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Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 25: 1969-1970 by Chester Gould

While Dick Tracy and his team work four cases, the art by Gould and his assistants is top notch.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 25 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from April 3, 1969 through to December 23, 1970. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Fate Is Strange," which provides commentary on the strips included, and concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Bushed and Ugly," about Gould's political subtext and the business of Dick Tracy. As the book opens, readers meet cartoonist Vera Alldid, whose name is a groan-inducing pun based on his father's broken English. The

The House of the Seven Gables Blu-ray Review: A Fine Adaptation of a Classic Novel

Seven gables, two deaths, one curse, and lots of melodrama.
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Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, Universal Studios was known for their horror films. They unleashed into cinemas a string of successful monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, and the Wolfman. Countless sequels and imitators followed. In 1935, they released The Raven with two of their biggest stars, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. They expected a huge hit. They got a dud that stirred controversy for its use of torture, disfigurement, and revenge, which ultimately led to horror films being briefly banned in England and stopped all production of the genre at Universal. But within a few years,

The Kid Brother Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Comedic Gem

Harold Lloyd's slapstick masterpiece gets a fantastic upgrade from the folks at Criterion.
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I’m not too familiar with the work of Harold Lloyd, and The Kid Brother is actually the first film of his that I’ve seen in its entirety. Of course, now that I’ve finally experienced one of his films, it makes me want to go and seek out what else he has done. The Kid Brother is a hysterical comedy from the silent era, and also one that has a strong emotional core and a few exciting action scenes. It’s the perfect genre blend of a movie, one that is hard to come by in modern Hollywood. Lloyd plays Harold Hickory,

Rafiki Movie Review: A Harmonious Portrayal of Queer Love

A simple yet incredibly effective demonstration of love facing adversity.
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One way to describe Rafiki is that it feels triumphant. Partially because it was able to overcome its country-wide ban that nearly prevented it from being eligible to compete as Kenya's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar last year. Another reason is because it’s a harmonious story about love overcoming adversity. A love between two women that defies the homophobic community where they reside. The love that Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) faces its fair share of hardships and enters political territory. But for the most part, the film feels breezy in its execution. Particularly, because

Little Movie Review: Typical yet Amusing Body-Swap Comedy

Despite the story's grand familiarity, the laughs are anything but pint-sized.
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The central premise of Little is that it's pretty much a reverse Big. It depicts a 30-something woman who magically becomes her 13-year-old self. However, while Big and its female counterpart 13 Going on 30 handle the perils of wanting to grow up too fast, Little offers its own distinct storyline. Little attempts to handle the topic of bullying and how it turns us into the tormentors we despise. When the film first opens, 13-year-old Jordan Sanders (Marsai Martin) is performing a science act at her school talent show. But when she gets ridiculed, she swears that she will never

The Land Unknown Blu-ray Review: A Hot Time in Antarctica

A forgotten film about lost world that really ought to be remembered.
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We live in a world without mystery. We have the collective knowledge of humanity at our fingertips. We have explored every inch of the Earth’s surface, and plunged its depths. We have sent probes into the outer reaches of the solar system and mapped our own DNA. It is hard to imagine a time when we really didn’t know what was just over the horizon. When we truly thought monsters might lie in the dark places. To be sure, the 1950s were not that time. We didn’t know what we do know now, but we definitely knew there weren’t dinosaurs

The Miseducation of Cameron Post Blu-ray Review: Understated and Challenging

Chloe Grace Moretz's amazing performance anchors this timely, funny, and at times difficult film of a sadly still existing subject.
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The fact that conversion therapy still exists is appalling to me, and it is still a controversial topic that rarely gets talked about. However, there have been at least a few films that dealt with it in their own satirical or dramatic ways, such as But I'm A Cheerleader (1999), and last year's Boy Erased. But for me, I think that director Desiree Akhavan's understated and challenging The Miseducation of Cameron Post, also from last year, gets it right the most with its mix of humor, drama, and honesty. Based on the acclaimed novel by Emily M. Danforth, the film

Pandas Movie Review: Simply Adorable

A gorgeous documentary that makes you want to spend your whole day with panda bears.
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One of the things about animal/nature documentaries is that a lot of them aim to be overly cutesy in their narration and stylistic approach as a way to keep the attention of the young ones. Disney’s Born in China did that quite a bit in 2017, and, while it was cute and gorgeous in its imagery, the narration came across as pandering to only a certain demographic and not being informational enough for everyone else. IMAX’s Pandas kind of does that, but it’s not as cloying and off-putting. In the 40 minutes we get to witness the pandas in action,

