Recently by Gordon S. Miller

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

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'

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 and the collection will be available on Oct 21, 2014. Star Trek: Annual 2013

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 critics...in 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

2014 Spirit Award Nominees Announced

The 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards nominees are...
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Earlier this week, Film Independent announced the nominations for the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards, which recognized 45 films. “The nominations this year are from such an amazing pool of talented film artists,” said Josh Welsh, President of Film Independent. “Their work demonstrates the deep originality and uniqueness of vision that are at the heart of independent film. At Film Independent, we work all year round to promote that spirit, and the nominees celebrated here today are tremendous ambassadors for their crafts, both in front of and behind the camera.” Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, distributed by Fox Searchlight

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-ray. Ten years after debuting on Sesame Street and three years after their syndicated-television variety show, the brilliant Jim Henson and his company debuted these beloved characters on the silver screen in an enjoyable family film that still stands the test of time, a claim similar films can't always make. Starring the Muppets, as opposed to 2011's disappointing The Muppets where they were unwisely relegated to supporting characters, The Muppet Movie begins with the Muppets congregating in a
Though the story of a lone man standing up for what is right is a common Western motif, Delmer Daves' 3:10 to Yuma, based on Elmore Leonard's short story of the same name, shows what drives someone to make such a choice. Dan Evans (Van Heflin) is a rancher in the Arizona Territory circa 1880s, but he's having a very tough time of it. As a husband and father of two, the three years of drought have led to very lean times and great disappoint. While out collecting his cattle with his two boys, they discover the notorious Ben Wade

Fringe: The Complete Fifth and Final Season DVD Review: Observing the End

A good wrap-up to a series.
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Thanks to the powers that be at FOX Television and to the delight of the series' creators and their fans, Fringe was renewed for a fifth season in order to wrap up its story. It's actually more of a half season at 13 episodes, but at least it offers some closure. How satisfying it is for viewers is debatable. This season takes place in 2036, a future previously glimpsed in Season Four's Episode 19, “Letters of Transit.” Giving up their role as watchers of events, though I am not sure I ever really understood why, or more accurately didn't buy

Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: Good Croc, Bad Croc DVD Review: Over Two Hours of Animated Fun

A good mix of action and humor that kids should enjoy.
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Nickelodeon's animated television series Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness presents the adventures of Po the Panda, who became protector of the Valley of Peace after being discovered to be the prophesied Dragon Warrior. At times, he is assisted by the Furious Five: Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane, and Viper. Chronologically, the stories take place after the film Kung Fu Panda (2008), which was reviewed by Lorna Miller, and the two shorts, Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five (2008) and Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special (2010) and before Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011). Rather than a complete season, the

Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special Blu-ray Review: Aquaman's Identity Crisis

Robot Chicken focuses on the DC Universe for laughs.
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Originally premiering on Sept 9, the Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special pokes fun at heroes and villains from DC Comics universe, but the material isn't limited to in-jokes, allowing casual viewers to enjoy it as well. For those that don't know the show, Robot Chicken parodies pop culture with stop-motion animation of toys, dolls--er, I mean action figures, and other assorted objects. This double-length episode of adult swim's sketch-comedy show has amusing moments, but it runs only 23 minutes, which may dissuade some from adding it to their collection. The special has a main story about Aquaman being mistreated by

Paul McCartney and Wings: Rockshow Blu-ray Review: Listen to What the Band Played

A great document of a memorable tour for both devoted and casual fans.
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It is unfortunate Wings has always been overshadowed, and understandably so, by leader Paul McCartney's previous musical group because they had a run in the '70s most bands would envy. In the U.S., all 23 singles made the Top 40, six hitting #1, and their eight albums, seven studio and one live, all went top 10, with five in a row peaking at #1. With the recent Blu-ray release of the concert film Rockshow, Wings gets some overdue time back in the spotlight. Complied from four different performances in New York, May 25 (four songs); Seattle, Washington, June 10 (five

Brazil Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Dreams and Nightmares Courtesy of Terry Gilliam

Some times the little guy wins and some times he loses.
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Terry Gilliam's dsytopian classic Brazil, a film about a man fighting against an oppressive system, led to life imitating art before its release as Gilliam fought with Universal Studios to get his version of the film released. That inside-Hollywood story is as interesting as the one on screen and the Criterion Collection tells them both in this two-disc set. At 8:49 PM, somewhere in the 20th Century, an explosion goes off in a storefront window, an occurrence so frequent during these times people don't stop eating during a restaurant bombing. In the Ministry of Information, a warrant for the arrest

Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers: 25th Anniversary Edition DVD Review

If you own one DVD set, it should contain this series.
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Celebrating the 25th anniversary of one of the most fascinating programs to ever air on television, Athena presents a new DVD edition of Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers featuring new material. Well known for his work in comparative mythology and religion, particularly The Hero with a Thousand Faces where he details the concept of the monomyth or the hero's journey, professor Joseph Campbell was interviewed over the last two summers of his life by Bill Moyers about the myths of the world; the way they worked in society, past and present; and how they connected

LAFF 2013 Review: A Compelling Look at Our Nixon

This found-footage documentary that offers a compelling look at his presidency from the inside.
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Former vice president under Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon became the 37th President of the United States on his second attempt at the position, defeating Vice President Hubert Humphrey in 1968. He won re-election in 1972 against Senator George McGovern in an extremely lopsided victory, yet didn't complete his second term. He resigned in disgrace on August 9, 1974 before he could be impeached as a result of the dirty tricks conducted by his administration, most notably the break-in of Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel and Office Building. Currently playing the festival circuit and set for a

Man of Steel (2013) Movie Review: Man of Action, but Little Thought

A Superman I don't completely recognize and I'm okay with that.
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Director Zack Snyder, producer Christopher Nolan, and writer David S. Goyer have delivered an adaptation of Superman that is parts familiar and foreign as they reboot the franchise after Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. Man of Steel, which remakes Superman: The Movie and Superman II, is an amalgamation of ideas executed with varying degrees of success, as they focus on the man and create a superhero I don't completely recognize. The story, which takes non-linear turns during the first half, begins with the impending destruction of Krypton. The planet's main scientist, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), and his wife have the first natural

Fast & Furious 6 Movie Review: Flashy & Fantastic

It bucks conventional wisdom about sequels and is the best one yet.
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It may have been easy to dismiss the first few installments, especially after Tokyo Drift nearly sank the franchise, but with Fast & Furious and Fast Five pushing the series' domestic box-office total to nearly $700 million and over $1.5 billion worldwide, there's no denying its success. Even more astonishing is Fast & Furious 6 bucks conventional wisdom about sequels and is the best one yet. The seeds for the story were sown in the Five's epilogue. Although proclaimed dead in F&F, Dom's girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is discovered alive and working with a criminal gang in Europe, led by

Prometheus (2012) Blu-ray Review: A Feast for the Senses, An Appetizer for the Mind

My deep appreciation of the film's visual style is why I am so disappointed there are problems with the script.
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Ridley Scott's return to science fiction and the universe he established with the classic film Alien is a visual masterpiece. The work of cinematographer Dariusz Wolski and production designer/frequent Scott collaborator Arthur Max, along with their respective teams, is marvelous to behold, whether on the silver screen in 3D or on Blu-ray in 2D. I wish the frames of the film were collected in a photography book, so I could gaze at them at my leisure. My deep appreciation of the film's visual style is why I am so disappointed there are problems with the script. Prometheus opens at an

Book Review: The Treasures of Bruce Lee by Paul Bowman

The book is an absolute treasure to fans of Bruce Lee.
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Authorized by the Bruce Lee Enterprises, The Treasures of Bruce Lee by Paul Bowman tells "the official story of the legendary martial artist," as the subtitle states. There have been many biographies of Bruce over the years, but what makes this one special is its interactive nature, creating an experience similar to reading Nick Bantock's Griffin & Sabine trilogy. Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco's Chinatown at the Jackson Street Hospital on November 27, 1940 while his actor father Hoi-Chuen was working in the United States. The following year saw Bruce's parents return to Hong Kong when he was

Fast Five Review: Between the Rock and a Heist Movie

A fight between Diesel and the Rock. What more do you want?
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Although the previous movie, Fast & Furious, showed the least amount of creativity in its title by removing "the" and adding an ampersand, it returned the franchise to its box-office glory, and more importantly, proved to be my favorite movie of the four. The title Fast Five also inspires little confidence, but what will be the end result? When last we saw the gang, Dom (Vin Diesel) was headed to Lompoc prison on a bus, although his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and her boyfriend Brian (Paul Walker), who resigned from a law enforcement agency for the second time, intended to

3:10 To Yuma (2007) Movie Review: A Thought-provoking Western

Is it better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven?
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What rules the universe: order or chaos? Is there a plan set forth by a supreme being or are we all making it up as we go? How do your answers affect the way you live your life? Are you bound by the rules agreed to by society or do you instead choose to do what's best for you? And does that change when life treats you unfairly? Director James Mangold deals with thought-provoking ideas in this update of the 1957 western based on Elmore Leonard's short story. Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a former Civil War soldier struggling to

Fast & Furious Movie Review: Figuring Out the Four-mula

Recommend to those looking for an entertaining action movie.
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After the disappointment of Tokyo Drift, I am very surprised director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan returned for this next installment in the franchise, but they redeemed themselves by going back to the drawing board and increasing the action. In the Dominican Republic, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Lety (Michelle Rodriguez) are involved in a caper to steal gasoline tankers from a fully loaded gasoline land train. Their team includes Han (Sung Kang), which is a shock as he wasn't expected to be seen driving again. He talks of going to Tokyo so Fast & Furious must take place before

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Movie Review: Crashes and Burns

I would recommend drifting right on by it.
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The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift was the third installment in the franchise though its placement in the FF storyline would later be altered after the movie's failure at the box office. The main reason for its limited success, aside from being a bad movie, is likely due to the filmmakers making the spectacularly bad decision to use a completely different set of characters. It's as if they found a script about racing and thought cars and the Fast and the Furious title would be enough to please people. The movie opens at a high school where Sean (Lucas

The Doors 40th Anniversary Celebration: Live from the Sunset Strip, 2006

The night I met (two of) The Doors.
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In November 2006, The Doors began celebrating their 40th anniversary with a yearlong celebration that included new products to take full advantage of the nostalgia. The Doors by The Doors is a fantastic book that examines the band’s career and legacy through interviews and over 300 photos. It is co-written by Ben Fong-Torres and includes input from Jim Morrison’s family. Perspective is yet another remastered collection of the entire Doors’ studio album catalog. This time, the CDs were augmented with unreleased bonus tracks and paired with DVDs featuring 5.1 surround sound mixes and even more content. While I understand leaving

The Great Escape Blu-ray Review: Delivers Good WWII Escapism

An enjoyable film for fans of war stories
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To commemorate its 50th anniversary, John Sturges' The Great Escape makes its debut on Blu-ray. It tells a fictional account of the WWII prisoner-of-war breakout at Stalag Luft III, which was documented in the non-fiction book of the same name by Paul Brickhill. Steve McQueen leads an all-star cast playing an international collection of characters, composites of the men involved, in a script that overemphasizes the American involvement and decreases the Canadian, setting a precedent for Argo. As the film opens, Elmer Bernstein's signature theme plays as the trucks bring the most troublesome Allied POWs to a maximum-security prison camp.

Star Trek Into Darkness Movie Review: Leads Into Dopiness and Damnableness

One of the worst movies I've seen in quite a while.
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Spoilers are revealed throughout about Into Darkness because they need to be addressed in order to illustrate how truly terrible the story is. To get a sense of the reviewer's opinion without learning specifics, he paraphrases the classic two-word review of Spinal Tap's Shark Sandwich, and simply writes "Shit Trek." When it was announced back in January that J.J. Abrams was going to direct Episode VII of the Star Wars saga, many Star Trek fans were disappointed to be losing the successful producer/director. After suffering through the abysmal Star Trek Into Darkness, they should hope he never returns. Forget bad

Miles Davis with Quincy Jones & the Gil Evans Orchestra Live at Montreux Blu-ray Review: Sketches from Switzerland

A wonderful bit of jazz history for a number of reasons.
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With a career that frequently found him spearheading new jazz genres over the course six decades, Miles Davis became one of the most important figures of the twentieth century, not just in jazz or music, but all the arts. He was a musician that constantly looked forward exploring new ideas because, as quoted in the liner notes, Miles felt that “if anybody wants to keep creating, they have to be about change.” That's why this concert, which found Miles looking back at his work with Gil Evans, was so special. The reason Miles agreed after initially turning it down isn't

Star Trek: Nemesis Movie Review: The Wrath of Bad Moviemaking

The Next Generation crew go out with a whimper.
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At this point in the Trek film franchise, the makers of Star Trek had obviously given up on trying to appeal to an audience outside of the sci-fi convention attendees (referred to hereafter as "Conners"). It's too bad because Star Trek's strengths were in its storytelling. It used to reflect society and give us morality plays that all could identify with, but they no longer could, no longer tried, or no longer cared to go outside of what they think the Conners want to see when they finally, so we are left with this mess. Nemesis starts at a Romulan

Star Trek: Insurrection Movie Review: New Aliens, Age-old Problems

A mixed bag, with plenty to like and dislike.
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Star Trek: Insurrection was the third mission of the Next Generation crew on the silver screen. The movie found them on their own, both onscreen and off, as they rebelled against Federation plans and appeared without the aid of familiar friends (Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov in Generations) or foes (the Borg in First Contact) to help draw an audience like the previous two. On an idyllic planet in an area of space known as the Briar Patch, the android Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) goes bezerk and exposes a surveillance program of the Ba'ku, a group of 600 humanoids who

2 Fast 2 Furious Movie Review: 2 Dumb 4 Me

"All right, let's see what this thing can do." - Brian O'Connor
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With the overwhelming box-office success of The Fast and the Furious, there was no surprise the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious was released two years later. Unfortunately, the filmmakers appear to have incorrectly thought the movie was a success on all fronts and didn't deal with its flaws. After allowing Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) to escape, former undercover cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) went on the run. He ends up in Miami where he gets into the illegal racing scene down there. We are told he needs money, but that's hard to believe when he's able to come up with

Iron Man 3 Movie Review: Third Time's a Charm

Highly recommend for fans of action and/or Downey as Stark.
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Not only does Iron Man 3 return the franchise to its glory, which I didn't find was as diminished by Iron Man 2 as many of its detractors did, but I even enjoyed it slightly more than The Avengers. Granted, that's due in part to IM3 having the advantage of taking place in a known cinematic world and not being bogged down having to set up the relationships of so many characters the same way Avengers did. Set around Christmas time after the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr. whose performance captivates throughout again) is going through

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Movie Review: Boldly Going Where They've Gone Before

The making of the movie is more interesting than the movie.
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As the May 17 release date for Star Trek Into Darkness approaches, it seemed like the perfect time for the Sentries to shine a light on the motion pictures that are part of the franchise. While plenty of television series were enjoyed around the world, Star Trek fans took their devotion to a whole new level, including participating in a mail-in campaign credited with getting the show a third season that aired from 1968-69. Though its canon status is debatable, the actors and writers of the series returned for an animated series by Filmation that aired from 1973-74. With the

Thor: The Dark World Trailer Reveals Bright Prospects

The second feature in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets a poster and trailer.
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Directed by Alan Taylor, Thor's second solo cinematic adventure takes place a year after the events of The Avengers and finds the Thunder God (Chris Hemsworth) reuniting with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and fighting an ancient race of Dark Elves who threaten all Nine Realms, led by the malevolent Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Though short at under two minutes, this first trailer indicates the action sequences have intensified from the previous Thor movie, and circumstances must become dire if Thor seeks the help of his treacherous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Thor: The Dark World is out in the UK on October

The Fast and the Furious (2001) Movie Review: Start Your Franchise Engines

"My hobbies are fast cars and fast women because uh... that's why my... the guys in my car club call me the 'cruiser'." - Cruiser
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With the sixth movie in the series, the creatively titled Fast & Furious 6, about to hit theaters on May 24, 2013 and the recent announcement at CinemaCon of the seventh, the equally imaginative Fast & Furious 7, intended to be released on July 11, 2014, now seemed like the best time to check out the franchise, which has already earned over $1.5B at box offices around the world. Based on a Vibe magazine article about street racing in New York City, The Fast and the Furious opens with an impressive action sequence as an unknown group of thieves using

No More Trouble in the Forest: Rush Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall Fame

"[Rush has] always been cool." - Dave Grohl
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On Thursday, April 18, 2013, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Rush, Heart, Public Enemy, Albert King, Donna Summer and Randy Newman as well as Lou Adler and Quincy Jones. Most notable was the inclusion of Rush. who had been eligible since 1999, a year that saw less influential artists such as Billy Joel, Del Shannon, and Dusty Springfield get inducted. Rush's yearly snubbing had long been a sore spot for fans, but was a blemish on the Hall of Fame more than anything else. Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters offered a passionate, funny induction

Book Review: Mind Over Matter 4: The Images of Pink Floyd by Storm Thorgerson and Peter Curzon

Mind Over Matter is a great addition to a Pink Floyd collection.
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As reported by the BBC, graphic designer Storm Thorgerson passed away Thursday at the age of 69. Over the years, the roster of musicians he worked with include Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin, and Muse, but he will forever be remembered for his long partnership with his childhood friends in Pink Floyd. Their collaboration led to some of the most iconic images to ever grace an album cover, which can be found on the pages of Mind Over Matter. First published in 1997, the fourth edition of the book was released in 2007 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the

Umberto D. Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Old Man and His Dog

A classic of world cinema I highly recommend.
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One of the last great films from the Italian neorealism movement, Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D. focuses on the struggles of the elderly in post-WWII Italy as seen through a few days in the life of retired pensioner Umberto Domenico Ferrari (Carlo Battisti in his only performance as an actor). How a society deals with its older citizens says a lot about it, and this story is as topical over 60 years later as it was when it was released in 1952. The film opens with a march on the ministry building by pensioners demanding a raise in their benefits.

The Company You Keep (2012) Movie Review: Redford Delivers a Decent Thriller

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the film ends.
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Based on Neil Gordon's novel of the same name, Robert Redford's The Company You Keep is a political thriller powered by a stellar cast, who are regrettably let down by a script that makes the same mistakes some of its characters do by focusing too much on the desired result and not thinking enough of the path required to get there. One morning, Sharon Solarz (Susan Saradon), a former member of the Weather Underground, who has been in hiding for decades, decides to give up her life as suburban wife and mother in Albany, New York, and turn herself in

I Got The Feelin': James Brown in the '60s Review: A Great Tribute to the Man and His Music

Many black artists crossed over to white America, but James Brown brought white America to black music.
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The subtitle of this set is slightly inaccurate as almost all the content focuses on the year 1968, two of the DVDs specifically dealing with James Brown's concert at the Boston Garden the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, but that doesn’t make the content any less compelling. Disc 1 features the television documentary The Night James Brown Saved Boston, which first aired on VH-1 on April 5, 2008, the 40th anniversary of the event. Cynics scoff at musicians who try to save the world with their songs, but many involved in the concert’s planning and those who

Remembering Roger Ebert (1942 - 2013)

The life of the legendary film critics offers a valuable lesson.
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Roger Ebert died at the age of 70 after a lengthy battle with cancer and just a few days after announcing he was going to take what he referred to as "A Leave of Presence," which would allow him to "do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review" as well as work on other projects. On the eve of the 46th anniversary when he became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, he assured readers " I am not going away," only to have fate prove him wrong the day after the anniversary.
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is epic in scope, though not scale, as it recounts over 40 years in the life of Clive Wynne-Candy (Roger Livesey), a British soldier who rose from Lieutenant during the Second Boer War to Major General during WWII. Although time has softened the film's commentary about Britain and war, its views were rather bold considering the country was in the midst of WWII when it was released. The film opens during WWII as British troops are scheduled for training exercises. Tired of the way the higher-ups are running

Room 237 Movie Review: What You See Is What You Get

An absolute delight, especially for Stanley Kubrick fans.
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Based on Stephen King's novel, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining tells the story of the Torrance family during their time alone at the Overlook Hotel during its winter off-season. For those that don't know it, The Shining is a family drama about a father, Jack (Jack Nicholson), driven to kill his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), as a result of losing his mind or becoming possessed. But what if I also told you The Shining was also about the genocide of Native Americans, or that it was about the Holocaust, or that it was Kubrick's confession about

Ugetsu Criterion Collection DVD Review: What Price Desire?

