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    Chappie

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 6th, 2015

    Despite the twinge of disappointment I felt as I exited the theater after seeing Elysium, I still believed writer/director Neill Blomkamp was more than a one-trick pony with District 9. Now two years after the release of Elysium, Blomkamp is set to release Chappie, a sentient-robot film that from the trailers evokes comparisons to Robocop and Short Circuit, which could mean either that could be a hit or another disappointment.  A disappointment could be trouble for Blomkamp. After all, his concept images and storyline for an Alien sequel has relit excitement for a franchise that many had felt died after the third entry.
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    Focus

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

    “That’s what you get when you hire a con man.”

    As much fun as it is to watch clever, cagey characters try to outsmart one another on screen, the real appeal of movies about con artists is watching filmmakers try to pull the wool over the audience’s eye. It’s an especially tricky proposition when you consider that — thanks to the Internet — moviegoers might be more sophisticated than ever in terms of knowing how movies are supposed to work. (Or at least *thinking* they know how movies are supposed to work.)
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    Exclusive Interview With Fiona Dourif From Fear Clinic

    Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on February 20th, 2015

    What do you do with your life when your Dad is Chucky? You star in your own films. Of course, some of those are going to be of the horror variety. That’s the story with Fiona Dourif who stars with Robert Englund and Thomas Dekker in Fear Clinic out from Anchor Bay. I got the chance to talk to her about her new film. Certainly, we had to touch on father Brad Dourif and her experiences in the Chucky franchise. Want to know what she had to say? Of course, you do. Bang it here to listen in on my chat with Fiona Dourif.

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    McFarland, USA

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

    The town of McFarland, California is North of Los Angeles and South of San Jose. More specifically, it is near Bakersfield and not too far south of Fresno. San Diego is practically spitting distance from Tijuana. I say this because much of California is alien to me. The movie McFarland, USA is about delving into the realities of California. Forget that this is a feel-good sports movie for a minute. This is a movie about the Latino experience from a true story about a coach from 1987, but the film updates some of the changes that have taken place since then.
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    Fifty Shades Of Grey

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 13th, 2015

    I hope you have your fuzzy cuffs ready. Not only is this weekend Valentine’s Day, but it is also the release of the highly anticipated film Fifty Shades of Grey.  It’s just about impossible to have not heard of the enormously successful book series that women across the globe have devoured and obsessed over since the books first hit the shelves.  It’s a phenomenon that has sparked interest in women to think of new and creative ways to spice things up in the bedroom.  On the other hand, since the announcement of the book being made for the big screen, men across the globe have dreaded the day that their wives and girlfriends would drag them to the theaters.
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    Kingsman: The Secret Service

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 13th, 2015

    “Did you see the movie Trading Places?”

    Well, this isn’t that movie. It can be as funny as Trading Places, though. There aren’t any shades of gray here either. It’s good old fashioned “good guys and evil genius” stuff all the way. It’s a thrill ride that we won’t have to wait in long lines to get on. This is like going to a summer movie and trudging through the snow to get there. Depending on where you live, of course. I’m talking about Kingsmen: The Secret Service
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    Seventh Son

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 7th, 2015

    Riding on the coattails of the success of the The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit, studios have attempted to cash in on the revived interest in fantasy films.  There have been many flops along the way; Game of Thrones seems to be the only series that has managed to not only be a success but break out as a hit with a legion of loyal fans. Universal now has stepped up to the table to hopefully embark on what they could hope to be a new successful fantasy franchise with Seventh Son.
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    Jupiter Ascending

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

    To live is to consume.”

    Sometimes it feels like we’ve already consumed every conceivable type of Hollywood blockbuster. Besides movies adapted from comic books or, um, older movies, we’ve gotten mega-budget films based on board games and theme park rides. And that’s why I was so excited and intrigued by Jupiter Ascending, especially when The Wachowskis’ nutso space opera was slated to hit theaters during what seemed like a particularly sequel-heavy Summer of 2014. The movie, in theory, represented a wholly original vision
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    Black Sea

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 1st, 2015

    “I found something.”

