Is it too much to ask for someone who can both act and sing exceptionally well? Apparently so. In last year’s The Greatest Showman, Rebecca Ferguson portrayed opera singer Jenny Lind. But while it looked like she was the one singing “Never Enough,” it was actually Loren Allred’s voice that people heard while Ferguson lip-synced. As for the song itself, it sounded less like opera and more like a '90s pop ballad, but that’s beside the point. The reason I bring this up is because Paul Weitz’s adaptation of Ann Patchett’s bestselling book, Bel Canto, does the same exact thing
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Clumsy lip-syncing and silly scenarios drag down Paul Weitz's latest effort.
Jessie Buckley makes a name for herself in Michael Pearce’s directorial debut.
While Jessie Buckley has made several notable appearances on television, Beast marks the first time she’s taken on a role in a feature-length project. And, boy, does she make a strong first impression. In Michael Pearce’s directorial debut, she’s placed at the front and center of the story, and there’s not a moment in which it seems like she has issues with taking the lead. There is a bright future for the young actress, and Beast shows that she is a force to reckon with. Set in an isolated community on the Channel Island of Jersey, Beast is loosely inspired
Kino Lorber Studio Classics gives Stephen Sommers’ silly monster movie a solid Blu-ray upgrade.
Stephen Sommers’ Deep Rising was one of those movies I wanted to see when it initially released, but I never got around to it until now. I was in seventh grade, and, like most people in that age range, horror movies were something that we rushed out to see. We wanted to see something that was going to make us jump in our seats and entertain us. But, for some reason, I never saw it. It may be because I didn’t hear great things about it and decided to skip. That’s usually what I did and - to some degree
Ethan Hawke gives a stunning performance in Paul Schrader’s latest effort.
It’s a subject in which Paul Schrader is very familiar, and also the one from which some of his best work comes: the focus on an individual whose life begins to spiral out of control for various reasons. It began with Taxi Driver in 1976 and has been explored in others such as 1980’s Raging Bull and 1999’s Bringing Out the Dead. All of them are terrific and haunting works of art that Schrader penned and, at least in those three examples, had Martin Scorsese direct. For First Reformed, Schrader tackles the subject as both writer and director. Borrowing mostly
A cast of non-actors leads one of the most realistic and powerful portrayals of those who risk their lives in the rodeo circuit.
Chloe Zhao’s The Rider is a film that begins with our lead character, Brady Blackburn, removing staples from his head. His days of riding in the rodeo circuit are no more, and, as he looks in the mirror, he contemplates on what he’s going to do from here. The person who portrays the title character is Brady Jandreau, a non-actor who was once a cowboy in the rodeo circuit but had to resign following a horrific head injury. The Rider is not a documentary, but there’s never a moment where it feels like the viewer is watching something that has
A talented young cast and impressive production pieces can't save this meandering debut from Sergio G. Sánchez.
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
A blatant E.T. rip-off that is also the longest advertisement for both McDonald's and Coca Cola.
It’s one thing to pay homage to a certain film. It’s another to do an almost beat-for-beat replica and try to pass it off as something original. Stewart Raffill’s 1988 flop, Mac and Me, certainly falls in the latter category. It’s a movie that so desperately tries to be like Steven Spielberg’s box-office hit, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and it painfully shows with every passing scene and is heard with every note of Alan Silvestri’s musical score. It’s amazing that a lawsuit was never filed. Then again, the movie disappeared from theaters after two weeks due to low attendance. The damage
Although there are some laughs to be had, most of it feels recycled.
One of my main concerns about a sequel to a film being released more than a decade later is the amount of callbacks that are going to be littered throughout. I remember watching one of the trailers for Jurassic World and - while listening to the slow, piano version of the original theme song - thinking that it was going to be filled with key moments that make the viewer remember how much they love the first one and also try to trick them in thinking the sequel is a good movie. In reality, it’s a terrible movie, filled with
Joaquin Phoenix gives one of the best performances of his career.
Prior to watching Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, I came across one short comment on Letterboxd in which the person noted that it was like an artistic version of Pierre Morel’s Taken. To an extent, that is true. Yes, Joaquin Phoenix’s character, Joe, has a particular set of skills, and, yes, his character tries to rescue young girls from sex traffickers. But as I was watching You Were Never Really Here, I came to the realization that it is more of a hybrid between Taken and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. It’s a slow-burning thriller that intrigues its audience
This is not just another saccharine horse drama.
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
Three people involved with the new military drama speak about how it's more than just a movie, it's a movement.
