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  • Portlandia – Season Four

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 1st, 2014

    Oregon may have been the 33rd state to join our union — and Portland may be its most populous city — but Portlandia is a (beet-eating, Bigot Parade-hosting, 3D printer-buying) state of mind. And four seasons into lovingly mocking upper middle class indulgence along with the denizens of the Pacific Northwest, the show — created by stars Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein and director Jonathan Krisel — continues to feel more like a fully-realized destination than ever.
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    The Walking Dead: Season 4 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 29th, 2014

    The first thing you should know about The Walking Dead is that it’s unlike any television series you have ever seen before. The images here are intense, and the crew has been given a blank check to create this vision without the burden of censors looking over their shoulders. There are plenty of blood-and-gore effects that rival any of the Hollywood zombie films you’ve seen in the last few years. The makeup effects are handled by the very capable hands of KNB and supervised personally by Greg Nicotero (the N from KNB).
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    Haven: Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 29th, 2014

    “You were always such a clever troublemaker.”

    When Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) entered the barn in the conclusion of season 3 of Haven, all “the Troubles” were supposed to come to an end for the small seaside town of Haven, Maine.  Sure everything seemed to go as planned, that is until Duke (Eric Balfour) took the plunge into the barn before it disappeared, leaving Sheriff Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant) behind.
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    The November Man

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on August 29th, 2014

    The pleasure of The November Man is seeing an ex-James Bond come out of retirement being all cool and mean and efficiently lethal. The ex-James Bond is Pierce… Pierce Bronson. He’s not as old as Sean Connery, but he’s pretty old, and too old to look this good killing people. The November Man is nothing but a cheap and easy, end-of-August bit of popcorn fodder, but it works well. It works so well it already has a sequel planned. I don’t think the budget on this is very large, so it probably was a no-brainer. The locations are all over middle Europe and Russia, but I think that’s cheaper than New York City or London.
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    Aftermath (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 28th, 2014

    Considering the state the world is in, I’m a little surprised there isn’t more talk about a possible World War 3 scenario being played out.  This isn’t something I want, but watching the news, it is certainly something that resonates in the back of my mind and gives a moment of reflection.  Aftermath is the film that preys upon that fear of what a possible World War 3 could be. The results are far from promising, and it succeeds in telling the inevitable fate of the world, despite how bleak the outcome may be.
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    High School Confidential! (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 28th, 2014

    “You have just seen an authentic disclosure of conditions which unfortunately exist in some of our high schools today. The job of policemen will not be finished until this insidious menace to the schools of our country is exposed and destroyed.”

    “Authentic” is probably a stretch, but High School Confidential! is certainly fascinating for a variety of reasons. Every generation has an alleged scourge that invades high schools and threatens to rip apart the very fabric of society. (Cue masterpiece eye roll.) In 1958, that menace went by the name “Mary Jane.”
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    The Possession of Michael King (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 27th, 2014

    Here is a film that delves into a subject not many people care to openly discuss but poses a question that everyone who’s lost someone they love can relate to.  When prayer and faith don’t seem to deliver the answers you want for those that need closure that therapy can’t seem to provide, where does one turn?  It’s this hopeless feeling of loss that seems to be what attracts Michael King (Shane Johnson) to investigate the possibility of the supernatural.
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    William Shatner’s Get a Life!

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 27th, 2014

    Is there anyone out there who hasn’t noticed that William Shatner the actor has become William Shatner the character over the years?  Give the man some credit for finding ways to reinvent himself. After Star Trek he was the only actor to find himself another regular television character and shakes the typecasting that most actors in the franchise have been victimized by. When TJ Hooker was gone, he found a few other shows and ways to take advantage of what could have been fleeting fame. By the time he did Boston Legal, he had completely reinvented himself as a somewhat humorous character and wonderful mate for James Spader
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    Blended (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 27th, 2014

    Adam Sandler took a bit of a beating with Blended. His previous, non-Grown Ups outing (That’s My Boy) was Sandler’s first comedy in a while to severely underperform at the box office, suggesting audiences might be tiring of the comic’s (critic-proof) brand of humor. Then came Sandler’s pre-release admission that he makes movies based on where he’d like to get paid to vacation. Blended went on to underwhelm at the box office, at least by the reliable standards of Sandler comedies. (It brought in $123 million worldwide on a reported $40 million budget, though only $46 million of that came from the U.S.) Maybe it was the lowered expectations, but I actually kinda liked Blended.
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    Boardwalk Empire: Season 4 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 27th, 2014

    “It’s like Prohibition never happened but for one thing. Prices will increase twenty-fold. We got a product a fellah’s gotta have. Even better is that, we got a product he ain’t allowed to have.”

