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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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    Come What May (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 10th, 2017

    Don’t call it a comeback, but World War II movies are having a bit of a renaissance. (Seriously, don’t call it a comeback…they’ve been here for years.) There are seemingly endless ways to approach a WWII story — Hacksaw Ridge and Allied were in theatres recently, while the next few months will bring The Zookeeper’s Wife and Dunkirk — but the majority of movies that actually get made skew toward the American/British perspective. That’s the main reason Come What May — a somewhat sappy, intensely personal film from France — stands out from the pack.
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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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    Pinocchio: Walt Disney Signature Collection (Blu-ray)

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

    “When you wish upon a star. Makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do… Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through. When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”

    The song has become a standard. Every kid knows it. Walt Disney Studios has made it their theme song. You hear it each time you load up a Disney disc. If you have been fortunate enough to have visited Walt Disney World, you’ve heard it the entire day long.
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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 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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    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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    The Killing of America (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 4th, 2017

    “America is the only industrialized nation with a higher murder rate than countries at civil war.”

    2016 might technically be in the rearview mirror, but it feels like last year left an indelible mark on the psyche of the United States. In addition to the most polarizing presidential election in a very long time, last year was marked by the deadliest shooting in U.S. history about an hour away from where I’m currently sitting, along with other highly-publicized instances of gun violence. So it feels like an appropriate time to revisit The Killing of America, a 1981 documentary that was never granted a commercial U.S. release after being deemed too exploitative.
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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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    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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    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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    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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    Mad Max: Fury Road Black & Chrome (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on December 8th, 2016

    It was rumored from the very beginning that George Miller was considering a black & white format for the film. There are box office risks associated with such a brave choice. We’re hearing some of the same thoughts coming out of the Logan shoot. The nice thing about the sophistication of home video today is that there is now an outlet for those kinds of artistic choices, and this is a pretty solid example of it. It’s hoped more of these kinds of alternate ideas can make it to home video giving filmmakers the chance to unleash things that might just be too risky at the box office. You still get the original film as part of of this combo so you’re not giving anything up.
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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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    Pete’s Dragon (2016) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 1st, 2016

    “Sometimes a dragon gets lost…and winds up far from his home.” 

    It appears to be the intention at Walt Disney Studios that each of its animated classics is to be remade as a live-action film. You can certainly understand the why that might be so. Computer-generated images have passed into the realm of photo-realistic presentations. Today there isn’t anything you can’t bring into the “real” world to interact with actual flesh and blood actors. The concept brought us the brilliant Jon Favreau version of The Jungle Book. Not all of these attempts have been or will be quite so successful. I count Pete’s Dragon among one of those lesser-than films.
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    Return Of The Living Dead 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 29th, 2016

    Fresh out of the vaults comes another cult classic. Vestron Video has decided to unleash Return of the Living Dead 3 for horror fans to snatch up this holiday season.  Considering the titles that Vestron has already released, for some this might be a title that will leave fans scratching their heads about there being an urge to re-master this film, much less crank out a Blu-ray with so many features.  Well, the simple answer is that the person in charge of acquiring and releasing these titles knows that there are fanboys like me out there who will shell out the money for a product that’s given this kind of attention.  Return of the Living Dead is a cult classic and is mostly responsible for casual moviegoers making the connection with zombies and brain eating
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    I.T. (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 24th, 2016

    There is a way this film could have been great if not a little amusing. Imagine if James Bond was being stalked by Q; what would Bond do?  Sure, I’ll admit it’s a silly notion, but it’s all I could think about as I watched this film about a millionaire and his family being stalked by a disgruntled I.T. worker.  In general, it’s a story we see a couple of times a year, the seemingly charming figure that comes into a person’s life that turns out to be crazy and throws everyone’s life into chaos.  Films like Cape Fear and One Hour Photo are just a couple of examples of films that tackled the stalker sub-genre; even last year’s overlooked gem The Gift showed you can still be terrifying with a little creativity.
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