February 28, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: ALLIED

Starring Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, Anton Lesser, August Diehl. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. (2016, 124 min).

Remember 80s and 90s when Robert Zemeckis was nearly synonymous with conceptually ambitious "event" pictures? Some were groundbreaking technical achievements for their time, others simply had massive audience appeal. A few, like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump, were blessed with both. Regardless of the film, Zemeckis had a Spielbergian knack for marrying astounding visuals with terrific characters and compelling narratives.

That was a long time ago. It looks now like Zemeckis is more interested in adult-oriented drama than blockbusters. While he's more-than-earned that right, he's experiencing some growing pains, much like Spielberg during his Empire of the Sun and Always days. Case-in-point, Allied is, as one would expect, technically brilliant, and Zemeckis manages to capture many potentially-mundane scenes in a way we haven't seen before (certainly one of his trademarks). But sometimes his sensibilities aren't what a film like this needs.

Best first date ever.
Brad Pitt plays Max Vatan, a Canadian spy working for British Intelligence during World War II, who teams up with a member of the French Resistance, Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), to assassinate a German ambassador in Casablanca. While undercover as husband and wife, they fall in love for real. After their mission is complete, the two return to England to marry and raise a family.

Fast-forward a year; Max now serves the British from behind a desk while Marianne looks after their daughter, Anna. Aside from the occasional German air-raids, things are idyllic until Max is informed by his commanding officers that Marianne is suspected of being a German spy. They plan on baiting her with false intelligence (a 'blue dye' operation), and if what they suspect turns out to be true, Max is ordered to kill her himself. Max refuses to believe it and sets out to prove Marianne is who she says she is, which includes going back into German-occupied territory.

"Honey...someone made boom-boom."
Touted as a romantic thriller, Allied is sometimes quite thrilling indeed, particularly the initial assassination mission. Later, as the story begins to unfold, the film does a good job making the audience wonder whether or not Marianne is in cahoots with the enemy. As for the romance...Pitt & Cotillard are certainly an attractive couple and deliver earnest performances, but they go from zero to madly in love with very little transition. Afterwards, their relationship doesn't really gel like, say, Rick and Ilsa's in Casablanca (an obvious inspiration), no matter how often they hop between the sheets. This threatens to dampen any emotional payoff the viewer is expecting.

Then again, emotional resonance was never really Zemeckis' strongest suit. Allied works best when he's clearly in his element, meaning the film is visually arresting, with a few jaw-dropping sequences (such as a German bomber crash in the center of London). And the story itself is actually pretty interesting, which Zemeckis punctuates with some expertly executed (and violent) action scenes.

So while Allied isn't quite the emotionally-charged epic it wants to be, it's an entertaining enough thriller to maintain interest for two hours. It doesn't rank among Zemeckis' crowning achievements, though compared with his more recent adult-oriented fare, this film is much better than the inexplicably overpraised Flight. Bottom line...Allied is worth a watch for spy thriller fans, less so for those seeking sweeping romance.

FEATURETTES (all titles are pretty self-explanatory): "The Story of Allied"; "From Stages to Sahara: The Production Design of Allied"; "Through the Lens: Directing with Robert Zemeckis"; "A Stitch in Time: The Costumes of Allied"; "'Till Death Do Us Part: Max and Marianne"; "Guys and Gals: The Ensemble Cast"; "Light, Pixels, Action! The Visual Effects of Allied"; "Behind the Wheel: The Vehicles of Allied"; "Locked and Loaded: The Weapons of Allied"; "The Swingin' Sound: The Music of Allied"

February 25, 2017


Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins. Directed by Scott Derrickson. (2016, 115 min).

I couldn't care less about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most of the movies are enjoyable enough, but the best ones are less immediately-concerned about their characters' place in the MCU than providing a good, solid stand-alone story. For example, the first two Captain America movies worked so well because they focused primarily on its title character and his ongoing battle with Hydra. However, Captain America: Civil War was top-heavy with superheroes and spent so much time setting up the MCU's future that it forgot to be a Captain America sequel. And, no, I don't care if that's how things played out in the comic books. The overall narrative success of one film should not hinge on the viewer having seen a half-dozen others.