A powerful and thought-provoking story.
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Kenji Mizoguchi is considered one of the masters of Japanese cinema, striking a balance between the contemplation of Ozu and the emotion of Kurosawa, who looked up to Mizoguchi. He has been championed by the likes of filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and New York Times critic Vincent Canby. He began in the silent era and his first acclaimed films were made in 1936 about the struggles of women, Sisters of the Gion and Osaka Elegy. Ugetsu, a masterpiece from his latter period, came out in 1953 and was the second of three consecutive films that earned him the Silver Lion from

Schindler's List 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-ray Review: Never Forget

A powerful story about what can happen when just one man stands up for what is right.
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Based upon all the projects he has worked on as a director and a producer for over 40 years, Steven Spielberg might be the most successful filmmaker the medium has ever seen. He has been credited with creating the first summer blockbuster with Jaws (1975), which was the first of three films, along with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993), that went onto to earn him the highest-grossing film of all time. After a string of box-office hits with science fiction and adventure films, he turned his focus to more serious, dramatic fare, starting with The Color Purple

Mickey Mouse Makes His Triumphant Return in "Croissant de Triomphe"

Viva la Mickey Mouse!
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If you are like me, today's announcement by Disney CEO Robert Iger that 19 Mickey Mouse cartoons were being produced by Walt Disney Television Animation for the Disney Channel and Disney.com caused more trepidation than delight. All too often over the years, beloved animated characters, including Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry to name three, have been revisited with lackluster results that reveal those responsible didn't understand what made the characters succeed in the first place. Not even legendary animators are immune from this, as I'll be the first to declare I don't care for non-daffy Daffy Duck, and that

The Wizard of Oz (1939): 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray

The "Ultimate Collector's Edition" surely lives up to its name.
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One way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz is the Ultimate Collector's Edition on Blu-ray. This adaptation of L. Frank Baum's children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of the all-time classics in the history of cinema, and will win you a bet against naysayers who confidently claim there's never been a remake as good as the original film. Shot in sepia-toned black and white, young Kansan Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) lives on a farm with her aunt and uncle, dreaming of a chance to break away, as the song goes, "Somewhere Over The
In Being John Malkovich, the brilliant feature-film debut of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze, an unhappily married couple creates a whole new meaning to the idea of finding happiness in someone else. With his wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) wanting a baby and his dream of being an artist alluding him because "nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate," Craig (John Cusack) Schwartz takes a file clerk job at LesterCorp, which is located on the 7½ floor of the Mertin Flemmer building. There he discovers Maxine (Catherine Keener), who works on the floor. He becomes infatuated

Trailer for Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing

"Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps." - Hero
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Hard as is it is to believe, Joss Whedon shot a movie while on break from making a movie. That's right. Much Ado About Nothing was shot while he was in the middle of post production on The Avengers. Being shot in black and white and the swinging jazz score on the trailer indicates Whedon's take on the Shakespeare classic may have a film noir vibe. Fans of Whedon's work will see many familiar faces as the film stars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher, Reed Diamond, Clark Gregg, and Tom Lenk. The synopsis

Iron Man 3: New Poster and Trailer, 'Nuff Said

Summer is coming.
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With less than two months before its release, as early as April 18 in New Zealand while folks in the United States have to wait until May 3, some folks at Marvel apparently were concered that Iron Man 3, the follow-up to The Avengers, the third highest grossing film of all time with its worldwide box office of more than a $1.5 billion, and the start of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, might not be on the radar of moviegoers. To rectify this, they have released a new poster and trailer. The poster shows a weary Tony Stark

Skyfall Blu-ray Review: Nobody's Done It Better

Director Sam Mendes and his team create one of the best installments of the Bond franchise.
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Director Sam Mendes and his team deliver such a satisfying film in so many areas, Skyfall may well be my favorite in James Bond franchise. It opens with James Bond (Daniel Craig) in Istanbul where an elaborate action sequence takes place on motorcycles, rooftops, and a train as he attempts to recover a stolen hard drive containing information about undercover agents in the field. The loss of that data would have such dire effects M orders another agent, Eve (Naomie Harris), to fire on the thief while Bond is fighting in close proximity. She's not a great shot, resulting
A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman, which is based on the 1980 memoir A Liar's Autobiography: Volume VI, co-written by Chapman and a few others, offers enough information to give some sense in understanding the man's life regardless of how accurate it is. The directing trio of Bill Jones (son of Python member Terry Jones), Jeff Simpson, and Ben Timlett present the story of Graham Chapman's life as told mostly by Chapman himself, who died in 1989. Chapman serves as the narrator through his reading of the novel recorded before his death. Any recordings made

Join Us for the 40th Annual Annie Awards

Streaming here on 2/2/13 at 7PM PST.
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Award Season is still in progress and tonight The International Animated Film Society is hosting the 40th Annual Annie Awards at UCLA's Royce Hall. For those curious who aren't attending, the event will be streamed below. According to their website, the "Annie Awards will be presented in 30 categories including best animated feature, television production(s), television commercial, short subject, video game and student film, as well as the achievement and honorary awards." The nominees and honorees are listed after the USTREAM window, and links are available to works reviewed here at Cinema Sentries. [Update: Winners have been designated in Bold]

Peter Pan (1953) Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review: The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up Turns 60

An entertaining film, packed with action, memorable characters, and quality artwork.
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Peter Pan is the 14th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, notable for being the last to feature the entire group of animators nicknamed Disney's Nine Old Men, and notorious for its insensitive portrayal of Indians. The film makes its debut on Blu-ray coinciding with its 60th anniversary. J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up had been one of Walt's favorite stories from his youth, and he was determined to create his version, working on it with his team for over a decade before it was completed. It's not a surprise the story

Following Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Christopher Nolan's Memorable Debut

A writer finds himself in the middle of a crime drama.
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Before creating his own following with the sensational Memento, Christopher Nolan made his feature-film directorial debut with Following. It is a modern noir thriller about an aspiring writer (Jeremy Theobald), identified in the credits as The Young Man, who avoids writing by following people around town to learn their story but gets caught up in a strange tale of his own. Thankfully, Nolan didn't avoid writing or directing because he delivers an impressive start to what is currently an outstanding career. In search of inspiration for his work, The Young Man thinks he might be able to find it in

J.J. Abrams Set to Direct Star Wars Episode VII

There's a disturbance in the Nerd Force.
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If you had trouble with the Internet today, it's likely because of the interactive overload resulting from the news that J.J. Abrams, director of the 2009 Star Trek reboot and its upcoming sequel Star Trek Into Darkness and now the envy of many a nerd across the planet, has signed on to direct Star Wars Episode VII, which is being written by Michael Arndt and is scheduled for release by Disney in 2015.  After the Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm in October, Abrams was one of the names mentioned in regards to taking over the next Star Wars trilogy, but

Frankenweenie (2012) Blu-ray Review: A Technically Impressive Animated Endeavor

Tim Burton returns to his filmmaking roots.
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Based on his 1984 live-action short of the same name, Tim Burton's feature-length, stop-motion Frankenweenie finds the story about holding onto the things you love expanded and reinforced through the use of references to many horror movies the director cherished as a young man. Unfortunately, the story doesn't succeed as well as the animation does. Victor Frankenstein is a bit different in a high school filled with children who are all a bit different. He makes movies and has a fascination with science. He also has a dog Sparky who means the world to him and is his only friend.

The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 Blu-ray Review: A Great Adaptation of Frank Miller's Work

The plot is faithful, the animation outstanding, and the voice acting impressive.
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The year 1986 is considered a landmark for comics because of the debuts of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. Their successes demonstrated an interest in dark, gritty superhero stories dealing with adult subject matters beyond the cult audiences that read alternative comics. They helped change the perception of what comics could be and had a great influence on the comic-book industry and Hollywood. While the influence of The Dark Knight Returns can be seen in the Batman films of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, the first two books of the miniseries were adapted into
Ah, movie-award season, that silly, nauseating time of year. The business of show business is currently in high gear as filmmakers compete for awards to win a bit of prestige from their peers and praise from numerous groups of critics no one pays attention since they don't live in Los Angeles or New York. It means very little in terms of the quality or longevity of the work, which is why I enjoy the counter silliness that is the Golden Raspberry Award "created in 1980 as a logical antidote to Tinsel Town's annual glut of self-congratulatory awards by John Wilson."

An Evening with The Monkees, Greek Theater, Los Angeles, CA, 11/10/12

"It’s about the good work we did." - Mike Nesmith to Los Angeles Times
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The Monkees 12-date tour this past fall was a bittersweet affair. No doubt many were delighted to see the return of Mike Nesmith to the group. It was his first with them since their UK tour in 1997 and also his first Monkees tour in the U.S. since 1969. Unfortunately, it was again only three of Pre-Fab Four performing together, just as it had been on the previous tours through the past few decades, including last year's 45th anniversary celebration. However, this time fans weren't trying to parse press releases and interviews to learn the reason why because Davy Jones

Quincy, M.E.: Seasons 1 & 2 DVD Review: Lightning Strikes Twice for Jack Klugman

It makes for a good rental for fans of '70s/'80s television.
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Quincy, M.E., ran from 1976 to 1983 on NBC. The first four episodes of this three-disc set were part of the last season of The NBC Mystery Movie, which was an umbrella title for a rotation of television mysteries like Columbo and McCloud. Quincy was successfully spun off into its own hour-long series, which make up the remaining twelve episodes. It is a creation of Glen A Larson, a television legend of the ‘70s and ‘80s, who has a great track record creating and producing such hit series as The Six Million Dollar Man, The Hardy Boys, Battlestar Galactica, B.J.

Grindhouse Movie Review: Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, and Friends Recreate the Experience

Tarantino's well of creativity as a screenwriter has run bone dry here.
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The word "grindhouse" used to refer to the old, run-down theaters that showed double bills of B-movies. Back before there was a home video market, these were the only places you could see the redheaded stepchildren of cinema: movies filled with plenty of over-the-top violence, sex, and/or gore, not necessarily in that order, because producers knew they could make a buck with it. They could only afford to create a handful of prints, so the films traveled across the country, each playing at many theatres, most of which didn't have high quality equipment or projectionists, resulting in quite a bit

2013 Golden Globe Nominees Have Been Announced

Political dramas lead both fields.
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The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees for their 70th annual Golden Globes Awards. Lincoln garnered the most film nominations with seven. Game Change led the TV categories with five. The awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, January 13, 2013 will be broadcast live on NBC from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Competing Best Actress - Comedy or Musical nominees Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are the hosts. Nomianted films reviewed at Cinema Sentries are linked at the first mention of their title below. Were your favorites picked? Or did they get overlooked? Make your voice heard in the

Finding Nemo Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: The Art of Letting Go

A story of love and parenthood.
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Released in theaters in 2003 and now available on Blu-ray, Finding Nemo is the fifth feature produced by Pixar. Critically acclaimed and a smash at the box office, like much of the studio's output, the film delivers impressive artwork and animation, but the story, accessible to both adults and children, is main reason for its success. After the loss of his wife and a number of his children, Marlin (Albert Brooks) the clownfish is understandably an overprotective father towards his son Nemo (Alexander Gould). During Nemo's first day of school, he gets embarrassed in front of his new classmates by

55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees in Visual Media

Do you have a favorite?
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Last week, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States released their nominees for the 2013 Grammy Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. The winners will be revealed February 10 on CBS. Music has been a major component of films, as well as television and video games, nearly since the medium's inception, and the Grammys acknowledge that with the following three categories for visual media. Nomianted films reviewed at Cinema Sentries are linked at the first mention of their title. Videos for Best Song can be seen and heard below. In the the

Star Trek Into Darkness Poster Reveals Lack of Originality

Does it concern you or is the marketing meaningless?
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The newly released poster for Star Trek Into Darkness features a man clad in leather as he surveys the aftermath of an event that includes the destruction of a building, which results in an image resembling the Starfleet insignia as seen on uniforms for crew members of the Starship Enterprise. Previously, Paramount's website revealed the following synopsis for the upcoming film: In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes Star Trek Into Darkness. When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their

AFI Fest 2012: The Central Park Five: One the Most Important Films of the Year

It will surely ruin whatever faith viewers have in the U.S. justice system.
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Based on her book The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding, Sara Burns, her husband David McMahon, and her famous documentarian father Ken Burns have created Central Park Five, a heartbreaking film about a stunning conspiracy that will surely ruin whatever faith viewers have in the U.S. justice system and those tasked with running it. On the night of April 19, 1989, Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old white woman, went for a jog in Central Park. In his 2002 examination of the case in The Village Voice, Sydney H. Schanberg recounted what happened soon after: Meili "was allegedly

Eight is Enough The Complete Second Season DVD Review: And Abby Makes Nine

Warner Archive presents the ongoing adventures of The Bradfords.
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Based on the book by syndicated newspaper columnist Thomas Braden, a real-life parent of eight children, Eight is Enough is a family drama, although it offers a good deal of laughs, that ran for five seasons on ABC from 1977-1981. The series centers on the lives of newspaper columnist Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten) and his children David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy, and Nicholas, whose birth order can be remembered by the phrase "Dumb Martians Just Sit Nearby Eating Tender Noodles." In the first season, Diana Hyland played Tom's wife Joan for four episodes, but she unfortunately became

Film Independent Announces 2013 Spirit Awards Nominees

Silver Linings Playbook and Moonrise Kingdom lead the field.
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Film Independent announced the nominees for their 28th annual Spirit Awards, "which represent an astonishingly strong group of artists both in front of and behind the camera," according to Film Independent Co-president Josh Welsh. "At Film Independent, we nurture artist-driven filmmaking all year long and I can't imagine a more fitting or worthy group of films to celebrate here today." A total of 49 films were nominated. Distributor Fox Searchlight lead the way with nine nominations earned by Beasts of the Southern Wild, Ruby Sparks, Sound of My Voice, The Sessions. Silver Linings Playbook and Moonrise Kingdom garnered the most

Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 2 Review: A Very Entertaining Roster

A showcase for technological innovations and the talents of up-and-coming filmmakers.
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Originating as a division of Lucasfilm in 1979, Pixar Animation Studios has gone onto the become one of the industry's most successful movie studios with its 13 feature-length films earning numerous awards and over $7 billion in worldwide box office receipts. Aside from the features, short films have been an integral part of the company's history. Over the years, they have been used to showcase technological innovations and the talents of up-and-coming filmmakers. Picking up where Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 1 left off, Volume 2 presents 12 films that premiered between 2007 and 2012. The disc opens with "Your

Astonishing X-Men Blu-ray Collection Review: Joss Whedon Teams Up with Marvel Superheroes

The plots are engaging and the characters entertaining.
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Released under the Marvel Knights Animation banner, the Astonishing X-Men Collection Blu-ray presents the four motion comics adapted from the Eisner Award-winning work by writer Joss Whedon and artist John Cassady. Comprised of the first 24 issues of Astonishing X-Men plus Giant-Size #1, Neal Adams' Continuity Studios converted the books into approximately 11-minute chapters, aside from the Giant-Size, and over the three-year gap between the first installment, Gifted in 2009, and the second, Dangerous earlier this year, the motion animation has noticeably improved, while the writing and art are just as good as the comics. Although numbered as a new

Stray Cats Live in Montreux 1981 DVD Review: Rockabilly Purr-fection

The concert captures a band at the peak of their talents and demonstrates that great music is the timeless.
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Rockabilly revivalists Stray Cats (guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer, upright bassist Lee Rocker, and drummer Slim Jim Phantom) took America by storm in 1982 with the release of Built for Speed, a compilation of their first two UK albums, Stray Cats and Gonna Ball. "Stray Cat Strut" and "Rock This Town" made their way up the charts and videos for the songs frequently played on MTV. But before the Long Island trio found success in their homeland, they made their way to London in 1980 to take part in the rockabilly scene. February 1981 saw the release of their first album and

Brave (2012) Ultimate Collector's Edition Review: Mothers and Daughters and Bears, Oh My!

The Blu-ray delivers such an impressive presentation it should talked about when considering the best of the year.
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Pixar breaks their tradition of stories featuring male lead characters with their 13th animated feature, Brave, a story about a young princess, Merida (Kelly Macdonald), who tries to break the traditions of her people. Set amongst the magical highlands of Scotland, inhabited by witches, will-o'-the-wisps, and talking crows, the real magic of the story is revealed to be mutual appreciation and respect. Being a princess, Merida is expected to marry a prince from a neighboring clan in order to keep the peace. No one has this expectation more so than her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), who strives to turn

I, Claudius 35th Anniversary DVD Review: An Outstanding Television Series

The drama, and a few characters, are captivatingly executed.
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Sex and murder are integral components in the story of mankind, so it's no surprise the two are just as prominent throughout the ages in art, mythology, and entertainment, from Shakespeare to slasher films, from the Bible to True Blood. I, Claudius, the 1976 BBC miniseries based on Robert Graves' 1934 historical novel of the same name and its sequel Claudius the God, is an outstanding television drama where both elements are shown to have a great impact on the rulers of the Roman Empire from Augustus Caesar through to Nero. Acorn Media released a 35th Anniversary Edition in 2012,

Shazam! The Complete Live Action Series DVD Review: Well Intentioned but Poorly Produced

"If you're not careful you may learn something before it's done." - Bill Cosby, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
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Now available from the Warner Archive Collection, Shazam!: The Complete Live Action Series collects all 28 episodes of the Filmation program, which originally ran from 1974 to 1976. It first aired under its own title, and after the first season was paired with The Secrets of Isis to create The Shazam!/Isis Hour. There are three crossover episodes with Isis (Joanna Cameron): "The Odd Couple," "Finders Keepers," and "Out of Focus." Her program can be heard mentioned in Shazam!'s closing credits. Shazam! features teenager Billy Batson (Michael Gray) and his superhero alter ego Captain Marvel (played by Jackson Bostwick for the

Reservoir Dogs Movie Review: An Outstanding Debut

Twenty years later, it remains a compelling piece of work.
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Before technology fragmented culture by increasing access, options, and the rate of change, the counterculture had a greater impact on affecting the mainstream when the latter grew stagnant. In the '60s, especially in the United States, it led to political changes. In the '90s, this influence can be seen in the arts when the majority turned to what had been classified as "alternative music" and "independent movies." Though the history of each medium shows the slow progression of this integration, they each have an acknowledged milestone. For music, it was Nirvana's Nevermind; for movies, it was Quentin Tarantino's Pulp

The Bay (2012) Movie Review: An Entertaining Ecological Thriller

Barry Levinson finds success with the found-footage format.
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When speaking after the Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness screening of The Bay, director Barry Levinson explained that the film originated when he was approached about making a documentary about the Chesapeake Bay, which is 40 percent dead, meaning nothing can grow in it because of the lack of oxygen. The idea intrigued him, so he began doing research only to discover PBS' Frontline had covered the subject so well in "Poisoned Waters" that he didn’t think he could add anything. Yet, the information stayed with him and he found a way to put it to use. While some

Jamie Foxx May Play Electro in Amazing Spider-Man 2

Are you shocked by the news?
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As reported by Variety and regurgiated around the Internet, Sony is negotiating with Jamie Foxx to join the cast of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as the villian Electro, which the actor hinted at this morning with his tweet that read "Dressed up as Electro for Halloween last night. Costume fits well." The character's appearance in the new franchise was specualted about after the seemingly unusual amount of lightening during the credits sequence in the first film when a figure in the shadows approached Curt Connors/The Lizard in his cell, asking if Peter Parker knew the truth about his father. Electro,

Celebrate Halloween with Oingo Boingo

Relive a Southern California tradition.
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One of the joys of living is tradition, and for those of us who grew up in Southern California from 1986 to 1991, Oingo Boingo playing Halloween night at Irvine Meadows was a tradition that roughly 16,000 folks got to take part in. It was a grand party with great music, and I was lucky enough to attend in 1991 before they took a break from it in 1992. Elfman explained why they stopped in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, "It was our design not to be that predictable. To perform on Halloween means doing the audience version

The War Room Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Peek Behind the Campaign Curtain

It's The Criterion Collection, stupid.
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While the campaigns for United States President seem to grow increasingly relentless with every cycle, especially in so-called battleground states, it's hard to dispute what a fascinating endeavor the entire process is. While some countries still experience violent overthrows of their government, at the hands of their people or from outside forces, the United States is one of the lucky countries where factions change power peacefully. For the most part. Before the Internet and cable news became the huge presence that they are now in modern society, the general public had much smaller access to what went on behind the

One Bright Shining Moment Movie Review: What Made George McGovern Run

An insightful documentary that examines the candidacy of Senator George McGovern sans gonzo journalism.
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For political junkies, there is no greater spectacle than the election of the President of the United States. The appeal of this long, torrid quadrennial affair stems from its ability to simultaneously showcase the best and worst aspects that democracy and mankind has to offer. For about a year, this soap opera with global implications engulfs the nation’s media as they cover all the victories and missteps by the field of candidates who are pursuing the office of the President, a position awarded to only 43 men in 223 years. One Bright Shining Moment is an insightful documentary that examines

