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    Bridge of Spies (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on February 1st, 2016

    Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks. The Coen Brothers. 1957. The Cold War. Mark Rylance. There are a lot of elements to the stew that is Bridge of Spies. Let’s start with the most important ingredient. Steven Spielberg has been a household name for decades now as the most reliable producer/director of movie entertainment we may have ever seen. His name is so synonymous with big-screen entertainment that he needs no introduction from me. But he has been trying to get away from pure entertainment for a long while now, often with great success.
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    Jack’s Back (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 1st, 2016

    The 100-year anniversary of the Jack the Ripper murders is quickly approaching, and a copycat serial killer is looking to make his mark in Los Angeles.  With only one murder left, the LAPD is in a rush to prevent this madman from completing his across-the-pond murder masterpiece, and the prostitutes of LA are shaking in their heels and miniskirts.  It’s a great way to start off a film, and I’ll admit I was hooked early on with this film, but if you were hoping for a true modern tale of Jack the Ripper, I’m sorry to say you’ll feel more than a little hoodwinked by this film.
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    The New Girlfriend (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 27th, 2016

    Being a woman’s hard work.”

    Femininity — the quality and essence of being a woman — is at the forefront of The New Girlfriend, a gender-bending and genre-bending offering from French director Francois Ozon. The film is a curious mix of farce, rom-com hijinks, frank sexuality, and serious drama about loss. The formula isn’t always cohesive, but it makes for an intriguing twist on the old “boy meets girl” story.
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    The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 21st, 2016

    Have you ever stumbled across someone’s diary?  At first glance it may look innocent enough, but for the person with dreams, fears and confessions, it is that friend and confidant that will listen to its author as they bare their soul and not be faced with judgement. In The Diary of a Teenage Girl, not only do we get a peek into the secret life of Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley), but we are taken on a journey of experiencing first love and sex through the eyes of a 15 year-old girl.  It’s sweet, it’s tragic, but where this film’s strength comes at its audience the strongest is with its honesty, which for some may be a bit too sobering of a reminder of what life is like as a teenager
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    The Condemned 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on January 21st, 2016

    Here comes another in the long line of movies featuring a WWE superstar. Boy, I tell you, the floodgates open after The Rock (although now he goes by Dwayne Johnson) proved it was possible to move from wrestling stardom to silver screen stardom. That said, none them have really made the leap successfully since him; however, that is not from a lack of trying. This time around, Randy “The Viper” Orton looks to try his luck in the sequel to a WWE sponsored film in The Condemned 2.
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    Everest (Blu-ray 3D)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on January 18th, 2016

    Everest is an existential film. It could be one of the most beautiful travelogues you’ve ever seen, but it is far more than that. Its beauty and majesty are perfectly enhanced by 3D, but the true significance has to do with the mysteries of the soul. What drives men to do things that they have no business doing? What makes them climb a mountain whose summit is at the height that 747 jets fly? The old answer that is always used is, “Because it’s there”. Obviously, the reasons run much deeper. There is a void in many people that they can only fill by doing the impossible. They look for accomplishments and knowledge that will hopefully give life meaning
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    Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 18th, 2016

    In our experience, almost everything ends in death.”

    Given its morbid-sounding title, I suppose you can also say that in the case of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, things *start* in death as well. The inevitability of death — a notion that is simultaneously profound and crushingly simple — is one of several big picture ideas explored by the small potatoes title characters. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, now making its Blu-ray debut, is equal parts brilliant and befuddling. But as thought-provoking and exhilarating (and funny!) as the exchanges are, I’m not entirely sure this material was meant to be presented as a movie.
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    True Detective: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on January 10th, 2016

    Popular opinion and so-called critical opinion often seem to careen off cliffs like lemmings in increasingly unpredictable ways guided by whims and subtle shifts in the proverbial winds. I find myself shocked by things praised and things condemned. Sometimes I feel like a little boy who sees a naked emperor while everyone else is shrieking how much they love the new elegant ensemble. In this case, I’m seeing a lovely presentation while there are many who are whining. Part of the problem is that Season 2 of True Detective is considerably distinct from Season 1.
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    Experimenter (Blu-ray)

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

    “The techniques change, the victims change but it’s still a question, “How do these things happen? How are they institutionalized?” 

