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DVD Reviews
Oct 22, 2018

Sesame Street: Elmo's World: Elmo Explores

As my young son grows from infant to a lively toddler, we were looking for ways to entertain him recently. Having seen the Sesame Street magic work on him before, I wanted to see if I could press my luck with a "spin-off" of sorts from the franchise, featuring one of its popular current cast members, such as it was.

It's going to date me a little bit when I first wrote this because Elmo (the furry red baby monster?) first appeared in 1985 and dang, I thought he didn't appear until like the last decade or so, go figure. Anyway, Elmo has a long-running segment that is called "Elmo's World," aimed at toddlers and covers things like Father's Day, families, calendar seasons and the like. Running about 12-15 minutes in length, the format is simple; Elmo intros the topic, a cell-phone named "Smarty" pops by to provide more information on same, Elmo "chats" with a speechle...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Oct 15, 2018

Modern Family: Season 9
In 10 Words or LessAfter eight years, the series begins to show its ageReviewer's Bias*good sitcoms
Modern Family, The vast majority of the cast
new sitcom kids
Change for ch...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Oct 12, 2018

Truth or Dare (Syfy; 2017)
The Film:Despite the iffy visual effects and a few larger-than-life performances, I'm a pretty big fan of the movie Jumanji, in which four people are forced to finish a game while every roll of the dice creates real-world, deadly obstacles for them to endure. While designed for children and older audiences, there's a certain caliber of suspense and terror emergent from that concept that works regardless of the intended audience, partly in anticipation of what's to come and partly in how the players adapt to their new challenges. It might be kind of unusual to compare a 90s kids adventure film to the likes of bloody, R-rated contemporary film lik...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Sep 25, 2018

PAW Patrol: Halloween Heroes
PAW Patrol continues to be Nick Jr.'s most popular show in recent years, packed with all the harmless action and cornball jokes that kids and most parents can't help but snicker at. Halloween Heroes is the newest themed collection of PAW Patrol episodes on disc; it doesn't really change anything about the show's formula or characters but doesn't have to. Most episodes go like this: the six PAW Patrol canines (klutzy firefighter Marshall, aquatic expert...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Sep 21, 2018

You Will Be Mine (2009)
Marie (Judith Davis) is looking forward to her first semester at a prestigious music conservatory, where she will learn to hone her piano skills with some of the best mentors in France. To save money, she has arranged to move in with her childhood best friend Emma (Isild Le Besco), who has a spacious studio apartment near the school, and who has lived alone since her father passed away. It seems like a perfect arrangement, until it becomes clear that Emma has sexual feelings for Marie that border on psychotic, and Marie quickly finds herself trying to hide from Emma, escaping first with her classmate boyfriend Sami (Johan Libereau), and then back home for a spell, only for Emma to lure Marie back into her psychological and emotional spider web.You Will Be Mine is a psychosexual thriller with some interesting ideas lingering at the fringes, but one which fails to buck the basic genre trappin...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Sep 20, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

I remember growing up with the Pittsburgh produced, PBS aired Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and I seemed to have good memories about it. I'm not sure at what point cynicism was introduced to my life and our paths separated for the balance of Rogers' life, but on the surface it would appear that Rogers maintained a certain sense of innocence and respect for children and the adult cast members around him that could certainly be appreciated in 2018. And Won't You Be My Neighbor attempts to give us that.

The documentary from director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) interviews a menagerie of folks who had some sort of connection to Rogers in his life or through the show. Old cast and crew members share their thoughts on how he worked and what he was like. If you leave those segment...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Sep 12, 2018

Well-remembered as the first of many knockoffs of Steven Spielberg's game-changing Jaws, William Girdler's Grizzly (1976) was more nightmare fuel for anyone whose parents were tricked (again?) by the film's soft PG rating. Long story short: humongous bear terrorizes peaceful campers, devouring his victims after swatting off claws and other body parts like a hot knife through butter. Warnings to close the park are ignored, victims pile up, and the pros are finally called in to slay the savage beast. Even the ending is cribbed di...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 31, 2018

LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis

Before getting into Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis, I have a random story here, which I've scantly harkened back to in similar DC Comics/Lego/Warner collaboration efforts. My almost two-year old is a fan of Moana, and watched it a ton, to the point where instead of saying TV' to request us turn it on, he says Moana.' Recently though, I successfully weaned him onto stop action movies, specifically Wes Anderson stop action movies. So now he watches Isle of Dogs for the doggies, I watch it for the jokes. Viva parental trickery!

Anyway, Rage of Atlantiswas written by Jim Krieg, who has done work on animated films about Green Lantern and the Justice League in various efforts, and directed by Matt Peters, who did artwork for severa...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 31, 2018

Bye Bye Germany
Bye Bye Germany DVD Review
DavidBermann (MoritzBleitbreu) leads the way for the group attempting to leaveGermany. He has several ideas for how to raise the money to saygoodbye to Germany for good. Each individual ends up sellingoverpriced linen. They essentially become...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 31, 2018

24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters
24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters DVD Review
Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 29, 2018


RBG begins with an audio montage of a horde of hard-right conservative commentators talking about a woman who, in their minds, is un-American and is on her way to destroy the nation. This montage is played over statues of founding fathers and other American monuments founds across Washington DC. The woman they're so scornful and afraid of is a tiny little octogenarian with a kind and quiet voice, yet a force to be reckoned with when it comes to fighting for equal rights of all Americans. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life is a stirring and powerful reminder that progress for the marginalized takes tenacity and an inexhaustible fighting spirit. That's why this pre-credits opening is perfect: There will always be those fighting tooth and nail to crush progress, but the promise of the American system allows those without power to fight back. Just don't expec...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 22, 2018

We're Still Here: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited
Antonino D'Ambrosio's 2015 documentary We're Still Here: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited takes a look at two related subjects. The first is the history and cultural importance of Johnny Cash's 1964 album Bitter Tears: Ballads Of The American Indian and the second a 2014 effort to re-record the album with a host of current and classic country artists filling in where Cash, who passed away in 2003, could not. D'Ambrosio also wrote the book 2009 book, A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears, which was clearly the inspiration for the documentary, so he knows the subject quite intimately.

