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    Pay Back

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on April 7th, 2016

    After screening Payback, I did a decent amount of research to find information about the director in an effort to better understand the film from a production standpoint. After searching on the web for a bit, I discovered that there is really not much information about the film outside the fact that it is a Hong Kong production, written and directed by first timer Fu Xi. This is a bit strange, considering the fame of the lead actors Francis Ng and Fan Siu-Wong. Anyone who has a mild interest in the action cinema of Hong Kong would recognize Fan Siu-Wong from Ip Man, Ip Man 2, or my personal favorite, the gore-filled Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky.
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    The Bible Stories: Moses

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 21st, 2016

    I recently reviewed a cinematic production of a different bible story, Noah’s Ark, and I commented on the fact that I have heard that particular story told time and time again since childhood. Now I have been given the opportunity to review another bible story adapted for screen: the story of Moses. I thought that I had heard the story of Noah a lot, but then I began thinking about how many times I have heard the story of Moses. Whether be it through different adaptations of films or the original tale in the Bible, I believe I have experienced a retelling of the tale of Moses more than any other tale from the good book.
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    Out Of The Inferno

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 8th, 2016

    Out of the Inferno is one of the most recent films written and directed by Danny and Oxide Pang. I must admit that I am a fan of the prolific duo, ever since I watched the original Bangkok Dangerous. Whether it be their intense dramatic thrillers such as The Detective or The Eye franchises, or their nightmarish dreamscapes in Sleepwalker or Re-Cycle (my personal favorite from the Pang Brothers). Unfortunately, Out of the Inferno did not come close to surpassing the “bar” of expectations when it comes to my enjoyment of a film from the Pang Brothers. The narrative involves two firefighter brothers who are dedicated to their line of work.
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    Brian Regan: Live From Radio City Music Hall

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 19th, 2016

    “Tonight’s special is LEG OF LAMB”

    I absolutely love stand-up comedy. It is by far one of my favorite forms of entertainment. I would much rather watch a comic’s one-hour special than watch Hollywood’s latest zany summer comedy. I firmly believe that stand-up comedians are a group of modern day philosophers who have taken their analyses of social interactions and created a highly entertaining and intellectual form of art. While I appreciate all comics, currently my favorites are Tom Segura, Todd Glass, Greg Proops, Bo Burnham, and of course, Brian Regan.
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    Love the Coopers (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 11th, 2016

    “Ah, the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year. And so begins my tale…” 

    Love the Coopers seems to be a holiday title that arrived a little later than expected at the Upcoming Discs hub. Within the first five to ten minutes, you come to realize that it is a family-oriented holiday film with a rather impressive A-list cast, consisting of Steve Martin, John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Alan Arkin, Ed Helms, and Olivia Wilde. If you aren’t already a fan of any of these actors and actresses, the film’s story is endearing, as are most holiday films. However, what sets this film apart from other holiday titles (for me, anyway) is the hauntingly accurate idea of a “family” being a bleak entity, as well as atmosphere, that we all must learn to love in our own ways.
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    Noah’s Ark

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 8th, 2016

    Any person who has attended Sunday school for a length of time is most likely familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark. This tale was recently brought to the mainstream with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which took quite a few creative liberties in retelling the story (including strange rock monsters). Given my recollection of the actual Bible story, I want to say that there really isn’t enough content to create a feature film. God warns Noah that there will be a catastrophic flood and asks him to build an ark. Noah builds the ark and suffers ridicule from the people he tries to save, and in the end, the flood takes the world and Noah and the few people who believed him are spared.
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    For Better or For Worse

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 3rd, 2016

    I’ve never been too big a fan of romantic comedies. They are often too quirky for their own good, and they follow a typically cliché story arch. I do not even enjoy rom-coms from famed comedic directors such as David Wain. Although certain directors do attempt to break the mold, it’s as if the genre is nothing more than a memory foam mattress: you will always fall into place, because it is the most comfortable. That being said, when watching a made-for-TV rom-com such as For Better or for Worse, one can assume there will not be much breaking of the genre conventions.
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    Bolero / Ghosts Can’t Do It

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 28th, 2016

    My first exposure to Bo Derek was Michael Anderson’s horror film Orca. While she may have had a minor part in the film, she had a rather unique beauty about her that was hard to ignore. After Orca, she dropped off my radar for the better part of five years, until her familiar face came to me in Shout Factory’s Bolero/Ghosts Can’t Do It combo pack. Once again I was graced with her unique beauty, but with a new understanding of her acting career: mainly how it was influenced by her relationship with her late husband John Derek.
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    Stonewall

