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DVD Reviews
Dec 13, 2018

Americans, The: Season 6

The sixth season was the last for The Americans, the show about the married couple of Philip (Matthew Rhys, Burnt) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell, Waitress), father and mother to two kids and oh by the way, are spies who were born and raised in Russia before moving to America as teenagers. I had been wondering how the show was going to end things for itself whether it was Season Three, Season Four or Season Five. And the genius of the show is that not that it didn't have to go out with a bang, but that it didn't have to.

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DVD Reviews
Dec 07, 2018

All The Creatures Were Stirring
"In tone, we wanted it to feel like an episode of The Office, almost, except if Jim got his head blown off three minutes into the episode."
- All the Creatures Were Stirring's audio commentary on "The Stockings Were Hung"Yuletide horror. Horror anthologies. Two great tastes that should taste great together, but how many Christmas horror anthologies have Santa's elves ever bothered to put together? One?! Ugh. Writers/directors David Ian McKendry and Rebekah McKendry couldn't let ...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Dec 04, 2018

Black to the Future
In 10 Words or LessNothing is less funny than pre-2016 election comedyReviewer's Bias*Stand-up comics
Lewis Black, political comedy
Late-career comics





DVD Reviews
Dec 04, 2018

The Good Fight - Season Two
The excellent television legal drama The Good Fight returns for its second season on DVD, the series already having been renewed for a third one next year. As I explained in my review of Season One, my wife, Yukiyo, was a binge-watching fan of The Good Wife, the 2009-2016 legal drama that had preceded it, the 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 then the first year of The Good Fight fell into our unloved DVD screener pool and I grabbed it, mainly so that she could watch it. I'm glad now that I did, because The Good Fight turned out to be a very smart and even boldly political series exploring controversial, ripped-from-the-headlines topics in the Trump era. The very first shot of the first first-se...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Dec 03, 2018

Umbango
Gravel Road Pictures and Indiepix have teamed up for the Retro Afrika collection, consisting of nearly 50 films that have been found and restored from Apartheid-era South Africa. With movies from the 1970s through to the 1990s, this unearthed treasure trove of true independent international cinema has been compiled for digital release, on Indiepix's Amazon Prime channel, as well as a select few that are also being offered as Amazon MOD DVD-R releases. Umbango is the third of the movies I've watched, following Gone Crazy and Fishy Stones, and the best has been saved for last, with this final film, a western, featuring the most successful filmmaking of the trio.KK and Jake have just rolled into a small town and declared themselves the new leaders of it, staking their...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Dec 03, 2018

Fishy Stones (Retro Afrika)
Two men, Robert and Makhosi, have just pulled off a diamond heist, but immediately find themselves pursued by cops with little chance of making it to safety. Instead of being caught with the loot and losing it, they decide to toss it out the window of their car. Shortly thereafter the diamonds are discovered by David and Alex, two young men having a little camping trip together. While they're excited about their valuable find, they're concerned the original owner might come looking for it...a concern that turns out to be warranted when Robert and Makhosi break themselves out of prison and turn up expecting to get their big score back.Fishy Stones is one of the films in Indiepix's new Retro Afrika series, which consists of low-budget motion pictures made in Apartheid-era South Africa, when the region has no access to Hollywood movies. These independent productions provide a fascinating look ...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 29, 2018

Star Trek: Discovery - Season One
After the slow-burning fizzle of Enterprise during the early 2000s (no doubt a direct result of franchise over-saturation the previous decade), Star Trek smartly stayed off the small screen for a full twelve years. The overwhelming success of all three reboot films in 2009, 2013, and Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 28, 2018

Community - The Complete Series - DVD


Over the last five decades or so, there has been no shortage of sitcoms that take place in educational institutions. They're mostly centered on high school, but college also gets its occasional turn in the form of quirky shows about early adults struggling to find their place in life. Community is special amongst them because it's mainly about misfits of various ages who are trying to grasp a second chance at life. That insightful premise is wrapped about a heightened high concept tone that borderlines on a live action cartoon narrative. The formula that creator Dan Harmon puts together satisfies the Matt Groening-style irreverent and borderline absurdist humor mixed with characters we can immediately relate to, no matter how archetypal they might get in service of any given joke or bit.

