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Cold Light of Day (1989) Blu-ray Review: Portrait of a British Serial Killer

Obscure British serial killer film details the grubby life of a real life (if slightly fictionalized) murderer.
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Obscure, cheap, short, and brutal, Cold Light of Day is a surprising discovery of British cinema. Shot on 16mm, the occasionally extremely grainy footage matches the grubbiness of the sets, the characters, and the entire sordid story. Inspired by real life British serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who may have murdered as many as 17 young men, chopping up their bodies and keeping various pieces of them on his property, Cold Light of Day opens with the murderer, here called Jorden March, being caught by the police. There's no struggle or fight - they knock on his door, he comes with.

Parasite (2019) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Rich Fam, Poor Fam

Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning drama gets the Criterion treatment.
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One of the hardest things for a filmmaker to do is blend multiple genres together and do it so seamlessly. The balance of tone and mood can drastically shift once it makes its way from one focus to another, and that tends to lead some films on a downward spiral. But the way Bong Joon-ho handles his latest film, Parasite, is so unique. The blending of dark satire and tense drama is masterful. Bong takes a topic with which he’s familiar (class inequality) and turns it into something that is wonderfully helmed and feels like new territory. Parasite tells the

The Deeper You Dig Blu-ray Review: A Terrific Low-budget Horror

A perfect addition to your Halloween viewing schedule.
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In a small, dark bar, in a small New York hamlet, Kurt (John Adams) eats a grubby little dinner and has a few too many beers. It is snowing and pitch-black when he drives home. He swerves to miss a few deer, running across the road and then hears a bump bump. He's hit something. That something turns out to be 14-year-old Echo (Zelda Adams), who was out sledding. Kurt is visually upset, he's not a psychopath after all, but he's also been around. He knows the score. If he calls the cops, they'll give him a drunk test and

The Gunfighter Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Price of Fame

A film deserving of recognition thanks to a story that could be told in any genre and a great leading performance by Gregory Peck.
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Set in the Southwest Territory of the 1880s, a Texan named Jimmy Ringo (Gregory Peck) was known the fastest gun. While this designation has earned him respect, it also causes some to fear him and others to test the legend, a burden that The Gunfighter carries in Henry King's taut western. While en route to Cayenne, Ringo stops off at a saloon. A kid named Eddie (Richard Jaeckel) starts running his mouth. Ringo tries to avoid a confrontation but is forced to kill him. Even though he was in the right, it is suggested he leave town because the kid

Graveyards of Honor Blu-ray Review: Grim Yakuza Renegade Dramas

Two adaptations of the same novel, made decades apart, about a yakuza too violent and self-destructive even for gang-life.
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Both Kinji Fukasaku and Takashi Miike were unlikely survivors in their different eras of Japanese cinema. They both were highly prolific, and rare among their peers when the fortunes of the Japanese film industry turned for the worse, they kept working, pivoting into different genres and styles. Fukasaku worked steadily through the '70s and '80s when many of his peers fell by the wayside, and though Miike by all rights ought to have burned out with his amazing productivity (over 100 feature films in three decades of filmmaking, sometimes more than five in a single year) he's still going strong.

The Captains Collection Blu-ray Review: Exploring Star Trek with William Shatner

These films take viewers behind the scenes and also puts them in the spotlight as the original Captain Kirk examines the cultural phenomenon.
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The Captains Collection is a four-disc set from Shout Factory! that presents four Star Trek-related documentaries written and directed by William Shatner for the EPIX cable channel. These films take viewers behind the scenes and also puts them in the spotlight as the original Captain Kirk examines the cultural phenomenon. The Captains (2011) finds Shatner interviewing actors who followed in his footsteps portraying starship captains in the Star Trek franchise: Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard, The Next Generation), Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko, Deep Space Nine), Kate Mulgrew (Catherine Janeway, Voyager), Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer, Enterprise), and Chris Pine (James Kirk, Star

Warning from Space Blu-ray Review: Starmen Waiting in the Sky

The first Japanese science fiction film shot in color is as surprisingly stylishly made as it is old-fashioned.
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All science fiction is dated. Even the most up-to-the-minute, forward-looking piece of work is still a work of its time, and time passes. An old science fiction movie is going to look old. The special effects aren't going to look contemporary. The science will not be up to date. The way things work in the story are not the way things actually happen. So how, in the spirit of open-hearted appreciation, can a modern viewer approach something like Warning from Space, released in 1956? The premise isn't going to be new to anyone with a cursory knowledge of even the

