December 28, 2017


Starring Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Dermot Mulroney, Beau Bridges, Raleigh & Austin (as the dog). Directed by Hany Abu-Assad. (2017, 112 min).

Since my wife has declared Idris Elba to be one her next potential husbands, I thought she might want to sit-in on this one. She declined, however, saying it sounded depressing. For the most part, Francie prefers lighter fare...comedies, romance, action, sci-fi or various combinations of those genres. Dark, gritty intensity isn't really her thing.

After watching The Mountain Between Us, I concluded that Francie should've taken me up on the invite because this was more up her alley than mine.

Elba and Winslet play Ben and Alex, two strangers who have urgent destinations but inclement weather strands them in Boise. Desperate, they charter a small plane, which crashes in the snowy mountains after the pilot (Beau Bridges) suffers a stroke. Along with the pilot's dog, they are forced to make their own way through the mountains to try and save themselves. There's danger along the way, of course - not made any easier by Winslet's leg injury - but aside from a creatively vivid plane crash, none of it is particularly gripping or intense, nor do we often fear for these characters' lives (though I was occasionally worried they were gonna end up eating the dog).

"Care to join the Mile High Club?"
But it turns out that The Mountain Between Us is more about the developing relationship between the two leads than their perilous predicament. The so-called "mountain" of the title is the personal barrier Ben has put up, which Alex seems determined to climb over. Without going into "spoiley" specifics, when they aren't wading through hip-deep snow or eating mountain lions, Ben and Alex discover they need each other for more than mere survival. So yeah, the movie turns into a love story. While that isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, it does render the second half a little less interesting for those of us expecting an angry bear or inconvenient avalanche to liven things up. Still, it's a decent enough story boosted by considerable star power, one damn charming dog and some beautiful locations.

Sometimes dogs hate walkies.
While it ain't exactly The Revenant - or even The Grey - The Mountain Between Us is certainly watchable and entertaining enough if one knows what they're in for. Not-so-much a survival tale as it is a love story under dire circumstances, fans of the two actors (Elba in particular) should enjoy it. Looks like Francie missed out.

FEATURETTES: "Love and Survival: Creating Chemistry"; "Mountain Between Them: Shooting in Isolation"; "The Wilds: Survival Stunts"
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Hany Abu-Assad

December 27, 2017


Starring Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan, Hannah Simone, Peter Kelamis, Aaron Yoo, Paul Brittain, Amir Talai, Ryan Gaul, Allison Tolman, Cobie Smulders, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Directed by Taran Killam. (2017, 93 min).

Don't be fooled by the cover. This is not another Arnold Schwarzenegger action-fest. In fact, he doesn't even appear onscreen until the final 15 minutes.

Nor is it even an action movie. Instead, Killing Gunther is a mockumentary written, directed-by and starring Saturday Night Live alum Taran Killam. Aiming for a vibe similar to a Christopher Guest film, Killam plays Blake, a cocky killer-for-hire who targets the  top-dog in the assassination business, Gunther (Schwarzenegger), for bragging rights. He recruits a goofy assortment of colleagues and hires a film crew to document everything for posterity. Unfortunately for them, Gunther is much better at his job than even they assumed.

"I'm not unloading the are."
Some of this is funny and most of the characters are amusing (if a bit over the top). Blake himself is probably the most well-rounded character with an interesting backstory (his wife, also a former assassin, left him for Gunther). However, a little of this goes a long way. Unlike Christopher Guest's best films, which manage to sustain their premises for the entire running time, Killing Gunther eventually feels like one of those Saturday Night Live sketches that doesn't know when to quit. What starts off as humorous - occasionally laugh-out-loud funny - eventually grows repetitive and tiresome until Arnold finally shows up to give the film a much-needed shot in the arm.

While it might have been more effective as a short, Killing Gunther is sporadically funny enough to make it worth sitting through and has a chuckleworthy twist ending. However, I do think it was a mistake to market the thing as a Schwarzenegger vehicle. Even though I totally understand why, wouldn't it have been great if he were given no billing at all, completely catching viewers off guard? Just sayin'.


December 26, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (4K Ultra/Blu-Ray)

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Joe Morton, Earl Boen, Jenette Goldstein, Xander Berkeley. Directed by James Cameron. (1991, 137/152 min).

