Recently by Gordon S. Miller

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice DVD Review: A Fantastic Appreciation

It's so easy to fall in love with Ronstadt and her music.
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Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice is a biographical documentary that Ronstadt was involved with as she introduces the telling of her story and reveals she no longer sings because she has Parkinson's, although she was later diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy. As I put the disc in the player, I realized I hadn't heard much of Ronstadt's music on the radio in years. As I watched the film, I couldn't understand why because she has a collection of hits that should be staples on rock and country radio stations. But don't take my word for it as the

My Gun Is Quick Blu-ray Review: A Hard-boiled Jewel

It is worth investigating for the film's story and the Blu-ray's high-def presentation.
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Produced and directed together by Victor Saville, credited as Phil Victor, and George White, My Gun Is Quick is the third film featuring Mickey Spillane's character Mike Hammer, played by a third actor, Robert Bray, and is adapted from the second Hammer novel of the same. It's a hard-boiled detective story, which might not stand out from the genre, but it traffics in the tropes well enough. One night in a Los Angeles diner, Mike interferes in what appears to be a pimp roughing up a prostitute named Red (Jan Chaney), who is recently out from Nebraska. Mike gives the

Judgment at Nuremberg (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Guilty of Being a Great Courtroom Drama

A compelling film that asks eternal questions about society and the responsibility of the people within it.
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Previously an episode of the TV series Playhouse 90 (1959), Stanley Kramer's Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) dramatizes the Judges' Trial of 1947, one of several United States military tribunals that took place in the aftermath of World War II. Leading an all-star cast, Spenser Tracy plays Judge Dan Haywood, one of three judges brought to Nuremberg, Germany in 1948 to oversee a trial against four judges and prosecutors charged with numerous atrocities while serving the Nazi government. His task is complicated because the higher-ups don't want a harsh verdict in order to gain the German people's support for the United

The Death and Return of Superman: The Complete Film Collection Giftset Blu-ray Review

The filmmakers made the right decision revisiting and expanding this landmark story.
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The Death and Return of Superman edits together the animated films The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen, the 11th and 12th film in the DC Animated Movie Universe, which are also the 32nd and 33rd film of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies, into one film. It is based on the 1992—1993 DC comic book storyline of the same name, which was previously adapted, albeit abridged, into Superman: Doomsday (2007), the 1st DC Universe Animated Original Movie, which is also included in this set. Clark Kent (Jerry O'Connell) is secretly dating Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn). He loves

Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets: Live at the Roundhouse Movie Review

Fans of early Pink Floyd should be very pleased.
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Pink Floyd was formed in 1965 by Syd Barrett (guitar, lead vocals), Nick Mason (drums), Roger Waters (bass guitar, vocals), and Richard Wright (keyboards, vocals). A few months after the release of their debut album, psychedelic-rock classic The Piper at the Gates of Dawn in August of 1967, David Gilmour (guitar, vocals) was added to augment and then replace the erratic Barrett, who left the band in March 1968. They would go on to have massive success in the 1970s, creating two of the best-selling albums of all time with Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. By the

Queen & Slim Blu-ray Review: A Thrilling Drama Infused with Social Commentary

Queen & Slim suggests the beginning of two great film careers behind the camera.
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Director Melina Matsoukas and screenwriter Lena Waithe, both of whom are also producers on the project, made an impressive feature-film debut with the tragic love story Queen & Slim. After listening to the extras I don't think the story conveys all they wanted, the film is captivating as the characters' journey takes them from strangers to inseparable lovers. The film opens with the two characters, whose names aren't mentioned until the end of the film but will be referred to by the titular nicknames, in Ohio eating dinner on a first date after meeting on Tinder. Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) doesn't

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 2: 1949-1950 by Milton Caniff

Steve Canyon sets a high mark for adventure comic strips.
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Since January 2012, the Library of American Comics, by way of IDW Publishing, has been releasing collections of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon newspaper comic strips. Volume 2 was released in August 2012 and presents the strips from December 30, 1948 to December 31, 1950, covering the third and fourth year of the strip's 41-year run. Library of American Comics associate editor Bruce Canwell wrote the introductory essay "A Return Ticket ," which covers the strip's audience-participation campaign that had readers “nominate the film that best reflected American life,” and how both current and historical events impacted the plotlines. As a

ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band From Texas Blu-ray Review: The Rise of ZZ Top

A very good introduction to the band and their music.
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ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band From Texas is a documentary that tells the story of the band, from their origins through to 1983's Eliminator, their eighth and most commercially successful studio album. Guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard sit for separate interviews until finally being gathered together for the final few minutes of the film. Throughout, there's a lot of cool archival footage and famous fans such as Billy Bob Thorton, Josh Homme, Steve Miller, and Dan Auberach also share their thoughts. Dusty Hill, an Elvis fan, grew up in Dallas. While kids, he started

I Got You Babe: The Best of Sonny & Cher, Volume 1 DVD Review

Fans of variety shows and of this era of television should enjoy these episodes.
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Sonny & Cher started as a singing duo and had their first big #1 hit in 1965 with “I Got You Babe” off their debut album, Look at Us. They never reached the same heights of success and failed with a couple of attempts at making a movie. They headed to nightclubs where they added comedy to their act with Sonny the butt of Cher's jokes and put-downs. After successful guest appearances and a TV special, CBS head of programming Fred Silverman hired them for a summer-replacement series that debuted in the summer of 1971 and ran for six episodes.

The 2020 NAMM Show Review: There's More to the Music Business Than Music

An impressive endeavor with so many interesting things going on.
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The NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Show traces its roots back to the NAPDA (National Association of Piano Dealers of America), which formed in 1901 and had its first trade show in 1902. It was first held in Anaheim, California in 1976 and has returned many times since. Attendance is open to NAMM members, “pro audio professionals and buyers representing non-member companies, venues and houses of worship, as well as music educators and music majors,” and members of the media. This was my first time attending, and while I have visited numerous trade shows over the years, including San

2020 Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films Review

The five nominees are...
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On January 29, ShortsTV will debut THE 2020 OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS at the IFC Center in New York City and in select markets, and then roll out across the US and Europe on January 31. This marks the 15th consecutive year of the Oscar Nominated Short Films theatrical experience. It is the only opportunity for audiences to watch the short film nominees in theaters before the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday February 9, 2020. They will also made available via on demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and Vimeo on Demand. The release ensures the greatest

Sinister Six Card Game Review: Supervillains Unite (or Not)!

"Every villain is a hero of his or her own story." - Christopher Vogler, "The Writer’s Journey"
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From Spin Master, comes Sinister Six, a card game named after the infamous group of super villains from Spider-Man's rogues' gallery that first united together against Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (Jan. 1964). At their inception, the sextet included Doctor Octopus, Electro, Kraven, Mysterio, Sandman, and Vulture. In addition, players (three to six) are also able to choose from Lizard, Rhino, Venom, and Green Goblin. Designed by Daryl Andrews & Adrian Adamescu, the object of the game is for players to work together on four heists and then defeat Spider-Man while working individually to gain the most

PSIFF 2020 Review: Adventures of a Mathematician

The story piqued my interest about the scientists involved, making me want to learn more about them and their projects.
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Based on the autobiography of the same name, writer/director Thor Klein's Adventures of a Mathematiciantells the story of Stanislaw Ulam's time working for the United States government on the Manhattan Project, which produced the first nuclear weapons. Covering about a decade in his life during the 1940s, we meet an intelligent man who deals with matters at a distance, both personal and professional. In 1941, Stanislaw (Philippe Tlokinski), or “Stan” by those close to him, is a Polish mathematician teaching in the United States at Harvard. His younger brother Adam (Mateusz Wieclawek). They are both concerned about their family back

Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll Blu-ray Review: It's Good to Be the King

Hail! Hail! tells an important, albeit incomplete, story of an American music legend.
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Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'N' Roll pays tribute to the man many consider the King of Rock 'n' Roll, through testimonials from peers and famous fans, from a drunken Jerry Lee Lewis, who makes the claim for he and his mama, to John Lennon appearing through archival footage on The Michael Douglas Show. The film also documents the 60th birthday celebration concert held in his honor, which takes up the last half of the film. Unfortunately, it doesn't paint a complete picture of Berry's life as he cuts interviews short when touchy subjects are broached. In 1986, Berry was

Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 2 Blu-ray Review: The Love Triangle Continues

The impressive work put into making these cartoons available in high definition should be commended and make one hopeful for future animated releases from Warner Archive.
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After a disclaimer about the unfortunate ethnic and racial depictions that occur in a few shorts, Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 2 presents the next 15 titles released in chronological order, which debuted during the years 1946 and 1947. For those who don't know the cartoon series, the stories make frequent use of a basic template. Popeye has a girlfriend named Olive Oyl, or at least that's what he thinks the nature of their relationship is. Bluto (or his stand-in) catches her eye and she runs off with him, but then when he gets sexually aggressive with her, she

The Dick Cavett Show: New York Radio Pioneers DVD Review

This release showcases some of the medium's great talkers.
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The Dick Cavett Show was a talk show that aired on different TV channels, broadcast and cable, from 1968 to 1996. S'More Entertainment is releasing The Dick Cavett Show on DVD, gathering episodes together under themes. New York Radio Pioneers showcases some of the medium's great talkers. Although the two disc's labels list all four men, they don't appear on both discs. Disc 1 presents two episodes featuring the comedy team Bob (Elliot) & Ray (Goulding). The June 1, 1972 show aired on ABC and the fellas do a routine where Bob interviews Ray, playing a government official. They were

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Review: The Sinking of the Sequel Trilogy

Am sorry to see the film and this new trilogy falter as much as it did.
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This franchise became so controversial after The Last Jedi I should probably state where I stand in the Star Wars wars. As stated in my reviews, The Force Awakens has “enough entertainment to satisfy fans new and old, even though the script is filled with repurposed plot points and questionable character motivation.” “The plot [of Rogue One], specifically character choices and motivations, is not well thought out, and at times the film gets a little too inside baseball for those not part of the cult.” The Last Jedi's “plot is overstuffed and at times nonsensical, leading to a lot of

Christmas in July Blu-ray Review: A Gift in Any Month

It's impressive how much ground Preston Sturges' story covers in its brief 67-minute runtime while neither feeling overstuffed nor rushed.
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Christmas in July, the second outing for Preston Sturges as a writer/director, is based on his play A Cup of Coffee. Despite the film's title and artwork containing a wreath, this is not a Christmas movie. It's an entertaining comedy and the message it contains about the value in believing in one's self and having the belief of others is a gift to audiences. Maxford House Coffee is holding a slogan contest with a first prize of $25,000. The jury is deadlocked on picking a winner because of lone holdout, Mr. Bildocker (William Demarest). One of the entrants is Jimmy

The Circus Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Tramp Plays the Big Top

A delightful romp that finds the Tramp behave in a more enlightened manner as he puts others ahead of himself.
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Made between his classic films The Gold Rush and City Lights, Charlie Chaplin's The Circus presents an entertaining outing for the Tramp who once again finds himself in funny predicaments while saving a young woman from her cruel stepfather. The story behind the scenes is more interesting than the one on screen and is illuminated in the extras Criterion has included. While at a seaside pier, the Tramp finds a wallet and watch has been stashed in his pocket. The crook who placed it there is after him and the police after them both. This leads to not only a

Doctor Who: The Sun Makers DVD Review

The Doctor, Leela, and K-9 lead the people against their oppressors, a frequent Who story trope.
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Doctor Who is a long-running British science-fiction television series featuring the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey whose adventures see him travel through time and space. Over the years, different actors have starred in the role, and to compensate for the realities of the television business Time Lords were given the ingenious ability to regenerate their bodies when they die. The Sun Makers is the 95th story of the Doctor (Tom Baker). It debuted in four weekly parts beginning November 26, 1977 on BBC 1. Humanity has moved to the planet Pluto, which is supported by artificial suns.

Sesame Street: 50 Years and Counting DVD Review: A Golden Celebration

Having to compile a greatest hits for a 50-year-old show is a daunting task and the makers of this collection do a great job considering there are thousands of episodes to choose and the number of viewers the show has had.
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Sesame Street: 50 Years and Counting, available on DVD and as a digital download, celebrates the most successful children's entertainment television program of all time. Although in recent years, there have been dramatic changes due to children's changing viewing habits and economics of producing the show. Sesame Street has been shortened from an hour to 30 minutes and episodes air first on HBO before running on PBS stations and its affiliated websites nine months later. Yet, it still continues its core mission of educating children in entertaining ways. I was born in 1967 and grew up with the show, which

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Blu-ray Review: A High-Quality, High-Definition Experience

Fast and furious enough to please fans and those looking for a ridiculous action movie.
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The folks behind the Fast & Furious franchise took two of their most bankable actors, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham to lead the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw and followed the series' successful formula: over-the-top action scenes set around the world combined with a focus on family. The movie was previously reviewed this summer. The Blu-ray's video has given a satisfying 1080P/AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.39.1. The colors shine in brilliant hues. Blacks are inky and whites are accurate. These elements contribute to the strong contrast which is most evident during the split-screen introduction of our

The Cure: 40 Live - Curætion-25 + Anniversary Blu-ray Review: A Black Ruby Jubilee

A must-own set for fans and a perfect introduction to the band's great talents.
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The Cure: 40 Live collects two outstanding concerts performed in the summer of 2018 as founder Robert Smith, bassist Simon Gallup (1979-1982, 1985-present), drummer Jason Cooper (1995-present), keyboardist Roger O’Donnell (1987-1990, 1995-2005, 2011-present), and Reeves Gabrels (2012-present) celebrated the band's 40th anniversary, Disc 1 contains CURÆTION-25: From There To Here | From Here To There, a concert held on the 10th and final night of Robert Smith's Meltdown Festival on June 24 at London's Royal Festival Hall, an intimate theater with a capacity of 2,700. The lucky group of fans who attended got to hear a retrospective 28-song set that

Terminator: Dark Fate Movie Review: History (and the Franchise) Repeats Itself

I'd recommend Dark Fate, but it's too bad there's not a better story.
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Terminator: Dark Fate occurs in a timeline three years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and ignores Rise of the Machines, Salvation, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Genisys though I am not well versed in the franchise and didn't watch the last two titles listed. The film opens 1998, three years after Judgment Day. Sarah Connor and John are in Guatemala when a T-800 appears and kills John before he can lead the human resistance against the machines in the future. This is a surprise as Skynet was supposed to have been stopped. Turns out a different AI,

Terminator Salvation Movie Review: An Adequate Continuation of the Franchise

Director McG delivers an over-the-top, frenetic, action-packed movie.
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A prologue set in 2003 introduces death row prisoner Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) as he grants his body be used for research. A brief rundown of the current situation in 2018 during the opening credits tells of Skynet having humanity on the brink of extinction, but a resistance is fighting back. One of its leaders is a familiar character to those following the Terminator franchise, grown-up John Connor (Christian Bale) who resides in war-ravaged Southern California. After a botched operation that John alone escapes from, Marcus awakes and tries to make his way in the world. In Los Angeles, he

Scars of Dracula Blu-ray Review: A Bit of a Retread but Still Enjoyable

While understandably not held in high regard, there's still some fun to be had seeing Lee back as the Count.
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Scars of Dracula is Hammer's sixth Dracula film and the fifth to feature Christopher Lee. It follows a familiar template: Dracula is resurrected, causes mayhem among the local citizenry, sets his sights--er, fangs on one particular lovely maiden, and is defeated in the end. It's one of the lesser of the series because it's a bit of a retread, but it was still enjoyable when one is in the mood for some classic horror. Scars opens in Dracula's castle, not the church where he died in the previous film, Taste the Blood of Dracula. As stated in the extras, this

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 26: 1970-1972 by Chester Gould

While the characters and stories remained entertaining, the author's hand was an even heavier presence during these stories.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 26 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from December 24, 1970 through to September 24, 1972. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "The Old Values Are No Longer Relevant," which provides commentary on the strips included, and concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Bushed and Ugly-Requiem," about Gould's political subtext and the business of Dick Tracy. The book opens with Pouch, cohort of the recently deceased Diamonds, still on the loose. He gets his

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 3: 1951-1952 by Milton Caniff

Even though Volume 3 opens during the conclusion of a story, it makes a perfect introduction to the strip and Milton Caniff.
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Since January 2012, the Library of American Comics, by way of IDW Publishing, has been releasing collections of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon newspaper comic strips. Volume 3 was released in January 2013 and presents the strips from January 1, 1951 to December 31, 1952, covering the 5th and 6th year of the strip's 41-year run. While the Korean War raged on in the real world, Air Force Major Steve Canyon was sent around the globe conducting official and unofficial missions. Library of American Comics associate editor Bruce Canwell wrote the essay "Promotions of Every Stripe," which provides annotations to the

Mountaintop Movie Review: Neil Young & Crazy Horse Reunite in 'Colorado'

It is an inspiring delight to see these old men still with a creative drive to make new music.
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At Studio in the Clouds, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, 8750 feet above sea level, Neil Young reassembled his backing band Crazy Horse to record Colorado, his 39th studio album (and first with Crazy Horse since 2012's Psychedelic Pill), available on October 25, 2019. Crazy Horse has been playing with Young since his second solo album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (May 1969). They are bassist Billy Talbot, drummer Ralph Molina, and multi-instrumentalist Nils Lofgren, who can be heard on Young's After the Gold Rush (1970), had short stints with Crazy Horse in the early '70s, before returning in 2018 to replace

Toy Story 4 Blu-ray Review: A Toy's Purpose

It was wonderful to have one more adventure with the Toy Story characters, and this serves as a fitting conclusion to the series.
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Even though Toy Story 3 seemed the perfect ending to the film franchise, Toy Story 4 offers a compelling continuation of the beloved Pixar characters, specifically Woody (Tom Hanks) who needs to find his place in the world now that he is Bonnie's toy and no longer Andy's. The story deals with themes that adults will better identify with than children. Bonnie isn't as taken with Woody as Andy was, and whereas Woody was in charge in Andy's room, Dolly (Bonnie Hunt) has that role in Bonnie's. During craft time at her kindergarten orientation, Bonnie creates Forky (Tony Hale) out

Gosford Park Blu-ray Review: Upstairs Downstairs Sideways

Robert Altman puts his twist on an Agatha Christie murder mystery.
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Robert Altman's Gosford Park is his take on an Agatha Christie murder mystery. Set in 1932 during a shooting party held at the estate of Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon), the film is a wonderful immersion into the worlds of those who live upstairs and those who work downstairs in an English manor. It's made all the more believable by Altman's trademark stylized naturalism. Mary MacEachran (Kelly Macdonald) is newly hired as a maid to one of the guests, Constance, Countess of Trentham (Maggie Smith) and cousin of Sir William. Mary serves as the audience's conduit, conveying the inner workings

TV Review: Country Music: Episode Eight 'Don't Get Above Your Raisin'' (1984 - 1996)

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and so we get the final chapter in Ken Burns's outstanding documentary.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists keeping the spirit alive like Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show and Rhiannon Giddens; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much

TV Review: Country Music: Episode Seven 'Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way' (1973 - 1983)

In this episode, we see the biggest stars of this era are the folks who got successful doing things their way and expanding the genre's perceived boundaries.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much like Shelby Foote served as a frequent contributor to Ken Burns's The Civil War, Marty

TV Review: Country Music: Episode Six 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken?' (1968 - 1972)

During this era, the country found itself in a turmoil that affected everything, including country music. But as some were facing division within the business, others were coming together and uniting.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much like Shelby Foote served as a frequent contributor to Ken Burns's The Civil War, Marty

TV Review: Country Music: Episode Five 'The Sons and Daughters of America' (1964 - 1968)

In this episode, Burns shows that the country's societal upheaval made its way into the music.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews by country artists like Loretta Lynn and Charlie Pride; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much like Shelby Foote served as a frequent contributor to Ken Burns's The Civil War, Marty Stuart performs the same role, sharing stories, offering

Downton Abbey Movie Review: Fans Are Invited Back for a Royal Visit

With only a two-hour run time, it was always going to be hard to get enough screen time for all the main characters, and it was made even harder with most of the stories that focused on new ones.
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After ending in 2015, Downton Abbey, the hit trans-Atlantic TV series that ran for six seasons, returns with a theatrical film with the same name about the on-going exploits of the Crawley family and their servants. Although the last episode debuted four years ago, the story only jumps ahead a year to 1927 on the occasion of a Royal visit to Downton Abbey by King George V and Queen Mary. While it's delightful getting another chance to spend time with the beloved characters, brought to life by the talented cast, Julian Fellowes's screenplay is hit and miss, much like the

TV Review: Country Music: Episodes Three and Four

An intriguing concept presented is that in addition to talent, chance encounters can be just as important to an artist's career.
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists keeping the spirit alive like Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show and Rhiannon Giddens; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much

Echo in the Canyon Blu-ray Review: You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

An important chapter in the history of rock is examined by those involved with it and those influenced by it.
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The “canyon” in question is Laurel Canyon, located in the Hollywood Hills of Southern California. With Jakob Dylan as host, Andrew Slater's documentary looks back at some of the musicians who lived, thrived, and influenced each other in that neighborhood, creating the folk-rock California Sound of 1965-67. The oral history is told through interviews of those who were there, such as David Crosby, Michelle Phillips, and producer Lou Adler; the next generation of musicians who were influenced by them, such as Tom Petty and Jackson Brown; and later generations who appreciate their accomplishments, such as Beck and Regina Specktor. The

TV Review: Country Music: Episodes One and Two

Harlan Howard declared, “Country music is three chords and the truth.”
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Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary that airs on and streams through PBS, beginning tonight. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists keeping the spirit alive like Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show and Rhiannon Giddens; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of

Reap the Wild Wind Blu-ray Review: An Antebellum Epic of Thrilling Adventure and Questionable Romance

For those seeking classic Hollywood adventure, Reap the Wild Wind will fit the bill.
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Based on Thelma Strabel's story that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind is an Antebellum epic filled with thrilling adventure but a puzzling love triangle, but the former makes up the latter. Set in 1840, the dangers of seafaring are revealed as the Jubilee, with Captain Jack Stuart (John Wayne) knocked out, wrecks along the rocks off Key West, Florida. Ships head out to save the cargo and crew. Loxi (Paulette Goddard), much more independent than the other women of her era, has taken over her late father's salvage business, though she develop

Book Review: Cult Filmmakers: 50 Movie Mavericks You Need to Know by Ian Haydn Smith

Smith's essays make a compelling case for all of them, which will leave readers eager to seek out their films.
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Cult Filmmakers finds author Ian Haydn Smith shining the spotlight on 50 movie mavericks. The illustration on the cover by Kristelle Rodeia, who provides all the drawings of directors that accompany Smith's essays, is a dancing Quentin Tarantino dressed as Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction, revealing that Mr. Smith's definition of “cult” might not be what everyone expects. In his Introduction, he explains that “rather than offering an authoritative guide through a rich history of cult filmmaking, this book aims to be another voice in the conversation about cult cinema.” The book focuses on 39 men and 11 women, over

Doctor Who: Planet of the Spiders DVD Review

Although the end of Jon Pertwee's run, this serial is a good introduction to the character, the mythology, and the actor in the role
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Doctor Who is a long-running British science-fiction television series featuring the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey whose adventures see him travel through time and space. Over the years, different actors have starred in the role, and to compensate for the realities of the television business, Time Lords were given the ingenious ability to regenerate their bodies when they die. Planet of the Spiders is the 74th story of the Doctor and concludes with the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) regenerating into the Fourth (Tom Baker). It debuted in six weekly parts beginning May 4, 1974 on BBC 1

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Blu-ray Review: Long Live the King

Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah join the Monsterverse franchise in a global battle royale that is heavy on CGI fighting and destruction.
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Director/co-writer Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which takes its name (minus the exclamation point) from the re-edited American version of Godzilla (1954) is the third installment in Legendary's MonsterVerse. With their existence hinted at during the post-credit sequence of Kong: Skull Island, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah join the new franchise in a global battle royale that is heavy on CGI fighting and destruction. Set five years after the events of Godzilla (2014), quite a few monsters, dubbed “Titans,” are unleashed upon the world and battle for supremacy. On a smaller scale, a fractured family is dealing with

The Dick Cavett Show: Baseball's Greatest Hits: Pitchers DVD Review

It's wonderful to see these interviews, which allow the viewers to see the men behind the ball players.
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The Dick Cavett Show was a talk show that aired on different TV channels, broadcast and cable, from 1968 to 1996. S'More Entertainment is releasing The Dick Cavett Show on DVD, gathering episodes together under themes. Baseball's Greatest Hits: Pitchers showcases some of the sport's great hurlers of the 20th Century. Released on June 25, 2019, Pitchers Disc 1 presents New York Yankee Whitey Ford and his teammate Mickey Mantle from May 9, 1970; and Dizzy Dean, whose greatest success was with the St. Louis Cardinals, appeared 10 days later. Disc 2 presents Denny McLain, who had only been a

RUSH: Cinema Strangiato 2019 Movie Review: They Will Choose Farewell

One wouldn't know from how well they played music from all eras of their career that this would be their swan song, but they went out delivering a top-notch performance.
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In 2014, Rush (guitarist Alex Lifeson, vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee, and druumer Neil Peart) released R40, a collector’s box set that packed together recent concert videos, Rush In Rio, R30, Snakes & Arrows Live, Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland, and Clockwork Angels Tour, and according to their website, “a bonus disc of previously unseen and unreleased live material stretching from 1974 to 2013.” In the summer of 2015, the band hit the road for the R40 Live Tour, which was hinted at as, but never confirmed until it was over, their farewell tour. R40 Live is the title for both

Doctor Who: The Time Meddler DVD Review

The great fun of this episode is watching the Doctor and Monk outwit each other.
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Doctor Who is a long-running British science-fiction television series featuring the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey whose adventures see him travel through time and space. Over the years, different actors have starred in the role, and to compensate for the realities of the television business Time Lords were given the ingenious ability to regenerate their bodies when they die. The Time Meddler is the 17th story of the Doctor and closed the second season. It debuted in four weekly parts beginning July 3, 1965 on BBC 1. This story is notable for being the first without companions

Avengers: Endgame Blu-ray Review: 'Part of the Journey Is the End'

The film's strength is the connection fans have to the characters/actors.
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The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which currently stands at 23 movies (now known as “The Infinity Saga”) is the biggest film franchise of all time in terms of worldwide box office. Yet, the interconnectedness of the characters and stories, an element brought over from the Marvel comic books, has made the endeavor seem more like a TV series. While Spider-Man: Far From Home is the final chapter, it feels more like an epilogue in comparison to the scale, scope, and consequences of Avengers: Endgame. It opens with a brief reminder that Avengers: Infinity War concluded with the heroes having failed to

Wally Gator: The Complete Series DVD Review: Delightfully Silly, Don't Y'know

Best in small doses because of the similarity of the plots.
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As part of the Hanna Barbera Classic Collection, the Warner Archive Collection has released Wally Gator: The Complete Series. The two-disc release presents the 52 cartoons the character starred in, which first appeared as part of The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series on ABC from September 3, 1962 - August 30, 1963. Wally Gator was one of a trio of cartoons the series aired. The other two were Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har and Touché Turtle and Dum Dum. The series is similar to Hanna Barbera's hit cartoon Yogi Bear (1961-1962). Wally Gator is a hat-collar-and-cuff wearing anthropomorphic alligator

The Best of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition 21-DVD Set Review

Fans should be quite pleased owning a quarter of the entire series.
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Two years later and Time Life is still celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Carol Burnett Show, which debuted on September 11, 1967 and ran for 279 episodes until March 29, 1978. The latest release is a 21-disc set that collects 60 episodes from previously released material. The Carol Burnett Show was a variety show filled with comedy and musical numbers, although the latter were cut when the show aired in syndication, which repackaged sketches from seasons six through ten into a half hour. Just a few months ago, MeTV got the rights to the early seasons and began airing

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Blu-ray Review

DS9 fans should be pleased with this love letter.
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What We Left Behind, a riff on the title of the series finale "What You Leave Behind," finds Deep Space Nine showrunner Ira Steven Behr hosting this look back at the fourth Star Trek TV series, the “middle child” of the franchise in terms of respect. And that opinion doesn't just come from some Trek fans whose angry reactions are read by cast members, but seemingly the executives at CBS Television Studios as well considering it took thousands of folks listed in the end credits to help finance the project through Indiegogo. Over about two hours, cast, crew members, and

The Dick Cavett Show: Inside the Minds of... Volume 3 DVD Review

Episodes included find Dick Cavett joined by Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Dick Gregory.
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The Dick Cavett Show was a talk show that aired on different TV channels, broadcast and cable, from 1968 to 1996. S'More Entertainment is releasing The Dick Cavett Show on DVD, gathering episodes together under themes. Inside the Minds of... showcases comedians. Released on April 9, 2019, Volume 3 presents African American comedians on a two-disc set. Although both discs are labeled with all four comics, Disc 1 presents Redd Foxx from July 14, 1969 on ABC; and Dick Gregory from June 17, 1972 on ABC and August 16, 1990 on CNBC. Disc 2 presents Eddie Murphy from November 4,

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Movie Review: Keeping It in the Family

The spin-off film retains the over-the-top action the franchise is known for.
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Considering the Fast & Furious franchise has generated over $5 billion at the worldwide box office, it's not a surprise producers wanted to expand it. Plus, separating their feuding stars (Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel) was a bonus. Taking two of their most bankable actors, Johnson and Jason Statham, to lead the spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw follows the series' successful formula: over-the-top action scenes set around the world, and a focus on family. A nefarious organization known as Eteon wants to improve mankind through the use of technology. They plan to use a programmable virus dubbed "Snowflake," which is supposed

Doctor Who: The Animation Collection DVD Review: Four Doctors Are Better Than One

The 2-disc set gathers five previously released stories featuring Doctors, classic and modern.
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Doctor Who: The Animation Collection is a 2-disc set that gathers five previously released stories starring four Doctors. On Disc One, The Infinite Quest and Dreamland feature the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Shada the Fourth (Tom Baker). Disc Two presents two debuts: The Power of the Daleks with the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton), and Scream of the Shalka with a non canon Ninth (Richard E. Grant) before the Modern Series was set. The Infinite Quest (2007) was first broadcast on the children's show Totally Doctor Who in 13 installments. Set somewhere during Series 3 as well as the 40th

Book Review: The Art of Godzilla: King of the Monsters by Abbie Bernstein

A fantastic and informative book for those who enjoy and are interested in the process of making movies.
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Abbie Bernstein takes readers behind the scenes with pre-production concept artwork and on-set photography from director/co-writer Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which takes its name (minus the exclamation point) from the re-edited American version of Godzilla (1954). This isn't the first time the life-long fan tackled the character as he made “a Godzilla short...when [he] was ten or eleven with [his] old family Beta camcorder.” Hinted at during the post-credit sequence of Kong: Skull Island, this third installment in Legendary's MonsterVerse sees quite a few creatures unleashed upon the world, which Dougherty says was the only suggestion Legendary

Shazam! (2019) Blu-ray Review: DC Makes a Marvelous Movie

Currently my favorite of the DCEU, it is an absolute treat and a refreshing take on the genre.
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Although it's the seventh movie in Warner Brothers' DC Extended Universe series, David F. Sandberg's Shazam! comes across like it is from a parallel universe. Amidst the origin story of a hero whose name is never decided upon, this lighthearted coming-of-age comedy is a lot different in terms of tone and production design than its grim predecessors. Shazam! opens in 1974 when a young boy named Thad is tested by Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), the last member of the Council of Wizards, who is seeking a champion to inherit his magic and take over his role. The champion must be pure

Pretenders: With Friends Blu-ray Review: A Hits-Heavy, Star-Studded Concert

It is highly recommend for fans of the band and also makes a great introduction for those new to them.
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Decades Rock Live! was a VH1 Classic television series that gathered bands and guests to play a concert at Trump Taj Mahal’s in Atlantic City. Pretenders with Friends is an episode taken from that series recorded on August 11, 2006, and thankfully, the folks at Cleopatra Records and Rock Fuel Media have released the performance on a three-disc set (Blu-ray, DVD, CD). The 16-song set runs about 65 minutes. Led by Chrissie Hynde, the Pretenders at this time were original drummer Martin Chambers, guitarist Adam Seymour, and bassist Nick Wilkinson. They deliver a set mainly comprised of their greatest hits

The Dick Cavett Show: Inside the Minds of... Volume 2 DVD Review

Episodes included find Dick Cavett joined by George Carlin, Steve Martin, and Martin Mull.
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The Dick Cavett Show was a talk show that aired on different TV channels, broadcast and cable, from 1968 to 1996. S'More Entertainment is releasing The Dick Cavett Show on DVD, gathering episodes together under themes. Inside the Minds of... showcases comedians. Released on January 22, 2019, Volume 2 presents a previous generation of comedians: George Carlin from June 5, 1990 and December 1, 1992; Steve Martin from December 17, 1992; and Martin Mull from June 4, 1995. All of them aired on CNBC. The Carlin '90 interview finds him promoting an HBO special. Subjects covered include the “Seven Words

Earthquake (1974) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

The crew members creating the special effects are the real stars who make the movie worth viewing.
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Producer/director Mark Robson's Earthquake was a star-studded disaster movie that the '70s was known for. Unfortunately, the famous folks go to waste because the screenplay by George Fox and Mario Puzo is a bit of a disaster too. The crew members creating the special effects are the real stars who make the movie worth viewing. One morning, a minor 3.1 earthquake hits Los Angeles. City workers investigate if any damage has been done to the Hollywood reservoir dam, leading to a man drowning at the bottom of an elevator shaft. A graduate assistant interning at the California Seismological Institute has

Matinee (1993) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Joe Dante's Love Letter to B-movies

Dante's Matinee is a sweet tribute to the monster movies of his youth and the men behind them.
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Matinee opens with Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman), a William Castle-type producer in a trailer for Mant, a movie about a man and an ant “exposed to radiation simultaneously” as the title suggests. It's an outstanding homage to films/trailers of the time. Set in 1962, Woolsey and actress/girlfriend Ruth (Cathy Moriarty) come to Key West, Florida to screen Mant, which is augmented for audiences through Atomovision and Rumblerama, his technical creation that maximize the screening for audiences. Two protesters (Dick Miller and John Sayles) make it known they aren't happy with the movie being shown. Gene (Simon Fenton) and his younger

Dances with Wolves Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: An Enjoyable, Albeit Unsurprising, Western

Fans and Oscar completists can now add the version of Dances with Wolves that won Best Picture to their library thanks to Shout Factory.
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Thanks to Shout Factory, the theatrical cut of Dances with Wolves finally made its debut on Blu-ray as part of a three-disc Steelbook Collector’s Edition that also offered previosuly available Extended Cut and extras. Winner of seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Kevin Costner, the film is a three-hour Western epic that tells the story of John Dunbar (Costner), a Union soldier in the Civil War who forsakes the life he knows and becomes an honorary member of the Sioux tribe. Based on the novel by James Blake, who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Dances

Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Terra Incognita by Tipton, Tipton, Shasteen, Hernandez, Nieto

Terra Incognita was well written by the Tiptons and had the feeling of a television season.
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In the Star Trek franchise, there is a parallel universe dubbed the "Mirror Universe" where the evil Terran Empire, which rules through terror, stands in place of the United Federation of Planets. Its first appearance was in the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror," when a transporter malfunction during an ion storm causes the landing party of Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura to switch places with their counterparts. It was a very compelling episode and the Mirror Universe has been revisited in different TV series and assorted non-canonical Trek media. Star Trek: The Next Generation: Terra Incognita collects issues

The Dick Cavett Show: 'And That's The Way It Is...' DVD Review

These interviews are more engaging conversations than entertaining spectacles but they are certain to please news junkies and history aficionados.
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The Dick Cavett Show was a talk show that aired on different TV channels, broadcast and cable, from 1968 to 1996. S'More Entertainment is releasing The Dick Cavett Show on DVD, gathering episodes together under themes. “And That's The Way It Is...” showcases great newscasters of the 20th Century, in case the famous sign-off from Walter Cronkite didn't give it away. Released on December 18, 2018, “And That's The Way It Is...” Disc 1 presents Walter Cronkite from May 16, 1974 on ABC for a 90-minute wide world special and March 24, 1982 on PBS, and Mike Wallace from June

Swing Time Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Fine Film

A charming film that gets so many things right it's easy to overlook its flaws and just enjoy it.
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Swing Time is the sixth of ten films that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared in together. It has great songs by composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Dorothy Fields, great dance performances by Astaire and Rogers, and a plot that will make you tell others the film has great songs and great dance performances. Swing Time opens with John "Lucky" Garnett (Astaire) about to get married and leave show business for a hometown sweetheart Margaret (Betty Furness), but manager Pop (Victor Moore) and the other fellas in his dance act are against it. They distract Lucky long enough so the

Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Through the Mirror by Tipton, Tipton, et. al.