    Once in a while a film comes along that defies the current trends and styles in Hollywood. Inevitably, those films usually end up being dumped on the box office in the late winter months after the holiday blockbusters have run their course and the push for notice by the Academy has reached the end of the calendar year. It is in the depths of these cold months that studios deliver the almost-rans, the square pegs, and once in a while a gem that doesn’t really fit any of the other models.
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    Black or White

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on January 30th, 2015

    There are certain things that are obvious to some of us, and nobody wants to talk about them. All people are full of weaknesses that they then try to deny exist. People are people, but some people think they are better than other people. It seems obvious that we should all try to get over our hatred and be more accepting of all our differences and see how much alike we all are. Black or White is an important movie that comes in the form of a fun and heartwarming melodrama.
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    American Sniper

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 17th, 2015

    “The thing that haunts me are all the guys that I couldn’t save.”

    I have to admit I was a little skeptical that Clint Eastwood followed up his directing stint on Jersey Boys as quickly as he did to shoot American Sniper. The former was far from one of his better efforts, and he looked increasingly out of his element by the time it was said and done. He jumped into his preparation for American Sniper almost immediately, and the results could have been…underwhelming. Instead Eastwood hit his target with the kind of profound impact I don’t think I’ve seen from him since Unforgiven.
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    Foxcatcher

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 16th, 2015

    While writing up this review the Oscar nominations are going to be announced in a few hours and for Foxcatcher, any nominations it receives will be yet another footnote in this films journey as it widens its release to a larger audience.  Ever since director Bennett Miller won best director at Cannes in 2014 for the film Foxcatcher has become one of the most buzz worthy films of 2014 with a trio of actors that have had more than their fair share of  praise for their performances.
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    Selma

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 9th, 2015

    We negotiate, we demonstrate, we resist.”

    Early on in Selma, Martin Luther King Jr. succinctly summarizes his preferred method for affecting change during the Civil Rights Movement. The film then proceeds to effectively dramatize each bullet point in that mantra. Selma sometimes looks like the typical “Great Man” biopic and it is very much a period piece rooted in a specific time and place. But the film still manages to feel alive and relevant today by embracing the deeply humane — and deeply human — spirit of Dr. King’s righteous work.
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    The Gambler

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 26th, 2014

    “I need to know what you are worth when I leave you nothing.”

    These are the parting words that Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is left with from his dying grandfather.  At first these words may seem a bit harsh but after the more time we spend with Bennett we start to understand the grandfather’s intentions.  The Gambler, a remake of the 1974 film with same title, follows Bennett along his downward spiral as his gambling addiction drags him down to the point where death is imminent, yet death seems to be the escape Bennett so desperately craves
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    Into the Woods

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 25th, 2014

    It took a while for Hollywood to finally venture Into the Woods. On one hand, the delay isn’t surprising given that the popularity of live-action musicals at the box office has ebbed and flowed many times since Woods made its Broadway debut in 1987. Then again, the story’s free-wheeling mash-up of Grimms’ fairy tale characters fits perfectly with the current obsession with shared cinematic universes. As a result, Disney — which has a storied past with fairy tales, and a lucrative present with cross-platforming popular characters — seems like the perfect landing spot for an Into the Woods movie.
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    Annie (2014)

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

    - “There she is, our little orphan Annie.”

    - “I’m a foster kid!”

    “Little Orphan Annie” began life as a comic strip way back in 1924, but the resourceful and irresistible character probably achieved her greatest prominence after the 1977 debut of the Broadway musical “Annie.” Although there have been other theatrical productions and movies, it’s been a bit of a while since Annie first became a big deal. So I certainly understand the impulse to modernize the story for 21st century audiences. What I don’t understand is why the makers of this new version also seem eager to blow up the beloved source material.
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    The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 17th, 2014

    “Will you follow me, one last time?”