Can you believe Terminator 2: Judgment Day is over a quarter-century old? It seems like just yesterday that I saw this on opening weekend and was blown away by sights no one had ever seen before (though even back then, the revelation that Arnold's character turned out to be the hero was the worst-kept secret in Hollywood).

Those too young to remember might not appreciate what a game changer T2 was at the time. Along with Die Hard, it redefined the modern action film and it was suddenly okay for a studio to spend over $100 million on a single film. It's visual effects were as groundbreaking as those in Star Wars and Jurassic Park. Director James Cameron was able to write his own ticket. As for Arnold Schwarzenegger...while he'd have a few more hits afterwards, this was the pinnacle of his reign as the world's most beloved action hero.

T2 was the movie event of 1991, as unstoppable as its titular character. Everything about it was so damn big, loud and flashy that we totally overlooked its shortcomings (a trademark of most of Cameron's films, really) and declared it the greatest sequel ever made, even surpassing the original Terminator.

What does this button do?
A lot has changed since then. Its cutting-edge visuals and explosive action may seem old-hat compared to the city-wide destruction inflicted by Marvel every year. On the franchise front, recent Terminator sequels have been greeted like unwelcome in-laws. Cameron went exclusively into the Avatar business and the once-indestructible Arnold had the gall to grow old. Since the smoke has died down and cooler heads prevailed, the original film has regained its rightful place as the best film in the entire franchise.

Still, T2 remains one of the best sequels ever made and remains as deservedly iconic as the first film. That'll never change. Cameron may not be the most original or imaginative storyteller to ever sit in a director's chair, but even his most grandiose visions remain well-grounded by impeccable narrative skill and good characters. T2 could've forgone such trifles - the stuff Michael Bay seldom bothers with -  and still made a ton of money. But then, we wouldn't still be talking about it today.

Another thing that'll never change is its availability on home video, having repeatedly been repackaged & rereleased countless times over the years. It was one of the first films ever made available on DVD, as well as one of the earliest Blu-Ray releases. So I'm actually kind-of surprised it's taken this long to be given the 4K Ultra treatment.

"Alright, boys...let's tap this keg."
I'm still not quite convinced 4K is a preferable format - I personally think it makes this particular film look worse. Still, even those who already own T2 but aren't quite ready to make the leap may want to consider double-dipping for this one. While the 4K disc features just the original theatrical cut, the accompanying Blu-Ray has all three existing versions of the film (the original cut is the remastered version for a recent 3D theatrical release, though not presented in 3D here). Best of all is an all-new retrospective documentary, "T2: Reprogramming The Terminator." Running nearly an hour, most of the key people on both sides of the camera fondly recall all aspects of the film's production & impact, including Schwarzenegger, Cameron, Edward Furlong, Joe Morton, Robert Patrick, co-writer William Wisher, composer Brad Fiedel, Carolco founder Mario Kassar and others.

Supposedly, there's yet another version of T2 4K on the horizon that comes with a life-sized Terminator "Endo-arm." As of this writing, no release date has been set for that one. Until then, this might be the definitive edition, which also includes a lot of vintage bonus material from previous releases along with the new stuff.

FEATURETTE: "The Making of T2" - Vintage documentary from 1993.
2 DELETED SCENES (both with optional commentary).
4 TRAILERS (including one for the 2017 3D re-release).
AUDIO COMMENTARIES: One with director/co-writer James Cameron & co-writer William Wisher, the other featuring 23 members of the cast & crew.
3 VERSIONS OF THE FILM (Theatrical, Special Edition & Extended Special Edition)

December 25, 2017


We reviewed a slew of Blu-Rays, DVDs, books and CDs in 2017. Time to take a look back at the best & worst of them. While we have seen more movies than the Surgeon General recommends, our lists consist strictly of titles which were sent to us for review purposes.

Kitty kudos to the various studios, PR groups and distributors who've provided Free Kittens Movie Guide with the opportunity to feature their products and share our fickle opinions, including: Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Olive Films, Warner Archive, Well Go USA, Lionsgate, VCI Entertainment, Arrow Films, MPI, MVD Entertainment, Eagle Vision, Oscilloscope Labs, Vision Films, Flicker Alley, HBO, MPRM, Click Communications, Thinkjam, AGFA, Rowan & Littlefield, Schiffer Publishing, Cleopatra Entertainment, Level 33 Entertainment.

