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    Beauty and the Beast (2017) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 8th, 2017

    “Who could ever learn to love a beast?”

    Although it’s not quite a tale as old as time, people around the world have been enchanted by the story of “Beauty and the Beast” for centuries. The French fairytale was first published in 1740 and has subsequently spawned everything from a classic 1946 big-screen romance to Ron Perlman. Still, the most popular iteration of this story is Disney’s beloved 1991 animated musical, which helped solidify the Mouse House’s cartoon revival and serves as the most direct inspiration for this dazzling live-action adaptation. Then again, the fact that this new version is essentially a pretty close copy of a copy takes some of the bloom off this particular rose.
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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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    My Fair Lady: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 30th, 2015

    “She’s quite a common girl, very common indeed.”

    Of course, we don’t need 50 years of hindsight — or more than 100 years, if you want to go all the way back to the original 1913 staging of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” — to know that there’s nothing common about cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle. And there’s nothing ordinary about 1964’s My Fair Lady, the beloved Oscar-winning musical that now gets an uncommonly (but appropriately) lavish 50th anniversary Blu-ray update courtesy of Paramount.
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    Bessie (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 2nd, 2015

    You got the St. Louis blues, the Chicago blues, the gin house blues, the “my man done left me” blues…they all the same song, ain’t they?”

    By now, anyone who’s seen a musical biopic realizes these films also whistle a pretty similar-sounding tune. The bad news here is that Bessie is no exception, rushing from one familiar Troubled Artist Beat (hardscrabble childhood, rise to stardom, substance abuse, troubled marriage, etc.) to the next. The really good news is that this HBO biopic of “Empress of Blues” Bessie Smith is elevated by some truly powerhouse performances.
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    Into the Woods: Original Broadway Production (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 9th, 2014

    I wish…”

    There’s no shortage of wishing (not to mention pining, longing, yearning, etc.) in some of our most beloved fairy tales. Into the Woods — the Tony-winning Broadway musical created by Stephen Sondheim and frequent collaborator James Lapine — illustrates what happens when certain characters get their storybook ending. Since there’s a big, shiny Disney adaptation on the way, it made sense for Image Entertainment to offer a performance of the stage show on Blu-ray. However, I wish…some more effort had been put into this release.
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    Jersey Boys (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 11th, 2014

    “You sell 100 million records, and see how you handle it.”

    If you’ve ever seen an episode of Behind the Music — or followed popular culture at all in the previous century — then you probably know artists tend to not handle that level of success very well. However, the rise and (inevitable) fall of the original Four Seasons lineup is unique for a number reasons. Unfortunately, very few of those reasons are captured in Jersey Boys, Clint Eastwood’s oddly lifeless, workmanlike adaptation of the joyous, wildly popular Broadway musical.
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    Step Up: All In (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 5th, 2014

    Does it always have to end up in a big giant dance battle?”

    If you’ve ever sat through a dance movie, then you know the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Dance flicks are a somewhat different beast than movie musicals; they are less whimsical and tend to take themselves more seriously, which invariably makes them seem even sillier. Some of the movies in this genre — Dirty Dancing and Footloose — are beloved guilty pleasures. (And many people who love them don’t even bother feeling guilty.) In recent years, the “dance flick” itch for moviegoers has been scratched by the Step Up franchise.
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    Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 19th, 2014

    If we act like we belong, they’ll think we belong.”

    You never know who could be watching when you post something online. Sophia Grace Brownlee is a perfect example of how to become a “star” in this decade. In 2011, the 8-year-old Brit starred in a video of herself singing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” alongside her silent, hype man cousin Rosie McClelland. The clip went viral and caught the eye of Ellen DeGeneres, who has repeatedly featured the diminutive duo on her daytime talk show over the last few years. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Sophia Grace and Rosie jumped to the big screen; well, the straight-to-DVD screen anyway.
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    Shrek: The Musical (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 23rd, 2013

    Hollywood (rightfully) gets a lot of flack these days for being creatively bankrupt. But you can’t throw a rock down Broadway without hitting the marquee for a musical that’s based on an existing film. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon — and it doesn’t always work — but some of the most successful and beloved musicals feature stories you already know and fell in love with on the big screen. The trend seems to have really picked up at the turn of the century, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. So adapting a massive hit like Shrek for the stage must’ve been a no-brainer.
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    On the Riviera (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 10th, 2013

    During his mid-20th century prime, Danny Kaye was one of the greatest entertainers in the world. He was a terrific actor, singer, comedian and dancer. Not bad for a guy who couldn’t read a note of music and never took a single dance class. On the Riviera is not Kaye’s best (nor his best-known) movie; that title belongs to White Christmas, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or Hans Christian Andersen. However, this soufflé-light musical comedy — now making its Blu-ray debut courtesy of Fox — is a nice showcase for Kaye’s considerable talents.
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    Idolmaker (Blu-Ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on August 19th, 2013

    My best work is often done behind a computer or somewhere where my face is not on display. I am not the most handsome guy despite the fact I have been described by those of the female persuasion as otherwise. But I have talent, loads of it and I am always waiting for the next moment to show it off. Perhaps I can take a cue from our movie today, The Idolmaker and use my talent to make others around me stars. Maybe I should just go shave instead.
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    Love Me Tender (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 29th, 2013

    Elvis Presley was easily one of the most impactful pop culture icons of the 20th century during his life, and that status has barely waned in the decades after his death. (Or “alleged death”, given the number of Elvis sightings each year.) Presley obviously made his most lasting mark in the world of rock and roll music (and fashion), but he also had a surprisingly fruitful film career. Though none of his movies turned out to be cinematic masterpieces and no one was confusing him with Marlon Brando, The King brought his charismatic presence to more than 30 movies between 1956 and 1969. He was 21 when he made his film debut in Love Me Tender.
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    The Jazz Singer (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 9th, 2013

