If 2001: A Space Odyssey had more of a horror aspect and were to get slapped with an R rating, it might look something like Claire Denis’s High Life, one of the most puzzling and intriguing films to be released in 2019. From the opening shot, the viewer is left astonished by Yorick Le Saux’s beautiful cinematography. A shot of nature in an intergalactic atmosphere has never looked so stunning, and Le Saux doesn’t let up once the story focuses on the people within the ship in which the film takes place. It’s a beautiful and terrifying exploration of how
Recently in Blu-ray
Claire Denis's newest film is an absorbing, incredible sci-fi feature.
It is highly recommend for fans of the band and also makes a great introduction for those new to them.
Decades Rock Live! was a VH1 Classic television series that gathered bands and guests to play a concert at Trump Taj Mahal’s in Atlantic City. Pretenders with Friends is an episode taken from that series recorded on August 11, 2006, and thankfully, the folks at Cleopatra Records and Rock Fuel Media have released the performance on a three-disc set (Blu-ray, DVD, CD). The 16-song set runs about 65 minutes. Led by Chrissie Hynde, the Pretenders at this time were original drummer Martin Chambers, guitarist Adam Seymour, and bassist Nick Wilkinson. They deliver a set mainly comprised of their greatest hits
The crew members creating the special effects are the real stars who make the movie worth viewing.
Producer/director Mark Robson's Earthquake was a star-studded disaster movie that the '70s was known for. Unfortunately, the famous folks go to waste because the screenplay by George Fox and Mario Puzo is a bit of a disaster too. The crew members creating the special effects are the real stars who make the movie worth viewing. One morning, a minor 3.1 earthquake hits Los Angeles. City workers investigate if any damage has been done to the Hollywood reservoir dam, leading to a man drowning at the bottom of an elevator shaft. A graduate assistant interning at the California Seismological Institute has
Neil Burger's 2006 film gets a new Blu-ray release that, unfortunately, lacks any new features.
There was a time in which both Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige and Neil Burger’s The Illusionist played at the theater at which I worked. They were only released within a month of each other, but, as I recall, Nolan’s film seemed to have attracted more of a crowd based on cast and the fact that he made Batman great again. Burger’s film started off small and then slowly found its audience based more on word of mouth than pre-release buzz. And while both are centered on magicians, they are both very different in terms of plot and direction. They both
Dante's Matinee is a sweet tribute to the monster movies of his youth and the men behind them.
Matinee opens with Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman), a William Castle-type producer in a trailer for Mant, a movie about a man and an ant “exposed to radiation simultaneously” as the title suggests. It's an outstanding homage to films/trailers of the time. Set in 1962, Woolsey and actress/girlfriend Ruth (Cathy Moriarty) come to Key West, Florida to screen Mant, which is augmented for audiences through Atomovision and Rumblerama, his technical creation that maximize the screening for audiences. Two protesters (Dick Miller and John Sayles) make it known they aren't happy with the movie being shown. Gene (Simon Fenton) and his younger
Fans and Oscar completists can now add the version of Dances with Wolves that won Best Picture to their library thanks to Shout Factory.
Thanks to Shout Factory, the theatrical cut of Dances with Wolves finally made its debut on Blu-ray as part of a three-disc Steelbook Collector’s Edition that also offered previosuly available Extended Cut and extras. Winner of seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Kevin Costner, the film is a three-hour Western epic that tells the story of John Dunbar (Costner), a Union soldier in the Civil War who forsakes the life he knows and becomes an honorary member of the Sioux tribe. Based on the novel by James Blake, who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Dances
Powell and Pressburger's melodrama is beautiful to look at but a bit old-fashioned to watch.
Throughout the 1940s, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made a series of films that are considered some of the greatest British movies of all time. Their films, full of lush photography that blended realism and expressionistic fantasy, stood out in a country that tended to make socially conscious, terribly realistic, kitchen-sink dramas, or dry, literate, and cynical comedies. Films like A Canterbury Tale, Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes were like fairy tales seeped in British history and their very singular culture. But by 1950, their favor amongst critics and audiences was waning. Their type of movie was going out
A nice collection of four films starring the Universal Horror icons.