12 Angry Men Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Guilty of Being Great

This edition will make you one happy person.
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Set almost entirely in a single room, 12 Angry Men appears to be a small film yet the story reveals great thematic depth. It not only explores the U.S. judicial system, but also looks at larger philosophical issues such as perception and knowledge. After having sat through a six-day trial, twelve men, who are only identified by their juror number, must determine if an 18-year-old boy is guilty of murdering his father as claimed by the police and witnesses. Almost immediately upon entering the jury room, a vote is taken. Eleven say guilty and one, Juror 8 (Henry Fonda, who

Cinderella (1950) Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review: Sparkles Like a Glass Slipper in the Moonlight

It's a must-own, particularly for those who don't own the previous DVD edition.
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Cinderella, the 12th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, has found its way to Blu-ray with an impressive high-definition presentation and an extensive collection of bonus material. An adaptation of Charles Perrault's “Cendrillion,” Disney's version opens with a prologue that reveals Cinderella's widowed father remarried Lady Tremaine, a woman with two girls about Cinderella's age, Anastasia and Drizella. When Cinderella's father died, the true, cruel nature of her stepmother and stepsisters was revealed, and she became their servant. Cinderella is another Disney princess in tune with animals, such as the birds and the mice, because of her kindness
Peter Gabriel is currently touring to celebrate the 25th anniversary of So, which has been remasterd and will be available on October 23 in multiple formats. On Saturday Oct 6, he and his supporting band played the Hollywood Bowl, a concert performance that will long be remembered for one brief moment. Before the show began, Gabriel announced the show was broken into three parts like a meal, with an appetizer, the main course, and dessert. The appetizer was a short, acoustic set of four songs. Showing great confidence, likely bolstered by the fact that he was going to give the

Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos Special Edition DVD Review: The Doctor Prescribes Death

There are enough good moments to make for the flaws.
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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. Vengeance on Varos is the 139th story of the Doctor, first broadcast in two parts on January 19 and 26, 1985 on BBC 1. "Part One" finds the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and his companion Peri (Nicola

Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live Blu-ray Review: An Impressive Combination of Music and Visuals

Gabriel is a phenomenal musician/performer and this document proves it.
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The Grammy Award-winning Secret World Live finds Peter Gabriel in Modena, Italy over the course of two November nights 1993, in spite of what the liner notes say, while touring in support of his album Us. Gabriel demonstrates great confidence in the material, which dealt with deteriorating relationships in his life, by playing seven of the album's ten tracks. Manu Katche (drums), Tony Levin (bass, vocals), and David Rhodes (guitar, vocals), all of who played on Us, join him on stage, as do Jean Claude Naimro (keyboards, vocals), Paula Cole (vocals), Shankar (violin, vocals), Levon Minassian (doudouk), and guests Papa

Global James Bond Day Celebrates 50 Years of Movies

Friday Night Videos gets James Bond in its sights.
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It was 50 years ago today that 'Bond...James Bond" first introduced himself to moviegoers when Dr. No had its world premiere in London. Based on the sixth Bond novel by Ian Fleming, the film turned Sean Connery into a household name and served as a template as things like its exotic setting, Maurice Binder's opening gun barrel sequence, and Bond ending up with the girl became familiar elements in the franchise. Dr. No was even endorsed by JFK as seen in this clip from Stevan Riley's Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, which premieres Friday, October 5th,

Licence to Kill Movie Review: Reconsidering the Revoking

This is a different kind of James Bond, and that's a good thing.
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Licence to Kill is the 16th installment in the James Bond franchise and was the second and ultimately final appearance for Timothy Dalton. The film has a bad reputation, which is likely influenced by its grim tone and poor box-office performance. Though it may appear Dalton's departure was a response to the latter, he was originally contracted for three films, but as a result of legal matters tying up the production for so long, he eventually moved on in 1994. After rewatching Licence to Kill, it was much better than I remembered and I'm not sure why it's held

Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Intriguing Premise and Great Acting Defeated by Terrible Writing

The season offers great moments, which is likely why the bad ones deliver such disappointment.
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Based on the Israeli TV series Hatufim (aka Prisoners of War) created by Gideon Raff, Homeland is a political thriller that offers up a compelling scenario populated with intriguing characters. Unfortunately, the writers waste the great potential they begin with by forcing too many unbelievable plot points into the story. U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is rescued after having been captured in Iraq in 2003, held captive by Al-Qaeda during that time, and presumed dead. He has trouble transitioning into normal life back in the states for a number of reasons. His wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin) started up

Fringe The Complete Fourth Season: A New Timeline Brings Both Enjoyment and Disappointment

Just think, there's an alternative universe where the writers did a better job.
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I watched the first four seasons of Fringe on Blu-ray over the course of a few months, so I powered through them as fast as I was able, as opposed to having to wait for when the FOX network made them available. I was intrigued by the characters and mythology in the first season, grew frustrated when the mythology wasn't dealt with in the second, and was very impressed by the scope and choices made in the third. As enjoyable as it was to reunite with the characters (except for the ever-boring Astrid played by the equally boring Jasika Nicole)

The Delta Force Blu-ray Review: Chuck Norris Negotiates Peace in the Middle East

Fun and unintentionally funny.
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As the Cannon logo appears with Alan Silvestri's synthesizer score playing underneath, it signals viewers are about to watch an '80s B-movie. In this instance, the year is 1986, and the movie is The Delta Force, starring Chuck Norris as a Special Forces soldier Major Scott McCoy battling Middle Eastern terrorists. The prologue is a re-enactment of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed attempt to rescue American hostages held in Tehran, Iran. The pre-dawn mission is aborted when a helicopter crashes. Disobeying orders, McCoy (Norris) is the only one willing to attempt a rescue of his buddy Pete (William Wallace), who

Modern Family: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review: More of the Same and That's a Good Thing

A pleasant family sitcom that combines laughs and heart in its stories.
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The third season of Modern Family presents the continuing adventures of the extended Pritchett family. It also continued the series' success with Emmy voters as it won its third consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series and third Outstanding Supporting Actor (Eric Stonestreet reclaiming the award from last year's winner/fellow castmate Ty Burrell), and its second consecutive Outstanding Supporting Actress (Julie Bowen repeating) and second consecutive Outstanding Directing. Though I didn't find this to be the most outstanding comedy of last year, Modern Family is certainly a pleasant family sitcom whose great appeal is the way it combines laughs and heart in its

Absolutely Fabulous 20th Anniversary Specials: Still Not Acting Their Age, Thankfully

Edina, Patsy, and the gang return for three specials.
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Absolutely Fabulous debuted in Britain in 1992 and went onto become an international television sensation. Creator Jennifer Saunders pushed the boundaries for female characters with Edina (Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), who are bizarro versions of Lucy and Ethel. Throughout their adventures, the two women attempt to stave off the inevitable by trying to stay hip, which finds them chasing fads, swilling booze, and ingesting drugs. Their behavior has been of particular consternation to Edina's daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha), who has had to act as the grown-up. The duo were last seen in a 2005 Comic Relief sketch and returned,

TIFF 2012: Storm Surfers 3D: A Marvelous Adventure

Surfing for these guys isn't just a board and some wax.
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Australians Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones are well-known figures in the world of surfing. Carroll, age 49, had a Hall of Fame career that included two world championships in 1983 and 1984. Clarke-Jones, age 45, was the first non-Hawaiian to win the prestigious Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau in 2001 and remains a highly acclaimed big-wave rider. Together, they teamed up with directors Justin McMillan and Christopher Nelius to create two Storm Surfers TV specials, airing on Discovery Channel Asia and FUEL TV, as they pursue the biggest waves they can find. They have now brought their thrilling adventures

The Spy Who Loved Me Movie Review: One of the Franchise's Best

Nobody does James Bond better than the cast and crew of The Spy Who Loved Me.
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In the prologue to The Spy Who Loved Me, author Ian Fleming claimed it was a manuscript by a Canadian woman named Vivienne Michel, a memoir of her life, which finds her crossing paths with James Bond in the latter third of the book. Because of the book's poor reception with critics and the public, Fleming was not happy with the novel. As a result, he sold the film rights to just the title. Two nuclear subs have disappeared so the British and Russians put their best people on it, James Bond (Roger Moore) and Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach).

The Man with the Golden Gun Movie Review: All That's Gold Does Not Glitter

The filmmakers missed a golden opportunity.
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Roger Moore made his second appearance as James Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun, which saw the secret agent return to the Far East and go up against assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), renown as a marksman. The movie is based on the final Bond novel by Lee's cousin Ian Fleming, who died before he had completed it to his satisfaction. It's got the action, gadgets, and girls that people expect in a Bond movie and makes for a very good time capsule of the early '70s, but all that's gold does not glitter. MI6 receives a
Many have worn the mask of the Green Lantern over the character's long history in the pages of DC Comics. The most notable is Hal Jordan, whose origin was told in Showcase #22 (September-October 1959), so it's not surprising that he is the lead in Green Lantern: The Animated Series, which airs on Cartoon Network. The first half of Season One, 13 episodes now available on a two-disc set, is subtitled "Rise of the Red Lanterns" and features a story arc about the villain Atrocitus and his army of Red Lanterns preparing for war against the Guardians of the Universe.

Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: 116 Minutes of Vileness

The most repulsive film I have ever seen.
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Salò is the most repulsive film I have ever seen. So much so that I completely understand the censorship it continues to run into. After watching the extras, I understand that may well have been director Pier Paolo Pasolini's purpose as he used this adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom to comment on society, such as denouncing fascism and consumerism, but surely he could have found some other way, a better way, to get his point of view across because his execution is so vile it's extremely hard to see anything beyond the surface of

For All Mankind Criterion Collection DVD Review: A Great Source of Inspiration

The story told is bigger than that of the Apollo missions.
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Using the 16mm footage recorded during the nine manned Moon flights between December 1968 and November 1972, director Alan Reinert tells a story beyond that of the Apollo missions in his compelling 1989 documentary For All Mankind. From the NASA archives, Reinert splices together sequences of different missions. On the soundtrack he adds audio from interviews conducted with 13 of the astronauts. Making the intriguing decision not to identify anything or anyone in post production, the director appears to make a statement that a trip to the moon is not solely the success of these brave and heroic men. Rather,

Apollo 11: A Night To Remember DVD Review: How the British Saw the Giant Leap for Mankind

Fascinating to both relive or to witness for the first time.
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In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of man’s landing on the Moon, Acorn Media released Apollo 11 - A Night to Remember, a 2006 BBC4 two-hour documentary created from archival footage. Hosted by astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, the special presents the Apollo 11 mission, which took astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin to the Moon and back. After President Kennedy’s speech in 1961 to a joint session of Congress where he stated “that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely

Marvel's The Avengers Coming to Blu-ray on September 25

Movie Recon and Friday Night Videos team up to bring you this article.
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Before this past summer, writer/director Joss Whedon developed a cult following of fans from television series, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly.  Then he worked on a small film that came out earlier in the year you may have heard of called The Avengers, which was so successful at box offices around the world, only James Cameron has made a film (two actually) that have grossed more (not counting adjustments for inflation).  Naturally, the release of The Avengers on home video has many of its fans salivating to get their hands on it, so the studio has released

Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy DVD Review: A Serviceable Children's Adventure

It falls well short of the great heights the program has achieved.
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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 Greatest Show in the Galaxy is the 155th story of the Doctor, first broadcast in four parts on December 14, 1988 through January 4. 1989, on BBC 1. "Part One" finds the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester

Contest: Young Justice: Dangerous Secrets on DVD

Be one of two lucky winners.
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Cinema Sentries and Warner Brothers have teamed up to give two lucky the reader the opportunity to win a Young Justice: Dangerous Secrets DVD, which is currently available at places you buy things. Young Justice airs on Cartoon Network and is a varaition on the Teen Titans, where the sidekicks of classic DC Comics heroes forned their own team, similar to the Justice League.  Young Justice is set on Earth-16 and features Robin, Superboy, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Miss Martian, and Artemis. Collectors will be happy to know that Warner Brothers has changed their policy regarding the way they release home

Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss Criterion Collection DVD Review: Two Signature Films from Samuel Fuller

Very different projects connected by their filmmaker's storytelling sensibilities.
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As The Criterion Collection upgrades their titles to Blu-ray, DVD buyers benefit from the new, restored high-definition digital transfers that become available in standard definition. Two such titles to have experienced this are early entries in the collection as evidenced by their catalog numbers, Shock Corridor (#19) and The Naked Kiss (#18). Both also have in common writer/director Sam Fuller, a former crime reporter and pulp novel writer, whose grittiness became a trademark. Shock Corridor tells the story of newspaper reporter Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) going undercover in an insane asylum to solve the murder of a man named Sloan.

The Samurai Trilogy Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Journey Worth Embarking On

Toshirō Mifune is Musashi Miyamoto in this historical epic.
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During the month of August, TCM celebrates actors with the month-long Summer of Stars where each day focuses on a particular actor or actress. That Toshirō Mifune is the only foreign-language actor to be spotlighted speaks to the consistent high caliber of his work. The programming day begins with a run of six films from Mifune wll-known collaboration with director Akira Kurosawa, such as Seven Samurai. During primetime TCM presents The Samurai Trilogy, which was just recently released on Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection. In it, Mifune plays a character from 16 to 28, which allows his talents as actor

Dr. No Movie Review: Introducing James Bond

Here's the one that started it all.
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Welcome to the first assignment of Operation: BOND as Cinema Sentries celebrates the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise with a review of each film up to the release of Skyfall, and other surprises. So without further ado, let's get started. Although the sixth novel in the series by Ian Fleming, Dr. No is James Bond's debut on the silver screen and turned Sean Connery into an international star. It serves as a template as so many of the signature elements found within are repeated throughout the series, from the Maurice Binder's opening gun-barrel sequence to Monty Norman's

The Raconteurs: Live at Montreux 2008: A Consoling Set of Modern Rock

The band impresses on their second world tour.
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When James Brown died in 2006, the title of "hardest working man in show business" was vacated. Jack White might have a shot earning the designation at the pace he keeps himself occupied as musician and producer, putting out a steady stream of tunes over the years, including a James Bond theme, and sharing some of the spotlight to shine it on legends like Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson. In the latter half of the previous decade, during breaks from The White Stripes, he formed a quartet with guitarist Brendan Benson, bassist Jack Lawrence, and drummer Patrick Keeler as

Louie: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: Don't Believe the Hype

If you're curious, there's enough to make the show worth sampling.
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Louie is a critically acclaimed TV series on FX that follows the exploits of a fictionalized version of middle-aged, stand-up comic and divorced father of two young girls Louie CK, who comes across as a mix of W.C. Fields, Woody Allen, and Larry David. CK serves as star, writer, director, producer, and editor of each episode. He might even have done some catering. The second season received more critical acclaim than the first, though the reason why is beyond me after watching all 13 episodes, but then I didn't make it past the third episode of the first season. Granted,

The Dark Knight Movie Review: Raised the Bar on What Superhero Movies Can Be

There is something to please everyone.
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Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is a fantastic film that has raised the bar on what superhero movies can be, much the same way Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Watchmen did for comic books over twenty years ago. While the film has the familiar elements of a superhero movie (costumed characters, action-packed scenes, futuristic gadgets), it rises above that usual box-office fare into a serious work of art by dealing with substantial themes without sacrificing the summer-movie fun. Some time has passed since Batman Begins. Crime and corruption is still a problem in Gotham, but more

Batman Begins Movie Review: A Hero Reborn

Nolan use of realism adds to the film's quality.
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Eight years after the damage done to Batman from the one-two combination of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin by the equally villainous and inept filmmaking team of director Joel Schumacher and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, director Christopher Nolan and screenwriter David S. Goyer put a new spin on the movies, adding a realism and darkness to the story. As the title reveals, Batman Begins presents the hero’s origin. It opens with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in an Asian prison where Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) approaches him to join The League of Shadows, a mysterious ninja group led by Ra's al
Back before superheroes were all the rage at the box office, Tim Burton and his creative team brought Batman to the silver screen in 1989. The film was highly anticipated with the logo seeming to appear everywhere that summer. While Jack Nicholson seemed to be the perfect choice for the Joker, some fans were all in a tizzy over Michael Keaton getting cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman, going so far as to send thousands of protest letters to Warner Brothers back in the days before the nerds were online. Ultimately when the film was released, they were proven wrong not to

Comic Con 2012: Archer Panel

The Archer gang doesn't disappoint when it comes to entertaining their fans.
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The one panel I was most disappointed in missing out on at Comic-Con 2012 was for FX's Archer, my favorite comedy currently on the air. In attendance this year, seated from left to right in the photo below, were creator Adam Reed (who also provides the voice for Ray Gillette), H. Jon Benjamin (Sterling Archer), Aisha Tyler (Lana Kane), Amber Nash (Pam Poovey), and Chris Parnell (Cyril Figgis). Those folks are always a riot and usually bring an episode from the upcoming season. This year was no different, but fear not because through the magic of the Internet you too

Comic-Con 2012: Firefly Panel

Want to see what happened at this popular panel?
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Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the cult TV sensation Firefly, Science Channel gathered creator Joss Whedon, executive producer Tim Minear, and cast members Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Sean Maher, and Summer Glau at Comic-Con International 2012. The Comic-Con events guide stated they were reuniting "for the first time ever," which seems hard to believe in light of their intense popularity online and at conventions. However, considering how great the turnout was for the panel, fans began waiting in line the night before as early as 10pm when the convention hall closed, and the line ran so long that

Don't Go See A Movie This Weekend

Sounds crazy, I know, but hear me out.
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I know that seems an odd statement coming from a website that revels in movies, but that was my immediate response to the many film bloggers and fans who took to the Internet and pleaded with people to "Go see a movie this weekend" as the best way to respond to the tragic events that left 12 killed, 58 injured, at the time of this writing, during last night's midnight screening of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. Really?  Burying oneself in the passive experience that is movie-watching for a couple of hours is the best next

Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp Special Collector's Edition DVD Review: The Monkey Who Came in from the Cold

Presenting all 17 episodes of simian silliness.
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Airing on ABC, Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp was a Saturday morning kids’ show that spoofed spy movies in much the same way as the TV series Get Smart; however, as the title implies, all the characters were played by chimps, which added to the humor, if monkeys are your thing. Link worked for the Agency to Prevent Evil, known as APE, and would be called upon to fight evildoers like the Baron and Dr. Strangemind and less politically correct characters like the Dragon Woman, Ali Assa Seen, and Wang Fu. Each half-hour episode contained two stories of Link on assignment.

In Their Own Words DVD Review: A Great Treat for History Buffs

The best and brightest minds of the 20th Century from the BBC Archives.
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Athena's In Their Own Words two-DVD set collects a pair of BBC Four television series of the same. The production teams thoroughly combed the BBC Archives to present interviews with the best and brightest minds of the 20th Century. Each episode runs under an hour and puts the spotlight on at least 10 people, allowing for brief introductions to them and their works with commentary from modern-day pundits. Disc One features the three-part series, British Novelists, which first aired in August 2010. Through the episodes, the viewer learns "the story of the 20th Century British novel as told by the

Comic Con 2012: Selected Highlights from Sunday's Schedule

All good things come to an end.
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The full day's schedule for Sunday can be found at their website. Sunday is usually a light day. Many people heading home and the programming ends at 5:00. Below are selected highlights of panels and the reasons why you just may find me in them: 10:00-11:00 The Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel-- There might not be comic book industry were it not for Jack Kirby...and if you don't know who that is, you really don't belong at this convention. Each year, his friends and co-workers gather to talk about Jack and his work and to marvel (no pun intended) at

The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy (Theatrical Edition) Blu-ray Review

A wonderful, intelligent adventure but the limited extras and Fellowship's video is disappointing.
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The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a whole is a rare work of art, reaching such great heights of creativity that I might not see it matched in my lifetime. Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings does for movies what J. R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings does for books. It creates a wonderful, intelligent adventure that’s about bravery and goodness and doing the right thing. However, the visual quality of these Blu-rays isn't as good as the format allows. Also, a letdown are the extras, meager compared to previous LOTR releases, and placed on regular DVDs.

