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Who? (aka Robo Man, 1974) Blu-ray Review: Wait, What?

An offbeat, seldom-seen British spy-fi offering goes HD courtesy the efforts of Kino Lorber.
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Apart from farfetched clones and spoofs of the James Bond films, or television shows ranging from animation to puppets to live-action girls with nice bouncy boobies about, there aren't a whole heck of a lot of noticeable titles falling under the heading of "spy-fy" in the world. We can fathom the sight of 007 driving an invisible car, or kids and talking animals preventing world domination. We are also able to accept comic book superheroes and space travelers in galaxies far, far away embarking on dangerous missions of intrigue with a straight face ‒ as such titles tend to be

Doubt Blu-ray Review: One of the Best Modern Acting Ensembles

Without a doubt, I highly recommend seeing this movie,
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In a Bronx Catholic church, a year after Kennedy’s assassination, recently arrived Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) gives a sermon about doubt. Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), principal of the church’s school, is intrigued by the sermon’s origin, because it comes from somewhere, and she suggests to her fellow Sisters of Charity to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Sister James (Amy Adams) notices a seemingly unusual closeness between Father Flynn and Donald Miller, an altar boy and the school’s only black student. During her class, Donald is called to the rectory to meet Father Flynn. Upon his return, Donald

Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler Blu-ray Review: A Captivating Crime Thriller

A safe bet for silent-film fans.
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Based on the novel Dr Mabuse by Norbert Jacques, Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler is a two-part crime epic by legendary German film director Fritz Lang, and is the first in a trilogy that includes The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) and The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960). Running 270 minutes, the film, which was originally released in two parts, comes across nowadays like a TV miniseries, as the villainous Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) attempts to stay ahead of state prosecutor Norbert von Wenk (Bernhard Goetzke) in this captivating thriller. The Kino Classics Blu-ray presents the film on two discs. The

TCM and Fathom Events Present Singin' In the Rain

Oh, what a feeling to watch it on the big screen.
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On December 28 of last year, at the age of 84 actress Debbie Reynolds died, just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed. In honor of Ms. Reynolds, TCM in conjunction with Fathom Events has brought one of the world’s great musicals, Singing’ in the Rain, back to the big screen. My wife and I were able to go to a screening on Sunday and it was as wonderful as expected. In the early '50s, MGM assigned producer Arthur Freed and writers Betty Comdon and Adolph Green to make a film featuring a bunch of songs the studio already

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends Featuring Jerry Seinfeld DVD Review

Heeeeeeere's a lot of Johnny, a little Jerry, and, well...the good, the bad, and yada yada yada.
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It’s great that Time Life is finding new ways to market The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson by releasing the new series Johnny and Friends. The first installment to hit retail shelves on January 10, 2017 features Jerry Seinfeld. Unfortunately, it’s too little too late. With The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson running nightly on Antenna TV and Time Life making virtually everything “Johnny” available, it’s not too surprising that the average consumer might expect a bit more here than simply three episodes featuring appearances by Jerry Seinfeld. Perhaps you could have given us some bonus features. Some commentary by

Fathom Events Presents Rush: Time Stand Still

Rush says a farewell to fans.
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When Rush was preparing and touring for R40, their 40th anniversary tour, it was frequently suggested in the press that it might be their last. The band members didn't come out and say so directly, but they responded to the possibility in interviews. It turns out they knew more than they let on as made clear in Time Stand Still, a documentary about what is now revealed to be their final tour. The film was screened in theaters in conjunction with Fathom Events, a second date was added because of the huge demand, and is available in different home-video formats.

Book Review: Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur's Cookbook by Janice Poon

An extremely interesting read and even if you never cook anything from it, it is still a worthy purchase for Fannibals.
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Hannibal was one of the most beautiful yet disturbing shows I have ever seen. One of the most beautiful aspects of the show was Hannibal's food creations made from his victims. Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur's Cookbook was created by Janice Poon, the show's food stylist. The recipes offered in the cookbook are not for the novice chef. While being gorgeous, most are pretty complicated requiring patience and perhaps some cooking lessons.The cookbook is broken into the following chapters: "At Home with Hannibal", which offers tools and techniques; "Breakfast"; "Appetizers"; "Mains - Meat"; "Mains - Fish and Vegetarian"; "Soups; Salads and

