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    Wilson

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 25th, 2017

    Daniel Clowes  is one of a handful of writers in the industry that when I see his name attached to a project I can’t help but be curious to see what he’s up to.  In 2001 he wrote Ghost World, which was based on the comic he created. It was an independent film smash, and I’d consider it a cult sensation.  Then he had Art School Confidential that had the same humor and a great cast, but it just didn’t seem to connect as well with audiences.  I love the odd little characters Clowes manages to bring to life, despite many being so over-the-top, he manages to somehow keep them grounded in reality.  So when the offer came along to review Wilson, the new film he’s written based off his graphic novel, it was an offer I couldn’t pass up.
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    Bloodrunners

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 20th, 2017

    We’ve reached a point where I’m starting to wonder if there is anything new that can be brought to the vampire genre. They may not be my favorite horror creature, but vampire movies tend to be fun for the most part, and being fun is mostly what we look for when we decide to check out a horror film. Bloodrunners attempts to show us something new, taking us back to the prohibition era of the 1930’s, but is this a trip worth taking? Grab a bottle of hooch and a stake for the road, because it’s nightfall, and I’m about to dive into this vampire tale.
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    Joe Bullet

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 12th, 2017

    When it comes to exploitation films you really are rolling the dice when you find a title you’ve never heard of and you decide to watch it. Through the 60’s and 70’s there were countless exploitation films that covered many genres, many of which were sold to audiences by a cool-looking poster and catchy title.  Sex and violence were the major exploits with these films, and at this time there was also the birth of black cinema, or simply blacksploitation films.  Many have heard of Foxy Brown, The Mack, and Truck Turner, but for all these hits there were many more misses, and it’s the lost gems of the era that film geeks get excited over.  Just because a film wasn’t a hit at the time didn’t mean the film was no good; many just fell between the cracks, and Joe Bullet just happens to be one of those titles.
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    Kong: Skull Island

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 10th, 2017

    Every year it seems the “summer” movie season starts sooner than the year before.  Here we are, the second Friday of March, and already we’ve seen the huge box office weekend for Logan, and now this weekend we have the release of Kong: Skull Island.  Ever since Kong first graced the big screen back in 1933, every film that followed was a mega-event. Personally it wasn’t till 2005 that theatergoers got to fully experience the massive beast in all his glory as he became worthy of the title “the 8th wonder of the world”.  Now we have Legendary Entertainment playing in the giant monster movie sandbox with plans to set up a series of monster films.  All this leads up to the inevitable clash of the kaiju monsters where we will finally see the showdown of Godzilla vs. King Kong.  Before we begin to get too excited, how does our current trip to Skull Island fare?
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    Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 23rd, 2017

    Before there was South Park, in 1993 MTV released the coolest cartoon that was out there when they began to air Beavis and Butt-Head.  When it came to animated shows, there really wasn’t much out there that appealed to the average teenage boy, but MTV understood their audience and took a chance on creator Mike Judge’s little series that was virtually an overnight sensation.  The blend of having a short animated series mixed in with music videos that the show’s characters would deliver their commentary from the torn up sofa was the perfect blend for what would be an unexpected pop-culture movement.  Looking back at the series with older eyes, I can understand why my parents rolled their eyes about my urgency to get home to watch the new episode of Beavis and Butt-Head
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    The Great Wall

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 20th, 2017

    It’s kind of a big deal when discussing the film The Great Wall to mention that it is the most expensive Chinese film made to date.  With an estimated budget of a $150 million, I can understand the stunt casting of putting Matt Damon in the film that takes place during the Great Wall’s construction.  It’s quite simple; Matt Damon is an international star, and he puts people in seats.  What’s more surprising is that at one time Edward Zwick was on board to direct, but eventually that position would be passed on to  Yimou Zhang. For those unfamiliar with Zhang, he’s responsible for such martial arts epics Hero and House of Flying Daggers, and for Zhang this would be his first Hollywood feature.
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    American Pastoral (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 20th, 2017

