Posted in No Huddle by Brent Lorentson on April 26th, 2023
In 1962, I can understand why Hell is for Heroes would be a successful film. You have Steve McQueen just getting hot after his success with The Magnificent Seven, and then you have a cast with Bobby Darin, James Coburn, and Bob Newhart making his big screen debut, not to mention that war films were still pretty popular at the time; and then you had director Don Siegel at the helm. Some films are simply a product of their time, and they simply don’t age well; then there are films that are classics and are simply timeless. Hell is for Heroes ends up somewhere in the middle for me. It’s not a bad film; actually I think it is pretty good, but I think its legacy is more about how it manages to have so much talent together before these actors and filmmakers really hit their stride or were in their prime.
Posted in No Huddle by Jeremy Butler on April 26th, 2023
“Well, I’ve been knocked down, blown up, lied to, s$#t on, shot at; I’m not a virgin except in my heart. Nothing much surprises me anymore except what people do to each other. I’m a licensed pilot, I lectured on economics at Yale, and I can memorize the front page of the New York Times in five minutes and read it back to you in five weeks. I was national Golden Gloves Champion three years in a row, and I’m fluent in four languages. And I lie … a lot.”
This was quite the experience for me. While watching this film, I keep experiencing an intense feeling of deja vu. It was as if I’d watched the film before. Burt Reynolds stars as a chaperone who hires himself out to escort folks while gambling in Las Vegas. He is eventually approached by an old friend after being roughed up, and he becomes embroiled in a situation that is far more complex than initially thought.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on April 25th, 2023
If someone were to read my biography below, one would probably learn one of two things, I have an unhealthy obsession with Alyssa Milano movies, and I deeply appreciate Basil Rathbone, the man who popularized Sherlock Holmes films. While many would argue who the best Holmes would be (Downey, Brett, Cumberbatch, etc), my heart will always go to Basil. So naturally, when I saw the movie Rio with him in the starring role had come to Blu-ray, I jumped at the opportunity to review it. Let’s take a look.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 25th, 2023
“If I had one day when I didn’t have to be all confused and I didn’t have to feel that I was ashamed of everything. If I felt that I belonged someplace. You know?”
There are a handful of films in Hollywood history that have stories as compelling if not more so than the story the film itself tells. I don’t know if there has ever been a film about the making of Rebel Without A Cause. There have certainly been several books, but this is one of those classic films which is surrounded by so many legends, some of them urban myths, but so many of them were true that I find it rather difficult to watch the film on its own terms. With Warner’s 100th anniversary celebration of 100 classic films, I had a nice chance to revisit the classic motion picture, and this time I tried my best to watch it without all of the noise that goes along with it.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 25th, 2023
“Space … the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before.”
From 1978 through 2002, 10 Star Trek films were released at the box office. The franchise almost ended with the first, but it was followed up by what I consider the best of the 10. The films are a collection of ups and downs, but you know you want the complete collection up there on your shelf. You already have the first six, starring the original crew. Now your wait for completion is over. The Next Generation films are out from Paramount Home Entertainment, and here they are ..
Posted in No Huddle by Brent Lorentson on April 22nd, 2023
In 1965 when The Truth About Spring was released, Haley Mills was turning 18 and was already a well established star after being in a string of hit Disney films like Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, and then That Darn Cat. Back when this film was made, it was simply a family adventure. It is simply so charming and wholesome; it really is the kind of film that is just about impossible to find at your local cinema anymore. When watching this, I couldn’t help but realize how if this very same film was put on the big screen today it would cause certain groups out there to lose their minds, all because it is a story about a tomboy who “changes” for a young man she falls in love with. Now, I’m not about to stir anything up and bring up politics or social ideologies with this review, but it was something that I wanted to mention, because sadly something’s in this movie just wouldn’t be done in a film today
Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on April 21st, 2023
Even though I consider myself to be well-rounded when it comes to films, I admit my personal viewing history of French film to be a little lacking. Go Google any top 20 list of French films, and I’ve probably seen maybe two or three of the films. This is very contradictory to say Chinese, Japanese, English (UK), Australian, etc. where I’ve seen hundreds of films. But I’m always willing to expand my repertoire, so I jumped when I saw there was a French crime thriller named L’Homme Du Train or The Man on the Train available for review. Let’s see how it plays out.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 21st, 2023