Book Review: Aliens: The Set Photography by Simon Ward

Go ahead, give it a face-hug.
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The movie Aliens turned 30 recently, and there are rumblings of another movie in the Alien universe in the works, so there's no better time to go back and see what went into making one of the most iconic films in the franchise and in sci-fi as a whole. Aliens: The Set Photography by Simon Ward from Titan Books walks through every aspect of production and filming from pre-production casting and behind-the-scenes shots to walkthroughs of every major sequence of the film, how weapons and props were built, how aliens and other creature constructs were produced and animated...it's very comprehensive
Time Life has released The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series comes available as a single disc release (2 shows), a 3-disc collector's set (6 shows + nearly an hour of bonus features), a 6-disc collector's set (12 shows + two hours of exclusive extras) and a 12-disc deluxe edition collector's set (24 shows + over 4 hours of exclusive extras). The 6-disc set was made available for review and appears to be the back half of the 12-disc set, as they are labeled Disc 7 through 12. Disc 7 is entitled “Streak Week from March 1974”

The Night of the Grizzly (Olive Signature) Blu-ray Review: An Enjoyable, Classic Western

Clint Walker is a commanding, comforting presence on screen.
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The Night of the Grizzly tells the story of "Big Jim" Cole (Clint Walker), a former lawman, who along with his family plan to make a new life for themselves in Wyoming on ranch land Jim has inherited. Not only does he have to contend with wealthy rancher Jed Curry (Keenan Wynn), who used to own the property and wants it back, but also a bear named Satan that is terrorizing the area by killing animals. The bear causes so much damage Curry puts up a reward. Jim desparately needs the money but the bounty brings to town Cass (Leo

Blair Witch Blu-ray Review: Murky Modern Updating Misses Mark

The 2016 sequel to the '99 shock hit tries to update the original's formula, but to much diminished effect.
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Ambiguity is a central attribute to satisfying horror movies (I write "satisfying" because, if the box office is any indication, playing really loud noises every couple of minutes is the key to a successful horror movie). For a horror movie to get under your skin, you have to engage with it and that means, on some level, trying to figure out just what the heck is really going on. The Blair Witch Project, for all it did to foist the found-footage filmmaking style upon us, had ambiguity in spades. What this (comparatively) big-budget sequel, titled simply Blair Witch, demonstrates is

New Orleans Music in Exile Blu-ray Review: After the Hurricane

Documentary filmmaker Robert Mugge chronicles the devastation leveled on New Orleans and its musical community after Hurricane Katrina.
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Unless you live in New Orleans or know someone who does, you might not have paid much attention to its reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina. Robert Mugge’s documentary, New Orleans Music in Exile, focuses on the lives of the city’s musicians in the aftermath of the hurricane, and how they dealt with the destruction of their homes, clubs, and livelihoods. Filmed by Mugge in 2005 and 2006, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Music in Exile chronicles the devastation leveled on New Orleans and its musical community firsthand. Musicians give the filmmaker a tour of their ravaged homes and businesses. Irma

The Best TV Shows of 2016

How many shows do their top-11 lists share?
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In which Shawn and Kim take a look back at the brilliant storytelling shows from 2016. Shawn: If T&A is good at one thing, it's recognizing good and bad TV. Sometimes, those two things are all wrapped into one show. The end of the year is when I usually finish clearing out the DVR and assessing what shows will stay on the list and which ones need to be deleted to make room to try some new things. This is the Golden Age of television. It's probably more likely to call it the Golden Age of the Serial Story. The

The Driller Killer Blu-ray Review: All Driller, No Thriller

The Driller Killer plays like a Taxi Driver knock-off whose arthouse ambitions are overcome by its need to fill grindhouse seats.
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The Driller Killer is known mostly for being Abel Ferrara’s directorial debut (if one discounts 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy, the hard-core porno he helmed three years prior) and for being one of first films put on England’s notorious Video Nasties list. I first came across it in a bootleg DVD shop in Shanghai. It was one of the few places I’d found in that city that carried art-house, classics, and other oddball films. The title alone had me curious and that scandalous cover featuring a blood-soaked face being punctured by an electric drill made me want to watch

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Blu-ray Review

An impressive miniseries that sheds light on a significant event in American history.
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FX's true-crime anthology television series American Crime Story has set a high standard for its duration because its first season, The People v. O.J. Simpson, was critically acclaimed and won nine Emmy Awards including three for acting, one for writing, and for Outstanding Limited Series. Based on Jeffrey Toobin's book, The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson (1997), the TV series takes viewers behind the scenes during one of the most notable trials of the twentieth century, though what is factual and what has dramatized is not made clear. The series opens with news footage of

