In a small, dark bar, in a small New York hamlet, Kurt (John Adams) eats a grubby little dinner and has a few too many beers. It is snowing and pitch-black when he drives home. He swerves to miss a few deer, running across the road and then hears a bump bump. He's hit something. That something turns out to be 14-year-old Echo (Zelda Adams), who was out sledding. Kurt is visually upset, he's not a psychopath after all, but he's also been around. He knows the score. If he calls the cops, they'll give him a drunk test and
Recently by Mat Brewster
A perfect addition to your Halloween viewing schedule.
A fine collection of films from one of my favorite studios.
Last week I reviewed a 10-film collection from Blumhouse Productions, a relatively young studio that specializes in low budget films. This week I'm reviewing a 10-film collection from another relatively young studio that also specializes in relatively low-budget films. But where Blumhouse tends to make genre films with mostly unknown actors and directors, Focus Features leans more towards prestige pictures with well-known filmmakers. Blumhouse's reason for existence seems to be making as much money as possible with as little risk as they can afford, quality and artistic merit be damned. While Focus Features aims for awards season with high-quality Oscar
Enjoy these cool things.
I think I speak for nearly everyone on the planet when I say that this year has not gone as expected. It has been utterly insane on a global, local, and personal level. I try to keep everything - my work life, my family life, my blogs, and writing - running smoothly. It helps to keep busy. But sometimes it gets to be a bit much. Last week, I wrote this article and then forgot to publish it. To be fair it was my wife's birthday weekend and I always prefer her to writing movie reviews, and then on Sunday
Ten of the most popular Blumhouse horror films get a nice boxed set.
For over a decade now, Blumhouse Productions has specialized in making small budget films, mostly horror, that give their directors creative control and usually make a profit. Sometimes a huge profit. Their first big hit was Paranormal Activity. Made in 2009 on a shoestring budget of $15,000, it went on to make some $193 million worldwide. Since then, their budgets have increased, but not by that much. For instance, Glass had a budget of $20 million but considering it was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, stars Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, and Samuel L. Jackson amongst other A-listers, and is the
This show just keeps getting better and better.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. Ever since the Flash entered into the Arrowverse, there have been crossover events. Initially, it was just the Flash hanging out in Star City with Oliver Queen or vice versa, but as the number of series joined the Arrowverse, the events got bigger and bigger. Still, these events are usually one-offs where the various characters would get together to fight a big villain, and then they go back to their respective cities
Are you ready for Slasher September?
I started this month with the intention of watching a lot of science fiction films set in space. As I noted last week, this has been a difficult task to accomplish. There just aren't that many interesting films in that category available on the various streaming services, or in my own collections. So last weekend, I made a switch. It is now the middle of September, which is close to October which holds one of my favorite holidays - Halloween. This whole movie theme idea began several years ago when I watched a whole bunch of horror films in October.
What a marvelous week for cool things.
Last week, I noted that for the month of September I was going to try to watch space-based science fiction films. I love creating themes each month for my movie watching as it helps me to find films I might not otherwise watch. As it turns out, space-based science fiction films are hard to come by. At least they are on the streaming services I subscribe to. My hopes were to find some classic films that fit that category that I haven't seen before. Turns out, I've seen most of the great ones. Or, and I say this again, the
Two classics film noirs from Jules Dassin get the Criterion treatment.
There are over 1,000 movies in the Criterion Collection, these are two of them. Jules Dassin has five films thus far in the collection with Brute Force and The Naked City receiving a Blu-ray upgrade this week. Between 1947 and 1950, Dassin made four film noirs, three of which are considered some of the best in the genre. These two are on that list. I came to Jules Dassin via Rififi his classic heist film (also in the Criterion Collection) from 1956. It is one of the greatest robbery films ever put to celluloid. It was made in France and
It has been a while since I did a theme month for the movies I'm watching. I think I got a bunch of review copies in my mailbox which overwhelmed me and so I had to push the pause button on themes. Then I just kept forgetting about it. Well, the theme is back this month and I'm going with science fiction. Actually, I think I'm drilling down into that genre a little bit and going with science fiction films set in space. I only got to one of those films this week, but hopefully, I'll be able to watch
May he forever rest in power.
School finally started around these parts. My daughter has been out of school, or at least not physically attending school since March. COVID shut her classes down after Spring Break. She was getting some form of online education a few weeks after that but it was clear everybody was just winging it. We have elected to keep her home this year as well, but the school seems much more prepared this time around. Still, it will be a challenge. It seems like I've been talking about COVID and its effect on my life forever. That always seems weird since this
This adaptation of a French satire failed to make me laugh or think very deeply.
The Balcony (1963) is a cinematic adaptation of the French play by the same name from writer Jean Genet. It almost entirely takes place inside a most peculiar brothel overseen by Madame Irma (Shelley Winters). Peculiar because it is set up like a soundstage. The girls sit inside a warehouse filled with props and costumes and the like. When needed, they move inside smaller rooms equipped with backdrops, lighting, and even a movie camera. They enact odd little dramas. One man pretends to be a Catholic Bishop overseeing a confession where the girl admits to all sorts of depravity. Another
A sweet romance from Clint Eastwood feels a bit queasy due to the age difference.
An old, cynical man meets a young woman and is changed by her zeal for life. It is a tale as old as Silas Marner and probably much older. At least George Elliot had the good sense to make the girl a child and the relationship that of a father to his daughter. Modern turns of the story tend to make the girl a bit older and the relationship explicitly romantic or sexual. With Breezy (1973), Clint Eastwood's third film as director and his first in which he did not star, the man is Frank Harmon (William Holden), a middle-aged
I'm amazed this thing got made in 1932.
Claudette Colbert naked in a bath filled donkey's milk. Well, topless at least. And the milk was powdered cow's milk mixed with water. The heat of the lights soured it, so that the stench filled the stage. It must have been misery for Colbert. But god, is it sexy as hell. It is one of the most infamous scenes in a pre-Code movie. It is tame by today's standards, but again that eroticism is something else. The scene does have a reason to exist beyond sex appeal. Colbert is playing Empress Poppaea, the wife of Roman Emperor Nero. Outside, we
This Douglas Sirk melodrama takes a realistic look into a marriage on the rocks and the temptation of another woman.
Twelve years after making the perfect film noir, Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwcyk starred in another movie about a married couple and the person who comes between them. Unlike Double Indemnity, there is no murder, no insurance fraud, and decidedly, no Edward G. Robinson in There's Always Tomorrow. Instead, we get a nuanced portrayal of a man grown bored with his life and a temptation he'll have trouble saying "no" to. Clifford Graves (MacMurray) has a seemingly perfect life - he runs a toy company, he has a beautiful wife and three wonderful children. But he's grown bored and restless.
Jean Renoir's realistic portrayal of migrant workers in the South of France helped influence the French New Wave and Italian Neorealism.
In 1934, acclaimed French director Jean Renoir left the studio in Paris and headed for the countryside in the south of France. There, he hired non-actors and inexperienced ones to shoot Toni, a naturalistic melodrama about immigrants, their work, their lives, and their romances. He used mostly natural lighting and filmed mostly on location. The actors didn't use makeup and spoke in regional dialects. It did poorly at the box office but was beloved by the French New Wave and helped create Italian Neo-Realism (Luchino Visconti, one of that movement's greatest directors, was an assistant on Toni). It is, in
The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season Blu-ray Review: The Stakes Have Gotten Higher but the Fun Has Gotten Smaller
The Flash keeps getting bigger and bigger, but not necessarily better and better.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Mat Brewster with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are his own. Towards the end of "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 2", Episode 7 of the Sixth Season of The Flash, the main cast gathers together to hug, say nice things to Barry, and look at each other wistfully. They know that Crisis is coming. The prophecy has foretold that Barry Allen aka the Flash (Grant Gustin) has to die. At some point, Cisco (Carlos Valdez) reminisces about the old days, when there was no Crisis,
An important black story unfortunately told from a white perspective.
As our culture continues to shift towards something like equality, it is difficult sometimes to watch and critique older films containing instances of sexism, racism, or both. These films are sometimes made with good intentions, are often designed to oppose such inequalities, and yet are clearly a product of their time. Cry Freedom (1987) is a film ostensibly about Apartheid in South Africa, and its heart is in the right place, but it was made by a white filmmaker and focuses on a white family and its back half becomes just another action thriller where a man tries to make
After a couple of weeks off, I'm back with Five Cool Things.
My apologies for taking a couple of weeks off. One of our subcontractors told us a few weeks ago that four members of their crew had tested positive for Covid-19. Naturally, that freaked us out a little. I certainly don't want to get it but I was mostly concerned with my elderly, and very immuno-compromised father. We rushed off and got tested. Well, "rush" is the wrong word as it took us some three hours to actually get the test. They all came back negative, thank god. But it was a scare. I wanna say that kept me from writing,
The script by Horton Foote is smart. It won him an Oscar. It knows about people and their inner lives
Two men brawl over a bottle of whiskey in a run-down old motel room. One man falls, or is possibly knocked down onto the floor. He doesn't get up until morning. The other man takes the truck and leaves. When the man wakes up, he asks the owner of the motel if the other fellow paid for the room. When she says, "No," he asks if he can work it off. She figures there are some things he could do. At the end of the day, he says he might like to stay on for a few days if she
A light-hearted social satire about French life that could have used a few more laughs.
A nurse, Josette (Catherine Heigel), is in love with Doctor Mavial (Daniel Gélin), whom she works for. He continues to promise that he'll leave his wife when the time is right, but he's been saying that for decades. Twelve years prior, after he'd promised to spend Christmas Eve with her but then went back to his wife after delivering two babies, Josette played a prank on him. She switched the name tags of those babies with each other so that they went home with the wrong parents. When the doctor's wife dies, he is still unwilling to marry Josette. Angry,
It says something about Richard Burton's star power that he still had a career after this stinker.
As an American of 40 some odd years of age, I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know that much about World War II. I mean, I know the basics. Hitler’s blitzkrieg. The bombing of London. D-Day. Everything I've watched a half dozen times in Band of Brothers. Hitler turning on Stalin. The Bunker. The end. I know even less about the Pacific Theater. I could fill in some other details if I really thought about it, but the specifics of the various campaigns and all the players are beyond what I've ever been bothered to study. I'm definitely deficient in
When Batwoman finds its groove, it's really good.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this article. The opinions shared are his own. With Arrow coming into its eighth and final season, the CW needed a new show to replace it and continue its stable of shows within the Arrowverse. Why not head to Gotham and bring forth one of DC Comics most beloved characters? If not Batman, then why not his cousin? Batwoman may not be an obvious choice to fill in the Arrow's shoes, but then again the Arrow wasn't exactly the hottest property the CW could
A great opening setup leads to just a pretty good film.
A woman rides up to a man digging in the dirt in what appears to be an abandoned camp out in the mountains of Arizona. She asks if he's looking for gold. No, is his reply. He's looking for his father. The place is Gila Valley and sometime earlier, five men were massacred there by Apache Indians. One of them was his father. The two rest in the shade of some rocks. She says she'd like a cigarette. He says he doesn't smoke. She says she's got some in her saddlebag. When he goes looking for them, someone up in
Nico Mastorakis gets into the exotic adventure game with typical mixed results.
Arrow Video continues to release HD versions of the film of Greek director/writer/producer Nico Mastorakis, and I am here for it. His films are the perfect blend of action, romance, horror, and '80s cheese. For Bloodstone (1986), he's credited as writer, producer, and editor. Directing duties were left to Dwight H. Little of Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers and Marked for Death fame. But it has Mastorakis signatures written all over it. Production values are good considering the budget, the acting generally bad, the script ridiculous, and the action is lame, but the location is exotic and the
Frederic March is brilliant as a fighter pilot slowly going mad in this gripping war drama.
Over the last few months, I've watched three World War I films (All Quiet on the Western Front, Paths of Glory, and this one), two of them pre-Code and all three staunchly anti-war. I find it interesting that so many World War I movies tend to depict war as horror rather than something brave and meaningful. It seems to me that most World War II movies tend to be geared towards the rah-rah than the cynical. It wasn't until Vietnam that films seemed ready to embrace the dark side of the country-on-country battles again. That's some broad-stroke painting right there
A documentary-style narrative film about the days following first atomic bomb dropping.
The sky is a pale blue. Big, white clouds float by. It looks peaceful. It won't for long. This is the view from the Enola Gay on August 6, 1945, the day the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. A narrator tells us how the plane left early that morning. About how the pilot Paul Tibbetts had doubts about what he was doing. We see the Hiroshima approach in the distance. The narrator tells us of the destruction of that day. How the bomb killed thousands upon impact. How it leveled the city. The view
Mike Hodges oft-neglected thriller about a fake medium who gets real powers works best when it focuses on the relationships between the characters
What happens when your fake medium act turns real? When you've been pretending to see visions of dead people in order to bilk their living relatives out of some cold cash and suddenly, you're having real visions in which you see actual deaths before they happen, what do you do? In the case of Martha Travis (Rossana Arquette) in Mike Hodges' 1989 thriller Black Rainbow, you'd better run because the hitman paid to commit one of the murders she envisions is fast on her trail. Martha and her alcoholic father Walter (Jason Robards) travel by train from Southern town to
Utterly disappointing in every way.
Fresh off the enormous success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Henry Thomas, the fresh-faced star of that film must have been offered a million different roles, in a million different movies. His first three films after that Steven Spielberg blockbuster were Misunderstood, a prestigious drama co-starring Gene Hackman and Rip Torn; Cloak & Dagger, a criminally underrated spy thriller with Dabney Coleman; and this low budget atrocity. One has to wonder why a kid still riding high from a massive success would choose to make a low budget Australian film from a director no one in America had ever heard of
This zombie rom-com takes the genre into fun directions.
One would think the zombie movie would be completely played out by now. There have been countless films about the walking dead in a variety of genres (not just horror) since White Zombie introduced the walking dead into our cinematic lexicon in 1932. There have been zombie comedies, zombie romances, zombies in the apocalypse, and zombie musicals. Again, you would think by now there'd be nothing new to say about zombies. Zombie for Sale proves you wrong. It doesn't exactly reinvent the genre, but it puts a new spin on it, taking it in a new, interesting direction. Take black
I've heard about Audie Murphy's remarkable life since I was a kid. I'm thrilled to finally be getting to see some of his films with this new set.
Towards the end of the tenth and final episode of Band of Brothers, HBO's acclaimed miniseries that follows Easy Company from jump training to the end of World War II, we are told about what those men did after the war. It was shocking to me the first time I watched it to learn that those soldiers, who we've just spent ten episodes watching live through absolute hell with the greatest of strength, courage, and honor, came home to become cab drivers, warehouse workers, and farmers. These men were heroes, how could they come home to work such menial jobs?
What an eclectically cool week.
It was an eclectic week for old Mat Brewster and his consumption of cool things. We've got new horror movies, a Christmas musical comedy with zombies, Tony Curtis, New Mutants, Studio Ghibli and the Grateful Dead. So without further ado let's get to it. The Invisible Man (2020) An update on the classic H.G. Wells story for the #MeToo generation. Elisabeth Moss stars as Cecilia, a woman who is trying to escape from an abusive relationship. The film begins with her drugging the husband, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), then running away in the middle of the night. She stays with a
Kino Lorber presents three mid-tier films from the great actor, and it is great to finally have them on Blu-ray.
Reason #473 that I love boutique labels such a Kino Lorber: they allow us to dig into various genres and subgenres, or plumb the depths of a director or actor's career. The other day some critic was complaining on Twitter that far too many people writing about cinema weren't well versed in the lesser films of a given genre. Everybody knows the classics but few have watched the not-so-classics, or the pretty-good movies of a given genre or time period. Labels like Kino Lorber are helping me and others to fill in those gaps. Case in point: this new collection
This HBO series based upon a Stephen King novel is beautifully made, terrifically scary, and just a little disappointing.
Stephen King is one of the most prolific and popular American novelists of the last century. He has written over 60 novels, 200 short stories, and countless essays and musings. He has sold over 300 million books in his long career. His writings have been adapted into countless movies and television series, most of them poorly. His stories are notoriously difficult to film. I've become a pretty big fan of the man over the last few years and I think part of the reason why his cinematic adaptations rarely work is that they tend to focus on his plots which
A cool week was made even cooler by a trip to the bookstore.
I got out of the house today. I get out of the house most days, actually. Work takes me to the post office most days to pick up the company mail, and I usually visit one or two of the houses we're building. I gas up my truck and sometimes go inside to get a drink. But those things are done quickly and aren't much fun. Today, the wife and I dropped the kid off at my parent's house and had a proper date. Or as proper a date as two forty-something homebodies can have in the middle of a
I'm getting tired of staying home, but at least there are still cool things to consume.
For nearly four months now, my family and I have gotten up on Saturday mornings, piddled around, watched TV, and then sometime after lunch, we start talking about what we want to do. We all agree we'd love to leave the house but to do what is always the question. There were a few times when the weather was cooler that we'd make our way to a park or hiking trail. But these are the dog days of summer and the answer is always nothing. Covid numbers continue to rise in my neck of the woods and there is no
A high-flying adventure on the high seas.
Last week I watched three films that are part of Kino Lorber's ongoing Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema collection. After watching the first two, I threw in what I thought was the third film and laid back to watch it. Gregory Peck played a ship's captain come to port in 1850s San Francisco. It was a very jaunty film. He gets into a couple of fights, meets a girl, and wait a minute...this is a strange kind of film noir. Those types of films usually take place in the 1940s or 1950s. And this movie is awfully goofy
The rare comic that uses the trappings of noir to tell a new story.
On top of a tall building stands a woman. She keeps bees. She talks to them. She loves them. Across the street is a man. A bad man. A gangster. The woman watches him. She spies him through his window. She notes when he leaves and when he comes back. She does not love him. He is isolated inside his cavernous, luxurious apartment, except for the people who work for him. He never leaves except for a weekly departure on Sundays. On the street below, two cops sit in their car. They talk. They grow bored. They argue. They are
Some of the cool things from this past week.
Hamilton I finally got to see the show everyone has been talking about for five years. When Hamilton first became a sensation on Broadway, it seemed like everyone was talking about it. All my podcasts and entertainment critic Twitter friends were raving about the show and it was some sort of rite of passage for them to see it live. My real-life friends all seemed to have been listening to the original cast album. I listened to the first few songs through YouTube and while I liked it, I could never listen to the whole thing (it is 2 1/2
These three films are decent enough dramas but lack the edge of a good film noir.
For Part IV of their Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema series Kino Lorber Studio Classics is releasing three films from the late 1940s - mid 1950s that aren't exactly the type of film you think about when you want to watch a noir, but there is enough crime, enough stark black and white, and enough dark nights of the soul to call it that anyway. If nothing else, there's a young Tony Curtis being as charming as ever. Calcutta (1947) is an interesting blend of World War II-era exotic location drama mixed with touches of film noir. Alan
A glimpse into my country's past a viewed from a foreigner.
I've been lucky enough to have done a bit of traveling in my life. I've lived in France, Belgium, and China. I've seen most of Western Europe, a good chunk of Eastern Europe, and bits and pieces of Asia. Wherever I go, I take a camera with me. I'm not a professional, nor an expert photographer but I enjoy the process and sometimes the result. I try to take lots of photos of different things. I hit the big landmarks of course. I have lots of photos of the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, Big Ben, etc., but
James Earl Jones quotes Shakespeare and conjures a barely seen monster in this masterpiece from Greek auteur Nico Mastorakis.
Can I consider myself a fan of a filmmaker after hating one of his films, liking another one, and kind-of enjoying a third which he only produced? What if I watched a bunch of trailers for movies he made and that I haven't seen but got rather excited just thinking about them? If so, then consider me a fan of Nico Mastorakis, the Greek filmmaker who directed and/or produced a handful of goofy, low budget flicks in the 1980s. I wasn't at all fond of The Zero Boys, his action/horror hybrid that didn't exactly thrill (though I was impressed with
Happy Birthday, United States of America.
It is a holiday weekend and I'm making the most of it. So let's get right into this week's cool things. Woman in the Dark I've been watching a lot of movies from the 1930s of late and it is fascinating to me how the ones that aren't that great (like this one) are still strangely interesting. Like somehow the ways in which a not-great movie from the 1930s is so different from a not-great movie made today. If I watched a movie that was similar to this but made in the last few years, I'd find it completely forgettable,
Donald Pleasence steals the show.
For centuries the science of anatomy lagged behind other fields of study due to cultural norms and religious beliefs concerning the handling of corpses. By the 18th Century, things were changing and medical schools across Europe were allowing the dissection and study of the human body. But while the scientific institutions pushed forward, the laws regarding which bodies were acceptable to desecrate lagged behind. Edinburgh, Scotland had become one of the premier cities in the study of anatomy and yet the law still only allowed for the bodies of criminals and suicides to be used as cadavers for study. During
Here's five films I've watched this week and enjoyed.
I'm a huge fan of Letterboxd, the social networking site for film nerds. It is a great way to track what your watching, find things to watch, and connect with other film lovers the world over. One of the many things I love about it is that it allows you to view the films you've watched through various lenses. For example, I can view data on all the films I've watched this year and sort it by the decade the films were released in. I did that earlier today and found that out of the 184 films I've viewed in
We are still staying home and still finding cool things to watch.
I was realizing today that we've been on lockdown since mid-March. That's a little over three months in which my family has hardly gone anywhere. I miss doing stuff. I've been lucky in that my job allows me to get out of the house, but in ways that remain for the most part quite safe. My wife hasn't been so lucky and I know there are times when she's gone a bit stir crazy. Me too. We were never the sort of people who were constantly out and about with a million extra-curricular activities but on Saturdays, we did like
Three very different films get the excellent Arrow Video treatment.
As the world continues to move towards consuming media through an increasing number of streaming platforms, there is a niche market for physical media. In the same way that vinyl records sales have increased dramatically over the last several years, there are certain types of people who prefer physical media over digital streams. I am one of them. As a collector, I like to have a physical object that I can put on my shelf and look at. This is so much more satisfying than making a list of digital files on a computer screen. While there certainly is
Here's another five cool things.
Our house has two stories but only one HVAC unit. This means that the upstairs (where my bedroom is) always remains about ten degrees warmer than downstairs. This isn't so bad in the winter when you want it to be warm, but as summer creeps in, it gets hotter and hotter upstairs. So much so, that the afternoons are usually unbearable. Since the whole lockdown thing started, I've been doing most of my movie-watching upstairs. Our living room is usually full of hustle and bustle between my wife doing various things and my daughter running around like a lunatic. Upstairs
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents three more lesser-known noirs in a nice collector's box.
If you are a fan of film noir, I hope you've been paying attention to Kino Lorber, the boutique video distributor, for they have been releasing all sorts of great noir for several years now. Recently, they've been putting out film noir collections that dig deep into the noir closet, finding all sorts of hidden gems. With Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema III, they've collected three films (Abandoned, The Sleeping City, and The Lady Gambles) that deal with the seedier sides of the city, are populated by dames, bad men, and bullets, and are full of dark shadows
Arrow Video does a great job of presenting this controversial '80s classic.
As someone who grew up in the 1980s, the films of John Hughes, especially the teen comedies he wrote during that decade, fill me with joy. It isn't just the rose tint of nostalgia either (though certainly, that plays a part). Those films spoke to me. They've become part of my cinematic DNA. It is hard to remember now, but the early 1980s were devoid of really good media and art directed at teenagers. The YA book genre wasn't what it is today. On television, there were Afternoon Specials which were meant to both entertain and instruct but were really
Kino Lorber presents this nice collection of westerns from the 1940s.
The western is a uniquely American film genre. It tells stories of cowboys and natives, of a country lighting out for an adventure into the great unknown. The people that populate westerns are those who are looking for a new life, who ventured across hundreds and thousands of miles of uncharted land to find a place of their own. There are brave cowboys, evil outlaws, and women with grit. They are usually set in the 19th Century amongst the great Plains or rugged mountains of the American West, giving their grand stories and even greater backdrop. Certainly, other countries made
I love me some boutique movie labels.
Over the last few years, I've really upped my movie-watching game. I've gone from watching around 10 movies per week to watching at least 20. I've also tried to be deliberate with what I choose to watch. Instead of just throwing something on, I've created monthly themes and tried to watch more movies I have never seen before. While I've definitely tried to watch more classics, I've also enjoyed watching more older films that aren't necessarily classics. I've been helped in this endeavor by boutique labels like Shout! Factory, Arrow Video, and Kino Lorber. These labels and more are putting
The beast is man.
Horror movies often manifest from a culture's deepest and darkest fears. It is no coincidence that Godzilla was born in Japan only a few shorts years after two atomic bombs were dropped on its cities. As nuclear energy became a reliable power source, more and more horror movies created monsters from various nuclear accidents. Mad scientists are a trope of their own. What is Jurassic Park but a cautionary tale about scientists playing God? Unfortunately, all too often our fears are dark indeed, and the horror films from those times expose our culture's black soul. Horror films often rely on
An extraordinary movie about how women suffer both during and after the war.
It seems a rare thing these days where a movie about war is able to make an effective statement. War movies naturally tend towards battles full of explosions, gunfire, heroism, and blood. But there are only so many times you can see that before it becomes old hat and boring. Rarer still is the war movie about the emotional damage the battles do to the psyche of individuals and the souls of a nation. What's left when the fighting ends? Rarer than that is a war movie that concentrates on the women, what they had to endure during the war,
This week we take a deep dive into Italian horror for my cool things.
I started this month planning to watch a bunch of movies from the late, great, Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. I did watch a couple of his films and started a couple of more but then I had to review a film noir collection and that put me on a noir roll. At the beginning of the month, I was still fighting slow internet speeds with more people being home due to Covid-19. The Criterion Channel seems to have more trouble than most streaming services with slow internet and since they were the only service hosting films with Mifune in them,
Enjoy some cool things I watched this week.
Every week, I tell myself that as soon as I watch or read or listen to something cool I am going to sit down and write a few paragraphs about it. Almost every week, I do not do this. If I were to do this, it would make writing this column so much easier. I could simply cut and paste the things I've already written into a new, combined document. Instead, I find myself rushing madly on the weekend to pull together coherent thoughts on five different things that I consumed days or even weeks before. One day, I might
A beautiful, sweet adaptation of the Jane Austen classic.
Bill Nighy is a treasure. I almost said "national treasure" there but since he’s English and I’m American I suppose I cannot. I’d say he is an English treasure, and I am quite sure that he is, but my Americanness probably prevents me from making such judgments. Can one be an Earthly treasure? That sounds like something out of the Bible. Universal treasure? Nah, that’s too much. I’ll just stick with treasure. Bill Nighy is a treasure. He makes every film, every television series that he appears in better. He is a joy to watch. He plays Mr. Woodhouse in
Strap yourselves in for I've got some cool things to show you.
I recently received, watched, and reviewed a boxed set of three films from Kino Lorber entitled Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema II. Ever the completist, I also snagged a copy of Part One of that series and watched them all - eight films total - over the last week. That's a lot of movies to watch in a short period of time. That's a lot of movies within the same genre to watch back-to-back-to-back. I'm the sort of person who forgets the details of something I've watched within a couple of days of watching it. When I watch
I'm so very thrilled that sets like this continue to come out.
Is it just me or has film noir made an incredible and strange comeback? The oft-imitated, but difficult to define genre was highly popular in the 1940s and ‘50s, and had a resurgence in the 1980s and early 1990s (with modern updates and a “neo” attached to the beginning of the monicker). It more or less died out afterward (with few exceptions). It isn’t that we are suddenly seeing new noir being made and shown in the movie theaters (if we were allowed to go to the movies), but that a new generation of film lovers seem to be discovering
Cool things, I've got your cool things right here.
This long lock-down, shut-in has created some interesting situations, not all of them bad. Don't get me wrong, I hate this virus and I want it to go away forever, but that doesn't mean it hasn't forced upon us some things that are good. For example, I've reconnected with some old friends. I stayed in touch with my old college buddies longer than most. For years we regularly e-mailed, called each other, and had periodic get-togethers. But then, like so many old relationships, especially those in which the participants live miles apart, the connections became fewer and far between. I
Indiscretion of an American Wife (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Love and Loss at the Train Station
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents two versions of this realistic depiction of lost love and Italian life.
My wife and I were strictly long distance for the first couple of years of our relationship. When we first started seriously talking, she was in Montreal and I was living in East Tennessee. We instant messaged every night, called each other's landlines once a week, and wrote regular letters to each other (and yes, every word of that sentence makes me feel old). After a year or so of that, she moved to Indiana and we began officially dating. I'd drive up every three or four weekends. I'd arrive late Friday night and we'd spend a couple of hours
Kino Lorber presents three lesser-known Stanwyck films.
Double Indemnity is one of my favorite film noirs which makes it one of my favorite movies of all time. Barbara Stanwyck is the classic femme fatale in it. She is perfect. She's great in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers too, another noir. And Sorry Wrong Number with Burt Lancaster though my memory of that film is vague. Letterboxd says I've seen The Lady Eve and I thought that was true, but looking at the synopsis of it brings back no memories what so ever. I love Stanwyck though. There's no denying her greatness. Which is why when Kino
My movie theme for April was films from the 1930s, here are six cool ones.
For the month of April, I decided that my theme should be movies made in the 1930s. Actually, my original plan was to do the 1940s but after watching several gangster movies made in the '30s last month and realizing that I'd only seen a handful of films from that decade, I made the switch. The 1930s were a fascinating time for film. The Jazz Singer, made in 1927, became the first financially successful "talking" picture. This created a rush in the production of other sound pictures, but the technology was still in development and most theaters were not yet
My house might be a wreck and my yard is a jungle, but I'm still watching some cool movies.
I mowed and weed-eated my yard today. A small accomplishment I know, but one that felt good. Our house is a wreck. The garden lays fallow save for a few wild strawberries that have come back from last year's planting. Though we spend most of our weekends at home, we just can't find the energy to do much of anything. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way as my social media feeds are filled with people in similar situations. One of the odd things about this virus and the quarantine is that so many of us
Here are the cool things I consumed this week.
Last weekend, I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my wife and young daughter. Along the way, she saw some of her friends playing in the yard. One of them ran over to my daughter to give her a hug. I had to shout at her, screaming that they shouldn't be touching each other. Later this week, my daughter had her birthday. All things considered, it was a good day. We Facetimed the grandparents to let them see her open her presents. Many of her friends did drive-bys; they pulled up to the curb and she got to
At a time when our cinemas are filled with gigantic blockbusters it is nice to sit down with a couple of intimate dramas.
In our modern cinematic world of superheroes, Jedis, and super-sized monsters, it sometimes feels like there is no more room for simple, intimate character dramas. Much has been made over the last several years about how the bigger-than-life cinematic universes that fill the cineplexes have all but wiped out the mid-budget movies. It seems the only type of film any movie theatres have room for are the blockbusters and the low-budget, art-house affairs. Certainly, studios like A24 are finding creative ways to make interesting movies that don't involve destroying entire city blocks or end credit scenes to hype the next
Alien meets The Abyss meets The Poseidon Adventure in this underwhelming disaster/monster movie.
Deep inside the Mariana Trench, the world's deepest undersea trench - which at its deepest is some 34,000 feet below the surface, lies a gigantic oil rig. So big it is powered by nuclear reactors and needs several hundred people to support it. Other films would spend some time with these details, they might have one character tell another character - someone new to the job for instance - this background information while they were walking through the rig. In Underwater, the new film from William Eubank, this information is tossed at us via news clippings flashed on the screen
It was a rough day and so instead of talking about cool things I'm listening to John Prine.
