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The Lusty Men DVD Review: An RKO Rodeo Picture

Robert Mitchum and Arthur Kennedy are two wild studs that only Susan Hayward can handle.
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While a day at the rodeo is not typically considered to be the most interesting of settings for a motion picture outside of a weird short subject produced by folks in the midwest, there have been a few notable exceptions to shine across the silver screen from time to time. Some of you may cite Eight Seconds with former teen heartthrob Luke Perry to have been of interest. That said, the obscure '80s music lover in me will always assume you're talking about the short-lived Canadian new wave group of the same name whenever you mention said movie - for,

Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend DVD Review: The Feel Good Flick of '57

OK, so Randolph Scott, Bret Maverick, and The Green Hornet walk into a bar dressed as Quakers...
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Towards the end of his prolific career as one of Hollywood's favorite cowboy stars, Randolph Scott was prone to signing on for the occasional odd outing in pictures. Just five years before changing his clean-cut good guy image in Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country, wherein the actor subsequently retired from the industry altogether, Scott found himself in a modest, somewhat offbeat Warner Bros. production entitled Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend. Though it would prove to be the final collaboration Warner Bros. had with Mr. Scott, it also highlighted several performers at the beginning of their own careers: James Garner and

Son of a Gunfighter DVD Review: Sundown of the American Gundown

The Warner Archive brings us the home video debut of an odd, early Euro western prototype.
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As the middle of the 1960s approached, American cinema bid two of its mightiest moneymakers a small, barely-audible adieu. First and foremost was the genre of classic western film, which had been done so many times since the motion picture industry had established its firm roots in Hollywood that studio executives eventually had to come up with box office ploys such as CinemaScope in order to keep audiences coming in instead of tuning in to watch Rawhide at home on the TV set. The second was that of CinemaScope itself; a procedure that every other studio had taken to copying

Under Fire (1983) Blu-ray Review: Nick Nolte Knows How to Shoot (a Camera)

Twilight Time's new Blu-ray release is most assuredly the best possible way to experience this underrated gem.
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With a story focusing on a journalist, a photographer, and a revolution, Twilight Time's release of Roger Spottiswoode's 1983 drama Under Fire sounds like a title that should have been released with their September 2014 line-up - as it would have made a great pairing with Oliver Stone's Salvador. But while both movies are based on actual events involving members of the news media becoming involved in a dangerous rebellion between indigenous oppressed folk and corrupt politicians, Spottiswoode's elegantly crafted 1983 film graciously succeeds in rising above just about everything Stone bombarded his viewers with three years later. Plus, not

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon Movie Review: An Amazing Documentary

The story of entertainment manager, Shep Gordon, who does business a little differently.
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Most stories you hear about managers in the entertainment business are tales of cutthroat men and women who only care about money. The people they represent are only a means to that money, and if it isn’t about money, they aren’t interested. But Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon is not such a story. Director Mike Myers (yes, that Mike Myers) documents the life of this accidental Hollywood insider whose career as a manager was based on compassion and not greed. Through historical footage, interviews with Shep’s clients (who he considers family), and fun reenactments, Myers has put together an

The Two Faces of January Movie Review: Sex and Suspense from Three Strong Actors

Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, and Oscar Isaac in an entertaining tangle of greed, lust, and guilt from Patricia Highsmith.
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Patricia Highsmith’s novels have been the basis for one of Hitchcock’s greatest movies, the 1951 Strangers on a Train, as well as the endearingly nasty thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, directed by Anthony Minghella). While The Two Faces of January is nowhere near as compelling as those films, it’s still worth a look for anyone who values the pleasures of suspense and the vicarious lure of lust and larceny. It’s also an opportunity to see three somewhat underrated actors take on the kind of tough, nuanced roles that don’t win awards but that stick in your mind well after

The Adventures of the Wilderness Family Triple Feature DVD Review: The Off Grid Trilogy