During the inaugural Fandemic Tour Sacramento weekend, I found myself coming across a variety of things. At nearly every vendor, there was something I was interested in purchasing or picking up, or there was something at which I just wanted to stop and take a look. While I wandered the main floor, I came across a booth for a movie called Warfighter. I had never heard of the movie prior to Fandemic, but, having a love for military-related history and cinema, my interest was immediately piqued. I had briefly chatted with Jerry G. Angelo - the film’s star, producer, writer,
Despite some last-minute cancellations, there was still plenty of fun to be had here.
One of the most disappointing things about this year is that, for the first time since it expanded to the Sacramento area in 2014, I, unfortunately, have to miss the annual Wizard World convention. Granted, there was some restructuring going on with the organization, and they initially announced that they had no plans to return for a fifth straight year. But then, it was later announced that Wizard World would, indeed, be coming back, and it is currently scheduled to take place at a venue not too far from my house. However, it also happens to fall on the same
Jason David Frank talks about the upcoming Fandemic Tour and his work on the Power Rangers franchise.
This weekend marks the start of a new type of comic convention hitting the national market. Fandemic Tour, which was started by former Wizard World CEO John Macaluso, is set to kick off its inaugural show in Sacramento, CA, on Friday, June 22 and will run until Sunday, June 24. Pop-culture fans will have the opportunity to meet many actors from a variety of their favorite television shows and movies, as well as numerous artists and, of course, some incredible cosplayers. One of the actors who will be attending all three days of the event is Jason David Frank of
These are the panels in which you will find me.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make the first day of the inaugural Fandemic Tour due to getting off work late. But I will be making the second day, which is Saturday, June 23, at the Sacramento Convention Center. Here are the panels I plan on attending. This is subject to change, as is the case with all conventions. Click here for a full programming list. 12:00 p.m. Building Star Wars with the 501st LegionLocation: Stage Two The 501st Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which
This charming documentary looks at how an avid collector in Iowa comes across some of the first moving pictures that were believed to have been extinct.
Michael Zahs, a retired history teacher and the subject of the new documentary Saving Brinton, is the very definition of someone who is a gentle giant. His large stature and lengthy beard give him a rather intimidating appearance, but when you hear him speak and get an insight into his life, he’s a lovable teddy bear. He’s the kind of person from whom you could learn a lot, and not just because he once taught history in high school. As we get a look inside his home in Ainsworth, Iowa, we see that he loves to collect things. It has
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension Steelbook Edition Blu-ray Review: Giddyup for Some Sci-Fi Fun
Shout! Factory repackages a previously released collector's edition of W.D. Richter's cult classic for the steelbook fans.
With one of the longest movie titles in cinematic history, and one of the most unique heroes to ever grace the silver screen, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (hereafter Buckaroo Banzai) is a film that has so much going for it, but initially didn’t find the same audience that many other science fiction features of the '80s did, namely the Star Wars sequels. Its failure led to the shuttering of Sherwood Films and the proposed sequel, which is mentioned at the movie’s end, never came to fruition. Years later, however, the film developed a cult following,
If this is truly Daniel Day-Lewis' final film, he goes out on a high note.
In 2017, Daniel Day-Lewis announced that he would be retiring from acting - which makes Phantom Thread, the eighth film from Paul Thomas Anderson, his final performance. Although Lewis has not graced the silver screen as often as many other actors do, the times he did have certainly been amongst the most memorable. Save for a few misses (Nine, for example), Lewis always brought an extreme amount of dedication and talent to each role. It’s helped him land three Oscar wins, along with three other nominations, and countless acclaim from multiple organizations. Phantom Thread is no different. It’s a tremendous
Dakota Fanning gives a fine performance, but she can’t carry this mess of a film.
I could make a number of bad Star Trek references and puns throughout this review, but others have already done so. Please Stand By does that, too. Yes, it’s quite obvious that it was going to make numerous mentions to the show based on the premise of the film (and play on which it is based). That’s totally fine and acceptable. I can dig it when a movie or television show uses nostalgia as a tool and does it well. What I absolutely hate is when some form of medium does it so lazily by simply name-dropping as a way
Liu Jian's animated feature is a gritty and thrilling neo-noir.
There have been two Chinese animated features released this year that are polar opposites in terms of style and genre, but have had a pretty big impact on me as a viewer. The first was Big Fish & Begonia, which has issues but is visually stunning to behold. The second is Liu Jian’s Have a Nice Day, which is nowhere near as pretty as the former film, but makes a strong statement on humanity’s obsession with consumerism. It’s a pity that neither received much exposure here in the U.S., but I’m sure in the years to come, they will both
Take a ride on the nightmare merry-go-round with Arrow Video’s excellent restoration of the Chiodo brothers’ cult classic.