The year 1931 saw the release of both Dracula and Frankenstein. Both became absolute classics of the horror genre, cornerstones for the long-lasting Universal Monsters series, and made their stars, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, into cultural icons. If you’ve seen Tim Burton’s film Ed Wood, then you might be under the impression that the two stars were big rivals and rather hated each other. Certainly, the publicity departments surrounding their films gave off that impression as a means to sell more tickets. But family members of both actors have always stated that the two held no animosity towards one
A charming film that gets so many things right it's easy to overlook its flaws and just enjoy it.
Swing Time is the sixth of ten films that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared in together. It has great songs by composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Dorothy Fields, great dance performances by Astaire and Rogers, and a plot that will make you tell others the film has great songs and great dance performances. Swing Time opens with John "Lucky" Garnett (Astaire) about to get married and leave show business for a hometown sweetheart Margaret (Betty Furness), but manager Pop (Victor Moore) and the other fellas in his dance act are against it. They distract Lucky long enough so the
A subdued Klaus Kinski stars in this krimi/giallo mashup that is never thrilling but often quite dull.
I am officially on the record (more than once as anyone who has actually followed my writing in these pages can tell you) as being an enormous fan of what are sometimes called "boutique Blu-ray labels." Companies like Arrow Video, Severin, and Kino Lorber are putting out really nice sets of odd, obscure, low-budget, and forgotten films. As someone who spent great swaths of his teenaged years staying up all night with USA’s Up All Night, and renting ridiculously bad movies from my local VHS shop, I appreciate that so many of these types of films are getting new lives
Frankenstein Created Woman (Collector's Edition) Blu-ray Review: Hammer Created a Gothic Tale of Revenge
Scream Factory created a Blu-ray for fans to enjoy and study.
Frankenstein Created Woman is the fourth film in Hammer Films Frankenstein series and has been released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory. Instead of Hammer's version of Bride of Frankenstein, this is a gender reversal of the story, but don't let on to the internet monsters who are overly sensitive to that kind of thing. The film opens as a young boy named Hans sees his father guillotined. Cut to years later, he (Robert Morris) assists Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters) and together they revive Baron von Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), who had been dead an hour in a deep freeze, leading Frankenstein
This 1980s horror comedy borrows from 1950s sci-fi to create the perfect late night cable movie.
It is fascinating to me when artists incoporate the culture of their formative years into their current work. Think about how Stephen King often sets his books in the 1950s and early 1960s, the period in which he was growing up. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas transformed their love of the serials from the 1940s into the Indiana Jones franchise. A great many of the things I loved as a kid in the 1980s and ‘90s from The Wonder Years to Stand By Me were made by artists who had a nostalgic love for things in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
A problematic but powerful look at racism in 1960s America.
I gotta tell you, dear reader, that I wasn’t real excited sitting down to watch this new Kino Lorber Blu-ray release of Mississippi Burning. I can’t remember the first time I watched it, must have been a few years after it came out in 1988 for I can’t see 12-year-old me being interested in it. Whenever it was, I quite liked it. Enough so that I bought it on VHS sometime in the mid-'90s. But I haven’t watched it in at least a decade and I was afraid it wasn’t going to hold up. I was worried that it would
Stockard Channing is great in her first starring role as an ugly ducking in this dark, funny comedy from Joan Rivers.
They sure knew how to make TV-movies back in the day. In The Girl Most Likely To… Stockard Channing (Grease, Six Degrees of Separation) appears in her first major role as Miriam Knight, an awkward "ugly duckling" bullied and excluded by her college peers. No matter how many times Miriam has switched schools, she just can't get a date. She is brilliant and funny, but that doesn't seem to matter to anyone who meets her, as they only superficially react to her outward appearance. Despite the constant put-downs, Miriam is ever hopeful of finding her true love. After a wellness
Three fun but gory short stories of the Yakuza taking the law into their own hands, filled with bloody torture.
Yakuza Law is not even in the top-five craziest movies made by Teruo Ishii, and in it, a man rips out his own eyeball and throws it as his former boss, a thief is tortured by being dragged on the road by a helicopter, and a Yakuza is punished by his friends for stealing is tied to a tree, urinated on, and practically eaten alive by mosquitos. These are just a small sampling of the various horrible goings on in this anthology of short Yakuza stories, each about how the crime syndicates employ their own seedy form of justice. Teruo
The writer/director crafts a horrifying portrait of humanity forced to look at itself, definite flaws and all.