Snowden DVD Review: Joseph Gordon Levitt's Performance is a Fun Thing to Watch

Oliver Stone plays it straight with the surprisingly subtle, subdued, and nuanced docu-drama Snowden.
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Oliver Stone has a well-documented history of adapting real-life historical events into films that often thread a finely woven, but shadowy web of conspiracy and paranoia that dares the audience to question what is actually real and what is more likely theatrically imagined. In movies like JFK and Nixon, Stone has also occasionally displayed a tendency to play somewhat loose with the factual record, perhaps most notably with his - how shall we say? - "interesting" recounting of the Jim Morrison story in The Doors, parts of which were openly disputed by the surviving band members themselves. With Edward Snowden,

Book Review: Only the Dead Know Burbank by Bradford Tatum

A literary display of the origins of horror in film, harkening back to terrors from our past.
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Dracula, Frankenstein, the Phantom of the Opera: all members of the classic horror era that continues to haunt and inspire film to this day. In his novel Only the Dead Know Burbank, Bradford Tatum explains a history in which all of these were inspired by one little girl. The story is a first-person account tracing the short life and long afterlife of a Bavarian girl who lurks in the shadows of history and serves as something of a midwife, if not true mother, of the horror cinematic genre. Tatum is rich in his telling of setting, first illustrating the narrator’s

Man Of The World: The Peter Green Story DVD Review

An often fascinating, but equally frustrating study of the guitarist and songwriter, once spoken of in the same breath as guitar-Gods like Clapton, Page, and Hendrix.
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If you know your rock history, you know that before there was the soft-rock hit machine of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac, there was "the other Fleetwood Mac," a much different sounding animal (and then some) than the one you most likely remember now. During a brief, three-year stretch that ran from roughly 1968 through about 1970, the British blues-rock band known first as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac (before dropping the Green name at his own request), recorded three well-received albums, including the classic Then Play On. But then, just as they seemed on the threshold of a Led Zeppelin sized breakthrough

Hellraiser: The Limited Edition Scarlet Box Trilogy Blu-ray Review: A Puzzle Box Worth Solving

This box has such sights to show you.
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Bringing back 1980s horror is all the rage lately. It's hard to swing a dead cat without hitting reboots of Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th, throwbacks like Hatchet, or parodies like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and Cabin in the Woods. It's about time Clive Barker's longest-running and most recognizable franchise enjoyed some of the limelight again. However, where the Nightmare and Friday box sets include every film in their respective franchises, no matter how critically revered or panned they were, The Scarlet Box includes only the first three Hellraiser flicks, which are generally considered the

Twilight Time Presents: A Quartet of Quirky Killers

Susan Hayward, Anthony Perkins, Tony Curtis, and Shelley Winters commit killer performances in this assortment of murderous movies.
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As it has been stated time and time again, the only two things we can be certain of in life are death and taxes. Onscreen, however, within the magical realms of cinematic art (where applicable), the subject of taxation ‒ with the notable exception of various legends hailing from Loxley and perhaps a song by The Beatles ‒ is one of the dullest subjects to spend your money on. Death, on the other hand, is a timeless and bankable topic. Few people would take note of a newspaper headline reading "Taxes Paid" (unless it's a politician or religious leader), but

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 20: 1961-1962 by Chester Gould

Gould's writing over the 18 months collected here is entertaining and the art remains first rate.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 20 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from February 20, 1961 through to August 26, 1962. The book has an introductory essay, Max Allan Collins' "Fate Does Funny Things" about the strips collected and about Gould "dealing with the changing times" of the '60s, and concludes with Jeff Kersten's "Echoes" about efforts to expand Dick Tracy into television. There is also a corrected version of the February 28, 1960 Sunday strip from the previous volume. Volume 20 begins with the

Moby Dick (1956) Blu-ray Review: A Newly Restored Whale of a Tale

Twilight Time brings us the most famous filmic Melville adaptation of all, lovingly restored to match the original theatrical presentation.
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Obsession seems to abound every aspect of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, from its initial published parable right down to its most famous film adaptation, right down to John Huston's 1956 cinematic version, wherein most of the obsession was to be found on the other side of the camera. With as feverish of a desire to capture the legendary white whale as was Melville's main antagonist, Mr. Huston tried (unsuccessfully) to acquire financial backing for his little pet project over the course of several years before finally finding a source of salvation in Pink Panther producer Walter Mirisch and his brothers. Thus,

