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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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    Blackfish (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 12th, 2013

    To this day, there’s no record of an orca doing any harm to any human…in the wild.”

    Orcas are sometimes referred to as “blackfish,” but Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s thrilling, thought-provoking documentary examines why they’re most commonly known as “killer whales.” The movie’s obvious standout moments involve breathtaking footage of these massive animals violently turning on their trainers. Although some viewers will undoubtedly make the leap to wondering whether it’s ok to keep any animal in captivity, the thing that elevates this film is that it serves as an eloquent argument against keeping this particularly majestic, highly-social beast in a concrete pool.
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    A Hijacking (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 23rd, 2013

    In the wake of Captain Phillips being released in theaters, another tale of a ship being held hostage by Somali pirates is released on Blu-Ray and DVD.  This true story comes out of Denmark and has made a successful run through the festival circuit, but how does it fare up against the mighty Tom Hanks and his tense, nail-biting thriller?  Well, to be fair, though the two films deal with the same subject matter, the execution is vastly different, but A Hijacking manages to deliver an equally stunning film filled with great performances and filmed in such a way we feel as though we are one of the hostages on the ship
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    Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (Blu-ray)

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

    I have a prediction about reality shows: with a new one seemingly sprouting up like a weed every few minutes, the number of people on television will eventually be greater than the number of people watching at home. Granted, some of these shows are amusing, educational and even inspirational. But too many of them reward negative, repulsive behavior with fleeting fame. Speaking of rewarding negative, repulsive behavior with fleeting fame, The Morton Downey Jr. Show was on the air for less than two years, yet that was long enough to earn its host the title of “Father of Trash Television.”
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    The ABCs of Death (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 5th, 2013

    “Each director was given a letter of the alphabet and asked to choose a word. They then created a short tale of death that related to their chosen word. They had complete artistic freedom regarding the content of their segments.”

    It’s easy to see why 26 talented filmmakers from across the world leapt at the chance to show audiences 26 different ways to die. Obviously, you can’t exactly be squeamish when you sit down to watch an anthology called The ABCs of Death. But I still wish fewer directors had interpreted “complete artistic freedom” as “make the most ridiculous and disgusting movie you possibly can.”
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    The Good Doctor (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jonathan Foster on January 3rd, 2013

    The Hippocratic Oath all doctors take is simple: “First, do no harm.” Dr. Martin Blake (Orlando Bloom) throws that ideal out the window when a young woman named Diane Nixon (Riley Keough) comes under his care. After getting treated like a nobody by his fellow doctors and disrespected by nurses he feels are beneath him, Diane is the first person who appreciates what Martin does and makes him feel special. As he treats her, Martin becomes obsessed with Diane, going so far as to alter her medication to keep her sick. As Martin’s obsession grows, his actions become more and more drastic.
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    Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by M. W. Phillips on December 13th, 2011

    “Oh hidy ho officer, we’ve had a doozy of a day. There we were minding our own business, just doing chores around the house, when kids started killing themselves all over my property.”

    A carload of preppie college kids set off for a Memorial Day weekend of partying deep in the backwoods of West Virginia. They encounter a couple creepy looking hillbillies leering at them on the highway. Stopping to gas up they encounter the two rednecks again, but this time one of the two approaches the girls holding a scythe over his head and laughing like a madman.
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    [Rec] 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by M. W. Phillips on July 29th, 2011

    In 2007, writer-directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza created [REC], a truly frightening horror film. Considering their subject matter is so familiar to audiences it proved a major challenge not to fall into clichés. Somehow, against all odds, [REC] remained fresh by blending the elements so well… nasty contagion and fast zombies ala 28 Days Later captured in documentary-syle videography made famous by The Blair Witch Project. Add likable lead characters, natural dialog, horrific gore and scream-at-the-screen suspense; sprinkle in clues of a disturbing spiritual origin to the mysterious virus and you end up with one of the scariest and most effective additions to both the zombie and “found footage” horror sub-genres.
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    Hobo with a Shotgun (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 15th, 2011

    “Delivering justice one shell at a time.”

    Sometimes you look at a movie title and you really can’t decide what kind of movie it might be. It could cause you to avoid a movie you might have really liked. Scent Of A Woman was like that for me. I avoided it for years because I thought it must be some hyper-romantic film. Of course, it was anything but. Hollywood has a habit of trying to get too clever sometimes, and it leaves us just wondering what the heck are we in store for here. Then there are films that tell you everything you need to know in the title.
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    Raging Phoenix

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 26th, 2010

    Written by Diane Tillis

    Raging Phoenix is a film of particular tastes and appeal. As someone who has very little experience with martial arts films, I may be the wrong person to comment on the quality of the fighting sequences or how it compares to other martial arts films. I will leave those comments to the people who are devoted fans and love these films. I can comment on the quality of the DVD so that those who are looking for a great addition to their martial arts film collection will know what to expect.
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    Ondine

