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Platoon Leader / Soldier Boyz Blu-ray Review: The Dudikoff Abides

Kino Lorber gives us a double feature offering of two 'lesser' Michael Dudikoff actioneers.
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Yes, that's right, kids ‒ our favorite American Ninja has returned to kick a little ass on Blu-ray once more. This time around, the folks at Kino Lorber have given us a double feature of Vietnam-focused films to star the one and only Michael Dudikoff: 1988's Platoon Leader and 1995's Soldier Boyz. Our first selection, Platoon Leader, hails from the Dudikoff's propitious Cannon days. Oddly enough, however, this was one of very few Cannon releases to not actually be produced by company founders Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus; rather, this drama set during the Vietnam War (and filmed in South

Desert Hearts Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Unsung Queer Classic

Desert Hearts is a groundbreaking yet underrated romantic gem for the history books.
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I never wanted Desert Hearts to end. I didn’t want to leave behind the breathtaking scenery of the desert and I definitely wanted to see more of the chemistry between the two leads. Desert Hearts is an intimate yet flawless gem that captures forbidden love that is apolitical yet groundbreaking during its time of release because it was the first film about a same-sex relationship between two women that isn’t tragic. While LGBTQ+ films that have a political agenda are meant to be told, Desert Hearts is proof that those aren’t the only stories that should be told. Based on

Ruby (1977) / Satan's Cheerleaders Blu-ray Reviews: Tales from the Drive-In

VCI Entertainment goes retro with two imperfect releases for two equally flawed horror flicks.
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VCI Entertainment is no stranger to the world of home video. In fact, it's (quite possibly) the only label in the US to have survived all of these years without a parental company in the active motion picture business (Universal, Paramount, et al). And while their current library of classic films and forgotten flicks is anything less than impressive, certain "niche" enthusiasts such as myself will always associate the outfit with cult movies. This Fall, VCI has returned to its roots (replete with retro logo) by releasing several cult classics to Blu-ray. Both originally gracing flickering silver screens in 1977,

The Wrong Guy (1997) Blu-ray Review: The Right Release

Kino Lorber's Studio Classics releases the quirky late '90s Canadian comedy starring Dave Foley, David Anthony Higgins, and Jennifer Tilly.
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What would happen if comedians from The Kids in the Hall, SCTV, and Mike and Molly got together with a writer from The Simpsons? Well, depending on the circumstances surrounding your first viewing of The Wrong Guy, the end-result can be seen as one of two things: a silly Canadian comedy, or a subtly brilliant neglected masterpiece. Spawned from a sketch lead performer/writer Dave Foley once wrote during his days as one of the The Kids in the Hall, the quirky farce finds Mr. Foley as a meager ‒ and startlingly naïve ‒ executive at a major city high-rise office

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) Blu-ray Review: Uncovering Cinematic Buried Treasures

This documentary about a 1978 find of a cache of "lost" silent films traces the history of Dawson City.
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In an industry that is lately obsessed with making films available in multiple different versions, both in medium of delivery and in the actual content, it's astounding to conceive just how disposable film was in its early days. Cinema was more curiosity than art form, and it's estimated that nearly 75% of all the films made in the early, silent era are lost. There's a number of reasons for this (not least of which that early film stock, made with silver nitrate, was highly flammable and could even spontaneously combust in the right conditions) but in the end it means

War for the Planet of the Apes Blu-ray Review: Hail, Caesar and the Film Crew!

War for the Planet of the Apes works as both the end of a trilogy or the continuation of the franchise, depending on what happens next.
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Taking place 15 years after the events of Rise and the release of the Simian virus, which made apes smarter and killed many humans, and two years after "a distress call to a military base" was made in Dawn, humans and apes find themselves embroiled in a war in this thrilling third installment of the Apes reboot. A devastating attack on their home causes the apes to flee, but they must go without their leader Caesar (Andy Serkis), who is consumed by anger due to the death of his family members. He seeks revenge against the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), and

The Mercenary (1968) Blu-ray Review: This Fun for Hire

Franco Nero, Tony Musante, and a flamboyant Jack Palance highlight this Sergio Corbucci western, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Amongst the many subgenres of the European western ‒ the tombstones of which typically bear the headings of "Revenge" and "Betrayal" ‒ is another category, informally referred to by devout aficionados as the "Zapata Western." Set during the Mexican Revolution (see: History), these plates of Spaghetti usually feature a pair of protagonists, neither of whom truly adore one another or ever see eye-to-eye, but who form an alliance nevertheless in their individual, alternating quests for glory, money, and/or freedom. Naturally, the American(ized) lead is always the one in pursuit of a fistful of dollars within the confines of these fairly

The Incredible Shrinking Woman Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

Lily Tomlin is funny but also charming, smart, and conveys such resilience as a mom fighting for her family and her values.
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Pat Kramer (Lily Tomlin) is a normal housewife trying her best to take care of her husband (Charles Grodin) and two children. Her household responsibilities require a myriad of chemical products, the combination of which have a strange effect, causing her to shrink. She goes through every test imaginable and eventually gets so small that she must endure intense media and public scrutiny. As she struggles to keep out of the public eye while continuing to be a proper wife and mother, a group of scientists have their own ideas on how to take advantage of her. The result is

The Gumball Rally (1976) Blu-ray Review: Real Cars. Real Actors. Real Fun.

