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Cemetery Without Crosses Blu-ray Review: Franco-Spanish Spaghetti Western

Robert Hossein's Euro-Western is long on style and brooding, short on story and character.
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Filmed in Spain, with a mostly French cast directed by (and starring) the French Robert Hossein and with a screenplay co-credited to the Italian Dario Argento, Cemetery Without Crosses is, of course, a Western set in Texas. It’s interesting to consider how the Western, which had captured the imagination of the world enough that a cottage industry of European Westerns existed for decades, has now almost completely disappeared. Genres come and go (the screwball comedy has never been really successfully revived, and whenever a modern musical comes around to “revive the genre” is does so by not looking, or feeling

The French Lieutenant's Woman Criterion Collection Review: Parallel Tales Rooted in Forbidden Passions

The dual roles played by Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons provide each of them the opportunity to portray desperation, longing, and tortured vulnerability.
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Based on the John Fowles novel, The French Lieutenant's Woman tells parallel tales rooted in forbidden passions and the complexity of human emotions.Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons play the central characters in both narratives. The foundational story is set in the Victorian-era where Charles (Irons) is an upper-class English gentleman engaged to Ernestina (Lynsey Baxter). Soon after their engagement, they see a woman, Sarah (Streep), at the end of a jetty in danger of being thrown into the water due to a storm that is brewing. When Charles makes efforts to go help Sarah, Ernestina stops him by explaining that

Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem Blu-ray Combo Pack Review: The Joker is Back to Take Over the World

...and give Batman another exciting adventure.
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Batman is back for another film in the Unlimited series that is based on a toy line in a semi-futuristic universe. Once again, Green Arrow, Nightwing, and Red Robin come along for the ride but this time a new hero has been added to the mix, Cyborg. And while in the previous film they found themselves up against a group of animal-themed villains, in this latest incarnation they are fighting Silver Banshee, Solomon Grundy, Scarecrow, and Clayface with The Joker as their leader. The villanous group is collecting random pieces of electronic equipment to allow them to upload a laughing

LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom! Review: A Surefire Success for Your Household

LEGOs + Superheroes = the Best of All Possible Worlds.
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Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom! is the latest original LEGO movie to feature the stalwart heroes of the DC Universe, now updated to reflect their current New 52 status. Which pretty much just means that Superman wears his underwear on the inside now and Cyborg has been promoted to being a full-fledged member of the League, just like in the Super Powers cartoons from 30 years ago. I guess comic books and their animated counterparts really are cyclical, huh? Speaking of the Super Powers show, Attack of the Legion of Doom! is chock full of references to

He Ran All The Way Blu-ray Review: Beautiful Cinematography Elevates Standard Noir

A small thriller (John Garfield's last film) draped in spectacular black and white imagery by cinematographer James Wong Howe.
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He Ran All The Way was written by Dalton Trumbo and directed by John Berry, both just before they were blacklisted in Hollywood as Community Sympathizers after the HUAC hearings. Try as I might, I couldn’t find much Red propaganda in the film. What I did find was a taut, beautifully shot little thriller about a guy who terrorizes and invades the home of a girl who, had he met her just the day before, he would have probably dated her for a while, maybe even got married. It was a mess of circumstance and bad habits and pretending to

Count Your Blessings (1959) DVD Review: More of a Curse, Really

Deborah Kerr, Rossano Brazzi, and Maurice Chevalier sink in a dreary comedy set across the English Channel.
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Anyone who has ever given online dating a shot knows full well how truly horrible a romance can go if you dive into it head first. Here, in the 1959 MGM flick Count Your Blessings, we witness the horrors of not only a rushed romance in a time before computer dating, but we also see what happens when people rush a film into production as well. From the get-go, Count Your Blessings had this certain je ne sais quoi to it that translated to my gut as "Yeah, there's a reason you've never heard of this one before." Sadly, I

Callaway Went Thataway DVD Review: Mad Men and a Drunken Hopalong Cassidy

Fred MacMurray, Dorothy McGuire, and multiple Howard Keels shine in this delightful MGM comedy.
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As the American motion picture industry first began to boom in the first half of the 20th Century, Hollywood moviemakers found it was quite profitable to go up into the hills for weeks on end - years, perhaps - and shoot one low-budget western after another. In fact, so many of these cowboy quickies - "oaters," as they are affectionately known as today - were produced, that most of them didn't even get traditional movie posters in some circuits. Instead, bijou owners near and far would display generic movie posters advertising the Tim McCoy, Tex Ritter, or Tom Mix (or

