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    Finding Joy

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on December 19th, 2014

    It is a deliberate mystery the how, when, and if of it all.”

    This quote perfectly characterized the entire story of Finding Joy. The reality is this movie has left me questioning: what would you do if you truly believed that your end is near? How would you spend what could be your final days? Would you do charity work as a way of buying your way into heaven?
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    This Is Where I Leave You (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 18th, 2014

    Everybody’s sad or angry or lying or cheating.”

    That seems to be the state of the four adult Altman children even before they are thrust back together following the death of the family patriarch. This Is Where I Leave You has all the makings of a great dysfunctional dramedy. It has a terrific cast and is based on the very popular book by Jonathan Tropper, who wrote the screenplay. Yet the movie comes up well short of delivering on its promise. Despite some strong acting, a handful of funny beats, and a passing similarity to another ensemble movie where characters who were formerly close are brought back together by a funeral, this movie is less Big Chill and more “Big Shrill.”
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    The Skeleton Twins (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 16th, 2014

    “You know what the sad thing is? We’re a good team.”

    Up until they teamed up to star in The Skeleton Twins, there was nothing sad about the team of Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. Regardless of how you feel about the quality of Saturday Night Live in recent years, Wiig (the only cast member to earn an Oscar nomination — for co-writing Bridesmaids — while still appearing on the show) and Hader (with “Stefon” and a laundry list of impressions that ranged from Alan Alda to Al Pacino) were clear standouts. So you’d expect their first post-SNL big-screen team up to be a laugh riot. That’s not exactly the case.
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    Drunk History Seasons 1 and 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on December 15th, 2014

    Drunk History was inspired by a conversation the creator of the show, Derek Waters, had with actor Jake Johnson (New Girl). Johnson was drunk and told Waters a crazy story about Otis Redding predicting the plane he was getting on was going to crash. Waters took that germ and refined it considerably with co-conspirator Jeremy Konner. They released some videos on Funny or Die (that are readily available on Youtube). They have since made shows for Comedy Central, which are the two seasons included here in this collection. 
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    Guardians of the Galaxy

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 15th, 2014

    “Are you telling me that the fate of thirty million inhabitants is in the hands of these criminals?”

    Now that we are in the middle of phase two of Marvel’s movie universe, a new batch of characters have been given a movie of their own to help set the stage for what is to come in the ever-expanding Marvel cinematic universe.  The Guardians of the Galaxy announcement for many left fans scratching their heads; after all, just how would a talking raccoon, a lumbering tree and various other space aliens fit in with the established Avengers team comic and film fans have grown to love already?
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    Speak No Evil

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 15th, 2014

    With the exception of killer clowns, I think the creepiest villains you can find in a horror film are possessed kids.  After all, they’re kids, so the knee-jerk reaction of letting them be overtaken by evil or letting them die is a bad thing in many circles.  Personally, if I’m being chased by some murderous kid who claims to have the devil in him, well, I’m not taking any chances, and they are going to end up on the unfriendly end of a handgun.  Thankfully I don’t believe the evil will be rising any time soon to kick off the ultimate war between good and evil.
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    Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 15th, 2014

    Screw you, it’s ‘Merry Christmas!’”

    A decent chunk of Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special is devoted to taking back the most wonderful time of the year from anyone who insists on saying “Happy Holidays” instead of daring to utter the C-word. The wildly successful comic certainly knows his audience, and the live crowd here eats up Dunham’s assault on rampant political correctness. My feelings on this particular DVD release, on the other hand, are closer to “Bah, humbug!
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    Perry Mason Double Features

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 11th, 2014

    Erle Stanley Gardner wrote crime fiction, and while many of his 100 or so works are unknown to most of us, he created a character who has become as identified with criminal lawyers as any other in fiction. It was in these crime novels that Perry Mason first faced a courtroom. He developed a style where he would investigate these terrible crimes his clients were on trial for. He would find the real killer, and in what has become a Hollywood cliché, reveal his findings in a crucial moment during the trial. While we may not remember the novels, we all remember the man in the persona of Raymond Burr.
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    Broad City: Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 11th, 2014

