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    Unforgettable (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 26th, 2017

    I’m done with crazy.”

    When it comes to movies about psychotically wronged women, the crazier things get, the better. Unfortunately, the makers of Unforgettable — a dull domestic drama/wannabe thriller — never got the memo. It’s a shame because the movie had some of the ingredients to be a deliciously pulpy thriller, including an amusingly unhinged turn from one of its stars. But in the end, this comes off as a Lifetime movie that slipped through the cracks, fell upwards, and was accidentally released in theaters.
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    Prison Break: Event Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 14th, 2017

    “Freedom has a price. I died 7 years ago. Left behind a brother, a wife, a son, but the dead talk if you listen. They’re there with you. Reaching out. Trying to tell us something. Because not all deaths are the same. Some are real. Some are a story. Question is: do you believe the story? Was the man who died who you thought he was? The dead talk. If you listen…”

    The same can be said for dead series. Fox has been riding a wave of series revivals that have brought shows back from the dead in a limited-run event series format, and it has actually been doing well for the network
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    The Zookeeper’s Wife (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 3rd, 2017

    “What have you been up to in your little zoo?”

    It appears that we have been due for one of those untold stories amid the many tales of courage and bravery both fact and fiction, real and imagined, that have been told of the World War II era. There have been plenty of the battlefield hero films that include last year’s exceptional Hacksaw Ridge from Mel Gibson. Then there are the quiet and unlikely heroes. These are people who did incredible things that were often unknown during the war and often even after it was all over. Schindler’s List has become the gold standard for these kinds of emotional war movies. The Zookeeper’s Wife is set in the mold of that kind of a film, telling essentially that very kind of tale.
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    T2 Trainspotting (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 28th, 2017

    “First, there is an opportunity.  Then…there’s a betrayal.”

    It’s been 20 years since the release of Trainspotting, and it’s fair to say a lot has changed in the past two decades.  I remember going out to the United Artists Mission Bell Cinemas to see Trainspotting the weekend it came out.  I was with my best friend at the time, and neither of us was old enough to buy tickets for the film, so we ended up having to sneak into the film.  We’d seen the trailers, and in a time before the internet there just wasn’t much we could find out about it aside from reading articles in the entertainment magazines.
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    A United Kingdom (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 21st, 2017

    “We should not be fighting for segregation, we should be fighting for equality.”

    That’s the sort of rousing statement any random politician on the campaign trail might use to rile up a crowd of supporters at a pep rally. And even though those words are spoken here by a man in the midst of heavy political turmoil, the beauty of A United Kingdom — a straightforward but nevertheless impactful fact-based drama about forbidden love — is that they are actually born out of an intensely personal conflict.
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    Kill ’em All (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 16th, 2017

    It used to be when you had a straight-to-DVD release, you knew better than to set the bar too high.  From time to time you would find that occasional gem that slipped through the cracks and turned out to be something awesome, but this was a rare occurrence. With the way films are released now, the talent you are seeing in straight-to-DVD releases has improved, as have the budgets, since getting a film on the big screen has become a greater financial challenge.  I mention this only because I look at a title like Kill’em All and wonder if they even cared. The actors are here and doing their job, but it’s the figures behind the scenes that I’m calling out here.
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    The Young Pope (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 15th, 2017

    “Have you ever seen two priests wearing tracksuits?”

    The highest praise I can offer for The Young Pope — the staggeringly extravagant and deeply strange co-production between Sky Atlantic, Canal+, and HBO — is that I can guarantee you will see something you have never seen before. (A pair of priests in tracksuits is the least of it.) The show is bold in both its style and storytelling, although it only unequivocally succeeds in one of those two areas. Given all the Vatican-centric politics and power plays, it’s easy to see why this show was dubbed “House of Cardinals.”
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    Heat: Director’s Definitive Edition

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on May 16th, 2017

    There was a 20th anniversary edition of Michael Mann’s Heat planned a couple of years ago by the folks at Warner Brothers. There was hope of a 4K restoration and more. The rights ended up reverting to 20th Century Fox before any of that could happen. Now Fox has released something they are calling The Director’s Definitive Edition, but it is the same cut and print of the film as used in the last Warner Brothers’ Blu-ray release. So I really can’t tell you what is definitive except for a couple of new and more recent bonus features.
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    Fifty Shades Darker – Unrated Edition (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on May 11th, 2017

    From the suggestion of the title, you would think that we would be diving deeper into the world of BDSM, but after watching, the only thing that I can say about Fifty Shades Darker is that it’s a love story. Yes, I know that it was always a love story, but the first film possessed an edge and intensity which no longer exist in the sequel. Disappointing is too pale a word for the film. From its failure to properly capture the essence of the source material, less than engaging performance of the leads, and the vanilla nature of the sex scenes, the movie does not live up to the hype. If 50 Shades of Grey pushed the envelope with its sexuality, 50 Shades Darker embraces the commercialism of a sequel for profit rather than effect.
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    The Godfather & The Godfather Part II: 45th Anniversary (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 9th, 2017

    It’s hard to believe that it has been 45 years since The Godfather first graced theater screens. The Godfather films changed storytelling forever. Films before that time, mobster or otherwise, had some very simple but unshakable rules. There was always a fairly clear distinction between the good guys and the bad guys. The good guys always win in the end, and the bad guys always succumb to justice before the final credits. For perhaps the very first time, we were given characters that we knew in our souls were evil men. They killed. They broke laws. They manipulated everyone around them through fear and terrorism to bend to their wills.
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    The Affair: Season Three

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

    I thought it was dull…unless it was supposed to be a satire.”

