TAKE SHELTER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 2 years, 251 days ago

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Take Shelter marks the second collaboration between Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) and his Shotgun Stories writer/director Jeff Nichols, and it only serves to verify that the promise this pairing demonstrated with their first outing was no fluke. Also like Shotgun Stories, I would be doing it a disservice to attempt to sell you on it in this intro with a single, sensational genre tag. Is it a disaster film? Eh. Psychological character study and suburban family drama? Mostly. Existential meditation? If it suits you. Checks across the board, yet it’s the way in which those distinct elements mesh that leaves Take Shelter without a clear home and all the better for it. In a way this Blu-ray’s arrival commemorates the anniversary of Take Shelter’s critically-lauded Sundance premiere and, given that most of you had no choice but to miss its limited theatrical run in L.A. and New York, this phenomenal disc makes for a handsome introduction. Take Shelter also stars Jessica Chastain (2011 movie) and Shannon’s Boardwalk co-star Shea Whigham. Hit the jump for my review.

SOURCE CODE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 104 days ago

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Source Code is a fast-paced thriller in which the military can transport a soldier into the final 8 minutes of a dead man’s memory to gain access to a crime scene that has come and gone. This time-travelling plot device is more than vaguely familiar, as it is a culmination of concepts previously seen in Groundhog Day, Déjà vu, and the Quantum Leap TV series, but, when blended with a Twilight Zone-meets-Hitchcockian adventure vibe, this effort feels wholly original in a year swamped with sequels.

While not as intellectually compelling as director Duncan Jones’ Moon, it wasn’t designed to be. Where Moon was contemplative of its themes and sported a career-high turn from Sam Rockwell, this strong sophomore effort’s goal was to entertain and excite, and it fully succeeds on both counts. Duncan Jones proves he is still a talent to keep close tabs on. After living its first days on the screenplay blacklist, Source Code now finds itself readily available to the widest audience possible on home video. Hit the jump to read my review of the Source Code Blu-ray.

Teaser Poster for THE MUPPETS [Updated with High-Resolution Version]

by     Posted 3 years, 170 days ago

The first teaser poster for Disney’s The Muppets has popped up online, albeit as a blurry and off-center snapshot taken by a fan in Montreal, but that’s better than nothing right? It features the classic characters Gonzo (my personal favorite), Fozzie Bear, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Animal walking out onto what appears to be a stage aglow with spotlights. It’s awesome to have the Muppet gang back, but this picture creeps me out. THEY’RE WALKING, as in with legs — it’s too much too soon.  Hit the jump to see what the Muppets look like in all their anatomically correct glory.

THE FIGHTER Blu-Ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 208 days ago

It’s easy to write off sports movies nowadays, as they’ve become predictable affairs that do their utmost to cram messages about overcoming social inequalities and unearned feel-goodness down our throats. The days of Rocky and, although I hesitate to label it a sports film, Raging Bull, have seemingly long since passed. I’d chalk that up to the respective games themselves and the popular theme of sportsmanship taking precedent when the focus should be on the player and his journey, and as you might guess from its title, The Fighter totally gets that…otherwise it would have been called Boxing. I mean, why root for a guy when you know nothing about him? Here, the family fights hold just as much dramatic weight as the ones in the ring, and through this The Fighter has made itself a top contender in its genre alongside the aforementioned boxing-drama heavyweights Rocky and Raging Bull. If you don’t believe me, its Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor and its wins in the latter two categories should instill confidence. My full review of the Blu-ray after the jump.

The Criterion Collection Now Available on Hulu Plus

by     Posted 3 years, 258 days ago

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Among film aficionados, the Criterion Collection can be a bittersweet product line: their releases represent the finest selection of international cinema of both yesteryear and today and boast immaculate transfers and packaging to boot, but our wallets are often too sparse to keep up with their vast library and steep prices. If you’ve sobbed yourself to sleep over such dilemmas as I have, the good folks at Criterion and Hulu Plus seem to have heard our cries.

