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45 Years Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Art of Quiet Devastation

Charlotte Rampling does extraordinary work in the third feature from British filmmaker Andrew Haigh.
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The camera never strays far from Charlotte Rampling in Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years, and for good reason. In this elegant, if slightly hermetic, study of the suddenly visible fissures in a long-tenured marriage, Rampling’s extraordinarily expressive face traverses all the emotion that’s sublimated in Haigh’s script, an adaptation of David Constantine’s whisper of a short story. Rampling stars as Kate Mercer, who’s planning a 45th anniversary party for her and her husband, Geoff (Tom Courtenay), when he receives a major piece of news about an old girlfriend. At first, the revelation pokes at the seeming sturdiness of their quiet life

Rules Don't Apply DVD Review: Warren Beatty's Overlong Ego Trip

Dull movie about that fascinating monster Howard Hughes; a charming performance by Alden Ehrenreich is wasted.
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Warren Beatty is both the perfect person and the worst person possible to have made Rules Don’t Apply, his concoction about reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, now out on DVD and Blu-Ray. He’s perfect because at some molecular level, Beatty knows what it’s like to be the center of a universe, the focus of everyone’s attention and adoration — and the craziness that such a position can all too easily breed. The DVD and Blu-Ray includes a “making of” featurette which reveals that Beatty has been working on the movie since at least 2009. Maybe you can see how Beatty identifies

Dig Two Graves Movie Review: Gothic Horror Disappoints

Supernatural mystery looks beautiful but loses itself in an unimaginative script.
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Standing on a cliff above an old quarry two men, Proctor (Gabriel Cain) and Waterhouse (Ted Levine), pull two corpses out of their car and throw them over the edge. When the deed is done, Waterhouse points a gun at Proctor and tells him he’s no longer sheriff. Thirty years later, Sean (Ben Schneider) and sister Jake (Samantha Isler) stand on the same cliff daring each other to jump into the lake below. They agree to do it together but at the last moment Jake chickens out letting Sean fall alone. He never comes back up. Dig Two Graves links

Cinema Paradiso (Arrow Academy) Blu-ray Review: A Love Letter to the Cinema

A beautiful, loving tribute to the magic of movies.
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Every year during the Oscars, my social media feed fills up with jokes about how often they are going to talk about how movies are magic. Every year the answer is “a lot.” You could make a drinking game of it. In the same way, awards shows, Hollywood in general and, honestly, cinema the world over, love movies about the movies. It can get a bit self-congratulatory as its basically people who make movies making a movie about how wonderful movies are. Yet, as a cinenephile, as a man who loves watching movies I kind of love it. Movies are

Canoa: A Shameful Memory Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Harrowing, but Important

A visceral and eye-opening docudrama of sheer true-life horror.
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In this day and age, politics have become a horror show, meaning that corruption and savagery usually comes first, and humanity in dead last. We have to deal with it on a everday basis; it tears up apart, and it continues to divide us, sometimes with really dire consequences. Director Felipe Cazals' chilling 1976 masterwork, Canoa: A Shameful Memory, shows us why. The film depicts, in docu-style, the horrifying event/incident that took place in the village of San Miguel Canoa during the year of 1968, where an innocent group of five university students were attacked and lynched by many of

September Storm (1960) Blu-ray 3D Review: The Stars That Didn't Steal the Night Away

A forgotten, completely forgettable underwater treasure-hunting flick receives more love than it probably deserves in this fully restored, fully loaded 3D release from Kino Lorber.
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While perhaps best known for writing classic crime novels such as Little Caesar and The Asphalt Jungle ‒ to say nothing of the classic motion picture versions of his own celebrated work ‒ W.R. Burnett also managed to adapt a few titles from other authors for the silver screen. One such title, a modest little 3D production from 1960 entitled September Storm, fell through the slats of the proverbial pier many moons ago, only to recently reemerge from the deep thanks to some very devoted Kickstarter followers. In fact, were it not for the people behind this restoration, this September