Let's start with the album. Bitter Tears, for those who haven't heard it, was inspired by the Civil Rights movement that was gripping America at the time. Cash, who believed he had some Cherokee heritage, saw a lot of parallels to t...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 21, 2018

Hamlet (Royal Exchange Theater; 2015)
The Film: For quite a while now, the classic plays of William Shakespeare have been tweaked to modernize the setting or reflect current social changes, and the consistency of those alternate versions naturally make it more difficult to do so in subtle ways that haven't been done before. Therefore, to strike those kinds of chords in the current climate, changes to Shakespeare's source material tend to be more dramatic and bolder in how they reshape the world and context in which they're taking place. Manchester's Royal Exchange Theater have been intrepid in their efforts to retain the essence of Shakespeare's prose while also reimagining characters as other genders, but not quite to the degree of their recent production of , in which they...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 13, 2018

Country music, much like any genre of music is bound to evolve as the years go on and new artist emerge to add their own flavor and make their mark on the world. Time Life's latest release, a massive nine DVD set covering the CMA Awards from 1968-2015 is a remarkable collection of live performances at the industry's biggest awards show and in the process, provides a fascinating timeline of the evolution of country music (at least from the 60s on). Running a little over 11-hours, the "CMA Awards Live" release is far from a comprehensive look at each year's hot acts and performers. Across the nine DVDs, a smattering of performances are included along with the occasional acceptance speech and then oddly enough, the ending credits for that year's awards ceremony. However, despite the 1968-2015 moniker in the title, not every year's awards are highlighted and as I'll mention later, oddly, some bigger...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 07, 2018

Ismael's Ghosts

The films of French director Arnaud Desplechin are tied together in ways I can't comprehend; there's a scene in this movie in which a filmmaker who is losing control is seen to have an attic filled with pictures and strings and connections and models, basically the artistic headspace of a mad genius, and I imagine Desplechin working in the same way. You have to be a little mad to be so talented, it's like true vision and manic production lie under a contaminated surface that artists must choose to reach through if they want to become famous. Anyway, Desplechin sees things and plots and metaphors that we don't, and he captu...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 06, 2018

Sid Caesar: The Works
The name Sid Caesar didn't carry a lot of weight for my generation, growing up in the 1970s. Caesar turned up frequently as a guest star on lesser variety shows like Tony Orlando and Dawn and the infamous Pink Lady (and Jeff), doing what at the time seemed like awfully anachronistic, out-of-step-with-the-times sketch comedy. He'd turn up in movies likeAirport 1975, Grease and the telefilm The Munsters' Revenge, doing comedy relief that wasn't very relieving. (He's almost creepy as the sweaty, nervous passenger annoying Myrna Loy in the Airport film.) And yet when It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World premiered on network television around that time, Caesar shined as the most fascinating of the dozens of Big League comedians in that gargantuan comedy, playing a calm, cool, and reasonable man who, over the course of the story, becomes as manically obsessed as a heroin ...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Aug 05, 2018

Bosom Buddies: The Complete Series

Guys in dresses get cheap rent and learn about women
Wendie Jo Sperber, sitcoms
Tom Hanks
How old favorites tend to age
Missing the original theme song

Before watching these discs, it had been decades since seeing an episode of Bosom Buddies, and there was a sense of trepidation considering how the world has changed in that time. An early 1980s show about a couple of guys who pretend to be women has a real likelihood of having aged quite badly over the years (as 2012's quickly-cancelled drag sitcom Work It proved so readily.) Could a show about a pair of dudes who dress like women, made in an era before LGBTQ was ...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 29, 2018

The Kinetophone: A Fact! A Reality!

If you ask most casual film fans when sound came to the movies,they'd say in 1927 with the release of The Jazz Singer. While that is when they became popular, various companies werelooking to add sound to movies for years.  The earliest filmsthat were created with synchronized sound for public consumptionwere released way back in 1913 under the Kinetophone label.  Itwas a sound-on-cylinder system created by the Thomas Edison'scompany, and one of the reasons that it didn't catch on inpopularity was that it didn't really work.  The sound andvisuals would often go out of synch and once that happened it washard to get them back together.  Now, thanks to moderntechnology, the Library of Congress in association with the museumof the Thomas Edison National Historic Park has been able to matchup the audio and video to the eight survi...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 21, 2018

Entre Nos

Mariana (Paola Mendoza) isa youngSpanish immigrant who moves to the United States with her husband andtwo young children in the hopes of building a better life for herfamily. This a melancholy and upsetting drama about her struggles andtribulations during these years of her life. It's also a fittin...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 20, 2018

The Violence Movie

Home movies treated like cult classics
Cult films
truly amateur filmmaking, ingenuity
slasher films
bad acting

If you were a suburban kid in the 80s, you probably knew someone who made a slasher film with their home camcorder. It was practically a rite of passage to grab some friends, head out into the woods and shoot your version of a Jason Voorhees film, before editing your masterpiece on a top-loading VCR. But if you are anything like the writer whose words you're reading, you probably don't still have a copy of what was likely a pretty embarrassing enterprise in hindsight. But if you're like Eric and David Wilkinson, you ...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 14, 2018


Attempted screwball romantic comedy wastes Garr and LloydImages accompanying this review are for illustration only, anc do not represent the quality of the presentation.
Comedies, 80s films
Teri Garr, Christopher Lloyd, Paul Rodriguez
James Woods, most early 90s comedies
Lack of plot

At 87 minutes, Miracles is still too long. That says it all about a film that stretches a modicum of plot into what's essentially an extended chase scene, all the while wasting the talents of some of the era's best comedic actors. That's what happens when you try to make a film about coincidences, rather than unimportant stuff li...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 12, 2018

The Death of Stalin
In Cold War Russia, Josef Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) rules with an iron fist, sending out lists of people he wants rounded up and executed through NKVD head Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale). Beria is one of Stalin's inner circle, which also includes Moscow Party Head Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) and Deputy General Secretary Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor). Although the trio put on a good face for their leader, when Stalin is discovered post-stroke and dies soon after, the political squabbling starts almost instantly, sucking in other members in Stalin's orbit, including Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin), and Stalin's children, prickly Svetlana (Andrea Riseborough) and drunken trainwreck Vasily (Rupert Friend). Malenkov is made the new leader, while Beria and Nikita begin facing off in a power struggle to control him and ultimately take over.Those familiar with Armando Ian...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 11, 2018

The Film:Dark comedy, twisted teenagers, and murder plots have walked hand-in-hand since the 80s, where light jabs and satirical angles try to keep that subject matter from appearing too grim or morbid. For the most part, that heavy attitude still overpowers the doses of humor injected into the film, ranging from the callousness involved with social ostracization an suicide in Heathers to the layering of deceit and importance of popularity in Jawbreaker. It's a lineage that undeniably courses within the veins of Thoroughbreds, Cory Finley's pitch-black glimpse at a pair of near college-aged girls who consider murdering someone who's making one of their lives miserable. Between the deadpan tempo of its humor, sharp outlook on dis...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 10, 2018