Via a blog announcement on their official site earlier today, Criterion’s Peter Becker revealed that the entirety of the Criterion Collection would become available for streaming to Hulu Plus members–starting now in limited fashion, and expand in a tiered release plan throughout coming months. Members with streaming-compatible devices such as iPhones, iPads and Playstations will also be able to access the collection through those modes.  While 150 titles are available at present, Criterion assures that number will quickly swell to 800. Hulu Plus sets its members back $7.99/month and an average Criterion DVD/Blu-Ray is in the vicinity of $30-40.  While you won’t get any of the special features, that math still works out to a bargain. [Update: We should also mention that all of Criterion's films available for "Instant Stream" on Netflix will be phased out by the end of the year. The physical discs will still be offered via the service, though.]

LEBANON Blu-Ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 282 days ago

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Set during the First Lebanon War, Lebanon is an Israeli war film that is presented entirely from the perspective of a band of boyish soldiers operating a tank through desolate streets. I’ve always been a sucker for “one room” dramas-like Rope or more recently Buried-so long as the premise isn’t relegated to a gimmick, and Lebanon dodges that bullet effortlessly given the breadth of physical and emotional conflicts a warzone can provide. This is gritty stuff, and while that term is thrown around liberally within the war genre, I believe Lebanon’s unique plot device elevates it from any harsh, comparative scrutiny. My review of the Blu-Ray after the jump.

RUSH HOUR Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 283 days ago

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Having first seen director Brett Ratner’s Rush Hour with a less-refined taste in film during my youth may have left me a wee bit biased, but I still don’t consider it too much of a stretch to group this buddy-cop action-comedy up there with Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop as a staple of the genre. Sure it’s by-the-numbers, but this class of flick calls for that and sidesteps the pitfalls of its rehashed themes by showcasing a hilarious, well-matched duo: the loud-mouthed, bug-eyed Chris Tucker and the nimble, accent-thick Jackie Chan. Light on special effects and laden with memorable banter, this 80’s buddy-cop throwback is a shamelessly fun time-killer. My review of the Blu-Ray after the jump.

THE AMERICAN DVD Review

by     Posted 3 years, 285 days ago

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Director Anton Corbijn’s The American made decent bank at the box office in September with a $35.6 million domestic rake, and yet it currently sits at a less-than-enticing 38% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. This is doubtless a product of the sly Hollywood marketing machine, which sold this meditative character study as a late-summer Bourne-substitute with megastar George Clooney. Many of you may have fallen victim, but I ask those wounded souls and the newcomers alike to give The American a chance now that you’ve been properly warned. It’s neither flashy nor deeply poetic, but it refreshingly plods along to the beat of its own patient tempo in showing the day-to-day activities of a weary assassin attempting to find solitude. My review of the DVD after the jump.

Ethan Coen’s Son Was Matt Damon’s TRUE GRIT “Abs Double”

by     Posted 3 years, 299 days ago

The Coen Brothers are known for injecting a heavy dose of quirky humor throughout their films, but it seems their dry wit extends to the end credit sequence as well: Buster Coen, the 15-year-old son of writer/director Ethan Coen, was listed as “Mr. Damon’s abs double” on their latest Western masterpiece, True Grit. That job title may raise confusion for those of you who checked out the film-Damon’s character LaBoeuf is never sans shirt-or have ever seen any of Damon’s body…of work (outside of The Informant! pictured above).  Scott Feinberg brought the easter egg to Damon’s attention at a Q&A screening, but he was fully aware and accepting of the Coens’ inside joke. Apparently Buster served as an assistant to the Script Supervisor and requested he be listed under a job that carries a little more weight-or muscle-on set. As if you needed an excuse this thin, there’s now one more reason to see True Grit again before it rides out of theaters.

MICMACS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 306 days ago

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French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s (A Very Long Engagement, Amélie) latest, Micmacs-a revenge tale laden with arms trade satire and a light dash of romance-has finally hit store shelves in the “U.S. of A.” For those film lovers unfamiliar with Jeunet’s style, he’s like the Michael Bay of whimsy-bombarding his audience with blasts of vivid colors, absurdly cartoonish characters and classical depictions of love in place of explosions, cleavage and helicopters.

Although Micmacs’ world is our mundane own, through Jeunet’s lens it is unrecognizably alive. With his knack for fantastical world-building and painterly eye, Jeunet’s visual palate is as surreal and unique as Tim Burton’s…if Burton traded his black nail polish for glitter. His films are the definition of style over substance, and while Micmacs leans too heavily on that notion-more so than its predecessors in the Jeunet filmography-there are few directors whose art stands to gain more from a proper high-definition treatment. My full review of the Blu-ray after the jump.