PURR-R-R...THE BEST: We reviewed some good stuff this year, but the following titles were better than being turned loose in a bird sanctuary:

10. DEATH RACE 2050 - Cheap, sleazy, violent, ridiculous, irredeemable...and a hell of a lot of fun. Just like Roger Corman's original cult classic.
9. THE RED TURTLE - Its simple-yet-engrossing story, coupled with beautiful hand-drawn animation, make the film a terrific change of pace from the usual stuff passing itself off as family fare.
8. DETROIT - Kathryn Bigelow's best film to date. Hard to believe this is the same director once responsible for Point Break. Compelling, disturbing and ultimately tragic, you'll be mad as hell by the time the end credits roll, but you're not likely to forget what you just saw.
7. HIRED GUN - A fascinating - and long overdue - documentary about music we've all heard from the perspective of those we haven't...a dozen or so professional musicians paid to make other people sound good.
6. HANS ZIMMER: LIVE IN PRAGUE - To this writer's humble ears, Hans Zimmer is currently our greatest living film composer. As it turns out, Mr. Zimmer can also be quite the showman...maybe even a bit of a rock star. This stunning concert film features some of the best-known music of his career.
5. LOGAN - We here at Free Kittens were never the biggest superhero movie fans in the world and are frankly tired of the genre as a whole. But Logan is a different animal, stripped of gratuitous spectacle and focusing on only three key characters while embracing the look & tone of a dark western.
4. A GHOST STORY - A unique film which ultimately plays like one of those wonderfully sad songs that manages to get stuck in your head. While narratively demanding, it's actually an emotionally simple story filled with haunting imagery that will stay with the viewer long after it's over.
3. RONIN - The best action film of the 90s. This re-issue from Arrow Films throws in a few new-to-Blu-Ray extras in addition to the supplemental material that was included on the original DVD. However, the terrific 4K restoration is what makes this disc the best re-release of the year.
2. KEDI - A congenial, beautifully-shot documentary about free-roaming cats and their unusual relationship with various people and communities throughout the city of Istanbul. This film is a must-own for cat lovers everywhere.
1. MOONLIGHT - The 2016 Oscar winner for Best Picture is also the best Blu-Ray release of the year. A poignant, quietly-stunning masterpiece..

Honorable Mention: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Lost World (1925), The Hidden, The Sea Wolf, 20th Century Fox: A Century of Entertainment (Book), Fargo - Year 3, Superman (1978) 2-Film Collection, Silence, Tunnel, Blackhearts, Elle, Moana.

HISS...THE WORST: As much as we love movies, there are times when reviewing some them feels like a real job. The following titles deserve to be buried in the litter box:

10. THE DINNER - A good cast is wasted in this joyless, frustrating endurance test padded with needless ambiguity, arty pretensions, boring flashbacks and ham-fisted metaphors.
9. ALL EYEZ ON ME - An artist as culturally influential and polarizing as Tupac Shakur is certainly worthy of an equally compelling biography. But if you're expecting anything nearly as riveting as Straight Outta Compton, forget about it. Aside from a convincing performance by Demetrius Shipp Jr, this is a massive disappointment. 
8. BRITNEY EVER AFTER - An inane, brain-dead "biopic" in which all the research of its subject must have come from the National Enquirer.
7. KILL 'EM ALL - Unfortunately, not a Metallica bio. Instead, a severely haggard-looking Jean-Claude Van Damme punches and kicks his way through another batch of idiotic henchmen. Typical direct-to-video sewage with a pointless and dumb twist ending that suggests somebody has seen The Usual Suspects too many times.
6. THE ASSIGNMENT - What the hell, Walter Hill? You used to be so adept at combining crackling action with interesting characters, but even your last debacle, Bullet to the Head, was more trashy fun than this piece of low-wattage sleaze. I don't know...maybe your best years are truly behind you.
5. THE SHACK - Preachy, condescending, heavy-handed slop served up with a heaping side dish of fatalism. Its message of forgiveness - even for a guy who murdered your daughter and got away with it - is almost offensively simplistic. Even's long, boring and features no characters we really care about.
4. WE ARE THE FLESH - Grimy horror porn masquerading as an art film. The whole thing is really pretentious, even tedious, including all the bizarre, perverse imagery directer Emiliano Rocha Minter rubs our noses in. Perhaps someone should inform him that simply being uninhibited doesn't necessarily make you bold
3. THE KLANSMAN - If it weren't so narratively and technically inept, one could be really insulted by the film's attempt to wrap racially-charged, exploitative sleaze in a shroud of social awareness and self-importance. It's just a notch or two above a grindhouse film, only with a respected director and two legendary actors committed to tarnishing their legacies.
2. GUN SHY - Gun Shy is missing two key components of any great action-comedy: the action and the comedy. Even at 92 minutes, the film feels like it goes on forever. Gun Shy also has more end/post-credit scenes than a Marvel movie, none of which serve any purpose...except to repeat the dick-attacking snake gag again (it isn't any funnier the second time).
1. MASTERMINDS - What makes Masterminds the worst of the year is the enormous waste of talent on both sides of the camera, not to mention a squandered opportunity by turning a rather remarkable true story into a juvenile, lowbrow comedy loaded with cartoon caricatures and shit gags. Even that could be forgiven if any of it was remotely funny.

