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    A Kind of Murder (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on March 27th, 2017

    You ever hear that old adage about not putting your hands too close to the flame? Obviously Walter Stackhouse, Patrick Wilson’s character in A Kind of Murder, did not heed the warning as he finds himself embroiled in a murder conspiracy of his own while investigating a separate one. This film noir is based on a novel from the famous author of The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith. Murder mysteries in recent months have become a huge interest of mine, so when presented with this film, I was extremely excited with the opportunity. However, after watching, though I was intrigued by the whodunit aspect, I found the other areas lacking, specifically connecting with the lead character.
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    Insecure: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 24th, 2017

    “Black women aren’t bitter. We’re just tired of being expected to settle for less.”

    When people talk about racial and gender equality, they typically point to notions like everyone having the right to vote or the same opportunity to pursue their personal or professional passion without fear of discrimination. The premise of Insecure — HBO’s funny and insightful comedy series about modern relationships — is not quite that lofty, but no less worthy: black women reserve the right to be just as neurotic and lead love lives that are every bit as messy as their white counterparts.
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    100 Streets (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 13th, 2017

    Life’s pretty simple, you know. It’s long periods of waiting broken up by brief moments of change. That’s it…that’s all it is.”

    100 Streets tells three barely-connected stories set in the same one-square-mile area of present-day London. (The neighborhoods of Chelsea and Battersea to be exact.) The stories are each quite compelling in their own right, and they’re performed by a talented group of actors. Unfortunately, the movie is occasionally bogged down by distracting, pseudo-profound soliloquies like the one at the top of this review. I appreciate the stabs at thoughtfulness and depth, but they come off as forced here and are more likely to make you roll your eyes than inspire you.
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    Allied (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 2nd, 2017

    Brad Pitt appears to be making this World War II thing a bit of a niche. In recent years he went from Inglourious Basterds to the superior Fury and now to Allied. I wish I could say that he’s getting better, but Allied marks a step backwards for the actor in more ways than just the performance. It’s an unfortunate aspect of Hollywood that sexy rumors and scandals sell more theater tickets than a good movie. Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have called it quits, and the scuttlebutt is that it was Pitt’s fling with Allied co-star Marion Cotillard that caused the split. I don’t know if any of that is true and honestly wouldn’t care a hill of beans if it were.
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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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    Vice Principals: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 10th, 2017

    Danny McBride managed to inhabit the role of Kenny Powers to such an extent that I do appear to have trouble keeping them separate. I thought that the arrival of a new series would finally put that issue to rest. I’m discovering there was a reason I had trouble telling them apart. They are indeed the same person. Add to the situation that Vice Principals uses the same writing and production team headed by McBride and Jody Hill, and there are moments when you will think that you’re still watching Eastbound And Out. The wild card that changes things up enough happens to be Walter Goggins. Goggins came to notice as the cold Shane in The Shield and the quirky Boyd Crowder in Justified.
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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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    Justice League Dark (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 7th, 2017

    To put things mildly, Warner Bros. still has a bit of a ways to go before its stable of DC Comics superheroes catches up to Disney’s dominant Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Warner and DC have long had the upper hand on both the small screen (Smallville, Arrow, The Flash) and with their animated, direct-to-video offerings. The latest in that latter category is Justice League Dark, which mostly sidelines DC’s best-known heroes in favor of a team of mystical outcasts led by a charming, abrasive rogue.


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    Queen of Katwe (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 3rd, 2017

    In chess, the small one can become the big one.”

    It’s hard to stand out in the Disney family when your big brothers and sisters are Star Wars, Marvel, and the studio’s own blockbuster animated offerings. (Not to mention live-action re-imaginings of its own classic animated offerings.) While those properties have been making a racket at the box office, the Mouse House has also been quietly cranking out family-friendly, multi-cultural sports dramas in recent years, including 2014’s Million Dollar Arm, and 2015’s McFarland U.S.A. I’m not sure if Queen of Katwe is the best of that bunch (I really enjoyed McFarland) but it certainly has the most unlikely hero.
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    Ballers: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 2nd, 2017

    American football has been making the news of late, and not just in the sports pages. For the last couple of years there has been an increasing concern for players’ safety. From our former president declaring he wouldn’t let his fictional son play the game to the hard-hitting Will Smith film Concussion, football has taken some heat over its violent nature. Players are retiring early, and the subject of life after football becomes more of a social question than ever before. That’s where HBO’s Ballers comes in. It’s a half-hour look at the NFL from the player perspective, both current and retired. It’s intended as a light bit of dramedy, and it certainly is that. Even so, the series doesn’t hide from some of the brutal realities of the sport, from the trappings of fame and fortune to the realities of its eventual end.
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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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    Girls: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 11th, 2017

    “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore, and I don’t know how to get out.”

    A TV show’s fifth season is around the time it starts to feel like you have to see things through to the bitter end. I mean, it seems downright irresponsible to ditch a series after five years of investing in its characters’ lives, no matter how flawed and frustrating they are. And there’s no doubt the self-absorbed millennials on HBO’s Girls are among the most flawed and frustrating people on TV; so I was delighted to find that the series produced one of its strongest seasons as it nears its conclusion.
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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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    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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    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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    Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 23rd, 2016

    There’s a man comin’, and he aims to bury you.”