Bancroft: Season One DVD Review: Completely Bonkers

Sometimes you need to take a break from all the prestige television demanding your attention and watch something completely ridiculous.
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In this world of seemingly endless must-watch, prestige TV filled with award-winning writers, directors, and actors, it is nice to see a series that is so utterly bonkers, so completely ridiculous in its plotting, and over the top in its performances that it only wants to entertain, not garner awards and stacks of internet think pieces over what it all means. Bancroft stars Sarah Parish as Detective Superintendent Elizabeth Bancroft, a hard-as-nails copper trying to take down a vicious drug syndicate which she hopes will earn her a promotion. Faye Marsay plays Elizabeth Stevens an up-and-coming detective who looks to

Sauvage Movie Review: A Fiercely Unsentimental Character Study

Felix Maritaud is the strong center of this unflinching look at a queer sex worker's life.
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When Sauvage first opens, Leo (Felix Maritaud) is in what seems to be a doctor’s office. The older man examining Leo asks him to take his clothes off. Right after that, the scene turns on a dime and the man gives him sexual pleasure. The scene establishes the tone for the entire film which is a chaotic and rather unflinching look at the life of a sex worker. It’s quite graphic in terms of its sexual content. However, it still thrives thanks to its central performance and impartial filmmaking style. Twenty-two-year old Leo (Felix Maritaud) lives on the streets as

Road to Singapore (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: On the Road to a Franchise

It sets forth the template for these entertaining, musical romantic comedies wherein Hope and Crosby compete for the affections of Dorothy Lamour in exotic locations.
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Kino Lorber Studio Classics has added to their roster Special Edition Blu-ray releases of the first four Road pictures starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, making the first six of the seven movies now available from them. Road to Singapore (1940) is the first in the series and sets forth the template for these entertaining, musical romantic comedies wherein Hope and Crosby compete for the affections of Dorothy Lamour in exotic locations. Originally a project planned for others, including Burns and Allen, Paramount struck box-office gold when ... Singapore became a vehicle for Hope and Crosby, whose ad-libs and writing

Emmanuelle Blu-ray Review: A Young Girl's Strange Erotic Journey From Paris to Bangkok

The movie that started a softcore franchise.
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The 1970s were a fascinating time for American cinema. The studio system that dominated the Golden Age of Hollywood was dying by the end of the 1960s and with it, the Hays Code and its internal censorship. The '70s saw a new wave in movies with fresh new directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, and host of others. They created films like never before seen in Hollywood. Their films often tackled themes that just a few years prior had been taboo. They were often pessimistic, dark films that didn’t hold back, graphically using violence, sex, and language

Vice (2018) Blu-ray Review: A Smug, Insulting Biopic

Once again, Adam McKay proves he can't direct true stories.
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In a perfect world, the cast of Vice would be in a movie that is compelling and maybe doesn’t play to the beat of every other biopic out there. But this is not a perfect world, and, while the film is certainly different from others that are based on true events, it's far from being a compelling feature. Instead, what we are given is Adam McKay’s tonally inconsistent, self-indulgent satire that wastes its cast and spends too much time trying to determine if it wants to mock all of its characters or be serious and try to earn some brownie

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (2019) Blu-ray Review: Girl Sleuth, Girl Power

Sophia Lillis is definitely a star on the rise and movies with strong, smart, young female protagonists are always welcome.
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Do kids still read Nancy Drew? I hope so. She was the original girl power hero, solving mysteries and having adventures. There have been many adaptations of the character and books over the years, with Sophia Lillis (It, Sharp Objects) the latest to portray the plucky heroine. We meet this new Nancy as she is skateboarding her way through town, ear buds blasting. She is a smart, contemporary teen who has a gift for solving mysteries and righting wrongs (like when one of her friends is being cyber-bullied). But this Nancy also has a degree of angst. She is mourning

Aquaman Blu-ray Review: The Man Who Would Be Sea King

The movie covers familiar territory in a thrilling manner.
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After appearing in Justice League, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) gets his own solo outing in the sixth installment of the DC Extended Universe. The movie is a stuffed-to-the-gills blockbuster, more in line with the successful Wonder Woman than the franchise's previous misfires as it covers familiar territory in a thrilling manner. Aquaman opens with the meeting of his parents, Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison), lighthouse keeper of Maine, and Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), queen of Atlantis. He found her unconscious and injured along the rocks near his home. She recovers, falling for Thomas and having Arthur, a child who she says one day

The Wind Movie Review: A Traditional Psychological Thriller with Unsettling Flair