For Colin Kennedy's first attempt at directing a feature, Swung is a solid double, which could be a baseball or a swingers reference, take you pick. It's a better, Scottish, much more serious version of Swinging with the Finkels, which wasn't a good movie at all, so there was really only one way to go from there. As far as I know, there haven't been a ton of swing-curious movies produced, and least more mainstream, non-pornographic ones, as it's a weird and touchy subject, something that isn't exactly comfortable to sit down in from of and watch with your mate. Still, Swung works as an audacious hack the ball, one where...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 10, 2018

I Called Him Morgan
Murdered at the age of 33 by his common-law wife Helen, legendary jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan is the subject of I Called Him Morgan (2016), the second film by Swedish director Kasper Collin. Carefully guiding viewers through the years, months, and days leading to Lee's death on February 19, 1972, I Called Him Morgan is half biopic and half retrospective: combining recent video interviews with Lee's contemporaries and a lengthy 1996 audio interview with Helen (who, eerily enough, died just one month later), it paints a detailed picture of Lee's short but extremely prolific career.The film's commitme...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 09, 2018

Body of Deceit

What's shocking about Body of Deceit is not that it's bad; lots of movies are bad, tons of movies actually, thousands of movies, and sometimes you have to slog through them in order to understand what good movies really look like. Without the bitter, the sweet ain't as sweet, right? That applies to films as much as to anything else, how else are you supposed to develop your taste if all you ever taste is the best? So awful cinema has its niche, it can even be fun, and not every project can be tops. But sometimes you can still be surprised by just how awful a final product can be, after multiple teams of people sat down and de...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 05, 2018

The Good Place: Season Two

The funniest show about philosophy and ethics on TV
Kristen Bell, high-concept sitcoms, Janet, Maya Rudolph, Jason Mantzoukas
Ted Danson
The pitfalls of a high-concept storyline

Quite likely the smartest fictional show to ever air on network television, The Good Place stars Kristen Bell as Eleanor, a woman who recently died and is now in The Good Place, a non-denominational version of heaven created by the otherworldly Michael (Ted Danson), a first-time creator. Unfortunately, things quickly go awry, and Eleanor has an idea what the problem is (as does someone else.) The first season follows Eleanor and...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jul 03, 2018

The Fencer
The Film:Sports dramas have this inherent poignancy that, more often than not, relies on two cinematic features for their success: either the effortless emotions of an underdog story, or the insights and unique context involved with depicting a sport that isn't so mainstream or regularly featured on the big screen. The options are starting to dry up, though, as there's only so many ways that the underdog story can be told and a finite number of unseen sports that can have a spotlight pointed on them. The Fencer slips in and manages to deliver a bit of both, depicting a post WWII-era youth sports club that resorts to the ancient art of sword-dueling in the absence of other athletic resources, revealing bits about the learning process involved ...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 29, 2018

Nickelodeon Favorites: The Great Summer Campout!
Themed "variety pack" collections have been Nick Jr.'s home video bread and butter for well over a decade now: they've basically abandoned chronological season sets, so the recent appearance of The Great Summer Campout on store shelves is hardly surprising at this point. Five episodes are included on this one-disc release: Bubble Guppies' "The Summer Camp Games", Shimmer and Shine's "Treehouse Retreat", Blaze and the Monster Machines' "Truck Rangers", Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 28, 2018

At the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, the first class of the charter school's lower-income scholarship students is preparing to graduate. As they debate which colleges to apply to and battle with fluctuating GPAs, many of the girls come together after school for a dance program known as Step, introduced by one of the seniors, Blessin, back when she was in sixth grade. This year, the girls hope to win a seasonal "DMV" (D.C.-Maryland-Virginia) competition at a nearby school, Bowie -- their last chance before they finish high school and move on to the next chapter of their lives. As a basic document of the challenges that Blessin and her fellow students Cori and Tayla face in their last year of high school, Step is effective enough to get the viewer engaged with their personalities and goals. As a dramatic or emotionally engaging documentary, the movie feels more scattered, with ...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 27, 2018

The Misadventures of Biffle and Shooster!
A remarkable achievement of screen comedy, The Misadventures of Biffle and Shooster meticulously recreates the look and, more importantly, the writing and performance styles of 1930s two-reel comedies, five in all. This sort of thing has been done many times before, but very rarely this well. Filmmakers often spoof older movie genres and forms, from Mel Brooks' celebrated run of movie parodies in the 1970s (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, etc.) to low- and no-budget send-ups of Ed Wood's infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space and other cheap sci-fi programmers. Almost never do they get it right. More often than not, the filmmakers lack genuine affection for the very genres they're recreating, and their obvious contempt seriously undermines any chance of honest, knowing comedy. Others try spoofing genres they don't really understand, basing their humor on false assumptio...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 22, 2018

George Carlin Commemorative Collection

As we remember George Carlin on the tenth anniversary of his passing (June 22,2008), it will come as a great joy to fans to be able to celebrate George's talent with a new 10-disc multi-format set, George Carlin Commemorative Collection. The set incorporates all fourteen of George's stand-up specials for HBO, several hours of additional television appearances and interviews, the recent posthumous CD I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die, and HD versions of his final two specials. It's the definitive George Carlin video collection.

Fans of stand-up comedy already know that George Carlin is often mentioned as one of the top two or three stand-ups of all time. (If not George, then maybe the visionary storyteller Richard ...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 20, 2018

Jackass TV and Movie Collection

During its heyday, Jackass was as close to having a TV show that was full-blown unhinged, subversive, and fascinating performance art. Or, it was a dumb TV show about a bunch of morons doing incredibly stupid things for our enjoyment, the modern equivalent of a carnival freak show. No matter how you dice it, one thing was for sure, it was a lot of fun to experience it. You always wanted to look away, but you couldn't avert your eyes either.

This collection of DVDs basically repackages the exact same previously available discs of the Jackass experience over the last two decades. It's not really a "complete" collection, since what we get from the series is a quadrilogy of DVDs compiling the gags and stunts the team deemed to be their best. Complete or not, this set definitely brings back the nostalgia of watching a bunch of idiot stuntmen getting kicked in the crotch...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 15, 2018

Sunny Day
Yikes. Normally I don't mind taking one for the team, grabbing the occasional kid-friendly Nick Jr. screeners that nobody else wants just to watch something with the little one. I can deal with the occasional round of PAW Patrol, Blaze, or even Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 13, 2018

Manifesto (2015)
Manifesto is an ambitious new movie by visual artist Julian Rosenfeld, who enlisted Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett to make an experimental, political film about art and artistry. Blanchett, in a free-flowing series of vignettes, inhabits 13 different characters -- a rich woman, a blue-collar worker, a bum, a religious homemaker, a newscaster, and her remote-reporting co-worker, to name a few -- all of whom repeat manifestos from various famous political and artistic figures, ranging from Karl Marx to Alexander Rodchenko. There is no overarching story, nor do the characters have much, if anything, in the way of dialogue outside of the manifestos. The movie is based on Rosenfeld's existing art project, where all 13 pieces were played simultaneously on separate screens.What's complicated about reviewing Manifesto is that the philosophies about art that the Rosenfeld expr...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 06, 2018

