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A Woman, A Part Movie Review: Ladies on Edge and on the Edge

Elisabeth Subrin's directorial debut zeroes in on women in entertainment.
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Whether it be directing or writing features, or just leading movies of substance, audiences are frustrated about how women are faring in the world of entertainment. Director Elisabeth Subrin's debut, A Woman, A Part explores the different facets of the female personality with an aim towards demanding added nuance regarding women in cinema, creating a "women's picture" without the perjoratives associated with the term. As the title implies, women are more than parts trotted out for a token bit of estrogen on a poster, and though Subrin's assertions are life-changing, the presentation will please indie fans. Anna (Maggie Siff) is

Appointment with Crime Blu-ray Review: Tell Crime You'll Need to Reschedule

A stylish opening sequence is not a harbinger of things to come.
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A relatively obscure British crime thriller, John Harlow’s noirish Appointment with Crime (1947) nabs a few style points early on before settling in as a dull programmer that doesn’t so much twist and turn as it does lazily bend around a couple of easily navigable corners. William Hartnell, best known as the first incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, stars as Leo Martin, a professional thief who gets caught when a jewelry smash-and-grab goes wrong, his wrists shattered by a security grate that comes abruptly crashing down. Despite assurances from boss Gus Loman (Raymond Lovell) that he won’t abandon

Private Property (1960) Movie Review: Seamy and Sexy in Equal Measure

This underseen 1960s noir is a precursor to the 1990s erotic thriller.
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It's an average day in sunny Los Angeles. Two men - you wouldn't immediately avoid them but they definitely possess an agenda - come out of the haze with crime on their mind. So begins Leslie Stevens' little seen noir, Private Property. The low-budget film, shot in ten days, recently premiered at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival, bringing to light a twisted, sexually charged noir that ties in to today's gender dynamics. Duke and Boots (Corey Allen and Warren Oates) are two small-time hoods. Boots is a virgin intent on proving his virility to Duke, and a random encounter

Fathom Events and TCM Present Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Grab some chocolate (and a bag of popcorn) and strap yourself in for this delightful movie playing once again on the big screen.
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As any cinephile with children can tell you, it's a challenge deciding what movies are appropriate for them to watch. There is violence to consider, plus language, sex, moral lessons, and a whole host of things to ruminate over before letting your wee one’s little brain get bombarded with stimulating images. Honestly, I tend to lean towards letting my daughter watch just about anything she wants as I truly believe young minds are able to digest and work through a whole lot more than we give them credit for. I rarely put this to the test though, as she’s just

Twilight Time Presents: From the Dark to the Way Too Light

What do two film noirs, three westerns, one failed Charlton Heston adventure epic, and one of the worst giallo movies have in common? They've all seen the light of Blu-ray.
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A timeless, tiresome proverb tells us it is darkest before the dawn, and we have all surely met that one idiot who is always more than happy to impose some form of such an idiom upon you whenever things aren't looking overly bright for you. Fortunately, there is no lack of lighting in this sextet of moving picture offerings from Twilight Time. In the instance of the two film noir titles included in this lot ‒ Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) and a re-issue of The Big Heat (1953) ‒ the lighting is always perfect. When we're in the great

T-Rex Movie Review: A Teenage Gold Medalist is Still a Teenager

T-Rex thrives in its moments of tranquility, which eerily and excitingly juxtapose the moments of explicit competition and internationally sanctioned brutality.
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Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari’s spacious and often tranquil sports documentary follows boxer Claressa “T-Rex” Shields before, during, and after her historic gold-medal victory at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Born, raised, and trained in Flint, Michigan - of water-crisis fame - T-Rex fought through the amateur ranks to become the first female boxer to take home the gold at the Olympics when she was seventeen years old. Ever on the precipice of history, Claressa’s story is bold, unbridled, and told in a way that highlights the essence of her character rather than a distorted or inflated image

The Neon Demon Movie Review: A Glittering Mess You Must See

Showgirls for Millennials.
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I entered the theater with feelings of doubt prior to watching Nicolas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon. The one-two punch that was Bronson and Drive led to the utter train wreck of Refn's Ryan Gosling follow-up, Only God Forgives, so the director is 2-1 in my book, and critics division on Neon Demon is as wide as our current political party lines. Three critics walked out before the film was over and audience members were shouting at the screen. When the lights went up, I was left confused. Was this a prestige picture by a director touted as a "revolutionary,"

