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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

Alabama & Friends at the Ryman Review: Celebrating 40 Years

Highly entertaining from beginning to end.
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Alabama was formed in 1969 by cousins Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook. Over the course of their career, they became the greatest-selling country band of all time by selling over 75 million singles and albums. They peaked during the 1980s when they created 27 number-one hits. The band thought they were quitting for good and put on a farewell tour in 2003. They reunited in 2011 and have been going strong ever since. In celebration of their 40th anniversary, they recorded the tribute album Alabama & Friends and a concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium featuring Luke Bryan,

Book Review: Owsley and Me by Rhoney Gissen Stanley: An Insider's Guide to the '60s

Making music, love, and enough LSD to get the whole world high.
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Owsley Stanley is not a household name, but he probably should be. He was financier and soundman of the Grateful Dead in their early, transformative years. As a sound engineer he was revolutionary. In the primal days of rock 'n' roll, bands tended to plug into whatever crappy sound system the venue had and just made do. Usually, these places weren’t intended for rock concerts and the sound sucked. There weren’t even monitors on stage so the band could hear themselves play. Owsley changed all that. He invented systems that are still in use in concert venues all over the

Classic Shorts from the Dream Factory, Volume 3 DVD Review: The Lost Stooges

The Warner Archive brings us six rare pre-Code shorts featuring The Three Stooges, including a previously thought-to-be-lost short rediscovered in 2013.
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The early filmic legacy of The Three Stooges - or the comedy troupe of Howard, Fine, and Howard, as they were sometimes known - is quite the bittersweet affair when viewed and compared to the later output the iconic team has since gone down in history for. Beginning via several different incarnations as stooges for vaudevillian Ted Healy (wherein the word "stooge" was used to define someone who played an audience member until called up onto stage), the antics of the leader and his outrageous flunkies became prime moving picture material fodder when representatives of an infant film industry started

The Believers (1987) Blu-ray Review: That Old Black Magic Has Me in Its Spell

Martin Sheen is in trouble, for he does not practice Santería. Nor does he have a crystal ball, for that matter.
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Today's younger generation of photoplay viewers probably only recognizes actor Martin Sheen as the father of Charlie and/or "the guy who starred in that one Vietnam movie with the boat and the napalm". An even smaller demographic will be able to go a step further on that front and classify him as the brother of cult B movie actor Joe Estevez. (Emilio never gets mentioned, and rightfully so.) In fact, it's almost hard to believe now that there was once a time that Marty was something of a formidable name on a movie marquee before he started to appear in

Steven Spielberg Director's Collection Blu-ray Review: Finally, Duel in HD!

Universal unveils the HD debuts of four of the iconic director's works in this eight-film set.
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With the fourth quarter upon us and the holiday season that comes with it closing in at an ever-alarming speed, it's the perfect time once again for studios to assemble various collections for established home video collectors and newbies alike. But whereas some sets will shamelessly repackage the same movies that have been released individually over the years, enclosing them in a shiny new shell for those whose are easily distracted by such things, others actually make their new releases of older catalogue titles worthwhile by including an assortment of movies that are actually new to the format in question.

The Honorable Woman DVD Review: A Slow, Dense and Immensely Entertaining Thriller

A densely plotted drama that loses none of its depth while remaining thrilling to watch.
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Awhile back I made a pact with myself to not get involved in internet discussions of politics. There were many reasons for this but the main one was that nobody’s mind is ever changed via Facebook. A big part of the why this is comes from the lack of nuance one typically gets with an internet argument. We speak in gifs and memes and argue in soundbites. Big ideas, important topics, and certainly national politics are much too complicated to be settled in 140 characters. This is true not only in our social media, but in our TV, radio, and

The Vanishing (1993) Blu-ray Review: So Bad That It Actually Becomes Good

That smudged printing on Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland's résumés can be seen in a much clearer light now.
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Once upon a time, I received a copy of an Italian-made English-language movie that had been dubbed into Italian before somebody who obviously did not learn the King's language as their primary form of verbal communication next created English subtitles translated from the Italian translation. There was also an instance in photoplay history where an adaptation of Shakespeare was produced for German television; the Bard's original work transcribed into the local Germanic tongue, only to wind up dubbed back into English - from the German conversion, nonetheless - for a subsequent (and probably poorly-received) television airing in the United States

The Adventures of Marco Polo DVD Review: "The Princess Bride" of Its Day?

