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The Major and the Minor Blu-ray Review: Wild Comedy from Billy Wilder

The Major and the Minor may have been the first Hollywood film directed by Wilder, but it is also one of his best.
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Susan Applegate (Ginger Rogers) has had it up to here with New York City, with fighting off men making passes at her on her job, with just about everything. She's packing it in and heading back to her hometown of Stevenson, Iowa. There's just one problem. She's broke and doesn't have enough for the one-way fare. That is, an adult fare. She could manage the cost of a child's fare ticket. After a quick trip to the ladies' room, she scrubs off her sophisticated New York city-girl face, changes her fancy hair-do to pigtails, and pushes her hat on the

Hussy Blu-ray Review: You'll Wonder If You Haven't Seen It Before

Even a saucy Dame Helen Mirren can't save this clunker.
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If there was a template for the movie genre where a nice boy falls for a hooker and complications ensue then Hussy would have followed it to a “T”. If there isn’t and you needed to write one, then you’d need to look no further than this film. Its story is so average, so full of everything you've seen in similar films, you'll wonder if you haven't seen it before. Follow along with me: boy falls for the hooker, boy gets jealous of hooker for sleeping with other people, hooker’s abusive ex enters the scene, boy hatches a shady scheme

This Magnificent Cake! Blu-ray Review: This Magnificent Movie!

A beautifully crafted anthology and one worthy of an Oscar nomination in the animated short films category.
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At just 44 minutes, This Magnificent Cake! zooms by, but it also leaves the viewer speechless. An exploration of 1800s Belgian history told through stop-motion animation that uses felt, wool, and cloth for its characters and settings, this is one of the most ground-breaking films to ever be made. And despite its heavy themes, the beautiful craftwork left me wanting to be in the world more than what we’re allowed. The title derives from King Leopold II’s statement, “I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.” Five stories showcase

Who Saw Her Die? Blu-ray Review: Bond Does Giallo

George Lazenby should have been a star.
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Poor old George Lazenby. When Sean Connery quit the James Bond gig (for the first, but not last time) after You Only Live Twice, Lazenby won the coveted role. It should have been the beginning of a long and successful career. Instead after just one film, the underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he walked away from Bond. His acting career never recovered. He kept making films through the '70s, but other than Bond, he’s probably best known for his appearances in several made-for-cable erotic films that were part of the Emmanuelle series. Watching him in the 1972 giallo Who

Supergirl: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: Too Much Preaching

A little less self-righteousness, a little more superhero action would help this show a lot.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. Supergirl has got to be the most woke show on television. Sure its titular character is an attractive, young, white girl, but there are numerous people of color in major roles, the LGBTQ+ community is well represented (Supergirl’s sister is not only gay, but a major character and a strong female one at that), and now it has introduced to televisions first trans superhero. All of this is a good thing. I

The Chairman Blu-ray Review: Mr. Peck Goes to China

Gregory Peck and J. Lee Thompson team up for a third and final time in this dullard of a spy flick.
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For their third and final collaboration director J. Lee Thompson and Gregory Peck made The Chairman, a spy thriller about an anti-violence academic sent to Communist China to steal a plant enzyme. It is just exactly as exciting as that sounds. Peck plays John Hathaway, a Nobel Prize-winning professor who used to do a little espionage on the side. He gave that and violence up altogether when his wife died in a car crash that caused him to realize all life is precious. But when the President calls asking him to go to China because they’ve developed a secret enzyme

Echo in the Canyon Blu-ray Review: You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

An important chapter in the history of rock is examined by those involved with it and those influenced by it.
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The “canyon” in question is Laurel Canyon, located in the Hollywood Hills of Southern California. With Jakob Dylan as host, Andrew Slater's documentary looks back at some of the musicians who lived, thrived, and influenced each other in that neighborhood, creating the folk-rock California Sound of 1965-67. The oral history is told through interviews of those who were there, such as David Crosby, Michelle Phillips, and producer Lou Adler; the next generation of musicians who were influenced by them, such as Tom Petty and Jackson Brown; and later generations who appreciate their accomplishments, such as Beck and Regina Specktor. The

The Case of Hana & Alice Blu-ray Review: An Animated Slice of Life

GKids brings us this animated prequel to Shunji Iwai's Hana & Alice which is a lovely, episodic, charming day in the life of a burgeoning friendship.
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In 2004 Japanese director Shunji Iwai made Hana & Alice, a live-action movie about two high school students who both fall in love with the same boy. Slightly more than a decade later, he made The Case of Hana & Alice which is the story of how those two began their friendship. Rather than cast two different actresses to portray the protagonists younger selves in this prequel, Iwai decided to animate the film and keep the actresses for their voices. Fourteen-year-old Tetsuko Arisugawa, who will later get nicknamed “Alice” (YĆ» Aoi ) moves to the suburbs (or the “sticks” as