During the 1990s, my father and I had an annual tradition on or near Halloween. Whenever Killer Klowns from Outer Space came on the television, we would stop whatever we were doing and watch it. We didn’t have cable back then, and my parents still don’t to this day. Oddly enough, we also never owned the movie on VHS or DVD. But one of the local stations (CBS, I believe) would air it each year as Halloween drew closer. I think it was always being shown during the middle of the day on a weekend, when the network had no
Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut is a slick and entertaining fact-based feature.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is known for having his characters spout out lines of dialogue as fast as a typewriter in constant motion. They speak intellectually and, for the most part, have some intense conversation laced with a moment of humor for levity. After his departure from The West Wing in 2003 (he still received credit for being the show’s creator until its ending in 2006), and a flop in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sorkin has put most of his focus on recounting true stories of flawed people taking giant risks in their industries. Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg
Despite its issues with its story, this is a stunningly animated feature from China.
It took 12 years for directors Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang to bring their animated feature film, Big Fish & Begonia, to the big screen. For the most part, the long wait was well worth it. It’s a gorgeously animated feature that seems heavily inspired by the likes of filmmakers such as Hayao Miyazaki, but it doesn’t borrow too much from his work to seem like a complete imitation. On the negative side, though, the story is bogged down heavily by exposition and a muddled storyline that tries to incorporate as much about Chinese mythology as it can while weaving
Warwick Thornton's new feature is a gritty, brilliant take on the genre.
As I watched Warwick Thornton’s wonderful new film, Sweet Country, there were many thoughts going through my mind. One was how Thornton decided to let the story play out as it is, without any accompanying music. All too often, certain things can take the viewer out of a movie, and one of those can be its score. Sometimes, in the case of something like Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s a necessity, and it works extremely well. But in the case of Sweet Country, a dark and brutal western that explores a particular moment in the country’s history, there’s no need.
Burt Reynolds plays an actor coming to grips with his past in this underwhelming meta-drama.
The message behind Adam Rifkin’s The Last Movie Star is too on the nose and too undercooked to be effectively earnest. As Rifkin explains in one of the Blu-ray’s special features, he’s a massive fan of Burt Reynolds, and he always thought the once-popular actor, who is facing health and financial woes, has never had the recognition he deserves. So what does he do? Well, he makes a movie about a once-popular actor, who is facing health and financial woes, getting recognition from the fans that think he deserves it. The Last Movie Star, as Rifkin described it, was written
The final episode of the TNT miniseries ends with some questions still remaining.
Although The Alienist has always been proposed as a miniseries, and its main story comes to an end in “Castle in the Sky,” there are still some subplots that go unanswered, and it’s as if TNT hopes they can continue the show as a full-fledged television series, as opposed to just one run of 10 episodes. “Castle in the Sky” has its characters facing something, whether it is from their past or some decision or decisions that have cost them in their present situation. It’s a moment for each of them to self-reflect before diving back into the investigation and
Sara and John continue the investigation, while Lazlo spends this episode in mourning.
For a miniseries called The Alienist, the second-to-last episode took some chances by making its titular character not the main focus, and instead devoted more time to its supporting cast. It’s a rather bold move, especially since Daniel Brühl has been the show’s best character since the beginning. Both Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans have been intriguing to watch, too, although the latter’s stumbling into trouble has become an unnecessary gag. At the same time, though, neither of them has the same intensity as Brühl, nor do their characters have the same amount of intellect. It’s been interesting watching the
Some strong performances can't elevate the film's dour tone.
Bearing witness to a toxic relationship unfolding in front of you is not a pleasing task, and brothers Carlos and Jason Sanchez are well aware of that. Their feature film debut, Allure, is a realistic portrayal of someone who’s gone off the deep end and redemption seems to be nowhere in reach. You can’t exactly feel sympathy for her, as she destroys her life and damages those around her. Unfortunately, that’s also a major problem with the film. Our main character’s actions are irredeemable, and the movie’s focus is way too serious to get fully engaged. No matter how displeasing
John and Lazlo head to Washington, D.C. to further investigate the case, while Sara goes rogue to uncover more clues.
