Results tagged “Drama”

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

Nico, 1988 Movie Review: Both Simplistic and Unsentimental

A sublime biopic carried by Trine Dyrholm who excels as the late famed musician.
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During the opening montage of Nico, 1988, the song “These Days” starts playing over it. A song that may be familiar to anyone who’s seen The Royal Tenenbaums and which might be the titular singer’s best-known song because of that movie. Even though Nico might not be familiar to modern audiences, the film Nico, 1988 makes a strong case as to why more people should know her story. It is a simplistic yet unsentimental depiction of an artist who had a passion for music even when it became difficult to hold onto it. Nico, 1988 follows the last three years

A Strange Adventure (1956) Blu-ray Review: An Unremarkable Thriller

Young Nick Adams highlights this entertainingly cheapo Republic Pictures crime flick, now available from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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While the cliffhanger serial formula Republic Pictures would be so well remembered for had already been extinct by the time they cranked out the aptly-titled ‒ and noticeably cheap ‒ A Strange Adventure in 1956, I think it's safe to say the spirit of the ol' chapterplay was still alive and kickin' in this production. Helmed by ace serial director William Witney (The Adventures of Captain Marvel), this lukewarm hard-boiled thriller from writer Houston Branch (Mr. Wong, Detective) opens with Ben Cooper (as one very grown-up teenager) getting hooked on Marla English (The She-Creature). Alas, Marla is one of them

I Walk Alone (1947) Blu-ray Review: A Fine, Slow-Burning Film Noir

Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas go toe-to-toe for the very first time in this classic crime drama from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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The first of what would ultimately tally up to be seven feature films starring the talents of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas ‒ a collaboration that would span nearly four decades, concluding with Tough Guys in 1986 ‒ I Walk Alone takes us back to when the two iconic performers were still essentially strangers to one another. In the case of this fine, slow-burning film noir from first-time (solo) director Byron Haskin (Robinson Crusoe on Mars, September Storm), the separation between the two leads only helps to add fuel to the fire. Here, Mr. Lancaster plays Frankie Madison, a one-time

Tiger by the Tail (1970) Blu-ray Review: The Lyons' Tiger's a Bear, Oh My

Christopher George, Tippi Hedren, Charo, and a lot of wood paneling star in this odd little thriller from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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Outwardly, there isn't much for the average contemporary moviegoer to get excited about over R.G. Springsteen's Tiger by the Tail. But before you go wandering off in search of something else to view, consider what this fairly tepid, tiny thriller has to offer internally. Shot in the late '60s, this, the final film from one of the most prolific B-western directors ever, centers on a slightly disgraced Vietnam veteran who gets caught up in a thoroughly predictable web of conspiracy after his racetrack-owner brother is murdered during a hold-up coordinated by one (or more) of his corrupt colleagues amid the

American Animals Movie Review: A Conflicted yet Clever Heist Thriller

American Animals offers up a witty yet complex demonstration of the conflicting pursuit of the American Dream.
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American Animals is based on the true story of two college students from Lexington, Kentucky named Spencer (Barry Keoghan) and Warren (Evan Peters). Despite them having a somewhat tranquil lifestyle in middle-class suburbia, they still yearn for something more. They eventually come up with a scheme to live the American Dream by stealing valuable old books from the library of Transylvania University. They also enlist the help of accounting major Eric (Jared Abrahamson) and fitness junkie Chas Allen (Blake Jenner). But as the four men plan the robbery, it eventually leads to a downfall that will shape their lives in

Alexander Hamilton (1931) DVD Review: I Never Expect to See a Perfect Work Anyway

An entirely-too-old George Arliss portrays a much younger Hamilton in this early pre-Code biopic from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Far removed from the musical stage sensation of today, the 1917 Broadway production of Hamilton presented audiences with a condensed version of the first Secretary of the Treasury's battle to pass his Assumption Bill funding act in the years following the end of the Revolutionary War. With very little else in-between. But that didn't seem to matter much to the public, who were probably more excited to see recent Academy Award winner George Arliss ‒ the first (and youngest) English-born actor to earn such an honor in the US ‒ parading about amid a compelling human drama he himself had

The Hanging Tree (1959) Blu-ray Review: Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

The Warner Archive Collection knots it up with this captivating western starring Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden, and first-timer George C. Scott.
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Several years before a more somber wave of performers rode into town, Gary Cooper was ‒ as he had done so eloquently before ‒ pioneering a unique protagonist who would fit right at home in a '70s revisionist western. In Delmer Daves' The Hanging Tree, released two years before one of the genre's quintessential heroes passed away, we witness the stalwart High Noon icon delivering his final lead performance in a cowboy picture. This time, however, Cooper does not play a man haunted by what he must do. Rather, he's tormented over what he has done. Set in the tiny

The Ship from Shanghai (1930) DVD Review: Slippery When Whet

The Warner Archive Collection raises an early Sound Era seafaring thriller featuring Kay Johnson and Louis Wolheim.
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Were you to examine the wake of just about every cinematic maritime thriller pitting a random assortment of passengers against an onboard maniac, the trail will more than likely trace back to 1930's The Ship from Shanghai. As the title may indicate, the story opens in Shanghai. Well, it's technically an assortment of stock footage from the Orient and a Hollywood nightclub set ‒ complete with an all-too lively gweilo playing the drums in yellowface while an otherwise Asian band plays "Singin' in the Rain" in Chinese. Fear not, though, for the film shifts into an entirely different gear soon

A Lost Lady (1934) DVD Review: A Lost Cause

The Warner Archive Collection finds a rare Barbara Stanwyck flick co-starring the famous Emerald City Wizard himself, Frank Morgan.
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After witnessing the man she is due to marry (in just two days) get gunned down in front of her by a jealous husband (the cad!), poor Marian (Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity) becomes a bitter, dejected, clinically depressed recluse. Months later, her family, completely uncertain what to do with her now that she's so very sad and boring, pack up her belongings and ship her off to the Canadian Rockies so she can mope in peace there. And indeed she does, until she decides to run off into the woods after nearly experiencing an emotion, wherein she promptly falls off

The New Centurions (1972) Blu-ray Review: Blue Lives Shatter

Twilight Time books a classic, slow burning cop drama starring George C. Scott and Stacy Keach.
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Columbia Pictures' The New Centurions was filmed and released during a particularly interesting era: a time when the lives and actions of police officers was present in just about every form of media, be they negative, positive, or somewhere in-between. In the instance of this 1972 cop drama, we find ourselves planted directly in the epicenter of the two, where moments of lighthearted comedy can give way to heartbreaking tragedy at any moment. The film was adapted for the screen by the prolific Stirling Silliphant (Village of the Damned, The Killer Elite), as taken from former law enforcement officer and
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