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He Ran All The Way Blu-ray Review: Beautiful Cinematography Elevates Standard Noir

A small thriller (John Garfield's last film) draped in spectacular black and white imagery by cinematographer James Wong Howe.
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He Ran All The Way was written by Dalton Trumbo and directed by John Berry, both just before they were blacklisted in Hollywood as Community Sympathizers after the HUAC hearings. Try as I might, I couldn’t find much Red propaganda in the film. What I did find was a taut, beautifully shot little thriller about a guy who terrorizes and invades the home of a girl who, had he met her just the day before, he would have probably dated her for a while, maybe even got married. It was a mess of circumstance and bad habits and pretending to

Count Your Blessings (1959) DVD Review: More of a Curse, Really

Deborah Kerr, Rossano Brazzi, and Maurice Chevalier sink in a dreary comedy set across the English Channel.
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Anyone who has ever given online dating a shot knows full well how truly horrible a romance can go if you dive into it head first. Here, in the 1959 MGM flick Count Your Blessings, we witness the horrors of not only a rushed romance in a time before computer dating, but we also see what happens when people rush a film into production as well. From the get-go, Count Your Blessings had this certain je ne sais quoi to it that translated to my gut as "Yeah, there's a reason you've never heard of this one before." Sadly, I

Callaway Went Thataway DVD Review: Mad Men and a Drunken Hopalong Cassidy

Fred MacMurray, Dorothy McGuire, and multiple Howard Keels shine in this delightful MGM comedy.
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As the American motion picture industry first began to boom in the first half of the 20th Century, Hollywood moviemakers found it was quite profitable to go up into the hills for weeks on end - years, perhaps - and shoot one low-budget western after another. In fact, so many of these cowboy quickies - "oaters," as they are affectionately known as today - were produced, that most of them didn't even get traditional movie posters in some circuits. Instead, bijou owners near and far would display generic movie posters advertising the Tim McCoy, Tex Ritter, or Tom Mix (or

Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear the Walking Dead: 'Pilot'

At least we have Sunday Dead again!
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In which Kim and Shawn offer their initial thoughts on the first epiosode of the Fear the Walking Dead. Kim: 1) Boys who dress in midriff pirate shirts are asking for trouble. 2) I have no idea what the characters' names are. I think the father figure dude might be Travis. The Mom is maybe Angie, but I don't really think so. The kids are girl, druggie, and emo boy. Hopefully, I got that right. I do know the first girl you see turned in the church - she's Gloria. That is really the only name that I'm certain on.

Run of the Arrow DVD Review: Samuel Fuller's Dances with Wolves

A blaring Rod Steiger and a bronzed Charles Bronson highlight a forgotten feature with an still-relevant social commentary.
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A simple surf through the today's news channels should painfully remind you human beings don't see eye to eye on a great number of things. This, of course, can lead to war and an unending hatred and fear of people whose cultures are dissimilar to our own. But if there's one thing most film aficionados and historians will agree on, it was filmmaker Samuel Fuller's ability to pen a great story - especially when it came to depicting man's inhumanity to man. With Run of the Arrow, 1957 western produced by RKO Radio Pictures (hey, check it out: it's the

A Sentry Spends a Summer Sunday at the Cinema

The weather was hot this summer. The movies were not.
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There are not a lot of people that can or want to sit through three consecutive movies at the theatre, but I enjoy it. Of course, entering the theatre has changed a bit. The recent shootings in theatres are horrible tragedies that have resulted in security measures being enforced when you enter the theatre. My friend had to open her purse for a theatre employee when we entered. I, carrying my hoodie because I hate being cold in the theatre, was not subjected to any type of security check. Here’s the problem; I believe all the theatre shootings were perpetrated

Honeymoon Hotel (1964) / Come Fly with Me DVD Reviews: Sexist '60s Rom-Coms

Two more rarities from the swingin' jet-set era by director Henry Levin make their digital debuts courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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Not too terribly long ago - a few weeks ago, in fact - I dived into three features from the swingin' '60s, as recently unburied and released to DVD via the Warner Archive Collection. While two of said films were passable entertainment at best, the third - an abominable ice creature known as Quick, Before It Melts - was so utterly awful, it genuinely made me question as to whether or not I would be able to look another movie starring Robert Morse in the eye ever again. Sure enough, such a test arose immediately thereafter when two relics from

Book Review: The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film, Edited by Danel Olson

A deep dive into every aspect of The Shining combines academic analysis, technical explanations and fun facts for fanboys.
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For a director whose output totaled only about a baker’s dozen of feature films, Stanley Kubrick embraced a remarkably wide range of genres during his nearly half-century career. There was a heist movie (The Killing); war movies (Paths of Glory and Full Metal Jacket); a big-budget swords-and-sandals epic (Spartacus); highbrow literary adaptations (Lolita and Barry Lyndon); the blackest of black comedies/satires (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb); foundational sci-fi (2001: A Space Odyssey); and Eyes Wide Shut, a YGIAGAM (Your Guess Is As Good As Mine). Then there’s his scary/funny take on the

