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Under Capricorn Blu-ray Review: Hitchcock Goes Down Under

Kino Lorber does a decent job restoring one of Hitchcock's lesser films.
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In his interviews with Francois Truffaut (which is included in this set via audio format), Alfred Hitchcock admits that Under Capricorn was a bit of a failure. He believed this was due to his over-excitement over Ingrid Bergman (then one of the world’s biggest stars) agreeing to be in the picture. He paid so much attention to her and the media fawning over her that he didn’t give the script the good working over it needed. Based upon a book by Helen Simpson, it was adapted by Hithcock’s friend Hume Cronyn (an actor with little writing experience) and written by

Boundaries Movie Review: A Solid Escapist Road Movie

Despite its predictability, Boundaries still succeeds thanks to its profound storytelling and great acting.
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One good way to describe Boundaries is that it does yet doesn’t live up to its title. It doesn’t offer any boundary-breaking storytelling. But it still is a poignant demonstration of what happens when one does or doesn’t impose limitations on the behavior of their children. Again, it isn’t anything we haven’t seen or been told before. But Boundaries is still worth recommending for being a simplistic, well-acted escapist road film. Boundaries follows the story of a single mother named Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga) whose life is in slight chaos. Her artistic son Henry (Lewis MacDougall) keeps getting into trouble

The Addiction Blu-ray Review: A Very Disturbing but Highly Intelligent Tale of Urban Vampirism

I definitely have to recommend this shocking and masterful film.
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As a filmmaker, Abel Ferrara has always stepped outside of the mold to deliver highly provocative works of humanity going completely awry. Whether it's insanity (The Driller Killer), female revenge (Ms. 45), hip-hop culture (King of New York), or police corruption (Bad Lieutenant), you can always count on him to piss off critics and audiences everywhere. He is a director of amazing extremity and unapologetic cruelty, and his very underrated 1995 cerebral horror classic, The Addiction, represents both at its most low-key and uncomfortable stride. Shot in crisp black and white, the film stars the always amazing Lili Taylor as

The Bloodthirsty Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Dracula Goes East

Three Japanese movies directed by Michio Yamamoto that involve Western-style vampires, with style, atmosphere, and some decent sprays of blood.
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As one of the great national cinemas, the Japanese movie industry has invented whole cloth many genres and excelled in many non-native filmic conventions… except arguably the Western-style horror movie. Until the late '90s, when The Ring brought out a rather short-lived craze of ghost stories (usually with a long black-haired ghost, which is cribbed from Japanese folk-lore), Japanese example of horror were rather sparse, and rather different than Western films. In the West some of the acknowledged greatest movies of the silent era are horror films. There are several distinct studio and national traditions: Universal horror creatures, the '50s

Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken by Tipton, Tipton, Woodward, Kirchoff

This collection serves as a very good origin story, setting the stage for future adventures.
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In the Star Trek franchise, there is a parallel universe dubbed the "Mirror Universe" where the evil Terran Empire, which rules through terror, stands in place of the United Federation of Planets. Its first appearance was in the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror," when a transporter malfunction during an ion storm causes the landing party of Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura to switch places with their counterparts. It was a very compelling episode and the Mirror Universe has been revisited in different TV series and assorted non-canonical Trek media. IDW's Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken collects

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Portrait of the Artist As a Fascinating Man

Director Paul Schrader crafts a daring, spellbinding biography of Japanese writer Yukio Mishima.
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Yukio Mishima carved out a career as an esteemed playwright and author before ending his life by taking over a military facility and performing seppuku, a ritualistic form of suicide. Paul Schrader's daring film traces his life by having actors perform vignettes from some of Mishima's most famous works, painting a brilliant picture of this intriguing man. The film is notable not just for its subject but for its structure. After a brief color intro, it moves to black and white for the story of Mishima's childhood, then shifts to color for multiple vignettes that represent later stages of his

The Jackie Gleason Show in Color DVD Review: Plenty of Good Stuff Here

It's a wonderful walk down memory lane, but keep the walks short.
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Jackie Gleason was one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century. Too bold of a statement? With an acting career that spanned over forty years, numerous incarnations of his variety show including an ongoing sketch that became its own iconic series, and an incredibly successful record-producing career including the 1953 Music for Lovers Only which spent 153 weeks on Billboard's Top Ten, I think the statement is pretty accurate.. The Tony winner and Oscar nominee was appropriately named; “The Great One”. Gleason was successfully not only because of his incredible talent, but also because of his relatability. No matter