At the end of last week’s The Alienist, Mary and Lazlo shared a kiss. It was a moment for both of them, when they felt like the whole world didn’t understand them and who they were, only to have them both come together and realize they are what the other needs. This week’s episode begins with both characters looking forward to being together. Mary had an upgrade in her wardrobe and a smile on her face, while Lazlo was smiling as he was on a train to Washington D.C. But “Psychopathia Sexualis” doesn’t really put all of its focus on
No matter your political affiliation, there are plenty of great stories to read about the former president and First Lady and their love of the movies.
During their eight years in office, Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, watched a total of 363 movies during their weekends at Camp David. Not only were they the big box-office hits of that time (1980-1988), but they also consisted of the classics before that era, as well as what Ronald Reagan referred to as the “golden oldies,” which were the films in which he starred. In Movie Nights with the Reagans, Mark Weinberg, a former spokesperson, adviser, and speechwriter to President Reagan, focuses primarily on the films of the 1980s that made the biggest impressions on the couple and
The latest death brings rising tension not just amongst the crew, but also the general public.
Last week, The Alienist ended with the death of another boy prostitute, but unlike the others, this victim had just one missing eye (instead of two), a severed hand, and a scalped head. It’s as if the killer was in the middle of leaving his signature trademark and was interrupted by something. That is also something noted by the crew as they try to find the killer. As Stevie is still traumatized by the fact that he could have possibly been the killer’s next victim, he tries to recall to John what the person looked like. Lazlo accuses John of
The gang set up a sting operation to catch the killer, while Lazlo's past reveals a particular clue that could harm his friendship with others.
The sixth episode of The Alienist, “Ascension,” begins with a rather long glimpse at a dead horse lying in the streets of New York. It also ends with a death, but this time, it is that of another boy prostitute near the Statue of Liberty. The first death shown has no ties to the story of The Alienist, other than it maybe serves more as a symbol that the genre with which the miniseries is affiliated may in fact be that of a dead horse, but the writers keep finding ways to get around it rather than continuously beat it.
The gang discovers more clues in the halfway point of the miniseries.
For most of The Alienist, Lazlo has had this feeling like he is the superior of the three when it comes to understanding the clues given to them. It is most likely due to his high education and work as a doctor that has driven him to that belief. It appears that the more he works with people who don’t quite have the same level of expertise that he does, the more frustrated he becomes. That’s certainly present in the miniseries’ fifth episode, “Hildebrandt’s Starling,” but it also appears that he might be easing back a little and understanding how
The John Hughes-penned comedy starring Michael Keaton and Teri Garr gets a new, albeit lackluster, Blu-ray update from Shout Select.
Stan Dragoti’s Mr. Mom is what happens when someone decides that a sitcom with its premise might not have much shelf life on television networks and is probably better suited for the big screen with a 90-minute runtime. Its theme music even has that feel like we’re watching the opening credits for something that would air during the Thursday night comedy lineup on one of the big networks. In reality, it doesn’t even really work as a feature film. Granted, this John Hughes-penned comedy is essentially what launched Michael Keaton into stardom and proved that he is both quick on
There's a possibility that the killer's identity may have been revealed in this latest episode of the TNT miniseries.
When it comes to these whodunit type of mysteries, the killer ends up being someone whom the audience already knows, and then all of the clues found by other characters that lead them to the person who kept their other identity a secret for the duration of the story. I’m not sure if The Alienist is going to go that route. Granted, we’re already four episodes into the TNT miniseries, but we may have just met the person who is responsible for the killings based on some clues that have been given to the characters - and the viewers -
It seems more formulaic in the third episode, but there is enough to keep me invested in the show as a whole.
In this third episode of TNT’s The Alienist, the opening credits sequence switches from being just a quick glimpse at the series’ title with a still image of a silhouette in a foggy evening in New York City to fully introducing all of the actors involved in the series with a slideshow of different images playing in the background. The new introduction is very reminiscent of HBO’s True Detective in terms of style and tone. It’s fitting, since it is a grim miniseries so far, but it almost seems like TNT wants to continue it beyond this one season, and
It's easy to see a lot of inspiration for future filmmakers drew from this B-movie spoof, but it doesn't quite stick the landing as well as others in its genre.
Before David and Jerry Zucker teamed up with Jim Abrahams to deliver one of the zaniest and funniest spoofs ever created, Airplane!, there was John De Bello’s Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, a satire on the low budget B-movies of the '50s - most of which wound up getting criticized on Mystery Science Theater 3000 during its initial run. The reason why I bring up Airplane! here is because it, too, went the zany, slapstick route when spoofing a particular genre. In that case, it was disaster movies such as Zero Hour! and the Airport franchise. Both Airplane! and Attack
The investigation continues in the second episode of TNT's miniseries.
