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    Beyond the Lights (Blu-ray)

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

    The cop here thinks he’s The Bodyguard.”

    At first glance, Beyond the Lights could easily be dismissed as an updated, less starry version of the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston romantic blockbuster. Both feature a glamorous pop star falling in love with her strait-laced protector. But while The Bodyguard became a bona fide pop culture phenomenon, Beyond the Lights had a much less dazzling run in theaters, grossing just over $14 million. It’s a shame because the flawed newer film has some interesting ideas about celebrity, artistic integrity, and…black women’s hair.
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    Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 19th, 2015

    “All men must die.”

    The official tagline for Season 4 of HBO’s Game of Thrones also doubles as a helpful reminder of author George R.R. Martin’s no-character-is-safe philosophy. But even plastering that quote all over posters, promos, and the cover of this exemplary-in-every-way Blu-ray set isn’t likely to prepare you for the most devastating and thrilling season of a show that specializes in “devastating and thrilling.”
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    Olive Kitteridge (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 16th, 2015

    Why are you so hateful, Olive?”

    Olive Kitteridge — Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel —has been adapted into a four-hour HBO miniseries. It’s probably the best possible outcome for Strout’s story, which deals with the legacy of depression, along with several other box office-unfriendly themes that would almost certainly prevent any proper Kitteridge adaptation from sniffing a multiplex. The miniseries is well-made, and the acting is top-notch. The problem for me was that, even with that four-hour running time, we don’t get a ton of insight into why the title character is so hateful.
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    Maison Close: Season One (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 4th, 2015

    No woman dreams of entering this profession. But it is a real profession…”

    In fact, it’s commonly referred to as “the world’s oldest profession.” We’re talking, of course, about practice prostitution. The profession also happens to be the focus of the soapy, serialized Maison Close, which is set in a 19th century Parisian brothel. And thanks to Music Box Films, Season 1 of the French prostitution drama is now making its U.S. Blu-ray debut.
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    Open Windows (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 3rd, 2015

    “You like that stuff, but it’s kind of a tease.”

    Give Elijah credit for taking some interesting chances with his acting choices since his long and successful run with the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and his subsequent cameos in the Hobbit films as well. No one can accuse the actor of resting on his laurels. His roles have been outside the mainstream.
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    Boardwalk Empire: Season 5 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 22nd, 2015

    “If we’re good today, we’ll be better tomorrow.”

    The final season of Boardwalk Empire breaks the mold of what the show has been for the first four years. The action jumps ahead several years to 1931. It’s a necessary plot point if we’re going to be ending the popular series in the fifth season. I understand the jump and why it works. I guess my only real question is: why are we jumping ahead to end what is one of the best shows on television?
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    Boyhood (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on January 20th, 2015

    Boyhood is all the rage right now. With all the hoopla surrounding the film, it should be noted that it is ordinary. It is just about people living their lives. One could even call it boring. One can say that because life is boring. It is not as exciting as it is in the movies. Life is about small moments that add up to memories and then it is over. Boyhood doesn’t make grand statements about boyhood, or about motherhood or fatherhood for that matter. It is just about a few people and what happens to them.
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    Jessabelle (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 15th, 2015

    When I think about the swamps of the Louisiana bayou, with the exception of hungry gators lurking beneath the murky depths, I can’t help but think about the connection it has to the supernatural.  I blame seeing Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond for this.  It’s a film that haunted me when I was a kid, and the imagery has stuck with me over the years.  There have been numerous films over the years that have explored the supernatural of the bayou; most successfully we saw this in the Kate Hudson thriller The Skeleton Key.
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    Banshee: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 14th, 2015

    “There will be casualties”

    Alan Ball got my attention in 2001 with HBO’s black comedy Six Feet Under. It was one of the most original shows I had ever seen, and to this day I find it hard to characterize the series when asked to do so. It was there that he also introduced me to Michael C. Hall, who continues to amaze me in the role of Dexter over at Showtime. When Six Feet Under left the airwaves, Ball didn’t waste very much time in bringing his quirky style back, this time to the horror genre
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    Girls: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 12th, 2015

    Writers are a ridiculous class of people who make everything about themselves.”

    For many, the current face — and oft-naked body — of “writers who make everything about themselves” is Lena Dunham, the creator/star/writer/director of HBO’s Girls. The equal-parts brilliant and maddening quarter-life crisis comedy became one of the most polarizing shows on TV over its first two seasons, as self-involved heroine Hannah Horvath sought love and a career as a writer in NYC. At the start of season 3, Hannah has both of those things…which is why I’m astounded — and, frankly, pretty impressed — that she remains as egotistical as ever.
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    Looking: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

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

    The most remarkable thing about Looking might be how thoroughly unremarkable it is. This is a double-edged sword for HBO’s dramedy, which follows the love lives of three gay friends living in modern-day San Francisco. The series sidesteps the headline-grabbing sensationalism that accompanies many other shows that prominently feature gay characters. (Looking at you, Ryan Murphy.) On the other hand, Looking is often low-key to the point that it bypasses being funny or particularly entertaining. What the series does have on its side is a naturalistic tone that makes the show more engrossing and immersive as the first season progresses.
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    Jeff Dunham: All Over the Map (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 28th, 2014

    “How the hell did this happen? I mean, I’m on the other side of the planet, and people know who I am and they’re laughing at my jokes.”