Those lovable stinkin' hippies return in a compressed, single-disc/three-feature release for those of you on the cheap.
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Two years ago, Lionsgate Home Entertainment unveiled the first of a popular cinematic trilogy from not only another time, but for an entirely different kind of viewer altogether. 1975's The Adventures of the Wilderness Family offered up a unique form of motion picture escapism for moviegoers who had helped to bring the increasingly-overpopulated and polluted world to where it currently was. The tale told of the Robinsons, a family of four - father Skip, mother Pat, sister Jenny, and brother Toby - who decided their final tweet to civilization was to be "#OverIt", and promptly set out to live in

Classic Shorts from the Dream Factory, Volume 3 DVD Review: The Lost Stooges

The Warner Archive brings us six rare pre-Code shorts featuring The Three Stooges, including a previously thought-to-be-lost short rediscovered in 2013.
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The early filmic legacy of The Three Stooges - or the comedy troupe of Howard, Fine, and Howard, as they were sometimes known - is quite the bittersweet affair when viewed and compared to the later output the iconic team has since gone down in history for. Beginning via several different incarnations as stooges for vaudevillian Ted Healy (wherein the word "stooge" was used to define someone who played an audience member until called up onto stage), the antics of the leader and his outrageous flunkies became prime moving picture material fodder when representatives of an infant film industry started

The Believers (1987) Blu-ray Review: That Old Black Magic Has Me in Its Spell

Martin Sheen is in trouble, for he does not practice Santería. Nor does he have a crystal ball, for that matter.
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Today's younger generation of photoplay viewers probably only recognizes actor Martin Sheen as the father of Charlie and/or "the guy who starred in that one Vietnam movie with the boat and the napalm". An even smaller demographic will be able to go a step further on that front and classify him as the brother of cult B movie actor Joe Estevez. (Emilio never gets mentioned, and rightfully so.) In fact, it's almost hard to believe now that there was once a time that Marty was something of a formidable name on a movie marquee before he started to appear in

Steven Spielberg Director's Collection Blu-ray Review: Finally, Duel in HD!

Universal unveils the HD debuts of four of the iconic director's works in this eight-film set.
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With the fourth quarter upon us and the holiday season that comes with it closing in at an ever-alarming speed, it's the perfect time once again for studios to assemble various collections for established home video collectors and newbies alike. But whereas some sets will shamelessly repackage the same movies that have been released individually over the years, enclosing them in a shiny new shell for those whose are easily distracted by such things, others actually make their new releases of older catalogue titles worthwhile by including an assortment of movies that are actually new to the format in question.

The Vanishing (1993) Blu-ray Review: So Bad That It Actually Becomes Good

That smudged printing on Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland's résumés can be seen in a much clearer light now.
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Once upon a time, I received a copy of an Italian-made English-language movie that had been dubbed into Italian before somebody who obviously did not learn the King's language as their primary form of verbal communication next created English subtitles translated from the Italian translation. There was also an instance in photoplay history where an adaptation of Shakespeare was produced for German television; the Bard's original work transcribed into the local Germanic tongue, only to wind up dubbed back into English - from the German conversion, nonetheless - for a subsequent (and probably poorly-received) television airing in the United States

The Adventures of Marco Polo DVD Review: "The Princess Bride" of Its Day?

The Warner Archive re-releases a highly enjoyable epic of a box office bomb from 1938.
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As anyone who was taught in grade school about what a great benefactor Christopher Columbus was to the Natives on the New World has since gone on to discover, the telling of history is not always about the facts. And while a bit of whitewashing is absolutely unacceptable when it comes to one's education, taking such liberties generally makes a big screen motion picture more favorable to people whose only purpose is to be entertained. Ironically, the very same audience who drooled over Samuel Goldwyn's 1939 adaptation of Wuthering Heights - a film that stayed heavily from its own source