Gunsmoke: The Thirteenth Season, Volume One
After another excruciatingly long delay for Gunsmoke fans, CBS/Paramount has released in two volumes the long-running Western series' thirteenth of twenty seasons to DVD. Whether they'll ever get around to releasing the final seven is anyone's guess. Despite the best efforts by the big entertainment conglomerates to kill the Golden Goose, hard media dies hard, with collectors, libraries, and a surprisingly robust market in many foreign countries keeping it going, despite the popularity of streaming media. (Here in Japan, for instance, video rental stores are still commonplace. Gasp!)That the DVD market would go into sharp decline neatly midway through Gunsmoke's run on the format is, very mildly, ironic. The better but less marketable black-and-white shows, particularly when Gunsmoke was a 30-minute program, were released first, while the later, full-color DVDs of the more famil...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 06, 2018

Gunsmoke: The Thirteenth Season, Volume Two
After another excruciatingly long delay for Gunsmoke fans, CBS/Paramount has released in two volumes the long-running Western series' thirteenth of twenty seasons to DVD. Whether they'll ever get around to releasing the final seven is anyone's guess. Despite the best efforts by the big entertainment conglomerates to kill the Golden Goose, hard media dies hard, with collectors, libraries, and a surprisingly robust market in many foreign countries keeping it going, despite the popularity of streaming media. (Here in Japan, for instance, video rental stores are still commonplace. Gasp!)That the DVD market would go into sharp decline neatly midway through Gunsmoke's run on the format is, very mildly, ironic. The better but less marketable black-and-white shows, particularly when Gunsmoke was a 30-minute program, were released first, while the later, full-color DVDs of the more famil...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 06, 2018

The Strain: the Complete Series
:Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan managed to breathe a bit of new life into the Vampire genre a few years back with a series of horror novels turned into this FX television series which lasted four seasons. Their fresh, genre-bending take on bloodsuckers moves fast while throwing a few deep thoughts your way, with fun three-dimensional characters, suspense, and enough CGI gore to please indiscriminate Fangoria fans.This DVD box-set breathes slightly less life into the gods of commerce, as it simply repackages the four seasons as previously released, while the show is also widely available for streaming. The three-hours worth of extras included span the four, four-disk sets, amounting to about 10-minutes worth of EPK-type extras per disk, informative, but not exhaustive. If you're hankering to bite into a fantastic, fun horror series at your leisure, without...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Jun 05, 2018

My Friend Dahmer

Anne Heche puts on the best performance of her career in My Friend Dahmer, and she's probably the third best thing about this film, which you should take as a very healthy sign. For a movie nobody saw about a serial killer nobody wants to remember, this strange biography does so many things right, and cements itself as an under-the-radar yet top-notch production that will surprise a few people when they finally get around to popping it into there DVD player. That doesn't help the filmmakers or the cast and crew, but it's something; My Friend Dahmer is better than the limited coverage it received and should be bumped up your list.

DVD Reviews
Jun 02, 2018


The reserved Toshio (Kanji Furutachi) is takenintounexpected life territory when his brother Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano)returns homefrom his lengthy stay in prison to live with his brother, alongsideToshio'swife Akie (Mariko Tsutsui) and their daughter Hotaru (MomoneShinokawa). Toshioaims to give his brother a chance at a new life with his family. Itisn't asimple transition for him or his family but they each inte...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
May 29, 2018

In Between (aka Bar Bahar)
When it comes to art that is ostensibly creative or unique, the films that land at a crossroads between culture and cliche are the most complicated to assess. As the old Ebert quote goes, it's not what a film is about, but how the movie is about that subject, but even films that offer a unique cultural perspective or artistic voice, can end up weighed down by the how of familiar story beats or plot devices. In Between is one of those films: a striking feminist statement that no doubt stands out among the films currently being made in Palestine, about Palestinian women, but which also feels somewhat uninspired in terms of the characters and story that debut writer/director Maysaloun Hamoud uses to put that statement onto the screen.Salma (Sana Jammalieh) and Laila (Mouna Hawa) are two young Palestinian women who don't fit traditional cultural expectations. Salma is a lesbian DJ who ...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
May 29, 2018

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Singles Collection

Shout! Factory seems to have completed the nearly two-decade process of putting out DVDs of all the legally cleared episodes from Mystery Science Theater 3000's original 1989-1999 run, with last year's 39th volume. But, the company's work is not totally done. In addition to releasing the cult comedy show's new episodes on disc, they've been doubling back to get the original Rhino-released DVD sets of the show back in print. (I reviewed the reissued Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
May 25, 2018

Fresh off a bus from Oklahoma, Claude Hooper Bukowski (John Savage) hasn't been in New York City for more than a few minutes when he first encounters Berger (Treat Williams). Berger lives a hippie, bohemian lifestyle, appearing to be homeless, and he leads a band of equally carefree oddballs around, including Hud (Dorsey Wright), Jeannie (Annie Golden), and Woof (Don Dacus). Although Claude is a country boy who seems to have no experience with drugs or the counterculture, with plans to hit up a few touristy attractions like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building on his last couple days before he joins the Army in hopes of fighting in Vietnam, he falls right in with the band of rebels, smoking the night away and sleeping in the streets. He also catches the eye of a young woman from an upper-class family, Sheila (Beverly D'Angelo), who takes a liking to both Claude and Berger right away. Bef...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
May 15, 2018

Jasper Jones
Charlie Bucktin (Levi Miller) is perplexed when Jasper Jones (Aaron McGrath) knocks at his window in the middle of the night demanding his help. Although Jasper is a classmate and a local, Charlie and Jasper have never spoken to one another, and he is especially shocked when Jasper leads him to the body of Laura Wishart, the older daughter of the town councilor, hung from a tree. Jasper, who is both an Aboriginal and Laura's girlfriend, correctly assumes the police will look at him as the primary suspect. Jasper suspects the real killer is Mad Jack Lionel (Hugo Weaving), a local recluse who is rumored to have murdered a woman years ago. Charlie reluctantly agrees to help Jasper try and catch the killer, a promise that will leave him juggling the mystery, racist fallout from the ongoing Vietnam War trickling toward his best friend Jeffrey (Kevin Long) and his family, the affections of Laura's younger si...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
May 11, 2018

