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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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    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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    Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on February 1st, 2017

    Forbes magazine called Jack Reacher and author Lee Childs the strongest brand in publishing as much for his over $100,000,000 in sales and billion-dollar imprint as for the strong loyalty of fans and favorable ratings of the readers. The 21st Jack Reacher novel, Night School, is coming out in a couple of weeks (which I’m sure Simon & Shuster would thank me for mentioning, but they don’t need my help), and Reacher fans will be buying in droves. The second Reacher movie will be out on November 21. One of the first things I want to address is that Lee Childs had been actively involved in the picking of Tom Cruise to be Jack Reacher.
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    The Girl on the Train (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 19th, 2017

    My husband used to tell me I have an overactive imagination…”

    The idea at the core of The Girl on the Train is equal parts provocative and relatable: a lonely commuter observes an attractive couple from a distance and imagines what their seemingly perfect lives must be like. Anyone who’s ever done any people-watching will recognize the appeal of inventing a backstory for a stranger, and the story is a healthy reminder that things are never quite what they seem from the outside. But despite a powerhouse lead performance, this Train is ultimately derailed by an unsatisfying mystery and a lack of flair that causes this potentially juicy story to lose steam as it chugs along
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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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    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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    Sully (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 21st, 2016

    Clint Eastwood is 86 years old. He is also one of the best film directors working today. His latest film shows no signs of a man winding down his life, let alone his career. I obviously hinted that most other actors (or directors) his age have long ago died or checked into a nursing home. Eastwood looks lean and mean and still directs that way. Eastwood is interesting, as well, because he tends to pick projects that are outside the Hollywood studio corporate thinking. In other words, Eastwood is his own man and does pretty much anything he wants. His films as an actor and director have courted controversy way back to the days of Dirty Harry and A Fistful of Dollars. His films as a director and his personal political views are always full of contradictions that suggest a vibrant, searching mind. Sully is Eastwood’s latest film, starring Tom Hanks, and it is deceptively complex as well. On one level, Sully is a textbook depiction of a famous true life event.
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