The Quiller Memorandum Blu-ray Review: Next Time Make It a Mission Statement

A stacked cast can't make this limp anti-Bond spy thriller the least bit interesting.
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With the success of the first James Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962 there was a mad rush of spy films trying to cash in on the Bond phenomenon. Many of these films were quite clearly ripping off the Bond series with similar plots, similar aesthetics, and spies called Charles, Bind, James Tont, and the like. It got so bad in Italy that United Artists threatened legal action over the use of the 007 designations (which only caused them to switch it to similar numbers like 077). This, in turn, created the anti-Bond sub-genre of films that threw out all

Supernatural: The Complete Fourteenth Season Blu-ray Review: An Emotional Season with the Show's Most Shocking Cliffhanger

Season 14 delivers what is expected with solid stories, a mix of comical moments, and familiar characters that are real and believable.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. When we last left our wayward Winchesters in Season 13, they had managed to vanquish Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) once and for all. With Lucifer stealing Jack’s (Alexander Calvert) grace in order to regain his full power, Dean (Jensen Ackles) had no choice but to let the apocalyptic Earth’s archangel Michael (Christian Keyes) inhabit his body in order to stop him. The deal was that Dean would be in control, but after the

True Believer (1989) Blu-ray Review: Blisteringly Performed Courtroom Drama

Briskly paced, excellent acted late 80s drama stars a disillusioned James Woods and a young, idealistic Robert Downey Jr.
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True Believer has been released on Blu-ray in one of Mill Creek's Retro VHS Look packages. While it's the same dimensions as a Blu-ray case, the slip-case over the disc has an old VHS cover on it, complete with a fake genre sticker attached. True Believer's says "Drama" and harkens from an era where drama was one of the dominant genres for motion pictures, back when it was assumed that an actual adult might, under some circumstance, accidentally wander into a movie theater and want to watch something that might arrest their intelligence. And True Believer is one of those

John Carpenter's Vampires Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Put a Stake in It

Were this directed by anyone but John Carpenter, it would be a cult classic, but as it is one can only wonder what went wrong.
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An armored van pulls up to a dilapidated house. A group of scruffy-looking men and a priest get out. The van is full of weapons: guns, knives, stakes, and crossbows. The men arm themselves. Out front stands Jack Crow (James Woods). He takes a crossbow, barks orders, and looks cool in his sunglasses. Inside the house is a nest of vampires and this crew has been hired by the Vatican to kill them. The priest blesses them and then it's in for some stabbing. The guns don’t seem to hurt the vamps but they do knock them around. Shots are

Reap the Wild Wind Blu-ray Review: An Antebellum Epic of Thrilling Adventure and Questionable Romance

For those seeking classic Hollywood adventure, Reap the Wild Wind will fit the bill.
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Based on Thelma Strabel's story that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind is an Antebellum epic filled with thrilling adventure but a puzzling love triangle, but the former makes up the latter. Set in 1840, the dangers of seafaring are revealed as the Jubilee, with Captain Jack Stuart (John Wayne) knocked out, wrecks along the rocks off Key West, Florida. Ships head out to save the cargo and crew. Loxi (Paulette Goddard), much more independent than the other women of her era, has taken over her late father's salvage business, though she develop

The Snake Pit Blu-ray Review: One of the First and Best Motion Pictures to Bring Mental Illness to Life

A controversial, watershed classic that taps into a relatable topic that afflicts many of us.
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The topic of mental illness today is still a really prickly issue that may people refuse to discuss with others. Either they are dealing with it and don't want anyone else to know, or that they may have someone in their family that's suffering from it. However, there are modern films, such as One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest (1975), A Beautiful Mind (2001), and Melancholia (2011) that depict in their own way, the confusion and misunderstandings that comes with mental illness. Way before all of those films, the 1948 classic The Snake Pit, directed by Anatole Litvak, was one

The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Gentle Ozu Comedy

Grandmaster filmmaker Ozu's minor, observant comedy about the growing differences between a middle-aged married couple.
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The first thing to get used to in an Ozu film is the camera perspective. He never (or at least rarely) does the normal over-the-shoulder shot and counter shot for conversations. Ozu tends to shoot things from a constant upward angle. It has been analogized to a POV from someone sitting, in traditional Japanese style on a mat, legs folded underneath. The view is tilted slightly upward, never straight on or from above. The second element of Ozu's filmmaking that has to be taken into consideration is the secondary nature of the plot. There are stories in all of his