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 20th, 2016

    1969 was a very eventful year for the United States of America. While I will not name all of the events that transpired over that year, I will remind you of two of the most recognized: In July, Apollo 11 lands on the moon, and in August, Woodstock takes place in upstate New York. However, the events that take place in Stonewall are not as publicized as the space race or the culminating concert of the hippie movement. In fact, I had never heard of the Stonewall riots until my final year of college. To those who are not familiar with the riots, allow me to set the scene: During the early hours of a Saturday morning in late June, an unexpected police raid befalls Stonewall Inn.
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    Little Dead Rotting Hood

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 13th, 2016

    The tale of Little Red Riding Hood, like many other children’s stories, is so well known and influential that it has been reimagined time and time again. In fact, one of my favorite short stories, The Company of Wolves, is a loose adaptation of the aforementioned tale. While I can’t call Little Dead Rotting Hood a favorite, I really appreciate how they were able to create a unique story while implicitly maintaining key elements of the original tale. More often than not the important visuals and motifs are present. Unfortunately, the pacing of the events is a little slow and really makes the film feel empty.
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    Mercury Plains

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 6th, 2016

    There is so much to enjoy when it comes to Mercury Plains. It is the first time I have seen Scott Eastwood in a starring role, Nick Chinlund provides a brilliant performance as the philosophical Captain, and each of the characters are engaging. To be clear, Scott Eastwood is the main character of the film, but his comrades have very interesting character arcs that make them unique. In fact, I think that is what I enjoyed the most from this film: the details that are not spoken directly to the audience. There are so many instances where the details in the character arcs (even Eastwood’s) are so minute, you could very well miss them.
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    Adulterers

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 3rd, 2016

    It is not very often that I am able to say that a film revolving around an extramarital affair keeps me engaged. While the writing in Adulterers became rather unfavorable towards the end, the strength of the conflict and the pacing of the editing and cinematography combine to make a significant force. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the intensity of the drama that unfolds among the disturbed trio, but there were many moments that distracted me from that pleasure. Through this review, I aim to be as fair and as spoiler-free as possible. I believe this film is definitely worth the watch, regardless of what does not “work” for me.
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    The Dungeonmaster / Eliminators

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on December 23rd, 2015

    Once again I have the pleasure of reviewing a Blu-ray double feature distributed by Shout Factory. This time out, I have been graced with two sci-fi adventure films from the mid 1980’s: The Dungeonmaster and Eliminators. Although the two films play well as a double feature, the cheesy (yet oh, so beautiful) aesthetics and special effects are not these films’ only connection. Peter Manoogian sits in the director’s chair for Eliminators and also one of the segments of The Dungeonmaster. Manoogian came onto my radar with his 1992 video feature Demonic Toys, so I was really excited to experience his earlier (and arguably better) work.
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    A Christmas Horror Story

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on December 1st, 2015

    I absolutely love it when I go into a film blind, save for my expectations after looking at the cover, and leave with a surprisingly pleasant experience. A Christmas Horror Story provided me with that exact experience. The cover depicts Krampus, the evil Christmas beast of German folklore, battling Santa in a snowy, mountainous area. This particular battle does not surface until the final moments of the film: instead, we are treated to three separate horror tales that are connected by the various characters that occupy them. Each one of the tales does a good job of maintaining the Christmas theme in creative ways.
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    Swim Little Fish Swim

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on December 1st, 2015

    Swim Little Fish Swim is, above all else, a very charming film. In fact, it may have been a little too charming for me. I appreciate character-driven dramas, but it is the drama in the film that keeps me engaged throughout. Swim Little Fish Swim introduces some really interesting conflicts into the story, and each conflict has a good variance of high and low stakes. However, the conflicts are either never quite resolved or resolved in a rather unsatisfying way. I did really enjoy the film, but it left me wanting more.
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    Tangerine

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on November 18th, 2015

    “Los Angeles is a beautifully wrapped lie” 

    Tangerine is a rather interesting comedy that is very reminiscent of Robert Altman’s ensemble comedies of the 1970’s. The film’s writing is especially intelligent given the contemporary issues it addresses, such as: transgendered women, prostitution, the entertainment industry and how it affects the lower class. Most of these issues are not directly addressed; they are represented in very minute but profound ways.
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    Christmas Trade

