Recently by Kristen Lopez

Camp X-Ray Movie Review: Exploring the Gray in Guantanamo Bay

Kristen Stewart finally shows her talent in this thought-provoking drama.
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In the thirteen years since the events of September 11th, the "detainees" in Guantanamo and their rights have been hotly debated. Director Peter Sattler tells a story of individuals, where the soldiers are just as helpless to explain the events in the prison as those serving time, many without ever being given due process of the law, hoping to cast light on the gray area in-between with his debut feature film Camp X-Ray. Despite some cumbersome pacing issues, Camp X-Ray is a bittersweet, evocative tale of two people just as burdened and bound by the U.S. military, albeit for different

Rifftrax Host Mike Nelson Talks Anaconda, Michael Bay and More

Nelson also covers the joys of Jon Voight, how hard it is to watch movies out of riff mode, and whether he thinks time is a flat circle.
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If I interview Bill Corbett, I'll have talked to all three members of the Rifftrax crew! Maybe that sounds like bragging on my part, but these guys are the coolest trio on the planet, responsible for creating hilarious "riffs" on your favorite (and films whose favoritism you refuse to acknowledge) films via their site, Rifftrax. After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, and the presentation of Roland Emmerich's Godzilla on the big screen (which was reviewed by Mark Buckingham), the trio are back with a Halloween treat: performing a live Riff on Anaconda! I sat down with Mike Nelson to

The Dog Movie Review: What Really Happened on a Dog Day Afternoon

The story of the brash man who robbed a bank for love...so he says
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It’s an unspoken rule in Hollywood’s appropriation of true events that said events are either painfully underwhelming or infinitely juicer than what ends up on the screen. So it is with the story of John Wojtowicz, the man who inspired Sidney Lumet’s 1975 drama, Dog Day Afternoon. Wojtowicz’s story is fascinating, but the flaw of a documentary with one predominant voice is bias smothers the filmmakers' intention of burrowing under the surface. Much like Dog Day Afternoon itself, there’s way more left off-screen than presented within. On a hot August day in 1972, John Wojtowicz and an accomplice robbed the

Sabotage (2014) Blu-ray Review: A Lesson in Self-Sabotage

A somewhat progressive '80s throwback eschewing story for blood-letting.
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Since his return to acting post-Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger hasn’t exactly been embraced with open arms by the action junkies of the world. His films are fun, but they aren’t the boffo box-office juggernauts they once were, and, along with his compatriots Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis (all of whom have found success as a package deal in The Expendables series), represent a dying era of action films audiences find cheesy and retro. Schwarzenegger’s latest, Sabotage, is certainly a brutal throwback to the ‘80s actioners of Schwarzenegger’s youth, and while there's some fantastic work from the females of the

Book Review: Archie: The Swingin' Sixties, Volume Two: 1963-1965 by Bob Montana and Bruce Canwell

A swingin' good time with Archie and the gang.
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Almost anyone can name the first comic book they ever read. For many, it’s some type of superhero in either the Marvel or DC universe, but, for me, it was Archie and his gang from Riverdale. Yes, Archie and crew are very tame, and were also a highly idealized product of their time (attempts to break into other avenues to break their cookie-cutter image are on-going). My experience was with the various “digests,” containing several stories pasted into one book. Recently, IDW Publishing started putting out collections comprised of Archie’s adventures in the newspapers. Their latest collection, Archie: The Swingin’

Interview: Caroll Spinney and Dave LaMattina Talk Big Bird and "Wow" Moments

Documentarian Dave LaMattina and puppeteer Caroll Spinney talk about their collaboration.
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I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story sits comfortably at number one on my Best Movies of 2014 list. Whether it stays at number one depends on the rest of the year, but it'll be hard for another movie to play on my emotions, and better yet, my nostalgia, than this. I was fortunate to spend a few minutes talking to I Am Big Bird's co-director Dave LaMattina, and Big Bird himself, Caroll Spinney, about the documentary, the moments that made them go "wow," and Disney dunking their characters. In the end, these two left me laughing and almost

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story Movie Review: Big Bird Brings Joy!