Are You Here Blu-ray Review: Never Fleshes Itself Out

Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakas blow smoke for emotional growth in Matthew Weiner's feature-film debut.
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Both charming and overwrought by a cadre of undeveloped plotlines and too many man-child clichés, Are You Here really is a genre all its own, habitual pot-smoking middle-aged men and the thoughtful women who love them. Just released on Blu-ray and DVD, it’s an endearing first feature-length film from writer-director Matthew Weiner, the creator and driving force behind Mad Men, which for seven seasons has been an emotional examination of mid-century soullessness, drawing its power from tense silences and character deceits. Are You Here runs eagerly in the other direction with women who demand living in the moment and the

Audrey Rose Blu-ray Review: An "Exorcist" for the Neil Simon Crowd

Twilight Time brings vintage horror movie lovers a misaligned tale of reincarnation and possession.
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The mark of a new decade brings with it much anticipation of something new. Something special. A particular type of renovation that will outdo the victories and faults of its predecessor, whether it be in the world of fashion, music, and film. And the '70s definitely ushered in a venerable revolution in all three of those departments, from incredible (and somewhat incorrigible) clothing, to that funky music a certain unknown audience member shouted for white boy Rob Parissi to play, and right down to an entirely new era of the moving pictures: creepy kids. Though the concept of a child

The Blob (1988) Blu-ray Review: Everybody's in the Pink Now

Twilight Time delivers a dazzling HD re-release of the cult favorite '80s remake and it's swell, kids!
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Though many a motion picture updating replete with a bit of blood founds its way into theaters during the '60s and '70s, it truly wasn't until the 1980s rolled around when things really started to change in the field of horror remakes. Mainly, these reworkings occasionally boasted not only a vastly reimagined storyline, but usually included an impressive array of special effects ranging from optical to make-up. Sadly, these things have been replaced by CGI and - worse - an endless supply of dulled-down, MPAA-friendly lifelessness in the countless array of contemporary moving picture letdowns that befall us today. A

Camp X-Ray Movie Review: Exploring the Gray in Guantanamo Bay

Kristen Stewart finally shows her talent in this thought-provoking drama.
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In the thirteen years since the events of September 11th, the "detainees" in Guantanamo and their rights have been hotly debated. Director Peter Sattler tells a story of individuals, where the soldiers are just as helpless to explain the events in the prison as those serving time, many without ever being given due process of the law, hoping to cast light on the gray area in-between with his debut feature film Camp X-Ray. Despite some cumbersome pacing issues, Camp X-Ray is a bittersweet, evocative tale of two people just as burdened and bound by the U.S. military, albeit for different

Chef Blu-ray Combo Pack Review: Not the Easiest to Digest

Many small scenes that work by themselves but when strung together they do not connect even though on paper they should.
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Food trucks are in right now. This craze started a few years ago when these mobile restaurants would tweet their location and followers would appear waiting to try the latest fusion creation. They still are in, but less of an ingenious idea as the movie Chef makes you think. Taking high-end cuisine to the streets, John Favreau’s newest film Chef is a feel-good family drama that fails to leave any lasting taste in your mouth. Coming off of directing big-budget films like the Iron Man franchise and acting in roles in Identity Thief and The Wolf of Wall Street, Favreau’s

La Bamba (1987) Blu-ray Review: Lou Diamond Phillips Debuts As Ritchie Valens

The film that made you rue the day Los Lobos first started saturating radio airplay returns in High-Definition.
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For my money, biographical motion pictures are often comparable to those certain speciality stores in strip malls only a small reserve of individuals really go to. Cartridge World. Yankee Candle. The As Seen On TV Store. You know the type of retail outlet I refer to. You even drive past them on a regular basis, occasionally taking the liberty of briefly peeking through their windows to see if there's actually anything interesting in there, whether or not they truly do have customers or are just cleverly disguised another drug front, or if the employees of the outfit are having crazy

The Prosecution of An American President DVD Review: Former Manson Prosecutor Takes on George W. Bush