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on November 13th, 2015

    I am not going to lie: I am a complete sucker for the “life swap” genre of film. Whether it is Freaky Friday, The Parent Trap and their remakes, or the fantastic Face/Off. These films always are entertaining for me, as I take great joy watching actors and actresses overcome the challenge of acting out the minute characteristics of the other actor (not just the character). Christmas Trade is no different; the two actors do a good job of keeping their portrayals believable. However, it misses several opportunities to be my second-favorite “life swap” film to date (I don’t think anyone can top Cage and Travolta in Face/Off).
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    Tibetan Warrior

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on November 9th, 2015

    Tibet has been under Chinese oppression for more than fifty years. Recently, a wave of self-immolation has become a disturbing form of protest among Tibetan monks, with approximately 138 incidents since 2011. This alarming number of self-immolations is essentially the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for the filmmaker, as that is a theme that is brought up quite a few times in the peaceful protests depicted in this documentary. However, what earned this film a four-star rating is the nuances of a man’s journey to understand himself within the entirety of the Tibetan conflict.
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    Some Kind of Hate

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on November 4th, 2015

    “Seriously, how cliché is this?”

    Misunderstood loner: check. Bullies: check. Isolated “camp”: check. Vengeful spirit: check. Looks like we got ourselves a horror movie! Every fan of horror has seen at least some combination of those themes in a film at least once. Now here they are, wrapped up an impressively cohesive package.  Although this film thrived on its use of clichés, it made conscious efforts to incorporate a lot of original ideas. Between the clichés that I am tired of and the original ideas that just didn’t work very well (for me), the film finds a balance that makes it enjoyable.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” The Horror Network

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 31st, 2015

    The Horror Network Vol. 1 is an anthology of five short horror films, compiled by Douglas Conner and Brian Dorton. I absolutely love short films: I have created a few of my own, and I have been part of the selection committee for a short film festival. This anthology is fantastic in that it combines my love of short films and my love of the genre of horror. Although most films in this anthology could most certainly be cut for time (as is the case with most independent short films), they do a fantastic job capturing the elements of horror that make your hair stand on end.
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    4Got10

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 22nd, 2015

    There is something to be said about cult celebrities: if you are a fan, you will watch any movie in which they have a role. In the case of 4Got10, you get Danny Trejo and Dolph Lundgren.  In addition to these cult giants, you have the prolific Johnny Messner (Tears of the Sun, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid) delivering a strong performance in the lead role. If you are a fan of action thrillers, this film is already off to a great start.
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    The Target

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 14th, 2015

    I was very excited to see The Target come through Upcomingdiscs headquarters. I am an avid consumer of New Korean Cinema, and The Target actually shares a producer with Oldboy (2003), my favorite film of all time. However, as soon as the credits roll, you learn that the film is inspired by Point Blank (Á bout portant), a French film made in 2010. So, I am immediately torn between my love of New Korean Cinema and my disdain for remakes. I must say, The Target was a rather pleasant surprise. Tae-joon is a young doctor who begins treating an accused murder suspect, Yeo-hoon, after he is chased from the crime scene by two thugs.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Eaters

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 10th, 2015

    At first, Eaters looks like a pretty fun horror film. The cover depicts a well-dressed figure in a scarecrow-like mask and a bowler hat. Above him in typical horror font, the title is displayed, followed by a tagline that reads: “Prepare to meet a new breed of killer”. First impressions are everything, and this is promising a lot. After watching the film, I’ve come to realize that the title, Eaters, is very misleading. In fact, I’m almost positive that not a single person ate anything in the entire film. The film follows a group of five young adults taking a road trip through the desert. Complications arise at a rest stop, where one of the young women goes missing after running into a gang of drug-smuggling bikers.
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    White Shadow

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 1st, 2015

    Yet another film from the Sundance Film Festival has been distributed to Upcomingdiscs headquarters. Noaz Deshe’s White Shadow was nominated for the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in the “Dramatic” category, and while it didn’t win, it is very easy to see why this film is a strong contender. The film is beautifully shot and edited, paying a lot of attention to lighting and color. White Shadow tells the story of Alias, a young albino boy living in Tanzania, who must flee his home after the murder of his father. There is a danger to all albinos in the area as a local witch doctor harvests their organs for his various potions.
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    Pop Life

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on September 24th, 2015

    Pop Life is a documentary concerning the role that drugs play in the world of Electronic Dance Music (EDM). Clocking in at about 55 minutes, the documentary really doesn’t take up that much time, and it does have quite a bit of information it sifts through. The documentary is a great introduction to the idea that drugs are, and really always have been, something that closely intertwines with popular music culture (not just EDM).
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