A darling story about a beloved television icon
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Sesame Street’s Big Bird is one of the most beloved icons of children’s programming, if not the icon of childhood itself. But do you know the man living inside the suit? The man whom, without him, Big Bird or Oscar the Grouch wouldn’t exist? A life without these two characters is a horrific thought, which makes telling puppeteer Caroll Spinney’s story all the more necessary. I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story seeks to go inside the character of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to learn about the man who gives them life. Directors Dave LaMattina and Chad

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Blu-ray Review: Thar's Murder in Them Hills!

Owning The Treasure of the Sierra Madre on Blu-ray is easier than finding the treasure itself.
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If The Maltese Falcon was “the stuff that dreams are made of,” then The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is the stuff which gets you sent to Hell. John Huston’s comment on greed and materialism utilizes film noir tropes to create a multilayered experience as profound as it is entertaining. Beautifully rendered for Blu-ray from Warner Brothers, Treasure of the Sierra Madre ensnares you. Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) is a bum living in Tampico, Mexico whose aspirations are grander than his current situation. When he meets up with a young man named Curtain (Tim Holt) and a crazy old-timer

I Am Divine DVD Review: Hairspray and Hilarity

The story of an ugly duckling who transformed into a Pink Flamingo.
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I’ve loved The Little Mermaid since I was five years old. Ursula is one of my favorite Disney villains. So when I was about 13 and had the internet at my disposal I discovered the inspiration for my favorite villain was John Waters’ “muse,” Divine. To me, the name meant absolutely nothing until I grew older. For all my appreciation of John Waters’s macabre humor and the role Divine played in it, I never knew anything about Divine as a person or actor. Thanks to documentarian Jeffrey Schwartz I’ve come away with a greater appreciation for the man who was

Warner Archive Instant Review: S.O.B. (1981)

A bleak, but funny, tale of Hollywood's love/hate relationship with itself.
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I’m a sucker for satirical movies about the vanity and prestige of Hollywood. Movies like The Player, Tropic Thunder, etc. cast a dark eye on the cast of characters who provide us entertainment on a daily basis. Blake Edwards’ S.O.B. is a semi-autobiographical skewering of Hollywood movers and shakers which simultaneously netted him a Golden Globe and Writers Guild nominations, alongside Razzies wins for Worst Screenplay and Worst Director. I came to the movie with a more prurient history: S.O.B. is the movie where Julie Andrews bares her breasts, and maybe for some readers that’ll be enough to get them

Hidden Horror Book Review: A New Guide for Horror Hounds

Looking for a horror movie to watch? Hidden Horror is the perfect guide to recommending new favorites.
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I jump at the opportunity to read and review movie guides devoted to spotlighting movies off the beaten path. Film buffs always hear about the “must-sees” but what about the movies which continually slip under the radar de to limited budget or lack of audience? This happens the most in the horror field, a genre often glutted with so much product it’s easy to believe they’re all crappy. I remember Fangoria putting out an excellent horror film guide a few years back, but haven’t found a similar book which capitalized on blending smaller horror movies with some which have received

Burton and Taylor DVD Review: Glitz and Camp the BBC Way

An intriguing look at a little known time in their lives.
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Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were immortalized as the tempestuous George and Martha in 1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The twice married (to each other) and divorced couple were life-long friends and their relationship is the poster child for on-again/off-again couples. In 2012, Lindsay Lohan scandalized the late Taylor in Lifetime’s screeching Liz & Dick, so when the BBC announced their own take on the Burton//Taylor relationship, simply dubbed Burton and Taylor, it was believed the British channel was riding Lifetime’s coattails. Burton and Taylor is head and shoulders above Liz & Dick, but it’s far from an enduring

The Wrong Quarry Book Review: Pure Pulpy Goodness

Max Allan Collins' latest is a thrilling send-up of the grittiest pulp paperbacks.
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In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a fan of author Max Allan Collins and have written in other places about his various books. With that out in the open, this is my first foray into his Quarry series, with more experience reading his true crime/historical mysteries led by Detective Nathan Heller. The Quarry series is heavily steeped in the world of Mickey Spillane (of whom Collins has worked with previously), with its mix of old-fashioned noir mystery and tons of salacious sex. The mystery of The Wrong Quarry is fairly light and unmemorable, but Collins’ rapid-fire prose is enough

