ERASERHEAD and THE INNOCENTS Criterion Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 5 days ago

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Criterion has released two classics of gothic black and white horror with Jack Clayton’s The Innocents and David Lynch’s Eraserhead now joining their collection.  The former is a brilliant adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, while the latter is one of the most singular experiences in cinema history, a film that became a perennial midnight movie for a very good reason.  Criterion is celebrating Halloween this year in style, and my review of both films on Blu-ray follows after the jump. 

THE ROVER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 11 days ago

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There is probably a sizable percentage of people who hate Robert Pattinson for no good reason.  The Twilight star became an intense object of affection and lust for those team Edward, and for anyone who witnessed that obsessive fandom (especially those who saw it up close), it can be off-putting even if it bears little on the person’s talents.  Considering that Pattinson starred in five of the biggest movies of the last decade, he’s made some of the smartest career moves of anyone who has been suddenly thrust into superstardom: He’s now making an effort to work with talented auteurs in roles that only trade on his fame in the sense that he helps get the movies financed.  Not only has he made two movies with David Cronenberg, he also starred in the David Michod film The Rover.  And as for the latter, he’s excellent in it.  My review of the Blu-ray of The Rover follows after the jump. 

NEIGHBORS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 20 days ago

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Seth Rogen’s acting career took off fifteen years ago when he was cast in Freaks and Geeks, and over the last ten years he’s become a movie star.  And though he’s nowhere near finished, one gets the sense that if Rogen ever had a wild period, he’s past it (it seems his biggest public faux pas is making a film like The Guilt Trip).  He’s married, he’s a successful writer, producer, actor and director, and though he still has a bit of a baby face, he’s no longer capable of playing schlubby twenty-something losers, and it seems that he’s intentionally moving away from those types.  Neighbors, as directed by Nick Stoller, suggests that though Rogen still has some of that party animal in him, he’s also transitioned into being an adult both onscreen and off.  My Neighbors Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

GODZILLA Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 25 days ago

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Gareth Edwards made a big leap from the small scale of 2010’s Monsters to the 2014 summer blockbuster Godzilla, and in doing so he showed that he has the skills for big budget movie-making (which may be why Lucasfilm scooped him up to direct a standalone Star Wars film).  Godzilla features a number of epic set pieces that show Edwards has a great skill and understanding of how to stage and build action.  But the film also has a huge weakness: none of the human characters are as interesting as the titular monster.  Perhaps that’s to be expected, but it’s why the film is impressive while also being a little boring.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson leads the film, which also features Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston and David Strathairn.  My Godzilla Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

GHOSTBUSTERS and GHOSTBUSTERS II (Mastered in 4K) Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 27 days ago

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Ghostbusters was a cultural phenomenon, and hasn’t left pop culture since it was released in 1984.  Then again, it would be hard to forget considering co-writer Dan Aykroyd has been promising a third entry in the franchise since the nineties.  To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the first film (and the twenty-fifth of the sequel Ghostbusters II) Sony has packaged both together with new extras and the best transfers yet of the films.  The first film remains a classic, while the sequel is not without pleasures.  Both star Bill Murray, Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and Annie Potts, and both were directed by Ivan Reitman.  My review of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II on Blu-ray follows after the jump. 

NEED FOR SPEED Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 30 days ago

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There’s something thrilling about watching practical stunts in the digital era, which may be why Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed — despite numerous flaws — is just good enough to recommend.  Aaron Paul stars alongside Imogen Poots in this tale of a cross country journey in which Paul’s character wants revenge against the man (Dominic Cooper) who framed him for an involuntary manslaughter.  My Need for Speed Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN and TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! Criterion Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 35 days ago

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Criterion has released two Spanish-language movies of a sexual nature, one from Mexico, one from Spain.  The former is Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien (which translates to “And your mother too”), which Criterion has been promising for five years, while the other is Pedro Almodovar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, which was notorious for its NC-17 rated content at the time.  My review of both Criterion editions of these films follow after the jump.