Cinema Paradiso (Arrow Academy) Blu-ray Review: A Timeless Classic

An extremely moving and lyrical tribute to the power of Cinema.
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As the most magical medium in the world, Cinema has the power to move us: to make us laugh, cry, and think about the world we live in. It also has the gift of defining and shaping our lives right in front of us, which is something that argubly no other medium can ever do. Director Giuseppe Tornatore's 1988 Oscar-winning masterpiece, Cinema Paradiso, affectingly shows us why movies are so majestic to our culture. The film tells the timeless story of Salvatore (Jacques Perrin), a successful filmmaker who returns home for the funeral of his dear friend Alfredo (Philippe Noiret),

The Lovers On The Bridge Blu-ray Review: A Realistic Portrait of Homelessness and Love

One of those films that many people seem to love or hate.
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Cinematic portrayals of the homeless tend to be unrealistic if not downright demeaning. When they are not brought out for cheap scares or cheaper laughs, they are all too often seen as depraved degenerates who need a white knight to save them. Or they are unheralded geniuses in need of someone to take their hand and guide them to proper society where they will find great success. Worst of all is when they are seen as the happy poor, noble savages who really have better lives than all of us because they don’t need so much “stuff.” Lovers on the

Deluge Blu-ray Review: Deserving to be Rediscovered

A primitive but interesting pre-Code disaster flick of its time.
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Today, when it comes to the disaster film, style is usually chosen over substance, meaning that a huge budget is mainly spent on the special effects rather than the overall production. This is a sad case, because there were once good and accessible flicks dealing with doomsday and its aftermath, including The Quiet Earth (1985) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Director Felix E. Feist's 1933 early Pre-Code outing, Deluge, sort of falls into the middle, where the more odd elements tend to overshadow everything else. Despite its mininal running time, it contains enough tone and complexity to overcome its obvious

Drive-In Massacre (1976) Blu-ray Review: Well Worth the Price of Admission

Severin Films presents one of the best bad movies ever, fully restored from original elements discovered ‒ naturally ‒ in the remains of a drive-in.
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Had your average drive-in movie theater screen been constructed with a curtain, then Stu Segall's Drive-In Massacre would have definitely called for the pulling of such. That is not to say Drive-In Massacre is a "bad" film: truth be told, it's actually quite awful ‒ though, in this particular instance, its sheer incompetence is actually the film's saving grace! Rather, the jaw-droppingly unbelievable 1976 independent no-budget wonder from Southern California was made on little more than a whim and a prayer once it became all too clear the once-popular form of outdoor motion picture entertainment was coming to an unceremonious

Moana Blu-ray Review: While A Nice Addition To The Disney Catalog, It's Severely Lacking In Storyline

It doesn’t stand out quite like a Disney film should and the musical numbers are not very memorable.
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A long time ago, there was only the ocean until the mother island Te Fiti arose. The island was the beginning of all life and its heart was said to be able to give the gift of creating life to anyone who possessed it. Many tried but all failed. That was until the day a Demigod trickster with shape-shifting ability named Maui (Dwayne Johnson) snuck upon the island and stole the heart. But he was not the only one who came to steal the heart that day. The fire demon Te Kaa caught up with Maui as he fled the

Shut In Blu-ray Review: Naomi Watts Deserves Better

Good cast, terrible movie.
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A good thriller can be a great many things: exciting, scary, gruesome, erotic, and even funny. The one thing they should never be is boring. Shut In is none of the things on that list, but it is boring. It spends the first hour or so developing characters and setting up its story in such a lazy, hodgepodge way that by the time something even remotely thrilling happens, I’d long since stopped caring enough to be scared. Mary Portman (Naomi Watts), a child psychologist, lives with her invalid son Stephen (Charlie Heaton) in an isolated house in rural Maine. As

Ghost in the Shell (1995) Limited Steelbook Blu-ray Review: Philosophical Animated Noir with Boobs

