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    Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 28th, 2011

    “That be the cold hand of fate I feel down my nape.”

    With each of the previous Pirates Of Caribbean films pulling in over a billion dollars in total revenue, it was indeed the cold hand of fate that determined the franchise would not end. Like Captain Jack Sparrow himself, this franchise isn’t going to be easy to kill. It’s true that the last two films, the third in particular, were rather universally scorned by the critics. But they still pulled in a boatload of money
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    We Are The Night

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on September 26th, 2011

    The Durr household often enjoys a good vampire flic to warm the candlelight around the old HDTV (hey, shouldn’t I be writing this for the 31 days of October delight?). The taste of blood, the price of your soul, nothing can prepare you for the demons that are right outside your door. Sure, they can promise you sexual pleasure and immortality but that blood is really hard to get out of your clothes. This evening we explore the title We Are the Night featuring four ghoulish women on the cover. Will they sate our palette for blood or perhaps share with us grooming tips? Let’s find out.
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    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 9th, 2010

    His name was Fleming, Ian Fleming, and he would go on to create the most famous spy in literary history. James Bond would actually be based on Fleming’s own experience in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But Fleming had another side. It’s hard to believe that the man who gave us such ubervillians as Dr. No and Goldfinger brought us one of the most enchanting children’s stories of our time. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang‘s bond association doesn’t end with its celebrated author. Albert “Cubby” Broccoli might have been just as instrumental for the success of Bond as Fleming himself.
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    Toy Story 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 4th, 2010

    “The Toys Are Back In Town”

    That’s right. All of your favorite toys are back in Pixar’s latest great film Toy Story 3. This time the toys are dealing with the inevitable. Andy (Morris) is about to go off to college. It’s been a long time since he’s played with his friends, and they are getting desperate and worried they will get tossed away. Although Andy bags them to be stored in the attic, a misunderstanding sends them to the curb and a date with the garbage truck.
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    Kalifornia (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 18th, 2010

    “I remember once going on a school trip to the top of the Empire State Building. When I looked down at the crowds of people on the street, they looked like ants. I pulled out a penny and some of us started talking about what would happen if I dropped it from up there and it landed on somebody’s head. Of course, I never crossed that line and actually dropped the penny. I don’t think Early Grayce even knew there was a line to cross.”

    Kalifornia was never made for a mass audience, at least that’s how it appears to have played out.
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    The Thomas Crown Affair (Blu-ray

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 16th, 2010

    Remakes are a fact of life. It might seem now more than ever that we are plagued with this reality, but it’s been true for a very long time. It’s not so new, as you might expect. Even the lauded Cecil B. Demille The Ten Commandments was a remake of his own silent 1923 film. They’ve existed almost as long as the movies themselves and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. So, the question should be: Why should a particular film be remade? Often technology catches up with the content in a film. The ability to create on the screen something that was simply impossible originally is a legitimate reason to tackle an older film. Sometimes the movie is so powerful that it bears retelling for a new generation.
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    Clash of the Titans (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 12th, 2010

    “Perseus and Andromeda will be happy together. Have fine sons… rule wisely… And to perpetuate the story of his courage, I command that from henceforth, he will be set among the stars and constellations. He, Perseus, the lovely Andromeda, the noble Pegasus, and even the vain Cassiopeia. Let the stars be named after then forever. As long as man shall walk the Earth and search the night sky in wonder, they will remember the courage of Perseus forever. Even if we, the gods, are abandoned or forgotten, the stars will never fade. Never. They will burn till the end of the time.”

    Talk about your perfect storm.
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    Mystic River (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 4th, 2010

    “There are stories a river can tell. And truths it cannot hide. There are ways it brings us together that we may never see, connecting us with places never suspected. Places like fear, like betrayal, like murder.”

