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Don't Come Back from the Moon Movie Review: Stay Seated for This

Bruce Thierry Cheung's new film is a beautiful, poetic approach to the importance of fatherhood.
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Although I have yet to experience fatherhood, I do know from close friends and family members that any type of parenting is a challenge. At the same time, though, many say it is a blessing. In some cases, however, there have been people that could no longer handle it, and, unfortunately, walked away - leaving their child and significant other behind in an attempt to find something that they feel is more suited for them. That’s essentially the premise of Bruce Thierry Cheung’s Don’t Come Back from the Moon, which is based on Dean Bakopoulos’ novel, Please Don’t Come Back

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Beyond Suspicion Blu-ray Review: Proto-Giallo

More psycho-sexual thriller than giallo, this film nevertheless delivers the goods.
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Giallo films had been around for several years before Dario Argento revolutionized and popularized the genre in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. These early films tended to be less lurid, much less graphically violent, and had plots that actually made some sense. Such it is with Luciano Ercoli’s Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. But enough genre talk, the real question is does the movie work? The answer actually depends on which parts of the genre you like. It is surprisingly bloodless, has no black-gloved killer, does have some interesting camera work, and a wonderfully baroque set. The

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World Review: Revealing a Lesser-Known Story of Rock 'n' Roll

The new documentary reveals the numerous contributions Native Americans have made to rock, blues, gospel, folk, and more.
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Just when it seems like books and documentaries have thoroughly covered the history of rock ’n’ roll, along comes a film that reveals a rarely told story: the influence of Native Americans on the genre. From Link Wray to the Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo, Native Americans have impacted rock rhythmically, vocally, thematically, and culturally. Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World explores rock’s Native American roots through interviews and archival footage, demonstrating how the blues, jazz, and rock all owe a debt to Indian rhythms and vocal style. The documentary borrows its title from Wray’s seminal 1958 song “Rumble,” with

When Harry Met Sally... (30th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review: A Sweet, Funny Love Story

It's one of the best films on the resumes of everyone involved with it.
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Shout Factory celebrates the 30th anniversary of Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally... with a new Blu-ray release that includes a new picture struck from a 4K scan of the original camera negative and a new special feature of a conversation between Reiner and Billy Crystal. Opening with white titles on a background as an instrumental version of “It Had to Be You” plays, it's not a surprise the film, a romantic comedy about the relationship between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman, set mostly in New York City, gets compared to Woody Allen's work, particularly Annie Hall. But

Four Times That Night Blu-ray Review: Rashomon Remade As a Sex Comedy

A single date is told from four perspectives in this Mario Bava comedy. None of them really work.
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A woman and a man meet at a park. They agree to go dancing later that evening. Afterwards, they go back to his flat. At some point, her dress is torn and his forehead is scratched. These are the facts of the movie. The details, well the details are a bit fuzzy. Mario Bava’s 1970 drama Four Times That Night takes Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon and turns it into a goofy sex comedy. We see the events of the night from three character's points of view and then a final "this is what really happened" segment. (It may not actually

Mid90s Blu-ray Review: An Authentic Coming-of-age Story

Best known as an actor, Jonah Hill's first outing as a director is a stunning debut because of his creative choices.
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Written and directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s is an authentic coming-of-age story about a young teenager named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) looking for a family that he misses at home. The film opens with a jarring scene as Stevie bursts into the frame, thrown into the hallway by his half-brother Ian (Lucas Hedges), who frequently uses Stevie as a punching bag. Their single mom Dabney (Katherine Waterston) is too busy working to provide much supervision. Stevie finds a brotherhood in a group of skaterboarders: Ray (Na-kel Smith), Ruben (Gio Galicia), and two kids who go by nicknames, "Fuckshit" (Olan Prenatt), derived

Halloween (2018) Blu-ray Review: A Pleasing Sequel

Eleven films into the franchise and Halloween is suddenly looking fresh again.
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Up front I’ve got to admit that out of the eleven films in the Halloween franchise, I’ve only seen John Carpetner’s original Halloween (1978), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, and Rob Zombie’s remake Halloween (2007). That means there are eight films in the franchise that I’m missing. I’m not an expert on the franchise. Which winds up being a good thing because this new film, Halloween (2018) - and can we talk just for a moment how there are now three films in this series simply named "Halloween"? I mean, come on guys, stop making everybody put dates behind your

Knives of the Avenger Blu-ray Review: Swords, Sandals, and Not Much Else

Almost as good as the Beastmaster.
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Come with me, my friends, for a trip down memory lane. The year is 1982 and a little fantasy film called The Beastmaster is released. It does poorly at the box office but then cable stations like HBO and TBS pick it up and run it incessantly over the next few years. The Beastmaster is not a good film. In every conceivable way, it is a bad film. Yet there is something charming about it. It stars a loincloth-wearing Marc Singer battling S&M dungeon master-looking bad guys by telepathically talking to animals. I watched that film probably a couple of