Terrifically stylized anime asks deep questions about technology we're still trying to answer today.
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In the near future, humans beings augment their bodies with mechanical and computerized parts. You can get hardened shells, robotic arms, infrared vision, and a computerized brain. These computers connect everyone to a vast electronic network. Some people forego human bodies at all and have their souls, or ghosts, connected to completely robotic bodies. Major Motoko Kusangi is one such creature. She works for Public Security Section 9, some kind of intelligence operation for an unnamed, probably Japanese, city. Initially, her team is after a vaguely evil foreign operative who is seeking political asylum but the film drops that plot

Doctor Strange (2016) Blu-ray Review: Marvel Goes Into the Mystic

An entertaining blockbuster on its own and as yet an other chapter in the MCU.
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Created by artist Steve Ditko and writer Stan Lee, Doctor Stephen Strange debuted in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963) and Marvel Studios introduced the character and the magic of the Mystic Arts into their Cinematic Universe with last year's Doctor Strange, now available on Blu-ray and DVD. As the film opens, a rogue group of sorcerers led by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) have stolen parts of a magic book, intending to bring forth the evil Dormammu from the Dark Dimension. They battle with the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), revealing to viewers that some are able to bend reality as seen when

Psychomania Blu-ray Review: Inexplicable Zombie Biker Cult Movie

Bikers come back from the dead, and it's pretty groovy in this early 70s cult obsession.
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Other people’s movie cults are just weird. My own cult obsessions are, of course, completely justifiable and unquestionable (Big Trouble in Little China and The Thing are two of the greatest things anyone has ever done, and I will fight over that) but the things that other people obsess over make no sense. Psychomania is one of these: an object of adoration for a group a British film fans that, for anyone outside the phenomenon, just seems puzzling. The premise is hokey enough to guarantee that, unless it was completely incompetent, some people would love it: a British biker gang

Moscow on the Hudson (1984) Blu-ray Review: Relocation, Relocation, Relocation!

Robin Williams turns in an exceptionally fine dramatic performance in this must-see classic from Paul Mazursky, now available in High-Definition from Twilight Time.
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Immigration. Russians. No, it has nothing to do with current (controversial) topics, kids ‒ rather, said subjects are at the very heart of Paul Mazursky's Moscow on the Hudson. In fact, the word "heart" could not be any more appropriate in this particular instance, as the 1984 classic from Columbia Pictures ‒ recently added to the Twilight Time catalogue ‒ sets out to prove a point which many naysayers today seem to have missed: namely, the perfectly sound notion that them there foreigners are human beings, too. Here, the late great Robin Williams portrays Vladimir Ivanoff ‒ a circus saxophonist

Fathom Events and TCM Present 'All About Eve'

The Bette Davis classic gets a run on the big screen thanks to TCM and Fathom Events.
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All About Eve was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, a record that has not been beaten to this day (Titanic and La La Land both tied it). It won six Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor for George Sanders. Today, many critics feel that Bette Davis would have won had Anne Baxter not lobbied so hard to be included in the Best Actress category (instead of Best Supporting Actress), thus splitting the votes between them and causing Judy Holiday to win for Born Yesterday. It is generally considered one of the greatest backstage movies of all time and regularly

Police (1985) Blu-ray Review: Pialat's Procedural

Gérard Depardieu is a not-so-brilliant cop with a not-so-successful personal life.
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Police is the second collaboration between Maurice Pialat and Gérard Depardieu, after 1980’s Loulou, in which Isabelle Huppert falls for Depardieu’s moderately charming layabout. One could imagine Depardieu’s character in Police, detective Louis Mangin, thinking he possessed that same kind of sexual charisma. Depardieu’s aggressive performance vaults way past macho swagger as he performs some capital-a Acting, full of weird tics and chair-slamming furor. This can feel at odds with Pialat’s improvisational style, especially loose here. Still, it amplifies the distinct gap between Mangin’s perception of himself and his actual abilities. This is one of those cop stories in which