    “I was just following orders.” It was the plea heard by too many of the Nazi war criminals during their trials following World War II. It wasn’t enough to spare them the consequences of their actions, of course. Six million people were exterminated, experimented on, or tortured. The excuse just didn’t hold water. But was it at all valid? Could an otherwise “good” person be turned into something evil just because someone in authority told them to do it? Just how far would an average human being go toward hurting another person whom they have no provocation to hurt just because they are told to do so?
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    Ray Donovan: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 7th, 2016

    “A good family business is not the same as a good family.” 

    You can say that again. The television landscape is changing, at least on cable. Ray Donovan is the latest in the string of new shows that are attracting talent once thought out of reach for television. A show starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight: this Showtime series looked to be something very special… and it has gotten better… perhaps a lot better.
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    Flesh and Bone (Blu-ray)

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

    “Ballet is the ultimate optical illusion. We make effort appear effortless.”

    If ballet dancers make the seemingly impossible look graceful and elegant, then Flesh and Bone similarly soars when it doesn’t try quite so hard to conjure drama. The best version of this provocative Starz miniseries explores the psychological toll that ambition, competition, and the (impossible?) quest for creative perfection can take. Unfortunately, the series also introduces way too many subplots and distractions during its 8-episode run.
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    The Transporter Refueled (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 6th, 2016

    Between 2002 and 2008 Jason Statham made a name for himself playing Frank Miller in three Transporter films. Miller was a former special ops expert who became a high-end black market transportation expert. He used his skills to transport anyone or anything from point A to point B for a hefty fee. He had a few rules that governed his business: the deal never changes once it’s made, no names, and he doesn’t want to know what he is transporting. The business made for some nice action films that gave Statham a chance to show off that particular skill set. The films brought in a modest box office, averaging around $35 million each.
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    Shameless: Season 5 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on January 1st, 2016

    America’s most dysfunctional family is back for a fifth season. Showtime dramedy series Shameless, based on the popular UK series of the same name, continues with the same level of comedy and drama that has made it one of the network’s all-time popular shows. The Gallagher clan is always full of surprises, and this season is no different, especially when comes to the family matriarch, Fiona, who probably comes through the largest arc this season as always. Usually when a show reaches this point, it begins to show signs of tedium or signals that it is close to its end; however, that is not the case here, as the season 6 is expected to begin in January.
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    Heist (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 31st, 2015

    “Stealing from the Pope is suicide.” 

    We’re not talking about that pope. We’re talking about Robert DeNiro in his latest direct-to-video feature film Heist. It’s true that DeNiro hasn’t exactly been picky lately with his parts. He commands a big paycheck, often for just showing up on the credits. It’s common among actors particularly those like DeNiro who have made quite a name for themselves and find themselves in the back nine of their career.
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    Dragon Blade (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on December 25th, 2015

    Whenever I read the caption that says the story is inspired by true events, the first thing I wonder is how much of film is actually truth and how much is poetic license. Am I the only one who wonders that? I’m guessing I’m not. In the case of Dragon Blade, I’m thinking that the opening featuring Jackie Chan’s trademark clumsy marital arts style is likely the latter, a tale that falls short of war epic status due to sentimental tendency. Held my attention in the beginning; however, I felt my interest wane in the middle, and by the conclusion it had lost me completely. Sad, because I was excited for this film when I originally heard about it.
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    Knock Knock (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 23rd, 2015

    I have to admit that I’m not much of a Keanu Reeves fan. However, I’m a huge fan of Keanu Reeves movies. Let’s face it, Keanu can be quite wooden with as much screen presence as a test pattern. OK, I’m showing my age with that line. But one thing he knows how to do well is pick great films to star in. From The Matrix and the recent very hit John Wick to the underrated The Devil’s Advocate, Reeves can sure pick ’em. The worse case scenario here would be Keanu in an uninteresting movie. Well…Knock Knock. Who’s there? An uninteresting Keanu Reeves film.
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    Some Kind of Beautiful (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 9th, 2015

    “Why are the Romantics relevant today?”