    Ewan McGregor has had an interesting career in front of the camera; he’s gone from playing a heroin addict (Trainspotting), to being a Jedi and several roles that just about make him impossible to typecast. With his new film, McGregor is doing double duty by also helming the film as director for the first time.  When I first heard about McGregor taking on American Pastoral, based on the book of the same name by Philip Roth, I was worried that perhaps he had bitten off a bit more than he could handle with his first time at bat.  What’s surprising is how relevant the film is at this point in time as the country is so divided, and because of this it adds a new perspective to the film.
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    Dead West

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 14th, 2017

    When it comes to having a serial killer being used as the main character or used as the anti-hero, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and of course Dexter are titles that first come to mind.  The difference between these two titles is that we understand their code, or see the lack of code, when it comes to whom they choose to kill.  It’s escapist entertainment, and I appreciate the morbidity of rooting for such deplorable characters, but that’s what cinema and television do; they take us along for a ride that reality cannot.  When it comes to Dead West, we’re on board for a cross-country trip with a serial killer, but sadly this is a trip that had me reaching for the door handle before arriving at our destination.
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    From Dusk Till Dawn: Season 3

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 10th, 2017

    Season 1 of From Dusk Till Dawn gave us a ten-episode remake of the hit original movie while setting up a mythology to stretch its story over numerous seasons. Season 2 took us deeper into the culebra syndicate, and we got to see how they operate in their world as Carlos (Wilmer Valderrama) searched for an ancient blood source and sought to sit at the throne as the leader of all the culebras (a snake/vampire hybrid of sorts).  All while the baddest outlaws North and South of the border, the Gecko brothers Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Richie (Zane Holtz) were forced to work out their differences ever since Richie was made a culebra.
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    Rings

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 5th, 2017

    When The Ring (2002) first came out, if you looked hard enough you could still find movies on VHS, so the thought of a mysterious tape that kills you seven days after watching it wasn’t so entirely farfetched.  Now that we are in 2017, if someone were to find a mysterious VHS tape, well, they’d be out of luck for the most part, since I’d wager most of the US population no longer has a VCR.  But Hollywood won’t let this stop their successful franchise from moving forward, even though it’s been 12 years since The Ring Two, this weekend is the release of the third film in the series, and quite frankly, I have to wonder if anyone really wanted this. 
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    The Man Who Fell To Earth: Limited Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 2nd, 2017

    It’s been 40 years since the release of The Man Who Fell to Earth, and in that time a lot has changed. If I’m being honest, this isn’t a film that really holds up too well.  Last year the star of the film, David Bowie, passed away, and it would seem prosperous and logical to crank out an anniversary edition of the film.  As it stands this film isn’t considered so much a classic, but a cult film that fans of Bowie and certain sci-fi fans hold in high regard.  For me, this was simply a title I had heard of in passing during talks about Bowie or sci-fi films, but it was never a film that really called to me.  To the disappointment of several friends, I’m not much of a fan of David Bowie’s music, and science fiction just isn’t a genre I’m in love with.
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    Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 27th, 2017

    Before there were The Hunger Games or even The Running Man, there was a tiny little B-Film called Death Race 2000.  Long before the remake occurred with Jason Statham as the lead I was a fan of the original, and for all the wrong reasons.  I thought it was great, the notion of having a point system for people you’d hit with your car, the kind of thing you’d joke with friends about, but would never actually go through with.  With David Carradine wearing the black mask as immortal Frankenstein behind the wheel of his death machine, he was fun to root for.  I’m pretty sure, though, it was a young Sylvester Stallone as the bloodthirsty Machine Gun Joe who got so many people to see the original.  I’ll be honest, it’s what got me to rent the VHS, hoping to see Rambo in action, but instead it just opened my eyes to a new kind of cinema cool I wasn’t expecting.
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    The Accountant (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 16th, 2017

    It would seem as though Ben Affleck is finally starting to shed the stigma of doing bad films.  He’s been on a roll since he took on the role of George Reeves in Hollywoodland and has also in the process become an accomplished director.  When the trailer first dropped for The Accountant, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as you look at the laundry list of talent that fills the cast, it quickly became a film I had my eye on.  What is surprising is despite there being franchises that seem to cover the same territory i.e.: Jack Reacher and the Jason Bourne films, is there room for another lone-wolf killing machine film?  Before going into this it was a question that bothered me; heck, I’m already burnt out of the Jason Bourne films, and with a new Jack Reacher film on the horizon, the saturation is noticeable.
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    Blair Witch (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 10th, 2017