    Television has been trending toward shorter, more self-contained stories. Successful shows like American Horror Story, Fargo, American Crime, and others reboot themselves every year with new characters and storylines in an attempt to offer viewers something fresh each season. The Affair seemed ready-made for that formula: each season could’ve followed different adulterous encounters in a wide variety of settings. Instead, the perspective-shifting Showtime drama is determined to chronicle the far-reaching effects of a single Long Island dalliance. So while the show brushes up against some interesting relationship dynamics, it feels like it has stretched a thin concept beyond its breaking point.
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    Saturday Night Fever: Director’s Cut (Blu-Ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on May 1st, 2017

    Even though I was born in 1975, I don’t remember a thing until I was about 5 years old, therefore I missed most of the “Disco” era. My dad would play music from the 70’s, but that consisted of Led Zeppelin, Queen and Black Sabbath among other bands; no disco in sight. But one faithful day in my middle school years, I did find my mother’s record and 8-track collection. There was some Barry Manilow, Julio Iglesias, and something called the Bee-Gees. I wouldn’t say anything crazy like it turned my life around, but after listening, I clearly understood. I clearly understood that my mother was crazy and I was much better off listening to Whole Lotta Love. Anyway, we have a movie to review, let’s continue with Saturday Night Fever.

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    Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 28th, 2017

    “Everyone outside the family is a mark. Family comes first.”

    Meet the most dysfunctional crime family since The Sopranos. Not quite at the same level either on-screen or in quality, but once again we’re drawn toward another dangerous clan with criminal intent. I guess we could call them The Baritones. Actually Animal Kingdom is an apt description for television’s latest baddies. They’re about to head into their second season of mayhem on TNT where the series was the network’s top ratings winner during its run. Now that first season is out on Blu-ray from Warner Brothers, and it’s one crazy ride, of that you can be certain.
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    Mars (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 21st, 2017

    I was eight years old when Armstrong first stepped on the moon in July of 1969. Like every kid my age, it filled me with a feeling that I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor of humanity’s grand exploration of space. By the time I was 15, we had landed the first probes on Mars. We were certainly on our way. The sky literally wasn’t the limit anymore. But then it all stopped. By the 80’s we had shifted our focus to low Earth orbit, and we haven’t explored the limits of space with a manned mission in nearly 50 years. Even the Space Shuttle is gone, and we don’t even have the capability to send Americans to the space station that we mostly paid for without hitching a ride with the Russians. And if you’ve been following world events at all, that ride isn’t a sure thing anymore. That 8-year-old with the mile-wide grin would never have believed we’d be so earthbound by the time he reached his mid-50’s.
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    Daughters of the Dust (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 12th, 2017

    “At the turn of the century, Sea Island Gullahs, descendants of African Captives, remained isolated from the mainland of South Carolina and Georgia. As a result of their isolation, the Gullah created and maintained a distinct, imaginative, and original African American culture.”

    Prior to watching Daughters of the Dust, I was completely unfamiliar with Sea Island Gullahs. To tell their story, the film (intentionally) deviates from the traditional narrative playbook, which doesn’t necessarily make for the most pleasurable movie-watching experience. However, the three key adjectives used in the opening text — “distinct,” “imaginative,” and “original” — absolutely apply here.
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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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    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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    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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    The King of New Orleans

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 2nd, 2017

    I don’t know what it is with this place. I don’t want to call it voodoo because that’s so cliché and you guys probably hate that down here…but there’s definitely a feel.”

    To say that a certain city is “almost like another character” in a movie has become somewhat commonplace. The phrase is usually applied to films where directors have placed an inordinate emphasis on the background and setting of their stories. By that standard, The King of New Orleans doesn’t simply cast The Big Easy as “almost like another character”…the city gets a starring role.
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    Quarry: The Complete First Season

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

    I’m not as comfortable as you are with the notion of killing other human beings.”

    Remember that time about six months ago when NFL star Colin Kaepernick set off a firestorm of controversy by repeatedly kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest? A big part of the outrage was tied to the notion that Kaepernick’s actions were disrespectful to members of the U.S. military. One of the most striking things about Quarry — Cinemax’s compelling, well-rounded Vietnam War-era drama — is how it depicts a period not that long ago in our country’s history when veterans were openly treated with venom and vitriol that went way beyond someone taking a knee.
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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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    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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    John Wick (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Delia on February 9th, 2017

    “John Wick isn’t the Boogeyman. He’s the guy you call to kill the Boogeyman”

    Taking a shot as a hitman in his latest film John Wick, Keanu Reeves delivers his character with authority in this explosive crime drama.  The film turns out to be an ideal fit for the star and his former stunt double turned director as they move to one perfectly choreographed fight scene after another. It’s a fast-action gauntlet that lasts nearly the whole 96 minutes.
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