Recently in Review

Rifftrax Live: Anaconda Movie Review - A Slithering Halloween Treat

Come sail down the Amazon with the Rifftrax crew!
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Attending a Rifftrax Live show is fun, no matter the film being lampooned. The amount of like-minded individuals who love to attend and laugh creates an infectious atmosphere that can elevate the ridiculous to levels of sheer insanity. After the grandiose riffing of Godzilla a few months back - a film Rifftrax leader, Mike Nelson said presented a challenge in sustaining laughs due to length - audiences were hoping for a return to form, and boy did we get it! Anaconda is a throwback to the creature features of 1950s with a group of misfits riding a dilapidated boat

A Handful of de Havilland: Three Obscure Olivias from the Warner Archive

Olivia de Havilland encounters the plights and perils of a gold rush, a wartime rush, and rushed productions in a trio of forgotten films.
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In the middle of October 2014, Olivia de Havilland found herself having outlived her frequent, iconic on-screen romantic interest from motion pictures of the '30s and '40s, one Mr. Errol Flynn, by five-and-a-half decades. Oddly enough, despite the fact that she retired from the film industry nearly thirty years after her famous leading hero passed away in 1959, Ms. de Havilland nevertheless managed to tally up the same amount of acting roles for film and television as he did. And yet, despite a relatively brief legacy in Hollywood - a career that waned in the '50s due to motherhood and

Earth to Echo Blu-ray Review: Steven Spielberg's Lawyers Ought to Be Happy

A nostalgic family film that wants to remind you of classic '80s adventure movies, but instead made me chuck things at my TV.
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I recently wrote about how I’ve become obsessed with the idea of watching all the old movies I loved as a kid with my own child. There is something really wonderful about the sharing of films that meant a great deal to yourself as you grew up with your own offspring as they grow older. Along with this, I’ve began to wonder what new films my daughter will love. What films will she take with her to college and get all nostalgia-eyed with her suite mates and girlfriends? What will be her Karate Kid? Her Gremlins? At three, she’s really

Good People Blu-ray Review: Good People, So-So Movie

Not as good as its cast might imply.
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Good People treads the rather well worn theme of greed making good people turn bad, greed specifically in this case being money. The story starts out with a drug deal double-cross gone bad, and the double-crosser turns up dead of an overdose a couple days later in his London flat. When the landlords Tom (James Franco) and Anna (Kate Hudson) venture into their tenant's apartment to ask him to turn down his blaring television, they find the corpse as well as about 300,000 pounds in cash. Unlike the tiresome Come Morning, Good People is slightly more deserving of being compared

Snowpiercer Blu-ray Review: Off to See the Wizard

Intelligent, thought-provoking sci-fi drama with winning performances and production design.
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Chris Evans struck box-office gold with his latest Captain America film this year, but his other recent comic book film is equally entertaining. Based on an obscure French graphic novel, Snowpiercer imagines a post-apocalyptic world that has frozen over, trapping all human survivors on a huge train on a perpetual voyage around the world. Much like Speed, if their transport drops below a certain speed, they’ll all die, but in this case it’s due to the extreme cold outside rather than any explosives. The train has a rigid class system, with the poor huddled masses in the rear and the

Looking For Johnny: The Legend of Johnny Thunders DVD Review: Even in Death, He Still Slings Six-strings

Spanish filmmaker Danny Garcia unravels the mysterious sadness of a guitar god.
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The Murder City Devils, one of the great outsider rock bands of the past two decades, once sang “Took a city like New Orleans to kill a man like Johnny Thunders / A man who died with a guitar in his hands.” It’s the city as beast slaying Thunders, The New York Dolls' guitarist and former Heartbreakers' front man who even in death still slings six-strings. Named after its subject, the song’s as tough as Thunders whose music couldn’t be pried from his cold dead hands. Solidifying the man’s mythos as he drifts off into death they scream, “And the

Album Review: Gallagher: I Am Who I Pretend To Be: A Final Farewell from a Once Great Comedian

A reminder you of how great Gallagher once was.
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Comedian Leo Gallagher was the biggest comedian on the planet during the 1980s. He was selling out venues all over the world with his observational humor, prop comedy, and his infamous Sledge-O-Matic routine where he parodied a late-night infomercial while smashing watermelons all over his delighted audience. Now, having been out of the limelight for over 20 years, Gallagher has released a 55-minute comedy CD, his first album since 1978, recorded at the Ice House Comedy Club during his farewell tour. After 14 Showtime comedy specials where visual effects were so prominent, it’s a little difficult to let go of