Fruitvale Station Blu-ray Review: As Emotional As If It Happened Yesterday

The shocking death of Oscar Grant is reenacted tragically and reverently by debut director Ryan Coogler
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As a California resident, specifically living near San Francisco, Fruitvale Station produced a slew of emotions before I sat down to watch it. I vividly remember the death of Oscar Grant and the ensuing trial and rioting following the verdict. It’s enough to color my perspective of how first-time director Ryan Coogler chooses to depict events. Regardless, as a film, Fruitvale Station is a moving tribute to Grant’s memory, as well as an exploration on the notion of race, personal history, and seizing the moment.On New Year’s Eve, 2008, 22-year-old Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) and a group of friends

20 Feet from Stardom Blu-ray Review: The Year's Best Documentary Appreciates Music's Unsung Ladies

'20 Feet From Stardom' is still a long way to fame in this beautiful documentary devoted to the ladies of music.
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In our world of autotune and lip-synching it isn’t easy finding joy and talent within the music industry today. Thank goodness 20 Feet from Stardom is here to remind us; an uplifting documentary exploring the unsung (pun intended) ladies of the industry: backup singers. Joy, sadness, and unyielding potential coalesce to produce one of the best documentaries of the year!They’re literally twenty feet away from the microphone, and yet their hooks are the ones people sing endlessly to themselves. Background singers have been indelible within the music scene since the 1960s, and yet their attempts at solo careers generally end

The Act of Killing Movie Review: Art, Reality, and History Collide

A biting documentary casting a lens on war, genocide, and moviemaking.
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When controversy springs up about the effects of American movies on the nation’s children, people respond in kind or roll their eyes. Movies are fictional, and anyone who doesn’t know that shouldn’t be watching them, right? In a way, Joshua Oppenheimer’s chilling documentary, The Act of Killing, is an exploration of the effects of American movies on the world’s children, and the results are surprising. Outside of the myriad of questions revolving around history and entertainment, the story follows a group of mass murderers coming to terms with atrocities they committed. The Act of Killing is a necessary piece of

The AckerMonster Chronicles! DVD Review: A Loving Tribute to the Scary

Forrest J. Ackerman's life and love of horror is spotlighted in this charming documentary.
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If you’ve ever grown up appreciating classic movie monsters, from King Kong to the work of Ray Harryhausen, than Forrest J. Ackerman deserves credit. His Famous Monsters of Filmland has inspired everyone associated with horror from Stephen King to Joe Dante. Unfortunately, Ackerman’s final years were mired in legal troubles and ill health, but his spirit lives on. Director Jason Brock lovingly pays tribute, and creates a solid documentary with The AckerMonster Chronicles! If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the man behind the magazine, Brock’s documentary whets your appetite and delivers on all it sets out to discuss.Ackerman wasn’t

The Black Swan Blu-ray Review: Entertainment Ahoy!

Adventures rage on the high seas with Fox's latest Blu-ray
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20th Century Fox Home Entertainment appeased movie fans this year with their Voice Your Choice program, wherein readers could vote for which classic films would receive a proper Blu-ray release. With the year coming to a close, Fox has released all the winners and they’re all special in their own way. The Black Swan is a quintessential swashbuckler filled with derring-do and swords aplenty. Anchored (pun kind of intended) by entertaining work from Tyrone Power, Laird Cregar, and Maureen O’Hara, The Black Swan may be out of touch at times, but the adventure on the high seas is unparalleled. When

Book Review: The Fat Lady Sang by Robert Evans

Robert Evans goes to hell and back in his new autobiography.
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Robert Evans is one of the few remaining producers anyone can name in Hollywood. After the smashing success of his autobiography, and subsequent documentary, The Kid Stays in the Picture, Evans became the poster child for Hollywood rambunctiousness and at the age of eighty he isn’t quitting yet. His second book, The Fat Lady Sang, isn’t necessarily an autobiography with loose lips and gossip dripping from every page; it’s an introspective story about a man who almost dies and is reborn into a body which refuses to cooperate. Writing the book kept Evans sane, and while it isn’t a page

