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    Mr. Church (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 28th, 2016

    There’s a black man in our kitchen cooking eggs!”

    The kitchen-bound black man in this case is Eddie Murphy in Mr. Church, which on the surface appears to be the latest in a sneakily long line of movies (Driving Miss Daisy, The Help, The Butler) where saintly, subservient African Americans enlighten their white counterparts. Those movies can be cloying at best and downright insulting at worst if placed in the wrong hands. But if done right, they can really resonate with audiences. (As evidenced by the fact that the movies I mentioned earlier were pretty big hits.) Mr. Church falls somewhere in between.
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    Our Kind Of Traitor

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 28th, 2016

    When it comes to spy novelist John le Carre (Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager), his books seem to produce great films and mini-series but are far from being box-office darlings. Each production of one of his novels seems to be filled with talent in front of and behind the camera.  When it comes to the release of Our Kind of Traitor, despite the impressive cast it’s a film that managed to slip through the cracks and seems to have limped its way to a DVD/Blu-ray release when really it’s a film that deserves to be appreciated more on the big screen.  While it may not be filled with the spectacle of special effects and explosions, it’s a film that garners some impressive performances throughout and has a story that quickly pulls the viewer in.
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    The Night Of (Blu-ray)

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

    You know, I miss James Gandolfini. I know that HBO misses him as well. When The Sopranos finished, Gandolfini signed a development deal with HBO. He would not only work in front of the camera but help find and produce material for the network. We all know what happened next. Gandolfini passed suddenly, just when it seems he was breaking out of his Tony Soprano typecast, and one gets the feeling that he was going to do great things. One solid indication of that promise comes in the HBO series The Night Of… which was one of those passion projects that the man never got to see through.
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    Blood Father (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 19th, 2016

    I can’t be the only one who misses seeing Mel Gibson in a tent pole movie for the studio every year.  Sure, he said some rotten things, but does it matter what he does in his personal life?  The man still is a great actor and an even better director.  Hollywood has always been forgiving of its talent; it’s a system that seems to enjoy seeing talent make a comeback and do some amazing work.  What it seems is that sometimes we forget that these icons on the screen are human, and they make mistakes and do stupid things and they have to own these experiences for the rest of their lives in the spotlight.
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    The Infiltrator (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on October 19th, 2016

    Growing up one of coolest jobs I thought was out there was undercover work. Not to diminish all the threats to one’s well-being associated with that profession, but come on, who didn’t want the opportunity to reinvent themselves as someone else entirely. Undercover affords that opportunity. That said, it does not come without a cost, and that cost is explored thoroughly in The Infiltrator, a based on a true story tale about a U.S. Customs agent who infiltrates the most successful and equally dangerous drug cartel led by the one and only Pablo Escobar. An interesting little tidbit that I was unaware of before the opening credits was that this film was shot right here in the Tampa area, which provided recognizable environment and a chance to pick out familiar territory.
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    The Legend of Tarzan (Blu-ray 3D)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 19th, 2016

    I’ve always been a fan of Tarzan; I loved the old series and the films basically because I just dug how he was this fearless character who lived in the jungles who fought the bad guys and a few wild animals as well.  As I got older that was when I discovered the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and I just had a blast with all these pulp tales about the civilized Wildman and the beautiful Jane.  I even remember how excited I was about seeing Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan as a kid; even though this screen adaption bored me to tears, it was still exciting to see the character up on the screen. Now it’s 2016, and the character is swinging into action on the big screen again, and with a large budget to back it up.
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    Reign: The Complete Third Season

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

    There can only be one queen.”

    After navigating treachery at every turn in French court and having to cope with a deadly plague throughout the first two seasons of Reign — the CW’s campy, compulsively watchable adaptation of the Mary, Queen of Scots saga — season 3 was meant to introduce Mary’s most formidable foe yet. Queen Elizabeth I of England becomes a regular character on the show and Mary’s chief rival from afar. But in telling the story of two warring queens (while trying to service the series’ many established characters) the show stretches itself too thin and loses some of the fizz that made it a guilty pleasure.
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    Banshee: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)

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

    “Did I miss anything while I was gone?”

    Did you ever. Banshee came to an end with this, the fourth season, and it did not go quietly, to be sure. But it’s not how it ends, but how this final season begins that’s a bit of a mystery. There is a time jump of a little over 18 months that will cause you to feel like you might have missed something. If that doesn’t confuse you, the season’s constant tripping around in time will turn this season into a show very different from the Banshee we’ve come to know and love.
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    Empire: The Complete Second Season

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

    “This is when we roar.”