American Masters: By Sidney Lumet Review: See the Master in a New Light

An engrossing and thoughtfully revealing portrait of an American cinema master.
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The great Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) was an American original, a genius storyteller, and a quintessential New York filmmaker whose versatile gifts created some of the greatest films ever made, including 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network among others. However, as amazing as he was, he is still highly underrated in film circles today. Award-winning filmmaker Nancy Buirski's enlightening documentary, By Sidney Lumet, gives viewers a chance to see the master himself in a new light, a light that should continue to shine over film history. This portrait with Lumet himself, which was filmed three years before his

American Honey Blu-ray Review: Director Andrea Arnold Takes Kids on the Road

A cross-country road movie that will either be held up as a treatise to the restlessness of youth or tossed off as pointlessly boring.
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The space between being a child and an adult - youthfulness - is full of manic energy, enormous emotions, nervous lust, and restlessness. It is a time of experimentation, of being able to let go and run off, of figuring out who we are, who we are going to be. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey captures that moment in life perfectly. First-time actress Sasha Lane plays Star, a lost child who left her meth-addicted mother in Texas to live with a family in Oklahoma and raise their two kids. The mother prefers spending time at the local bar line-dancing and the

Heart of a Dog Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Moving Meditation from a Singular Artist

Laurie Anderson's essay film sees her moving comfortably between abstractions and personal revelations.
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Can a film permeated with thoughts on death be playful? Can it be uplifting? Can it be equally cerebral and emotional, its two sides not merely coexisting but helping to inform the other? Can a film in which a person is almost wholly absent tell us innumerable amounts about the filmmaker’s relationship with that figure? In Heart of a Dog, the wondrous second feature film from multidisciplinary artist Laurie Anderson, the answer to all of the above is a resounding "yes." A deeply personal essay film narrated by Anderson in the kind of bemused monotone that features in spoken-word pieces

Bob Hope: Hope for the Holidays DVD Review: Pop-culture Relics from a Bygone Era

This disc should be enjoyed by fans of Hope and the era as well as those curious about both.
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As the DVD menu reveals, Hope for the Holidays is actually the fourth disc from the 11-DVD set titled Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials, which is not to be confused with the previously reviewed 6-DVD set of the same name. This single disc presents two Xmas specials: Bob Hope's Bag Full of Christmas, which first aired on December 15, 1993, and The Comedy Hour, which first aired on December 15, 1950. Using an Xmas party at Bob and Dolores' home as a framing device, Bob Hope's Bag Full of Christmas is a compilation special presenting old sketches

Book Review: The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen's Dossier by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry: A Reminder of the Show's Original Vision

One of the finest and most detailed companion books that I have ever seen.
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"If you are reading this, then something has gone wrong" are the first words we encounter in the new book The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen's Dossier (2016) by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry. Those handwritten words appear on a piece of notebook paper which seems to have been hastily added to a collection of FBI files, which document the first two seasons of The Blacklist. There is a motherlode of information in these files, including aspects of cases that were never even revealed in the program.. The attention to detail is so thorough that you can practically smell the coffee stains

Book Review: Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years

A big book with only a few memorable art pieces.
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It’s been 50 years since the original Star Trek television show debuted on television. While the original series lasted only three seasons, there have been a number of television series and movies that have followed. Being that it is the 50th anniversary, there has been a lot of talk celebrating the event. Not only has there been many television specials, but Titan Books has also released an all-encompassing book of art featuring the show. The majority of the individual art pieces are displayed along with common questions and responses from the artists regarding their affiliation and interest in the Star

Book Review: The Art and Making of The Flash by Abbie Bernstein

It feels like a special feature found on a Blu-ray or DVD.
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Over the last couple of years, the CW has built up a number of television series based on the DC comics universe. While their first show featured the hero known as the Green Arrow, their second series needed to have a much lighter tone that had the feel of a comic book. Co-creator and executive producer Greg Bernlanti, who grew up reading comic books, said that The Flash was the hero who exemplified all the traits needed for this new series because he was the heart and soul of the Justice League and would make a perfect companion to the

Creepshow 2 Blu-ray Review: Stick to the Original

I'd been better off not remembering this thing exists.
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In 1982, director George Romero teamed with writer Stephen King to make Creepshow, a comedy/horror anthology film designed to wax nostalgic about the old DC and EC horror comics of their youth. It was a surprise hit and remains a classic among horror hounds to this day. Five years later, they made a sequel. Romero took over writing duties (though it was still based on King stories) and Michael Gornick directed. Arrow Video has released a newly restored Blu-ray of the sequel filled with more extras than it deserves. I have very vague memories of seeing the first one on

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