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The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe Blu-ray Review: Forgettable but Fun French Farce

A spy comedy that's silly but never ridiculous.
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The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe is a '70s French spy comedy that never ventures into spoof or even too far into ridiculousness. It's not hilariously funny, nor so brilliant that it will replace anything on any of your top-ten lists. It is, however, a thoroughly enjoyable film with some hearty laughs and enough je ne sais quoi to keep you feeling happy the rest of the day. Like all good spy stories, the plot is as complicated as it is convoluted. France’s #2 man in counter-espionage, Bernard Milan (Bernard Blier), wants to discredit his chief, Louis Toulouse

The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982 Blu-ray Review: Long Live Rock

If this was the only concert of the band on record, there'd be no doubt why they are rock 'n' roll legends.
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Reading up on The Who, it appears what was intended to be a tour in support of It's Hard became a farewell tour because of Pete Townshend's personal issues and the friction they contributed to between he and his bandmates Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle. Although they have reunited many times since, and Daltrey and Townshend, the last living original members, are currently touring in celebration of the band's 50th anniversary, it's fantastic to see this document of The Who still at the peak of their abilities. Taken from their October 13, 1982 performance, the second of a two-night stand

Spider Baby Blu-ray / DVD Review: An Extremely Offbeat but Amazing Movie

This really is the most maddening story every told, but in a good way.
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In this 1960s, the independent film boom was well under way of becoming the next big thing in cinema. The indie films of the '60s, included 'nudie cuties', drive-in flicks, rebel-youth outings, and most importantly, horror movies. These horror movies were a mixture of blood, gore, cheesy but method acting, and dated production values. However, for better or worse, they changed the way that underground films would be made since then. In this case, director Jack Hill's 1963 cult masterpiece, Spider Baby, remains one of the best of the bunch. Yes, it's not as serious as George Romero's 1968 revolutionary

Contamination (1980) Blu-ray Review: On Earth, Everyone Can Hear You Scream 'Rip-Off!'

The cycloptic grandpappy of ALIEN clones makes its chest-bursting, worldwide High-Definition Blu-ray debut courtesy Arrow Video.
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Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery - it's certainly the least-creative - but there are relatively few individuals out there with enough gall to market a movie of their own as a sequel to somebody else's production. Nevertheless, the annals of exploitation movie history could quite literally be lined with one-sheet movie posters of low-budget movies shamelessly retitled in an attempt to lure unsuspecting filmgoers into thinking they were follow-ups to other (better known) movies. The lengths some of these shady distributors would go to were admirable, to say the least - with my personal favorite being the

R.E.M. by MTV Blu-ray Review: Fables of the R.E.M. Construction

This should satisfy fans, most of whom likely already know the story, but it's great to hear it directly from the band members.
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Previously a part of the REMTV boxed set, the documentary R.E.M. by MTV is now available as a separate release on Blu-ray and DVD. It presents the history of the band through archival interviews and clips of news and performances, much of it, but not limited to, material from MTV. The band (Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, and Bill Berry) and associates tell the story chronologically through interviews conducted over their decades-long run. The viewer witnesses R.E.M.'s career arc going from a cult favorite and critical darling to a force on the pop charts with hit songs and albums

Pit Stop Blu-ray/DVD Review: One of Jack Hill's Very Best Films

An unusually exciting story of wild youth and fast cars.
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When the 1960s arrived, there started a new type of film: the independent film. Films under this label were made outside the Hollywood system. They had limited to no budgets, unconventional or method actors, and sometimes cheesy production values. However, director Jack Hill's 1969 cult classic Pit Stop isn't the case. Although the film had a limited run, a next to no budget, and a radical story, it really rises above that to tell the story of rebellious youth with something to prove, obsession with fast cars, and pretty girls along for the ride. Hill's unique eye for detail, his

Welcome To Me Blu-ray Review: Kristen Wiig Is Amazing, but This Movie Is Far from Perfect

Kristen Wiig's magnum opus, or sort of.
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We know that Kristen Wiig has proven herself to be actress of extreme range and talent, as she has demonstrated in comedies such as Bridesmaids and Friends With Kids. In just in few years after her Emmy-nominated stint on Saturday Night Live, she established herself as an actress worthy in dramas, and my personal favorite one is The Skeleton Twins. In director Shira Piven's Welcome To Me, an uncomfortably flawed, but quirky depiction of mental illness, TV obsession, and fame, she handles both comedy and drama with flair, even if the film can be mostly beneath her genius. She plays
It’s been nearly 20 years since Slash was a member of the heavy metal band Guns N’ Roses. Since then he’s put out multiple solo albums and was a founding member of the highly successful band, Velvet Revolver. But in this recent video release the legendary guitarist shows off his incredible chops over his entire musical history. And once again he has teamed up with an exceptional vocalist, Myles Kennedy, who has his own unique singing style and sounds like a cross between Axl Rose and Scott Weiland. Since Slash has been making his own solo albums for years now,