    When Fox’s Empire premiered in early 2015, it became an instant sensation that re-wrote the ratings record books. The show’s mix of high drama and hip-hop obviously struck a chord with an underserved segment of TV viewers. Of course, that also means expectations were sky high for this second season. While Empire has inevitably lost some of the sizzle from its unprecedented debut, this unapologetically over-the-top soap rap-era has also managed to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
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    All The Way (Blu-ray)

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

    Accidental president…that’s what they’ll say.”

    Lyndon Baines Johnson became the 36th President of the United States under the most tumultuous circumstances imaginable. Besides being thrust into office after the shattering assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Johnson had to immediately contend with multiple political crises. Most notably, LBJ faced pressure from several different fronts as he worked to pass what eventually became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. All The Way, buoyed by a funny and ferocious lead performance, offers a thought-provoking and entertaining look at a truly complex figure.
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    High-Rise (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 9th, 2016

    “High Rise,” the novel written by the late English author J.G. Ballard, was published in 1975. The story follows a diverse group of characters who live in a luxurious skyscraper that features every amenity imaginable. Things are so convenient, in fact, that the tenants gradually become less interested in the outside world. The idea of people becoming increasingly uninterested in the outside world is obviously still relevant more than 40 years later, since many of us prefer to order everything online and only venture outdoors if there’s a rare Pokemon to be caught. But while this movie adaptation has its moments of inspired lunacy, it’s ultimately too slight and scattershot to leave a lasting impact.
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    The Night Manager – Uncensored Edition (Blu-ray)

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

    “Anyone can betray anyone.”

    The word “spy” tends to conjure images of international intrigue and attractive people getting into exotic adventures. But don’t blame John le Carre. Despite being one of the most successful and prolific spy novelists of the past century, le Carre’s stories tend to be aggressively un-sexy, morally murky tales that focus on the psychological toll of intelligence work. That’s why it’s interesting to find that The Night Manager — a British miniseries that also aired on AMC — manages to straddle both sides of the spy fiction fence.
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    The Duel (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 30th, 2016

    You’re about to witness a Helena duel…a most noble affair of character and honor.”

    A “Helena duel” is also a brutal, bloody ritual where two combatants are joined at the wrist before engaging in a knife fight to the death. That combination of genteelness and barbarity is at the heart of The Duel, a Texas-set Western that reaches for grandiosity and doesn’t quite get there, but is nevertheless thoroughly entertaining.
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    The Jungle Book (2016) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 29th, 2016

    “This is the law of the jungle…”

    Disney appears to have a law that all of its classic cartoon features must now be made into live-action films. As I’ve mentioned in my review of the original classic The Jungle Book, the animated feature was the end of an important era at Walt Disney Studios. It was released about a year after Walt’s death and was the last film he supervised from beginning to end. In the wake of Walt’s death the studio experienced a sharp turnover and complete retooling of the animation department. With only the nine old men to carry the traditions of Walt into the future, The Jungle Book would forever mark a distinct milestone in the history of animated feature films.
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    The Affair: Season Two

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 26th, 2016

    Your memory’s very impressive.”

    The first season of The Affair — Showtime’s sensual, POV-shifting drama — was built on the notion that there are two sides to every story. The show’s hook was that it depicted the beginnings of the same adulterous relationship from two different perspectives. Season 2 doubles down on that idea by offering four different viewpoints. So what this sophomore season lacks in sizzle compared to its predecessor, it makes up for by offering a more expansive view at complicated, messy relationship dynamics.
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    Jack Irish: Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 19th, 2016

    He’s just got a knack for being in the wrong spot at exactly the right time.”

    Jack Irish, the disheveled former lawyer-turned-debt collector with a nose for trouble, is at it again. The character is the creation of novelist Peter Temple, but Australian TV audiences got to know Jack thanks to a trio of TV movies starring the great Guy Pearce. The movies were successful enough that Jack Irish returned as a six-episode series that brings the entire gang back together.
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    The Knick: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 16th, 2016

    There has been no shortage of medical dramas dating back to the infancy of television. Many have become classics. Most have dealt with the use of modern (at least for that time) advances and cutting-edge science. That’s exactly what you get with The Knick. You get cutting-edge medical advancement… for 1902. The Knick is the fictional Knickerbocker hotel in 1900’s New York. The hospital exists in a poverty-stricken neighborhood where few of the patients can pay for their care. This has been a problem the board has been trying to turn around. Now ground is being broken on a new location in a much more affluent part of New York City. It’ll be an opportunity to finally turn a profit and also one of corruption for the man handling the new construction. But what of Dr. Thackery, played by Clive Owens?
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    Jack Irish: The Movies (Blu-ray)

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

    Who do you think I am? Miss Marple?”