Mondo Bastardo: Odds and Ends from the International World of Exploitation

From Brazilian horrors to 3D European westerns, this assortment of weird and unusual films knows its target audiences quite well.
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While the nations of the world may not agree on many points, at least our respective histories of filmmaking have proven there is at least one thing we can see eye to eye on: exploitation. Here, we bridge the gaps between Brazilian horrors and American blaxploitation, and from Italian sex flicks to Spanish westerns. It's a thoroughly jaw-dropping assortment of odds and ends, replete with nudity, sex, violence, and many other magnificent marketing gimmicks, right down to the lost art of Stereoscopic 3D. At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964) / This Night, I'll Possess Your Corpse (1967) [2017, Synapse

We Are the Flesh Blu-ray Review: Grotesquely Beautiful

Mexican horror film aims for something high, falls short into extreme violence and sex.
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In We Are The Flesh, first-time director Emiliano Rocha Minter gleefully crosses every boundary of good taste and morality he can think of - incest, necrophilia, cannibalism, extremely long close-ups of genitalia. It's a gore-filled, sexually explicit horror show with art-house pretensions that wants you to believe it's saying something meaningful about the state of things in Mexico. In it, two siblings, Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) and Fauna (María Evoli), find there way into an abandoned apartment complex. There they find Mariano (Noé Hernández), a crazed, possibly psychotic, but certainly disturbed man seeking out a solitary existence. He offers them food

Panther Girl of the Kongo (1955) Blu-ray Review: The Claw Monsters Strike Back

Phyllis Coates and Myron Healey star in the penultimate Republic Pictures serial, which gets a new lease on life from Olive Films.
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After wowing Saturday Matinee Serial lovers everywhere in 2015 with a casual release of the 1950 guilty pleasure The Invisible Monster, Olive Films sent an indirect message to classic cliffhanger fanatics that there was indeed hope for these nearly-forgotten relics from yesteryear. Indeed, said hope is still springing up from out of the Paramount vaults Olive Films has access to, and now ‒ following subsequent digital serial debuts of Flying Disc Man from Mars and quasi-serial Commando Cody: Sky Marshall of the Universe ‒ another kiddie-friendly offering from Republic Pictures has been made available in High-Definition. The serial in question,

Solace (2015) Blu-ray Review: Quantum of Bollocks

Anthony Hopkins stars in a four-year-old dud based off of a decades-old, rejected sequel to 'Se7en,' ineffectively re-written to rip-off the recently revoked 'Hannibal.'
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From its opening frame, Solace leaves one with an immediate impression similar to what you might experience were you to take a swig of discounted milk from a bargain market without checking its expiration date first. It feels old. It seems slightly off. The sour taste of Solace only grows worse as all of the the markings of incompetence are repeatedly stamped over it, much like the proverbial image of well-traveled early 20th century Rockefeller's well-worn luggage would sport numerous luggage labels from different parts of the world. Alas, Solace never gets off of the runway, as its director is

Cameraperson Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Beautiful, Sad, Wonderful

Cameraperson tells the story of one filmmaker through the dozens of movies she's shot.
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Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll lie in bed at night and think about all the different houses and apartments I’ve lived in. I’ll mentally walk through each room, picturing what it looked like and describing them as if to a friend. Sometimes the rooms are very clear to me - I can picture it as if I'm there. Sometimes they are more fuzzy and I have to think really hard about what they looked like. Sometimes I can’t remember them at all. There is one house I briefly lived in on Grand Lake whose guest bedrooms are a mystery

It's Always Fair Weather (1955) Blu-ray Review: Gene Kelly's Blues

The Warner Archive Collection proudly presents something anyone can sing and dance to: a Cynical Musical from the otherwise sunny 1950s.
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Even if you're the type of person who generally loathes (or at least has trouble sitting through) musicals, you might actually find something to like about MGM's 1955 flop It's Always Fair Weather. For starters, It's Always Fair Weather marked the end of that strange era where larger-than-life movie musicals roamed the nation, thereby sparing many a poor sap (or sapette) any further misfortune of being dragged into an auditorium to see people sing and dance their blues away. But whereas that was the remedy in other (successful) musicals, It's Always Fair Weather proudly stood out from other song-and-dance titles