Charlie Chan 3-Film Collection DVD Review: Honorable Circle, Now Complete

Confucius say: 'Last of previously unreleased titles from franchise finally find way to disc. Hell, yes.'
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It's usually easy to say exactly where a film franchise begins. Universal Studios' Jaws (1975) movies officially started with Steven Spielberg's Jaws (though we can see early traces of the film's formula on display in Spielberg's Duel) and came to a hilariously anticlimactic conclusion in Jaws: The Revenge (1987). However, numerous foreign-made "sequels" and outright ripoffs have managed to confuse people who evidently find it difficult to differentiate the real deal from a school of blue fish. In the case of another film franchise ‒ that of the Charlie Chan legacy ‒ it truly is difficult to pinpoint what began

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 2 Blu-ray Review: Some Things Don't Translate

A second volume of movies from Nikkatsu's '60s heyday branches out from just crime movies, with occasionally baffling results.
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Japanese cinema is samurai showdowns, tough gangster pictures, or calm, quietly devastating domestic dramas. Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi. Oh, and Godzilla. Maybe a few decades of nothing for a while, then long-haired ghosts and incredibly violent weird movies by Takashi Miike. That’s what the industry and art form looked like to even an interested observer not too long ago. There were a few other movies that came in through the cracks (Afterlife in the late '90s, Kitano’s fireworks before that) but the vision of Japanese cinema, internationally, was fairly stable for a long of film enthusiasts. With their Nikkatsu releases in

Valley of Love Movie Review: Isabelle and Gerard and the Goddamn Heat

Nicloux writes and directs this strange and lovely odyssey through Death Valley.
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Guillaume Nicloux writes and directs the considerate Valley of Love, which kind of has one foot in Maurice Pialat’s 1980 film Loulou and the other in a spectral inversion of reality. It positions its two glorious stars - Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu - nearly as themselves and dumps them in Death Valley. Valley of Love was France’s 2015 Cannes entry and it resonates as a classical road movie, putting two screen icons on a path to elusive elements like self-discovery, resolution, and peace. Nothing comes easy and Christophe Offenstein’s exceptional tracking shots ensure the audience is along for every

Central Intelligence Movie Review: The End is Near

It’s just not funny.
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I have long since theorized that if Kevin Hart and Melissa McCarthy ever made a buddy film together, it would signify the beginning of the end of life as we know it. They have made enough terrible films on their own to start a club. To escape the record-setting heat (not meant to be a reference to McCarthy’s The Heat, a record-setting film in terms of how bad I thought it sucked) this past weekend, I headed for the local theatre and the new release Central Intelligence starring Mr. Hart and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. After struggling through the majority

Twilight Time Presents: Dramatic Epics from Time (and Even Space!)

An infinite number of stars. Six movies. Positively no refunds.
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Whether you attended only one week of high school or an entire day in the food and beverage industry, you're more than highly likely to be aware of something called "drama." Generally, it's a toxic element of life, which many of us tend to ignore (or at least pretend to when you really, matter-of-factly thrive on it). But when it comes to the moving pictures, the drama has a tendency to be much more fulfilling. Not because it's healthier (though technically, it is, since we don't actually have to live it), but because there's a darn fine chance it has

LAFF 2016 Review: Dr. Feelgood

Opioid addiction and one doctor's questionable practices are brought to light.
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The first rule of the Hippocratic oath can be recited by those without a medical degree: First, do no harm. But in a world where nearly all problems can be fixed, or at least sated, with the help of a pill, questions crop up as to whether the cure is as bad as the disease. The recent death of Prince through opioid overdose only makes Eve Marson's documentary, Dr. Feelgood, tragically timelier. Dr. Feelgood tells the tale of Virginia doctor William Hurwitz, accused of overprescribing opioid medications to his patients who see him as an angel of mercy. Audiences first

Zootopia Blu-ray Review: The Great Bunny Detective

Disney's latest animated adventure focuses on an odd couple of buddies tasked with setting aside their differences for the greater good.
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Judy Hopps is a bunny. Nick Wilde is a fox. In the peaceful animal world of Zootopia, that doesn’t automatically make them enemies, since predators and prey exist in perfect harmony. When a few predators mysteriously start disappearing and reverting to their primal ferocity, they threaten to destroy the urban utopia unless rookie Officer Hopps and her devious acquaintance Nick can crack the case. Although it’s a cartoon, Zootopia isn’t just for kids. Its recurring theme of bigotry blatantly uses the different animal classes in place of race relations, while elsewhere amusing riffs on The Godfather and Breaking Bad make

La Chienne Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Early Renoir is a Delight

Criterion does a masterful job of bringing an early sound picture to live.
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Life has not gone well for Maurice Legrand (Michel Simon). He works as a cashier for a hosiery company and is generally despised by his colleagues. In an opening scene, they openly mock and scorn him for being a wet blanket and for having to run home to his wife instead of going out on the town with them. The wife, too, rather deplores Maurice and spends nearly every moment of her time on screen berating him. The only pleasure the poor fellow gets from life is painting and even that is spat upon by his wife who declares he