In some ways, it’s appropriate to have a show like The Alienist airing in today’s climate to illustrate what was considered unacceptable then and how new changes have shown how far we as a society have progressed. In the opening of the second episode, “A Fruitful Partnership,” Lazlo is looking into a nearby morgue and questions on whether children are ever brought in. The mortician’s response is that they “only get the poor ones.” When Lazlo inquires about the Giorgio Santorelli, the boy found dead in the pilot episode, and asks if his business ever gets corpses that have the
TNT's new miniseries, based on Caleb Carr's novel, gets off to a strong start.
TNT’s adaptation of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist comes across as something bold and daring for the network. It has the feel of something that would make it seem like it’s a strong competitor against other cable networks such as AMC or FX, both of which have featured shows that can be graphic in detail but also rich in production values and have a tendency to showcase some strong, award-worthy performances. Mostly known for its procedural and science fiction programming, The Alienist proves that TNT is willing to take risks, especially on something that has been in the process for a
Kino Lorber gives the Blu-ray treatment to Republic's most popular serial.
Although the format went extinct long before I was born, I’ve always been fascinated by serials. They’re short-formatted adventures that leave you wanting to come back for more. In the age of Netflix and binge-watching, we don’t really get the same thrill of heading to the local multiplex and seeing the latest chapter that shows us what happened to the hero(es) after the previous week’s cliffhanger. It’s easy to take for granted that we have full seasons available to watch at home and on demand. Back when something like Adventures of Captain Marvel was released, that wasn’t the case. It
Arrow releases a superb restoration of Billy Wilder's Oscar-winning classic.
I’m amazed that I’ve gone this long without having seen Billy Wilder’s Best Picture-winning The Apartment. After falling in love with Some Like it Hot, and introducing it to many people who lose it (like I initially did) at that film’s last line, for some reason, I never got around to watching Wilder’s follow-up until Arrow’s new restoration of the film. It’s just as brilliant, edgy, and hilarious as Some Like It Hot, maybe even more so. And just like the aforementioned film, for all the incredible one-liners, there’s another side to The Apartment that is a little bit darker
Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany soar in this so-so biopic.
Shortly after its opening scenes, David Gordon Green’s Stronger has the look and feel of what appears to be a made-for-television movie. The lighting and cinematography looks almost exactly like something that would appear on the Hallmark Channel, and the subject matter revolving around a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing is appropriate for that station. But the difference between a typical made-for-TV movie and Stronger is that Green’s film doesn’t go straight for the idolization aspect of its main character. This is good, because it’s exactly what the main character is like. He doesn’t see himself as a hero,
Season 3 of the acclaimed FX series is just as quirky and brilliant as the previous two seasons.
It may be a while until Fargo returns to television screens, since there has been no news of a fourth season, and showrunner Noah Hawley has his hands filled with Legion and other projects. Heck, this might even be the last time the series is on the air. It was already brutal for fans such as myself to wait a year for a whole new season, when they had to delay it in order to film in the correct weather climates. But now, we won’t even know if the show is coming back again. Thankfully, each season is a new
The feature film debut from fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy is a hypnotic mess.
Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy may have established themselves well in the fashion world with their brand, Rodarte. But when it comes to trying to get noticed in the world of film, they need some work. Okay, a lot of work. Although the duo helped create some gorgeous outfits for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, their directorial debut, Woodshock, is the result of someone (in this case, two people) with an eye for visuals and nothing else. It looks pretty in both the wardrobe and cinematography departments, but it’s so self-indulgent that it forgets to make the viewer care for the
Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are excellent in this tense, deeply affecting thriller.
There’s a sudden chill that makes its way down the viewer’s back after the opening scene of Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River. The film is a murder mystery set in an Indian reservation in Wyoming. The murder itself is not the reason why a sudden shock hits the person’s nervous system in the beginning. The reasoning for that is Ben Richardson’s lovely cinematography, which exquisitely captures a chilly Wyoming winter so well that we’re suddenly immersed into the film’s setting. The multiple feet of snow crunching under the characters’ feet and the constant blowing of the cold air bring us that
HBO's new series is light on AI theories, but has an exceptional cast and storyline to keep it chugging along.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. Much like Jurassic Park did with people’s fascination of living in the time of the dinosaurs, Westworld focuses on a theme park in which people can experience what it was like living in the Old West. The robots, a.k.a. hosts, of this theme park are so life-like in their speech and reaction, the setting so impeccably crafted, that people are immersed into the scenario the minute they step foot in the park.