Let the Corpses Tan Blu-ray Review: An Assult on the Senses

A modern, psychedelic take on the Spaghetti Western is visually stylish and exhausting.
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With The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, French directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani created a modern giallo that was a psychedelic audio/visual delight which had virtually no story or plot. With Let the Corpses Tan, they've added a touch more story and moved their Italian influences into Spaghetti Western territory but continue the sensory overload. It is a beautiful, strange, exhausting film. A group of men violently rob a stack of gold bricks from an armored truck, killing everyone aboard. They rush to their hideout but are stopped by a woman standing in the middle of the road.

The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection DVD Review: A Fine Mess of Films

An interesting and entertaining mix of early 20th Century silent comedy shorts.
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Tying in with the release of Stan & Ollie, The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection by Mill Creek Entertainment presents two discs of films starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, both together and on their own. Disc One is "Laurel & Hardy Shorts and Features." Labeled as "an extract," The Lucky Dog (1921) is the first film the men appeared together with Laurel starring and Hardy as a robber and his nemesis. A crackle can be heard on the audio. While technically they both worked on it, Yes, Yes, Nanette (1925) is a James Finlayson short where he meets his

Kusama: Infinity DVD Review: Connecting the Dots in a Great Artist's Life

As fascinating as Yayoi Kusama's biography is, what truly enthralls is her art.
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Eighty-nine-year-old Yayoi Kusama is currently the top-selling artist in the world, but her path to success has not been a smooth one. Magnolia Home Entertainment's Kusama: Infinity follows the artist's career, from her childhood in Japan to her present reign as the popular artist of Infinity Mirrored Rooms and so much more. Kusama was born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan. Through use of family photos and quotes from the artist, the film traces Yayoi's difficult childhood, where her physically abusive mother discouraged her artistic talent (to the point of tearing up her drawings) and prodded her daughter to spy

Brewster McCloud Blu-ray Review: A Weird, Strange Trip into the Altmanverse

Robert Altman's follow-up to M*A*S*H is an idiosyncratic, weird little film that only he could make.
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After spending a decade or so making industrial films then directing television episodes, Robert Altman finally connected with critics and audiences on a feature film. Released in 1970, M*A*S*H, a satirical account of a medical unit in the Korean War, was a smash hit. It won awards, made big money (and spawned a hugely successful TV series), and put Altman on the map as an exciting filmmaker. With the success of M*A*S*H, the studios gave Altman a green light to make any film he wanted. He chose the hottest screenplay around, Brewster McCloud, a black comedy about a New York

Bright Lights, Big City: 30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition Review

While some aspects of this film are dated, most of it still holds up in this tale of addiction and grief avoidance.
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Bright Lights, Big City is being released in a Special Collector's Edition for its 30th Anniversary celebration. The film is based on Jay McInerney's novel of the same title. Directed by James Bridges and produced by Sydney Pollack, the movie follows Jamie Conway (Michael J. Fox) through his need to escape his daily reality after his mother (Dianne Wiest) dies and his model wife Amanda (Phoebe Cates) leaves him for a new life. Jamie spends his days as a fact-checker at a New York magazine where his co-worker Megan (Swoosie Kurtz) tries to help him survive, while Jamie spends his

Hallelujah the Hills Blu-ray Review: Did Not Hit the Mark

The characters come across as flat and unlikable, so it was difficult to invest in any of them.
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Hallelujah the Hills was written and directed by Adolfas Mekas. The film was a hit at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival and in turn was invited to 27 other festivals after its appearance at Cannes. Until now, it has not been available to own and has only been shown in limited viewings over the past five decades. The film has been touted by some reviewers as the funniest movie you have never seen, but perhaps I just don't get it. While I have a deep love for older comedies, from the slapstick of Buster Keaton, to the zaniness of films

Best of 2018 Film Lists

In which Shawn ranks a bunch of movies from 2018 and 1988.
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From 2005 through 2012, I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best of" lists. While the blog still remains retired, I'm revived it last year for a Best of 2017. The feedback was enough for me to compile it again this year. For your convenience, it's broken into bite-sized pieces. BEST OF MOVIES 2018 No other blogger is brave enough to pick their favorites before they see them. Here's what I boldly thought I'd be writing about in December 2018. PREDICTED BEST

Love, Gilda Movie Review: A Beautiful and Personal Portrait

Director Lisa D'Apolito does a wonderful job of bringing in the audience on some of the toughest parts of Gilda's life.
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If you notice, as you are reading this review, that I sound sentimental for Gilda Radner, it's because I am. I have been watching Saturday Night Live since birth in both its live broadcasts and its reruns in syndication. I was enamored by Gilda Radner and her Judy Miller character from very early on. But there was also Roseanne Roseannadanna, Lisa Loopner, Emily Litella, and Baba Wawa. Radner's physicality and her femininity would influence my own performances later in life. I know I am only one of many comedians who were drawn in by her characters and her incredible smile.

