Recently in Blu-ray

Begin Again DVD Review: Sorry, Once Was Enough

Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley trapped in a sappy, predictable music industry backstager from the maker of Once.
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When a movie is as cliché-ridden and predictable as Begin Again, it’s often difficult to identify which is more to blame, the screenplay or the direction. In this case, John Carney, who also performed similar chores for the 2006 movie musical Once, has made it easy; he’s again responsible for both. This 2013 tale of middle-aged redemption, artistic striving and music industry backstage story stars two talented, likeable actors, Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. He’s Dan, a down-and-out former record label exec, nearly broke, divorced and estranged from his teenage daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld). She’s Gretta, a talented but unheralded

Under Fire (1983) Blu-ray Review: Nick Nolte Knows How to Shoot (a Camera)

Twilight Time's new Blu-ray release is most assuredly the best possible way to experience this underrated gem.
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With a story focusing on a journalist, a photographer, and a revolution, Twilight Time's release of Roger Spottiswoode's 1983 drama Under Fire sounds like a title that should have been released with their September 2014 line-up - as it would have made a great pairing with Oliver Stone's Salvador. But while both movies are based on actual events involving members of the news media becoming involved in a dangerous rebellion between indigenous oppressed folk and corrupt politicians, Spottiswoode's elegantly crafted 1983 film graciously succeeds in rising above just about everything Stone bombarded his viewers with three years later. Plus, not

Young Justice Blu-ray Review: A Super(hero) Show from Warner Archive

While using teenage main characters could have led to a series best suited for children, the realistic characters and smartly plotted stories make it accessible for all.
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Created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman, Young Justice is a DC Comics animated series that aired for two seasons on Cartoon Network from 2011 to 2013. Not based on the comic series of the same name, the show presented the adventures of a team of young heroes (Don't call them "sidekicks"!) set its own distinct universe separate from the other DC Comics TV series. While using teenage main characters could have led to a series best suited for children, the realistic characters and smartly plotted stories make Young Justice accessible for all. As the Justice League goes off on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspector Manara, Season 2 DVD Review: Crime and Amore

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

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

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

The Great Race (1965) Blu-ray Review: Blake Edwards, How Great Thou Art

A failure upon its release, this epic adventure makes a beautiful HD comeback via the Warner Archive Collection.
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When Blake Edwards departed from this world in late 2010, he left behind a lasting and versatile legacy of contributions to cinema. From the hard-hitting drama of Days of Wine and Roses (a serious look at alcoholism made during the early '60s, when civilized man enjoyed a steak and martini for breakfast), to a couple of noted musicals with his wife Julie Andrews (Darling Lili and Victor/Victoria), and even the odd thriller like the underrated Experiment in Terror (which Twilight Time was kind enough to issue on Blu-ray in early 2013), Edwards tried his hand at many different types of

Sleeping Beauty (1959) Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review: Same Great HD Presentation, but Less Features

A brilliant restoration of a now Disney classic.
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In terms of film classics, there is always a Disney film in that pantheon, but unfortunately Sleeping Beauty (1959) isn't the first title that you would choose when naming Disney's greatest films, but nonetheless, it is one of the last great, hand-drawn animated films, regardless of what you really think of it. It is hard to think of a film, especially for kids that has had such a huge effect on how they see fairy tales. Although the story is pretty common, and kind of a letdown in terms of the essence of the fairy-tale princess, it's still pretty impressive

From Dusk Till Dawn: Season One (2014) Blu-ray Review: Why, God, Why?

Imagine a 108-minute film shamelessly and mercilessly expanded into an unwanted, unnecessary, uncalled-for ten-hour-long series.
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At some point in time, it seems rather inevitable that a filmmaker may return to a completed project from their early years. Sometimes, these visual poets do so solely with the intent of correcting a few things that have irked them since then (see: Ridley Scott, George Lucas). In other instances, they revisit their work to expand and completely alter the entire storyline - which, in-turn, changes the very universe the original item in question was set in (see: Ridley Scott, George Lucas). And while those viewers who predominantly consider themselves to be of the artistically inclined nature may see

The Killer Elite (1975) Blu-ray Review: The Wrath of Caan

Sam Peckinpah sets his bloody sights on a tale of covert government agents and stealthy ninja assassins. What’s not to love there?
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Sam Peckinpah's legacy on the world of film was something most people in the industry certainly never saw coming. Consistent undermined by studio executives who sought to correct what they perceived to be filmmaking flaws, the director of such now-legendary classics like Straw Dogs, Junior Bonner, and The Getaway usually wound up having his films re-cut without his permission. Combined with his own flawed human nature - alcoholism, substance abuse, and the ever-troublesome depression - eventually turned a promising talent into that washed-up talent no one would want to hire. (Also see: Bela Lugosi.) Yet, Peckinpah's films are widely regarded