Bad Lucky Goat
Siblings Corn (Honlenny Huffington) and Rita (Kiara Howard) are your average brother and sister -- constantly bickering, tormenting one another. Corn dreams of being a musician and getting away from the island and the hotel their parents run, while Rita chats with her friend about cute boys and mostly seems anxious to grow up so that her headstrong attitude gets more respect. While running an errand for their parents, Corn and Rita are thrown into a 24-hour adventure that will take them all over the island, into peril and out of it, when they accidentally run over a wayward goat with the family truck and need to figure out how to get it repaired. Bad Lucky Goat is a charming but somewhat simple adventure story, anchored by beautiful visuals and plenty of local flavor but showing hints of repetition even across its scant 76-minute running time. As the debut of writer/director Samir Oliveros,...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
May 10, 2018

PAW Patrol: Summer Rescues
PAW Patrol continues to be Nick Jr.'s most popular show in recent years, packed with all the harmless action and cornball jokes that kids and most parents can't help but snicker at. Summer Rescues is the newest themed collection of PAW Patrol episodes on disc; it doesn't really change anything about the show's formula or characters but doesn't have to. Most episodes go like this: the six PAW Patrol canines (klutzy firefighter Marshall, aquatic expert Z...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
May 04, 2018

Americans, The: Season 5

One of the things that you may like, or not, about the FX show The Americans is its deliberate nature on addressing what would normally being seismic dramatic events in its mythology. Consider that Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys, Burnt) and wife Elizabeth (Keri Russell, Waitress) have had to incorporate their increasingly curious daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) into the mix, something that could significantly change the dynamic of most every other show irrevocably for a show where all three characters are spying for the Russian government in the early and mid-1980s.

So what do Philip and Elizabeth do in Season 5 now that Paige has effectively forced their hand in Season Four? They continue to show her the psychological stress of the life, their life, th...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 25, 2018

Eclipse Series 46: Ingrid Bergman's Swedish Years
Ingrid Bergman Swedish Years DVD Review
With this collection, audiences can explore someof her veryfirst performances, seeing works made in her home country of Sweden.The set startsout with smaller roles where she is a big supporting player beforedevelopinginto lead roles where it's clear she was becoming a leading star.  It isn't difficult to see why Bergman went onto carry entir...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 24, 2018

In Search of Fellini
In Search of Fellini DVD Review
Lucy (Ksenia Solo) is a young, naive woman whostumbles upona film festival playing a series of Federico Fellini films. After shesees themagnificent La Strada for the first time she becomes completelyenthralled in the rich imagery and storytelling. Lucy falls in lovewith Fellini'sfilms. It's love at firs...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 24, 2018

Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie
Hey Arnold The Jungle Movie DVD Review
At Arnold's school, his teacher gives the classthe instructionto make an educational project to enter a competition to try and win afreetrip for the entire class to go visit San Lorenzo for a humanitarianclassproject. Arnold and his best pal Gerald decide to enter together andtheycreate a project which goes on to win the contest.

Helga continues to admire Arnold from afar, gazinglon...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 22, 2018

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete Third Season
Time-Life releases the seven discs comprising the 1969-1970 season of "Laugh-In" from the complete series set put out last summer separately here. I hadn't seen much of the show aside from a few brief clips and had always wanted to see more of it; I'd even contemplated springing for the big set myself but got a chance to review this individual volume. Unfortunately there's a serious flaw with the picture quality that now makes me glad I didn't buy the whole set, which I'll discuss in the details below, but first some words about the show itself:

"The Brady Bunch" has always been one of my favorite TV...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 20, 2018

Archer Season 8 Dreamland

A new, art-deco wrinkle in the Archer storyline
Sealab 2021, most of the cast
creative change-ups

dream excuse plots

Airing on FX (and then FXX), Archer is an animated sitcom (of sorts) which follows Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), an international spy who works for his mother and is surrounded by similarly flawed teammates, though over the years the dynamic has morphed through a number of permutations. The show has aired for eight seasons to date, and has been picked up to run through 10 in total. Fox has put out the first seven seasons on a mix of Blu-rays and DVDs, and DVDTalk has Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 18, 2018

Signature Move
For several years, writer/director Jennifer Reeder has been making a name for herself in the independent filmmaking community. Since 2006, she's produced a string of acclaimed short films, as well as a somewhat mysterious 2008 feature-length debut called Accidents at Home and How They Happen that doesn't seem to be available anywhere (there is also one short on her IMDb from 1995, but nothing between then and 2006). Her wonderful 2015 short, Blood Below the Skin (which evokes a mixture of surreal comedy and raw emotion that recalls Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know) scored a couple of big nominations: a Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, and an AFI Fest Grand Jury Prize. Now, she's back with a second feature-length effort, Signature Move, which seems to be the first project she's taken on she didn't write herself.Zaynab (Fawzia Mir...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 17, 2018

Sweet Virginia

Sweet Virginia is a combination of Fargo and Out of the Furnace, a murky mix of morals with violence making up an even darker core. Its characters are quietly imploding, with bursts of loud rage and action that affect everyone around them, until no one is left untouched. Not an easy drama to watch or to weave, making the work by its amateur director all the more impressive. Dagg created a thriller two years ago that when mostly unwatched, this film being his only other attempt at a feature. But he succeeds where many other inexperienced filmmakers fail; pulling together pieces from other other p...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 17, 2018

The Good Fight: Season One
Some explanation required here. My wife, Yukiyo, was a binge-watching fan of The Good Wife, the 2009-2016 legal-political drama series starring Julianna Margulies. On her days off from work her eyes would be glued to her laptop for hours, watching five or six episodes, one after the other. I only caught bits and pieces of that show, but when the spin-off The Good Fight (2017-present) fell into our unloved DVD screener pool I knew I had to review it, if only so that Yukiyo could see it. And yet, despite never having watched a single entire episode of The Good Wife I'm finding The Good Fight engrossing entertainment, and that minimal conferring with Yukiyo during the first episode was enough to satisfy my curiosity about The Good Wife's connections to its follow-up. However good The Good Wife is, The Good Fight stands on its own terms. Though relegat...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 15, 2018

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Law-related movies are a tough sit for me now, as I usually like to leave that stuff behind at the office when I come home. Roman J. Israel, Esq. is another film in which leading actor Denzel Washington's performance far surpasses the narrative. Washington plays the title character, a book-smart, unassuming attorney who works at a small firm in Los Angeles. He is the "behind-the-scenes guy," preparing all the briefs, motions and pleadings for his partner, William Jackson. When that man suddenly falls ill, Roman is courted by George Pierce (Colin Farrell), a slick partner at a big law firm that consulted with Jackson, to come work with him. Roman eventually does that, and several early, key decisions threaten to overtake his longstanding ideals and derail his career. The payoff here is disappointing, as is the long list of court-system inaccuracies, but Wash...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 11, 2018

The Soultangler
Released in 1987, directed by Pat Bishow and shot entirely on location in his native Long Island, The Soultangler tells the sordid tale of one Dr. Anton Lupesky (Pierre Devaux), a surprisingly young and greasy mad scientist in the vein of Dr. Herbert West. Like his Lovecraftian counterpart, Lupesky has created a serum with special properties. It doesn't quite re-animate the dead, but rather it allows him to transfer his soul into another body. There's a problem though: two souls can't live inside the same body at the same time, so he can really only transfer his soul into a corpse.