The Prosecution of An American President should make you angry, no matter what side of the political fence you are on.
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Vincent Bugliosi is best known as the prosecutor of Charles Manson, and for writing the book Helter Skelter (1974) about the trial. Unlike Marcia Clark’s efforts with O.J. Simpson, Bugliosi was successful, and his bestselling book led to an ongoing writing career. Considering his history, he is about the last person I would have expected to present a case against George W. Bush in the new DVD The Prosecution of An American President (2014). Bugliosi’s contention that President Bush waged an illegal war in Iraq is very old ground for the left. While Bush was in office, there was even

The Great Race (1965) Blu-ray Review: Blake Edwards, How Great Thou Art

A failure upon its release, this epic adventure makes a beautiful HD comeback via the Warner Archive Collection.
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When Blake Edwards departed from this world in late 2010, he left behind a lasting and versatile legacy of contributions to cinema. From the hard-hitting drama of Days of Wine and Roses (a serious look at alcoholism made during the early '60s, when civilized man enjoyed a steak and martini for breakfast), to a couple of noted musicals with his wife Julie Andrews (Darling Lili and Victor/Victoria), and even the odd thriller like the underrated Experiment in Terror (which Twilight Time was kind enough to issue on Blu-ray in early 2013), Edwards tried his hand at many different types of

Nosferatu in Venice (Prince of the Night) DVD Review: When Art Becomes Trash

A rarely-seen bad movie becomes even worse thanks to a marred English audio track.
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The essence of classic German expressionist cinema - particularly in the field of horror - is something many imitate, but which few can respectfully replicate in the long run. Indeed, director Werner Herzog created his own horror classic in 1979 with Nosferatu the Vampyre, his artistic take on F.W. Murnau's now-iconic silent 1922 masterpiece, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens. With the legendary visionary helming and the legendary creepiness and craziness (both onscreen and off) of his certifiably-insane lead actor, the infamous Klaus Kinski - who superbly mimicked the mannerisms of Murnau's mysterious monster (offscreen as well as on), Max Schreck

The Desert Song ('43 and '53 Versions) DVD Reviews: Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things

The Warner Archive presents two tales where the heat is hot and the ground is dry, but the air is full of sound.
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In the mid 1920s, composer Sigmund Romberg collaborated with the lyricists at large Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach, and Frank Mandel to create what would become a Broadway hit - The Desert Song. Inspired by the 1925 uprising of a group of Moroccan rebels, known as the Riffs, the musical play was later turned into a successful 1929 film rife with the kind of sexual innuendo and lewd humor (the kind you'd expect to find in a project that hailed from the decade we commonly refer to today as the Roaring Twenties) that was present in the original play. The

Sleeping Beauty (1959) Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review: Same Great HD Presentation, but Less Features

A brilliant restoration of a now Disney classic.
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In terms of film classics, there is always a Disney film in that pantheon, but unfortunately Sleeping Beauty (1959) isn't the first title that you would choose when naming Disney's greatest films, but nonetheless, it is one of the last great, hand-drawn animated films, regardless of what you really think of it. It is hard to think of a film, especially for kids that has had such a huge effect on how they see fairy tales. Although the story is pretty common, and kind of a letdown in terms of the essence of the fairy-tale princess, it's still pretty impressive

Grindhouse Trailer Classics, Volume 1 DVD Review: Seven Years Later...

Indie label Intervision presents American viewers with a collection of classic previews that has been out in the UK for over half of a decade now.
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Sometimes it just takes a while for things to cross The Pond. Seven years ago, the April 2007 release of the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino flop Grindhouse - an homage to the exploitation double features of yesteryear (which was a great idea, but which its own target audience ironically failed to comprehend the meaning of) - caused a tidal wave of low-budget DVD labels, each of whom had their own assortment of classic exploitation movies at their disposal (sometimes even legally!), to issue forth their own double (and sometimes more) feature discs. The intent of which was to cash-in on the