Dishonorable Mention: Transformers: The Last Knight, Black Butterfly, Stronger, Resident Evil: Vendetta, The Savage Innocents, Bad Santa 2, Life on the Line, Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies, Blood Money, Lewis Black: Black to the Future.

December 21, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: ONE MILLION B.C.

Starring Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Lon Chaney Jr., Conrad Nagal. Directed by Hal Roach & Hal Roach Jr. (1940, 80 min).

While science tends to ruin some movies over time, others are put together well enough that facts don't get in the way of the fun, no matter how much time passes.

Our human ancestors showed up long after the dinosaurs were gone, and when they did, chances are none were as photogenic (with perfect hair) as Victor Mature and Carole Landis. But One Million B.C. was never intended as a history lesson, so such a minor detail is moot. It's all about drama, action, monsters and special effects, the latter of which won an Oscar in 1940.

Mature grunts his way through the slight story of Tumak, a dreamy caveman ostracized from his own primitive tribe by their leader, Akhoba (Lon Chaney Jr.). He later ends up meeting equally-dreamy Loana (Landis) from a more intelligent, peace-loving group. Tumak takes her back to his old tribe and becomes their new leader, while she is a positive influence on their aggressive ways.

Eat your heart out, Rachel Welch.
There's peril along the way...fights for dominance, rampaging beasties and, of course, a volcanic eruption that threatens the cast. Much of the drama itself was probably silly even in 1940, but the film moves fast and is congenially entertaining throughout. And for a 75 year old movie, the special effects and production design are impressive enough that a lot of footage has been reused in countless later films and TV shows. Sure, those dinos are just magnified lizards or actors in T-Rex costumes, but it works nonetheless, as does the climactic eruption.

While One Million B.C. isn't high art, it's certainly a lot of fun, though its hokey old charm will likely be lost on those raised on a steady diet of Jurassic Park.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By film historian Toby Roan

December 19, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: BLOOD MONEY (2017)

Starring John Cusack, Willa Fitzgerald, Ellar Coltrane, Jacob Artist. Directed by Lucky McKee. (2017, 89 min).

Treasure of the Sierra Madre, this ain't.

Someone here might have been inspired by it, though, because Blood Money has more-or-less the same plot, only duller, dumber and filled with one-dimensional characters. A seriously slumming John Cusack might - might - make this worth sitting through.

Cusack plays Miller, an embezzler who pulls a D.B. Cooper by parachuting from a plane with millions in cash. However, he loses track of the money and is forced to search the woods for it. Later, three obnoxious, perpetually-bickering college kids find the loot and two of them decide to keep it. The third wants nothing to do with what he suspects is drug money. He's the "smart" one; the other two are so overcome with greed that the prospect of being murdered by Miller doesn't faze them.