The Warner Archive Collection revs its engines up for one of the greatest cross-country race flicks to hail from the '70s.
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It never fails to amuse me how many road/race flicks spawned from the same decade now synonymous with "gas shortage." Similarly, those very motion pictures never fail to delight. And now, thanks to the ever-diligent efforts of the Warner Archive Collection, one of the first films to capitalize on Brock Yates' Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash ‒ which Yates himself would cash-in on a few years later with The Cannonball Run, after Burt Reynolds already had in Smokey and the Bandit ‒ has hit Blu-ray for home media enthusiasts who love seeing vintage (and very expensive) automobiles darting across

The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running Blu-ray Review: Beating the Inevitability of Death Just a Little Bit

A fantastic behind-the-scenes look at how the band, their team, and their fans dealt with this farewell tour.
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On May 24, 2016, it was announced that The Tragically Hip's lead singer Gord Downie had incurable brain cancer. In spite of that, they intended to tour in support their thirteenth studio album, Man Machine Poem, set for release a few weeks later. They played 15 shows across Canada in just under a month, concluding with a hometown show on August 20, 2016, at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario. It was an unofficial, though presumed, farewell tour, which became official with the passing of Downie on October 17, 2017. The final concert was broadcast to nearly 12 million

The Man with Two Brains / My Blue Heaven Blu-ray Reviews: Get Martinized

The Warner Archive Collection re-releases two of Steve Martin's best films, this time in glorious High-Definition.
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From his early days as a collaborator on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Steve Martin's unique brand of humor has always left an impression. Even on people who have never been able to tune in to his sense of comedy, such as my father and just about every critic who saw The Jerk upon its initial release. Fortunately, time has always been on Mr. Martin's side. Well, maybe so not so much in the case of those Pink Panther remakes, but his original classics have maintained their popularity over the years, especially these two new Warner Archive Blu-ray issues. Originally

Freebie and the Bean (1974) Blu-ray Review: How Can Something So Wrong Feel So Right?

Look out, world ‒ because James Caan and Alan Arkin are on the loose again, thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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A classic example of "How can something so wrong feel so right?", Richard (The Stunt Man) Rush's classic 1974 action-comedy starring James Caan and Alan Arkin is a delightful politically-incorrect romp through the streets of San Francisco. The granddaddy of the buddy cop genre most of us have grown to despise today, Freebie and the Bean focuses on the outrageous antics of two rogue SFPD detectives, whom we only ever know by their eponymous nicknames: Caan plays the openly corrupt "Freebie," while Arkin ‒ an actor of Jewish heritage, mind you ‒ plays a Mexican-American everyone calls "Bean." And who

Death Rides a Horse (1967) Blu-ray Review: Lee Van Cleef's Finest Hour

Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law each set out for revenge in this above-average Spaghetti Western classic, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Though it was one of several dozen Spaghetti Westerns produced just in the year of 1967 alone, Giulio Petroni's Death Rides a Horse (Da uomo a uomo; or, As Man to Man) has nevertheless managed to climb its way up through the dark and dusty trails of European westerns over the years. Boasting a memorable score by the legendary Ennio Morricone himself (both the soundtrack and film "inspired" several aspects of Quentin Tarantino's homage to just about every kind of genre movie under the desert sun, Kill Bill), the unconventional entry in the long list of Euro westerns ‒ the

The High Commissioner (1968) Blu-ray Review: The Accidental Spy from Down Under

Kino Lorber brings us a fun tale of an abrasive detective wrapped up in international intrigue starring Rod Taylor and Christopher Plummer.
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The notion of a Eurospy movie was hardly anything new in 1968. If anything, it was becoming rather mundane to European filmgoers who had been bombarded by a jaw-dropping assortment of bastardized 007 clones by the time our film in question first hit screens. And yet, the makers of The High Commissioner (aka Nobody Runs Forever) nevertheless managed to give their project a unique twist: an abrasive, unsophisticated copper straight from the Outback as the protagonist. Made before fellow Aussie George Lazenby engaged in his shortlived stint as James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the late great Rod

Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth (2007) Blu-ray Review: Science Fiction Chamber Play