A promising feature-film debut that provides effective scares despite its loose structure.
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Loneliness can be killer. Living in a world of both physical and mental isolation can cause a whirlwind of despair and madness. The latest horror film The Wind is a well-orchestrated demonstration of the severe toll isolation takes. While the film may have a rather confusing start, as it progresses, it becomes an effective exercise in psychological terror. In addition, it proves that director Emma Tammi who makes her solo feature-film debut has a distinctive filmmaking voice. When Lizzie (Caitlin Gerard) is left alone in her cabin while her husband (Ashley Zukerman) runs some errands, she becomes haunted by possible

The Mule (2018) Blu-ray Review: The Old Man and the Drugs

Clint Eastwood makes a strong return to acting and also directs a solidly crafted film.
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At this point, it’s hard to take an actor seriously when he or she announces retirement from being in front of the camera. Recently, there was news going around that Robert Redford won’t star in another movie after The Old Man and the Gun. While that may be true for the time being, there was another person who claimed to be retiring from acting, only to reemerge years after making that statement. In 2008, Clint Eastwood said he would no longer star in a movie after Gran Torino. And while more of his time is now dedicated to working behind

A Silent Voice Blu-ray Review: Bully Redemption in a Subdued Tone

An animated drama about a school bully picking on a deaf girl tells a story quiet about redemption and consequences.
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There's a certain style in Japanese storytelling and film-making where the important things are what is not shown, what is not said, what is not expressed. The subtext between the characters tells the story. Both Uzo and Kore-eda, in very different ways, based most of their careers on putting together stories where the truth beneath the veneer is only revealed by implication and by accident. By a simple gesture. A minor scene. Animation is a broader art form than live-action film-making, since all the visuals are drawn and, of course, by nature abstracted. There can be nuance, but only up

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2011: Presenting Music and the Movies

A wide variety of material to see for the first time or revisit on the silver screen.
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No longer available online, this review is being re-published. The 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival returned to Hollywood Blvd for its second run presenting films well-known "Essentials" and obscure "Discoveries." "Music and the Movies" was a major theme this year so there was programming highlighting Disney's Musical Legacy, the work of composers George and Ira Gershwin and Bernard Herrmann, and famous musicals like West Side Story and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Just like last year, the festival had so many interesting things to do and see it was impossible to take everything in but there's something for everyone. My

The Mustang Movie Review: Matthias Schoenaerts Carries This Poetic Gem

An incredibly moving and poignant character study.
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When The Mustang first opens, it seems like it’s going to be a preachy, political demonstration of how endangered wild mustangs currently are. The film’s opening sequence shows a horde of horses being captured, making us believe it’s going to be a glimpse at the system trying to capture them. That is until the sequence cuts to Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts), our main character, waking up from his sleep. Thanks to that neat editing trick, the theme for the film becomes established. As it turns out, The Mustang is simply about the strong bond between man and animal. It shows us

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2010: A Festival Is Born

The festival's programming spanned the medium's history, and as a bonus, many of the selections featured introductions and Q&A's from participants, their relatives, and peers.
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No longer available online, this review is being re-published. The inaugural TCM Classic Film Festival brought the cable channel to the silver screens of Hollywood Blvd. movie theaters for four days playing the likes of Grauman's Chinese and the Egyptian. Much like the channel, the festival's programming spanned the medium's history, and as a bonus, many of the selections featured introductions and Q&A's from participants, their relatives, and peers. Living in Los Angeles, I am spoiled. There are quite a number of venues throughout the county to catch classic films, some of which include discussions with participants, so while I

Inherit the Wind Blu-ray Review: Monkeys on Trial

Stanley Kramer's fictionalized telling of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial is an acting tour de force, but its messaging is exhausting.
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I grew up in rural Oklahoma. I attended a conservative evangelical church. I can remember preachers and teachers railing about the evils of evolution from the pulpit and in the classroom. I can remember silently freaking out in 7th grade science when the teacher would talk about evolution and feeling the utmost guilt when I answered test questions that went against my belief. It wasn’t until college, or if I’m being honest years after college, that I began to actually read the science of evolution. Removed from the anti-science rhetoric of my church, it actually made sense. I discovered that

Brighton Beach Memoirs Blu-ray Review: A Nice Trip Home

It’s full of well-crafted storytelling and solid performances.
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By 1986, Neil Simon had already accumulated an incredible amount of awards and accolades for his work as a writer for television, theatre, and the big screen. So what is one to do after more than 30 years of success? Go home. Brighton Beach Memoirs allows many to do just that. Based on the successful play, Shout Select brings the movie to Blu-ray, which hit shelves on March 26 with no bonus material. I like bonus material! Transitioning a play to the big screen can be challenging as the pace and overall movement tends to be slower than what the