It's as if Jean-Luc Picard wrote it himself.
Following the success of The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, David A. Goodman explores the background of another well-known and well-respected captain in the Star Trek franchise with The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard. The funny thing about it is, from page one until the end, there is a sinking suspicion that Picard is, in fact, a real person, and he wrote the book himself. Or it could have been Patrick Stewart who went under the radar and penned the book while Goodman provided the editing. Alas, neither are true, but Goodman does capture the voice of Picard pretty well, thus
Hayao Miyazaki's Oscar-winning animated classic is a delight on the big screen.
Spirited Away was my first exploration into the world of Hayao Miyazaki, and it was also the first time I was able to fully appreciate an anime feature. Before then, I had always been kind of hesitant when it came to the genre, since my first exposure was to shows such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Dragon Ball Z, and Sailor Moon, none of which captured my interest. It wasn’t until watching Spirited Away in a film class that I saw how anime can be as captivating as many of the great American animated features, and, in some cases, have more depth
A must own for any fans of David Lynch.
I remember my first encounter with a David Lynch film was in 2004 during my Introduction to Film class at Butte Community College in Oroville, CA. As part of the curriculum, we were required to watch Lynch’s debut film, Eraserhead, of which I wasn’t aware until then. I remember being disturbed by the movie, and a lot of my classmates walked out shortly after the film had started. I stayed, and I ended up falling for this odd film, even though I had trouble eating chicken afterward because of one particular scene. I swore I wouldn’t watch the film again,
This grim, post-apocalyptic thriller follows a familiar beat and then completely collapses in the third act.
The best thing to say about Stephen Fingleton’s feature film debut, The Survivalist, is that it completely strips away a lot of what many expect from your average movie. Here, we’re given a film with very little dialogue, almost no score, and characters that are mostly nameless. We witness as one man continues his life in a world where food is scarce, and the remaining humans will fight for the necessities to live another day. In the first 18 minutes of its 104-minute runtime, we see as the lead character, known only as Survivalist (Martin McCann) tends to his garden,
David Lowery's latest is one of the year's very best films.
Despite its October Blu-ray release, David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is not a horror movie. It’s actually the furthest thing from the genre. Yes, there is a ghost, but it doesn’t sneak up on people and try to frighten them. The ghost in this film is one that watches as time passes by on the things he held close to his heart while he was alive. It’s heartbreaking for him, and for us, to see as there are so many changes taking place, and the only thing he can do is stand there and watch. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara
The world's first film to be made entirely with oil painting is a visually stunning work of art.
At the end of each Laika Studios feature film (Coraline, Kubo & the Two Strings, etc.), we get a time-lapsed, behind-the-scenes look into how the preceding movie was made, and we’re shown how much detail and hard work was put into crafting one particular scene. I kind of wish there was something like that at the end of Loving Vincent, a new biopic about the late Vincent van Gogh that was made entirely with oil paintings on canvas. Granted, you can find clips online, but having it readily available for viewing during the credits, especially after something as experimental and
AGFA gives Dusty Nelson's directorial debut a nice Blu-ray upgrade.
Dusty Nelson’s Effects has had quite the unexpected ride ever since its completed stages back in the late 1970s. What was slated to have a theatrical release in presumably 1980, if IMDb is to be trusted, ended up being something that only played at a few festivals and then practically vanished. It wasn’t until 2005 that it was available for the public to view, when Synapse Films got a hold of it for a DVD release. Now, the people at the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) have come together to give the film a proper Blu-ray release. Effects is a
A boy obsessed with vampires starts to act like one in this grim coming-of-age drama.
Michael O’Shea’s feature film debut, The Transfiguration, is less of a movie about an actual vampire that stalks its prey, and more of a movie about a socially awkward boy who finds his escape from reality in stories about vampires. Of course, his obsession with vampires goes beyond just talking about them and debating with his new girlfriend about how things like Twilight and True Blood are not “realistic” portrayals of the vampire lore. Granted, he hasn’t even read Twilight, he tells her, but he doesn’t think vampires would ever really sparkle. He’s essentially the crazed fanboy, while she’s the
Jessica Chastain can't even save this underwhelming World War II drama.