Up (2009) Blu-ray Review: A Wondrous Film by Pixar

It deserves a place in your video library.
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Led by director/co-writer Pete Docter, the Pixar team have once again revealed why they are a brand you can trust for quality entertainment. Up is a wondrous film of adventure filled with compelling characters and an engaging, multifaceted story. The Blu-ray does a fantastic job bringing the experience home. When Up opens, we meet two children, Carl and Ellie. They quickly bond over a shared adventurous spirit and an admiration for explorer Charles F. Muntz (Christopher Plummer). Through a montage, their life together plays out. They get married, each work at the zoo (she as a zookeeper and he as

Comic Con 2012: Selected Highlights from Friday's Schedule

People's devotion and commitment will be tested.
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The full day's schedule for Friday can be found at their website. Below are selected highlights of panels and the reasons why you just may find me in them: 10:00-11:00 Remembering Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon-- Jerry Robinson was a key artist on Batman in the 1940s, the co-creator of The Joker, and later an accomplished newspaper strip artist and political cartoonist. Joe Simon was half of the legendary team of Simon and [Jack] Kirby, the co-creator of Captain America and other Simon-Kirby classics, and later the creator/editor of Sick magazine. We've recently lost both of these legendary figures in

Comic Con 2012: Selected Highlights from Thursday's Schedule

Something old, something new.
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Thursday saw quite a bit of hubbub on the Internet. Oh sure, there were a few people talking about the Supreme Court, but for a certain group of folks Christmas came early as Comic-Con International began to announce their schedule of programming for 2012. The full day's schedule for Thursday can be found at their website. Below are selected highlights of panels and the reasons why you just may find me in them: 11:00-12:00 Filmation and Lou Scheimer: Celebrating a Generation of Animation and TV Heroes-- One of the most successful and groundbreaking television animation studios was Filmation, whose productions

Carlos (2010) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Tale of the Jackal

Terrorist, freedom fighter, or both?
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Carlos is a fascinating docudrama about the Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, whose most notorious act was leading an attack on the OPEC leaders while they met in Vienna on December 21, 1975. Titles indicate the film must be viewed as fiction because of the controversial gray areas in Carlos' life, yet he currently sits in jail, tried and sentenced for three murders taking place on Rue Toulier. His involvement in the 1974 bombing of the Drugstore Publicis remains under investigation. Criterion has released the captivating French TV miniseries directed by Olivier Assayas on Blu-ray

The Muppets Wocka Wocka Value Pack Review: The Blu-ray Impresses; The Movie Doesn't

A pleasant family comedy that falls short of returning the characters to their full glory.
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After not appearing on the silver screen since 1999's Muppets from Space, there was no surprise at the heightened level of anticipation that awaited last year's the Muppets new film. And for many, The Muppets lived up to the hype, doing so well at the box office a sequel has been announced and earning an Academy Award for the song "Man or Muppet." Yet, I don't get what all the fuss is about. While I wouldn't shout it down, like Statler and Waldorf, The Muppets is a middling affair that suffers from Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller's flawed script. Gary

LAFF 2012: Woody Allen's To Rome With Love Opens the Los Angeles Film Festival

Enough amusing moments to make viewing the film worthwhile for Allen fans.
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The 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival opened with the North American premiere of Woody Allen's anthology To Rome With Love. The writer/director/co-star was on hand to introduce a few female members of the cast who were in attendance (from left to right: Penelope Cruz, Greta Gerwig, Alison Pill, Allesandra Mastronardi, and Simona Caparrini) and to offer a few words on the film, such as how he enjoyed making it though he's well aware that's no guarantee the audience will enjoy watching it. The film offers four separate stories that take place around the Italian capital featuring men unsatisfied with their

The Lady Vanishes (1938) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: All Aboard for Entertainment

Hitchcock and his team deliver a delightful amalgam of genres.
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Though it was Alfred Hitchcock's penultimate film made in Britain before producer David O. Selznick brought him to America, the potent mixture of humor, romance, and thrills in The Lady Vanishes comes across as the epitome of escapism entertainment Hollywood was known for offering during its Golden Age. Set in the fictional European country of Bandrika, a cast of characters, including a a couple of British gents who have a great interest in cricket, Caldicott and Charters (Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford), and a married Mr. Todhunter (Cecil Parker) traveling with a woman who isn't his wife as the credits

Sherlock Holmes (2009) Movie Review: A Smart Blockbuster

Holmes and Watson work together to solve a thrilling adventure that combines black magic and new science.
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When I first saw the trailer, I was not enthused. I had not been a fan of Guy Ritchie's directorial style and it looked like the film would be dismissing Holmes' mental prowess in an effort to turn him into an action hero. Thankfully, my deductions proved incorrect, as Ritchie created his best film to date and Robert Downey Jr. turned in yet again an impressive, franchise-launching performance. Sherlock Holmes opens in London 1891 with Holmes and Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) stopping what would have been the latest murder in a series of ritualistic killings. The culprit is Lord

Serenity and Nathan Fillion Close 2012 Hero Complex Film Festival

My time among the Browncoats.
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For those not in the know, Hero Complex is a website that covers the pop-culture beat with a focus on movies and comic books for The Los Angeles Times. (I know. Who knew there was another website like that?). Their third annual film festival saw them continue the tradition of screening classic genre films, accompanied by a Q&A with one of the cast or crew. Programming included Shaun of the Dead and its director/co-writer Edgar Wright, RoboCop and A Clockwork Orange with their respective leads, Peter Weller and Malcolm McDowell. This year's closer was Serenity, based on the cult science-fiction

3 Women Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: 2 Actresses Can't Save 1 Film

Even Altman finds elements pretentious and contrived.
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Writer/producer/director Robert Altman's 3 Women is powered by the standout performances of Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall playing two offbeat women whose lives come together in an unusual manner. Unfortunately, the story doesn't come together, resulting in an unsatisfying film in the end that Criterion now presents in high definition. Pinky (Sissy Spacek), a shy, immature young lady, seemingly fresh out of high school, gets a job at a convalescent hospital in a small California desert town. She immediately becomes fixated with Millie (Shelley Duvall), a fellow Texan who gives off a sophisticated air that no one else can take.

The Dictator, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, RIP Donna Summer [Friday Night Videos]

A range of emotions from the week.
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Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator hit theaters on May 16. He took to Saturday Night Live in his character Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen to provide rave reviews from noted critics and a special guest, whose identity was spoiled by quite a few dopey websites. On Thursday, word leaked out that Van Halen was postponing concerts scheduled after June 26. (Whew, I've got tix to see them June 12.) This naturally led to speculation that David Lee Roth and the Van Halen brothers weren't getting along, which certainly wouldn't be hard to believe considering their past. But word is that the

Island of Lost Souls (1932) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Of Monsters and Men

Owning a copy of this movie should be the law.
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The first of many adaptations of H.G. Wells' novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, Erle C. Kenton's Island of Lost Souls is a fascinating blend of science fiction and horror from the pre-Code days of Hollywood. The film leaves a lasting impression on a number of fronts as it takes viewers to a mysterious island where Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton) defies the laws of nature with his experimental work. Going from an adventure off-screen to this one, Edward Parker (Richard Arlen) is found floating in the ocean after surviving a shipwreck. A freighter, rendezvousing with a boat from Moreau's Island,

The Complete Jean Vigo Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Career in Four Films

What's essential for some isn't always for others.
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The Criterion Collection honors filmmaker Jean Vigo by presenting the four titles from his very brief career, cut short due to his untimely death from tuberculosis at the age of 29. Author Michael Temple of the biography "Jean Vigo" offers commentary on each film. À propos de Nice (1930, 23 min) is a silent film, expect for a score created by Marc Perrone in 2001, presenting an intriguing look at the seaside town. At first, it feels like someone is just running loose with a camera, learning how to work it on the fly and filming whatever comes his way,
As Marvel's The Avengers continues to dominate the box office, I thought I'd offer a brief respite and use this week's Friday Night Videos to spotlight another popular group that battled aliens countless times: the crew of the Starship Enterprise-D. On Saturday, April 28, 2012, the Calgary Expo gathered the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation (Sir Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, and Denise Crosby) at the Calgary Stampede Corral for a Q&A session to commerate the 25th anniversary of the TV series' debut. On top of

The Amazing Spider-Man Trailer #3 [Movie Recon]

A new take on the character is revealed.
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Today's is a good day if you like superheroes. The Merry Marvel Movie Marathon is currently rolling along across the United States, as the films featuring the solo outings of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America lead into a mdnight screening of Marvel's The Avengers. Before that final film begins, it will be preceded by the third trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, which made its way onto the Internet a few days ago. Not wanting to be left out of the superhero hype, Sony has debuted the third trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man on the Internet also

Avengers (Videos) Assemble!

Get in the mood for the big movie with these clips.
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At midnight, Marvel's The Avengers will be unleashed at movie theaters across the United States, certain to dominate the box-office receipts. If you don't have the time to take part in the Ultimate Marvel Marathon where theaters will be screening Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor leading up to the big debut, the videos below may help satisfy your Avengers desire until you can get out and see it. Marvel's The Avengers Trailer: In this clip, writer/director Joss Whedon provides commentary during a scene where Iron Man and Thor face off: Taking a page

Iron Man Blu-ray Review: You Will Believe An Iron Man Can Fly

All you'll ever need.
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Having suffered through more misses than hits, comic book fans were understandably concerned about Iron Man, a second-tier hero for Marvel Comics, coming to the big screen. Those fears were blasted aside by the talented team behind the second best superhero film of 2008, a fitting designation considering that while Stan Lee claims Tony Stark was inspired by Howard Hughes, it’s hard not to see comparisons to Lee’s crosstown rival’s own millionaire playboy industrialist and more successful creation, Bruce Wayne. Iron Man is fantastic, filled with great action and special effects, particularly the outstanding CGI effects that seamlessly fit into

The Dark Knight Rises Trailer #3 [Movie Recon]

For the same people who don't yet know who they are voting for President.
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If you felt a power surge a few hours ago, it was caused by all the energy being diverted towards the viewing of the third trailer for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, which debuted on the Internet and is available below. I am fascinated by the reasoning for yet another trailer because I am not sure who the advertising folks intend this for. There can't be anyone undecided at this point about whether they will see or not, can there? We've been inundated with official and unofficial images at least since the production started shooting, if not even

Hamlet (1996) Blu-ray Review: The Medium's The Thing That Makes This Version So Special

Well worth adding to the either the movie or book shelf.
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No film is more deserving of being encased within a book than Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, the first silver-screen adaptation to present Shakespeare's entire play, including portions from the Second Quarto and the First Folio. Branagh made every effort to create a spectacular production worthy of what is arguably the world's greatest play. He selected an international cast and shot it on 70mm, currently the last film to have done so in its entirety, to augment its grandeur. The story tells the tale of Hamlet (Branagh), Prince of Denmark, who not only has to deal with the recent death of his

The Merchant of Venice (2004) Movie Review: Pacino Wants a Pound of Flesh

Minor plot quibbles aside, an enjoyable adaptation.
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For those of you who didn’t read the Cliffs Notes in school, here’s a synopsis: Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) needs to raise some money in his efforts to woo Portia (Lynn Collins) of Belmont. His good friend, Antonio (Jeremy Irons), is short of cash because of investments in merchant ships; however, Antonio knows a Jewish moneylender, Shylock (Al Pacino), who should be able to help. Shylock is willing to lend three thousand ducats for three months with the stipulation that if Antonio defaults on the loan, Shylock gets to cut off a pound of flesh. Antonio agrees since the merchant ships

Richard III (1995) DVD Review: A Great Introduction to the Bard's Works

The dramatic change of setting to an alternative 1930s serves the story well.
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Based on Richard Eyre’s stage production, this retelling of Shakespeare’s Richard III is transported about 500 years forward into an alternative Britain of the 1930s. This dramatic change in setting works well and the fascist tendencies of the main character allows the production design to borrow infamous style ideas from the period. The film opens with the final battle in a civil war as the York family retakes the throne from Henry VI and reinstates King Edward IV (John Wood). However, Edward’s youngest brother, Richard (Ian McKellen), the Duke of Gloucester, is jealous and plots a takeover. He works his

Wizards 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: Artwork Trumps Story

Recommend for animation fans.
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Wizards found writer/director Ralph Bakshi expanding his scope as an artist. His previous films were social satires set on the urban streets of 1970s New York. With Wizards, he blended science fiction and fantasy for a story set over two million years into the future after a nuclear holocaust devastated life on Earth. The film is quite interesting as it challenges expectations for an animated film. During the prologue, the narrator (an uncredited Susan Tyrrell) reveals that over those many millennia most of humanity's ancestors became mutants while a small number evolved into creatures such as fairies, elves, and dwarves.

Smiley's People DVD Review: The Spy Who Came in from Retirement

Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in.
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Alec Guinness returned to the role of George Smiley in 1982's BBC miniseries Smiley's People. Based on the book of the same name, it concluded le Carré's Karla trilogy that began with Tinker Tailor Solider Spy. Though there was no TV adaptation of the middle book, The Honourable Schoolboy, the BBC created a radio version in 1983. As they did with the previous series, Acorn Media has released Smiley's People in a three-disc DVD set. Madame Ostovoka (Eileen Atkins) is an exiled Soviet woman living in France due to her past indiscretions. She is approached by a Soviet agent with

The Passion of the Christ Movie Review: Too Much Good Friday Not Enough Easter Sunday

The film presented more questions than answers.
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Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ is about the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ (Jim Caviezel). The film begins as Judas Iscariot (Luca Lionello), one of the Twelve Apostles betrays Jesus. Accused of heresy and crimes, Jesus is beaten and then taken to Pontius Pilate (Hristo Shopov). Pilate is presented no evidence of any crimes committed and says any decision has to be made by King Herod (Luca De Dominicis). When Herod sees no reason for punishment either, Jesus is taken back to Pilate. The crowds grow angry and restless, so Pilate orders Jesus to

To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary Blu-ray Review: Do the Right Thing

"What kinda man are you?" - Bob Ewell
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Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, To Kill a Mockingbird is a highly acclaimed film that puts the spotlight on a small Southern town where a few men stand up for what is right and just. Jean Louise "Scout" Finch is the narrator who looks back to when she was a six-year-old child (Mary Badham) during the summer of 1932 when her widowed father, lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck in an Oscar-winning performance) was assigned and defended Tom Robertson, (Brock Peter) an African American man charged with raping Mayella Ewell (Collin Wilcox). Scout, her brother

Dazed and Confused Blu-ray Review: An Authentic, Evocative Slice of Life

"You just gotta keep on livin', man. L-I-V-I-N." - Wooderson
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Set on the last day of school on May 28, 1976 in Austin, Texas, writer/director Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused is an authentic, evocative slice of life. It will be recognizable to many who grew up during that era and familiar to those who didn't. Similar to George Lucas' American Graffiti, which focused on a group of young people one summer night in Modesto, CA circa 1962, Dazed and Confused is a coming-of-age story for a number of kids dealing with the expectations life has thrust upon them after completing another year of school. Once the final bell rings, everyone

Earl Scruggs, Anchorman 2, and Tenacious D [Friday Night Videos]

We still play music around here.
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Welcome to Friday Night Videos. It's been a interesting week with the passing of a legend and announcements dealing with the return of a few who think they are legends. On Wednesday the 28th, the world lost banjo-player extraordinaire Earl Scruggs. As a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys and then forming the Foggy Mountain Boys with guitarist Lester Flatt, later referred to by their surnames, Scruggs helped popularized the bluegrass sound. While not the first to use the three-finger banjo-picking style, many considered him the best, like banjo-player Bela Fleck. In a piece about Scruggs for the New

Archer: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray Review: License to Laugh

Another frequently hysterical season of outrageous and offensive espionage adventures.
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In Season Two of FX's Archer, creator/executive producer Adam Reed and his team deliver another frequently hysterical season of outrageous and offensive espionage adventures for ISIS secret agent Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and his cohorts, expanded to 13 episodes from the previous 10. Archer, his fellow agents, and his co-workers travel the world on different assignments. They go to the Louisiana bayous to capture an eco-terrorist, to Monaco during the Grand Prix so they can obtain a "special" tape on behalf of his promiscuous mother/ISIS head Malory (Jessica Walter), and he goes it alone to Russia in an attempt

Beauty and the Beast (1946) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Jean Cocteau Creates Magic

Allow yourself to fall under its spell.
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Jean Cocteau, a renaissance man of the arts, appears to be the first filmmaker to bring Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont's 18th Century fairy tale, La Belle et la Bête, to the silver screen. It's apropos that magic is at the root of the story, from the curse the Beast is under to the spell that comes over people falling in love, because Cocteau and his team work movie magic bringing this wonderous fantasy to life. After Cocteau requests a "childlike sympathy" through a note to the audience, he takes us into Belle's (Josette Day) world. She lives with her

It Takes A Thief (1968) The Complete Series Review: Fans Will Find This Set "Terrific"

They don't want you to steal; they want you to buy it.
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Created by Ronald Kibbee, It Takes a Thief, which ran for three seasons on ABC from 1968-70, is an action-adventure series that blends Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief with the exploits of Ian Fleming's James Bond. Robert Wagner stars as Alexander Mundy, considered one of the greatest thieves in the world. However, when he is introduced in the series premiere, "A Thief is a Thief is a Thief," he is in prison, but won't be behind bars for long. Not because he has a escape plan, which he does, but because he is offered a release in exchange for

The Muppets Promotes In-Home Release with The Hunger Games Spoof

Those silly Muppets are at it again.
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After a twelve-year absence from the silver screen, the Muppets made a triumphant return last year in Disney's The Muppets. Written by Jason Segel & Nick Stoller and directed by James Bobin, the film tells the story of Kermit and the gang reuniting in order to save the old theater they used to perform from a greedy oil tycoon. At the time of this writing, The Muppets has grossed over $150 million worldwide, resulted in Brit McKenzie's "Man or Muppet" winning the Academy Award for Best Song, and a sequel has been greenlit with Stoller and Bobin set to write

Jurassic Park Animatronic T-Rex Rehearsal [Friday Night Videos]

A wonderful bit of movie magic.
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Thanks for joining us for the debut of our new feature, "Friday Night Videos," where we plan to showcase interesting videos for your viewing pleasure, just as the late-night music video series did that ran on NBC from 1983 to 2002 whose name we are using. First up is this clip from the Stan Winston Studio Archives. The late Stan Winston is a Hollywood legend. He was a visual effects supervisor and makeup artist with an impressive list of movie titles on his resume. He was also the receipient of multiple Academy Award wins in the Visual Effects category leading

Book Review: The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael

A very worthy addition to the library of anyone whoever lost it at the movies.
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While there were plenty of good reviewers before her, Pauline Kael's popularity as a movie critic saw her rise to level of rock star as she developed a devout following of readers and inspired writers to follow in her footsteps. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman told rockcritics.com she "was more than a great critic. She re-invented the form, and pioneered an entire aesthetic of writing. She was like the Elvis or the Beatles of film criticism." The Age of Movies is the literary equivalent of a career-spanning best-of album. The book opens with her essay bemoaning the then-current state of the

The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live In Texas '78 Blu-ray Review: It's Live Rock 'n' Roll and I Like It

Yet another excellent document of The Rolling Stones in action.
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I am not sure the reasoning behind The Rolling Stones' recent decision to go through their vaults and unleash some of the archival material they've been sitting on for decades, but fans, especially those who didn't get to experience as it happened, should consider themselves very lucky. One of the many great video releases is Some Girls - Live In Texas '78, capturing the band during their July 18, 1978 performance at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Considering all the hits in their catalog by that point in their careers, they could effortlessly pack a setlist with

Rango (2011) Blu-ray Review: There's a New (Animation) Sheriff in Town

Highly recommend to fans of animation and Westerns.
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For well over a decade, Pixar Studios, the makers of the Toy Story trilogy and Up, have not only been the industry leader in terms of how brilliant artwork in computer-animated films could be, but they've had little competition. That is until Rango came along earlier in the year. Led by director Gore Verbinski, Industrial Light & Magic's exquisite first foray into animated feature films is a stunning debut that may concern rivals but will certainly please moviegoers. Johnny Depp voices a domesticated chameleon that finds himself in the rough and tumble town of Dirt, somewhere in the Mojave Desert,

Jane Eyre (2011) Movie Review: Director Cary Fukunaga Sets the Bar High for Future Adaptations

Rare is the film that excels in so many facets.
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Charlotte Bronte's classic 1847 Gothic novel Jane Eyre has been filmed many times for movies and television over the years, but director Cary Fukunaga has now set the bar so high with his marvelous adaptation, future filmmakers will likely pause before using the source material again because of the excellent achievements of the cast and crew. The story centers on Jane Elliot (Mia Wasikowska), an unusually strong-willed woman for the times, a trait that will define her. As the film opens, she is 10 years old (played by Amelia Clarkson) and living with her dead uncle's family because her parents

If.... Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Portrait of the Student as an Angry Young Man

Malcolm McDowell is captivating in his film debut.
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Director Lindsay Anderson's If.... is a film that catches the viewer off guard when its true intention is revealed and its ability to generate a strong reaction has been increased by the events of history, which isn't necessarily to the benefit of the film's message. When If.... opens, a new term is beginning at a British boarding school for boys in the 1960s, and the familiar character types are introduced: members of the administration are aloof, the new seniors (Whips) exert their power over the juniors and underclassmen, and there is a trio of rebellious upstarts, led by Mick Travis

