, John Mayer, and other musicians. There are plenty of original and archival interviews with B.B., including one conducted on a trip back to his birthplace in Mississippi. It follows King’s story from his early life working in the cotton

Trumbo Blu-ray Review: Bryan Cranston's Tour de Force

Its a shame a film about one of the greatest screenwriters is written so poorly.
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The only thing Hollywood likes more than making movies portraying themselves as heroes is making movies portraying themselves as martyrs fighting against oppressive forces. I’ve lost count at how many movies have been made about the Hollywood Blacklist. If all you knew of history was what came from Hollywood, you’d think Joseph McCarthy was worse than Stalin and Hitler combined. You’d never know that the House Un-American Activities Committee ruined the lives of thousands of people from all stripes of life across the country rather than just the artists in and around Hollywood. Trumbo is yet another Hollywood movie portraying

Book Review: The Art of Regular Show by Shannon O'Leary

"An inside peek into how [they] go about creating the characters and crazy situations [viewers] see on TV every week." - creator JG Quintel
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Created by JG Quintel, Regular Show regales viewers with the zany exploits of Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the raccoon, two twenty-something slackers who find themselves in the caught up in very wild and very funny adventures. It is one of the most imaginative and entertaining animated programs on television, currently in its seventh season on Cartoon Network. Author Shannon O’Leary assists Quintel, who in his foreword states that with this book he and the staff wanted to “offer an inside peek into how [they] go about creating the characters and crazy situations [viewers] see on TV every week.”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray Combo Pack Review: The Special Features Are the Best Part

The Walt Disney Company begins The Signature Collection with the studio's first feature-length film.
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On December 21, 1937 Walt Disney released "Disney's Folly," a reckless endeavor that was mocked by critics and seen as the worst mistake that he could ever make, would completely bankrupt him, and destroy his career. The thought of making a full-length animated film was completely absurd and nobody would want to watch it. Imagine their shock when they discovered that they were completely wrong. Not only did the film have a good storyline, but it made people laugh and cry and everyone loved it. The film was an immediate success the mocking by critics stopped and now we all

About The Young Idea DVD Review: A Revealing, Reminiscent Look Back at The Jam's Rise

This thoughtful history of the evolution of The Jam is heavy on band anecdotes, fan praise and a chipper Paul Weller enjoying the stroll down Stanley Road.
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The late John Weller, Paul Weller’s father and perhaps The Jam’s biggest fan, would ring in shows by shouting, “Put your hands together for the greatest band in the f@%king world!” And to legions of fans in the late ’70s and early ’80s, they absolutely were. The band not only echoed youth’s frustrations with politically poetic lyrics and riffs drawing from earlier periods of unrest, but they also taught their peers on the floor a thing or two about literature, autonomy—being someone intelligent enough to form and express an opinion boldly. With a heavy emphasis on fan lore, About The

Howard the Duck Movie Review: It's Not as Bad as You Think

A look back at one of Marvel Comics' first big-screen adaptations.
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As I’m sure most of you already know. Movies have and will always be one of those forms of entertainment that we will have different opinions on. What you think is the best movie ever, will have someone out there disagreeing. That may not be the case with today’s selection. Howard The Duck has a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for seven Golden Raspberry Awards. It’s been regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, but is it that bad? 2001: A Space Odyssey also got bad reviews when it first opened and that movie is

Spectre Blu-ray Review: Ghosts of Bond's Past

Craig and Mendes re-team for an effort that falls short of Skyfall’s heights, but not by much.
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After the nearly universal acclaim and gigantic box office for the previous Bond outing, Skyfall, any follow-up was likely to suffer in comparison, even with the same creative team largely intact. Sure enough, the general consensus upon Spectre’s release seemed to be a resounding “meh” and lower ticket sales, but what all of that apathy masked was that judged on its own merits it’s still one of the strongest Bond films ever. Does the story make complete sense? Nope, but that’s never really been a drawback in this series. Sam Mendes returns to direct an ambitious tale that features the

Book Review The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road by Abbie Bernstein

Every bit as vivid, eye-popping, and gut-punching as the film, but slowed down enough that it can sit on your coffee table.
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Having spent the better part of the year revisiting a familiar galaxy far, far away and allowing it to consume our hearts and minds as well as nearly every waking moment of our lives, it’s easy to forget that it was just last summer we paid a trip to another landscape quite reminiscent of one we had spent a great deal of time in during our youth. Of course, the trips we took to the post-apocalyptic wasteland George Miller created weren’t nearly as idyllic as our jaunts to Hoth or the Death Star; if the Star Wars universe which sprung

