Results tagged “Drama”

Fantastic Fest 2019 Review: Koko-di Koko-da: Horror Through Repetition

Dying over and over shouldn't be fun, but Koko-di Koko-da sure is a creepy joyride.
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I’ve never been a huge fan of horror movies. Jump scares, bloody creatures, and demonic possessions aren’t really my cup of tea. I see them all as one movie: a predictable, harrowing couple of hours that never ceases to keep me up at night. Johannes Nyholm’s Swedish drama Koko-di Koko-da just changed my mind. Slapping together Groundhog Day with Cabin in the Woods, Nyholm produces a low-budget, comedy-horror-drama of sorts that extends the boundaries of genre. You won’t be falling out of your seat or covering your eyes with your hands while watching the film, you will be chuckling at

True Believer (1989) Blu-ray Review: Blisteringly Performed Courtroom Drama

Briskly paced, excellent acted late 80s drama stars a disillusioned James Woods and a young, idealistic Robert Downey Jr.
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True Believer has been released on Blu-ray in one of Mill Creek's Retro VHS Look packages. While it's the same dimensions as a Blu-ray case, the slip-case over the disc has an old VHS cover on it, complete with a fake genre sticker attached. True Believer's says "Drama" and harkens from an era where drama was one of the dominant genres for motion pictures, back when it was assumed that an actual adult might, under some circumstance, accidentally wander into a movie theater and want to watch something that might arrest their intelligence. And True Believer is one of those

The Snake Pit Blu-ray Review: One of the First and Best Motion Pictures to Bring Mental Illness to Life

A controversial, watershed classic that taps into a relatable topic that afflicts many of us.
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The topic of mental illness today is still a really prickly issue that may people refuse to discuss with others. Either they are dealing with it and don't want anyone else to know, or that they may have someone in their family that's suffering from it. However, there are modern films, such as One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest (1975), A Beautiful Mind (2001), and Melancholia (2011) that depict in their own way, the confusion and misunderstandings that comes with mental illness. Way before all of those films, the 1948 classic The Snake Pit, directed by Anatole Litvak, was one

The Reflecting Skin Blu-ray Review: A Brutally Surreal Coming-of-Age Gem

A beguilingly weird swan dive into twisted childhood as if made by David Lynch and Terrence Malick.
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When it comes to youth, the rites of passage are always paved with dark uncertainty and a celebral outlook on life. The imagination of children seems to come from bouts of incoming trauma and fear of growing up in a world that often doesn't share the same viewpoint. In a shocking way, The Reflecting Skin, director Philip Ridley's 1990 nightmarish portrait of American Gothic seen through the eyes of a child, definitely does just that while reaching levels of boldness that most directors wouldn't dare tread. Set in 1950s rural Idaho, mischevious eight-year-old Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper) lives with his

Diamonds of the Night Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Story of Youth Under Fire with a Brilliantly Fractured Eye

A startling and very tense debut from the most unflinching director of the now-ancient Czechoslovak New Wave.
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There are many similarities between Luis Bunuel and underrated auteur/director Jan Nemec. They both use surrealism to dictate the often limitless boundaries of human behavior. When it comes to their films, you don't really know which is reality, and which is fantasy. However, you want to watch their cinema repeatedly to uncover more details that missed the first time around. While Bunuel depicts human behavior with a satirical edge, Nemec directs his films with surrealist details, but which a more serious viewpoint, especially when it comes to war and how it affects people in a certain time and place. This

The Miseducation of Cameron Post Blu-ray Review: Understated and Challenging

Chloe Grace Moretz's amazing performance anchors this timely, funny, and at times difficult film of a sadly still existing subject.
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The fact that conversion therapy still exists is appalling to me, and it is still a controversial topic that rarely gets talked about. However, there have been at least a few films that dealt with it in their own satirical or dramatic ways, such as But I'm A Cheerleader (1999), and last year's Boy Erased. But for me, I think that director Desiree Akhavan's understated and challenging The Miseducation of Cameron Post, also from last year, gets it right the most with its mix of humor, drama, and honesty. Based on the acclaimed novel by Emily M. Danforth, the film