Claudine Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Ahead of Its Time

An excellent and truthful depiction of African American life and love that still feels all-too modern.
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In the 1970s, the blaxploitation genre of film exploded, and it was usually centered on stories of masculine black men, fighting against 'The Man', where women were always the side pieces or sexual playthings who were just along for the ride. However, there was a gender reversal where strong black women got revenge against the higher powers that be. This all changed with once-blacklisted director John Barry's marvelous Claudine, a remarkable 1974 portrait of society on hard times, which was one of the very first films to depict, with honesty, the way life treated people, especially African Americans, with a

Batman: Death in the Family Interactive Movie Review: Ready Viewer One

The extra shorts are a welcome bonus especially for DC fans who know the obscure characters.
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A sequel to the animated film Batman: Under The Red Hood, which I previously reviewed, Batman: Death in the Family is an animated film based on 1988's Batman: A Death in the Family, the landmark comic book event that allowed fans to determine the fate of Jason Todd / Robin by calling one of two 1-900 phone numbers. Viewers of the Blu-ray are also given the ability to decide how the story proceeds. The Joker (John DiMaggio) is beating Jason Todd / Robin (Vincent Martella) with a crowbar in a warehouse. Batman (Bruce Greenwood) is on his way to rescue

Pierrot le Fou Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Still Feels Modern and Fresh

Jean-Luc Godard's violent and unpredictable 1965 road movie comes back to Criterion.
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The legendary and unclassifiable filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard is reaching his 90th birthday this year (in just two months from now), and I think that this is a good time to celebrate early by reviewing a film from his past. Although some of the premises of his film are relatively thin, there is enough style, visuality, and of course, politics, to make you forget how unmemorable they actually are. This is the case for his 1965 satirical landmark, Pierrot le Fou, which not only remains one of his most accessible, but also one of the most influential films of the now-bygone

Ivansxtc Blu-ray Review: Extremely Modern and Dead-on

A difficult, disturbing, but creepily accurate depiction of the perils of Hollywood.
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Obviously, I don't have any experience of Hollywood, but seeing films and tv shows about it through my ordinary eyes, it's safe to say that it seems to be an unsettling world full of malaise, decadence, and cutthroat darkness. This dark side of success, fame, and fortune is a subject matter that has been told time and time again, but never in such a bleak and unforgiving way as director Bernard Rose and co-writer/producer/co-star Lisa Enos' tough 2000 masterwork Ivansxtc, which is also a stark tribute to the power of art house/indie film. Shot on high-defintion video and based on

Momma's Man Blu-ray Review: A True American Independent Original

A quietly sublime and unassuming portrait of desperate adulthood and hard lessons.
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We all have moments of reflections and uncertanity, whether we are so eager to grow up into adults, or when we are adults sometimes we see that maybe being so is not exactly what we thought or hoped for. We think that when we get older we have more freedom and decisions to make ourselves. However, we can get discouraged about the many responsibilites that we have to deal with when getting to a certain age. And I think that director Azazel Jacobs' beautifully subtle 2008 indie Momma's Man definitely and successfully defines that subject. Mikey (Matt Boren) is a

Focus Features 10-Movie Spotlight Collection Blu-ray Review

A fine collection of films from one of my favorite studios.
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Last week I reviewed a 10-film collection from Blumhouse Productions, a relatively young studio that specializes in low budget films. This week I'm reviewing a 10-film collection from another relatively young studio that also specializes in relatively low-budget films. But where Blumhouse tends to make genre films with mostly unknown actors and directors, Focus Features leans more towards prestige pictures with well-known filmmakers. Blumhouse's reason for existence seems to be making as much money as possible with as little risk as they can afford, quality and artistic merit be damned. While Focus Features aims for awards season with high-quality Oscar

First Cow Blu-ray Review: Striking Gold and Finding Friendship

Kelly Reichardt's lovely western focuses more on character than it does genre tropes.
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This tumultuous year saw several films see a brief theatrical release before being pulled altogether. Unless it was something that came from the Mouse House or had another major studio backing, a lot of those films would end up getting lost in the streaming service shuffle. Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow is just one of the many titles that were getting its rollout underway before the shutdown. Readily available to watch at home since June, the movie is more of an old-timey western that deserves the big screen over the small screen. It’s gorgeous, no matter how you watch it, but

Airplane! Blu-ray Review: Surely, It Hasn't Been 40 Years

It has, and don't call me "Shirley."
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The seventh title in the “Paramount Presents” line is Airplane!, a hysterical send-up of the disaster-film genre, and specifically Zero Hour! (1957), which writers/directors David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker (ZAZ) borrowed so much from that they sought the rights to create a “remake.” It is jam packed with so many jokes it requires multiple viewings to take them all in because they take place in the foreground, background, and even on the audio track. Airplane! has a serious story as its frame. During a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago, the flight crew and a number of passenger

Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project No. 3 Criterion Collection Box Set Review