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season 2 DVD Review: Open Channel C for Color

Recommended for any man, girl, or those not falling under those classifications who enjoy the '60s spy genre.
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Six months after The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season 1 was released in conjunction with Guy Ritchie's feature-film prequel, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment has released The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season 2, another 10-disc set featuring international exploits of espionage. This season contained 28 affairs, including two two-parters, which aired on NBC during the 1965/66 television season, and for the first time in color. For those new to the series, it features agents Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), an American, and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), a Russian, traveling the globe on behalf of the international organization known as United

My Pal Wolf DVD Review: Dog Gone Girl

Child actress Sharyn Moffett has to learn how to cut one's wolf loose in this forgotten RKO ditty, now available from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Sometimes, you never know what the true premise of a motion picture may turn out to be. This can be particularly relevant when it comes to old B movies ‒ wherein even a man taking a leisurely stroll down to the corner market for a pack of cigarettes can end with an overzealous example of religious superiority, all but demanding viewers go to church that Sunday. Why, even a simple family movie about a little girl and her pet dog can begin as one kind of tale before it ultimately transforms into something wholly other. And wouldn't you just know

The Emigrants / The New Land Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Profound Cinematic Experience Like No Other

Jan Troell's masterful epic saga receives the deluxe Blu-ray treatment.
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There have been many films about the dangerous journey of immigrants to America, the land of prosperity and new beginnings, such as El Norte (1983) and Sin Nombre (2009). However, I think none of them really possess the devastating and stark power as Director Jan Troell's epic masterpieces, The Emigrants (1971) / The New Land (1972), which were praised unanimously by critics and worldwide. It isn't difficult to see why; the entire saga is beautiful, authetic, and a profound cinematic experience like no other. Adapted from a novel by Vilhelm Moberg, it stars film legends Max von Sydow and Liv

Steve Jobs DVD Review: A Good Choice For Best Picture

It’s a wonderful blend of acting, writing, and directing.
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Steve Jobs is one of the more integral folks in this modern technological era of ours. Thus, a biopic was inevitable. While a couple of films were able to beat Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs to the punch, this was the Jobs movie people were waiting for. The one with the legitimately talented cast, the one that didn’t have Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, and the one written by Aaron Sorkin. Of course, pedigree does not guarantee success. Fortunately, this particular film was knocked out of the park. As you may have heard by now, this is not a traditional biopic.

Bridge of Spies Blu-ray Review: Spielberg's History Tour Reaches the Cold War

In Steven Spielberg's latest history lesson, our professor/director tackles the Cold War.
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For the last decade, Steven Spielberg has been stuck in the past as a director, churning out one historical film after another. Even his only fictional films, Indiana Jones and Tintin, tread retro themes and times, making it clear that at this stage of his storied career he’s looking back rather than forward. That gaze to the past has now landed on the Cold War, and finds him reteamed with frequent collaborator Tom Hanks. When a suspected Soviet spy is captured in New York, the authorities realize that he must be offered legal representation and call in esteemed attorney James

It Follows Movie Review: A Horror Movie to Think About

Our own mortality is the most scariest creature of all.
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It Follows has the most terrifying premise when you stop to really think about it. Many people will mock and laugh at the concept of a girl who is slowly being hunted by an ominous being after having sex. Yet, this is the same concept used in countless other horror movies. What happens to most kids when they have sex in these kinds of films? They end up getting killed by some guy in a mask swinging a machete. Now what if you take this same concept of being stalked by a thing whose sole purpose is to kill you,

Thoughtful & Abstract: DC TV

"For every Human Target that comes and goes without notice, there will be a Constantine that leaves far too early." - Shawn
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In which Shawn and Kim discuss the weekly DC Comics-based shows and shirtless heroes. Shawn: I've caught up on most of my comic-based shows recently. One of the newest ones elicited quite a few opinions, so I thought we should touch base on where we're at with these. For every Human Target that comes and goes without notice, there will be a Constantine that comes into our world and leaves far too early. DC'S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (CW) The latest addition to the Arrowverse is a breath of fresh air. I am not going to deny I love this series