2 Guns Blu-ray Review: Bullets and Jokes Go Hand-in-Hand

Washington and Wahlberg band together to shoot guns and make you laugh.
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In a year where '80s throwbacks are all the rage, 2 Guns is probably the best example of throwback done right. The plot is unnecessarily convoluted, filled with too many villains to keep track of, but anchored firmly by charismatic leads, Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. Their chemistry together is worth the price of admission, and could be the beginnings of a burgeoning movie friendship if they play their cards right. Bobby Trench (Washington) is an undercover DEA agent, while Michael Stigman (Wahlberg) is undercover naval intelligence. Neither one knows the other’s true identity, but they end up pairing together
After watching the phenomenal documentary, CinemAbility, I was excited to sit down and talk to the movie’s director, Jenni Gold about her time as a Hollywood director and her amazing work. I’m wont to performing formal interviews, especially fearing I’ll run out of questions, but while talking to Jenni I found myself deferring the questions and having an amazing conversation with her about disability, movies, and everything in between.Our conversation started with me gushing about the documentary and discussing the merits of wheelchair use with Jenni. Take note, they have as many advantages as disadvantages. The thing I loved the

CinemAbility Movie Review: One of the Most Important Documentaries Everyone Should See

Disability is at the forefront of this amazing documentary.
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I recall a prophetic moment in my life when my mother told me, “There are not many people you can emulate who look like you.” Growing up with a disability, it was always frustrating for me to dream of a job as a writer, especially in the entertainment arena, and realize I was a minority (female) within a minority (disabled) dreaming of a job where appearance is everything. As I’ve grown older, I never once thought of analyzing movies with regards to disabilities, even though I myself am disabled. It’s a bizarre contradiction at the heart of director Jenni Gold’s

I Married a Witch Criterion Blu-ray Review: Veronica Lake Bewitches, Bothers, and Bewilders

Love can be a witch if you're Veronica Lake.
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Halloween may be over, but any time is a good time for a new Halloween classic to mix in with your films next year. I’ve waited over a decade for Criterion to put out Veronica Lake’s bewitching classic, I Married a Witch. Thankfully, Criterion has taken my advice (yes, I’m claiming it), and the movie itself makes up for any deficiencies in bonus content.Jennifer (Veronica Lake) is a Salem witch burned at the stake by the founding member of the Wooley clan (Frederic March). Before her death she places a curse on the Wooley men, dooming them to a life

Rifftrax Live! Night of the Living Dead Review: A Flesh-Feast of Hilarity

Sit down with three hilarious men making fun of a 1960s classic!
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George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead has entered the pantheon of pop culture as the first zombie film - at least in the incarnation we know today. Anchored by a social commentary on race, the movie still holds its weight in that regard, although the rest has devolved into campiness. Thankfully, the trio of Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy are able to bring life into this black and white classic with their latest Rifftrax Live! event. A flesh feast of a good time was had, jokes were made (some incredibly risqué compared to past events), and a

Only God Forgives Blu-ray Review: A Beautiful, Blood-Spattered Disaster

If you're expecting Drive 2, you're in for serious disappointment.
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Before you ask, the answer is no; I didn't believe Only God Forgives was going to be a sequel, or in any way connected, to Drive. Director Nicholas Winding Refn creates a visually arresting film, but in the process arrests the narrative and characters to the point of creating a movie entirely stillborn. In its brief runtime, despicable characters do despicable things with little rhyme or reason other than vengeance and it’s hard to sympathize with anyone considering there’s little depth to their motives other than that lonely term. Julian (Ryan Gosling) is a drug smuggler by night and owner

Interview: 'Rifftrax Lives' Kevin Murphy Talks 'Night of the Living Dead' and MST3K

MST3K star Kevin Murphy talks Rifftrax's Night of the Living Dead live show!
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Audiences may be unfamiliar with actor Kevin Murphy’s face, but if you’re a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 you can’t forget his voice in the character of the wisecracking robot, Tom Servo. After MST3K ended its run in 1999, the trio of alums Murphy, Michael J. Nelson, and Bill Corbett started Rifftrax. Rifftrax’s goal is simply “We don’t make movies…we make movies funnier,” and they do! Any movie is up for lampooning, and they’ve tapped into a market with old fans of MST3K continuing to love their shtick, and new fans enjoying their skewering of popular fare. In honor

To Be Or Not to Be (1942) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: You'll Get a 'Terrific Laugh' Out of This One

Ernst Lubitsch and the Criterion Collection are a match made in comedic heaven.
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In 1942, the US hadn’t entered World War II and audiences were unaware of the horrific monster that Adolf Hitler would be identified as. Director Ernst Lubitsch was aware of the chaos going on in Europe and documented it - while still remaining comic and romantic - in his play within a play (or in this case film), To Be or Not to Be. Upon release it was a failure (only getting an Academy Award nomination for Best Music…seriously?), and only now has it come to be identified as a slice of life for the Europeans while opening up American