Even in movies that aren’t good, such as last year’s Miss Sloane, Jessica Chastain has proven to be a major highlight. She can give a commanding performance that deserves to be in something better. But what The Zookeeper’s Wife proves is that she can’t always be the movie’s brightest spot. Chastain doesn’t give an all-around bad performance in The Zookeeper’s Wife; there are moments where she does exceptionally well. But the biggest flaw with her performance is her attempt at a Polish accent. She slips in and out of it for the duration of the movie, and it doesn’t even
Dario Argento's first feature film is given a lovely 4k transfer, and the set is filled with an incredible amount of extras.
Dario Argento has been referred to as the “Italian Hitchcock,” and when you see his debut feature, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, you’ll understand why people called him that. Argento’s first film is a stylishly edited slasher flick that dishes out the blood in such a unique way that’s not overly grotesque. Those of you who have seen other Argento films, but have not seen this one, are probably chuckling at that last comment, but it’s true. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage contains some rather disturbing moments, but Argento doesn’t show the knife going into the person’s body,
This year's con proved to be a better experience for pop-culture fans than the previous year.
Ever since making its way to Sacramento in 2014, I’ve had the pleasure of covering each Wizard World convention. That was actually the first time I had attended an event of its kind, and I was completely blown away by how much of a nerd nirvana it turned out to be. Whether you are into movies, television shows, comic books, or anything pop-culture related, there was something for everyone at the event. I’ve always looked forward to each one, but, to be honest, I was a little let down by the 2016 convention. I’m not saying it was an entirely
The Oscar-winning film from Denmark celebrates its 30th anniversary with a new 2K digital restoration.
You hear stories about people wanting to migrate from their home country to a new area all the time. All of them want to start a new life in a new location because their current residence is no longer fitting for them for a multitude of reasons. Many have dreams of how their new life will be once they move, and they are mostly positive. But, upon their arrival, the harsh reality sets in, and the dreams and goals they had are pushed to the wayside as they embrace their new life. That’s the basis for many films about immigration,
Sorbo also talks about playing an exaggerated version of himself in a movie and some of the future projects he has lined up.
I first interviewed Kevin Sorbo back in 2013, when he was doing a promotion for a little film called Storm Rider. But, back then, I was talking to him over the phone while on my lunch break at the day job I had at the time. This year, I was able to speak to him in person for five minutes. Sure, that’s not a lot of time for an interview, but it’s enough to get in some questions while he’s on a break from signing autographs and taking pictures. Sorbo is one of the many guests lined up for the
The live-action adaptation of the Disney classic comes to Blu-ray with a lot of great special features.
Walt Disney is continually proving its efforts at adapting every animated classic in its vault is financially successful, and, because of that, there will be more coming down the pipeline. The Lion King, Mulan, and Dumbo are currently in pre-production, and there are plenty of others that have already been announced. Don’t be shocked if they announce live-action adaptations of Aladdin, The Aristocats, or anything else for that matter. The formula works, and people will flock to see whatever Disney puts out. That being said, Bill Condon’s update of Beauty and the Beast is practically an exact replica of the
David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike shine in this true story of a forbidden love.
Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom has the feel of something that just missed the window for Oscar consideration and was dropped into limited release in February of this year, since the studio couldn’t think of any other month to put it in. It’s a pristine-looking picture that carries the textbook moments of a historical biopic, and never misses a beat in making sure it has all the things it needs in order to make a successful, crowd-pleasing feature. A grandiose score, beautiful scenery, and big speeches are all featured here. By now, the formula is overdone, and, in most cases,
Sam Elliott gives one of the best performances of his career.
For the past nine years, several actors have played similar performances to that of Sam Elliott’s in The Hero, and have gone on to obtain Oscar recognition. It happened for Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, and, to an extent, Michael Keaton in Birdman. All three played a once-famous icon that has lost his way and attempts to make a comeback while, at the same time, starting a new relationship and trying to reconnect with estranged family members. Rourke and Keaton received nods for their performances, while Bridges won for his. You could say that the
Aftermath (2017) Blu-ray Review: A Serious Arnold Schwarzenegger Can't Save This Melodramatic Misfire
Arnold Schwarzenegger trades in his guns and one-liners for a role that is unlike anything else he's done in his career, but the movie lacks in telling an engaging story.
For most of his career, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been known as the tough guy, the guy that can kick butt and take names. His career launched when people saw him in the body-building documentary, Pumping Iron, and then really took off with films like the Terminator series, the Conan films, Predator, and Total Recall. But as the actor and former governor of California is getting ready to turn 70 this year, he’s taking on roles that are unlike anything he’s done before. Of course, he hasn’t completely given up on doing another Terminator, even though the world didn’t need one,
Federico Fellini's fever dream exploration of Rome gets the Criterion Collection treatment, and it's lovely.