THEY CAME TOGETHER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 36 days ago

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When Wet Hot American Summer came out in 2001, it was released by USA Films – a company that eventually morphed into Focus Features, but at the time had no real footing theatrically.  That may explain why the film was barely released, but eventually found a cult audience.  Considering it was written by Michael Showalter and David Wain (the latter of whom directed the film), and featured many members of The State there was almost a guarantee it would be funny, but the fledging USA Films didn’t know how to sell it.  Originally Showalter and Wain wanted to follow that film with They Came Together, which they were unable to make until recently, and it was also given a small theatrical release (but was also put on VOD).  But now that it’s on home video, it seems likely it too will become a cult favorite.  Starring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Chris Meloni and many familiar faces, it is equally hilarious, and my They Came Together Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

WINTER’S TALE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 52 days ago

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Quentin Tarantino has complained about how one of the biggest problems with American cinema is that it’s afraid of big emotions.  Of melodrama that might descend into camp (or perhaps is camp to begin with).  And it’s true, more movies are likely to adapt an ironic distance than go for something earnest.  There’s a reason for that: when earnest doesn’t work, you get films like The Postman and The Room.  But that means some material just isn’t going to translate into American cinema, and that’s why Winter’s Tale is a boring disaster.  Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe and Will Smith star in this story of star-crossed lovers and miracles, and my Winter’s Tale Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

FILTH Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 57 days ago

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Irvine Welsh made his reputation with both the novel and the filmed version of Trainspotting, with the latter creating the cinematic language that has been borrowed by every adaptation of his work that’s followed.  The most recent big screen Welsh adaptation is Filth, which was written for the screen and directed by Jon S.  Baird and stars James McAvoy as Detective Bruce Robertson, a corrupt cop who’s got some issues at home and in the workforce.  But where it has some of the flash of Trainspotting, it seems more like a Chuck Palahniuk adaptation, replete with a terrible third act twist.  My review of the Filth Blu-ray follows after the jump.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 58 days ago

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The Muppets returned to the big screen with a self-titled relaunch in 2011, and it was met with a lot of excitement from fans, but was not a runaway success.  The follow up Muppets Most Wanted was received with less enthusiasm, and barely made fifty million domestically.  Which is too bad as it’s the slightly better film.  Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Ty Burrell are the main humans and are joined by all the main Muppets (like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and more) in this European caper.  My review of the Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray of the film follows after the jump.

THE RAID 2 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 77 days ago

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Coming back for a sequel, Gareth Evans’ follow up to The Raid, The Raid: Berandal is a much bigger film in every respect.  It’s scope (2.35:1) instead of flat (1.85:1), it’s a full fifty minutes longer, and it features some of the craziest and greatest stunt sequences in the history of cinema.  But also with that two and a half hour running time comes some bloat, which may have been unavoidable with the scope of the film.  Iko Uwais returns as Rama, who this time goes undercover to take the most powerful bosses in the business, but to do so he most put a lot of his life on the line.  My The Raid 2 Blu-ray review follows after the jump. 

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 79 days ago

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Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night is one of the most exuberant and entertaining movies ever made.   Catching The Beatles phenomenon like getting lightning in a bottle, the film feels just as alive and inventive as it must have when it premiered fifty years ago.  John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr appear as themselves in a very loosely plotted story of the events that lead up to a fictionalized television performance.   Breezy and filled with great songs and jokes, anyone who dislikes this film probably has terrible taste.   My review of the Criterion Collection edition (which includes both the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film) follows after the jump. 

UNDER THE SKIN Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 80 days ago

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For some Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin will be known as the best science fiction film since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.  For others it will be known as the film where Scarlett Johansson gets naked, and will be famous to them for the screengrabs that revealed more than her leaked nude pictures.  In fact, it’s likely that some will be familiar with images from the movie but will never see the film.  Such is nudity in the internet era.  Which is too bad as the film itself is a striking work, though the film is more interested in tone than narrative.  My Under the Skin Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

THE LEGO MOVIE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 83 days ago

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The idea of making a movie out of LEGO toys sounds stupid on paper.  Though you have no narrative you’re stuck to (which is both good and bad), the film’s existence seems based on shilling a product.  That Phil Lord and Chris Miller were able to transcend that and deliver a movie with heart and great jokes is nothing short of a miracle.  The LEGO Movie is not only excellent, it could very well be an all-time great movie.  My review of the 3D Blu-ray of The LEGO Movie follows after the jump.

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