Blood Bath Blu-ray Review: Bloody Interesting

Sometimes the behind-the-scenes stories are more interesting than the actual films.
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Roger Corman’s name is synonymous with low-budget, independently financed b-pictures. He’s produced over 400 films in his career, most of which come with titles like Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda or Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women. They almost always made money because he knows the basics of filmmaking and he has his finger on the pulse of what's going to sell. He also gave a great many A-list directors and actors their start in the business including folks like James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and Jack Nicholson. A famous bit of spurious trivia says that he filmed Little

Fathom Events Presents Ghostbusters (1984) on the Big Screen

Who you gonna call?
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From the moment it was announced that they were remaking Ghostbusters with women as the leads, the Internet lost its collective minds. Thousands of people have gone insane with hatred towards a movie they’ve not yet seen. As with any passionate internet wave, the backlash was as intense as it was inevitable. Cries of sexism came fast and furious as if anyone who wasn’t completely in love with the idea of this reboot hated all women. Now of course, if you spend any amount of time on the various internet boards in which this film is discussed, you’ll find a

Warcraft Movie Review: It's for Those Who Grew up Playing the Game

It's also for the moms and dads who want to watch their children enjoy this bit of fantasy come to life.
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The year was 1999. I watched my then-boyfriend play this fantasy/strategy game on an old Windows computer and I thought to myself, “Hey, I like planning! I’ll give this a try!” That game was the Battle.net edition of Warcraft II and I played it for hours on end. I liked the sound of the little guy who proudly announced, “Job done!” when he was done building a house or chopping down trees. I planned my villages and managed my time, always waiting for something to come in and distract me from my work. When it happened, I’d panic every time,

Time to Choose Movie Review: The Truth is Still Inconvenient, and More Important

A new generation is set to inherit our mistakes, but we still have a choice...
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A decade has passed since Al Gore reported to us about climate change, and won an Academy Award, with An Inconvenient Truth. Since then cars have become more gas efficient (or entirely electric) and not a day goes by that articles about food consumption or drought pop up to remind us of the real effects of climate change. Documentarian Charles Ferguson's Time to Choose espouses the same rhetoric as the Gore doc, but with added scrutiny towards individual pollutants destroying our world. Opening by documenting Earth's majesty, those who enjoyed the BBC's Planet Earth series might experience some deja vu.

Le Amiche Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Antonioni Drains the Passion from Melodrama

This middle-period entry from the Italian master hints at what's to come, but stands on its own as an interesting work.
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It’s tempting to label Michelangelo Antonioni’s fourth feature film Le Amiche a transitional work, as it shuns Neorealism and embraces melodrama like some of his earlier work, but also moves toward the aggressively modernist sensibilities that would define subsequent masterpieces like L’Avventura, La Notte and Red Desert. While it’s true that Le Amiche only obliquely studies interpersonal alienation, it’s also more than just a bellwether for the more experimental work to come. With its long, meandering takes and restrained performances, it acts like a melodrama that’s had the passion slowly drained out of it, and stands on its own as

The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead Movie Review: Behind the Punk Music

This movie should have more rocking and less talking.
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When you hear the words "punk music," the first names that pop up are usually The Sex Pistols, The Clash, or The Ramones. In recent years, there were bands like My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte, and Fall Out Boy joining the ranks. I’m sorry, but it’s hard to consider these bands as punk. There are way better bands that don’t get any exposure but should, groups like Catbath, Fuzzy Machete, Rapedoor, Breed, and TsuShiMaMiRe. One band that helped start the punk movement and the one that recorded the very first album was The Dammed. However, they never got much credit

Killer Dames: Two Gothic Chillers by Emilio P. Miraglia Blu-ray Review: Killer Queens?

Arrow Video places two more (partly) forgotten gialli on the map in a box set that some folks will kill for.
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Following in on the high, blood-stained heels of their previously-released gialli box set, Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercoli, Arrow Video has once again assembled a mini ensemble to two dissimilarly similar titles from a somewhat forgotten Italian genre filmmaker. This time, we are allotted the opportunity to discern (and maybe even dissect) two unique thrillers from the realm of movies fueled by sex, violence, funky fashions, even funkier music, and J&B Scotch aplenty, both of which were helmed and brought to fruition by one Emilio P. Miraglia. Much like Ercoli ‒ whose films were made and distributed

LAFF 2016 Review: Free CeCe

A dark examination of violence and imprisonment against trans women of color.
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With trans issues at the forefront of several legal squabbles, it isn't surprising that documentaries have cast their eye towards analyzing the world of LGBTQI issues and the broken justice system which repeatedly fails them. Acting as a close cousin to the fantastic Southwest of Salem is Free CeCe, a similar story of prosecutorial misjustice and a sobering look at violence against trans women of color. On a hot summer night in 2011, Chrishaun "CeCe" McDonald was attacked by a group of white people while out walking with friends. In the ensuing melee, a man died and CeCe is arrested,