The plotting is smart and fun, and it shows the writers have a good understanding of the characters and both universes
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In the Star Trek franchise, there is a parallel universe dubbed the "Mirror Universe" where the evil Terran Empire, which rules through terror, stands in place of the United Federation of Planets. Its first appearance was in the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror," when a transporter malfunction during an ion storm causes the landing party of Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura to switch places with their counterparts. It was a very compelling episode and the Mirror Universe has been revisited in different TV series and assorted non-canonical Trek media. IDW's Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken "serve[d]

The Dick Cavett Show: Inside the Minds of... Volume 1 DVD Review

Episodes included find Dick Cavett joined by Robin Williams, Gilbert Gottfried, Richard Lewis, and Bobcat Goldthwait.
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The Dick Cavett Show was a talk show that aired on different TV channels, broadcast and cable, from 1968 to 1996. S'More Entertainment is releasing The Dick Cavett Show on DVD, gathering episodes together under themes. Inside the Minds of... showcases comedians. Released on December 18, 2018, Volume 1 presents Robin Williams from May 16 and 17, 1979 on PBS. The remaining episodes of this volume aired on CNBC: Gilbert Gottfried from August 6, 1990; Richard Lewis from September 13, 1990; and Bobcat Goldthwait from March 13, 1992. When the Williams episodes first aired on PBS, Mork and Mindy had

Frankenstein Created Woman (Collector's Edition) Blu-ray Review: Hammer Created a Gothic Tale of Revenge

Scream Factory created a Blu-ray for fans to enjoy and study.
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Frankenstein Created Woman is the fourth film in Hammer Films Frankenstein series and has been released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory. Instead of Hammer's version of Bride of Frankenstein, this is a gender reversal of the story, but don't let on to the internet monsters who are overly sensitive to that kind of thing. The film opens as a young boy named Hans sees his father guillotined. Cut to years later, he (Robert Morris) assists Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters) and together they revive Baron von Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), who had been dead an hour in a deep freeze, leading Frankenstein

Road to Utopia (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Striking Comedy Gold

Though the film plays with the story formula of the previous installments, this one works well because they stuck with what worked before.
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Kino Lorber Studio Classics has added to their roster Special Edition Blu-ray releases of the first four Road pictures starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, making the first six of the seven movies now available from them. Road to Utopia (1945) is the fourth in the series. After releasing the first three films over three years, the franchise took a three-year break before audiences saw the return of the lead-acting trio. Hal Walker moved into the director's chair having previously been an assistant director on Zanzibar and Morocco. New to the creative team are screenwriters Melvin Frank and

The Thing from Another World Blu-ray Review: A Classic of the Sci-fi Genre

Available from Warner Archive, the Blu-ray offers impressive high-def video and pleasing audio.
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Based on John W. Campbell's 1938 novella “Who Goes There?” The Thing from Another World (1951) tells the story of those at arctic outpost Polar Expedition Six dealing with a plant-based humanoid alien (James Arness) that feeds on blood, no matter if it's human or animal. Understandably once the titular creature starts to kill, Air Force Captain Pat Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) wants the thing destroyed. However, not only must he and his men battle against this powerful thing, which is immune to bullets, but also against head scientist Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), who has different ideas on how to
After an invaluable contribution of nearly eight years running this weekly column, Senior Writer Mat Brewster is stepping away and will be greatly missed. Rather than leaving readers around the world in the dark about what new titles are available to purchase, we'll do our best to fill the void created by his absence. Perusing the list of new titles on sale this week, there was little doubt as a member of Generation X that I would be picking The New Scooby-Doo Movies: The (Almost) Complete Collection from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. As much as it was fun watching the

Cold Pursuit Blu-ray Review: Revenge Served at the Right Temperature

An enjoyable adventure for crime fans, offering more of interest to keep the viewer engaged with the story than the standard shoot'em-up.
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Cold Pursuit finds Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland remaking an English version of his 2014 film In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten). Liam Neeson stars as Nels Coxman, a man whose particular set of skills involve driving a snowplow for the fictional town of Kehoe, Colorado not killing. Yet when his son dies, he seeks revenge against those responsible, setting off a criminal gang war in this humorous crime thriller. Nels's work driving the snowplow has made him an important figure in the community. The night he receives an award for his service his son Kyle is kidnapped and given a

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires Blu-ray Review: The Genre Blending Works Well

"You got your horror on my martial arts!"
"You got your martial arts in my horror!"
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Released on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is the ninth and final entry in Hammer's Dracula film series and finds Hammer Film Productions teaming up with Shaw Brothers Studio to create a fun horror/martial arts mash-up. In the '70s, horror was on a down turn for Hammer but martial arts had become an international sensation thanks in part to the movies of Bruce Lee, so the blending made business sense. While Peter Cushing performs his fifth and final portrayal of Van Helsing for Hammer, Christopher Lee finally gave up the mantle of Dracula. Instead,

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part Blu-ray Review: A Delightful Continuation of the Franchise

In addition to the laughs, the story has heart and works for the whole family.
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I try to be open-minded about movies before I see them, but like Osgood Fielding III said in Some Like It Hot, “nobody's perfect,” so in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I was a huge skeptic when I first heard that a LEGO movie was being made. It just seemed like a calculated corporate decision by the studio to maximize merchandising by bringing a two-hour toy catalog to life. And while there was certainly merchandising to be had, it turned out that the filmmakers had created an entertaining, inventive comedy with impressive visuals and a story with

The Toys That Made Us: Season 1 & 2 DVD Review: An Informative, Entertaining TV Series

Am glad to see Netflix is making these shows available beyond their streaming service because, like a toy, these stories deserve to be shared.
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The Toys That Made Us is a Netflix documentary series that looks at the histories of famous toy lines. The seasons are short, running only four episodes each. The first covers Star Wars, Barbie, He-Man, and G.I. Joe, which all debuted on the streaming service on December 22, 2017. The second covers Star Trek, Transformers, LEGO, and Hello Kitty, which all debuted on May 25, 2018. The episodes tell compelling stories about those involved in the toy's creation and the cultural impact they had. The “Star Wars” episode opens with a historical re-enactment, which had me concerned we were going

Road to Morocco (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Third Time's a Charm

Not only as entertaining as the previous films in the series, it's arguably the most entertaining.
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Kino Lorber Studio Classics has added to their roster Special Edition Blu-ray releases of the first four Road pictures starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, making the first six of the seven movies now available from them. Road to Morocco (1942) is the third in the series and not only sees the return of the acting trio but screenwriters Frank Butler and Don Hartman with an original screenplay and Anthony Quinn back playing their nemesis. Director David Butler joins them for his only time as the franchise returns to the African continent. A freighter explodes off the coast

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 5 (1976-1978) Blu-ray Review

Although the collection sees a higher rate of recycling ideas with the end of the original production run near, the cartoons presented still provide a lot of laughs.
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As mentioned in my past reviews of past volumes, Friz Freleng was an instrumental figure in animation history because of his work on Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. He and producer David H. DePatie went on to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Kino Lorber Animation has been releasing that company's work on Blu-ray. After a few years of creating theatrical Pink Panther cartoons, DePatie-Freleng brought them to television with The Pink Panther Show, which premiered on NBC on September 6, 1969. DePatie-Freleng resumed producing theatrical shorts again in 1971. The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 5 presents 22 cartoons, including

Road to Zanzibar (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Welcome to the Jungle, Hope and Crosby Got Fun and Games

The movie succeeds as a sequel because it repeats what "...Singapore" did well and offers enough new things to make the picture stand on its own.
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Kino Lorber Studio Classics has added to their roster Special Edition Blu-ray releases of the first four Road pictures starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, making the first six of the seven movies now available from them. Road to Zanzibar (1941) is the second in the series and not only sees the return of the acting trio but screenwriters Frank Butler and Don Hartman and director Victor Schertinger as well. Set in Zanzibar, Africa, the premise is basically the same. Hope and Crosby, who gets three songs, are up to their usual wacky shenanigans and rapid-fire banter, and

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 9: 1963-1964 by Milton Caniff

This two-year collection provides plenty of thrilling mid-20th century adventures.
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The Library of American Comics continues publishing the adventures of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon with Volume 9, which presents the newspaper comic strips from December 31, 1962 to January 2, 1964, covering the 16th and 17th year of the strip's 41-year run. Air Force Colonel Steve Canyon continues to travel the globe conducting official and unofficial missions, and Caniff continues to deliver outstanding artwork. Library of American Comics associate editor Bruce Canwell wrote the essay "When Truth Strengthens Fiction," which provides annotations to the strips. The book opens in media res with a kerfuffle at Maumee University as actor Clipper

Archer: Danger Island: The Complete Season Nine DVD Review: One of the Funniest Comedies on TV

It continues the ridiculous situations and wacky dialogue filled with recurring gags, obscure references, and unrelenting insults in which the series excels.
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Season Nine finds Archer still in a coma after having been shot in Season Seven, but his dreams have changed setting, moving from Los Angeles 1947 (Season Eight: Dreamland) to a South Seas island 1938, hence the subtitle: Danger Island. The voice cast play variations of their characters in this new setting. Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) is a pilot like Jake Cutter from Tales of the Gold Monkey, which creator Matt Read told A.V. Club was "one of my favorite shows ever." Pam (Amber Nash) is Sterling's co-pilot and considers him her best friend. Malory Archer (Jessica Walter) runs

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 25: 1969-1970 by Chester Gould

While Dick Tracy and his team work four cases, the art by Gould and his assistants is top notch.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 25 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from April 3, 1969 through to December 23, 1970. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Fate Is Strange," which provides commentary on the strips included, and concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Bushed and Ugly," about Gould's political subtext and the business of Dick Tracy. As the book opens, readers meet cartoonist Vera Alldid, whose name is a groan-inducing pun based on his father's broken English. The

Road to Singapore (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: On the Road to a Franchise

It sets forth the template for these entertaining, musical romantic comedies wherein Hope and Crosby compete for the affections of Dorothy Lamour in exotic locations.
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Kino Lorber Studio Classics has added to their roster Special Edition Blu-ray releases of the first four Roadpictures starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, making the first six of the seven movies now available from them. Road to Singapore (1940) is the first in the series and sets forth the template for these entertaining, musical romantic comedies wherein Hope and Crosby compete for the affections of Lamour in exotic locations. Originally a project planned for others, including Burns and Allen, Paramount struck box-office gold when ... Singapore became a vehicle for Hope and Crosby, whose ad-libs and writing

Aquaman Blu-ray Review: The Man Who Would Be Sea King

The movie covers familiar territory in a thrilling manner.
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After appearing in Justice League, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) gets his own solo outing in the sixth installment of the DC Extended Universe. The movie is a stuffed-to-the-gills blockbuster, more in line with the successful Wonder Woman than the franchise's previous misfires as it covers familiar territory in a thrilling manner. Aquaman opens with the meeting of his parents, Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison), lighthouse keeper of Maine, and Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), queen of Atlantis. He found her unconscious and injured along the rocks near his home. She recovers, falling for Thomas and having Arthur, a child who she says one day

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2011: Presenting Music and the Movies

A wide variety of material to see for the first time or revisit on the silver screen.
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No longer available online, this review is being re-published. The 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival returned to Hollywood Blvd for its second run presenting films well-known "Essentials" and obscure "Discoveries." "Music and the Movies" was a major theme this year so there was programming highlighting Disney's Musical Legacy, the work of composers George and Ira Gershwin and Bernard Herrmann, and famous musicals like West Side Story and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Just like last year, the festival had so many interesting things to do and see it was impossible to take everything in but there's something for everyone. My

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2010: A Festival Is Born

The festival's programming spanned the medium's history, and as a bonus, many of the selections featured introductions and Q&A's from participants, their relatives, and peers.
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No longer available online, this review is being re-published. The inaugural TCM Classic Film Festival brought the cable channel to the silver screens of Hollywood Blvd. movie theaters for four days playing the likes of Grauman's Chinese and the Egyptian. Much like the channel, the festival's programming spanned the medium's history, and as a bonus, many of the selections featured introductions and Q&A's from participants, their relatives, and peers. Living in Los Angeles, I am spoiled. There are quite a number of venues throughout the county to catch classic films, some of which include discussions with participants, so while I

The Street Fighter Collection Blu-ray Review: A Thrilling Action Trilogy

Well worth adding to any martial-arts fan's collection.
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Actor Sonny Chiba became an international sensation with the Japanese martial arts film, The Street Fighter, which saw him play Takuma (Terry for those watching the English dubs) Tsurugi, a man for hire that makes the impossible possible, usually at the request of criminals who inexplicably double cross him. Whereas Bruce Lee's fight scenes are graceful and Jackie Chan's are athletic, Chiba's are savage in the damage dished out. Tsurugi returned for two more films, Return of the Street Fighter and The Street Fighter's Last Revenge, and all three are part of Shout Factory's The Street Fighter Collection. Presented in

The Deadly Mantis (1957) Blu-ray Review: It's Not Great, but There's Entertainment to Be Had

Editor Chester Schaeffer does a masterful job piecing together a visual narrative.
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Combining/stealing ideas from previous atomic-monster movies, The Deadly Mantis was unleashed upon the world in 1957. Scream Factory is responsible for the creature feature resurfacing on Blu-ray. It's not great, but there's entertainment to be had from this cheaply made production and the disc's extras. On an island in the South Seas, explosions from the testing of atomic bombs trigger the melting of glaciers near Greenland because the world is interconnected. An iceberg topples over, revealing to the audience (dun dun dun) a giant mantis frozen inside it. The characters take a while longer to discover what's happening. After an

Foreigner: Live at the Rainbow '78 Blu-ray Review: On Their Way to Becoming Juke Box Heroes

The setlist is "Foreigner" in its entirety, out of sequence, and two songs from "Double Vision."
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Foreigner began as vocalist Lou Gramm, guitarist Mick Jones, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, drummer Dennis Elliott, keyboardist Al Greenwood and bassist Ed Gagliardi. Recorded on April 27, a year after their smash self-titled debut and about six weeks before the release of their second album, Live at the Rainbow '78 is a 75-minute concert film that spotlights a talented band on the rise. The setlist is Foreigner in its entirety, out of sequence, and two songs from Double Vision. The band opens with a boisterous “Long, Long Way from Home” getting fans enthused right from the start. At song's end, the

Book Review: First Man: The Annotated Screenplay by Josh Singer

An enjoyable read and an insightful one for those who want to learn about how to write screenplays.
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As stated in my review of First Man, “director Damien Chazelle along with his cast and crew do an amazing job presenting a portion of Armstrong's life that led to him becoming the first person to walk on the Moon.” Based on James R. Hansen's biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, the screenplay was written by Josh Singer, an Oscar winner for Spotlight. Titan Books presents an annotated version of the script from three weeks prior to picture lock, so there's a note that “there may be some discrepancies with the finished film.” In his Introduction, Singer

Doctor Who: Peter Davison: Complete Season One Blu-ray Review

A marvelous collection that Whovians should be happy to have on their shelf.
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The BBC has released Doctor Who: Peter Davison - Complete Season One, the second in its series of classic Doctor Who seasons on Blu-ray and the first featuring Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor. This season, also known as the 19th season of the classic run, aired from January 4 to March 30, 1982 and contains the stories: Castrovalva, Four to Doomsday, Kinda, The Visitation, Black Orchid, Earthshock, and Time-Flight. In addition to Special Features from previously released DVDs, there are also brand new special features throughout the eight-disc set. Peter Davison had no easy task, following the very popular Tom

Creed II Blu-ray Review: A Worthy Addition to the Rocky Franchise

Although it contains familiar plot points from other films in the series, the filmmakers do a good job of blending engaging characters with thrilling fight sequences.
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Creed II opens with two boxers on the rise: Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) and Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). Both young men have complicated relationships with their fathers, each of whom made a name for themselves in the ring. In Rocky IV, Apollo (Carl Weathers) and Ivan (Dolph Lundgren) battled in an exhibition fight, which led to Apollo's death, so after Adonis becomes the WBC Heavyweight Champion and Viktor has won a number of matches, a savvy promoter wants the sons to fight. Ivan relishes the idea, seeking a return to glory through his son because after his loss to

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 8 by John Byrne

These are some of the best stories of the entire run.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the TV show combined with new material such as dialogue in word balloons, narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones. Volume 8 collects issues #21-22 and New Visions Special: The Cage. "The Enemy of My Enemy" finds Captain James

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Blu-ray Review: A Delightfully Goofy Sequel

Rather than simply repeating the story from the original film, returning screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon offer audiences something different with this sequel.
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The 26th Century utopia based on the music of Wyld Stallyns is threatened when Rufus's (George Carlin) former teacher, the villainous De Nomolos (Joss Ackland), sends look-alike robots back to the past to kill Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) after the events of their Excellent Adventure, so and alter the future. Rather than simply repeating the story from the original film, returning screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon offer audiences something different with this sequel. Instead of more time-traveling silliness, Bill and Ted have a metaphysical adventure as the robots are successful in killing them early on. The

The Little Mermaid (1989) Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: Another Disney Dip Under the Sea

The Little Mermaid is a wonderful animated film on par with many of the Disney classics of the past, and the Blu-ray offers a top-notch high-def experience.
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Based on Hans Christian Andersen's story, The Little Mermaid began a period in the studio's history known as the Disney Renaissance, which saw a resurgence of critical and commercial success that lasted a decade. The tale appealed to Walt also and it almost appeared in an anthology of Andersen stories, although that film never got passed the development stage. Tying into the its 30th anniversary, The Little Mermaid is being re-released as part of Walt Disney's Signature Collection, reusing the same HD transfer from the Diamond Edition and bringing over bonus material from past editions. Sixteen-year-old Princess Ariel (Jodi Benson),

2019 Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Films Review

My favorite had the best story and execution.
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For over a decade, ShortsTV has proudly brought the Oscar-nominated Short Films to audiences across the globe. This exclusive release features the year’s most spectacular short films and for a limited time is available to watch on the big screen. Each nominee is released in one of three distinct feature-length compilations according to their category of nomination: Live Action, Animation, or Documentary. The films go into theaters around the world on February 8 and are not released anywhere else until a few days before the Oscars, when they are also made available February 19 via on demand platforms, including iTunes,

The Princess Bride Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: As Good As You Wish

So well crafted, it is equally one of the best comedies, one of the best adventures, and one of the best love stories.
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Based on the novel by William Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay, Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride is a fantasy adventure filled with humor and romance that became an instant classic in the hearts of many who saw it. When a young boy (Fred Savage) is sick in bed, his grandfather (Peter Falk) comes over to continue a family tradition by reading him The Princess Bride. The young man is not overly thrilled about having to sit through a romance, but he gives his grandfather the benefit of the doubt. The film then cuts to the book's story introducing the

2019 Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films Review

Any of them are deserving to win.
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For over a decade, ShortsTV has proudly brought the Oscar-nominated Short Films to audiences across the globe. This exclusive release features the year’s most spectacular short films and for a limited time is available to watch on the big screen. Each nominee is released in one of three distinct feature-length compilations according to their category of nomination: Live Action, Animation, or Documentary. The films go into theaters around the world on February 8 and are not released anywhere else until a few days before the Oscars, when they are also made available February 19 on demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon

First Man Blu-ray Review: A Giant Leap for Mankind and for a Man

Not only an exciting historical adventure, the film does an important service in telling the story of heroes such as Neil Armstrong and others who worked on the Gemini and Apollo projects.
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Based on James R. Hansen's biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, director Damien Chazelle along with his cast and crew do an amazing job presenting a portion of Armstrong's life that led to him becoming the first person to walk on the Moon. While that is a feat only 12 men in all of humankind have ever accomplished, First Man reveals that the burdens of life, which so many have experienced, are similarly harrowing and thrilling. The film opens with a tension-filled scene as Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) tests an the X-15 rocket plane in 1961. He bounces

Yessongs: 40th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray Review: For Fans Only

An enjoyable Yes concert but the audio comes close to the edge of unacceptability.
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Originally released on Blu-ray in the UK for the actual 40th anniversary in 2012, Yessongs, also the name of a live album with a larger selection of songs, is now available for the rest of us. The film presents the band playing at the Rainbow Theatre in London during their Close to the Edge Tour on December 15, 1972. The members are vocalist Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Alan White, replacement for Bill Bruford who quit eleven days before the tour was set to commence. After a brief "Overture" of some sort,

Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938 Volume One DVD Review: Strong to the Finish

The 60 cartoons alone would be worth owning, but the Special Features put this collection in a special category.
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Popeye the spinach-eating sailor is an animation icon known the world over for his adventures, many of which involve fighting his arch-nemesis Bluto over the hand and honor of Olive Oyl, who didn’t always deserve it due to her occasional two-timing ways. Released in 2007, Warner Brothers’ impressive Popeye The Sailor, Volume One is a four-disc set that not only presents the first 60 Popeye cartoons from the original masters, but after watching the extensive and informative Special Features, the viewer might qualify as an animation historian. Popeye first appeared in 1929 in Elzie Crisler Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theater.

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 4 (1971-1975) Blu-ray Review

While I recommend the entire series to date, Volume 4 is as good a place to jump as any.
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As originally mentioned in my review of Volume 1, Friz Freleng was an instrumental figure in animation history because of his work on Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. He and producer David H. DePatie went on to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Kino Lorber Animation has been releasing that company's work on Blu-ray. After a few years of creating theatrical cartoons, DePatie-Freleng brought them to television with The Pink Panther Show, which premiered on NBC on September 6, 1969. DePatie-Freleng resumed producing theatrical shorts again in 1971. The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 4 presents the next 22 cartoons in

When Harry Met Sally... (30th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review: A Sweet, Funny Love Story

It's one of the best films on the resumes of everyone involved with it.
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Shout Factory celebrates the 30th anniversary of Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally... with a new Blu-ray release that includes a new picture struck from a 4K scan of the original camera negative and a new special feature of a conversation between Reiner and Billy Crystal. Opening with white titles on a background as an instrumental version of “It Had to Be You” plays, it's not a surprise the film, a romantic comedy about the relationship between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman, set mostly in New York City, gets compared to Woody Allen's work, particularly Annie Hall. But

Mid90s Blu-ray Review: An Authentic Coming-of-age Story

Best known as an actor, Jonah Hill's first outing as a director is a stunning debut because of his creative choices.
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Written and directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s is an authentic coming-of-age story about a young teenager named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) looking for a family that he misses at home. The film opens with a jarring scene as Stevie bursts into the frame, thrown into the hallway by his half-brother Ian (Lucas Hedges), who frequently uses Stevie as a punching bag. Their single mom Dabney (Katherine Waterston) is too busy working to provide much supervision. Stevie finds a brotherhood in a group of skaterboarders: Ray (Na-kel Smith), Ruben (Gio Galicia), and two kids who go by nicknames, "Fuckshit" (Olan Prenatt), derived

The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection DVD Review: A Fine Mess of Films

An interesting and entertaining mix of early 20th Century silent comedy shorts.
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Tying in with the release of Stan & Ollie, The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection by Mill Creek Entertainment presents two discs of films starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, both together and on their own. Disc One is "Laurel & Hardy Shorts and Features." Labeled as "an extract," The Lucky Dog (1921) is the first film the men appeared together with Laurel starring and Hardy as a robber and his nemesis. A crackle can be heard on the audio. While technically they both worked on it, Yes, Yes, Nanette (1925) is a James Finlayson short where he meets his

Book Review: Hooked on Hollywood by Leonard Maltin

For those that have been hooked deeply by the Classic Hollywood era, it's an intriguing read.
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Leonard Maltin has made a career for himself out of his love of movies, starting as an unpaid freelance writer for fan zines at the age of 13, His latest book, Hooked on Hollywood, has the subtitle “Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom,” which sounds like it might be a memoir, and after reading Maltin's Introduction, that is certainly a book I would want to read by him. Instead, this is a archival collection of articles and interviews, some of which originally appeared in the magazine Film Fan Monthly and Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy newsletter. Maltin takes readers on

Screwball Comedy Classics Double Feature Volume 2: His Girl Friday & The Front Page DVD Review

Two great movies at a great value, but if the audio-visual aspects are important, I can't recommend it.
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VCI Entertainment presents Screwball Comedy Classics Double Feature Volume 2: His Girl Friday & The Front Page, two films based on the Broadway play The Front Page written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. Directed by Lewis Milestone, The Front Page (1931) stars Adolphe Menjou as Chicago newspaper editor Walter Burns and Pat O'Brien as his put-upon reporter Hildebrand "Hildy" Johnson. Hildy plans to quit his job, get married, and head to New York while Walter wants Hildy to cover an upcoming hanging of Earl Williams, a man and possible Communist convicted of murdering an African-American cop, and all the

Robin Williams: Comic Genius 22-DVD Set Review: Makes the Case on Why Fans Think So Highly of Him

To make clear how popular a figure he was, this collection also makes for a good overview of the past 40 years in television.
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Robin Williams: Comic Genius scours the video vaults of Hollywood and beyond to present a comprehensive look at Williams's television work, over 52 hours across 22 discs. Volume 1 (six DVDs) has a primary focus on his HBO stand-up comedy specials. Covering more than 30 years, they are HBO On Location: Robin Williams - Off the Wall (1978); An Evening with Robin Williams (1983); Robin Williams: An Evening at the Met (1986); Robin Williams: Live on Broadway (2002), the audio of which earned him a Grammy; and Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction (2009). Disc 6 covers Williams's USO tours

Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 1 Blu-ray Review: Impressive Visuals but Disappointing Audio

After 10 years, completists will certainly be glad Warner Archive is continuing the release of Popeye cartoons.
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From July 2007 through November 2008, Warner Brothers released three volumes of Popeye the Sailor cartoons on DVD, which contained the first 123 cartoons from Popeye the Sailor (1933) through to Cartoons Ain't Human (1943). Aside from three Popeye Color Specials, two-reelers shot in Technicolor, those cartoons were in black and white. Now 10 years later, Warner Archive is continuing the run with Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1, featuring the next 14 theatrical cartoons made by Famous Studios, all in Technicolor, from Her Honor the Mare (1943) through to Mess Production (1945). For those new to the Popeye

The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: A Movie Star Is Born

Be somebody and add this to your collection.
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The Jerk came out in 1978 when Steve Martin was a king of comedy. He had moved on from small clubs and was now selling out arenas like a rock star. He appeared so often and was so good on Saturday Night Live he was considered an unofficial cast member by some viewers. “King Tut” was a hit single off his Grammy-winning comedy album, A Wild and Crazy Guy. He even had a best-selling book, The Cruel Shoes. He was the King of All Media before Howard Stern. The Jerk was his first-starring feature role. He had previously had tiny

The Original Christmas Specials Collection: Deluxe Edition Blu-ray Review

It's wonderful to have them on hand, complete and able to watch at one's leisure.
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Rankin/Bass Productions, named after co-founders Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, will forever be remembered in the annals of television history for creating some of the most beloved Christmas-related animated specials, many of which continue to air on TV over 50 years later. Universal Studios is making five of those programs available in The Original Christmas Specials Collection: Deluxe Edition. They are Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Frosty the Snowman (1969), Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970), The Little Drummer Boy (1968), Cricket on the Hearth (1967). Additionally the first three are also available in individual new Deluxe Editions

Book Review: Star Wars: The Complete Classic Newspaper Comics, Vol. 3

The stories are enjoyable adventures with an arc that sees the Rebellion setting up on the ice planet Hoth where they are located when The Empire Strikes Back opens.
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IDW/The Library of American Comics' presentation of the Star Wars newspaper comics concludes with Volume 3, which presents nine stories written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Al Williamson and others that ran from July 26, 1982 until March 11, 1984. Return of the Jedi had been released in May 1983, but none of the movie's events had any impact because these stories are set between Star Wars and The Empire Stikes Back. The book opens with “A Matter of Character,” an essay by Rich Handley about those who joined the ranks of the Expanded Universe, rebranded “Star Wars Legends”

King Cohen Blu-ray + CD Review: An Inspiring Story

Documentarian Steve Mitchell pays respect to Larry Cohen and his interesting filmography.
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While many argue about the subjective success of a movie, there is one indisputable objective marker of a movie's success and that is whether it has recovered its cost. Regardless of the former, those who have repeatedly accomplished the latter make careers for themselves in the business and deserve respect. Documentarian Steve Mitchell pays that respect to Larry Cohen and his interesting filmography with King Cohen, which La-La Land Entertainment is releasing in a Limited Edition set of 5,000 that includes the film on Blu-ray accompanied by its soundtrack by Joe Kraemer on CD. Mitchell tells Cohen's story through an

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis: Commemorative Edition Blu-ray Review: Not All Heroes Wear Capes

A good introduction of Aquaman into this iteration of the Justice League,
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are the writer's own. Previously released direct to video in 2015, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, inspired by the graphic novel of the same name, serves as an origin story for Aquaman and shows the Justice League growing into a formal group. It has been now been released in a new Commemorative Edition as a tie-in with James Wan's Aquaman, set for release on December 21. The new edition presents the animated film remastered in

Strait-Jacket / Berserk! Double Feature Blu-ray Review: A Pair from the End of Joan Crawford's Career

Fans of Crawford and horror should have some fun with these two.
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Mill Creek Entertainment presents two Joan Crawford films, Strait-Jacket and Berserk!, on a single Blu-ray disc. Dubbed a “Psycho Biddy Double Feature,” the pair come from the latter stage of the actress' career after her resurgence in Robert Aldrich's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? After the reteaming of Crawford and Bette Davis in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte fell apart during production due to the actresses' acrimonious off-screen behavior, resulting in Crawford being replaced by Olivia de Havilland, Crawford replaced Joan Blondell in William Castle's Strait-Jacket, an entertaining low-budget horror film. Somehow, Lucy (Joan Crawford) only has to do 20 years at

Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 3 Blu-ray Review: A Must-Own for Animation Fans

It's evident the studio takes as much care with creating their shorts as they do their features.
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Volume 3 is the latest release in the Pixar Short Films Collection series, presenting 13 shorts that were released between 2012 to 2018. The feature film the short has been paired with will be identified in parentheses and can be found on its home media release. Presented in reverse chronological order on the menu, the following shorts come with optional introduction and audio commentaries: Academy Award- nominated Bao (Incredibles 2) is notable as the first Pixar short directed by a woman, Domee Shi. It is a touching, humorous story about the relationship between a mother and son. Academy Award-nominated Lou

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The Ultimate Edition Blu-ray Review

An entertaining release that collects the Grinch's TV specials.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray Combo Pack reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are the writer's own. Released on October 23, because it's never too early to start getting folks buying stuff for Christmas, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The Ultimate Edition was made available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital. Based on his 1957 book of the same name, Dr. Seuss teamed with legendary animator Chuck Jones and created a TV special in 1966 that has become a perennial holiday favorite for many. Boris Karloff narrates and voices

AFI Fest 2018 Review: Stan & Ollie

A sweet tribute to the legendary comedy duo of Laurel & Hardy during the last hurrah of their career.
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Directed by Jon S. Baird, Stan & Ollie is a sweet tribute to the legendary comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy during the last hurrah of their career. The film offers a believable off-screen look at the men and their relationship. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy came to Hal Roach Studios separately. The Lucky Dog (1921) was the first time they appeared in the same film. They appeared in other films over the years, but weren't billed as a comedy team until Putting Pants on Philip (1927). However, they were under separate contracts, which Roach took advantage of.