For those who may not be up-to-speed on who's feuding with who, Doctor Strange is a breath of fresh air. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel adapts a relatively obscure comic into an entertaining and amusing action film that doesn't depend on knowledge of a pre-existing universe or the myriad heroes defending it (the title character may be even more obscure to general audiences than Ant-Man). It's unmistakably a Marvel film, so of course the fate of the world is at stake. And yeah, it's loaded with some overly-ambitious CGI spectacle that, while elaborate, distract more than enhance (not-to-mention being highly reminiscent of Inception). Obligatory character origins are a necessary evil, I suppose, meaning the first forty minutes or so tread awfully familiar ground (and bare more than a casual resemblance to Neo's Matrix training).

Benedict and Chiwetel participate in the annual Run Like Tom Cruise Marathon.
However, like Guardians (as well as the original Iron Man), amid all the whiz-bang fireworks are interesting characters, a cast of truly great actors and a clever script to work with. Benedict Cumberbatch embodies the title character as effectively as Robert Downey Jr. once did, meaning his newly-acquired abilities haven't completely stripped him of his personality (or his ego). One criticism often leveled at Marvel movies is their weak villains, but as Kaecilius, the great Mads Mikkelson is suitably menacing, even empathetic & funny sometimes. And personally, I didn't even have a problem with The Ancient One being gender-swapped. While I certainly understand the criticism over whitewashing a traditionally Tibetan character, any decision to stick Tilda Swinton in your movie is ultimately a good one.

"Damn...where the hell is Waldo?"
Once the film takes care of the preliminaries and introductions to focus on the story proper, Doctor Strange gains momentum like a runaway boulder, building to a climax that includes a surprising amount of intentional humor along with all the sensory overload. Though hardcore fans might be disappointed, references to the MCU are largely (and wisely) kept on the down-low, with no real baring on the story itself. One of the standard post-credit sequences does suggest Marvel has big plans for some of these characters in the MCU, but Doctor Strange works nicely enough on its own merits. Call me silly, but that should be priority-one with any movie.

"Team Thor Part 2" - Another amusing little reality TV-style spoof featuring Thor and his roommate;
"A Strange Transformation" - Making of featurette with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage;
"Across Time and Space" - Featurette focusing on visual effects and fight cherography;
"The Fabric of Reality" - Costume & set design;
"Marvel Studios Phase 3" - For those of you keeping score, a look at upcoming films in the MCU;
"Strange Company" - Interviews with the cast & crew;
"The Scorce-cerer Supreme" - Interview with composer Michael Giacchino;

February 22, 2017

Blu-Ray News: ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY on Digital HD March 24 and Blu-Ray April 4

Announced today on The Star Wars Show and StarWars.com, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will be coming home on Digital HD on March 24th and Blu-ray on April 4th.  This news comes on the heels of the start of production announcement of the untitled Han Solo Star Wars Story.  “Rogue One” has established its place within the Star Warsuniverse and the hearts of moviegoers, becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. 

Arriving early on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on March 24, and on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and On-Demand on April 4, the release includes never-before-seen “Rogue One” bonus material that will take fans behind the scenes with the movie’s diverse, dynamic cast and inspired team of filmmakers. An intimate collection of stories reveals how the film came to life, as well as hidden Easter Eggs and film facts that audiences may have missed in the theater.

View the all-new trailer:

February 21, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1985)

Starring Richard Chamberlain, Sharon Stone, Herbert Lom, John Rhys-Davies. Directed by J. Lee Thompson. (1985, 100 min).

Mention Cannon Films to movie lovers of a certain age and you might see a big, dumb grin spread across their face. Prolific purveyors of pictures from any genre proven profitable, no studio is as synonymous with the trend-driven 80s as Cannon. While they did manage to squeeze out a respectable film here and there, the studio's specialty was budget-friendly action, usually featuring tough guys who probably couldn't get much big-screen work anywhere else. If you kept your expectations in check, a lot of them provided some disreputable fun.

In some ways, King Solomon's Mines is the quintessential Cannon film. It optimistically (and shamelessly) rips-off Raiders of the Lost Ark & Romancing the Stone while attempting to sell Richard Chamberlain (!) as an action hero similar to Indiana Jones. It fails, of course, because Chamberlain is no Harrison Ford (or even Michael Douglas), but you knew that already. A pre-Basic Instinct Sharon Stone channels her inner Kate Capshaw (and manages to be even more annoying). Even Raiders' John Rhys-Davies shows up to collect a paycheck. But really...is this the only work Herbet Lom could get? 

