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1/1 Movie Review: Solidly Acted yet Overly Ambitious

Aside from its narrative flaws, 1/1 still manages to thrive thanks to its quietly commanding, leading performance by Lindsey Shaw.
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Plenty of us know Lindsey Shaw as Jennifer “Moze” Mosely from the Nickelodeon television series Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. We remember her as the sweet and brainy best friend of the titular main character. Well, in the latest heavyweight drama 1/1, she gets to take a much darker turn. As a young woman coming to grips with her troubled small town life, Shaw is quite brilliant but manages to be the film’s saving grace. She does carry the picture on her shoulders well enough. However, the film surrounding her is unfortunately, a bit of a mess. There are moments

The Case of the Scorpion's Tail Blu-ray Review: Stereotypical Giallo

Sergio Martino's horror film ticks off all the giallo boxes but never rises above them.
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When Lisa Baumer’s (Ida Galli) husband dies in a plane explosion (via a very obvious model getting blown to bits in a special effect that will make Classic Doctor Who fans proud), she must rush to Athens in order to collect on the $1,000,000 insurance money. That she was dallying with a man who was decidedly not her husband when the plane exploded and that despite the insurance’s protests she takes her money in cash creates an all-too-familiar suspicion amongst fans of Italian horror. The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail follows the stereotypical hallmarks of the Italian giallo to near

Doom Asylum Blu-ray Review: Terribly Charming

Arrow Video has done their usual magnificent job releasing this ridiculously bad, yet somehow entertaining horror film.
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When a hotshot palimony attorney (Michael Rogen) wins a big case, he takes his girlfriend (Patty Mullen) for a ride in his convertible. He pays a little too much attention to the girl and too little on the road and winds up wrapping the car around a tree, killing the girl, and maiming himself. In the next scene, he finds himself on the autopsy table of a nearby asylum where a medical examiner (Harvey Keith) and his assistant (Steve Menkin) prepare to cut him open (why he’s taken to the asylum and not a morgue is never explained). Ah! But

Woman Is the Future of Man/Tale of Cinema Blu-ray Review: Best Left in the Arthouse

Double feature from filmmaker Hong Sangsoo presents two equally bewildering tales.
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South Korean arthouse cinema doesn’t often receive U.S. Blu-ray release, so kudos to Arrow Academy for making these films available, especially in this dual-movie format. Unfortunately, the projects selected for this release are so bewildering and ultimately unrewarding that they’re difficult to recommend to any but the most fervent admirers of niche dramatic films. Martin Scorcese happens to count himself among that crowd, declaring his admiration for the director and Woman Is the Future of Man as a bonus feature introduction to that film, but I beg to differ with his fawning praise. As discussed by the actors during their

Eighth Grade Movie Review: Pitch-Perfect Portrait of Adolescence

A flawless portrayal of adolescence that features both uplifting and heart wrenching authenticity.
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Eighth Grade was a rather confusing and painful experience. The movie Eighth Grade, however, is a portrait of an adolescent coming to terms with her growing pains that is simultaneously humorous and heartbreaking. It also perfectly captures how going through middle school feels like the end of everything when it’s really the end of an era. Middle school is a time of confusion and uncertainty over what lies ahead and watching Eighth Grade felt like I was taking a trip back in time. The film-watching experience was hard for me because it was a difficult time in my life and

Skyscraper (2018) Movie Review: 'Die Hard' in a Building

The stunt team and visual-effects artists are deserving of the most praise.
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Ten years ago, Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) was an FBI agent injured on the job by an explosion that leaves him wearing a prosthetic lower leg. While recovering in a naval hospital, he met Sarah (Neve Campbell), a doctor, and ten years, later they are married and parents to twins, a boy and a girl. Johnson is now running his own security firm, which was hired to approve the security and maintenance systems of The Pearl, a 220-story building in Hong Kong, China that has such an intense infrastructure the operations center is a mile away. Other than Zhao Long

Path of Blood Movie Review: Harrowing and Uncomfortable

A harrowing look into the heart of war that is bound to make some viewers uncomfortable.
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When Path of Blood first opens, there is a video of a group of young jihadists laughing before they are about to carry on a planned mission. Then, there is a freeze-frame shot of one of the jihadists before the film’s title card is revealed. That one shot illustrates the documentary’s main theme. The main objective of Path of Blood is to show that war is a winless battle and it shows how easily youths can get swept into the battle. The film is mainly made up of archival footage shot by Al-Qaeda terrorists and shows their plot to overthrow

Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! Blu-ray Review: Undercover Yakuza Hijinks