AFI Fest 2018 Review: Destroyer

Karyn Kusama's Destroyer is a spectacular film that deserves to be added to the canon of Los Angeles-set film noirs.
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Karyn Kusama's Destroyer opens with LAPD detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) showing up at a murder scene. Strewn around the victim is stolen money marked by dye. She tells the homicide detective she knows the killer, but doesn't reveal anything to the detective or the audience. Back at the station, Erin receives money similarly stained, which she learns was from a botched bank robbery by a criminal gang that she and an FBI agent (Sebastian Stan) infiltrated undercover posing as a couple. Through flashbacks, we see the operation unfold and derail. She believes the money is a sign that the

AFI Fest 2018 Review: Bird Box

Based on the novel of the same name by Josh Malerman, Bird Box is a captivating apocalyptic thriller.
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As the Bird Box opens, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) tells two young children, identified as “boy” and “girl,” the grave dangers they face as they plan a trip down the river. It requires them to not talk nor remove their blindfolds because “if [they] look, [they] will die.” Five years earlier, mass suicides are spreading across the globe. The madness comes to California when a pregnant Malorie is taken for a check up by her sister Jessica (Sarah Paulson). In the mayhem, Lydia offers Malorie refuse in her neighbor Greg's (BD Wong) house but after talking to her dead mother, Lydia

The Best of The Three Stooges (13-Disc) DVD Review: Will Soitantly Please the Curly Lovers

This collection repackages previous Stooges releases from Sony Pictures and Mill Creek Entertainment.
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The Three Stooges were one of the most notable comedic acts of the 20th Century due to their violent slapstick antics and iconic personas. A brief history about them starts in 1922 when brothers Moe and Shemp Howard were “the Stooges” of the vaudeville act Ted Healy and the Stooges. In 1928, Larry Fine joined them. In 1930, the act made its way to Hollywood and appeared in Soup to Nuts. Shemp quit the act in 1932 and went solo. He was replaced by his brother Jerry, known as Curly. After splitting from Healy, the act was billed as “The

Incredibles 2 Blu-ray Review: An Incredible Sequel

Writer/director Brad Bird and his talented cast and crew bring back beloved characters, expand their world, and tell the story in a visually engaging way.
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Picking up where The Incredibles left off, Incredibles 2 sees the Parr family take on the Under Miner, but the damage caused in the melee is so costly, the government shuts down the superhero program and makes their work illegal. Into their lives comes, wealthy tech industrialist Winston Dever (Bob Odenkirk), who along with his sister Evelyn (Christine Keener), wants to help re-establish the perception of superheros. In a blow to Bob (Craig T. Nelson)/Mr. Incredible's ego, Elasti-girl (Helen Hunt) is chosen to begin the rehabilitation of their image with the public. The Parrs move into Winston's state-of-the-art luxury home

John Carpenter's The Fog Movie Review: A Thrilling Ghost Story

Even though the story has room for improvement, The Fog is an entertaining horror movie that does a lot of things right.
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Currently in limited release across the country thanks to a new 4K restoration by Studiocanal, John Carpenter's The Fog is a thrilling ghost story. It opens with an old boat captain (John Houseman) telling a story to a group of kids about a clipper ship, Elizabeth Dane, having crashed in a fog 100 years ago because they were drawn into rocks by a campfire. The sailors drowned but are supposed to rise again when the fog returns. And return it does as the town of Antonio Bay celebrates its centennial. Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) is nearly clobbered by a chunk

Twilight (2008) Blu-ray Review: Young Love Can Be Scary

Twilight delivers what one expects from a young-adult romance, but that's a low bar for some.
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For the tenth anniversary of the first film in the franchise based on Stephenie Meyer's young adult book series, Twilight has been released on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital) and all five of The Twilight Saga films have been released on Blu-ray Combo Pack (2 Blu-rays, 1 DVD, plus Digital) and Digital 4K Ultra HD. The Blu-ray in the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack contains the theatrical version. The extended cut, which is five minutes longer, is available digitally. As the movie opens, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a 17-year-old girl, leaves her mother's home in sunny

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 3 (1968-1969) Blu-ray Review

The laughs provided by these cartoons will leave you in the pink.
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As mentioned in my review of Volume 1, Friz Freleng was an instrumental figure in animation history because of his work on Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. He and producer David H. DePatie went on to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Kino Lorber Animation has been releasing that company's work on Blu-ray. The latest The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection is Volume 3, continuing with the character's next 23 theatrical shorts before the The Pink Panther Show premiered on September 6, 1969 on NBC. The cartoons generate laughs as the Panther continues to be either a chaotic force or on the

Ant-Man and the Wasp Blu-ray Review: A Delightful Addition to the MCU

After the serious, universe-altering Avengers: Infinity War, this light-hearted comedy is a welcome follow-up.
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Ant-Man and the Wasp is the second Ant-Man movie and 20th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the serious, universe-altering Avengers: Infinity War, this light-hearted comedy is a welcome follow-up, although the stakes for some of the characters are just as dire. Years ago while on an assignment with Ant-Man/Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the Wasp/Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfieffer) shrank so small she ended up trapped in what is known as the Quantum Realm, In the previous film, Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) went there and returned, inspiring Hank to try and retrieve his wife. Two years following the events

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 7 by John Byrne

It's fun to see further adventures of the Original crew, particularly because Byrne understands the characters.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the TV show combined with new material such as dialogue in word balloons, narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones. Volume 7 collects issues #18-20. During a routine resupply in the Polymax system in "What Pain It Is to

LAFF 2018 Review: Stuntman

A story about pursuing dreams and redemption, and the highs and lows that can come with it.
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One of the biggest stars of the 1970s was daredevil Evel Knievel, who made a living risking life and limb performing crazy stunts. His biggest career failure occurred in 1974 when was his attempt at jumping Snake River Canyon was cut short when the rocket's parachute deployed shortly after take-off. Unbeknownst to me, which seems hard to believe in this information-overload age, another team attempted to redeem Knievel and his crew. Although the title doesn't make that clear, Stuntman tells that story. Like many Gen-X kids, Eddie Braun looked up to Knievel, but he took that inspiration and became a

Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge Blu-ray Review: The Magazine of Record and Records

An entertaining trip down memory lane even if it can't help but mythologize.
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Originally a two-part documentary on HBO, broken down into six episodes across two Blu-ray discs for this Shout Factory! release, Alex Gibney and Blair Foster's Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge tells the story of the famed magazine, and that of the United States during its run, by highlighting its major articles. The documentary opens with the early days of the magazine when Jann Wenner, his wife Jane, and Ralph Gleason founded the magazine in San Francisco in 1967. It wasn't just about the music that young people were into but a look at the culture also, both of which

LAFF 2018 Review: The Great Buster: A Celebration

The film is an absolute delight in large part to the many entertaining clips taken from Keaton's filmography.
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Director Peter Bogdanovich pays tribute to the life and work of Buster Keaton in this biographical documentary about one of cinema's greatest filmmakers. Opening with his appearance on The Dick Cavett Show, Bogdanovich starts the “celebration” singing the praises of Keaton. He then presents the story of Keaton in a near-linear manner. Joseph Frank Keaton was born into a vaudeville family in 1895 and at three years old joined his parents' act, thanks to his ability to take a fall without getting hurt. Legend has it, Harry Houdini was responsible for giving young Keaton the name “Buster” after seeing him

A Star Is Born (1954) Blu-ray Book Review: Judy Garland is at the Top of Her Game

An absolute treasure for fans of the film and is well worth checking out for fans of Hollywood musicals.
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After being unceremoniously dismissed from MGM in 1950 due to erratic behavior as a result of psychological problems and addiction, Judy Garland made a triumphant return to the silver screen in a musical remake of A Star Is Born, one of many films that counter the argument against Hollywood remakes. Garland plays Esther Blodgett, a young singer whose talent is noticed by Norman Maine (James Mason), an actor whose career is collapsing due to his alcoholism. He strongly believes in her and suggests she give up singing with the band she's with to take a screen test. She becomes a

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 24: 1967-1969 by Chester Gould

Throughout Volume 24, Gould continues to deliver adventures filled with thrills, laughs, and action.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 24 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from July 3, 1967 through to April 2, 1969. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Is All This Moon Stuff Worth It?" about the state of the strip at the time. It concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Hard as Hell - Act Two" about Gould and provides interesting annotations. The book opens with Dick Tracy and Diet Smith hot on the trail of the bearded duo

LAFF 2018 Review: Making Montgomery Clift

An engaging, informative documentary about the man, his craft, and show business.
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Co-created by Hillary Demmon and Robert Clift, the actor's youngest nephew and son of his brother Brooks, Making Montgomery Clift is an engaging, informative documentary about the man, his craft, and show business. As a fan of classic film but not the gossip associated with it, I knew about Monty's work so was aware that he, along with Marlon Brando and James Dean, were at the forefront of an acting style that embraced sensitivity as a component of masculinity. However, I was unaware that rather than his movie performances, the documentary suggests Marty was better known for allegedly destroying himself

The Man Who Cheated Himself Blu-ray Review: You Can't Trust Anyone

Don't cheat yourself, film noir fans. Pick up a copy.
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Produced by the Film Noir Foundation, restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and presented by Flicker Factory, The Man Who Cheated Himself is much more interesting than its generic title implies since many a film noir lead character cheats himself in some form or another. The film opens with Howard (Harlan Warde) and Lois (Jane Wyatt) Frazer heading towards a divorce after three years of marriage, and both having people on the side. When Lois (Jane Wyatt) finds a receipt for a gun sale Howard made recently, she calls her paramour, homicide detective Lt. Ed Cullen (Lee J.

My (Current) 2018 Toronto International Film Festival Schedule

These are some of the places you'll find me in Canada.
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This year, I am fortunate enough to be attending another Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a mix of films trying to get noticed for the unfortunate business that is Awards Season and those trying to get distributors. Over the years, I have seen films at TIFF that have gone on to win Oscars (Julianne Moore earned Best Actress for Still Alice), films that have become cult favorites (Machete Maidens Unleashed!), films that have regrettably disappeared ( Barry Levinson's The Bay), and films I can't imagine playing in America (the documnetary ANPO). The festival runs Sept 6 through 16, and I'll

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete Sixth Season DVD Review: Goodbye, Dick

Because they were kept in the vault for so long, this final season is like getting 24 new episodes for many fans of the show.
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On September 4, Time Life concludes their release of individual seasons of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In with The Complete Sixth Season, presenting all 24 re-mastered episodes across six discs that aired Monday nights at 8pm, September 11, 1972 - March 12, 1973. For the first time, the show had failed to make the Top 30, which surely contributed to the series being canceled. According to IMDB, “George Schlatter did not produce the final season, but he won the rights to those episodes in a subsequent court battle. For many years, he neither allowed those episodes to be re-aired, nor any

Book Review: Star Trek: Lost Scenes by David Tilotta & Curt McAloney

A fascinating look at the series that is sure to be held in high esteem by fans.
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Starting with the Original Series, the Star Trek franchise has had a long involvement in the publishing world, including James Blish's adaptations of episodes, original novels published by Bantam Books and Pocket Books, and reference books such as Bjo Trimble's Star Trek Concordance and Joseph Schnaubelt Franz's Star Fleet Technical Manual. Star Trek: Lost Scenes by David Tilotta & Curt McAloney from Titan Books is a fascinating look at the series that is sure to be held in high esteem by fans. The authors explain in their Introduction that the book “is a photographic compendium of the discarded bonus material,”

Deadpool 2 Super Duper $@%!#& Cut Blu-ray Review: It's a Family Film, Sorta

An entertaining mix of action and comedy for those with a high tolerance for vulgarity (like myself).
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Given the success of the first Deadpool, it wasn't a surprise a sequel was made. The foul-mouthed, wise-cracking mutant (or do I need to write “Merc with a Mouth” to help with Google searches and to look like I am in the know?) was featured in a movie that brought different sensibilities to the superhero genre earned its R rating with bloody action, filthy language, and meta humor. Plus, it was a vast improvement of the character that appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool 2 opens with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) trying to kill himself because of the responsibility he feels

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938) Blu-ray Review: Plenty of Audacious Mischief

The adventures are thrilling for kids and those who remember being a kid.
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Kino Lorber Studio Classics has released The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in both its 1938 91-minute cut and its 77-minute cut when it was reissued in 1954. When released in 1938, it was the fourth adaptation of Mark Twain's 1876 novel and the first shot in Technicolor. Although the simplicity of the 19th century bucolic Midwestern town the story is set in and that of a 1930s family film may grow increasingly unfamiliar, Tom's adventures retain their appeal. Tom (Tommy Kelly) lives with his Aunt Polly (May Robson), her daughter Mary (Marcia Mae Jones), and Tom's annoying half-brother Sid, who

Documentary Now! Seasons 1 & 2 Blu-ray Review: An Entertaining Anthology

"A [humorous] look back at the films that helped shape and innovate the world of documentary."
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One of the advantages to the expansion of television platforms, from cable to streaming, is that it has allowed network executives to take greater risks on material that doesn't appear to and may not have broad appeal. This provides artists a wider spectrum of possibilities from which to tell stories and entertain, such as the documentary-spoofing Documentary Now! created by Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, and director Rhys Thomas, who all previously worked together at Saturday Night Live. Airing on IFC, which seems a natural fit or it would if they were still showing independent films, the premise of

Avengers: Infinity War Blu-ray Review: A Marvelous (pun intended) Superhero Movie

It was fun seeing so many characters interact, which helped distract from the plot issues.
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Starting with Iron Man (2008), the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone onto to become a multimedia behemoth. It's been so successful that other movie studios have tried to create their own shared universes, but none have matched what Marvel has created. The 19th film in the franchise, Avengers: Infinity War, keeps that streak alive with over $2 billion at the worldwide box office. This was due in part to fans' anticipation of seeing what was billed as the biggest crossover event ever, and it was fun seeing so many characters interact, which helped distract from the plot issues. With the

Dragon Inn Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Villains Check In but They Don't Check Out

Fans of the genre will do themselves a favor if they plan a stop at Dragon Inn.
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King Hu's second entry into the Criterion Collection is Dragon Inn (1967), his first film after leaving the Shaw Brothers Studios in Hong King and moving to seek greater artistic liberties as a director in Taiwan. Set against a backdrop of political intrigue, writer/director Hu does very well with both job duties, creating visually interesting action sequences that blend into an entertaining story. Set in 1457 A.D. during China's Ming Dynasty, eunuchs led by Cao Shao-qin (Bai Ying), who is “unsurpassed in the martial arts,” seize power. This gives them control over two espionage agencies, the Eastern Depot and the

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: A 'Strange and Wondrous' TV Show

Highly recommend for fans and for those curious to learn about this marvelous series because both the show and the Blu-ray presentation are of such high quality.
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Described by creator Alex Hirsh as a cross between The X-Files and The Simpsons (presumably the early seasons back when both shows were great), Gravity Falls is an entertaining animated series that deals in science fiction and the supernatural. The two-season, 40-episode series is set in the town of Gravity Falls, OR where 12-year-old fraternal twins Dipper Pines (Jason Ritter) and sister Mabel (Kristen Schaal) are sent to stay the summer with their great Uncle Stan Pines (Hirsch), whom they call “Grunkle.” He runs the Mystery Shack, an appropriately named tourist trap/gift shop because mysteries abound inside as well as

Book Review: Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales, Volume Three

It's wonderful to experience the strips as readers did over 50 years ago and see the artistry on display.
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As mentioned in reviews of the previous volumes in the series, Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales was a Sunday strip that featured 129 stories, running from July 13, 1952 until February 15, 1987. The Library of American Comics is republishing them and the 14 stories in Volume Three, which are collected in a book for the first time, include adaptations of films, both live-action and animated. Written by Frank A. Reilly and drawn by Jesse March, except where noted, they are: Darby O'Gill and the Little People (May 3, 1959-August 30, 1959) Third Man on the Mountain (September 6,

Ready Player One Blu-ray Review: A Grand Spectacle Lacking Substance

The movie's story has lessons to pass onto viewers, yet somehow they are overlooked by the filmmakers.
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Based on Ernest Cline's book of the same name, Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One is a fantastic adventure in the vein of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Upon his death, video-game maker James Halliday set forth a way to pass on his ownership of the OASIS, the virtual-reality universe that has captivated the world, to whomever can solve the three puzzles he has hidden within it. The movie's story has lessons to pass onto viewers, yet somehow they are overlooked by the filmmakers. RP1 opens in in Columbus, Ohio, 2045, in an area called The Stacks, which is a

Skyscraper (2018) Movie Review: 'Die Hard' in a Building

The stunt team and visual-effects artists are deserving of the most praise.
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Ten years ago, Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) was an FBI agent injured on the job by an explosion that leaves him wearing a prosthetic lower leg. While recovering in a naval hospital, he met Sarah (Neve Campbell), a doctor, and ten years, later they are married and parents to twins, a boy and a girl. Johnson is now running his own security firm, which was hired to approve the security and maintenance systems of The Pearl, a 220-story building in Hong Kong, China that has such an intense infrastructure the operations center is a mile away. Other than Zhao Long

Shark Week: 30th Anniversary Collection Review: More Bark than Bite

Other than the public's deep fascination with sharks, it's hard to understand how these oddly produced shows have been luring in viewers all these years.
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Available exclusively at Walmart until September, Shark Week: 30th Anniversary Collection celebrates the long-running cultural phenomenon that is Discovery Channel's Shark Week by presenting 10 programs, although the set skips over the first decade of the series. Other than the public's deep fascination with sharks, it's hard to understand how these oddly produced shows have been luring in viewers all these years. While technically it is correct to identify itself as a "3-disc collection," that is slightly misleading as the Blu-ray and one of the DVDs both contain the same “5 Fan-Favorite Episodes”: Monster Mako (2015), Monster Hammerhead (2014), Great

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) Blu-ray Review

This is recommend for fans of the character and for these type of comedic shorts.
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As mentioned in my review of Volume 1, Friz Freleng was an instrumental figure in animation history because of his work on Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. He and producer David H. DePatie went on to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Kino Lorber Animation has been releasing that company's work on Blu-ray. The latest title is The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 2, continuing with the character's next 20 theatrical shorts. Depending on the cartoon, the Pink Panther continues to find himself either a chaotic force or on the receiving end of one, both resulting in a lot of laughs.

Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken by Tipton, Tipton, Woodward, Kirchoff

This collection serves as a very good origin story, setting the stage for future adventures.
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In the Star Trek franchise, there is a parallel universe dubbed the "Mirror Universe" where the evil Terran Empire, which rules through terror, stands in place of the United Federation of Planets. Its first appearance was in the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror," when a transporter malfunction during an ion storm causes the landing party of Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura to switch places with their counterparts. It was a very compelling episode and the Mirror Universe has been revisited in different TV series and assorted non-canonical Trek media. IDW's Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken collects

George Carlin Commemorative Collection is the Pick of the Week

Here are a few titles worth picking up this week.
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Mat continues his family road trip, so I am picking up the reins to write about what looks interesting. It feels like we've been living in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes" for the past few years as the public discourse gets increasingly less trustworthy due to certain players reveling in and profiting from the chaos of misinformation. It makes one wish for more people in the public square, like the child of Andersen's story, to call out the nonsense on display in society. I enjoy those rabble-rousers, firebrands, and troublemakers who don't go along with the status quo,

Jackass: Complete Movie and TV Collection DVD Review: Not for the Faint of Heart

Watching Jackass is a challenge in and of itself, but it's hard not to laugh at the sheer idiocy and recklessness on display.
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Tied to the release of Johnny Knoxville's Action Point, Paramount has released Jackass: Complete Movie and TV Collection, an 11-disc set of previously released DVDs of their movies and TV shows that showcase the outrageous high jinks, stunts, and pranks performed by the Jackass cast, which besides Knoxville includes Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Dave England, and Ehren McGhehey as well as a number of recurring folks behind the camera. The Jackass fellas are like those troublesome kids who cause a commotion in the neighborhood with their crazy antics, pestering the old

The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited Review: A Marvelous Remembrance of the Man and his Work

"As children, we all live in a world of imagination, of fantasy, and for some of us that world of make-believe continues into adulthood." — Jim Henson
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Running June 1-September 2, 2018 at The Skirball Cultural Center, The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited pays tribute to Jim Henson (1936-1990), a major creative force in the latter half of the 20th Century. With the help of his collaborators, Henson's Muppets (a combination of marionette and puppet) remain one the most popular groups of imaginary characters, rivaling the cartoon characters from Looney Tunes and Walt Disney and Charles Schulz's Peanuts. Organized by the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), New York, this traveling exhibition is a version of MoMI’s ongoing The Jim Henson Exhibition. It is divided into sections:

Solo: A Star Wars Story Movie Review: A Fun Addition to the Franchise

An entertaining space adventure that is best when it's not spending time covering obvious connective plot points.
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Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Solo tells how Han Solo began his journey towards becoming the character met at a Tatooine cantina in the original film. It's an entertaining space adventure that is best when it's not spending time covering obvious, connective plot points. Han (Alden Ehrenreich) is young thief on the streets Corellia working for Lady Proxima (Linda Hunt), a variation on Oliver Twist and Fagin. He dreams of becoming a pilot and leaving the planet. His only option to accomplish both is joining the Empire. While on an Imperial mission to conquer a

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 8: 1961-1962 by Milton Caniff

Caniff continues to work at the top of his game.
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The Library of American Comics continues publishing the adventures of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon with Volume 8, which presents the newspaper comic strips of 1961 and '62, the 14th and 15th year of the strip's 41-year run. The premise remains the same as Air Force Colonel Steve Canyon travels the globe conducting official and unofficial missions. Also remaining the same is Caniff's outstanding artwork. Steve's first assignment in this collection is set in England where some of the locals aren't too happy about the installation of a North American air defense radar station, especially when their sheep start dying. In

Schlock DVD Review: 'Appropriately Named'

The commentary by John Landis and Rick Baker makes for a much more entertaining experience than the movie itself.
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Released by Turbine Media Group, Schlock is now available as an exclusive limited 2000-copy Blu-ray/DVD combo mediabook edition that contains the main feature in full HD sourced from an all-new, detailed 4K frame-by-frame restoration on Region Code-Free Blu-ray for worldwide playback, and an NTSC SD 4:3 full-frame open-matte DVD version. The DVD was made available for this review. After an apology from writer/director/star John Landis for those about to view his debut feature, Schlock opens with 239 dead bodies strewn across a park. Turns out the killer is a prehistoric ape man in this spoof of '50s monster movies that

The Dogfather / Misterjaw Blu-ray Reviews: More from the DePatie / Freleng Collection

Fans of both these cartoons will be happy to view them in high-definition along with the informative extras that are included.
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Kino Lorber Animation continues to release titles from DePatie/Freleng Enterprises with the latest pair inspired by two films that weren't just the great successes of the 1970s but of the entire medium. The Dogfather is a series of seventeen theatrical shorts, the final ones from DePatie/Freleng. As the title suggests, anthropomorphic dogs are gangsters. However, other than the titular character (voiced by Bob Holt) being a soft-spoken mumbler similar to Marlon Brando's performance as Vito Corleone, there's very little to connect it with Francis Ford Coppola's film. Instead, some characters have voices based actors from Warner Brothers' gangster pictures from

Book Review: Star Wars: The Complete Classic Newspaper Comics, Vol. 2

They are fun adventures that don't require one to be well versed in the movies or other media of the franchise.
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In IDW/The Library of Amercian Comics' on-going presentation of the Star Wars newspaper comics, Volume 2 presents eight stories that ran from October 6, 1980 through to September July 25, 1982. The Empire Strikes Back had been released in May 1980, but none of the events had any impact on the stories because the first, an adaptation of Brian Daley's novel Han Solo at Star's End, is set before the events of Star Wars, and the remaining stories are set between Star Wars and Empire. Adapted by Archie Goodwin, who wrote all the other stories in this colllection, and drawn

Paddington 2 Blu-ray Review: A Film Sweeter Than a Marmalade Sandwich

Paddington is earnest and sincere, as is the film, which is why it all works so well.
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Based on the children’s book series by Michael Bond and following up the successful first film, which I haven't see yet but soon will, Paddington 2 is as sweet and good natured as its lead character, a young, English-speaking Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who lives with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens. The script by director Paul King and Simon Farnaby is as well, which is why the film is so wonderful. Paddington wants to get his Aunt Lucy, who still resides in in Peru, a birthday present. He decides upon a pop-up book of London because she

My (Tentative) 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule

I've done this nine years and picking what to watch at the fest never gets easier.
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Although I am fortunate enough to attend both events, I am disappointed that CinemaCon and TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) are both occurring next week. I have to leave Las Vegas Thursday morning, missing out on the final day of movie studio presentations and on the pre-TCMFF activities that will take place on Wednesday. Hopefully, I'll make it in time for Meet TCM at Club TCM, so I can ask how the staffers react to the social media outage that their programming has generated over the past year. Thursday Since I am not attending the official Opening Night selection, The

The Outlaw (1943) Blu-ray Review: Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime

While not a traditional western, The Outlaw does enough right to make it an entertaining watch.
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The Outlaw was produced and directed by Howard Hughes (with some uncredited directing at the beginning of the production by Howard Hawks). It is one of the more unusual westerns in cinema and not just because it is notable for introducing Jane Russell and her cleavage to audiences. The characters include legendary names of the old American West, such as Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday. The story places them in a traditional heterosexual love triangle while at the same time a more subtle homosexual love triangle is occurring with some of the same characters. Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) comes

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 6 by John Byrne

Welcome these stories into your Star Trek library.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, "John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the [TV show] combined with new material such as dialogue [in word balloons], narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones." Volume 6 collects issues #15-17. “The Traveler” finds the Enterprise crew boarding a ship that's bigger on the inside,

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Blu-ray Review: Spectacle Trumps Story

The Blu-ray delivers a marvelous HD experience and will likely make best-of lists at the end of the year.
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The Last Jedi is an epic space fantasy filled with brilliant state-of-the-art special effects. Unfortunately, writer/director Rian Johnson's plot is overstuffed and at times nonsensical, leading to a lot of misfires in the story. Following up Episode IV retread The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi opens with an exciting, albeit illogical, action sequence. The First Order, in place of the Empire, is pursuing the Resistance, in place of the Rebellion. (It doesn't say much for the beings in this universe that so many repeatedly cave into authoritarian leaders and so many join their ranks throughout the series.) Against General Leia's

Sunday Program Highlights for WonderCon 2018

A preview of six more panels you might find me at WonderCon.
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WonderCon 2018 gets underway on Friday March 23. The programming slate has been announced on their website, and these are the panels you will likely find me, though my schedule is not set in stone and there are no guarantees at a convention unless you are part of the panel. Make Ours Marvel: Eight Decades of Iconic Creators and Characters11:00am - 12:00pmRoom 207 Over the last eight decades, Marvel has created an expansive universe filled with timeless stories and spectacular visuals. Today, Marvel's films, TV series, and comics continue to bring complex and diverse worlds to life, From an ethnically

Saturday Program Highlights for WonderCon 2018

A preview of another seven panels you might find me at WonderCon.
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WonderCon 2018 gets underway on Friday March 23. The programming slate has been announced on their website, and these are the panels you will likely find me, though my schedule is not set in stone and there are no guarantees at a convention unless you are part of the panel. World Premiere of Batman Ninja10:15am - 12:15pmArena Witness the Dark Knight as you've never seen him before at the first public screening of the highly anticipated anime film. Batman Ninja takes a journey across the ages as Gorilla Grodd's time displacement machine transports many of Batman's worst enemies to feudal

Friday Program Highlights for WonderCon 2018

A preview of seven panels you might find me at WonderCon.
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WonderCon 2018 gets underway on Friday March 23. The programming slate has been announced on their website, and these are the panels you will likely find me, though my schedule is not set in stone and there are no guarantees at a convention unless you are part of the panel. Jack Kirby's Centennial Artwork Extravaganza 1:00pm - 2:00pm Room 209 The Jack Kirby Centennial celebration continues with this final presentation of the King's original comic artwork. Hosted by IDW president and publisher Greg Goldstein, this special tribute features a multimedia display of more than 1,300 pages of Kirby's original artwork

Darkest Hour Blu-ray Review: Gary Oldman Gives a Riveting Portrayal as Winston Churchill

A compelling historical drama about standing up for one's beliefs in the face of great adversity.
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Joe Wright's Darkest Hour tells the story of Winston Churchill's first few weeks in office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a tumultuous time as World War II raged in Europe and the leaders of Parliament couldn't agree on the direction to take. Gary Oldman gives a riveting portrayal of Churchill that will long be remembered, It was helped realized by the outstanding make-up work of Kazuhiro Tsuji and his team. On May 9, 1940, the Labour Party in the British Parliament wants to replace Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) as Prime Minister because of his capitulation to

Steven Universe: The Complete First Season DVD Review: An Adventure Well Worth Taking

Recommend for kids of all ages and families of all shapes and sizes.
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Created by Rebecca Sugar, Cartoon Network's Steven Universe is an intriguing fantasy series about the adventures of the titular character, a young boy (Zach Callison) whose father Greg (Tom Scharpling) is human and whose mother Rose is a humanoid alien from species known as Gems. Rose is no longer around as she "gave up her physical form" so Steven could be born, yet rather than live with Greg, who loves his son, Steven resides and is cared for by the Crystal Gems: Pearl (Deedee Magno), Garnet (Estelle), and Amethyst (Michaela Dietz). In addition to the typical travails a young person

The Complete Monterey Pop Festival (Remastered) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

While the video upgrade and single extra aren't worth a double-dip, this three-disc set is a must-own for fans of classic rock and the '60s.
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Previously released from Criterion in 2009, The Complete Monterey Pop Festival collects three D.A. Pennebaker film's: Monterey Pop, Jimi Plays Monterey, and Shake! Otis at Monterey. That version was previously reviewed at this site. On the weekend of June 16-18, the Monterey International Pop Music Festival helped usher in the "Summer of Love". Filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and his team captured the event, which was edited down to 79 minutes. The participants included The Mamas and the Papas (John Phillips was one of the co-founders), Canned Heat, Simon & Garfunkel, Hugh Masekela, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Eric

2018 Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Films Review

And the nominees are...
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ShortsTV, the World’s Only Short Film Channel (, working with Magnolia Pictures, will open “THE 2018 OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS” on more than 500 screens across the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, South Africa, and Australia on Feb. 9, 2018. THE 2018 OSCARS NOMINATED SHORT FILMS will showcase the Live Action, Animation, and Documentary short-film nominees’ compilation as three separate theatrical events. This marks the 13th consecutive year of the Oscar Nominated Short Films theatrical experience. It is the only opportunity for audiences to watch the short film nominees in theaters before the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4,

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) Blu-ray Review

The Pink Panther was one of the biggest cartoon characters to spring from the swinging '60s, and this set of 20 cartoons shows why.
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Anyone who who grew up watching Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes, surely remembers the unusual name “Friz Freleng” in the opening credits. He was the most prolific cartoon director for Warner Bros. and is credited with developing and creating iconic characters such as Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, and Speedy Gonzales. He left seven months before the studio shut down its cartoon department and once it had, he formed DePatie-Freleng Enterprises with his former boss, producer David H. DePatie. Their first great success was the Pink Panther. Intended solely as a character for the

2018 Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films Review

And the nominees are...
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ShortsTV, the World’s Only Short Film Channel (, working with Magnolia Pictures, will open “THE 2018 OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS” on more than 500 screens across the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, South Africa, and Australia on Feb. 9, 2018. THE 2018 OSCARS NOMINATED SHORT FILMS will showcase the Live Action, Animation, and Documentary short-film nominees’ compilation as three separate theatrical events. This marks the 13th consecutive year of the Oscar Nominated Short Films theatrical experience. It is the only opportunity for audiences to watch the short film nominees in theaters before the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4,

Jabberwocky Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Frabjous Film! Callooh! Callay!

It's an amusing adventure filled with Terry Gilliam's humor and sensibilities that showcases his directorial aesthetic.
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After co-directing Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Terry Gilliam returned to the Dark Ages for his first solo outing, Jabberwocky, a fantasy tale inspired by Lewis Carroll's poem of the same name. It's an amusing adventure filled with Gilliam's humor and sensibilities that showcases his directorial aesthetic. Those expecting a sequel to the Python's madcap comedy classic will be disappointed, like many of the characters who live in the world of Jabberwocky. A deadly monster roams the forest as the audience and a fox hunter (Terry Jones) find out in the opening scene. Dennis (Michael Palin), not Holy Grail's

The Best of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition 6-DVD Set Review

A must-own for fans of sketch comedy and variety shows.
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Time Life has been churning out DVD releases for The Carol Burnett Show over the past few years, and last year, they commemorated its 50th Anniversary with a variety of sets. The 6-DVD set contained 16 episodes, with at least one from each season, including the debut, which aired September 11, 1967, and the series finale, called “A Special Evening with Carol Burnett”. Featuring one of the television's funniest ensembles, Burnett was joined by cast mates Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner (who left in 1974), Harvey Korman (who left in 1977), and Tim Conway (a frequent guest star who joined the

It (2017) Blu-ray Review: Growing up Is Scary

A scarier version of Stand By Me, It offers thrills and chills and more importantly interesting characters to care about.
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Andy Muschietti's adaption of Steve King's It tells the first part of the novel's story as a group of misfit teenagers, dubbed “The Losers,” battle against an entity (It) that periodically terrorizes the town of Derry, Maine. Although a horror film, the coming-of-age elements are much more engaging due to the talented cast creating authentic characters. It opens in the fall of 1988 when a young boy named Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) has a gruesome encounter with Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) the Dancing Clown, a form It frequently takes in order to taunt its victims before killing them. The film cuts

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 23: 1966-1967 by Chester Gould

Those who prefer their Dick Tracy Earthbound will be pleased as will anyone who enjoys crime stories filled with sex and violence.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 23 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from December 27, 1965 through to July 2, 1967. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Now Back to Our Story," about the strips collected. It concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "Hard as Hell - Act One" about matters relating to Gould and the strip during this time period offering references to allusions Gould makes to the JFK's assassination and Washington Post publisher Phillip Graham's divorce. He

The Tragically Hip: National Celebration Blu-ray Review: Armed with Will and Determination and Grace, Too

Ironically, the 30 songs played here make a brilliant introduction to the band as they said goodbye to their fans.
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As I wrote in my review of the documentary The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running, "On May 24, 2016, it was announced that the Tragically Hip's lead singer Gord Downie had incurable brain cancer. In spite of that, they intended to tour in support their thirteenth studio album, Man Machine Poem, set for release a few weeks later. They played 15 shows across Canada in just under a month, concluding with a hometown show on August 20, 2016, at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario. It was an unofficial, though presumed, farewell tour, which became official with the passing

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete Second Season DVD Review: Still Funny? You Bet Your Bippy!

The humor of Laugh-In holds up, remaining just as wonderfully wacky as when it premiered.
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After previously releasing the Complete Series in June 2017, Time Life is releasing Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In as Complete Season sets. The Second Season, now available, presents 26 episodes, airing between September 16, 1968 and March 31, 1969, spread across seven DVDs. The comedy team of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin hosted Laugh-In, an anarchic take on the variety show that matched the youthful spirit of the era with fresh faces of its main cast; presented material that dealt with sex, politics, and drugs; and had a visual form with more in common with French New Wave films than anything

Book Review: The Complete David Bowie (Revised and Updated 2016 Edition) by Nicholas Pegg

Expanded and updated with 35,000 words of new material, this edition is likely to be the last, until a number of the inevitable posthumous releases dictates another.
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"Complete" is an accurate description of this astoundingly thorough encyclopedia of Bowie's work. The book naturally opens with "The Songs from A to Z," starting with "Abdulmajid," an instrumental by Bowie and Brian Eno that appeared as a bonus track for a "Heroes" reissue in the early '90s as well as All Saints: Collected Instrumentals 1977-1999. Over the next 300-plus pages, readers are presented in-depth details about greatest hits, covers, and deep cuts, through to "Zion," a "rambling six-minute demo from 1973 which has also appeared on bootlegs under the various titles 'Aladdin Vein', ' Love Aladdin Vein', and '

Dunkirk (2017) Blu-ray Review: Bring the Boys Back Home

An outstanding war film that strikes a great balance between the inhumanity of the weaponry and the humanity of the individuals.
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Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk is an impressive World War II epic about the Allied military evacuation on the beaches of Dunkirk, France while under siege. The film weaves together three different narratives (on land, on sea, and in air) and delivers spectacular action sequences, but it's the smaller moments of men exhibiting heroism and fear in the face of death all around when it is at its most captivating. The Axis powers had "driven the British and French armies to the sea. Trapped at Dunkirk, they await their fate." The film opens with six young soldiers walking deserted streets as Nazi

Samurai Jack: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review: Watch It!

One of the best television programs of 2017.
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Nearly 13 years since the end of its fourth season, the epic story of Samurai Jack concluded with this 10-part fifth season, an impressive piece of television led by creator Genndy Tartakovsky, and the Blu-ray highlights the visual artwork. As the season opens, fifty years have passed, although Jack (Phil LaMarr) hasn't aged, and he is still tortured by memories of his family left behind after the demon Aku (Greg Baldwin, replacing the late Mako) flug him into the future. Jack's hair has grown long, he wears a beard, and he uses a gun because he has lost his katana,

Miracle on 34th Street (70th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review: To Believe or Not to Believe

It's easy to see how it has become a holiday classic no matter where one sits on the Idealist-Realist spectrum.
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The miracle I most appreciate in Miracle on 34th Street is how the Oscar-winning story pits realism versus idealism and allows both ideas to flourish without taking a side. A man (Edmund Gwenn), who goes by the name Kris Kringle and claims to be Santa, replaces a drunk in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. He does the job so well he gets hired to be the in-store Santa. The store manager tries to get him to push toys they are overstocked on, but Kris only wants what's best for the children, so he sends them to other stores. Word makes

Book Review: Disney's Christmas Classics

A delightful gift to readers from Disney and the Library of American Comics.
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Considering how beloved Disney characters and Christmas are by children, it was surprising to learn in Alberto Becattini's introductory essay "Merry Christmas, Disney Style" that they weren't paired together in newspapers strips until "Peter Pan's Christmas Story" debuted in November 28, 1960 after managing editor / administrator of Disney's Comic Strip Department Frank Reilly pitched the idea to distributor Kings Features Syndicate. The annual "Disney Christmas Story" ran 27 times, concluding with "Snow White's Sinister Christmas Gift" in 1987. Rebranded in 1992 as the "Disney Holiday Story," these strips were tied into the films of the Disney Renaissance, ranging from

A Town Called Panic: The Collection Blu-ray Review: Belgium's Greatest Export

GKIDS and Shout Factory! present what is arguably the funniest Blu-ray of 2017.
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Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s A Town Called Panic is a stop-motion animated Belgium TV series that began in 2002. Set in an idyllic countryside where toy figures of people and animals live together, the 20 five-minute episodes present delightfully absurd adventures, most of which feature the antics of roommates Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. Standouts include “Cow-Hulk,” which finds Cowboy transforming into various creatures after unintentionally swallowing a tiny piece if a meteorite, a number of the gang fighting over a flower in “Still Life,” and “Robin,” whose inaccurate bow and arrow cause farmer Steven quite a bit of trouble,

War for the Planet of the Apes Blu-ray Review: Hail, Caesar and the Film Crew!