Two for flinching.
The movie purports to be about how greed makes good people do terrible things. But unlike the increasingly desperate characters in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, these three kids are assholes from the get-go. Lynn (Willa Fitzgerald), in particular, is horribly-realized, whose sudden self-serving greed makes Daffy Duck look like a philanthropist. She inexplicably belittles & betrays lifelong friends who've constantly had her back, even after one of them has been shot. Cusack, on the other hand, looks like he's having fun in a role one assumes he took to pay the bills. He isn't in the film nearly enough, but his quirky performance is good for a few chuckles.

Elsewhere, Blood Money is overly-serious, boring, generates precious-little actual suspense and comes to a terrible conclusion. A pity, really, because not only is Cusack's talent wasted, director Lucky McGee has done decent work in the past, none of which is apparent here. Perhaps he should go back to making horror films.

FEATURETTE: "Blood Money Uncovered" (making-of)

December 17, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: STRONGER

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Richard Lane Jr., Clancy Brown, Frankie Shaw, Jimmy LeBlanc. Directed by David Gordon Green. (2017, 119 min).

I suppose if one didn't appreciate the glossy, action-movie trappings of last year's Patriot's Day, which a was semi-fictionalized account of the hunt for the guys responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, Stronger might be more palatable. But despite a more intimate, personal story, it's little more than a checklist of inspirational movie tropes.

Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a working Joe whose legs are blown off during the attack. Because he was able to identify one of the suspects, Jeff becomes a local hero and minor celebrity. He doesn't really understand, or want, all the attention and adulation, a feeling exacerbated by his alcoholic mother (Miranda Richardson), who keeps pushing him into the limelight.

Jeff chooses not inform the home crowd that he's actually a Rangers fan.
For much of the film, Jeff alternates between trying to adjust to a life of limited mobility and angrily - often drunkenly - wallowing in self-pity. There are times when only his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Erin (Tatiana Maslany), seems committed to seeing Jeff walk again. But even her resolve is often put to the test.

Stronger's heart is in the right place and Gyllenhaal instills Jeff with a simple likability that makes us empathize with him (even when he's being kind of a dick). However, the film doesn't really have much to say beyond what we've seen in countless other films where the protagonist is forced to overcome tragedy. Furthermore, its main character doesn't really engage in anything inspiring enough to make a movie about.

The performances are good and the story is presented with workmanlike skill. But despite a few moments of emotional intensity - and a stomach-churning flashback of the explosion's aftermath - Stronger is curiously uninvolving. Ultimately, it's one of those movies we respect more than enjoy.

MAKING-OF FEATURETTE: "Faith, Hope and Love: Becoming Stronger"

Blu-Ray Review: MOTHER!

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian Gleeson, Domhall Gleeson, Stephen McHattie, Kristen Wiig. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. (2017, 121 min).

Somewhat notoriously - and superficially - mother! has been cited as a current example of the extreme disconnect between professional film critics and general audiences. That it was marketed as a mainstream horror film didn't help matters, either.

The ones who angrily walked out of the theater crying "WTF?" were obviously unfamiliar with writer/director Darren Aronofsky. Aside from Noah - his most accessible (and boring) film - confounding the viewer has been his mantra. And Aronofsky doesn't make horror movies. He makes WTF movies. If WTF can be considered a genre, then Aronofsky is arguably its Hitchcock.

That being said, mother! will certainly appeal to those in-sync with his surrealist sensibilities. Like Aronofsky's more challenging films (Pi, Requiem for a Dream and especially Black Swan), it's ambiguous, disturbing, abrasive, baffling, pretentious, lurid and sometimes brutally violent, with heaping helpings of WTF along the way. But whether the viewer is intrigued or repulsed, one thing it's not is boring.

Looks like someone could use a few gallons of Round-Up.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a (happily?) married couple living in an isolated old house in the middle of nowhere. While she's busy renovating the place, he's struggling to find inspiration for his next book. There's something not-quite-right about their relationship (besides the fact he's twice her age), which is exasperated with the unexpected arrival of a sickly stranger (Ed Harris) and his dysfunctional family. All the while, there may be something awful going on with the house itself, which only Lawrence's character appears to be aware of.

Following a bloody accidental death and the weirdest funeral reception you've ever seen, Lawrence kicks the family out of the house. She becomes pregnant and Bardem finds his muse to write his next book (none of these character's have actual names). Things seem idyllic for awhile, until zealous fans of Bardem begin to show up. As for what follows...WTF?