The 84th Academy Award Nominations Have Been Announced

Before the envelope is opened, let us know your thoughts.
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Paige MacGregor, who makes her debut at Cinema Sentries, joins me in reflecting upon this year's Academy Award nominations, which are handed out Sunday February 26th on ABC. PM: Where is Ides of March for Best Picture, and why - why - are The Help and The Descendants on this list? The Help looks like the most painful movie released in 2011, and while The Descendants was entertaining, it was very poorly acted and not very well written, either. Not to mention... nine movies? GM: After paying attention over the past year to some of the self-appointed movie observers from

West Side Story Blu-Ray Review: Celebrating 50 Years of Dancing in the Streets

It's "Cool" for the most part, but there are a few issues.
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West Side Story, the classic Broadway musical that went on to become a classic Hollywood film, epitomizes passion. Its creators (book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins, who co-directed the film with Robert Wise) followed their passion to become artists. The story is about passion as Tony (Richard Beymer, with singing by Jimmy Bryant) and Maria (Natalie Wood, with singing by Marni Nixon), though from different ethic backgrounds, fall in love with each other to the consternation of their friends. The film has developed a passionate following that has endeared

Solaris (1972) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Explorations in Outer and Inner Space

Andrei Tarkovsky psychological film spends too much time looking inward.
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Director Andrei Tarkovsky used Stanislaw Lem's 1961 science fiction novel Solaris as the basis for his story about a man coping with his disconnection from life. Though the majority of the film takes place aboard a space station in orbit around the ocean planet Solaris, it could be set anywhere as the main character focuses on an inner conflict. Unfortunately, the film becomes as self absorbed as the station crewmembers who are suffering psychological breakdowns. The meandering pace, augmented by the use of long takes, left me wanting to be the subject of a rescue mission before the 166-minute runtime

Most Anticipated Films of 2012 [Snob Seven]

I expect to see these in the theater.
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With a new year upon us, it's the perfect time to start marking the calender with release dates. What follows are the seven I am most eager to see. Just missing the cut, though I expect to see them the weekends of their release are Pixar's Brave, Marc Webb's reboot Amazing Spider-Man, Will Farrell's Spanish-language comedy Casa de Mi Padre, and Sam Mendes at the helm for Daniel Craig's latest Bond installment Skyfall. Prometheus (June 8) - While the Alien franchise hasn't delivered much worthwhile since James Cameron's Aliens, the return of Ridley Scott, the original film's director, to this

Kiss Me Deadly Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Pulp Science Fiction

Your parents were right about not picking up hitchhikers.
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When Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer debuted in I, Jury (1947) he was possibly the hardest of hardnosed detectives there was, "a new sort of hero--a vigilante enforcer who was detective, judge, jury, and executioner in one," as J. Hoberman describes in the liner notes. Spillane also increased the genre's level of sex and violence, all of which led to many critics deriding the book. Anthony Boucher, San Francisco Chronicle (August 3, 1947) called it "painfully derivative...required reading in a Gestapo training school." Saturday Review of Literature (August 9, 1947) rendered its "Verdict: Lurid." James Sandoe, Chicago Sun Book Week (August

Peter Gabriel New Blood Live in London Blu-ray Review: The Power of the Orchestra

Gabriel captured live on his latest tour with orchestra in tow.
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In 2009, Peter Gabriel came up with a very intriguing concept where he would cover an artist's song with the intention they would cover one of his. His premise for this exchange, as he told the Guardian, was based on the idea that "rather than having a passive project where you do your own thing with people's songs, I wanted to see if I could interact with the people who wrote them, so they had to be living and amenable, or initially amenable." Peter decided his versions would feature only his vocal and an orchestra. Working with arranger John Metcalfe,

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979) DVD Review: An Enthralling Search for a Mole in the Circus

Alec Guinness leads this impressive BBC miniseries.
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During the latter half of the 20th Century, David John Moore Cornwell became world renowned as espionage-fiction writer John le Carré. His breakout book was his third, 1963's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Unlike Ian Fleming's wild adventures where hero James Bond battled obvious villains, le Carré wrote realistic spy stories filled with complex characters, due in part to his having been a member of British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6. A number of his novels have been turned into films over the years, including The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) starring Richard Burton,

America Lost and Found: The BBS Story Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

A story about the changing of the guard in Hollywood.
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The story told in Criterion's The BBS Story box set is a major chapter in the output of producers Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner. These films were part of the New Hollywood era when a younger generation of filmmakers, influenced more by European cinema than their American predecessors in the studio system, rose to the cultural forefront. As the times were a-changin' during the turbulent '60s, not even Hollywood was immune from the rebellion that was sweeping the planet. The seven films included in this set, released between 1968 and 1972, showcase filmmakers that took risks in the

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Blu-ray Review: As Good at Home as it was in Theaters

Highly recommended for action fans.
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of my favorite action films of the year. In my review, which can be read here in its entirety, I stated the filmmakers did "an impressive job rebooting the franchise by delivering an exciting action film" that has me "looking forward to revisiting this world and seeing what lies ahead for both man and ape." The creation of Caesar by Andy Serkis and Weta Digital was amazing. Not only is it the best thing about the film, but also a milestone in effects work that will long be remembered. Serkis has

Contest: Stars and Stripes Forever on Blu-ray

Two lucky readers have the opportunity to win Stars and Stripes Forever on Blu-ray.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win Stars and Stripes Forever on Blu-ray.  Learn how to enter below after the synopsis. Stars and Stripes Forever is a 1952 film biography of composer John Philip Sousa. Clifton Webb stars as Sgt. Major John Philip Sousa, who while the leader of the Marine Corps Band in the 1890s, meets Private Willie Little (Robert Wagner), inventor of an instrument he calls the Sousaphone and Little's girlfriend, shapely showgirl Lily (Debra Paget). The film follows Sousa after he leaves the Marines

Some Kind of Monster DVD Review: A Fearless Portrait of Metallica

Hit the lights and watch this DVD!
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What started out as promotional piece detailing the recording of Metallica's next album ended up becoming not only a fearless portrait of one of the biggest bands ever in the world of rock, but also a poignant look at how a family deals with addiction and the rippling effects that can have on everyone involved. The film opens in 2003 as journalists arrive to listen to tracks from St. Anger, the band's first studio album in five years. The band had gone through a number of upheavals recently. They sued Napster and its users who illegally shared Metallica's music, alienating

The Adventures of Tintin Season One DVD Review: Animated Adventure Abounds!

Herge's creation translates well to television.
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The Adventures of Tintin by Belgian artist Hegre first appeared as a comic strip in a children's newspaper supplement in 1929 featuring the intrepid young reporter/detective. The strips were collected in 1930 and presented as Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. Over the course of four decades, Herge created 23 adventures for Tintin that took him and an assorted cast of characters all over the globe and to the moon, concluding with Tintin and the Picaros in 1976. Considered one of the most popular European comics in the world, the Tintin stories are a multimedia sensation, having been adapted

The 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominees Have Been Announced

Did your favorites make the cut?
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Film Independent announced their nominations for the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards. The Best Feature category is comprised of 50/50, Beginners, Drive, Take Shelter, The Artist (selected Best Picture by the New York Film Critics Circle), and The Descendants, and all the films except 50/50 received a Best Director nomination. Leading the nominations were Take Shelter and The Artist, each receiving a total of five nominations. Beginners, Drive, and The Descendants had four, and 50/50 had three. Martha Marcy May Marlene received four nominations, the most of any film not nominated for Best Feature. "The Film Independent Spirit Awards recognize

Woody Allen: A Documentary Review: His Films Make Life Worth Living

The director is featured in this career overview on PBS' American Masters.
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Robert B.Weide's Woody Allen: A Documentary airs in two parts on PBS' American Masters and is a comprehensive biography about a man who has had one of the most impressive careers in all of show business. Weide interviews actors who have worked with Woody in all stages of his film career, from Louise Lasser and Diane Keaton to Scarlet Johansson and Owen Wilson. The viewer also hears from those who have worked with Woody behind the camera, such as writers Mickey Rose and Marshall Brickman, cinematographer Gordon Willis, and agent/producer Jack Rollins. A few notable fans, Martin Scorsese and Chris

Contest: The Vampire Film: From Nosferatu to True Blood

One lucky reader will be able to sink their teeth into The Vampire Film book.
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Cinema Sentries and Limelight Editions have teamed up to bring one lucky reader the opportunity to win a copy of the fourth edition of Alain Silver and James Ursini's authoritative The Vampire Film: From Nosferatu to True Blood.  The book covers nearly a century of pop culture in which these supernatural characters have fascinated the public in film and on television with this new edition exploring "the surge in vampire media since the millennium, including films like Underworld, Van Helsing, I Am Legend, and Let the Right One In and television series like Buffy, Moonlight, True Blood, and The Vampire

Book Review: Screen World: The Films of 2010, Edited by Barry Monush

A good analog resource though its easily trumped in our digital world.
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"Screen World Volume 62: The Films of 2010 is the latest installment in the long-running reference-book series. On the back cover, it claims to have a listing for "every significant American and international film released from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010 in the U.S." It also serves a yearbook with sections that cover "Promising New Actors," "Academy Award Winners and Nominees," "Top Box Office Stars and Films of 2010," and "Obituaries." After a brief introduction where editor Barry Monush mentions almost every well-known movie released that year, the listings are divided into Domestic and Foreign Films, which are

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Adventures of Don Quixote (1933)

"I've got chivalry in me head but me stomach craves for food." - Sancho Panza
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Continuing this month's theme of movies adaptated from books brings us to director G.W. Pabst's Adventures of Don Quixote, based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes and starring Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin, who played the character in Massenet's 1910 opera of the same name. In 16th Century Spain, Don Quixote finds himself longing for the days of chivalry. Considered mad by his fellow townsfolk for selling off his land to buy books, he and his trusted squire, Sancho Panza (George Robey), set out to find adventures worthy of a knight, though Don Quixote always misreads the situations.

Into the Abyss at AFI FEST 2011: Encounters at the End of Humanity

Director Werner Herzog stares into Texas' death penalty.
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When introducing his latest documentary at AFI FEST presented by Audi, German director Werner Herzog stated he was against the death penalty but didn't feel it was his place to tell the people of the United States, and more specifically Texas, where the crimes at the root of this film occurred in 2000, how they should handle these matters. However, he obviously wants them to rethink the position considering how easily he demonstrated the arbitrary nature it is being applied. In the interest of full disclosure, I too am against the death penalty for a number of reasons. Typically in

The 2012 People's Choice Award Nominees Have Been Announced

Let the madness begin.
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Award shows. Movie fans love them and others love to hate them. Over the next few months until the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have their final say on Sunday, Feb. 26 when they hand out the Oscars, different groups of critics and industry professionals will be weighing in on what they perceive to be the higlights of the year. Regular folks have allegedly been getting their say since 1975 when producer Bob Stivers created the People's Choice Awards, which honors movies, TV, and music. People can vote on their favorites online at the PCA website or on

The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! Volume 3 and 4 DVD Review: Entertainment Assembled!

A very good animated program for superhero fans.
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Based on the Marvel comic book series, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! is a very good animated program for superhero fans that debuted online and in the U.S. on Disney XD during Fall 2010. The show combines characters and plotlines from the comics with the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. The latter's influence is evident by the front covers of Volume 3 and 4, which cover the second half of Season One in production order. Each only shows only the four characters from the movies: Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America. These Avengers were formed in response to the escape

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Great Expectations (1946)

"I realized that in becoming a gentleman, I had only succeeded in becoming a snob." - Pip
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While many work at writing their novels during NaNoWriMo, November seems like a perfect time to look at film adaptation of books. David Lean's Great Expectations is the third time Charles Dickens' classic novel appeared on the silver screen. It tells the story of Phillip "Pip" Pirrip (played by Anthony Wager as a young boy and John Mills as an adult ) who is trained to be a gentleman by a mysterious benefecator. In his younger days, Pip made frequent visits to Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt), a wealthy spinster at whose home he meets Estella (Jean Simmons as as

Contest: Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 on DVD

Three lucky readers the opportunity to win Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 on DVD.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 on DVD.  Learn how to enter below after the synopsis. Powerful forces trigger a global revolution when the highly anticipated film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s bestselling novel, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, emerges on Blu-ray and DVD November 8. The first installment in a planned trilogy, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 uses a talented cast to explore themes of individualism, socialism, and anarchy. In 2016, the country is on the verge of economic collapse. Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling,

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

"If I am the Phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so...If I shall be saved, it will be because your love redeems me." - Erik
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Spend Halloween weekend enjoying a landmark in cinema history. Based on the novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom (Lon Chaney) haunts the Paris Opera House and issues threats if his beloved Christine (Mary Philbin), understudy to the lead, isn't allowed to sing the role of Marguerite in the current production of Gounod's Faust. Knowing that Christine is involved with the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny (Norman Kerry), the Phantom kidnaps her to live with him in his underground liar, leading Chagny and others to come to her rescue. Lon Chaney shocked audiences with his inventive, iconic

Smiles of a Summer Night Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: All's Well That Ends Well

Ingmar Bergman's film will deliver a smile any night.
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Though legendary director Ingmar Bergman is well known for creating films that deal with serious subjects about life and death, faith and doubt, marriage and divorce, he became an international sensation with this light romantic comedy, which Criterion released on Blu-ray this year. Smiles of a Summer Night is a charming tale about of group of upper-class, mismatched lovers who sort things out one summer night in the country. Lawyer Fredrik (Gunnar Björnstrand) is married to the much younger Anne (Ulla Jacobsson), who is near the same age as Fredrik's son Henrik (Björn Bjelfvenstam) from his previous marriage to his

Cream: Live at Royal Albert Hall London 2005 Blu-ray Review: I'm So Glad This Was Recorded

A great concert disc showcasing their triumphant return.
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Cream is a legendary rock trio from the late '60s featuring bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker. Though only active for a brief time, from their official debut at the Sixth Annual Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival on July 29 1966 to two final farewell concerts at the Royal Albert Hall on November 26, 1968, they made a major impact on the music world with their hard rockin' blend of blues and psychedelia that many have imitated and, to this day still, very few have duplicated. In 1993, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll

Contest: Win a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack of Winnie the Pooh

One lucky readers can win the new installment of the silly old bear's adventures
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Cinema Sentries and Walt Disney Studios have teamed up to give one lucky readers the opportunity to win a Blu-ray+DVD combo of Winnie the Pooh, starring the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood. Learn how to enter contest at the bottom of this article. In this latest adventure, which Senora Bicho reviewed, Winnie the Pooh gets sidetracked on his hunt for honey, when he comes across Eeyore, who has lost his tail. Pooh elicits the help of Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, and little Roo. Later on, the gang comes to believe that Christopher Robin has been captured by a

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

"Shut up and bring on the food!" - Audrey Jr.
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The SPDM returns with the second, and most famous, film by producer/director Roger Corman and screenwriter Charles B. Griffith. The Little Shop of Horrors finds nebbish Seymour Krelboyne (Jonathan Haze) working in the flower shop of Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles). Seymour creates a new plant by crossbreeding a butterwort and a Venus Flytrap, which he names "Audrey Jr." after co-worker Audrey Fulquard (Jackie Joseph), who he has a crush on. One night, Seymour discovers Audrey Jr. likes human blood and it helps the plant grow. The larger Audrey Jr. gets the more popular it becomes, which benefits the store,

Book Review: Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film by Ian Nathan

In space, they would hear you scream with delight.
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With Alien Vault, Ian Nathan has created the book of the year for film fans, one they will revisit in their library many times over, as I know I will, because of the outstanding job he has done compiling the history of Ridley Scott's Alien. Starting from its origins as Dan O'Bannon's incomplete story called Memory, Nathan is extremely thorough detailing the film's creation, its enduring legacy, and the franchise that was spawned. The book opens on the set as the cast and crew filmed the film's most iconic moment when the title character literally burst onto the scene. Interviews

Take Shelter Movie Review: Preparing for the Storm

A compelling family drama anchored by Michael Shannon's captivating performance.
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Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter is a compelling family drama anchored by Michael Shannon's captivating performance as Curtis, a man whose judgment regarding the safety and welfare of his family grows increasingly at odds with those around him. Curtis dreams about an impending storm of great magnitude. Birds fly off in large numbers, and the rain is thick and viscous like motor oil. He's concerned the dreams may be prophetic so he starts building an underground shelter in his backyard to protect his family, which includes wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and their daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart) who is deaf but an

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: A Bucket of Blood (1959)

"Life is an obscure hobo, bumming a ride on the omnibus of art." - Maxwell H. Brock
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After American International Pictures gave him a $50,000 budget and a five-day shooting schedule to create a horror movie, producer/director Roger Corman teamed up with screenwriter Charles B Griffith for their first of three films to create A Bucket of Blood, which was inspired by House of Wax (1953) starring Vincent Price. Dick Miller stars as Walter, a shy bumbling busboy working at a beatnik coffee house. He wants to be a sculptor although he has no skills. One evening he accidentally kills his landlord's cat, and to hide what happened, he covers the cat in clay and turns

Contest: Win a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Two lucky readers can win the fourth installment of the Disney movie franchise.
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Cinema Sentries and Walt Disney Studios have teamed up to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win a Blu-ray+DVD combo of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Learn how to enter contest at the bottom of this article. In this latest adventure, Jack searches for the fabled Fountain of Youth. Forced aboard the ship of the most feared pirate ever, he doesn’t know who to fear more — Blackbeard (Ian McShane) or a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz). Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will be available on October

Contest: Win a Copy of Terri Starring John C. Reilly

Three lucky readers have the opportunity to win this coming-of-age tale on DVD.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win a DVD of Terri, starring John C. Reilly and Jacob Wysocki. Learn how to enter below after this fun feature FHE has provided. It seems like a cliché, but in any film about a loveable loser, everyone wants the underdog to succeed and have a happy ending. In celebration of the October 11 release of Terri on Blu-ray and DVD, we have compiled a list of five of the greatest unlikely heroes in film. These five characters range from extraordinarily

Contest: Win a Blu-ray Combo of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life

Two lucky readers have the opportunity to win the 2011 Palme D'Or winner, The Tree of Life.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win a Blu-ray combo of The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. Learn how to enter below after this fun feature FHE has provided. In this feature we’ll journey across space, fly over volcanoes and dive deep into the ocean, showcasing some of the great scientific imagery from the film.  Places like Death Valley, Texas, Villa Lante in Italy and even the Sun, take us to the space between spaces and remind us of how precious our world

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Buy the Disc, Take the Ride

Highly recommend for Thompson fans and mildly recommend for Gilliam fans.
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First appearing in the pages of Rolling Stone, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas details the drug-fuelled adventures of journalist Raoul Duke and attorney Dr. Gonzo as they search in the unlikeliest of cities for the American Dream, which the '60s counterculture failed to deliver. Thompson's captivating manner of writing, considered gonzo journalism by many though Thompson thought the book was a failed experiment in that style, is what makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a seminal piece of literature. The book floundered in Hollywood over the years with different people trying to adapt it to

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Penalty (1920)

"At twelve noon on that day I shall loot the City of San Francisco." - Blizzard
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The Saturday Public Domain Movie returns with The Penalty starring Lon Chaney before his landmark performances in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Based on the pulp novel by Gouverneur Morris, Chaney stars as Blizzard, a San Francisco crime boss who vows revenge on the doctor who mistakenly amputated both his legs after a traffic accident when he was a young boy. Ethel Grey Terry stars as Rose, a secret service agent who goes undercover to bust up Blizzard's gang but soon finds her alliances shifting. The Penalty has some odd things

Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 1 DVD Review: A Study in Animation

A great collections of shorts that shows the company developing its talent and techniques.
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Pixar Animation Studios has been the most consistently creative and innovative production company over the past twenty years. The company was originally a division of Lucasfilm until 1986 when Steve Jobs bought it after he left Apple. Pixar's eight feature films, from 1995's Toy Story to 2007's Ratatouille, have a theatrical worldwide gross of over $4 trillion, and that doesn't taken into account the usually more lucrative DVD market. Pixar's success over the years resulted in The Walt Disney Company acquiring them in a stock transaction worth over $7 billion. This DVD collection presents 13 shorts by the Pixar team,

Blood Simple Blu-ray Review: The Coen Brothers' Impressive Debut Launches a Few Careers

A well-plotted, modern-day film noir.
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After a brief introduction (HD, 1 min) from Mortimer Young of Forever Young Films, where he explains the film has been "digitally enhanced and tastefully restored" and even had the boring parts taken out (this Director's Cut of the film has three minutes cut from the theatrical release), Blood Simple gets right into familiar noir territory. Bartender Ray (John Gatz) has run off to spend the night in a local hotel with the wife (Frances McDormand in her feature debut) of his boss, Marty (Dan Hedaya). Marty knew she was up to something and had them tracked by a P.