The Woman in the Window (1944) Blu-ray Review: Early Noir is Excellent

Fritz Lang's classic noir is nearly ruined by a terrible ending, but what comes before it is quite good.
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Fritz Lang’s 1944 crime drama The Woman in the Window is one of a handful of films that became the basis for what the Cahiers du Cinema called "film noir." These films (which include The Maltese Falcon, Murder My Sweet, Double Indemnity, and others) were beloved by French critics and filmmakers in the 1950s and '60s and helped usher in the French New Wave. The Woman in the Window was named as the best film noir of all time by Paste magazine. I wouldn’t go quite that far, especially as it is marred by a tacked on happy ending that

Ocean's 8 Movie Review: A Fun Escapist Spinoff

Ocean's 8 is entertaining popcorn fare. Nothing more, nothing less.
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Even though it could’ve been its own original property rather than an Ocean’s spinoff, Ocean’s 8 is still enjoyable popcorn fare. It may not be perfect but it’s still a fun moviegoing experience featuring terrific, witty performances from its A-list cast. Ocean’s 8 follows the story of Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the sister of con artist Danny Ocean. After being released from prison on parole, Debbie quickly turns back to her life of crime. Debbie quickly assembles a group of women: Lou (Cate Blanchett), Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Nine Ball (Rihanna), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), and Constance (Awkwafina),

Hereditary Movie Review: Give Toni Collette The Best Actress Oscar

The film itself is a twisted experience that had me quivering by the time the credits rolled.
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It’s hard to know how exactly to describe Hereditary as a film. On one hand, it’s a dark descent into a person’s damaged psyche. On the other hand, it’s an enigmatic supernatural thriller that serves an allegory for the “demons” we inherit from our family. The film itself is a twisted experience that had me quivering by the time the credits rolled. But one thing about Hereditary that is perfectly describable is the brilliance of Toni Collette’s leading performance. Collette gives what is perhaps the best performance in a horror film in recent memory. One that will potentially join the

Spetters Blu-ray Review: A Dirt Bike Drama that Lives in the Gutter

Paul Verhoeven's dirt bike drama is a vile, sexist, homophobic piece of work that just might tell the truth of teenaged boys' life in Holland during the 1980s.
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Paul Verhoeven’s 1980 dirt-bike drama Spetters is a vile piece of work. It's the sort of film that finds sexual assault hilarious and believes a closeted gay man only needs a brutal gang raping to figure out who he is. Yet for all its disgusting brutishness, it has moments of surprising tenderness and has the feeling of truth in terms of Dutch youth culture in the 1980s. It's about three young men, Rien (Hans van Tongeren) and Hans (Maarten Spanjer,) both dirt-biker racers, and their mechanic Eef (Toon Agterberg), who dreams of fame, fortune, and beautiful women. Their lives are

RBG Movie Review: Evidence Why Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Definitely the 'Notorious RBG'

Besides being a great documentary, I can see this film being taught in classrooms across disciplines in the future.
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As a woman living in 2018, it can be easy to take the rights and opportunities that women currently have for granted. These rights and opportunities were never guaranteed to women and plenty of men fought to keep women "in their place." It was not just the natural progression of things that got women things like the right to vote, the ability to work outside the home, the right to get credit without a husband, or the right to join the military. It was the perseverance of activists and advocates that fought against the institution of patriarchy that helped get

The Workers Cup Movie Review: Simplistic Almost to a Fault

Neither sentimental nor filled with heavy dramatic stakes, The Workers Cup is a simple demonstration of why people play sports.
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In 2022, Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup and its stadium is being built by 1.6 million migrant workers. Sixty percent of the workers are some of the world’s poorest people like India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. They work tirelessly to ensure that the one of the world’s biggest events can be held in the world’s richest country. The Workers Cup focuses on a select amount of workers who are chosen to compete in The Workers Cup, a football tournament for laborers. The tournament is sponsored by the 2022 World Cup and 24 construction companies were invited to select teams

Jackass: Complete Movie and TV Collection DVD Review: Not for the Faint of Heart

Watching Jackass is a challenge in and of itself, but it's hard not to laugh at the sheer idiocy and recklessness on display.
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Tied to the release of Johnny Knoxville's Action Point, Paramount has released Jackass: Complete Movie and TV Collection, an 11-disc set of previously released DVDs of their movies and TV shows that showcase the outrageous high jinks, stunts, and pranks performed by the Jackass cast, which besides Knoxville includes Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Dave England, and Ehren McGhehey as well as a number of recurring folks behind the camera. The Jackass fellas are like those troublesome kids who cause a commotion in the neighborhood with their crazy antics, pestering the old

Black Venus Blu-ray Review: A Horrible Mark in Our History

A devastating portrait of abuse.
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Black Venus tells the true life story of Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman, a South African woman who was mistreated her entire life due to her large buttocks and genitals. Though not technically a slave, she lived like one for several years in Captetown serving as a washwoman and nursemaid to the Caezar family. Eventually, Hendrik Caezar and his friend William Dunlop took Sarah to England and France where they exhibited her in a freak show like a wild animal. She was put into a cage, dressed like a stereotypical native, laughed and scoffed at by the rabble who poked and prodded