Screwball Comedy Classics Double Feature Volume 2: His Girl Friday & The Front Page DVD Review

Two great movies at a great value, but if the audio-visual aspects are important, I can't recommend it.
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VCI Entertainment presents Screwball Comedy Classics Double Feature Volume 2: His Girl Friday & The Front Page, two films based on the Broadway play The Front Page written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. Directed by Lewis Milestone, The Front Page (1931) stars Adolphe Menjou as Chicago newspaper editor Walter Burns and Pat O'Brien as his put-upon reporter Hildebrand "Hildy" Johnson. Hildy plans to quit his job, get married, and head to New York while Walter wants Hildy to cover an upcoming hanging of Earl Williams, a man and possible Communist convicted of murdering an African-American cop, and all the

Mary Poppins Returns Movie Review: Unnecessary but Delightful

Emily Blunt steals the show in Rob Marshall's sequel to the 1964 classic.
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It’s not like the world needed a sequel to Mary Poppins, but we got one anyway. And you know what? It’s actually quite fun. Mary Poppins Returns doesn’t deviate itself too much from its 1964 predecessor, but director Rob Marshall is able to convey something that is magical and cheerful and the perfect movie to take the family to see over the busy holiday season. This time, it’s Emily Blunt taking over the iconic role made famous by Julie Andrews (she won her only Oscar so far for the performance). Really, if there was an actress who is the practically

Blindspotting Blu-ray Review: Not Throwing Away Their Shot

Hamilton alum Daveed Diggs and his best friend team up to write and star in this thought-provoking film.
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Daveed Diggs rose to fame as a prominent Tony-winning actor in the original Broadway cast of musical phenomenon Hamilton, so it’s no surprise that his lead turn in this film incorporates some hip-hop flow. The real revelation is the acting talent of his largely unknown long-time friend and co-star here, Rafael Casal. Their close friendship provides them natural chemistry that is successfully utilized by debut feature-film director Carlos Lopez Estrada in a tale about race relations in rapidly gentrifying Oakland. While the finished product occasionally feels like a collection of calling-card scenes for demo reels instead of an actual feature

Streets of Fire Blu-ray Review: Rock and Roll Dreams Come True

Willem Dafoe in vinyl overalls. Need I say more?
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I first heard of 1984's Streets of Fire sometime in the last few years, which surprised me given I spent the bulk of the '80s and '90s with my head buried in theaters, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, and my local Blockbuster. I vaguely recall a comment on Reddit leading me to IMDB, and then dug it up for a viewing shortly after hearing about what an experience it is. It did not disappoint. The soundtrack as a whole is just as compelling as the set designs, editing, and cinematography, but what caught my ear first were probably Jim

Mandy (2018) Blu-ray Review: Destined to be a Cult Classic

Nicolas Cage gives his most bonkers performance to date in Panos Cosmatos’ psychedelic revenge thriller.
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For every disposable, straight-to-VOD picture that Nicolas Cage does, he’ll usually come up with something that surprises and shocks even his most stern critics. Oddly enough, Mandy ended up falling into the same category as Rage, 211, and so many other features starring the Oscar-winning actor in that they run in an extremely limited amount of theaters while also being available to purchase or rent on streaming services. But, unlike those aforementioned titles, Mandy doesn’t come across as yet another throwaway effort from Cage and whomever he happens to bring along with him. Sure, the revenge plot is formulaic, but

De Niro & De Palma: The Early Years Blu-ray Review: For Fans Only

Arrow Video brings together a collection of three early collaborations between two titans of the cinema with mixed results.
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That Robert De Niro is one of the greatest film actors of all time there is no doubt. He has starred in some of the greatest films ever made, won nearly every acting award in existence including two Oscars, an AFI Life Achievement Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His work in the 1970s and '80s on films like The Godfather, Part II, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and Once Upon A Time in America is nearly unparalleled. That his filmography over the last couple of decades doesn’t really hold up does not in any way take

They Shall Not Grow Old Movie Review: World War I Captured in Breathtaking New Way