Salvador (1986) Blu-ray Review: Oliver Stone Finds His Calling

Twilight Time revives the controversial director's first (notable) film back for another haunting round.
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Prior to becoming a standout name with the international success of Platoon in 1987, Oliver Stone was only known for directing several films. Two of them were B-grade horror movies, the generally unseen Seizure from 1974, and the usually laughed-at fiasco The Hand from 1981. It was with his third directorial feature, however - the 1986 Hemdale Film release Salvador - that Stone, a man who has potentially passed one illegal drug too many through his system over the years, finally found something he was good at: a politically charged war drama that swerved in and out of reality, whilst

The Musketeers (2014) Blu-ray Review: Finally, A Reimagining Worth Viewing

Sporting great battles, amazing costumes, and a fresh take, this incarnation of the Alexandre Dumas tale has a lot of potential.
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As I had iterated in a somewhat recent article, there are really only a venerable handful of classic literary characters and stories that seem to re-emerge in order to be retold time and time again upon small and big screens alike. And there is certainly little doubt in my own mind that the classic Alexandre Dumas 1844 work Les Trois Mousquetaires falls somewhere at the very top of that limited grouping; its immortal characters having appeared in many various adaptations over the last couple of centuries, along with the particular tale itself. Granted, some of us may be prone to

The Dogs of War (1980) Blu-ray Review: These Boots Are Made for Walken

Recommended. Even if we don't get to hear Christopher Walken recite Shakespeare.
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Despite the claims of many an adult website author, bigger is not always better. Take the contemporary action film genre, for example: things must explode continuously, actors must shout a lot, cameras must shake wherever and whenever possible in order to convey a general feeling of queasiness, and any and all probability or indication of intelligence must be sucked out of the room immediately. Sure, it sells, but at what cost to the view with a brain? Alas, whenever somebody tries to construct an action flick that isn't completely braindead, it usually flops at the box office when the disappointed
Come Morning has been compared to A Simple Plan, which was a movie I enjoyed a great deal. Simple Plan's characters were engaging, smart, and constantly trying to stay one step ahead of each other. Both movies are about the lengths to which people will go to keep a secret and conceal evidence. However, where A Simple Plan kept me on the edge of my seat and kept the stakes rising throughout, Come Morning hints at more backstory than it actually tells and is fraught with a slow, dull plot and a bunch of lukewarm character archetypes. Nothing interesting happens

Che! (1969) Blu-ray Review: A Prime Example of "What Were They Thinking?"

Omar Sharif as Che Guevara. Jack Palance as Fidel Castro. A match made in bad movie heaven.
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Every now and then, a motion picture comes along that is so positively astute in its own sense of being, so sure it knows what it is and why it's there, that it becomes painfully clear there isn't a single soul within the confines of the cosmos who could tell you what the hell was going on there. Rather, movies such as these tend to ignore all fundamental elements of filmmaking (i.e. consumer demand and/or a plot) boil down to a quip British comedian Eddie Izzard once made regarding the fine art of making speeches: that people only pay 70%

Any Given Sunday 15th Anniversary Blu-ray Review: Oversized Game Meets Oversized Filmmaker

Sprawling football epic looks at the game from all sides.
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Recently at lunch, I was watching ESPN with the sound off at a local bar. For 20 minutes, the anchors talked about child abuse, spousal abuse, whether or not Roger Goddell should step down. There wasn't a score on the screen the entire time, and not a single game talked about. Regardless of the importance of the issues surrounding football, there is no small part of me that wishes football talk could be about the game. No issues, no important business. Not about money or politics or anything but moving the ball. That's because, when it comes to football, I'm

Neighbors Blu-ray Review: All Good in This Hood

The 2nd biggest live-action comedy of 2014 has an incredibly simple premise but surprises with its refreshing delivery.
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This summer’s breakout comedy hit delivers on its deceptively simple concept via some fresh character development, largely avoiding what could have been a one-dimensional yawner. That concept, expertly conveyed by the poster, finds a nice young family facing off against a raucous fraternity that moves in directly next door to their home. Instead of leaning on hoary stereotypes for the two warring sides, the film switches up the formula by making them more similar and hence more sympathetic to each other’s situation, in the process weaving in coming-of-age themes for the residents of both houses. Don’t worry, it’s far from

Prom Night (1980) Blu-ray Review: Disco! Dancing! Death!