"You were in The Thorn Birds? My mom has the biggest crush on you."
House-director J. Lee Thompson, far-removed from the days of The Guns of Navarone & Cape Fear, takes a break from keeping Charles Bronson's career afloat to guide his cast through a silly story that bares only a passing resemblance to Haggard's original novel (hey, brand name recognition went a long way even in the 80s). The action is silly, the dialogue is inane and most attempts at humor are utterly eye-rolling (the nadir of all three being a scene that sees Chamberlain & Stone as the potential main ingredient for cannibal stew).

"When we get back, we should fire our agents."
To say King Solomon's Mines hasn't aged well isn't an accurate assessment, since it wasn't that good in the first place. Besides, greatness was never Cannon's modus operandi. Revisiting the film today, one can't help but marvel how efficiently they struck while the iron was hot and ingeniously marketed the thing into a minor box office hit before anyone really caught on. Moviegoers weren't fooled twice though; the sequel, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, completely tanked.

But like many other silly slabs of kitschy Cannon fodder from the 80s, such as Cobra, Breakin' and American Ninja, it's hard to pile too much hate on King Solomon's Mines. The film is so emblematic of the studio's glory years that there's something almost retroactively charming about it's earnest attempt to jump on the Indiana Jones bandwagon. Even back then, we suspected as much when ponying-up at the box office, or more likely, leaving the video store with an indiscriminately-selected stack of similar titles. Watching it today is apt to put a nostalgic, shit-eating grin across your face.


Blu-Ray News: New Restoration of 1933 Disaster Film DELUGE Now Available on Blu-ray and DVD


Kino Lorber announces the release of Felix E. Feist's extraordinary 1933 disaster film DELUGE, in a new restoration from the original 35mm film elements by Lobster Films, now available on Blu-ray and DVD. Special features include an audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith, and a special bonus film, the complete 1934 film Back Page, starring Peggy Shannon (the star of DELUGE).

DELUGE is a tour-de-force of astonishing special effects that rank alongside those of other such classics of the decade as King Kong and San Francisco. Triggered by a series of earthquakes on the West Coast of the United States, a massive tidal wave circles the globe and -- in a prolonged and spectacular special effects sequence -- wipes out New York City. Sidney Blackmer stars as a man who, separated from his family, must begin to rebuild civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. 

For decades, DELUGE was a lost film of almost mythical status, until horror/sci-fi archivist Forrest J. Ackerman discovered an Italian-dubbed print in 1981. Viewing this poor-quality print was an arduous experience and was only a dim substitute for the original film. But all this changed in 2016 when Lobster Films unearthed a 35mm nitrate negative with the original English soundtrack.

Film preservationist (and Lobster Films CEO) Serge Bromberg says, "Thanks to film archivist George Willeman (Library of Congress), we located the nitrate dupe negative in the archives of the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée in France. Although this element was partly decomposed, the latest digital technologies allowed us to restore the image to its original sharpness. Our sound department, LE Diapason, performed extensive sound restoration to both the French and English soundtracks."

February 20, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: THE KLANSMAN

Starring Lee Marvin, Richard Burton, Cameron Mitchell, O.J. Simpson, Lola Falana, David Huddleston, Linda Evans, Luciana Paluzzi. Directed by Terence Young. (1974, 112 min).

In order to appreciate some older films, it helps to keep-in-mind the era in which they were made. Of course a film like Gone with the Wind is going to appear racist and sexist to millennials looking for reasons to be offended. 1939 was a different era, and since we can't go back in time to set those backwards primates straight, we can still appreciate the film for its timeless narrative, iconic characters and visual splendor.

Then there are bottom feeders like 1974's The Klansman, which would be repugnant in any decade. Were not for the fact that it's 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. Like the equally reprehensible Mandingo, it's just a notch or two above a grindhouse film, only with a fairly respected director and two legendary actors apparently committed to tarnishing their legacies. That's one likely reason it has become a minor cult classic over the years.

Burton & co-star.
Another reason is the well-documented turmoil behind the film. Lee Marvin and Richard Burton spent most of the shoot in a drunken stupor. I suppose it's a credit to Marvin's inherent talent that it doesn't really show. As a small-town southern sheriff trying to keep the peace while racial tensions develop between the black community and the local Ku Klux Klan (after the rape of a white woman), he gives the film's best performance by simply being the badass Lee Marvin we're accustomed to. Burton, however, must be seen to be believed. As a liberal landowner sympathetic to the black movement's cause, his southern accept comes and goes from scene to scene. There are ample moments when he is obviously shitfaced and barely able to get through a scene, sometimes unintelligibly slurring his lines.