Tomorrow is Easter. Due to social distancing, we won't be attending church, nor will we be having our traditional dinner with my parents and siblings. We won't be gathering with friends for the annual egg hunt. We will be doing what we've been doing the last several Sundays - we will sit at home watching television, reading books, and generally trying not to get on each other's nerves. We have some plastic eggs and we were planning on filling them with candy and letting my daughter hunt for them in the yard. Then the forecast said rain so we decided
Arrow Video has outdone themselves with this Italian Exorcist knock-off.
It is a universal truth that whenever anything is successful someone else will come along and copy that thing. Usually, that thing will be cheaper and less interesting than the original, but will still find some success riding on coattails. When I was a kid, I could rarely afford to get Transformers but I had a reasonable collection of Gobots, their much cheaper and more pathetic knock-offs. We see this in all facets of life, and certainly, the movies are no strangers to the phenomenon. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Italians were quite good at this. Anytime an American
It's a week full of gangsters, cool and otherwise.
Many years ago, back when I was writing for another site, I requested to watch and review a new DVD set called Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 4. It contained five movies from the '30s and '40s starring guys like Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, and George Raft. I was a pretty big Bogart fan at the time and gangster movies sounded fun so I was excited to find it in my mailbox. I watched The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse first because it starred both Bogart and Robinson and had that ridiculous title. I hated it. While I was already a fan
Another week of self-isolation, another week of cool things.
This month's theme was movies in which one character or multiple characters were going mad. I called it March Movie Madness. I did pretty well for the first couple of weeks, and then the virus came and scared the crap out of everybody. Naturally, I turned to apocalyptic movies then. Turns out, zombies and viral outbreaks also tend to star folks who are going quite mad. So all and all, it hasn't been a bad month, theme-wise. But it wasn't as good as it could have been. What I've learned is that choosing a theme that involves something slightly intangible
A good cast and beautiful visual style can't save a bad script.
A man, dressed in a suit and tie but bruised and battered, comes running through the woods. He stumbles and falls, landing unconscious in the middle of a country road. He’s picked up by a delivery driver who takes him to a secluded old house where a young woman swears she’ll take care of him. The man is Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser) and he’s just narrowly escaped being killed by local townspeople who were no longer willing to abide with the cult Darkly has been a part of. He’s a peculiar young man who obviously has had little interaction with
Never fear the viral outbreak has not kept me from consuming cool things.
Week #2 of Coronavirus quarantine. I'm not actually all that shut-in. On normal days, I work from home about 50% of the time. The other time I'm in my truck driving to different jobs and doing various manual labor tasks, or going to the bank, or running to the city to pick something up. Most of those things don't really involve interacting with others face to face. While I am home working, my wife and child remained cooped up in the house and that brings lots of interference into my working day. That's not meant to sound like a complaint.
Despite its flaws, King Kong remains a wonderful spectacle and a bonafide classic.
In 1929, while filming baboons in Africa on the set of The Four Feathers, director Merian C. Cooper developed the concept of a film about a giant gorilla battling Komodo dragons. It would begin on an isolated island and end with a spectacular death in New York City. He took this idea to Paramount Studios in 1930, but by then the Great Depression had reared its head and studio execs were none too excited to film such an expensive project. Mega-producer David O. Selznick brought Cooper to RKO studios in 1931 telling him he could make any film he wanted.
After a week off, I'm back with many cool things.
It has been a weird week. My wife's mother just had hip replacement surgery and the original plan was that my wife would be leaving us today to spend time with her mom. This coming week is Spring Break which means my daughter will be out of school. I still have to work and so there was a bit of a conundrum about what to do with the girl. I kind-of, sort-of work from home so we didn't need to find full-time childcare, but we also didn't want her to sit around watching TV all day. Nor would she be
Foreign Film February comes to and end with a lot of very American movies and the conclusion of a terrific French series.
I watched 23 films in the month of February. That's not quite one film a day but it isn't bad either. My theme this month was foreign films and I watched 14 movies not made in the United States and not initially using the English language. I write "initially" because I watched a few low budget Italian horror films and I could only find them in dubbed versions. Still, I call that a victory. My tentative theme for March is Madness. No, I won't be watching basketball movies, or even sports ones. But rather I'm using the basketball nomenclature and
I'm not one prone to hyperbole but Deadly Manor might be the stupidest movie I've ever seen.
A group of teenagers decides to go camping at the lake. Four of them are in a Jeep, two drive a motorcycle (this will be important later). None of them seem to know where it is. The one guy who has been there before only has vague notions. No one even knows what the lake is called. They can’t find it on a map. Someone suggests that maybe it is too small to be on one. They pick up a scraggly looking hitchhiker. He says he knows where that lake is. He doesn’t say where he is going but he
There's a little bit for everyone - Stephen King fans, French film buffs, Italian horror fans, arthouse nerds - in this week's cool things.
Last month, I watched, on average, over one movie per day. I knew going into February I would not keep up with that schedule. My plan was to watch some of the many television shows I'd missed that everyone keeps talking about. I've managed to not only not watch as many films but also I've hardly watched any series. It has just been one of those months where my pop-culture consumption has been down. Luckily, this week the things I did consume happened to also be pretty cool and so I have plenty to talk about. Bed and Board The
A spooky premise and an excellent set of extras can't save this trilogy of films from getting hung up on.
A group of friends are hanging out. A cell phone rings, but nobody recognizes the ringtone. Finally, someone realizes it is hers but by the time she gets to it, she’s missed the call. The caller ID says it is from herself. Stranger still is that it is dated a couple of days in the future. There is a voicemail. It is from the girl who owns the phone. It begins with her talking about something innocuous - that it is starting to rain or some such thing - and ends with her screaming. That’s strange, everyone agrees, but it
Henri-Georges Clouzot tale of doomed love works like a film nor in a melodrama setting.
Manon Lescaut is an 18th Century novel by Antoine François Prévost. It was controversial at the time of its release, for it depicted a woman so full of greed she’d resort to low morals (cheating on her husband, turning to prostitution) in order to live the lifestyle she preferred. It was banned for a time in its native France, which of course means it was extremely popular. Twenty years after publication, an acceptable version was printed, toning down the scandalous details and injecting moralizing disclaimers. It remains a classic, so much so that my wife, ever the lover of French
Another week, more cool things.
Last week, I talked about how the themes of this month were going to be foreign films and films made by and starring people of color, in honor of Black History Month. I have utterly failed on that last one. Films by people of color are a large hole in my cinematic viewing history and I really do need to start filling it. But like so many other times when I’ve failed at watching certain types of films during one month, it all comes down to availability. White males have dominated the film industry since there was a film industry,
Foreign Film February is off to a great start.
After a very successful January in which I watched many films from director Jean-Pierre Melville, I couldn’t decide on a theme for the month of February. I knew I wanted to go with some kind of topical theme rather than choosing another director or star as I feared choosing another director would mean that each month would be nothing but directors and perhaps actors, and it seems more fun to mix it up. Eventually, I narrowed it down to two choices: movies made by or starring African Americans as it is Black History Month, or foreign language films as Foreign
Arrow Video presents this late entry into the slasher genre that spends too much time developing character when it should be chopping up bodies with an axe.
It is always fascinating to me when the makers of low-budget slasher films try to inject their films with an actual story and well-developed characters. This seems rather pointless when all fans of the genre want is attractive people being hacked to death in creative ways. This is especially interesting as the majority of people who make low-budget slasher films wouldn’t know an interesting story if it slapped them in the face with a black leather glove, nor a well-developed character if it stabbed them in the eye with a shiny, sharp knife. Edge of the Axe is a Spanish-American
January was a great month for cool things. Here's hoping February has just as many.
I officially watched 34 movies in the month of January. That’s more than one movie per day. That’s a record for me. Only nine of those were movies I’d previously viewed. Six of those were from Jean-Pierre Melville, my Artist of the Month. I really enjoyed trying to watch a bunch of Melville films in January. I didn’t see all of the movies he directed but that’s a pretty good chunk. I’m not sure what my theme will be in February, but I’ll have to decide by tonight. I also suspect I won’t keep up my pace. There are a
Happy Chinese New Year, everybody.
I watched a lot less Jean-Pierre Melville films this week than I did last week. In fact, I only watched one, but it was a really good one. I'll probably try to catch another couple this coming week to finish out my month of Melville and then I'll have to decide what February's theme will be. But what I missed in Melville this week I made up for in lots of other random things. I tell ya, I must have been eating my Wheaties or something this month. I regularly struggle finding five cool things to talk about each week.
A movie I loved as a kid as depreciated a great deal over the years.
In 1902, George Barr McCutcheon, writing under the pseudonym of Richard Graves, wrote a novel entitled Brewster’s Millions. In it, a young man named Montgomery Brewster learns of a large inheritance of $7 million due to him after his uncle died. The stipulations of the will are strange - he can only earn the $7 million is he spends $1 million within one year's time and manages to not own any assets at the end of it. The novel was turned into a Broadway play in 1906, a radio play in 1937, and has been adapted into no less than
Watching "An American in Paris" on the big screen was an exceptional experience and one I fully recommend.
In the late 1940s, MGM executive Arthur Freed attended a production of George Gershwin classics and became inspired by the orchestral composition An American in Paris. Not so much because of the music, which he felt was great, but by the title. He felt you could really make a movie out of something like that. He hired Alan Jay Lerner to come up with a story. Gene Kelley was quickly hired to star and choreograph the many dance sequences. Gershwin's friend and grand pianist Oscar Levant was hired as Gene Kelly's friend and newcomer Leslie Caron was eventually signed to
This week I dig deep into French director Jean-Pierre Melville's films and we mourn the loss of a great drummer.
For the last two years, I have spent the months of October and November viewing movies through a theme. In October, I’ve naturally watched as many horror movies as I could, and in November, I’ve been a part of #Noirvember (November + Film Noir). Like most people, I suppose I typically watched movies randomly. I turn on various streaming services, or look through my DVD collection and watch whatever looks interesting at that moment. It has been really fun to watch movies through a theme. At the end of both of these months, I’ve thought of ways of extending this
Another week filled with cool new things.
Last month, I finally broke down and subscribed to Disney+. With The Rise of Skywalker coming out, I knew we’d want to watch some of the films, and with my daughter off for Christmas break, I knew we’d enjoy watching some Pixar or Marvel movies. We’d also be spending a week at my in-laws with all my wife’s family so I figured I could bring my Amazon Fire box and we’d all enjoy Disney+ more than regular cable TV. All of this was true, but mostly I wanted to watch The Mandalorian, Disney+’s new Star Wars series. We had a
A new year brings many new cool things.
I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I had a great time with mine and my wife’s family. I received some wonderful gifts (including that spectacular Godzilla set from Criterion and some Grateful Dead socks). I also got some much-needed rest. With a couple of weeks off, I have lots of cool things to talk about. It was really hard to just pick five, but never fear, I’m sure I’ll slip some of the things I consumed over my break during the next few weeks. Universal Horror Collection, Vol. 3 This collection from Shout Factory continues to cover Universal
Paul Schrader's directorial debut gets a nice new release from Kino Lorber.
After finding great success as a screenwriter on such movies as The Yakuza (directed by Sydney Pollack), Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese) and Obsession (Brian De Palma), Paul Schrader had the clout to demand the ability to direct his own scripts. His first film as director was Blue Collar, a down and dirty drama about three guys working on an assembly line at an auto plant who decide to rob their own union and find themselves over their heads. It is a realistic portrayal of the lower middle class and how big business and big unions can grind a person down
A film so bad the guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000 called it "pretty good."
Poor Basil Rathbone. After finding great success on stage and the screen, after becoming a huge star playing Robin Hood, after being nominated for two Oscars, and portraying the definitive Sherlock Holmes (at least until a certain Mr. Cumberbatch came along), he ended his career mostly hamming it out in drek. In the last decade of his life, he made films like Hillbillys in a Haunted House, The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, and this rather silly sword and sandals fantasy. The Magic Sword is probably best known today as one of the many films ridiculed on Mystery Science Theater
A sluggish, limp and completely uninteresting Elmore Leonard adaptation.
More than half of Elmore Leonard’s novels have been turned into movies (and more than a few were adapted twice, not to mention television shows based on his work). It is easy to see why. Leonard writes like he’s got a movie in mind. His books are full of actions, his characters well-drawn, and he’s got an ear for dialogue. Sometimes, he’ll break long sections of dialogue down like a script with the character's name written out at the beginning of each line followed by what they say. He doesn’t spend a lot of time on a character’s inner dialogue
Volume 3 of this ongoing collection features four lesser films from the Universal Horror archives which will thrill any fan.
Universal horror will always be synonymous with a handful of monsters and the dozens of films the studio made starring them. We’re talking Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Wolf Man. These are the enduring staples of a genre that lasted from the 1920s through the 1950s and whose legacy lasts even today. But Universal Studios made loads of other horror films staring dozens of other monsters, murderers, and villains. Most of these have long been forgotten, but now Scream Factory is bringing them back in high definition in their
A low budget, low frills, completely ridiculous, and totally awesome early '80s masterpiece.
I wonder if you could draw a line from the sword and sandal epics from the early 1960s to the post-apocalyptic movies of the 1980s. In other words, did movies like Spartacus and Hercules in the Haunted World influence films like Mad Max, The Beastmaster, and the movie I’m currently reviewing, She. All of these films feature both men and women in revealing costumes, whether it be form-fitting togas, short skirts with those feather-looking pterugas (and who says you don’t learn new words when writing movie reviews?), or general leg- and navel-bearing clothing. They do battle against hordes of evil
A loving portrait of country living, and a life full of regrets.
Never was a film so aptly titled as A Sunday in the Country. The only way to make it more accurate would be to call it "Very Little Happens on a Sunday in the Country." Or perhaps "An Old Man’s Family Visits Him in the Country and Nothing Much Happens." As you might surmise from my snark, A Sunday in the Country is a film in which the plot is inconsequential. It isn’t about what is happening on screen but rather the mood it evokes, and the emotions it characters are feeling. The old man is Monsieur Admiral (Louis Ducreux),
Alec Guinness (with a Scottish brogue) squares off with John Mills in this military drama.
I have been on a bit of an Alec Guinness kick of late. He’s an actor I knew and loved from epic dramas like The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia and of course as the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars films. It has been a true treat then to dive deeper into his filmography and find so many wonderful performances. He was known to me mostly as a dramatic actor and so it has been a delight finding what a charming comedic actor he also was in films like The Man in the
An incredible feat of filmmaking that left me breathless and confused.
You gotta love marketers. They can make you lots of money and screw you at the same time. Bi Gan’s second feature film Long Day’s Journey into Night (which has nothing to do with the Eugene O'Neill play) was marketed in his homeland of China as a romantic event. For its opening night on New Year's Eve, the film was scheduled so that it would end as the clock struck midnight. It was suggested its closing scene, which involved two people engaged in a romantic kiss, would make a perfect time for couples to bring a kiss into the new
Five early Hitchcock films come to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and show the Master of Suspense learning his craft.
From a very early age, Alfred Hitchcock knew he wanted to be in the filmmaking business. He read the trade papers and went to the cinema and knew that's what he wanted to do. He landed his first job in the industry at age 20 in 1919 as a title card designer. From there, he began co-writing scripts and working as an art director and then a production manager. By 1922, he was set to direct his first film, Number 13, but financing ran out after only two reels had been shot and production was shut down. Sadly, all footage
My last cool things until 2020
It is, as the song says, beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Around here anyway. The tree is up, stockings are hung, presents are piling around the room. We don’t have a fireplace and there is no snow, but Christmas is certainly coming. This means two things for me and this little column. This time of year means the prestige, Oscar-hopeful films are all in the theaters and the big boxed sets and designer blu-rays are being released in hopes of catching all that Christmas money. I’ve spent the last week or so watching numerous films in a couple
A lovingly curated (if cheaply put together) collection that highlights one of the all-time great actresses' careers.
Anne Bancroft landed her first film role in 1952 as a lounge singer in Don’t Bother to Knock. For the next 50+ years, she worked steadily on both the big and small screen and on stage. In that time, she won an Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globes, two Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards plus a slew of others and garnered many more nominations. Today, she is mostly known as Mrs. Robinson, the older woman trying to seduce a young Dustin Hoffman (though in reality, she was just six years older than him) in The Graduate. But the
Scream Factory brings the entire The Fly series into a terrific boxed set that makes a perfect Christmas gift.
It is a deceptively simply story. A man invents a machine that can instantly teleport matter from one place to another (like the transporters on Star Trek). At first, he teleports inanimate objects then moves on to animals and eventually himself. It is that last bit where things turn horrific. While teleporting himself, an innocuous house fly accidentally flies into the device, causing it to fuse both man and fly into one horrifying beast. But that simple (and let’s be honest, kind of silly) concept which initially came into existence through a short story became a 1950s science fiction movie
Even a head full of junk can't keep me from cool things.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I enjoyed some time with my family (who I don’t see that often even though we all live in the same town) and ate way too much turkey and pie. Obviously, I took the week off from writing about Five Cool Things, but I did, in fact, consume many cool things over the last few weeks, so let’s talk about them. Briefly. Truth be told, this post-Thanksgiving week I’ve felt pretty miserable. Change in seasons always mess with my allergies and this week has been a doozy. I’ve not been sick-sick, so I’ve
Action, adventure, romance! What more could a teenage boy want?
My mother likes to call the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies “a poor man’s Indiana Jones.” What she means is that both series star attractive, charismatic male leads who embark on thrilling adventures dealing with archeology and ancient myths, but that the Mummy series doesn’t have quite the high quality as the Indiana Jones films. Like a Big Mac, The Mummy might satisfy a certain type of hunger, but they’ll never be as satisfying as a good steak. Well, if The Mummy is a poor man’s Indiana Jones, then Jake Speed is a poor man’s Mummy. It is the Taco Bell
Low budget sci-fi thriller has some interesting ideas, but can't quite pull it off.
A taxicab driver named Harris (Gino Anthony Pese) gets a call to pick up someone in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing on the radio except alien conspiracy theories and discussions on the female orgasm. Dispatch calls to ask his ETA to the fare. A few minutes later, he picks up Penny (Brinna Kelly). They talk amicably for awhile then she disappears. Poof! Gone. He slams on the brakes and looks around, but she is nowhere to be found. His seatbelt won’t unfasten. He calls in to dispatch but only gets questions about his sobriety. Being a good cabbie,
A beautiful telling of a tragic story.
In the mid to late 1970s, the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia as one of the most brutal regimes in modern history. Led by Marxist leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge wanted to take Cambodia back to what they called “Year Zero” or an egalitarian, agrarian society cleaned from what they thought to be the terrible influences of capitalism. On a practical level, this meant emptying the cities and marching everyone into rural collectives where they would be forced into slave labor. Anybody thought to be an intellectual (including those who wore glasses or spoke a second language) were summarily executed.
It is better on second viewing, with a decade of the MCU having passed, but it is still rough going.
Before I became a bonafide fan of the MCU, I watched their movies whenever I got around to it. Sometimes that was on DVD. Sometimes it was when it was streaming on Netflix or whatever. Rarely was it in theaters. I caught Thor on cable TV while at my in-laws for Christmas. The house was full of people, both adults, and kids, few of whom were watching the movie. Some were in the dining room playing a game, others were talking in the kitchen. Most were sitting in the living room working a puzzle or playing on their tablet. Nobody
I watched some movies this week, and rediscovered an old game.
This week, I saw consumed some new things, but mostly revisited older ones. I also found and rediscovered things I thought were gone. I bought a Kindle back when my eight-year-old daughter was just a baby. I bought the cheap one, without any fancy software that lets you do things besides reading (because I knew I'd do everything but read on it if it was available). I wanted to be able to read with one hand so I could hold her in my lap while doing it. I loved it. Still do, actually. I'm still a huge fan of real
You'll wish you were in Hell instead of watching this movie.
If you are a fan of Netflix’s excellent series Mindhunter, then you may feel a sense of familiarity with Howard (Robert Gribbin), the mild-mannered, psychotic killer from Irvin Berwick’s 1983 film Hitch Hike to Hell. He has a fair resemblance to Ed Kemper, one of the real life serial killers featured on Mindhunter. Kemper, a very large and very intelligent man, picked up eight hitchhiking college coeds in the early ‘70s then raped, mutilated, and murdered them. He sometimes blames his abusive mother for his turn to violence. In 1973, he killed his mom, cut off her head, and threw
It is another big week for Blu-ray releases, we've got your scoop.
When I was but a wee lad, my uncle and all of my cousins were gaga over The Three Stooges. I loved those knuckleheads too, but my favorite old comedy legends were Abbott & Costello. I can remember having these long debates with my mother about why they were better than the Stooges. The slapstick comedy of the Stooges was the best, but Abbott & Costello told actual stories. Their movies weren’t just a bunch of gags. As I write that, I realize how much that thought has informed my opinion of comedy even today. I always prefer my laughs
Who needs Disney+ when we've got the Criterion Channel?
Disney+ launched this week and it seems to be all anyone can talk about. When it was initially announced, I was excited about it. Figured I’d subscribe the very first day, and thought it might be a replacement for Netflix. Now that it's launched, I find I’m not all that interested. The thing is I already own the good Marvel movies, or I’ve watched them recently, and the other ones I’m not all that keen to see again. Ditto with the Star Wars films. There are some Disney animated films I’d like to see again, but those aren’t the type
The best-selling novel gets a neutered adaptation but an excellent release by Arrow Video.
I have this memory in which my mother gives me a copy of V.C. Andrews’ 1979 novel Flowers in the Attic. I was in my early 20s at the time and my mother gave the book great praise. For some reason, I thought the book was about the Holocaust, that it was a story similar to Anne Frank’s, where a group of young siblings were hiding from the Nazis in an attic of an old mansion. For anyone who has read the book, you know how far my idea is from the truth. The actual novel is about a group
Don Siegel's 1973 crime thriller is yet one more reason to love Walter Matthau.
When I think of Walter Matthau, which is more often than you’d think, I think of him as a comic actor. My first memories of him are as a Grumpy Old Man, or as 1/2 of an Odd Couple. Certainly he was great in comedies and brought a light, hilarious touch to more serious films, but he was also a wonderful dramatic actor as well. He starred in numerous serious dramas like Fail Safe and JFK. He also starred in a number of action thrillers and spy movies like Charade, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Hopscotch, and the
It's a big, beautiful week for new releases.
Every now and again, my wife will load up the daughter with her in the car and take off to visit her parents or some other such thing, leaving me alone in the house for a few days. I always take this opportunity to go to the movie theater and see things we normally wouldn't see on the big screen. The wife doesn't consult the movie listings before she goes to ensure there is something I really want to watch, so it is always a bit of hit and miss as to what is available to watch. This last summer
Ida Lupino stars in this excellent melodrama with noir trappings.
It is funny how when you discover something you'd never noticed before you suddenly start seeing it everywhere you look. Ida Lupino has been that way with me recently. Her’s was a name I’d heard before but wasn’t really familiar with. It was one of those names I’d seen in reviews or movie discussions that stuck in my brain but that I didn’t really associate with anything. I’d seen her in High Sierra with Humphrey Bogart years ago, but whatever impression she left had long since slipped my memory. Then a few weeks ago I randomly watched On Dangerous Ground.
I am joined by a guest this week.
We are right smack in the middle of Noirvember and it has been super fun reading everybody's discussions on the various film noirs they've been watching. My own experience has been pretty good. I've seen some excellent noirs, some not so excellent, and I've gotten distracted by films that aren't noirs at all. I finished a couple of horror films that I didn't get to during last month's 31 Days of Horror film watch. Also cool this week, I am joined by a guest and fellow Sentry, so let's get started. The Blob (1958) The wife and I started this
If you allow yourself to relax and let its myriad of stories wash over you, there is plenty to like.
A man breaks out of prison and returns to the home of his former fiancee. They were set to be married but he got caught in a bash and grab and was put away for years. In the time between, she met another man, dull but kind, who has children of his own; settled down; and created a life for herself. But when she finds him hiding out in the air-raid shelter those old feelings return. With a house full of people, she can hardly let him inside. It is even difficult to smuggle him a little food. Elsewhere, three
Excellent film noir from Carol Reed might not be as good as "The Third Man," but it isn't too far off either.
It is difficult not to compare The Man Between, Carol Reed’s 1953 thriller to a film he made four years earlier, The Third Man. Both films are set in bombed-out, post-war European cities (The Third Man in Vienna, The Man Between in Berlin). Both films feature espionage, intrigue, and flexible sympathies towards some of the main cast. I won’t argue that The Man Between is the better of the films, but it deserves to be a part of the conversation. Hopefully, this new Blu-ray transfer from Kino Lorber Studio Classics will pull it out from underneath The Third Man’s shadow.
This post-war thriller might not be a white-knuckler, but its attention to detail and observations on humanity make it quite thrilling.
The atomic bomb not only helped win World War II and fueled the Cold War for years after it, but it spurred our cultural imaginations and fears for decades to come. It spawned a huge wave of nuclear monster movies from Godzilla to all sorts of giant insect monsters and deadly amorphous blobs. Science-fiction films in the 1950s and beyond often relied on nuclear energy to create its deadly foes. There were also plenty of much more serious dramas like Sidney Lumet’s Fail-Safe about the potential of nuclear disaster. Released in 1950, Seven Days to Noon is a British drama
Come and see all the cool new releases coming out this week.
Davey is still missing in action so I’m keeping the reigns this week. I love me some Neil Gaiman. I love me some David Tennant. I’m quire fond of Michael Sheen. Put those three together for an Amazon Prime series and I’m all in. Good Omens is based upon the novel by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It follows Tennant and Sheen as two angels playing for opposite sides of the moral spectrum. They are supposed to be preparing the world for Armageddon - the ultimate war between Satan and God, but they both rather enjoy Earth a little too much.
Gloria Grahame elevates a pretty decent film noir into something you must see.
The cops pick up a guy on a drunk and disorderly. He doesn’t have any identification but says he’s a baker and a family man. He doesn’t look like a family man. He looks like a tough guy. He talks like a tough guy. The cops are on edge because there has been a string of unsolved robberies of late and the higher-ups are on their case. The drunk gets mouthy and punches one of the cops. The cops hit back. And how. He promises to get even with the cops. Police Chief Conroy (Sterling Hayden) comes in just as
Halloween may be over but we've got some scary cool things to talk about.
My apologies for missing last week. My wife and I both came down with some nasty cold/allergy/flu thing and I just wasn’t up to writing about cool things when I was feeling so bad. But never fear, dear reader, I consumed many cool things during these last two weeks and I am ready to talk about them. Today, is, of course, November 2nd, which technically means the end of Halloween season (and begins the most excellent Noirvember), but for one more day, we will be talking about a lot of horror movies. So sit back, grab your best stabbing knife,
This 1980s folk horror is light on scares and heavy on nothing happening.
The early 1970s saw several British films being released that have been defined as “folk horror” by fans. These are films like Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man, which incorporated old folk tales and pagan rituals into horror movies. In the 1980s, movies like Children of the Corn moved the setting to rural America but the idea was the same. These films often dealt with isolated communities living in picturesque, yet somehow unsettling rural areas. They are inhabited by deeply religious people who incorporate pagan or satanic rituals into their daily lives. This mix of isolationism and “weird” belief systems
Arrow Video brings a new 4K restoration of this Japanese horror film that started a movement.
Japanese folklore has long included ghosts who haunt the living because they died with anger, rage, fear, or some other strong emotion. Many of these myths include a young girl with long, black hair obscuring her face. In 1991, Koji Suzuki updated these stories in his novel Ring. This was made into a 1995 TV movie called Ring: Kanzenban and then again as a theatrically released film called Ringu in 1998 by Hideo Nakata. Ringu made some significant changes to the novel and became a huge hit, becoming the highest-grossing horror film in Japan. It found an international audience on
It's a big week for horror films and a terrific week for Criterion fans.
Davy is off this week so I’m picking up my old reins and talking new Blu-ray releases. It is Halloween week! One of my favorite weeks of the year. I’m a huge horror fan and boy, does this week have plenty of horror releases. But first, we have to talk about the Criterion Collection. Since the mid-1980s (yep, you read that right, they started making Laserdiscs in 1985), Criterion has been releasing superior editions of independent, art-house, and foreign films on home video. For serious cinephiles, Criterion is the place to begin one's collection. Their DVD and Blu-ray releases come
This double feature gift set is sure to make any cinephile smile.
In the opening of Howard Hawks’s gangster film Scarface (1932), we see a title card that notes that the film is an indictment of gang rule in America, and then it deflects any responsibility towards the eradication of gang violence away from the film industry and towards the government. This was added after a long feud between the MPPDA (which became known as the Hays Office) and Hawks (and Howard Hughes, who produced the film). The Hays Office believed the film glorified gang violence and demanded numerous cuts. Some cuts were made, the ending was changed, and finally, the title
Jean Renoir's telling of the French Revolution is more history lesson than dramatic film, but it is well worth watching.
The French Revolution is one of the most important events of modern history. That mere commoners - people stricken with great poverty, ground under the thumb of the aristocracy - rose up to smash the monarchy and create a democratic republic is nothing short of astounding. It helped sweep in revolutions and reform across the globe, triggering the decline of absolute monarchies. That the revolution ultimately turned into the Reign of Terror in which thousands of so-called enemies were guillotined, leading to Napoleon declaring himself emperor does not diminish the importance of what came before those dark times. In 1938,
A movie so utterly light and unoffensive I can't hate it.
There has been a lot of bemoaning over the last few years about how Avenger-sized films have destroyed the mid-budget movie. The major studios only seem to make blockbuster hopefuls with sequel and spin-off capabilities. Independent studios make more interesting films but their budgets are small which naturally limits their capabilities. Romantic comedies and thoughtful dramas are few and far between. While watching My Boyfriend’s Back, the Bob Balaban-directed romcom with zombies from 1993, I kept thinking about how this sort of film could never get made today. It is goofy, broadly acted, and strangely bloodless for a film produced
Cool things abound this week, come inside and find them.
My wife’s folks are in town for the weekend and my daughter is dying for us to take her to the pumpkin path so let’s get to what was cool this week. And Soon the Darkness This very British and very early 1970s thriller finds two young women traveling through the French countryside by bike. After a heated argument, one of them travels to the next village while the other stays back to sunbathe next to a small grove of trees. She is never seen again. The film then follows the first girl as she tries to find out what
This very slow moving British thriller takes its time getting to the action but is quite good if you have the patience.
Two British nurses, Jane (Pamela Franklin) and Cathy (Michele Dotrice), take a cycling holiday in rural France. They’ve planned their route out for each day and Jane pushes Cathy to stick to it, which means not stopping very often or spending much time off their bikes. Cathy wants to stop off and eat at the cafes, take in the local scenery and possibly flirt with the cute guy who seems to be following them. They ride for a while but Cathy’s incessant complaining leads to a stop at a little grove of trees. Cathy lays out a blanket and turns
Mario Bava infuses the tired Hercules film with his own sense of style, creating something unique and really fun.