“Them clothes got laundry numbers on them. You remember your number and always wear the ones that has your number. Any man forgets his number spends a night in the box. These here spoons you keep with you. Any man loses his spoon spends a night in the box. There’s no playing grab-ass or fighting in the building. You got a grudge against another man, you fight him Saturday afternoon. Any man playing grab-ass or fighting in the building spends a night in the box. First bell’s at five minutes of eight when you will get in your bunk. Last bell is at eight. Any man not in his bunk at eight spends the night in the box. There is no smoking in the prone position in bed. To smoke you must have both legs over the side of your bunk. Any man caught smoking in the prone position in bed … spends a night in the box. You get two sheets. Every Saturday, you put the clean sheet on the top … the top sheet on the bottom … and the bottom sheet you turn in to the laundry boy. Any man turns in the wrong sheet spends a night in the box. No one’ll sit in the bunks with dirty pants on. Any man with dirty pants on sitting on the bunks spends a night in the box. Any man don’t bring back his empty pop bottle spends a night in the box. Any man loud talking spends a night in the box. You got questions, you come to me. I’m Carr, the floor walker. I’m responsible for order in here. Any man don’t keep order spends a night in…”
You guessed it … the box. Enter our anti-hero, Luke. The anti-hero has become somewhat cliche today. What was once an artistic expression of the gray line between good and bad guys has morphed to the glorification of the just plain bad guy. We end up loving and rooting for such vicious characters like Vic Mackey, Tony Soprano, and Dexter Morgan.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on April 18th, 2023
Most anime fans, particularly those in the west, would probably consider Cowboy Bebop one of the greatest series of all time. Before it got bastardized in a clueless live-action remake, it was a wonderful story of a bounty hunter crew down on their luck who never made any money but always had one hell of an adventure. Set to some wonderful jazz numbers. So naturally, when I heard about a new anime movie about an once powerful god who is now down on his luck as a penniless bounty hunter, my curiosity was certainly piqued. Let’s check out New Gods: Yang Jian.
Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on April 15th, 2023
” Some call me the Dark One. Others, the Lord of Death. To most, I am… Dracula!”
After nearly 90 years, the Universal horror cycle stands as one of the most enduring collection of horror movies today. Their influence on modern horror is unmistakable. There have been literally thousands of incarnations of Dracula, The Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s monster, but the first image that comes to your mind will always be the nightmare creations of those Universal films. Studio head Carl Laemmle, Jr. was trying to break away from his father’s control and create a studio culture of his own. The results would start in 1931 when an unknown Hungarian actor named Bela Lugosi jumped from the stage to the screen in Dracula, directed by Tod Browning. Laemmle’s niece, Carla Laemmle, is the girl in the coach headed for Borgo Pass as the film opens to the musical strains from Swan Lake.
Posted in No Huddle by Jeremy Butler on April 14th, 2023
I usually don’t say this about a movie, as they are my passion, but this film was unwatchable. I usually don’t take this stance, as I generally believe that every movie has something to offer, but in the case of The Weapon, this was not a movie that I enjoyed. It was a movie that I endured. This took me by surprise, as I was expecting to be moderately entertained given the sheer number of recognizable faces: Cuba Gooding Jr., Bruce Dern, Annalynne McCord, Jack Kesy, and the list goes on. The film even had Richard Grieco, who if I’m being honest, I didn’t recognize until the end credits. However, despite all of this, the film had no real substance, not to mention the cutting between character storylines and time periods, enough to make me want to ask for a roadmap just to keep up. I not sure what the intent was, but I feel safe in saying that this film missed it. Even the action sequences, of which there are many, did not hold my interest. That is saying something, because I love good action film. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what this was.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 11th, 2023
“In 1539 The Knight Templars of Malta paid tribute to Charles V of Spain by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels — but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token, and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day.”
What is not a mystery today is the significant role that The Maltese Falcon has played in cinema history. The film itself was a remake. In fact, it was actually Warner’s third attempt to film the Dashiell Hammett novel in a single decade. The first version came in 1931 and starred Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade. That film also featured Dwight Frye as Wilmer Cook. The film was a moderate success but never really delivered on the potential of the source material. Five years later Warner would attempt a comedy version of the story in Satan Met A Lady. It was a total flop. It would only take another five years before the studio took its third crack at the material. In this case, the third time certainly was a charm.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 11th, 2023
12 Angry Men is one of those rare films that appears to defy all the Hollywood constants and yet become one of the best films of its kind ever made. The setting is entirely too claustrophobic. With the exception of two bookend scenes, the entire film takes place in the tight quarters of a jury deliberation room. The story had only a couple of years earlier been the subject of a live television drama, so the story was far from a fresh idea. The director was a complete unknown who had not at that point directed a major picture. Enter Henry Fonda, the only member of the cast who was a strong A-list name. He was also the driving force behind getting the film made. He produced the film and was involved with most of the major decisions. With all of these elements going against it, you would expect the film to fail miserably, and that’s exactly what it did. During its premier run, the film only lasted a week and was a complete financial failure. It happens all the time, and we would expect the story to end there, but it didn’t.