As you'd guess, this makes things a little trickier for Lupseky, but thankfully for him he's got an assistant named Jessica (Louise Millmann) and a hammer-wielding smack addict named Carl (Bob Cederberg) around to help him out. Why does he need their help? Because the side effects of the d...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 11, 2018


Anton Yelchin's death was less a tragedy and more a robbery; something was taken from us that we'll never get back. I don't mean to sound possessive over a person, nor do I want to diminish what his family went through personally, but I think for many of us that's how it felt, like someone had stolen something special that we hadn't even had a real chance to cherish yet. Yelchin was a tremendous young actor who was just stepping into his prime; we should have been able to enjoy him for years and years to come. Now that he's gone, what we get are his classic roles and his final performances, one of the most adult coming in the indie drama Porto, a r...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 10, 2018

:Do you suppose that when the Cave People were painting images of mega-fauna on the walls they were wringing their hairy hands, wondering if there was anything new in the art world? It seems to be a perpetual problem with which artists wrestle. For the last 20 years or so, the ability to instantly replicate and share art on the Internet has added another wrinkle to the problem, one which #Artoffline intends to wrestle. Your enjoyment of the discussion depends on your ability to listen without prejudice to the artists and other arty thinkers, as well as your previous level of engagement with this particular topic. As a painter, I found myself alternately irritated and engaged by this documentary, one which may be getting to the subject a little late in the game, but which also presents plenty of legitimate food for thought. The central conceit is this question; is the Inte...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 10, 2018

Don't Call Me Son
Pierre (Naomi Nero) has a comfortable life. It's not unusual or remarkable, but as a young teenager actively exploring both bisexuality (the film's opening sequence finds Pierre enjoying both being pursued by a man and pursuing a young woman) and gender identity (when hooking up with one of them, the camera pans down to reveal he's wearing panties and a garter belt), Pierre seems relaxed in his own skin, both at school and at home with his mother Aracy (Dani Nefussi) and younger sister Jacqueline (Lais Dias). Then, the police suddenly arrest Aracy, revealing to Pierre and Jacqueline that she stole both of them from delivery rooms as infants. Pierre finds himself unexpectedly alone, thrust into an unfamiliar environment, where his "new" parents, Gloria (Nefussi again), Matheus (Matheus Nachtergaele), and younger brother Joca (Daniel Botelho) all have expectations for the child who has been missing for 1...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 08, 2018

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete Second Season

Last year, Time-Life released a complete series box set of the classic neo-vaudeville comedy series, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (DVD Talk has a review right here). Now, Time-Life is breaking down the big box into season sets; seasons 1 through 3 are currently available, with season four due in May. Up for discussion currently is the show's second season, which originally ran from September 16, 1968, to March 31, 1969.

Hosted by nightclub comics Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, Laugh-In is an unusual hybrid of old-style showbiz and (then-)modern sensibilities. Sort of a sketch show, sort of a variety show, Laugh-I...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 06, 2018

Frank Serpico

By now Al Pacino's performance in Serpico is something that if you're not familiar with it, you're familiar with the Serpico name being dropped into a lot of pop culture in the decades since; a guy who wants to do his job and get rid of the bad guys in power who are abusing same. And if you aren't familiar with the film, it's based on the real-life story of Frank Serpico, whose life is reminisced in this documentary bearing his name.

Directed by Antonio D'Ambrosio, the film includes extensive interviews with Serpico and some of the figures during his era of dealing with corruption in the New York police force. Serpico expands this look into a biopic of sorts as he shares stories about growing up and working in New York when he was a child, including an fascinating story about how a cop stiffed him after a...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 04, 2018

Aliens Ate My Homework
Rod Allbright (Jayden Craig) is a pretty average kid. He lives with his mom, Gwen (Kirsten Robek) and two siblings, Eric (Christian Convery) and Linda (Carmela Nossa Guizzo), who he gets along with -- although he really misses his MIA father, Art (Sandy Robson), who vanished three years ago without a trace. He's got one close friend, Mickey (Sean Quan), who likes to build inventions that are varying degrees of dangerous. At school, he doesn't seem to have a reputation, good or bad, although he is routinely tormented by the school bully, Billy Becker (Ty Consiglio), who likes to squish bugs into his victims' hair. None of these things seems likely to change...until a miniaturized alien spaceship carrying Colonel Grakker (Dan Payne), Madame Pong (Tristan Risk), Phillogenus esk Piemondum aka Phil (voice of William Shatner), and Tar Gibbons (Alex Zahara) crashes through his bedroom window. Based on the ...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Apr 04, 2018

The Jackie Gleason Show: In Color (Unreleased Episodes)
Apparently designed to tempt interested parties into buying Time-Life's bigger and more expensive boxed set, The Jackie Gleason Show in Color: Unreleased Episodes may have the opposite effect. Three of the four episodes featured are fairly mediocre, though Gleason is fun to watch. More significantly, the shows are all incomplete, each 50-minute episode hacked to around 42 minutes. Dishonestly, Time-Life makes no mention of this at all on the packaging. Why are they cut? Their 42-minute length suggests one reason, that they were edited for syndication purposes, or maybe Time-Life didn't want to pony-up to clear various music rights issues. What seems to be missing consists mainly or perhaps entirely segments featuring the June Taylor Dancers, presumably dance numbers set to popular songs of the day. However, other segments on the disc include performances by artists like Frankie Avalon and Flo...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 31, 2018


Obsession meets disability--guess which wins
magic, good documentaries
card tricks
feeling guilty for trying to help someone, narrative-light documentaries
the very idea of blindness

iIa a slick intro mixing card tricks with archival media appearances, and a look at one of Richard Turner's performances at Los Angeles' famed The Magic Castle, director Luke Koren quickly establishes his subject as a charismatic and remarkably talented card mechanic (Turner's preferred title), able to perform sleight of hand techniques with a deck of playing cards that would be...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 28, 2018