For decades the Italian film industry often emulated the successful films of the United States. Through the late 1950s and early 1960s, with the popularity of such Hollywood films as The Ten Commandments and Spartacus, this often took the form of Biblical epics and stories set in the Greco-Roman period. Critics, with some derision in their voices, called these films peplum (using the Latin word for the Roman style tunics worn in such films) or sword-and-sandal movies. Fans have reconstituted those slags into something more positive. In the early part of this movement, Hercules was by and far the most
Slasher horror meets spring break comedy in this terrible '80s hybrid from schlock master Umberto Lenzi.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to mix an ‘80s slasher with an ‘80s spring break comedy, then Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare Beach is for you. Well, actually it isn’t for anybody because it is a terrible, terrible movie. It wasn’t even for Umberto Lenzi for he swears he didn’t direct it (at least according to IMDB trivia). He was signed on to direct but at the last minute decided it was too similar to one of his other films (Seven Blood Stained Orchids) and begged off the production. The credits name a “Harry Kilpatrick” as the director
With Autumn come many cool things.
It is finally starting to feel like Autumn around here. After an unseasonably hot September, October has come and with it cooler weather. I love this time of year. I love getting out the sweatshirts, roasting marshmallows in the backyard fire-pit, and watching the leaves change. October also means Halloween, our annual pumpkin-carving party, and horror movies. I spent a lot of time in September mapping out what horror movies I’d watch this year and then promptly ignoring it (so far). I don’t know, exactly, what I love about horror movies but I’ve loved them as long as I remember.
Arrow Video does an excellent job presenting this should-have-been forgotten slasher in a very nice package.
The 1980s were a great time for horror movies in general and slasher flicks in particular. With the advent of home video and the booming popularity of video rental stores, there was suddenly a need for more and more videos to stock those shelves. Lots of studios specializing in cheaply made, straight-to-video movies sprung up overnight. Horror fans are a motley lot and easily amused. They are not known for snobbish attitudes, willing to take a chance (and often enjoy) films of lower budget and artistic caliber. As long as the film has plenty of violence, at least some blood-soaked
It has been a long week but I'm here (if a little late) with some cool things I discovered.
My brother spent this week in Japan with his son, my sister, and her husband. The sister told the nephew that they’d take him anywhere in the world when he graduated high school. He chose Japan. Mainly because he is a gamer and they do a lot of that stuff in that country. They seem to be having a blast. Here stateside, things have been a little tougher. When I’m not writing about cool things, I run a little family business with my dad and that brother. With him gone, the father figure and I have had to pick up
This four-disk set from Kino Lorber demonstrates what a huge talent Ida Lupino was.
Several weeks ago, I randomly decided to watch On Dangerous Ground, the pretty good film noir by Nicolas Ray from 1951. It was one of those nights where I was flipping through my various streaming services and eventually got so tired of not making a decision, I wound up punching "play" on whatever sounded remotely interesting. I’ve enjoyed several of Nicolas Ray’s film and I’m always up for a noir so away I went. Like I said, it was pretty good. It is about a cop whose violent tendencies get him sent to the countryside to cool off. There, he
Arrow Video does a nice job spiffing up this movie that is so bad even the director disowned it.
Wes Craven is often placed near the top of lists concerning the greatest horror filmmakers of all time, and rightly so. He was at the forefront of the gritty, ultra-violent new wave of horror films in the 1970s making such low budget classics as The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. In the 1980s, he rejuvenated the slasher genre by creating the iconic Freddy Kreuger in the Nightmare on Elm Street, then reinvented it with the very meta and very ‘90s Scream films. But while he deserves all the accolades, let us not forget he was
In a culture that seems more homogenized every day, it's wonderful to see something completely different, which makes this well worth the watching.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this article. The opinions shared are his own. For years now, our popular culture has been swimming in comic book stories. We are positively drowning in the stuff. Marvel releases two or three films a year that not only dominate the box office but consume our cultural conversations. While DC hasn’t been nearly as successful, their films still make money and have developed large fandoms. Beyond the movies, there are lots of television series and actual comic books. You cannot escape the power of
An art-house Japanese animated film gets a terrible American treatment.
In The Path to Aftermath, an extra included in Arrow Video’s new release of In The Aftermath, producer Tom Dugan explains that in the mid-1980s it was easy to sell low budget, straight-to-video movies because video stores had lots of shelf space and not enough VHS tapes. He goes on to say that he spent part of his career filming show trailers and creating eye-catching cover art for films that didn’t even exist. He’d sell the movies based upon those things then get someone else to make the movie on the lowest possible budget. He’d also keep an eye out
Come read about all the cool things I discovered this week.
It's the weekend. Let's get to it. The MCU's Captain America If you’ve read my writings in these pages over the last few years then you know my relationship with the MCU has changed several times. I’ve gone from complete indifference to kind-of liking it to full-on fandom in the 10-plus years they’ve been making movies. What this means is that while I have seen all of the movies they weren’t always watched as a fan, so I really need to watch them again. My daughter, who is younger than the MCU, has not seen many of those older ones
In a cinematic landscape filled with emotionless psychopaths, it is thrilling to find one who is a nice guy.
In movies and on television, a sociopath - someone who doesn’t have real feelings or emotions - is usually depicted as a serial killer, or someone capable of great violence and horror against others. These people are evil because to have no emotion means not caring for anyone and that means doing whatever the hell you want. Un Coeur en Hiver (A Heart In Winter) is the rare film in which someone with sociopathic tendencies turns out to be a pretty nice guy. This man, Stéphane (Daniel Auteuil), is a highly sought-out violin repairer. His partner Maxime (André Dussollier) is
This series keeps getting better and better.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. I recently spent a lot of time zipping through the fourth season of Supergirl. I like that show but it has a tendency to stop the action dead in order to preach at the audience. It is a series that gets so focused on its righteousness that it forgets to entertain at the same time. When it remembers it is a lot of fun, but it can be exhausting when it forgets.
Let's hope next week is cooler than this one.
I went to a late showing of It Chapter Two last night. It was not good. It was not cool. I watched several movies this week which were also not cool (some of which you can find reviews of on this site). I started Doom Patrol yesterday and immediately regretted it. If this article feels a little sparse this week, you now know why. If I don't watch something that blows me away soon I may have to turn this article into 5 Kind of OK Things. Kid Icarus Every now and again, I like to play some old games
Even a saucy Dame Helen Mirren can't save this clunker.
If there was a template for the movie genre where a nice boy falls for a hooker and complications ensue then Hussy would have followed it to a “T”. If there isn’t and you needed to write one, then you’d need to look no further than this film. Its story is so average, so full of everything you've seen in similar films, you'll wonder if you haven't seen it before. Follow along with me: boy falls for the hooker, boy gets jealous of hooker for sleeping with other people, hooker’s abusive ex enters the scene, boy hatches a shady scheme
George Lazenby should have been a star.
Poor old George Lazenby. When Sean Connery quit the James Bond gig (for the first, but not last time) after You Only Live Twice, Lazenby won the coveted role. It should have been the beginning of a long and successful career. Instead after just one film, the underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he walked away from Bond. His acting career never recovered. He kept making films through the '70s, but other than Bond, he’s probably best known for his appearances in several made-for-cable erotic films that were part of the Emmanuelle series. Watching him in the 1972 giallo Who
A little less self-righteousness, a little more superhero action would help this show a lot.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. Supergirl has got to be the most woke show on television. Sure its titular character is an attractive, young, white girl, but there are numerous people of color in major roles, the LGBTQ+ community is well represented (Supergirl’s sister is not only gay, but a major character and a strong female one at that), and now it has introduced to televisions first trans superhero. All of this is a good thing. I
Gregory Peck and J. Lee Thompson team up for a third and final time in this dullard of a spy flick.
For their third and final collaboration director J. Lee Thompson and Gregory Peck made The Chairman, a spy thriller about an anti-violence academic sent to Communist China to steal a plant enzyme. It is just exactly as exciting as that sounds. Peck plays John Hathaway, a Nobel Prize-winning professor who used to do a little espionage on the side. He gave that and violence up altogether when his wife died in a car crash that caused him to realize all life is precious. But when the President calls asking him to go to China because they’ve developed a secret enzyme
GKids brings us this animated prequel to Shunji Iwai's Hana & Alice which is a lovely, episodic, charming day in the life of a burgeoning friendship.
In 2004 Japanese director Shunji Iwai made Hana & Alice, a live-action movie about two high school students who both fall in love with the same boy. Slightly more than a decade later, he made The Case of Hana & Alice which is the story of how those two began their friendship. Rather than cast two different actresses to portray the protagonists younger selves in this prequel, Iwai decided to animate the film and keep the actresses for their voices. Fourteen-year-old Tetsuko Arisugawa, who will later get nicknamed “Alice” (Yû Aoi ) moves to the suburbs (or the “sticks” as
A stacked cast can't make this limp anti-Bond spy thriller the least bit interesting.
With the success of the first James Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962 there was a mad rush of spy films trying to cash in on the Bond phenomenon. Many of these films were quite clearly ripping off the Bond series with similar plots, similar aesthetics, and spies called Charles, Bind, James Tont, and the like. It got so bad in Italy that United Artists threatened legal action over the use of the 007 designations (which only caused them to switch it to similar numbers like 077). This, in turn, created the anti-Bond sub-genre of films that threw out all
I might be getting old, but I'm still watching cool things.
This getting older thing is kind of a bummer. The other day I was bemoaning how old I'm getting and noted that I'm already 42 stinking years of age. My wife kindly reminded me that I'm actually 43. I'm now on blood-pressure meds, I wear reading glasses, and I've got to watch my cholesterol. I used to be a night owl. I'd stay up to all hours of the night and still be able to get up for work and get things done. For the last few years, I've been able to stay up until midnight but after that, I
Were this directed by anyone but John Carpenter, it would be a cult classic, but as it is one can only wonder what went wrong.
An armored van pulls up to a dilapidated house. A group of scruffy-looking men and a priest get out. The van is full of weapons: guns, knives, stakes, and crossbows. The men arm themselves. Out front stands Jack Crow (James Woods). He takes a crossbow, barks orders, and looks cool in his sunglasses. Inside the house is a nest of vampires and this crew has been hired by the Vatican to kill them. The priest blesses them and then it's in for some stabbing. The guns don’t seem to hurt the vamps but they do knock them around. Shots are
I'm too old (and grumpy) for this stuff.
Several years ago while chaperoning a group of college students through Europe as part of a study-abroad program my wife was leading, we took a cruise through the Greek islands. I was clearly not enjoying myself and one of the students gave me a piece of advice. She said that the way to make a cruise fun was to realize that you were stuck on a boat for a few days and that even though most of the entertainment was cheesy and dumb, that was all you had. So you might as well make the best of it. Take it
With a week this cool, it is hard to believe it's still technically summer.
It has been a weird summer. June was filled with torrential rains, flooding most of the area for weeks on end. It was for the most part unusually cool. Oh sure, we had several days in the mid-90s but I don't think we ever broke 100 degrees, which is super weird for Oklahoma. We mostly stayed in the upper-80s, which is quite warm but nothing like the horror show summer usually is. Now that it is the middle of September, when temperatures should start cooling off, we are back in the mid- to upper-90s. Who knows what the winter will
Alec Guinness shows off his comedic side in the two classics from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
This weekend I caught a Fathom events screening of Lawrence of Arabia. That is a movie made for the big screen and I was thrilled to finally see it in that format. Alec Guinness plays a relatively minor, yet important role in that film and it made me think of his long career. Today, he is probably best known as Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise old Jedi in Star Wars. After that, he’s likely known for his performances in David Lean epics like the aforementioned Lawrence, or The Bridge on the River Kwai. He is such an impressive dramatic actor it
Yorgos Lanthimos' follow-up to Dogtooth is an obtuse, obfuscated, thrilling piece of filmmaking that is worth the watching even if you come out of it completely confused.
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos often makes movies about insular groups of people who live in absurdist worlds that create and uphold outlandish rules. Yet he somehow makes them seem real and often surprisingly sympathetic. Coming off the festival circuit success of Dogtooth - in which two parents keep their three children locked inside a compound teaching them the outside world is full of violence and make up new definitions for common words - he wrote and directed Alps about a group of people who, for a fee, pretend to be the recently deceased for their grieving relatives. It is just
This Danish/New Zealand co-production is full of bad storytelling, but it still hooked me enough to keep watching.
One of the worst parts of being a semi-professional reviewer is that you sometimes have to watch and talk about terrible movies and television shows. One of the nicer things about only being semi-professional is that I actually have some choice in what I review. At least I get a moment to watch a trailer or listen to the word of mouth before I throw my hand up and make a request to review something. Of course, trailers can be deceiving and word of mouth is sometimes wrong so I still wind up with my fair share of not very
School might be back but I'm still discovering cool things to talk about.
School is back in full swing, which always messes with my media consumption. The lazy summer, full of long days watching interesting TV shows and fascinating movies and reading great books, has now turned into evenings that become a blur making sure homework is completed, papers are signed, and baths are taken. Soon enough, the girl will be back doing Girl Scouts, art class, and gymnastics, and we'll hardly get an evening to ourselves. Not that I'm complaining. I enjoy that my daughter is involved in so many activities and living a full life. Well, maybe I'm complaining a little
Five seasons in, "The Flash" is starting to run out of ideas, but it is still my favorite show in the Arrowverse.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Mat Brewster with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are his own. The Flash has consistently received better ratings than all the other shows in the Arrowverse since it first came on the scene in 2014. It is easy to see why as it easily blends superhero action, real emotional stakes, and comedy while fully embracing the more ridiculous aspects inherent to a comic-book series. It is my favorite show in the Multiverse though it is beginning to slip. When watching this type of series, I tend to
I'm ready to talk cool things once again.
Welcome back to Five Cool Things, the weekly article where I discuss all the interesting, really good, and very cool things that I’ve discovered over the past week. I took the long, hot summer off but I’m done with all my vacationing, school is starting back, and I’m ready to talk cool things once again. I watched and read a lot of interesting stuff over the summer and I don’t have time to talk about it all, but here are some of the coolest things I consumed over the break. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown The Criterion
A terrifically fun murder mystery from Canada.
I am an unabashed detective story/crime drama/mystery fan. Whether these tales are being told via novels, comics, movies, or television series, I’m usually all aboard. I love that as a genre the basic story - a crime is committed and somebody, whether a detective, a journalist, or even a dotty old priest, sets about solving it - remains more or less the same whilst allowing for more creativity to occur within the characters and the way the story is told. There is comfort in how the skeletons of these stories are similar while still allowing for interesting things to happen
With these three films, Rainer Werner Fassbinder tells the history of post-war Germany through the eyes of its women.
When World War II ended, Germany was due a reckoning. As a nation, they had to come to terms not only with the atrocities of the Holocaust and Nazism but also rebuilding a country wrecked from war. They had to reconstruct the country's infrastructure and economy but its own soul. This new Germany had to decide who it was and what it would become. Of course, they were not alone in asking this question as immediately following their surrender, Germany was split into four districts each ruled by a separate country (Russia, the United States, England, and France). Within a
While Season Three wasn't as great as the previous two seasons, I'm still excited to see what happens next.
While watching Season One of The Good Place - a series in which four not-so-good humans find themselves in the heaven-like Good Place knowing full well they don't belong - I both thoroughly enjoyed myself but kept wondering how long they would be able to keep up that concept. It is a great idea for a series, but one that didn't seem sustainable. The writers seemed to agree as they created a twist at the season finale. Our four heroes learn that they are not in the Good Place, but rather the Bad Place which has been constructed to look
A solid story and great performance by the core three are hindered by some really terribly designed monsters.
The Krotons, the fourth serial from the sixth season of Classic Doctor Who has a lot going for it. It is one of the few completely intact serials from the Second Doctor portrayed by Patrick Troughton (a great many of them were copied over or completely destroyed by the BBC before they gave a thought about preserving these things for posterity); it was the first serial written by the legendary Robert Holmes (who wrote such classics as Spearhead From Space, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, and The Caves of Androzani); and it was directed by David Maloney who helmed his fair
A Pilgrim's Progress through Catholic History as seen through the satiric lens of Luis Bunuel.
About an hour into Luis Bunuel’s surrealistic drama The Milky Way, two men, a Jesuit and a Jansenist, argue over the Christian doctrine of irresistible grace. It becomes so heated that a duel is challenged and the two draw swords for a fight to the death. After a time, the camera moves onto two vagrants who are having a similar debate but in a much gentler manner. While we watch them, we see the first two men, having put down their swords, walking away as friends. One could interpret this moment as if to say that the first two men
A decisive critique of capitalism, fascism, and the Catholic Church.
After befriending Salvador Dali and finding success in the surrealist movement with films like Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’Or, Luis Buñuel was set on the path of greatness. But the Spanish Civil War threw that off and when Franco’s fascists won, he fled to the U.S. where he worked briefly for the Museum of Modern Art in New York and as a translator for Hollywood studios. Unsatisfied, he relocated to Mexico where he was once again able to make movies. He made an astonishing 21 movies during his 18 years as a Mexican filmmaker. Most of these films were
For its tenth anniversary, Doctor Who brought all the Doctors in for a rather mishandled story, but their interactions make the whole thing worth it.
It has been said before, but having The Doctor regenerate was a stroke of genius. In the beginning of the fourth season of Doctor Who, it was clear that William Hartnell, who played the First Doctor, would not be able to continue. His declining health and inability to remember his lines was proving too much for the actor and for the series as a whole. The show was still quite popular, had become a cultural phenomenon in fact, and so the producers had a choice: discontinue the series, or put another actor into the role of the Doctor. Replacing an
Powell and Pressburger's melodrama is beautiful to look at but a bit old-fashioned to watch.
Throughout the 1940s, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made a series of films that are considered some of the greatest British movies of all time. Their films, full of lush photography that blended realism and expressionistic fantasy, stood out in a country that tended to make socially conscious, terribly realistic, kitchen-sink dramas, or dry, literate, and cynical comedies. Films like A Canterbury Tale, Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes were like fairy tales seeped in British history and their very singular culture. But by 1950, their favor amongst critics and audiences was waning. Their type of movie was going out
A nice collection of four films starring the Universal Horror icons.
The year 1931 saw the release of both Dracula and Frankenstein. Both became absolute classics of the horror genre, cornerstones for the long-lasting Universal Monsters series, and made their stars, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, into cultural icons. If you’ve seen Tim Burton’s film Ed Wood, then you might be under the impression that the two stars were big rivals and rather hated each other. Certainly, the publicity departments surrounding their films gave off that impression as a means to sell more tickets. But family members of both actors have always stated that the two held no animosity towards one
A subdued Klaus Kinski stars in this krimi/giallo mashup that is never thrilling but often quite dull.
I am officially on the record (more than once as anyone who has actually followed my writing in these pages can tell you) as being an enormous fan of what are sometimes called "boutique Blu-ray labels." Companies like Arrow Video, Severin, and Kino Lorber are putting out really nice sets of odd, obscure, low-budget, and forgotten films. As someone who spent great swaths of his teenaged years staying up all night with USA’s Up All Night, and renting ridiculously bad movies from my local VHS shop, I appreciate that so many of these types of films are getting new lives
This 1980s horror comedy borrows from 1950s sci-fi to create the perfect late night cable movie.
It is fascinating to me when artists incoporate the culture of their formative years into their current work. Think about how Stephen King often sets his books in the 1950s and early 1960s, the period in which he was growing up. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas transformed their love of the serials from the 1940s into the Indiana Jones franchise. A great many of the things I loved as a kid in the 1980s and ‘90s from The Wonder Years to Stand By Me were made by artists who had a nostalgic love for things in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
A problematic but powerful look at racism in 1960s America.
I gotta tell you, dear reader, that I wasn’t real excited sitting down to watch this new Kino Lorber Blu-ray release of Mississippi Burning. I can’t remember the first time I watched it, must have been a few years after it came out in 1988 for I can’t see 12-year-old me being interested in it. Whenever it was, I quite liked it. Enough so that I bought it on VHS sometime in the mid-'90s. But I haven’t watched it in at least a decade and I was afraid it wasn’t going to hold up. I was worried that it would
Season Two has all of the fun of the first season, but the story ventures a little too far into the bushes.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the new It Girl. Not because she is attractive and trendy (though she is both) but because she has been creating and writing (and sometimes starring in) a collection of critically acclaimed and much talked-about television series. She won a BAFTA for Crashing, the British series about a group of twenty-somethings living together as property guardians of a disused hospital. The recently released second season of Fleabag has been getting huge buzz and acclaim. She was most recently hired to help with the script of the most recent James Bond film. I’ve not actually seen any of
No need to be quiet about this great little thriller.
An average, ordinary, unambitious bank teller who lives alone, works on chess problems by himself, and collects tropical fish discovers an opportunity to rob a robber and finds himself in a cat-and-mouse chase where the winner takes the money and the loser winds up dead. The teller is Miles (Elliott Gould), who works at small bank in a large Toronto shopping mall. One day, he spies Harry Reikle (Christopher Plummer) dressed as a Santa ringing a bell outside the bank, but he seems to be more interested in who is coming and going from the bank than the kids asking
Robert Louis Stevenson's grand adventure tale loses a lot of its adventure to get bogged down in boring political details.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote over a dozen novels in his lifetime plus multiple short stories, poems, essays, and other works. He was wildly popular in his day and remains so today. He is the 26th most translated author in the world and his most popular works - Treasure Island, Kidnapped and the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have been adapted into hundreds of plays, television series, and movies. By my count, Kidnapped has been adapted at least nine times into films. This makes sense as Stevenson wrote adventure stories full of action, romance, pirates, and treasure, all
Studio Ponoc is back with three animated shorts about modest people doing extraordinary things.
When Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement in 2013, producer Yoshiaki Nishimura grabbed as many animators from the famed studio as he could and created his own animated film company, Studio Ponoc, Last year, they released their first feature film, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, which followed closely to the Ghibli format of vividly animated, fantastical films with a lot of heart. It didn’t surpass Ghibli at its best but it definitely felt like a successful follower. Now, Studio Ponoc has released Modest Heroes, a collection of three short films from their large roster of excellent animators. There were supposed to
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents this forgotten gem that's given a second chance on Blu-ray
One of the great joys of being a movie nerd in these times is that we have access to so many movies. Whether it be via your streaming service of choice or one of the many excellent boutique Blu-ray labels, movie lovers have more options than ever on which to view their movie of choice. Alongside all the fantastic movies (and more than a few bad ones) are overlooked gems. Movies one might have never heard or watched were it not readily available in various formats. There is nothing like discovering a new favorite movie, especially when it wasn’t even
Henri-Georges Clouzot's final film is a visually sumptuous, but flawed masterpiece.
The 1960s were a time of enormous cultural upheaval. The aftermath of World War II found many countries with a bountiful economic boom. All that industry and workforce developed to win the war moved away from making bullets and onto inventing all sorts of gadgets designed to make life easier for a quickly developing middle class. All those babies booming were growing up so that by the 1960s those kids were teenagers who knew life not of the Great Depression or of war but of a seemingly unending prosperity. Their values began to change along with this new lifestyle. Social
Jacques Rivette's riveting portrait of convent life in the 18th century is as beautifully filmed as it is horrifying to watch.
Jacques Rivette’s 1965 adaptation of the Denis Diderot book The Nun (La Religieuse) was controversial before it was even released. The script went through several adaptations in order to gain approval for production. Even then, they had to add in a title card noting that the film is fictional and does not paint a true picture of religious institutions (which is then quickly undermined in true Rivette fashion with a short intro about how Diderot’s book was based on historical fact). Once made and approved by the censorship boards, it faced outraged protests and delays in release. Much like Martin
The reviews have been pretty mixed but everybody praises Moss's performance and I'm pretty excited to finally see it.
I have become such a fan of Elisabeth Moss. I first noticed her as the Chelsea Clinton-esque President’s daughter on The West Wing. She had a small recurring role on it, but she really made an impression. Then, of course, she was on Mad Men, which I loved and loved her in. She was great in Top of the Lake and intense on The Handmaid’s Tale and now I want to see her in everything. Looking over her filmography, I see she’s been in lots and lots of things so I’ve got some catching up to do. It is always
How about some cool things to start your weekend?
It has been a wild few days around these parts. We’ve had major storms all week - big thunderstorms, lots of flooding, and tornados from every directions. The Brewster’s and our property remained perfectly safe but it got a little harrowing for a few nights. Some people binge watch Netflix series; we binge watch the weatherman. When the weather was calm, I did get in some really cool stuff so lets talk about it. Chernobyl Consider me a Jared Harris fan. I liked him as Lance Pryce on Mad Men. I thought he made a great Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes:
While I had some misgivings watching the first three seasons, the back half of this series is as exciting as television gets.
This review discusses Seasons 4-7 of the FX series The Shield and the recent release of the complete series on DVD by Mill Creek Entertainment. To see Part 1 of this review, which discussed Seasons 1-3, click here. This review will also spoil several pertinent plot points of the series. You have been warned. For the first three seasons of The Shield, Captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez) acted as the main antagonist to Vic Mackey (Michael Chicklis) and his Strike Team. Aceveda was always an outsider to Farmington, the crime-ridden district of Los Angeles and the police precinct he leads.
It is an interesting batch of new releases coming out this week.
I have taken several overseas flights. They are always long. They are always exhausting. The only thing that makes them bearable is being able to watch movies. The best airlines have little TVs in front of every seat, each programmed with a large selection of movies and TV shows that you can control. The worst have a few select screens that pop down at random intervals throughout the plane and only play the same films. Unless you are seated in the right spot, it is difficult to see what is happening on those screens and anytime someone gets up to
A cinematic adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play performed by award-winning actors shouldn't be this dull.
In the mid 1970s, producer Ely Landau created a subscription-based film series that attempted to recreate a theater experience at the movies. He called it "The American Film Theater." He used 500 or so movie theaters to sell subscriptions to a series of films, all of which were cinematic adaptations of renowned plays. They were to be translated to film but with a complete faithfulness to the original play script. He hired critically acclaimed directors and actors to make the films, which were only shown four times in the specific theaters. Subscriptions for each season were sold by mail-order. It
Here's all the cool things I consumed this week.
It has been a crazy week for me work-wise. I have been busy, busy, busy, most of which kept me in my truck driving from town to town all over the county. I probably put a 1,000 on the odometer while never going more than 40 miles from my house. This meant when I finally got home I was exhausted. Luckily there was TV and movies to provide their endless comfort. Here’s what I watched and enjoyed. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) I watched the Phillip Kaufman remake of this science fiction classic a few weeks back and decided
The Shield was revolutionary television, but will it hold up upon a revisit?
There is a scene in the pilot episode of The Shield in which Detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) has been brought in to interrogate a pedophile who has kidnapped a very young girl for his own pleasure. Mackey comes in with a brown paper sack then proceeds to take out a bottle of liquor, an old telephone book, a lighter, and a utility knife. The smirking pedophile asks, “Your turn to play bad cop?” to which Mackey responds “Nah, 'good cop, bad cop' left for the day. I’m a different kind of cop.” If it clear right from the beginning
Here's what looks interesting in this week's Blu-ray releases.
I am not a scientist. The math was always too difficult for me. I intentionally steered away from the sciences in college for that very reason. However, I am constantly amazed at what science is able to do and to understand. This is no more true than in space travel. The vastness of the universe boggles the mind. That we have managed to send crafts and humans into space is nothing short of awesome. That we landed men on the moon with less technology that what I carry around in my pocket blows me away. Yet we did. There are
It is the weekend so let's talk about some cool things.
I follow a lot of entertainment writers on social media. Usually, this is great as I enjoy reading all the discussions about new movies and television shows. It is also a bit of a minefield as there are often posts about things I’ve not yet seen and while most writers are careful to avoid big spoilers, it's still a possibility and so I must always tread carefully. This has been especially true the last few weeks. The last season of HBO's hugely popular series Game of Thrones has been running this month and there was some other gigantic blockbuster that
This giallo/poliziotteschi has too much confusing plot and not enough style to be interesting to anyone but fans of the genres.
Following the success of Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Italian cinema was awash in lurid crime stories with baroque titles featuring one animal or another. The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire came out about one year after Argento’s quintessential giallo, and it's clearly aping some of that films tropes while also blending in Poliziotteschi crime elements. It has a masked killer, graphic violence, and lurid sexuality, but it's told in a much more conventional way without the typical giallo camera flourishes and wild color schemes. It is much more centered on the crime, catching the killer,
May the Force be with us.
My wife and I become first-time homeowners about three years ago. Our little house isn’t perfect but it meets our needs and the price was right. As any homeowner will tell you, there is tons of maintenance involved. There are yards to mow, fences to fix, plumbing issues, and a constant stream of things that need your time, attention, and money. We’ve been mostly lucky thus far as the things we’ve needed to repair haven’t been too bad. This week that luck ran out. First, the little doohickey that lets you move the ice from the freezer and into your
Takashi Miike's sci-fi adventure on Mars should have stayed on Earth a little longer.
Japanese director Takashi Miike is probably best known for his ultra-violent splatter films like Ichi the Killer and Audition. Or perhaps for his deviant, bizarre films such as Visitor Q (featuring incest, rape, and something known as lactation sex) or MPD Psycho (about a detective with multiple-personality disorder working on a case in which the killer makes flower pots out of severed heads). But with over 100 films to his name, he’s made films in nearly every genre including westerns, samurai flicks, and even a family film or two. Not all of them are great, in fact quite a few
Salacious 1970s giallo is quite dull despite being packed full of sex and violence.
There are certain expectations that come with genre films. What is a genre except a set of criteria that help define different types of films? Once in a while, a film will come along that is so inventive, so creative that it breaks free of a genre’s expectations which then sets the standard for all films in that genre that come after it. When a film is so inventive, it sometimes creates its own subgenre. Afterwards, many subsequent films try to imitate the first film's success with diminishing returns. Eventually what was inventive becomes cliche and films can slip into
Trilogy of very silly spy films from France features one of the country's most famous characters.
Fantômas was originally first created in 1911 by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre. He appeared in some 43 stories over a period of about 50 years. He is one of the most famous fictional characters in France. He’s appeared in multiple movie, television, and comic-book adaptations and has influenced countless works in the century since he first appeared on the page. In the 1960s, a trilogy of films was released starring Jean Marais as Fantômas and directed by André Hunebelle. They were France’s answer to the success of the James Bond films. Kino Lorber has just released the trilogy in
Low-budget 1980s horror flick waits until the end to get interesting, but by then it is too late.
A little free critical advice to anyone planning to make a low-budget horror film: don’t put all of your money, your scares, and inventiveness into the last twenty minutes of the movie. You might think you need to have a grand finale so that your audience leaves the theatre with a bang, but if they are bored for the first half, they might not stick around to see what crazy stuff you can throw at them in the end. Richard Friedman (the auteur behind such classics as Doom Asylum and various episodes of Silk Stalkings and Baywatch Nights) did not
Lots of interesting stuff coming out this week, I've got your info.
I’m a pretty big genre-film fan. I love the way genre films exist within a certain set or rules and then find a way to bend them in interesting ways (the good ones do anyways). S. Craig Zahler is a genre filmmaker par excellence who both revels in the the way those films are able to trigger the more sensitive members of an audience and is an actual, truly good filmmaker. His latest, Dragged Across Concrete, stars Mel Gibson (a fact all on its own that will piss some folks off) and Vince Vaughan as a couple of racist cops
S. Craig Zahler's latest film is loaded with controversy, designed to trigger pretty much everyone, but it's also really good.
Director S. Craig Zahler is a provocateur who loves both ‘70s genre conventions and pissing off at least half his intended audience. In interview after interview, he’ll tell you that isn’t true, that he just writes interesting characters and lets them say and do what they will, but with three films under his belt (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99, and this one) and everyone one of them courting controversies, it is hard to take him at his word. With Dragged Across Concrete, he’s mixing racism and misogyny with his usual brand of extreme violence. Add to that mix
Cold War spy flick from the '80s fails to excite.
