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    Gridlocked (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 16th, 2016

    “Ok, so hear me out…ever watch action movies?”

    It’s clear that Canadian filmmaker Allan Ungar and practically everyone involved with Gridlocked have seen their share of action flicks. More specifically, this crew is out to recapture the raucous, rowdy, R-rated spirit of late ‘80s and ‘90s franchises like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. While Gridlocked doesn’t come close to matching the wit or winning formula of those action classics, this straight-to-DVD effort still manages to be a pretty fun throwback.
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    A War (Blu-ray)

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

    It’s ok to be upset. We’re all upset.”

    A War is about a Danish commander and his weary, overwhelmed young soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. But besides finding a fresh angle to explore a conflict that has essentially been going on for the entire 21st century — Denmark sent nearly 10,000 military personnel to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2013 — this morally complex movie succeeds because it fully explores the toll war takes on everyone involved. In this case, that also includes the unfortunate civilians caught in between the gunfire and at least one weary, overwhelmed wife/mother back home with three young children.
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    Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 25th, 2016

    Besides the fact that The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun has one of the most excessive titles that I’ve seen since Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, the film just might be one of the most bonkers I’ve seen as well.  Not only was the film a remake from back in 1976, but it is also based off the novel from author Sebastien Japrisot.  I’ve never seen the first film, nor have I read the book, so when I came into viewing this film I came into it with few to no expectations.  Going by the trailer I had figured this would be just a simple straightforward thriller; I couldn’t have been any more mistaken.
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    Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 21st, 2016

    Due to the explicit sexual nature of the following National Lampoon Radio Hour, it’s featured as adult entertainment and not recommended for children’s ears without parental supervision.”

    Even if you had no idea it originated as a magazine, the name “National Lampoon” instantly conjures images of raunchy, subversive, anti-establishment humor. That’s how strongly the iconic comedy brand managed to embed itself into pop culture. (In addition to the magazine, there were stage and radio shows along with at least two classic movies.) This dynamic, uproarious, and aptly-titled documentary does a very good job of illustrating how that happened.
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    Noma: My Perfect Storm (Blu-ray)

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

    It was as if all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place since what was being discussed here was a matter of creating something unique: a cuisine based exclusively on raw Nordic ingredients.”

    That pull quote, which appears at the start of Noma: My Perfect Storm, accidentally serves as a microcosm for the film as a whole. The excitement that builds at the prospect of witnessing something special quickly gives way to a chilly, undercooked experience.
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    Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 21st, 2016

    “How much of an a–hole do you have to be to be successful?”

    Over the last couple of years, a grand total of three movies — 2013’s Jobs, along with 2015’s Steve Jobs and now Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine — have applied that very question to Apple’s late co-founder. Each film has approached the issue from different angles, but this Alex Gibney documentary is easily the most comprehensive, even if it’s not the exactly the most entertaining or satisfying.
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    Entertainment (Blu-ray)

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

    Life on the road as a comic always seemed like it would be the bachelors dream lifestyle: a new town every other night, getting to meet new people and see new sites while getting paid to tell jokes. Well, for the most part I still think it’s a pretty sweet deal, but in the new existential comedy Entertainment, we get a glimpse into what the road life would be if you just happened to be one of the worst comedians to take the stage.  This slow, depressing look at The (unnamed) Comedian (Gregg Turkington) as he attempts to mend his relationship with his daughter doesn’t go for laughs but instead attempts to take an introspective look at its star, and just seems to go nowhere.
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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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    Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 6th, 2015

    Argument is sugar, and the rest of us are flies.”