Synapse Films brings us the definitive transfer of the classic Canadian slasher flick.
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Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a classic slasher flick, only to wonder "Man, I sure wish they would have included a lot of disco tunes on the soundtrack"? Or perhaps you are of the persuasion that would find themselves in the midst of a disco movie before they began to envision how much better it would be were there people getting slashed? Well, either way, the 1980 American/Canadian slasher film Prom Night proves that you can have your cake and eat it too - as it not only features murder, but disco dancing as well. And

All That Jazz Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Lord of the Dance

Bob Fosse’s crowning directorial achievement shines in the Criterion spotlight.
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Joe Gideon is tired. Tired of women, tired of choreography, tired of drugs, and yet inexplicably driven to continue pursuing all of them, to the detriment of his health. As a legendary Broadway director, he’s at his peak but so burned out that he struggles to remind himself “it’s showtime” as he drugs himself awake each day for more rehearsals leading up to the debut of his new musical. As Gideon, Roy Scheider nails the world-weary lead character, especially impressive given that he was directed by the character’s thinly veiled inspiration, Bob Fosse. Fosse’s immense talent for choreography is on

Willow Creek Blu-ray Review: A New Horror Classic

A surprisingly eerie twist on a now tired genre.
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The huge, unparalled success of 1999's The Blair Witch Project was a blessing and a curse. It changed the way that independent films were made, especially horror movies, but then it spawned so many very pale, ridiculous imitations that basically drained most of the life out of the "found footage" genre of horror movies. Thankfully, Bobcat Goldthwait's 2013's surprise hit, Willow Creek, stands out from the pack and actually gives the genre some well-deserved new life. The story concerns a filmmaking couple (Bryce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore) making a documentary about the legend of Bigfoot. Jim (Johnson) has a lifelong

Out of the Past (1947) Blu-ray Review: Lightning Captured in a Bottle

The very epitome of film noir - and the femme fatale that goes with it - receives a jaw-dropping HD upgrade from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Some things simply aren't easy to capture. Bigfoot. Blood from a stone. Bones in ice cream. And of course, the proverbial lightning in a bottle many have alluded to throughout the years in an attempt to confuse those cerebrally challenged individuals who would only wonder why anyone would be foolish enough to hold up a glass container in a thunderstorm like a complete and total fool. Nonetheless, certain things are likely in the world of film, particularly when the timing is just right. In the instance of the 1947 RKO film Out of the Past, we are able to bear

Sin City Blu-ray Review: Almost Everything Is Black and White

Jackie-Boy was unprepared for what Sin City had in store and the results were not good. Don't make the same mistake.
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In Frank Miller's award-winning, graphic novel series Sin City everything is black and white with a rare splash of color. That's the way the books are drawn. That's the way the film is shot. That's the way life is in Sin City. Black and white. Good guys and bad guys. The eternal struggle. Sure, the divide gets blurry occasionally when good guys do bad things, at times very bad things, but these Old Testament avenging angels mete out justice with "a bit of the old ultraviolence" only for the right reasons. It might be hard to see through the uniquely

2 by Ken Loach: Riff-Raff (1991) / Raining Stones (1993) Blu-ray Review: Depressingly Fascinating

Two low-key, very sincere movies about everyday average people get a High-Def release from Twilight Time.
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If there's one thing you may have noticed amidst all of the screaming and flailing mechanical bits in the latest Transformers film, many a movie today seems to lack a genuinely honest sense of realism. But that is not the case for British filmmaker Ken Loach, who has delivered one true-to-life motion picture after another throughout his career in an industry that strongly believes it should give the people what they want. Loach, on the other hand, gives the people what they are: people. Everyday, average people just-a-doin' their thing, come rain or shine, good or bad, do or die.

Divergent Blu-ray Combo Review: Shailene Woodley Has a Dauntless Task

The film stays faithful to the lessons and themes of the book, which are not just for young adults.
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Being a big fan of Veronica Roth's book series, I was thrilled to hear that Divergent was being made into a film. It suffers from being compared to the Hunger Games trilogy and admittedly, the first film isn't nearly as good. However, the overall themes and messages behind Divergent make it worth watching. In the future, society has been divided into five factions based on a persons aptitudes and values. The Dauntless are the brave, Amity focuses on being peaceful, Erudite is for the intelligent, Abnegation is the selfless, and, if honesty is your strong suit, then you are Candor.

The Buddy Holly Story (1978) Blu-ray Review: And I Suppose You're Mary Tyler Moore?

Even when cast as a legendary rock and roll icon, Gary Busey still looks friggin' nuts.
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As I had briefly eluded to in my less-than-coherent rambling for Twilight Time's Blu-ray release of the Elvis flick Follow That Dream, some people only know a legend by the fact that they've become an icon within the world, as opposed to being remembered for what they actually did. And while the memory of Mr. Presley could very well outlive all of us, I sometimes fear that the image of Buddy Holly is perhaps only known these days to poor, misguided souls who are under the delusion that Weezer was a good group. Someday, an astronaut by the name of

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