Released in 1963, director Seijun Suzuki was on the brink of his artistic breakthrough with this comic gangland picture.
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Seijun Suzuki, one of the stable of directors at Nikkatsu in the '50s and '60s, Japan's oldest film studio, was fired in 1967 after his imaginative and visually inventive Branded to Kill completely confused the studio head. It was the culmination of an increasingly prickly relationship between Suzuki and the studio, as he worked very hard to put a personal touch and visual flair on what were standard studio genre scripts. He would happily undermine the generic beats and tone of the violent gangster movies he was tasked with making, if it would allow him to get something interesting on

Ant-Man and the Wasp Movie Review: A Pint-Sized Superhero Film with Big Heart

Ant-Man and the Wasp is an improvement of its predecessor that is flawed yet still entertaining.
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Earlier this year, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War showed us how bold and innovative Marvel Cinematic Universe films can be. However, as Marvel movies dramatically evolve, Ant-Man and the Wasp proves that the MCU can still provide light popcorn fare. Admittedly, Ant-Man and the Wasp does possess heavy dramatic stakes but for the most part, it’s escapist fun that manages to outdo its predecessor. The story takes place two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest and has avoided contact with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter

A Quiet Place Blu-ray Review: Shhhhhh

Surprisingly effect horror film from that goofy guy in The Office.
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To make a film filled with long silences and almost entirely free of audible dialogue is a bold choice. To then make it a genre picture - a horror film no less - is pretty close to insane. To then have it become one of the most critically and commercially successful films of the year is about as close to a miracle as Hollywood gets. A Quiet Place is a horror movie filled with monsters that quickly devour you the moment you make any sound. It focuses on one family (the credits list them as the Abbotts, but I don’t

Lean on Pete Blu-ray Review: A Boy and His Horse

This is not just another saccharine horse drama.
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I can’t begin to tell you how many times I expected Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete to fall in the same league as Seabiscuit, Hidalgo, Secretariat, and so many other films about horses and horse racing. Sure, I knew this was going to be more for adults, since it is rated R, and it is an A24 release. The latter usually means we’re in for something different, and that certainly is the case here. Charley (Charlie Plummer) is a 16-year-old boy living with his out-of-control father, Ray (Travis Fimmel), who struggles to make ends meet, but is always up for

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) Blu-ray Review

This is recommend for fans of the character and for these type of comedic shorts.
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As mentioned in my review of Volume 1, Friz Freleng was an instrumental figure in animation history because of his work on Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. He and producer David H. DePatie went on to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Kino Lorber Animation has been releasing that company's work on Blu-ray. The latest title is The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 2, continuing with the character's next 20 theatrical shorts. Depending on the cartoon, the Pink Panther continues to find himself either a chaotic force or on the receiving end of one, both resulting in a lot of laughs.

The Last House on the Left Blu-ray Review: A Video Nasty Gets Its Day

Wes Craven's first film gets an excellent new set from Arrow Video.
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A few weeks ago I called a dirt-bike drama from Paul Verhoeven a vile piece of work. It was sexist, homophobic, and all around brutish in his depiction of teenagers in Holland. Yet here I am about to give a much more positive review to Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left, a film that depicts brutal violence, torture, rape, and murder. The natural question is why do I find one film’s depiction of deplorable things vile and the other’s depiction of the same and worse somewhat entertaining? The answer lies both in genre and directorial intent. Spetters is

Sicario: Day of the Soldado Movie Review: Hollow, Sloppy, and Pointless

Not only a pointless sequel but a miserable film-watching experience on various levels.
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The 2015 crime thriller Sicario was a morality tale about justice, vengeance, and power meticulously crafted by director Denis Villeneuve. Although there was an established antagonist, Villeneuve went an interesting route by exploring the reasons the characters had for hunting down the main villain rather than focusing on the villain himself. Villeneuve may not have been involved with the film’s sequel, Day Of The Soldado, but surely, the filmmakers involved would still retain his directorial sensibilities, right? Wrong. We don’t have the same meditative tale of corruption and revenge that was the first film. Instead, we get a sequel that

Miracles Blu-ray Review: Sometimes It Takes a Lot of Small Miracles to Make a Big One

An entertaining story that has a number of familiar faces and a happy ending that would make a nice addition to anyone’s collection.
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In a small village somewhere in the jungles of South America, the young daughter of a tribal chief has become deathly ill. Kayum (Adalberto Martinez), the respected witch doctor, is called in to heal her, but even his powers cannot cure the girl. Finding himself staked to the ground and left to rot in the sun, Kayum calls out to God to bring him a real doctor that can save her. But his only response is a thunderstorm. Thankfully for the little girl, the thunderstorm is more than what it appears to be. And while that storm rages on another

I Can Only Imagine Blu-ray Review: The Song Is Amazing. The Movie Is Not.