The Goodbye Girl (1977) Blu-ray Review: Back When Richard Dreyfuss Was Sexy

Neil Simon's Oscar-winning precursor to the contemporary rom-com receives a warm welcome from the Warner Archive Collection.
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If nothing else, Neil Simon's award-winning 1977 precursor to the contemporary rom-com, The Goodbye Girl is of a certain cinematically historical significance, inasmuch as it was one of a few films written by Neil Simon that didn't start out as a Broadway play. Granted, in the years since this multiple-Oscar winner first premiered, however, The Goodbye Girl has not only garnered a musical Broadway makeover, but it has also received the dubious honor of getting its own lackluster TV remake ‒ something that, sadly, has happened far too many times with Neil Simon tales (just ask anyone who had the

Dark Passage / On Dangerous Ground Blu-ray Reviews: Bogie. Bacall. Lupino. Ryan. Sold.

The Warner Archive Collection shows us its dark side with two more gems from the fabulous world of film noir.
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While history's greatest philosophers wise men may have brought forth many a pertinent question as to the purpose and situation of the human race, it was a total wise-ass the history books have unapologetically miscredited as a guy named Murphy who really seemed to hit the nail on the head with the phrase "Anything that can go wrong, will." In fact, Murphy's Law is one of the few philosophies which can be applied into storytelling without fear of alienating an audience, because if there's one thing any adult who has ever had to work for a living can tell you,

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Blu-ray Review: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

The motion picture that single-handedly brought about the fall of the Hays Code receives a fearless restoration from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Sixteen years after Elizabeth Taylor transcended from child actress into a full-fledged "adult" in Father of the Bride ‒ wherein, it should be noted, she entered her first of eight failed marriages ‒ the still-famous actress showed us just how big of a girl she could be. In every respect. For here, in 1966's motion picture landmark, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, we see a 32-year-old Liz donning more than a little stage padding as she stars alongside her most "popular" husband, Richard Burton, as Martha: an obnoxious, alcoholic, middle-aged shrew whose outward vulgarity is only complimented by the infinite

Father of the Bride (1950) Blu-ray Review: RSVP to the WAC BD ASAP

The original classic receives a makeover to die for thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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Let's take a brief gander at marriage, folks. While many of us are keen to issue a timeless, fool proof slice of advice when it comes to matrimony ‒ that of "Don't do it, it's not worth it" ‒ the fact is those darn kids never listen to us. Just ask Spencer Tracy's Stanley T. Banks in the three-time Oscar-nominated, AFI-approved 1950 classic, Father of the Bride. Though the trendsetting favorite is one of the few instances where a Steve Martin remake garnered critical praise (yes, we're still upset over that Pink Panther reboot), the original film possesses its own

Nocturnal Animals Blu-ray Review: Tom Ford's Dark Masterpiece

Tom Ford's follow-up to A Single Man is a moody and evocative thriller you can't ignore.
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Eight years ago, designer Tom Ford segued into the world of filmmaking with the critical darling A Single Man. He meticulously took his time with his crafty follow-up, an adaptation of Austin Wright's novel called Nocturnal Animals. Conjuring up comparisons to the work of Sam Peckinpah, Ford creates a film both shocking and gaudy, pulpy, and deathly authentic that captures the bleak beauty and horrible depravity within us all. Susan (Amy Adams) seemingly lives the perfect life. Her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) sends her a copy of his finished novel, and while reading the dark and twisted tale of murder and

Moonlight Blu-ray Review: Will Take Its Place Alongside the Greatest Films Ever Made

An absolutely lyrical, and near-perfect story about love, race, and sexuality rarely depicted in film.
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When it comes to films about sexuality, especially those from the LGBT point of view, you don't often see it mixed with race. It is usually about stereotypes, explicit imagery, and desperation to arouse the viewer just to get his or her reaction. Fortunately, director Barry Jenkins' stunning 2016 drama, Moonlight, breaks through those cliches to deliver a story as truthful and universal as one can and needs to get. Based on the unfinished play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney (who wrote the story), the film centers on the character of Chiron in three parts

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