Contest: Win a Music on Film Book, Grease or A Hard Day's Night

You could win a book that explores one of these musical films.
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Cinema Sentries and Hal Leonard have teamed up to give four lucky readers the opportunity to win a book from Limelight Editions new series Music on Film.  The paperbacks are 4.75" by 6.25" and "each book highlights one musical film from every angle." Grease (1978) is director Randal Kleiser's film adapation of the 1971 musical about summer lovers, greaser Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and sweet Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John).  When Sandy's parents decide not to return to Australia, she enrolls at Rydell High and Danny has to juggle his affections for her and his tough guy image as leader of

Killer Elite Movie Review: Better Than Expected

A little bit of effort in writing the story goes a long way in making an entertaining movie.
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Adapted from Sir Ranulph Fiennes' 1991 book The Feather Men, which claims to be based on a true story, director/co-writer Gary McKendry's thriller Killer Elite doesn't come across as a series of factual events, but I don't hold that against the movie because I was entertained by the better-than-expected story among the stunts. After a job doesn't run as smoothly as it should during the prologue, Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) retires from working as an international assassin. Not surprisingly, he is coerced back into action when his mentor, Hunter (Robert De Niro), is held hostage by exiled Sheikh Amr (Rodney

The Hustler (1961) Blu-ray Review: This Disc is a Born Winner

"I'm Eddie Felson. I shoot straight pool."
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Robert Rossen's The Hustler is based on Walter Tevis' novel of the same name and stars Paul Newman as pool player "Fast Eddie" Felson, a man so focused on his goal he has no idea how to accomplish it because he spent so much time building up his talent he ignored building up his character. The opening prologue reveals Eddie to be a con man. He pretends to be drunk and suckers money out of a bartender. But those were low stakes. Eddie is after Minnesota Fats, known as the best pool player in the country. But Eddie isn't there

X-Men: First Class Blu-ray Review: Arguably the Best of the Film Franchise

The merry mutants go back to their beginnings.
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Director/co-writer Matthew Vaughn delivers first-class entertainment with X-Men: First Class, a prequel to the film franchise that presents the origins of the Marvel Comics mutant team inspired by Jeff Parker's comic books of the same name. The film opens by presenting the beginning of relationships that propel the story forward. In 1944 at a concentration camp, scientist Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon) explores young Erik Lensherr's magnetism powers through coercive measures. Around the same time, young versions of telepath Charles Xavier and blue-skinned, shape-shifter Raven meet and form a friendship. Fast forward to 1962, Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) is traveling the world

Topsy-Turvy Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: It is the Very Model of a Modern-Day Blu-ray Release

Mike Leigh's marvelous look back at Gilbert and Sullivan.
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After five films, Mike Leigh took a break from modern-day kitchen-sick dramas and created Topsy-Turvy, a marvelous historical biopic about W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's creation of the comic opera The Mikado. Though dealing with a different class of folks, the struggles of Gilbert and Sullivan, and those involved with them, in successfully creating art are no less vital to their lives than the issues faced by the working-class characters from Leigh's other work. Topsy-Turvy opens in London on January 5, 1884 as their opera Princess Ida debuts at Richard D'Oyly Carte's (Ron Cook) Savoy Theatre. It struggles at

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Detour (1945)

"That's life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you." - Al Roberts
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Here's a classic film noir for your viewing pleasure this Labor Day weekend. Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and based on the novel of the same name by Martin Goldsmith, who co-wrote the screenplay, Detour stars Tom Neal as Al, a piano player who gets gets sidetracked by fate while traveling to California to be with his fiancee. He gets picked up hitchhiking by Charles Haskell Jr (Edmund MacDonald). During Al's turn to drive, Charles dies of natural causes. Scared that the police won't believe his story, Al decides the best thing to do is ditch Charles' body and

Contest: Win X-Men: First Class on DVD

Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win X-Men: First Class on DVD.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win X-Men: First Class on DVD.  Learn how to enter below after this fun feature FHE has provided.   From ‘First Class’ to ‘Temple of Doom’ Origin stories are sometimes fans favorites, allowing them to see how iconic characters came to be and revealing often unimaginable back stories.  With the release of X-Men: First Class on September 9, we take a look back at some of the most influential prequels of them all.   1) INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Last Mile (1932)

"I think I'll go get a little air." - Killer Mears
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Based on Jon Wexley's play, which the movie poster claims "rocked the nation," The Last Mile stars Howard Phillips as Richard Walters, a man sentenced to death row for a murder he denies committing. While his friends on the outside try to prove his innocence, Walters finds himself in the middle of an uprising. Killer Mears (Preston S. Foster) leads fellow inmates in taking the prison guards hostage and control of a cell block. Mears makes demands, but Warden Lewis (Frank Sheridan) has other ideas to end the stand-off. Director Sam Bischoff must have intended The Last Mile to

Blow Out Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Hearing is Believing

Brian De Palma delivers the goods with this political thriller.
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Brian De Palma's Blow Out is an intriguing political thriller that plays with the ideas of perception and cinema. These themes are hinted at in the opening sequence as "Blow Out opens with a POV sequence taken from Coed Frenzy, a low-budget slasher film, which it turns out is being watched by a producer and sound editor Jack Terry (John Travolta). One night while out in the wilderness recording natural effects, Jack happens to be in the right place at the right time as a car blows a tire and crashes into a lake. Jack jumps in but is only

Contest: Win a Phineas and Ferb: The Movie - Across the 2nd Dimension DVD

Cinema Sentries and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win a Phineas and Ferb: The Movie DVD.
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Cinema Sentries and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win a Phineas and Ferb: The Movie DVD. The gang from the Emmy Award-winning, hit Disney Channel television series got their own original movie. Brothers Phineas (Vincent Martella), Ferb (Thomas Sangster) and their pet platypus Perry (Dee Bradley Baker) travel to an alternate dimension by way of Dr. Doofenshmirtz's (Dan Povenmire) latest invention, the Otherdimensionator. In the 2nd Dimension, Doofenshmirtz's counterpart is in charge of the Tri-State Area and the boys and their counterparts must work together to defeat him.  The

Contest: Win a Bambi II Special Edition Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack

Cinema Sentries and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win a Bambi II Special Edition Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack.
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Cinema Sentries and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win a Bambi II Special Edition Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack. Bambi II was a direct-to-DVD release in 2006 and is now available on Blu-ray for the first time in a 2-Disc Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack with All-New features as well as a 1-Disc DVD and a Movie Download. It is the rare sequel, referred to as a midquel, where the new story takes place within the original film's story.  In this case, after the death of Bambi's mother and

Trailer for Martin Scorsese's George Harrison: Living In The Material World Has Fans on Cloud Nine

The story of the Quiet Beatle, who was much more than that.
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Martin Scorsese's BBC documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World is slated to be a wide-ranging biography that will examine his impact as an artist on the world and the world's impact on him. After obtaining permission from Harrison's family to make the film, Scorsese and his team created the project from archival footage, some of it unseen, and interviews with many important people from Harrison's life, such as Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Olivia and Dhani Harrison, Patti Boyd, Eric Clapton, and Eric Idle. Scorsese has proven himself to be a very talented documentarian with films like

The Legends of Hollywood U.S. Stamp Series Honors Four Directors in 2012

Nobody's perfect, but these stamps come awfully close.
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In 2012, the U.S. Postal Service will expand the Legends of Hollywood series with a collection of commemorative Forever stamps, stamps that are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate, focusing on Great Film Directors. Art Director Derry Noyes designed these stamps using art by award-winning illustrator Gary Kelley, who created the images using pastels on paper.  The stamp art combines a portrait of each man with an example of one of his most iconic works. The honorees are four directors selected for capturing the many varieties of the American experience.  They are Frank Capra, John

Contest: Win One of Two Copies of The 5th Quarter on DVD

Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win The 5th Quarter on DVD.
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The 5th Quarter comes to Blu-ray and DVD August 30th from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.  Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win The 5th Quarter on DVD. When a close-knit family is nearly broken by tragedy, hope is restored by their eldest son who carries the weight of victory on his shoulders in The 5th Quarter. A recent recipient of the Dove Foundation’s “Family-Approved” seal for all audiences over the age of twelve and in the spirit of The Blind Side, comes this inspiring true story

Contest: Win One of Three Copies of Skateland on DVD

Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win Skateland on DVD.
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Skateland comes to Blu-ray and DVD August 30th from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.  Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win Skateland on DVD. Ashley Greene (Twilight saga) and Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood) co-star in this powerful coming-of-age drama that took the film festival circuit by storm. For Ritchie Wheeler (Fernandez), a carefree teenager growing up in a small Texas town, Skateland is more than just a local roller rink...it's a fading symbol of friendship and good times. With everything changing rapidly, the only thing Ritchie

Contest: Win One of Two Copies of Henry's Crime on DVD

He’s done the time, now he might as well do the crime.
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Henry's Crime comes to Blu-ray and DVD August 23rd from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.  Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give two lucky readers the opportunity to win Henry's Crime on DVD. Keanu Reeves stars as Henry Torne, a wrongly accused man who winds up behind bars for a bank robbery he didn’t commit.  After befriending a charismatic lifer (James Caan) in prison, Henry finds his purpose — having done the time, he decides he may as well do the crime.  But his outlandish plan to rob the very same bank spins wildly

D23 Expo 2011: Walt Disney Studios Upcoming Live-Action Releases

Based on audience reaction, The Muppets and The Avengers are what Expo attendees are most excited about.
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Director and co-writer Andrew Stanton introduced John Carter, out March 9, 2012, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.  The teaser trailer looked rather generic for an action film, along the lines of Then Mummy and Prince of Persia.  Scene where John meets Martians like the nine-foot tall, four-armed Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and a speedy dog-like creature showed some potential and humor but Taylor Kitsch playing John Carter didn't demonstrate much charisma. Tim Burton revisits his 1984 short film "Frankenweenie" by expanding it into a full-length, black and white, stop-motion, 3D feature to be released October 5, 2012

D23 Expo 2011: Walt Disney Studios Upcoming Animated Releases

Sneak Peeks of Brave and Wreck-It Ralph were the highlights.
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The Walt Disney Studios skipped Comic Con this year to present at their upcoming roster of films D23 Expo 2011, bringing some notoriety and publicity to their own event.  And it certainly was popular as the line to get into the 5,000-seat hall was capped an hour before the presentation started and some folks had been in line at 6 a.m. for 10:30 a.m. start time. Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross introduced John Lasseter, chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, to handle the animation portion of the presentation.  First up was Disney's Planes,

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Crimes at the Dark House (1940)

"Oh, I`ve been longing to sink my fingers into your fat, greasy, little throat." - Faux Sir Percival Glyde
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Tod Slaughter stars in this British thriller Crimes at the Dark House based on Wilkie Collins' novel The Woman in White, though to what degree is not clear to me as I don't know either. The film opens in Australia where Slaughter's unnamed character murders Sir Percival Glyde while he's sleeping and then impersonates Sir Percy back home in England thinking he going to come into a great fortune. But Sir Percival wasn't as well off as he appeared. Faux Percival quickly discovers the estate in debt and to his great suprise Lady Catherick (Elsie Wagstaff) shows up claiming

The Big Lebowski Live Cast Reunion Brought to You by Livestream

See the sold-out event from the comfort of wherever you are.
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Live from New York, The Big Lebowski Live Cast Reunion is taking place at the NY Lebowski Fest to help promote The Big Lebowski's debut on Blu-ray.  For those of you unable to attend the sold-out event, Livestream offers access to it below.  Grab a White Russian and whatever else you have on hand, sit back, and enjoy. thebiglebowski on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Beat the Devil (1953)

"Only phonies like it." - Humphrey Bogart
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Beat the Devil is the fifth and last film Humphrey Bogart and John Huston made together and is a spoof of their first, The Maltese Falcon (1941). It tells the story of a cast of characters stuck in a small Italian port who are trying to get their hands on uranium-rich land in Kenya. Huston co-wrote the script with Truman Capote, which was based on the novel of the same name by James Helvick. Bogart starred in and produced the film; the poor reception upon its release likely explains the quote attributed to him: "Only phonies like it." The

The Mikado Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Dated but Has its Charms

An enjoyable melding of opera and film that offers a glimpse back in time at the sitcom of its day.
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The Mikado is the ninth opera created by the tandem of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. It debuted in London on March 14, 1885, at the Savoy Theatre, which was built by impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte, and was performed to great success by his D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, leading to one of the longest theatrical runs of the era. In 1939, director Victor Schertzinger released an adaptation The Mikado in conjunction with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, becoming the first of Gilbert and Sullivan's work made for the silver screen The film begins with a prologue not in the opera

Laws of Gravity DVD Review: Scorsese's Mean Streets Did It Before and Did It Better

Writer/director Nick Gomez does nothing new or memorable with this familiar material.
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Nick Gomez' Laws of Gravity was his debut as a feature film writer and director and it is now part of the made-on-demand MGM Limited Edition Collection. The film is very reminiscent of Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets from two decades earlier, but because Gomez does nothing new or memorable with the material, it suffers as a result from the similarities. Jimmy (Peter Greene) and Jon (Adam Trese) are two losers living in Brooklyn. They are partners in crime, and they aren't very good at that. Jimmy lives with his girlfriend Denise (Edie Falco). She has a legitimate job and it's

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Twelve Crowded Hours (1939)

Happy 100th birthday to America's favorite redhead.
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Even though Hollywood couldn't find a way to turn one of the funniest comediennes into a movie star, Cinema Sentries wants to honor the centennial of Lucille Ball's birth with a Saturday Public Domain Movie screening. She was a contract player for RKO in the 1930s, appearing in small parts alongside the likes of the Three Stooges (Three Little Pigskins, 1934), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (Top Hat, 1935), and the Marx Brothers in Room Service (1938). She became known as the "Queen of the B's" but it was her success on the radio program My Favorite Husband, which

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Presents the Rise of a New Franchise

Andy Serkis as Caesar and the CGI work by Weta Digital are the film's highlights.
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While I am certain this phenomenon is not isolated to movies, it's interesting how many devotees confuse having an opinion with informed knowledge about a subject. Although Hollywood usually proves them right, many self-described cinephiles are surprisingly strident in their opposition to sequels and remakes due to a perceived lack of originality and imagination. Yet, it's rather easy to find titles that poke holes in their positions like Godfather II or The Maltese Falcon. Reboots, a popular trend in Hollywood from the past decade that finds franchises relaunched with their own new continuity, is another term that draws immediate derision

Book Review: Joe Simon: My Life in Comics

A great look at the comic book industry from the inside.
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Tying in perfectly with Captain America: The First Avenger, one of the character's co-creators, Joe Simon, has released his engaging autobiography, which offers a fascinating account of his career in the comic-book business supplemented by his personal life. His prose is very straightforward, like he's sitting across a table from you, and the story progresses chronology for the most part. There are black and white illustrations throughout and eight glossy pages of color. Simon was raised in Rochester, NY and his artistic skills got him job at a local paper, the "Rochester Journal-American. He progressed to larger cities, eventually landing

Snob Seven: Favorite Movie Monkey

Saluting seven cinematic simians.
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With the release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and our own retrospective on the previous Apes movies, it seemed like the perfect time for the Sentries look back at their favorite monkeys in the movies. And save the zoological comments and emails. We know technically they aren't all monkeys, but "Favorite Movie Primate" doesn't have the same ring to it, now does it? King Kong - first appearance King Kong (1933) by El Bicho Had to start with the king of all movie monkeys: King Kong. Brought to life by Willis O'Brien and his stop-motion animation team,

Contest: Warner Archive Celebrates Lucille Ball's 100th Birthday

Cinema Sentries and Warner Archive bring one lucky reader a chance to win The Lucille Ball RKO Comedy Collection: Volume 1
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In honor of what would be Lucille Ball's 100th birthday on August 6th, Cinema Sentries and Warner Archive have teamed up to bring one lucky reader a chance to win The Lucille Ball RKO Comedy Collection: Volume 1. The three films contained in the two-DVD set were shot when she worked for RKO Studios years before she became a television icon. The WB Shop website offers synopses of the films: GO CHASE YOURSELF (1938) Before she hitched her hilarious antics to Vincente Minnelli's The Long, Long Trailer, Lucy joined Joe Penner and a slightly shorter trailer in this madcap romp.

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Two Women (1960)

"Do you know what they have done those "heroes" that you command?" - Cesira
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Based on the novel of the same name by Alberto Moravia, Vittorio De Sica's Two Women (La ciociara) is a powerful film about the horrors of war experineced by innocent bystanders stuck in the middle of it. Sophia Loren, in an internationally acclaimed performance that earned the first ever Best Acting Oscar presented to a foreign film, stars as Cesira, a widow living in Rome with her young daughter Rosetta (Eleonora Brown). To avoid the city's bombing by Allied Forces, the two head to the province of Ciociaria in Central Italy where Cesira is from. There she meets Michele(Jean-Paul

Planet of the Apes (1968) Blu-ray Review: A Franchise Started with a "Smile"

You'll want to get your stinking paws on this one.
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Set in the year 3978, after having traveled for 2006 years, a trio of ANSA astronauts led by Taylor (Charlton Heston) crashes lands into a lake on an unknown planet. They make their way through a desert where nothing will grow, and after passing some scarecrow-like objects, they discover plants and water. As the men begin to explore this new world, they find it very different from the one they left behind. Humans here are the primitive species and, as the title hints, the planet is run by apes. This is revealed in a very exciting action sequence as gorillas

Contest: Win Rio (2011) on DVD

Jesse Eisenberg stars in this animated comedy.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win Rio (2011) on DVD.  Learn how to enter below after this fun feature FHE has provided. Top 5 Animated Voice Acting Roles  With Jesse Eisenberg starring as the lead vocal talent in 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s new release in the animation world Rio (hitting Blu-ray and DVD on August 4), let’s take a look back at other notable celebrities who stepped into the animated realm for a role. Out of a large selection of great actors we think the

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Attack of the Monsters (1969)

"Let's make the Earth a great place to live, without war, and traffic accidents." - Aoki
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With Comic Con International: San Diego 2011 in full swing, I wanted to this week's selection for the Saturday Public Domain Movie to be one that would be right at home if it was screened there and could also help pass the time for those waiting in line with nothing to do because they've read all their comics and magnas. It's also a fun choice for anyone not in San Diego. Attack of the Monsters is the English-dubbed version of Gamera vs. Guiron, the fifth movie in the Japanese kaiju series starring Gamera, the giant, flying turtle. In this

AC/DC Let There Be Rock Limited Edition Blu-ray Review:

Listen to it loud!
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AC/DC's 1980 concert film Let There Be Rock captured the Bon Scott-led version of the band at what would unknowingly be its peak, though there were no signs the band was stopping their ascendancy. The outstanding rocker Highway to Hell led to an international expansion of the band's fanbase as the album charted in more countries than previous ones had. They broke the U.S. Top 100 for the first time, getting as high as #17, and nabbed their highest spot in France at #2, which might explain why they decided to shoot their December 9, 1979 performance at the Pavillion

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Navigator (1924)

"Rollo Treadway - Heir to the Treadway fortune - a living proof that every family tree must have its sap"
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This week's installment of the Saturday Public Domain Movie presents our first silent movie: The Navigator, starring and co-directed by Buster Keaton. In his fourth feature film, Keaton portrays Rollo Treadway, a wealthy young man who one day at the spur of the moment decides to propose to his neighbor across the street, Betsy O'Brien (Kathryn McGuire). She rejects him and though disappointed he decides not to waste the honeymoon tickets to Hawaii. Through a mix-up, he unknowingly boards the Navigator, a ship owned by Betsy's father John (Frederick Vroom), which has been sold to an unnamed country at

Have A Laugh! Volume 3 and 4 DVD Review: Samplers of Disney's Animated Stars

The series introduces classic Disney cartoons to young children.
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Disney's Have A Laugh! series is aimed at introducing classic Disney cartoons to young children. Both recent volumes offer five full-length cartoons that have been restored and remastered in their original version with 2.0 audio and edited versions with 5.1 audio. Not sure what the point of the edited versions are, unless it's someway to trick a kid into going to bed early. Volume 3 begins with "Mickey's Delayed Date" (1947). Mickey awakes from a nap to discover he is late for a date with Minnie for a date. Things don't run smoothly as he rushes around, but Pluto comes

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Movie Review: The Empire Strikes Back of the Harry Potter Series

Arguably the best adaptation of the series up to this point.
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As the film begins, the Death Eaters rampage has spilled over into the Muggle world while forces appear coming to a head in the wizard world. Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) collects Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) before the semester has begun to help coax former professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to return to Hogwarts. Dumbledore believes Slughorn, a former teacher of Tom Riddle before he became Lord Voldemort, may have some insight into the Dark Lord's magical powers, and that Harry is the key to getting Slughorn to open up. Narcissa Malfoy goes to see Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), requesting his assistance

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Ultimate Edition Blu-ray Review

Harry, Ron, and Hermione deal with the external forces working for Lord Voldemort and the internal ones associated with growing up.
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Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire is the fourth film of the series based on the fourth book of the same name by J.K. Rowling and finds Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) in their fourth year at Hogwarts. It's another enjoyable installment as the film strikes a good balance as the characters not only deal with the external forces working with the evil wizard Lord Voldemort but also the internal ones associated with growing up. Goblet opens with Voldemort, a tiny misshapen creature at this point, growing in strength, which Harry sees in a

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Movie Review: Why So Sirius?