Scorsese guides viewers through little-known gems from around the world.
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Legendary writer/director and noted film buff Martin Scorsese established The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in 2007 to restore and present classic films from around the world that are little known to U.S. audiences. The latest collection brings together five black-and-white films and one color film that have been painstakingly restored from the best possible elements, a Herculean effort considering their origins in countries with little care for preservation or even outright scorn for cinema. In the case of the film Downpour, the Iranian government purposely destroyed all original elements and known copies of the film, leaving only the director’s

Split Second (1992) Blu-ray Review: Blade Runner and Alien's Stupid Baby

Combines two great sf movies to make a not great horror film, taking place in the distant future of 2008.
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Stealing the antagonist from one Ridley Scott movie and the world building (and star) from another, Split Second could have been a visionary bit of sci-fi weirdness. If it had fully embraced its strange plot and generated an atmosphere that properly combined the occult with the futuristic, it could have been a moody and delirious vision of a grim future. Instead, it's a basic buddy cop movie with an incoherent plot, characters that declare their traits instead of acting them on the screen, haphazard world-building, and a bunch of plot elements that don't come close to coming together into anything

Little Monsters (Vestron Video Collector's Series) Blu-ray Review: A Fun Romp for Children

A film created with a kid's, specifically a young boy's, sensibilities.
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Richard Alan Greenberg's Little Monsters (1989) is definitely a kid's film. Not a family film nor a film for young children, but a film created with a kid's, specifically a young boy's, sensibilities, and in that sense it succeeds. Eleven-year-old Brian Stevenson (Fred Savage) and his family have just moved into a new home. Something suspicious happens in the middle of the night. His father Glen (Daniel Stern) assumes it was Brian, but Brian's younger brother Eric (Ben Savage) claims it was a monster. To prove his brother wrong, Brian sleeps in his bedroom only to discover a blue-skinned monster

Killing Eve: Season 3 Blu-ray Review: Girl Power to the Max

Killing Eve gets to the etheral pleasure of watching televsion, and it is as colorful and outrageous as Eve's fabulous fashion choices.
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Killing Eve is a weird and wonderful show. The cat and mouse attraction/repulsion between British intelligence agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and a female assasin who calls herself Villanelle (Jodie Comer) has sustained audience interest since its premiere in 2018. Its first season was outrageous and acclaimed - by critics and the public - and highly awarded. Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) was the head writer and executive producer for the first series, and her trademark wit was evident in the show's mix of girl power and black humor. The second season upped the ante (especially violence) and was produced and written

Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile (2004) Blu-ray Review: Poirot Solves Multiple Murders

Death on the Nile will be fun to watch for anyone who enjoys a good vintage Christie and has ever been to Egypt (or dreamed of going).
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Acorn Media has released on Blu-ray Death on the Nile, starring David Suchet as the ingenious Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. It was originally shown as a feature-length episode on the Agatha Christie's Poirot television series in 2004. The series always had excellent production values, but they clearly went above and beyond for this film, with its settings, locations, costumes and design. Agatha Christie's second husband was archaeologist Max Mallowan, and she set many of her novels in the locales that he excavated and she visited. Death on the Nile uses Egypt as its backdrop and its locations are brilliantly used

Variety (1983) Blu-ray Review: A Revealing Character Study of a Woman Rediscovering Herself

A moody and very provocative depiction of female obsession and sexuality.
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Usually, films about female sexual awakening and newfound sexuality are often told from the point-of-view of male directors. I'm not knocking this, but they can sometimes feel a little exploitative, salacious, and misogynistic. They can include more female nudity than male nudity, especially for the wrong reasons or it's there just to be there. Meanwhile, it's refreshing to see this type of subject matter from a woman's point-of-view, and Bette Gordon's 1983 stunning neo-noir Variety does just that while also providing a revealing character study of a woman rediscovering herself. The film tells the story of Christine (Sandy McLeod), a

Black Test Car + The Black Report Blu-ray Review: Japanese Businessman Noir

Two '60s crime thrillers by director Yasuzo Masumura that explore the dark side of post-war industrialized Japan.
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One of the enduring images of contemporary Japanese culture is the salaryman. The rather anonymous guy in the suit who devotes his life to the company. He might be married and have kids (usually he is: what else would he need to dedicate so much time to work for, if not to keep his family?) but his number one priority is the company. Work 10 hours a day, then go off to drink with your boss, go home to sleep, and come back the next day, six days a week. It's soul deadening, and not the obvious setting for a

Christ Stopped at Eboli Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Emotionally Captivating

A beautiful film about living in exile and discovering an unknown way of life.
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Listed as one of the 1,001 movies you need to see before you die, Christ Stopped at Eboli is a film of which I wasn’t aware prior to the Criterion Collection announcing it being one of the latest releases they were adding to their catalogue. And that’s a miss on my end, because this is a truly mesmerizing achievement. Apparently, this original, 220-minute television version had been hard to come across for some time, and the only option to watch the movie was to go for the 150-minute cut. It’s a good thing I waited to see the movie as

His Dark Materials: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Lyra and Daemons and Bears, Oh My!