Death Smiles on a Murderer Blu-ray Review: I'm Not Smiling

Joe D'Amato's first horror film is a strange mixture of weird, gore, and boredom.
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In 1973, Joe D’Amato, the Italian auteur behind such masterpieces as Anthropophagus, Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals, and Anal Strippers X-posed, directed his first horror movie, Death Smiles on a Murderer. He thought it was so good he put his real name, Aristide Massaccesi, in the credits. He should have kept the pseudonym and directed Anal Strippers 2 instead. In a movie that stars Klaus Kinski as a mad doctor, who uses ancient Incan magic to re-animate the dead, and includes scenes in which a shotgun blows the skin off a person’s face, a cat that scratches the eyes out

Lights of New York (1928) DVD Review: The Most Sublime Milestone in Cinema

The Warner Archive Collection brings us the first all-talking motion picture ever, which deserves a look-see for that very reason alone.
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Given that even the cheapest films produced today can be presented in faux widescreen with 7-channel surround sound and special effects manufactured entirely via computer software, it's extremely easy to take some of cinema's most important milestones for granted. Much like the very first motion pictures to be shot digitally as far back as the early 2000s have already faded from the memory of the general public, the movies which introduced the world to surround (let alone stereo) sound and the phenomenon once known as CinemaScope have become little more than mere footnotes in cinematic history. One such milestone ‒

2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Four

My eighth year of the festival was my favorite, yet I probably think that at the end every festival.
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The last day of the festival is always started with a mix of emotions, sadness that it is almost over and a bit of gladness due to the film fatigue that has set in. This year it was mostly sadness since there had been so many great movies, and I wasn’t ready to stop seeing more. Luckily, the day started with one of my most anticipated films, Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). I am so grateful that I waited to see this for the first time on the big screen. It is stunning and truly one of

The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited Review: A Marvelous Remembrance of the Man and his Work

"As children, we all live in a world of imagination, of fantasy, and for some of us that world of make-believe continues into adulthood." — Jim Henson
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Running June 1-September 2, 2018 at The Skirball Cultural Center, The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited pays tribute to Jim Henson (1936-1990), a major creative force in the latter half of the 20th Century. With the help of his collaborators, Henson's Muppets (a combination of marionette and puppet) remain one the most popular groups of imaginary characters, rivaling the cartoon characters from Looney Tunes and Walt Disney and Charles Schulz's Peanuts. Organized by the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), New York, this traveling exhibition is a version of MoMI’s ongoing The Jim Henson Exhibition. It is divided into sections:

Peter Pan (1953) Blu-ray Review: Soars With Hours of Bonus Features

The latest release of this animated classic includes over two hours of bonus features.
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Peter Pan was previously released on Blu-ray back in 2013 in a Diamond Edition, but after being briefly consigned to the dreaded Disney vault it has now re-emerged in their current Walt Disney Signature Collection edition. If you already have the prior release, the principal reason to give this one a look is a handful of new bonus features. A secondary perk is the addition of a digital copy that wasn’t present in the prior release, giving cloud movie fans reason to rejoice. Other than that, this version appears to be technically identical to the version released less than five

The Big Country Blu-ray Review: Big Movie, Big Director, Big Stars, Little Story

William Wyler's classic western gets a gorgeous new Blu-ray release for its 60th anniversary.
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The Big Country is an epic (or should I say “big”) movie on every scale. It was directed by William Wyler, one of the biggest directors ever. It stars Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, and Burl Ives, some of the biggest actors of the 1950s. Opening titles were by Saul Bass, the best in the business. It was shot in the wide open spaces of the Western United States in the beautiful widescreen format. Everything about it is huge. Except the story. It can’t quite live up to the epic scale of the rest of the film. Gregory Peck

Book Review: Hitchcock's Heroines by Caroline Young

A beautifully designed book that discusses Alfred Hitcock's tumultuous relationships with his leading ladies.
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While talking to fellow filmmaker Francois Truffaut, director Alfred Hitchcock noted that he made his films with women in mind. He felt that women were the ones generally going to the movies and that when they brought a man along, it was still the women who made the decisions of which film to see. He certainly spent a lot of time fussing over his leading ladies. He was very much involved in not only choosing the right actress for the part but in choosing what clothes they should wear, hairstyles they should have, and every other aspect of how they’d

Red Sparrow Blu-ray Review: This Bird Simply Doesn't Fly

If you enjoyed the movie in the theater, this new release from 20th Century Fox will give you a lot more of what you enjoyed.
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March 2nd seemed like an unusual release date for an R-rated Jennifer Lawrence vehicle in which she plays a sexy Russian intelligence officer. I always get concerned about films that come out in February and March. They didn’t get in soon enough for the previous year’s awards and aren’t being saved for the big summer or holiday season. Is it because they were deemed not good enough? Sadly, in this case the answer is “Yes”. With an estimated budget of $69 million, according to IMDb, the U.S. gross was only $47 million as of the writing of this review. That