War for the Planet of the Apes works as both the end of a trilogy or the continuation of the franchise, depending on what happens next.
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Taking place 15 years after the events of Rise and the release of the Simian virus, which made apes smarter and killed many humans, and two years after "a distress call to a military base" was made in Dawn, humans and apes find themselves embroiled in a war in this thrilling third installment of the Apes reboot. A devastating attack on their home causes the apes to flee, but they must go without their leader Caesar (Andy Serkis), who is consumed by anger due to the death of his family members. He seeks revenge against the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), and

Book Review: Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales, Volume Two

The artwork is the real stand out.
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While Disney had previously run newspaper comic strips before it, their Treasury of Classic Tales was a Sunday strip that featured 129 stories, running from July 13, 1952 until February 15, 1987. The Library of American Comics is republishing them and the 13 stories in Volume Two, which are collected in a book for the first time, include adaptations of films, both animated and live-action, and original stories. Animation historian Michael Barrier provides Introductions for the book and for each strip. Written by Frank A. Reilly and drawn by Jesse March, except where noted, they are: The Legends of Davy

The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running Blu-ray Review: Beating the Inevitability of Death Just a Little Bit

A fantastic behind-the-scenes look at how the band, their team, and their fans dealt with this farewell tour.
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On May 24, 2016, it was announced that The Tragically Hip's lead singer Gord Downie had incurable brain cancer. In spite of that, they intended to tour in support their thirteenth studio album, Man Machine Poem, set for release a few weeks later. They played 15 shows across Canada in just under a month, concluding with a hometown show on August 20, 2016, at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario. It was an unofficial, though presumed, farewell tour, which became official with the passing of Downie on October 17, 2017. The final concert was broadcast to nearly 12 million

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series, Volumes 1-6 DVD Review

Here's a perfect gift for Johnny Carson fans.
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Back in January 2017, Time Life released The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series in a 6-disc version that was the back half of a 12-disc set, which were labeled Discs 7 through 12 and was reviewed here. And on September 26, the front half of that set, Discs 1 through 6, was made available. Predominantly featuring programs from the 1970s, this collection allows viewers to see what made Carson and his show so entertaining. He was a congenial host, who allowed his guests to shine and didn't feel threatened when they did well. He also enjoyed verbally

Black Sabbath: The End Blu-ray Review: A Fitting Swan Song

The Blu-ray deserves to recognized on "Best of 2017" lists.
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On February 4, 2017 at Genting Arena in their hometown of Birmingham, England, Black Sabbath (sans founding drummer Bill Ward) played the final show of their farewell tour. The set list focused primarily on the band's first four albums, including six of the eight songs from Paranoid. The remaining four albums from Ozzy's initial tenure were only represented three times: "Dirty Women" and two songs performed during the instrumental medley. Unfortunately, nothing for fans of Never Say Die! The concert opens with the sound of the bell tolling at the beginning of "Black Sabbath". Ozzy acts as cheerleader between lyrics,
For those who might not know them on a first-name basis, "Jim & Andy" are Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman, both two unique comedic talents of the 20th Century. The former played the latter in Milos Forman's biopic Man on the Moon. Much of the material in this documentary, which will be going to Netflix, comes from a video crew who recorded hours of behind-the-scenes footage as Carrey's approach to the role was to go so deep into method acting he tried to “be” Andy Kaufman as well as Tony Clifton, a character played by both Kaufman and his writer/partner

AFI Fest 2017 Review: The Shape of Water

Albeit an unusual love story, The Shape of Water is del Toro's most accessible film.
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Set in early 1960s Baltimore, Maryland, Guillermo del Toro's The Shape Of Water is a charming fairy tale about outsiders and the need for love and family everyone has. His own love of cinema permeates the film. Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works as a janitor at a U.S. government facility alongside her African American friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer). She was found by a river as a child and is mute, likely a result of the scars on her neck. Elisa lives in an apartment above a movie theater as does her homosexual neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins). Although there are captions to

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 5 by John Byrne

Byrne understands the essence of what Star Trek is and why the Original Series was so successful.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, "John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the [TV show] combined with new material such as dialogue [in word balloons], narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones." Volume 5 collects issues #12-14 and the story "More of the Serpent Than the Dove," which was previously only

DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection Bonus Disc Review

If this ever becomes available for sale individually, DC fans would enjoy it.
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The DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection is a comprehensive box set of all 30 films, five animated shorts, new special features, and exclusive collectible items including a 40-page adult coloring book featuring key art from all DC Universe films and exclusive collector coins featuring the DC “trinity” - Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. It is limited to 20,000 units and each box will be individually numbered. The films in the set are listed below along with reviews by various Sentries. Warner Brothers has provided the Bonus Disc for review, which contains the following new content (HD unless specified)

Batman: Under the Red Hood Blu-ray Review: Pays off Better Than Expected

With a strong story, quality art, and a very good audio track, Batman: Under the Red Hood is recommend for fans of the character.
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Writer Judd Winick brings his “Under the Hood” story arc from Batman comics to the animated DC Universe with Under the Red Hood. The movie opens with a prologue taken from Jim Starlin’s infamous “A Death in a Family” story arc as the Joker kills Jason Todd, the young man who had taken up the mantle of Robin after Dick Grayson moved on and became Nightwing. The story jumps five years forward, and someone identifying himself as the Red Hood comes to Gotham. He sets up a meeting with some drug dealers and makes them an offer they can’t refuse,

Superman / Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray Review: A Lot of Comic-Book Fun

It's a good team-up story, and there's plenty of action
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Based on the first six issues of Superman / Batman by writer Jeph Loeb and illustrator Ed McGuinness, Public Enemies finds Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown) taking advantage of a poor economy and launching a third-party bid that wins him the Presidency of the United States. One of his first acts mandates superheroes must serve the government rather than act on their own as vigilantes. While some agree to serve Luthor and the country, Superman (Tim Daly) and Batman (Kevin Conroy) refuse. When a large meteor of kryptonite is discovered heading towards Earth, Luthor uses it to suggest its effects are

Wonder Woman (2009) (Two-Disc Special Edition) DVD Review

It’s a wonder this got made considering how many bad choices the creative team made.
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The film opens during a 300-influenced battle sequence between the Amazons and the forces of Ares, the God of War (Alfred Molina). It is poorly presented as director Lauren Montgomery chose to create the illusion of action scenes from a live-action movie by simulating the perspective of a shaky camera. The Amazons win and Queen Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) is about to kill Ares when his father Zeus demands she stop, although it’s rather hypocritical considering all the deaths has Ares has just caused. Ares' mother, the goddess Hera, offers a compromise. She binds Ares with gauntlets that suppress his powers

The Ballad of Cable Hogue Blu-ray Review: A Bland Western

For its fans, Warner Archive has created a satisfying high-definition presentation with interesting extras about the movie and its director.
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In between The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs, two films that exemplified his work as a director, Sam Peckinpah made The Ballad of Cable Hogue, a lighthearted Western that has an interesting premise about a man noticing the inevitable change of the American West. Unfortunately, it suffers from a story that takes too long to develop and characters that don't connect with the audience. Bowen (Strother Martin) and Taggart (LQ Jones) strand former partner Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) in the Arizona desert. Cable goes without water for four days, but eventually stumbles upon a water hole. Though scoffed at by

The Honeymooners: Christmas Laughter DVD Review

No denying these episodes are entertaining, but not sure who the intended audience is for this release.
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CBS/Paramount has released a few TV-on-DVD collections focused on Christmas. They include Fraiser, The Brady Bunch, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and The Honeymooners. That last one is an odd choice considering that out of the classic 39 episodes, The Honeymooners only had one related story, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" (#13). Knowing a single episode wouldn't be enough to sell many DVDs, the powers that be included five more, accessible under “Bonus Episodes.” Originating as a comedy sketch on Cavalcade of Stars / The Jackie Gleason Show, The Honeymooners was about Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), whose get-rich-quick

Geostorm in 4DX Review: If You Intend to Weather This Storm, Do It in 4DX

The visual effects are so captivating, I wouldn't be surprised to hear the phrase “Oscar-nominated Geostorm” next year.
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Geostorm marks the directorial debut of Dean Devlin, screenwriter and producer of films such as Independence Day and Godzilla (1998). It is a disaster movie about the hijacking of a weather-control satellite system known as "Dutch Boy", but the real disaster is Devlin's terrible script. Led by the United States, an international coalition works together to combat climate change with the creation of "Dutch Boy", but when it's brought online without proper approval to avert a disaster, its designer and International Climate Space Station commander Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) is brought before Congress. Jake doesn't take kindly to a Senator's

Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare Special Edition DVD Review: Highly Recommended

A welcome addition to the collection of any Alice Cooper fan.
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Vincent Furnier was the lead singer of the band of Alice Cooper and also went by the name Alice Cooper. After seven studio albums and the band starting to fracture, Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper and became a solo artist with the release of the concept album, Welcome to My Nightmare, about the nightmares of a child named Steven. It was supported by a tour, of which two shows at London's Wembley Arena on September 11-12, 1975 were recorded for the concert film of the same name, which Eagle Rock Entertainment has released and paired it with

Ernie Kovacs: Take A Good Look: The Definitve Collection DVD Review

A treat for fans of Kovacs and this era of television.
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Take A Good Look, Ernie Kovacs' comedic twist on the "Guess Who?" game-show genre, most notably What's My Line?, aired 53 episodes on ABC Thursday nights from October 1959 through to March 16, 1961. This seven-disc set from Shout Factory presents the 49 episodes that still exist. The show was sponsored by Dutch Masters, and Kovacs appears in commercials for them and smokes cigars throughout the programs. Coming from Kovacs, it should be no surprise that the show is a very silly affair. The celebrity panel needs to identify the mystery guests "who've done something that put them in the

The House (2017) Blu-ray Review: Silly but Slight

The ensemble generates laughs, but the movie feels like watching improv actors early in the workshop phase rather than a polished product.
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From the writers of Neighbors (2014), The House (2017) is a silly comedy about two parents trying to raise money for their daughter's college tuition through an illegal home casino. The script is slight, coming off like an outline about the characters and scenes because there's not much substance to either. It's amusing but not very memorable. When the town pulls its scholarship fund to build a massive pool complex, Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferell and Amy Poehler) aren't sure how they are going to be able to afford to send their daughter to Bucknell. Their pal Frank (Jason

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends: The Complete Collection DVD Review

At nearly 29 hours, it offers a lot of laughs for fans of Carson, comedy, and classic television.
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Over the summer, Time Life released a three-disc Johnny and Friends set featuring Steve Martin, Robin Williams, and Eddie Murphy. Those three discs (Volumes 2, 7, and 10) are part of this 10-disc set and were previously reviewed. The remaining discs focus on Don Rickles, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Burt Reynolds, Rodney Dangerfield, and Jim Fowler. As with previous Carson releases, the complete shows can be watched with vintage commercials and may have technical flaws, which are noted. Volume 1 features Don Rickles on November 14, 1973 and January 6, 1976. On '73, the insult comic followed retiring

Five Cool Things and Tom Petty

A bright end to a week that got off to a rough start.
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I am taking over the reigns this week, the start of which was pretty brutal with the tragic loss of life in Las Vegas and the death of beloved rocker Tom Petty. But bleak news shouldn't stop people from finding good in the world, so here are the cool things I found solace in this week. Daredevil vs. Spider-Man I collect Marvel's Essential line that collects old issues in trade paperbacks, and while reading Daredevil Volume 1, I encountered the two-parter (Issues # 16-17) where ol' Webhead guest stars. Naturally, they have the traditional fight against each other as heroes

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 22: 1964-1965 by Chester Gould

While not the best volume to be introduced to Gould's Dick Tracy, it is entertaining and contains a lot of what made the strip a success.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 22 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from August 13, 1964 through to December 26, 1965. The book has an introductory essay by consulting editor Max Allan Collins, "Moon Struck," about the strips collected, which present "the most controversial era" in the strip's history as the lunar-related adventures of Dick Tracy continue. It concludes with contributing editor Jeff Kersten's "The Mystery of the Age (or The Gospel According to Chet)" about matters relating to Gould and the strip during this

Hype! Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: The Rise and Fall of Grunge

While being a fan of the music certainly adds to the enjoyment of Hype!, it's not required to learn the cautionary tale it tells.
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New to the Shout Select line, Hype! offers viewers an inside look at the Seattle music scene of late '80 / early '90s, the seismic shift it caused in pop culture, and how the media exploited it. While the first two elements tell a unique story, the third seems unfortunately all too common. The late '80s were an interesting time in music. Country was turning pop and rap/hip hop was slowly on the rise. Rock music was dominated by hair metal bands, but that would change by the end of the decade. "Alternative music" was a catch-all descriptor for a

Wonder Woman (2017) Blu-ray Review: Entertaining, Uplifting, and Empowering

The viewer is invested because the good guys are compelling, thanks to the writing, and charming, thanks to the cast.
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In the on-going competition between Marvel Comics and DC Comics, the latter has struggled keeping pace with their movies this century, but this summer they scored a victory with Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, their first consensus success of the DC Extended Universe and the first from either company to feature a female hero as the lead. Although it sticks to the genre's formula of concluding with a climatic battle between hero and villain and its obvious outcome, the viewer is invested because the good guys are compelling, thanks to the writing, and charming, thanks to the cast. Opening in modern-day

TV Review: Star Trek: Discovery: 'The Vulcan Hello'

Star Trek: Discovery seems better suited for those who know little about Star Trek and those without hard, fast rules of what it should be
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Set 10 years before The Original Series, which makes no sense in terms of continuity with the technology, aliens, and characters for longtime fans, Star Trek: Discovery debuted on CBS before the series moved to the streaming channel CBS All Access. The episode "The Vulcan Hello" set forth some interesting premises and expands the boundaries of what a Star Trek series will deal with, which may be too far for some. After a brief reveal of yet another variation of Klingon, Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) of the USS Shenzhou are on a

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Highly Recommended for the Comedy Fan

While the first season has a late-'60s sensibility and some of the references might slip by modern viewers, Laugh-In remains fresh and delivers a lot of laughs.
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After previously releasing the Complete Series in June, Time Life will be releasing Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In as Complete Season sets. The First Season, now available, was only 14 episodes, airing between January 22 and April 22, 1968, and is spread across four DVDs. Disc 1 has all the Bonus Features. They are the Laugh-In Pilot Episode; a George Schlatter Interview (41 min) where the co-creator/producer discusses the show; 25th Anniversary Cast Reunion Highlights (15 min), which is a Q&A, although not clear who the people asking the questions are, with the cast in 1993; and Laugh-In Bloopers (24 min),

The Lion King (The Circle of Life Edition) Blu-ray Review: Don't Wait to Own It

Well worth having in one's Disney video collection, but there's no need to double dip.
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The Lion King, the greatest box-office hit of the Disney Renaissance, earning nearly a billion dollars worldwide, is the latest addition to The Signature Collection, the name currently being used to repurpose high-definition transfers with some new bonus material. The animation is impressive as are the voice actors and the movie tells a good story about the need to accept one's mistakes rather than running from them. The Lion King is available in the original theatrical edition or in sing-along mode, which provides subtitles along the bottom, turning the movie into a karaoke video. It opens with "The Circle of

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Blu-ray Review: Family Matters

There is no doubt how well the HD presentation succeeds.
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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 sees Marvel's space-faring heroes called upon to save not just a galaxy but the entire universe while some members work through troubled familial relationships. Writer/director James Gunn returned and gave fans more of what they enjoyed about the previous Guardians movie with the characters back in action set to new collection of cool tunes. This time the adventure has greater stakes, but the movie also runs longer, feeling a tad sluggish at times. The prologue opens in Missouri 1980 on a summer's day with a couple, who will become Peter Quill's mother and father,

Sid & Nancy Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: They Did It Their Way

It's hard to care about Sid and Nancy when they care so little about themselves and those around them.
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Director/co-writer Alex Cox's Sid & Nancy tells the story of the short, tragic love affair between Sex Pistols' bassist Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb deliver fantastic performances, but unfortunately the characters are so selfish and self destructive, it's hard to care about them when they care so little about themselves and those around them. Opening with Nancy's dead body being removed from New York City's Chelsea Hotel and Sid charged with her murder by the NYPD, the film flashes back to about a year earlier in the UK. Sid has recently gotten the job as

How to Be a Latin Lover Blu-ray Review: Doesn't Know What It Wants to Be

A sharper focus on being either an adult comedy or a family comedy could have led to better results.
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Ken Marino's How to Be a Latin Lover is an odd movie. Its title suggests a Swinging Sixties European sex romp, but it turns out to be a family comedy for the modern era. Unfortunately, it stumbles at both aspects. Some of the material is definitely not for younger members, which is why it is rated PG-13, and the laughs are limited as the tone of the humor is inconsistent. After seeing his father work so hard it killed him, Maximo decides he wants to live a life of luxury by being a kept man. Ten years, he meets Peggy,

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Assassination, She Wrote

A captivating Cold War political thriller that resonates stronger today than it has in years.
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Based on Richard Condon's novel of the same name, John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate is a captivating Cold War political thriller about enemies of the United States trying to takeover the country from the inside, an idea that resonates stronger today than it has in years due to allegations regarding the election of President Trump. Opening in Korea 1952 during the war, a group of U.S. soldiers get into a battle where Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) earns the Medal of Honor. His stepfather is U.S. Senator John Iselin (James Gregory), an anti-Communist fighter who claims the government is infiltrated with

Book Review: The Art and Making of Kong: Skull Island by Simon Ward

Recommended for the impressive art it showcases.
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Author Simon Ward takes viewers to and behind the scenes of Kong: Skull Island in his book that looks at the “The Art and Making” of the movie, which is now known to be the second installment in Legendary Entertainment's MonsterVerse franchise following Godzilla (2014). Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts wrote the book's Foreword, In it, he tells about pitching his idea for the movie when he “learned they wanted to revive King Kong” and reveals two key principles in the crew's approach to designing the movie in the current media-consuming landscape. They were “strive to elevate beyond expectations” and make “everything...feel

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 7: 1959-1960 by Milton Caniff

Another entertaining installment of adventure comic strips and another impressive showcase for Caniff's skills.
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Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon ran from January 13, 1947 until June 4, 1988. The strip's titular hero served as an Air Force officer for most of it with the Korean War bringing him back into the service of his country, though many of his adventures see him working as a spy more than as a soldier. Volume 7 closes out the '50s with the strips from 1959 and 1960. Lt Col. Steve Canyon is the typical male fantasy character of the era. A rugged, all-American hero that always does the right thing without a doubt. All the guys want to

Protocol DVD Review: Goldie Hawn Comedy Too Light-hearted for Its Own Good

For fans who like Goldie being Goldie, she takes part in mildly amusing antics.
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Protocol tells the story of Sunny (Goldie Hawn, playing a variation of her simple-minded persona that ingratiated her to many since she appeared on Laugh-In), a Washington D.C. cocktail waitress, whose actions leads to notoriety and a job with the U.S. State Department. The movie has moments where it seems like it wants to be a satire of politics and the media, but its critiques are blunted to allow Hawn to stand out as a comedienne. Sunny is struggling to get by. She has an unreliable car, is not happy with her job where some patrons think the bar also

Jane's Addiction: Ritual De Lo Habitual - Alive at Twenty-Five Blu-ray Review: Thank You, Boys

An enjoyable look back at a classic album.
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After a brief introduction through separate interviews of band members Perry Farrell (singer), Dave Navarro (guitar), Stephen Perkins (drums), and Chris Chaney (bassist in place of Eric Avery), Jane's Addiction played the final slot at Jack's 11th Show, which had them on a bill that included The Cult, Violent Femmes, and Garbage, whose touring bassist was Avery. Sadly, bridges have been burned so badly, there was no on-stage reunion. The concert, available on Blu-ray, DVD, and CD, took place at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on September 23rd 2016, a few weeks before the venue shut down and was bulldozed. It was

Eagles of Death Metal: I Love You All the Time: Live at the Olympia in Paris DVD Review

Dedicated to victims of terrorism all around the world, the band marks a triumphant return to France with this concert.
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On the back cover and at the start of the video, Eagles of Death Metal presents a reminder of the tragic events that occurred at their concert on November 13, 2015, when "gunmen entered the [Bataclan concert hall] and opened fire on the crowd, leaving 89 people dead." During U2's Paris concert on December 7, EODM returned to a concert stage for the first time with a joint performance of Patti Smith's "People Have the Power". In a classy move, they were then given the stage to close U2's show with "I Love You All the Time". This can be

Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies: RFK Stadium, Wash. DC - 07/12/89 Review

Another enjoyable night seeing the Dead come back to life.
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Hosted by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment at theaters across the country, the seventh annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies presented the band's performance at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, Washington DC on July 12, 1989, which happened seven days before the Alpine Valley concert shown at the 2015 Meet Up and ten days after the Sullivan Stadium concert shown at the 2016 Meet-Up. Taken from the same Northeast Summer tour as the previous two Meet-Ups, this evening features guitarist Jerry Garcia, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardist Brent Mydland, and guitarist Bob Weir with Bruce

Going In Style (2017) Blu-ray Review: Entertainment to Pass the Time

The main cast members are appealing even though their talents aren't being fully utilized.
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Going In Style (2017), a reboot of the 1979 film, takes the struggles of old age and combines them with the financial struggles of the modern age and turns them into a lighthearted comedy. It's entertainment to pass the time, best suited when trying to pick a movie with a large group that has varied cinema interests, like at a family get-together where jokes about pot and one F-bomb are acceptable, and at least most involved can be made interested by the main cast members, who are appealing even though their talents aren't being fully utilized. Joe (Michael Caine) is

Free Fire Blu-ray Review: Pride and Stupidity Cometh Before the Fall

A hysterical showdown between gangs that couldn't shoot straight.
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Ben Wheatley's Free Fire is a hysterical shoot-'em up destined for cult status, because this slightly gruesome, black comedy is not for everyone. The story centers around a gun deal in '70s Boston between two IRA members, Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley), South African weapons dealer Vernon (Sharlto Copley), their respective associates, and a couple of facilitators, like Justine (Brie Larson). Unfortunately for them (and lucky for us), her presence is unable to counteract all the testosterone. Tensions are continually on the rise, from the misunderstanding of smug Ord's (Armie Hammer) sense of humor to the wrong rifles

Lost in America is the Pick of the Week

Hope you have a nest egg ready to buy these releases.
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Reading Mat's Pick of the Week column over the years, it's quite clear that he is a horror-movie fan. Personally, I have always found myself more attracted to comedy. From great wit to utter silliness, there's just something so appealing about being brought to fits of laughter. Albert Brooks has a great comic sensibility. The third film he directed, Lost in America, is a comedy classic about David and Linda Howard (Brooks and Julie Hagerty), a married couple that rejects the modern life of the '80s by dropping out "like in Easy Rider" and traveling the country in an RV.

Five Cool Things and San Diego Comic-Con 2017

There were cool things all over San Diego this weekend.
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Mat, the normal curator for this coulmn, and his family have gone on vacation, but with San Diego Comic-Con having happened over the weekend, there were too many cool things not to draw attention to some of them. For example: Brigsby Bear While upcoming superhero movies dominated the Con, the one that looked the most interesting was this strange film from Kyle Mooney and friends about a young man obsessed with a television show that features the titular character. Attendees were treated to the first twelve minutes or so just as Kyle's character's life is about to be forever altered

Hailing Frequencies Open with Dennis Hanon, IKV Stranglehold

A discussion about the long-running panel's history and workings.
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Stranglehold is a not-for-profit, San-Diego-based fan group that not only puts on the long running Klingon Lifestyles panel at San Diego Comic-Con (this year held 8:30 PM on Friday in Room 6A), they also cosplay as pirates, steampunk villains, and now Doctor Who. I spoke with Dennis Hanon, who portrays Fleet Admiral K'Han Den to learn more about the panel. How did the fan group start? It started as a fan group dedicated to the Star Trek aliens known as Klingons. Through the years it changed from being a fan group to a performance troupe and later adding other elements

The Gumball Rally Blu-ray Review: An Amusing Racing Movie

The Warner Archive's Blu-ray delivers quality video and good audio.
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Auto enthusiast and writer Brock Yates conceived the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an unsanctioned cross country race. He tried to turn the idea into a movie, which he did with The Cannonball Run (1981) but a few films beat him to release, including The Gumball Rally, which has been given a Blu-ray release from the Warner Archive Collection. Bored candy executive Steve Bannon (Michael Sarrazin) sets in motion The Gumball Rally, an illegal 2,900-mile race that starts in Manhattan, New York and ends in Long Beach, CA, which he won the previous year. There are 11 different vehicles

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (Criterion Collection) Blu-ray Review: A Stealth Double Feature

This release allows viewers to see Hitchcock at the early stage of career on his way to becoming a legendary director.
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The Criterion Collection's release of Alfred Hitchcock's third feature, The Lodger (1927), is actually a stealth double feature of Hitchcock and actor Ivor Novello as it includes their film Downhill (1927) as an extra. The Lodger, considered the first “Hitchcock” film, even by the man himself, tells of a mystery revolving around a serial killer working the streets of London. It has many story and visual elements that populate Hitchcock's filmography. Based on the novel of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes, the film opens, a young woman found murdered along the river. She is the seventh golden-haired victim

The Fate of the Furious Blu-ray Review: The Franchise Gets a Much-Needed Jump Start

Fate looks good for the F&F family and for fans.
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The Fate opens with the series returning to its roots. Dom (Vin Diesel) gets involved in a race on the streets of Havana standing up for his cousin Fernando. The audience's senses become engaged with bright colors, loud sounds, and beautiful bodies, as the cars race through the streets of Cuba in an intense action sequence that gets wilder by the minute. While walking the streets alone, Dom plays the Good Samaritan to a woman with car trouble, only she turns out to be the notorious cyber-terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), who mysteriously gets Dom to work for her and turn

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends Featuring Steve Martin, Robin Williams & Eddie Murphy DVD Review

In addition to how wonderful it is having Carson's Tonight Show at one's fingertips, it is interesting to compare the different styles of the comedians.
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The latest Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson release from Time Life collects Volumes 2, 7, and 10 of the "Featured Guest Series" in a three-disc set with each disc focusing on one classic comedian for a total of nine episodes. Disc 1 / Volume 7 features Steve Martin from July 21, 1976; May 21, 1982; and December 19, 1991. On the '76 episode, the only one is this set when the show ran 90 minutes, Martin comes out after Jimmy Stewart and performs stand-up, some of which appeared on his debut album Let's Get Small. He then got a segment

Previewing San Diego Comic-Con 2017: Thursday

Any of these make your list?
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Good news for readers: there will be more San Diego Comic-Con coverage at Cinema Sentries this year. Now that the programming schedule is starting to be announced, we are going to highlight some of the panels that look the most intriguing and we hope to be attending, although it's always best to 1. The 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows (10:00am - 11:30am, Room 20) - Ron Diamond (founder and curator of the Animation Show of Shows and Acme Filmworks) is hosting this presentation of work from 11 countries, including Walt Disney Pictures' and Pixar Animation Studios' Academy Award winner

Cheech and Chong's Next Movie Review: The Humor Buzz Wears Off Quickly

The movie plays like a dress rehearsal of an outline.
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With the counterculture comics going mainstream on the strength of the funny songs and routines from their comedy albums, it was no surprise they eventually made their way to the movies with Up in Smoke, which saw them strike box-office (Acapulco) gold with the first stoner comedy, making back 22 times the film's budget. That success gave them even greater creative control, which may have been a mistake. Next Movie clearly needed an outside force to focus and edit the fellas because the humor buzz wears off quick. Next Movie doesn't so much have a plot as it just finds

Book Review: Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales, Volume One

A marvelous collection from the Disney vaults.
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Walt Disney was a savvy businessman. With a staff of talented writers and artists employed to create films, he was not content working within one medium and used some staff members to create comics as well. The first was a comic strip that starred Mickey Mouse and debuted on January 13, 1930. In his well-researched Introduction, Michael Barrier writes about Disney features making their way to the Sunday paper, starting with the studio's first animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In a great bit of marketing, the Snow White strips began a couple weeks before the film premiered

John Wick: Chapter 2 Blu-ray Review: I'm Thinking He's Back and That's Great News

Expect to see this on "Best Blu-rays of 2017" lists.
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Not for the faint of heart, John Wick returns in another action-packed, stylish shoot-'em-up that sees our "hero" leave audiences breathless as he leaves behind another massive body count in his wake. Picking up shortly after the first film, the prologue finds retired assassin John Wick in hot pursuit of his stolen 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1, which has been stored in the chop shop of Russian mobster Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare), uncle of Iosef, who brought John back into action by stealing his car and killing his dog. It's clearly the principle of the matter to John as he

RiffTrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party! Review

Summer's here and the time is right for riffing on the shorts.
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Working together on Rifftrax Live: MST3K Reunion Show must have been as much fun for for the cast as it was for audiences, as most of the gang reunited for RiffTrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party! which is getting a second showing on Tuesday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. (local time). Over the course of the night, they riffed on seven shorts to varying degrees of success. The RiffTrax trio (Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett) opened the night with a short directed at kids starring a bizarre animal mascot named Ricky Raccoon, who helps a young boy

Ride the High Country Blu-ray Review: A Captivating Western

The Blu-ray's video shines as bright as the film's two lead actors.
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Sam Peckinpah's second film, Ride the High Country, is a captivating Western about two old gunslingers who reunite for a dangerous job. With limited resources and futures, their relationship is tested, as is each man's character, along the journey. Former marshal Steven Judd (Joel McCrea) is hired by a bank to transport gold from the mining town of Coarse Gold. Six miners have been killed trying to make the trip, but he needs the work. Steve runs into his old deputy Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott), who is working as a hustler with a young man named Heck Longtree (Ron Starr),

High Noon (Olive Signature) Blu-ray Review: One is the Loneliest Number

Another impressive high-definition presentation in the Olive Signature line.
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Created during the period in United States history when the House Un-American Activities Committee was destroying lives under the pretense of protecting the country from Communism, Fred Zimmerman's High Noon is a classic tale about an individual who must stand up alone for what he believes against seemingly insurmountable odds. Its theme is applicable to many situations where the just path can leave a person isolated because of dangerous consequences. Three men ride into Hadleyville in the New Mexico Territory and head to the train station. Dimitri Tiomkin's score and the reactions of those they pass by indicate trouble is

Book Review: Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series by Bob Garcia and Joe Desris

A book no Bat-fan of the series should be without.
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Given its own yellow utility belt, Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series is a marvelous compendium about the TV series which ran for three seasons from 1966-69 and is still currently airing in syndication. Adam West, the first Bruce Wayne/Batman for many, gave his blessing to the book by writing the Introduction in which he thanks fans for the life he has been granted thanks to their love of the show. Authors Bob Garcia and Joe Desris were very thorough, beginning the story by acquainting readers with the three ABC executives, understandably referred to as “wise men,” who

Where the Buffalo Roam Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Its Appeal Is Likely Limited to Hunter S. Thompson Fans

An enjoyable excursion, but the film never gets weird enough for me.
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Billed as “a movie based on the twisted legend of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” and inspired by his Rolling Stone article "The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat" about attorney, activist, and author Oscar Acosta, Where the Buffalo Roam tells of their friendship and how their paths diverged, with Bill Murray starring as the good doctor and Peter Coyle playing Acosta stand-in, Carl Lazlo. The 1980 cult film is being released by Shout Select (#21), but its audience will likely continue to be limited to Thompson fans. Where the Buffalo Roam opens with Hunter typing away in his snow-covered Aspen, Colorado

Bob Hope Salutes the Troops DVD Review: Thanks for the Military Memories

Six TV specials recorded while Hope and company were on the road entertaining U.S. servicemen and women.
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Bob Hope was a great supporter of the troops and performed many USO shows for them. This 3-DVD set from Time Life presents six TV specials that aired over the years while he was on the road entertaining U.S. servicemen and women. Disc 1 start with Bob Hope's Christmas Cheer in Saudi Arabia (aired 1/12/91) - Hope went to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield, and this special features him on different stops during the trip. He gives three different monologues and his frequent digs at Saddam Hussein always go over well with the crowd. The Pointer Sisters sing "I'm

John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection Album Review

It offers essential movie music that no fan should be without plus some material that is worth being rediscovered.
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Arguably the greatest pairing of composer and director in cinema history, John Williams' scores from Steven Spielberg's films are the focus of The Ultimate Collection, a 3-CD / 1-DVD set that gathers the previously released The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration (1991) and Williams on Williams: The Classic Spielberg Scores (1995) along with the new The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration Part III, whose name will surely send a few erronously in search of Part II. Williams and Spielberg first worked together 43 years ago on The Sugarland Express, the theme of which is included, and have worked together on all Spielberg's films except for The

Book Review: Star Wars: The Complete Classic Newspaper Comics, Vol. 1

An enjoyable throwback to the early days as George Lucas' fictional universe was expanding.
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Before The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980, Star Wars fans who wanted more stories from George Lucas' “galaxy far, far away" had few options. Marvel Comics presented original adventures after its six-issue adaption of the film. Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye novel had been intended to be the basis for the movie sequel, so it seemed the most canonical; and of course, the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special on television. In 1979, the Star Wars Universe expanded into newspaper comic strips for five years. The Library of American Comics is releasing those strips in a

Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition (The Complete Series) DVD Review: One of the Most Original TV Series to Ever Hit the Airwaves

Best watched while enjoying a slice of cherry pie, a few donuts, and some “damn good coffee.”
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From the minds of David Lynch and Mark Frost sprang forth one of the most original TV series to ever hit the airwaves. The opening credits signaled the viewer was going to see something different, very different. The beautiful nature shots juxtaposed with the moody, ethereal “Twin Peaks Theme” were an unusual contrast compared to the big hits of the time like The Cosby Show and Matlock, although fans of Lynch’s Blue Velvet would recognize the motif of something off-kilter in small town America that the credits evoke. One morning, a beautiful high school girl, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), is

The Red Skelton Hour in Color 3-DVD Set Review: An Entertaining, Old-fashioned Variety Show