    In 1999 The Blair Witch Project was released, and it was a horror film that created a stir like I had never seen before.  I remember going to Tampa Theatre to see it opening week.  The line was wrapped around the building for the sold-out screening.  Discussions were going on in the line about the film actually being real, some even talking about how they heard the bodies of the three filmmakers were never found.  It’s this kind of mindset going into the film that made it such an impact as I walked out of that first showing.  At the time I knew I had seen something unique, but I never would have expected it to spawn an entire style of genre filmmaking that would be copied over and over again.
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    31 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 9th, 2017

    There is something about a Rob Zombie film that will always be a draw, and it is always the realism that he brings to the screen.  Whether it’s The Devil’s Rejects or his version of Halloween, he always presents it in a way that I feel is grounded in reality.  Perhaps it’s also because I live in Florida, and there are some small towns that you don’t want to break down in at night for fear of crossing some crazed backwoods types.  To put it out there, I was a fan of Rob Zombie before he was putting out movies, and I have all of his albums; he’s just a guy who does stuff that I really dig.  That being said, I can be objective in saying his films have been a bit all over the place, but Lords of Salem was a piece of work that I simply loved, and I felt it showed a lot of growth from his previous films and worked well as a slow burn.
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    Never Open The Door (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 2nd, 2017

    Since we are knee-deep into the holidays, it would only be fitting to discuss the independent horror film Never Open the Door; after all it takes place on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a shame we don’t have more horror films to watch during turkey day, but for some this new title may be a nice fit to change all that.  When I picked up the title I hadn’t heard a peep about it, but I’m a sucker for horror, and seeing that it was shot in B&W just made it all the more enticing.  Now, when I watch a title like this, one thing has to work. It has to have a story that engages me; story is what matters with these smaller films, because the budgets tend to not have room for big makeup FX or big-name actors.  The limitations placed upon the filmmakers seem to force their hand and have them get more creative with the execution of scenes, whether this means creative camera work or unique storytelling.
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    Snowden (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 30th, 2016

    It’s been just about four years since Savages (2012) hit the big screen.  For me Savages was Oliver Stone simply having a blast, shooting an over-the-top action film fueled by sex, drugs, and violence.  Now it seems Stone has stepped back into the paranoid, government-conspiracy form that he seems to be best known for with Snowden.  Whether you view him as a traitor to the United States or a self-sacrificing lamb to expose the government and its illegal wiretapping, it’s a choice that is up to you going into this film.  Personally, while I feel his intentions were good, still, he did betray his government and committed treason.  What I had hoped with this film is that Oliver Stone would capture both sides of the coin, but as the title would suggest, Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is front and center on this ride, and that’s not my only problem here.
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    La La Land

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 28th, 2016

    When the closing credits rolled the first time I saw this, I was stuck in my seat paying some attention to members of the cast and crew, but mostly I was sitting there in awe.  I’m honestly struggling to think of a film that has affected me on the screen so deeply, and the closest I can get is The Shawshank Redemption. While I’ve certainly seen many good films over the years, and I’ve seen some I would even call great, La La Land is something more, something special that came along that achieved what few would even dare to believe.  It is an achievement that writer and director Damien Chazelle deserves the many accolades that he will soon be showered with as we enter into the award season as 2016 comes to a close.  Just what is it that he managed to capture?  In my most humble opinion, he captured all that was and is great from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
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    Dog Eat Dog (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 28th, 2016

    Writer/director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver and Auto Focus) has been a guy I can’t help but root for.  His films are filled with the kind of raw grit that I like to see in films.  His knack for shining a light onto the outlaws of society is something I don’t feel anyone does as well. Usually we see these characters celebrated, or simply put, they get the Hollywood treatment.  Schrader seems to always go the other direction and depict them with an unflinching eye that captures the character with honesty and dignity, even as their lives tailspin into darkness.  Dog Eat Dog may not be an original work by Schrader, but the film certainly carries many of the staples that embrace his celebration of the anti-hero while filming the manic insanity of the reality they live in.
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    Passengers