Ten years after it was a sleeper sci-fi hit, Man from Earth comes visually restored to Blu-ray.
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A man is confronted by his friends after he walks out on his going-away party. He's been a local professor for 10 years, but tells them that he does this: after a while, he just moves on. He needs to. "You can't have done it too often, you're too young," one of them says. Well... that may not be strictly true. Because John Oldman is a very old man indeed. 14,000 years old, and he leaves places when it becomes too obvious that he's not like everybody else. Released in 2007, The Man From Earth is a rare thing in

Logan Lucky Blu-ray Review: Soderbergh's Back

A rougher, dumber, more redneck Ocean's 11 that's better in almost every way.
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When Steven Soderbergh declared he was retiring from feature filmmaking in 2013, nobody really took him seriously. Technically, he did take a sabbatical from “feature filmmaking” but he stayed very busy. He produced and directed two seasons of the Cinemax drama The Knick, directed the off-Broadway play The Library, helped Spike Jonze edit Her, he executive produced the Starz series The Girlfriend Experience (which was based on his film of the same name), and executive produced the Amazon series Red Oaks, and began working on the HBO series Mosaic. That’s a lot of work for a guy who was retired.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

This season, Santa is bringing more than just presents and good cheer.
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As usual, the horror genre gets a very bad rap, where many people and critics consider it to be the ugly stepchild of Film. This is none more apparent than the slasher history of the 1980s, where after the huge phenomenon of 1978's Halloween, there were variant degrees of success. Probably the most pivotal year in the '80s was 1984, where the big three were A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13: The Final Chapter, and director Charles E. Sellier, Jr's notorious Christmas slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night, which caused such a stir that it was denounced by parents

Fathom Events and GKids Present Howl's Moving Castle

It is a testament to the wonder of the film that I caught Howl's Moving Castle on Blu-ray a few weeks ago but was still enthralled to watch it again.
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Hayao Miyazaki is one of the greatest animators to have ever held a pencil. His films are magic in celluloid. He makes films that are at once fantastic, bizarre, awe inspiring, and grotesque. His style is both realistic and alien. His characters are often out of proportion and oversized, organic, and fluid. It can be off putting at first. The first film of his I ever saw, Princess Mononoke, was so strange to me initially I couldn’t quite figure out why it was receiving such praise. Its creatures were so unusual I couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening. But once

Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection Review: A Box Full of Laughs

A nice set of a classic comedian's best films.
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I wonder if you approached someone under the age of 25 and asked them about Bob Hope if they’d even know who he was. I’m 41 and I mostly know him as the guy who used to do TV specials for the USO. It's a shame that he seems to be mostly forgotten except by those who grew up with him on television and the movies or for lovers of old cinema and historians of humor. For in truth, he was a pioneer in the field of comedy, a huge movie star in the '40s, a staple of light night

Web of the Spider (1971) Blu-ray Review: Get Caught in This One

Garagehouse Pictures ups the ante of awesomeness by bringing us a fresh HD print of a classic cult Italian horror flick.
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There aren't a whole heck of a lot of film directors who are brave enough to remake their own work (short films notwithstanding). In fact, I can only think of four off the top of my head. At the top of that very short list are A-list contenders Alfred Hitchcock (The Man Who Knew Too Much) and Cecil B. DeMille (The Ten Commandments). The quality of motion pictures change drastically, however, come the final two entries, which consists of two cult filmmakers: Dick Maas (whose remade his bizarre killer elevator film The Lift years later as Down, both of which

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Movie Review: A Beautiful Story of a Brilliant Mind

Alexandra Dean's documentary tends to follow a familiar path but does a fantastic job of reexamining an underrated talent.
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"Any girl can look glamourous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid." Never one to mince words this opening quote from actress Hedy Lamarr illustrates how actuely aware she was in recognizing what was expected from female stars of her era. And yet regardless of this fact Lamarr refused to adhere to it, using film as a means to an end when her real passion was creating items that are now household items. This remarkable woman finally gets her due in Alexandra Dean's documentary Bombshell. Focusing on Lamarr's career, both on and off-screen, Bombshell isn't just

Coco Movie Review: Pixar's Best Since Inside Out

Despite following a standard Pixar formula, Coco is still entertaining and profound regardless.
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Even though Coco follows a standard Disney formula with its storyline about a young child trying to find their true calling, like with Mulan and Moana, it still manages to find ways to reinvent itself. Coco is not just about listening to your inner voice and taking control of your destiny. It’s also about family, forgiveness, and remembrance and it manages to be both entertaining and poignant. Coco follows the story of a boy named Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez), who dreams of becoming a musician and idolizes the late, famed singer Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). However, his family

Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection Blu-ray Review: A Treasure Trove of Delight