The Fits Movie Review: Confidence and Dance Are a Fitful Combo

Director Anna Rose Holmer crafts a coming-of-age film on par with The Witch
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Donovan once sang it "must be the season of the witch" and with Robert Eggers' New England folktale, The Witch, and Anna Rose Holmer's The Fits, Donovan might be on to something. The Fits leaves audiences simultaneously enraptured and curious, concoting a hazy world remarkably unremarkable, filled with double meanings and symbolism. One of the year's best films with a powerhouse performance from newcomer Royalty Hightower makes The Fits a "fitting" entry in a cinematic landscape examining female adolescence. Toni (Hightower) is a young girl interested in boxing but who dreams of joining her gym's local dance troupe filled with

Tab Hunter Confidential Movie Review: It Tells the Hard Truth about the Darkside of Stardom

A personal and ultimate look at the complicated career of a 1950s Hollywood heartthrob as told by Tab himself.
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As we all know, Hollywood can be a make-or-break industry, creating stars and destroying them. Some make it, while others don't. I think no one knows that better than Tab Hunter, the once dominating hunk of the 1950s, who became the biggest sensation of that decade. He was considered at the time the ultimate blue-eyed, blond-haired stud who graced the covers of countless magazines, and starred in many films. His amazingly good looks and all-American boyish sex appeal drove many of his fans to extreme frenzy, making him the epitome of the young matinee idol whom all others are measured.

KISS Rocks Vegas Cinema Event Review: Exactly What You'd Expect from a KISS Concert

The only issue in regards to the concert is that every time they perform they give the exact same performance.
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Fathom Events is known for bringing one-time events into movie theatres throughout the country. These presentations can range from plays and ballets to full-scale rock ‘n' roll concerts like the one KISS filmed during their residency in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Casino. Before the film started, there was some KISS trivia flashed on the screen. The best two were how on December 31, 1972, Gene Simmons debuted his fire-breathing trick and managed to set fire to his hair at the same time. And the other was that during KISS’s first photo shoot the photographer did not realize they

Me Before You Movie Review: A Melodramatic Romance and Questionable Portrayal of Disability

Jojo Moyes' novel gives audiences a generic portrait of disability couched in a formulaic melodrama.
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A common technique in classic film of the 1930s-1950s was disabling, or other means of eliciting tears, one half of a romantic couple with the subsequent melodrama inspiring tears and pity in equal measure. Just how would the two lovers survive in such a cruel world? This weekend's adaptation of Jojo Moyes' novel, Me Before You, seeks to tap in to the melodrama of old, but in 2016 it's far too generic and unpleasant. After losing her job, Louisa "Lou" Clark (Emilia Clarke) takes a chance at being the caretaker to a wealthy disabled man named Will (Sam Claflin). Will

The Naked Island Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Japanese film explores the travails of a poor farming family without the use of dialogue.
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Kaneto Shindo’s film about the daily struggles of a poor farming family has one major hook: a total absence of dialogue. Filmed in black and white on a rocky speck of an island off the coast of Japan, the film initially plays more like a documentary than a narrative film until a tragic event unfolds in the final act. Up until that point, the daily monotony of hardscrabble farming life wears out its welcome as a film subject long before its allotted time is over. The family consists of a middle-aged man, his younger wife, and their two young sons.

The Assassin Blu-ray Review: Mesmerizingly Beautiful, Maddeningly Obtuse

Hsiao Hsien Hou won Best Director at Cannes for this gorgeous, but largely plotless and completely unsatisfying historical drama.
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It’s hard when reviewing a movie to admit that you don’t get it. If you have enough ego to broadcast your opinions on films, you probably have enough ego to be sure you have something interesting to say about them. So when a movie confounds you, there can be the temptation to pretend you get what it’s doing, for appearance’s sake. This movie isn’t smarter than me, after all! Well, The Assassin has confounded me, and I’m not sure if that’s because it was smarter than me, or what it was trying to do was something I am not receptive

Killer Dames - Two Gothic Chillers By Emilio Miraglia Blu-ray Review

Arrow Video creates another fantastic set featuring two Italian giallo films.
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Emilio Miraglia rose through the ranks of Italian cinema in the early '60s, making his bones as an assistant director on over 15 films before taking the reins as director. After a couple of mostly forgotten action flicks and a heist picture, he made two well regarded (at least among genre fans) giallos before turning to the Spaghetti Western genre. He directed six films between 1967 and 1972 and then completely disappeared from cinema all together. It's the giallos he is remembered for and Arrow Video has put the pair together in another of their fantastic, limited edition releases. A

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