American Animals Movie Review: A Conflicted yet Clever Heist Thriller

American Animals offers up a witty yet complex demonstration of the conflicting pursuit of the American Dream.
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American Animals is based on the true story of two college students from Lexington, Kentucky named Spencer (Barry Keoghan) and Warren (Evan Peters). Despite them having a somewhat tranquil lifestyle in middle-class suburbia, they still yearn for something more. They eventually come up with a scheme to live the American Dream by stealing valuable old books from the library of Transylvania University. They also enlist the help of accounting major Eric (Jared Abrahamson) and fitness junkie Chas Allen (Blake Jenner). But as the four men plan the robbery, it eventually leads to a downfall that will shape their lives in

Daphne & Velma Blu-ray Review: Feels Forced and Missing Something

The early adventures of Daphne and Velma fall flat.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the item reviewed. The opinions shared are the writer's own. As the Scooby-Doo fan in residence, the painful demise of the franchise has been swift. The most recent series, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! was problematic from the start but even with a couple interesting episodes, it ended poorly with the remaining episodes dumped onto the website. A proud series that dates back to the Saturday mornings when Hanna-Barbera ruled the airwaves doesn't even rate a 30-minute spot on Boomerang anymore. The one-off appearance crossover with Supernatural and the parody/tribute

Smash Palace Blu-ray Review: Defies Convention and Cliche

The late Bruno Lawrence's stunning performance highlights this gritty story of separation and brutal masculinity.
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Sometimes films about divorce and parental miscommunication are difficult to swallow, especially because of how terrible they can be for the children involved. There are American films like Kramer vs. Kramer, Shoot the Moon, and Hope Floats, which are good but a little sugary. However, director Roger Donaldson's stark 1981 classic, Smash Palace, defies convention and cliche with harsh truth and blunt authenticity that typically goes unnoticed in modern film. It also shows how the location (in this case, New Zealand) can bring out certain facets to a film's plot. Based on a newspaper article, the film centers on the

Annihilation Blu-ray Review: Alex Garland Annihilates the Sophomore Slump

Garland follows up his impressive directorial debut on Ex Machina with another unsettling sci-fi tale.
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Annihilation gained notoriety during its U.S. theatrical release earlier this year when it was revealed that Paramount had decided to skip theatrical release in many other major worldwide markets, instead sending the film directly to Netflix. While this was widely viewed as a vote of no confidence in the film, the finished project proves that it has nothing to do with the film’s quality and everything to do with market dynamics. Screenwriter/director Alex Garland’s cerebral take on horror sci fi simply doesn’t fit into the Hollywood blockbuster formula, so while Paramount’s bottom line may have been protected by their unusual

Fireman, Save My Child (1932) DVD Review: Old Hatter Up

It would prove to be the first of a "baseball trilogy" starring iconic comedian Joe E. Brown.
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Admittedly, a movie from the early '30s is bound to feel more than just a tad bit outdated when viewed today. That said, Lloyd Bacon's Fireman, Save My Child ‒ a First National Pictures comedy starring the mouth himself, Joe E. Brown ‒ was already old hat (or old fire helmet, as it were) when it was released by Warner Bros. in late February of 1932, as it had already been made twice before during the Silent Era. The first film to carry the title was Hal Roach's one-reel short from 1918 with the great Harold Lloyd in the lead,

Solo: A Star Wars Story Movie Review: A Fun Addition to the Franchise

An entertaining space adventure that is best when it's not spending time covering obvious connective plot points.
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Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Solo tells how Han Solo began his journey towards becoming the character met at a Tatooine cantina in the original film. It's an entertaining space adventure that is best when it's not spending time covering obvious, connective plot points. Han (Alden Ehrenreich) is young thief on the streets Corellia working for Lady Proxima (Linda Hunt), a variation on Oliver Twist and Fagin. He dreams of becoming a pilot and leaving the planet. His only option to accomplish both is joining the Empire. While on an Imperial mission to conquer a

Alexander Hamilton (1931) DVD Review: I Never Expect to See a Perfect Work Anyway

An entirely-too-old George Arliss portrays a much younger Hamilton in this early pre-Code biopic from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Far removed from the musical stage sensation of today, the 1917 Broadway production of Hamilton presented audiences with a condensed version of the first Secretary of the Treasury's battle to pass his Assumption Bill funding act in the years following the end of the Revolutionary War. With very little else in-between. But that didn't seem to matter much to the public, who were probably more excited to see recent Academy Award winner George Arliss ‒ the first (and youngest) English-born actor to earn such an honor in the US ‒ parading about amid a compelling human drama he himself had

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