Skelton ends every show hoping he and the gang have at least brought a moment of entertainment into the viewer's life, which they do many times over.
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Red Skelton, who became a personality in vadeville, radio, and movies, had a very impressive run with his TV program, The Red Skelton Show, which aired from 1951 to 1971. Starting in September 1962, the show expanded to an hour, leading to the name change. During the time period of the the late '60s when these episodes debuted, between January 4, 1966 and October 28, 1969, the show aired Tuesdays at 8:30-9:30 pm on CBS and ranked in the Top 10 except for the 1968-1969 season when it dipped to #11, tied with Mission: Impossible and Bewitched). Most of the

Book Review: The Marvel Vault by Thomas, Sanderson, and Manning

A fascinating trip down memory lane for those curious about what went on behind the pages.
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Originally published in 2007, Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson's The Marvel Vault was clearly in need of Matthew K. Manning's 2016 update. There's no clear delineation identified when the first edition ended and the new one begins, but somewhere around the “One More Day”/ “Brand New Day” reboot of Spider-Man is as close as I can pin down. Although the book tells “the history of Marvel Comics (or Timely, as it was in initially called), from 1939 to present,” it was a classy touch to give credit to crosstown rivals National Allied Publications' (before they became DC Comics) Action Comics

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Blu-ray Review: An Impressive and Immersive High-def Experience

A delightful space fantasy with enough action to entertain the casual viewer and enough story elements and links to other works to please the Star Wars aficionado.
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While the Star Wars universe had previously been expanded over the years into multiple mediums, Rogue One was the first time the film franchise focused on a story that didn't primarily involve the Skywalker family, and they chose a great idea. As revealed in the prologue crawl of Star Wars (1977), the Rebel Alliance obtained the Death Star plans. Rogue One tells the story of how. Watching the film a second time, what worked for me and what didn't, as stated in my movie review, remain the same. It's an impressive blockbuster in terms of its action and almost all
Neil Young Journeys is director Jonathan Demme’s third film starring the musician, the previous two being Neil Young: Heart of Gold and Neil Young Trunk Show. Journeys is predominantly a concert film recorded at Toronto’s Massey Hall where Young performed solo two nights in support of Le Noise. In addition, Demme shot footage of Young driving to the show behind his brother Bob from their hometown Omemee. He describes it as “a town in North Ontario,” bringing to mind his song “Helpless,” which plays over the closing credits.. Along the way, Young reminisces about growing up, giving the film the

Book Review: James Bond: SPECTRE: The Complete Comic Strip Collection

Not only for your eyes.
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Having previously collected and released the James Bond newspaper comic-strip adventures that ran in British newspapers, including in Omnibus Volumes that were released from September 2009 to November 2014, Titan Books is now presenting the strips in hardback editions. SPECTRE: The Complete Comic Strip Collection covers Bond's encounters with the villainous organization (whose name stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) and its leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, adapted from Ian Fleming's novels: Thunderball (running 12/11/61-02/10/62), The Spy Who Loved Me (12/18/67 - 10/03/68), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (06/29/64 - 05/17/65), and You Only Live Twice (05/18/65

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 21: 1962-1964 by Chester Gould

I wouldn't recommend it as a starting point, but it is an enjoyable continuation of the Dick Tracy series.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 21 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from August 27, 1962 through to April 12, 1964. The book has an introductory essay by Consulting Editor Max Allan Collins' about the strips collected including the public reaction to Moon Maid and other lunar characters that appeared later, which "remains the most controversial element in the history of the Tracy strip." It concludes with Contributing Editor Jeff Kersten's "Pulling the Whiskers Off," who regales readers with what was happening at the time

The Quiet Man (Olive Signature) Blu-ray Review: Entertaining Escapism on the Emerald Isle

A lighthearted film that deals with love and marriage on a superficial level.
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Based on Maurice Walsh's short story of the same name, The Quiet Man is the eighth pairing of actor John Wayne and director John Ford. It's a feel-good story where two people fall in love at first sight, which is easy for the viewer to believe if all one needs is for your partner to look like the rugged Wayne or the beautiful Maureen O'Hara. Sean Thorton (Wayne), born in Ireland and raised in America, returns to his native land to buy his old family homestead. He immediately falls for Mary Kate Danaher (O'Hara), a red-headed Irish lass, when he

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 4 by John Byrne

Byrne has a strong sense of who the characters are and puts them in compelling stories.
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In Star Trek: New Visions, John Byrne tells of the lost missions of the Starship Enterprise under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. Through the use of images from the Original Series combined with new material such as dialogue, narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones, Byrne creates adventures for the crew that have an air of authenticity because we see the familiar faces of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, et. al. Volume 4 collects issues #9-11 which includes a treat for fans of the Animated Series. Occurring about two years after the first

Book Review: Tarzan on Film by Scott Tracy Griffin

Highly recommended for fans of Burroughs' character as well as those with an interest in Hollywood history.
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Author Scott Tracy Griffin has followed up his Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration with Tarzan on Film, a marvelous exploration of the nearly 100 years that Edgar Rice Burroughs' legendary character has been adapted into 52 films and seven television series. The book opens with a foreword by actor Caper Van Dien, who starred as the 20th Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City (1998) and credits himself as “the only Tarzan who can say he rode on an actual African elephant in a Tarzan film.” Griffin then provides a brief overview of how the character's “fortunes have ebbed and flowed

Doctor Strange (2016) Blu-ray Review: Marvel Goes Into the Mystic

An entertaining blockbuster on its own and as yet an other chapter in the MCU.
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Created by artist Steve Ditko and writer Stan Lee, Doctor Stephen Strange debuted in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963) and Marvel Studios introduced the character and the magic of the Mystic Arts into their Cinematic Universe with last year's Doctor Strange, now available on Blu-ray and DVD. As the film opens, a rogue group of sorcerers led by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) have stolen parts of a magic book, intending to bring forth the evil Dormammu from the Dark Dimension. They battle with the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), revealing to viewers that some are able to bend reality as seen when

2017 Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films Review

And the nominees are...
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North America owned the Animation Short Film category this year with three from the United States and two from Canada, though one was a co-production with the United Kingdom. The art is where the shorts all stand out. Unfortunately, a couple falter because of the story. Blind Vaysha (director Theodore Ushev, Canada, 8 min) - A young girl is born in a village with one eye that sees the future and one that sees the past. The narrator offers viewers the opportunity to see as Vaysha, but offers no resolution to her story. The short has an interesting look as

Mannix: The Second Season DVD Review: Smart, Believable Mysteries

During these 25 episodes, Mannix is shot four times, knocked unconscious eleven, and keeps coming back for more.
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Joe Mannix (Mike Connors) is a private eye who works in Los Angeles. He comes from a long line of hard-boiled detectives who think with their brains and speak with their fists. A man’s man without frailties or weakness whose only indulgence appears to be slugs of booze. His character is a bit of a mystery with nothing else in his life but his work, although through the episodes we get pieces of his backstory, like of old girlfriends and Korean War buddies. Mannix was created by the team of William Link and Richard Levinson, who also created Columbo and

Book Review: Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays, Volume 8: 1949-1950 by Al Capp

I can't remember anything being as wildly absurd as Li'l Abner.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays by Al Capp, Volume 8 presents the dailies from December 23, 1948 through to January 11, 1951 and the Sunday strips, which aren't part of the dailies' continuity, from December 12, 1948 through to November 12, 1950. The book has an introductory essay, Bruce Canwell's "Hillbily Heaven" that includes a look at Capp's feud with former boss Joe Palooka creator Hammond Fisher, which spills into the strip a few times in this book. Growing up as member of Generation X,

The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Fifth Season DVD Review: Life After Rhoda

Created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, the series excels because it has a simple formula of great writing brought to life by great acting.
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The fifth season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show continues the funny exploits of Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) and her WJM coworkers, the main trio being gruff but lovable news producer Lou Grant (Ed Asner); wisecracking writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod); and dopey, self-absorbed news anchor Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). Other recurring characters are Ted’s girlfriend Georgette (Georgia Engel), a Gracie Allen-type character, and man-hungry TV host Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White). Mary’s friend and neighbor Rhoda (Valerie Harper) is no longer around because she was spun-off into her own series and landlord Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) would leave after

I Love Lucy: Superstar Special #2 DVD Review: Lucy and the Duke

Over 60 years old, the shows remain funny and timeless thanks to the writing and the cast. And yet, I find the Superstar Special DVD to be an odd release.
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Following its airing on May 20, 2016, the I Love Lucy Superstar Special #2, which aired colorized versions of the first two episodes of Season Five, "Lucy Visits Grauman's" (original airdate 10/3/55) and "Lucy and John Wayne" (original airdate 10/10/55), comes to DVD. The special can viewed in its entirety as can the individual episodes, which are available colorized or in black and white versions and in their original broadcast length. During their stay in Hollywood, which began in the previous season, Lucy got into many star-studded misadventures. "Lucy Visits Grauman's" finds Ricky (Desi Arnaz) ready to head back to

Doubt Blu-ray Review: One of the Best Modern Acting Ensembles

Without a doubt, I highly recommend seeing this movie,
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In a Bronx Catholic church, a year after Kennedy’s assassination, recently arrived Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) gives a sermon about doubt. Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), principal of the church’s school, is intrigued by the sermon’s origin, because it comes from somewhere, and she suggests to her fellow Sisters of Charity to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Sister James (Amy Adams) notices a seemingly unusual closeness between Father Flynn and Donald Miller, an altar boy and the school’s only black student. During her class, Donald is called to the rectory to meet Father Flynn. Upon his return, Donald

Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler Blu-ray Review: A Captivating Crime Thriller

A safe bet for silent-film fans.
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Based on the novel Dr Mabuse by Norbert Jacques, Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler is a two-part crime epic by legendary German film director Fritz Lang, and is the first in a trilogy that includes The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) and The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960). Running 270 minutes, the film, which was originally released in two parts, comes across nowadays like a TV miniseries, as the villainous Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) attempts to stay ahead of state prosecutor Norbert von Wenk (Bernhard Goetzke) in this captivating thriller. The Kino Classics Blu-ray presents the film on two discs. The

Fathom Events Presents Rush: Time Stand Still

Rush says a farewell to fans.
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When Rush was preparing and touring for R40, their 40th anniversary tour, it was frequently suggested in the press that it might be their last. The band members didn't come out and say so directly, but they responded to the possibility in interviews. It turns out they knew more than they let on as made clear in Time Stand Still, a documentary about what is now revealed to be their final tour. The film was screened in theaters in conjunction with Fathom Events, a second date was added because of the huge demand, and is available in different home-video formats.
Time Life has released The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series, available as a single-disc release (2 shows), a 3-disc collector's set (6 shows + nearly an hour of bonus features), a 6-disc collector's set (12 shows + two hours of exclusive extras) and a 12-disc deluxe edition collector's set (24 shows + over 4 hours of exclusive extras). The 6-disc set was made available for review and appears to be the back half of the 12-disc set, as they are labeled Disc 7 through 12. Disc 7 is entitled “Streak Week from March 1974” with episodes that

The Night of the Grizzly (Olive Signature) Blu-ray Review: An Enjoyable, Classic Western

Clint Walker is a commanding, comforting presence on screen.
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The Night of the Grizzly tells the story of "Big Jim" Cole (Clint Walker), a former lawman, who along with his family plan to make a new life for themselves in Wyoming on ranch land Jim has inherited. Not only does he have to contend with wealthy rancher Jed Curry (Keenan Wynn), who used to own the property and wants it back, but also a bear named Satan that is terrorizing the area by killing animals. The bear causes so much damage Curry puts up a reward. Jim desparately needs the money but the bounty brings to town Cass (Leo

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Blu-ray Review

An impressive miniseries that sheds light on a significant event in American history.
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FX's true-crime anthology television series American Crime Story has set a high standard for its duration because its first season, The People v. O.J. Simpson, was critically acclaimed and won nine Emmy Awards including three for acting, one for writing, and for Outstanding Limited Series. Based on Jeffrey Toobin's book, The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson (1997), the TV series takes viewers behind the scenes during one of the most notable trials of the twentieth century, though what is factual and what has dramatized is not made clear. The series opens with news footage of

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 20: 1961-1962 by Chester Gould

Gould's writing over the 18 months collected here is entertaining and the art remains first rate.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 20 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from February 20, 1961 through to August 26, 1962. The book has an introductory essay, Max Allan Collins' "Fate Does Funny Things" about the strips collected and about Gould "dealing with the changing times" of the '60s, and concludes with Jeff Kersten's "Echoes" about efforts to expand Dick Tracy into television. There is also a corrected version of the February 28, 1960 Sunday strip from the previous volume. Volume 20 begins with the

Bob Hope: Hope for the Holidays DVD Review: Pop-culture Relics from a Bygone Era

This disc should be enjoyed by fans of Hope and the era as well as those curious about both.
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As the DVD menu reveals, Hope for the Holidays is actually the fourth disc from the 11-DVD set titled Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials, which is not to be confused with the previously reviewed 6-DVD set of the same name. This single disc presents two Xmas specials: Bob Hope's Bag Full of Christmas, which first aired on December 15, 1993, and The Comedy Hour, which first aired on December 15, 1950. Using an Xmas party at Bob and Dolores' home as a framing device, Bob Hope's Bag Full of Christmas is a compilation special presenting old sketches

Chad Derdowski Chooses to Answer Questions about 'Fortune Favors the Bold'

"[It] is not a parody because it is a fantasy/sword n’ sorcery book - but maybe it’s safe to say that it gently teases those genres a bit." - Chad Derdowski
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The youngest of seven children, Cinema Sentries contributor Chad Derdowski survived the harsh Michigan winters by pretending he was on Hoth fighting the Empire. He grew to manhood, continued to do imaginary battle with AT-ATs every snowfall and eventually ended up writing this biography. In addition, he co-created and authored the acclaimed young adult science-fiction post-apocalyptic buddy comedy novel All Robots Must Die! and has contributed stories to the Eisner Award-winning Aw Yeah Comics! and the Spacepig Hamadeus and the Captive Planet anthology. He used to write the weekly Comicscape column for the now defunct, but he mostly just

Finding Dory Blu-ray Combo Review: You Will Believe an Octopus Can Drive

An entertaining film though it suffers from similarities to its predecessor.
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Thirteen years after the smash-hit Finding Nemo, Disney/Pixar returns to the ocean for the sequel Finding Dory, an entertaining film that suffers from similarities to its predecessor. More accurately titled Finding Dory's Parents, the film tells the story of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a regal blue tang that suffers from severe short-term loss, remembering and seeking out her parents, whom she hasn't seen in years. After a prologue featuring an overwhelmingly adorable, tiny younger version of herself, Dory remembers her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) and seeks them out with the help of her friends, the clownfish Nemo (Hayden Rolence)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Movie Review: The Rebels Strike Back

A special-effects wonder filled with good action; however, the plot is not well thought out.
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Rogue One is the latest entry in the ever-expanding Star Wars cinematic universe. Reminscent of war movies like The Dirty Dozen, it tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance obtained the plans for the Galatic Empire's Death Star, which they put to good use, as those familar with Star Wars: A New Hope can attest. Rogue One is a special-effects wonder filled with good action; however, the plot, specifically character choices and motivations, is not well thought out, and at times the film gets a little too inside baseball for those not part of the cult. As a young

The Right Stuff (30th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review: A Real Superhero Movie

A marvelous look at the men who risked their lives to make the impossible possible.
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Based on Tom Wolfe’s award-winning non-fiction book, writer-director Phillip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff is a marvelous look at the men who served the United States, and all of mankind, by risking their lives to make the impossible possible. Black and white archival footage (1.33:1), with new material blended in, helps set the stage that the story we are about to see is based on true events. A narrator (Levon Helm) warns of what’s beyond the known as legend tells of a demon that will kill all comers who challenge it. A fiery crash explodes the image, which is now in

Mifune: The Last Samurai Movie Review: A Wonderful Remembrance

A straightforward biography that reveals little more than the story of the man's life.
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Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazak's documentary tells the story of Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, who together with director Akira Kurosawa became worldwide sensations because of their work together on 16 films, from Drunken Angel (1948) to Red Beard (1965). Narrator Reeves says they were "some of the greatest movies ever made...Together, they influenced filmmaking and popular culture around the world." Their partnership was such an integral part of their lives, it's not a surprise it's an integral part of this documentary as well. Because film was such an important part of what he became, the story of Mifune: The Last Samurai

Citizen Kane 75th Anniversary Blu-ray Review: One of the Medium's Most Visually Compelling Films

Caveat emptor, it's a reissue of the 70th Anniversary release.
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After a restored DCP master of Citizen Kane played at the 2016 AFI Fest, followed by an AFI Master Class, featuring Peter Bogdanovich and Orson Welles' daughter, Beatrice Welles, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released a new Blu-ray and DVD to commemorate the film's 75th Anniversary. However, this release has not been struck from the new master, but instead is a reissue of the 70th Anniversary release. Citizen Kane tells the story of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), a newspaper tycoon who “helped to change the world” though his detractors declared him a yellow journalist. He became one of the wealthiest

AFI Fest 2016 Review: Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Fans should enjoy the up-close look that Bright Lights provides of the women in this interesting biography.
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Filled with a treasure trove of archival material, Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds shines a spotlight on both the on-screen and off-camera lives of the famous mother-daughter actresses. Directors Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom take cameras on the road and into the homes of Carrie and Debbie, who live next to each other. Debbie is seen performing her show in a Connecticut casino, and there's footage of Carrie at 15 years old taking part in her mom's show. Carrie goes to a convention known as Fan Expo, where she charges $70 for an autograph. In her brash

AFI Fest 2016 Review: The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

At 71 minutes, director Ida Lupino has crafted a lean, mean thriller.
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My favorite aspect of AFI Fest is that along with the new films competing for awards and those by up-and-comers they present older films under the banner of Cinema’s Legacy. One of the nine this year is director Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker, frequently referred to as a film noir but I would classify it more as crime thriller. The film opens saying "This is a true story of a man and a gun and a car," immediately adding intrigue before the credits roll. The titular character appears, though his face is not shown, and murders a couple who had given
The new Olive Signature line of releases includes Nicholas Ray's compelling Johnny Guitar, mastered on Blu-ray from a new 4K restoration. In addition to be a thrilling adventure, the film is the rare Western where strong, interesting female characters are the leads of the story while the men take a backseat. Passing explosive excavations by a train company and witnessing from a distance the end of a stagecoach robbery, Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden) rides into an Arizona town as a dust storm blows. Those scenes foreshadow the volatile, chaotic events to come. Johnny goes to Vienna's, a saloon named after

Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall Review

It's fitting the show concludes with "Success" because that's a completely accurate description of what this concert is.
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In March of 2016, Iggy Pop and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age revealed they had secretly collaborated on an album together, Post Pop Depression. Joined by QOTSA's Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders in the studio, PPD was released to good reviews followed soon after by 21 dates across North America and Europe in support of the album. Rounding out the touring band were QOTSA's Troy Van Leeuwen and guitarist Matt Sweeney. Their performance at the Royal Albert Hall on May 13 was the second to last night of the tour. It's an impressive, raucous

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother Blu-ray Review: Entertaining but Uneven

The comedy isn't consistent nor is it consistently funny.
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The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother not only finds Gene Wilder starring as the title character but he is also the lead behind the camera, making his debut as a director from a screenplay he wrote. While the name of the world's greatest detective is usually associated with mysteries, it shouldn't be a surprise with Wilder at the helm that the film focuses more on comedy and music. Set in 1891, important documents Queen Victoria gave Foreign Secretary Lord Redcliff (John Le Mesurier) are stolen. Sherlock decides to pass on the case to his younger brother, Sigerson (Wilder), who

Book Review: TV Finales FAQ by Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren

All that's left to know about the endings of your favorite TV shows.
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The Applause FAQ series of books typically make for good reads and resources for fans of a particular pop-culture franchise, such as Star Wars and Doctor Who, or of a musical artist, like our own Kit O’Toole’s Michael Jackson FAQ. Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren have created a book that appeals to fans of TV itself, a very smart idea as it widens the potential audience. I mean who doesn’t love TV. (And what's wrong with them?) In their “Introduction” to TV Finales FAQ, the authors reveal their intention to “provide insight into how a series finale came to

Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials DVD Review: A Marvelous Hollywood Scrapbook

I gotta tell ya, it's a real treat that this set has been released.
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Time Life, in association with Bob Hope Enterprises, have released Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials, an impressive six-disc set featuring 13 TV specials from five different decades with a galaxy's worth of stars. Eight of the specials are complete shows while the other five are compilations, resulting in some repeated material. The jokes and sketches can be a bit stale and unfunny at times. Hope's monologues especially suffer from this regardless of how much canned laughter is added. His material is also very topical so young viewers might not get the references to people like Hubert Humphrey

Los Angeles Podcast Festival 2016 - Saturday

What I saw and heard in the ballrooms of the Sofitel Los Angeles.
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Aside from appearing as a guest on a number of podcasts, I have no interaction with them, which made me either the ideal candidiate or the worst to attend the fifth annual Los Angeles Podcast Festival held at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, the festival's website only offered images of the podcasts in attendance, so for a novice like myself, I had to search the Internet to learn about the podcasts. I started with Cashing In With T.J. Miller, since I knew and enjoyed much of what I have seen by the actor/comedian. Hosted by Cash Levy,

Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever Six-DVD Set Review

More than the causal fan needs and delivers more than the hardcore fan will expect.
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Airing on May 16, 1983, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever is remembered for being the television special where Michael Jackson introduced the world to the moonwalk, but it was much more than that. The program was the silver anniversary celebration of the Motown music label and also a benefit for sickle cell anemia. In addition to the special, this six-disc set offers an exhaustive collection of behind-the-scenes bonus material. Disc 1: The Show The special, hosted by Richard Pryor, features a number of Motown artists as well as other musicians and celebrities. The show is filled with then-modern performances, a

An American Werewolf in London (Full Moon Edition) Blu-ray Review: Its Cult-classic Status Is Certainly Warranted

Required by law to state "You'll howl with laughter."
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After a string of comedic box-office successes (Kentucky Fried Movie, National Lampoon’s Animal House, and The Blues Brothers), director John Landis had the clout to pick his next project. He veered away from comedy to a screenplay he first worked on in 1969 while a production assistant on Kelly’s Heroes in Yugoslavia. An American Werewolf in London was Landis’ take on the Wolfman. David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are backpacking their way through Europe. The film opens with them traversing through the moors of Northern England, but all Jack can think of is hooking up with a woman

A Town Called Panic: Double Fun Movie Review: The Bad Boys Are Back

Celebrate Art House Theater Day with Cowboy, Indian, and Horse.
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In a world that seems to be growing increasingly insane, it's wonderful to have some controlled lunacy that is Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s A Town Called Panic, which features that antics of toy figures Cowboy and Indian, brought to life in stop-motion animation. As part of Art House Theater Day on September 24, two new specials will be showing in select theaters along with the Panic shorts, "Lisa & Jan" and "Cow-Hulk." In "The Christmas Log," Cowboy and Indian's horseplay on Christmas Eve ends up potentially ruining the dinner their roommate Horse has planned. Horse is so angry he

L.A. Confidential (Two-Disc Special Edition) DVD Review: A Masterful Film Noir

A classic film that will long be remembered and appreciated.
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Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential, based on the novel of the same name by James Ellroy from his L.A. Quartet series, is a masterful film noir. Set in 1950s Los Angeles, the film uses the city as a canvas to paint an expansive story about crime, corruption, sex, and murder. In the special features Ellroy describes the film as well as anyone can: “Three cops on a collision with their own horrifying demons and as the centerpiece the slaughter of six people in a coffee shop meat locker.” Officer Wendell “Bud” White (Russell Crowe) does whatever he has to in the

The Flash (2014): The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: At Its Core, The Series Is a Family Drama

An entertaining show that stands out among the glut of superhero programs.
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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. Like the Flash, I have the ability to go back in time, so let me do so and grab my description of the TV series' premise from my review of the series' first season: “The Flash presents the adventures of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), an assistant forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department, where his adoptive father, Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), works. Joe met a young Barry years ago

The Monkees: Season 2 DVD Review: The Monkees Take Control

The TV series that best exemplifies the 1960s.
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The Monkees are a fascinating pop-culture phenomenon. Inspired by The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider developed a TV series about four young men trying to make it as a rock ‘n’ roll band. In the trades they placed a notice for “Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles” and cast actor Mickey Dolenz, musicians Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork, and Davy Jones, who both sang and acted as illustrated by his appearance in the original Broadway production of Oliver!. The series, sold to Screen Gems, combined the comedic anarchy of the Marx Brothers with

Book Review: Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics, Volume 1 (1969-1970)

I'd highly recommend looking inside Volume 1 before buying it.
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In the episode “The Alternative Factor,” from the first season of the Original Series, the Enterprise crew have their first encounter alternative universes when they meet Lazarus and Lazarus. In the second season's “Mirror, Mirror,” viewers were presented alternative versions of Kirk, Spock, and other crew members. This tried-and-true science fiction trope needs to be kept in mind when reading Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics Volume 1 (1969-1970) because these strips are a close variation of the Original Series, like the Gold Key comics. In his introduction to the book, Rich Handley provides the history of the weekly UK

Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: The Return of the King, Baby

All involved can take great pride with the results.
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Regardless of the brief cameo at the end of the reboot/sequel (has there been an official designation?), the onslaught of returning properties, and the intensity of the fan base, news of the return of Bruce Campbell playing Ash in a TV series for STARZ still seemed damn near impossible to believe. And while the news was exciting, it also brought with it some trepidation because of the high bar the previous beloved works by Sam Raimi had set since not everyone has the same low standards Star Wars fans do regarding milking the franchise. Thankfully, all involved can take

Album Review: The Claypool Lennon Delirium: Monolith of Phobos

Trust us: "You oughta try it, you really oughta try it...".
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Thank the fates Sean Lennon's Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger opened for Les Claypool's Primus last summer because it led to a bonding that resulted in The Claypool Lennon Delirium. Their outstanding debut album, Monolith of Phobos, takes listeners on a marvelous psychedelic-rock trip, simultaneously back to the '60s while traversing the present. The duo begins by setting a course for "The Monolith of Phobos" with sounds of futuristic machinery preparing for the journey as they tinker with their instruments. Main character Buzz is affected by the Monolith, making him ponder life, which only brings more questions as will

Speedy Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The End of an Era

Harold Lloyd hits a comedy home run in his last silent film.
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Not only is "Speedy" the title character played by Harold Lloyd in his last silent film and last appearance as his The Boy/Glasses Character, but it also describes the fast-paced lifestyle that was overtaking New York City at the end of the Roaring '20s. Railroad businessmen want to buy out Pops (Bert Woodruff), the grandfather of Speedy's girlfriend's Jane (Ann Christy), so they can make use of the track on which his horse-drawn streetcar runs. Naturally, it will fall onto to Speedy to save the day. He is a clever fellow, but only seems to put his mind to making

Concert Review: Sting & Peter Gabriel, Hollywood Bowl, 07/18/16

It was such a treat to see musicians so filled with joy playing together.
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In the same vein as his 2014 co-headlining tour with Paul Simon, Sting teamed up with his former Amnesty International touring mate Peter Gabriel for “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” which found them playing concerts across North America in June and July. They combined their talented bands and in addition to Gabriel on keys and Sting on bass, the blended ensemble was comprised of two guitarists, another bassist, two more keyboardists, two drummers, three back-ups singers, an electric fiddle player, and a percussionist. The night began with Gabriel coming out first and performing “Rhythm of the Heat” with powerful percussion highlighting the

'Neath the Arizona Skies Blu-ray Review: A Satisfying, Inconsequential Western

John Wayne takes on bad guys. What more do you need?
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Offering little in the way of complexity when it comes to story or characterization, 'Neath the Arizona Skies stars John Wayne taking on bad guys, and if that's enough to be entertaining, this is a movie for you. Oil is found on Indian land and members of the Osage, Seminole, Iowa, Cheyenne, Siouz, Pawnee, and Kiowa tribes are entitled to payment, which I have a sneaking suspicion was not fair-market value. Chris Murrell (John Wayne) is guardian to Nina (Shirley Jane Rickert), a young biracial girl whose Indian mother is dead. She is entitled to $50,000 if Chris can find

Key & Peele: The Complete Series is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us the funniest comedy duo of the decade, a sci-fi remake, a sci-fi original, a motion comic, and more.
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Mat Brewster is on vacation this week, so I am filling in. Two weeks ago, I was preparing to go to the world famous San Diego Comic-Con where I would immerse myself in entertainment and pop culture for five days with over 130,000 like-minded folks. It can be a hectic schedule running around the convention center and outer locations, through throngs of cosplayers, autograph seekers, memorbilia purchasers, to then stand in long lines or wait through panels in an effort to get into one's desired programs. The sleep and feeding schedules are usually thrown off, and of course with my

The Rolling Stones: Totally Stripped Review: Totally Enjoyable

Live from 1995, it's the Rolling Stones.
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During 1994/1995, the Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood) toured the world behind Voodoo Lounge, which not only found them playing stadiums, but also three small European venues: The Paradiso in Amsterdam in May 1995, and L’Olympia in Paris and Brixton Academy in London in July 1995. Performances from those intimate concerts along with acoustic studio sessions recorded in Tokyo and Lisbon resulted in Stripped, a different type of live album from the band. Twenty-one years later, Totally Stripped revisits Stripped in updated and expanded versions. The CD delivers 14 tracks, with only one performance,

The In-Laws (1979) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: So Funny It Never Wears out Its Welcome

Run in a serpentine pattern to get yourself a copy.
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While there's a lot of hand-wringing and pearl-clutching that goes on whenever a sequel or remake is announced in Hollywood, it's rather surprising anyone bothers since it's long been a business model, and not just with movies, to try and replicate a success. What's even more surprising is when a winning formula is found that isn't repeated, such as the pairing of Peter Falk and Alan Arkin in Arthur Hiller's The In-Laws (1979), a recent addiction to the Criterion Collection. Rather than the typical clashing of families with different personality types, Andrew Bergman's very funny script turns that idea on

Rifftrax Live: MST3K Reunion Show Review: Reunited and It Feels So Good

Shake hands with laughter at the year's biggest comedy reunion.
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With the help of fans through Kickstarter, all the past cast members of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Jonah Ray, the new guy from the upcoming new Netflix series, gathered at the State Theater in St Paul, Minnesota on June 28 for the 20th Rifftrax event, which coincided with Rifftrax's 10th anniversary. The reunion was broadcast by Fathom Events across the country in theaters to the delight of many who couldn't attend in person. After the introduction, the Rifftrax guys (Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett) went first, making fun of “The Talking Car” (1969), an odd traffic-safety

Roots: The Complete Original Series Blu-ray Review: A Powerful Story About a Family and a Country

Not just an important television drama, but an essential component that should be used when teaching U.S. History.
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Commemorating the 40th anniversary a year early, the landmark television miniseries Roots has been remastered and released on Blu-ray. Based on Alex Haley's Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which spent 22 weeks as #1 on The New York Times Best Seller List and won a Pulitzer Prize, it purports to tell the story of Haley's family traced back to the birth of his great-great-great-great grandfather Kunta Kinte. However, Haley was taken to the court and reached a settlement requiring a six-figure payout and his acknowledgment that portions of Roots were taken from Harold Courlander's 1967 novel The African.

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 6: 1957-1958 by Milton Caniff

Caniff has a good sense of drama, suspense, and humor that keeps the reader seeking the next strip.
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Since January 2012, the Library of American Comics, by way of IDW Publishing, has been releasing collections of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon comic strips, which had an impressive run of 41 years. I was first introduced to U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Canyon in Volume 4 where I read about his international exploits. He was a character of his era. A man with nothing but good, noble traits, who left a trail of broken hearts because nearly every woman he encountered wanted him for her own. That includes Poteet Canyon, Steve's teenage ward, who was introduced in 1956. I missed

Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies: Sullivan Stadium, MA - 07/02/89 Review

It was so good I am already anticipating next year's event.
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Hosted by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment at theaters across the country, the sixth annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies presented the band's performance at Sullivan Stadium, MA on July 2, 1989, which happened 17 days before the Alpine Valley concert shown at the 2015 Meet Up. While the line-up was the same (guitarist Jerry Garcia, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardist Brent Mydland, and guitarist Bob Weir), the setlist didn't repeat one song. After a promo piece for the new Grateful Dead July 1978: The Complete Recordings, which presents five complete shows on 12

Book Review: Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic by J.B. Kaufman

No lie. This is a great book.
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In his introduction, author J.B. Kaufman reveals that he considers Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (1940) a member of “the fraternity of true epics,” alongside D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, Erich von Stroheim’s original Greed, and Abel Gance’s Napoleon, and he certainly makes the case with his definitive examination presented in Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic. He starts at the beginning, going back to the 19th century when writer Carlo Lorenzini took the name the Tuscany village he grew up, “Collodi,” as his pseudonym under which he published “The Story of a Puppet.” As stated in the foreword by John Canemaker, an

Justice League: The New Frontier DVD Review: An Adventure Worth Exploring

Good, superhero fun, but it noticeably falls short of the greatness it strives for.
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Darwyn Cooke's award-winning, 2004 comic-book miniseries, DC: The New Frontier was tuned into a direct-to-video DVD in 2008. Set during the 1950s, the story bridges the gap between DC's Golden and Silver Ages by presenting an origin story for the Justice League of America. The prologue informs us about THE CENTRE, a creature who has existed almost since Earth's creation. Since humans have harnessed atomic power, it has determined that the species "must be cleansed" from the planet and slowly proceeds with its plan. Cold War fears have caused many heroes to pack it in. The Justice Society of America

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray Review: Return of the Franchise (to Great Heights)

One of the more memorable blockbusters in recent years, and the high-def presentation is a fantastic showcase for it.
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens might well have been one of the most anticipated films of all time if the numerous box-office records it set are any indication. Since Star Wars (released in 1977, amended in 1981 with the subtitle Episode IV: A New Hope), the franchise went on to become a major pop-culture juggernaut with a presence in every medium thanks to its devoted fan base and the talented contributors who expanded the fictional universe. The Force Awakens, “Episode VII” of the main film series and the first of a planned sequel trilogy, is an action-packed, thrilling space adventure

Revisiting the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival

Yet another journey with classic films on the big screen thanks to TCM.
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Through some type of technical snafu that occured who knows when, the first part of my 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival coverage for Blogcritics has disappeared off their website, so it is being reposted here. The 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival returned to Hollywood on April 25 - April 28 for its fourth annual outing for classic-film devotees, though most people I know who can't imagine watching movies all day for a number of days refer to us as something else. Aside from the usual tributes, essentials, and special presentations, this year's main theme focused on journeys, which included sub-themes

Book Review: Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970 by Karie Bible & Mary Mallory

It's a wonderful celebration of a bygone era.
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Joseph Campbell is quoted telling others to follow their bliss and fans of Classic Hollywood should be glad co-authors Karie Bible and Mary Mallory have heeded that advice as their own love for the era and its stars have led to them sharing photographs from their collections, which they found by “scouring eBay, searching vintage paper shows, and visiting movie collectible stores,” as revealed in the book’s Introduction. The objects of their shared desire compromise the majority of the images in Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays 1920-1970 from Schiffer Publishing. The book is a treasure trove of 221 fantastic photos, with

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 3 by John Byrne

Like the best episodes of the Original Series, the conflicts are believable, the stakes are high, yet there also are moments of humor.
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Growing up in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, before VCRs became commonplace in households, we were limited to the whims of TV station programmers when it came to watching our favorite shows, unlike viewers today who have instant access and can even own copies of them. To revisit Star Trek at one’s leisure in those bygone days, the options were limited. James Blish adapted episodes into short-story collections, and industrious fans recorded shows off the TV onto cassette tapes, listening to them like a radio broadcast. Twelve episodes, selected from all three seasons, were given the photonovel treatment so fans

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 19: 1959-1961 by Chester Gould

What’s fun about how Gould’s stories unravel is that they don't always end when expected.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 19 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from July 12, 1959 through to February 19, 1961. The book has an introductory essay, Max Allan Collins's "Dark Comedy and Careening Imagination" about the strips collected, and concludes with Richard Pietryk's look at the appearance of Gould's villains "Foes, Fashion, and Flies" and Jeff Kersten's "In Pursuit of Sanitation and Sanity" about the reaction from the public and newspapers to Flyface and about Dick Locher joining the strip as Gould's assistant, which

The Good Dinosaur Blu-ray Review: An Alternative Earth Offers a Universal Lesson

"Fear is the mind-killer." - The Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert's "Dune"
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Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur presents an alternative history where the asteroid that led to mass extinction on Earth 66 million years ago missed the planet. The story picks up millions of years later with young Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) the Apatosaurus going on a journey, both external and internal, the latter being more important. Arlo lives on his parents' farm and is scared of the world around him, including their chickens. In an effort to join the rest of the family as a responsible contributor, his father Henry (Jeffrey Wright) gives him the task of catching and killing the creature that

Book Review: The Art of Regular Show by Shannon O'Leary

"An inside peek into how [they] go about creating the characters and crazy situations [viewers] see on TV every week." - creator JG Quintel
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Created by JG Quintel, Regular Show regales viewers with the zany exploits of Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the raccoon, two twenty-something slackers who find themselves in the caught up in very wild and very funny adventures. It is one of the most imaginative and entertaining animated programs on television, currently in its seventh season on Cartoon Network. Author Shannon O’Leary assists Quintel, who in his foreword states that with this book he and the staff wanted to “offer an inside peek into how [they] go about creating the characters and crazy situations [viewers] see on TV every week.”