    Despite his knack for becoming entangled in byzantine plots and conspiracies, no one would confuse Jack Irish for an Agatha Christie character. Instead, Jack is the creation of novelist Peter Temple, and the character’s rumpled charm and general aversion to violence means he has more in common with Jim Rockford than Hercule Poirot. The character has been adapted for Australian television and brought to life thanks to a winning performance by the great Guy Pearce. You can now get to know Jack yourself since Acorn Media was nice enough to put three Jack Irish TV movies on Blu-ray.
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    The Blacklist: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 12th, 2016

    James Spader is Raymond “Red” Reddington. If you have not yet watched an episode of The Blacklist I will tell you from the beginning that you just can’t start here. Season 3 hits the ground running as the consequences of some major storylines from the previous year start to play out. I found myself having to take the time and catch up on Season 2 because we didn’t get that year to review. It was clear to me from the start that there was no way to truly enjoy this release if I wasn’t caught up. The trouble I go through to keep you guys informed. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. So, if you’re not up to speed this is your chance to pick up all three seasons and do some serious binge watching.
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    Blindspot: Season 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 9th, 2016

    “Everything just feels so out of control. I don’t remember who I am. Who I was. Whatever life I had is gone. Shattered into a million tiny pieces. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe.”

    I have to credit Blindspot’s creator Martin Gero with providing one of the more memorable moments on television with the opening minutes of the series. Unfortunately, by the time we saw the pilot that image was already ruined by the countless spots used to promote the show’s premiere. We see a police officer in Times Square approach a bag with a sign on it that asks the FBI be alerted. The cop approaches the bag a bit frightened it might be a bomb and blow up on him at any time.
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    I Am Wrath (Blu-ray)

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

    Don’t let the artwork scare you off. Yes, the cover design for this disc may be the worst I’ve seen this year, but the movie actually isn’t half bad.  John Travolta has hit a bump in his career, and it seems the big blockbuster projects just don’t seem to want to reach out to him.  Sure, he has a habit of going over the top in roles, but for the most part he’s still one of the few personalities I still enjoy seeing on the screen who’s been around since before I was a kid.  Then you’ve got Chuck Russell (Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Warriors and The Blob remake) dusting off his director’s chair to helm a film again, and, well, I Am Wrath quickly starts to become a film I can be excited about.
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    The Dark Horse

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

    You talk dreams to those kids, you better follow through.”

    There’s a (not-so) grand cinematic tradition of white knights riding into rough neighborhoods and inspiring the disadvantaged kids who are seemingly stuck there. We’ve seen this plot applied in everything from Hardball and McFarland USA to Sister Act 2. (Hey…no one said the white knight *has* to be white). For the most part, these movies are as formulaic as they are enjoyable. So one of the many wonderful things about New Zealand chess drama The Dark Horse is that its white knight hero is a complex, damaged, well-meaning figure who’s actually in worse shape than the kids he’s trying to help.
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    My Golden Days

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 19th, 2016

    I remember…”

    On the surface, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about Paul Dedalus, the French anthropologist at the center of My Golden Days. As he prepares to return to France after an extended work stint in Tajikstan, Paul reflects on a trio of key moments from his childhood and young adulthood. Much of what Paul recalls — the death of a parent, his first love, and the aching of a long-distance relationship — is completely relatable. Yet filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin aims to present Paul’s life as the most romantic, tragic story ever told.
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    Green Room (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 15th, 2016

    Ever since writer/director Jeremy Saulnier came out with his gripping revenge film Blue Ruin, fans have been patiently waiting to see what he’d do next.  If you have not had the chance to see Blue Ruin and you are a fan of the revenge genre, it’s a film that is certainly a must see and is one of the few films that lives up to the hype that surrounds it.  The problem with doing such a strong and powerful film so early in your career is that expectations seem to just skyrocket, and it seems there is just no way you can make everyone happy.  As a fan first and critic second, I know I’ve been guilty of doing this in the past, and it’s almost impossible to not get excited, and at the screening for this film, I know I was not the only one with high expectations.
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    Eddie The Eagle (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 9th, 2016

    When I was a kid in the 1970’s there was a weekend sports show on ABC called The Wide World Of Sports. It was a catch-all for those sports that don’t have the kind of national branding of football or baseball. It was the kind of show for boxing, gymnastics, or skiing. I don’t remember a single episode that I saw. What I do remember along with anyone who has ever watched it is the opening sequence. We were promised the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat. With that last line we saw the image of a ski jumper taking a horrible wreck as he comes off the jump. In the 40 years since I still often wonder about the guy whose legacy will always be the very definition of unmitigated failure, and painful failure at that.
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