O.J. Simpson...in the backseat of an SUV...with a gun. Where have we seen this before?
The awful dialogue would actually be funny it weren't loaded with an overabundance of nasty racial slurs and epithets. Some such language is obviously necessary, but the film wallows in the depravity of the Klan's words & actions to an almost voyeuristic level, long after the viewer has gotten the point. This is best (or worst) exemplified by what might be the most prolonged and disturbing rape scene of any film released in the 70s. But that's not to say there aren't some laughs to be had; Burton's slap-fight with Cameron Mitchell is unintentional comedy gold, as is an early scene where two cars burst into flames after a mere fender-bender.

The Klansman is unquestionably bad, but there's an overall trainwreck quality to this film that renders it morbidly fascinating. Connoisseurs of 70's-era sleaze or Hollywood-gone-wrong might be pleased, especially since it's being released uncut on Blu-Ray for the first time. For everyone else, don't say you weren't warned.


February 19, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: MOONLIGHT

Starring Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Alex Hibbert. Directed by Barry Jenkins. (2016, 111 min).

Each year, I try to see as many Best Picture nominees as I can prior to the Oscars; having more horses in the race makes the big night more entertaining. Some of the movies I actually want to see, others I feel obligated to. Barry Jenkins' Moonlight fell under the latter category, mainly because I knew almost nothing about the film, the director or most of the actors. I review hundreds of movies a year on this site, most of which I've either seen before or at-least have some background knowledge of. Now that I think about it, Moonlight is the first high profile film I've approached completely cold in a long time. Maybe that's why it was such a wonderful surprise.

The film is divided into three chapters, each chronicling a defining moment in the life of Chiron, an introverted young African-American from a tough neighborhood in Miami. In chapter one, Chiron finds respite from abuse at home and school when he meets a local drug dealer, Juan (Mahershala Ali), and his wife, Teresa (Janelle Monae). Ironically, they provide Chiron with more love and stability than his crack-addicted mother, Paula (Naomie Harris). In the second chapter, Chiron is an alienated teen whose only friend, Kevin, has him questioning is own sexuality. Kevin later forsakes their friendship when a local gang leader forces him to join in on beating Chiron as an initiation. Chiron's retaliation is the catalyst for the direction his life will take afterwards.

"It's called Dine n' Dash, kid. You'll love it."
The final, most poignant, chapter sees Chiron as an adult, now a drug dealer living in Atlanta. Since the high school incident, jail and the streets have hardened him. Other than his mother (living in a rehab facility), he has remained alone and doesn't open himself up to anyone. All that changes with an unexpected call from Kevin, whom he hasn't seen in ten years.

To elaborate much further would mean providing spoilers, but the resolution of the final act is the only way Moonlight could have ended without undermining the entire narrative. As downbeat - and difficult to watch - as the film is at times, the whole chapter is quietly powerful and tremendously moving. Much of that is due to the performances. As the adult Chiron and Kevin, Trevante Rhodes and Andre Holland provide the right amounts of subtlety that make their scenes together work, aided immeasurably from groundwork laid down by the young actors who played them in previous chapters.

"Dine n' Dash? Who taught you that, man?"
The best performances, though, belong to Ali and Harris (both nominated for Oscars). With a look and mannerisms reminiscent of a young Louis Gossett Jr., Ali easily makes Juan so likable and complex that we tend to forget the character is a streetwise drug dealer. Harris, the only actor to appear in all three chapters, has the biggest challenge. As Paula, who runs the gamut from bitter and hateful to sadly sympathetic, Harris dominates (in a good way) the relatively few scenes she appears in.

Only his second feature film, writer/director Barry Jenkins has also earned Oscar nominations in both categories. With the La La Land juggernaut in full swing, I don't know how many trophies he or Moonlight will take home, but the accolades are well deserved. This is a beautifully-shot, perfectly performed character study that resonates long after it's over.