Prince Avalanche Movie Review: A Meditative Study of People

A quite, methodical exploration of man's ability to connect with each other.
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Director David Gordon Green has been hot or cold with the critics (and audiences the last few years). After creating breakout indies that garnered attention, Green turned to comedy with the stoner hit, Pineapple Express. After that it was back-to-back duds with Your Highness and The Sitter. Audiences were starting to wonder if Green’s past success was a fluke. Prince Avalanche is a return to the quiet, methodical independent spirit that Green started out with; and while it’s anchored by two distinctive performances by Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, its pace can start to feel incredibly sluggish. If you can

Book Review: The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time by Phil Hall

A fun read, but I wouldn't consider it a worthy collection of reviews.
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I’m a fan of “worst movie ever” books because someone’s definition of worst isn’t always yours. On top of that, it’s always fun to read someone discussing a movie that has an asinine plot or terrible actors because no one sets out to direct a terrible movie, right? Author Phil Hall has a conversational and witty writing style, and he uses that to strong effect in his book, The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time, recently released by BearManor Media. What’s at odds with his writing style is the various moments that feel as if a first-time writer wrote this;

Lord of the Flies (1963) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Definitive Version of a Classic Text

The Criterion Collection adds a bevy of compelling bonus content on top of a fantastic adaptation of William Golding's novel.
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I vividly remember the Lord of the Flies unit in my seventh grade class. I’m not sure if my seventh-grade mind could truly take in the myriad themes and motifs within William Golding’s book; my disappointment stemmed from not being able to watch the film version. There are two adaptations of Golding’s book, one being the 1990s version (banned in my classroom due to its R-rating) and this 1963 adaptation (which we didn’t have time to watch). Thankfully, the purer adaptation has received the Criterion treatment and has hit Blu-ray in a beautiful transfer that will hopefully inspire a legion

Medium Cool Blu-ray Review: A Living Document of America's Rebellion

A piece of Americana that questions and condemns the media.
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The Criterion Collection presents a slice of American history with director/cinematographer Haskell Wexler’s, Medium Cool. Filmed against the background of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Medium Cool tells a shrewd and haunting condemnation on media interaction. In a time where our every thought is broadcast to the masses, Medium Cool explores the idea of documentation itself, and where social responsibility begins and ends. While the narrative isn’t nearly as fascinating as the real-life footage Wexler caught, Criterion has presented an equally fascinating presentation of footage. If you’re a history buff, particularly of our nation’s history, you’d do well to check

Beautiful Creatures Blu-ray Review: A Solid Supernatural Story Worth Watching

An engaging plot and interesting characters elevates this about standard teen films.
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I enjoy being surprised at a well-done movie, particularly if it’s in the squalid, increasingly boring teen genre. Having never read the original source material from which Beautiful Creatures is adapted from, I had some reservations about its story involving witches and forbidden love. Thankfully, my hesitations were unfounded and Beautiful Creatures is one of the few enjoyable teen films out there today (sadly, its bombing at the box office will put the kibosh on future installments). While the Blu-ray is beautiful, you need to enjoy the movie itself because the bonus features are fairly weak. It’s not a huge

Safe Haven Combo Pack Review: Cute Leads Can't Save Dumb Story

A harsh story told in the sweetest way possible.
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I’m a young, 20-something female who loves to read. One can say that based on my gender I’m the perfect demographic for a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. To that person, I’d say that that is a horrific misconception as I generally abhor all things Sparks-related. And yet, I can’t stop myself from seeing what atrocities Hollywood perpetuates with the author’s material. There are some decent Sparks adaptations out there (The Notebook continuing to be the high point), but the latest film, Safe Haven, is bottom of the barrel. The movie looks good, and the leads are likable, but the script is

A Haunted House DVD Review: Bumps in the Night Turn Into Dull Thuds

Despite a strong structure, and a few throwaway gags that hit, the movie commits the worst sin of being flat-out boring.
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With Scary Movie 5 coming out this weekend, it would make sense to review that other spoof movie that is set for release on home video this month: Marlon Wayans’ A Haunted House. A Haunted House came out in January of this year, and I believe is actually better (and I use that term very, very loosely) than the last three Scary Movies combined. A Haunted House has structure, and doesn’t spend time throwing pop culture references into things, making it last far longer than a movie filled with overdone Britney Spears jokes. Unfortunately, for the few things A Haunted