Survivor (2015) Blu-ray Review: A Little Action, A Lot of Filler

This movie should have been Brosnan and Jovovich running around trying to kill each other.
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You look at the Blu-ray cover for Survivor and you see Pierce Brosnan and Milla Jovovich holding guns, with a tagline letting you know that Brosnan’s latest target is now chasing him. It looks like it could be a solid cat-and-mouse thriller. Indeed, there are parts of the movie where that is true, but the issue is that it makes up far too little of the movie. Jovovich plays a woman named Kate Abbott, a Foreign Services Officer from America who has been brought to London to try and thwart terrorist attacks. Brosnan plays an assassin who is brought in

The Pillow Book Blu-ray Review: Peter Greenaway's Idiosyncratic Collage

Eroticism and revenge mingle as aspect ratios shift.
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Peter Greenaway’s 1996 film The Pillow Book is alternately a sensual exploration of memory and a hot-blooded revenge fantasy, but it never fully embraces either, its eroticism often aloof and its violence almost completely suggestive. No one should expect otherwise from the idiosyncratic British director, who indulges his love for stagy compositions and florid production design while only half-committing to a traditional narrative, the film’s tableau-like scenes functioning more as standalone setpieces than components of a fluid story. Greenaway trains the viewer to expect this by plunging almost immediately into a dense collage of images — academy frames, widescreen frames,

The Searchers Blu-ray Review: Revisionist Western Before There Were Revisionist Westerns

John Ford's justly praised western classic explores the contradictions of glory and brutality in the settling of the West.
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Taking a highly praised classic on is a tricky business for any film reviewer. A movie as celebrated and revered as The Searchers has been picked over, analyzed, and revised up and down in critical estimation since it was dubbed a classic. It can be hard to just sit down and watch The Searchers like any movie. Not for nothing, the first time I saw it was in film school, surrounded by people who, even if like me they hadn't seen it before, had already had drummed into them what was "important" about it. The Searchers was not an instant

Rio Bravo Blu-ray Review: A Western Classic Restored

Howard Hawks' classic Western gets a nice upgrade with some new extras, what else is there to say?
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In 1952, director Fred Zinnemann made High Noon with Gary Cooper, who plays a small-town marshal whose being threatened by a man he once put away and his gang of thugs. Throughout the film, Cooper tries to find others to help him fight the gang, but one by one everyone either refuses or leaves town. In the end, it is only the marshal’s wife who brings forth any assistance. Howard Hawks and John Wayne, tough guys that they were, thought this plot was phony. No man worth his salt would go around asking for help in such a situation. And

McFarland, USA Blu-ray Review: Deserves to be Running in Your Home on a Regular Basis

Harkens back to the old days of Disney filmmaking when the stories were simple yet powerful and poignant.
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Disney has done quite well with underdog sports movies such as The Mighty Ducks, Remember the Titans, The Rookie, Invincible, Miracle, but there have been some failures along the “Glory Road”, so it is tough to figure out what to make of McFarland, USA. There appeared to be little marketing behind a movie starring Kevin Costner, and a February release date generally does not bode well for a film. Luckily, McFarland, USA does not need the marketing or a prime summer release date to put itself amongst the best of Disney’s underdog sports-themed movies. Though some may struggle with the

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne / Island of Death Blu-ray Reviews

Much like The Damned before them, the folks at Arrow Video USA have fallen in love with some genuine video nasties.
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In Great Britain, they were banned from being made available to the public outright. In the United States of America, they usually wound up being released in a heavily altered form. And sometimes, even in their native countries, they wound up being the subjects of much controversy. I refer, of course, to those magical motion pictures that the former powers of the UK so unknowingly assigned the lovable nickname of "Video Nasties" to. Those various cannibal and/or zombie holocausts those of us who grew up without the Interwebs had to track down from mail-order companies advertised in the back of

Twilight Time Presents European Dramas, American Musicals, and Zardoz

Caution: Musicals, intense British drama, and '70s cinematic hallucinogens lie ahead.
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In addition to re-releasing two previously sold out titles to Blu-ray in brand new 4K transfers, Twilight Time has also been unleashing a lot of drama on us lately. And I don't mean that in a "fanboys are heating up on forum and Facebook posts about Night of the Living Dead again" sense, mind you; I am referring to the fact that the ever-expanding niche label has picked up pound of positively sterling drama flicks - many of which hail from that world of pound sterling itself, the United Kingdom. Of course, no good deed is left unpunished, so there