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season 2 DVD Review: Open Channel C for Color

Recommended for any man, girl, or those not falling under those classifications who enjoy the '60s spy genre.
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Six months after The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season 1 was released in conjunction with Guy Ritchie's feature-film prequel, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment has released The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season 2, another 10-disc set featuring international exploits of espionage. This season contained 28 affairs, including two two-parters, which aired on NBC during the 1965/66 television season, and for the first time in color. For those new to the series, it features agents Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), an American, and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), a Russian, traveling the globe on behalf of the international organization known as United

2016 Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Films Review

All five films feature characters in situations that challenge them and their assumptions.
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The five Academy Award-nominees for this year's Live Action Short Film originated from Europe, the United States, and one production that involved Palestine. Two of the stories are lighthearted and three are serious, but all present characters in situations that challenge them and their assumptions. In alphabetical order, they are: Ave Maria: The film opens in the West Bank, Palestine, on Friday at 5:35 pm. A Jewish couple and his mother are driving home before sundown. They get into a car accident in Arab territory outside a Sisters of Mercy nunnery. They allow the man to use their phone but

The Rolling Stones: From the Vault: Live at the Tokyo Dome 1990 Blu-ray Review

This entertaining performance proves all the naysayers wrong.
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The Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle stadium tour ran for nearly a year. The North American leg started in Philadelphia on Aug 31, 1989, and the European leg ended in London on Aug 25, 1990. The tour is notable for many reasons. The 10 nights they played at the Tokyo Dome in February 1990, from which the material on this live album comes, was the first time they ever performed in Japan. It was the band's first tour since their 1982 European Tour. It was their first tour without touring pianist Ian Stewart. It would be bassist Bill Wyman's last tour before

David Bowie: Station to Station (Special Edition) Album Review: A Great Piece of Work

Station to Station is special on its own, and the Special Edition is well worth owning for the live album.
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Station to Station is Bowie’s tenth album. Considered a transitional album as its title indicates, it blends his musical past and future as elements of funk and soul from Young Americans commingle with the synthesizers and electronic sounds that would soon appear on his Berlin Trilogy. In 2010, it was re-released in expanded formats. The album opens with a brief audio prologue as a train moves across the speakers on the title track. Bowie sings of “The return of the Thin White Duke/ Throwing darts in lovers’ eyes,” reflecting the coldness the persona would traffic in during its existence. The

TV Review: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: 'Chardee Macdennis 2: Electric Boogaloo'

The season premiere finds the Gang involved in the typical outrageous high jinks fans have grown accustomed to and been delighted by.
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The Gang returns to FXX for their 11th season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and as the season premiere indicates Mac (creator/executive producer Rob McElhenney), Dennis (executive producer Glenn Howerton), Charlie (executive producer Charlie Day), Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Frank (Danny DeVito) continue their narcissistic, dimwitted, doomed adventures at the expense of each other. This isn’t a show for everyone because the main characters are frequently horrible people who frequently do horrible things, but those who like their comedy dark should enjoy it. "Chardee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo" is a follow-up to the Season 7 episode, "Chardee MacDennis: The

Rage Against The Machine: Live at Finsbury Park Blu-ray Review: Christmas in June

Viewers will be able to testify how great this band is after seeing this concert.
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No matter what one may think of the music spawned from reality TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic, such as American Idol and The X-Factor, it's hard to dispute the success mogul Simon Cowell has had in the music business with the acts he signed from those shows. But that doesn't mean some people aren't frustrated by the state of pop music. Such was the condition married couple Jon and Tracy Morter found themselves in 2009 as Christmas approached because the previous four years the UK Singles Chart Christmas #1 song had been by the winner of The

Tell Them Who You Are Movie Review: A Captivating Documentary about Cinematographer Haskell Wexler and His Son

A wonderful exploration of a father-son relationship that is identifiable to anyone who has been a parent or child.
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Tell Them Who You Are is a captivating documentary. It begins as a look at the life and career of famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler. He came on the scene in the ‘60s and has worked with such noted directors as Elia Kazan, Mike Nichols, Norman Jewison, George Lucas, Milos Forman, Hal Ashby, and John Sayles. What alters this film from being a straightforward biography is that Haskell’s son, Mark Wexler, an accomplished photojournalist, shot it. Their fractious relationship is exposed through their on-camera interactions, allowing an intimate view inside that most families would not want to share. Haskell, a two-time

Spy (2015) Blu-ray Review: License to Laugh

Writer/director Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy continue to be a comedy partnership viewers can trust.
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When the whole world is in danger because a suitcase nuke falls into the wrong hands, whom does the CIA turn to? The dashing and debonair Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law), of course. But when the villainous Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) kills Fine and the identity of all the field agents is comprised, who is left to turn to? With no other choice, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), a CIA employee who assisted Fine from her desk at the agency's Langley headquarters, is given the assignment and great hilarity ensues. Spy delivers a lot of laughs, and just from McCarthy. The

Night and the City Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Jules Dassin's Marvelous London Noir

Add this movie to your collection by whatever means necessary.
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Based on the novel of the same name by Gerald Kersh, although director Jules Dassin claims never to have read it, Night and the City tells the story of Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark), a con man who wants “to be somebody,” but isn't because he's not as smart as he thinks he is. The Criterion Collection presents both the U.S. version with a score by Franz Waxman and the UK version, which is five minutes longer, and has a score by Benjamin Frankel. This London noir opens with Harry on the run through darkened streets and shadowy alleyways, likely a

Book Review: Star Wars FAQ by Mark Clark

Everything left to know about the trilogy that changed the movies.
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Ever since Disney announced plans to continue the Star Wars film franchise, the pop-culture landscape has been flooded with products across mediums and more licensed merchandise than seems necessary. Hopefully not lost in the tsunami is Mark Clark's Star Wars FAQ, an entertaining and informative reference guide about the Original Trilogy published by Applause Books. Before rushing headlong into that galaxy far, far away, Clark grounds the book in Earth history, offering chapters on the movie business, creator George Lucas, and Lucas' influences in creating Star Wars, such as Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a

Sinatra: All or Nothing at All Blu-ray Review: That's His Life

A thorough documentary that still leaves the viewer curious to learn more about Sinatra and explore his work.
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Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling singers of all time, won an Academy Award as a supporting actor, and drew big audiences with his TV specials and his concerts. His life off the stage was even more compelling, and together they are presented in Alex Gibney's HBO documentary Sinatra: All or Nothing At All, available on Blu-ray and DVD. In 1971, Sinatra held a farewell concert to announce his (what would be short-lived) retirement at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theater. He picked 11 milestone songs from his career
Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd had quite the homecoming this year. More than 50 years after Jacksonville teenagers Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, and Ronnie Van Zant formed their first band, My Backyard, Rossington brought the current incarnation of Lynyrd Skynyrd to Jacksonville’s Florida Theater. Over the course of two nights in April, they performed the band’s debut album and follow-up, (pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) and Second Helping, in their entirety for the first time. Although Rossington is the sole member to have played on those albums, the 2015 line-up does the music and former members proud with their faithful recreations. Playing both

AFI Fest 2015 Review: Flying Down to Rio

You'll never think of airplanes the same way again.
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Notable for being the first on-screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, dancing the Carioca in one of their few scenes together, Flying Down to Rio stars Delores Del Rio and Gene Raymond in this pre-Code love story, which screened at AFI Fest 2015 as part of the festival’s Cinema Legacy program. Opening in a Miami, bandleader Roger Bond (Raymond) becomes smitten with the looks of hotel guest Belinha (Del Rio). There’s a rule about fraternization that has been ignored, so Bond ends up losing the gig for the entire band. However, he quickly gets them booked in Rio

Batman: The Television Series: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: And Batgirl Makes Three

One of the best TV series to bring a comic book to life because of its writing, cinematography, and production design.
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Warner Brothers has completed the entire run of Batman on DVD with the recent release of The Complete Third Season. Although the series remains well known 50 years later, and still airs on Me-TV and IFC at the time of this writing, the second season must not have performed well in the ratings because the third season was cut from 60 episodes airing biweekly to 26 episodes airing once a week. The majority of the stories now took place in one episode. The most notable change was the addition of Batgirl / Commissioner Gordon's daughter, Barbara (Yvonne Craig). She appears

SPECTRE Movie Review: The Story That Baffled Me

SPECTRE works best when it delivers action, but stumbles when it slows down to tell its story.
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SPECTRE is Eon Productions' 24th James Bond film and the fourth starring Daniel Craig. The title is the name of a villainous global organization revealed to have been working behind the scenes of all Craig’s films, but it turns out the real nemesis is modern Hollywood. While past films with other actors playing 007 have had loose connections to one another, the stories stood on their own, allowing audiences easy entry into the series. However, being made in this era when people bingewatch because some TV series are serialized and multiple superhero titles are set within a single cinematic universe,

Toy Story That Time Forgot Blu-ray Review: A TV Special Accessible to All Viewers Throughout the Year

It's good to see the care Disney/Pixar put into delivering a stunning Blu-ray.
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Toy Story That Time Forgot is the Disney/Pixar franchise's second television special following the 2013 Halloween special, Toy Story of Terror! It first aired in December 2014, and although it is set a couple days after Christmas, the story and message aren’t specific to the holiday, making the program accessible to all viewers throughout the year. Trixe the Triceratops (Kristen Schaal) feels frustrated because Bonnie plays with her as everything but a dinosaur. When Bonnie visits her friend Mason, she tosses the toys she brought over (Woody, Buzz, Rex, Trixie, and Angel Kitty) aside into his playroom and joins him

Jeff Lynne's ELO: Live in Hyde Park Blu-ray Review: So Good You Won't Get It out of Your Head

Highly recommend for ELO fans and the greatest-hits setlist would make a good introduction to those new to the band.
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Founding member Jeff Lynne was such an essential component to the massive success of Electric Light Orchestra throughout the '70s and '80s as the band's sole writer, arranger, and producer after fellow founder Roy Wood left during the making of their second album, ELO 2, it seems a tad redundant for him to be leading a band called Jeff Lynne's ELO. But setting aside whatever legal and/or ego entanglements may have been involved in that decision, Jeff Lynne's ELO headlined BBC Radio 2’s Festival in a Day in Hyde Park on September 14, 2014. Joined by keyboardist Richard Tandy, an

Mike Tyson Mysteries: Season One DVD Review: Silly, Outlandish, and Unpredictable

A ridiculous and bizarre spoof of Saturday morning mystery cartoons.
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For those who enjoy the ridiculous and the bizarre in their cartoons, look no further than Adult Swim's Mike Tyson Mysteries. The 10 episodes of Season One are now available on DVD and Digital HD. Spoofing Saturday morning shows of the past, such as Scooby Doo! Where Are You?, The Funky Phantom, and Mr. T, Mike Tyson Mysteries finds the former heavyweight champion of the world going on adventures, traveling around the globe and off it, assisted by Yung Hee (Rachel Ramras), his adopted Korean ("which is a kinda Chinese," according to Mike) daughter who was left on his doorstep

Aladdin: Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review: Disney Ain't Never Had A Film Like This Before

Fans that have wanted to see Aladdin in high definition will be happy to learn their wish has finally been granted.
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Aladdin is the fourth title released during the era known as the Disney Renaissance when the famed animation studio had an artistic and financial resurgence at the close of the Twentieth Century. It stands apart from the other titles on the slate because of star Robin Williams, whose manic performance as the Genie made the character seem better suited for a Looney Tunes cartoon. Based on the Arab fairy tale One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin tells the story of the Genie of the Lamp, sought after by the power-hungry Jafar (Jonathan Freeman), Grand Vizier to the Sultan (Douglas Seale)

Book Review: Walt Disney's Donald Duck: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics Volume 1 (1938-1940) by Al Taliaferro

Readers who get their hands on this may find themselves in the sweetest disposition.
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Starting out as a supporting character in the 1934 Walt Disney short “The Wise Little Hen,” Donald Duck went on to become renowned and beloved the world over thanks to the talents of many skilled writers and artists. In addition his numerous animated appearances, Donald’s vast popularity is due in part to the comic strips and comic books he was featured in over the years. Author and animation historian David Gerstein reveals in his introductory essay, that the character made the leap to newspapers thanks to Disney staff artist Al Taliaferro, who drew the strip for over 30 years, from

He's A Bully, Charlie Brown DVD Review: A Collection of Mixed Peanuts

While I applaud Warner Brothers contributing to the efforts in preventing bullying, this double-dip release is not the best way to go about it.
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Released in conjunction with National Bullying Prevention Month, the He’s A Bully, Charlie Brown DVD presents the titular special (2006), It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969), both of which have been previously released, and an episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show from 1983. He's A Bully, Charlie Brown combines two stories that appeared in the strips. Joe Agate is from 1995, and Peppermint Patty chasing after Charlie Brown was in 1989. Charles Schulz had begun work on the special before his death in 2000 and producers Lee Mendelson and Bill Meléndez saw it to completion. Charlie

The Flash (2014): The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Check This Series Out as Fast as You Can

An exciting superhero series worth watching.
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When I first watched The Flash "Pilot" at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, I thought that "while there’s no denying it's a CW show and at times it comes across like Central City 90210 with its many good-looking actors and melodramatic moments, there’s a lot to like about the series." After going through the Complete First Season on Blu-ray, my assessment remains the same. Spun off from Arrow, the series presents the adventures of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), an assistant forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department, where his adoptive father, Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), works. Joe

Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection DVD Review: The Quality of These Specials Is Mixed

Recommended for those who need to add at least half the contents to one's library.
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In anticipation of the upcoming The Peanuts Movie and tying in with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' recent ceremony, Warner Brothers has gathered together 11 previously released specials into the new Peanuts Emmy Honored Collection. While it doesn’t contain all the Peanuts specials recognized by the Emmys, the two-disc set presents two winners, Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown (Outstanding Animated Program) and You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown (Outstanding Children’s Special), and nine others that were nominated. Like any collection of nuts, there are some that are better than others. You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown (1979) sees

Book Review: LOAC Essentials Vol. 7: Tarzan of the Apes

Highly recommend for fans of adventure stories and comic strips.
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Volume 7 in the Library of American Comics Essentials series focuses on the comic strip starring Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan. The Lord of the Jungle debuted in 1912 when Tarzan of the Apes appeared on the pages of All-Story Magazine. It was such a sensation Burroughs wrote numerous sequels, and allowed the story and character to appear in other medium. Tarzan of the Apes also became the title of a 1918 film and a 1921 Broadway production. Harry G. Franke III, editor of The Burroughs Bibliophiles, writes a very informative introductory essay explaining how advertising executive Joseph H. Neebe of

Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 Blu-ray Review: The Band Keeps A-Rollin'

You won't want to miss a thing once Aerosmith hits the stage.
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The Blu-ray for Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 takes the viewer straight into the main feature rather than offering the menu. This is quite apropos because once this June 15 headlining performance from the Download Festival begins with a raucous cover of "Train Kept A-Rollin'" the band keeps a rollin', reeling off 20 songs comprised of classic-rock staples, crossover pop hits, and a few deep cuts from across their impressive 40-plus career. Watching this performance, it's easy to forget the band members (vocals Steven Tyler, lead guitarist Joe Perry, drummer Joey Kramer, bassist Tom Hamilton, and rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford) are

X-Men: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut Blu-ray Review: Two Versions of the Same Story

For those looking to spend more time with the X-Men, The Rogue Cut will satisfy.
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After two movies away from the helm, Bryan Singer returned to the director's chair for the triumphant blockbuster Days of Future Past, which blends the two iterations of the franchise into one continuity. Based on the landmark issues X-Men #141 and #142 by Chris Claremont and John Bryne, Days of Future Past finds humanity on the brink of extinction after a robot force known as the Sentinels intended to wipe out mutants comes to the realization that humans are the source of mutations. Mankind's only hope is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) going back in time to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from

Book Review: The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road by Abbie Bernstein

It is sure to illuminate and inspire.
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One of the most anticipated films of 2015 was Mad Max: Fury Road. After 30 years since the uneven Beyond Thunderdome, and with Tom Hardy taking over the lead role from Mel Gibson, there was understandable trepidation from fans about returning to the apocalyptic future that is Max Rockatansky’s Wasteland. However filmmaker George Miller, who has overseen the entire series, proved the doubting Thomases wrong with a sensational action film for the ages that is arguably the best of the series. Fury Road finds Max entering the fiefdom of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Bryne), a cruel ruler who controls the region’s

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season 1 DVD Review: Open Channel T for Tie-in

A good dossier for fans of the Man and those who enjoy the '60s spy genre.
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Timed to tie-in with the August 14 debut of Guy Ritchie's feature-film prequel, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is releasing The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season 1, a 10-disc set presenting 29 international affairs of espionage featuring agents Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) that aired on NBC during the 1964/65 television season. With contributions from Ian Fleming in its creation, which resulted in legal action from producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. certainly has a Bond influence. Napoleon Solo is a secret agent traveling around the world on behalf of the

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' Movie Review: An Entertaining Anime Adventure

"What a pathetic ending." - Beerus. He has a point.
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Appearing on screens in the United States for a limited run, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F', the 19th Dragon Ball film, sees the return of the series' most popular villain, Lord Frieza, as he seeks revenge against his nemesis Goku in this entertaining anime adventure. Set between chapters 517 and 518 of Akira Toriyama's long-running Dragon Ball manga, Lord Frieza is resurrected after Commander Sorbet finds Earth's seven dragon balls and makes a wish. However, even the great dragon Shenlong's powers are limited. Unable to make Frieza whole after being sliced and diced by Trunks' sword, Shenlong reanimates the pieces

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Movie Review: The Best of the Series

Rogue Nation delivers great thrills, if you choose to accept it.
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Tom Cruise and the Impossible team, both in front of and behind the camera, have done the seemingly impossible by making the fifth Mission: Impossible film the best of the series, although to be fair, I didn’t think much of the first three. Teased at the end of Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation finds Ethan Hunt pursuing the mysterious, international organization known as the Syndicate, a group of highly trained agents from around the globe that are working to destabilize civilization. When Congress cuts off funding and support, at the request of CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), Ethan becomes a

Batman: The Television Series: The Second Season Part Two DVD Review: Back to the Batshow!

For any Bat collector who doesn't already have them, this is a must-own.
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On the off chance someone doesn't know about the iconic Batman TV series from the 1960s (there must be at least one person at any given moment), let me offer a brief explanation of the show. In the city of Gotham, millionaire Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and his young ward, Dick Grayson (Burt Ward), protect the citizenry as costumed superheroes, Batman and Robin, against a colorful collection of criminals as they had done in the pages of DC Comics. With an emphasis on "comic," the show has a silly sensibility from Bruce/Batman's uberserious goodness to the wacky crimes and traps

Book Review: The Ultimate Woody Allen Film Companion by Jason Bailey

It's a book to be savored, yet it's so good one may rush through to discover all it offers.
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The first thing I thought when I got a hold of this book was that if there was any filmmaker who would quickly make a book like this incomplete because of how fast he works it would be Woody Allen. Author Jason Bailey obviously had the same thought because the Prologue offers a link to a website "for a discussion of Magic in the Moonlight and other future Woody Allen projects...for updates and new essays." Seeing as we had similar concerns, I figured I was in good hands as a reader and I was right. Each film (from What's Up,

For the Die-hard Die Hard Fan: Nakatomi Plaza: Die Hard Limited Edition Collection

Own all five explosive Die Hard movies On Blu-ray housed in a replica of the iconic building - Available October 13.
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You are gonna need a bigger shelf and maybe a bigger room to add this new, ultimate Die Hard limited edition set to your collection in October. To learn more, read on: Press release: Ever wanted to scale Nakatomi Plaza with John McClane, just like in the first Die Hard? On October 13, fans can do just that with the Nakatomi Plaza: Die Hard Collection! Featuring all five of the franchise’s action-packed films in a replica of the legendary Los Angeles tower, this limited edition collection is McClane-approved and like nothing you’ve ever seen before, making it the perfect gift

The Killers (1946) / (1964) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Intriguing Double Feature

A great opportunity to see how artists and craftsmen handle the same material and obtain different results.
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Like taking a comparative literature class, The Killers from the Criterion Collection offers a great opportunity to see how artists and craftsmen handle the same material and obtain different results. In this instance, the source is Ernest Hemingway's short story "The Killers," which first appeared in a 1927 issue of Scribner's Magazine. An audio version of the story read by Stacy Keach is available as an extra and it tells of two hitmen who go to a diner looking to kill Ole Andreson, a Swedish boxer who frequents the place. When Ole doesn’t show, the men leave. Frequent Hemingway character

The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982 Blu-ray Review: Long Live Rock

If this was the only concert of the band on record, there'd be no doubt why they are rock 'n' roll legends.
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Reading up on The Who, it appears what was intended to be a tour in support of It's Hard became a farewell tour because of Pete Townshend's personal issues and the friction they contributed to between he and his bandmates Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle. Although they have reunited many times since, and Daltrey and Townshend, the last living original members, are currently touring in celebration of the band's 50th anniversary, it's fantastic to see this document of The Who still at the peak of their abilities. Taken from their October 13, 1982 performance, the second of a two-night stand

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 2 by John Byrne

These new voyages fit right alongside the old ones.
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In Star Trek: New Visions, John Byrne tells of the lost missions of the starship Enterprise under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. Through the use of images from the Original Series combined with new material such as characters and dialogue, Byrne creates adventures that have an air of authenticity because we see the familiar faces of the actors. Volume 2 collects issues #3-5 and contains an all-new story with something for those who read Gold Key's Star Trek comics. "Cry Vengeance" tells the origins of the Doomsday Machine from the episode of the same name. "Robot" is a

R.E.M. by MTV Blu-ray Review: Fables of the R.E.M. Construction

This should satisfy fans, most of whom likely already know the story, but it's great to hear it directly from the band members.
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Previously a part of the REMTV boxed set, the documentary R.E.M. by MTV is now available as a separate release on Blu-ray and DVD. It presents the history of the band through archival interviews and clips of news and performances, much of it, but not limited to, material from MTV. The band (Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, and Bill Berry) and associates tell the story chronologically through interviews conducted over their decades-long run. The viewer witnesses R.E.M.'s career arc going from a cult favorite and critical darling to a force on the pop charts with hit songs and albums

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 18: 1957-1959 by Chester Gould

Gould's writing entertains because of the unpredictable twists the stories take along the way to their expected conclusions.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 18 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from December 15, 1957 through to July 11, 1959. The opening few panels are a little heavy handed and preachy as Tracy's adopted son Junior explains he and some friends want to go into law enforcement and gives a slightly nauseating speech about how much better things would be "if parents stayed at home more with their kids and helped teach them good manners - taught 'em to pray, and tanned their little

The Best of The Ed Sullivan Show 6-DVD Collector's Set Review

A who's-who (and "who's that?") of mid-20th Century entertainment.
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For 23 years, from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, Ed Sullivan served as the host of the quintessential variety show, presenting viewers with acts from across the entertainment spectrum. This six-DVD set, sporting the generic title of The Best of The Ed Sullivan Show, serves as a great example of what audience saw. The first two discs offer greatest-hits collections ("Unforgettable Performances" and "50th Anniversary Special"). The next three feature clips arranged by subject: "The All-Star Comedy Special," "World's Greatest Novelty Acts," and "Amazing Animal Acts." The final disc presents Bonus Interviews of participants from the

Book Review: Tarzan: The Complete Russ Manning Newspaper Strips, Volume Four: 1974-1979

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
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With the Library of America Comics releasing the fourth and final volume in the Eisner Award-winning series, they have published the complete collection of Russ Manning's Tarzan newspaper strips. As Henry G. Franke III, editor of The Burroughs Bibliophiles, explains in his informative introduction of the strip and its author, Manning was only creating Sunday strips at this point in the run, having given up the dailies in order to add Tarzan graphic novels to his workload. However, interest in the strip and the character had waned by the end of the decade. In February 1979, Tarzan "was appearing in

Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies: Alpine Valley, WI - 07/19/89 Review

Live from Wisconsin, it's the Grateful Dead!
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Hosted by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment at theaters across the country, the fifth annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies presented the band's performance at Alpine Valley, Wisconsin on July 19, 1989, the third concert of a three-night stand. The line-up featured guitarist Jerry Garcia, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardist Brent Mydland, and guitarist Bob Weir. They sounded in very fine form as one can tell from the bootleg available below. With the band celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015, I would have thought interest in the band would be at a high point,

Spellbound (2002) Movie Review: C-A-P-T-I-V-A-T-I-N-G

A wonderful change of pace to see the glorification of being smart in a society where so many are trying to dumb things down.
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The filmmakers of this Academy Award-nominated documentary present us with the stories of eight contestants participating in the 1999 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. They are Harry, Angela, Ted, April, Neil, Nupur, Emily and Ashley. The aggregation we’re presented is a good sampling of the participants. They come from all parts of the nation, Southern California, the Midwest, and even Washington D.C. where the contest is held. Most are eighth-graders, the final year of eligibility, which affixes extra pressure since there can be no “better luck next year.” They are returning contestants yet to be the last speller standing and

The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965 Blu-ray Review

"I try my best/ to be just like I am/ but everybody wants you/ to be just like them." - "Maggie's Farm"
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Murray Lerner filmed the performances at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, ’64, and ’65, and from those concerts created the Academy Award-nominated documentary Festival! One of the musicians who appeared at all three events was Bob Dylan, who went from an up-and-coming folk singer to a “there he went and good riddance” singer according to the reaction of some audience members. Back in 2007, Lerner released a film that focused just on Dylan titled The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival. It serves as a great document of Dylan’s performances, though rather than

Cops: Wildest Chases DVD Review: A Good Representation of the Series

See what the bad boys (and girls) do when they come for them.
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Cops, the long-running documentary series, debuted March 11, 1989 on FOX where it ran for 25 seasons. It was an innovative reality TV program that brought viewers to the front lines of law enforcement, showing the daily activities of police offers in departments all across the country. There were even a few episodes that took place internationally. After being cancelled, the series was picked up by the cable channel Spike TV. Wildest Chases collects seven episodes from Seasons 26 and 27. There are three segments in a Cops episode, and for most of the them, the chases are limited to

Book Review: Usagi Yojimbo: Senso by Stan Sakai

It contains the expected exquisiteness one associates with Sakai's work.
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After a two-year break from his long-running Usagi Yojimbo, time spent working on the Eisner-nominated limited series Ronin 47, Stan Sakai returned to it with the six-issue miniseries Usagi Yojimbo: Senso. Originally published from August 2014 through January 2015, Dark Horse has now collected them in one book. Sakai introduces the collection with a comic strip where he explains to his main character, the rabbit ronin Usagi, and the reader that Senso's premise deals with the questions "what if the Martians had sent scout ships 200 years before the events chronicled by [H.G.] Wells, and what if they had landed

The Midnight Special Three-DVD Set Review: Relive Friday Night at Any Time

A great snapshot of a bygone era of entertainment.
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StarVista and Time Life have released another collection of clips of The Midnight Special, a late-night variety show that aired on NBC from 1972 to 1981, on three DVDs. To make things nice and confusing, there's no subtitle to help identify this set from other Midnight Special sets. As S. Edward Sousa described previously in his review of a six-disc release, which also had no subtitle, "The Midnight Special...was the Friday night follow-up to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, packing a 90-minute time slot with the era's biggest names in rock, pop. and disco. Unlike its predecessors or competitors,

B.B. King: Live at Montreux 1993 Blu-ray Review: Let the Good Times Roll

B.B. reveals himself to be the consummate professional throughout the night.
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B.B. and his band had been frequent performers during the Montreux music festival’s long history. Over the course of 100 minutes, the viewer will see a master showman at work on a Blu-ray disc that is a worthy addition to any music library. Led by saxophonist Walter King, B.B.’s nephew, the band sounds good as they open the set with a few numbers on their own. Dressed in a turquoise dinner jacket with some type of Asian design on it, B.B. makes his entrance. He picks up his guitar Lucille and immediately makes her sing in the recognizable sweet, sweet
Paul Shaffer is best known for being the bandleader on David Letterman’s late-night talk show, both at NBC and CBS, from February 1, 1982 to May 20, 2015. He demonstrates his great sense of humor through his bantering with Letterman and the songs chosen to play on guests. He also exudes a love of show business, past and present, and appearances by celebrities he has met are sprinkled all throughout the book. With the assistance of David Ritz, both Shaffer’s traits are on display and make for a very entertaining read. As Shaffer reveals his life to readers, his anecdotes

Album Review: The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys (Expanded and Remastered)

A good listen at "10:15 Saturday Night," or any other time you desire.
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In 2004, Rhino Records released a deluxe edition of The Cure’s first album, Three Imaginary Boys, which was previously only available in the U.S. as an import. What was their first U.S. release, Boys Don’t Cry, has eight songs from Three Imaginary Boys. Two other tracks from Boys Don’t Cry appear on the second disc and they happen to be two of the most popular from this early period, the title track and “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.” Disc one is their debut album in its entirety, clocking in at a meager 36 minutes. The songs are short, and the structure

The Fugitive: The Complete Series is the Pick of the Week

It's a Cinema Sentries Team-Up.
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Hello, PotW readers. Mat 's desktop computer went to that great IT department in the sky over the weekend, so while he selected some titles that looked interesting (see below), he didn't make his Pick. But the show must go on, so this week is going to be a joint effort, and I didn't need to peruse the new releases long before I knew what I was going to select. The Fugitive ran for four seasons and starred David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, who is, as narrator William Conrad first tells viewers during the opening credits of the second

Day of Anger Blu-ray Review: The Rules of the Game

Fans of spaghetti westerns and Lee Van Cleef shouldn't experience any anger if they add this to their collection.
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Day of Anger on Blu-ray includes the Italian and English dubs of the original I giorni dell'ira and the shorter, international version titled Day of Anger, also known as Gunlaw in the UK. It's a gritty spaghetti western starring Lee Van Cleef as Frank Talby, a tough gunslinger who is both a hero and a villian in this story. Set in Clifton, AZ, where Butch Cassidy was killed by Dan Parker on 7/12/82, a young man named Scott (Giuliano Gemma) is looked down upon and ridiculed by many of the town elders because he's the bastard son of a whore,

The Fog of War Movie Review: Hindsight is 20/20

"An unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates
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Robert S. McNamara served from 1961 to 1968 as the Secretary of Defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Errol Morris' documentary has been put together through interview sessions with McNamara, White House audiotapes, and archival footage. A large portion of this film examines his involvement in regards to both the Cuban Missile Crisis and The Vietnam War, two momentous foreign policy episodes that occurred during his tenure. McNamara’s earliest memory is of Armistice Day 1918 as the end of World War I was celebrated. It was called “the war to end all wars,” yet humans have

Book Review: In the Company of Legends by Joan Kramer and David Heeley

Classic-film fans are very fortunate they took the time to create this book.
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For 25 years, the award-winning filmmaking team of Joan Kramer and David Heeley lived a classic-film fan's dream many times over, as they met, produced documentaries about, and in some cases became friends with stars of the silver screen. In this mutual memoir, they reveal the wonderful stories about what it took to tell the wonderful stories about their famous subjects. Joan and David began working together in 1978 on Skyline, a local arts program produced by New York PBS affiliate, WNET. As the series was coming to an end after three seasons, they attempted to move on with a

TV Review: The Comedians (2015) - Pilot / Louie - Potluck

FX presents Must-Squirm TV.
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FX's 10 o'clock block on Thursdays nights could be labelled Must-Squirm TV due to the shared humor of the two sitcoms, which are rooted in awkward interactions between clueless characters. Based on the Swedish series Ulveson & Herngern, Billy Crystal and Josh Gad star as caricatures of themselves (hopefully) in a mockumentary about the creation of a fictional sketch show. Billy is a struggling comedian past his prime and is paired with brash up-and-comer Josh for a 13-week run. They can't stand each other but both need the money so they do their best, which really comes across as doing

Wonder What I Want to See at WonderCon 2015 No More

The con programs I am most intrigued by are...
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Comic-Con International's WonderCon returns to the Anaheim Convention April 3-5, 2015, which has been its home since 2012, to the delight of many in Southern California and to the disappointment of many in Northern California. Fans come to celebrate their pop-culture obsessions, honoring what has come before and learning what new things they can discover. While I am interested in taking part in a number of WonderCon events, the programs I am most intrigued by are listed below. Friday Star Trek: They're Not Really Dead As Long As We Remember Them Friday April 3, 2015 1:00pm - 2:00pmRoom 207 While

McLintock! (Authentic Collector's Edition) Blu-ray Review: An Entertaining Escape

John Wayne tries to tame Maureen O'Hara.
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Made by his own Batjac Productions, John Wayne stars as the titular McLintock! in a variation of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew with Maureen O'Hara, the fourth time they shared the silver screen together. Set in the Old West, G.W. (named after the country's first President) McLintock is a major cattle rancher in the Oklahoma Territory and his estranged wife Katherine (O'Hara) returns to town after two years, wanting a divorce and custody of their daughter Rebecca (Stefanie Powers), herself returning from school with a suitor in tow, Matt Douglas, Jr. (Jerry Van Dyke). However, G.W., who never wanted her

Monty Python Live (mostly) Blu-ray Review: And Now for Something Generally Familiar

It's great to add this final chapter to the collection.
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After previously working together in various configurations at university and on such television shows like The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set, (the late) Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin formed what is arguably the funniest and most influential comedy troupe ever. Known as Monty Python, they came together to create the legendary TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus, which debuted October 5, 1969 on the BBC. Their humor was a great mix of high brow and low brow, both of which are typified in the "Summarize Proust Competition" where each

Big Hero 6 Blu-ray Review: This Movie Will Make You Feel Better

"Sometimes, life doesn't go the way you planned." - Hiro
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When the Walt Disney Company bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009, there was much speculation about what would be the first Disney animated film to spring forth from the pages of Marvel Comics. The annoucement that it would be Big Hero 6, a Japanese superhero team from the late '90s that appeared in only a few books and is so obsure that not even has an entry for them, many questioned the choice. But after earning over half a billion at the box office worldwide and the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, it looks like the the folks at Disney

Dumber and Dumber To Blu-ray Review: Still Dumb After All These Years

While there are some laughs, it suffers like many sequels do from not being as good as the original and covering similar ground.
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It's no surprise that the directing team of Bobby and Peter Farrelly would write, produce, and direct The Three Stooges, the 2012 modern-day update with new actors playing Moe, Larry, and Curly. The Stooges' brand of dim-witted lunacy and aggressive slapstick is seen throughout the Farrelly Brothers' work, including their feature-film debut, Dumb and Dumber. Starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, who are perfectly described by the film's title, Dumb and Dumber was a smash hit, turning a $17 million budget into $247 million at the box office. It led to an animated series

The Godfather LIVE Review: An Event You Shouldn't Refuse to See

With a live orchestra playing, it draws attention to Nino Rota's amazing soundtrack.
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While any chance to see the Francis Ford Coppola's award-winning masterpiece is a great treat, this LIVE presentation of The Godfather by CineConcerts was delightfully augmented by Nino Rota's classic score being performed on stage by the Hollywood Studio Symphony. The Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE was buzzing with excitement. Many attendees had their pictures taken in front of the stage before most the musicians were seated. I had a front row seat off to the left side of the theater. As it was set below the stage, my view was limited to a small porton of the orchestra and its

Hot Tub Time Machine (Unrated) Blu-ray Review: Round up Your Friends and Your Favorite Adult Beverages

Sure to become a cult classic among the “let’s get wasted and laugh our asses off” set.
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Hot Tub Time Machine is rated R for sexual content, nudity, drug use, and pervasive language, which are pluses in the right company when done right, and director Steve Pink and his team most certainly do it right. While certainly not a movie for everyone to be sure, HTTM is wildly over-the-top, filled with so much raunchy silliness (or silly raunchiness) it is sure to become a cult classic among the “let’s get wasted and laugh our asses off” set. After Lou (Rob Corddry) ends up in the hospital, he is reunited with former friends Nick (Craig Robinson) and Adam

Batman: The Television Series: The Second Season Part One DVD Review: Holy Classic TV Comedy!