    One thing you have to say for Clint Eastwood. In his later years as a director and producer of films, maybe from Unforgiven onward, he has selected some of the most compelling stories for his film projects. You get the sense that he hasn’t been in this for the money in a long time. You easily believe that he doesn’t make a film unless it reaches him completely and deeply.
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    Heat (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 10th, 2009

    The names of the characters are hardly consequential, as they are used to further storylines more than develop character. But Pacino plays a cop who is tracking a group of robbers, among them Val Kilmer (Wonderland) and Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan), a group headed by DeNiro. The group receives offers for work from Jon Voight (Runaway Train), and they rob anything from gold, to coins, to bearer bonds. They are all ex-cons, and know all the ropes. They are a highly professional crew, which you see in the opening moments of the movie, despite the addition of a new man to the crew.
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    Sling Blade (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 11th, 2009

    Billy Bob Thornton got himself a well deserved Oscar for the film Sling Blade. If you’ve ever seen the film, or anything else by the man, there’s no surprise that he took home one of the coveted statues. What is a bit surprising is that he took the Oscar home for the screenplay for Sling Blade and not for the masterful performance. Now don’t get me wrong. The screenplay is a brilliant one. He certainly deserved that award, but there hasn’t been a performance as riveting as his portrayal of Karl Childers in a decade or more. It was this performance that made Thornton the household name he became.
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    Fracture (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 6th, 2009

    “If you look closely, you’ll find that everything has a weak spot, where it can break….”

    The same can be said for Fracture. There are plenty of flaws, and if you look hard enough you can find a lot of problems with everything from the story to the performances. Thankfully these flaws are quite minor and require the kind of scrutiny that would likely ruin almost any movie experience. I taught law for about 7 years and make it a bit of a (bad?) habit to look for the errors in court and legal procedures.
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    Spaceballs (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 29th, 2009

    “A long time ago in a land far, far away, way East of Chicago, in a place called Brooklyn, actually, a great man named Mel Brooks was born. And, that man begat this and that, and then some, and then he did this…”

    This, was Spaceballs. Brooks had tackled pretty much every genre of film before Spaceballs. He took on horror films with Young Frankenstein. He tore up the old West and the Western with Blazing Saddles. He was bold enough to offer us a take up on the Silent Movie. On television he took on James Bond
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    The Last Kiss (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 17th, 2009

    The Last Kiss is based on the internationally acclaimed Italian movie L’ultimo bacio which was written by Gabriele Muccino and adapted for this American version by screenwriter Paul Haggis. From all reports the movie is remarkably similar to the Italian classic with only the ending modified. Haggis tells us in the extras of this release that he attempted to merely translate the original work and performed little in the way of modifications. From the looks of things, the ending was a bit of a struggle for these filmmakers,
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    Dead in 3 Days

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 11th, 2009

    The international horror market is becoming quite the money maker. It started with the Asian Invasion. We started seeing American remakes of these mostly Japanese or Korean ghost stories. They usually had a common thread that featured some type of technology. It started with Ring, the American version of Ringu. Here it’s a videotape that demands to be reproduced or you’re dead in 7 days. Eventually we’ve seen films where ghosts inhabit everything from computers to video games to cell phones and digital cameras. It seems the dead just can’t let go of their hi-tech toys.
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    Made of Honor

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 22nd, 2008

    When I was a kid, I loved Archie comics. Before every family road trip (at least once a year), my mom would head to the grocery store and buy up all of the latest issues of everything from Jughead to Little Archie. We amassed quite the collection, and I read those things over and over for years. Recently, in a moment of nostalgia, I bought a new issue. I was excited to see what my old pals the Riverdale gang were up to — boy, was I disappointed. I knew nearly all of the stories! They barely did anything to hide the fact that they were reruns, simply transplanting plots from summer to winter, or changing from basketball to volleyball. What a crock.


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    Hot Fuzz (3-Disc Collector’s Edition)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on January 18th, 2008

    It’s not often that a review starts with the final score, but I’m going to break that rule. Go out and buy this DVD set. Stop reading this review, leave your residence, and go directly to your nearest DVD retailer for a copy of the 3-disc version of Hot Fuzz. When I first watched Shaun of the Dead, I was absolutely blown away at how deftly creators Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright were able to mix the comedy, spoof and horror genres into one of the most entertaining and original films of the decade. While I had high hopes for the follow up project, deep down I was expecting to find a case of the sophomore slump; a good film that manages to fall short of the success of the debut. Not only was my gut feeling dead wrong, but I am of the opinion that the two have actually been able to surpass their previous success. Shaun of the Dead was not a fluke, but merely a warm-up to the amazing success of Hot Fuzz.