The House of Redgrave Book Review: A Misleading Title Can Frustrate Readers

Don't let the title fool you, there's an interesting biography here, just not on the people you expect.
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The Redgrave family never liked to be referred to as “a dynasty,” as it invoked images of power, and yet author Tim Adler proves in his biography The House of Redgrave that they were. The three generations of Redgrave’s, and by extension the Richardson’s, are an acting powerhouse who have awards in every ceremony both here and abroad. The book is interesting, but at times can leave more questions than answers, specifically about the progenitor of the Redgrave dynasty, patriarch and actor Michael. The title is highly misleading, spending far too much time on director Tony Richardson, and at times

Ripper Street DVD Review: A Solid Mystery Series But Far Too Overdone

If you liked the other BBC dramas out there, than you’ll like this.
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The BBC has created a steady output of television shows that have strong dramatic tension paired with worthy scripts and fantastic actors. Their latest series, Ripper Street, is good, but it’s a wanting in certain areas. Despite having a phenomenal trio of leading men, held together by Pride and Prejudice star Matthew Mcfadyen, the similarities to other movies and television shows leaves the plot wandering to differentiate itself for longer than necessary. Once things get into a groove, the plots are fairly standard, but are elevated by the acting. The officers of H Division have been hoping to move past
It wasn't surprising that screenwriter Mark Boal's script for Zero Dark Thirty didn't nab the coveted statuette at this year's Academy Awards; sad, but not surprising. Thankfully, you can read that riveting script and see what the Academy didn't honor in HarperCollins print of the Zero Dark Thirty screenplay. If you're a fan of movie scripts, like myself, or want to see what everyone was freaking out over when the movie first came to theaters, I can't stress enough that you should pick up a copy. Additional items in the book keep this from being just a slim, bound script,

Boris Karloff Triple Feature DVD Review: Pleases Die-Hard Fans

Karloff is more than make-up in three interesting movies from Warner Archive Collection.
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Warner Archive continues to put out intriguing DVD collections meant to entice die-hard fans. Their latest, the Boris Karloff Triple Feature, is a three-disc set that might shock casual Karloff fans because he isn't playing a horror icon. Yes, Karloff does wear heavy make-up in one (although it's not exactly PC), but the collection is meant to emphasize the range the legend had, but didn't always get the chance to show. The movies are short, but the lack of bonus material and overall quality of the films themselves might turn off casual viewers. Thankfully, the Warner Archive creates these sets

The Impossible (2012) is Impossible to Sit Through

A story meant to be heartfelt only frustrates with its all-white cast and manipulative storytelling.
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I’m going to be incredibly blunt in this review: I hated The Impossible. It’s been described as realistic, moving, and life-affirming. I counter that with words like manipulative, bloated, and shameful. Actress Naomi Watts is nominated as a Best Actress contender for this film, and to that I ask: Was Nicole Kidman’s role in The Paperboy too good? I need to actually explain why I hated this film right? Okay, here goes. The Impossible depicts the events of the 2004 tsunami that decimated Thailand, Indonesia, and other locations in the Indian Ocean. Maria and Henry Bennett (Watts, Ewan McGregor) have

Gritty and Deep Fried Best Describes Killer Joe

Star Matthew McConaughey gives a frightening performance in a film that tests your will.
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The NC-17 is coming back with a vengeance between this year’s Killer Joe and last year’s Shame. Killer Joe itself is an interesting film in that one scene is all that pushes the limit over into the taboo rating, but boy does that scene stick with you. The entire film is gritty, brutal, Southern-fried crime film with some strong performances, but none better than Matthew McConaughey who is nothing short of terrifying as the title character. Take heed, Killer Joe is not for the faint of heart. It’ll hook into you and refuse to let up till the very end.