A big box of Hitchcock's greatest films (and a few of his lesser ones, too).
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Alfred Hitchcock began his movie career in 1919 as a title card designer for silent films. He quickly moved up through the ranks at Paramount Pictures in Islington, England and became a scriptwriter, art director, and assistant director. In 1922, he was given his first job as director but after shooting just a few scenes, the finances were lost and filming was shut down. In 1925, he was given another directing opportunity and this one, The Pleasure Garden actually saw theatrical release. It flopped. As did The Mountain Eagle, made in 1926, a film which is now lost to history

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Movie Review: The Most Timely Film Of 2017

A dark comedy that is also the film America needs right now.
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Martin McDonagh may be a director from Ireland, but it is eerie how he has crafted a film about America that is so timely with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It deals with a woman starting a rampage against a patriarchal society which could easily mirror how women are standing up to the male-dominated Hollywood in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. There’s a line that the main character gives about how the police are “too busy torturing black folks to solve actual crimes” which is a demonstration of the ongoing nationwide issue of police brutality against minorities. Lastly,

Woodshock (2017) Blu-ray Review: Shockingly Bad

The feature film debut from fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy is a hypnotic mess.
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Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy may have established themselves well in the fashion world with their brand, Rodarte. But when it comes to trying to get noticed in the world of film, they need some work. Okay, a lot of work. Although the duo helped create some gorgeous outfits for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, their directorial debut, Woodshock, is the result of someone (in this case, two people) with an eye for visuals and nothing else. It looks pretty in both the wardrobe and cinematography departments, but it’s so self-indulgent that it forgets to make the viewer care for the

Lady Bird Movie Review: Greta Gerwig Soars in Her Directorial Debut

Lady Bird takes the tired coming-of-age genre and makes it feel refreshing and naturalistic.
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Actress Greta Gerwig has proven her naturalistic acting chops in films like 20th Century Women, No Strings Attached, and Jackie. But now, she has announced herself as an exciting new filmmaking voice with Lady Bird, her solo directorial debut. Lady Bird may tread into a familiar genre: The coming-of-age dramedy. Yet, it feels distinctive because of how it hits close to home. It may be about a teenager trying to navigate high school but it also speaks to those who long to escape their small-town life and the parents who work tirelessly to make sure their children have a better

The Woman in Red Blu-ray Review: A Light Comedy Not Without Its Charms

I just called, to say, your film's not that good.
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Teddy Pierce (Gene Wilder) has a good life. He’s got a good job in advertising. He lives in a nice suburban house. He’s got a pretty wife and a couple of good kids. His life might be a little on the dull side, but he’s happy. He doesn’t need anything else. Then one day while parking in his office’s underground garage, he spies Charlotte (Kelly LeBrock), a gorgeous model passing by. As she walks over a grate, a gust of wind pushes her skirt over her head. Embarrassed, she quickly jumps off and walks away. But then she turns around,

Superman: The Movie - Extended Cut (1978/82) Blu-ray Review: A DC Miracle

The Warner Archive Collection soars with this rare, three-hour TV cut of Richard Donner's superhero classic.
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Of all the variable incarnations of motion pictures that exist within the world, there is perhaps none more elusive than the legendary TV version. This holds particularly true in the instance of films made before television censors officially threw up their arms and said "We give up" after Dennis Franz's flabby backside first appeared on late night television airings. Prior to that, many theatrical outings underwent sometimes drastic re-edits before they could be shown to the still-sensitive primetime audiences of the late '70s and early '80s. One good example is the near-legendary network-added prologue to Sergio Leone's A Fistful of

The Villainess Blu-ray Review: Villainous Melodrama Mars Mind-Blowing Action

Korean import mixes hyperkinetic action scenes with insufferable melodrama and confusing flashbacks.
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The Villainess opens with one of the most insane action scenes ever committed to film, both for its stunts and its camera work. Like Hardcore Henry, the harrowing fight scene is shot from a first-person perspective, making it look more like a shooter video game such as Call of Duty instead of a film. Unlike that film, the carefully constructed pseudo-continuous take eventually switches to a standard third-person perspective, revealing that our protagonist is a woman who is handily dismembering and demolishing dozens of men in a multi-story building. The intense close-quarters fighting is heightened by incredible camera work that

Zoology Blu-ray Review: A Fable In Search of a Metaphor

A grown woman grows a tail, but what does it all mean?
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A lonely, dowdy, middle-aged woman lives in a small seaside village in rural Russia. She has no friends, her coworkers are excessively cruel, and she lives with her religious and superstitious mother. Life for her, in a word, is depressing. Then she grows a tail. A large, long, fleshy rat-like tail. Zoology, the second film from writer director Ivan I. Tverdovsky, is in search of a metaphor. Its fable-like structure and the fact that it's a movie about a woman growing a flipping tail makes us search for allegory, to find some meaning in its story. But the film never

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