In the opening text prior to the start of Roma, we get a detailed explanation of how the original version of Federico Fellini’s movie had scenes that were shortened for international release by him, producer Turi Vasile, and screenwriter Bernardo Zapponi. Some footage never made it past the production documentation phase, and, therefore, has never been seen by the general public. I kind of wish there was a way for us to see everything that Fellini had captured, because Roma is a gorgeous look at Rome and the people living in it during a certain period of time. Fellini doesn’t
Quirky characters are wasted in Thomas Vinterberg's latest.
The Commune is a film that should be praised for its realistic depictions of a relationship growing stale and the difficulties of living with life-long friends and/or total strangers. I can imagine quite a few people will find some relation to this film in one way or another; I certainly did. But, at the same time, I also found myself wanting to be with characters that had more to them. For a good portion of the movie, I felt like I was watching something in which the script was written, but there were some glaring moments that felt like they
Although it recycles a lot from the previous films, Alien: Covenant is still a gorgeously shot, thrilling sci-fi feature.
More than 30 years after he terrified us with Alien, Ridley Scott returned to the franchise with Prometheus, a film that proved to be more ambitious than fans of the sci-fi franchise were expecting. Sure, it had the origins aspect that fans were expecting, but a lot of the Alien prequel side of the film felt subtle to the exploration of life and creation of man on which Scott ended up focusing. The result was a film that was divisive amongst the Alien fan base, and even Scott admitted recently that he was going in the wrong direction with Prometheus.
Guy Ritchie's King Arthur re-telling is flashy but dull.
The one question I had after the screening of Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was, “Why does this exist?” I’m still trying to find an answer for it. Granted, this is a different take on the King Arthur story that we’ve all known to grow and love. And by different, I mean, there are gigantic elephants getting ready to destroy Camelot in the opening sequence. Not only that, but there are strange, octopus mermaids led by one that looks like a cross between The Little Mermaid’s Ursula and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’s Mama June. But my
This sequel to the 2014 smash hit is entertaining, but doesn't quite live up to its predecessor.
Superhero movies are going to be coming down the cinematic pipeline for many years to come. The same can be said for superhero sequels. It’s inevitable, but, when they bring in the big bucks, it’s also understandable. And yet, for many reviewers out there, who sit through more than 100 movies each year, it also becomes wearisome to see another origins story and another sequel to said origins story. You have to watch so many different movies to figure out who or what fits where in the timeline that, at a certain point, there comes a level of fatigue. Mine
Terence Hill takes over the Django role in this unofficial prequel.
Following the success of Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 spaghetti western, Django, dozens of films were released that bore the name but only served as a means to capitalize from it. A lot of them had nothing to do with the character, and neither Corbucci nor the film’s original star, Franco Nero, had any involvement in the making of them. It wasn’t until 1987 that fans got an official sequel with Django Strikes Again, in which Nero reprised the role and Corbucci had a credit for being the character’s creator, but didn’t have a hand in the screenplay and didn’t return to
Katherine Heigl plays a crazy ex-wife in this by-the-numbers thriller.
It’s as if, for her directorial debut, longtime Hollywood producer Denise Di Novi followed every single rule in the How to Make a Lifetime Movie for Big Studios handbook. Heck, how did this even get approved by someone at Warner Brothers to be a theatrical release? Everything in Unforgettable is recycled from so many movies like it, namely Fatal Attraction. There isn’t a shred of originality in it, and there’s not really much of a reason to see it. Because you’ve seen it all before, and it’s been done better before. With her wedding around the corner, Julia Banks (Rosario
A documentary that is insightful, beautifully shot, and fun to watch.
The Creeping Garden opens with a 1973 newscast that reports on some “blobs” being found in the backyards of some people’s households in Texas. This makes it seem like something had leapt from the horror-movie genre and made its way to reality. The fact of the matter is, these so-called blobs that were found in people’s backyards are called slime molds, and they’ve been around for quite some time. Unfortunately, not many people know about it, and, for a while, it was considered to be another type of fungus based on its look. But the difference between fungus and a
During this special event, audiences will also get a sneak peek at Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Get your multipasses ready, The Fifth Element fans. Fathom Events and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are bringing Luc Besson’s cult classic back to the big screen for two days in May to celebrate its 20th anniversary. In addition to this special 4K restoration of the film, all attendees will get a pre-recorded introduction from Besson himself about the film’s anniversary, and there will also be an exclusive look at his next feature, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. That film, which stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne, is scheduled for release on July 21. The 20th anniversary rerelease