La Grande Bouffe Review: Strangely Succeeds Despite Its Uncomfortable Content

Warning: You may need several bottles of Pepto Bismol and a few grains of salt for this one.
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As many of us know, 1970s cinema was a changing time in a new kind of filmmaking, where the content was more sexually graphic and explicit than the decades before it. The most pivotal films of this kind included Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris and Pasolini's Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom, which were censored and banned outright. But since then, the shock of these films have become tamer and less explicit than films now are. Director Marco Ferreri's scandalous 1973 cult feature, La Grande Bouffe (The Big Feast), his once extremely controversial "food and sex" epic, joins these

Yellowbeard Blu-ray Review: A Brutal and Brutally Unfunny Pirate

Half of Monty Python, a gaggle of Mel Brooks regulars, and James Mason waste their time and ours.
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As is the case with a number of cinematic failures, the production history of Yellowbeard is far more interesting than anything that actually made it to the screen. Star and cowriter Graham Chapman’s behind-the-scenes book has the details — among them, the film was partially financed by The Who’s Keith Moon and featured aborted involvement from Adam Ant and an unused soundtrack from Harry Nilsson. These may not seem like scintillating revelations, but compared to the film — well, let’s just say an oral history from Adam Ant on all the roles he didn’t play would probably be a better

Spenser: For Hire: The Complete Second Season (1986-87) DVD Review: SPEN-SAH!

The criminally neglected cult ABC TV series starring the late great Robert Urich returns courtesy of the Warner Archive.
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A frequently used adage from the past likes to remind us "The more things change, the more they stay the same." This can be particularly pithy when it comes to television shows, including the numerous changes ABC's '80s private eye neo-noir series Spenser: For Hire went through during its second season. From the very opening of its second season, Robert Urich's titular P.I. experiences new changes, beginning with his old abandoned firehouse station pad - which he had moved into after his quaint top-floor apartment burned down in the first season - being replaced by a new and entirely different

Music from Love & Mercy Review: An Auditory Journey into the Mind of a Troubled Genius

The soundtrack reveals the good and bad in the life of Brian Wilson.
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The word "genius" gets thrown around a lot when referring to various musicians, but in the case of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, it is genuinely appropriate. Of course, many musical geniuses tend to be troubled people and, in that regard, Wilson is no different. The movie Love & Mercy, which stars Paul Dano as the young Brian in his 1960s creative peak and John Cusack as the overmedicated, misdiagnosed “patient” of Dr. Eugene Landy, does an excellent job of showing both the highs and lows - and there are plenty of both - in Wilson’s life and career. Of

Wizard World Chicago 2015 Review: It Was a Good Show

The convention was, in a word, insane.
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So I went to Wizard World yesterday (August 22, 2015) at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, where the event has been held for… I’m not really sure how long, but it's been there as long as I can remember and probably even before that. That said, my memory is a little hazy these days, due in no small part to some of the activities I participated in whilst attending Wizard World events of days gone by with the variety of n’er-do-wells and miscreants that I call my friends. Anyway, after a fairly long stretch of attending the event and

The Babysitter Blu-ray Review: For Those Too Scared to Watch Cinemax

Alicia Silverstone shows she's still clueless in this 1990s erotic thriller lacking in both areas.
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Clueless remains one of my favorite films of all time. From the minute I saw its pastel colored world of baby-doll dresses and platform shoes, worn to success by the luminously blonde Alicia Silverstone, she taught me everything I needed to know about beauty, fashion, and to always leave a note when you sideswipe another car. In the wake of what I call Clueless-mania, Silverstone became Hollywood's "it" girl, a moniker that was never proven despite her success in Amy Heckerling's film. The Babysitter, released just three months after Clueless as a means of capitalizing on Silverstone's success, sailed by

Johnny Angel / Riff-Raff (1947) DVD Reviews: Double Fistin' RKO Film Noir

The Warner Archive Collection unleashes several underrated film noir gems from the iconic studio.
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Every film buff has that one particular genre that - though they may not consider it to be their favorite - will almost always be game for viewing at the drop of a hat. Especially when said item of men's apparel happens to be found on an abandoned cargo vessel adrift at sea, or is preceded by the man wearing it after both were pushed out of a moving plane. And with this duo of recent Warner Archive releases, we get just that: plus the fun little mysteries that follow. Part of a five title wave also including Two O'Clock

She's Funny That Way Movie Review: Wastes the Talent of the Cast and the Time of the Audience