The Killer Elite (1975) Blu-ray Review: The Wrath of Caan

Sam Peckinpah sets his bloody sights on a tale of covert government agents and stealthy ninja assassins. What’s not to love there?
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Sam Peckinpah's legacy on the world of film was something most people in the industry certainly never saw coming. Consistent undermined by studio executives who sought to correct what they perceived to be filmmaking flaws, the director of such now-legendary classics like Straw Dogs, Junior Bonner, and The Getaway usually wound up having his films re-cut without his permission. Combined with his own flawed human nature - alcoholism, substance abuse, and the ever-troublesome depression - eventually turned a promising talent into that washed-up talent no one would want to hire. (Also see: Bela Lugosi.) Yet, Peckinpah's films are widely regarded

Salvador (1986) Blu-ray Review: Oliver Stone Finds His Calling

Twilight Time revives the controversial director's first (notable) film back for another haunting round.
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Prior to becoming a standout name with the international success of Platoon in 1987, Oliver Stone was only known for directing several films. Two of them were B-grade horror movies, the generally unseen Seizure from 1974, and the usually laughed-at fiasco The Hand from 1981. It was with his third directorial feature, however - the 1986 Hemdale Film release Salvador - that Stone, a man who has potentially passed one illegal drug too many through his system over the years, finally found something he was good at: a politically charged war drama that swerved in and out of reality, whilst

Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973) DVD Review: More Than a Name on a Postcard

A rare type of film that precariously teeters between sleazy exploitative trash and fine underrated art.
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Prior to her success as the best-selling writer of the "Alphabet" mysteries which have gone to be a vital part of practically every little old lady's library, author Sue Grafton penned a number of television scripts and published several novels that went largely unnoticed by the masses. Among those was a 1969 book entitled The Lolly-Madonna War: a tale of mistaken identity, Southern inhospitality, redneck wars, and the madness contained therein that, interestingly enough, was never published in America. Similarly, the 1973 MGM film adaptation of the story, Lolly-Madonna XXX was doomed to being mostly ignored, heavy criticized, and consistently

My Name is A by Anonymous DVD Review: A Horrifyingly Real and Daring Expose

A despairing, sickening, and all-too-real descent into lost youth
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Based on the horrifying true story of the murder of 10-year-old Elizabeth Olten in 2009, director Shane Ryan's very disturbing 2012 indie, isn't really about the murder itself, it is really about the bleak depiction of misplaced, disaffected youth. Ryan dares you to look away, as he centers his remarkable storytelling gifts on a group of lost girls who were not only responsible for the crime, but also on their own twisted lives of very dysfunctional, and often misunderstood emotional/mental discomfort. It evokes the "spirit" of such classics as Last House on the Left (1972), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974),

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection (1931-1956) DVD Review: Too Little, Too Late

Cinema's iconic creature features are re-released yet again in another SD-DVD set.
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When I was just a tiny little lad, I - like many other small children - had an intense fear of monsters, the sight of blood, and scary movies in general. People find that hard to believe these days, especially seeing as how I proudly own a copy of Cannibal Holocaust on Blu-ray in my collection, and have probably viewed just about every style of gory, scary, and horrible (in every way) monster movie imaginable at this point in time. In fact, it's safe to say that I've grown somewhat immune to that variety of film, despite my nearly lifelong

The Bowery Boys: Volume Four (1946-1958) DVD Review: My Life Is Finally Complete

The Warner Archive unleashes the last 12 outings of what was arguably the greatest, longest-running comedy series ever made.
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Nearly two years ago, the Warner Archive released a multi-disc set containing what had previously been something of a Holy Grail amongst classic B comedy lovers: The Bowery Boys: Volume One. The following year brought forth the next two volumes, teasing fans with the prospect of a fourth and final set that would essentially serve as the closest thing to a definitive collection ever - thus enabling anyone who still held on to a few shoddy bootlegged 16mm television prints a chance to upgrade once and for all. Well, it took nearly a year for that to become a reality,

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