Peter Jackson's groundbreaking WWI documentary is required viewing for history and cinema buffs alike.
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Taking old black and white footage and adding color to it is nothing particularly new. Some documentaries have already done so to footage from World War II and other historical events, making it appear as it was mostly seen through the eyes of those that experienced it. Peter Jackson’s latest effort, They Shall Not Grow Old, does the same thing for World War I but to a much different, more gut-wrenching effect than any other documentary on the subject. The war footage used is 100 years old, meaning that the frame rate makes it look like each individual person is

Vice Movie Review: Christian Bale Saves a Self-Righteous Biopic

Adam McKay's tonally haphazard biopic is saved by a great Christian Bale performance.
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After hitting it big with The Big Short, winning an Adapted Screenplay Oscar in the process, director Adam McKay attempts to tackle the Bush administration with the Dick Cheney biopic Vice. He even uses the same seriocomic filmmaking approach that he demonstrated with The Big Short. However, Vice neither possesses any sharp wit nor does it pack an emotional punch. It does try to have it both ways by acting as a satire and a heavy drama but it doesn’t know what it wants to be. As a result, Vice ends up being the most tonally haphazard film I’ve seen

Snowflake Blu-ray Review: A Blood-Soaked, Twisted Delight

Tarantino knock-off from Germany is a lot of fun.
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Two men, Javid (Reza Brojerdi) and Tan (Erkan Acar), sit in a kebab shop arguing over the quality of the food. They seem to have made a bet on whether or not the meat could be made to taste better by a different style of cooking. Their language is graphic and saucy. The argument causes them to lose their appetetite so they get up to leave, grabbing a gun and a chainsaw from the table. The camera pans up revealing the restaurant floor littered with bodies. Outside, they steal a car and head into the night. The narrator explains this

Memories of Me Blu-ray Review: A Wonderful Little Film

How about some adult angst from the '80s for a change?
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I recall two films from the '80s that dealt with the relationship between an aging father and an adult son. Both featured hot comedic actors of the day as the sons and comedy legends as the dads. Nothing in Common starring Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason, in what would be his final film, hit screens in the summer of '86. A little more than two years later, Billy Crystal and Alan King shared Memories of Me, which has much in common with Nothing in Common and is out on Blu-ray in time for Christmas. I enjoyed both these films when

The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: A Movie Star Is Born

Be somebody and add this to your collection.
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The Jerk came out in 1978 when Steve Martin was a king of comedy. He had moved on from small clubs and was now selling out arenas like a rock star. He appeared so often and was so good on Saturday Night Live he was considered an unofficial cast member by some viewers. “King Tut” was a hit single off his Grammy-winning comedy album, A Wild and Crazy Guy. He even had a best-selling book, The Cruel Shoes. He was the King of All Media before Howard Stern. The Jerk was his first-starring feature role. He had previously had tiny

A Dry White Season Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Truly Gripping Cinema

An unflinching and sadly relevant drama of violence and ongoing oppression.
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Racism is one those things that just doesn't seem to go away. Every day you turn on the news to find more unarmed black men being shot by white cops; white people calling the police on innocent black people, and the underestimation of Black Lives Matter. Unfortunately, it has gotten much worse, especially ever since an orange someone was elected President. The violent consequences of prejudice is mostly directed to the wrong groups, and director Euzhan Palcy's 1989 film, A Dry White Season, shows how that hate is definitely universal, meaning that it doesn't just happen in the movies. Based

The Doctor from India DVD Review: An Incredible Story

A film about Dr. Vasant Lad, the man who brought Ayurvedic medicine to the United States.
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Kino Lorber presents The Doctor from India, a documentary film by Jeremy Frindel that explores the life and career of Dr. Vasant Lad, the doctor who first brought Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicine to the United States. The film combines interviews, animation, playful stock footage, and archival footage to tell Dr. Lad's story. The Doctor from India also includes interviews with Usha Lad, Deepak Chopra, Robert Svoboda, Dr. David Frawley, Claudia Welch, and Len Blank. Ayurveda is an ancient form of medicine from India that is said to have been created when Dhanvantari, the Hindu god of Ayurveda, decided to incarnate

Bloody Birthday Blu-ray Review: Bloody Awful

Kids behaving badly in a really bad movie.
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What is is about kids behaving badly that makes for such delightfully creepy cinema? The genre has been around since at least Patty McCormack’s turn as a demented killer in 1956’s The Bad Seed and has turned out such classics as Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned. There is just something about children doing horrible things that is both really disturbing and really fun to watch. In 1981, cult director Ed Hunt took the killer-kids genre and spliced it onto the burgeoning slasher genre and made Bloody Birthday an ultimately silly flick that generally fails to do

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