It tries desperately to be a kitschy Woody Allenesque farce but never really gathers enough comedic momentum to go anywhere.
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Director/co-writer (along with Louise Stratten) Peter Bogdanovich has gathered together a powerhouse cast full of amazing comedic talent. With Owen Wilson, Rhys Ifans, Will Forte, Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Hahn, Austin Pendleton, Richard Lewis, Cybil Shepherd, and more, all of whom we have seen give stellar comedic performances, this film was ripe for epic laughter. Sadly, this sitcom script is full of underdeveloped characters and contrived circumstances that leave you wondering in what way is she funny? The “she” we are wondering about is Isabella Patterson the hooker/actress at the center of the antics. Imogen Poots gives a distracting performance as

Twilight Time Presents: Absolute Beginnings and Bitter Endings

From Bowie to Brando to Blofelds, this selection of five fairly forgotten flicks has an awful lot going on.
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For all things in life, there is a beginning and an end. And somewhere in the middle of all that mess, there is usually a great big production number. Sometimes, we start out with a big bang. In other instances, we go out with a grand finale worthy of the ending from All That Jazz at the most, or - at the very least - Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space. Providing you're working on a really restrictive budget, that is. And while this lineup of Twilight Time releases sadly has no correlation to the magnificent offerings of Edward

X-Men: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut Blu-ray Review: Two Versions of the Same Story

For those looking to spend more time with the X-Men, The Rogue Cut will satisfy.
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After two movies away from the helm, Bryan Singer returned to the director's chair for the triumphant blockbuster Days of Future Past, which blends the two iterations of the franchise into one continuity. Based on the landmark issues X-Men #141 and #142 by Chris Claremont and John Bryne, Days of Future Past finds humanity on the brink of extinction after a robot force known as the Sentinels intended to wipe out mutants comes to the realization that humans are the source of mutations. Mankind's only hope is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) going back in time to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series DVD Review: Still the Best

Is it a very long DVD review? A semi-comprehensive episode guide? Why, it's all those things, and still more!
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“Open Channel D.” Perhaps you're a bona fide fan of the original. Or you've been intrigued (or perhaps let down) by the recent big screen prequel/remake. Either way, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series brings you all four campy seasons of the cult classic television series starring Robert Vaughn as quick-witted secret agent Napoleon Solo (a man who has no problem taking time out during a chase to tell a story and who has no inhibitions whatsoever with making a wisecrack at the most impromptu of occasions) and the David Hyde Pierce of his time, David McCallum as Illya

Five Came Back DVD Review: The Birth of the Disaster Film Genre

The powerful 1939 melodrama, co-written by Dalton Trumbo, makes its long-overdue debut from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Ninteen hundred thirty-nine may be remembered in the world of film as "the year that really made a killing" at the box office as far as most classic movie aficionados are concerned. That final stretch of the decade may have seen the beginning of the Second World War, but it also paved the way for such motion picture classics as Gone with the Wind, Stagecoach, and some seldom-seen flick called The Wizard of Oz. In-between the dozens of lavish A-list motion picture unveilings - featuring the likes of the Greta Garbo, James Stewart, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Basil Rathbone

La Grande Bouffe Blu-ray Review: A Feast For The Senses That Leaves One Overstuffed

Marco Ferreri's controversial film gets a grand treatment from Arrow Video, but leaves one filling a bit sick to the stomach.
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They say Catherine Deneuve refused to speak to her then lover Marcello Mastroianni for a week after seeing his performance in La Grande Bouffe. It created a huge stir at the Cannes Film Festival. It was rated X in America, banned outright in Italy, and became part of a censorship legal battle in Britain. It is surprising, then, just how tame the film seems from a modern angle. You’ll see more nudity and sex on a typical episode of Game of Thrones, more abandoned gluttony on any number of reality-television programs, and more scatological humor on any given night of

Psycho Beach Party Blu-ray Review: The Lovechild of Norman Bates, Gidget, and Mrs. Vorhees

It's like a Scooby Doo mystery for adults.
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Psycho Beach Party bills itself as "a 50's psychodrama, a 60's beach movie, and a 70's slasher film" [sic]. The original stage play was adapted to film by its author Charles Busch back in 2000, and now it's seeing a high definition Blu-ray release 15 years later. It's an eclectic mix that works in its own strange way, but I can see why it never quite reached mass appeal. Its gross take in the first six months of release was less than a fifth of what it cost to make. You can pair up psychotics and slasher films without much