It would be a crime not to own this.
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After years of legal rights issues needing to be sorted out (and likely a fascinating story in its own right), the legendary Batman television series (1966-68) finally made its Blu-ray/DVD debut last November with The Complete Series set and the simultaneous release of The Complete First Season on DVD. Those who bought the latter can continue adding to their Bat-collection with the next installment from Warner Brothers, The Complete Second Season, Part One. The camp comedy style from the '60s series was so successful it was how the DC Comics character was best known to the general public until Tim

D.W. Smith Has A Whole Nuther Kind of Spy Novel For Ya

"He remembered that bone was called the humerus, and he had a little chuckle as he heard it snap."
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D.W. Smith is a screenwriter, novelist, and podcaster living in Orange County, California with his wife and two little girls. He co-wrote the movies Replicant (2001) and Assassin’s Code (2011) and would like to take this opportunity to apologize for both. Whiskey Tango: A Whole 'Nuther Kind of Spy Novel is his first book. His podcast, The Indispensable Thursday Show, can be heard weekly at an internet-connected device near you. What's the origin and/or inspiration of 'Nuther? It always bugged me in the back of my mind that Superman went out of his way not to kill really bad people

Regular Show: Mordecai Pack DVD Review: As Good as the Series Gets

While the show delivers great laughs, it's the tender moments that make the characters beloved.
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Cartoon Network's Regular Show is currently in its six season. The series presents the outlandish adventures of twenty-something friends Mordecai, a blue jay, and Rigby, a raccoon, who work as park groundskeepers alongside Hi-Five Ghost, a yeti named Skips, and an unidentifiable creature named Muscle Man. Benson, an anthropomorphic gumball machine, is their supervisor, and the park is owned by the father of Pops, a lollipop-shaped man. Following the release of last year's Rigby Pack, Warner Bros Home Entertainment has released Mordecai Pack, a new collection of 16 eleven-minute episodes with over half coming from Season 5 (eleven) and the

2015 Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Films Review

An intriguing collection of characters attempting to connect with others.
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The Academy Award-nominees for this year's Live Action Short Film originated from Europe and Asia. They feature an intriguing collection of characters who are attempting to connect with others in a variety of ways. In alphabetical order, they are: "Aya": The title character is waiting at the airport when she does a driver a favor and holds a sign for an arriving passenger, a classical-music researcher who is heading to Jerusalem to serve on a competiton jury. Rather than explain what's going on, she agrees to be his driver. This short delivers a lot of suspense as Aya's motivation is

Archer (Vice): The Complete Season Five Blu-ray Review: Smugglers' Blues

With season five, Archer continued to be one of the funniest shows going.
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As the season-five premiere, "White Elephant," opens, show creator Adam Reed creates a perfect visual metaphor. Life for the ISIS team is comfortable and serene, like many TV shows entering their fifth season. But Reed is not going to coast and continue to give viewers the same old show, evidenced by the ISIS offices getting blown up before the episode's opening credits. Turns out Malory (Jessica Walters) never got sanctioned by the U.S. government to conduct espionage operations, making the adventures of the past four seasons even funnier without altering them, and they get hauled in by the FBI. She
Warner Archive continues its release of Cartoon Network's Batman: The Brave and the Bold on Blu-ray with The Complete Second Season. The 26 episodes are presented on two discs, making them easier to find than when they debuted over 18 months between November 20, 2009 to April 8, 2011. For those unfamiliar with this series, let me quote my review of The Complete First Season: Created between The WB's The Batman and Cartoon Network's Beware the Batman, The Brave and the Bold teams Batman (Diedrich Bader) with different heroes, just like the DC Comics book series of the same name

Book Review: The Art of the Films: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by Sharon Gosling and Adam Newell

An enjoyable for read for those fascinated by how modern movies are made.
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This book takes readers behind the scenes of the first two films of the revived Apes franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and reveals what Dawn director Matt Reeves describes in the Foreward is the "astonishing work" of the crewmembers. Led by Rise's production designer Claude Pare and director of photography Andrew Lesnie and Dawn's production designer James Chinlund and director of photography Michael Seresin, the combined imaginations and talents on each film created realistic locations and believable characters on screen. The latter accomplishment also owes a debt to the

The Doors: Feast of Friends Blu-ray Review: Strange Days Revisited

A good meal for new fans; a familiar one for long-timers.
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Hitting the vaults once again, The Doors and Eagle Rock Entertainment have re-teamed for Feast of Friends, a short film the band self-produced about their life on the road while touring in the summer of 1968. Having only played at a few film festivals previously, this first official release of Feast of Friends (HD, 39 min) has been "restored from the original negative...color-corrected and cleaned in high definition with the soundtrack totally remixed and remastered by Bruce Botnick." The band's music has been paired with visuals of them in concert and between gigs, creating a longform document of those moments

Waking Sleeping Beauty DVD Review: How Disney Animation Got Its Groove Back

A fascinating documentary about the renaissance of Disney animation that occurred during the 1980s and ’90s.
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Waking Sleeping Beauty is a fascinating documentary about the renaissance of Disney animation that occurred during the 1980s and ’90s. Director Don Hahn, who has been involved with the studio in various capacities since the ’70s, tells the story through audio interviews from the people who experienced, which he paired with archival footage. Rather than present a glossed-over business biography, Hahn doesn’t shy away from the struggles and conflicts that occurred during the transition and presents a rich, compelling story. After years of mediocrity that saw the studio nearly taken over by corporate raiders and lose talented artists like Don

Invasion of Astro-Monster DVD Review: The End of an Era

Thankfully, the plot holes don’t take away from the fun.
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Invasion of Astro-Monster, known in the United States as Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, is a sequel to Ghidorah. The film was released in 1965 in Japan and in the U.S. five years later. It is notable because it is the last Godzilla film to feature the creative team of director Ishiro Honda, screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa, and special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya. The film opens with a rocket ship heading toward Planet X, “a mysterious planet…discovered beyond Jupiter.” The crewmembers are Japanese astronaut Fuji and American astronaut Glen. When they get to the planet, they discover aliens who live underground because

Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster DVD Review: Admittedly Goofy but a Lot of Fun

The film where Godzilla turned from villain to hero.
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Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster was the fifth in the series, premiering in Japan in 1964 and the U.S. in 1965. This was the last Godzilla film that received major edits before crossing the Pacific, eight minutes were cut and scenes were altered. It also forever changed the character of Godzilla who, like many great characters of fiction, turns from villain to hero. Classic Media released both versions of the film on one DVD, and they each tell the same basic story. A strange gigantic meteor crashes in the wilderness of a Japanese mountain range. During a plane trip to Japan,

Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray Review: A Star-Lord is Born

They're the heroes the universe deserves.
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The executives and filmmakers at Marvel Studios have made an impressive impact on both the world of pop culture and the business of Hollywood. Superheroes have become more prominent across the media landscape and other studios are trying to create shared universes with their properties. For example, Warner Brothers with DC Comics characters, and Universal with classic movie monsters. Marvel took their biggest risk to date with this summer's Guardians of the Galaxy, a space adventure featuring an obscure group of characters starring Chris Pratt, a sitcom second banana in the lead. With James Gunn at the helm as director/co-writer,
Peter Jackson continues The Hobbit trilogy with The Desolation of Smaug, an action-packed fantasy adventure that improves upon the previous installment, which suffered from sluggish pacing due to non-essential scenes. It also has the advantage of being the middle part of the story so it doesn't have to introduce the majority of main characters and it doesn't have to offer an ending, since leaving characters in precarious situations is enough. However, there's so much packed into it, like An Unexpected Journey, it feels more like Jackson is creating a miniseries intended to be watched in amounts of one's choosing at

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray Review: Peter Jackson Goes Back Again

The director returns to Middle-earth with mixed results.
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Filmmaker Peter Jackson returned to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of an intended trilogy based on the author’s 1937 fantasy novel. Considering a few recent book-to-film franchises had increased their ratios, it wasn’t a surprise when news broke that The Hobbit would be turned into two movies. However, when the announcement came that the material would be expanded into three movies, many fans were puzzled how it would work being stretched so thin. For many, myself included, it didn’t work well, especially when inevitably compared to Jackson’s Lord of the Rings

Adventure Time: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: Make Time For It

Looking for adventure? Head out and buy this.
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The fourth season of Cartoon Network's Adventure Time ran from April 2, 2012 to October 22, 2012. Some of the episodes have previously been released to home video, but this release presents the Complete Fourth Season for the first time. "Princess Cookie", "The Hard Easy", "Lady & Peebles", and "Goliad" were all nominated for Annie Awards. "Card Wars" won a Golden Reel Award and was entertainingly imaginative as Finn and Jake played a version of Magic the Gathering. Guest voices this season include Bobcat Goldthwait, Susie Essman, Erik Estrada, and Lou Ferrigno. For those not in the know, Adventure Time

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 17: 1956-1957 by Chester Gould

Gould delivers entertaining, action-heavy crime dramas once again.
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The Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing are publishing The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould. Volume 17 is their latest release and it collects the dailies and Sunday strips from May 14, 1956 through to December 14, 1957. Dick Tracy would reach its 25th year on October 4, 1956, and Gould showed no signs of losing the strips' high standards. The book opens with Joe Period and Flattop Jr. in hiding from crimes readers witnessed in Volume 16, but rather than running away, they head back to town because Joe seeks revenge against "Nothing" Yonson, who tried to

Book Review: DC Comics Super-Villains: The Complete Visual History by Daniel Wallace

They are bad no matter how they are drawn.
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With its origins in National Allied Publications, which was founded in 1934, DC Comics has had a long and varied publishing history over 80 years and has been one of the top two comic publishers for decades (Which company has held the top spot at any given moment has been argued by fans for just as long). Its success has not only come from the superheroes in its stable, such as Superman and Batman, but also its super-villains, such as Lex Luthor and the Joker. Author Daniel Wallace claims the bad guys are “one of the driving forces behind the

AFI Fest 2014 Movie Review: Red Army

A great documentary because it takes a niche subject and tells a larger, identifiable story with it.
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Gabe Polsky's documentary Red Army tells the story of Viacheslav "Slava" Fetisov, one of the most successful defensemen to ever play hockey. His career ran from 1976-1998, starting as a member of the Soviet national hockey team and later playing for two NHL teams. But just as the story of baseball player Jackie Robinson (42) is not limited to the man or the sport because of the societal issues related with his breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier, neither is the story of Red Army, which tells a very compelling tale about the Cold War between the Soviet Union and

AFI Fest 2014 Movie Review: Tales of the Grim Sleeper

A compelling and heartbreaking true-crime documentary.
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Directed by Nick Broomfield, Tales of the Grim Sleeper is a chilling tale that epitomizes the quote attributed to Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." On July 7, 2010 in Los Angeles, CA, Lonnie Franklin was charged with 10 counts of murder and one attempted murder, for incidents occurring between 1985 to 2007. He was also suspected in the deaths of many more due to the all the pictures and videos of women found in his home. As of the date of this review's publication, he has yet

Genesis: Three Sides Live Blu-ray Review: ...And Then They Were Live...

Turn it on (again) and play it loud.
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Available for the first time as a stand-alone DVD and on Blu-ray, Genesis: Three Sides Live was initially released on Betamax and VHS in 1982 as a companion piece to the live album of the same name. The film shows the band (vocals/drums Phil Collins, keyboards Tony Banks, guitar/bass Mike Rutherford with support from touring members guitar/bass Daryl Stuermer and drums Chester Thompson) on their 1981 North American tour promoting their eleventh album, Abacab. The concert performances are taken from two New York shows, primarily from Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, on November 29, 1981 with two ("Me & Sarah Jane"

Book Review: Star Trek: Gold Key Archives, Volume 2

This is not your daddy's Star Trek.
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On its way to becoming a multimedia franchise, Star Trek first entered the world of comics by way of Gold Key, who sporadically published 61 issues between July 1967 and March 1979 before the license was obtained by Marvel. Earlier this year, IDW reprinted Gold Key's first six issues in a hardcover collection and now the second volume of Star Trek: Gold Key Archives, which collects issues #7-12, is available. Fully re-mastered with new colors, the first two stories are written by Dick Wood (Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom), the rest are by Len Wein (co-creator of DC Comics'

AFI Fest 2014 Movie Review: Two Days, One Night

With superheros all the rage, it's nice that there are people like the Dardennes creating films this.
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After a brief absence from her solar-panel plant job, Sandra (Marion Cotillard) gets word on a Friday afternoon that she needn't return to work on Monday because her fellow co-workers voted 14 out of 16 for the boss to let her go so they could each receive a €1,000 bonus. Sandra is married and the mother of two young children and they need her salary to keep out of public housing, which her husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) refuses to return. Sandra's friend, Juliette (Catherine Salée), claims that supervisor Jean-Marc (Olivier Gourmet) misled the workers with lies to scare them into

Book Review: Tarzan: The Complete Russ Manning Newspaper Strips, Volume Three: 1971-1974, Edited by Dean Mullaney

Manning's talents continue to impress in this volume.
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Volume Three of the Library of American Comics' Eisner Award-winning, four-part collection of Russ Manning's complete run of Tarzan newspaper strips reveals Manning continued to deliver a high quality of work in both story and art during this time. This book is notable for containing the final two daily strips stories. Henry G. Franke III, editor of literary society The Burroughs Bibliophiles, returns to write another introduction. He explains how Manning creation of Tarzan graphic novels led to him only able to focus on Sunday strips, resulting in the end of his dailies. Franke also tells a great anecdote about

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 1 & Issue #3 by John Byrne

Byrne's work is like watching a long-lost episode play before our eyes.
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John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s, which allowed fans to revisit episodes before they could watch them on demand through home video and the Internet. Byrne maniuplates images of characters and backgrounds from the series to set the scene. He then uses word balloons to tell his stories. Volume 1 contains three previously released books. Star Trek: Annual 2013 presents "Strange New Worlds," a sequel to "Where No Man

Young Justice Blu-ray Review: A Super(hero) Show from Warner Archive

While using teenage main characters could have led to a series best suited for children, the realistic characters and smartly plotted stories make it accessible for all.
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Created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman, Young Justice is a DC Comics animated series that aired for two seasons on Cartoon Network from 2011 to 2013. Not based on the comic series of the same name, the show presented the adventures of a team of young heroes (Don't call them "sidekicks"!) set its own distinct universe separate from the other DC Comics TV series. While using teenage main characters could have led to a series best suited for children, the realistic characters and smartly plotted stories make Young Justice accessible for all. As the Justice League goes off on

Book Review: The Art of John Alvin by Andrea Alvin

You know his work. Now get to know the man.
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I consider myself a serious cinephile, so much so that I don't mind describing myself with the pretentious word "cinephile." I have been captivated by movies for as long as I can remember, and to such an extent that my interest goes beyond what plays on the screen. I am just as fascinated by the "business" of show business as I am the "show." In addition to actors and directors, I also appreciate and study the work of other artistic contributors to the medium, such as writers, cinematographers, and composers. Which is why I am disappointed I wasn't aware of

TV Review: The Flash (2014): "City of Heroes"

Recommend for superhero fans.
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After two appearances in the second season of Arrow, Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) has been spun off into his own CW television series set to make its network debut tonight. Since I had only ever seen the Arrow pilot previously, this was my first introduction to this iteration of the Flash. The episode, written by Arrow co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, Arrow pilot director David Nutter, and Geoff Johns, begins 14 years in the past, on the night at the Allen home when 11-year-old Barry's mother was killed. Although young Barry, and the audience, witness an inexplicable electrical
Todd Ford is a web developer by day and a film fanatic by night. He has been writing film reviews and articles for various publications since 1994 and is a curator for the Cinema 100 Film Society of Bismarck, North Dakota. See You in the Dark presents a selection of his reviews from the past two decades and reveals where his passion for film has taken him during that time. Can you give a little bio to introduce yourself to readers? I grew up in Southern California to parents who had little interest in the arts and were frankly terrified

These Are a Few of My Favorite Saturday Morning Shows

Return with us now to those thrilling Saturdays of yesteryear.
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September 27, 2014 was the last airing of the CW's Saturday morning cartoon line-up, known in its final iteration as "Vortexx." It featured a roster of animated adventure shows that included The Spectacular Spider-Man, Dragon Ball Z Kai, and Yu-Gi-Oh! They replaced it today with “One Magnificent Morning,” a collection of Educational/Information programs, such as Calling Dr. Pol, The Brady Barr Experience and Expedition Wild. This means there are no longer any national broadcast networks airing cartoons on Saturday mornings. Although cable, home video, and streaming services offer 24-hour access to numerous cartoons of past and present, a dream many

My 2014 Toronto International Film Festival Schedule...So Far

Please read and comment upon my TIFF itinerary.
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The 39th Annual Toronto Internationa Film Festival runs from Sept 4-14, and I, your humble correspondent, will be heading to the Queen City for a few days to feast on films. The titles listed below, accompanied by brief synopses, are the ones I plan on attending. Follow me on twitter at ElBicho_CS for snap judgements and witty reactions to the films and other goings-on at the festival. Full reviews will be posted on the site at a later date. Which of these sound interesting to you? Sunday September 7 The New Girlfriend - After the death of her best friend,

Book Review: The Art of Neil Gaiman by Haley Campbell

A fantastic accounting of his life and career.
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I was first introduced to Neil Gaiman through his Sandman comics at a time when most people were introduced to Neil Gaiman through his Sandman comics. I read the collected trade paperbacks of The Sandman at end of the millenium while working at a Barnes & Noble, a few years after the series' monthly run had ended. I hadn't been a comic-book reader since 1985, deciding to take a stand and quit cold turkey when the prices went up to a whopping 65 cents an issue, which was more than my limited budget could stand, as gasoline and women became

Sin City Blu-ray Review: Almost Everything Is Black and White

Jackie-Boy was unprepared for what Sin City had in store and the results were not good. Don't make the same mistake.
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In Frank Miller's award-winning, graphic novel series Sin City everything is black and white with a rare splash of color. That's the way the books are drawn. That's the way the film is shot. That's the way life is in Sin City. Black and white. Good guys and bad guys. The eternal struggle. Sure, the divide gets blurry occasionally when good guys do bad things, at times very bad things, but these Old Testament avenging angels mete out justice with "a bit of the old ultraviolence" only for the right reasons. It might be hard to see through the uniquely

Adventure Time: Princess Day and Regular Show: Rigby Pack DVD Reviews

For those who enjoy these small releases or want to sample the series, I recommend them...and so does my mom.
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In addition to Complete Season sets, Warner Brothers continues to release themed DVD collections from both Cartoon Network's hit series Adventure Time and Regular Show. The episodes for each series runs about 11 minutes and the DVDs run about three hours. On sale now, Adventure Time: Princess Day is the series' seventh themed DVD and features episodes about many of the princesses from the Land of Ooo, such as Princess Bubblegum, Flame Princess, Ghost Princess, and of course, Lumpy Space Princess. Over half the disc's episodes are from Season 5 (nine) while the remaining come from Season 2 (two), Season

Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season DVD Review

One of the best shows on television.
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Created by Pendleton Ward, Adventure Time is an animated fantasy filled with great imagination and humor that airs on the Cartoon Network. Set in the Land of Ooo more than thousand years in the future after the Great Mushroom War, the series presents the audacious adventures of a 13-year-old human boy named Finn (Jeremy Shada) and his best friend Jake (John DiMaggio), a dog with the ability to shapeshift. Among their pals are Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch), who is made out of bubblegum; Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson); and their roommate BMO (Niki Yang), the living game console. A

Regular Show: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: Another Eggscellent Season

For those who enjoy laughing and cartoons on a regular basis, The Complete Third Season is highly recommended.
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Using variations of characters that first appeared in The Naive Man from Lolliland and 2 in the AM PM, shorts films he created while attending the California Institute of the Arts, J. G. Quintel's Regular Show continued its inspired run of laughable lunacy during its third season, which debuted on the Cartoon Network from September 2011 to September 2012. Some of the 39 episodes have been previously available in the smaller compilation DVD sets, but for completists like myself, The Complete Third Season is now available on DVD. For those not in the know, Regular Show is anything but regular

Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies: Beat Club 4/21/72 Review

Live from Bremen. It's the Grateful Dead.
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On July 17, Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment teamed up to present the annual “Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies” in cinemas nationwide. This year's edition featured Beat Club 4/21/72, a live television-studio performance of the band recorded for a West German TV program during their highly regarded European tour of that year. The band's line up at this time featured lead guitar/vocal Jerry Garcia, drums Bill Kreutzmann, bass Phil Lesh, keyboards Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, rhythm guitar/vocal Bob Weir, and the recent additions of married couple keyboards Keith (Oct. '71) and back-up singer Donna Jean (Mar. '72) Godchaux. They played

Grace Kelly Collection DVD Review: From a Queen to a Princess

"You know, I just love Grace Kelly." - Jimmy Stewart, from his eulogy
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It is an impressive feat that Grace Kelly (November 12, 1929 - September 14, 1982) is such an iconic figure from Classic Hollywood even though she only appeared in 11 films released over a five-year period. She succeeded not only on her beauty but her talent, which was frequently matched by the many familiar names she worked alongside. She was a queen of the silver screen during the '50s, but unfortunately for filmmakers and filmgoers, her career came to an immediate end in 1956 when she became the Princess of Monaco. Warner Brothers is repackaging six films previously released on

Book Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History by Andrew Farago

A must-have for fans and highly recommend for pop-culture aficionados.
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Regardless of what one may think about the vast assortment of various products that have been spun off, it's amazing that 30 years ago this past May the pop culture world was forever changed when two men (Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman) realized a dream by publishing their own comic book, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. In this outstanding book, Andrew Farago documents the franchise's history from how the creators met, how the turtles made their big splash when they transitioned from the comics to an animated television series, and how the Turtles have evolved in different mediums, up to

To Catch a Thief DVD Review: Crime Never Looked So Good

Hitchcock delivers a high quality film that combines romance and intrigue.
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Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief is his first film shot in the short-lived widescreen format VitsaVision, and his second film shot for Paramount. It finds the director covering very familiar territory, both thematically as it deals with an innocent man trying to clear his name and interpersonally as Hitch had previously worked with actors Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, and John Williams; screenwriter John Michael Hayes; and cinematographer Robert Burks who won an Academy Award for this film. Based on the novel by David Dodge, former jewel thief John “The Cat” Robie (Grant) is retired in France; however, a recent

Peter Gabriel: Back to Front: Live in London Blu-ray Review

Peter Gabriel and Eagle Rock Entertainment have released another winner.
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Recorded over two nights in October 2013 at London's The O2, Back to Front presents Peter Gabriel in concert during his two-year tour commemorating So, which was played in its entirety. Supported by the musicians that had backed him on the So tour, bassist Tony Levin, drummer Manu Katche, David Sancious, and guitarist David Rhodes, the assembled songs document an outstanding performance of audio and visual delights. Before the show began, Gabriel announced the show would be presented in three parts like a meal, with an appetizer, the main course, and dessert. The appetizer was a short, acoustic set of

Book Review: Tarzan: In The City of Gold: The Complete Burne Hogarth Comic Strip Library

The first in a four-volume set presenting Hogarth's tenure as artist of the Tarzan newspaper comic strip.
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Tarzan of the Apes, author Edgar Rice Burroughs' legendary creation, first appeared in the October 1912 issue of The All-Story. The character was such a sensation Burroughs wrote sequels and Tarzan was adapted into film, theater, radio, and newspaper strips, making the King of the Jungle one of the twentieth century's first Kings of All Media. Titan Books' Tarzan: In The City of Gold is the first in a four-volume planned set presenting Burne Hogarth's tenure as artist of the Tarzan newspaper comic strip. Hogarth replaced Tarzan's first artist Hal Foster, who left for the more lucrative opportunity to start
Author John Grant has assembled a massive tome cataloging film noir that rightly deserves to be called a “comprehensive encyclopedia.” Over the book's 700-plus pages, there are entries for more than 3,250 films, beginning with Stephen Gaghan's Abandon (2002) and ending with John Penney's Zyzzyx Rd (2005). Covering nearly 100 years of cinema, the book's earliest entry is Chester M. Franklin's Going Straight (1916) and the latest is Allen Hughes' Broken City (2013). Understandably, those four films might not immediately leap to anyone's mind when thinking about film noir, which is why Grant begins his Introduction with the question “What

Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano Blu-ray Review: Fans Should Invest in It

They could all be your songs.
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From 2004 to 2009, Elton John served a five-year residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. That evening of music was dubbed The Red Piano. After a hiatus, Elton returned in 2011 for another residency with The Million Dollar Piano, which repeated two-thirds of the previous set list but expanded the number of songs played. Now available on home video, a performance recorded in February 2012 features Elton playing some of his biggest hits alongside a few deep cuts. The show begins with Elton taking the stage in a glittery cape that would have made Liberace proud. During much of

Book Review: Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, Vol. 4: 1942-1944 by Alex Raymond

This LOAC series comes to a close as Raymond proves to be the kind of hero he wrote about.
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This fourth and final volume of The Library of American Comics' series reprinting Alex Raymond's Sunday strips of Flash Gordon and its topper Jungle Jim begins on January 4, 1942, less than a month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the U.S. joining the Allied Forces. World War II had a great impact on the strip. Jim Bradley's adventures found the character travelling the globe to foil plots by the Japanese and the Germans. Flash Gordon did his part for the war effort as well, but his mission required a return to the planet Mongo to retrieve radium. Once

Barbary Coast (1975) DVD Review: Frisco, The Western Frontier

William Shatner is a man of a thousand faces in this lighthearted TV series.
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In between starring in Star Trek and T.J. Hooker, William Shatner also led Barbary Coast, a lesser-known, short-lived TV series in a role where he got to showcase his comedic abilities. Making its debut on DVD thanks to Acorn Media, the TV-movie and 13 episodes have been collected in a four-disc set sans bonus features. Owing a bit to The Wild, Wild West, Shatner plays Jeff Cable, former Union soldier and current undercover government agent patrolling the streets of 1880s San Francisco. Like Ross Martin's Artemis Gordon, Cable makes frequent use of costumes and make-up, and Shatner seems to be

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Second Season DVD Review: A Most Unusual Program

Fascinating tales of science fiction and fantasy that appeal beyond fans of those genres,
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While the Writers Guild of America just recently voted Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone the third best written series of all-time, viewers have long known how special this iconic anthology series was. Serling, who wrote 20 of the episodes this season, and his team of writers, which included Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and George Clayton Johnson, told fascinating tales of science fiction and fantasy that appealed beyond fans of those genres because the stories were so identifiable in the way they spoke to the human condition and morality. The Second Season earned Serling an Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in

The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Crack Ups DVD Review: So Funny the Cast Couldn't Help but Laugh

Although packed with guest stars, the sketches with the main cast are the best.
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Carol's Crack Ups presents 17 episodes of The Carol Burnett Show, the popular CBS variety show that ran for 11 seasons, beginning in 1967. Spread over six discs at random (for no apparent reason), Burnett selected the collection's episodes, which aired between 1972 and 1978. I first discovered the show in syndication when they were cut down to half an hour and had the musical numbers removed. Here, they are presented uncut. Viewers get to see Burnett was more than a comedienne as she held her own singing alongside the musical guests, as well as the dance numbers that closed
Since 1986, many of the stories about Batman have been grim and gritty, most notably in the comic books of Frank Miller, The Animated [television] Series, and the films of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan. However, the Dark Knight is only one successful iteration of the character. In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the producers returned the Caped Crusader to a bright and humorous world for three seasons on Cartoon Network, from November 14, 2008 to November 18, 2011. Being aware the change of tone might meet resistance from some fans, the producers explain themselves to viewers indirectly in
Set in the Land of Ooo more than thousand years after the Great Mushroom War, the animated fantasy TV series Adventure Time presents the imaginative adventures of a 13-year-old human boy named Finn (Jeremy Shada) and his best friend Jake (John DiMaggio), a dog with the ability to shapeshift. Among their pals are their Tree Fort roommate BMO (Niki Yang), a living game console; Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch), who is made out of bubblegum and rules over the Candy Kingdom; and Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson). Created by Pendleton Ward, the series airs on the Cartoon Network, where it

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 16: 1954-1956 by Chester Gould

There's no mystery why Gould's work endures.
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Chester Gould's Dick Tracy comic strip debuted on October 4, 1931 and continues today under the creative team of by Joe Staton and Mike Curtis. Named after the lead character, a square-jawed, yellow-hat-and-jacket-wearing police detective, the strip became so popular it would be adapted to many media, including radio, films, and television. In 2007, The Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing began publishing The Complete Dick Tracy. Volume 16 presents the dailies and Sunday Strips from October 25, 1954 - May 13, 1956. The collection begins mid-case with Tracy and the police on the hunt for Rughead, a vain

Barbary Coast is the Pick of the Week

Hopefully, it was ahead of its time and won't show its age, or else shows its age in an unintentionally funny way.
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I don't know if Mat's mentioned it, but he and his family are in the process of moving to another state. If he hasn't, I am sure over the weeks to come he will discuss settling into their new surroundings. It seems like they move once a year, so I am sure the process will be easier for him than it would be for myself whose been living in my current home with my darling wife for the last eight years. Still, to help lighten his load, he's taking the week off from this column, and I am filling in.