    Despite his status as one of the biggest draws in stand-up comedy, Jeff Dunham really does seem taken aback by his success. On one hand, you wouldn’t necessarily expect a ventriloquist to be one of the hottest names in comedy in 2014. Then again, the hard work and precision he has put into his act is evident every time he takes the stage. For his latest comedy special, Dunham packed up his puppets and took his show on the road like never before.
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    Patema Inverted (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 17th, 2014

    I’m not the biggest fan of Japanese animation. I don’t think it’s awful or anything, but animation is one of those things where I’m just picky about what I like.  Though I can say I am a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke) and most of his work.  I think this is worth mentioning, because though I may not be as well-versed in this genre, I’d like to feel I still go into it with an open mind, and I’m always excited to find a title that excites me that I never saw coming.  And that it precisely what Patema Inverted did.
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    Getting On: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

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

    It’s noble work. It is useful. You are angels of mercy…I just never thought that I would end up here.”

    The geriatric care wing of a hospital — where the employees are undermanned and overworked, and many of the patients are in a near-catatonic state — is not the most obvious sitcom setting. As a result, HBO’s comedy series Getting On isn’t exactly what I’d call a gut buster. But even though much of the humor seems hyper-specific to this particular circle of workplace hell, anybody who has ever been underpaid to do a hard, crappy job should be able to relate.
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    The Newsroom: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 7th, 2014

    – “We don’t have the trust of the public anymore.”

    “Get it back!”

    The Newsroom took a pretty decent beating during its first season. Sure, plenty of people praised the show’s exceptional acting and ambition, but too much of the conversation seemed to revolve around its flaws and its polarizing creator. In this Blu-ray set’s bonus material, Aaron Sorkin cops to being “overly earnest” and “aggressively uncool” in his work.
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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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    Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 29th, 2014

    “It was the gang that ran amok. You have people who were being extorted, who talked of having a shotgun barrel stuck in their mouths or machine guns pointed at their groin. Body bags were shown by Bulger as he shakes them down. It was absolute terror.”

    It amazes me that I really had very little idea who James J. Bulger was before I watched this film by director Joe Berlinger. How could I have missed this guy? On the run for over 16 years, Bulger was once #2 on the FBI’s most wanted list. Who was #1? That was Osama Bin Laden. So who was this man that came in second only to the world’s most infamous terrorist?
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    Duck Dynasty: Season 6 (Blu-ray)

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

    It’s that time of the year again to dust off the old hunting rifle and shake out the camouflage suits, because Duck Commander is back in action.  Duck Dynasty comes to Blu-ray on its sixth season, and I am just about certain it is time the quack pack has hung up their camo and walked away from their television careers.  The show has had a good run, but with this current season it is clear the show has run its course, and it is time the Robertson’s should make a graceful exit while their ratings are still strong.
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    Ancient Aliens: Season 6 – Vol 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 8th, 2014

    “Millions of people around the world believe we have been visited in the past by extraterrestrial beings. What if it were true?

    Ever since Eric von Daniken released his speculative book and its subsequent 1970 film Chariots of the Gods, there has been an entire field of study created around something commonly called Ancient Astronaut Theory. The idea is that extraterrestrials have visited many of our ancient civilizations. The theory continues that these visitors had a hand in shaping our development, whether it be through technology or even manipulation of our very DNA.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” From Dusk Till Dawn: Complete Season One (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 5th, 2014

    In 1996 it was a brave new world for  Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino was still riding the wave of Pulp Fiction’s fame, while Rodriguez was going strong with his follow up to El Mariachi, Desperado (which went on to be a bigger hit).  The two had crossed paths at various film festivals, and through the course of their meetings they discussed various projects they could possibly do together.  The project that brought these two together would be horror/ crime genre mixer, From Dusk Till Dawn.
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    Key & Peele: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on September 30th, 2014

    It’s been quite some time since The Chappelle Show went off the air, and it would appear Comedy Central has finally found its replacement.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say the show is on the same par, but what Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele bring to the small screen is something that has piqued my interest and shows some potential.  Both Key and Peele got their big break from working on the sketch comedy show MADtv, and it would seem they are taking their talents and what they learned to bring us something that is a little familiar but still fresh and keeps its audience laughing.
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    The 100: Season 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 29th, 2014

    “Prisoners of the ARC, hear me now. You’ve been given a second chance, and as your Chancellor, it is my hope that you see this as not just a chance for you, but a chance for all of us, indeed for mankind itself. We have no idea what is waiting for you down there. If the odds of survival were better, we would’ve sent others. Frankly, we’re sending you because your crimes have made you expendable.”

    It’s 97 years ago and nuclear holocaust has made life on Earth unlivable… at least that’s what most people believed.
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    Sleepy Hollow Season 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 26th, 2014

    “And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, “Come and see.” Then, behold, a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

    No, this is not a Johnny Cash song or a bible study post. Believe it or not, we’re talking Ichabod Crane from Washington Irving’s famous story The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. Fans of the tale will recall that Ichabod came to encounter the headless horseman in one of the first American horror tales ever written.
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    Once Upon A Time: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 25th, 2014

    “There is a town in Maine where every storybook character you’ve ever known is trapped between two worlds, victims of a powerful curse. Only one knows the truth, and only one can break her spell.”

    ABC has had a very important asset going for it for years. It’s one that the network has seldom taken any advantage of. That asset is its parent company. You see, ABC is part of the Walt Disney family. With the rich history of stories the studio has in its arsenal going back to the 1920’s, it was only a matter of time before some clever people decided to find a way to use that rich history into a television series.
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    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 24th, 2014

    “The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

    Marilyn Burns, Paul Partain, Allen Danziger, Teri McMinn, William Vail and Gunnar Hansen individually may not be that well known.
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