The Prize (1963) Blu-ray Review: Lots of Talent, Big Disappointment

The Prize could have been a bonafide classic under a different director, instead it's just ok, but mostly forgettable.
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Based upon a popular novel by Irving Wallace, The Prize (1963) was written by six-time Academy Award-nominee Ernest Lehman and stars Hollywood hot-shot Paul Newman and Hollywood heavyweight Edward G. Robinson. It was shot on location in exotic Stockholm. It is a tale of intrigue, mistaken identities, spies, and murder. It should have been a bonafide classic. Were it directed by someone like Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles, it would have been. Instead, it was helmed by Mark Robson and we got a film that’s just okay and mostly forgettable. Newman plays Andrew Craig, a writer who is beloved by

For A Few Dollars More Blu-ray Review: Worth Every Penny

Kino Lorber's new 4K transfer of this Leone classic is well worth your dollars.
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The western as a genre had its heyday from the 1930s through the mid 1950s. By the time 1960 rolled around, it was pretty much dead, having been written off by critics years earlier and seeing a drastic decline in ticket sales. In 1964, with A Fistful of Dollars, Italian director Sergio Leone brought it back with a vengeance. He made two more films, For a Few Dollars More in 1965 and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in 1967 which collectively are considered The Dollars Trilogy (or sometimes The Man With No Name Trilogy), though there is no

Monstrosity (1987) / Weirdo: The Beginning (1989) Blu-ray Reviews: Why? WHY?

Garagehouse Pictures releases a pair of awful horror obscurities which may either induce vomiting, blindness, or death, depending on how lucky you are.
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Just when I thought the world was starting to get over its nasty habit of not making a whole heck of a lot of sense, Garagehouse Pictures dropped a major bomb on me. Sure, on the surface, the HD offerings of two Los Angeles-made minor indie horror flicks from the late '80s may seem like good cause to rejoice. Alas, both 1987's Monstrosity and 1989's The Weirdo (or, Weirdo: The Beginning, as it is also called) stem from the sadistic and unimaginative world of the late Andy Milligan, so any and all signs of something amazing being found in these

The Body Snatcher (1945) Blu-ray Review: Boris Karloff's Finest Hour

One of RKO's famous Val Lewton produced horror pictures and an atmospheric, tense horror thriller.
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What makes The Body Snatcher interesting is how much it isn't like a low budget horror movie. That's what it is, of course - one of several films shepherded by producer Val Lewton at RKO. In the early 1940s the studio was in financial straits. These problems were partly the responsibility of filmmaking wunderkind and box office underperformer Orson Welles. Both Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons were expensive films to make and ultimately box office disappointments. For RKO to keep itself afloat, it needed a profitable unit. Val Lewton's horror movies were supposed to be that vehicle, and it's

Perfect Blue (1997) Blu-ray Review: Anime Psychothriller Lives Again

Satoshi Kon's animated psychological thriller is a mind-bending story of violence and personality crisis in the Japanese pop world.
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Perfect Blue was the feature film directorial debut of Satoshi Kon, one of the bright lights of anime whose career was tragically cut short in 2010 by cancer. Dying at the age of 46, he left an indelible mark on anime feature films. He was one of the few directors whom none could call "the next Miyazaki" because his films were distinct and unique: adult, abstract but in the service of narrative, critical but not cynical. Perfect Blue is a dark psychothriller, an animated giallo that made Satoshi Kon an instant top-shelf animated horror director... a genre that he only

The Street Fighter Collection Blu-ray Review: A Thrilling Action Trilogy

Well worth adding to any martial-arts fan's collection.
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Actor Sonny Chiba became an international sensation with the Japanese martial arts film, The Street Fighter, which saw him play Takuma (Terry for those watching the English dubs) Tsurugi, a man for hire that makes the impossible possible, usually at the request of criminals who inexplicably double cross him. Whereas Bruce Lee's fight scenes are graceful and Jackie Chan's are athletic, Chiba's are savage in the damage dished out. Tsurugi returned for two more films, Return of the Street Fighter and The Street Fighter's Last Revenge, and all three are part of Shout Factory's The Street Fighter Collection. Presented in

Year of the Dragon Blu-ray Review: An Underrated Cop Thriller

Warner Archive gives a solid Blu-ray upgrade to Michael Cimino’s edgy crime thriller.
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Michael Cimino may have never had another critical and/or commercial success after The Deer Hunter, but that doesn’t mean he, at least, made some films that are still worthy of a conversation piece. Heaven’s Gate was a giant bomb in 1980, but it is still talked about and gets new restored versions of it every so often - with the most recent being a 2012 release from The Criterion Collection of the film in all its three hours-plus glory. Year of the Dragon may not have the same reputation as Heaven’s Gate does of being a costly, box office failure

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