Apart from Season 4, where Harmon stepped out as the showrunner, leaving behi...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 28, 2018

Gone Crazy (Retro Afrika)
In the 1970s and 1980s, Apartheid-era Africans had essentially no access to mainstream cinema. The solution? Make their own films, across every genre, including ambitious action movies, sweeping romances, and even striking social commentary films that the African government looked down on. For years, these genuinely independent productions were as unavailable to the world as the world's cinema once was to Africa, but with the help of Gravel Road Entertainment, Indiepix has found nearly 50 of these films and has given them digital restorations so that they can be accessible both via DVD-R releases and digital streaming (even the DVD packages carry the Amazon Prime logo). The movies will be collected in the "Retro Afrika" series, and three of the unearthed pictures have been released on MOD DVD: Umbango, Fishy Stones, and this film, Gone Crazy...which, unfortunately, doesn't ha...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 27, 2018

Pin Cushion




I have to be careful, because sometimes I simply enjoy a movie because I'm one of the few who has taken the opportunity to try it out, and sometimes that experience is worth more than the film itself. An indie flick comes along, it goes entirely under the radar, it's not a hidden gem by any means, but just watching gives those few in the audience a feeling of personal attention, and you find yourself rooting for a story and its character with a voracity that perhaps it doesn't deserve. This film is one that's not strong enough to warrant the praise on its own, it needs its status to drum up support. And although I am all for giving support to independ...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 21, 2018

An Interview with God




Faith-based films are making their appearance known far too often, masquerading as real cinema, when all they really are is propaganda for a religion that is slowly dying and is desperate to reach new audiences before it blinks out completely. Or at least, that's a pessimistic (and potentially atheist) take on the genre; an optimist (or Christian/believer/hopeful soul) might see it in a completely different light. That's the inherent problem with this modern movement; you can talk about God in a movie, but making your story completely about one viewpoint is automatically polarizing, and those who haven't fallen for the trick before are...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 20, 2018

Who is America
In 10 Words or LessSacha Baron Cohen returns to embarrass semi-celebs and politiciansReviewer's Bias*Seeing the pompous degraded
Da Ali G Show
Reality "stars"
false equivalen...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 14, 2018

I Married Joan: Classic TV Collection Vol 4
Back in the late 1970s a local UHF station in my Detroit market, WKBD TV-50, ran a summer series consisting of long unseen, rarely syndicated-by-then sitcoms from the 1950s and early- 60s, most of which never turned up anywhere else since. These included The People's Choice (starring Jackie Cooper), How to Marry a Millionaire (based on the movie, and featuring Barbara Eden), December Bride (and its spin-off, Pete & Gladys), Topper, My Little Margie, Love That Bob! (aka The Bob Cummings Show) and others. What prompted the airing of this collection of old shows? Maybe the local station had rights and the prints were collecting dust, or perhaps some enterprising distributor packaged them together and syndicated them nationally. I have no idea. Some of these were pretty tepid, but others were great. The one I liked the most is also by far the m...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 09, 2018

Time Life The Best of The Three Stooges
In 10 Words or LessThe start of slapstick is intermittently funnyReviewer's Bias*Megasets
The Three Stooges, Curley
Moe
Curley Joe shorts