    If you’re any sort of discerning cinephile — and if you’ve taken the time to visit our fine site, I’m going to assume you are — you’ve probably heard of The Jazz Singer. Of course, for the movie-going public in the late 1920s, The Jazz Singer was unlike anything they’d ever heard: the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue. Or, put more simply, the first “talkie.” Though you probably know it revolutionized the film industry, I’m betting it’s a lot less likely you’ve actually seen The Jazz Singer.
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    Battlefield America

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 27th, 2012

    If the phrase “You got served” only conjures up images of wait staff or a notice to appear in court, then Battlefield America may not be for you. The film comes “from the writer, director and creator of You Got Served” — the hip hop-flavored dance drama that became a modest hit in 2004 — but offers up a child-centric twist. For fans of You Got Served, the best way to enjoy this inferior film may be to pretend the dancers in that movie were tragically shrunk down to kid size.
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    Footloose (2011)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on March 13th, 2012

    A tragic accident after an uncannily choreographed dance party in the country leaves a carload of teens dead, and their hometown vows to ban all public displays of dancing and loud music. Big City hunk Ren MacCormack arrives in town to challenge this outlawing of music and dance by…mostly dancing to music.
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    Scrooge (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 22nd, 2011

    Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the pre-eminent holiday fare success story. Not only was it gigantically successful for Dickens himself, to the point that not only did he then follow it up with other Christmas books (The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Haunted Man), but he also took charge of one of its early adaptations, trimming it down for oral performances. It has also, of course, been the subject of numerous film versions, with everyone from the Muppets to Bill Murray having a go. This one, from 1970, turns the story into a musical.
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    West Side Story: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by M. W. Phillips on November 22nd, 2011

    “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way! From your first cigarette to your last dyin’ days.”

    West Side Story is a masterpiece in film making. Its DNA comes from the greatest entertainers in the business. The great Robert Wise (The Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still) shares directing credit with one of the world’s greatest choreographers, Jerome Robbins. The music was composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Daniel Fapp’s cinematography is epic and evocative. The movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 10, a record at the time, including Best Picture and Best Director.
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    Hair (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by M. W. Phillips on July 25th, 2011

    “Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair, shining gleaming steaming flaxen waxen. Give me it down to there, hair, shoulder length or longer, here, baby, there, mamma, everywhere, daddy, daddy hair! Flow it, show it, long as God can grow it, my hair!”

    Born in the late 50s, I was a child of 60s and a teen in the 70s. I believed in the revolution. The Beatles and The Stones would lead the charge against the establishment.
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    New York, New York (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 6th, 2011

    World War II has just ended, and the recently discharged Robert De Niro hits New York on the prowl for sex. He runs up against WAC Liza Minnelli, and the more she resists his advances, the more determined he becomes. There is more: he is a saxophonist, and she (of course) is a singer). So begins a tempestuous relationship between two artists whose enormous talents and equally enormous personalities mean they can neither live with nor without each other.
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    The LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers – Seasons 1 & 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on May 16th, 2011

    LXD is a two seasons of collected web shorts, originally appearing on ‘Hulu.’ A secret society is recruiting dancers and each short reveals prospects who demonstrate masterful performances of different, modern dance techniques.
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    Fiddler on the Roof (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on April 12th, 2011

    Adapted from the hit stage musical, Norman Jewison’s film version of Fiddler on the Roof has established itself as a classic over and over again since its release in 1971.

    “He loves her. Love, it’s a new style… On the other hand, our old ways were once new, weren’t they?” I’ll hardly be the first to write it, but the reason Fiddler on the Roof, a story about Jewish people and their culture, is so popular, is that its themes have universal appeal.
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    The Films of Rita Hayworth (Cover Girl / Tonight and Every Night / Gilda / Salome / Miss Sadie Thompson)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 6th, 2011

    In one of Stephen King’s most popular stories, at least of those translated into films, a prison inmate sits in his cell and dreams of escape. His fantasy is to escape into the welcoming arms of Rita Hayworth. While that particular element wasn’t to be found in the film, it was important enough in the original story to warrant mention in the original title, which was Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption. It was a nod to the pin-up status that the actress had in early younger days. In my generation it was Farrah
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    Suck

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on November 24th, 2010

    The Winners are anything but, being an undistinguished rock band playing to tiny, apathetic audiences in nowhere bars. Their time has not only passed, it never arrived. But just as they seem headed for the scrapheap, their bass player (Jessica Paré) is bitten by a vampire. Though her newly acquired taste for blood is a bit of an inconvenience, leading to some extremely messy murders to clean up, she now mesmerizes audiences, and the band catches fire. Leader Rob Stefaniuk is so desperate to catch a break that he is willing to turn a blind eye to just about anything.
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    White Christmas (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on November 10th, 2010

    Having made it through WWII, fellow soldiers Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are now a song-and-dance team. Kaye is worried about the lack of romance in Crosby’s life, but that problem seems likely to be resolved when sister act Rosemary Clooney and Ver-Ellen show up. These two pairs of entertainers must pool their talents in order to save the inn run by former general Dean Jagger from financial ruin.
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    The Sound of Music (45th Anniversary Edition)(Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 9th, 2010

    “The hills are alive with the sound of music…”

    Maria von Trapp wrote down the story of her singing von Trapp family in a 1948 autobiography. She continued to write about the family right up to the time of her death in 1987. The subject became the basis for a film called The Trapp Family in 1956. While the film received some modest attention for the events of the real family, it disappeared into obscurity until the musical writing team of Rodgers and Hammerstein created the songs for the Broadway production
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