Album Review: Dr. Katz Live: The Classic Animated Comedy Live and on Stage

There's no squigglevision, but the laughs are as strong as they ever were.
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For my first three years of college I didn’t have a TV. I had a radio but never listened to it, and I stopped subscribing to music magazines. I did watch a lot of movies but for the most part I was living in a pop-culture void. I didn’t really miss it and I can't say that I missed much. Although I still sometimes find myself wondering what the deal with Friends was. My senior year I moved into an apartment with three other guys and one of them had a TV. I started trying to catch up with all

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks Blu-ray Review: Entertainment for the Entire Family

Equestria Girls proves that friendship and music really is magic.
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In fall of 2013, the world was introduced to My Little Pony Equestria Girls, an alternate reality in which the four-legged friends from Canterlot were re-imagined as teenage girls. At first glance, it seemed like little more than a cash grab - a way for the popular characters to horn in turf previously occupied by the likes of Barbie and Monster High. And maybe it was; after all, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is little more than a series of 22-minute commercials for a toy line, right? Except that it isn't. Any parent who watches the show with their
Hollywood has been remaking movies for nearly as long as its been making them. It does seem that the last few years, going back as far as maybe a decade, that the movie machine has been churning out remakes at a faster and faster speed. As subset of the remakes are prequels and reimaginings, which I seem to be seeing more and more as the days roll on. More recently we’ve got the post-Wicked retellings of old stories from the villains point of view. This has been popular in fiction for awhile coming on fast ever since Wicked, Gregory Maguire’s

Album Review: The Blues Magoos: Psychedelic Resurrection

Psychedelic Resurrection is the first album from garage rock band the Blues Magoos in four decades.
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The psychedelic sound of the late 1960s produced many bands with colorful names and one mainstream hit. The Vanilla Fudge, Electric Prunes, Bubble Puppy, Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Seeds (not a flashy name, but a major group in the genre), and the Blues Magoos. Hailing from the Bronx, the Blues Magoos formed in 1964 as the Trenchcoats, fusing garage rock with a hint of blues. Best known for their hit “(We Ain’t) Got Nothin’ Yet” and the electric suits they occasionally wore onstage, the band’s debut album Psychedelic Lollipop , released in November 1966, positioned the group as the East

Horns Movie Review: Daniel Radcliffe Can't Handle the Truth

Harry Potter trades his magic wand for a devil's pitchfork in a horror movie providing scares and chuckles before turning loony-cartoony
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Daniel Radcliffe just can’t seem to get away from the supernatural. Harry, er, Daniel’s latest dabble into the occult is the horror/mystery/comedy Horns. He’s quite good in it, and there’s a fair amount of suspense and dark, disturbing humor on display. Unfortunately, near its wind-up the movie takes a wrong turn into an effects-heavy, symbol-laden, comic-book-style battle between Good and Eeeeeeevil. Radcliffe plays Ig Perrish, a young man accused of brutally murdering his wonderful, beautiful, pure-hearted girlfriend Merrin. Everyone in town believes he killed her, particularly since it happened the same night that she very publicly dumped him. (The seemingly

One Night at Susie's DVD Review: Makes a Hardened Man Humble

The Warner Archive presents vintage film enthusiasts with one of the few surviving films of actress Billie Dove.
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An early "all-talking" drama developed for audiences before the Hays Office sucked all the life out of the business, One Night at Susie's not only gives us a grand glimpse at an infant Hollywood taking its first steps, but is one of the few films starring Billie Dove to have survived over the years. A highly adored actress of both the stage and the screen, Dove made several dozen movies in the Silent Era, retiring from the business shortly after the Sound Era came to be. Sadly, most of her legacy was erased from history by a studio fire, so

Oh, Sailor Behave DVD Review: Olsen and Johnson Liven a Dud to Death

They don't make 'em like this anymore. And an entire nation - if not universe - can sleep soundly with that assurance.
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Considering the seemingly-infinite amount of musicals Hollywood once proudly cranked out once the members of the industry figured out how to add sound to motion pictures, it's somewhat difficult to imagine that there was a time wherein the very public such items were manufactured for rolled their eyes in discontent at the thought of seeing yet another film with singing and dancing. After all, they could just go see a Broadway play if they wanted to see that type of tripe. And yet the suits in Tinseltown insisted on making musicals; often shooting movie picture adaptations of the same Broadway

John Wick Movie Review: Keanu Reeves Gets His Wick Debt

A nice change of pace action/thriller that will hopefully inspire others to emulate instead of imitate.
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Once upon a time, many moons ago, the American western found itself in dire straits. Movies followed the same regular routine to the point where they began to resemble little more than copies of xeroxed duplicates of toner-based facsimiles reproduced solely to sell the goods. It wasn't until some fresh blood from our Italian brethren was added into the fray - or spilled into the dust, if you prefer - that things started to change; the key ingredient there being violence itself. Sadly, it was only a matter of time before competitors started to repeat the process - choosing to