DVD Reviews
Nov 05, 2018

Patient Zero
: Seems like there's a lot of hate for Patient Zero out there. (At least among Amazon reviews.) The haters are wrong, as this patient comes with a cool conceit and a fun blend of movie styles. Most of the ideas aren't really new, but if a bloody psycho-thriller with a twist or two, good performances, and a brisk pace doesn't sound like enjoyable viewing on a dark night, then, as the haters online would say, 'begone, I have nothing to say to you.' Well yeah, when the sexy scientist (Scar-Jo substitute Natalie Dormer) appears in the underground bunker in a world overrun by rabid zombies, you might think writer Mike Le and director Stefan Ruzowitzky are painting by numbers, but then the 'zombie-talking' hero Morgan (Matt Smith) begins to do his thing, and honestly, it's fun and unique. Patient Zero draws liberally from the wells of productions like Day of the Dead...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 05, 2018

Halloween Pussy Trap Kill! Kill!
This awkwardly yet interestingly titled movie was actually titled Halloween Hell House when it was being shot, and that's a far better title for it. Produced by Cleopatra, who put out a number of great industrial music compliation CDs in the 1990s, this is a watchable low-budget affair but doesn't score many points for originality, being quite similar to the Saw series.

After an opening set in Pakistan that makes one wonder if they're even watching the right movie (this basically introduces us to the movie's two "bad guys" and how they got that way while serving in the military) we go back to Los Angeles and join the all-girl punk band "Kill Pussy Kill" as they're playing a show on Halloween- and they...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Nov 05, 2018

Destination Wedding




There exists a group of fans and critics who remember the duo of Ryder and Reeves from Bram Stoker's Dracula and have loved them ever since. Reeves has had the better career, Ryder has had her moments, both are currently working hard (John Wick, Stranger Things), and here they are together again in a romantic comedy that relies almost expressly on their likeabilty factor and their chemistry. Problem is, there also exists a contingent (of which I am a part) that never thought these two were capable actors in any way, t...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Oct 31, 2018

Peppa Pig: Stars

There is something about British children's entertainment or the characters of same that provides a bit of comfort to those who watch it. I mean there are two Paddington movies now and I can't not get the smell of marmalade on toast out of my nostrils, and this bleeds through to other British shows I watch with my son now, the latest of those being Peppa Pig, one in a family of pigs who do the normal human type things.

Created in the UK and first airing in 2004, the show finds Peppa, her younger brother, mother and father and chronicles their experiences. Some of them, like being stuck in a traffic jam, are a little more mundane than others, while we see a pet competition at Peppa's school, or more de rigeur subjects for toddlers like looking at the stars or a bouncy ball of high interest. At a high level, Peppa experiences the subject, has it explained and t...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Oct 31, 2018

Thelma Todd & Zasu Pitts: The Hal Roach Collection 1931-33
Hal Roach Studios produced many of the best short and feature comedies of the silent and early sound era. Roach's most successful films were the shorts and features starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, but his studio also boasted Our Gang (aka The Little Rascals), Charley Chase and others. Roach was a businessman, but making his comedies good was equally important. As he had done earlier with silent great Harold Lloyd, Roach nurtured his properties, favoring strong characterizations over broad slapstick. His was a small company with a family atmosphere, the "Lot of Fun," as it was nicknamed, his pictures distributed by bigger companies (first Pathe, later MGM and finally United Artists), and he gave artists like Stan Laurel (the main creative force behind Laurel & Hardy) much more freedom than the big studios would ever have allowed. The great success of Laurel & Hardy in the last d...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Oct 30, 2018

Between Land & Sea
Between Land and Sea DVD Review




DVD Reviews
Oct 30, 2018

The Love Boat: Season Four (Volumes 1 & 2)
The Love Boat (Season Four, Volumes 1 & 2), from the 1980-81 season, chugs right along with its parade of obvious but likeable romantic melodrama and low-brow comedy, its romanticized notions of cruise ship vacations, occasional exotic location shooting and, most importantly, its parade of guest stars: hot and cold TV talent, has-beens, barely-beens, famous-because-they're-famous types, nostalgic TV faces from the past, sports personalities, and sometimes even major old-time movie stars. Though probably few would admit it now, back in the late 1970s pretty much everyone not on a date or otherwise engaged on Saturday night tuned in to ABC's one-two punch of The Love Boat at 9:00 and Fantasy Island at 10:00pm. Though often unpardonably corny and melodramatic, The Love Boat was also daringly innovative from a production standpoint, and so tantalizingly glamorized and exo...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Oct 26, 2018