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: single gal(s) looking for love — among other things — in the big city. On television, the trope dates back to the days of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Laverne & Shirley and continues with more contemporary entries like Sex and the City and Girls. It’s an effective, well-worn story hook that has now gotten a funny, tremendously weird spin thanks to Comedy Central’s Broad City.
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    Nymphomaniac: Extended Director’s Cut Volume 1 & 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on December 10th, 2014

    The story is simple. It chronicles a conversation between two people. Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is found bloody and beaten in an alley by an older man, Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard). He takes her to his sparse flat to care for her and help her. What takes place is a long conversation full of intellectual digressions about Joe. It slowly reveals what led to her downfall. Seligman is a sheltered bookworm who has a detached curiosity about her story. 
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    Into the Woods: Original Broadway Production (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 9th, 2014

    I wish…”

    There’s no shortage of wishing (not to mention pining, longing, yearning, etc.) in some of our most beloved fairy tales. Into the Woods — the Tony-winning Broadway musical created by Stephen Sondheim and frequent collaborator James Lapine — illustrates what happens when certain characters get their storybook ending. Since there’s a big, shiny Disney adaptation on the way, it made sense for Image Entertainment to offer a performance of the stage show on Blu-ray. However, I wish…some more effort had been put into this release.
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    Signed Sealed Delivered Christmas

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on December 8th, 2014

    I don’t say this often, but I’m always happy when I get an opportunity to say it: this movie took me by surprise. I not usually one for the holiday film; don’t get me wrong, I’m no Grinch; however, I have found that magic of Christmas tends to wear off when the illusion of Santa is destroyed. (To all those who are still believers I recommend you stop reading now.) That being said, I have no shame in admitting that in case of Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, I felt the magic once again. Don’t call me a believer again; however, let’s just say it made me want to believe again.
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    A Royal Christmas

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 3rd, 2014

    Tis the season to be…overwhelmed with a crushing number of Christmas-themed movies on our television screens. In addition to holiday staples like A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Die Hard (yeah, I said it), many networks roll out original, made-for-TV yuletide tales. The Hallmark Channel is certainly doing its part this year with its “Countdown to Christmas”, which includes 12 new movies. One of those films transports us to the fictional land of Cordinia for the painfully cliched romantic-comedy stylings of A Royal Christmas.
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    Jeff Dunham: All Over the Map (Blu-ray)

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

    “How the hell did this happen? I mean, I’m on the other side of the planet, and people know who I am and they’re laughing at my jokes.”

    Despite his status as one of the biggest draws in stand-up comedy, Jeff Dunham really does seem taken aback by his success. On one hand, you wouldn’t necessarily expect a ventriloquist to be one of the hottest names in comedy in 2014. Then again, the hard work and precision he has put into his act is evident every time he takes the stage. For his latest comedy special, Dunham packed up his puppets and took his show on the road like never before.
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    Frozen in Time

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on November 27th, 2014

    Holiday movies, to be more specific holiday kids’ movies: talk about being out of my depth. It’s been quite some time since the days where I used to sit down to enjoy a kids’ movie; dare I say that I don’t have the slightest clue what the kiddies are into these days? Seems to be a lot of movies about planes, trains, and automobiles (pun intended) dominating the box office; however, not the case with Frozen in Time, which is centered around the most popular holiday of all time: Christmas. To give this film the proper justice that it deserves, I turned to someone who would be able to watch this with the objective view needed: I sat down and watched the film with my godson Amare.
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    Legends of the Knight

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 26th, 2014

    It’s great to see the love that comic books and their characters are getting from the public; only a couple decades ago people didn’t look so kindly on the medium.  Growing up it wasn’t the wisest decision to broadcast to your classmates about your enthusiasm over the new Punisher or Batman comic.  I got lucky and never really had to deal with bullies, but I had friends who had their fair share of torment over liking the kind of music, movies or comics that they did.  The comic book store was a safe haven away from it all, and it was between the pages that all of us comic book geeks would escape and live vicariously through the animated panels before reality came barreling in. 
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    Nocturna (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 24th, 2014

    As adults we somewhat have a better understanding of how our dreams work and understand that those fears of the dark when we were children were somewhat silly in retrospect.  But when we were kids, the nighttime was a mysterious time that held so many possibilities, where the magic in the world around us was something that was very real for us all.  In the new Spanish language animated feature Nocturna, the first-time filmmakers (Adria Garcia & Victor Madonado) seem to have tapped into that childlike wonder and have crafted a film that I simply adore.
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    The Expendables 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 24th, 2014

    Welcome to the 21st century!”