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 4: 1953-1954 by Milton Caniff

Volume 4 clearly demonstrates what a talent Caniff was as both a writer and an artist.
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In 1946, cartoonist Milton Caniff ended a successful 12-year run on the adventure comic strip Terry and the Pirates for the opportunity of a creator-owned title where he would have more creative control and reap more the benefits of his work. Beginning in 1947 just a few weeks after his last Terry strip was published, Steve Canyon debuted. The strip ran 41 years and even continued a couple of months after Caniff's death. Since January 2012, the Library of American Comics, by way of IDW Publishing, has been releasing collections of Canyon strips, and Volume 4, which was my introduction

Billy Joel Says Hello to Hollywood Bowl - 05/17/14

A very satisfying set filled with greatest hits and deep cuts in front of "a pretty good crowd for a Saturday."
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During the first of three concerts scheduled, Billy Joel made his Hollywood Bowl debut and played a set filled with greatest hits and deep cuts in front of "a pretty good crowd for a Saturday." Though I am much more familair with the former, Joel revealed his gifts as storyteller and musician were even greater than I realized as songs new to me kept me captivated in m seat and didn't become opportunities to head off to the bathroom. Right from the opening song, "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway," it was apparent what a talented backing

The Women (1939) Blu-ray Review: Their Own Worst Enemy

The main characters' strength, intelligence, and independence is inevitably undermined by their decisions.
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Based on Clare Boothe Luce's play of the same name, George Cukor's The Women uses the intriguing narrative device of having no men appear on screen even though their presence is felt throughout. Considering how bold a choice that would be for a film in 2014, 75 years after its release which this Blu-ray release commemorates, I am fascinated by how The Women must have been received in 1939. Unfortunately, what it suggests and what viewers are shown in regards to the main characters' strength, intelligence, and independence is inevitably undermined by their decisions. The story is set among well-to-do

Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack

A great example of having something for everyone.
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This volume of Dylan’s Bootleg Series is the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, which debuted on PBS as part of the American Masters series on September 26 & 27, 2005. Disc 1 covers the years 1959-65, during Dylan’s Woody Guthrie period when he was the eloquent poet of the people, voicing their anger, fear, hope, and concerns with acoustic folk songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Masters of War,” and “Chimes of Freedom.” The 16 tracks that comprise this disc include early recordings, such as “When I Got Troubles,” which is likely to be the

Conversations with Robert Osborne DVD Review: Enlightening Interviews from the TCM Vaults

An outstanding set for those fascinated by the Classic Hollywood era.
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If there was any doubt how big of a star Robert Osborne has become, one only need look at the Conversations with... DVD cover where the TCM host's face is the only one to appear and no font comes close to the size of the one used for his name. It's a testament to how beloved he has become to classic-film fans over the 20 years he has been visiting their living rooms that he is the collection's main selling point. One disc contains two episodes of Private Screenings episodes, which first began in 1995 as Reel Memories, and the

When Jews Were Funny DVD Review: Looking for Mr. Goodman

The potential of what could have been is squandered.
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With the star-studded roster of talented comedians interviewed for this project, Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig's When Jews Were Funny begins as if intended as an oral history about the stand-up comedy tradition. However, the film is actually about Zweig trying to get a better sense of the Jewish tradition he strayed from years ago now that at sixty-one he is the father of a two-year-old girl. For those familiar with Zweig's work, this likely won't come as a surprise. In Vinyl, about record collectors, and I, Curmugdeon, Zweig is not only the director; he's also one of the subjects. Unfortunately,

Green Lantern: The Animated Series Blu-ray Review: Don't Let It Escape Your Sight

Get yourself a copy and make your friends green with envy.
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I should state at the onset that I know nothing about all the factors involved for a company, like Warner Brothers, to continue making an animated television show, like Green Lantern: The Animated Series, based on one of the comic-book properties it owns, Green Lantern, airing on one of the cable channels it owns, The Cartoon Network. What I do know, as will anyone who watches this Blu-ray available from Warner Archive, is unfortunately just being a very good show wasn't enough. All 26 episodes are evenly divided across two discs, which is how the major story arcs of the

Book Review: Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics, Volume One: 1966-1967

A welcome addition to any Batfan's library.
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IDW’s The Library of American Comics and DC Entertainment have teamed up to release Batman’s Silver Age newspaper strips, which debuted a few months after the classic television show hit the airwaves, so naturally the tone is light and humorous, as opposed to the serious and somber “Dark Knight” iteration that has been so popular since the mid-'80s. This was the Caped Crusader's third comic strip and the longest, running from 1966 until '74. Volume One covers the years 1966 and '67. Although Bob Kane's name appears in every strip, the book does a great job of crediting the creators,

TV Review: Fargo: "The Crocodile's Dilemma"

The episode has me intrigued on what happens next, dontcha know.
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Be open-minded. I know that may be easier said than done, especially if you are a fan of the Coen Brothers, but Fargo the TV miniseries, as least as far as the first episode goes, only uses the characteristics of their 1996 film rather than being a direct extension of it. And it uses them well. After a similar disclaimer the film used, stating that what we are about to see is a true story with the names changed, although the TV series' events took place in 2006, fate brings together Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) and Lester Nygaard (Martin

The Secret Policeman's Ball - USA Blu-ray Review: Comedy for a Cause

In celebration of Amnesty International's 50th anniversary.
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Starting back in the 1976, a series of charity shows featuring comedy and music were held to benefit the human rights organization Amnesty International. They are known collectively as The Secret Policeman's Balls, taking the name from the title of the third show from 1979. In celebration of Amnesty International's 50th anniversary, a Ball was held for the first time in the United States at Radio City Music Hall on March 4, 2012 and is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Eagle Rock Entertainment. This evening offered a mix of British and American comedians along with performances by two British

Frozen (2013) Collector's Edition Review: A Fairy Tale about True Love

Only let it go if you want more extras.
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Starting with the 1931 Silly Symphony short, “The Ugly Duckling,” the stories of Hans Christian Andersen have long been a great source of inspiration and success for the Walt Disney Company. The 1939 color remake of that short won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Fifty years later, The Little Mermaid was the first film in the decade-long Disney Renaissance when the studio returned to its former glory. And now there is Frozen, the 53rd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, and arguably the greatest Andersen adaptation by Disney, which at the time of this

Ran Criterion Collection DVD Review: Akira Kurosawa's Final Masterpiece

Kurosawa uses Shakespeare's King Lear to make a statement about mankind and the folly of war.
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Ran is Kurosawa’s last masterpiece from a man who made many. He made three more films afterwards, but none came close to the size and scope of Ran. Financing had been hard for Kurosawa to raise in his later years. Since Red Beard in 1965, he was making one film every five years and at the age of 75, Ran was quite likely to be his last, so he pulled out all the stops to make as glorious a spectacle and a statement as he could, and he succeeded mightily. He returned to Shakespeare, transporting the story’s setting to 16th

Kagemusha Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: And a Thief Shall Lead Them

"The only crime is pride." ― Sophocles, Antigone
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From his debut as a director with Sanshiro Sugata (1943) through to Red Beard (1965), director Akira Kurosawa averaged releasing one film a year. That's an impressive run even before taking into account how many were widely acclaimed the world over. However, Kurosawa began to have trouble raising money for projects with Japanese studios. He headed to the United States but didn't complete a film. The winter weather derailed his attempt to shoot The Runaway Train and then, according to Donald Richie's account in The Films of Akira Kurosawa, he got himself fired from Tora! Tora! Tora!likely due to clashes

The Venture Bros.: The Fifth Season Blu-ray Review: Being and Ventureness

This season is more focused in story and provides a lot of laughs,
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Together, Jackson Publick & Doc Hammer have created an amazing fictional universe in The Venture Bros. Over 63 episodes, a pilot, and three specials, they have introduced viewers to an imagantive menagerie of mad scientists, magicians, and monsters, as well a seemingly never-ending collection of costumed heroes and supervillians. It is also filled with pop-culture references from our world. The series started as an adventure series spoofing Johnny Quest, but has since evolved into a dramedy about characters trying to find their place in the world. After the Fourth Season of The Venture Bros. ended in 2010, the series went

Book Review: Tarzan: The Complete Russ Manning Newspaper Strips, Volume Two: 1969-1971, Edited by Dean Mullaney

Manning has created captivating adventures accompanied by outstanding illustrations.
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The second installment of Russ Manning's complete Tarzan newspaper strips from what will be a four-book series published by the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing finds the artist at the top of his game, creating captivating adventures accompanied by outstanding illustrations, just as he had been with the work that appears in Volume 1. Henry G. Franke III, editor of literary society The Burroughs Bibliophiles, has written the introductory piece that provides Manning's history with the character, as a fan reading most of the Tarzan books while in high school, and as an artist drawing the Gold Key

Sunrise (1927) Blu-ray Review: A Visual Masterpiece from the Silent Era

Though its plot and acting have not aged well, the visuals remain impressive to this day.
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At the very first Academy Awards, F. W. Murnau's Sunrise was the winner of the Unique and Artistic Production, considered a co-Best Picture at the time alongside Outstanding Picture, which went to Wings. The following year the Unique and Artistic Production category was no longer included and Wings has gone on to be recognized as that year's Best Picture winner, revealing that even from the very start, the Academy would get things wrong as Sunrise is the better film. Sunrise tells a story so universal that the characters aren't given names so they are identified by what they are

Book Review: 300: Rise of An Empire: The Art of the Film by Peter Aperlo

The book tells the film's story through a presentation of its visual elements.
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Peter Aperlo takes readers inside the making of Noam Murro's 300: Rise of an Empire, which expands upon Zack Snyder's 300 in what is being called an “equal” by the filmmakers as opposed to a sequel because, as producer Bernie Goldman states in the book, “it's taking place at the same time as the first movie and it amplifies the first movie...It's the same world, but it's a different perspective...and tells a different story.” Snyder “pretty much thought there could never be a sequel” until Frank Miller, creator of the original 300 graphic novel, approached him with the idea of

The 300 Spartans Blu-ray Review: Caveat Emptor

The inspiration for Frank Miller's 300 is less than inspiring.
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The 300 Spartans debuts on Blu-ray in conjunction with the theatrical release of 300: Rise of an Empire, which expands on the story of Zack Snyder's 300 with scenes that take place before, during, and after the events of Snyder's film. 300 was adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name, and he claims The 300 Spartans "changed the course of my creative life." However, it's hard to see why because the film hasn't aged well since 1962. Set in 480 BC, The 300 Spartans tells the story of the Battle of Thermopylae when a small group of

Adventure Time: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review: The Animated Saga Continues

They are right. The fun doesn't end.
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Although some of these episodes have been made available on previous releases, The Complete Third Season of Cartoon Network's Adventure Time collects all 26 eleven-minute episodes. The third season began on July 11, 2011 and concluded on February 13, 2012. The packaging looks like Finn and Jake's roommate, BMO, the living game console. Created by Pendleton Ward, Adventure Time is an animated fantasy series filled with tremendous imagination and humor. Set in the Land of Ooo more than thousand years in the future after the Great Mushroom War, it presents the extraordinary adventures of a 13-year-old human boy named Finn

300 Movie Review: A Bit of the Old Hyperviolence

A magnificent ballet of violence and bloodshed
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Brothers and sisters, lend me your eyes so I many share with you all the tale of brave Leonidas I, King of Sparta, son of King Anaxandridas II, descendant of Heracles, who led 300 Spartan warriors against the seemingly unending forces of Emperor Xerxes of Persia at The Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. Xerxes sent forth messengers to all Greek city-states offering gifts in exchange for their surrender and allegiance. Leonidas did not take the insult kindly and in a breach of protocol killed the messengers. In accordance with Spartan law, he sought permission from the Keepers of the

The Americans (2013): The Complete First Season Review: Spies Like Us

An enjoyable espionage drama where thrills can trump realism.
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No doubt helped along by the success of Homeland, which scored big with viewers who apparently don't mind problematic writing, FX got their own espionage thriller in The Americans, the first season of which was recently released on home video. Created by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg, the story focuses on two undercover KGB agents living in Washington D.C. during the Cold War in 1981. In the states since the mid-'60s, they are Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell), a married couple that runs a travel agency. They have two young kids, who don't know their parents'

TV Review: Ali G Rezurection: "Cannes"

Very nice. Da Ali G show back on the telly.
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FXX is bringing Sacha Baron Cohen back to television with Ali G Rezurection, which features material from the Da Ali G Show, both the Channel 4 series from 2000 that ran for six episodes and the HBO series that ran for twelve. Also included are new introductions by Cohen and interviews conducted outside the show. For those who don't know his work, Cohen has created multiple, outrageous comic personas for Candid Camera-type scenarios where he interacts with unsuspecting subjects. Ali G is a British suburban youth who fetisizes rap and British Jamaican culture. Borat is a television journalist from the

The Jungle Book (1967) Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review: Trust in Me and Own It

It's a necessity for your video library.
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Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories The Jungle Book is the 19th animated feature by Walt Disney and the last he worked on, dying 10 months before its release. Set in the jungles of India, Bagheera the panther finds the man-cub Mowgli abandoned in a wrecked boat and takes him to be raised by wolves. When it is learned that Shere Khan the tiger is returning to the jungle, the wolfpack decides Mowgli needs to be returned to the man village for his own protection and theirs. Bagheera volunteers to take him, but Mowgli resists, leading to a series of
Based on John Ball's 1965 novel of the same name, Academy Award Best Picture-winner In the Heat of the Night (1967) takes a police procedural and ratchets up the tension and intrigue by having an African American police officer from Phildelphia working to solve a murder in a small Mississippi town where the locals treat his kind poorly. I didn't catch the exact year it's set, but if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been passed, not many in Sparta, MI recognize it. After Ray Charles delivers a marvelous performance singing the theme song, Sergeant Sam Wood (Warren Oates)

Naked Lunch Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Enter the Interzone

As unique today as it was when it was released.
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By incorporating elements of William S. Burroughs' life into the screenplay, David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch is not a straight adaptation of Burrough's classic Beat novel but more a story about its making. Cronenberg has created a captivating hallucinatory tale reminiscent of the book by retaining some stylistic and thematic elements. In New York City 1953, Bill Lee (Peter Weller) works as an exterminator killing bugs, but his jobs are difficult to complete because his wife Joan (Judy Davis) shoots up the poisonous bug powder. While sitting around with a couple of writer friends, Hank and Martin (stand-ins for fellow Beat

The 2014 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films Review: Great Talent and Creativity on Display

The five Animated Short Film nominees are well worth seeking out.
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The Oscar® Nominated Short Films is the perfect opportunity for general theater-goers to see the Live Action, Animation and Documentary nominees. Presented by ShortsHD with Magnolia Pictures, the shorts are programmed as three separate events in over 250 theaters across the United States, Canada and Europe with more than 400 theaters slated to screen the films during its theatrical release. The winners will be announced at the 86th Academy Awards® ceremony on Sunday, March 2, 2014 from the following five nominees in the Best Animated Short Film category: “Feral” (Directors Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden, USA/Non-dialogue). Synopsis: A wild boy

Terminator Anthology Blu-ray Review: An Unstoppable Franchise

If you don't own any Terminator Blu-rays, this set is for you.
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The Terminator Anthology collects the four films from the Terminator franchise in one set for the first time. However, there's nothing new here as the set collects previously released Blu-rays: The Terminator (2006, MGM), Terminator 2: Judgment Day Skynet Edition (2009, Lionsgate), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2008, Warner Bros), and the 2-disc Terminator Salvation (2009, Warner Bros). For those that don't know the mythology, the franchise tells the story of the war between humans and machines. In the future, the U.S. strategic defense computer system, known as Skynet, will become self-aware. To protect itself from being turned off,

Concert Review: The History of the Eagles, The Forum, Inglewood, CA, 01/22/14

"The History of The Eagles" finds the band performing songs from their impressive collection at a high level.
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On Wednesday, Jan. 22, The Eagles began the second week of their six-night stand at Los Angeles' newly refurbished Forum presenting an evening of music entitled "The History of the Eagles." To start things off, founders Don Henley and Glen Frey entered from opposite sides of the stage carrying acoustic guitars. They opened with the deep cut "Saturday Night" off their second album Desperado, signaling that the history of the band wouldn't necessarily be told chronologically. A mandolin could be heard in the mix, but I had no idea if someone was playing it off stage or it was a

The Doors: R-Evolution Blu-ray Review: Your Eyes Can See Them

The program for this evening will be not new to longtime fans, but that doesn't make the collection any less entertaining.
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Over the course of 72 minutes, R-Evolution presents a visual history of The Doors (John Densmore, Robbie Kreiger, Ray Manzarek, and Jim Morrison) through music films, better known today as “music videos,” and television appearances. To paraphrase “The Movie” from An American Prayer, the program for this evening will be not new to longtime fans, but that doesn't make the collection any less entertaining. It opens with two versions of “Break On Through.” First, the classic music film created in January 1967 of the band playing in a darkened room under colored lights. Than two months later, they play to

Archer: The Complete Season Four Blu-ray Review: Laugh Another Day

Archer remains one of the top comedies in my book, so this release is a must-own alongside the previous three seasons.
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During the 13 episodes of its fourth season, Adam Reed's espionage comedy Archer continued the escapades of international intrigue and outrageous hilarity that have made the show a success. The season opened with “Fugue and Riffs,” which finds ISIS agent Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) having developed amnesia and thinking he's a fry cook named Bob Belcher. That's Benjamin's character on Bob's Burgers. John Roberts, who plays Bob's wife Linda, makes a brief appearance, and castmates Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal, who play their kids, appear in the two-part season finale “The Sea Tunt” as Cheryl's brother and his girlfriend

TV Review: Archer: "White Elephant"

Archer Vice!
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Depending on how successful Season Five of Archer is, and it looks to be very successful from what I assume is a preview and not just Sterling's fantasy, the episode's title, “White Elephant,” might become a new television term in reference to scrapping a series' premise and creating a new one for the characters, unless a term for that was already created when the Laverne & Shirley gang moved to Burbank. As the episode opens, show creator Adam Reed creates a perfect visual metaphor. Life for the ISIS team is comfortable and serene, like many TV shows entering their fifth

Book Review: The Filmmaker Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom, compiled & edited by Jamie Thompson Stern

A great read for those intrigued by those who make films intriguing.
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Editor Jamie Thompson Stern informs in the preface she has compiled and arranged (unsourced) quotes about filmmaking from “directors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers, studio heads, actors, and such a way as to show lively conversations among filmmakers from different eras and with wildly sensibilities.” The presentation of contradicting ideas is what makes The Filmmaker Says most interesting because it hints at screenwriter Willam Goldman's famous line “nobody knows anything,” which is included here. Preston Sturges thinks he knows something because he offers “Eleven Rules for Box Office Appeal,” but Frank Capra is quick to point out on the following page

Book Review: The James Bond Omnibus Volume 005 by Jim Lawrence & Yaroslav Horak

These are quality Bond stories that every fan should appreciate.
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Continuing their release of the James Bond comic strips in an oversized omnibus format, Titan Books has released James Bond Omnibus 005, which features nine of the 20 original stories by Jim Lawrence with artwork by Yaroslav Horak. The first five stories that appear here ran from July 7, 1975 through to January 22, 1977 in the UK paper Daily Express. Till Death Do Us Apart opens in Austria as Bond kidnaps a British woman named Adra to stop her from revealing secrets about Bakkan resistance groups to her married lover Stefan, an agent of the Bulgarian Secret Police. They

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts Collector's Edition DVD Review: You're Nobody 'til Somebody Insults You

For fans of classic comedy, few collections deliver the variety that appears on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts.
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During the ninth and final season of The Dean Martin Show, which ran from 1965 to 1974, a segment was devoted to "The Man/Woman of the Week," a TV-friendly version of the legendary Friars Club Roasts where a special guest was roasted by a group of comedians and celebrities. This segment was so popular that after Dean's show was cancelled the roasts were spun off into a series of specials over the next ten years with the honoree dubbed "The Man/Woman of the Hour." StarVista Entertainment and Time Life have released The Complete Collection featuring all 54 roasts and a

Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor Blu-ray Review: Celebrating 50 Years

Steven Moffat strikes gold with this 50th Anniversary Special.
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Previously reviewed by Todd Karella, The Day of the Doctor is the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who, the British television series that has gone on to become such a global phenomenon the special was simultaneiusly broadcast in 94 countries across six continents. Like past anniversary specials (The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors), The Day of the Doctor brings together various incarnations of the Time Lord to take on a great menace and have a bit of fun as the different personalities of the character interact. Writer and executive producer Steven Moffat delivers quite a story, as not only

Cleopatra 50th Anniversary Blu-ray Review: She Never Looked Better

For those who enjoy off-screen stories as much as on, this release delivers a wealth of entertainment.
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20th Century Fox celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Cleopatra (1963) with an impressive two-disc Blu-ray set. Historical in two ways, this epic mirrors real life as pride and ego of the main players, in front of and behind the camera, led to their downfall. The story is told in two parts, each centering upon a romance of Cleopatra. In 48 BC, Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and his forces arrive in Egypt in pursuit of Roman general Pompey the Great. Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII (Richard O'Sullivan) and his sister Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor), she 18 and he even younger, are fighting for rule

Book Review: Hollywood in Kodachrome by David Wills and Stephen Schmidt

An outstanding collection of classic Hollywood imagery.
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According to his online biography, "Australian-born David Wills is an author, independent curator, photographic preservationist, and editor who has accrued one of the world's largest independent archives of original photographs, negatives, and transparencies." Taking from his collection and that of others, Willis and designer Stephen Schmidt have teamed to create Hollywood in Kodachrome, an outstanding collection of classic Hollywood imagery. In his introduction, Wills tells the history of the film known as Kodachrome, invented by Leopold Godowsky and Leopold Mannes, and credits many of the studio photographers from Hollywood's golden era, such as Frank Powolny at Fox, George Hurrell and

Iron Man / Hulk: Heroes United Blu-ray Review: Needed a Better (Creative) Team

Not bad, but I would have liked a better story and better art.
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Heroes United brings together Iron Man and Hulk in a CG-animated adventure that is more likely to please the younger Marvel fans than adults with its emphasis on action over story and character. It opens with a fight between the Hulk and the Abomination. From his speech, the Hulk appears smarter than normal, which will prove to be the case. The Abomination is working with the organization Hydra, but in a good plot twist, they trick him, siphoning the gamma radiation from both of them. However, the experiment goes wrong, and they unintentionally create a being made out of energy,

Go for Sisters Movie Review: Forget It, Jake. It's Mexico.

Recommended for fans of mysteries and crime dramas.
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John Sayles' 18th film as writer/director, Go for Sisters, tells the story of characters dealing with fractured lives and relationships as they attempt to find a missing person who may not want to be found. Although the plot progresses a little too easily at times while solving the mystery, discovering the characters' stories and their interactions is what makes the film worth seeing. Bernice Stokes' (LisaGay Hamilton) is a Los Angeles parole officer and is temporarily assigned recovering addict Fontayne Gamble (Yolonda Ross). They were childhood friends who were so close they could "go for sisters," but had a falling

Invictus Blu-ray Review: Nelson Mandela Unites a Nation

A good film about a great story of humanity that deserves to be remembered.
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Based on the book Playing the Enemy by John Carlin, Invictus tells an amazing story that needs to be told and passed on about the power of people uniting. The film is set in South Africa, and the story briefly begins on February 11th, 1990, the day of Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years in prison as a result of his fighting against the country’s apartheid policies of racial segregation. The difference between the peoples is immediately evident. White kids are shown at a prep school practicing rugby on a well-manicured lawn while across the road black children are playing

All the President's Men Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray Review: The Unmaking of the President

An important movie about an important time in United States history
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Alan J. Pakula's All the President's Men tells the story of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) investigation of the Watergate scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. This latest Blu-ray release differs from past versions with the inclusion of the all-new documentary All the President's Men Revisited, produced by Redford's Sundance Productions. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name and ripped from the headlines of four years prior, the film begins with failed burgulary of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters. Still considered the new guy

The Twilight Zone: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Rod Serling Creates a TV Landmark

A journey into a wondrous land of outstanding television.
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After releasing seasons two through five on DVD, Image Entertainment has just released an episode-only edition of The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series. Greg Barbrick reviewed The Complete Third Season, The Complete Fourth Season, and The Complete Fifth Season for Cinema Sentries, and now that Image has obtained it, we have the opportunity to review The Complete First Season, which presents all 36 episodes on a five-disc set. Rod Serling had a major breakthrough as a television writer with Patterns in 1955 and followed up the following year with Requiem for a Heavyweight. Frustration from censorship battles led Serling to
As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Doctor Who, BBC America has been airing a series of monthly specials entitled The Doctors Revisited, each dedicated to one of the eleven incarnations of the character and the series during his tenure. They serve as good introductions to the different Doctors, although those already familiar with them may find the special too brief. In conjunction with the specials, a classic serial would follow. The Doctors Revisited: Fifth to Eighth is a four-disc DVD set that collects the programming devoted to the Fifth (Peter Davison), Sixth (Colin Baker), Seventh (Sylvester McCoy), and

AFI Fest 2013 Review: Her: O.S. I Love You

An authentic, insightful story about connections and relationships
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Although set in a future version of Los Angeles, Spike Jonze's Her is a tale for all time because of how honestly and accurately it portrays love and relationships. When Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is introduced, he is shown expressing his feeling to a loved one. It is quickly revealed that he is working, dictating a letter for a woman who uses his company's services and is apparently too busy or incapable of expressing herself. Theodore, who is separated from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), is similarly withdrawn and like many of this era use technology to distract and fulfill

Monsters University Blu-ray Review: When Mikey Met Sulley

A pleasant though not essential return to the Pixar's world of monsters.
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Disney's sequelization of Pixar properties made its way to the world of Monsters Inc. this summer, allowing audiences to discover how Mike and Sully met at Monsters University. Ever since he was a young monster, Mike (Billy Crystal) dreamed of being a scarer. This leads him to Monsters University. Mike studies hard and is clinical in his approach to scaring, which puts him at odds with some monsters, like James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman), who coasts on his natural ability and family name. Though we know they'll be great friends, their differences cause quite a clash of personalities. So

Stan Lee's Comikaze 2013: Three Days of the Octopus

The diary of my return to LA's Comikaze.
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The third Comikaze was my second time attending. I skipped last year because the inaugural event was a tad disappointing, coming off more like a swap meet of vendors gathered together on a floor that was easy to cover in two hours. There were also some panels that were held on the floor behind curtains held up by PVC tubing. This year the convention, now known as Stan Lee's Comikaze was a much more impressive affair as they took up more real estate at the L.A. Convention Center and offered more for attendees to do, My first panel was "Learn

Mama's Family: The Complete First and Second Season DVD Review

Contains the season that aired on NBC.
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The "Mama" in Mama's Family is Thelma Harper, a character Vicki Lawrence first played on The Carol Burnett Show in a series of sketches called The Family, in which she was the mother of Burnett's character Eunice along with four other children. The characters were so popular a 1982 TV-movie was created, Eunice, and then Mama was spun-off into her own TV series that aired on NBC for its first two seasons before moving to first-run syndication for the remaining four. StarVista Entertainment/Time Life has released all 130 episodes in a Collector's Set available to order online. This review covers

Concert Review: Danny Elfman's Music From the Films of Tim Burton

Genius on display.
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After debuting at the Royal Albert Hall and a few performances in the UK, “Danny Elfman's Music From the Films of Tim Burton” made its North American debut and first of a three-night stand on October 29th at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. John Mauceri conducted the 87-piece Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and 45-member Page L.A. Choir in a performance of music from all 15 of Elfman-Burton collaborations, which began with Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), a film notable for being Burton's first as a feature director and Elfman's first as a film composer. If there was any doubt how excited the

Watch Oingo Boingo Live from Halloween Weekend 1987

It's another Dead Man's Party.
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Last year, thanks to Despina838 of YouTube, we presented video from Oingo Boingo's 1990 Halloween show. It was a local tradition for the band to play Orange County's Irvine Meadows from 1986 to 1991, and luckily, I attend was able to attend that last year. Their final concert was Halloween 1995. Inspired by seeing Danny Elfman sing songs from The Nightmare Before Christmas at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, I have decided to start our own tradition by presenting Despina838's video from 1987. In March of that year, they had released Boi-ngo, their fifth studio album. I have chosen the Friday

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa Movie Review: Bad Is Right

Knoxville stumbles in his solo outing.
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Bad Grandpa finds Johnny Knoxville branching out on his own from his onscreen Jackass pals, like a musician putting out an album apart from his group. Unfortunately, like unsuccessful solo projects, this movie stumbles when it tries something different from what made the brand a success. Knoxville plays his recurring character 86-year-old Irving Zisman, who is featured in the expected series of outlandish public pranks that should delight fans. With the help of prosthetics, he gets his penis stuck in a vending machine and his balls drop out his underwear while trying to impress the ladies in an all-African American
During the mid-‘60s, the mantle of the counterculture was passed from the beats to the hippies, probably the night that Bob Dylan and The Beatles smoked pot together in 1964. People stepped away from writing novels and poetry at their typewriters, choosing instead to pick up electric guitars to write rock songs. Yet The Velvet Underground (Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker) carried on in the beats’ tracks, specifically the work of William S. Burroughs as Reed related dark, gritty tales from the shadows and evenings of city life, detailing heroin addiction and sadomasochism in honest frank
As noted on their website, "the Bridge School Benefit Concert is an annual, all acoustic, non-profit charity event held every October." This year's lineup, which is the 27th Annual, includes CSNY, Queens Of The Stone Age, My Morning Jacket, Jack Johnson (Saturday Only), Tom Waits (Sunday Only), Arcade Fire (Saturday Only), Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, fun., Jenny Lewis and Heart. For those who couldn't make it to the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA, the webcast is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Pacific time and will run eight hours. Please feel free to watch below and leave comments, Organized

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Remastered Deluxe Edition) DVD Review: Maybe This Year He'll Show

The Great Pumpkin is so good it makes up for the other Peanuts special included.
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On this Deluxe Edition from Warner Brothers, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is paired with the lesser-known It’s Magic, Charlie Brown. The Great Pumpkin is a television institution. It was the third animated Peanuts special and has been airing annually on network television since 1966. The main plotline focuses on Linus as he anticipates the arrival of The Great Pumpkin, a magical creature similar to Santa Claus, who brings toys to children. The main difference between them is that The Great Pumpkin only shows up at sincere pumpkin patches. Linus faces doubters at every turn, including derision from his

Blue is the Warmest Color Movie Review: A Compelling Story About Love and Life

Three hours/ten years wasn't enough time to spend with Adele.
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Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue is the Warmest Color is a beautiful, coming-of-age story set over the course of about 10 years in the life of a young French woman named Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), beginning when she is a 15-year-old. While understandably controversial due to its graphic sexual content, what is most notable about the film is the normalcy of the relationship between Adèle and Emma (Lea Seydoux) because what they experience together could occur between any two people in love. Immediately upon seeing Adèle among her peers in school, she comes off more mature and above their pettiness. She begins dating

The Vincent Price Collection is the Pick of the Week

A selection for you Halloween weekend.
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Mat Brewster is taking the week off. Aside from Christmas, I can't think of another holdiay that guides people's viewing habits like Halloween. Horror movies become all the rage in October as a new batch make their way to theaters, familiar titles go on sale in various editions, and people scour their TV channel and video libraries looking for thrills and chills. But not with me. Not sure why, but I've never been a big fan of horror movies, and I like Halloween. I saw most of the Universal Monster movies when I was a kid and still appreciate the

The Ghost Busters The Complete Series DVD Review: Laughs over Logic

The show is good for young children and nostalgic Gen-Xers.
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Filmation's The Ghost Busters was a live-action Saturday morning kid's show that aired in 1975, well before Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd battled The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on the silver screen. The show reunited Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch from F-Troop. They played Jake Kong and Eddie Spenser and were assisted by Tracy the Gorilla. Fifteen shows were produced and they all had the same plot. A couple of ghosts would appear in the local graveyard and take up residence in the local castle. Tracy and Spenser would go to a store to get their assignment, which was a

Groovie Goolies DVD Review: The Saturday Mourning Collection

Welcome to Horrible Hall.
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Filmation’s Groovie Goolies was created by the team behind The Archie Show to take advantage of CBS’ success of Scooby-Doo. It first appeared in 1970 as Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies before becoming its own series in 1975 and then moving into syndication in 1978. It was a classic Saturday morning children’s show that had everything a kid could want. Classic horror monsters were the stars, and given cute nicknames like Drac, Frankie, and Wolfie. They lost their power to frighten by appearing in lavish color and in silly skits filled with slapstick and bad puns. The humor and pacing

Pacific Rim Review: One of 2013's Best Blu-rays

A refreshing original adventure that honors a genre.
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Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim is an impressive tribute to the monster movies of Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda, who received a dedication in the credits because their work has been a source of entertainment and inspiration to many over the years. Fuelled by the vivid imaginations of del Toro and his crew, they created a world of such great spectacle and wonder that fans of the genre will be able to overlook the shortcomings of the story and human characters. Written by del Toro and Travis Beacham, Pacific Rim tells the story of the invasion of Earth by interdimensional

Escape from Tomorrow Movie Review: Could Have Used More Imagination

Worth seeing from the novelty aspect alone.
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Escape from Tomorrow tells the story of Jim White (Roy Abramsohn), whose trip to Walt Disney World with his family finds him descend into madness. Shot on location with both Disneyland and Walt Disney World posing as one park, writer-director Randy Moore's film is more notable for its production than its execution because the characters are unappealing and the story is rather goofy. Before Jim heads into the park, his boss calls and informs he has lost his job. Jim keeps the information to himself rather than spoil the family vacation, which he does inevitably. Unfortunately, it's hard to sympathize

TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: "0-8-4"

I liked this episode a little better than the pilot.
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“0-8-4,” the name of the episode, is a S.H.I.E.L.D. code for an object of unknown origin, like what turned out to be Thor's hammer at the end of Iron Man 2. Agent Coulson's (Clark Gregg) team, though they squabble and act more like a bunch of individuals, is called into action when an 0-8-4 is found at an Incan archeological site in Peru. While analyzing the mystery object, the Peruvian National Police show up, and Commandante Camilla Reyes (Leonor Varela) just so happens to be a former fling of Coulson's. They agree to work together, but once on-board the S.H.I.E.L.D.

Room 237 DVD Review: Shining a Light on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

Come play with them.
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Rodney Ascher's outstanding documentary Room 237 has come to home video, allowing viewers to comb over the film as the interview subjects did when they got their hands on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. In Room 237, we hear award-winning journalist Bill Blakemore, history professor Geoffrey Cocks, author and playwright Juli Kearns, musician John Fell Ryan, and author and filmmaker Jay Weidner make their case on what The Shining is about beyond Jack going crazy and trying to kill his family in the Overlook Hotel. Ascher and his team use The Shining, running the film forwards and backwards, pausing it on

Iron Man 3 Blu-ray Review: Would Make Tony Stark Proud

The story of the man and his iron mask.
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The Iron Man film franchise has been quite the success story, earning nearly $2.5 billion at the box office. That's a pretty impressive feat for what has traditionally been a second-tier comic book character. Marvel Studios hit a winning combination with Iron Man. While the film had great special effects and a better screenplay than most blockbusters, the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is what made director Jon Favreau's film such a critical and commercial success. Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 didn't receive the same amount of acclaim. Ron, echoing the sentiment of many, thinks it “fails miserably

TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Pilot"

Contains the Whedonesque humor we've come to expect in his productions.
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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has now expanded into television with the debut of The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot episode written by Joss Whedon, who also directed; Jed Whedon; and Maurissa Tancharoen. Following the events of The Avengers movie (also written and directed by Joss) and because of them, the series opens with S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) organizing an elite team down to a manageable size of good-looking agents for no other reason than to make it easier to keep track of on a television series because there's no other reason S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn't use all of its

Adventure Time: Jake the Dad DVD Review: The Fun Hasn't Ended

The show continues to impress with its creativity in these 16 episodes.
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Coming in at just over three hours, the 16 episodes on Adventure Time: Jake the Dad, the fifth DVD volume not counting Complete Seasons, comes in at just over three hours and presents a random collection of episodes from the fourth season (six) and fifth season (10). The DVD also contains the special feature "Little Did You Know", a text gallery that provides info about Jake and Lady Rainicorn's five puppies, and a Collectible Jake Hat is part of the package. Some of the guest voices from these episodes include Kristen Schaal, Miguel Ferrer, Andy Milonakis, Jonathan Katz, and Brian

The Earrings of Madame de ... Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Direction of Max Ophuls Dazzles Like a Diamond

The entire experience of film, presentation, and extras makes it worth having.
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Director Max Ophuls' penultimate film The Earrings of Madame de ... is a classic French '50s melodrama that rivals its Hollywood contemporaries. The film tells a tragic love story, loosely based on Louise Leveque de Vilmorin's novel. So loosely in fact she can be seen in the special features saying, “they bought the title but they didn't adapt the book.” Regardless of how accurate an adaptation it is, The Earrings of Madame de ... succeeds because of the acting of its leads, the impressive cinematography, and the wonderful production design, all under the marvelous guidance of Ophuls. Louise, a countess

Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk DVD Review: Love Will Tear Logan Apart

Ultimately it comes down to what was the writer's intention.
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The six-issue miniseries Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk by writer Damon Lindelof and artist Leinil Francis Yu has been given the motion-comic treatment under the Marvel Knights Animation banner. Although very familiar with the characters and stories of Marvel Comics from the 1960s to the early ‘80s, I couldn't tell you what's been going on since. This is my second encounter with the Ultimate Marvel Universe and the first with these versions of the titular characters. Suffice it to say, I was a little more than surprised when the first episode opened to reveal Wolverine literally ripped apart in two. His

Love Me Tender Blu-ray Review: Introducing Elvis Presley the Actor

While not a classic western, the story delivers enough to keep it interesting, allowing the film to be more than an answer to a trivia contest.
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Although a long-time movie devotee and a fan of Elvis Presley's music, I was rather surprised by the realization I had not seen an entire one of his 33 pictures, not even a concert film, until seeing Love Me Tender for this review. Upon reflection, I don't think I ever heard there was much to see beyond the music. And I could get that directly, so why bother sitting through movie after movie that presumably featured Elvis playing a guy that sung like Elvis who always ended up with the girl in the end? That assessment of all his films

The World's End Movie Review: A Perfect Blend of Action, Comedy and Drama

In a summer saturated with sequels and remakes, The World's End is welcome respite.
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The World's End left me in such an elated state after watching it that in addition to deciding it was my favorite film of the summer, it's also in the running for my favorite of 2013. What's so wonderful is that not only is it apparent that people who love films create it, but they also understand what they love about films. The World's End is a perfect blend of action, comedy and drama. With little else going on in his life, Gary King (Simon Pegg) decides to organize his old gang from high school, or whatever the UK equivalent

The Muppet Movie: The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: How Things Got Started

For the lovers, the dreamers, and you.
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Celebrating its nearly 35th anniversary, an intentionally sillier designation than 34th, the Walt Disney Company has recently released The Muppet Movie on Blu-r