A nice story that is poorly executed and leaves us with too many questions.
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In March of 2018, everyone at my Church started talking about a new movie based on the MercyMe hit song. I was skeptical for two reasons. One, my experience is that Christians are so starving for content that they’ll eat ground round and say it tastes like filet mignon. Two, every time I asked someone why they liked the movie, all they talked about was the song. The song is amazing. The movie is not. It’s ground round and it’s not prepared very well. In a film filled with stereotypes, one-dimensional performances, and unexplored storylines, J. Michael Finley, who looks

Disorganized Crime Blu-ray Review: Is It an Action Film or a Comedy? Or Is It Just Disorganized?

I really liked the characters and really enjoyed the performances.
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Frank Salazar (Corbin Bernsen) is a skilled bank robber from the East Coast who is currently hiding out from the law in a small town in Montana. But true to his nature, he finds himself scoping out the local bank. When he finds that the bank is holding an exceptionally large amount of cash, he comes up with a plan to rob it and contacts four of his friends to help him pull off the job. Before he can hook up with his buddies George (Ed O’Neill) and Bill (Daniel Roebuck), two cops who have been chasing him all the

Jack the Giant Killer (1962) Blu-ray Review: The Original Mockbuster

Kino Lorber Studio Classics debuts the infamous Harryhausen knock-off in HD, complete with the incredulous musical variation as a bonus.
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"If they could do it, I can do it!" At some point in life or another, some of you have found yourselves saying something along those lines. You may also have also found yourselves coming to the realization shortly after that you could not do whatever it was the other person(s) succeeded in doing so well, usually due to pesky annoyances such as experience and training. Indeed, that was essentially the entire reason for producer Edward Small's 1962 fantasy flick Jack the Giant Killer ‒ which is now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics ‒ being summoned into

Pacific Rim: Uprising Review: Too Many Characters, Not Enough Kaiju

There are some great action scenes and some fun surprises, but those were not enough to win this fan over.
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The action in Pacific Rim: Uprising takes place 10 years after the initial breach that allowed the Kaiju to try and destroy the Earth the first time. The global community has done a lot of rebuilding and healing from the first attack. But of course when things are going well, there are those who think that peace is forever. And while I don't want to spoil the film for those of you who still want to see it, let's just say that sometimes those who helped save the world are not always on the side of peace. I loved the

Boundaries Movie Review: A Solid Escapist Road Movie

Despite its predictability, Boundaries still succeeds thanks to its profound storytelling and great acting.
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One good way to describe Boundaries is that it does yet doesn’t live up to its title. It doesn’t offer any boundary-breaking storytelling. But it still is a poignant demonstration of what happens when one does or doesn’t impose limitations on the behavior of their children. Again, it isn’t anything we haven’t seen or been told before. But Boundaries is still worth recommending for being a simplistic, well-acted escapist road film. Boundaries follows the story of a single mother named Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga) whose life is in slight chaos. Her artistic son Henry (Lewis MacDougall) keeps getting into trouble

The Addiction Blu-ray Review: A Very Disturbing but Highly Intelligent Tale of Urban Vampirism

I definitely have to recommend this shocking and masterful film.
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As a filmmaker, Abel Ferrara has always stepped outside of the mold to deliver highly provocative works of humanity going completely awry. Whether it's insanity (The Driller Killer), female revenge (Ms. 45), hip-hop culture (King of New York), or police corruption (Bad Lieutenant), you can always count on him to piss off critics and audiences everywhere. He is a director of amazing extremity and unapologetic cruelty, and his very underrated 1995 cerebral horror classic, The Addiction, represents both at its most low-key and uncomfortable stride. Shot in crisp black and white, the film stars the always amazing Lili Taylor as

The Bloodthirsty Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Dracula Goes East

Three Japanese movies directed by Michio Yamamoto that involve Western-style vampires, with style, atmosphere, and some decent sprays of blood.
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As one of the great national cinemas, the Japanese movie industry has invented whole cloth many genres and excelled in many non-native filmic conventions… except arguably the Western-style horror movie. Until the late '90s, when The Ring brought out a rather short-lived craze of ghost stories (usually with a long black-haired ghost, which is cribbed from Japanese folk-lore), Japanese example of horror were rather sparse, and rather different than Western films. In the West some of the acknowledged greatest movies of the silent era are horror films. There are several distinct studio and national traditions: Universal horror creatures, the '50s

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Portrait of the Artist As a Fascinating Man

Director Paul Schrader crafts a daring, spellbinding biography of Japanese writer Yukio Mishima.
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Yukio Mishima carved out a career as an esteemed playwright and author before ending his life by taking over a military facility and performing seppuku, a ritualistic form of suicide. Paul Schrader's daring film traces his life by having actors perform vignettes from some of Mishima's most famous works, painting a brilliant picture of this intriguing man. The film is notable not just for its subject but for its structure. After a brief color intro, it moves to black and white for the story of Mishima's childhood, then shifts to color for multiple vignettes that represent later stages of his