Run of the Arrow DVD Review: Samuel Fuller's Dances with Wolves

A blaring Rod Steiger and a bronzed Charles Bronson highlight a forgotten feature with an still-relevant social commentary.
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A simple surf through the today's news channels should painfully remind you human beings don't see eye to eye on a great number of things. This, of course, can lead to war and an unending hatred and fear of people whose cultures are dissimilar to our own. But if there's one thing most film aficionados and historians will agree on, it was filmmaker Samuel Fuller's ability to pen a great story - especially when it came to depicting man's inhumanity to man. With Run of the Arrow, 1957 western produced by RKO Radio Pictures (hey, check it out: it's the

A Sentry Spends a Summer Sunday at the Cinema

The weather was hot this summer. The movies were not.
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There are not a lot of people that can or want to sit through three consecutive movies at the theatre, but I enjoy it. Of course, entering the theatre has changed a bit. The recent shootings in theatres are horrible tragedies that have resulted in security measures being enforced when you enter the theatre. My friend had to open her purse for a theatre employee when we entered. I, carrying my hoodie because I hate being cold in the theatre, was not subjected to any type of security check. Here’s the problem; I believe all the theatre shootings were perpetrated

Honeymoon Hotel (1964) / Come Fly with Me DVD Reviews: Sexist '60s Rom-Coms

Two more rarities from the swingin' jet-set era by director Henry Levin make their digital debuts courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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Not too terribly long ago - a few weeks ago, in fact - I dived into three features from the swingin' '60s, as recently unburied and released to DVD via the Warner Archive Collection. While two of said films were passable entertainment at best, the third - an abominable ice creature known as Quick, Before It Melts - was so utterly awful, it genuinely made me question as to whether or not I would be able to look another movie starring Robert Morse in the eye ever again. Sure enough, such a test arose immediately thereafter when two relics from

La Grande Bouffe Review: Strangely Succeeds Despite Its Uncomfortable Content

Warning: You may need several bottles of Pepto Bismol and a few grains of salt for this one.
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As many of us know, 1970s cinema was a changing time in a new kind of filmmaking, where the content was more sexually graphic and explicit than the decades before it. The most pivotal films of this kind included Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris and Pasolini's Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom, which were censored and banned outright. But since then, the shock of these films have become tamer and less explicit than films now are. Director Marco Ferreri's scandalous 1973 cult feature, La Grande Bouffe (The Big Feast), his once extremely controversial "food and sex" epic, joins these

Yellowbeard Blu-ray Review: A Brutal and Brutally Unfunny Pirate

Half of Monty Python, a gaggle of Mel Brooks regulars, and James Mason waste their time and ours.
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As is the case with a number of cinematic failures, the production history of Yellowbeard is far more interesting than anything that actually made it to the screen. Star and cowriter Graham Chapman’s behind-the-scenes book has the details — among them, the film was partially financed by The Who’s Keith Moon and featured aborted involvement from Adam Ant and an unused soundtrack from Harry Nilsson. These may not seem like scintillating revelations, but compared to the film — well, let’s just say an oral history from Adam Ant on all the roles he didn’t play would probably be a better

The Babysitter Blu-ray Review: For Those Too Scared to Watch Cinemax

Alicia Silverstone shows she's still clueless in this 1990s erotic thriller lacking in both areas.
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Clueless remains one of my favorite films of all time. From the minute I saw its pastel colored world of baby-doll dresses and platform shoes, worn to success by the luminously blonde Alicia Silverstone, she taught me everything I needed to know about beauty, fashion, and to always leave a note when you sideswipe another car. In the wake of what I call Clueless-mania, Silverstone became Hollywood's "it" girl, a moniker that was never proven despite her success in Amy Heckerling's film. The Babysitter, released just three months after Clueless as a means of capitalizing on Silverstone's success, sailed by

Johnny Angel / Riff-Raff (1947) DVD Reviews: Double Fistin' RKO Film Noir

The Warner Archive Collection unleashes several underrated film noir gems from the iconic studio.
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Every film buff has that one particular genre that - though they may not consider it to be their favorite - will almost always be game for viewing at the drop of a hat. Especially when said item of men's apparel happens to be found on an abandoned cargo vessel adrift at sea, or is preceded by the man wearing it after both were pushed out of a moving plane. And with this duo of recent Warner Archive releases, we get just that: plus the fun little mysteries that follow. Part of a five title wave also including Two O'Clock

She's Funny That Way Movie Review: Wastes the Talent of the Cast and the Time of the Audience

It tries desperately to be a kitschy Woody Allenesque farce but never really gathers enough comedic momentum to go anywhere.
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Director/co-writer (along with Louise Stratten) Peter Bogdanovich has gathered together a powerhouse cast full of amazing comedic talent. With Owen Wilson, Rhys Ifans, Will Forte, Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Hahn, Austin Pendleton, Richard Lewis, Cybil Shepherd, and more, all of whom we have seen give stellar comedic performances, this film was ripe for epic laughter. Sadly, this sitcom script is full of underdeveloped characters and contrived circumstances that leave you wondering in what way is she funny? The “she” we are wondering about is Isabella Patterson the hooker/actress at the center of the antics. Imogen Poots gives a distracting performance as