During the premiere of mother!, Javier has to explain the plot to Jennifer.
Don't take this to the bank, but at times, mother! appears to be some sort of biblical allegory. It could also be seen a denouncement of atrocities committed in the name of a higher power. Perhaps it's a commentary on zealous worship and megalomania. It might even be about the second coming, the apocalypse or a satiric depiction of God as a cruel, self-serving bastard. Or maybe I'm full of shit and Aronofsky just wants the viewer to scream "WTF?". Whatever the case, mother!, while certainly horrific, is definitely not a horror film. It's far more unsettling than that, like most of Aronofsky's filmography.

mother! is certainly the most bizarre movie released by a major studio in a long time and will likely spark love-it-or-hate-it debates for years to come. That it's wide open to various interpretations - or simply viewed as a disturbing fever dream - makes it not only memorable, but probably worth repeated viewings for those up to the challenge.

FEATURETTES: "The Making of mother!"; "The Make-up FX of mother!"

December 15, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: DETROIT

Starring John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever, Jack Reynor, Ben O'Toole, Anthony Mackie. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. (2017, 143 min).

Detroit is Kathryn Bigelow's best film to date. Hard to believe this is the same director once responsible for Point Break.

You know what else is hard to believe? That the horrific events in the movie actually happened. I knew about the 12th Street Riots, which stemmed from a conflict between the predominantly white Detroit police force and the African-American community after raiding an after-hours club. But I had no knowledge of the incident that occurred at the Algiers Motel on the fourth night of riots, when police, led by a hot-headed, trigger-happy cop - already in trouble for previously shooting a fleeing black man - viciously and mercilessly interrogate several tenants, one of whom they suspect is a sniper who took a shot at them. It was actually a starter gun and, given the circumstances, a pretty bone-headed prank. But how the police retaliate and what happens in the aftermath is beyond appalling.

"Candy? Where?"
The film does take a few dramatic liberties - and admits such during the end credits - but the core message remains clear: The Algiers incident was a travesty of justice and there's no justification for why things escalated so violently. What's even more unnerving, considering the recent plethora of incidents involving police and African-Americans, is the sickening realization that Detroit's message may be more timely than ever.

The snozzberries taste like snozzberries.
Like her previous two films, The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Bigelow shoots events with an intimate urgency calculated to instill unease right from the get-go; we're consistently caught off-guard in every scene. Similarly, the city of Detroit is depicted as a war zone, only this one's right in our back yard and the enemy is someone we're supposed to trust. But unlike those other two films, Detroit is far more emotionally incendiary, partially because we know this shouldn't be happening, but also because of the time taken to establish every character, all of whom are portrayed by a terrific ensemble cast. Because we feel like we know them, their fates matter to us more than those in Zero Dark Thirty.

But you know what probably isn't hard to believe? That Detroit completely bombed in theaters. It didn't deserve to, but maybe its unfortunate timeliness worked against it. Who the hell wants to pay to see in a theater what we've been watching and reading in the news every day? But Detroit is a hell of a film that deserves a new life on home video. Compelling, disturbing and ultimately tragic, you'll be mad as hell by the time the end credits roll, but you're not likely to forget what you just saw.

You can't say that about Point Break, can you?

FEATURETTES (these are all very brief, 1-2 minute segments): "The Truth of Detroit"; "The Cast of Detroit"; "The Invasion of Detroit"; "The Hope of Detroit"; "Detroit: Then and Now"
VIDEO: "Grow" (featuring Algee Smith and the real Larry Reed)

December 13, 2017


By Michael Troyan, Jeffrey Paul Thompson & Stephen X. Sylvester. (2017, 736p).

Everything you ever wanted to know about 20th Century Fox, but never thought to ask...

This hefty, handsome volume details the entire history of the iconic studio, from founder William Fox's ambitious beginnings through 2015 (you know...a century). But the book isn't primarily about Fox's movies. Though nearly every noteworthy film is mentioned, most are just briefly discussed within the context of the studio's history itself.