Bernie (2012) is a Happy Film About Life, Death, and Murder

How can a film about a murder be so darn delightful?
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In the opening moments of Richard Linklater’s film Bernie, the title character played by Jack Black says, “You cannot have grief tragically becoming a comedy.” An ironic statement since that’s all Bernie deals in; the blending of the tragic with the comic. Bernie is a consistently funny murder story detailing a small Texas town, and the nicest man who ever committed murder. Remarkably unbelievable, uproariously funny, and with the best performance from Jack Black ever, be sure to seek out this gem of a black comedy. In the small Texas town of Carthage, Bernie Tiede (Black) is the nicest assistant

Beasts of the Southern Wild Movie Review: Magical But Hard to Swallow

Magical realism and an astounding child actress do little to elevate a non-existent plot.
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I hate to be the one person to continuously chastise films that are receiving critical acclaim, but it feels as if certain films get a huge wave of people wanting to jump on the bandwagon, and those who disagree are labeled inferior for “not getting it.” Beasts of the Southern Wild is receiving that treatment currently as people scramble to decide where it will land come Oscar time. Recently, the acting from the movie is being praised through several Critics’ Choice Award nominations. And yet, I don’t understand the hype. Yes, the performance from child actress Quvenzhane Wallis is fantastic,

Ruby Sparks Movie Review: Not Much Spark Found in It

Ruby Sparks has some light, but ends up being a dark reiteration of tired tropes.
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Ruby Sparks should have been a home-run film considering it’s directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris of Little Miss Sunshine fame. Unfortunately, the whimsy of that previous film isn’t necessarily found in their follow-up. The first half of Ruby Sparks is a fun romantic comedy focused on following a writer’s hunt for inspiration and the literal muse that develops. The second half becomes a turgid and dark film that seems to have a bizarre message about control that isn’t given proper consequences. The acting is good, but for a film that starts out as a grown-up romantic comedy, it

Pulp Fiction: The Five Things I Love About It

Did yours make the list, Honey Bunny?
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What can be said about Pulp Fiction that hasn't been written since the film's release in 1994? With that, I didn't want to necessarily do a typical review citing the things I liked and disliked as that's been done before. I wanted to go back and count down the few things that I've loved about the film since I was a child. Yes, my mother was cool enough to let me watch Pulp Fiction when I turned 14, and I adored it. If I could go back in a time machine, these are the five things a 14-year-old me would

Weekend (1967) Criterion Collection DVD Review: For the True Cinephile

It's French, it's subversive, it's not for the average film buff.
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I probably shouldn't have jumped at the first opportunity to review a film like Weekend (or Week End as it appears on IMDB). Despite being a classic film blogger/fanatic, I'm not well-versed in French films, nor have I see any Jean-Luc Godard films prior to this (although I have seen a few Fellini films). With that, I was able to appreciate what Godard placed upon the screen, and even though I didn't understand the logic at times it was still a surreal and intriguing experience. Thankfully, the Criterion Collection has assembled a medley of bonus features that go a long

Prep & Landing: Totally Tinsel Collection DVD Review: A Totally Tinsel Way to Spend Christmas

Be sure to add Disney's latest series to your DVD library.
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In 2009 ABC put out a Christmas special that blended the wit and animation of Pixar with the humor and heart of a Charlie Brown special. Disney’s Prep & Landing has become a Christmas staple in my house, alongside its equally good (although not nearly as perfect as the first) sequel Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice. Thankfully, families won’t have to keep going back to their TIVO to replay a recorded copy as Disney has recently put out the Prep & Landing: Totally Tinsel Collection that not only has both specials, but additional “stocking stuffers” that add to the

Dreams of a Life DVD Review: A Beautiful Yet Flawed Dream of a Lonely Life

A haunting, and interesting subject gets mired down by the director Carol Morley.
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I applaud director Carol Morley for what she's crafted with her documentary Dreams of a Life. The story of a forgotten body in a flat opens up the exploration of the beautiful, but oddly mysterious, life of a woman who should have had it all. Told through documentary interviews and filmed re-enactments, Dreams of a Life presents an incomplete look at a woman whose life leaves more questions than answers. The issue is Morley doesn't seem to know where her story's going. Interviews appear to repeat, the interviewers are never named so you have little idea of times and connections

Vamps (2012) DVD Review: Light on Laughs, Heavy on Nostalgia

The film loves its pretty cast but forgets it has a story to tell.
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Director Amy Heckerling shaped my adolescence, as I'm sure she did many girls. Her two biggest films to date, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless, have been led to millions of dollars and a steady following. Unfortunately Heckerling hasn't been able to recapture that the former glory she felt in the 1990s, nor has star Alicia Silverstone. So I guess it's only appropriate the two try to recapture lightning in a bottle with Vamps; a vampire movie desperate to remake Clueless in its own image. While the film is fun at times, and loves the vampire genre, it never

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