It has an interesting premise, but the weakness in the scripts overshadows the strong moments of the eight episodes
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Based on Philip Pullman’s fantasy book trilogy of the same name, His Dark Materials opens with graphics that explain the story begins in a parallel world where a human soul takes the physical form of an animal known as a Daemon. This world has been controlled for centuries by the all-powerful Magisterium, except in the wilderness of the north, where witches whisper of a prophecy of a child with a great destiny. The north is cold and distant, which is the same feeling given off by the series, causing me to have trouble connecting to the story and its characters.

Roman Holiday Blu-ray Review: Audrey Hepburn Epitomizes Charm in Italian Locations

It's one of the best and most memorable romantic comedies of all time.
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Paramount Home Entertainment has released the 1953 Hollywood classic film Roman Holiday for the first time on Blu-ray and it's about time. But the firsts don't stop there. Roman Holiday was the American debut of iconic actress Audrey Hepburn, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as the runaway European princess Ann. She is so poised and lovely it is hard to believe this is her first Hollywood starring role - she easily steals every scene she is in with veteran actors Gregory Peck and Eddie Albert. It's one of the best and most memorable romantic comedies of

Weathering with You Blu-ray Review: Anime Girls Make the Rain Stop

The new blockbuster anime film by Your Name director Makoto Shinkai again pits teenage love against supernatural disaster.
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In a 2021 Tokyo that is drenched with constant rainfall, there's a rumor going around about a so-called Sunshine girl: a successor to an ancient tribal shamanic figure, the Weather maiden, the Sunshine girl can use the powers of her prayers to part the clouds in the skies and allow the sun to shine through. It's something that anyone would want, when weeks of rain with no end in sight practically drown the city. The story is being followed by a pair of reporters from a little yellow journal of the occult. One is a pretty girl, Natsumi, who listens

Beau Travail Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Mysterious, Haunting, and Transformative

Claire Denis' 1999 masterpiece of jealousy, erotic/repressed desire, and personal destruction makes it's long-awaited debut to the Criterion Collection.
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The great and visionary director Claire Denis is one the greatest cinematic poets of our time. She's a provocative and original filmmaker who has crafted an extraordinary oervue of films that offer richly observed and perfectly tuned portraits of cultural alientation and emotional/physical tension. Whether contemplating a father/daughter relationship (35 Shots of Run), the harmful awakenings of women (White Material, Let the Sunshine In), or erotic body horror (Trouble Every Day), she continues to be a singular voice of not just for female filmmakers, but for cinema as a whole. However, her second film, 1999's Beau Travail, is considered to

Superman: Man of Tomorrow Blu-ray Review: A Hero Grows in Metropolis

Although as a longtime Superman fan I could do without yet another origin story, this iteration by screenwriter Tim Sheridan is an interesting take on the material.
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Superman: Man of Tomorrow presents viewers a young Clark Kent (Darren Criss) as he heads from Smallville to Metropolis, knowing little of his history and getting a job as as an intern at the Daily Planet. One of his first assignments is assisting reporters at a press conference where Lex Luthor (Zachary Quinto) presents an orbital telescope intended to make contact with lifeforms in space. Clark has no red and blue costume nor a name, but people are starting to take notice of someone doing superhuman things, including a shadowy figure who trails him. Lois Lane (Alexandra Daddario), a grad

Beyond the Visible - Hilma af Klint Blu-ray Review: An Artist for the Ages

Through this documentary and hopefully, more exhibitions of her work in the future, we will watch, in real time, as art history is rewritten.
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The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings, and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brush stroke. - Hilma af Klint Hilma af Klint is (finally) having a moment. The Guggenheim Museum in New York featured her abstract work, some paintings exhibited for the first time, in 2018. The brilliant, reclusive artist, who had been unknown by many throughout her life and through art history, is now being heralded as the first Western abstract artist. Art history, like

Brute Force & The Naked City Criterion Collection Blu-ray Reviews: A Jules Dassin Double Feature

Two classics film noirs from Jules Dassin get the Criterion treatment.
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There are over 1,000 movies in the Criterion Collection, these are two of them. Jules Dassin has five films thus far in the collection with Brute Force and The Naked City receiving a Blu-ray upgrade this week. Between 1947 and 1950, Dassin made four film noirs, three of which are considered some of the best in the genre. These two are on that list. I came to Jules Dassin via Rififi his classic heist film (also in the Criterion Collection) from 1956. It is one of the greatest robbery films ever put to celluloid. It was made in France and

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