Spy movies just haven’t been the same since the Berlin Wall crumbled and Russia turned to capitalism. Without the communist menace to fight against, spies just don’t know what to do. But back in the '80s, spies had game. At least in the movies they did. Some of them anyways. Others like Enigma, the 1982 movie starring Martin Sheen and Sam Neil, have been completely forgotten and with good reason. Directed by Jeannot Szwarc, the auteur behind such classics as Jaws 2, Supergirl, and Santa Claus: The Movie, Enigma finds Alex Holbeck (Sheen) an East German dissident living in Paris
Here's five cool things I discovered this week.
For most of our married life, my wife and I have intentionally not had a television in our bedroom. This was mostly her idea. The thought being that the bedroom is sort-of a special place. A place of intimacies, where we slough off the weariness of the day and rest. It is a place where we can talk and cuddle before diving off to sleep. To place a television set in it where we would inevitably sit mindlessly in those final hours of rest would be an invasion of that space. Also I’m too cheap to spend the money on
Franco Nero stars in this later-period spaghetti western that's got a lot of style, and little else.
With his Dollars trilogy, Sergio Leone revived the failing western genre, infused it with European sensibilities, and created his own subgenre, the Spaghetti Western. With their scruffy, loner heroes, off-kilter visual design, and unusual scores, Leone’s films gave the western a new and distinctive style. Their worldwide success created a numerous imitators, some more successful than others. By 1970, the genre had slipped into parody or outright slapstick. By 1976 it had all but died out. With Keomo, director Enzo G. Castellari along with star Fraco Nero gave it one last gasp, but by then we had all moved on.
Definitely not just for the birds.
While computer-generated animation moves closer and closer to photorealism, it is always nice to see an animated film that revels in its unrealistic form. When the camera was invented, some painters felt free to move away from realism and made impressionistic art. In a similar way, it is interesting to see how some animators are choosing to create painting-like films as CGI becomes more realistic. Tito and the Birds, the recent Brazilian animated film brought to Blu-ray by Shout! Factory!, looks like a thickly brushed oil painting come to life. As a young boy, Tito’s father (voiced Matheus Nachtergaele) taught
A full week of classic releases and a few new ones.
Last November (or Noirvember, as I like to call it), I set out to watch as many film noirs as I could. I watched a pretty broad selection of classics, not-so classics, and neo-noirs. I’ve always liked the genre, but watching so many in such a short period of time really made me a fan. Since then, I’ve continued to watch the genre as often as I can (Amazon Prime has a surprisingly good selection of them). Throughout the 1940s, Columbia Studios made a whole bunch of them. Most of them don’t fall into the category of classic. In fact,
Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff star in this Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation that's slight but entertaining.
Very loosely based upon the Robert Louis Stevenson story, The Sire de Maletroit's Door, The Strange Door stars Charles Laughton as Sire Alain de Maletroit, a rich aristocrat with devious plans. He sets up a drunken cad named Denis de Beaulieu (Richard Stapley) by making him believe he has murdered someone. In a bar, one of Maletroit’s men starts a fight with Beaulieu and fires his pistol at him. Beaulieu then grabs a planted gun filled with blanks from the bar and shoots back. The man pretends to be dead, forcing Beaulieu to run away from the angry mob. They
Here's five cool things I watched this week.
My daughter celebrated her eighth year of life this week. That seems an incredibly long time and yet it seems like just yesterday we were at the hospital ready for her to be born. There are other cliches I could spout, but instead I’ll just say I’m so very happy she’s in my life. The in-laws are in town for the celebrations, which always messes with my ability to consume pop-culture items, but I still managed to squeeze some cool stuff in. Cleo from 5 to 7 I hang my head in shame as an amateur film critic and cinephile
Three horror legends barely star in a ridiculously confusing early 1970s British horror.
In London, a jogger runs toward the camera and collapses. He wakes up in a hospital bed while a nurse tends to him. When she leaves, he pulls down the sheet to discover one of his legs has been amputated. In some unnamed fascist county, a soldier named Konartz (Marshall Jones) gives the old death grip to what appears to be his superior officer. Back in London, DS Bellaver (Alfred Marks) investigates a series of brutal sex murders where women are being killed and drained of their blood. One of the girls worked for Dr. Browning (Vincent Price), a mad
Seven gables, two deaths, one curse, and lots of melodrama.
Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, Universal Studios was known for their horror films. They unleashed into cinemas a string of successful monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, and the Wolfman. Countless sequels and imitators followed. In 1935, they released The Raven with two of their biggest stars, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. They expected a huge hit. They got a dud that stirred controversy for its use of torture, disfigurement, and revenge, which ultimately led to horror films being briefly banned in England and stopped all production of the genre at Universal. But within a few years,
Here's all that's interesting coming out this week in the world of Blu-ray.
With the huge success of The Sixth Sense, director M. Night Shyamalan was able to make just about any film he wanted. He followed it with a series of similarly themed films full of dark emotion, supernatural mysteries, and a twist ending. He quickly went from critical darling to critical punching bag. Apparently, his movies still make money because he’s still making them, but I tuned out after The Happening. In truth, I turned out earlier than that, but that was the last film of his I actually watched. Of the films I have seen, Unbreakable is my favorite. It
A forgotten film about lost world that really ought to be remembered.
We live in a world without mystery. We have the collective knowledge of humanity at our fingertips. We have explored every inch of the Earth’s surface, and plunged its depths. We have sent probes into the outer reaches of the solar system and mapped our own DNA. It is hard to imagine a time when we really didn’t know what was just over the horizon. When we truly thought monsters might lie in the dark places. To be sure, the 1950s were not that time. We didn’t know what we do know now, but we definitely knew there weren’t dinosaurs
Here's some cool things I saw this week.
For reasons I won’t get into here, I’ve decided to shut my little music blog down. Probably permanently. There are a lot of emotions involved with that. I’ve run The Midnight Cafe since 2004 and I’ve been talking about live music since 2008. That is more than a decade of my life. For most of that, I have writen at least one post every day. The blog had become a part of me. It was in my DNA. To walk away from it feels like losing something essential. The emotion I wasn't expecting from this was a sense of relief.
Sometimes you need to take a break from all the prestige television demanding your attention and watch something completely ridiculous.
In this world of seemingly endless must-watch, prestige TV filled with award-winning writers, directors, and actors, it is nice to see a series that is so utterly bonkers, so completely ridiculous in its plotting, and over the top in its performances that it only wants to entertain, not garner awards and stacks of internet think pieces over what it all means. Bancroft stars Sarah Parish as Detective Superintendent Elizabeth Bancroft, a hard-as-nails copper trying to take down a vicious drug syndicate which she hopes will earn her a promotion. Faye Marsay plays Elizabeth Stevens an up-and-coming detective who looks to
A future Supreme Court Justice, a Sherlock Holmes parody, erotic adventures, tiny dolls, and more come out this week.
The Supreme Court has been in the news a lot lately. Obviously, they make a lot of major decisions that affect everyday life in America and so they are watched very carefully. Donald Trump has now appointed two justices, which will have an enormous effect on the Court for decades to come. Depending on which side of the aisle you sit, this is either a great time to be an American or the signaling of end times. I hate talking politics online but I will say his choices did not meet my approval. But as always, there is a light
The movie that started a softcore franchise.
The 1970s were a fascinating time for American cinema. The studio system that dominated the Golden Age of Hollywood was dying by the end of the 1960s and with it, the Hays Code and its internal censorship. The '70s saw a new wave in movies with fresh new directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, and host of others. They created films like never before seen in Hollywood. Their films often tackled themes that just a few years prior had been taboo. They were often pessimistic, dark films that didn’t hold back, graphically using violence, sex, and language
I want to celebrate things that make life better. So here we go.
It has been one rough week. My professional and personal life have been filled with much stress. I don’t want to get into the gory details except to say that even when life bogs me down, I can always turn to art to cheer me up. And on that front, it was a very good week. I watched some interesting movies and enjoyed the trailers on some movies that haven’t been released yet. That’s why I do this. I want to celebrate things that make life better. So here we go. House on Haunted Hill (1959) This isn’t exactly a
I might be late in writing about it, but there is still some good stuff coming out this week.
I turned 43 last week. Apparently, I not only got a year older but I completely lost my memory too. I woke up this morning thinking everything was fine. I thought about the stack of Blu-ray movies I received in the mail yesterday and about the dates they needed to be reviewed. For a moment, I thought one of them was coming out this week and I panicked. Then I thought about my weekly article on new Blu-ray releases. Then I tried to think about what came out this week. Then I remembered I didn’t know what came out this
Stanley Kramer's fictionalized telling of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial is an acting tour de force, but its messaging is exhausting.
I grew up in rural Oklahoma. I attended a conservative evangelical church. I can remember preachers and teachers railing about the evils of evolution from the pulpit and in the classroom. I can remember silently freaking out in 7th grade science when the teacher would talk about evolution and feeling the utmost guilt when I answered test questions that went against my belief. It wasn’t until college, or if I’m being honest years after college, that I began to actually read the science of evolution. Removed from the anti-science rhetoric of my church, it actually made sense. I discovered that
I turned a year older this week and still managed some cool things.
I turned 43 on Monday. I took my kid ice skating on Saturday and took myself to the big used-book store afterwards. Had dinner with my extended family on Sunday (my father shares my birthday with me so we always have dinner). On the actual day, my wife made some pork egg rolls and we stayed in to watch a classic Doctor Who. It was low key, but good. I’m too old to want a big night out and young enough to appreciate being able to enjoy the things I like. It was a good rest of the week too.
The Prize could have been a bonafide classic under a different director, instead it's just ok, but mostly forgettable.
Based upon a popular novel by Irving Wallace, The Prize (1963) was written by six-time Academy Award-nominee Ernest Lehman and stars Hollywood hot-shot Paul Newman and Hollywood heavyweight Edward G. Robinson. It was shot on location in exotic Stockholm. It is a tale of intrigue, mistaken identities, spies, and murder. It should have been a bonafide classic. Were it directed by someone like Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles, it would have been. Instead, it was helmed by Mark Robson and we got a film that’s just okay and mostly forgettable. Newman plays Andrew Craig, a writer who is beloved by
Kino Lorber's new 4K transfer of this Leone classic is well worth your dollars.
The western as a genre had its heyday from the 1930s through the mid 1950s. By the time 1960 rolled around, it was pretty much dead, having been written off by critics years earlier and seeing a drastic decline in ticket sales. In 1964, with A Fistful of Dollars, Italian director Sergio Leone brought it back with a vengeance. He made two more films, For a Few Dollars More in 1965 and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in 1967 which collectively are considered The Dollars Trilogy (or sometimes The Man With No Name Trilogy), though there is no
All that's fit to buy from this week's new releases.
Everybody knows that Marvel has completely destroyed DC when it comes to feature films. At this point, it really is Marvel’s world (or cinematic universe, if you will) and we’re just living in it (or at least going to the movies to watch it.). DC scored a big hit with Wonder Woman and while their other films have made lots of money, just about everybody hates them. Or at least feel they could be a thousand times better. I liked Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman a lot better than most but that was because I saw both films
It is a big week for big trailers to drop (plus some other cool things).
As someone who pretends to be an entertainment writer, I can tell you there are weeks when there just isn’t anything going on. No new big movies in the theater or on home video. No trailer drops or casting rumors. Nothing. Then there are weeks when there is so much going on you are afraid to refresh your browser for fear of yet another thing to get excited about appearing. Holy cow, this was a big week. So let's get to it. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood There have been rumors and speculation about Quentin Tarantino’s '60s Hollywood movie
Whereby I do repent of my sins and learn to love Jane Austen.
My wife has been trying to get me to like Jane Austen for the 20-some years she’s known me. It has been an uphill battle. One that she has constantly failed at. It isn’t for a lack of trying on my part. I’ve seen the Ang Lee adaptation of Sense and Sensibility and at least a couple of versions of Emma. I liked them alright, but not enough to enter me into fandom. I’ve tried reading her books on more than one occasion but can never get past the first chapter. The biggest disappointment as far as my wife is
Superheroes, Doctor Who, film noir, and black-gloved killers, this week has it all.
Since Sam Raimi introduced Spider-Man into the summer blockbuster tradition 16 years ago, there have been no fewer than seven films featuring the webslinger. Raimi’s first two entries into the Spidey Cinematic Universe were well received both critically and at the box office. His third entry, made in 2007, spun off the rails and Spidey spent the next five years cooling his heels in the comics pages. Then there were two films starring Andrew Garfield before Marvel introduced the character to the MCU in 2016 with Captain America: Civil War, and finally he got his own standalone film, Spider-Man: Homecoming
It was a very cool week.
I went to see a special showing of Tom Baker’s last story as the Doctor in the theater this week. It was lots of fun but at some point the realization hit me that I’d just spent about $40 (tickets plus drinks and popcorn for two of us) to watch an old television show that I already own on DVD. These are the times we are living in. It was totally worth it though, to see it on the big screen and be surrounded by fans. I saw some other cool stuff to so let's talk about it. The Lobster
It's a big week for Blu-ray releases and we've got your details.
I care nothing for the Oscars in any meaningful way, but I do love to watch the ceremony and listen to the chatter that comes from the various entertainment writers I follow. There is always at least one long-shot movie that my critic friends champion and another front-runner that they hate. This year there were two hated films - Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book. It was the latter that received the most scorn. Not so much because it is a bad movie as most critics seem to agree it is a decent film, but because of its treatment of race
A '90s slasher has plenty of violence and little else.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to cross MTV’s seminal reality TV series The Real World with a trapped house horror film on an extremely low budget and a totally late '90s aesthetic then look no further than Kolobos. It is all those things and more. Now with an Arrow Video release, you can see it in all its restored glory with plenty of extras to fill you in on all the behind the scenes trivia. Answering a classified ad, a group of attractive, young, obnoxious people show up at a house filled with video cameras to
Not quite a classic, this mostly forgotten Alec Guinness drama gets a much needed spotlight shined on it from Arrow Academy.
Despite starring Alec Guinness, being nominated for numerous BAFTAs, and being banned in several countries (as either being too pro-communist or too anti-communist depending on which way the country leaned), Peter Glenville’s 1965 film The Prisoner has mostly been forgotten today. With a new HD transfer and numerous extras, Arrow Academy makes a pretty good case on why we ought to start remembering it. In an unnamed European country, the communist government wants to bring down the Church. They plan to do so by having a well-respected Cardinal (Alec Guinness) confess to treason which will cause the people to lose
The Thirteenth Doctor and her new companions have found their groove.
The Daleks are one of the oldest and most popular villains on Doctor Who. They were created by Terry Nation for the second story ever made for the series. They have appeared in more stories and episodes than any other villain. They have become true icons of popular culture all over the world. Yet, and let's be honest here, they aren’t really that scary or effective characters. From a design standpoint, they are basically tin cans with a whisk and toilet plunger for hands. Depending on the story needs, they can sometimes withstand the blasts from a tank and yet
Another week, another five cool things.
It has been a weird week. Last weekend, it snowed. Monday the temperature dropped to nearly zero degrees Fahrenheit. Tomorrow, it is supposed to be sunny and the high temperature is in the 60s. We’ll probably go to the park. Last week, we were throwing snow balls. Work has been stressful too. We’ve got over a million dollars in houses either being built or recently completed. They need to be sold, and soon, or we are in a world of trouble. I didn’t watch a lot of movies either. I got in a couple and a little television, but mostly
Here's all the interesting Blu-rays coming out this week.
While I do love the cinema, I very rarely get to go to an actual theater. As a family, we often catch the big blockbusters, and now and again, the wife and I will see something more adult in nature with the young daughter at her grandparents. But even that winds up being something more mainstream as we don’t often have the time to run anywhere but to the local cinema, which doesn’t run anything that isn’t going to make hundreds of millions of dollars. So it was a real treat a few weeks back to get to go to
It is once again cold outside, but here are some cool things to keep you occupied.
We moved back to Oklahoma a few years ago, but no matter how long I am here, I will never get used to the weather. After a long winter for the last week or so, it was starting to feel like Spring. The sun is setting later. The weather has been reasonably warm. My daughter has been playing outside. Then it turned cold again. I am so ready for this to end. It isn’t that this winter has been that brutal. It has gotten below freezing quite a bit but nothing anywhere near zero degrees. We haven’t had a huge
Here's all that looks interesting in this week's new Blu-ray releases.
While watching The Oscars Sunday night, I was often rooting for The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos period drama about the Queen of England and her two consorts fighting for power. Yet I kept being reminded of another period drama about royal fights of power, a film I’d forgotten even existed, - Mary, Queen of Scots. That film was nominated for a few awards, didn’t win any, but the clips sure looked interesting. It stars Saoirse Ronan as the titular queen of Scotland and Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth. The two are locked in a battle of wits over who will reign
Here's five cool things to check out over the weekend.
Last October, I watched a bunch of horror movies because, well, Halloween. I had a lot of fun watching things I’d not seen before and decided it was an excellent idea to create a theme for each month. November became Noirvember and I caught numerous crime thrillers. December obviously led me to Christmas movies except I don’t really like Christmas movies so I didn’t really watch that many. January was intended as Oscar month, and while I did watch a few Academy Award-nominated films, it wasn’t enough to really satisfy the requirements of the theme. February is for foreign films
The story is a bit simple, but the animation really shines.
With Lu Over the Wall, GKIDS continues to prove there is a place in the animation film world beyond Hollywood and Studio Ghibli. There are so many great films being released year after year and it's amazing to find more and more companies filling in the cracks to allow American audiences a chance to view movies they'd otherwise miss. In the sleepy seaside town of Hinashi lives a shy young boy named Kai Ashimoto (Kanon Tani). He makes electronic music on his computer and posts them anonymously online. When local girl Yuho (Minako Kotobuki) recognizes his phone (and thus him)
Remakes, Nazis, Criterions, and Doctor Who all look interesting in this week's new Blu-ray releases.
It is a new era for Doctor Who. There is a new actress playing the Doctor (there is an actress playing Doctor Who!). She's got an all-new set of companions and Chris Chibnall just took over the reigns as the showrunner. As if that wasn't enough changes this past year, they moved the long-running tradition of Christmas specials to New Year's. I was pretty bummed by that idea because we typically spend Christmas with my wife's family and it's become something of a tradition for us to watch Doctor Who after a lovely Christmas Day full of good food and
Western noir is a weird blend of genres, settings, and sexuality, but never amounts to much.
The credits roll over a vast desert, much like the type you’d see in an old Western starring John Wayne. Except here a long highway stretches across the screen letting us know that this isn’t an old western but a contemporary film. To highlight this, a modern automobile (well, modern for 1947 when the film was made) comes rolling in across the highway. Inside are two strangers coming into town, again like they do in those old westerns, except these aren’t black-cladded cowboys but rather two gangsters in matching suits. They stop at a bridge and speak of it in
Guess who has some cool things to talk about this week?
We had some friends over tonight to watch a movie (more on that in a minute), which means I’m sitting down to write this relatively late in the evening Friday, which means we’re gonna get right to it. Like now. Audition I had seen a few Takashi Miike movies before Audition so I thought I was prepared for what was to come. I expected sadistic violence and perversion. I was not ready for a rather staid, emotional, romantic drama. Talk about your shocks. Then, of course, once you’ve settled in for a surprisingly normal movie from the masters of crazy
Takashi Miike's disturbing melodrama gets a nice restoration from Arrow Video.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about Takashi Miike's 1999 film Audition is that for its first half or so there is nothing shocking about it at all. Miike, a Japanese director known for films featuring perverse images, black humor and extreme violence, spends the first 50 minutes of his nearly two hours run time telling an intimate, emotional, family drama. For anyone who comes to Audition knowing Miike films such as Ichi the Killer, Visitor Q, or Izo, watching nearly an hour of cinema in which nothing weird, blood soaked, or insane happens is the craziest twist of all. This
Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee battle an alien ape on a train. What more could you want?
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing first performed in a movie together in Laurence Olivier’s 1948 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Cushing played Oscric, a minor character, while Lee was an uncredited spear carrier). They were nearly inseperable after that, performing again together more than 20 more times. They made several great movies, quite a few bad ones, and became stars performing for Hammer Studios in a slew of horror films. They were the best of friends up until Cushing died in 1994. In 1972, both actors were set to make a low-budget horror movie based upon the novel Who Goes There?
It's another great week to be a Blu-ray collector, and I've got all the new releases worth talking about.
I don’t consider myself a huge Queen fan, but I dig a lot of their songs. They could write a big stadium anthem like few others. There is no denying that Freddie Mercury was incredibly charismatic and one intensely talented front man. Just watch that performance of them at Wembley Stadium and you'll see what I'm talking about. Director Bryan Singer’s biopic of the band naturally focuses on Mercury and it's garnered quite a bit of praise including Oscar noms for Best Picture and Best Actor for Rami Malek. I wish I’d seen it in the theaters as no doubt
Randal Kleiser's follow-up to Grease takes him to Greece for a film that ought to be a lot more fun than it actually is.
After the massive success of both Grease and The Blue Lagoon, director Randal Kleiser was given free reign to make pretty much any movie he wanted. Apparently what he wanted was to make a listless film featuring beautiful scenery, beautiful people and about as much casual nudity as an R-rated movie could stand in 1982. A young American couple, Michael (Peter Gallagher) and Cathy (Daryl Hannah), decide to spend the summer between finishing college and starting their careers vacationing on the Greek island of Santorini. She has always been a good girl, never getting into trouble and always behaving. He
I watched some cool movies this week and remember a great actor.
It has been cold here in Oklahoma. Like really cold. Like, well, not as cold as it's been in places like Chicago, but it's been below freezing and that’s cold enough for me. It's the kind of cold that makes me want to stay inside, light a fire, and curl up with a good book. But since we don’t have a fireplace and my daughter doesn’t let me read for more than fifteen minutes at a time, instead I cranked up the heater and watched lots of movies. Here’s five of them that I enjoyed. Phantom Boy Last fall, it
It's another big week of new releases. I have all your info.
As someone who has to regularly come up with article titles, I know names can be hard. Finding something eye catching, easy to scan that sums up your entire work of art can be a maddening process. Good titles are eternally memorable. They can lead them directly to you work. Bad ones can turn people off, keep them from watching your movie. The Sisters Brothers is a terrible freaking title. It seems clever because its about some brothers whose last name is Sisters, but it doesn’t work in any other way, and those unfamiliar with the film (which includes everyone
Two films from Luigi Bazzoni illustrate both what a great director he was and what seismic shifts Dario Argento created on Italian cinema.
There were giallo around before Dario Argento unleashed The Bird with the Crystal Plumage but that film upended, supplanted and redefined the genre creating a million copycat films in its wake and making all previous films feel like they are part of a different genre altogether. Luigi Bazzoni directed two films in the genre, The Possessed in 1965 and The Fifth Cord in 1971, which straddle both sides of Plumage, making it a fascinating double feature to see how in just a few short years the genre had completely changed. Arrow Video is releasing both films this week with new
It's the weekend so what not read about some cool things?
The sickness is finally starting to abate here in the Brewster household. I’m still coughing a bit but the head is mostly clear and (I hope) the infections are all gone. They feel like they are anyway. It was another week filled with trying to get through some television shows I’ve already mentioned (how about that Barry season finale? That’s a dark place I wasn’t expecting it to go). But there is plenty of new stuff to talk about so let's get to it. Eighth Grade Apparently, I now empathize with the fathers in teenager movies more than the actual
This oh-so very sixties comedy could have used a little more swing and little less schwing.
A man stands in a London museum admiring a collection of Russian artifacts including the Crown Jewels that were confiscated from the Royal Family during the revolution. He smiles at the fact that painting of the Royal Family rather resemble his own visage. It should as he is Nicholas Wladimirovitch Goduno (Marcello Mastroianni), Grand Duke and descendant of the Imperial Romanov family, who now owns a small boutique shop in London and mountains of debt. When he slips on a banana peel, knocking himself unconscious, he awakes to visions of his ancestor (also Mastorianni) begging him to take back what
Funny, bizarre, and strangely obsessed with underpants, this Japanese animated comedy deserves to be seen.
Two strangers have a separate, but equally long, strange night where they meet an increasingly eccentric group of people. In the end, they meet, not so coincidentally, and fall in love. The Night is Short, Walk On Girl is Masaaki Yuasa’s psychedelic, dream-like animated romantic, comedic, adventure film brought to the U.S. by way of GKIDS and Shout! Factory. The girl is known as Kohai (which translates to “junior” in English) or The Girl with Black Hair (Kana Hanazawa). She is of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl variety, beautiful and quirky. She wants to spend her night partying and drinking
Here's all the Blu-ray releases that look interesting this week.
It takes a certain audacity to remake Suspiria, Dario Argento’s 1977 supernatural horror film. The original is a vibrant, neon, phantasmagoria of sight and sound, and blood. It is a film unto itself. One that only Argento could make. How anyone could look at that film and think it needed to be remade is beyond me. And yet here we are. Luca Guadagino, a director best known for Call Me By Your Name, a lush, quiet little film about a gay love affair between a student and an older man, is apparently that audacious. When I first heard it was
Doctors, Gods, superheroes and more are all cool things happening this week.
One of the problems with having so many great television series airing on so many different services is that it's difficult to stick with one thing. I regularly find myself watching a few episodes of something, really enjoying it, but then switching over to some other show that looks awesome. The intent is to come back to the first thing but then there is not only a second show but a third and fourth one and before I know it, it's been a year since I sat down with the first show. This is especially true for me as I
The Criterion Collection, Humphrey Bogart, Neil Armstrong, and more are coming to a Blu-ray near you.
Last night, the wife, the daughter, and I sat in our car in the freezing cold at 11:30 at night looking at the Super Blood Wolf Moon. It was awesome. We are big fans of space and astronomy around here. My daughter thought it was the coolest thing ever. I kind of did, too. I am forever blown away by the fact that we’ve sent robots and real, live human beings into space and lived to tell the tale. One such tale is First Man, Damien Chazelle’s movie about Neil Armstrong, the first man to have set foot on the
I got me some HBO and found some cool things.
I cancelled Britbox this week, not because they are a bad service but because I like switching my streaming services up now and again. I wasn’t sure what I was going to subscribe to next, spent entirely too much time going through them all before making a decision, actually. Then I saw that the third season of True Detective was starting, and I immediately signed up to HBO. I caught the first two episodes (which I’ll talk more about in a minute) then started in on several other HBO shows I’ve been hearing good things about (one of which I’ll
Who knew January was such a great time for new releases?
Robert Redford is one of the all-time classic movie stars. He has the looks, the charm, and the acting chops. He starred in lots of great movies over his long career including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, Out of Africa, and The Horse Whisperer. With The Old Man & the Gun, he has declared he is retiring from film acting. At 82 years of age and a whole lot of films to his credit as actor, director, and producer, I think he’s earned it. The Old Man & the Gun is based on the true
More psycho-sexual thriller than giallo, this film nevertheless delivers the goods.
Giallo films had been around for several years before Dario Argento revolutionized and popularized the genre in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. These early films tended to be less lurid, much less graphically violent, and had plots that actually made some sense. Such it is with Luciano Ercoli’s Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. But enough genre talk, the real question is does the movie work? The answer actually depends on which parts of the genre you like. It is surprisingly bloodless, has no black-gloved killer, does have some interesting camera work, and a wonderfully baroque set. The
A single date is told from four perspectives in this Mario Bava comedy. None of them really work.
A woman and a man meet at a park. They agree to go dancing later that evening. Afterwards, they go back to his flat. At some point, her dress is torn and his forehead is scratched. These are the facts of the movie. The details, well the details are a bit fuzzy. Mario Bava’s 1970 drama Four Times That Night takes Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon and turns it into a goofy sex comedy. We see the events of the night from three character's points of view and then a final "this is what really happened" segment. (It may not actually
This week was back to school and back to watching lots of movies.
It was back-to-school week for my daughter, which means some adjustments for everybody. Baths need to be taken every night (we let her slide a lot more often on vacation days) and bed times are earlier. The mornings go from lazy to frantic and we have to remember to pick her up in the afternoon. But the days are free, which allows for more mature lunchtime viewings and those early bedtimes mean more time for movies for me. It wound up being a week full of review material. I had initially planned January to be a month of Oscar movies
Eleven films into the franchise and Halloween is suddenly looking fresh again.
Up front I’ve got to admit that out of the eleven films in the Halloween franchise, I’ve only seen John Carpetner’s original Halloween (1978), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, and Rob Zombie’s remake Halloween (2007). That means there are eight films in the franchise that I’m missing. I’m not an expert on the franchise. Which winds up being a good thing because this new film, Halloween (2018) - and can we talk just for a moment how there are now three films in this series simply named "Halloween"? I mean, come on guys, stop making everybody put dates behind your
Almost as good as the Beastmaster.
Come with me, my friends, for a trip down memory lane. The year is 1982 and a little fantasy film called The Beastmaster is released. It does poorly at the box office but then cable stations like HBO and TBS pick it up and run it incessantly over the next few years. The Beastmaster is not a good film. In every conceivable way, it is a bad film. Yet there is something charming about it. It stars a loincloth-wearing Marc Singer battling S&M dungeon master-looking bad guys by telepathically talking to animals. I watched that film probably a couple of
A modern, psychedelic take on the Spaghetti Western is visually stylish and exhausting.
With The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, French directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani created a modern giallo that was a psychedelic audio/visual delight which had virtually no story or plot. With Let the Corpses Tan, they've added a touch more story and moved their Italian influences into Spaghetti Western territory but continue the sensory overload. It is a beautiful, strange, exhausting film. A group of men violently rob a stack of gold bricks from an armored truck, killing everyone aboard. They rush to their hideout but are stopped by a woman standing in the middle of the road.
Hope you have some Christmas money left because this week brings some interesting new releases.
Over the last year or so, I’ve become quite the Stephen King fan. I’d read some of his work before then and seen many of the cinematic adaptations based upon his words, but I’d never really engulfed myself into his stories. It started with the audio book of his recent novel Mr. Mercedes and blossomed from there. I’m currently in the middle of IT which, if my pace continues, I’ll finish sometime in 2021. It's a really big book, and I’m a slow reader. But I dig it. I don’t know it that behemoth will cure me of my King
I'm back and healthy and have many cool things to talk about.
A great big pile of appreciation to my fellow Sentries who helped me out while I was on vacation. I’m back now and feeling mostly better (still got a weird ear thing going on but I’m upright and working and watching films so that’s a big improvement). There were many cool things consumed this week, so lets get to it. Spider-Man When Sam Raimi’s version of Spider-Man came out, I was none too impressed. I had similar feelings about Bryan Singer’s X-Men which came out two years before. The burgeoning nerd culture on the internet had gone bonkers over both
Robert Altman's follow-up to M*A*S*H is an idiosyncratic, weird little film that only he could make.
After spending a decade or so making industrial films then directing television episodes, Robert Altman finally connected with critics and audiences on a feature film. Released in 1970, M*A*S*H, a satirical account of a medical unit in the Korean War, was a smash hit. It won awards, made big money (and spawned a hugely successful TV series), and put Altman on the map as an exciting filmmaker. With the success of M*A*S*H, the studios gave Altman a green light to make any film he wanted. He chose the hottest screenplay around, Brewster McCloud, a black comedy about a New York
The new year starts with some new titles.
Those of you who pay attention to these things might be wondering what happened to this article over the last two weeks. Never fear, faithful reader. I have answers. Two weeks ago, I was at the beginning of a week-long bout with a virus that kept me bed-bound and mostly comatose. This last week, I was on the mend but there really was nothing worth talking about. Last Tuesday, otherwise known as New Release Day was also known as Christmas. The people who make decisions, such as what new Blu-rays to release and when had spent the previous four weeks
I’m bringing in some help this week.