    The fourth season of Boardwalk Empire began pretty much the only way it could have after the bloodbath that ended the previous season. It was an explosive season that delivered the best gangland war in television history. Now there has to be some kind of peace or at least status quo after the end of the violence. Nucky is making his peace with Arnold Rothstein and his people. He also owes Chalky White for saving his behind when war broke out.
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    Regular Show: Rigby Pack

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 27th, 2014

    Cartoon Network has just released yet another collection of episodes of Regular Show, only this time they are all based around Rigby.  For those new to the show who want in on the obsession that kids, friends, and other cartoon addicts have for this show, here is a little need-to-know info about the Regular Show.  The show centers on Mordecai (a blue jay) and Rigby (a raccoon) and the crazy adventures they find themselves stuck in the middle of.
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    The Normal Heart (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 26th, 2014

    “Could you please reduce your level of hysteria?”

    There is a lot of yelling and a lot of outrage in The Normal Heart. The film chronicles the confusing, terrifying onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in the early 1980s and how a group of gay men (and one intrepid doctor) in New York fought to draw attention to the deadly disease. Their efforts are alternately frustrating and futile, which leads to a higher decibel level for much of the movie’s second half. Thankfully, The Normal Heart is shrewd enough to note that there’s more than one way to make a point.
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    Boredom

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on August 26th, 2014

    Are you bored? Then Boredom may be the most important thing you ever watch. You should know, boredom kills. Many riots occur because people are bored. People jump off mountains with parachutes because they are bored. People engage in unprotected sex because they are bored. People even kill themselves because they are bored. I personally think there are worse things to be than bored, but maybe I’m wrong. After all, things are always rosier on the other side of the fence.
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    Bee People

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on August 26th, 2014

    The outside of the DVD box says, ”Warning: The information you are about to see will result in hives.” It is true that the documentary Bee People is a very passionate polemic meant to get people excited about the idea of having their own backyard beehives. Bees are one of the most important parts of the ecological network, because they pollinate most of the foods and flowers across the planet, and bees are disappearing. It is actually a very alarming fact that bees are disappearing, because we don’t know why, nor what the eventual outcome will be if they cease to exist.
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    Richard Attenborough (1923-2014)

    Posted in Tribute by John Ceballos on August 25th, 2014

    “I wanted to show them something that wasn’t an illusion. Something that was real, something that they could see and touch. An aim not devoid of merit.”

    Those words were spoken by John Hammond, the man who (in)famously brought dinosaurs back to life in Jurassic Park. However, they also applied to the acclaimed actor/filmmaker who played him. Sir Richard Attenborough died Sunday, leaving behind an indelible mark on movie history thanks to his work in front of and behind the camera.

    In addition to directing a dozen films — and winning a pair of Oscars for producing and directing Gandhi — Attenborough earned more than 70 screen credits as an actor. His most widely-seen role came in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster (and a couple of months shy of Attenborough’s 70th birthday), but Attenborough also stood out in films like The Great Escape and the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street. Join us in celebrating Sir Richard’s work with a trip through the UpcomingDiscs archives.
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    Aerial America: Southeast Collection (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 25th, 2014

    One of the miracles of modern technology is its ability to shrink the world down so you can practically (well, proverbially) hold it in the palm of your hand. The cheerily square Smithsonian Channel series Aerial America goes the other way. In fact, the best thing about the show is how it uses technology to fill every inch of your screen with some of the most famous — along with some of the more underappreciated — U.S. landmarks, employing a larger-than-life/bird’s-eye point of view most of us wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy. Now, Smithsonian Channel and Inception Media Group have released another batch of episodes on Blu-ray.
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    Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 22nd, 2014