Begin Again DVD Review: Sorry, Once Was Enough

Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley trapped in a sappy, predictable music industry backstager from the maker of Once.
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When a movie is as cliché-ridden and predictable as Begin Again, it’s often difficult to identify which is more to blame, the screenplay or the direction. In this case, John Carney, who also performed similar chores for the 2006 movie musical Once, has made it easy; he’s again responsible for both. This 2013 tale of middle-aged redemption, artistic striving and music industry backstage story stars two talented, likeable actors, Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. He’s Dan, a down-and-out former record label exec, nearly broke, divorced and estranged from his teenage daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld). She’s Gretta, a talented but unheralded

The Lusty Men DVD Review: An RKO Rodeo Picture

Robert Mitchum and Arthur Kennedy are two wild studs that only Susan Hayward can handle.
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While a day at the rodeo is not typically considered to be the most interesting of settings for a motion picture outside of a weird short subject produced by folks in the midwest, there have been a few notable exceptions to shine across the silver screen from time to time. Some of you may cite Eight Seconds with former teen heartthrob Luke Perry to have been of interest. That said, the obscure '80s music lover in me will always assume you're talking about the short-lived Canadian new wave group of the same name whenever you mention said movie - for,

Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend DVD Review: The Feel Good Flick of '57

OK, so Randolph Scott, Bret Maverick, and The Green Hornet walk into a bar dressed as Quakers...
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Towards the end of his prolific career as one of Hollywood's favorite cowboy stars, Randolph Scott was prone to signing on for the occasional odd outing in pictures. Just five years before changing his clean-cut good guy image in Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country, wherein the actor subsequently retired from the industry altogether, Scott found himself in a modest, somewhat offbeat Warner Bros. production entitled Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend. Though it would prove to be the final collaboration Warner Bros. had with Mr. Scott, it also highlighted several performers at the beginning of their own careers: James Garner and

Son of a Gunfighter DVD Review: Sundown of the American Gundown

The Warner Archive brings us the home video debut of an odd, early Euro western prototype.
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As the middle of the 1960s approached, American cinema bid two of its mightiest moneymakers a small, barely-audible adieu. First and foremost was the genre of classic western film, which had been done so many times since the motion picture industry had established its firm roots in Hollywood that studio executives eventually had to come up with box office ploys such as CinemaScope in order to keep audiences coming in instead of tuning in to watch Rawhide at home on the TV set. The second was that of CinemaScope itself; a procedure that every other studio had taken to copying

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 1 & Issue #3 by John Byrne

Byrne's work is like watching a long-lost episode play before our eyes.
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John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s, which allowed fans to revisit episodes before they could watch them on demand through home video and the Internet. Byrne maniuplates images of characters and backgrounds from the series to set the scene. He then uses word balloons to tell his stories. Volume 1 contains three previously released books and the collection will be available on Oct 21, 2014. Star Trek: Annual 2013

Book Review: Lit Up Inside: Selected Lyrics by Van Morrison: You've Heard the Songs, Now Read the Lyrics

Have I told you lately that I love Van Morrison?
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That Van Morrison is one of the greatest singer-songwriters in the whole of pop music there is no doubt. That he is also an old soul Irish poet few would argue against. He is a true legend. One of the most unique and brilliant voices of rock and roll the world has ever known. Don’t you know, he’s got soul? And heart. And pure genius. For over 50 years he’s been making some of the most remarkable music in just about any genre. From rock to jazz, blues to gospel, skiffle to Celtic - Van Morrison has played them all.

Lovejoy, Series 2 DVD Review: Ian McShane is Back for More Antiques, Crime and Fun

Ian McShane is charming and funny and even a little bit tough when necessary. He is wonderful as Lovejoy, and his show is as charming as its star.
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Acorn Media has recently released Lovejoy, Series 2, and it is just as much fun as the first series. Based on the books by Jonathan Gash, Lovejoy stars Ian McShane as an antiques dealer who has an eye for authenticity — in antiques and women. The British series was originally filmed and aired in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the A&E Network showing the series stateside in the 1990s. Fans of McShane and the series should be very happy that Lovejoy is finally available on DVD. Lovejoy is a British mystery series, but the accent is more on

Book Review: Percy Crosby's Skippy: Daily Comics 1931-1933: Long-forgotten Magic

With any luck this collection will bring Skippy back to the public consciousness - it certainly deserves it.
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Skippy was created by Percy Crosby and ran from 1923 to 1945. In its time it was hugely popular, highly acclaimed, and adapted into movies, novels, radio shows, and even got its very own postage stamp. Crosby got fabulously rich off of syndication rights and merchandise (though Skippy peanut butter never paid him a dime even though they completely ripped off the name and his art work). They say he made more money than the President of the United States in his prime, which was apparently a popular metric at the time. The comic is widely considered one of the