A Silent Voice Blu-ray Review: Bully Redemption in a Subdued Tone

An animated drama about a school bully picking on a deaf girl tells a story quiet about redemption and consequences.
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There's a certain style in Japanese storytelling and film-making where the important things are what is not shown, what is not said, what is not expressed. The subtext between the characters tells the story. Both Uzo and Kore-eda, in very different ways, based most of their careers on putting together stories where the truth beneath the veneer is only revealed by implication and by accident. By a simple gesture. A minor scene. Animation is a broader art form than live-action film-making, since all the visuals are drawn and, of course, by nature abstracted. There can be nuance, but only up

Far From Heaven Blu-ray Review: Subtle and Graceful Filmmaking

A remarkable and impeccably acted portrait of 1950s suburban malaise from the early 2000s.
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The partnership of acclaimed director Todd Haynes and actress Julianne Moore should be ranked up there with the collaborative works of Scorsese/De Niro, Allen/Keaton, and Burton/Depp, among others. Haynes and Moore have crafted some major and incredible films in the past two decades, such as Safe (1995), I'm Not There (2007), and Wonderstruck (2017). However, 2002's Far From Heaven, is where they both hit their stride. With this film, you truly get the essence of how brilliantly they work together. The story (an obvious tribute to Douglas Sirk's melodramas, especially All That Heaven Allows) is set in 1950s Connecticut, where

Shame Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Harrowing, Nightmarish Bergman Masterpiece

As unflinchingly honest and unforgiving as a film can ever get.
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War is Hell. They're have been many films that tackled the often difficult subject of war, and its effects on humanity. And arguably none come more terrifying and brutal than Ingmar Bergman 1968's stunner, Shame. Although less remembered than some of his other films, such as The Seventh Seal, Persona, and Cries and Whispers, it's no less harsh and bleak, as well as unflinchingly honest and unforgiving as a film can ever get. Bergman mainstays and film legends Liv Ullmann and Max Von Sydow star as Eva and Jon Rosenberg, former musicians who escape the city engulfed in a civil

The Real McCoy (1993) Blu-ray Review: Dammit, Kim!

Kino Lorber places Russell Mulcahy's heist stinker starring Kim Basinger and Val Kilmer on display for you to give or take.
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Like Kino Lorber's recent release of 1974's The Midnight Man, 1993's The Real McCoy is another Universal production filmed in the South about an ex-con who finds it isn't easy to change their stripes (so to speak). Of course, comparing The Midnight Man to The Real McCoy is like juxtaposing Highlander with Highlander 2: The Quickening. The subtle film reference joke there being that the latter three titles were all manufactured by a filmmaker one either loves or hates (or both, if they're a Highlander fan): one-time pop music video director Russell Mulcahy. Here, former Vicki Vale Kim Basinger stars

Shoplifters DVD Review: Two Hours of Pure, Understated, Humanistic Cinema

One of the very best films of 2018.
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Director Hirokazu Kore-eda has made some of the best portraits of humanity for over two decades. These are stories of human beings in constant states of emotional and physical limbo that seem rare, honest, and fresh. They also describe certain parts of society that are usually and often overlooked in film. These amazing films include After the Storm, Still Walking, Nobody Knows, and Like Father, Like Son. However, I think his wonderful 2018 masterpiece, Shoplifters, is where he has reached his zenith. The film takes place in the margins of Tokyo, where a dysfunctional "family" of misfits makes ends meet

Mikey and Nicky Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Elaine May Should Be Unanimously Acclaimed

A very underappreciated masterpiece of toxic masculinity and bleak relationships.
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When it comes to underappreciated figures of film, none are more legendary and important than Elaine May. After a successful series of improvisational comedy routines from the 1950s with the late, great Mike Nichols, she later developed a career as a very talented director and screenwriter with a deft and savage eye for complicated relationships. Even with brilliant films such as A New Leaf (1971), The Heartbreak Kid (1972), and her 1976 masterpiece, Mikey and Nicky, she continues to be often overlooked, because apparently, filmmaking only belongs to men. This should never be the case, because when talking about May,

Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic Blu-ray Review: A Powerful Performance by Linda Blair

A sobering, if slight look at teenage alcoholism.
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After The Exorcist, Linda Blair's career got a bad rap because nothing else came close to the level of success she got from that film. Her later films such as Exorcist II, Roller Boogie, and Repossessed tarnished her credibility as a serious actress, especially considering the many Razzie nominations she unfortunately received throughtout. However, she did excel in demanding TV-movies where she played the much-abused victim. In director Richard Donner's 1977 TV movie, Sarah T.- Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, she proved that she could handle uncomfortable subject matter, giving an unusually realistic portrayal of a young girl on the