Nick Jr.: Snow Awesome!
Themed DVD collections have been Nick Jr.'s bread and butter for more than a decade now: they've all but abandoned chronological season sets, so the recent appearance of their new winter-themed collection Snow Awesome is hardly surprising at this point. Six episodes (11-22 minutes each) from three of their female-led shows are included on this one-disc release, which is a nice change-up. Oddly enough, two are advertised as "all-new holiday specials" but, according to episo...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Oct 25, 2018

Saved By The Bell: The Complete Collection
Originally created by TV writer Sam Bobrick and developed by producer Peter Engel, Saved by the Bell (1989-93) outgrew humble origins to quickly become an enduring and popular teen sitcom -- which, at the time, was a genre that didn't exist. First envisioned as a teacher-focused series called Good Morning, Miss Bliss in 1988, it was retooled for younger audiences with a bigger spotlight on the (mostly new) students and a more fun and colorful atmosphere. Both were necessary with the show's new timeslot on NBC: Saturday mornings, where it was head-to-head against cartoons that had dominated the landscape for ...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Oct 25, 2018

American Horror Story: Cult
The Season:Part of what elevates installments in the horror genre from being scary to being legitimately good comes in how it reflects upon the monstrosities of humanity itself, how it makes the ugly side of people into something tangible. Unless it's a story based on real events, that sort of commentary typically gets concealed within metaphors and symbolism, creating some breathing room between the enjoyment of the horror from the real-world details of what it sets out to critique, whether it's personal ailments like psychological disorders and sexually-transmitted infections or more social concerns like racism and xenophobia. The latest installment in American Horror Story, Cult, not only doesn't try to hide the target of its c...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Oct 24, 2018

Barry:S1

For the Peak TV run we've been on lately, and the way things have risen more towards dramatic fare for obvious reasons, comedic shows have had their own rebirth the last few years. And in HBO's Barry, we get a dark comedy with a strong ensemble. When the Emmys were rolling in September and the show earned trophies for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, I couldn't help but think "damn right," because its unique voice is one worth experiencing.

SNL vet Bill Hader plays the eponymous character Barry, a loner who went through a combat tour in Iraq and, upon his discharge from the Army, was welcomed by Fuches (Stephen Root, Get Out), a mentor who turned Barry into a hitman and Fuches was his handler. The pair became tired of doing jobs in the Midwest and moved to California to do a hit for some Chechen...Read the entire review





DVD Reviews
Oct 24, 2018

Etoile aka toile
In 10 Words or LessBefore Black Swan, there was EtoileReviewer's Bias*Jennifer Connelly
ballet, old European horror
methodical films
Dopey endings
The FilmRead the entire review





DVD Reviews
Oct 23, 2018

Go Tell the Spartans




Ted Post liked to direct Clint Eastwood in the 60s and early 70s; I guess that would have been like directing Tom Hanks in the 90s, an almost guaranteed success and a huge crutch for any filmmaker. Rawhide, Hang 'Em High, Magnum Force; that is some of Post's best work, and he threw in Beneath the Planet of the Apes for good measure. But the magic would run out when Post moved toward the end of his career, and Go Tell the Spartans is definitely not an example of his prime years. Burt Lancaster and Co. couldn't deliver a strong enough product to support the message that was being relayed, an expose on war that made its...Read the entire review





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

Grizzly
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


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

CMA Awards LIVE
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

Miracles

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

Thoroughbreds
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

Swung




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
Jianyu

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

Step
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

Harmonium

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

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 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 25, 2018

Hair
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

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 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 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

Porto




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

#artoffline
: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

Dealt

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

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





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