The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965 Blu-ray Review

"I try my best/ to be just like I am/ but everybody wants you/ to be just like them." - "Maggie's Farm"
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Murray Lerner filmed the performances at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, ’64, and ’65, and from those concerts created the Academy Award-nominated documentary Festival! One of the musicians who appeared at all three events was Bob Dylan, who went from an up-and-coming folk singer to a “there he went and good riddance” singer according to the reaction of some audience members. Back in 2007, Lerner released a film that focused just on Dylan titled The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival. It serves as a great document of Dylan’s performances, though rather than

Society (1989) Blu-ray Review: Nice Buildup to the Impressively Grotesque

Smart and slightly cheesy, but you cannot unsee that finale.
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Having never seen it, I read the synopsis for 1989's Society and thought, "Yeah, that could be interesting." Then I saw the trailer and started to second guess it. Fortunately, the combination of '80s cheese, atmospheric tension, and a completely insane third act delivered on the promise of the premise. See, Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) has never quite felt at home with his family or their social circle. He gets weird vibes from his sister Jenny (Patrice Jennings), conformist advice from his psychiatrist, and is always treated as lacking something by his parents. He sometimes catches glimpses of distortions or

Retaliation Blu-ray review: Japanese Gangster Exploitation Mayhem

Another fine Arrow release of a late-'60s era Japanese exploitation picture.
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One of the joys of watching old exploitation movies like Retaliation is that the inexpensive filmmaking meant that a documentary approach had to be used to keep things cheap. Much of the movie is not on standing sets, but in real locations, with very shaky hand-held shots. The action can't be over-choreographed (no time, no money) so the action is stylistically obscured, moving too swiftly and brutally for any of it to be seen clearly. Having things move in and out of frame and be obscured in camera is significantly more arresting, to my mind, than the shaky cam fake-handheld

Cake Blu-ray Review: Learning to Live Again

A film about how grief stalls our lives and how we can learn to get unstuck
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Cake is the story of Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston), a woman living with chronic pain after a tragic accident. She is in the midst of a divorce from her husband Jason (Chris Messina), addicted to pain pills, and often suicidal. After Nina (Anna Kendrick), a member of her pain support group commits suicide, Claire begins to see her as a drug- and pain-induced hallucination. Although Claire and Nina were not close or involved with one another’s lives, Claire begins to learn what she can about Nina’s life and death. With the help of her housekeeper turned caretaker Silvana (Adriana Barraza),

Journey to the Center of the Earth / First Men in the Moon Blu-ray Reviews: In & Out

Twilight Time explores the various space in-between the minds of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
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Previously at Cinema Sentries, I had touched upon the subject of people bad trips, courtesy of two recent Blu-ray releases from Twilight Time, Roger Donaldson's The Bounty (1984) and Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997). Here, I am continuing that thread, albeit with two adventures of a much more pleasant nature. Like my earlier article, wherein one film was set at sea and the other on land, this cinematic coupling presents viewers with a contrast: that of the exploration of inner-space and the conquest of outer space. Additionally, this pairing of moving pictures presents a similarly dissimilar echoing of science fiction

Teen Titans Go! The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Polarizing Superhero Hijinks

The Muppet Babies of the DC Universe.
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Like much of DC’s animated fare, this series has its share of fans and detractors, but not for the typical reason. It completely avoids the common DC downfall of being too dark, broody and mature by instead swinging much too far in the opposite direction, presenting the candy-coated juvenile shenanigans of a group of heroes who are drawn and frequently act more like grade schoolers than teenagers. It’s more Powerpuff Girls than Batman, but with even less superhero action. I supposed that’s all well and good for the target younger demographic, but it’s not likely a series you’ll be able

Day of Anger Blu-ray Review: The Rules of the Game

Fans of spaghetti westerns and Lee Van Cleef shouldn't experience any anger if they add this to their collection.
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Day of Anger on Blu-ray includes the Italian and English dubs of the original I giorni dell'ira and the shorter, international version titled Day of Anger, also known as Gunlaw in the UK. It's a gritty spaghetti western starring Lee Van Cleef as Frank Talby, a tough gunslinger who is both a hero and a villian in this story. Set in Clifton, AZ, where Butch Cassidy was killed by Dan Parker on 7/12/82, a young man named Scott (Giuliano Gemma) is looked down upon and ridiculed by many of the town elders because he's the bastard son of a whore,

The Friends of Eddie Coyle Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Crime, Lowkey, and Unsentimental