2010′s Most Pirated Movies; AVATAR Takes Top Prize

by     Posted 3 years, 313 days ago

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Writer/director James Cameron’s Avatar has added yet another milestone to its belt this year.  After becoming the highest grossing flick ever (close to a whopping $2.8 billion take worldwide) as well as becoming the best selling Blu-ray in the short history of the technology, Avatar has been named 2010’s most popular film torrent.  With 16,580,000 downloads, the film effortlessly topples last year’s ‘winner’ Star Trek with its measly 11 million illegal downloads.

Unlike its other records, however, I doubt the Fox marketing team will be clamoring to throw this one onto all the special edition DVD and Blu-ray covers coming our way in the future. Interestingly enough, one of Cameron’s principal selling points for 3D was that it would prove to be a surefire method for eliminating piracy…oops. Hit the jump for more details and the full list.

Author Dan Brown Is Rewriting THE LOST SYMBOL; Ron Howard and Tom Hanks Not Confirmed for Sequel

by     Posted 3 years, 315 days ago

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Dan Brown has taken over the reins for the screen adaptation of The Lost Symbol, the third novel in his wildly profitable and embarrassingly controversial series about Harvard symbologist-turned-Indiana Jones wannabe Robert Langdon, following The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.  This is Brown’s first attempt at screenwriting after Oscar-nominated scribe Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) had first swing at the project.

Neither franchise star Tom Hanks nor Ron Howard, director of the previous installments, has officially signed on to the sequel, although Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment will again handle production duties.  Howard is currently committed to helm the first flick in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, while Hanks is confirmed for Kathryn Bigelow’s (The Hurt Locker) post-Best Picture endeavor Triple Frontier.  If both talents are expected to return, Risky Business suggests we can expect The Lost Symbol on the silver screen in the summer of 2013.  Hit the jump for the official synopsis of The Lost Symbol.

Tim Burton Writing New STAINBOY Tale with Twitter Help

by     Posted 3 years, 338 days ago

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Tim Burton is conducting a social art experiment over on Twitter, enlisting the aid of the creative masses to create a short story with his Stainboy character by allowing users to submit a sentence that fits with the last entry of the story. Burton laid the groundwork with this (via TheWrap):

“Stainboy, using his obvious expertise, was called in to investigate mysterious glowing goo on the gallery floor.”

Given the eccentric nature of Burton’s storytelling, it goes without saying that he’s willing and able to let the project go to some sinister, zany places. He calls this collective brainstorm the “Cadavre Exquis” or “Exquisite Corpse” technique. 40 contributions have made the cut thus far, but Stainboy’s journey is hardly over. Read it for yourself at Tim Burton’s Cadavre Exquis page.  More after the jump – including the first of the Stainboy flash animation shorts:

Brett Ratner Still Gunning for a Fourth BEVERLY HILLS COP

by     Posted 3 years, 349 days ago

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Director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) and Eddie Murphy have been busy shooting Tower Heist outside the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan, which has provided Ratner countless opportunities to re-pester Murphy about suiting up in Axel Foley’s trademark blue jeans and Lions jacket for a fourth Beverly Hills Cop flick. The project has been in development limbo since 2008, and the most recent tidbit came in ’09 when it broke that a screenplay titled Dying Day from scribes Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (Wanted) would be retooled as an Axel Foley adventure. Nothing of note has surfaced since, most likely because Eddie Murphy is far less optimistic about a fourth go-around as Foley than Ratner is. Hit the jump for comments from Ratner regarding the project and the embedded MTV News interview.

Maya Entertainment Picks Up Paul Schrader’s THE JESUIT; Official Synopsis Released

by     Posted 3 years, 357 days ago

Latino-themed production house Maya Entertainment has revealed that they have acquired both production and distribution rights for Paul Schrader’s “south-of-the-border” revenge-thriller The Jesuit. Schrader-the scribe responsible for Taxi Driver and director of American Gigolo-will fill both chairs for The Jesuit. Willem Dafoe, Michelle Rodriguez, Paz Vega and Manolo Cardona are set to star. In the press release, there was no mention of the previously-rumored Oscar Isaac (Robin Hood), so that’s up in the air as of now. Maya Entertainment and partner Open Window Films are praying for an early March 2011 start date.

Hit the jump for the official synopsis and a reassuring quote from Schrader.

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