FEATURETTES: "Ensemble of Emotion: The Making of Moonlight"; "Poetry Through Collaboration: The Music of Moonlight"; "Cruel Beauty: Filming in Miami"

February 17, 2017

Blu-Ray News: Lost 3-D Classic, SEPTEMBER STORM, Coming in March

A rediscovered gem newly restored by the 3-D Film Archive, September Storm is a CinemaScope Stereovision adventure that plunges the viewer into the depths of the Balearic Sea, off the coast of Spain. Mark Stevens stars as a treasure-hunter who convinces a yacht hand (Asher Dann) to take him and his cohort (Robert Strauss) on a quest for gold doubloons. They encounter many spectacles along the way: a violent storm, man-eating sharks, a deadly man o' war, but perhaps the most stunning sight of all is the bewitching model (Joanne Dru) who embarks on the journey with them. Director Bryan Haskin (The War of the Worlds, Robinson Crusoe on Mars) uses the 3-D camera to maximum effect, while hardboiled writer W.R. Burnett (The Asphalt Jungle, Little Caesar) injects the screenplay liberal doses of seduction and betrayal.

Special Features:
2016 interview by 3-D SPACE with September Storm co-star Asher Dann
Color theatrical trailer for the flat 1960 release
Black and white 60 second TV spot for the 1960 3-D release
The Adventures of Sam Space, aka Space Attack, a comedy short originally released with September Storm
Harmony Lane, a previously lost British short from 1953
1995 interview by Tony Sloman with Harmony Lane director Lewish Gilbert

On 3-D Bu-Ray and 2-D DVD March 28 from KINO LORBER

Blu-Ray News: TREMORS 6 Now in Production


Intrepid creature hunter Burt Gummer and his son Travis find themselves in a remote hotbed of giant man-eating worms in the newest action-packed entry in the wildly popular Tremors franchise. Currently in production in Cape Town, South Africa, this outrageous horror comedy finds the pair at a remote research station where they come under attack by what Burt fears could be weaponized Graboids. Tremors 6 will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD in 2018 from Universal 1440 Entertainment, a production entity of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

“This is going to be the craziest, most over-the-top movie in the Tremors saga to date,” said Glenn Ross, general manager and executive vice president, Universal 1440 Entertainment. “It takes the franchise’s signature combination of suspense, action and humor to new explosive heights.”

Michael Gross (“Family Ties,” Tremors franchise) and Jamie Kennedy (“The Cleveland Show,” Scream franchise) return as Burt Gummer and Travis Welker, joined by franchise newcomers Tanya van Graan (Death Race: Inferno, Zulu), Rob van Vuuren (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) and Greg Kriek (Momentum).

Tremors 6 is directed by Don Michael Paul (Sniper: Legacy, Tremors 5: Bloodlines) from a script by John Whelpley (Tremors 5: Bloodlines, “Dallas”). The film is produced by Mike Elliot (Kindergarten Cop 2, Halloween II). The director of photography is Hein de Vos (District 9, Dominion).

February 16, 2017


Starring Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, C.J. Wilson, Tate Donovan, Kara Hayward, Anna Baryshnikov, Matthew Broderick. Directed by Kenneth Lonergan. (2016, 137 min).

Say what you will about Manchester by the Sea - the film certainly won't appeal to everyone - but one thing is certain: Casey Affleck (aka: the more talented brother) absolutely deserves his Oscar nomination. And barring any surprise curveballs the academy likes to throw now & then to keep things interesting, he's probably going to win.

Affleck delivers a nearly flawless performance as Lee Chandler, an alcoholic janitor whose older brother, Joseph (Kyle Chandler), has just passed away. He returns to his hometown of Manchester to oversee funeral arrangements and comfort his 16 year old nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Though Joseph's death wasn't exactly unexpected, Lee is emotionally unprepared for, not only the situation, but returning home to friends & family he's been estranged from for quite some time. Through flashbacks, we slowly learn the reasons he became so withdrawn and why he's now reluctant to assume custodial responsibility of Patrick.

Lee and Joseph's kinky neighbors are at it again with the curtains open.
Manchester by the Sea is a low-key, melancholy study of internal conflict and painful regret. How Lee deals with almost-unimaginable emotional pain is perfectly conveyed by Affleck, who does more with an expression than a page of dialogue could manage, making the few moments he does speak at-length all the more meaningful (and sometimes heart-wrenching). The other performances are impressive, as well, Hedges in particular. The scenes between Lee and Patrick feel genuine because of how well these two actors play off each other.

