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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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    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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    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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    Broad City: Season 3

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 23rd, 2017

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: single gals looking for love — among other things — in the big city. On television, the trope dates back to the days of Laverne & Shirley and continues with more contemporary entries like Sex and the City and Girls. It’s an effective, timeless story hook that has gotten a funny, druggy, tremendously weird spin thanks to the queens kweens of Comedy Central’s Broad City.
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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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    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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    Central Intelligence ( UHD Blu-ray (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on October 5th, 2016

    “Be the hero of your own story.”

    Not the funniest addition to Kevin Hart’s reign as the king of comedy, but still a welcome sight. This time around, Hart teams with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for Central Intelligence. I’ve been anticipating this movie since behind-the-scenes footage leaked earlier this year, and the official trailer did nothing but fuel the flames of my excitement. After watching it, I can say that despite a few predictable plot twists, I still found the overall product to be extremely funny and worthwhile.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” Blood Diner (Blu-ray)

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

    Warning! The truly unusual motion picture you are about to see contains many scenes of graphic violence. It is not intended for the faint of heart, nor the young and impressionable.”

    Anyone who makes it all the way through 1987’s Blood Diner — a gleeful, inspired exercise in bad taste — can’t say they weren’t warned. That being said, the tongue-in-cheek disclaimer that precedes the film still may not be enough to prepare you for the utter silliness and depravity that follows.
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    South Park: Season 19 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 15th, 2016

    “Going on down to South Park and meet some friends of mine.”

    After 20 years or more, they really do feel like friends. I’ve known Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny longer than most real people in my life. Only the Simpsons have been around longer these days. Over those years South Park has always been a series of stories that rarely connect with each other in any significant way. There have been multi-part episodes, and certain experiences have come back up over the years. Still, we’re talking about a universe where killing Kenny had become a running joke and happened pretty much in every episode.
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    The Nice Guys (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 31st, 2016

    Writer/Director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3) has a way of writing flawed characters who manage to leave more lasting impressions than the films they populate. But where he shines is when he can thrust these flawed individuals into the confines of a detective story.  Most people grew their fondness for Black and his quick-witted dialog when he first penned Lethal Weapon, but for me it goes back to The Monster Squad and The Last Boy Scout, where I found myself becoming a fan even in my early years of film watching.  So is the fanboy in me excited to see what Black brings to the table this time around?  You betcha. In a summer popcorn season filled with comic book movies, sequels, and other films targeting the teenage demographic, it’s nice to have an action film that harkens back to the good old days (the 80’s and early 90’s) for a fun comedy/action romp that has a foul-mouthed edge.
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    Keanu (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 8th, 2016

    When I first saw the trailer for Keanu I wasn’t sure if what I was watching was a real trailer or simply a sketch from the Key and Peele Show. Thankfully this turned out to their first starring foray in taking their talents to the big screen.  With one look at the trailer, I felt they were attempting to capture the over-the-top stylish action we got in most 90’s action films, Face/Off is the first that comes to mind, but really there are countless examples.  But the real star of the film is little Keanu himself, the ball of feline cuteness that will either have you embracing the film from the start or have you rolling your eyes (yeah, I’m talking about those cat haters out there).  Grab your Glock, and don’t forget the catnip, as we scratch a little deeper into Keanu.
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    Everybody Wants Some (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 12th, 2016

    For the Gasparilla International Film Festival, to nab the latest film from writer/director Richard Linklater is kind of a big deal. GIFF was the second festival to show Everybody Wants Some after its debut at the acclaimed South by Southwest festival.  With the film being lauded as a spiritual sequel to Linklater’s cult hit Dazed and Confused, I had to admit I was a bit skeptical about this film and its ability to even match up to its predecessor, after all it was the indie darling that helped launched the careers of Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, and many others.  This ensemble of talented up-and-comers managed to capture this cinematic lightning in a bottle about high school
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    Shrek: Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 7th, 2016

    Oh…you were expecting Prince Charming?”

    Shrek really did pick the absolute perfect time to emerge from his swamp. The 2001 computer animated sensation from Dreamworks arrived just as rival studio Disney was winding down its decade-long hot streak of hand-drawn new classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. In other words, it was the ideal moment for someone to come along and take shots at cartoon musicals and fairy tales that end with “Happily Ever After.” (Shrek‘s biggest target, however, was probably the Mouse House itself.) But how does the movie play 15 years later? Fortunately, Fox and Dreamworks have released a new Anniversary Edition to help us figure out the answer.
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    Ballers: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 26th, 2016

    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 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 Confirmation (Blu-ray)

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

    I don’t know what kind of trouble he can get into in a day.”

    At first glance, those words — spoken by a father in the midst of a particularly eventful weekend with his estranged son — sound like a filmmaker giving himself permission to put his characters in the most outrageous situations possible. But The Confirmation actually shines by keeping things simple. The movie is a low-key, thoroughly affecting story of a father and son forging an unexpected connection.
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    Ghostbusters (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 8th, 2016

    “Who you gonna call?”