After a week of fighting off a nasty viral infection I’m now out of town visiting the in-laws. I’m still hacking and coughing but im on the mend. Time at my in-laws is always nice but a little dull. We will watch a movie or two and I do a lot of reading but mostly it’s a lot of sitting around and talking. Which is good for the soul but not so good for Five Cool Things. Which is why I’m bringing in some help this week. But first here are the cool things I consumed this week. Miracle on
Arrow Video brings together a collection of three early collaborations between two titans of the cinema with mixed results.
That Robert De Niro is one of the greatest film actors of all time there is no doubt. He has starred in some of the greatest films ever made, won nearly every acting award in existence including two Oscars, an AFI Life Achievement Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His work in the 1970s and '80s on films like The Godfather, Part II, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and Once Upon A Time in America is nearly unparalleled. That his filmography over the last couple of decades doesn’t really hold up does not in any way take
A horrible virus will not keep me from finding cool things for you, dear reader.
I have been battling a nasty viral infection all week. My head has felt like its been hit with a sledge hammer, my throat has felt like I’m swallowing rocks and if I stood up for too long I’d get really woozy. I mostly stayed in bed and slept. When I wasn’t sleeping I watched television programs and movies. But mostly I just laid there and moaned. In fact I haven’t laid in bed moaning so much since my honeymoon. <rimshot> I think I’m finally on the mend, but it is slow going. I managed to do a little work
Tarantino knock-off from Germany is a lot of fun.
Two men, Javid (Reza Brojerdi) and Tan (Erkan Acar), sit in a kebab shop arguing over the quality of the food. They seem to have made a bet on whether or not the meat could be made to taste better by a different style of cooking. Their language is graphic and saucy. The argument causes them to lose their appetetite so they get up to leave, grabbing a gun and a chainsaw from the table. The camera pans up revealing the restaurant floor littered with bodies. Outside, they steal a car and head into the night. The narrator explains this
Kids behaving badly in a really bad movie.
What is is about kids behaving badly that makes for such delightfully creepy cinema? The genre has been around since at least Patty McCormack’s turn as a demented killer in 1956’s The Bad Seed and has turned out such classics as Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned. There is just something about children doing horrible things that is both really disturbing and really fun to watch. In 1981, cult director Ed Hunt took the killer-kids genre and spliced it onto the burgeoning slasher genre and made Bloody Birthday an ultimately silly flick that generally fails to do
I may have given up on Christmas movies but I still found some cool things this week.
I’ve pretty much given up on my whole Christmas theme for this month. I’ll probably watch another movie or two and maybe a couple of Christmas-themed episodes of something or other, but for the most part Christmas in media just isn’t going to happen. That doesn’t mean I won’t be consuming good, interesting or even cool things, but they likely aren’t going to involve the December holidays. As this week will prove out. First Reformed Ethan Hawke gives an intense, outstanding performance as a troubled minister at a historic, but declining upstate church in what is being hailed as director
Ingmar Bergman's only Hollywood production is wildly uneven, rather strange, but still worthwhile.
In January of 1976, famed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman was arrested on charges of tax evasion. The charges were later dropped, it all being a mix-up over a large transaction between two companies Bergman owned, but the damage was severe and long lasting. Bergman suffered a nervous breakdown and fled the country. He first travelled to Germany and then to California where he met famed producer Dino De Laurentis who agreed to finance his next film. The Serpent’s Egg bombed - critics hated it and it did horrible business. It is generally considered one of Bergman’s worst films. When your
Here's a few new releases to add to your Christmas stocking.
Over the years, I’ve become a pretty big Brian De Palma fan. It has been a slow process. I first came to him through the Oscar-winning, Al Capone-drama The Untouchables in 1987, then it was likely another decade before I caught him again in Mission:Impossible. I’d then catch a film here, a film there. Then the last couple of years, I’ve really started to pay attention. I’ve caught up on a lot of his older films - The Fury, Blow Out, Dressed to Kill - and while his stories are often a gloriously mess, I really dig his visual style.
This week wasn't as Christmas-y as I had hoped but I caught some cool things anyway.
It turns out I’m not really a fan of Christmas movies. In October, I watched a bunch of horror movies, but I like horror movies so that was easy. November became Noirvember, and I caught up on a bunch of film noir I’d not seen before but always meant to (plus a few I had never heard of). December is supposed to be Christmas movies but unlike horror and noir films, I’m not really drawn to holiday films. Maybe that’s because most of them are dreadful. Maybe it's because they aren’t as easy to find on streaming services. Or maybe
This pick of the week will self destruct in seven days.
I have pretty much completely given up on action movies over the last decade or so. I long ago grew tired of more car chases, more explosions, more bigger and bigger guns. I still do watch superhero movies which I suppose are kind of like action flicks, but with capes, but whatever. Straight up action is pretty much gone from my movie queues. The exceptions being the Bond films (which I can call spy films and still get away with my "no action movies" mantra) and the Mission:Impossible films (also technically spy films, but who are we trying to kid?).
I end Noirvember with a bang.
It is the last day of Noirvember. All told, I watched 12 film noirs (7 classic, 5 neo-noirs), which is pretty good, I think. Especially considering how no more than two years ago, I generally didn’t watch 10 movies a month (I watched 13 non noir this month as well). This week found me watching two noirs and a few others. I really enjoyed watching film noirs. I’m excited about coming up with themes for each month. Next month, I suppose I’ll do as many holiday-themed films as I can. That feels kind of boring to me, but appropriate. I
Christmas is coming and with it loads of new releases.
I regularly complain that there is just too much good television out these days. It's more than any one person can watch. This is especially true of me this past year as I have mostly concentrated on watching movies over television. Sometimes, I tell myself to take a week and binge-watch a few shows, but then the question becomes which one? Sharp Objects is a good place to start, I think. Based upon Gillian Flynn’s debut novel of the same name, it stars Amy Adams as an alcoholic reporter recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital after years of self-harming. She
After a week off, here's a whopping nine cool things worth checking out.
My apologies for missing last week’s Cool Things. My kid got sick and then I wasn’t feeling well and I went to bed early and no words were written. I’m doubling up this week to make up for it. We are still in the midst of Noirvember and I found several classics and new (or neo, if you prefer) noir to watch and enjoy. Plus, a bunch of other stuff, so let's get to it. Mona Lisa With FilmStruck dying at month’s end, I’ve been trying to watch as many movies on there as I can. The thing I love
Santa's gonna have a big list this year.
Ingmar Bergman was one of the great pioneers of cinema. He made films that spoke directly to the soul. He made films about the soul, about faith and doubt, about life and metaphysics. He made art about the struggles between those things, always questioning, always exploring. He often made difficult movies, never popcorn affairs. His films could sometimes feel pretentious which is why I suspect most people who don’t like foreign films think of Bergman when making their argument. This is a man who literally made one of his characters play chess with Death in what is arguably his most
Herschell Gordon Lewis's splatter classic is terrible in the best possible way.
If there’s one thing I know for sure after watching The Wizard of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis's splatter classic is that Lewis was no auteur. Hell, he was hardly even a director. If you are feeling generous, you might call him a filmmaker. He was, however, one heck of a salesman. After spending a few years doing various jobs - teaching at university, managing radio stations, and working in advertising - Lewis turned his sights on movies. Not because he had any artistic dreams, but because he figured he could make a few bucks at it. Teaming with notorious exploitation
This deeply flawed, yet entertaining series gets a nice release price for Christmas presents.
Rescue Me was a darkly funny, utterly crass comedy/drama about a group of New York City firefighters dealing with survivor's guilt in the years following 9/11. It was created by and stars Denis Leary, who also served as head writer. It aired on the F/X network, which had recently scored a huge hit with The Shield. It similarly pushed the envelope in terms of language, sex, and nudity for a basic-cable series. But where The Shield aimed for edge-of-your-seat thrills, Rescue Me opted for pitch-black comedy and insightful, though soapish drama. It is a difficult show to watch in light
Star Trek, Blood Island, and giant sharks are just some of the great Blu-ray releases this week.
As a non-fiction writer, Nick Hornby writes passionately and magnificently about the things he loves. I’ve utterly enjoyed his writings about music, reading, and even football. When he incorporates those passions into his fictional novels, he’s quite good. But when he leaves those things aside, his books tend to get sappy, preachy and uninteresting, at least to this reader. I was very happy to see that with Juliet, Naked he had returned to his musical roots. It tells the story of Duncan, a man obsessed with reclusive singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe, and his long-suffering girlfriend Annie. When Annie meets and develops
It's all noir all the time this Noirvember.
As mentioned last week, November is henceforth dubbed "Noirvember" and as that nomenclature implies, I’ll be trying to watch as many film noirs as possible this month. Much like last month and my horror-movie viewing, not everything will fit into this category, but it's a good excuse to watch some things I might put off otherwise. This week, I caught five noirs (two classics and three Neo-noirs). I watched three of them on FilmStruck and I will once again lament the demise of that wonderful service. But before I have to pull out the tissues, let’s get on with it.
It is a jam-packed week full of all sorts of goodness.
Pixar’s stellar reputation has taken a few hits over the last several years, mostly due to unnecessary sequels. Many of their movies are complete stories within themselves and don’t need a sequel, so when one is tacked on it doesn’t have the same Pixar charm. The Incredibles is not such a story. It is a superhero movie. It deserves a sequel. Heck, it deserves a cinematic universe. It is a movie that practically begged for a sequel. After 14 years, we finally got one. The original The Incredibles is an action-packed, super-fun superhero movie with a lot of heart, but
For this anniversary, Universal Studios has released the Coen Brothers' comedy in glorious 4K.
In the late 1990s, during my college years, I went to the movies every weekend. I saw pretty much every movie that came to my town that looked remotely interesting and even a few that didn’t. In the spring of 1998, I saw Fargo. It was a blind watch, I’d never heard of it before I entered the theater. I knew of the Coen Brothers, or at least I’d seen Raising Arizona before. Think I even had a copy of it on VHS which I bought on the cheap. But it wasn’t yet a favorite. Fargo was just another movie
I've got one more week of scary, cool things before I set my eyes on another month.
I watched 27 movies in the month of October, 20 of which one could reasonably count as horror. That’s not quite 31 days of horror as the hashtag puts it, but I’d say it's pretty good. I really enjoyed doing it as well. There is something fun about trying to see a whole bunch of one genre in a given month. It also helped me watch a bunch of horror films I’d been putting off forever. I liked it so much I think I’ll do another theme month, call it Noirvember. But first we have to get through this week's
It's a week full of great interesting releases, so let's have fun storming the castle of upcoming Blu-ray releases.
Hello. My name is Mat Brewster. I’ve picked The Princess Bride this week. Prepare to enjoy. It is a C.C.O.U.A (Criterion Collection of Usual Awesomeness) with a brand new 4K scan and loads of new and old extras. Including audio commentaries, an in-depth making-of documentary, interviews, features on the making of the film, and more. Let me explain the plot. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. The Princess Bride is Rob Reiner’s adaptation of William Goldman’s beloved novel that lovingly satirizes princess stories while remaining a wonderful comedic adventure with plenty of romance and enough great lines
Mario Bava's horror masterpiece is a feast for the eyes and the begining of a whole new genre.
Having put Italian horror on the map with Black Sunday, Mario Bava continued to redefine the genre and essentially invented giallo which became the de facto horror genre in Italy for most of the '70s and '80s and ultimately inspired the slasher genre that was so popular in the United States in that same era. Bava’s 1963 film The Girl Who Knew Too Much is often credited as the first ever giallo film, but it was filmed in black and white not in the garish colors the genre is so recognized for. A year later he made Blood and Black
This week it's more like five cool things and a really crappy one.
My in-laws were in town for part of last week and a chunk of this one which put a bit of a dent in my nightly horror marathon. They have zero interest in modern horror, but can be temped by the older stuff, especially when tempered with some comedy. When they left I managed to see a couple of giallo classics and here we go. Arsenic and Old Lace Nobody in their right mind would consider this Frank Capra comedy a horror film, but it does star a Boris Karloff look-alike (to which much humor is derived) and a couple
A movie so bad we reviewed it three times.
Made in 1971 on a minuscule budget, John Landis’ first film as a director, Schlock, is broad comedic satire of sorts about a prehistoric ape wreaking havoc in a Los Angeles suburb. It is a bad movie. I cannot recommend a single thing about it. Everything, from the writing, directing, and acting to the music and even the comedy, is bad, poorly executed, and difficult to watch. Its only distinction is that it was directed by Landis who later went on to make such comedy classics as Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and Amazon Women on the Moon and features
Not sorry to tell you this is a great week for new Blu-ray releases.
Sorry To Bother You stars Lakeith Stanfield as a telemarketer who adopts a white person’s voice at his job in order to increase his sales. His numbers do go through the roof, causing him to move up in the company and get swept up into a strange conspiracy. It was written and directed by Boots Riley of the musical group The Coup and also stars Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, and Armie Hammer. It garnered a lot of critical buzz and has been praised for its originality. In a world full
This week is should be titled "Five Spooky Things..."
My horror marathon continued this week. I made it through all the classic Universal Frankenstein films and moved on to Dracula. But first I took a pit stop to an early '80s werewolf picture and a couple of Mario Bava films I’d never seen before. Let’s get to it. The Ghost of Frankenstein / House of Frankenstein By 1942, some 11 years after James Whale’s original adaptation of Frankenstein, the wind was beginning to slip out of the monster’s sails. But like all franchises, if there is still money to be made, there will still be people willing to make
It's a big week full of releases but Marvel wins again.
I hate to continually be a Marvel fanboy but here I am picking a movie from the MCU once again. I really do like most of the films they’ve put out over the last decade or so but I also have to admit consideration is paid to the fact that millions of people watch Marvel movies and picking them over and over isn’t going to hurt the old Cinema Sentries hit counter. Ant-Man and the Wasp was something of a palette cleanser after Avengers: Infinity War. That film was an enormous, expensive, expansive, high-stakes event in which literally the universe
It's all horror all the time for this week's five things.
Another week in October, another week of horror. I never quite manage a full 31 days of Horror, but this year, I’m not doing to shabby. The plan this year is to watch several batches of horror films and their many sequels. I typically only watch the first one or two films in a franchise before backing out before they turn bad. But this time I figured it might be fun to dig deep into a few series. Initially, I had planned to hit up some '80s movies like Nightmare on Elm Street or the Halloween films, but after watching
Some pretty cool Blu-rays are coming out this week, I've got your scoop.
In riot-torn Los Angeles in the year 2028, criminals of a discerning nature get their wounds patched up at the Hotel Artemis, a fortified hospital that will fix up whatever ails ya and not ask any questions about how you got hurt. It is run by Jodie Foster with muscle provided by Dave Bautista. There are lots of rules, including no killing on the premises all of which makes it sound like an extended version of that scene in John Wick in which Keanu Reeves shows up at a similar hospital. If you saw that scene and thought that concept
It might not feel like October but these cool things will get you in the mood for Halloween.
Though the temperatures in Oklahoma have remained in the 90s all week, it is technically Autumn and it is technically October, traditionally two of my favorite times of the year. I love the cool, crisp air. I adore the changing colors, and the potpourri of smells. I always enjoy October when we throw our traditional pumpkin carving party, dress the daughter in a silly costume and I get to watch lots and lots of horror movies. This week has been hot and humid, the leaves haven’t changed, and I’ve not had a single bit of anything that tastes like pumpkin,
The first week in October starts us off with a bang.
Three Identical Strangers tells the real life story of David, Bobby, and Eddy, three identical triplets who were separated at birth not knowing of each other's existence. One day, when they were 19, they randomly discovered each other and became instant friends. They became a media sensation in the '80s, being interviewed by everyone from Tom Brokaw and Phil Donahue. But there was a dark side. The reasons why they were separated bordered on the nefarious. The media used them for ratings then tossed them aside. There were physical and mental issues. I don’t know all the details as I’ve
I might be a bit sleepy but there's still plenty of cool things to talk about.
I tend to stay up too late on work nights. I put the kid to bed, play on the Internet, then watch a movie or TV show. I hit the sack about midnight and then am back at it at six the next morning. At some point later in the week, the lack of sleep punches me in the back of the head as if to say, “Hey, dummy. You need more rest.” Friday afternoon was that point. I was sitting around flipping through various streaming services looking for something to watch when I nearly fell asleep in my chair.
This series keeps getting better and better.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are his own. I almost didn’t make it through the first season of Legends of Tomorrow. The main characters weren’t interesting and it didn’t do anything that any of the other superhero shows weren’t already doing. Most of the heroes--er, legends seemed like b-grade characters or worse. But over time, I’ve grown to love both the series and those rejects. Much like the show itself, I’ve learned to embrace their lack of a slick sheen. They aren't heroes.
Ted Post's odd ball 70s horror film has all the trappings of a camp classic but the execution left me bored out of my skull.
The 1970s must have been an amazing time to make movies. The studio system was breaking down, allowing more independent cinema to get made. The censorship inherent within the Hays Code was destroyed, allowing for more freedom of expression. Money was pouring in from all corners. Grindhouse cinemas were willing to play any kind of movie at all hours of the day and night with willing patrons flowing through their doors. This allowed all sorts of imaginative, wonderful, and terrible films to be made and find an audience. Made in 1973, The Baby is a film so bizarre it defies
It was a tough choice to make this week, but I always gotta go with Star Wars.
Back in 2012 when George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney, the fandom went completely bonkers. The realization that there would be new Star Wars movies was incredibly exciting. Then a few years later, J.J. Abrams brought us The Force Awakens. It was an enormous success. Critics liked it, fans loved it. All was well with the world. Not long after Rogue One, the first anthology series came out and it too was a smashing success. Disney was promising new movies every year until the end of time. Then came The Last Jedi. Director Rian Johnson took the Star Wars
John Boorman's sequel to one of the scariest movies of all time is a psychedelic, visually stunning, totally camp, incomprehensible mess, and also kind of awesome.
Based upon the best-selling novel by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist was a huge success. It earned over $66 million when it was released in 1973 and went on to become one of the biggest horror movies ever made. Adjusted for inflation, it is the top-grossing R-rated film of all time. Of course, there was going to be a sequel. But man, is it a hard movie to make a sequel from. I mean what can you do? The easiest thing would be to let poor little Regan get possessed again, but that seems boring. You could follow another possession
A sickness cancelled our movie night with friends but I still enjoyed some cool things.
Several years ago, before we moved, the wife and I had a regular foreign-film night. Every second Saturday of the month, we’d put on a foreign-language film and watch it with whoever stopped by. It was an open invitation to all our friends so we never knew who would show up. It was tons of fun. Since moving, we’ve continually talked about doing that again but never got around to actually setting it up. I finally started talking to some friends about it and promised we’d do the first one in September. For the first couple of weeks, I kept
Put your PJs on, this giallo will put you to sleep.
In 1934, the corpse of a woman clad in exotic silk pajamas was found lying in a culvert in New South Wales, Australia. She had been beaten, shot, and partially burned, leaving her identity a mystery. Police were perplexed. The media made it a sensation and the crime enthralled the country. Especially after the body became a public spectacle when she was laid in a formaldehyde bath for display in Sydney. In 1977, Flavio Mogherini turned the story into a movie. It is an odd, often-salacious, rather-dull police procedural that for some reason gets lumped into the giallo genre (Arrow
Season Three loses some of its melodramatic tendencies, adds in more action and adventure, and improves in almost every way.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. In last season’s finale in order to stop the Daxamites from destroying Earth, Supergirl had to flood the atmosphere with lead (which works like Kryptonite on Daxamites). Before doing this, she had to put her Daxamite boyfriend Mon-El onto a ship and launch him into space not knowing if he’d ever return. Season Three opens with a lot of moping around the house to sad songs. Supergirl knows she made the right
Superheroes, dinosaurs, aliens and more are all in this week's new Blu-ray releases.
I cut the cord many years ago. For the most part, I haven’t missed cable at all. I don’t watch sports or any live events really. I’m happy to wait for whatever movie or TV show I want to watch comes to one streaming service or another. The one thing I do miss is Turner Classic Movies. They show all sorts of great movies, many of which would not have been on my radar otherwise. They put together interesting line-ups featuring particular directors or actors, or any other number of themes. Their hosts are informative and interesting. It was always
The county fair is tonight in my fair land. I personally find it rather obnoxious what with its filthy smells, loud noises, annoying crowds, overpriced fatty foods (seriously how many things can you deep fry?), and expensive rides. But the daughter loves it and I love her so in a few minutes we are off. So I’ll make this quick. Here are five things that I enjoyed this week. The Sound of Music TCM and Fathom Events put on a showing of this Rogers and Hammerstein classic staring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer this week. As it is my mother's
Here's what's interesting in the new Blu-ray releases this week.
With reboots, re-imaginings, remakes, sequels, prequels, etc. and so forth, it's hard to keep up with all the ways Hollywood takes an existing property and changes it just enough to get us back into theaters (or at least attempt to do that). I get why they do it. You’ve got an established property with a built in fan base, but it's a few years (or decades) past its expiration date so you bring in fresh faces and start over. But it's hard not to be cynical about these things. Ocean’s 8 is an interesting twist in this ever-expanding and changing
Everyone must have felt the same con fatigue as me for Tulsa's Wizard World was half empty this year.
This weekend’s Wizard World in Tulsa was my third and possibly last con. Judging by the crowd this Saturday afternoon, it may be Tulsa’s last one as well. Tulsa is a mid-sized city deep in the heart of fly-over country. It's never gonna get the big-named celebrities that a San Diego or London Con will get. J.J. Abrams is never gonna fly out to show us a never-before-seen clip of his new Star Wars movie. We’re small potatoes. Always will be. What we do get is some interesting, decently famous celebrities giving talks, answering fan questions, and posing for photos
Hey, it is Friday so here's the cool things I watched this week.
This was a good week, all in all. I saw some classic films, caught one in the theater for the first time in ages, and caught up with the Doctor. Here are the details. Kin It's been awhile since I stepped inside a movie theater so I was excited to learn that my wife would be taking my child somewhere this past weekend giving me a chance to catch a new movie. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot showing that looked remotely interesting. I took a chance on Kin, knowing nothing about it. I should have stayed home and watched
Here's all that you need to know about this week's new Blu-ray releases.
I loved watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood growing up. I have only the vaguest memories of actually watching the show, but what is there is very warm. Later in life, my mother used to be bewildered by this fact. She always figured kids should prefer the more lively kids shows like Sesame Street and didn’t get the appeal of Mr. Rogers who seemed, well, kind of boring. But millions of kids like me completely get that his gentle demeanor and warm kindness wasn’t boring, it was comforting. In the years since, I’ve come to see Fred Rogers a radical cultural rebel.
It is Friday so here's another five things I discovered this week.
For the first time in a while, I feel back in the swing of things. I’ve been relatively healthy. Our schedule is back on track from the chaos that comes from the kid going back to school. I’ve watched all the TV collections I needed to review. So this week was all about me. Trouble is, I got a little over zealous and tried to watch multiple movies almost at once, meaning I didn’t finish them. I’d start one, take a break for whatever reason, then start another one having not finished the first. I suspect you’ll hear about those
It's a big week full of interesting releases. We've got your details.
The Supreme Court of the United State is shrouded in mystery. The decisions they make have far-reaching and long-running impacts on all aspects of our society. Yet cameras are not allowed into their proceedings, and rarely do they give open interviews or stand for intimate profile pieces. In recent years, this has begun to change and we now see some Justices having a more public profile but much of what goes on inside the court remains a mystery. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman to be appointed to the court. RBG profiles her rise to that position and her
You don't have to be a speedster to enjoy this series in a flash.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. Season Three of The Flash ended on a pretty dark note. Barry West/The Flash (Grant Gustin) was stuck inside the Speed Force. H.R. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) sacrificed himself to save the world from Savitar. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) has disappeared for fear that she’ll remain Killer Frost forever. There were some really great moments that season and The Flash remains my favorite series in The Arrowverse, but there is no doubt what
Hey look, I found another five cool things to talk about this week.
School is back. which should mean that I’m watching a lot more cool stuff as I’m putting my daughter to bed earlier. thus giving me more time to consume the things too mature for her to watch. As I should have learned by now, there is a big difference in what should happen and what actually does. The daughter fought off her early bed time as best she could. Each night, there was a barrage of needs - for a glass of water, for another pillow - all designed to get her to stay up later. Once tucked in with
The final chapter in this inventive science fiction strip faced a lot of changes.
Star Hawks was a science fiction/fantasy daily newspaper comic strip that ran from 1977 to 1981. It tried to ride the coattails of movies like Star Wars and Star Trek, capturing their popularity and moving it to the daily papers. It was creatively drawn by Gil Kane and contained many a swashbuckling, alien-fighting, action-packed story. However, it always struggled to find an audience and once Star Wars and Star Trek moved into the daily papers themselves, it never stood a chance. Popular strips at this time were carried in hundreds of newspapers while Star Hawks could count the number of
It's a week full of big movies, big TV, shows and big reviews from our staff.
The question we are faced with, dear reader, is whether to go with the new release that we have seen and loved, or the one we have not watched but really want to. The answer, it seems is to go with what we know. At least for this week. The Terror is a new anthology series from AMC. Season One fictionalizes the true story of the crew members of two British ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror, that set sail in the 1800s to find the fabled Northwest Passage to Asia and were never seen alive again. Based
An entertaining series that isn't quite the classic it wants to be gets a very reasonable boxed set.
Showtime’s Masters of Sex is the very epitome of Prestige Television. It is almost as if show creator Michelle Ashford took the Guidebook of Prestige TV and adapted every single bullet point. It is a period drama (it begins in 1956 and concludes in 1969) so it has loads of period details to get exactly perfect and it can stand at a distance judging the conservative morals of the day while shining a light on our modern imperfections. Its lead is an ahead-of-his-time genius with a dark past and emotional difficulties. His wife is a (more or less) atypical housewife
AMC's new horror anthology is relentlessly scary and impeccably made.
In 1845, the British Empire was at the top of its game with colonies and territories all over the world. For decades they had been looking for a route to Asia through the northern Canadian archipelago. This so-called Northwest Passage would cut out enormous amounts of time and resources from the normal route across land or around Africa. Led by Captain John Franklin, two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, departed that year to try and find it. They made it to King William Island in the Nanavut territory September of 1866 and became iced in. They would never sail
It was a week of binge-watching TV shows I'll write about later and catching up with a few cool things I'm writing about now.
I’ve been binge-watching both Masters of Sex and The Terror all week, which I thought would mean I’d have nothing to cool to talk about now. However, I still managed to squeeze in a couple of movies, a classic Doctor Who, and some other cool stuff. So let’s get to it. The Bourne Identity I started reading The Bourne Identity on a plane to Strasbourg, France. It was my first trip overseas and I wanted something exciting and easy to read on the long journey. I finished it in the little flat we lived in over there. At first, we
Here's all that's worth buying in this week's new Blu-ray releases.
Oh snap, Avengers: Infinity War comes out this week. It's been twenty years since Iron Man began the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In that time, Marvel has changed the landscape of film, television, and how far reaching franchises can get. These days, everybody is trying to get into the cinematic-universe game and pretty much everybody else is failing at it. Marvel has made billions of dollars from their films, television series, and other tie-ins. They’ve proven you can make individual films that maintain their own style and yet are able to be brought into a larger cinematic fold. In some ways,
The second part of Massimo Dallamano's "schoolgirl's in peril" trilogy gets an excellent release from Arrow Video.
Two years after he directed the excellent giallo What Have You Done to Solange?, Massimo Dallamano helmed this giallo/poliziotteschi hybrid. It has some interesting moments but definitely feels like a step down in quality. It contains many of characteristics of a giallo - gruesome murders by a black clad; knife-wielding (or in this case, butcher’s-cleaver-wielding) killer; odd, off-kilter camera angles; a unique score; and a bold use of color - but in many ways the plot is closer to a poliziotteschi. It spends most of its run time following the police, detailing their procedures as they try to solve the
Here's five cool things I discovered this week.
I have really lousy allergies. I’ve never gotten any specific testing done on my body but whenever I’m around freshly cut grass or dust or any fine particles of any sort, my throat swells, my head gets full, I cough without ceasing, and I generally feel miserable for a day or two. I happen to work in construction, which means I’m regularly around great piles of sawdust and freshly mowed grass. These things combined do not make the best life choices. I’ve worked it out so that I’m not the one doing most of the wood cutting and I can
It's a full week of new releases, and I've got the details.
Superman died in 1993. Or at least DC Comics briefly killed him in Superman #75. It was a huge media event. I wasn’t much for comic books in 1993 but I totally remember the hype. Of course, they brought him back to life sometime later but the idea that the indestructible Man of Steel could be killed was a pretty big deal back then. It was also one of the earliest major cross-over events. DC chose this story for their first DC Universe Animated Original Movie back in 2007. They’ve now remade it with Jerry O’Connell starring as Superman with
Here's all the cool stuff I consumed this week.
My wife made an observation last night that I tend to have more energy on Thursdays than any other day of the work week. I hadn't thought of it before but it is true. Wednesdays and Fridays are my busiest days at work. Mondays are spent catching up on all the stuff I didn't get done on Friday, and Tuesdays play catch up on the things I missed on Monday. I have to complete everything on my desk on Wednesdays on that day, which makes for some late nights and early bedtimes. Thursdays wind up being relatively light days and
Here's all that's interesting coming to Blu-ray this week.
Last week, I complained that there wasn’t much of interest coming out. At least it had a big Steven Spielberg movie hitting the shelves. This week doesn’t even have that. It's the sort of week that I’d skip if I were just a regular schlub looking for something to buy at my local Blu-ray store. Instead, I’m just a schlub who writes a weekly column about new home-video releases so I’d better say something. Tully is a dramatic comedy from Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman. It stars Charlize Theron as a soon-to-be mother of three struggling with the craziness that
It's more like five kind of okay, not really great things this week, but there's plenty to talk about.
As a reviewer, I find that it's much easier to talk about things that I either love or really dislike. When I love something, I can go on and on about all the things I found interesting about it, and when I hate something, it's fun to diss all the terrible things it has going on. What’s difficult to do is review something that was just kind of meh. When something isn’t audaciously terrible or really fantastic, when I just kind of enjoyed a film, show, or what have you, it is really difficult to find something to say about
The long, hot summer may never end, but at least there are still a few movies to watch.
We are officially into the Dog Days of Summer. Actually, that may not be true. Is there an official start to the Dog Days of Summer? Do they put that on calendars? Maybe it's in August, I don’t know. What I do know is that it feels like summer has been here forever and it feels like it will never end. I’ve grown really tired of having nothing but blockbusters at the movie theater. I’m ready for cooler weather, leaves changing colors, the end of mowing my yard, and some new Oscar contenders to watch. There is no relief coming
Not even a bad case of poison ivy can stop me from finding cool things for you.
For the first time in several years, I've managed to get poison ivy. I’m really quite allergic to it and I remember getting it numerous times as a kid. When I was maybe 10 or 11, I can remember waking up one morning barely able to open my eyes because they had become so swollen, my face covered in the stuff. Luckily as an adult, I generally stay indoors and away from wooded areas in which the stuff grows. Not so lucky this week. We built a house out in a very rural, wooded area. I’ve been watering the new
It's a big week for new releases. Come inside to see the best of the bunch.