Posted in The Reel World by Brent Lorentson on April 7th, 2023
You don’t have to be a sports name to know the name Michael Jordan, and there is a good chance you’ve even heard of the Air Jordan even if you are not a sneakerhead. What is a little surprising is that someone out there believed that the story about how a shoe could change the sports industry and go on to make the Nike company a multi-billion dollar industry could be a movie that people would actually want to go see. Well, that person was screenwriter Alex Convery, who wrote a screenplay that would make it onto the Hollywood Black List (For those that don’t know, The Black List is a list that comes out every year that ranks the top 10 unproduced screenplays. It’s an elite list to be on, and typically these eventually get turned into films that gain critical acclaim). As it would turn out, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon would get a shot at the script, and after a polish it would become the new film Ben Affleck would direct since the last film he helmed, Live By Night back in 2016.
Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on April 6th, 2023
“You think I know every human being with a mustache wearing an identical outfit with a hat with the letter of his first name on it? Because I don’t!”
That’s the big caveat for this review of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. You might be asking yourself a simple question. If I don’t know anything about the Nintendo or Super Mario Bros. games and world, will I be able to enjoy this film? The answer is that you will still be able to enjoy it, but you’ll walk away feeling like you’ve been left out of the joke. That’s how I felt after the press screening for the film. I got to hear many of my fellow critics talking with great excitement about all of these wonderful Easter eggs and subtle homage moments, and I didn’t get a single one. Check that. I did get one of them, and I’ll explain that next.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 31st, 2023
“Him is he who bays and slavers forever outside time and space, who shambled down out of the stars when Earth was new and spawned abominations in the seas and blights upon the land. Woe to man when He comes again. To gaze upon his form is to invite madness. That is why in order to serve Him I chose to make some adjustments. Him, The Lurker is on the threshold, and behold, He is coming…”
The latest release from the Warner Brothers animation team in the world of DC Comics is Batman: Doom That Came To Gotham. This series of animated films is no longer part of any shared universe as the many that came before might have been. At least for now these animated adventures are standalone stories, often with their own atmosphere and universe. That’s certainly true of Batman: Doom That Came To Gotham. This is likely the most uniquely-styled entry in the series of animated feature films.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 30th, 2023
“Space…The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before!”
Since the relaunch of Star Trek on television via the Paramount + streaming service, I must admit to being a little underwhelmed. It’s truly bad when Alex Kurtzman makes me pine for the days of Rick Berman. There have been some pretty good moments in the various new Trek shows. Picard has shown promise and has improved with a third season that looks very exciting. Lower Decks is just too campy for my tastes, and Discovery has so many ups and downs I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster. So along comes Strange New Worlds, and this is the Star Trek I’ve been waiting for these last decades.
Posted in The Reel World by Jeremy Butler on March 25th, 2023
I don’t believe any of us could have predicted that global phenomenon that the John Wick franchise would become. I mean, on its surface, it’s a movie about man avenging his dog. However, each film has peeled back a layer of the fictional underworld created in the film, drawing us deeper and deeper into this well-crafted universe. In the first film, we were teased about this world’s existence. In the second, we learned about the rules that govern it. In the third, we learned the consequences if you break this world’s rules. And in this likely final installment of the franchise, we see what happens when this world declares war on you. Keanu Reeves reprises this character for the fourth time, doing exactly what he’s done for each installment; literally putting his body on the line to deliver an action-packed and epic performance. Joining him are the Wick universe veterans, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, and most notably the recently departed Mr.Lance Reddick. Rounding out the cast are the Wick universe newcomers, many of whom are action stars in their own right, such as Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, and Bill Skarsgard.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 23rd, 2023
Damien Chazelle seems to have a thing for dreamers, or at least those who want to be larger than life. Whether it is a drummer aspiring to reach perfection in Whiplash, or an actress wanting to be a star in La La Land, to even being the first man to walk on the moon in First Man, he’s always made these films with an enthusiasm and energy that we can’t help but want to see them succeed. In his new film Babylon, he seems to be doing something a little different and on a grander scale as he explores the early days of Hollywood as it made the transition from the silent film era to the “talkies” (basically what we’re used to seeing on the big screen today, just minus all the CGI effects). A lot of money was injected into the production of this film, and you see it in every frame of this movie that is certainly a love letter to a time when Hollywood was trying to figure things out and entertain its audiences. But what I don’t think anyone was expecting is how deep this film was willing to go into the drug abuse and the sordid debauchery that went on in these early days of cinema.