Book Review: Superman: The Atomic Age Sundays 1949-1953

Super shenanigans, madcap hijinks and tomfoolery... they sure don't make Men of Steel like this anymore.
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At the risk of sounding like that old guy down the street wearing black socks with sandals and shaking a rake at those darn neighbor kids who just won’t get off the lawn, today’s comic readers just don’t know how good they’ve got it. In my day, if you wanted to take part in the classic adventures of your favorite superheroes, you had to embark on a quest to find the old issues and pay an exorbitant price, then live the rest of your life in fear that this highly priced item would become ruined and useless and your investment

Still of the Night Blu-ray Review: Not Everything Meryl is Gold

Little life or suspense is contained in this sluggish Hitchcock homage.
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Meryl Streep. An actress often named among the greatest actresses who ever lived. An actress whom, many claim, has never starred in a bad picture. I debunk that myth and point to this 1982 mystery thriller, Still of the Night, now on Blu-ray through Kino's KL Studio Classics. It's certainly interesting watching this Hitchcock throwback; and it couldn't have come at a more propitious time in Streep's career - released eight months after she won an Oscar for Sophie's Choice. However, despite the reteaming of Streep with director Robert Benton, helmer of Kramer vs. Kramer, Still of the Night is

Person of Interest Season 4 DVD Review: A.I. Supercomputer Battle Royale

Season Four is bumpier than average, but this season's highlights more than make up for some weak patches.
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Every season of Person of Interest ends with some kind of apocalypse, some place to recover from. A lot of TV series do this, and it's usually a trick - an "Oh man, how will they ever recover from this?" moment at the end of the season, which is as quickly as possible scrubbed over so the show can get back to doing the same thing again and again in the next season. Person of Interest, in contrast, has been quite good at making its massive earth-shaking decisions stick, and at the end of season three, they threw up a

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Blu-ray Review: A Magical Series About Real Magic in England

A faithful adaptation of the modern classic novel, a complicated and convoluted fantasy story about rival wizards in 19th-century England.
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There are people who cannot handle fantasy. There are viewers who think that any mention of the specifically impossible (instead of what fiction is normally filled with, which is the "practically impossible" or the "completely improbable") invalidates a story. I know people who like Game of Thrones who get upset at the dragons and the Red Woman and the White Walkers - which is strange, since the very first scene of the first episode has White Walkers in it - they came first. Those elements are "unrealistic", while all the other made up stuff is taken in stride. For the

Orphan Black Season Three Blu-ray Review: Maslany Clones a Success

BBC America's ambitious sci-fi show returns its focus to Maslany's multiple characters.
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The latest season of Orphan Black is easily superior to Season Two for one reason: more Tatiana Maslany. Where the previous season got derailed by far too much exploration of the newly introduced male clones played by Ari Millen, these episodes wisely keep the focus on Maslany’s many delightful guises. That’s not to say the overall arc for the season makes much sense, but at least we’re consistently entertained by Maslany’s clone characters. As the new season gets underway, deranged and unstable clone Helena is locked away in a secret military compound, left so isolated that she begins having conversations

Book Review: The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road by Abbie Bernstein

It is sure to illuminate and inspire.
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One of the most anticipated films of 2015 was Mad Max: Fury Road. After 30 years since the uneven Beyond Thunderdome, and with Tom Hardy taking over the lead role from Mel Gibson, there was understandable trepidation from fans about returning to the apocalyptic future that is Max Rockatansky’s Wasteland. However filmmaker George Miller, who has overseen the entire series, proved the doubting Thomases wrong with a sensational action film for the ages that is arguably the best of the series. Fury Road finds Max entering the fiefdom of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Bryne), a cruel ruler who controls the region’s

Ten Thousand Saints Movie Review: See It for the Great Performances

A well-acted, if not entirely successful time capsule of 1980s New York
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There have been many coming-of-age films set in the 1980s that work so well, such as Let The Right One In (2008), This is England (2007), Adventureland (2009), and Mysterious Skin (2004). Most of them centered on the often misunderstood, sometimes violent youth engaged in sex, drugs, and rock & roll. They touched upon the lost souls who were trying to figure out their lives, and their place in the world during a time of materialistic excess, punk rock music, and the ever horrible yuppie generation. Some of them managed to remain relevant, while others were quickly forgotten. In this

The Decent, the Mediocre, and the Dreadful: The Warner Archive Revisits the Swinging Sixties

Three rarities starring David McCallum, George Hamilton, and Robert Morse resurface. But is that really a good thing?
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The '60s, ladies and gentlemen. It was a time when filmmakers and studio executives - for whatever ungodly reason - decided the implementation of corny animation, still images of goofy faces, and half-baked musical interludes would entertain older generations and the growing "mod" audience of the time alike. (And if those selling points seem ridiculous to you, just remember: people are still paying to see Adam Sandler movies in theaters today.) Of course, in many instances, it wasn't quite enough. Easily the "best" offering out of this little line-up, 1967's Three Bites of the Apple was one of several starring

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