    That sort of threat — especially when it’s made within the trigger-happy Western genre — usually refers to a wronged hero looking to rain vengeance upon some dastardly villain who wronged him in an extremely personal way. The only most interesting thing about Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story is that our presumed hero is the one being hunted…and the “bad guy” has a legitimate gripe.
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    Howards End: 25th Anniversary (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 15th, 2016

    Word of advice: don’t take up a sentimental attitude over the poor.”

    That bit of wisdom is offered by Henry Wilcox, the scheming, obliviously shameless wealthy capitalist in Howards End. The 1992 Merchant-Ivory film — which gets a spiffy, 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release courtesy of Cohen Media Group — is based on an E.M. Forster novel that was published in 1910. However, Henry’s philosophy towards the less fortunate members of society strikes a chord more than 100 years since the character made his debut. And that’s just one reason Howards End is worth another look as we prepare to turn the calendar to 2017.
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    Greenleaf Season 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 14th, 2016

    relatively out of the spotlight as she has worked on making her cable network channel, OWN, a success.  While I wouldn’t ever say I was a fan of Oprah’s work on the screen, I could appreciate what she did in The Color Purple and Beloved. This being said, I have to admit I was a bit reluctant to take a title that at first glance seemed to be a show that would be heavy-handed with its subject matter centered around the church.  Despite my concerns, I’m glad I picked up this title, because despite how it handles some very familiar topics, it’s presented in a manner that not only feels fresh but is truly an engrossing show that manages to suck the viewer in and kept me wanting to see what would happen next.
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    Looking: The Complete Series and The Movie (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 1st, 2016

    The most remarkable thing about Looking might have been how thoroughly unremarkable it was. The HBO dramedy — which followed the love lives of three gay friends in San Francisco — sidestepped any sort of headline-grabbing sensationalism. However, Looking was often low-key to the point that it bypassed being funny or particularly entertaining. The latter point was a bigger issue early on since the show’s naturalistic tone made Looking more engrossing as the series progressed and deepened its roster of characters. You can see for yourself how the show got better as it went along now that HBO has released the entire Looking saga — two seasons and a movie — in one handy Blu-ray set.
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    Star Trek: The Animated Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 24th, 2016

    “Space…the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one man gone before!”

    Of course, we never did get five years from that original show when it ended after just three years in 1969. The new film series has tried to fix that for us. The latest film picks up the five-year mission just after three years have gone by. It’s a double homage to the original show.
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    Army Of One (Blu-ray)

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

    It’s been a while since Nicolas Cage has been in a big studio-released film.  It doesn’t mean he’s doing bad movies; it just means he’s not doing any tent-pole releases that flood the multiplex.  Seeing Nicolas Cage in a film like Army of One is simply a snapshot of how modern cinema has to evolve for better or for worse.  Really, I don’t mean to come off as though this is a bad film or inferior to any other films past or present, but ten years ago this is a film that would have had a much wider release and would easily have gotten more attention.  After all, who could resist Nicolas Cage in a film helmed by the director of Borat?
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    Kickboxer: Vengeance (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 10th, 2016

    No rules, no ref. Just your wit and skill to keep you alive.”

    Last year, Creed became a critical and audience favorite by reviving a beloved dormant franchise and re-casting its brawny original star in a supporting role as a mentor. I’m not going to pretend that 1989’s Kickboxer (starring Jean-Claude Van Damme) is anywhere near as beloved — or as good — as Rocky. But Kickboxer: Vengeance, a reboot/remake of Van Damme’s campy action favorite, hits some of the same notes as Creed…except for the part where it’s a critical and audience favorite.
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    Hell on Wheels: The Final Episodes (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 4th, 2016

    “This train don’t stop.” That’s what we’re told in an Elton John ballad. But it doesn’t matter if it’s that Midnight Train to Georgia or a freight train, you can bet the farm that it’s going to run out of track.  That’s for sure, and you can expect more than a little crying over it all. The saddest news, however, is the show’s final year. You really should not even think about joining the series from this point. I suspect it will still be quite entertaining, but for the full experience you do have to start from the beginning. The evolution of the Cullen character from Civil War veteran out for vengeance to the man who we see in the fifth season is a rather nice journey to witness. So saddle up for the first four. You can find the reviews for other seasons here.
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    Skiptrace (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 3rd, 2016

    You’re no spring chicken anymore.”

    It’s been more than four years since Jackie Chan — the legendary Hong Kong superstar who has been kicking butt and scoring scoring laughs on screen since the 1970s — announced he was retiring from action movies. Sure, Chan quickly backpedaled, but I don’t know that anyone would’ve held it against the actor (who is now 62) if he’d stuck to his word. After decades of grueling injuries, Chan has noticeably slowed down. That being said, the old man still has a few tricks up his sleeve in Skiptrace.
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