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    Veep: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 20th, 2017

    As it turns out, there’s a virtually unprecedented tie in the Electoral College.”

    If you thought the latest U.S. presidential election cycle was a soul-crushing and unpredictable mess, you should take a peek at what’s happening on Veep. (At least we got a definitive real-life result…eventually.) The show’s outstanding fifth season begins with President Selina Meyer — who assumed the office after her predecessor resigned — locked in a frustrating Electoral College tie as she seeks to become the first woman to be *elected* to the highest office in the land. President Meyer sums up her predicament in a manner befitting HBO’s caustic, constantly-cussing comedy: “didn’t those Founding F—ers ever hear of an odd number?!”
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    Split (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 20th, 2017

    When it comes to writer/ director M. Night Shyamalan, it’s hard to find a more polarizing director between film critics and film geeks. I was a fan up until he did The Village. It’s not as though I “hated” the film; I just was getting sick of the gimmick plot twists that seemed to go hand in hand with his work.  As he continued to release films, I just would shrug at the trailers, and my enthusiasm for his films quickly declined.  For me Unbreakable has grown to be my favorite work of his, which is funny to me because the first time I saw it I had a hard time deciding how I felt about the film.  It was a comic/ superhero film that showed us perhaps what it would be like in the real world if some regular Joe realized he was perhaps meant for something greater.
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    The Bye Bye Man (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 14th, 2017

    Every year there are dozens upon dozens of horror films released, each with the intention to make an impact on the genre.  Horror is easily my favorite genre in film, but it’s a genre that easily allows itself to spill into other genres. It doesn’t matter to me what the budget is, or whether the special effects are on point; what matters most is if the story holds up.  I mention this because going into The Bye Bye Man I had heard some pretty bad things, but I don’t usually let that get in the way of my opinion of a film; after all, everyone has their own tastes.  For me the film’s tagline “Don’t think it. Don’t say it.” should have the added line, “Don’t remember it.”
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    Silicon Valley: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

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

    “Think inside the box.”

    One of the major through lines in season 3 of Silicon Valley is that our heroes at Pied Piper have created a product so ahead of its time that it is failing to connect with consumers, which puts the start-up company in peril. Fortunately, HBO’s brainy and bawdy tech comedy hasn’t had any problems connecting with its audience: the show’s confident and hilarious third season seamlessly mixes talk of “compression algorithms” with outrageous sight gags involving horses getting, um, familiar with each other.
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    Office Christmas Party (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 12th, 2017

    The trouble with most holiday films is that once the holiday passes, there is about another year of waiting till it seems right to put the film on again.  Everyone knows about A Christmas Story and Polar Express, but really, the staple holiday films are sparse, but they are great.  Every year, despite the high probability to fail, studios churn out some holiday films in the hopes that one of these attempted swings will turn out to be a box office giant. I believe it’s safe to say that there hasn’t been a holiday hit for a while, but despite the long odds, Office Christmas Party comes out strong with a big cast and raunchy intentions.  Is it enough to lure people into the darkened Cineplex or have you want to go out to Netflix or Redbox to cure those holiday fever blues?
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    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 5th, 2017

    “You have to start somewhere.”

    I could sense a great disturbance in the Force. I could not quite put my finger on the reason, but there appeared to be much to worry about with the debut of the first ever Star Wars film that was not one of the driving episodes in the epic story of the Skywalker family and friends. There was worry that Disney might have been pushing their luck with these sidetrack stories. The Force Awakens was very good, but should the Mouse House really be tempting fate with such “filler” material? Then there were the disturbing reports that the film required so many rewrites that as much as $5 million had been spent on the services of Tony Gilroy to provide those touch-ups.
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    Silence (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 30th, 2017

    “The price for your glory is their suffering!”

    For most of us, hearing the name “Martin Scorsese” leads to iconic wiseguys, rock and roll, and Robert De Niro/Leonardo DiCaprio movies dancing into our mind’s eye. Further down the list of Marty-related things — probably even below Scorsese’s real-life film preservation work — but no less crucial to appreciating the director’s filmography is the role that faith has played in his personal and professional lives. The most obvious manifestations are the three religious epics Scorsese has directed, including his latest film Silence.
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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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    Fences (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 22nd, 2017

    “Some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in.”

    In its transition from stage to screen, Fences — the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by the late August Wilson — doesn’t venture far beyond the Maxson household. And that’s precisely the point: director/star Denzel Washington isn’t overly concerned with masking the story’s stage origins. The existential claustrophobia that the characters in the play have been carrying their entire lives is right up there on the cramped screen.
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    Moana (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 16th, 2017

    – “OK, first, I’m not a princess…”

    – “If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”

    Disney Animation’s 1990s renaissance was followed by an early 21st century lull for its non-Pixar offerings. The princess-centric formula was played out, so Disney pivoted and started doing things like giving Rapunzel and Eugene Flynn Rider equal billing in 2010’s Tangled and making Frozen (which would’ve definitely been called “The Snow Queen” in the ’90s) a story about sisterly love as opposed to happily ever after. One of the things I love about the outstanding Moana is that it offers a refreshing, thoughtful and exhilarating new approach to the classical Disney princess formula.
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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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    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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    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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