The Woman in the Window (1944) Blu-ray Review: Early Noir is Excellent

Fritz Lang's classic noir is nearly ruined by a terrible ending, but what comes before it is quite good.
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Fritz Lang’s 1944 crime drama The Woman in the Window is one of a handful of films that became the basis for what the Cahiers du Cinema called "film noir." These films (which include The Maltese Falcon, Murder My Sweet, Double Indemnity, and others) were beloved by French critics and filmmakers in the 1950s and '60s and helped usher in the French New Wave. The Woman in the Window was named as the best film noir of all time by Paste magazine. I wouldn’t go quite that far, especially as it is marred by a tacked on happy ending that

Ocean's 8 Movie Review: A Fun Escapist Spinoff

Ocean's 8 is entertaining popcorn fare. Nothing more, nothing less.
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Even though it could’ve been its own original property rather than an Ocean’s spinoff, Ocean’s 8 is still enjoyable popcorn fare. It may not be perfect but it’s still a fun moviegoing experience featuring terrific, witty performances from its A-list cast. Ocean’s 8 follows the story of Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the sister of con artist Danny Ocean. After being released from prison on parole, Debbie quickly turns back to her life of crime. Debbie quickly assembles a group of women: Lou (Cate Blanchett), Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Nine Ball (Rihanna), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), and Constance (Awkwafina),

Hereditary Movie Review: Give Toni Collette The Best Actress Oscar

The film itself is a twisted experience that had me quivering by the time the credits rolled.
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It’s hard to know how exactly to describe Hereditary as a film. On one hand, it’s a dark descent into a person’s damaged psyche. On the other hand, it’s an enigmatic supernatural thriller that serves an allegory for the “demons” we inherit from our family. The film itself is a twisted experience that had me quivering by the time the credits rolled. But one thing about Hereditary that is perfectly describable is the brilliance of Toni Collette’s leading performance. Collette gives what is perhaps the best performance in a horror film in recent memory. One that will potentially join the

Spetters Blu-ray Review: A Dirt Bike Drama that Lives in the Gutter

Paul Verhoeven's dirt bike drama is a vile, sexist, homophobic piece of work that just might tell the truth of teenaged boys' life in Holland during the 1980s.
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Paul Verhoeven’s 1980 dirt-bike drama Spetters is a vile piece of work. It's the sort of film that finds sexual assault hilarious and believes a closeted gay man only needs a brutal gang raping to figure out who he is. Yet for all its disgusting brutishness, it has moments of surprising tenderness and has the feeling of truth in terms of Dutch youth culture in the 1980s. It's about three young men, Rien (Hans van Tongeren) and Hans (Maarten Spanjer,) both dirt-biker racers, and their mechanic Eef (Toon Agterberg), who dreams of fame, fortune, and beautiful women. Their lives are

RBG Movie Review: Evidence Why Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Definitely the 'Notorious RBG'

Besides being a great documentary, I can see this film being taught in classrooms across disciplines in the future.
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As a woman living in 2018, it can be easy to take the rights and opportunities that women currently have for granted. These rights and opportunities were never guaranteed to women and plenty of men fought to keep women "in their place." It was not just the natural progression of things that got women things like the right to vote, the ability to work outside the home, the right to get credit without a husband, or the right to join the military. It was the perseverance of activists and advocates that fought against the institution of patriarchy that helped get

The Workers Cup Movie Review: Simplistic Almost to a Fault

Neither sentimental nor filled with heavy dramatic stakes, The Workers Cup is a simple demonstration of why people play sports.
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In 2022, Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup and its stadium is being built by 1.6 million migrant workers. Sixty percent of the workers are some of the world’s poorest people like India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. They work tirelessly to ensure that the one of the world’s biggest events can be held in the world’s richest country. The Workers Cup focuses on a select amount of workers who are chosen to compete in The Workers Cup, a football tournament for laborers. The tournament is sponsored by the 2022 World Cup and 24 construction companies were invited to select teams

Jackass: Complete Movie and TV Collection DVD Review: Not for the Faint of Heart

Watching Jackass is a challenge in and of itself, but it's hard not to laugh at the sheer idiocy and recklessness on display.
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Tied to the release of Johnny Knoxville's Action Point, Paramount has released Jackass: Complete Movie and TV Collection, an 11-disc set of previously released DVDs of their movies and TV shows that showcase the outrageous high jinks, stunts, and pranks performed by the Jackass cast, which besides Knoxville includes Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Dave England, and Ehren McGhehey as well as a number of recurring folks behind the camera. The Jackass fellas are like those troublesome kids who cause a commotion in the neighborhood with their crazy antics, pestering the old

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