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 24th, 2010

    Written by Diane Tillis

    If I had to pick two words to describe Ondine, I would pick hauntingly beautiful. Neil Jordon, the popular Irish director and writer, comes up with an unusual modern fairy tale. Ondine is a film about people from different worlds hoping that dreams really can come true. It is a film about redemption and hope, harsh reality versus fantasy. Ondine is a journey of self discovery to be experienced from the darkness back into the light. It reminds us that enchantment and darkness are a part of every story.
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    George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 8th, 2010

    “We went AWOL around the time the rest of the world did. We became stick-up guys, stopping people on the road, taking whatever they had. We held up this bunch of kids in a Winnebago shooting a documentary about themselves. Went out on the internet. Millions of hits. I became notorious. Could have gotten an agent. Made a fortune if there was anybody left to care. It had become an us-versus-them world. All we were looking for was a place were there was no them.”

    Think of zombies and you think of George Romero. It’s impossible not to think or talk about one without the other
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    The Job

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 2nd, 2010

    One of the most difficult types of films to pull off is the black comedy. By its very nature the film has to be somewhat morbid and exist in a world of the absurd. As much as I am often drawn to this kind of movie, I haven’t found more than a handful that were able to pull it off. The black comedy usually involves someone’s death, often by some bizarre means, and almost always in a world of moral ambiguity, where such things fail to affect the emotions or consciences of those involved. The death has to appear almost matter-of-fact.
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    Wolf Moon

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 30th, 2010

    “Cursed (kur’sid) adj. To be afflicted with, suffer from the calling down of calamity on someone by a spirit, deity, demon, or one of the dead, esp. from a desire for revenge, resulting in an evil, malevolent being.”

    I’m well aware of the popularity of the Twilight series. I have to admit that I’ve pretty much avoided the films, mostly because after 7 years of teaching high school I’ve had more than my fair share of teenage angst. Let’s face it. These films are not really for the die-hard vampire, werewolf, or horror fans. They’re genre chick flicks full of all of that overflowing romance and adolescent hormones.
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    Power Kids (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 14th, 2010

    I’d like to think that the concepts of what makes a good children’s movie is somewhat international. While cultures may vary, kids all over the world are pretty much the same. They look for the same kinds of characteristics in their heroes. While the martial arts film is somewhat cultural, there have been more than enough child-friendly martial arts films for me to conclude that these kinds of acrobatics and old fashioned good kicking-evil’s-butt themes work for kids of any nationality. The recent Jackie Chan The Spy Next Door outing is one good example of the genre-crossing martial arts children’s movie.
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    Horror Double Feature: Pulse/Sick Nurses

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 10th, 2010

    Pulse:

    Plenty of Japanese horror films have storylines that vary from the oblique to the opaque. Pulse is no exception, so forgive me if this synopsis is a bit confusing (or confused). An internet website offers visitors the chance to see actual ghosts. Viewing the footage seems to make one vulnerable to an actual visitation, and when someone encounters a ghost, that person withdraws from others, shunning all society, and becomes consumed by loneliness to the point of suicide or something even more bizarre.
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    District 13: Ultimatum (Blu-Ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on April 26th, 2010

    The first District 13 movie was considered a modern day cult classic. It featured a number of meticulous and daring stunt scenes that were worked without the use of wires or computer generated effects. It was written and produced by Luc Besson famous for Fifth Element & Leon. But would the sequel set in the future 3 years later be able to hold the same interest?
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    Red Cliff (Theatrical Version) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 31st, 2010

    “The year is 208 AD. After 30 years of civil war, a deathly calm has fallen over northern China. One by one the rebel warlords have met their end under the sword of Prime Minister Cao Cao. Now even the Emperor bows before his power. Yet, from the south a challenge is heard. Two leaders rise against Cao Cao’s tyranny. The aging Liu Bei and the inexperienced Sun Quam. So Cao Cao petitions the Emperor to brand these men as traitors and declare a new war against the peaceful southlands.”

    And so the stage is set for John Woo’s enormous epic Red Cliff. The scale of this film is simply one that must been experienced to quite understand. It has the grandeur of any of the largest films in Hollywood’s history
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    The Burning Plain (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 29th, 2010

    Metaphors are often effective tools in filmmaking. They can be used in a variety of unique and clever ways to either highlight a particular aspect of story and/or character. They can be used to add an artistic flourish to a movie. They can even be used to drive a plot, if you’re careful enough to avoid becoming too abstract. Then there are films like The Burning Plain which attempt to create a film that is metaphor itself. What you often end up with, and certainly here, is something difficult to follow and more acceptable at the festival circuit than at the box office
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    Two Lovers

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 27th, 2009

    James Gray’s Two Lovers revolves around the troubled Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix).  Leonard has moved back into his childhood home to recover from his recent break up. In quick succession, two women enter Leonard’s life: Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), an entertaining and peculiar neighbor who transcends Leonard’s world and Sandra (Vinessa Shaw) a classy, traditional woman who is the daughter of a businessman attempting to purchase Leonard’s family business.  Leonard becomes confused between desire and love and the story unfolds from there.
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