When comedy icon and new horror master Jordan Peele made his 2017 smash, Get Out, he created a new type of horror, a horror that reflects the social bleakness of the world we live in today, especially in terms of racism. With his fantastically scary 2019 follow-up, Us, he goes even deeper and darker to depict how we have totally lost our identities to excess and privilege. In this case, he gives us a glimpse of something far more sinister and personal underneath the false comfort we have subjected to. The film starts in 1986, where young Adelaide 'Addy' Thomas
Though the film plays with the story formula of the previous installments, this one works well because they stuck with what worked before.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics has added to their roster Special Edition Blu-ray releases of the first four Road pictures starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, making the first six of the seven movies now available from them. Road to Utopia (1945) is the fourth in the series. After releasing the first three films over three years, the franchise took a three-year break before audiences saw the return of the lead-acting trio. Hal Walker moved into the director's chair having previously been an assistant director on Zanzibar and Morocco. New to the creative team are screenwriters Melvin Frank and
No need to be quiet about this great little thriller.
An average, ordinary, unambitious bank teller who lives alone, works on chess problems by himself, and collects tropical fish discovers an opportunity to rob a robber and finds himself in a cat-and-mouse chase where the winner takes the money and the loser winds up dead. The teller is Miles (Elliott Gould), who works at small bank in a large Toronto shopping mall. One day, he spies Harry Reikle (Christopher Plummer) dressed as a Santa ringing a bell outside the bank, but he seems to be more interested in who is coming and going from the bank than the kids asking
Available from Warner Archive, the Blu-ray offers impressive high-def video and pleasing audio.
Based on John W. Campbell's 1938 novella “Who Goes There?” The Thing from Another World (1951) tells the story of those at arctic outpost Polar Expedition Six dealing with a plant-based humanoid alien (James Arness) that feeds on blood, no matter if it's human or animal. Understandably once the titular creature starts to kill, Air Force Captain Pat Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) wants the thing destroyed. However, not only must he and his men battle against this powerful thing, which is immune to bullets, but also against head scientist Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), who has different ideas on how to
Sinatra in Palm Springs: The Place He Called Home Blu-ray Review: A Look at the Love Affair Between the Singer and the City
New documentary takes a look at the life of Frank Sinatra in Palm Springs.
Frank Sinatra was born in New Jersey and synonymous with New York City. He also defined what a Las Vegas entertainer could be. The place where he made his home, however, where he could be himself, was Palm Springs. Sinatra in Palm Springs: The Place He Called Home takes an excellent look at the California city where Sinatra spent the last half-century of his life. Directed by Leo Zahn, Sinatra in Palm Springs mixes archival footage with present-day interviews with many of the people who were around Sinatra during his time in Palm Springs. Sinatra’s third wife, Barbara, is interviewed
Robert Louis Stevenson's grand adventure tale loses a lot of its adventure to get bogged down in boring political details.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote over a dozen novels in his lifetime plus multiple short stories, poems, essays, and other works. He was wildly popular in his day and remains so today. He is the 26th most translated author in the world and his most popular works - Treasure Island, Kidnapped and the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have been adapted into hundreds of plays, television series, and movies. By my count, Kidnapped has been adapted at least nine times into films. This makes sense as Stevenson wrote adventure stories full of action, romance, pirates, and treasure, all
The mutant turtles join the caped crusader as Foot ninjas descend on Gotham city.
Crossovers are fun because they can never really be consequential. Popular characters are the tent poles of multi-billion dollar corporations with strategies, product streams, all kinds of nonsense that has nothing to do with creativity. No one's going to have anything important happen in a crossover, so the mixing of worlds cannot be anything but cotton candy. That can make it an opportunity for creative teams, who have no real stakes because nothing matters, try and find the essence of the creative property. Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a crossover that might seem like madness at first blush,
Studio Ponoc is back with three animated shorts about modest people doing extraordinary things.
When Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement in 2013, producer Yoshiaki Nishimura grabbed as many animators from the famed studio as he could and created his own animated film company, Studio Ponoc, Last year, they released their first feature film, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, which followed closely to the Ghibli format of vividly animated, fantastical films with a lot of heart. It didn’t surpass Ghibli at its best but it definitely felt like a successful follower. Now, Studio Ponoc has released Modest Heroes, a collection of three short films from their large roster of excellent animators. There were supposed to
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents this forgotten gem that's given a second chance on Blu-ray
One of the great joys of being a movie nerd in these times is that we have access to so many movies. Whether it be via your streaming service of choice or one of the many excellent boutique Blu-ray labels, movie lovers have more options than ever on which to view their movie of choice. Alongside all the fantastic movies (and more than a few bad ones) are overlooked gems. Movies one might have never heard or watched were it not readily available in various formats. There is nothing like discovering a new favorite movie, especially when it wasn’t even
Holy ultra hi def, Batman!
It seems impossible now, but 30 years ago there was only one blockbuster cinematic superhero: Batman. In celebration of the 80th anniversary of the DC Comics superhero, and in recognition of today’s upgraded home video capabilities, Warner Bros. has released the first four Batman films as standalone 4K UHD/Blu-ray combo packs and digital purchases. While a box set of the four films will arrive in mid-September, for now consumers can pick and choose their favorite films for immediate individual purchase. Before Burton’s Batman in 1989, the only real superhero presence at the U.S. box office was the Superman series of
An additional 12 minutes of footage and a new song are added into this special edition.
Bradley Cooper showed his prowess for directing with his debut, the 2018 version of A Star is Born. In some aspects, the way the camera moved - and the way the story flowed - makes it seem like Cooper is a veteran in the field. The musical performances immediately immerse the viewer, making it seem like they are witnessing the songs from firsthand experience. Outside of the magnificently captured concert sequences, there’s a deeply affectionate love story about a man whose fame has gotten to his head - and the young lady he falls for, who ignites the audience once
The New Scooby-Doo Movies: The (Almost) Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: A Solid Entry in the Franchise
Celebrity guest stars crossover to help solve mysteries with Mystery Inc.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided our writer with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are his own. As your resident Scooby-Doo specialist, I've been excited to see what Warner Bros has in store for the 50th Anniversary of this franchise. As I've noted in the past couple reviews, the franchise is at a near all-time low in creativity and level of commitment by WB. So will there be a push to celebrate a character that doesn't have the same appeal to the current crop of young viewers? The first batch of releases include
Henri-Georges Clouzot's final film is a visually sumptuous, but flawed masterpiece.
The 1960s were a time of enormous cultural upheaval. The aftermath of World War II found many countries with a bountiful economic boom. All that industry and workforce developed to win the war moved away from making bullets and onto inventing all sorts of gadgets designed to make life easier for a quickly developing middle class. All those babies booming were growing up so that by the 1960s those kids were teenagers who knew life not of the Great Depression or of war but of a seemingly unending prosperity. Their values began to change along with this new lifestyle. Social
Jacques Rivette's riveting portrait of convent life in the 18th century is as beautifully filmed as it is horrifying to watch.
Jacques Rivette’s 1965 adaptation of the Denis Diderot book The Nun (La Religieuse) was controversial before it was even released. The script went through several adaptations in order to gain approval for production. Even then, they had to add in a title card noting that the film is fictional and does not paint a true picture of religious institutions (which is then quickly undermined in true Rivette fashion with a short intro about how Diderot’s book was based on historical fact). Once made and approved by the censorship boards, it faced outraged protests and delays in release. Much like Martin
An enjoyable adventure for crime fans, offering more of interest to keep the viewer engaged with the story than the standard shoot'em-up.
Cold Pursuit finds Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland remaking an English version of his 2014 film In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten). Liam Neeson stars as Nels Coxman, a man whose particular set of skills involve driving a snowplow for the fictional town of Kehoe, Colorado not killing. Yet when his son dies, he seeks revenge against those responsible, setting off a criminal gang war in this humorous crime thriller. Nels's work driving the snowplow has made him an important figure in the community. The night he receives an award for his service his son Kyle is kidnapped and given a