Twilight Time Presents: Absolute Beginnings and Bitter Endings

From Bowie to Brando to Blofelds, this selection of five fairly forgotten flicks has an awful lot going on.
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For all things in life, there is a beginning and an end. And somewhere in the middle of all that mess, there is usually a great big production number. Sometimes, we start out with a big bang. In other instances, we go out with a grand finale worthy of the ending from All That Jazz at the most, or - at the very least - Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space. Providing you're working on a really restrictive budget, that is. And while this lineup of Twilight Time releases sadly has no correlation to the magnificent offerings of Edward

X-Men: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut Blu-ray Review: Two Versions of the Same Story

For those looking to spend more time with the X-Men, The Rogue Cut will satisfy.
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After two movies away from the helm, Bryan Singer returned to the director's chair for the triumphant blockbuster Days of Future Past, which blends the two iterations of the franchise into one continuity. Based on the landmark issues X-Men #141 and #142 by Chris Claremont and John Bryne, Days of Future Past finds humanity on the brink of extinction after a robot force known as the Sentinels intended to wipe out mutants comes to the realization that humans are the source of mutations. Mankind's only hope is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) going back in time to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from

Five Came Back DVD Review: The Birth of the Disaster Film Genre

The powerful 1939 melodrama, co-written by Dalton Trumbo, makes its long-overdue debut from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Ninteen hundred thirty-nine may be remembered in the world of film as "the year that really made a killing" at the box office as far as most classic movie aficionados are concerned. That final stretch of the decade may have seen the beginning of the Second World War, but it also paved the way for such motion picture classics as Gone with the Wind, Stagecoach, and some seldom-seen flick called The Wizard of Oz. In-between the dozens of lavish A-list motion picture unveilings - featuring the likes of the Greta Garbo, James Stewart, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Basil Rathbone

La Grande Bouffe Blu-ray Review: A Feast For The Senses That Leaves One Overstuffed

Marco Ferreri's controversial film gets a grand treatment from Arrow Video, but leaves one filling a bit sick to the stomach.
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They say Catherine Deneuve refused to speak to her then lover Marcello Mastroianni for a week after seeing his performance in La Grande Bouffe. It created a huge stir at the Cannes Film Festival. It was rated X in America, banned outright in Italy, and became part of a censorship legal battle in Britain. It is surprising, then, just how tame the film seems from a modern angle. You’ll see more nudity and sex on a typical episode of Game of Thrones, more abandoned gluttony on any number of reality-television programs, and more scatological humor on any given night of

Still of the Night Blu-ray Review: Not Everything Meryl is Gold

Little life or suspense is contained in this sluggish Hitchcock homage.
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Meryl Streep. An actress often named among the greatest actresses who ever lived. An actress whom, many claim, has never starred in a bad picture. I debunk that myth and point to this 1982 mystery thriller, Still of the Night, now on Blu-ray through Kino's KL Studio Classics. It's certainly interesting watching this Hitchcock throwback; and it couldn't have come at a more propitious time in Streep's career - released eight months after she won an Oscar for Sophie's Choice. However, despite the reteaming of Streep with director Robert Benton, helmer of Kramer vs. Kramer, Still of the Night is

Ten Thousand Saints Movie Review: See It for the Great Performances

A well-acted, if not entirely successful time capsule of 1980s New York
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There have been many coming-of-age films set in the 1980s that work so well, such as Let The Right One In (2008), This is England (2007), Adventureland (2009), and Mysterious Skin (2004). Most of them centered on the often misunderstood, sometimes violent youth engaged in sex, drugs, and rock & roll. They touched upon the lost souls who were trying to figure out their lives, and their place in the world during a time of materialistic excess, punk rock music, and the ever horrible yuppie generation. Some of them managed to remain relevant, while others were quickly forgotten. In this

The Decent, the Mediocre, and the Dreadful: The Warner Archive Revisits the Swinging Sixties

Three rarities starring David McCallum, George Hamilton, and Robert Morse resurface. But is that really a good thing?
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The '60s, ladies and gentlemen. It was a time when filmmakers and studio executives - for whatever ungodly reason - decided the implementation of corny animation, still images of goofy faces, and half-baked musical interludes would entertain older generations and the growing "mod" audience of the time alike. (And if those selling points seem ridiculous to you, just remember: people are still paying to see Adam Sandler movies in theaters today.) Of course, in many instances, it wasn't quite enough. Easily the "best" offering out of this little line-up, 1967's Three Bites of the Apple was one of several starring

The Diary of a Teenage Girl Movie Review: A Refreshing and Honest Look at Female Adolescence and Sexuality