Steven Universe: The Complete First Season
In the town of Beach City, life is pretty quiet, except for the adventures of Steven Universe (Zach Callison) and a band of warriors known as the Crystal Gems -- Garnet (Estelle), Amethyst (Michaela Dietz), and Pearl (Deedee Magno). With the support of Steven's concerned father Greg (Tom Scharpling), who keeps an eye out from his home/van, Steven goes on adventures with the Crystal Gems to help protect Earth from mysterious forces from out in the deeper reaches of the galaxy. Between missions, Steven also finds time to befriend a local girl, Connie (Grace Rolek), and get into all sorts of trouble with the various townsfolk, including his favorite donut shop employees Sadie (Kate Miccuci) and Lars (Matthew Moy), conspiracy theorist/fry cook Peedee Fryman (Zachary Steel), arcade proprietor Mr. Smiley (Sinbad), Mayor Dewey (Joel Hodgson), and the mysterious Onion.Created by Rebecca Sugar, former writer...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 26, 2018

The Teacher

My brother-in-law is Czech, and grew up in Communist-era Prague during the 70s and 80s. I texted him while watching this fascinating film to get translations of street signs and propaganda, although the setting here is Bratislava, Slovakia, not the Czech Republic; close enough. He is always on the lookout for Czech or Slovak films, and this one really piqued his interest, as it focuses on a very specific time frame, one which he experienced first hand. But at the same time, this story is an example of the Communist ideal (and abuse thereof) worldwide, a snapshot of what it's like to live under the thumb of a regime that proposes to make...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 23, 2018

PAW Patrol: Sea Patrol
PAW Patrol continues to be one of Nick Jr.'s most unstoppable franchises; the fifth season just premiered last month and merchandise is still selling like hotcakes. The most recent...*ahem*...wave of merchandise includes "Sea Patrol", in which our bold and fearless pups take to the water and...well, basically do the same thing as always, except now you have to buy more toys. The aptly-named Sea Patrol is the eleventh themed collection of PAW Patrol episo...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 21, 2018

Dynasty: The Complete Series

The genesis of Dynasty begins not in Denver, Colorado, in January of 1981, but out in Dallas, Texas, in the spring of 1980. That's when primetime soap Dallas put a bullet in its dastardly lead character and "Who Shot J.R.?" fever took off not just in the United States, but all over the world. ABC wanted a piece of that audience, so the king of TV producers, Aaron Spelling, took on Richard and Esther Shapiro's idea of another oil-rich family with another morally vacant patriarch: Blake Carrington. Actor George Peppard was originally cast in the role, but bowed out - reportedly because he didn't want to play a bad guy every week on national TV. The part was re-cast, this time with John Forsythe who came into the character with a directive: he wasn't going to ...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 20, 2018

Beyond The 7th Door
:Beyond The Seventh Door is an exploitation film without parallel. Off the top, there's the title, evoking several different movies. If you were stoned and looking for a good horror movie in Ye Olde Mon N' Pop video store, this title would ring several bells, without actually being any of those bells. Nowadays if you're stoned and looking for that 80s SOV horror masterpiece that served as the inspiration for the Saw series, this would not be it (but it's close). If you want the worst mildly weirdest, weirdly mildest, coke-fueled $2000 two-actor movie, you've come to the right place. Beyond The Seventh Door tells the tale of some freaky Patagonian version of Benicio Del Toro, an ex-con who's wrongly convinced that this hot 80s chick loves him and wants him to accompany her into an Angeleno castle where they'll find a million bucks for th...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 20, 2018

Steve McQueen: American Icon

In trivia of the personally strange, I tend to gravitate to documentaries on Steve McQueen, as I've watched the one where McQueen labored over years to get his Le Mans film made, and I've also seen the one that examines why McQueen was so charismatic and his life with remembrances by his son Chad. I didn't know what to expect from Steve McQueen: American Icon, but it wasn't without intrigue.There was a point late in McQueen's life that he had discovered spirituality and faith and his love of Jesus Christ. Yes, THAT Steve McQueen! And American Icon spends some exploratory time diving into that period in his life, but this is spent near the end of the 80-minute film, after the film has hit touchstones...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 20, 2018

Shopkins World Vacation
:This is my second excursion into the land of Shopkins. I might have come off a little harsh for the first go-around, (which you can read here) but this time, I'm older and wiser. Though I still have a hard time with the metaphysical aspect of a line of toys about shopping, that primes young girls to shop by making them shop, shop, shop, (or something) I was charmed by this feature-length adventure.Shopkins are animate consumer products, from a bunch of bananas, to a lipstick, to a crown. (Which isn't really a consumer product, but what can you do?) The Shopkins have human friends, sassy girls known as Shoppies. The group has wild adventures, originally told in a short-form web-series format. Now they're going world-wide in this movie th...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 19, 2018

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton

Even for those unaware of the sport of surfing, Laird Hamilton has achieved a modest level of crossover success. Sure, he's appeared in surfing films like Riding Giants, Step Into Liquid and the sequel to Bruce Brown's Endless Summer film. But he's also appeared in fictional work too, notably in films like the Point Break remake and even had a brief appearance in Alexander Payne's The Descendants. And now as he continues the second half of his life a documentary about Hamilton titled Take Every Wave appears on the horizon.Directed by Rory Kennedy (Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 19, 2018

True Love Ways

True Love Ways (which is a title that doesn't really make any sense in English, I wonder what its native translation actually means) is a film that seems to have picked far too many specific niches to possibly be a movie that more than a very small number of audience members could really enjoy. German, noir, horror, black&white, bloody, trippy, sexual, snuff; there is almost too much to see, more than anyone can focus on without getting dizzy, despite the slow pace and the relatively simple story. If the director had only chosen a narrower lane, he might have made his movie more accessible for a larger group. As is, Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 18, 2018

Woody Woodpecker
The Film:While I wouldn't classify myself as a Woody Woodpecker fan, exactly, the character was ingrained into my childhood in several different ways that made the prospect of checking out a live-action movie somewhat appealing. On top of seeing many of the cartoons and learning how to belt out the bird's signature psychotic laugh, Woody's wild locks and facial expressions made up one of the first cartoon characters -- more so than Mickey or Bugs -- that I learned to draw while developing the hobby of my youth. So when the high-pitched giggling and spiky red-feathered appearance zoomed onto the screen for the trailer, a bit of nostalgic excitement shot through me which quickly disappeared when viewing the liv...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 17, 2018

Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara - Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France

The four films in Criterion's most recent Eclipse set, Claude Autant-Lara: Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France, are interesting for two historical reasons*. The first reason is right there in the title of the set: these films were made (or in the case of the last entry, conceived) during the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. Only escapist films that didn't comment upon the war were permitted to be made, which proved to be a balm to shell-shocked French audiences anyway. The second cause for notability is that director Claude Autant-Lara's handsomely mounted productions are exactly t...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 15, 2018

The Marcel Perez Collection: Vol. 2

One of my absolute favorite compilations of silent film shorts isUndercrank Productions disc TheMarcel Perez Collection. An amazing and totally forgottensilent clown, Perez made hilarious films that were also creative andtechnically innovative. The only down-side was that the 10 shorts onthat disc were all of the films of Marcel Perez that were availableat the time. Luckily, more have turned up so Undercrack has releaseda second volume, appropriately titled The Marcel PerezCollection Volume 2, filled with eight more offerings fromthis silent clown. Just as fun and entertaining as the first volume,this is a disc you'll want to add to your collection.