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

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

Distant Voices, Still Lives Blu-ray Review: Accurately Captures the Battle of the Sexes

A minimalist, but masterful portrait of harrowing family dynamics.
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Stories about troubled families doesn't hit cinema too often, but when they're done well, such as in Rachel Getting Married, Ordinary People, Hannah and Her Sisters, and A Family Thing, they can hit hard. Such a case is director Terrence Davies' 1988 breaktrough masterpiece, Distant Voices, Still Lives, which brilliantly tells an all-too-real harrowing story, but with music, humor, and unsentimental truth. Loosely based on Davies's own upbringing, the film is told in two parts of the lives of a family in 1940s/'50s Liverpool, where siblings Tony (Dean Williams) and Maisie (Lorriane Ashbourne), along with their mother (Freida Dowie), gather

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot Blu-ray Review: Don't Worry, You Didn't Miss Anything

Gus Van Sant assembles an impressive cast for a lackluster biopic.
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Gus Van Sant’s latest project barely made a ripple at the box office during its brief theatrical release this summer, and that trend isn’t likely to change now that the film is available for home viewing. While arthouse dramas have fallen on hard times in our blockbuster-obsessed theatrical climate, there’s little chance this particular film would have made an impact even if Gus Van Sant had made it in the 1990s with his original choice for star, Robin Williams. That’s because the source material simply isn’t all that special or particularly moving. Although Van Sant’s film is made with impeccable

Gold (1974) Blu-ray Review: Always Believe in Your Soul

Kino Lorber digs up this strange British mish-mash of just about every genre under the ground starring Roger Moore, Susannah York, Ray Milland, and Bradford Dillman.
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For years, finding a copy of Gold in its original unaltered form was about as rare as the eponymous mineral itself. Thankfully for a wide array of vintage offbeat film enthusiasts, Peter Hunt's unsung mashup has been refined for a new High-Definition release from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. And boy, oh boy, what a strange little "dig" this one makes for! Set (and mostly filmed) in South Africa during its infamous apartheid regime, Gold stars the late great Sir Roger Moore (who had only inherited the role of James Bond from Sean Connery the year before) as the very manly

Life Itself (2018) Movie Review: Dour, Sentimental Drivel

The depressing Life Itself will surely be a contender for worst movie of the year.
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They say there is no greater journey than life itself. Well, one thing about life that isn’t great is the journey of sitting through movies like Life Itself. Even though the ensemble drama has an incredible cast, even they can’t save this mess which is schmaltzy to the point where it becomes nauseating. I mean, if the movie wants to demonstrate how life is full of unexpected surprises, why make it so depressing for the sake of being depressing? The way that the storylines are connected is practically designed to demand buckets of tears from the audience members. Just on

Marrowbone (2018) Blu-ray Review: A Cure for Insomnia

A talented young cast and impressive production pieces can't save this meandering debut from Sergio G. Sánchez.
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Based on its trailer, its look, and the fact that it has Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) and Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness), one could easily mistake Sergio G. Sánchez’s directorial debut, Marrowbone, for a horror movie. And while there are certainly horror elements that appear throughout, Marrowbone plays more like a drama about a family trying to stick together than it does a terrifying, haunted-house thrill ride. It’s especially frustrating because there are moments within the movie where Sanchez implements the tacky jump scare method and then retreats to focus on the issues the family faces - which

Condemned! | The Devil to Pay! DVD Reviews: Both Worthy of Exclamation Points

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off two pre-Code Ronald Colman classics featuring Ann Harding, Loretta Young, Myrna Loy, and a familiar-looking terrier.
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Once again, the Warner Archive Collection has unveiled a couple of forgotten titles starring Ronald Colman, the British-born talent who transcended from stage to silents to talkies with the greatest of ease, resulting in three Oscar-nominations during his 40+ career in the world of entertainment. Here, the WAC presents us with two pre-Code rarities ‒ a serious drama and a madcap comedy ‒ both of which are well worth the cost of admission. Condemned! (1929, United Artists) Set on the isle of Cayenne ‒ the infamous French penal colony better known as "Devil's Island", from whence Humphrey Bogart would repeatedly
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