    Some Kind of Beautiful shamelessly embraces every rom-com cliché in the book. The utterly nonsensical title, the main characters’ impossibly-posh digs, and the film’s exceedingly contrived and predictable plotting are probably enough to send jaded moviegoers running to the airport exit. So why am I not kicking this film to the curb? Well it helps that this particular group of attractive stars shares a relaxed, mature chemistry that carries the story through its more outlandish shenanigans.
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    Where Children Play

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 7th, 2015

    We’ve seen this story before: a family tragedy compels a tortured young soul to return home after a long absence. It’s almost always about a prodigal son who is forced to come to terms with his past so he can heal in the present and get on with his future. (Think Garden State or Elizabethtown.) Where Children Play absolutely deserves credit for inserting a more diverse cast of characters into that familiar template. However, the filmmaking here is too heavy-handed and inert to truly make an impact.
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    Mississippi Grind (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 4th, 2015

    I don’t care about winning. I just like to play, I really do.”

    In Mississippi Grind, a pair of damaged gamblers hustle their way through the American South so they can buy into a high-stakes card game in New Orleans. That’s technically the “plot” of the movie, but it’s not really the point…nor is it where the film’s true charms lie. Instead, this well-made, low-key character dramedy feels like a welcome throwback to the sort of buddy/road films that have mostly been pushed out of multiplexes.
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    Ricki and the Flash (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on November 25th, 2015

    I’m going to start by listing a number of names that make up a kind of extended family. The names don’t have a lot in common at first, and it seems like a hodgepodge. I’m sure I’m going to leave someone out, but let’s start with Kevin Kline, Johnathan Demme, Diablo Cody, Sebastian Stan, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Joe Vitale, Rick Springfield, Bill Erwin, Bernie Worrell, Rick Rosas, and Charlotte Rae. I’m forgetting someone. Oh yeah, Meryl Streep. It’s that kind of a movie which is being sold as a star vehicle for the most praised and beloved actress of the modern era, but is really an ensemble piece.
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    Two Men in Town (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 19th, 2015

    There’s the legal system…procedure…the almost-theatrical aspect of the law. And behind all that…”

    Those words are wearily spoken (in voiceover) by Germain Cazeneuve before we even realize the character is a social worker/passionate prisoner advocate. They also hang in the air until the conclusion of Two Men in Town/Deux Hommes dans la Ville, a blistering takedown of the French judicial system and capital punishment. (France used the guillotine to execute prisoners up until 1981, which is the year the country abolished the death penalty.)
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    The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on November 18th, 2015

    Its spy vs. spy in Man from U.N.C.L.E., or at least it starts out that way. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin respectively in this reimaging of the popular television series from the 60’s. Guy Ritchie is at the helm of the spy flick, which should give everyone high hopes that this will become the first film in a franchise. Though a bit dry at times, Man from U.N.C.L.E. proves to be a clever and engaging movie that stays true to the era it is set in.
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    A.D. The Bible Continues (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 16th, 2015

    In 2013 husband-and-wife production duo Mark Burnett and Roma Downey teamed up to bring The Bible to the History Channel. The 10 episode series gave as a whirlwind tour of the milestones from the Bible and brought about some critical acclaim along with solid ratings. It aired during Easter/Passover season. It was certainly an ambitious project and left the team feeling they could do more with the project. They managed to strike a deal this time with NBC to air a sequel of sorts to the mini-series. Enter AD The Bible, which takes an opposite approach to the first show.
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    Breaking Through

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 13th, 2015

    Their channels have millions of subscribers. Their videos have billions of views. They are the future of dance.”

    The definition of “making it” as a dancer has shifted over the years. Movies have dramatized this struggle by having its hoofing heroes struggle to earn street cred, gain admission into some prestigious dance academy, or make noise on Broadway. But thanks to social media and websites like YouTube, wannabe dance sensations can take a more DIY approach to stardom. The best parts of Breaking Through brush up against that notion, but too much of the film gets drowned out by groan-worthy dance flick cliches.
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    Mr. Holmes (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 11th, 2015

    “Different, entirely.” 

    I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since I was a kid. Mixed amidst those Universal horror films I watched with my Pop on weekend chiller shows was an occasional Universal Holmes film with Basil Rathbone as the master of deduction. Soon followed the Doyle books, and a new world was opened for me forever. Since those days we have seen every kind of incarnation of the character possible, or so I thought. I’ve seen Holmes as a child in Spielberg’s Young Sherlock Holmes. There have been several comedies and even a musical or two. Robert Downey Jr. has turned him into an action hero, and Benedict Cumberbatch has brought him into the modern world.
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