Peter Yates' 1973 Crime Drama explores how important, and how expendable, "Friends" can be in Boston's working-class criminal underground.
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Released about a year after Coppola's crime epic, The Godfather, The Friends of Eddie Coyle was seen by some critics as a kind of anti-Godfather when it was released. Both films are about the criminal world and how it suffuses the lives of those in it, but while The Godfather had a sepia-toned romanticism, Peter Yates' film, an adaptation of a George V. Higgins novel, has no room for sentimentality, or glamor. There's not much in the way of violence in the movie, either. It's a crime story, and it's about criminals, and while there's bank robberies, home invasions, gun

The Bounty (1984) / U Turn (1997) Blu-ray Reviews: Twilight Time Goes South

The two best bad trips you can possibly book this season.
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Everyone has that proverbial journey in their lifetime that can only later be described as a bad trip. My second and final visit to the allegedly magical theme park of Disneyland - committed when I was but a mere '90s adolescent, and probably against my will - resulted in a four-hour search for a corndog across the vast, bastard-riddled arena for people who probably should have been sterilized at birth, along with their spoiled rotten offspring. And you might think that a corndog would be an easily obtainable article of "confectionery with added meat of dubious origin" at a place

Long Weekend (1978) Blu-ray Review: Nature Can Be a Real Mother

The '70s Australian eco-horror classic finally gets the treatment it deserves from Synapse Films.
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During the the last half of the '90s, I devoted the bulk of my meager existence to the video store I worked at. One day, the owner's wife brought in a lovely terrarium to sit on the large spacious corner of the checkout counter. It sat there for a long time, being admired by the occasional customer, such as an instance when a gentleman commented on its beauty and simplicity. "Yeah," I said, "now throw in a bunch of little humans and watch it go to shit." He nodded in agreement, and for good reason: we're bastards like that. No,

Solomon and Sheba (1959) Blu-ray Review: A Show with Everything (Including Yul Brynner)

A tale as old as recorded time. The script isn't that fresh, either.
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The year 1959. It was a time of luscious, extravagant widescreen productions - fueled by luscious, extravagant budgets beget by big men who were in-turn fueled by luscious, extravagant proportions of booze. As television lured audiences away from the cinemas in large droves, studios made sure to promise them the moon in exchange for their hard-earned money. And, as anyone who has ever been to the moon knows, the best way to deliver it is to not deliver it, and instead remind mankind that God really doesn't want him toying around out there in the vacuum of space like that.

Lenny (1974) Blu-ray Review: They Call Dustin Hoffman Bruce?

Yep, it's a happy kind of picture, kids. But at least you'll be able to see sultry Valerie Perrine in the buff!
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In this day and age, it seems highly laughable that the very sort of individuals we pay to openly laugh at would run afoul with the law for doing what the do best. I refer to stand-up comedians, of course, and not politicians - although, to a less intentional degree, we wind up doing the same with the latter. In fact, it was the very latter who made both the life and career of a comic in the 1960s become particularly troublesome, thus whipping up a tendentious media circus that finally wrapped up a good forty years later with a

Batman vs. Robin Blu-ray Review: Another Dark and Dangerous Day in Gotham

DC's latest animated film is a dark but engaging adaptation of Batman's Court of Owls storyline.
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The title of DC’s latest animated film is catchy, but it’s also a bait and switch. Sure, Robin briefly toys with the idea of aligning himself against Batman, but he’s not the enemy here. That honor instead goes to Talon, the head assassin of the Court of Owls. The film also serves as a superior sequel to previous entry Son of Batman. If you haven’t kept up on recent Bat history, the Court of Owls was revealed in 2011 in an instant classic comic book run by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo. The Court is a secret criminal

Midsomer Murders Set 25 Blu-ray Review: Deadly Doings in Midsomer

The 25th Midsomer Murders set celebrates such events as the birth of Betty Barnaby, and the 100th episode of the series.
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Before I begin, let me just say how nice it is to have Midsomer Murders available on the Blu-ray format. Coupled with a high-def television, it is a sumptuous feast for the eyes. The show has been that way for the seventeen seasons it has been on the air, shot in the most beautiful and bucolic areas in Britain, as a backdrop for some very sinister murders. Set 25 is the most recent, and it contains five episodes that originally aired in the 2013-14 season, including the 100th installment. Most television shows record upwards of 20 episodes per season, and

Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) Blu-ray Review: A Magnificent Festering!

If you avoid certain NFL-oriented video games, does that mean you're Far from the Madden Crowd?
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Having never been a very literary-minded lad, I must confess that I did not devote quite as much of my time as a youth to that which was printed. Well, there were those issues of Psychotronic, European Trash Cinema, Filmfax, and, of course, my father's old Playboy and Penthouse magazines. I even buried my nose in the occasional movie reference item, such as several of the late great Phil Hardy's encyclopedias. Needless to say, Phil Hardy was about as close as I ever got to Thomas Hardy when it came to published materials. On film, I had seen the works

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