    Sylvester Stallone has dedicated the better part of the last decade to giving moviegoers what they wanted 20 years ago. It started with 2006′s Rocky Balboa, which closed out Stallone’s signature franchise in the satisfying manner fans have been craving since 1990′s Rocky V debacle. We’ve also gotten another Rambo sequel, as well as long-awaited team ups with icons both real (Schwarzenegger in Escape Plan) and cinematic (Grudge Match was “Rocky vs. Raging Bull”). But Stallone’s biggest recent success is the veritable fantasy team of action stars he’s assembled for the Expendables films.
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    Into the Storm (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 21st, 2014

    Breaking news: anyone who goes to see movie called Into the Storm is probably more interested in “the Storm than they are in any of the people running away from it. The good news is the film understands this, to an extent, and clocks in at a slender 89 minutes. Of course, the titular Storm doesn’t appear for every one of those 89 minutes. This is very bad news because Into the Storm is populated with characters and storylines that are both forgettable and irritating. It’s basically Twister with somewhat better effects, but much less interesting people.
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    Housebound (Blu-ray)

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

    Laughing out loud and getting startled out of your wits are two of the most visceral reactions you can have as a moviegoer. For a director to elicit either reaction is challenging enough, which is why I was so delighted to be feeling both during the thrilling, funny finale of Housebound. It’s an even more impressive feat when you consider it was accomplished by a first-time filmmaker working on a shoestring budget.
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    The Dog (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 18th, 2014

    “If anybody gets up, they’re dead. Anybody moves, they’re dead. Anybody makes a sound before I leave this movie, …”

    You get the idea. These are the words of one John Wojtowicz, better known as The Dog. On August 22, 1972 he attempted to rob a Chase Manhattan bank in order to finance his male lover’s sex change operation so that he could become a woman. The heist was about as amateur as the come and went horribly wrong from the start. In a matter of minutes the bank was surrounded by a swarm of police units and a growing mob of bystanders.
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    Patema Inverted (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 17th, 2014

    I’m not the biggest fan of Japanese animation. I don’t think it’s awful or anything, but animation is one of those things where I’m just picky about what I like.  Though I can say I am a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke) and most of his work.  I think this is worth mentioning, because though I may not be as well-versed in this genre, I’d like to feel I still go into it with an open mind, and I’m always excited to find a title that excites me that I never saw coming.  And that it precisely what Patema Inverted did.
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    Betrayal

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on November 17th, 2014

    “If I step on your toe, I was aiming for your heart. But if you step on my toe, I’ll cut your f&@#ing heart out.”

    Isn’t it always the case that the people closest to us usually bring us the biggest trouble, or perhaps that is a pessimistic view. However, I must admit it’s likely a view that the lead character of Betrayal could agree with as he finds himself drawn into a web of deception that threatens to destroy the lives of not only his family but his own as well.
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    Hot in Cleveland: Season Five

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 14th, 2014

    I had never seen a single episode of Hot in Cleveland before I sat down to review this season 5 DVD set. So why did it feel like I’d been watching this show my entire life? Turns out, it’s entirely by design. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like I’m the target audience for Hot in Cleveland: I’m under 50 years old, and I’m a man. But if you look beyond the plastic surgery jokes and geriatric humor, you’ll find a show that aggressively channels — and ultimately appeals to fans of — many of the classic, multi-camera sitcoms of the past. In other words, Hot in Cleveland feels like you’re watching re-runs of a show you’ve already seen…and still enjoy plenty.
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    Satellite

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on November 13th, 2014

    Satellite is a small, micro-budget independent film that went to a bunch of film festivals and got a bunch of great reviews….in 2005. Why is it taking so long to get a proper DVD release? Such is the fate of many small, micro-budget independent films. It apparently also had some music rights issues, which can be hugely problematic because of the expense. There is also the problem of marketing and advertising, which can be expensive. Then they should be better in some way than the Hollywood product, or it doesn’t have a chance.
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