Posted in The Reel World by Jeremy Butler on March 18th, 2023
I know that we all know that the DC universe is going through a bit of a revamp right now. I’m sure we’ve all seen it, with the cancellation of the Batgirl movie and the getting our hopes up over the prospect of Henry Cavill’s return to the fold, only to be crushed when it was announced that the studio was going in a different direction. We all have our feelings about it. That said, if there was a franchise that I would recommend keeping around, it would be the Shazam films. I know, I know, I’m surprised by this revelation too, but the thing is, this franchise of them all was the one that took me by the most surprise. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it. Prior to the release of the first film, the character of Shazam (a.k.a. Captain Marvel) had been nothing more than a background character that I’d observed in the animated films and shows. I even questioned the wisdom of introducing a character like this when DC was behind the curve in comparison to Marvel. I thought they should focus on building up the main Justice League heroes so they could get back in the race.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 18th, 2023
“You got everything money can buy, except what it can’t. It’s pride. Pride is what got you here. Losing is what brung you back. But people like you, they need to be tested. They need a challenge.”
There have been a ton of boxing films. They’ve been popular going back to the silent era. Most of them have many of the same themes. But there was always something about Rocky that stood out above all of the rest. That “something” can’t really be described or defined. As the Supreme Court once said about the definition of obscenity: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” That’s all you can say about Rocky. Some might call it heart. That’s about as good a word for it as anything else. Rocky himself would call it “stuff in the basement”. It almost demeans it to put a word on it at all. Whatever you call it, you don’t necessarily see it in Rocky … you feel it. Now the first 4 films are out together on UHD Blu-ray in 4K.
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on March 14th, 2023
“The Colosseum. The Roman Empire distilled to its most basic essence. It is a symbol of conquest. It’s a symbol of dominance. It’s a symbol of imperial power radiating throughout the Roman world. Any emperor had the Colosseum at his disposal to use as a tool to reassert his power and authority. The message of the Roman people is that life is a combat. It was also a judicial warning: do not test the power of Rome.”
After over 2000 years of both heavy use and neglect, much of the structure still remains. It survived the many sacks of Rome and its rebirth as a Christian empire. The building survived the bombings and invasions of two World Wars, and it remains. Its history is a testament to the best and worst of human nature. Now History has given us a series of eight television episodes that explore both the mystery and the majesty that was the Roman Colosseum.
Posted in The Reel World by Brent Lorentson on March 10th, 2023
We knew it was coming, a new chapter in the Ghostface franchise that has been a staple in the horror genre since the first Scream released back in 1996. Over the years we’ve gotten to see our favorite horror fan/serial killer terrorize the citizens of Woodsboro and even venture out to LA when he terrorized the film set of Stab (you know, the movie within a movie). It was only a matter of time before our killer ventured out of Woodsboro again, and this time he follows in the footsteps of another masked killing icon, Jason Voorhees, as Ghostface sets out to terrorize the Big Apple in Scream VI. Last year’s Scream I felt did a good job at rebooting the franchise (or worked as a requel) and worked as a way of passing on the torch from Sydney and Gale to the next generation, Sam (Melissa Barrera) and Tara (Jenna Ortega). This new film will also be the first time Sydney doesn’t make an appearance on screen, though we do thankfully have Gale (Courtney Cox) and Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) returning in their “legacy” roles. Does Scream 6 manage to impress with the new cast and new locale, or does it take a misstep as Jason Takes Manhattan did for its franchise?
Posted in No Huddle by Brent Lorentson on March 6th, 2023
One of the things that stands out to me the most about Voodoo Macbeth has very little to do with the true story about how Orson Welles, who at the time he was only 20 was hired by the Negro Theater Unit to direct a stage production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth with an all black cast in Harlem. What’s more intriguing to me is that the film was actually the first feature film to come out of USC and gain theatrical distribution, but the film is listed with having 10 directors and eight screenwriters. With hat much ego and creative talent, it is impressive that they managed to squeeze out a cohesive story, and one that looks pretty good, though it does have some issues. I applaud the ambition to tackle a period piece and also a story that is a bit of both film and theater history, considering this was one of the first and most wildly successful stage productions with a black cast, but is also the production Orson Welles helmed before stepping behind the camera to direct his first film, a little thing called Citizen Kane.
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on March 6th, 2023
“There is an old saying that blood is thicker than water.”
We’ve had Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Gene Simmons with his Family Jewels, and even Snoop Dog’s Father Hood. It’s become a bit of a trend to follow these celebrity families around and watch the drama of their privileged lives unfold on our television screens. You might think it’s a relatively recent phenomenon, but would you believe they were doing it back in the infant days of television when we followed around a musician named Ozzie and his wife way back in 1952? No, we’re not talking about Ozzie Osbourne and his family. I’m talking about Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. They were television’s darling family before we ever heard about Lucy and Desi. The show actually started on radio like many of the fledgling industry’s early hits including the likes of Gunsmoke. Four years after the radio brought us The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet, they moved to television.