Under Fire (1983) Blu-ray Review: Nick Nolte Knows How to Shoot (a Camera)

Twilight Time's new Blu-ray release is most assuredly the best possible way to experience this underrated gem.
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With a story focusing on a journalist, a photographer, and a revolution, Twilight Time's release of Roger Spottiswoode's 1983 drama Under Fire sounds like a title that should have been released with their September 2014 line-up - as it would have made a great pairing with Oliver Stone's Salvador. But while both movies are based on actual events involving members of the news media becoming involved in a dangerous rebellion between indigenous oppressed folk and corrupt politicians, Spottiswoode's elegantly crafted 1983 film graciously succeeds in rising above just about everything Stone bombarded his viewers with three years later. Plus, not

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: "No Sanctuary"

In which we start with blood and end with fire. In between Carol kicks ass.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) have instant reactions to the best walker show ever. Shawn: Let's get down to this and not go on for 45 pages about this first episode. We've both kept up with the series as it has progressed. We anticipated this episode for months now. I will say that I've typically been underwhelmed with the first episodes of the past few seasons. We start slow and build through the season. This time - hell no. Simply, this might be one of the best episodes since the pilot for action from beginning to end. My

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon Movie Review: An Amazing Documentary

The story of entertainment manager, Shep Gordon, who does business a little differently.
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Most stories you hear about managers in the entertainment business are tales of cutthroat men and women who only care about money. The people they represent are only a means to that money, and if it isn’t about money, they aren’t interested. But Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon is not such a story. Director Mike Myers (yes, that Mike Myers) documents the life of this accidental Hollywood insider whose career as a manager was based on compassion and not greed. Through historical footage, interviews with Shep’s clients (who he considers family), and fun reenactments, Myers has put together an

The Two Faces of January Movie Review: Sex and Suspense from Three Strong Actors

Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, and Oscar Isaac in an entertaining tangle of greed, lust, and guilt from Patricia Highsmith.
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Patricia Highsmith’s novels have been the basis for one of Hitchcock’s greatest movies, the 1951 Strangers on a Train, as well as the endearingly nasty thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, directed by Anthony Minghella). While The Two Faces of January is nowhere near as compelling as those films, it’s still worth a look for anyone who values the pleasures of suspense and the vicarious lure of lust and larceny. It’s also an opportunity to see three somewhat underrated actors take on the kind of tough, nuanced roles that don’t win awards but that stick in your mind well after

Silent Witness: The Complete Seasons One and Seventeen DVD Reviews: Ch-ch-ch-changes

BBC Video releases the earliest and latest seasons of the long-running crime drama series.
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In 1996, the BBC debuted a new contender into an arena of crime dramas that was already heavily populated by a venerable assortment of combatants both old and new. Silent Witness certainly wasn't the first series of its kind, but it has nevertheless managed to cope with the ever-changing world it is based upon - all the while making a number of substantial alterations within its own fictional settings. Though the elements of adult-themed story devices and the sight of a rotting cadaver is something television producers across The Pond have embraced ever since they determined they could get away

The Adventures of the Wilderness Family Triple Feature DVD Review: The Off Grid Trilogy

Those lovable stinkin' hippies return in a compressed, single-disc/three-feature release for those of you on the cheap.
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Two years ago, Lionsgate Home Entertainment unveiled the first of a popular cinematic trilogy from not only another time, but for an entirely different kind of viewer altogether. 1975's The Adventures of the Wilderness Family offered up a unique form of motion picture escapism for moviegoers who had helped to bring the increasingly-overpopulated and polluted world to where it currently was. The tale told of the Robinsons, a family of four - father Skip, mother Pat, sister Jenny, and brother Toby - who decided their final tweet to civilization was to be "#OverIt", and promptly set out to live in

Young Justice Blu-ray Review: A Super(hero) Show from Warner Archive

While using teenage main characters could have led to a series best suited for children, the realistic characters and smartly plotted stories make it accessible for all.
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Created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman, Young Justice is a DC Comics animated series that aired for two seasons on Cartoon Network from 2011 to 2013. Not based on the comic series of the same name, the show presented the adventures of a team of young heroes (Don't call them "sidekicks"!) set its own distinct universe separate from the other DC Comics TV series. While using teenage main characters could have led to a series best suited for children, the realistic characters and smartly plotted stories make Young Justice accessible for all. As the Justice League goes off on

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