    It’s time to say goodbye to Middle Earth, at least from a cinematic perspective. The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies marks the last time we shall see Peter Jackson’s version of Middle Earth. Sure, Ian McKellen has told us he wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of a return. I would.
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    Exodus: Gods and Kings

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 15th, 2014

    When it comes to the modern epic, director Ridley Scott is the go-to guy to pull off the sprawling and mega-budget storylines.  From Gladiator to Kingdom of Heaven, Scott has constantly proven himself behind the camera in executing tales with lavish sets and battles involving hundreds to even thousands of extras.  With the release of Exodus: Gods and Kings, a retelling of the Bible story where Moses frees the slaves of Egypt, Ridley Scott would seem the perfect choice for this film.  Unfortunately this is a Bible story that is sure to anger religious scholars and put some general audiences to sleep.
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    The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 21st, 2014

    “All we need now is the perfect message”.

    It has almost become expected. When a successful franchise based on a series of books reaches the end of the published material, studios start to think about the approaching end with some dread. One way to put off the inevitable is to split the final book into two films. It worked for Harry Potter and Twilight. Peter Jackson managed to squeeze three long films out of one Tolkien book. For most of these cases it was a severe case of milking those final chapters for all that they’re worth and then going beyond that. That’s simply not the case with Mockingjay Part I.
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    Interstellar

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on November 7th, 2014

    Most movies are just not very good. Lots of money goes into turning out boring repetitive garbage. You watch it and then dispose of it and make room for the next thing. There are some who do more, but the more you do, the greater the risk. Most filmmakers are not given the freedom to take really big risks, but someone who has been given the opportunity to take the big risk is Christopher Nolan. Interstellar is $165,000,000 gamble shooting for the moon.  Actually Nolan is shooting for something way past the moon. He wants to take us to another galaxy.
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    Before I Go To Sleep

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 1st, 2014

    A jittery, strikingly blue eye is shown in extreme close-up. It belongs to a woman named Christine, who finds herself naked in bed with a strange man’s arm draped around her waist. She stumbles to a nearby bathroom, where she finds clues about her identity taped to a wall. The man appears shortly after and introduces himself as Christine’s husband. It’s an effective little opening that succeeds in making the viewer feel as disoriented as Christine. The problem with Before I Go To Sleep is that — even as the truth is unpacked — the disorientation turns into disengagement and (worst of all) disinterest. In other words, this is a thriller that isn’t particularly thrilling.
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    Nightcrawler

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 31st, 2014

    “On TV it looks so real.”

    When I first walked out from the theater after watching Nightcrawler, the thing that stuck with me the most is how great Jake Gyllenhaal was in this film.  This isn’t the first performance he’s caught my attention in; he’s an actor who pretty much any time I see him in a film he’s one of the most memorable aspects of the film.
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    Whiplash

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on October 31st, 2014

    Whiplash has gotten so many raves that I want to make sure I address the things that are bad as well as the things that are good about the film. First thing I will say is that the movie is implausible, and I had a hard time to totally buy into it for different reasons. The film is about a young jazz drummer at a prestigious music academy who gets to play in the band of the top instructor at the school. It becomes apparent early on that the instructor is crazy. He browbeats and actually beats his students into compliance without a hint of mercy.
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    Birdman

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on October 28th, 2014

    Wow! OMG! WTH! This is a towering achievement in every way. It is staggering. It is literally staggering; you will leave the theater drained because all your adrenaline will have been used up. Fragmentary, flowing, electric, and it shows the disintegrating of a man’s mind in a vibrant phantasmagoria. Any director in the world who sees this will slap himself in the face and say, “Why didn’t I do this!” It is a technical tour de force, and everyone in it delivers at full throttle. It is breathless and exhilarating and your mind will be blown.
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    Fury

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 17th, 2014

    “Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.”

    David Ayer doesn’t have a huge resume of films to his credit. In his 15 years as a director he’s only given us five films. Add just another three as a writer. What he has done as a writer and/or director appears to explore some of the same themes of machismo under heavy fire that are splattered all about Fury along with the blood and gore that is the natural byproduct of war. He’s the kind of filmmaker who doesn’t appear to tackle a project unless he finds he has something to say. In the past that voice hasn’t always been terribly original.
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