    Sin City: A Dame to Kill For marks the return of the iconic graphic novel since it first splashed across the big screen in 2005.  Sin City set out to make the ultimate comic book adaption in which the audience would see the panels move directly from the page and onto the screen.  For me Sin City was a celluloid masterpiece that blended the Noir stories beautifully with all the Hollywood tricks that were at Robert Rodriguez’s disposal.  Frank Miller’s beautiful black and white imagery was more striking than I could have imagined, and it was the film that had me rooting for the big lug Marv (played by Mickey Rourke who seems to have been born for the role).
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    Are You Here

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on August 22nd, 2014

    The main thing I look for in a movie is “not the same old thing”. So many movies are retreads into comfortable viewing. If we’ve seen it a million times, we must like it, right? Why fix it if it isn’t broke? Unfortunately, most movies are the same old thing because of laziness and apathy. Hollywood doesn’t really welcome new ideas. Are You Here is not “the same old thing”. Some people might not like something new, but I do. I like to be challenged by characters that grow right before your eyes and become people you never expected they’d be. Are You Here is basically a romantic comedy, which makes it even more unusual for it to have such challenging characters.
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    Revolution: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 22nd, 2014

    “Welcome to the SyFy Channel.”

    OK, not really. Revolution aired on sister network NBC, both part of the Universal family. Usually the sibling resemblances are not very visible. Revolution, however has all the elements of a typical SyFy Channel series. These shows almost always start with strong source material or a crazy but clever idea.
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    The Sacrament (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 21st, 2014

    Horror doesn’t necessarily need to be about the supernatural or have an axe-wielding maniac to be terrifying.  Jump scares and gore effects are also some nice devices directors rely on to scare their audiences.  But for me, what really gets beneath my skin is the possibility of what I see projected up on the screen can become a reality in my day to day life.  The Sacrament attempts to show how quickly faith and love can quickly be turned and used as a weapon that can lead to the demise of the fragile and the faithful.
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    Project Wild Thing

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 20th, 2014

    “The generational shift to an indoor existence has been strongly linked to a sharp decline in children’s well-being.”

    That’s just a fancier, more eloquent version of the familiar lament that (these darn) “kids today just don’t play outside anymore!” It’s also the jumping-off point for Project Wild Thing, an inventive and engaging documentary that explores the apparent disconnect between today’s youth and the natural world they seem intent on ignoring.
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    The Quiet Ones (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 20th, 2014

    Under the revamped Hammer production company, The Quiet Ones is the new release from the legendary UK company that was known throughout the 50-70’s for its Gothic horror.  In this new resurgence of Hammer, no longer do we have Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee to look forward to gracing the screen, but what we do seem to be getting is a respect for what horror can be.  Horror seems to have bottomed out as of late.  Where horror seems to be delving into cheaper budgets and going the direction of found footage, which isn’t so much a bad thing, but as we all know the market is just saturated with this style of filmmaking.
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    Rosemary’s Baby (2014) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 19th, 2014

    It’s kind of astounding that it took this long for somebody to revisit Rosemary’s Baby. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting Roman Polanski’s indelible 1968 adaptation of Ira Levin’s 1967 novel was crying out for a remake. It’s just that at this point you’d be hard pressed to find any horror classic — or any horror film, period — that hasn’t been re-done. (Stay strong, Exorcist!) And you probably wouldn’t expect said horror classic to be re-imagined as a bloody network TV miniseries.
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    The Blacklist: Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 17th, 2014

    “He’s dangerous, amoral, he pathologically flaunts authority. He’s reckless to the point of suicidal. But all of this… everything we’ve done. None of it would have been possible if it weren’t for him.”

    Him, of course is James Spader as the enigmatic Raymond “Red” Reddington. The show is NBC’s break-out hit The Blacklist created by first-time show-runner Jon Bokenkamp. Bokenkamp is truly a newcomer to the business. He has literally only a couple of very minor writing credits to his name. Perhaps that’s why The Blacklist is able to contain quite a few of the cliché elements running through television today and still feel like one of the freshest shows in a long while.
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    Only Lovers Left Alive

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on August 17th, 2014

    Vampires have been popular since Bram Stoker and Sheridan Le Fanu started writing about them nearly 200 years ago, but vampires have been around much longer than that. That seems to be how the story goes. That’s part of the problem. In Only Lovers Left Alive, it’s difficult for a vampire to overcome his boredom and disappointment with “zombies”, as he calls the human mortals. These vampires try to subsist on blood banks. Not only is it more humane, but that way they know the blood is tested. They don’t like blood-borne pathogens.
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