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 23rd, 2016

    With talks going on about setting up colonies on Mars, long distance space travel is quickly moving away from the pages of science fiction to the next step in space exploration. Passengers is a film that taps into the possibilities of what this could mean for us as a species but also takes a look at the great risk that we would be facing. At a glance it would seem like a surefire Hollywood blockbuster to end the year, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that is a sure thing.  Despite the great effects and set designs, two bankable stars, and a more than capable director, Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game and Headhunters), what you still need is a story that will not only fill those seats but keep people wanting to come back for more.
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    In Order of Disappearance (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 21st, 2016

    Coming out of Norway we have In Order of Disappearance, a film I knew nothing about aside from the cover art. To be , it pretty much reminded me of any of the numerous revenge films we’ve seen Liam Neeson in.  Stellan Skarsgard instead stars in this revenge romp that I feel got lost in translation with me.  It’s not that I couldn’t understand the base of the film being a revenge tale; this is very much clear as day, but it is the film’s sense of humor that borders on being dry and black, to other points I feel it’s just a Norwegian thing.  Usually one of the first things I do with a foreign film is I make sure everything is set to the original language track and use the subtitles to follow along (never been a fan of dubbing).
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    Duck Dynasty – Season 10

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 21st, 2016

    It’s hard to believe it, but Duck Dynasty has made it to ten seasons, and it seems to be still going strong.  When seeing the trailers for the first season, I found it hard to believe this was even going to be a show, much less garner the attention that it has over the years.  I’ll admit it I surprised myself by how much I actually enjoyed the show, even if it was being a bit liberal by crediting itself as reality television.  Even if most of the show seems pre-scripted,  it’s continued to be entertaining, which is rather impressive for me, considering I feel I don’t even fit the show’s demographic. For those who have been viewers from day one, you’ve gotten to watch the Robertson family not only grow older but expand as well.
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    Nocturnal Animals

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 15th, 2016

    In 2009 Tom Ford, the famed fashion designer, came into the Hollywood scene with his stunning first-time writing/directing effort, A Single Man.  It was a somber film that garnered numerous accolades and left many of us wondering what he would be doing next.  It’s been seven years, but we finally get the follow-up film we’ve been waiting for.  Nocturnal Animals is clearly a film that cries out for award attention with its December release and a cast that for better or worse could make a dramatic reading of a telephone book an engaging experience.  When the trailer dropped for the film, I was sold on its stunning visuals and its ambiguity that had me hooked and curious about what Ford would have in store for us.
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    Suicide Squad (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 15th, 2016

    In the days leading up to the release of Suicide Squad, over the internet there has been one of the most vicious attacks on a film before its release that I can remember.  Sure, we had all the negative talk about Ghostbusters, but that was before anyone had ever seen the film, and as screenings came along, opinions seemed to sway.  Now I was lucky enough to attend a screening Monday for Suicide Squad, and there were up to 150 people turned away at the door because the auditorium was filled to capacity. I mean, the buzz for this was high, and we DC fans were giddy, because this film was our hope that WB would be turning things around.  I mention all this because now this has managed to become one of the worst-reviewed films of the year, and I’m just sitting here like WTF happened, did they see some other cut of the film?
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    Ben-Hur (2016) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 15th, 2016

    In 1959 when Ben-Hur came out, it was a massive undertaking that nearly closed the gates for MGM after nearly bankrupting the studio.  It was a huge risk in producing such a large-scale epic that fortunately paid off and became one of the studio’s cornerstone successes.  The story of Judah Ben-Hur and his fall from being a prince, to becoming a slave, to eventually becoming a hero to the people in the arena is such a familiar story that it’s hard to not feel you’ve seen this before without even entering the theater.  In some parts I look at Gladiator and see somewhat the same film, only being set in a separate time and place.  But really, the story of betrayal at the highest levels, and seeing great figures fall only to pull themselves up again is a theme Hollywood seems to relish, and it seems to attract many viewers in the process
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