One of the hardest things to do with Wes Anderson films is waiting for the eventual Criterion release. Every film of his up to The Grand Budapest Hotel has gotten one (and Anderson has promised it will get a Criterion release eventually). Too impatient to wait on that one, I already have a Blu-ray copy sitting on my shelf. This will no doubt get replaced once the Criterion comes out. There has been no announcement that Anderson’s latest film, Isle of Dogs will get a Criterion release, but safe money is that it will. Eventually. The difficulty will be waiting
Sergio Martino's horror film ticks off all the giallo boxes but never rises above them.
When Lisa Baumer’s (Ida Galli) husband dies in a plane explosion (via a very obvious model getting blown to bits in a special effect that will make Classic Doctor Who fans proud), she must rush to Athens in order to collect on the $1,000,000 insurance money. That she was dallying with a man who was decidedly not her husband when the plane exploded and that despite the insurance’s protests she takes her money in cash creates an all-too-familiar suspicion amongst fans of Italian horror. The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail follows the stereotypical hallmarks of the Italian giallo to near
Arrow Video has done their usual magnificent job releasing this ridiculously bad, yet somehow entertaining horror film.
When a hotshot palimony attorney (Michael Rogen) wins a big case, he takes his girlfriend (Patty Mullen) for a ride in his convertible. He pays a little too much attention to the girl and too little on the road and winds up wrapping the car around a tree, killing the girl, and maiming himself. In the next scene, he finds himself on the autopsy table of a nearby asylum where a medical examiner (Harvey Keith) and his assistant (Steve Menkin) prepare to cut him open (why he’s taken to the asylum and not a morgue is never explained). Ah! But
Kick back and enjoy the thins I enjoyed this week.
It has been another crazy hot week here in Oklahoma. This week I’ve not been able to just stay inside and watch movie; I’ve had to be out in it. My family has a couple of houses that we just built and are trying to sell. They are right next to each other and sit on about 2.5 acres each. Their lawns just got seeded, which in Oklahoma in July means they have to be watered every day. We have these cool little watering devices that look like mini tractors and spray water a great distance. They also propel themselves
A huge twist made big changes in Season Two, but The Good Place remains one of the best comedies on TV.
The Season One finale of The Good Place ended with a massive twist, one that is impossible to avoid while talking about Season Two. So if you have not seen all of Season One and do not want to be spoiled, now is the time to go away (and watch the darn thing). But be sure to come back after. You have been warned. So, The Good Place is really The Bad Place. Michael (Ted Danson) the Architect created an entire Good Place neighborhood, populated it with demons pretending to be good people, all so that he could torture our
Stephen Soderbergh getting experimental with television leads off a pretty cool week in new releases.
I’m on record as being a recovering Steven Soderbergh fan. Or maybe I was a recovering fan who has fallen off the wagon. This metaphor has already gotten out of hand and I just started. I loved Soderbergh early in his career then drifted away for awhile but I’m now very much back into finding him to be a very interesting director. He briefly quit filmmaking a few years back and kept himself busy with TV work on shows like The Knick, then came back to film with Logan Lucky, and now he seems to be splitting his time between
Here's five cool things to take you into the weekend.
Another week, another five cool things. Conversations with Scorsese Film critic and historian Richard Schickel sat down with Martin Scorsese over the course of several weeks and spoke with him at length. Those conversations were turned into this book and what a treasure it is. They discuss the director’s films from his first one, Who’s That Knocking At My Door up until Shutter Island (which was the last film he had made when the book was written). If you’ve ever seen an interview with Scorsese, you know he has an encyclopedic knowledge of film, and Schickel is able to keep
Surprisingly effect horror film from that goofy guy in The Office.
To make a film filled with long silences and almost entirely free of audible dialogue is a bold choice. To then make it a genre picture - a horror film no less - is pretty close to insane. To then have it become one of the most critically and commercially successful films of the year is about as close to a miracle as Hollywood gets. A Quiet Place is a horror movie filled with monsters that quickly devour you the moment you make any sound. It focuses on one family (the credits list them as the Abbotts, but I don’t
This week is packed full of interesting releases I've never heard of.
I write a weekly column discussing all the cool things I’ve discovered in a given week. I typically spend time on IMDB in preparation for that column watching new trailers, looking at new posters, and generally trying to stay abreast of what new movies are coming out. Even so, nearly every week I am surprised when writing this column over various new Blu-ray releases that I’ve never heard of, especially ones with big names attached to them. This week includes several releases star people like Shia LaBeouf, Rosamund Pike, Ellen Page, Jon Hamm, and others that somehow slipped right past
Wes Craven's first film gets an excellent new set from Arrow Video.
A few weeks ago I called a dirt-bike drama from Paul Verhoeven a vile piece of work. It was sexist, homophobic, and all around brutish in his depiction of teenagers in Holland. Yet here I am about to give a much more positive review to Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left, a film that depicts brutal violence, torture, rape, and murder. The natural question is why do I find one film’s depiction of deplorable things vile and the other’s depiction of the same and worse somewhat entertaining? The answer lies both in genre and directorial intent. Spetters is
It's too hot in Oklahoma to do anything but sit inside and watch movies.
It is officially summer here in Oklahoma, which means it is hot. Damn hot. Too hot to do anything but sit inside and watch movies. Too bad it is so hot that my little ai- conditioning unit can’t keep up. Our little house has two stories, but they added rooms to the second story some time after the original build. I don’t think they upgraded the HVAC system and anytime the temperatures move towards the extreme ends of the thermometer (which in Oklahoma is pretty much the months between June and August, and December through February), it becomes either uncomfortably
Bad reviews be damned, Terminal sounds like fun to me.
Do you ever find yourself really liking an actor or actress even though there isn’t a film of theirs that really thrills you? Margot Robbie is like that to me. I’ve liked her ever since I first saw her in Wolf of Wall Street (even though she wasn’t much more than a pretty face in that one). I’ve only only seen her in a few other things and most of those have been bad (I’m looking straight at you, Suicide Squad) and the things I haven’t seen have not been well reviewed. I did really enjoy her performance in I,
See what cool things I discovered this week.
This is what I like to call "recovery week." After vacation, I always come home to a large stack of papers and assorted check stubs on my desk that I have to sort through and try to make sense out of. It is always stressful and this week was no exception. This was also the first full week of which my daughter has been out of school and not with either her grandparents or on vacation. I mostly work from home and so it's always a challenge to balance spending time with her and actually getting my work accomplished. Despite
Kino Lorber does a decent job restoring one of Hitchcock's lesser films.
In his interviews with Francois Truffaut (which is included in this set via audio format), Alfred Hitchcock admits that Under Capricorn was a bit of a failure. He believed this was due to his over-excitement over Ingrid Bergman (then one of the world’s biggest stars) agreeing to be in the picture. He paid so much attention to her and the media fawning over her that he didn’t give the script the good working over it needed. Based upon a book by Helen Simpson, it was adapted by Hithcock’s friend Hume Cronyn (an actor with little writing experience) and written by
See what's new in the world of Blu-rays.
In 1978, the first four seasons of Tom Baker’s Doctor Who episodes were sold to PBS stations across the United States. This was not the first time The Doctor had come to America. Several years prior, Time Life bought up some of Jon Pertwee’s episodes and syndicated it to commercial stations in the U.S. However, none of the stations seemed to understand the nature of the serialized show and were constantly shuffling it about in their schedule keeping audiences from getting it. PBS hired Howard Da Silva to read voiceover recaps before each episode and teasers at the end, allowing
After a week off, I'm talking about Stephen King, Doctor Who, Humphrey Bogart, and independent film.
A big thanks to Gordon and Shawn for filling in for me last week. As noted, I spent the week in Wyoming visiting both the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. Both were extraordinarily gorgeous. For those of you playing along, the man in the photo posted last week was fly fishing. I didn’t get word on whether he caught anything or not. During that week I did not consume much pop culture as that’s just not what you do while standing in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. However, the week before (and my vacation really
Fritz Lang's classic noir is nearly ruined by a terrible ending, but what comes before it is quite good.
Fritz Lang’s 1944 crime drama The Woman in the Window is one of a handful of films that became the basis for what the Cahiers du Cinema called "film noir." These films (which include The Maltese Falcon, Murder My Sweet, Double Indemnity, and others) were beloved by French critics and filmmakers in the 1950s and '60s and helped usher in the French New Wave. The Woman in the Window was named as the best film noir of all time by Paste magazine. I wouldn’t go quite that far, especially as it is marred by a tacked on happy ending that
Paul Verhoeven's dirt bike drama is a vile, sexist, homophobic piece of work that just might tell the truth of teenaged boys' life in Holland during the 1980s.
Paul Verhoeven’s 1980 dirt-bike drama Spetters is a vile piece of work. It's the sort of film that finds sexual assault hilarious and believes a closeted gay man only needs a brutal gang raping to figure out who he is. Yet for all its disgusting brutishness, it has moments of surprising tenderness and has the feeling of truth in terms of Dutch youth culture in the 1980s. It's about three young men, Rien (Hans van Tongeren) and Hans (Maarten Spanjer,) both dirt-biker racers, and their mechanic Eef (Toon Agterberg), who dreams of fame, fortune, and beautiful women. Their lives are
A devastating portrait of abuse.
Black Venus tells the true life story of Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman, a South African woman who was mistreated her entire life due to her large buttocks and genitals. Though not technically a slave, she lived like one for several years in Captetown serving as a washwoman and nursemaid to the Caezar family. Eventually, Hendrik Caezar and his friend William Dunlop took Sarah to England and France where they exhibited her in a freak show like a wild animal. She was put into a cage, dressed like a stereotypical native, laughed and scoffed at by the rabble who poked and prodded
Here's all that's interesting in the world of new Blu-ray releases this week.
Thoroughbreds is about two upper-class teenage girls (Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy) who rekindle a friendship after growing apart over many years. One of them is completely aloof, feeling virtually nothing for anybody. The other is over emotional. They hatch a plan to murder the oppressive step-father and hire Anton Yelchin to do the deed. The trailer looks hilarious. They had me the moment they called it a cross between Heathers and American Psycho. I cannot wait to see it. Also out this week that looks interesting: A Wrinkle In Time: Madeline L’Engle’s classic book gets a big-budget adaptation starring
Joe D'Amato's first horror film is a strange mixture of weird, gore, and boredom.
In 1973, Joe D’Amato, the Italian auteur behind such masterpieces as Anthropophagus, Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals, and Anal Strippers X-posed, directed his first horror movie, Death Smiles on a Murderer. He thought it was so good he put his real name, Aristide Massaccesi, in the credits. He should have kept the pseudonym and directed Anal Strippers 2 instead. In a movie that stars Klaus Kinski as a mad doctor, who uses ancient Incan magic to re-animate the dead, and includes scenes in which a shotgun blows the skin off a person’s face, a cat that scratches the eyes out
Come see the cool stuff I discovered this week.
My in-laws came to town again this week. Diligent readers will remember they were here not very long ago and perhaps wonder why the return trip. As it so happens, they are celebrating their 50th anniversary by taking a long vacation through various western parts of the country. They took my wife and daughter with them to Arizona and Utah. Next week, I’l be joining them in Wyoming. I miss them terribly but it is nice to have a few days all on my own. It's too hot to do anything but sit in the air conditioning and I’ve seen
William Wyler's classic western gets a gorgeous new Blu-ray release for its 60th anniversary.
The Big Country is an epic (or should I say “big”) movie on every scale. It was directed by William Wyler, one of the biggest directors ever. It stars Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, and Burl Ives, some of the biggest actors of the 1950s. Opening titles were by Saul Bass, the best in the business. It was shot in the wide open spaces of the Western United States in the beautiful widescreen format. Everything about it is huge. Except the story. It can’t quite live up to the epic scale of the rest of the film. Gregory Peck
A beautifully designed book that discusses Alfred Hitcock's tumultuous relationships with his leading ladies.
While talking to fellow filmmaker Francois Truffaut, director Alfred Hitchcock noted that he made his films with women in mind. He felt that women were the ones generally going to the movies and that when they brought a man along, it was still the women who made the decisions of which film to see. He certainly spent a lot of time fussing over his leading ladies. He was very much involved in not only choosing the right actress for the part but in choosing what clothes they should wear, hairstyles they should have, and every other aspect of how they’d
See what's new in the world of Blu-ray this week.
One of my favorite podcasts is The Next Picture Show. On it, four film critics discuss a classic movie and how it has inspired and informed a new film. They have a deep discussion about both films and talk about how they are interrelated. It's informative and fun. They do two episodes per pairing. In the first, they discuss the classic film and then in the second they bring in the new one and discuss how the two match up. Awhile back they paired Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker with Alex Garland’s latest film Annihilation. After listening to the first episode, I
This week's five things include some classic rewatches and a few new things as well.
I gave up Filmstruck to order Hulu so that I could watch the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale. I like Hulu. They’ve got some great TV shows. Their movie selection however is mostly crap. Netflix has been slack of late in their movie selection as well. Let’s not even talk about Amazon for the moment. They all have movies, good ones even, but you have to wade through a lot of junk to get to them, and I’ve now seen most of the ones I want to see. Or at least the ones I want to see right now.
See what's coming out on Blu-ray this week.
I have to start this week with an apology. Last week, somehow or another I completely and utterly missed talking about Black Panther. For some reason I thought that it was coming out this week. It wasn’t until I had already posted my pick of the week and actually had gone to the store on Tuesday that I realized Black Panther was out. Obviously, I would have mentioned, if not outright picked, one of the biggest releases of the year were I not a complete idiot and missed the release date. Hopefully I’m not missing something quite as colossal as
It was a cool week that was almost ruined by obnoxious people in the theater.
For a long time, I stopped going to the movies. It was too expensive, I didn’t live close to any sort of theatre that played something besides giant blockbusters, I had a small child, my home theatre system was good enough, and the average movie crowd is really obnoxious. Over the last couple of years, that has changed. I still don’t go to a ton of movies but I hit the theaters probably twice a month. Turns out, I like the experience. There is something really nice about the big screen, the comfy chairs, and the surround speakers. With Movie
Get ready for your close-up.
A down-on-his-luck screenwriter (William Holden) goes on the run from some pretty nasty creditors. He flees in the very car they are trying to repossess. When it blows a tire, the screenwriter, Joe Gillis, stashes the vehicle inside the garage of a large, dilapidated mansion on Sunset Boulevard. Mistaken for a man bringing a coffin for a pet monkey, he is called inside the mansion by Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), an old, silent-film star who was swept aside by the movie industry when sound entered the pictures and nearly forgotten by her once adoring public. She is now accompanied only
Here's what's coming to Blu-ray this week.
There are so many different options in terms of what one can watch these days that I often feel overwhelmed. My wife makes fun of me because I’ll often spend half my evening scanning through the various streaming services trying to make a decision on what to watch. What I choose often seems random but whenever I step back and analyze my choices, patterns tend to arise. Over the course of several weeks and months, I tend to watch movies from specific genres or that deal with certain themes, or more often than not, ones by the same director or
An impeccably made, sometimes difficult and now entirely emotionally satisfying film.
Sometimes a film comes along that just knocks me out with its filmmaking, but never quite comes across on an emotional level. Paul Thomas Anderson films have that way about them and his latest, Phantom Thread, falls directly into that category. It is a meticulously made film in every possible way. It is gorgeously designed and stunning to look at. The script is a puzzle where every piece falls into place exactly when Anderson wants them to and the acting is exquisite. But there is something about the story and the characters that just didn’t quite connect with me. Yet,
Come catch up with all the cool things I consumed this week.
I keep track of all the movies I watch every month and have various mental goals to keep up with. Sometimes I get a little panicked in the middle if I haven’t watched enough. Though we aren’t even halfway through this month, at the beginning of this week that panic set in real good. So I kicked my watching habits up a few notches and watched a few movies from last year that got a lot of love and a couple of much older ones that had been on my radar. Lady Bird Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical movie stars Saoirse Ronan
Tarkovsky's last film is a gorgeous meditation on life, God and what we are willing to give up.
In literature classes, you learn that in short stories every paragraph, every sentence, every comma counts. Because of the short length, you cannot have any fluff. You have to weed out everything that isn’t important. Whereas in a novel you can sometimes let a sentence or two (or if you are Stephen King, entire chapters) slide. In a similar way with slow cinema - films that are more contemplative in nature and that utilize long shots with fewer cuts that normal cinema - one has to make each shot really count. Andrei Tarkovsky was a master of slow cinema. Though
If you are looking for sex and nudity in your new releases, then this week is for you.
Sex sells, or so they say. I suppose they are right as sexy things seem to abound in advertisements and the media. Lord knows I am not immune. This week’s new releases are filled with sex in a variety of forms, but not my pick of the week. Well not as far as I can tell anyways. I haven't seen any of it so maybe it's filled with sex and I'm just not aware. The Sinner stars Jessica Biel (who also executive produced) as a young mother who, in an inexplicable fit of rage, commits a great act of very
Here's five cool things I discovered this week.
In order to watch the new season of The Handmaid's Tale, I once again ordered a subscription to Hulu. They are doling that series out one episode per week so I have plenty of time to find other interesting shows on the service. So sit back and enjoy the five cool things I found this week. The Wrong Mans The Wrong Mans is a British crime comedy that is being co-produced by Hulu. In its opening moments, low-level government employee Sam (Matthew Baynton) witnesses a automobile accident. After the ambulance takes the victim away, a phone lying on the ground
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure 30th Anniversary Steelbook Edition Blu-ray Review: Party On, Dudes!
Shout! Factory repackages an excellent movie in a mostly excellent Steelbook package.
When I bought my first computer with my own money, one of the first things I did was change the normal Windows shut-down WAV file for one of Bill saying, “This has been a most unusual day." Though she doesn’t get the reference, I often call my daughter Lydia Brewster, Esquire. While there is no longer a Circle K anywhere near me, I will often note that strange things are afoot at whatever oddball place I happen to be in. If someone asks me for a number, my answer is always “69, dude!” And whenever I meet someone named Missy,
Here's the best of this week's Blu-ray releases.
There are a number of directors whose work I follow closely. I watch all of their films even if the story doesn’t look that interesting. There are some actors who I like a lot and whose work I’ll usually check out regardless of whether the film looks good. There's maybe a handful of screenwriters whose name I know and whose films I’ll usually see. For all other films, it depends on the story, the trailer, and the buzz. I don’t really follow studios at all. Except for Pixar and Studio Ghibli. Two animation studios that consistently put out great movies.
I'm a little late posting it, but these things are still cool.
Sorry I’m a little late with the Five Cool Things this week. I have plenty of stuff to talk about, so it wasn’t a lack of things that kept me from it. I started writing about them yesterday afternoon, got a few entries in, and took a little break. Various things happened and that break became a long one. The local TV station plays classic Tom Baker Doctor Who stories every Friday night and me and the family have made that a thing we do together. We fix a big bowl of popcorn and watch it upstairs in my bedroom.
Never underestimate the power of a bear.
Truly great family films are hard to come by. They are either too sappy or silly or both to be enjoyed by adults or otherwise too busy trying to be clever to keep a kid’s attention. Every once in awhile, the balance comes out just right and the whole family finds themselves enthralled. From the sound of it, Paddington 2 is one such movie. Based on the children’s series by Michael Bond, the film follows the adventures of a Peruvian bear who has been adopted by a family in London. It stars Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Grant,
Studio Ghibli Fest continues.
A quiet and shy schoolgirl named Haru (Anne Hathaway) is having a bad day. She overslept and has to skip breakfast; she loses her shoe on the way to school. She is caught by her teacher sneaking into class, which makes all her classmates laugh at her, including the boy she likes who otherwise barely knows she’s alive. While walking home with her friend Hiromi (Kristen Bell), she saves a cat from getting run over by a truck and is nearly killed herself. Much to her surprise, the cat stands on two legs, thanks her, and mentions he’ll be back
Ken Russell's controversial adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's controversial novel gets a maginficent release from Criterion.
It's difficult not to compare the time in which Ken Russell adapted Women in Love (1969) to the time in which D.H. Lawrence wrote the novel and the film are set (1920). Both periods were times in which Britain’s social norms were changing. The film’s setting, just after World War I, finds the Victorian-era moral codes along with the staunch upper classes crumbling. The film was made at the height of the sexual revolution when young people were once again throwing off the chains of their parents' moralizing for newfound freedom. It is impossible then to view the film’s story
This week's cool things include a couple of Humphrey Bogart films, another Stephen King novel, Bob Dylan, and more.
As mentioned last week, my in-laws were in town this week, also as mentioned they put a damper on my pop-culture consumption. In the early evening hours, we tend to play games or chat or do some activity other than sit in front of the TV. After I put my daughter to bed, some times we'd throw a movie on but usually there was this awkward space in which we’re all sitting around not knowing what to do. Then, of course, there is the fact that they are older and more conservative and many of the things I want to
Didn't I write this already?
Do you ever have one of those days where you thought you did something, are absolutely sure of it, are so sure there really isn’t any need of double checking that you did it, only to later realize you didn’t do it at all? Yea, that was me, today, with my Pick of the Week. This weekend I think I must have looked through this week’s new releases thought about what I would pick, what I would say about that pick, and then promptly killed my web browser without actually writing anything. Somewhere in the fogginess of my brain I
This week's cool things mostly include things I reviewed for this site.
Last week, I noted that I had started several things and not finished them. My hope was to talk about them this week. As it turns out, I still haven’t finished some of them (damn, Andrei Tarkovsky movies are long) and the ones I did finish weren’t very good (I’m looking at you Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Sacha Guitry). Next week, my in-laws will be in town which will further much with my ability to watch the things I want to watch. Unexpectedly, I still managed to watch and read some cool stuff this week. And away we
A newly restored print makes this classic silent film even better.
As still-photography technology developed and exposure times dropped, the idea of taking a series of photographs and piecing them together to form a moving picture began to percolate in the brains of some of the world’s greatest minds. In May of 1887, a Frenchman, Louis Le Prince, created the first motion-picture film, Roundhay Garden Scene, which consists of a few seconds of people walking in a garden. Others tinkered with similar devices but they were all bulky and unreliable, and the images came out poorly. In 1891, Thomas Edison created the Kinetograph, which took a series of instantaneous photographs on
It's a big week full of interesting new releases.
The first words out of my mouth--er, keyboard, this week was going to be that I’m a huge Paul Thomas Anderson fan. Then I looked at his filmography and realize I’ve not seen his last three films. I am very much a fan of his first five films (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood). But somewhere along the way I seem to have stopped watching him. It started with The Master, his sort-of take on Scientology with Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing the charismatic leader of a crazy cult. When it came out, it
Grease is still the word.
Every month, Fathom Events and TCM present a classic movie for the big screen. Nearly every month, my wife and I go. Normally, I grab my passes without even asking her. When Grease was announced, I asked her if she wanted to see it. I was reluctant about it. She was excited. Passes were secured. On the day of, neither of us were particularly thrilled. We kept coming up with excuses to not go. I first caught Grease sometime in the mid 1980s as a junior high kid. I was flipping through the channels on the little TV in my
A forgettable silent comedy is made watchable by the great Gloria Swanson, and worth buying by a terrific scene on a subway.
As the working day ends, we see tired feet marching down steps, and a pair of worn-out hands clock out. A shopgirl tries to buy her ticket for the subway but is pushed this way and that way by the hordes coming in and out of the station. Once on the train, she is jostled and pushed, pried and prodded. She spills the contents of her purse. Two men reach for the handle bars when the train moves, accidentally lifting the girl off her feet when they do. Her hat is knocked to the floor, stepped on, and smooshed. When
A nice boxed set from Arrow Academy presents four films from the popular French director.
You could say Sacha Guitry was born into the theater. His father, Lucien Guitry, was a very famous French actor who was friends with such luminaries as Tchaikovsky (Guitry convinced the great composer to write his works for Shakespeare’s Hamlet). As a teenager, Sacha began writing for the stage. He was quite prolific at it, having penned more than 120 plays in his lifetime. As movies began taking cultural prominence over the stage, Guitry stayed in the theatre feeling that silent pictures without the use of dialogue were not as dramatically satisfying. By the 1930s, he had changed his mind
It was a weird week determined to distract me, but I still found some cool stuff.
Last weekend, we went to Tennessee to visit some old friends for Easter. This week, Oklahoma teachers staged a walk-out in an attempt to get decent wages and more money for their classrooms. I don’t want to get to far into either of those things because I never want to write about religion or politics. I really don’t want to belittle the teachers and what they are doing in terms of how it has negatively affected my ability to consume pop culture. I do support the teachers and their important cause, but darn, if it hasn’t messed up my ability
What can I say? It is a slow week.
I’ve been writing this column for several years now and I still have no idea how the people who make decisions on when Blu-rays are going to be released decide on when a Blu-ray is going to be released. Last week, we had loads of great stuff coming out. This week we’ve a bunch of junk. Well, that’s not quite true; there are several semi-interesting things coming out just nothing really big and exciting. I have no idea why that is. Do people buy a lot of movies for Easter? Are chocolate bunnies out and Blu-rays in? Next week finds
Here's the cool things I consumed this week.
My birthday was last Sunday. My wife made me a nice breakfast, we went to a couple of books stores, and let the daughter play at a park. We had planned to go to a movie but that fell through and instead we went home and watched some James Bond. I’ve never been the sort of person who wants to have a big party so this was pretty much perfect. Other than that, this week has been pretty standard. I watched some good movies, read some good comic books. and here we are. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Much like
And so the Studio Ghibli Fest 2018 begins.
There is nothing like a Hayao Miyazaki movie. Released in 2008, Ponyo was the tenth film Miyazaki directed (his eighth for Studio Ghibli). To celebrate its tenth anniversary, GKIDS and Fathom Events gave it a limited theatrical run. A small goldfish wanders off from her four-flippered home, narrowly escapes a fishing trawler dredging up piles of garbage from the bottom of the sea, and gets stuck inside a glass jar. She is rescued by Sosuke, a five-year-old boy who places her in a bucket and shows her off to his mom and the old ladies at the retirement home where
See what's new in Blu-ray this week.
It's a great time to be a Star Wars fan. I’m not quite old enough to have seen either A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back in the theaters but I have distinct memories of seeing Return of the Jedi at least three times at the local cinema. I used to rent the entire trilogy over and over on VHS as a youngster and my mother says I saw them on HBO dozens of times in those early years. The space between the original trilogy and the prequels were filled with countless hours discussing what was then only rumors
Come read about all the cool stuff I watched this week.
It is the start of my birthday weekend (I turn 42 on Sunday). My mother just picked up my daughter for a sleepover. I should be out celebrating. Instead, I’m here writing this. Later, I’ll watch TV. Honestly, I’m pretty okay with that. We were going to go see a movie, but we’re still in the post-Christmas / pre-Spring blockbuster lull for movies at theatres. Good stuff is coming soon, but there really isn’t much I want to see and nothing the wife and I could agree on. Luckily, I have access to all sorts of cool stuff on the
This week's new releases include a couple of Criterions, Matt Damon getting shrunk, a Robert Altman horror film, and more.
The biggest gap in my cinematic education has to be silent films. I’ve only seen a few of them and they were mostly a struggle. With no audible dialogue, my attention tends to wane. I start thinking about my day or things I need to do. I look outside or at the messiness of my room. I watch the cat and inevitably reach for my phone, and *poof* the movie slips by without hardly a thought from me. The one silent film I’ve ever loved was The Passion of Joan of Arc. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s telling of the trial and
Don't miss your chance to see this Alfred Hitchcock classic on the big screen.
I started collecting movies sometime in college. Initially, I swore to only purchase really interesting movies - stone-cold classics and interesting arthouse films - but soon enough I was buying all sorts of horrible things if they were cheap enough (somewhere I still have a copy of To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, bought unseen from the used Blockbuster bin for less money than it would have cost to rent it). Whenever I had some extra money, I’d head to the mall to browse the aisles at the Suncoast Motion Picture Company. On one of those visits, I came across
This week's cool things are strange and wonderful.
After a long, dreary winter, spring is finally here. Our backyard tree is blooming, the temperatures are warming up, and the sun is shining. The daughter is out of school next week, which will likely curb my pop-culture consuming, but this week was full of interesting things. I can’t wait to start talking about them. Tiny Desk Concert: John Prine John Price is a national treasure. He is one of the greatest songwriters of our age. He’s an old man now, but he’s always written songs beyond his years. He just released a new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, and
A surrealistic horror film that feels more like Ingmar Bergman than Robert Altman.
Made in the middle of his incredible 1970s run of films that includes M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye ,and Nashville, Robert Altman’s Images is unlike any of those films and in fact is different from pretty much anything in his long, storied career. There is none of the overlapping dialogue that Altman pioneered and his camera, which he typically inserts into a scene letting it rummage around for a story, is more beautiful, constructed, and poetic. Made in 1972, Images premiered at the Cannes film festival where it won Susannah York the award for Best Actress. It
Animated film from Spain tells a dark, sad tale that retains a hint of hope.
In a post-apocalyptic landscape, three friends, a mouse, a piglet, and a little fox, dream of escaping their horrible little island and moving to the city where they might breath the clean air, drink the clean water, and live their lives out prosperously. But they neither have the ability or the means to leave. Dinky the mouse steals “happy pills” from her fundamentalist parents, who constantly berate her and use a baby Jesus doll that literally cries blood to fill her with guilt. Zachariah the piglet lives with his drug-addicted mother who turns into a giant spider when she gets
Hope you have some leftover Christmas money because there is a lot of interesting stuff coming out this week.
I hope you have some leftover Christmas money because it's gonna be an expensive week, Blu-ray fans. We’ve got blockbusters, Oscar winners, cult classics and more. Guillermo del Toro’s other-wordly, weird fantasy film The Shape of Water took home four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. It's about a girl kissing an underwater sea monster during the Cold War. Or something. I really haven’t been paying attention and his films are best seen without having preconceived notions. Luckily, Matthew St. Clair wrote us a review. Honestly, there are at least four other releases this week that I could have
Well Go USA's new 4K transfer of Takashi Miike's splatter classic gives you all the gore you can handle in pristine high definition.
While watching Well Go USA’s new 4K transfer of Takashi Miike’s classic splatter flick Ichi the Killer, you may ask yourself whether or not one needs to see all that gore in super high-definition. Is it necessary, you may ponder, to see the insides of a man cut straight down the middle, or the viscera of a dozen nameless foes sloshed across the floor, blood dripping from the ceiling, or even the title cards rising from a puddle of semen in all its digitally restored, detailed resolution? For fans of the highly influential, totally disgusting, and surprisingly funny film, the
This week's cool things include Tom Cruise, George Clooney directing the Coens, and more Stephen King.
I have a tendency to be watching, reading and listening to multiple things at once. My wife laughs and scoffs at this as she doesn’t understand how I can keep things straight in my head. I’m not entirely sure that I do keep things straight, but this is the way I’ve always consumed pop culture. Right now I’m watching two movies (Salem’s Lot and Robert Altman’s Images) reading at least three books (A Christmas Carol, Freedomland, Pet Sematary) and probably have a few more laying around that I started and have forgotten about. I’m in the middle of more TV
Two movies battled it out for this week's pick, but ultimately, the superhero won.
The 90th Academy Awards aired last night. I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited about it this year. No idea why. I’d actually seen more of the films this year than I usually have at this point and it's the one awards ceremony I usually love to sit through. I skipped all the pre-awards stuff but did turn the TV on for the actual show. As per usual, I clicked on Twitter to see what the people were saying about it. Usually, Twitter is a pretty fun place to hang out while watching the Oscars with plenty of
See what's cool this week.