The Lavender Hill Mob / The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray Reviews: An Alec Guinness Two-Fer

Alec Guinness shows off his comedic side in the two classics from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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This weekend I caught a Fathom events screening of Lawrence of Arabia. That is a movie made for the big screen and I was thrilled to finally see it in that format. Alec Guinness plays a relatively minor, yet important role in that film and it made me think of his long career. Today, he is probably best known as Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise old Jedi in Star Wars. After that, he’s likely known for his performances in David Lean epics like the aforementioned Lawrence, or The Bridge on the River Kwai. He is such an impressive dramatic actor it

The Koker Trilogy Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Rise of Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami’s mid-career trio of films announced him to the international film community
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This series of Iranian films is a trilogy in only the loosest sense, as they don’t share overlapping casts or themes. Their only real common denominators are their writer/director, Abbas Kiarostami, and their filming location of Koker in a remote, rural area of northern Iran. The later films are influenced by the first film, especially since they explore the effects of a devastating earthquake that occurred after the first film, but there is no narrative throughline tying them together. Taken as a whole, they paint a picture of a region in transition, grappling with modernization and disaster recovery as old

Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy Blu-ray Review: New Wave Filmmaking, Naked Ladies

Challenging, evocative films from the Japanese New Wave that contemplate aspects of the Buddhist religion, with lots of sex.
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It's difficult to put a modern film-fan in the mind of a viewer from the past, because of the nature of the medium. Editing and compositional techniques that were once avant-garde become incorporated into the language of cinema so quickly that it can be hard to appreciate how mold-breaking films could be, since the most effective techniques of the vanguard rapidly become the de riguer filmmaking of the commercial set. Jump cuts and non-linear narrative used to be wildly experimental - just a decade later they're regularly used in network television, the most staid and crowd-friendly of visual entertainment. This

Alps Blu-ray Review: Weird, Wild, and Confusing

Yorgos Lanthimos' follow-up to Dogtooth is an obtuse, obfuscated, thrilling piece of filmmaking that is worth the watching even if you come out of it completely confused.
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Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos often makes movies about insular groups of people who live in absurdist worlds that create and uphold outlandish rules. Yet he somehow makes them seem real and often surprisingly sympathetic. Coming off the festival circuit success of Dogtooth - in which two parents keep their three children locked inside a compound teaching them the outside world is full of violence and make up new definitions for common words - he wrote and directed Alps about a group of people who, for a fee, pretend to be the recently deceased for their grieving relatives. It is just

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Mystery Mansion Review

A fabulous package arrives to celebrate 50 years of Scooby-Doo.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray giftset reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I shared are the writer's own. When Warner Bros announced a year of Scooby-Doo celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the show, this is the release (along with The New Scooby-Doo Movies) that I had most wanted to see. The September 3, 2019 release is just short of the September 13, 1969 Saturday morning debut of the series on CBS. The complete first series is finally available on Blu-ray. The 41 episodes over four discs represent the first

Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray Review: An Influential Cinema Landmark

The 1949 black comedy masterpiece from Ealing Studios gets a new upgrade, courtesy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I prefer British comedy over American comedy. The British have a lock on deadpan humor; you either get or you don't. There are themes of class, wealth, and sexual mores that surface every level of this type of humor, that there is a certain reality to it all. Director Robert Hamer's 1949 celebrated satrical classic, Kind Hearts and Coronets, just may be the best of them all, and also the greatest that Ealing Studios produced during the golden age of British cinema. Loosely based on a novel by

Arrow: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray Review: Nothing Can Keep Down the Green Arrow and His Team

While the show has remained true to its original vision and quality, it’s not too difficult to see the end coming.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. When we last saw Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his team, the FBI was breathing down their necks, and they had managed to stop, but not capture Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) who is a psychopathic crime boss intent on taking over Star City and destroying the Green Arrow. But in order to stop him, Oliver had to do the unimaginable. He had to confess to not only being the vigilante but also

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Blu-ray Review: Long Live the King

Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah join the Monsterverse franchise in a global battle royale that is heavy on CGI fighting and destruction.
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Director/co-writer Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which takes its name (minus the exclamation point) from the re-edited American version of Godzilla (1954) is the third installment in Legendary's MonsterVerse. With their existence hinted at during the post-credit sequence of Kong: Skull Island, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah join the new franchise in a global battle royale that is heavy on CGI fighting and destruction. Set five years after the events of Godzilla (2014), quite a few monsters, dubbed “Titans,” are unleashed upon the world and battle for supremacy. On a smaller scale, a fractured family is dealing with

The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review: Slow It Down, Flash!