The Diary of a Teenage Girl Blu-ray Review: A Remarkably Forthright Film

The plot might remind one of Andrea Arnold's 'Fish Tank,' but the tone is decidedly different
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Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl isn’t particularly groundbreaking from a visual or formal standpoint; its burnished digital photography and lilting camerawork could belong to any number of Sundance entries. But this adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel is certainly distinctive among American film for its forthright, completely nonjudgmental approach to female sexuality. The plot — in which a teenage girl starts sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend — bears at least passing similarity to Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, but The Diary of a Teenage Girl is nearly a tonal opposite, fraught nerviness replaced with a pleasant inquisitiveness. Diary’s

Grandma Blu-ray Review: A Common Story with Uncommon Grace

The legendary Ms. Tomlin delivers her career best performance in one of the very best films of 2015.
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You would think that a road trip movie about a girl and grandmother bonding would be another one of those meandering chick flicks that you see nowadays far too much. However, Director Paul Weitz's 2015 refreshing gem of a film, Grandma, is not that type of film and that's a very good thing. It's a devilishly funny, smart, and wonderfully real piece of indie filmmaking that doesn't come around too often. It's also a showcase for the legendary Lily Tomlin to do what she does best, which is to knock it out of the park. And she does. Tomlin stars

2016 Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films Review: An Excellent Group

Short films, big emotional punch.
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If the Oscars have any real meaning (and let’s be honest, they mostly don’t outside of very rich, very famous people congratulating themselves), it's that they bring to the masses films that we would otherwise overlook. The Oscars have long since brought to me lists of great films I might have never heard were they not given a very large spotlight. The awards ceremony also means these films will garner more money than they might normally which in turn means more award-caliber films will get made. This is especially true when it comes to non-mainstream genres like documentaries and short

The Devil Wears Prada 10th Anniversary DVD Review: One of the Best Films of the Last Ten Years

These Prada boots are made for walking...but all over you, literally.
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In the fashion world, which can be very intimidating, it is literally a dog-eat-dog world where only the strong (and stylish) survives. You either have what it takes, or you might as well as look for another profession. Many have tried and succeeded, while others have failed miserably. The Devil Wears Prada, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, is semi-realistic, but it is pretty close to being an accurate depiction of that world. Based on the best-selling novel by Lauren Weisberger, the film stars Anne Hathaway as Andrea "Andy" Sachs, a naively perky but aspiring journalist living in New York

2016 Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Films Review

All five films feature characters in situations that challenge them and their assumptions.
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The five Academy Award-nominees for this year's Live Action Short Film originated from Europe, the United States, and one production that involved Palestine. Two of the stories are lighthearted and three are serious, but all present characters in situations that challenge them and their assumptions. In alphabetical order, they are: Ave Maria: The film opens in the West Bank, Palestine, on Friday at 5:35 pm. A Jewish couple and his mother are driving home before sundown. They get into a car accident in Arab territory outside a Sisters of Mercy nunnery. They allow the man to use their phone but

A Thoughtful Solo Adventure with the Outsiders

If you think this write-up is all over the place and confusing as hell, then you know how I felt about that 60 minutes of my life.
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In which Kim strays off the beaten path with Outsiders. Having spent the past 13 months desperately missing my dose of the hotness that was Sons of Anarchy, I was so excited to see that my Opie (Ryan Hurst) was in a new show with his fabulously long hair and beard that made me want to curl up with him in the first place. I sat down with my beer and shitty microwave popcorn to watch Outsiders on WGN. This show had two really compelling reasons for me to watch. The first was that, though totally unrelated, I simply loved

The Finest Hours Movie Review: Fine For About an Hour

Disney's latest has great effects but squanders a decent plot in a contrived love story.
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You know the year's just begun when Disney debuts their latest inspiriational drama. Usually geared towards the sports world (Miracle, McFarland USA), this year's feature is a water-logged mix of The Perfect Storm meets Kevin Costner's The Guardian set in Stephen King's Castle Rock. The lobster roll they form is The Finest Hours, a film whose B-plot should be the film's main focus but instead looks at an A-plot so cutesy and generic you'll get a cavity just watching. 1952, Chatham, Massachusetts. An oil tanker named the Pendleton gets caught in a horrific storm that leaves the boat broken in

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 1 Blu-ray Review: Action Heroes '50s Japanese Style

Three action/crime films from Nikkatsu studios that showcase their popular leading me of the late 50s.
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The Nikkatsu Diamond Guys title comes from a marketing scheme from nearly 60 years ago. Nikkatsu is a studio in Japan, and they were looking for a new way to promote their movie stars in the late 50s, so they created the Nikkatsu Action Series, with the "Diamond Line" of "Mighty Guys". Arrow has put three of these pictures into a Blu-ray and DVD release, Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 1. Unrelated in story, theme, or director, (though they all involve crime stories) what connects them is the studio, and the era in which they were shot. The three movies are