The Warner Archive re-releases a highly enjoyable epic of a box office bomb from 1938.
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As anyone who was taught in grade school about what a great benefactor Christopher Columbus was to the Natives on the New World has since gone on to discover, the telling of history is not always about the facts. And while a bit of whitewashing is absolutely unacceptable when it comes to one's education, taking such liberties generally makes a big screen motion picture more favorable to people whose only purpose is to be entertained. Ironically, the very same audience who drooled over Samuel Goldwyn's 1939 adaptation of Wuthering Heights - a film that stayed heavily from its own source

Are You Here Blu-ray Review: Never Fleshes Itself Out

Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakas blow smoke for emotional growth in Matthew Weiner's feature-film debut.
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Both charming and overwrought by a cadre of undeveloped plotlines and too many man-child clichés, Are You Here really is a genre all its own, habitual pot-smoking middle-aged men and the thoughtful women who love them. Just released on Blu-ray and DVD, it’s an endearing first feature-length film from writer-director Matthew Weiner, the creator and driving force behind Mad Men, which for seven seasons has been an emotional examination of mid-century soullessness, drawing its power from tense silences and character deceits. Are You Here runs eagerly in the other direction with women who demand living in the moment and the

Audrey Rose Blu-ray Review: An "Exorcist" for the Neil Simon Crowd

Twilight Time brings vintage horror movie lovers a misaligned tale of reincarnation and possession.
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The mark of a new decade brings with it much anticipation of something new. Something special. A particular type of renovation that will outdo the victories and faults of its predecessor, whether it be in the world of fashion, music, and film. And the '70s definitely ushered in a venerable revolution in all three of those departments, from incredible (and somewhat incorrigible) clothing, to that funky music a certain unknown audience member shouted for white boy Rob Parissi to play, and right down to an entirely new era of the moving pictures: creepy kids. Though the concept of a child

The Blob (1988) Blu-ray Review: Everybody's in the Pink Now

Twilight Time delivers a dazzling HD re-release of the cult favorite '80s remake and it's swell, kids!
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Though many a motion picture updating replete with a bit of blood founds its way into theaters during the '60s and '70s, it truly wasn't until the 1980s rolled around when things really started to change in the field of horror remakes. Mainly, these reworkings occasionally boasted not only a vastly reimagined storyline, but usually included an impressive array of special effects ranging from optical to make-up. Sadly, these things have been replaced by CGI and - worse - an endless supply of dulled-down, MPAA-friendly lifelessness in the countless array of contemporary moving picture letdowns that befall us today. A

Father Brown Season One DVD Review: Uninspired Priest Detective Series

Catholic priest detective isn't particularly Catholic, nor much of a detective, in this BBC series.
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It is difficult to determine where Father Brown fails more completely: as an adaptation, or as a mystery show in its own right. Based on a character created by Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton, the TV Father Brown's Catholic priest isn't particularly Catholic. The series is set in the '50s (all of Chesterton's stories were contemporary and written from 1910 to 1936) but though the look of the '50s is mostly right, the feel is not. This show is a series of mistakes, of strange and uneven characterization, and, the greatest sin of all, of outright boring mysteries. Set in a

Inspector Manara, Season 2 DVD Review: Crime and Amore

Luca's intuitive yet iconoclastic approach to crime-solving is a lot of fun to watch, but it is the romance of Luca and Lara that is sure to keep viewers interested and involved.
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MHz has recently released the second season of the Italian crime/comedy series Inspector Manara 2. Fans of the first season will be sure to enjoy the further adventures of the title character, Luca Manara, played by the charming and handsome Guido Caprino. In the first season, a reluctant Luca had been transferred to a sleepy little Tuscan seaside town, where he soon, unexpectedly, found himself busy chasing down clues to countless murders and other associated crimes. He was helped in his endeavors by the lovely Inspector Lara Rubino (Roberta Giarrusso), a former fellow student from their days at the police

Camp X-Ray Movie Review: Exploring the Gray in Guantanamo Bay

Kristen Stewart finally shows her talent in this thought-provoking drama.
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In the thirteen years since the events of September 11th, the "detainees" in Guantanamo and their rights have been hotly debated. Director Peter Sattler tells a story of individuals, where the soldiers are just as helpless to explain the events in the prison as those serving time, many without ever being given due process of the law, hoping to cast light on the gray area in-between with his debut feature film Camp X-Ray. Despite some cumbersome pacing issues, Camp X-Ray is a bittersweet, evocative tale of two people just as burdened and bound by the U.S. military, albeit for different

In the Flesh: The Complete Season Two DVD Review: The Undead Return. Again.

Because who doesn't long for a BBC drama that includes gay zombie love?
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As the curtain rang on the previous, initial season of the BBC's In the Flesh last year, its fate was entirely undetermined. Was the show that actually succeeded in making the overused element of the reanimated dead going to be given a second chance at life (pun possibly intended), or would it be permitted to simply pass on gracefully in its sleep? Well, as they say in the industry, "You can't keep a good corpse down", and it seemed only natural that In the Flesh return to right all of the many, many wrongs would-be filmmakers and the trendy hipster

Book Review: The Art of John Alvin by Andrea Alvin

You know his work. Now get to know the man.
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I consider myself a serious cinephile, so much so that I don't mind describing myself with the pretentious word "cinephile." I have been captivated by movies for as long as I can remember, and to such an extent that my interest goes beyond what plays on the screen. I am just as fascinated by the "business" of show business as I am the "show." In addition to actors and directors, I also appreciate and study the work of other artistic contributors to the medium, such as writers, cinematographers, and composers. Which is why I am disappointed I wasn't aware of