A Century of Entertainment is mostly about the rise of Fox - both physically and as a major Hollywood entity - as well as the moguls, producers, actors and executives who've come and gone over the years. Several chapters take the reader on a detailed tour of Century City, building by building, which include detailed maps and scores of photos. Elsewhere, the text chronicles the studio's highs and lows over the decades, along with the power players behind the scenes. We even learn the origins of Alfred Newman's "Fox Fanfare" music and the evolution of the iconic 'searchlight' logo.

The studio's early days are written about in far greater detail, therefore the most interesting (like most origin stories or biographies). Once it's established that Fox is an entertainment giant that's here to stay, the 1950s-on-forward are summarized more briefly, sometimes becoming a breathless list of notable films released during those eras. Later chapters cover the corporation's expansion into television, such as classic TV shows, the FOX network and cable channels.

In addition to being a fascinating read, this is a beautifully-assembled, hardcover coffee table book filled with hundreds of rare photos to accompany the text. Though it comes with a price nearly as heavy as its weight, 20th Century Fox: A Century of Entertainment is a must-have for serious fans of Hollywood history.

Just don't drop it on your foot.

Blu-Ray News: GEOSTORM on Blu-Ray/DVD 1/23

We here at FREE KITTENS love disaster movies above all other genres, so this is good news to us. Warner Bros' sci-fi disaster epic, Geostorm, will be available on home video January 23. 

After an unprecedented series of natural disasters threatened the planet, the world's leaders came together to create an intricate network of satellites to control the global climate and keep everyone safe. But now, something has gone wrong—the system built to protect the Earth is attacking it, and it's a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything...and everyone along with it.

Blu-Ray News: JIGSAW on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD 1/23

In the latest terrifying installment of the legendary SAW series, law enforcement find itself chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade, embroiled in a diabolical new game that’s only just begun.  Has John Kramer, the infamous Jigsaw Killer, returned from the dead to commit a series of murders and remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life?  Or is this a trap set by a different killer with designs of their own?

Immerse yourself within Jigsaw’s world with the release’s extensive Special Features, including an all-new 7-Part Documentary, an Audio Commentary with Producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Peter Block, and “The Choice is Yours: Exploring the Props” featurette. The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray versions feature Dolby Atmos audio mixed specifically for the home, to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray also features Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), growing Lionsgate’s library of titles featuring both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Dolby Vision transforms the TV experience in the home by delivering greater brightness and contrast, as well as a fuller palette of rich colors. Together with the captivating sound of Dolby Atmos, consumers will experience both cutting-edge imaging and state-of-the-art sound technology for a fully immersive entertainment experience. 

December 12, 2017

Blu-Ray News: 2 Classic Courtroom Dramas Coming January 9 from Kino Lorber

The event the world will never forget! Winner of two Academy Awards including Actor in a Leading Role (Maximilian Schell, Topkapi) and nominated for eleven Academy Awards®, including Best Picture, Judgment at Nuremberg is a magnificent achievement in filmmaking, boasting brilliant performances by an all-star cast. American judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy, Inherit the Wind) presides over the trial of four German jurists accused of "legalizing" Nazi atrocities. But as graphic accounts of sterilization and murder unfold in the courtroom, mounting political pressure for leniency forces Haywood to make the most harrowing and difficult decision of his career. This masterpiece, considered by many as one of the greatest films of all time, was directed by the great Stanley Kramer (On the Beach) with a stupendous cast that includes Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift and William Shatner.

Acting legends Spencer Tracy (Judgment at Nuremberg) and Fredric March (The Iceman Cometh) go toe-to-toe in this thrilling recreation of the most titanic courtroom battle of the century. The great Stanley Kramer (On the Beach) directs this masterpiece featuring Gene Kelly (On the Town) in a rare, critically acclaimed dramatic role. Inherit the Wind is powerful, provocative cinema and a heaping measure of entertainment. The controversial subject of evolution versus creation causes two polar opposites to engage in one explosive battle of beliefs. Attorney Clarence Darrow (Tracy) faces off against fundamentalist leader William Jennings Bryan (March) in a small Tennessee town where a teacher has been brought to trial for teaching Darwinism. The stellar supporting cast includes Dick York, Donna Anderson, Harry Morgan, Claude Akins, Norman Fell and Noah Beery Jr.