    By now, we’ve grown numb to the fact that there are simply too many TV channels to count. So it’s not surprising that many of them have to take increasingly extreme measures to get our attention. Unfortunately, that line of thinking has extended to television news, which began trending toward sensationalism — and away from reasonable discourse — a long time ago. However, the idea that noise and conflict attracted eyeballs wasn’t the status quo during the late 1960s, when viewers had only three channels to choose from. Best of Enemies tells the story of how two towering intellectuals (and one desperate network) helped alter the TV landscape forever.
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    Tiger House (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 3rd, 2015

    There are no tigers — or any other large cats — to be found in Tiger House. The closest we get is a rather hefty guard dog whose screen time is tragically cut short. (Figured I’d give the animal lovers out there a fair warning.) Instead, the only prowling we see in this low-budget home invasion thriller comes from the violent gang of thieves who bust into a suburban home and hold the unsuspecting family inside hostage. Unfortunately for the crooks, there’s already an uninvited visitor in the house.
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    The Wolfpack (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 22nd, 2015

    “If I didn’t have movies, life would be pretty boring.”

    That statement obviously applies to those of us who spend an inordinate amount of time watching and thinking about movies. (If you’re reading this, chances are you visit this site with some regularity, so I feel good about including you in that group.) However, the notion that movies serve as a source of escape — in every sense of the word — is remarkably expressed in the captivating, stranger-than-fiction tale of the Angulo family. Unfortunately, it’s pretty apparent that The Wolfpack — a vague, shapeless documentary — doesn’t give us the full story.
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    The Little Death (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 21st, 2015

    “Whatever happened to good old-fashioned, run-of-the-mill sex?”

    On its surface, The Little Death looks and sounds like the glossy, crowd-pleasing romantic comedies Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail) used to make. But it becomes apparent rather quickly that no one in this funny, insightful, uneven Australian comedy is having “run-of-the-mill sex.” The movie’s jazzy, jukebox-y score also made me occasionally think of Woody Allen films, which is fitting because Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) easily could’ve been an alternate title for The Little Death.
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    White God (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 27th, 2015

    At this risk of going all 30 for 30 on you, what if I told you one of the most layered, soulful performances I’ve seen all year comes courtesy of a canine? White God is a hypnotic, Hungarian parable about a girl and her dog. Sounds simple enough, but director Kornel Mundruczo places an unprecedented amount of storytelling responsibility on non-CGI, four-legged performers. The results are occasionally uneven, but frequently spellbinding.
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    The Sacrament (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 21st, 2014

    Horror doesn’t necessarily need to be about the supernatural or have an axe-wielding maniac to be terrifying.  Jump scares and gore effects are also some nice devices directors rely on to scare their audiences.  But for me, what really gets beneath my skin is the possibility of what I see projected up on the screen can become a reality in my day to day life.  The Sacrament attempts to show how quickly faith and love can quickly be turned and used as a weapon that can lead to the demise of the fragile and the faithful.
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    Stage Fright (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 14th, 2014

    “Isn’t it wrong to sing and dance when someone has just died?”

    When I first hear a film is going to attempt to be a horror musical, all I can do is simply shake my head at the thought of how bad this may be.  But that’s not to say that I couldn’t be very wrong.  Repo! The Genetic Opera was a rock opera that I had a blast with, and I’m not ashamed to admit I even purchased the soundtrack after the release.
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    Nymphomanic Vol 1 & Vol 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on July 14th, 2014

    Nymphomaniac I and II are 117 and 124 minutes, respectively. There is a longer cut that may be released next year closer to 5 and ½ hours. The story is simple. It chronicles a conversation between two people. Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is found bloody and beaten in an alley by an older man, Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard). He takes her to his sparse flat to care for her and help her. What takes place is a long conversation full of intellectual digressions about Joe. It slowly reveals what led to her downfall. Seligman is a sheltered bookworm who has a detached curiosity about her story.
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    Grand Piano (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on May 21st, 2014

    Ever since Elijah Wood completed filming Lord of the Rings, it would seem that he has done everything in his power to not be locked down with the label of simply being Frodo.  From playing a mute psychopath in Sin City, to voice work in Happy Feet, a suicidal pot-head that is best friends with a talking dog in Wilfred, and even the killer role in Maniac, it’s clear that he’s an actor that likes to challenge himself.  With Grand Piano Wood delivers his most dynamic performance as the brilliant concert pianist Tom Selznick who suffers from stage fright.
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    The Right Kind of Wrong (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 20th, 2014

