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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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    Joe Bullet

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 12th, 2017

    When it comes to exploitation films you really are rolling the dice when you find a title you’ve never heard of and you decide to watch it. Through the 60’s and 70’s there were countless exploitation films that covered many genres, many of which were sold to audiences by a cool-looking poster and catchy title.  Sex and violence were the major exploits with these films, and at this time there was also the birth of black cinema, or simply blacksploitation films.  Many have heard of Foxy Brown, The Mack, and Truck Turner, but for all these hits there were many more misses, and it’s the lost gems of the era that film geeks get excited over.  Just because a film wasn’t a hit at the time didn’t mean the film was no good; many just fell between the cracks, and Joe Bullet just happens to be one of those titles.
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    Resistance

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 12th, 2017

    Resistance was first released in the UK in 2011, and it saw its first DVD release two years ago in Finland. Now in 2017, the US is finally getting DVD distribution. However, like most distribution marketing strategies, the cover, DVD home screen, and advertised star power are an inaccurate depiction of what the film actually offers. While the film has many strengths, all the imagery that you get prior to actually watching the film (the cover and home screen), prepare you for what you think is going to be an interesting WWII-themed thriller with possible action sequences. Instead, Resistance is an interesting, yet severely slow-paced character study that doesn’t necessarily follow its own plot description.
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    Star Trek: Voyager – The Complete Series

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 10th, 2017

    Star Trek Voyager was the third spinoff from the original Star Trek, following the superior Next Generation and the inferior Deep Space Nine. While the idea was quite an original premise, the cast never seemed to gel. The obvious attempt at political correctness gives us the most diverse cast yet on Star Trek, including the first female captain. Kate Mulgrew is the weakest captain to date on Star Trek. (I know I’ll catch heat for this.) The reason is not her gender, but such a lack of strength. She never walks, but seems to glide across the bridge when she moves. The strongest characters come in Tom Paris, the Federation inmate, and Torres, the half-Klingon, half-human hybrid. There is real passion in those characters that keeps the cast interesting enough. The combination of Federation and Maquis (a rebel Federation group) members was a great setup that too quickly gets tossed aside in later years. There’s plenty of Star Trek eye candy and a whole new quadrant of aliens to meet here. It had been quite some time for me since I had seen Voyager
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    Slasher.com

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 9th, 2017

    Contemporary horror films are in a really strange position. Gone are the days of the formulaic slasher flick or creature feature. Today we have filmmakers who only seem interested in breaking genre conventions in order to try something new and be deemed “relevant.” As  a result, we are treated to an intellectually-driven horror renaissance with films such as It Follows or The Babadook, or we must sit through the onslaught of torture-porn-infused sequels to 70’s and 80’s classics such as Evil Dead (2013), I Spit on Your Grave (2010), or The Last House on the Left (2009). If the filmmaker is trying to break genre conventions, it is important to note that they do not always succeed, as is the case with Slasher.com.
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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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    Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 23rd, 2017

    Before there was South Park, in 1993 MTV released the coolest cartoon that was out there when they began to air Beavis and Butt-Head.  When it came to animated shows, there really wasn’t much out there that appealed to the average teenage boy, but MTV understood their audience and took a chance on creator Mike Judge’s little series that was virtually an overnight sensation.  The blend of having a short animated series mixed in with music videos that the show’s characters would deliver their commentary from the torn up sofa was the perfect blend for what would be an unexpected pop-culture movement.  Looking back at the series with older eyes, I can understand why my parents rolled their eyes about my urgency to get home to watch the new episode of Beavis and Butt-Head
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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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    Arrival (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 15th, 2017

    “There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived…”

    The problem is that this starts out with the kind of story we’ve seen a thousand times before. The alien invasion theme is nothing new. H.G. Wells was describing it back in the 19th Century with War of the Worlds. Unrelated Orson Welles scared the crap out of a depression-era radio audience with the same story. Independence Day gave us a brilliantly visual story that also begins the same way: alien ships begin to take strategic positions around the world. Here we go again, right? Wrong. We should have guessed from the beginning that when director Denis Villeneuve tackles a genre, he’s going to turn it on his head. We’d seen him do it before.
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    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Complete Series

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 15th, 2017

    “It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives day by day, and we explore the galaxy trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here: not to conquer you with weapons or ideas, but to coexist and learn.” 