In my continual playing of roulette with the many streaming services one can subscribe to, I landed on HBO this week. It is part of the Amazon system now which makes it super convenient. I can easily subscribe and unsubscribe to it via my Amazon Fire so there is no messing around with internet sites and new apps and credit cards. It's a great service, too. It has all the HBO shows plus lots of movies and they even let you watch the various HBO channels streaming live. Its a little pricier than I like (just under $15) but they
Just in time for the Oscars, this week's releases include a lot of films that will no doubt win awards.
Watching Mary and the Witch’s Flower this weekend made me reflect on animated films and the studios that create them. Mary was made by Studio Ponoc, which was formed when Studio Ghibli looked like it was going to stop making films after the “retirement” of founder Hayao Miyazaki (scare quotes get added as Miyazaki has once again announced his un-retirement to make one more film). Ghibli, of course, has been one of the great animated studios of the last few decades. I’d argue their closest rival is Pixar and that’s not really a rivalry at all since Pixar’s John Lasseter
Studio Ponoc, heir apparent to Studio Ghibli, proves they have taken the animated torch and ran with it.
In September 2013, famed director and Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement. He had made such proclamations before but this time he promised he was serious. A few months later, the studio announced there would be a brief pause in production in order to re-evaluate where the company would go without their founder and creative leader. Speculation was that they would never produce a new movie but might venture into releasing films made by other companies. Amongst all of this, Yoshiaki Nishimura, a lead producer for Ghibli, started a new company, Studio Ponoc. Soon after, many animators from
This week's cool things include a couple of comics, some old movies, and a new trailer.
I shouldn’t write these things on Friday. It seems like every week I’m saying how long and exhausting the week has been. Maybe if I wrote them on Monday I’d be all refreshed and collected from the weekend. Nah, I’d just be frazzled to have to write something else with a case of the Mondays. It was a long week. My wife and daughter are finally getting over the sickness but then the kid had to play catch-up from missing school and there have been loads of extra activities. Luckily, work has been slow so I’m not a total zombie.
A movie star reflects on his life and the compromises he made to get there.
Arindam Mukherjee (Uttam Kumar), an enormously famous movie star, boards an overnight train from Calcutta to Delhi to receive a national award. There, he meets an interesting cast of characters including Aditi Sengupta (Sharmila Tagore), a young journalist who edits a modern women’s magazine. She is contemptuous towards egotistical movie stars like him, but decides to secretly interview him as an expose to draw in readers. She wanders over to him in the dining car pretending to want an autograph for her niece and because she’s pretty and the journey is long, he begins talking to her freely. Over the
This week brings us a couple of foreign language films from the Criterion Collection, a silly horror from Arrow Video, Doctor Who, an Oscar-buzzing indie, and more.
Sean Baker has been making movies for nearly twenty years, but only recently has been given the kind of buzz that moves out of the festival circuit and to places like Oklahoma (where I live). In 2015. he made Tangerine, a movie about a couple of transgendered sex workers that was shot on iPhones and garnered a lot of critical attention. Last year. he made The Florida Project which has garnered some significant Oscar buzz. It's about life in and around a run-down motel somewhere near the vicinity of Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It shows the kids running around,
You've got one more chance to see this classic on the big screen.
Playwright Phillip Barry wrote a play called The Philadelphia Story specifically for Katharine Hepburn to star in. After it was a success, Hepburn bought the movie rights to the play and sold it to MGM for the relatively small sum of $250,000 in return for her being able to pick the producer, screenwriter, and costars. She chose Joseph Mankeiwicz to produce (and many decades later his great-nephew Ben Mankeiwicz would inform me of all this trivia in his introduction to this Fathom Events showing), George Cukor (with whom she had worked with in A Bill of Divorcement and Little Women
Distinctive animation elevates a simple story into the sublime.
Based upon an old German fairy tale as collected by the Brothers Grimm, The Girl Without Hands is a French animated film with a lot of heart and a unique sense of style. The devil (Phillippe Laudenbach) appears to a poor miller (Olivier Broche) and makes him a deal. For the small price of what’s behind his mill, the devil will make him rich. Knowing that only an old tree lies behind his mill, the miller agrees. Soon liquid gold begins flowing through his mill, making him richer than his wildest dreams. When the devil comes to collect, the miller
This weeks cool things include some (not so) Classic Doctor Who, a Stephen King sequel, a Neil Gaiman book, and more.
Sickness has come to house Brewster again. My wife caught a nasty cold late last week and it's stayed with her even unto today. My daughter caught something nastier but shorter a couple of nights ago, which left her dazed and confused (and puking her poor little guts out) for about 24 hours. I've managed to mostly stay healthy (although my back is about to give out due to sleeping on the couch trying to avoid my wife's bug). As such, there has been a lot of stayng in and watching TV. Here's five things we enjoyed. The Trial of
Anthology collection starring Silvana Mangano as a variety of witches fails to bewitch.
The concept of an anthology film in which you make one long movie consisting of several short films seems like a good one. Presumably, it is easier to wrangle big name directors and stars as the time commitment will be shorter than a full-length feature. You can have a variety of different genres and styles and if one film is a dud, then you’ve got several others that can compensate. And yet it is rare thing in which I’ve ever enjoyed an anthology film. It's a bit like short-story collections to me. It's difficult to tell an engaging story in
David Simon's new series is about the sex trade in '70s New York, it is as difficult to watch as it is good.
These days, New York City's Times Square is clean, shiny, and safe. It's a Mecca for tourists and families and a fun stop for anyone looking to see the sites of The Big Apple. It wasn’t always like that. In the 1970s and '80s, it was a hot bed of sex, drugs, and crime. HBO’s new series The Deuce tells the story of that Times Square. Created by David Simon and George Pelecanos, The Duece has a lot in common with another of their shows, The Wire. That series, arguably the greatest show ever, used various institutions (the drug trade,
This week's new releases include some great and not-so-great horror films, Dan Gilroy's follow-up to Nightcrawler, Julia Roberts trying to make a comeback, and more.
David Simon started out as a reporter for The Baltimore Sun where he worked the crime beat. In 1991, he took a year off to follow the Baltimore Homicide squad around and wrote the excellent Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets about it. A few years later he took another year-long sabbatical with former cop Ed Burns to spend time on an inner-city street corner and wrote about the lives of the junkies, dealers, and helpers who live, work, and play there in the book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. Homicide was turned
This week's cool things are trailers, trailers, and more trailers.
The Super Bowl aired this last Sunday. I didn’t watch a single second of it. Not even for the commercials or Justin Timberlake’s halftime show (though I did watch some of both a few days later on YouTube). The only exciting part for me was that Super Bowl Sunday is now apparently the official start of Hollywood trying to get us pumped for their summer roll out. There were several cool trailers that dropped during the game (and several more have come out in the week since). Call this week’s post "Five Cool Trailers." Solo: A Star Wars Story This
George Clooney's take on a Coen Brothers' script leads this week's new releases.
The Coen Brothers have been some of my favorite filmmakers for a long time. I first saw their work with Raising Arizona but it wasn’t until Fargo that I actually knew who they were. That film blew me away. It remains a favorite. I love the Coens' directorial style and their quirky, dark sense of humor. George Clooney is one of my favorite actors. He is incredibly handsome and utterly charming. He’s a movie star in the old Hollywood sense. He isn’t the greatest of actors, in fact he has a pretty limited range, but he seems to understand this
This week's cool things include lots of award winners and some that should have been.
I’m always late to the party when it comes to awards season. I simply don’t make it to the theaters enough to see all the big movies let alone the small ones. I eventually catch most of the buzzy, acclaimed films but not usually until long after all the golden statues have been handed out. This time I’ve managed to see 28 films released in 2017 many of which have been nominated for big awards. That’s still a long ways from all of them (and miles away from the 12,000 films released last year (according to Letterboxd anyways) but for
This week brings us a biopic about the creator of Wonder Woman, some Pink Panther cartoons, a new Richard Linklater flick and more.
After watching Wonder Woman last year, I became a little obsessed with the character. I read loads of articles online about her and eventually picked up Jill Lepore’s excellent book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman. It details the characters birth in 1941 in Action Comics and the many changes made to her throughout the years. It also serves as a fascinating biography of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston. He graduated from Harvard, became a psychiatrist, a professor at various universities, invented the lie-detector test, worked as an advisor to Hollywood studios, was a bondage fetishist, and secretly lived
Step right up and come see the cool things I discovered this week.
It's always a challenge for me to balance between the movies I want to see and the television shows I want to make it through. This year I seem to be hitting the sweet spot finding ways to watch plenty of both. That’s a very satisfying feeling. The Greatest Showman I initially had no interest in seeing The Greatest Showman. I’m not an enormous musical fan, don’t really like biopics, am not particularly interested in P.T. Barnum and the trailer didn’t do it for me. But then it started getting a lot of buzz on my social-media feeds. At first,
It is a light week for new releases, but there's a few titles coming out I think you might like.
It;s been a weird couple of weeks. Usually, the week after Christmas sees a huge drop off in the number and quality of new releases. This lull typically lasts until sometime in mid-February when things slowly start to pick up again. But this year thus far we’ve seen a pretty good collection of stuff coming out in this normally dry period. This week is pretty weak in terms of overall numbers, but there’s still some interesting selections to choose from. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, it's just weird. The Killing of a Sacred Deer, reviewed by Matt St. Clair,
Cool things this week include a Hitchock from the Criterion Collection, a French animated film, a Rogue Cut, and lots of gods.
I try to write little pieces of this article as I watch, read, and listen to cool things throughout the week. If I do it right, then on Friday morning all I have to do is assemble the pieces and write an intro. Sometimes that actually works, other times no so much. Last week was one of those times that I was scrambling to put all my thoughts together about all the five things before my deadline. In that rush I forgot to write an intro. Then I got sick. It was a weird sickness. One moment I felt fine
The sequel to a sci-fi classic leads this week's new Blu-ray releases.
One of my pop-culture admissions is that I’ve never been a huge fan of Blade Runner. I’ve only seen the director’s cut, but it's generally considered the best version of the film, and I’ve seen it twice, but it's never really done it for me. I like Ridley Scott, I love sci-fi, and I appreciate a lot of the things the film does, but for whatever reason, I’ve just never particularly cared for it. All the same, I was pretty excited to hear they were finally making a sequel. I really do think the concept of Blade Runner is interesting
Go see it on the big screen while you can.
Based upon the book by B. Traven, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is generally considered one of the greatest movies ever made. Interestingly, Traven was such a recluse, he would only make notes on the script via letter. Eventually, he did send his representative, a man named Hal Croves, to the set as technical advisor. It was greatly suspected Croves was in fact Traven, but never proven. Mostly shot in Mexico over six months, it was one of the first American films to be shot on location, much to the chagrin of Jack Warner who was footing the bill.
This week's cool things include a classic Doctor Who, two new adaptations of old books and lots of violence.
Mat was felled by a stomach bug before he could finish writing his article, which is not a cool thing, so dive in without his traditional introduction. Make sure to wash your hands when you are done reading. - The Management Brawl in Cell Block 99 I’d been hearing really good things about Brawl in Cell Block 99 for a few weeks. So much so that I made it my Pick of the Week awhile back. It is streaming on Amazon so I gave it a shot. It is a really interesting mix of the art house with the grindhouse.
This week's new releases include a killer clown, a Deep Throat, a Supreme Court Justice, and more.
Miniseries have been around since the birth of television but it was the 1980s that really defined what they are and cemented them in our collective consciousness. Or at least that’s how I remember it. As a kid, I can remember grabbing the television guide from the Sunday paper and very carefully mapping out my primetime viewing for the week. I had certain shows on most nights that I watched every week, but some times there was a special - the Olympics, an awards show, or Circus of the Stars - that would take precedence over my normal TV watching.
This week found me reading some cool comics, watching some non Doctor Who-related Peter Capaldi TV, and more.
As noted in last week’s entry, I spent the week between Christmas and New Year's at my in-laws spending time with my wife’s family. They are lovely people but not very pop-cultural savvy. We tend to spend our time playing board games and chatting with each other rather than watching movies and television. Luckily, I always get a few comic books for Christmas and as you’ll see I’ve already read a few of them. The Avengers: Age of Ultron(comic book) In the comics, Ultron has existed since the late '60s and appeared as one of the great Avengers' villains periodically
Seminal punk documentary finally gets a digital release.
A few years back, maybe ten come to think of it, I was getting to know a girl, Pamela, who eventually became a good friend. I asked her, like I always ask people I’m getting to know, what kind of music she liked. She said she was a big punk fan. Intrigued, as she didn’t look like your typical punk rocker, I asked for details. “Who do you like,” I asked. “The Dead Kennedys? The Minutemen?” “Who?” she replied. Pushing further, I asked “The Misfits? Black Flag?” I got blank stares. “How about the Ramones or Green Day?” Nothing. “Well,
This week brings us John Hughes getting his first Criterion plus a tennis match, an Italian murder, Tom Cruise running drugs, and more.
If you are a child of the '80s, if you are a movie fan of a certain age, then John Hughes films have a special place in your heart. Throughout the 1980s, he made movies about teenagers that felt real. His characters spoke like real teenagers spoke, they cared about things real teenagers cared about. They were funny and sad, romantic and heartbroken. They felt like they were made for…well, me. And a million other me’s. It is hard to pick a favorite John Hughes film because so many of them are so good. As a teenager, I likely would
Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat get a nice send-off while paving the way for a new generation.
Having the Doctor regenerate when he "dies" was nothing short of a genius idea. In other television programs, replacing a main character with a different actor is a doomed idea, but in Doctor Who, it's just another day at the office. Regeneration has allowed the series to run (almost) uninterrupted for over 50 years, periodically injecting new life blood into it as new actors take on the role. That isn't to say regeneration isn't without its challenges or controversies. Whenever a new Doctor appears, there is much outcry from fans. When Jodie Whitaker (the first female Doctor ever) was announced,
Cool things this week include a Stephen King detective novel, a new Netflix show, and more.
Hope everybody had an excellent Christmas. I kind of hope it was a little dull pop-culturewise or I’m about to look a little silly. We are visiting my wife’s family this week and like a good little Sentry, I got my posts in ahead of time (I wrote them last Wednesday). So if anything amazing dropped in the last few days don’t expect any commentary from me about it. But if it's been as boring as the week between Christmas and New Year's usually is then pretend you didn’t read this paragraph and imagine these are the things I discovered
Michael Caine returns with his Get Carter filmmakers to make a movie that is completely different.
In 1971, three guys named Mike (Hodges the director, Klinger the producer, and Caine the star) made Get Carter, what is now considered the seminal British gangster movie. In 1972, they teamed up together again for Pulp, something completely different. At its heart, Pulp is also a crime thriller but its tone, its writing, and its performances are something altogether weirder, funnier, and so completely out there as to defy expectations. Caine plays Mickey King, a writer of pulp novels (with titles such as My Gun is Long and The Organ Grinder) whose in it for the writer’s lifestyle more
This post-Christmas week brings us a surprising amount of interesting new releases.
I love it when an actor is able to reinvent himself. I love it when you think you’ve seen everything you’re gonna see with an artist and then they create something so totally new, so completely beyond what they did before that you can only just stand and gape. I haven’t seen Brawl in Cell Block 99 so I can’t say whether or not I’ll be gaping at Vince Vaughn’s performance or not, but from the early reviews that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. I’ve never exactly been a fan of Vaughn’s work. I don’t dislike him, but I’ve never
A remake that need not have bothered.
The Isle of Todday off the coast of Scotland has largely been unaffected by World War II. They are too small, too remote to be bothered with. Until the whiskey runs out at least. Rationing only allows them a few bottles a month. After the last drop has been drunk, the locals got a bit crazy. One man literally dies. They can’t even have a proper Scottish wake for him without the whiskey. Things look completely bleak until one foggy night a ship runs smashes into some rocks. Locals investigate, thrilled to discover some 50,000 cases of whiskey are the
This week's cool things include one of Martin Scorsese's favorite films, The Last Jedi and lots of stuff I found on Acorn TV.
Apologies for the absence of Five Cool Things last week. I usually try to write them on Thursday night and last week I got a bit sick then. Slept until 11 in the AM Friday morning and woke up feeling better. But by then my day was so thrown off with work stuff that I had no time to play catch up with my writing. Then we were invited to some friends that evening for food and games and the Cool Things got lost in the shuffle. But here we are with a new week and I’ve still got cool
It does a great job making the audience feel the absolute horror of this racially motivated instance but falters when putting that moment into a greater context.
Detroit is a docudrama about the Algiers Motel incident during the 1967 Detroit riot in which a group of white cops bullied and tortured several black men and two white women, murdering at least two of them. It was written by Mark Boal, a white man, produced by Megan Ellison a white woman, and directed by Kathryn Bigelow a white woman. There has been much controversy over a group of rich white people making a film about the black experience against police brutality. As a middle-aged, middle-class white man myself, I’ll let that (perfectly legitimate) debate carry on elsewhere. What
Acting legends Bette Davis and Lillian Gish together for the first (and last) time.
Two old sisters spend every summer at a little cottage off the coast of Maine. They love each other, but they are also very different and quarrel constantly. Libby (Bette Davis) is the youngest, but is in worse health and has gone blind. She has turned bitter and spiteful. Sarah (Lillian Gish) is full of life and is kind but can hold her own in verbal sparring with her sister. Though it is not outwardly stated (and there are a lot of things not outwardly stated), this summer will likely be their last on the island. It is based on
Maigret Sets a Trap / Maigret and the St. Fiacre Case Blu-ray Reviews: America's Introduction to the Great French Detective
Jean Gabin plays the French detective in two of the earliest adaptations of Georges Simenon's stories to reach the States.
Georges Simenon created Commissaire Maigret in 1931. The character starred in 76 of the author’s novels and 28 short stories. They have been translated into dozens of languages and adapted into numerous films and television series. Like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot before him, Maigret has become one of the world’s most famous fictional detectives. I’ve never read a single word of the stories but have previously watched and reviewed two other adaptations (one with Bruno Cremer as the great detective, the other with Michael Gambon) and now with Maigret Sets a Trap and Maigret and the St.Fiacre Case that
This final week before Christmas brings us a big war movie from Christopher Nolan, a smaller drama from Darren Aronofsky, plus Legos, Judi Dench as the Queen and more.
I love the last few weeks before Christmas, at least from a new Blu-ray release point of view. To get every last penny out of shoppers, movie companies put out their best, shiniest and most interesting films. This is also the last good week we’ll see for awhile as January and usually February our typically lousy in the new release department. I had to debate a little this week on what I’d pick but ultimately decided on what I’m most excited to see. Darren Aronofsky is one of the most interesting filmmakers around. His films (which include Pi, Requiem for
A lively historical romp that loses steam in its back half.
Judi Dench has played the Queen of England three times in her career. She played Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love, Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown and again in Victoria & Abdul. She is acting royalty having won nearly every award available to her including one Oscar, ten BAFTAs, two Golden Globes, a Tony, and a host of others. She’s actual royalty, too, becoming Dame Judi Dench in 1988. She is magnificent in Victoria & Abdul. At the time of her Golden Jubilee, Queen Victoria has grown lonely and tired of her fawning courtiers, the countless celebrations, and official
This week's new releases include a trio of Criterions, a couple of Reese Witherspoons, plus Colin Firth as an action star.
If you read the words I put onto this little website, then you know that I am a Game of Thrones fan. It was about the time my daughter was born that the HBO series came out. I watched a few episodes then decided the story was so dense I really needed to read the books. I put the show on pause and read the first couple of books then returned to the series. I managed to read ahead of the show, but now things have reversed and the show has caught up to the books and then some. Season
This week's cool things include John Denver singing with the Muppets, a classic James Bond film, Wilco, samurai, and more.
Winter is no longer coming, but is here, and with a vengeance. I woke up to temperatures in the teens this morning. Oklahoma always has wonky weather. We get broiling hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter and the wind always blows. Which makes it perfect for staying inside and enjoying some cool pop culture, so here’s five cool things I consumed this week. John Denver & The Muppets - A Christmas Together In 1979, John Denver joined the Muppets for a Christmas special on ABC. As far as I can tell, it only aired once and
They were some of the earliest looks American audiences had at Maigret, and I, for one, am excited to give them a chance.
I have reviewed two different series (one English, the other French) based upon the Georges Simenon character of Maigret. I have never read any of the books, nor do I have a real affinity for the character. Why then do I keep watching and reviewing these things? You can blame my wife. She is a great francophile - a lover of all things French - and she turned me on to Maigret. Honestly, I don’t think she’s ever read one of the books either, but as he is one of the great detectives to come out of France (or Belgium,
Cool things this week include The Punisher, two films by Werner Herzog, an animated moving castle and more.
I cut the cord many years ago. Netflix and my DVD collection do me just fine, thank you very much. Until it doesn’t and I start looking for other means to get the videos I want, morally solid or not. I had an Amazon Prime account before I ever used their streaming services, but after purchasing an Amazon Fire box, I use that aspect of the service regularly. Recently, I’ve also started using a third service, but I like switching those around. I started with Filmstruck, which is run by Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion people, and offers up
It will please the younger set of Disney fans more than your average comic book geek.
In my family, Tangled is one of the better movies to come out of Disney’s classic animation studios in a long while. Released in 2010, it was the studio's 50th animated feature film and as such it nicely combines a bit of the old with the more modern. Like the vast majority of animated films coming out of the House of Mouse, Tangled takes an old fairy tale (in this case Rapunzel from the Brothers Grimm) adds in a few contemporary flourishes (and more than a few songs), gives it a happy ending, and calls it all good. It features
A rougher, dumber, more redneck Ocean's 11 that's better in almost every way.
When Steven Soderbergh declared he was retiring from feature filmmaking in 2013, nobody really took him seriously. Technically, he did take a sabbatical from “feature filmmaking” but he stayed very busy. He produced and directed two seasons of the Cinemax drama The Knick, directed the off-Broadway play The Library, helped Spike Jonze edit Her, he executive produced the Starz series The Girlfriend Experience (which was based on his film of the same name), and executive produced the Amazon series Red Oaks, and began working on the HBO series Mosaic. That’s a lot of work for a guy who was retired.
This week brings a bounty of new releases.
Steve Buscemi is one of those guys. Or should I say he’s one of those “oh, that guy” in that nearly everybody who watches TV and movies knows his face but may not know his name. He’s an actor who when you see him you might smile, nod, and go something like, “Hey, it’s that guy, the one from the thing.” I’ve loved him since the '90s when I watched him in films like Resevoir Dogs, Living in Oblivion, and Fargo. Dude has been in everything. He’s like Samuel L. Jackson, who will take about any role just to keep
It is a testament to the wonder of the film that I caught Howl's Moving Castle on Blu-ray a few weeks ago but was still enthralled to watch it again.
Hayao Miyazaki is one of the greatest animators to have ever held a pencil. His films are magic in celluloid. He makes films that are at once fantastic, bizarre, awe inspiring, and grotesque. His style is both realistic and alien. His characters are often out of proportion and oversized, organic, and fluid. It can be off putting at first. The first film of his I ever saw, Princess Mononoke, was so strange to me initially I couldn’t quite figure out why it was receiving such praise. Its creatures were so unusual I couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening. But once
A nice set of a classic comedian's best films.
I wonder if you approached someone under the age of 25 and asked them about Bob Hope if they’d even know who he was. I’m 41 and I mostly know him as the guy who used to do TV specials for the USO. It's a shame that he seems to be mostly forgotten except by those who grew up with him on television and the movies or for lovers of old cinema and historians of humor. For in truth, he was a pioneer in the field of comedy, a huge movie star in the '40s, a staple of light night
Cool things this week include Thor: Ragnarok, Logan Lucky, a Samurai comic, a couple of good TV shows.
Thursday was Thanksgiving here in the United States. It has always been one of my favorite days of the year. There is a great feast of delicious food, and I get to see family members I don’t get to see all that often. It is a joyous time, yet as I get older it brings on nostalgia and a little bit of sadness. This year was especially melancholy as it was the first year without my Uncle Mike and Aunt Linda, both who succumbed to cancer in the last year. Thanksgiving is also very different now than it was when
A big box of Hitchcock's greatest films (and a few of his lesser ones, too).
Alfred Hitchcock began his movie career in 1919 as a title card designer for silent films. He quickly moved up through the ranks at Paramount Pictures in Islington, England and became a scriptwriter, art director, and assistant director. In 1922, he was given his first job as director but after shooting just a few scenes, the finances were lost and filming was shut down. In 1925, he was given another directing opportunity and this one, The Pleasure Garden actually saw theatrical release. It flopped. As did The Mountain Eagle, made in 1926, a film which is now lost to history
I just called, to say, your film's not that good.
Teddy Pierce (Gene Wilder) has a good life. He’s got a good job in advertising. He lives in a nice suburban house. He’s got a pretty wife and a couple of good kids. His life might be a little on the dull side, but he’s happy. He doesn’t need anything else. Then one day while parking in his office’s underground garage, he spies Charlotte (Kelly LeBrock), a gorgeous model passing by. As she walks over a grate, a gust of wind pushes her skirt over her head. Embarrassed, she quickly jumps off and walks away. But then she turns around,
This week's new releases include a a sci-fi epic from Luc Besson, an animated film from France, a slew of silent films, most of Monty Python, and more.
It's funny how time messes with your mind the older you get. My mind is filled with all of these wonderful little snippets of memories. I can wrap them up in short story form and tell you all about them. But if you were to ask me to place them inside my own timeline precisely, I’d be at a loss. That time from high school to just post college - a time that was so important to me back then - has all become a blur. This is especially true when remembering the movie I saw back then, movies that
A grown woman grows a tail, but what does it all mean?
A lonely, dowdy, middle-aged woman lives in a small seaside village in rural Russia. She has no friends, her coworkers are excessively cruel, and she lives with her religious and superstitious mother. Life for her, in a word, is depressing. Then she grows a tail. A large, long, fleshy rat-like tail. Zoology, the second film from writer director Ivan I. Tverdovsky, is in search of a metaphor. Its fable-like structure and the fact that it's a movie about a woman growing a flipping tail makes us search for allegory, to find some meaning in its story. But the film never
This week's pop culture consumption includes some classic films, some modern films, more Doctor Who, and a video game from my youth.
Last week, I feared I was going to get sick like the rest of my family, which put me to bed earlier than usual and kept me from consuming as much pop culture as I normally do. That sickness never came to pass (keeping fingers crossed, continuously knocking on wood) and this week saw me watching a slew of movies, some great, some not so much. So lets get started. Casablanca I cannot remember the first time I watched Casablanca. It seems to have always existed in my memories. It's not that I watched it at a really early age
Three of Romero's earliest films get a nice boxed set.
Made on a minuscule budget and featuring no-name local Pittsburgh actors George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead became a huge worldwide success, essentially invented the modern zombie craze, influenced countless horror films, and is now in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Not wanting to be pigeonholed as just a horror/zombie director, Romero branched out making a variety of films before returning to the zombie well in 1978 with Dawn of the Dead. Three of those films (There’s Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch, and The Crazies) are included in a new boxed set from
This week brings us a surprising number of horror films plus some cool concert videos, Doctor Who, and some cute cats.
I’ve loved movies for as long as I can remember. My mother tells the story of the first time I went to the cinema. I was maybe five or six years old at the time. I saw in the front row with my brother and cousins, but I kept walking back to where my mom was exclaiming how excited I was and how magical being at the moves felt. I no longer sit in the front row but movies are still magic. I’ve written plenty of times in these pages about how I’m also a big fan of horror films.
Round up the usual suspects and come watch the greatest movie ever made on the big screen.
At lunch when I told a friend of mine that I was going to go see Casablanca on the big screen, I could barely contain my excitement. When I told him it was my favorite movie, he, in all sincerity, asked why. He liked the movie, sure, but it was a long ways from his favorite movie so he wondered why it was mine. Genuinely confused as to how anyone could not love Casablanca as much as I do, the only answer I could come up with was, “because it's awesome”. And it is. But now having watched it again,
I've never watched a movie so long and so dull in which so very little happens.
After the enormous success of Gone With The Wind producer extraordinaire David O. Selznick was looking for another epic melodrama to make. This was 1944. The world was at war and Hollywood loved to make movies about it just as much as audiences loved watching them. But war movies with their big sets and action sequences were expensive. Selznick came upon an idea - everybody was making movies about the boys overseas fighting, why not make a movie about those they left behind? He found a book by Margaret Buell Wilder in which a wife writes a series of letters
I'm enlisting a little help this week, and away we go.
Sickness has been passing through my family. Both my parents got crazy sick a couple of weeks ago. Then my wife got a bad cold earlier this week and now my daughter has been running a fever the last couple of days. I fear I am next. Every little cough or sniffle I get freaks me out. I’m guzzling orange juice and eating zinc tablets like they were candy. It's also put me in bed earlier than normal in the belief that more rest might keep me from getting really sick. This in turn has meant less late-night movie-watching, but
Never trust a movie by its poster, Nightkill is neither sexy nor scary.
Intended to be Jaclyn Smith’s break-out role into movies (this was was right in the middle of Charlie’s Angels mania), Nightkill instead went almost straight to TV (after a very, very limited theatrical run) where it died a quick death. One look at its lurid poster featuring Jaclyn Smith naked in a shower while a sinister-looking shadow comes in behind her or the cast list featuring Robert Mitchum and Mike Connors (fresh in the middle of his popular Mannix role) and you might wonder why its taken so long for it to come to home video. After watching, I have
This week's new releases include animated anthropomorphic autos, a boxed set of DC animated movies, a boxed set inside a plastic head, and more.
I've been obsessed with golems since I first read about them in Michael Chabon's novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I don't remember much about what that story but the idea of a golem, a creature made of clay who comes to life, stuck with me. Golems are a part of Jewish folklore. They are made of any inanimate object but usually it's mud or clay. They are not sculpted well, more like clumped together as made by a child and given life. They can be creatures of good, but in the best stories they turn evil and
It's a good movie, just not Pixar good, which disappoints.
In discussions about the best Pixar movies, Cars always comes up short. It's not that its a bad film, but it simply doesn’t compare to the very best of what Pixar can do. It has none of the heart of the Toy Story films, or the inventive storytelling of Wall-E, nor the thoroughly compelling genius of Inside Out. It's got some great visuals and its a lot of fun to watch. It's a good, solid family entertainment. But when it comes to Pixar good just isn’t enough for some people. I like it more than most but it's definitely second-tier
This week's cool things include replicants, man-eating plants, mind hunters, and more.
My wife and I are not party people. We are much more comfortable sitting at home, watching movies, playing games, or reading. But once a year we throw a great big pumpkin-carving party. We invite all of our friends over. We make big batches of soup and chili. I make a special Halloween playlist. We decorate the house. We go all out. Except for this year. I don’t know if it was the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having all this Autumn or that I’ve been really busy at work or what, but this year I just wasn’t feeling it.
A fun space adventure comic that looks like Star Trek but doesn't exactly stay true to its roots.
I have no doubt that when he created Star Trek: The Original Series Gene Roddenberry was hoping for a smash success. But there is no way he could have known it would have spawned the enormous multimedia empire that continues to this day, some 51 years later. While The Original Series didn’t even manage to finish its “five-year mission,” it did spawn an animated series, five other live-action TV series, six films starring the original cast, four films from The Next Generation, and three films in the rebooted series plus books, comics, magazines, games, and a cultural phenomena. The Original
This week's new releases include more horror films for Halloween, some packaged TV for Christmas, and a flopped Stephen King adaptation.