Director Kenneth Lonergan's screenplay is masterfully economical, picking just the right moments for his characters to simply shut up and trusting his actors enough to make those scenes work. The same can be said about the soundtrack; the music is suitably minimal and unassuming, save for key scenes in which classical music is utilized to great effect.   

It must also be said that, while there are some brief moments of levity, Manchester by the Sea is a lengthy, somber experience with an open-ended resolution which leaves many questions unanswered. Just like life, I guess, which is probably the whole point. And as the old saying goes, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Fortunately, Lee's journey is a quietly compelling one due to Affleck's Oscar worthy performance.

FEATURETTES: "Emotional Lives: Making Manchester by the Sea"; "A Conversation with Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan"

February 14, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: BAD SANTA 2

Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox, Christina Hendricks, Brett Kelly, Jenny Zigrino, Ryan Hansen, Octavia Spencer. Directed by Mark Waters. (2016, 92/95 min).

No, we did not need a Bad Santa sequel. The original film's premise is something that is really effective only once, when sheer audacity, mean-spiritedness and loads of politically incorrect vulgarity catches the audience off guard. But along the abundance of sex, expletives and criminally antisocial behavior, Bad Santa had enough genuine humor and heart to render it a minor holiday classic. Any follow-up would be an exercise in redundancy.

Bad Santa 2 is not only redundant; it comes 13 years later, which should be plenty of time to come up with something new to do with its characters. Instead, it's business as usual, with Kathy Bates (as Willie's mother) thrown in to out-swear, out-drink, out-shit and out-gross the rest of the cast. The plot this time is a Christmastime robbery of a charity organization, which of course requires Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) to throw the Santa suit back on.

Billy Bob meets Steve Bannon.
The cast is certainly game, which includes Tony Cox and Brett Kelly (now older, larger and just as developmentally challenged) revisiting to their most famous roles. Christina Hendricks is sort-of wasted as Willie's new sparring/sex partner, while Bates at-least appears to be having an uninhibited good time

Unfortunately, what was hilariously shocking over a decade ago isn't as fresh and funny when we know what to expect, though more-of-the-same may be exactly what some viewers want. Like the original, Bad Santa 2 revels in sex, bad taste, f-bomb-loaded dialogue and overall decadence. Admittedly, sometimes it's amusing. More often, however, other than attempts to up the ante in the raunch department, this is like hearing your drunken uncle tell the same filthy joke for the umpteenth time.

FEATURETTES: "Thurman Then & Now"; "Just Your Average Red Band Featurette" (title tells all)
"JINGLE BALLS" - A musical montage of many of the film's expletives

Movie News: DOCTOR STRANGE - Team Thor 2 and End Tag Clips

Today is the Digital HD release date for Doctor Strange and we have some special bonus clips to share with you. The first is a clip from the new "Team Thor 2" bonus from Doctor Strange and the second is the credits End Tag featuring Thor. Doctor Strange is out now on Digital HD.

Doctor Strange - Team Thor 2:

Doctor Strange - End Tag:

Doctor Strange is out now on Digital HD!
On Blu-Ray 3D, Blu-Ray and DVD 2/28

Blu-Ray News: SING Blu-ray/DVD Release + ALL NEW MINI-MOVIE SNEAK PEAK – Available 3/21

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment would like to share a special first-look at an all new mini-movie, "Love at First Sight," which will be featured on the home entertainment release of SING when it arrives on Digital HD March 3, and will be available on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ 3D, Blu-ray™, DVD, and On Demand March 21. Swipe right for a cute, romantic look into the life of Miss Crawly (voiced by writer/director Garth Jennings), and find two more exciting original mini-movies from Illumination Entertainment featured on the Sing Special Edition when it releases.

February 13, 2017

Movie News: COLLIDE - See Nicholas Hoult's Epic Autobahn Chase in This NEW CLIP

In this high-octane new COLLIDE clip, Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max, X-Men: Days of Future Past) dodges his enemies on the autobahn to keep his girlfriend Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Theory of Everything) out of danger. COLLIDE also stars Academy Award® Winners Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley.