Five seasons in, "The Flash" is starting to run out of ideas, but it is still my favorite show in the Arrowverse.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Mat Brewster with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are his own. The Flash has consistently received better ratings than all the other shows in the Arrowverse since it first came on the scene in 2014. It is easy to see why as it easily blends superhero action, real emotional stakes, and comedy while fully embracing the more ridiculous aspects inherent to a comic-book series. It is my favorite show in the Multiverse though it is beginning to slip. When watching this type of series, I tend

Poms Blu-ray Review: Rah, Rah, Sis Boom Bah

Despite its familiarity, Zara Hayes's feature-film debut is a surprisingly delightful comedy.
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Based on the trailers alone, Zara Hayes’ Poms could easily be dismissed as something that we’ve seen numerous times and won’t try to break any new ground. And you wouldn’t be wrong with that criticism. Nearly every single moment of the movie is a rehash of others in the genre and not done better either. But, surprisingly enough, the movie comes with a great amount of charm and heart to make it a light, entertaining comedy. It starts off with Martha (Diane Keaton) hosting an estate sale. Through some rather unnecessary voice-over narration, she tells the viewers how she’s lived

Roxanne (1987) Blu-ray Review: Big Nose, Bigger Laughs

One of Steve Martin's most hilarious and heartwarming films gets a new Blu-ray release from Mill Creek Entertainment.
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Fred Schepisi’s Roxanne is a film that, at first glance, may seem too contrived and too formulaic to differentiate itself from the standard rom-com genre. But it gives the viewer something that a lot of comedies seem to lack nowadays, and that is a strong heart. While it derives its story loosely from Edmond Rostand’s play, Cyrano de Bergerac, Roxanne is still able to carve its own path and leaves the viewer with a warm, happy feeling all over. It’s a great reminder that comedies don’t need to be crude to be funny, and romance films don’t need to crank

Alice, Sweet Alice Blu-ray Review: Has Surprisingly Aged Very Well

Alfred Sole's underrated shocker gets a new, superb upgrade courtesy of Arrow.
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When it comes to horror cinema, I think 1970s horror stands at the top for me. Everyone, even those who don't particularly care for the genre, has to have at least five or six favorites from that decade. There was something for everyone, meaning that every film, even the not-so-good ones had at least some type of theme to them. The '70s was a decade of hopelessness and uncertainty, and its horror flicks reflected that. Even more so, there were a lot of often overlooked gems that flew under the radar, including Black Christmas (1974), The Crazies (1973), Martin (1977).

Avengers: Endgame Blu-ray Review: 'Part of the Journey Is the End'

The film's strength is the connection fans have to the characters/actors.
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The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which currently stands at 23 movies (now known as “The Infinity Saga”) is the biggest film franchise of all time in terms of worldwide box office. Yet, the interconnectedness of the characters and stories, an element brought over from the Marvel comic books, has made the endeavor seem more like a TV series. While Spider-Man: Far From Home is the final chapter, it feels more like an epilogue in comparison to the scale, scope, and consequences of Avengers: Endgame. It opens with a brief reminder that Avengers: Infinity War concluded with the heroes having failed to

The Reflecting Skin Blu-ray Review: A Brutally Surreal Coming-of-Age Gem

A beguilingly weird swan dive into twisted childhood as if made by David Lynch and Terrence Malick.
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When it comes to youth, the rites of passage are always paved with dark uncertainty and a celebral outlook on life. The imagination of children seems to come from bouts of incoming trauma and fear of growing up in a world that often doesn't share the same viewpoint. In a shocking way, The Reflecting Skin, director Philip Ridley's 1990 nightmarish portrait of American Gothic seen through the eyes of a child, definitely does just that while reaching levels of boldness that most directors wouldn't dare tread. Set in 1950s rural Idaho, mischevious eight-year-old Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper) lives with his

Batman: Hush 4K Ultra HD Review: The Bat, the Cat, and Villains Aplenty

One of the stronger DCU animated films, in spite of some changes to the original story.
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DC’s animated films tend to be adaptations of their classic comic-book works, with this story in particular being one of their remaining crown jewels. As originally written by current Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb and drawn by DC co-publisher Jim Lee, the Hush storyline first appeared across 12 issues of the Batman comic book in 2002-03. That’s a lot of story to compress into one 82-minute film, so it’s understandable that some changes have been made in this adaptation, although most of the principal beats are still intact. Batman is faced with a new challenge in the form of unknown

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