    By now everyone knows the answer. Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson are the Ghostbusters. As their ad proclaims, they’re ready to believe you. Ghostbusters was originally conceived by Aykroyd as a vehicle for John Belushi and himself. When Belushi died, reportedly from a drug overdose, the project sat on the shelf a few years. Harold Ramis would eventually team up with Aykroyd and finish the script. It’s been said that “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard
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    Ghostbusters II (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 8th, 2016

    “Who you gonna call?”

    This time?

    It took over five years to put together a sequel to Ghostbusters. Apparently there were dozens of story ideas that came and went before the second film finally began production. It was a promising project. All of the original cast returned along with a few of the supporting cast members.
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    Zoolander No. 2: The Magnum Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 31st, 2016

    Hi…it’s been a long time.”

    If Project Runway has taught us anything, it’s that “in fashion, one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.” To a lesser extent, that adage can also be applied to comedy stars, since audiences’ tastes seem to shift almost as often as style trends. (There was a point in time when Pauly Shore was a movie star…that really happened!) As a result, any sequel to 2001’s Zoolander — Ben Stiller’s really, really, really, ridiculously good looking absurd fashion satire —had the odds stacked against it.
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    Dirty Grandpa: Unrated (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 25th, 2016

    Robert De Niro and Zac Efron have a combined seven Academy Award nominations and a pair of Oscar wins to their names. So it was only a matter of time until these titans of cinema joined forces on the big screen. All joking aside, none of us were expecting Dirty Grandpa to pump up De Niro’s Oscar tally. What *is* a bit surprising — other than how truly bad this charmless, dimwitted, mean-spirited “comedy” turned out to be — is that Efron kind of outclasses his legendary counterpart.
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    Hot in Cleveland: Season Six

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 4th, 2016

    Oh crap…I’m going back to Cleveland.”

    I had never seen a single episode of Hot in Cleveland before I sat down to review season 5. 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 — which wrapped up last year after six seasons and 128 episodes — feels like you’re watching re-runs of a show you’ve already seen…and still enjoy plenty.
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    Veep: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 25th, 2016

    We’re making history with the first woman president.”

    That statement may or may not become a reality in a matter of months, but HBO has real-life politics beat either way. Season 3 of Veep, the caustic, constantly-cussing comedy series, concluded with U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer ascending to the highest office in the land. But lest you think the show jumped the shark by having VP Meyer outgrow the show’s title, there’s more than enough sharp-tongued mayhem to go around once Selina and her staff — referred to as “an infection of mediocrity” in season 4 — have their finger on the button.
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    Silicon Valley: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 20th, 2016

    Billionaires are people too.”

    HBO’s Silicon Valley, which takes merciless aim at the tech capital of the U.S., was impressive right out of the gate. The series struck comedy gold in its debut season by making fun of both self-important, aggressively eccentric billionaires and the bumbling “guys in a garage” who are trying to get to their level. Season 2 is both nerdier and more confident in its skewering of corporate soullessness and the scrappy underdogs who often can’t get out of their own way. (I’m not sure there’s another show on TV that would use a SWOT analysis to decide whether a douche-y stuntman lives or dies.) The result is a very funny sitcom that has gotten even better.
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    Grace and Frankie: Season One

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

    Am I irrelevant? I refuse to be irrelevant.”

    Outside of The Golden Girls, there haven’t been too many TV shows where the entire main cast is eligible for social security. Then again, chasing the 18-49 demo that advertisers covet isn’t much of a concern for a subscription-based service like Netflix, which debuted Grace and Frankie last year. Naturally, the series — whose four main actors are each 75 and older — has its share of geriatric humor. (Although the broken hip doesn’t occur till Ep. 5/“The Fall”.) More importantly, it also has some genuinely funny things to say about companionship and reinvention.
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    Sisters (Blu-ray)

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

    Between their stints on Saturday Night Live and their subsequent sitcom hits, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two of the most successful comedic voices of the new millennium. (I happen to think Fey’s 30 Rock and Poehler’s Parks and Recreation are both among the five best comedies to debut in the last 10 years.) The longtime friends — dating back to their Chicago improv days in the early ‘90s — have also proven to be funny together, most notably during their well-received gigs hosting the Golden Globes. I’m telling you all of that to tell you this…I can’t believe how bad their new movie is.
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    The Big Short (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 14th, 2016

    I’m guessing most of you still don’t really know what happened.”

    There is absolutely nothing funny about the financial crisis of 2008. Besides the fact that the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble led to the failure of countless businesses and a disastrous decline in consumer wealth, the crisis involved key phrases like “credit default swap” and “collateralized debt obligation.” Those terms are much more likely to make your eyes glaze over in boredom or confusion than they are to inspire laughs. The Big Short cannily recognizes this challenge and crafts a farcical, incisive narrative about a small group of outcasts who saw the whole thing coming.
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