After a heist goes terribly wrong, Casey Stein (Nicholas Hoult) finds himself on the run from a ruthless gang headed by mob boss Hagen (Anthony Hopkins). Now Casey has precious cargo that belongs to Hagen, who will stop at nothing to retrieve it. Left with no choice, Casey calls his former employer and drug smuggler Geran (Ben Kingsley) to protect his long-time girlfriend Juliette before Hagen gets his hands on her. Casey sets out on an adrenaline-fueled car chase on the German highways to save the love of his life before it’s too late.

COLLIDE - Autobahn Chase Clip:

Opens in Theaters February 24


Starring Leonard Cohen, Bono, The Edge, Nick Cave, Martha Wainwright, Rufus Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Beth Orton. Directed by Lian Lunson. (2005, 105 min).

Confession time...while I've heard of Leonard Cohen, aside from "Hallelujah" and a few twisted tunes that appeared in Natural Born Killers, I know almost nothing about him or his music. A lot of my friends, mostly those whose tastes are slightly left of the mainstream, mourned his recent passing. For them, this documentary (posthumously released on Blu-Ray) will serve as a bittersweet tribute. For others, a chance to sate their curiosity.

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man is a 2005 film partially consisting of interviews with Cohen himself and musicians - both renowned and obscure - who were influenced by him. Cohen himself comes across as worldly, soft-spoken and charming as he discusses how his life and religious upbringing influenced his lyrics and poetry.

"Damn...forgot the words again."
Interspersed throughout is footage from a recent tribute concert featuring various artists such as Nick Cave and Rufus Wainwright. Personally, I think including the performances was a mistake. Director Lian Lunson obviously has a lot of respect for his subject, but this would have been a better viewing (and learning) experience if it had focused exclusively on Cohen himself and saved the concert material for a separate project (perhaps a bonus supplement on this disc).

Still, even though Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man didn't inspire me to rush out and buy one of his records, I do have some new-found respect for his work and talent. Since Cohen was never what one would consider a "popular" artist, I imagine there's currently a lot of other folks curious about this reclusive songwriter who's so frequently name-dropped. And it probably goes without saying this disc is a must-own for fans.


February 12, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: ARRIVAL

Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma, Mark O'Brien. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. (2016, 116 min).

When Interstellar was released, some comparisons were drawn to 2001: A Space Odyssey. While not as ambiguous or visually groundbreaking, it was equally cerebral and conceptually ambitious, not to mention a similar painstaking attention to detail regarding the logistics of time and space travel.

If Interstellar is the 2001 for a new century, then Arrival can see viewed as this generation's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a lonely linguistics expert and college professor whose life (and everyone else's) is disrupted by the arrival of 12 massive, almond-shaped ships which land at various locations around the world. She's then recruited by the Army, led by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), to work with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) in an effort to establish communication with a ship in Montana. This is an enormous and time consuming challenge, since the language of these aliens - who resemble a cross between squid and elephants - is not only nonlinear, but not even spoken (they 'speak' through circular blotches formed by spewing ink-like smoke from their tentacles).

"Some advanced race, Ian...all their pens leak."
Though troubled by flashbacks of the daughter she lost to cancer (and yes, it's ultimately relevant to the story), Louise slowly makes progress. But while she deduces the visitors are benevolent, China, led by General Shang (Tzi Ma), has interpreted the alien message as a threat. One by one, other nations begin to concur, including the United States. It's at this point the movie starts to defy the audience's expectations and reveal some considerable surprises you aren't likely to see coming.

The world's biggest almond...one of Montana's most popular tourist attractions.
Arrival is an intelligent, ideas-driven science-fiction film along the lines of The Day the Earth Stood Still and Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Deliberately paced with an emphasis on dialogue and raising discussion-worthy questions, there's little in the way of actual spectacle (though it's still visually impressive). While the climax may be underwhelming in that respect, it delivers a satisfying emotional and intellectual payoff. The film is also elevated by another Oscar-worthy performance from Adams, who doesn't even appear to be acting here.

Not quite as emotionally resonant as Interstellar - though its mind-bending concept is arguably more solid - Arrival is thoughtful, smart and entertaining sci-fi. Its cerebral story and outstanding performances make it the kind of film the viewer thinks about long afterwards, pondering the choices they would make had they been in the same situation. That alone makes Arrival worth revisiting more than once.

"Xenolinguistics: Understanding Arrival"; "Acoustic Signatures: The Sound Design"; "Eternal Recurrence: The Score"; "Nonlinear Thinking: The Editorial Process"; "Principles of Time, Memory & Language"