Perez started out in Europe but immigrated to the US at the outbreakof World War I. This collection starts off with one film from hisEuro...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 14, 2018

My Art
Ellie Shine (Laurie Simmons) is an artist, and she's ready to dive into her next big piece. She's just visited a former student (Lena Dunham) at an art gallery where the student's work is being exhibited, wrapped another semester of teaching, and has lined up a nice location, in the form of a summer house owned by a friend who has offered to let Ellie stay there for the summer. Ellie knows that she wants to work with film on her next project, meaning both filming with a Bolex camera and tapping into the visuals from old movies that she loves so much, but she only discovers upon arriving that the journey will involve some locals, including local actors/landscapers Frank (Robert Clohessy) and Tom (Josh Safdie), as well as John (John Rothman), the laywer relative of one of her students. My Art is a gorgeous movie, not just starring but also written and directed by visual artist Laurie Simmons....Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Mar 12, 2018

Bugs (2016)
Andreas Johnsen's Bugs (2016) is very straightforward with its message: the world will eventually need a lot more food to support its ever-growing human population, so why not munch on a few insects? This globe-hopping documentary follows Ben Reade, Josh Evans, and Roberto Flore of Denmark's Nordic Food Lab on their tireless journey to investigate, hunt, and prepare all sorts of insects from six continents with the assistance of local experts -- and, of course, to persuade anyone whose initial response to "How about a steaming bowl of fried cricke...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Feb 24, 2018

Ray Donovan: The Fifth Season

Ray Donovan is one of those shows that has always been good, but has never quite been good enough to be mentioned alongside the best shows on television. All that changes with Season Five, in which the showrunners make a bold decision to off one of the lead characters - resulting in the kind of drama and emotional impact that most TV series only dream about having.

The character who says goodbye isn't a spoiler, as it's revealed in the Season Five premiere: it's Abby Donovan (Paula Malcomson), the wife of Ray (Liev Schreiber), who had a breast cancer scare in Season Four, although that's not what kills her. Season Five begins in the aftermath of her passing, and one of the big mysterie...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Feb 24, 2018

Roaring Abyss
:For those wondering, the roaring abyss isn't a negative thing or a weird name, as some reviews have mentioned. I'd reckon it's a call-out to the Kingdom of Abyssinia, now known as Ethiopia, and that roaring you hear is all the powerful music coming from the African nation. Though it may be hard to draw a bead on what type of movie Roaring Abyss is exactly, it's a fantastic piece of art, and for fans of world music.Director Quino Pinero collects numerous field recordings from throughout Ethiopia, weaving them with day-to-day footage to create a tone-poem of hypnotic and at times rapturous beauty. Yet somehow, calling this a tone poem seems a disservice, possibly relegating Roaring Abyss to the realms of art-house cinema, when it should be seen more widely than that, and screened by anyone seriously interested in music, Ethiopian culture,...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Feb 22, 2018


In 1960, Lerner & Loewe's Camelot opened on Broadway and ran for 873 performances. Based on the classic T.H. White novel The Once and Future King, this bold musical would go on to have a U.S. tour and appear on stage in London, but it wasn't done just yet. In 1967, there was a film version adapted for the screen starring Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave, which revitalized the show and led to a revival of the stage version in 1980. In 1982, a live performance was captured on tape at the Winter Garden Theater in Manhattan, which is how we come to this DVD and a rare opportunity to revisit this lovely musical.

DVD Reviews
Feb 20, 2018

The Square

I have never seen a film quite like The Square, and perhaps that feeling is bolstered by how little I was prepared for it. I knew it was a talked-about foreign film, I heard Elizabeth Moss's name, and I saw that it was 140 minutes long, and so I guess I made a bunch of assumptions that held me back from making it a priority on my list. But what I didn't know turned out to be so much more important. I didn't know that this was Ostlund's next feature after the excellent Force Majeure, I didn't know that Moss and every other actor were merely supporting, and I didn't know that the story would be...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Feb 16, 2018

Shock Wave

The Hong Kong bomb squad flick Shock Wave is a nearly nonstop barrage of setpieces. Car chases, wild shootouts, and, of course, explosions abound. Sometimes these elements appear in separate scenes, but often they arrive clumped together. Writer-director Herman Yau, whose career runs the gamut from the grossout horror of Ebola Syndrome to the mainstream martial arts of The Legend Is Born: Ip Man, is clearly a restless soul. This restlessness benefits this film greatly, as Yau is constantly adding new wrinkles to his narrative that make what might...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Feb 15, 2018

Thank You for Playing
Ryan and Amy Green, sweethearts since they were in their teens, are now married and have a big family. Their third son, Joel, however, has been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. Ryan, a video game designer, begins pouring his energy into developing a video game, called That Dragon, Cancer, which serves as a heightened, stylized, but deeply autobiographical account of the entire family's journey dealing with Joel's illness. Along the way, directors David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Warrall chronicle the ups and downs of the experience, as yet a further document of Joel's tragically brief life. Thank You For Playing is a wildly uneven documentary about a deeply sympathetic story. Looking at the film (and the game) simply as a vehicle to illustrate the ways the Greens cope with Joel's illness, this is a moving and uniquely tragic story about the ways humans use art to communicate. A...Read the entire review

DVD Reviews
Feb 14, 2018

The Outlaw
The second and final film to be directed by quirky business tycoon Howard Hughes, 1943's The Outlaw tells the story of notorious outlaw duo Billy the Kid (Jack Buetel in his first feature film appearance) and Doc Holliday (Walter Huston). When the film opens they meet and become fast friends, only for Billy to wind up shot and just barely escape capture from the law men out to put him away behind bars. Shortly after this occurs, it's decided that the two of them will law low at Doc's ranch for a little while. Here Billy, quite understandably, becomes infatuated with Holliday's comely mistress, Rio McDonald (Jane Russell in her big screen debut), and while he hardly treats her like a gentleman, it's clear that the attraction is mutual.

While the sexual tension mounts between those three, Sheriff Pat Garrett (Thomas Mitchell) Stagecoach) and his well-armed posse of tri...Read the entire review

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