Chef Blu-ray Combo Pack Review: Not the Easiest to Digest

Many small scenes that work by themselves but when strung together they do not connect even though on paper they should.
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Food trucks are in right now. This craze started a few years ago when these mobile restaurants would tweet their location and followers would appear waiting to try the latest fusion creation. They still are in, but less of an ingenious idea as the movie Chef makes you think. Taking high-end cuisine to the streets, John Favreau’s newest film Chef is a feel-good family drama that fails to leave any lasting taste in your mouth. Coming off of directing big-budget films like the Iron Man franchise and acting in roles in Identity Thief and The Wolf of Wall Street, Favreau’s

Spenser: For Hire: The Complete First Season (1985-86) DVD Review: Great '80s Neo-Noir

The criminally neglected cult ABC TV series starring the late great Robert Urich returns courtesy of the Warner Archive.
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Anyone who has so much as flipped on a television set once for even only five minutes is probably quite well aware that detective shows are easier to find than one's own ass with the assistance of both hands and a flashlight. Now, when it comes down to finding a good detective series, however, things can become rather tricky. It certainly isn't easy in this day and age, what with their being seventeen kajillion different television channels full of tripe at our disposal. Believe it or not, it was even harder back when we only had three networks to choose

Thoughtful & Abstract: Sons of Anarchy: Season Three

SAMCRO travels to Ireland and gets a baby back, people get kidnapped and rescued and old vendettas are addressed.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) reminisce about Season Three of Sons of Anarchy. Shawn just started watching the show this Summer and Kim has been watching for years. As the Final Season rides into the heart of their last season, here are some thoughts about the show's episodes from the Fall of 2010. Shawn: Talk about not knowing where to start my comments. I need you to focus me here. We start with Gemma on the run and Abel in Ireland. By the time we get back with baby Abel, Tara has been kidnapped, and Jax has to

La Bamba (1987) Blu-ray Review: Lou Diamond Phillips Debuts As Ritchie Valens

The film that made you rue the day Los Lobos first started saturating radio airplay returns in High-Definition.
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For my money, biographical motion pictures are often comparable to those certain speciality stores in strip malls only a small reserve of individuals really go to. Cartridge World. Yankee Candle. The As Seen On TV Store. You know the type of retail outlet I refer to. You even drive past them on a regular basis, occasionally taking the liberty of briefly peeking through their windows to see if there's actually anything interesting in there, whether or not they truly do have customers or are just cleverly disguised another drug front, or if the employees of the outfit are having crazy

The Prosecution of An American President DVD Review: Former Manson Prosecutor Takes on George W. Bush

The Prosecution of An American President should make you angry, no matter what side of the political fence you are on.
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Vincent Bugliosi is best known as the prosecutor of Charles Manson, and for writing the book Helter Skelter (1974) about the trial. Unlike Marcia Clark’s efforts with O.J. Simpson, Bugliosi was successful, and his bestselling book led to an ongoing writing career. Considering his history, he is about the last person I would have expected to present a case against George W. Bush in the new DVD The Prosecution of An American President (2014). Bugliosi’s contention that President Bush waged an illegal war in Iraq is very old ground for the left. While Bush was in office, there was even

The Wonder Years: Season One DVD Review: A Great Combination of Comedic Moments and Poignant Drama

The quality may not be perfect but the content is very close to it.
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It was 1988. Those Happy Days had been over for a while when ABC decided to take another walk down memory lane to once again tap into the public’s love for nostalgia. Displaying confidence in their new product, ABC launched The Wonder Years on January 31, 1988, following Super Bowl XXII and made sure you knew it was coming by advertising it during the game. Perhaps not quite as well as the Redskins did against the Broncos in the big game, The Wonder Years did defeat its competition that night and continued to be a solid hit for ABC ranking

TV Review: The Flash (2014): "City of Heroes"

Recommend for superhero fans.
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After two appearances in the second season of Arrow, Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) has been spun off into his own CW television series set to make its network debut tonight. Since I had only ever seen the Arrow pilot previously, this was my first introduction to this iteration of the Flash. The episode, written by Arrow co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, Arrow pilot director David Nutter, and Geoff Johns, begins 14 years in the past, on the night at the Allen home when 11-year-old Barry's mother was killed. Although young Barry, and the audience, witness an inexplicable electrical

Thoughtful & Abstract: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Heavy Is The Head"

Touch it! Touch the Obelisk.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) have instant reactions to the intense Marvel show and the episode "Heavy Is the Head". Shawn: No miracle comeback for Lucy Lawless. It's a Marvel TV show, so I was hoping that we would start this episode and find out that dead isn't really dead. Instead, it feels like they wasted a really strong female character and gave us another generic bad boy in her place. Lance is our double-crosser of the moment. They appear to be starting a Skye and Lance relationship too. I know that some women can't help themselves around

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