The Wonder Years: Season Four DVD Review: The Characters and Writers Struggle with Transitions

Transitioning from Junior High School to High school can be exciting, awkward, and even scary. This season could easily be described in the same way.
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Time Life released the four-disc set of Season Four of The Wonder Years on January 16th. During this season, we not only watch Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) finish Junior High school, but also begin to transition from a little boy into a young man. Savage continues to give excellent performances, but it is clear that he, his character, and the rest of the cast are growing up. It’s most noticeable in Kevin’s best friend Paul (Josh Saviano) whose character begins to step out of Kevin’s shadow and the actor clearly becomes the first to sprout. As the characters struggle with

TV Review: American Masters: Mike Nichols

An entertaining, funny, and very insightful glimpse of a genius trailblazer.
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When the great Mike Nichols passed away on November 19, 2014, it was a very shocking blow to not just film world, but basically Arts and Entertainment as a whole. He wasn't just a talented director; he was also a gifted actor, writer, producer and comedian who broke the mold of how eclectic a man of the arts can truly be. When you think of amazing men, his name usually comes up and rightly so because he was one of the great ones, a man with no equal. Directed by Elaine May, his former comedy partner from the late '50s

The Rolling Stones: From the Vault: Live at the Tokyo Dome 1990 Blu-ray Review

This entertaining performance proves all the naysayers wrong.
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The Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle stadium tour ran for nearly a year. The North American leg started in Philadelphia on Aug 31, 1989, and the European leg ended in London on Aug 25, 1990. The tour is notable for many reasons. The 10 nights they played at the Tokyo Dome in February 1990, from which the material on this live album comes, was the first time they ever performed in Japan. It was the band's first tour since their 1982 European Tour. It was their first tour without touring pianist Ian Stewart. It would be bassist Bill Wyman's last tour before

Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2 Ultimate Edition of Awesomness DVD Reviews: Not Awesome, But A Lot of Fun

Average animated stories made good by good performances and some stunning animation.
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If it's funny for a fat guy to show athletic nimbleness, then I suppose a panda being an expert at kung fu is hilarious. At least that’s the basic premise of the Kung Fu Panda series of movies. Luckily, the films are chock full of terrific actors and some really stunning animation that raises them above such ridiculous ideas. In Kung Fu Panda we find that our illustrious hero Po (Jack Black) is a big, fat, lazy panda who has a goose for a father (James Hong), and idolizes the Furious Five - Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis

Book Review: The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series by Jesse McLean

This book perfectly captures what was special about the show and the beauty behind it.
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If you are going through withdrawal from the cancellation of the ingeniously gorgeous television show Hannibal created by Bryan Fuller, then The Art and Making of Hannibal by Jesse McLean is the book you have been waiting for. The television show was adapted from the Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon and is rooted in the developing relationship between Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) It is organized by the appropriately named chapters of "Aperitif," "Entree," "Main Course," "Sorbet," "Dessert," and "Digestif." The "Aperitif" is a foreword by Martha De Laurentiis, who produced the television series as well

Sherlock: 'The Abominable Bride' Review

The new special intricately weaves three different threads of plot and leaves the viewer with dozens of puzzles to tide them over until the next season.
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It’s becoming almost a biannual (that one means once every two years, right?) for the New Year to open with a new episode of the BBC’s Sherlock. The absolutely excellent, but excruciatingly infrequent, show usually airs once about every two years, and has now made a habit of helping Sherlockians and geeks the world over ring in the New York with complex puzzles, convoluted plots, and clever dialogue. This year was a special treat: eschewing (seemingly) their modernization of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock went back to the Victorian period for a Christmas (New Year’s?) special. It’s an episode the hype, hysteria,

Bitter Rice Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Beauty of the Downtrodden

1940s Italian film marries social commentary about the lower class with rewarding drama and romance.
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Long before Dino De Laurentiis was a noted Hollywood producer, he produced Italian films such as this 1949 drama. Interestingly, his director on this film, Giuseppe De Santis, also had a deep appreciation of U.S. culture and Hollywood film techniques, although he maintained strong convictions about how his films should stake their own Italian identity both thematically and visually. His subject matter for Bitter Rice fully expresses those ideas as he wrings beautiful scenes out of a story set amongst poor farm workers. As the film reveals, every year scores of Italian women would leave home to find temporary work

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