A stunning debut for Marielle Heller as a director.
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The Diary of a Teenage Girl is based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel of the same name. It tells story of Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley), a teenage girl growing up in 1976 San Francisco. She wants to be an artist and a cartoonist, but like most teenage girls also wants to be loved and wanted. After a night of drinking and flirting at a local bar, Minnie begins a sexual relationship with her mother Charlotte’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard). What follows is an unflinching tale of female adolescence told through the eyes of a young girl who is

Insurgent Blu-ray Review: Improved FX Help It Surge Above Its Predecessor

The second entry in The Divergent Series benefits from fancy special effects but not much else.
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The films of The Divergent Series have firmly established themselves in the second tier of young-adult literature adaptations, joined by such other lesser lights as The Maze Runner and Percy Jackson films. This second film in the series doesn’t contribute much to change that position, aside from a noticeably larger effort in the special effects department. There’s very little action to be had here, and far too much dialogue, leading to a largely unconvincing film punctuated by occasional bursts of CGI wizardry. Now that our heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) has discovered her true nature as a powerful divergent, she and

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' Movie Review: An Entertaining Anime Adventure

"What a pathetic ending." - Beerus. He has a point.
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Appearing on screens in the United States for a limited run, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F', the 19th Dragon Ball film, sees the return of the series' most popular villain, Lord Frieza, as he seeks revenge against his nemesis Goku in this entertaining anime adventure. Set between chapters 517 and 518 of Akira Toriyama's long-running Dragon Ball manga, Lord Frieza is resurrected after Commander Sorbet finds Earth's seven dragon balls and makes a wish. However, even the great dragon Shenlong's powers are limited. Unable to make Frieza whole after being sliced and diced by Trunks' sword, Shenlong reanimates the pieces

A Month in the Country Blu-ray Review: The Film Birth of Branagh and Firth

Twilight Time releases this beautifully rendered ode to art and life for the first time on Blu-ray.
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British cinema has a style, a feeling all its own, which is why some of the world's greatest actors and actresses hail from the land of our past oppressors (I say that with love, of course!). With that being said, it's great to look back at certain British films and see our top actors back when they were just beginning, as is the case with Twilight Time's recent Blu-ray release of 1987's A Month in the Country. A quiet, meditative film, A Month in the Country gave us the acting debuts of both Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth, playing roles

Heaven Adores You Blu-ray Review: As Personal as Elliot Smith's Music

The friends and family of Elliot Smith create a beautifully intimate film about his life and music.
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I wanted to watch and review Heaven Adores You, the new documentary about Elliot Smith, because I am a huge Elliot Smith fan. Though I cannot claim to have discovered Smith’s music off of a mixtape out of the Portland music scene, my connection to his music is still a deeply personal one. I believe that such a personal connection is a common thread among Elliot Smith fans, regardless how or when they discovered his music. When I heard the news that Elliot Smith had died, I was riding shotgun in my manager’s car. We were on our way to

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Movie Review: The Best of the Series

Rogue Nation delivers great thrills, if you choose to accept it.
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Tom Cruise and the Impossible team, both in front of and behind the camera, have done the seemingly impossible by making the fifth Mission: Impossible film the best of the series, although to be fair, I didn’t think much of the first three. Teased at the end of Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation finds Ethan Hunt pursuing the mysterious, international organization known as the Syndicate, a group of highly trained agents from around the globe that are working to destabilize civilization. When Congress cuts off funding and support, at the request of CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), Ethan becomes a

Justice League: Gods and Monsters Blu-ray Review: A Lot of Sizzle Without a Lot at Stake

A dark and gritty alternative to the bleak and dreary comics.
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Justice League: Gods and Monsters is the all-new original movie that marks the return of Bruce Timm to the DC animated universe and features a version of the Justice League vastly different from the one we know. Imagine a brutal and violent Superman, an even more brutal and violent Batman who isn't Bruce Wayne, and a brutally violent Wonder Woman who wasn't forged from clay and you've got... well hey now, that actually doesn't sound all that different from the bleak and joyless characters currently being featured in DC films and comics, does it? Come to think of it, the

Every Secret Thing DVD Review: Chilling Crimes and Very Bad Parenting

Twisty tale of monstrous mother love wastes talents of Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, and Dakota Fanning in downbeat police procedural.
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Straining for psychological depth and taut suspense but reaching only a few notches higher than a Lifetime TV movie, Every Secret Thing squanders the talents of several excellent actresses - Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, and a relative newcomer, Danielle Macdonald. This downbeat police procedural involves the kidnapping of a three-year-old girl in the economically depressed upstate New York town of Orangeburg. The crime eerily echoes a horrific baby-snatching and murder that took place there seven years before, committed by two 11-year-old girls who, tried as juveniles, were sent up the river. Anyone who has watched more than one

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