    The line between romance and stalking is much blurrier at the movies. Behavior that routinely leads to restraining orders or arrests in real life tends to elicit “awws” from moviegoers and earns the romantic hero a kiss in the end. The Right Kind of Wrong is one of the more egregious examples I can remember, which is a shame because the Canadian romantic comedy has a likable lead and dares to give its characters multiple dimensions.
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    Big Bad Wolves (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 28th, 2014

    It’s movies like Big Bad Wolves that keep me excited about cinema.  After all, who would guess that Israel would produce this savagely dark fairy tale revenge film that is also one of the darkest comedies I’ve seen in some time with a visual aesthetic you’d expect from a Coen brothers film, but the violence and humor you’d expect from a film by Tarantino.  My first time viewing this film was via On Demand a few months ago; more and more I feel the cable companies are onto something by acquiring these little films and releasing them pay-per-view so that those not in New York and Los Angeles can experience these films before having to wait months longer for their DVD or Blu-ray release.
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    Cocaine Cowboys: Reloaded (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 10th, 2014

    Today, Miami is considered one of the most glamorous cities in the world. But long before it became the place where some of the biggest stars in sports and entertainment took their talents, Miami was dubbed the drug, murder, and cash capital of the United States. (Resulting in a drastically different “Big 3” than what locals are accustomed to these days.) Cocaine Cowboys already chronicled this shockingly violent stretch of the city’s history and featured recollections from some of the people who helped Miami achieve its dubious status. Now an extended version of Billy Corben’s 2006 documentary arrives on Blu-ray.
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    Beyond Outrage (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 13th, 2014

    Takeshi Kitano is to yakuza films as Robert DeNiro is to American gangster films.  Whether it is in front of or behind the camera, Beat (his stage name) Takeshi has had a long, fruitful career, with many of his successful films like Sonatine. Fireworks, Brother and Outrage delving into the Japanese criminal underworld.  His talents don’t only fall between acting and directing; he’s also worked as editor and writer for many of his films.  He’s an artist whose films have found their way onto US shores, and for those that are fans of yakuza cinema, when a new film by Beat Takeshi comes along, it’s something you simply have to check out.
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    Touchy Feely (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 19th, 2013

    “Think of it as a hall pass, a permission slip to just let go of your fear and embrace the world…”

     These are the words of advice a reiki master, played by Allison Janney (The West Wing) says to her patient, Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) as she is handing her a bag filled with MDNA.  Touchy Feely is definitely an offbeat comedy from writer/director Lynn Shelton who may be best known for her indie hit Humpday. At first glance the film may come across to some as some New Age, hippy, nonsense journey about self-discovery, and to a point you’d be right
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    The Hunt (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 16th, 2013

    “People always work from the assumption that children are telling the truth.”

    Kids really do say the darndest things! Popular kindergarten teacher Lucas finds this out the hard way after his life is shattered in The Hunt, an outstanding and indelible Danish drama that will almost surely pick up a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination when the nods are announced in about a month. The film tackles a touchy (no pun intended) subject with great care. It also raises a number of provocative points about perception versus reality.
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    Good Ol’ Freda (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 4th, 2013

    We’re about 50 years removed from the Beatles taking the entire world by storm, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that everything anyone could possibly say about the Fab Four has already been said. Fortunately, the success of Good Ol’ Freda — a Beatles documentary that doubles as a loving tribute to its subject and the famous band she adored — doesn’t hinge on any heretofore unknown/shocking revelations. In other words, the film’s charm doesn’t so much come from what Freda Kelly says; instead, it comes from the delighted, no-fuss way she recounts her time with, arguably, the most famous band of all time.
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    Prince Avalanche (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 15th, 2013

    On paper, the premise of Prince Avalanche sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry. The film follows a pair of squabbling workers whose job it is to paint yellow lines in the middle of a country road in the aftermath of a devastating wildfire. They’re basically the only two characters in the movie, and the story never moves away from their desolate surroundings. Although his film is occasionally self-indulgent (by design, I suspect), director David Gordon Green finds the strange beauty in that desolate landscape. He’s also armed with stars who bring this meandering character study to life.
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