    No Star Trek series has divided Trek fans as much as the 1993 release of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
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    The Crooked Man

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on February 15th, 2017

    Have no fear, Michael Jai White is here, in a role that is outside the norm that has been established for him in recent years. You know the one, kicking ass and taking names, usually without a shirt on. However, in The Crooked Man, a horror film, he is doing quite the opposite, and also unlike him, he is not the focal point, as the story focuses on a young girl named Olivia, who finds herself not only framed for her friend’s death at the hands of the Crooked Man, but institutionalized when no one believes her story. An intriguing premise, but a bit long in the tooth, if you know what I mean. That said, it does earn the title of best television movie of 2017 for me, but we shall see how long its reign lasts, as we are only two months into the year.
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    The Black Dragon’s Revenge

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 14th, 2017

    Exploitation film has reached a point where there are just too many subgenres to count, or to care about for that matter. This film combines three of the subgenres into one incoherent amalgamation of boredom: Blaxploitation, Kung Fu flicks, and “Brucesploitation.” While the two former concepts should be familiar outside of the realm of cinephilia, Brucesploitation may be a little more difficult to grasp. Basically, after the death of Bruce Lee, filmmakers began to capitalize on Lee’s image posthumously, by using barely passable lookalikes such as Bruce Le or Bruce Li as lead martial artists.
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    Dead West

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 14th, 2017

    When it comes to having a serial killer being used as the main character or used as the anti-hero, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and of course Dexter are titles that first come to mind.  The difference between these two titles is that we understand their code, or see the lack of code, when it comes to whom they choose to kill.  It’s escapist entertainment, and I appreciate the morbidity of rooting for such deplorable characters, but that’s what cinema and television do; they take us along for a ride that reality cannot.  When it comes to Dead West, we’re on board for a cross-country trip with a serial killer, but sadly this is a trip that had me reaching for the door handle before arriving at our destination.
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    Vice Principals: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 10th, 2017

    Danny McBride managed to inhabit the role of Kenny Powers to such an extent that I do appear to have trouble keeping them separate. I thought that the arrival of a new series would finally put that issue to rest. I’m discovering there was a reason I had trouble telling them apart. They are indeed the same person. Add to the situation that Vice Principals uses the same writing and production team headed by McBride and Jody Hill, and there are moments when you will think that you’re still watching Eastbound And Out. The wild card that changes things up enough happens to be Walter Goggins. Goggins came to notice as the cold Shane in The Shield and the quirky Boyd Crowder in Justified.
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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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    From Dusk Till Dawn: Season 3

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 10th, 2017

    Season 1 of From Dusk Till Dawn gave us a ten-episode remake of the hit original movie while setting up a mythology to stretch its story over numerous seasons. Season 2 took us deeper into the culebra syndicate, and we got to see how they operate in their world as Carlos (Wilmer Valderrama) searched for an ancient blood source and sought to sit at the throne as the leader of all the culebras (a snake/vampire hybrid of sorts).  All while the baddest outlaws North and South of the border, the Gecko brothers Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Richie (Zane Holtz) were forced to work out their differences ever since Richie was made a culebra.
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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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    Frankenstein: The Real Story/The Real Wolfman

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 8th, 2017

    “It killed 102 people, brutally mauling its human prey. Its victims are all women and children. The worst attack by an unknown beast in history, and the basis for the legend of the werewolf. Two investigators set out to solve the mystery. Applying modern day forensics, they hunt to uncover the real wolfman.”

    With the Universal remake of one of its classic monsters, you can expect to see a lot of related material come out of the woodwork to capitalize on the buzz.
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    Wax Mask

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 8th, 2017

    If you have any love for Italian horror films, then you know the names Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci are the ones that cause the most excitement. Both directors have made a name for themselves in horror cinema, each providing their own authorship within their own interests. Much like debate concerning The Beatles or The Stones, cinephiles typically side with one over the other. Yes, Argento has conjured dreamlike, character-driven horror that has haunted our minds over the decades (Suspiria, Phenomena), but the late Lucio Fulci has a seemingly innate ability to create landscapes of terror that consistently push the envelope of realistic gore (Zombi, The Beyond). While I do tend to favor Fulci, I am well aware of both of their contributions and influence to horror cinema as a whole. Even though they have notable differences, The Wax Mask offers a collaboration between the two greats prior to Fulci’s death in 1996.
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    Justice League Dark (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 7th, 2017

    To put things mildly, Warner Bros. still has a bit of a ways to go before its stable of DC Comics superheroes catches up to Disney’s dominant Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Warner and DC have long had the upper hand on both the small screen (Smallville, Arrow, The Flash) and with their animated, direct-to-video offerings. The latest in that latter category is Justice League Dark, which mostly sidelines DC’s best-known heroes in favor of a team of mystical outcasts led by a charming, abrasive rogue.


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    Story Of God: Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 6th, 2017

    Who or what is God? Does he perform miracles here on Earth? What happens to us when we die? Is there true evil on this earth? How was the universe created? How will it all end? These are the kinds of questions for which there are no concrete answers to be found in the world around us. These are the subjects that require us to turn to our faith or belief systems. The answers might be found in our culture. You might even have had experiences that have brought you closer to the answers. This is meaning-of-life stuff, and the answer might just be 42.
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    Zero Days

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on February 6th, 2017

    What do you know about the Stuxnet virus? It’s all right, you can be honest. If I’m being honest, before the documentary Zero Days, I hadn’t even known the name. After watching the film, my knowledge is stemmed more in speculation than fact. I hadn’t realized how many different ways there were to hear, “I can’t talk about that.” To this day, government officials refuse to answer any question regarding the computer virus that was supposedly designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. It is incredibly frustrating and has inspired in me a degree of curiosity that I hadn’t known possible beforehand. I can see why it the filmmakers were drawn to this subject matter.
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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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