Plenty of characterization and plot developments keep the viewer's interest.
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It is year three for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends at Hogwarts School and the big news as the year begins is that Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped Azkaban Prison. We first see Sirius as a screaming madman on the headlines of the paper. He was put in prison years ago when he was charged with assisting You-Know-Who in the murder of Harry's parents, and it's assumed he's headed to Hogwarts to find Harry. Knowing that someone is out to murder you is a lot for any teenager to take, but the trauma is compounded when Harry learns

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Movie Review: Mysteries and a Riddle

Though frequently derided as the least favorite film in the franchise, it does contain some magic.
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As Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets begins, life has slightly improved for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) at the Dursley residence. He's moved from the cupboard under the stairs into a room, but his Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw) and Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths), who are raising the boy because his parents are deceased, are still very rude towards him. Dobby the house elf (voiced by Toby Jones) has come to warn Harry not to return to Hogwarts, but when Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and his brothers Fred and George (James and Oliver Phelps) show up one night in a flying

Au revoir les enfants Criterion Blu-ray Review: Louis Malle's Remembrance of Things Past

Another valuable WWII-inspired entry in the Criterion Collection.
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Writer-director Louis Malle's childhood informs Au revoir les enfants, a story about two boys at a Catholic boarding school in occupied France during the winter of 1943. The film presents the period through the point of view of children but that doesn't lessen the story's power as viewers know from history what was unfolding outside the school's walls. Julian Quentin (Gaspard Manesse), when we first see him at the train station, doesn't want to leave his mother's side and return to school from the holiday break, but once there he acts like a tough guy to establish himself with the

The Dark Knight Rises and Teases with New Poster

Take a peek at the poster from Christopher Nolan's new film.
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Don't know if you heard, but Christopher Nolan is doing a sequel to his highly successful The Dark Knight, which continues the adventures of Batman/Bruce Wayne as portrayed by Christian Bale. The villians he faces against in the next film are Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and Bane (Tom Hardy), though when we last saw Batman, the city of Gotham thought he was a villian as well. That's because he took the blame for the murders committed by Harvey Dent, corrupted into the villian Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart) by The Joker (Heath Ledger), in order to protect Dent's memory. The reason why,

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

"All you of Earth are idiots!"
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Welcome to The Saturday Public Domain Movie. Our first installment is Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space. The movie mixes elements of science fiction and horror as aliens come to Earth and resurrect the recently deceased, but for what purpose?! And can they be stopped?! Does our military have the capabilities to defeat both aliens and the undead? Tune in and find out. Starring Vampira, Tor Johnson, and a posthumous appearance by Bela Lugosi from footage intended for other films, Plan 9 has gone on to become a cinema classic in spite of itself, immortalized in Tim Burton's

Game Review: Scene It? - Harry Potter 2nd Edition

Discontinued fun for the whole family.
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Screenlife's Scene It? is the first classic game of the 21st century. It combines aspects of Trivial Pursuit with the capabilities of a DVD technology to show video clips and feature an array of puzzles. Their first release in 2002 dealt with movies and sold more in its first year than the combined first-year totals than Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and Cranium. Expansion games were created dealing with other pop-culture subjects both generally (Music, Sports, and TV, the latter of which won the Toy Industry Association's 2005 Game of the Year) and specifically (Disney, James Bond, and Marvel Comics). Quite possibly

Contest: Win a DVD Two-Pack of Disney's Have A Laugh Volumes 3 and 4

One fan of Disney cartoons can win these two DVDs.
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Cinema Sentries and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win a two-pack of classic Disneys which were released on DVD on June 14, 2011. Each Volume features five classic Disney cartoons, two starring Mickey Mouse and one each with Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto.  The cartoons are available in two options: their original version with 2.0 audio or in an edited version that has been restored and remastered version with 5.1 audio.  Each Have a Laugh DVD contains three BLAM!s, which highlight a scene from a cartoon through slo-mo and

Contest: Win BloodRayne The Third Reich Unrated Director's Cut on DVD

Cinema Sentries and Phase 4 Films have teamed up to bring one lucky reader a chance to win BloodRayne The Third Reich on DVD.
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Coming direct to Blu-ray and DVD on July 5th, Uwe Boll's BloodRayne The Third Reich is the third film in the BloodRayne franchise, which was inspired by the 2002 BloodRayne videogame. Cinema Sentries and Phase 4 Films have teamed up to bring one lucky reader a chance to win the movie on DVD. The synopsis is as follows: half-vampire, half-human, Rayne (Natassia Malthe) hides in the shadows slaughtering vampires and those that get in her way. In 1943 Europe, during World War II, Rayne faces her greatest foe, a growing army of undead Nazi soldiers led by Ekart Brand

30-Day Film Challenge: Your Favorite 2010 Film This Time Last Year

The Challenge is complete. Hope you enjoyed the ride.
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Toy Story 3 by Shawn Bourdo I'm taking this category to mean - a movie that I was a huge fan of last summer. Since we're knee deep in the Summer of 2011 - it's hard to think back just a mere 12 months ago to that fateful Summer of 2010. It wasn't nearly as great as the Summer of 2009 that gave us The Hangover, Up, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Star Trek. The summer was much less hyped and that's kinda appreciated. Early in the summer I enjoyed but was underwhelmed by Iron Man 2.
Drop Dead Fred (1991) by Amanda Salazar Now honestly, there were two favorite films as a child but one of them I have already used in the first entry of this series for my favorite film, Predator. For my next favorite film as a kid it would have to be Drop Dead Fred. It is a pretty simple story about a young woman going through a rough time in her life as she is visited by her childhood imaginary friend, Fred. Doing the best that he can, Fred tries old tricks to cheer her up but is afraid that she
ANPO (2010) by El Bicho I saw director Linda Hoaglund's ANPO at its World Premiere at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Since then, it has played at a few other film festivals and screened at several colleges across the U.S. but I don't expect a theatrical release in the States because of the unflattering light cast on the government and military. ANPO, as it is known in Japan, refers to The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, which was agreed to in 1960. It allowed for American troops and military bases in Japan,
Blood Simple (1984) by Shawn Bourdo Independent films. By definition, I believe we are talking about low-budget, limited-release films. Unless it's your first student film that you're making with your buddies on your credit cards (yes, you, Robert Rodriguez) then most films aren't truly "independent" - they rely on the "system" in one form or another. But the spirit is that these are creator-owned and -directed products. That there wasn't a studio executive breathing down the neck of the director to make sure that the Coke can was properly placed. These are movies typically driven by story not by actors.
Rashomon (1950) by El Bicho This might be the unfairest category of the challenge because I love a great many foreign films and directors that I would like to draw attention to, but I knew the job was dangerous when I took it, so here goes. To come up with an answer, I focused on who was my favorite director in this category. Akira Kurosawa slightly edged out Ingmar Bergman. Then I had to narrow it down to just one title, which was again difficult because if there is any director with a surplus of outstanding films, it's Kurosawa: Yojimbo,
Dying at Grace (2003) by Dusty Somers My favorite documentary is also probably the most difficult film I've ever watched. Allan King's Dying at Grace features him taking a small crew into the palliative care ward of Toronto's Grace Health Centre and documenting the final days of five terminally ill patients, with their permission. Like most of King's documentaries, this one doesn't feature narration or interviews; it's an unblinking form of direct cinema that places the viewer squarely in the center of the action. We watch as three elderly women and an elderly man struggle with cancer and as a
The Incredibles (2004) by Shawn Bourdo The suggestion of the title for today's pic assumes that my animated film might be analagous to a children's film. And yet, it's hard to imagine picking an animated film that one would strictly classify as a children's film to be my favorite. Is someone going to pick A Extremely Goofy Movie over Bambi? One is aimed strictly at the younger audience and the other Disney film contains a storyline that would easily fit under best drama if the characters weren't furry woodland creatures. My love of animated features comes from all the different
The Maltese Falcon (1941) by El Bicho Dashiell Hammett's 1930 detective novel was the basis for multiple movies, but it's the third one (remember this when people decry all remakes) directed by John Huston that captivates me. It's a compelling tale of double-crosses and broken deals brought to life by the vivid potrayals of the brilliant cast, featuring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet. In San Francisco, Miss Ruth Wonderly (Astor) enlists the aide of private investigators Sam Spade (Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) to help retrieve her runaway sister who has taken up with a
Peeping Tom (1960) by Dusty Somers In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock shocked the moviegoing world with Psycho. The same year in Britain, Michael Powell caused even more scandal with his psychosexual horror masterpiece Peeping Tom, but while Hitchcock's reputation as a master filmmaker was only solidified, Powell's career was effectively ruined. Peeping Tom possesses the same bold, expressionistic approach to color that Powell often used in his collaborations with Emeric Pressburger (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes). Here, the entire film is an exercise in boldness, as Powell frankly explores the voyeuristic nature of filmmaking and film viewing, seen through the lens
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) by El Bicho The films of Terry Gilliam are some of the most imaginative in terms of story ideas and visual effects in the history of the art form, and Adventures of... is no different. Based on a real 18th Century German nobleman who told outrageous tales of his adventures, which have been written about, this fantastic film delivers exactly what the title states. During the Age of Reason, an unnamed European city is at war with the Turks. In the city, a traveling theater troupe is performing the story of Baron Munchausen, when

American: The Bill Hicks Story Blu-ray Review: Only the Ruthlessly Funny Die Young

There aren't now and haven't been many comedians like Bill Hicks.
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Stand-up comedian Bill Hicks (1961-1994) was a provocateur, wanting his audiences to think just as much as they laughed. Referring to himself as "Chomsky with dick jokes," Hicks' material frequently delved into politics, religion, and the media and was frequently delivered in an aggressive, confrontational style. No surprise that his act didn't break big in the United States considering how critical he was of the citizenry and their way of life, but he went to the United Kingdom in 1990 and became a hit. Tragically, cancer took his life in 1994 at the age of 32, but he continues to
Punch-Drunk Love (2002) by Dusty Somers My list of favorite movies is overflowing with romantic films made long before I was born. The Earrings of Madame de..., Casablanca, All That Heaven Allows, A Matter of Life and Death -- all achingly romantic and superb films. Finding a truly romantic modern film -- at least one made in the U.S. -- is a much more difficult proposition that becomes nigh impossible when you narrow it down to romantic comedies. That most turgid of genres is responsible for perhaps the bulk of insipid Hollywood studio fare these days (although the comic book
Speed (1994) by Amanda Salazar This was a difficult one to pick as well, but I had to go with my gut on this one and for my favorite action film I would have to pick Speed. This early '90s classic, if I may call it that, is about as action packed as you can get, with car chases (it all takes place on a bus), FBI agents, bad guys with missing fingers, and a great score that kicks up the pace of the entire film. Keanu Reeves is the rogue FBI agent that gets himself on a bus that

30-Day Film Challenge: Your Favorite Comedy

Day 18
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It's A Gift (1934) by El Bicho Narrowing it down to one is tough. I could probably take part in a "30 Days of Comedy" challenge with all my favorites, but I'd like to draw your attention to this gem by W.C. Fields that leaves me in stiches every time. Fields plays grocery store owner Harold Bissonette (pronounced "bis-on-ay"), though like many iconic comic actors, he just plays his infamous person fans loved: "a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist who remained a sympathetic character despite his snarling contempt for dogs, children and women," perfectly described by an unknown writer at Wikipedia.

Contest: Win Cedar Rapids on DVD

Ed Helms and John C. Reilly star in this business-trip comedy.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win Cedar Rapids on DVD.  Learn how to enter below after this fun feature FHE has provided. Cedar Rapids is the hilarious story about Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) who is sent by his insurance company which he work for to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at an annual insurance convention, where he quickly finds himself under the guidance of three convention veterans.  My, How You’ve Changed? In Cedar Rapids, Tim Lippe’s character undergoes a huge personality transformation, going from

30-Day Film Challenge: Your Favorite Drama

Day 17
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Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969) by Shawn Bourdo We're headed into a run of genre specific film choices. It's always a bit difficult because the best films seem to defy genre definitions. Or certainly they crossover between multiple genres. Is Frankenstein a horror picture or a thoughtful drama? It's a bit of both depending on your mood when watching. And it'd be easy to take the obvious route and choose Shawshank Redemption or Citizen Kane because they are so widely regarded. And those films might rank higher on my overall enjoyment list, but I'm particularly fond of the
Dead Poets Society (1989) by Dusty SomersI used to be a sucker for Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society, excited by the film's themes of nonconformity, devastated by the tragedy that befalls one of the characters, and inspired by the iconic, desk-standing conclusion. This movie played me like a fiddle. Now, all I see is a series of empty manipulations wrapped in the shiny packaging of Hollywood sentimentality. It's a film with no convictions other than to tread the safest, most predictable path where the dividing line between who is a good adult and who is a bad adult are drawn
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) by El Bicho This holiday classic by Frank Capra offers a great message about people unable to see the big picture of how good they have it. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a selfless man who sacrifices his own dreams and ambitions for the benefit of others throughout his life. Distraught over his own struggles, George considers suicide because with his insurance policy he thinks he's worth more dead than alive to his family. However, Clarence the Angel (Henry Travers) appears and shows George his notion that life would have better if he hadn't been
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) by Dusty Somers When I told my wife I wanted to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams, she asked me incredulously, "You want to see a 3-D movie?" The reaction was understandable. My dislike of the gimmicky technology reaches Roger Ebert levels of curmudgeonly. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is the latest documentary from Werner Herzog, and it wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows my movie tastes that I'd be all about seeing it. But I surprised even myself with my appreciation for Herzog's functional use of 3-D. The film explores the Chauvet caves
Inspired by the adventure serials they grew up with, George Lucas and Philip Kaufman worked on the story. Lucas then brought in Steven Spielberg, who had a desire at the time to make a James Bond film, to direct because Lucas was in the middle of working on the original Star Wars trilogy. Tom Selleck was initially cast as Jones, but his duties on the television series Magnum P.I. made him unavailable, which opened the door for Harrison Ford to play the role. Retitled in the canon for the 1999 VHS re-issue to match the others, Indiana Jones and the

30-Day Film Challenge: Guilty Pleasure

Day 13
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Spaceballs (1987) by Dusty Somers Mel Brooks' cinematic output is reliably hit-or-miss, but he's got a couple of bona fide classics under his belt, including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. But I'll be honest with you -- there's a different Brooks film that gets more play in my house, and that's Spaceballs, a Star Wars parody that throws in references to Alien, Star Trek and Lawrence of Arabia, among others. Spaceballs doesn't touch Brooks' best work in terms of farce, satire or cleverly lowbrow humor. For the most part, it's just juvenile and packed to the brim with lazy jokes
Night Shift (1982) by El Bicho Had to think about this a bit, but taking the words "least" and "favorite" into account as opposed to "most despised," I decided to go with Ron Howard. Though I haven't seen all of his directorial efforts, I've enjoyed quite a number of his films (such as Splash, Parenthood, and Apollo 13) and intensely disliked a couple others (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Beautiful Mind). Yet in all of them I don't get any sense of a personal style while watching his work. He's not an auteur whose imprint on a film

The Comancheros Blu-ray Review: The Duke Doesn't Abide Bad Guys

"It would break my heart if I had to put a bullet in your back." - Capt. Jake Cutter
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Though not considered one his classic Westerns, The Comancheros is an enjoyable picture in John Wayne's filmography, though I wouldn't argue with any Native Americans who disagreed, but more about that later. The film opens in New Orleans 1843. Gambler Paul Regret (Stuart Hamilton) wins a duel by unintentionally killing his opponent who steps into the bullet. Though there are rules regarding such matters, the deceased was a judge's son, so Regret has to take flight to escape murder charges. On a riverboat, a beautiful young woman named Pilar (Ina Balin) takes great interest in Regret. Though how great is
Strangers on a Train (1951) by Amanda Salazar When it comes to directors I am really only obsessed with one: Alfred Hitchcock. I definitely enjoy, respect, and appreciate others (P.T. Anderson, Christopher Nolan, to name a few) but I have not been as ardent a follower and as dedicated to their filmography as Hitchcock's. It is hard to choose a favorite when it comes to Alfred so I went with one of the first films that I saw of his and one that I often re-watch when I'm in the mood to see anything that he has done. Strangers on

Contest: Win a Blu-ray of The Boondock Saints Truth & Justice Edition

Three lucky readers get to take this Blu-ray home.
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Cinema Sentries and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to give three lucky readers the opportunity to win The Boondock Saints: Truth & Justice Edition on Blu-ray. Troy Duffy's The Boondock Saints had a very poor showing at the box office in 1999, playing on five screens for a week and pulling in a measly $30,471. Yet when released on home video, the hyperviolent action flick went on to become a cult-hit sensation.  The film tells the story of Irish brothers Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) MacManus, who become vigilantes to clean up the city
Sabrina (1954) by Steve Geise She may not have been the most technically impressive actress, but there's no denying that Audrey Hepburn was a captivating screen presence. This is the movie where she first worked her magic on me, and it's still my favorite of hers. Frankly, I'm not at all fond of her later hits such as My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany's, or Charade (especially Charade), but her fresh-faced innocence here was completely winning in this fairy tale of a working-class girl finding love among the wealthy, nicely paralleling her own journey from ingenue to film royalty. It's
Straight Time (1978) by Dusty Somers Like any of the categories that force me to pick a favorite, with this one, I eventually just have to commit, even if I really don't want to. It pains me to neglect Humphrey Bogart, Toshiro Mifune, Jean-Paul Belmondo and countless others, but going with my namesake -- Dustin Hoffman -- just feels right. Ignore the past 20-some years, and you have one of the finest American actors of his generation. I could talk affectionately about The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, Straw Dogs, Lenny and hell, even Tootsie. But here, let's talk about Straight Time,
A Christmas Story (1983) by El Bicho It was a close race, but currently A Christmas Story exhibits the most control over my speech patterns. Doesn't even have to be the holiday season for me to let loose some of author Jean Shepherd's brilliant gems. When there's a package on the step, I say "Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian." When something doesn't go right, I'll say "fudge" and then in a quick aside point out, "only I didn't say 'fudge'." I've even been known to breach etiquette and go straight to the triple-dog dare. With some of the most memorable

True Grit (2010) Blu-ray Review: Fill Your Hand With It

The high standards set by True Grit the film have been maintained by those responsible for creating the Blu-ray.
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Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) because of his reputation for having grit and reveals that at the age of 14 she did also. The Coen Brothers possess the same trait as well, evidenced by their ignoring those who scoffed at the notion of their remaking a well-known film, which featured an iconic performance by an iconic actor, and created another classic in their oeuvre. Most of True Grit is told in a flashback as Mattie (Elizabeth Marvel) reflects on the time she left home to avenge the death of her father at the hands of
Now and Then (1995) by Amanda Salazar Not only did I watch this movie when I was younger, reminiscing about my childhood with my girlfriends but this movie is all about past to present and "the good ol' days." The film that will always remind me of my past is Now and Then. Perhaps it is the sleepovers that we had watching this film or even us deciding which character we were most like in the movie but I can't help thinking this film not only reminds me of my past but also of my best girlfriends. Yes, it falls
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) by El Bicho I was 17 when Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out on May 23, 1984, and that would be the first time I waited in line overnight with a group of high school friends. Though I vividly remember strecthing out on lawn chairs under the stars, I can't remember who all was there. The location was Orange, CA at the theaters formerly known as the Cinedome. Although we took off school (I had Mom's permission) in order to be part of the first group to
Sunrise (1927) by Dusty Somers I consider it part of my duty as an older brother to help educate my 15-year-old brother on some of the finer points of culture. Sometimes it feels like a lost cause, but then I think back to when I was 15 and I empathize. Earlier this year, I took my brother to see a screening with live score of the sublime Sunrise -- his first silent film. Perhaps Sunrise isn't the best silent film with which to introduce an uninitiated teenager -- maybe something from Chaplin or Keaton would have been a better choice