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    Requiem

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 14th, 2007

    A young woman leaves her small town and intensely religious family to study at University. Even as she experiences the new freedom of campus life, her epileptic seizures become much worse, and she gradually comes to the conclusion that she is possessed. Her friends try to help her as her suffering becomes intolerable, but she eventually turns to a priest who wants to perform an exorcism.

    If the above synopsis sounds familiar, that’s because this film is based on the same case that inspired The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
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    Downfall

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on January 11th, 2006

    The Academy Awards ceremony continues to devalue itself by giving honors to films, which are mediocre at best, or films that try desperately to force a political agenda down the American people’s throats, while gems such as 2004’s Downfall linger in relative obscurity, and certainly do not receive the recognition they deserve. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s study of Hitler’s final days transcends the triviality of being considered a film and instead functions as a window into the past. And for a little more th…
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    Schultze Gets the Blues

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 22nd, 2005

    This is the kind of film that usually comes from the English or the French… not the Germans. Let’s face it, Germany is not known for a stable of modern intellectual comedies. If you need a beer, or a fine automobile, you go to the Germans. If you need an entertaining art film, you go to France. Still, this is a film that bucks the trend… and will hopefully start a new one.

    The Schultze of the title is a retired German miner that finds himself lost in his newfound abundance of free time. Eventually,…
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    Das Boot

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on February 10th, 2005

    Films like Crimson Tide, Hunt for Red October and U-571 have tried on their own ways to take their place as the definitive modern submarine movie, but Das Boot still stands as King, over 20 years after its release. I remember hearing about this film growing up, and as a lad of 10, wasn’t into foreign films, or war films, as I am now, which may not be saying much. In seeing it when the Director’s Cut first came out in 1997, many people snapped up the 5.1 soundtrack, and Director’s Commentar…
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    Das Boot – The Original Uncut Version

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on July 17th, 2004

    I am sure that many consumers have noticed the disturbing trend taking place in DVD land with regard to the same movie being released in multiple versions. This practice, commonly referred to in the industry as “multiple bites at the apple”, is a cheap way for studios to persuade consumers to buy movies that they already own over and over again, since each new release offers some sort of extra upgrade from the previous versions. Even those of us in the DVD community sometimes get burned on this type of thing, as ther…
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    Big Girls Don’t Cry

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on September 20th, 2003

    

    Synopsis

    Kati and Steffi are best friends, and each relies on the other to get through the trials andtribulations of high school. Challenges arise, such as when they discover [x]‘s father is cheatingon her mother. They plot an elaborate revenge. Boy trouble also figures prominently, of course,as these two girls painfully reach toward adulthood.

    Audio

    The sound is first-class. The music has good, pumping energy in its mix. The dialogue isclear and distortion-…
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    Wings of Desire

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on June 17th, 2003

    This is closer to a being a tone poem than a narrative, so there is hardly any plot as such. We move through Berlin in the company of angels. They can hear our thoughts, but they cannot interfere or feel the physical world. Two of the angels — Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) are increasingly disenchanted with their existence, and Damiel, falling in love with a trapeze artist, wants to become mortal. This simple story is built on very gradually, and most of the film consists in our hearing the innermost thoughts of various characters, and all these thoughts are presented in poetic (often elliptical) words. The cinematography is quite extraordinarily beautiful.


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    What to Do in Case of Fire

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 7th, 2003

    

    Synopsis

    In 1986, a group of anarchists cobble together a home-made bomb and plant it in a hatedbuilding. Something goes wrong with the mechanism, and the bomb doesn’t go off until 2000, bywhich point most of the group have moved on with their lives. The fact that they filmedthemselves making the bomb presents a problem, however, and the reunited group must find away to break into police headquarters to recover the incriminating evidence. This film is not ablanket condemnation of se…
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    Mostly Martha

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 1st, 2003

    

    Synopsis

    Martha is the highly strung, control-freak chef at a top restaurant. Her organized life isthrown into chaos when her sister is killed in a car accident, leaving Martha to look after her littleniece Lina. Lina, understandably traumatized, refuses to eat. Meanwhile, Martha feels that herposition at the restaurant is threatened by newcomer Mario. Soon, though, she realizes that Mariohas other, more romantic goals in mind. Though witty, the film does not shy away from the realp…
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