I’d call myself a casual Stephen King fan. I’ve read maybe half a dozen of his books and seen about as many of his movie adaptations. I’ve always liked him but considering how prolific he is as a writer, I cannot even began to call myself a true believer. Actual fans could argue all day over which of his many books are the best but the general consensus seems to be that his Dark Tower series is up towards the top. To call it an epic is to not understand who Stephen King is as an author. He’s written single
The best movie musical about a flesh-eating plant from outer space hits the big screen again for a limited engagement.
When I was in college, I worked for the university dinner theater. It was a small university and a small dinner theater with a very small storage space. Sometime before my time, they had launched a production of Little Shop of Horrors. They still had the giant foam-rubber man-eating plant from outer space. Because there was no place to store it during normal days, we just kept it in the auditorium, but when we were putting on a show, we had to carry its large, awkward-tohandle, and very heavy bulk through a small door and into one of the classrooms.
This week's cool things include Wonder Woman's creator, a Hitchcock comedy, and even stranger things.
Last week, I noted that I somehow managed to watch quite a few movies even though my in-laws were in town. Well, this week they left and I didn’t watch very many films at all. I spent a little too much time binge-watching a Netflix show to refresh my memory before watching Season Two. I did watch a couple of movies and read a couple of books so let;s get started. Stranger Things If I might be a hipster for a moment, I liked Stranger Things before Stranger Things was cool. Netflix, as is there way, just kind of put
Documenting the Newport Folk Festival at the height of the folk revival, Festival is a feast for music fans.
In the early part of the 20th Century, various folklorists, including John Lomax, wandered about the country documenting the songs of the people - folk music. They sought out cowboys and prisoners, former slaves and sharecroppers, and recorded them. In 1952, Harry Smith compiled his favorite songs from these recordings and created The Anthology of American Folk Music. This album reached the ears of folks like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger who recorded some of those songs and started the Great American Folk Revival which hit its peak in the early 1960s. In 1959, music promoter George Wein, who’d had
A fun read for the whole family.
When I last checked in with Little Orphan Annie (in Volume 10), she was busy fighting the war (World War II that is for those of you who don’t keep up with timelines of little red-haired girls in comic strips). With the war over, Annie spends the bulk of Volume 14 pursuing various business ventures, sparring with little mafia hoodlums, befriending a gypsy, taking on book burners, and having lots of other adventures. Created in 1924 by Harold Gray, Little Orphan Annie ran as a daily newspaper strip until its cancellation in 2010. At its height, it was one of
This week's new blu-ray releases include some really terrible (and terribly awesome) looking horror, the last of the Planet of the Apes trilogy, and more.
I've often wondered why I like bad movies. Not even bad movies, but bad horror movies, which are set apart on the bad-movie scale. Why do I enjoy watching people be torn apart in the most violent, gore-filled way? What makes a bloody decapitation or a close-up on a knife slicing the skin so much fun to watch? I abhor violence in real life but show me a man getting hacked to death on the big or little screen and I'm in my happy place. I don't have a good answer for that. Part of it is an appreciation of
Cool things this week include two remakes, Grateful Deed members covering the Beatles, Italian horror, and more.
My in-laws came in for a visit this week. They are lovely people and I always enjoy their time here, but it definitely changes the way I consume my pop culture. Normally, that means that I wind up watching a lot less movies as we tend to do activities or visit instead of turning on the TV. This week we kept ourselves pretty busy in the afternoons/early evenings but were wore out by the time I put the daughter to bed. Which meant we watched a movie pretty much every late evening. Let’s get to it, shall we? The Breaking
This week brings us a web-crawling superhero, a couple of Criterions, some raunchy ladies, and several nice boxed sets.
Towards the end of Captain America: Civil War, there is a sweeping scene in which Captain America and Black Widow prepare to train War Machine, Vision, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch to be new Avengers. It was a "passing of the torch" moment. Truth is, over the last decade and dozens of films. the old Avengers are getting, well, old. The actors are all getting tired of playing the same characters and I suspect many fans are ready to move on as well. Marvel has constantly been expanding their cinematic universe and it seems they are preparing to allow some of
An oddball mix of crime drama and horror (with heavy doses of slapsstick thrown in) make for an interesting mix.
As I have been watching and reviewing more and more Italian films, I have come to realize that I tend to lump a couple of genres in together. Certainly, I use "giallo" and "Italian horror" interchangeably even though they aren’t always the same thing. "Giallo" literally means “yellow” in Italian and comes from a type of cheap mystery novel published in Italy that came in a yellow cover. Many of those stories were made into cheap Italian films, which started as fairly straight forward crime thrillers but over time became more lurid and graphically violent with increasing horror elements. It's
This week's cool things include Italian horror, Brian De Palma horror, feminist horror, and a Jedi.
Hi, remember me? I’m your local writer who talks about new releases and cool things each week. Except for the last couple of weeks when I’ve been absent. A big thanks to Gordon for filling in. I won’t bore you with the details except to say it's been crazy in my real life with work, a busted computer and, well, memory lapses. Let's just say this Tuesday came and I actually thought I’d written a Pick of the Week until I realized that Baby Driver was out and I hadn’t mentioned it. Then I looked it up and I hadn’t
A loving, informative reading on the films of a Japanese icon.
You first notice the long, straight black hair. Then you see her body: thin, straight, erect. You look past the blade in her hand and gaze into those eyes. Those haunting, cold, beautiful, deadly eyes. This is Meiko Kaji, she’s a fanboy fantasy. A cult Japanese film star beloved by genre fans everywhere and muse to Quentin Tarantino. She starred in nearly 100 films in her long career but she’s best known for her role as the assassin in Lady Snowblood, the murderious Sasori from the Female Convict 701: Scorpion series and a rebel in the Stray Cat Rock films.
Almost nothing happens at a languid pace, but Rutger Hauer's performance is captivating.
An elderly, well-dressed, well-kept man (Anthony Quayle) walks down some steps to the banks of the Seine. There, he meets Andreas (Rutger Hauer), a younger, well-dressed but decidedly less-kept man who has clearly seen better days. The older man tells the younger about how he is wealthy but that upon reading about Saint Thérèse, he has decided to live a life of poverty and charity. He can see that Andreas has fallen on hard times and offers him 200 francs. At first, Andreas refuses, but then is persuaded. He is a man of honor and only takes the money as
Gore meister makes a film with an actual plot and social commentary, results are mixed.
If Mario Bava is the grandfather of Italian horror and Dario Argento artsy-fartsy daddy figure who brought giallo to the mainstream, then Lucio Fulci is the creepy uncle doing strange things in the basement and making all the ladies feel uncomfortable at the dinner table. I’ve only seen a couple of his films but they, and his reputation, declare that as a director he was more interested in bloodletting than story, he loved gore more than any pretense of depth. That might have changed in 1972 with his film Don’t Torture a Duckling. In it, he smooths the edges off
Italian crime series has grown more serious since the last time I checked it out, but it's still entertaining.
Detective Montalbano (Il commissario Montalbano) is an Italian crime drama set in the fictional town of Vigàta, Sicily. It is based upon a series of novels and short stories by Andrea Camilleri. Started in 1999 it has ran for eleven seasons. Each season normally consists of two episodes with a run time close to two hours making them more like individual movies than what you might consider a normal television episode length. Season 11 consists of Episodes 29 (“A Nest of Vipers”) and 30 (“According to Protocol”). It is brought to the United States by MHZ. The series protagonist is
October is here and with it comes a slew of new horror releases.
I love October. The long, sweltering days of summer are gone. The air is crisp and cool. Sweatshirts go back into the closet to be worn once again. The leaves start turning. The smell of burning wood in fireplaces and fire pits fill the air. It is a glorious time. It is the month of Halloween and with it scary movies. As you’ll see from the list of movies coming out this week, October means horror. For a genre fan like me, October is like Christmas. Surprisingly, my Pick of the Week isn’t supposed to be all that scary, violent,
An in-depth look into the Ghost in the Shell franchise.
Ghost in the Shell began life as a manga series that lasted from 1989 to 1997. In 1995, Marmoru Oshii directed the cult film of the same name based on the manga. From there came a video game, a sequel to the movie, a TV series, a movie (and more games) based on the TV series, another different TV series, then games and a move based on that series, and recently an American live action film. And now we have a new book that tries to understand this massive franchise by anime expert Andrew Osmond. It mostly covers the 1995
This week's cool things include Body Double, Cafe Society, Wilco, and more.
My wife had a birthday this week. I don’t want to complain that my wife’s birthday screws up my ability to consume pop culture, but it kind of does. Don’t get me wrong, if given the choice between spending quality time with my family and watching a show or movie, I’ll always choose the family (though if possible I try to enjoy the two things together) but when you are trying to write a weekly article on the pop-culture things you enjoyed this week, it's hard not to wish (just a little bit) that there was less cake and more
This week's new releases bring us a couple of Criterions, a couple of live albums, Texas football, and something scripted by Ed Wood.
David Lynch is one of the most fascinating directors working today. His films aren’t always good but they are always interesting. He creates nightmarish, surreal landscapes in which plot doesn’t always make sense and which leave themselves up for various interpretations. His career has taken all sorts of strange detours and loops. He’s made very personal, very experimental films; he’s worked on broadcast television; adapted popular science fiction novels; and made several things that were initially only released on his website. It's the sort of career that’s ripe for a good documentary. With any luck David Lynch: The Art Life
French crime series is enjoyable but never quite enthralls.
By my count there are at least 825,732.5 crime series currently running on television. In order to distinguish themselves, these shows need a hook, something to make them stand out. About half of them go with a brooding, sarcastic, and downright mean lead character, which doesn’t make them stand out at all. If your main character is going to be obnoxious, then I’ve got two rules. First, he (or she, but inevitably it's a he) needs to be a genius. He needs to be able to solve impossible cases using just his brain power. That gives the show a reason
Cool Things I (re)discovered this week include Swiss Family Robinson, E.T., Hawkeye, Lost at Sea, and Blow-Up.
I don't know about you but I spend inordinate amounts of time searching for something to watch. You will regularly find me standing in front of my movie shelves trying to decide which one I should put in. Or, as is the case more often these days, you’ll find me scrolling through Netflix or Amazon Prime trying to make that same decision. The perpetual question I must ask myself is whether I want to watch something new or that I have previously viewed. There is comfort in watching something again. Knowing what happens enables you to either catch things you
This week's new releases include a couple of DC superheroes, a really old Marvel one, plus Ken Burns in Vietnam, and more.
I like to think I was something of a feminist before I had a daughter. Certainly, I was for equal rights, equal opportunity, and equal pay before she was born, but now it's like all of that is in sharp relief. It's shocking to watch films and shows with my daughter and see how often women are either objectified on screen or have nothing more to do than be the love interest. Together, we’ve become huge fans of superhero movies but it's always been disappointing that the female characters in those movies are constantly relegated to the sidelines. Many others
See it again on the big screen, bring your family.
In the encyclopedia of 1980s movies, Steven Spielberg gets his own volume. No other filmmaker so fully exhibits what cinema was doing in that decade than Spielberg. He directed some of the most entertaining and popular films of the decade including E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the Indiana Jones movies. As a producer he was, perhaps, more influential, putting his distinctive aesthetic on such films as Gremlins, Goonies, Poltergeist, Back to the Future and more. Films he had his hands on are quite simply the movies of the 1980s. He helped create and shape blockbuster cinema. HIs films would influence countless
Cool things I discovered this week include a new season of Top of the Lake, an old Doctor Who, and a red band Guillermo del Toro trailer.
I watched one movie every day in the month of August. This is quite unusual for me as I usually average about 15 movies a month. I’m back in my normal track this month as there is just too much good TV out there to only watch movies. So much TV that I made a pact with myself awhile back that I would not watch any new shows until I’d caught up with all the ones I’m currently watching. As you’ll see I’ve already broken that pact. Top of the Lake: China Girl Top of the Lake was originally intended
Mike Figgis' directorial debut is an effective stylish néo-noir (as long as you don't watch Body Heat right after).
Stop me if this sounds familiar. A regular, working-class schlub takes a job working for a guy with connections to gangsters. He meets a girl who works as an escort for a guy with connections to gangsters. They fall in love and hatch a plan to get from under the thumbs of guys with gangster connections. Mike Figgis debut film, Stormy Monday, owes a lot of debt to the countless noirs that came before it. But like the Godfather of Noir, Raymond Chandler, once said, “it aint the story you tell, but how you tell it.” Figgis tells his tale
This week's new releases include a superhero in his underpants, a bunch of classic Universal monsters, a not-so classic updating of the Mummy, and more.
One of the best, and most difficult things to do as a movie lover is to come to a movie clean, with no preconceived notions. To be able to watch a movie knowing nothing coming in is kind of marvelous. It is also a very rare occurrence. There is simply too much promotion for movies (at least the kind of movies that get shown around here) to go completely unnoticed. I subscribe to way too many entertainment sites and podcasts for me to not know anything going into a movie. Or I should say in order for me to watch
You haven't lived until you've seen Kirk scream "Khaaaaaan!" on the big screen.
Star Trek: The Original Series ran on television from 1966 to 1969. It was cancelled after its third season due to dismal ratings. Surprisingly after a few years in syndication, the show became a cult hit and then a cultural phenomenon. So much so that by 1979 Paramount Pictures was willing to spend $46 million on a movie based on the series. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a hit taking in $139 million, but because the high cost of making and promoting it, plus the expectations it would be a Star Wars-like blockbuster Paramount considered it a failure. It
Cool things this week include two neo-noirs, a classic Doctor Who, Close Encounters, and a Handmaid's Tale.
Just jumping right in... Close Encounters of the Third Time There is a scene relatively early in Close Encounters where an alien ship has landed outside a farmhouse in rural Indiana. The mother, panicked, is rushing about the house closing all the windows and locking the doors. Her son, just a toddler, opens the front door. We see nothing outside the door, just dazzling bright lights and then it cuts to a shot of the boy's face bathed in light, full of wonder. In a sense, that one moment exemplifies the entire film, maybe even Steven Spielberg’s entire career. His
Season Three had some growing pains and is overloaded with characters but is still the shining star on The CW.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. The Flash is by far my favorite of the CW superhero shows. I’m not alone in this as it routinely beats all the other super shows in ratings. For good reason too, it's action packed, has a great cast of characters, it generally nails its tone of lighthearted action adventure with a dash of romance, and is a joy to watch. Grant Gustin brings an innocence to Barry Allen/the Flash, along with
Collecting the entire franchise together for the first time in one cheaply made box.
Take a moment and conjure up some images of horror-movie icons. Likely you’re picturing Jason’s hockey mask, or Freddy Kreuger’s knife fingers. If you are a little older, you might envision Frankenstein’s Monster or Count Dracula. Younger, and you’re imagining the Scream mask or that creepy little puppet from the Saw movies. Think a little harder and eventually you’ll remember a shiny metal ball drilling into someone’s skull. Phantasm’s little ball of death might not be as iconic as some of the above monster’s but it's pretty close. Call it second-tier horror iconography. Made in 1979, Phantasm never drew the
This week's new releases include a new season of The Flash, an old Hitchock plus Scarlet Johansson getting raunchy, and Pablo Escobar being bad.
The more films I watch by Alfred Hitchock the more I’m convinced of his genius. He might have called himself the Master of Suspense but really he was the true master of pure cinema. He used all the tools of his trade - lighting, music, editing, etc. to tell his stories as only can be told in the movies. Francis of Assisi is supposed to have once said “Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words.” I don’t know how Hitch felt about Jesus but he made great movies and only used dialogue when necessary. I first watched Rebecca at a
Five cool things this week include seeing Castle in the Sky on the big screen, the entire Phantasm series on the little screen plus Arrow Video's release of Re-Animator, and the comics Paper Girls and The Boys.
As a semi-professional movie reviewer (meaning I get some free perks, but not an actual pay check), I try to find a balance between the things I agree to write about and the things I simply want to enjoy. Sometimes, those things are one and the same. Other times, I find myself carefully watching some god-awful thing pencil in hand, taking notes because, well, that’s what semi-professionals do. This week provided me with a little of both. Castle in the Sky One of those perks is getting press passes to various Fathom Events. Recently they’ve been showing Studio Ghibli films
Arrow Video's remastered version of this cult classic is loaded with extras, making it a must-have for fans.
Anxious people pound on a door at the Institute of Medicine in Switzerland shouting for Dr. Gruber. When they hear manic screaming on the other side, two armed guards break the door down. They find Gruber lying on the floor, head bloated and discolored as Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) desperately holds on to him, shouting that he cannot leave but must make notes about his experiment. When accused of killing Gruber, West counters with “I gave him life.” Much later a re-animated, decapitated corpse holds its own head between the legs of a tied-down, completely naked, and very much alive
This week brings us two series from DC, plus pirates, rippers, and spies with flowered underwear.
It is easy to think that Marvel beats DC when it comes to the whole cinematic universe thing. Certainly, they have created a more cohesive landscape for which to play. Their theatrical releases pretty seamlessly come together to form one larger mosaic. The Netflix series do the same and while they don’t really interact with the movies, they’ve done a nice job of keeping them in the same universe. DC however is a bit of a mess in this regard. The movies have done a decent job of blending together the various characters (we’ll see how well they really put
The first Studio Ghibli film is a delight for all ages.
Made in 1986, Castle in the Sky was the first Hayao Miyazaki film released under the Studo Ghibli label. It contains his signature style and themes including man’s relationship to technology and nature, and the bond of childhood. Fathom Events in conjunction with GKids presented the film in theaters across the nation on August 27 and is replaying it on August 28 & 30. Unlike a lot of his later films, Castle in the Sky starts off with a big action sequence. Muska (Mark Hamill), a government agent, has abducted Sheeta (Anna Paquin) in order to steal a magic crystal.
Cool things this week include new trailers for Suburbicon and The Punisher, plus Hopscotch, Married to the Mob, and The Love of a Woman.
Another week, another five cool things. The eclipse dominated the headlines this week. I didn't have any special glasses but my wife made one of those homemade viewers out of a cereal box. Then my neighbor let me borrow his welding shield. Not sure if that's an approved way of viewing or not. I guess you'll find out next week if I call out sick due to blindness. Until then here's five cool things I consumed this week. Hopscotch I had never heard of this spy caper until last week when I caught sight of it in my Pick of
A simple story told really well.
Marie Prieur (Micheline Presle) is young, pretty, and ambitious. After many years of hard work in school, she secures a position as the doctor of a small island village of the coast of France. She befriends Germaine Leblanc (Gaby Morlay), the local school teacher, but struggles connect to anyone else. At first, most of the other villages bristle against a new doctor who is so young and a woman, but they slowly warm to her kindness, knowledge, and skill. Eventually she meets André (Massimo Girotti), a handsome construction foreman, temporarily on the island building a fog horn. It takes him
Obscure '80s horror has more in common with European films than your typical slasher flick, but never quite manages to terrify.
Two overworked and over-stressed couples take off for a weekend retreat on a secluded island for a little rest, relaxation, and maybe a little fishing too. There’s Kay (Sarah Kendall), a surrealist artist who has been having nightmares about a sadistic killer, and her husband David, a doctor who tries to be supportive but is growing increasingly tired of her hysterical paranoia. Her brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) was the one who thought a vacation might do Kay some good. He brought along Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook), who can’t seem to do anything but complain. At first, nobody takes Kay’s delirium’s seriously,
A very full week brings us superhero galore, zombies, Deadites, punks, and much more.
Almost a year ago to the day, I made Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season my Pick of the Week. I noted then my great fondness for the Evil Dead movies and my great excitement over the new series. I also noted that by the time the Blu-ray was hitting the store shelves I’d not yet seen the entire series. Well, Season 2 has now hit the shelves and while I’ve watched a few more episodes of Season 1, I’ve still not made it all the way through. I like the show, I really do. It is a
No matter what they paid "Screaming" Mad George for the practical horror effects, they got their money's worth.
A quick look at our recent history will show plenty of animosity towards the wealthy, the upper classes, and high society. From the Occupy Wall Street movement to Bernie Sanders-style socialism, thousands of people are lining up to protest with cries of “Eat the Rich!” But what if the rich weren't just greedy bastards taking from the poor to make themselves unfathomably more wealthy? What if they truly were evil. What if the rich ate us? Director Brian Yuzna’s 1989 film Society has something to say about that. Young, pretty Bill (Billy Warlock) comes from a wealthy, elite family but
This week's cool things include Star Wars, the 50th anniversary of a classic, a Norwegian crime novel, and more.
After a long day of work, I typically want to do nothing but lay on the couch, watch a movie, and relax. Last week with the wife and child away, that’s pretty much what I did. It was kind of awesome. And yet there is a realization that this is not the healthiest way to live. It is certainly not the best way to raise a child. With the family back this week and with school starting up again, the wife and I created little nightly schedule that attempts to limit the amount of television in our lives. We have
Similar to The Wire, but with terrorists.
The Bureau is a French geopolitical thriller from Canal+ brought to the U.S. by the SundanceTV. It concerns the inner workings of the DGSE (which is France’s equivalent to the CIA). It is a densely plotted show that weaves multiple storylines together with over a dozen regular characters. It is probably easiest to compare it to Homeland, but I’d argue it shares more DNA with The Wire. Like Homeland, it deals with escalating terror threats from the Middle East but where Homeland tended to jump the rails (and eventually the shark) in its never-ceasing need to raise the stakes (and
This week's new Blu-ray releases include the new Alien film, an update on old Archie, a couple of Criterions, and more.
In 1979, Ridley Scott directed Alien a near perfect blend of science fiction and horror and one of the greatest films ever made. Seven years later, James Cameron’s sequel Aliens amped up the action and defined that genre. Two more sequels found diminishing returns. The lesser said about the Alien vs Predator franchise the better. In 2012, Scott returned to the series with Prometheus a sort-of prequel. While I enjoyed it more than most, it is still a very flawed film. I can’t say that Alien: Covenant was a return to form, because it's riddled with problems, but definitely goes
Don't miss your chance to see this classic film on its 50th anniversary on the big screen.
As the 1960s began to close so did the Hollywood studio system. The days when studio heads like Jack Warner could make or break its stars and dictate how they behaved and what movies they made were coming to an end. So too was the Hayes Code with its old-fashioned moral rules about sex and violence dying out. Warren Beatty, who was already a star in 1967, foresaw the dying of the old studio system, produced and starred in Bonnie and Clyde which helped usher in New Hollywood with its new European style and an excess of on-screen sex and
This week's five cool things include an atomic Charlize Theron, Christopher Nolan's war film, a haunted house, and more.
My wife took my daughter to Kentucky to visit her family this week. As anyone who has been in a long-term relationship can tell you, sometimes it's nice to be left alone. I love my family dearly and now that I’m at the tail end of their absence, I miss them madly, but it's been kind of cool to relive my bachelor years. For me, this has mostly meant watching lots of movies and TV shows. In the nine days they’ve been gone, I’ve watched 11 movies and caught up on about half a dozen shows. Here's five of them.
A pretty light week brings us an Ernest Hemingway adaptation, an Arthurian legend from Guy Ritchie, and more.
Ernest Hemingway is one of my all-time favorite writers. He had a way of cutting out all the flab from his stories, getting right down to the bone. Yet for all his spare masculinity, there is a tenderness to his stories, an emotional quality that you rarely find anywhere else. That style also lends itself well to the movies. Unlike a lot of writers, Hemingway never spent a lot of time with his characters inward thoughts, his stories are full of action verbs, of people doing things. It's easy to see why nearly all of his novels and short stories
After a nice vacation, I'm back with five cool things.
A big thanks to Gordon for handling some of my duties while I was gone. The family and I took a vacation in Glacier National Park. It is an astoundingly beautiful place and I highly recommend it to anyone who is able to go. It is also a really long ways from my Oklahoma home. It is roughly 1,700 miles one way from my house. That’s about 25 hours of drive time, not counting pit stops for gas, lunch and the occasional - my ass is hurting so bad I just have to get out and stand up for awhile.
Japanese horror doesn't so much scare, but fills you with unnamed dread.
Horror in the 1980s was all about the slasher - mindless monsters mutilating teenagers in desolate places. With Scream, released in 1996, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson stabbed the slasher in its cold, dead heart. Scream (and its numerous sequels and countless inspired-bys) satirized slasher films with a self-aware sarcastic mocking. Around this same time, Americans first began discovering (and then remaking) Asian horror in general and Japanese horror in specific. These films neither relied on blood-filled violence (though certainly Japan has its fair share of gore maestros - the films of Takashi Miike come immediately to mind)
This week's new releases include some fun looking SteelBooks plus a Tom Hanks thriller, a couple of interesting documentaries and more.
I bought a house a year ago. It is the first house I ever purchased. I’ve always been a renter. Never really stayed in one rental for very long either. In the twenty years since my first apartment, the longest I’ve ever stayed in one abode is about two years. The thing about regularly moving to a new place is that you are constantly rearranging your furniture. What fits well in one rental house may not fit at all in an apartment. There is constant flux - expanding and contracting - from place to place. But now that I own
This week brings us another King Kong story, a couple of interesting looking TV shows, a weird-looking Tarkovsky film, and more.
What is it about a giant ape wreaking havoc that enthralls us so? Since his inception in 1933, King Kong has become one of the most iconic movie monsters of all time. That original film was a huge success and remains a paragon of early special-effects movies. It was rebooted by Dino De Laurentis in 1976 and again by Peter Jackson in 2005 and now he’s come to the big screen again with Kong: Skull Island. It gets props for at least not telling the exact same story as the original did, though its not exactly a fount of originality.
This week's cool things include Search Party, Castlevania, Stranger Things, and more.
As I’m desperately searching for cool things to write about each week, I’ve come to realize that while I’m discovering a lot of new TV shows I’m rarely completing them. Scroll through the archives and you’ll find me talking about starting a new show or a new season of an old show, but ask me if I made it through the season and likely I’ll be answering in the negative. Once I’ve written about something, I have to move on and find something else. This article would be boring if I just wrote about one show every week. Maybe someday
A very full week includes releases of a cool looking jungle movie, a Doctor Who spin-off, a Prime Suspect prequel, plus films from Arrow, Criterion and much more.
I’ve always loved jungle-adventure movies. There’s just something really exciting and mysterious about the jungle. It's exotic and foreign, beautiful and terrifying. It's teeming with life and can kill you in a heartbeat. There remain to this day parts of jungles that have never been fully explored. Think about that - we've had people on the moon and sent ships to the outer edges of the solar system, but never documented parts of our own planet. Setting a film inside that madness is thrilling. The best part of Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in a jungle. King Kong
Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, a creepy Giger alien design, and Natasha Henstridge's breasts fail to make this sci-fi horror flick interesting.
Species hit theaters the summer after my freshman year at college. It was the only summer I came home for the entire break. It looked like a fun little sci-fi flick, so one random Sunday I decided to catch it at a matinee. My 16-year-old sister begged to come, so I let her and her friend Andrea tag along. I remember very little about the film except it was terrible and I felt very awkward sitting next to two teenaged girls while staring at Natasha Henstridge’s naked breasts. Shout! Factory is putting out a nice looking Blu-ray of the film
Cool things I consumed this week include the Cornetto Trilogy, Baby Driver, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver came out last week. I made plans with my cousin to see it on Tuesday afternoon. So of course I spent all day Monday watching the Cornetto Trilogy. What else is a guy supposed to do on a long weekend? I didn’t actually plan it that way, but after finishing up a little work Monday morning, I thought it would be fun to throw on Shaun of the Dead as a way to hype myself up for Baby Driver. When I finished it, the wife was happily sewing something and the daughter was busy upstairs playing
This week's new releases include Terrence Malick's latest, an obscure Japanese trilogy, a WWII drama, and more.
It is a grand July 4th weekend and everybody is out cooking burgers, drinking beer, soaking up radiation at the beach, and watching overly priced explosives light up the night. We might be going to the movies but nobody is interested in buying them to sit at home in our darkened living rooms. Or at least that’s the theory anyway. Not mine, mind you, as I’ve already watched a few DVDs this weekend and hope to watch a couple more before going back to work on Wednesday, but those who officially release Blu-rays to the chosen stores seem to think
Cool things this week include a Jumanji sequel, classic Doctor Who, a Death Note movie and more.
Another week, another five cool things. GLOW I spoke a couple of weeks back about the trailer to the new Netflix series GLOW and now it's finally dropped. I’ve only made it one episode in, but so far I’m digging it. They definitely get the look and feel of the early '80s just exactly perfect. Marc Maron is great as the down-on-his-luck producer trying to throw some misfit ladies together and make them wrestle for ratings. I’m not quite as sold on Alison Brie’s performance yet, but I’m rooting for her. It's not quite figured out its tone just yet.
New releases this week include a Trainspotting sequel, Alfred Hitchock's second film, some Power Rangers, and more.
The mid-'90s were a great time to be a burgeoning cinephile. Independent films were becoming mainstream, which meant you could catch really interesting, off-beat, non-studio films at the mall. Guys like Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino were blowing up cinemas with films not like anything this young college student had ever seen before. Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting was a great shot of adrenaline (er, heroin?) right to the center of this movie lover’s heart. It was so stylish and entertaining. It used music to huge effect. And despite the dead, crawling babies and the diving into the worst toilet
My Neighbor Totoro kicks off Studio Ghibli Fest and it's as delightful as I remember.
There are no villains in My Neighbor Totoro. No violence either. There are monsters of a kind, but when Mei the precocious four-year-old meets the largest and scariest looking one, King Totoro, she laughs then bounces on his belly and takes a nap. The adults are all generous and good. The father is neither a bumbling fool, nor hateful and sarcastic like so many fathers in feature films these days, but rather thoughtful and kind. When his children tell him they saw strange little black things crawling around his house or a giant owl-like magical creature in the forest, he
More than just marching band.
Drum Corps International (or DCI as they are commonly called) was formed in 1972 as the non-profit governing body for drum and bugle corps in the U.S. and Canada (DCI is international much like how Major League Baseball's championship is the World Series though it only ever includes a tiny percentage of the planet). Every summer DCI hosts competitions throughout the United States, which concludes in August with the week-long DCI World Championship. For many years now the start of the season has begun in Indianapolis. Fathom Events hosted a live viewing of this competition last night in movie theaters
Cool things I discovered this week include La La Land, Catwoman comics, and a new Game of Thrones trailer.
I work from home which has all kinds of advantages. One being that I don't have a boss with prying eyes constantly checking out what I've got pulled up on my screen. Nerd that I am what I've got pulled up on one of my screens is usually a comic book. Whenever I need a short break I pull one up and read a few pages. Day after day, week after week I've been able to read quite a few comics. Got two read this week which is nice because the movie watching took a bit of a hit. But
This week brings us a whole bunch of horror, a poignant love trilogy and a lawnmower man.
Memory is a funny thing. I can remember very clearly the first time I watched Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. I remember the apartment we were living in, which dates the viewing to around 2006-2007. I remember that small living room. I remember watching it on the floor. I remember my wife sitting on the couch doing something else - probably grading papers or studying for an exam so she wasn’t paying close attention to the movie. It was the weekend, either Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. I remember all that but hardly anything about the movie
This Arrow Video set is the Blu-ray with excellent packaging.
While walking down the street late one night, Sam (Tony Musante), an American freelance writer living in Rome, spies a man and a woman struggling inside a modern art gallery. The woman is stabbed and the man, dressed in a black trench coat, black hat, and black leather gloves slips out the back. Sam rushes in to help her but is trapped between two automated sliding doors and is thus forced to watch helplessly as the woman, bloody and dying, screams for help. A passerby calls the police and they are able to resuscitate the woman before she dies. Sam