Contest: Win a DVD of N-Secure

Cinema Sentries and Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to bring three lucky readers a chance to win N-Secure on DVD.
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Cinema Sentries and Fox Home Entertainment have teamed up to bring three lucky readers a chance to win the thriller N-Secure on DVD. Coming to Blu-ray and DVD on June 14th, David M. Matthews' N-Secure is about successful businessman David Washington (Cordell Moore, Diary of a Mad Black Woman) whose need to control everything in his life costs him his plan for a perfect marriage when girlfriend Robin (Essence Atkins, Are We There Yet?) leaves him. David is determined not to let that happen again and when he begins a new relationship with Tina (Denise Boutte, Meet the Browns),
Requiem for a Dream (2000) by El Bicho Although I don't watch films to purposely feel down, I know this title will take me there because writer/director Darren Aronofsky created one of the most disturbing, visceral experiences I've ever had in a movie theater. Based on Hubert Selby, Jr.'s 1978 novel of the same name, Requiem for a Dream is a brutal examination of drug addiction through the lives of four characters. Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) is an elderly widow in Brooklyn who dreams of being on TV. When the opportunity to appear on a game show arises, she begins

Platoon Blu-ray Review: A Balanced, Realistic Portrayal of War

"Somebody once wrote: 'Hell is the impossibility of reason.' That's what this place feels like. Hell." - Pvt. Chris Taylor
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MGM commemorates the 25th anniversary of Oliver Stone's Academy Award-winning Platoon with its debut on Blu-ray. The film tells the story of Private Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) and the men he served with during his tour of duty in Vietnam. Taylor stands in for writer/director Oliver Stone, whose own experiences in Vietnam were the basis of the story, and he provides a glimpse of what went on for those who weren't there. Taylor volunteered to join the Infantry, wanting to serve his country the same way his father and grandfather had, and in September of 1967 he became a member
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) by Shawn Bourdo Is anyone going to pick anything other than a comedy? Do you watch Kramer Vs. Kramer to feel good? But the term "to feel good" all by itself suggests that you are feeling bad to start. Well, The Naked Gun is a perfect tonic to that for me. It's even crazier and more simple than Airplane. I can drop in on this film at any point and start to instantly feel better. The combination of non-stop gags, not worrying about a plot and the fun of guessing
Saving Private Ryan (1998) by El Bicho Set during WWII, three Ryan brothers have died within days of each other. The higher-ups don't want this family to suffer any more so they order Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men behind enemy lines in France to find Private James Frances Ryan (Matt Damon) so he can return home. Aside from the technically stellar sequence of the landing at Omaha Beach and a couple of compelling characters, Saving Private Ryan falls short in a number of areas that almost cause me to dislike the film more than I like it. Tom

30-Day Film Challenge: Favorite Film

The Cinema Sentries are taking part in the 30-Day Film Challenge during June. Join them.
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Citizen Kane (1941) by El Bicho There are quite a number of films I love. Many of which I could easily call my favorite on any given day, but if forced to pick one that demonstrates outstanding talent across the board and would be the most accessible, I have to go with Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, which impresses me greatly every time I watch it. Inside a palatial estate, an old man dies alone in the middle of the night. A newsreel reveals him to be Charles Foster Kane, once powerful newspaper tycoon and heir to the third richest goldmine.

Drive Angry DVD Review: Watch Disappointed

I wish the Accountant had taken this back to Hell before I saw it.
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Nicolas Cage, a name you can no longer trust with your entertainment dollar, plays Milton, a man who busts out of Hell with a purpose: to find cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke) and get back what's his. Milton is revealed to be quite the badass with a gun and has no qualms about going through whoever stands in his way. Although she has no idea what's she's getting herself into, a young woman named Piper (Amber Heard), a badass herself, befriends Milton and helps him with his mission as she leaves her life behind. The Devil also wants back

The Snob Seven: War Movies

The Sentries remember their favorites on Memorial Day.
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As the United States celebrates Memorial Day in commemoration of the men and women who died in military service and the unofficial start to summer, Cinema Sentries takes a look at their favorite war movies. The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946) by Greg Barbrick William Wyler's The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946) is a brilliantly crafted study of three returning World War II veterans. It won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director - and set attendance records. There are a number of reasons this film is so special, chief among them being its realism in

M*A*S*H Blu-ray Review: A Brilliant Military Farce

The bits of comedic insanity are separated by the insanity of war.
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Based on Richard Hooker's novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors and, as it turns out according to the extras, on Ring Lardner Jr.'s script to the screenwriter's initial chagrin, Robert Altman and the cast deliver a brilliant military farce equal to classics like Duck Soup and Dr. Strangelove. In fact, while M*A*S*H is celebrated as an antiwar film, the anti-authority anarchy plays out very much like an R-rated Marx Brothers movie would have, particularly because there's not so much a story taking place but rather characters making their way through a series of comedic vignettes. However, the film

The Times of Harvey Milk Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: History in the Making

An outstanding documentary that presents an important chapter in the United States civil rights movement.
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The Times of Harvey Milk is an outstanding documentary that presents an important chapter in the United States civil rights movement as homosexual men and women strove for equality in the 1970s, which unfortunately still eludes them four decades later. Winning a seat on the San Franciscan Board of Supervisors in 1977, Harvey Milk earned the distinction of being California's first openly gay elected official and one of the first in the country. His pro-gay legislative work and his calls for gays to "come out of the closet" made him a de facto leader of the gay-rights movement. Tragically, Harvey's

My Last Movie Before the Rapture

It's too late and would be disingenuous to start pandering now.
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While I don't understand it myself, a number of people in the media have apparently decided to stop paying attention to important matters to instead focus on (what I presume are) the mad ravings of Harold Camping, a Christian radio evangelist and president of the Family Radio network, who has predicted that May 21, 2011 would be the day the Rapture would take place as prophesied in the Bible. He even specified the hour, 6 p.m. local time. Considering he made the same claims about the Rapture taking place on September 6, 1994, it seems odd that Camping would be

Pirates of Tortuga DVD Review: A Love Story at its Core

Fans of Classic Hollywood spectacles should enjoy this romantic tale.
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Captain Bart (Ken Scott) and the crew of the Mermaid have been requested to stop the piracy of former British officer Henry Morgan (Robert Stephens) and his cohorts who have taken over the Caribbean. They have cut off the British subjects on Jamaica from the rest of the Empire, no ships get in or out. After accepting the mission, Bart rounds up his former officers who used to serve with him. On his way back to the ship, Bart rescues a pickpocket named Meg (Letícia Román) from an angry butcher who was her latest victim. She is very feisty and

A High Wind in Jamaica DVD Review: This Children's Pirate Adventure Blows

An action film starring Coburn and Quinn sounds good on paper. Unfortunately, that's not what this movie contains.
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At the time of its release in 1965 A High Wind in Jamaica might have been an adequate adventure for children, but it does not stand the test of time. There's not enough action and it moves too slowly. It might be a fun treat for people who grew up with it or for fans of classic Hollywood, but no one from Generation X onward could sit still through this. A hurricane hits the Caribbean and the Thorton family takes cover. Young Emily, a precursor to Ripley from Alien, risks her life by running out to save the cat. Her

Army of Shadows Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Different Kind of Spy Thriller

An impressive film that honors those whose story it tells.
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Writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows (1969) opens with a powerful image: an extended take of a long line of Nazi soldiers marching in front of Paris' Arc de Triomphe. No one else can be seen in the frame, as if Paris has become a ghost town now that the German army occupies it. This scene helps remind the viewer of how evil the Nazis were as opposed to the goofy, bumbling portrayals so often seen in the media from Captain America comic books to the Hogan's Heroes television series and the Indiana Jones movies. A sense of dread permeates

Friday the 13th (1980) Blu-ray Review: The Uncut Edition

The one that launched a franchise.
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After the success of John Carpenter's Halloween, producer/director Sean Cunningham decided to rip it off, according to screenwriter Victor Miller. In doing so, they, along with make-up artist Tom Savini, created a pop culture sensation that returned more than 70 times its budget at the box office. Unknowingly, they were starting a horror movie franchise that would create more sequels and earn more money than its inspiration. Friday the 13th opens in 1958 at Camp Crystal Lake in New Jersey. A young couple of counselors sneak off to have sex in an attic and are killed. We flash-forward a couple

The Snob Seven: Comic Book Movies

With great source material can also come great films.
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In honor of Saturday's Free Comic Book Day and the release of Thor continuing the onslaught of comic book properties adapted for the silver screen, Cinema Sentries takes a look at their favorite movies based on comics. Batman Returns (1992) by El Bicho Before 1989, the majority of the general public used to think of Batman as the camp character played by Adam West on the TV series. Tim Burton, along with his talented cast and crew, changed that. Burton's vision of the caped crusader was dark, similar to both the character's first appearances as well as his portrayal in

All-Star Superman Blu-ray Review: You Will Believe a Man Can Die

An action-packed adventure that has something to offer even to those who aren't fans of the character.
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I've always been ambivalent towards Superman. Though a longtime fan of superheroes, I didn't collect any of his comics unless he was paired with other heroes; however, as a kid, I enjoyed the old Filmation cartoons and Superman II. Admittedly, I may not have read the right books, but I've never felt a connection with the character. While I know all heroes will eventually triumph, the outcome of Superman's battles never seem in doubt. Plus, Clark Kent lacks the angst and struggle of every day life that characters like Peter Parker or the X-Men experience, which make them more accessible.

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen Movie Review

Donnie Yen makes a welcome return to the character.
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Even if you don't know that Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen is a continuation of the 1995 Hong Kong television series Fist of Fury, which was based on the 1972 film of the same name starring Bruce Lee, it is an entertaining martial-arts movie. The prologue opens in 1917 France with Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen, who also served as action choreographer) as one of 150,000 workers sent to France to fight and assist the allies against the Germans. Zhen is called upon to save a group of his Chinese compatriots through a captivating action sequence when

The Incredibles Blu-ray Review: An Incredible High Def Experience

An engaging drama about a man struggling to balance career and family set in a superhero world.
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The Incredibles is an imaginative story that makes the most of being an animated film, as evidenced by the stunning action sequences, but its real strength is built on the believable characters. Written and directed by Brad Bird, the film is an engaging drama about a man struggling to balance career and family set in a superhero world. An action-packed prologue introduces Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) as he fights crime and helps people, but lawsuits by the ungrateful result in legislation requiring superheroes to give up using their powers. Fifteen years later, Mr. Incredible is now known as Bob

Fiddler on the Roof 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Review

The musical about tradition debuts in a new format.
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Norman Jewison's Fiddler on the Roof has been released on Blu-ray in time for its 40th anniversary. The winner of three Academy Awards was adapted from the 1964 musical of the same name, which won nine Tonys and was based on Tevye and His Daughters by Sholem Aleichem. The story is set in 1905 in the small town of Anatevka, Russia, comprised of an Orthodox Jewish community and an Orthodox Christian community, all living under the rule of the Czar. Tevye (Topol) serves as the narrator and main character. He is a poor Jewish milkman with five daughters, three of

The Cure Trilogy Blu-ray Review

A wonderfully draining experience.
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Recorded live on November 11th and 12th in 2002 at the Tempodrom Berlin, The Cure played a concert that had Cure fans, usually associated with the color black, turn green with envy with the announcement the band would perform in their entirety the albums Pornography, Disintegration, and Bloodflowers, which as Robert Smith says, "are inextricably linked in so many ways." Intentionally or not, the performance commemorates Pornography's 20th anniversary and the Blu-ray release commemorates Disintegration's. It was previously available as a DVD in 2003. The band's line-up for this concert is a quintet whose members have different levels of familiarity

The Who Live at The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 DVD Review: Absolutely Brilliant

Who's the greatest rock and roll band of all time? This DVD may make the case.
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Throughout the ages, humanity has struggled to find the answers to great philosophical questions in the hopes of making sense of the universe. Although there are no absolute truths, many take a firm position in their beliefs to create order and meaning in the universe, which serves a dual purpose of providing comfort and keeping the abyss at bay. Responses to three of the most important define who a person is. They are: What is the meaning of life? Is there a supreme being? Who's the greatest rock and roll band of all time? This DVD may make a case

U2 3D Movie Review: Almost Better Than the Real Thing

U2 gives viewers something they can nearly feel, fee-ee-eel.
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U2 3D raised the bar for concert films to a whole new level. Captured during U2's Vertigo tour of 2005/'06 in support of their album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, the viewer is immersed in the closest recreation of the concert-going experience through the combination of "the first digital 3-D, multi-camera production of a live-action event" and a 5.1 Surround soundtrack. Even people who aren't fans of the band will be hard pressed to deny the power that the technology is able to deliver.As the band opens with "Vertigo," the film jumps around the stadium, showing the band from

Shine A Light DVD Review: The Rolling Stones and Martin Scorsese Deliver Satisfaction

These legends prove they still got it with this concert filmed in 2006.
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Longevity in the arts can be a double-edge sword. Artists no doubt appreciate having long careers in the endeavors they love, but it must be aggravating when they inevitably and unfairly have new material judged in comparison to the best works of their careers rather than on its own merits. This certainly happens to The Rolling Stones and director Martin Scorsese, two legends in their respective fields, who haven't come close to the consistent creative heights they previously achieved. It's a tough position for anyone to argue anything they have released since the former's Some Girls (1978) and the latter's

The Snob Seven: Concert Films

When movies and music come together, it can be a marvelous thing.
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With the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival marking the beginning of the Summer Concert Season in the United States on April 15th, the Sentries and some friends have gathered together to reflect on their favorite concert films. Monterey Pop (1968) by Glen Boyd There are a multitude of reasons why, nearly fifty years later, the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival maintains its secure place in history as one of the greatest music festivals of all time. From the star making performances of The Who, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix, to the bittersweet way it captures this milestone cultural and musical

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music (Director's Cut) Blu-ray Review: The Beginning of the End of the '60s

The 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition is quite a trip.
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The Woodstock Festival of 1969 was much more than a concert, unintentionally becoming the symbol of the decade's youth/hippie movement shortly before it came to an end. The potential those "3 [August] Days of Peace & Music" offered was so appealing at that time in the United States it spoke to hundreds of thousands of people, inspiring them to descend on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, New York, to take part in the festivities.The event lives on through Michael Wadleigh's excellent Academy Award-winning film, which documented the experience as well as the medium could allow. Wadleigh and his team of

The Complete Monterey Pop Festival Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Marvelous Time Capsule

The set includes the films: Monterey Pop, Jimi Plays Monterey, and Shake! Otis at Monterey.
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During the Summer of Love, the weekend of June 16-18, 1967 to be specific, the Monterey International Pop Music Festival was held. Thankfully for all those of us unable to attend director D.A. Pennebaker led a team of cameramen to record it, and an equal amount of gratitude goes to The Criterion Collection for releasing The Complete Monterey Pop Festival, consisting of the films Monterey Pop, Jimi Plays Monterey, and Shake! Otis at Monterey. Although surprisingly short in length considering three days of music is encapsulated into 79 minutes, Monterey Pop is a solid film. It opens with scenes of

Seven Samurai Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Cinematic Masterpiece of Epic Proportions

A landmark in the history of film whose influence is still felt.
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The premise of Seven Samurai is a simple one: a group of farmers hire seven samurai to deal with bandits harassing them. What develops from that is a cinematic masterpiece of epic proportions due to the talents of the cast and crew led by Akira Kurosawa. Set during 16th century Japan, a group of farmers can no longer take having their harvests being stolen. It is determined that they need protection in the form of samurai, but some protest bringing the warriors to their village. A few men go to the city looking for help but with only food to

Joyeux Noel Movie Review: Demonstrating People Are More Alike Than Different

It walks a fine line between comedy and drama and excels at both without compromising either.
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Winter 1914 on the front lines of WWI in German-occupied France. The Germans are fighting against the French and the Scots, who are allied together. It is a continual struggle of trench warfare with assistance from rear artillery. The soldiers are all within close proximity to each other as they battle over this scrap of land. Huddled in their trenches on a cold Christmas Eve, the men try to make the best of the time. It is all quiet along this western front, when the voice of a German tenor breaks the silence. The Scots answer back on bagpipes. Enemies

The Snob Seven: Movies for St. Patrick's Day

A few favorite films to watch on this Irish holiday.
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No matter your taste, this list should have something for your St. Patrick's Day viewing. The Quiet Man (1952) In a partnership that saw director John Ford and actor John Wayne create more than 20 films together, The Quiet Man was atypical being that it was a romance. Wayne plays Sean Thornton, an Irish-born American, who returns to his family's farm. He falls for Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara), but her brother "Red" Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) stands in the way by refusing to give up the family dowry. This leads Sean and Red into an epic fist fight that

The Lincoln Lawyer Movie Review: Guilty of Being a Very Good Film

If you are looking for well-written thriller, make an appointment with The Lincoln Lawyer.
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Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer stars Matthew McConaughey in an impressive performance as Los Angeles attorney Michael "Mick" Haller. Mick's a slick manipulator of the legal system; a guy who plays all sides to his advantage while defending his less-than-model-citizen clientele and annoying the police. However, he meets his match when, at the request of bail bondsman Val (John Leguizamo), he represents Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe), a Beverly Hills rich kid accused of attempted rape and murder. The case seems like easy money, and even better big money, with Louis vehemently

The Snob Seven: Love Stories

A few favorite films that look at love and relationships.
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Whether you celebrate St Valentine's or not, here are a few favorite films that look at love and relationships: City Lights (1931) Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp falls in love with a blind, flower-shop worker (Virginia Cherrill). She thinks he's rich and he doesn't dissuade her of that notion. He endeavors to raise money for an operation to restore her sight. Admittedly, the Tramp's love is superficial, based purely on the blind girl's looks, but the emotion of the scene when she realizes that this Tramp is her savior overwhelms me so much, I have been know to get choked up

The Snob Seven: Favorite Feature Film Debuts

Do you remember their first time?
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Fresh off the debut of our new home and with the debut of the new feature The Snob Seven, "Favorite Feature Film Debuts" seemed the perfect topic to kick things off. In chronological order, mine are: The Cocoanuts (1929) The Four Marx Brothers first brought their comic anarchy to the silver screen in this adaptation of their hit Broadway show. The brothers are set loose upon the Florida land boom in the '20s lookng to make money by hook or by crook. One of the funniest moments is the "Why a Duck?" scene as Groucho tries to enlist Chico in

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1: The Beginning of the End

It's always darkest before the dawn.
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As the last chapter of the Harry Potter saga commences, the evil Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) control over the Wizarding world has grown after the death of Dumbledore. His Death Eaters are searching for Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) because his death is required to restore Voldemort to his full power. Unfortunately, the numbers of those fighting for good are dwindling. Harry can't stand being responsible for the loss of any more life, and with his best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), they head off in search of the remaining Horcruxes, which contain portions of Voldemort's soul, in order

Raging Bull 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: That's Entertainment

Director Martin Scorsese's masterpiece is celebrated on Blu-ray.
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Martin Scorsese's biography about middleweight boxer Jake "The Raging Bull" La Motta (Robert DeNiro) is a fascinating spectacle of filmmaking as he pulls out all the stops to tell the story of a man who is his own worst enemy. In 1964, Jake is heavyset, rehearsing a nightclub act. The film then cuts to 1941 where he loses a fight to Jimmy Reeves based on the judges' scores even though he beat Reeves so bad in the final round Reeves couldn't stand up to acknowledge his win. Noticing many in the audience angry at the decision, Jake's manager and

The Town (2010) Movie Review: Crime and Some Punishment

An action-packed thriller with a story that falters by the finish.
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Based on Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, director Ben Affleck delivers an action-packed, suspense-filled crime drama populated with great performances by a talented cast. While appealing on many levels, The Town ultimately left me unsatisfied due to its conclusion and its clichéd characters. Affleck plays Doug MacRay, leader of a bank-robbing crew from Charlestown, MA, a city notoriously known producing bank robbers. During the first job that opens the film, Doug's team reveals themselves to be very knowledgeable about their business and that of the bank's inner workings. When one of the employees trips the alarm, loose cannon James

Toy Story 3 Blu-ray Review: You'll Never Outgrow It

One of the best films of 2010 is now one of the best Blu-ray releases of 2010.
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When a studio delivers a third installment in a series, it's often more focused on making money rather than making the movie, but the folks at Pixar honor their legacy and reveal respect for their audience with the outstanding Toy Story 3. It is one of the best films of 2010 and now one of the best Blu-ray releases of the yearsToy Story 3 opens with a wonderfully imaginative and memorable sequence from the mind of Andy, and the equally imaginative creative team led by director Lee Unkrich, as heroes Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) battle against

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