DOM HEMINGWAY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 8 hours ago

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Director Richard Shepard’s comedy Dom Hemingway tells you exactly what kind of film it is with its opening scene: Jude Law delivers an ode to his, um, member, directly into the camera while engaging in a certain act in a prison shower.  It’s vulgar and hilarious all at the same time, and Law delivers the lines with such gusto that you’re inclined to take this guy’s word for it.  The rest of the film is an absolute delight, but particularly the first act is a whirlwind mix of hilarity, sadness, and pure boldness as we follow the titular Hemingway’s very specific path to rehabilitation after being released from prison.  Read my full Dom Hemingway Blu-ray review after the jump.

NOAH Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 2 days ago

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The sign of a good religious picture is the controversy surrounding it.  Whenever a movie asks you to seriously grapple with theological issues, it’s bound to rile those who like their religion safe and comforting.  Noah certainly prompted its share of screeching op-ed pieces, along with the smug indifference of the secular crowd.  In truth, director Darren Aronofsky has punk’d them all: creating a serious, thoughtful and unbearably intense study of our relationship to God in the context of a giant Hollywood blockbuster.  Hit the jump for my full Noah Blu-ray review.

WALK OF SHAME Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 13 days ago

WALK OF SHAME Blu-ray Review

Elizabeth Banks is one of the best comediennes working today, and she always brings something interesting to a part, be it big or small.  She should be a bigger star and films like Walk of Shame aren’t going to help prove it as the film ended up debuting in theaters and on VOD at the same time for a reason.  A high concept movie that leaves its star to wallow in embarrassment, there’s probably a sharp film to be made of the story of a woman who, after a night of casual sex, ends up having to make her way through the city to finally get her car and life back — but this isn’t it.  James Marsden and Gillian Jacobs co-star and my Walk of Shame Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

SABOTAGE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 16 days ago

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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen can’t be called much of a comeback as The Last Stand, Escape Plan and Sabotage were all bombs.  Sabotage tanked the hardest as it was barely able to cross the ten million dollar mark.  Perhaps Arnie will regain his footing from his role in the upcoming Terminator sequel, but it seems unlikely that he will ever front a non-sequel again (or at least for another five years).  That’s too bad as Sabotage is a fun throwback to his early eighties action movies which delivers the “red meat city” PG-13 action movies of late are unable to do.  Mixing Commando with a slasher sensibility, Sabotage has Schwarzenegger leading a team of DEA agents (including Mireille Enos, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, and Sam Worthington) who are being hunted and by a mysterious killer.  My Sabotage Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 17 days ago

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As the supplements suggest, 300: Rise of an Empire is not a straight sequel to Frank Miller and Zack Snyder’s 300, as it can also be described as a prequel, sidequel, and probably some other words that have been invented to describe modern spin-off films that don’t pick up after the last film ended.  Rise of an Empire is meant to be like a glove to the first film, as it surrounds the original narrative with new material.  The results are a film that doesn’t totally work on its own terms, but does offer a delicious scene-stealing performance from Eva Green.  My 300: Rise of an Empire Blu-ray review follows after the jump. 

I, FRANKENSTEIN Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 22 days ago

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Let’s talk bad movies for a while, for regardless of what its few defenders maintain, I, Frankenstein is resolutely bad. It was apparently assembled out of scenes cut from the Underworld movies: spliced together much like the monster at its heart and set loose among the unsuspecting movie-going public last January. Lousy CG effects compete with stone-faced actors dutifully regurgitating plot exposition of breathtaking banality.  “Cliché” would be a kindness, and I, Frankenstein leaves not a single hackneyed chestnut unturned. It is, in the sum of things, breathtakingly awful. But is it devoid of entertainment value? That’s a much more interesting question. Hit the jump for my I, Frankenstein Blu-ray review.

JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA .5 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 25 days ago

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The problem with alternative comedy cuts is fairly self-evident: they’re made up of footage deemed less than what was actually released. Thus by their very make-up, they are less funny than whatever original preferred version preceded them.  Bad Grandpa .5 makes a valiant attempt to overcome these short-comings (at least for the first half) by being less a collection of unused footage and more a behind the scenes making of.  Hit the jump for my Bad Grandpa .5 Blu-ray review. 

LONE SURVIVOR Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 28 days ago

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‘Tis the season for red, white and blue patriotism, which finds perfect cinematic expression in the pro-American military thriller Lone Survivor, which recently debuted on Blu-ray.  Based on The New York Times bestselling book “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10,” Lone Survivor doesn’t stop to ask any big questions about what we’re doing in the Middle East, let alone offer any Kubrick-ian treatise on the nature of war.  Instead, it simply dramatizes with harrowing effectiveness the true story of four heroic Navy SEALs who fought against the Taliban to the bitter end out of unmitigated love of country and their fellow American soldiers.

Hit the jump for my complete Lone Survivor Blu-ray review.

BLAZING SADDLES 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 30 days ago

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Warner Brothers must have both wanted to capitalize and mock the release of Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, as they’ve just created a slightly new special edition of Blazing Saddles for the film’s 40th anniversary.  There was no way (and no offense to MacFarlane) that he could match or top Mel Brooks’ film, which is hard to call his masterpiece or even the best film he directed that year.  But that’s only because in 1974 both it and Young Frankenstein were released.  Which is the better movie boils down to preference.  That said, I prefer Saddles.  The film stars Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman and Madeline Kahn in this Western send up, and my Blazing Saddles Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

NON-STOP Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 32 days ago

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Liam Neeson has become the go-to asskicker of late.  Even more so than Jason Statham, audiences have responded to Neeson’s world-weary charms and commanding presence.  So it should be no surprise that Jaume Collet-Serra’s Non-Stop was a modest hit earlier this year.  Neeson stars as air marshal Bill Marks, who is forced to act when he’s contacted on an international flight to deliver a $150 Million ransom or a passenger will die every twenty minutes.  My review of Non-Stop follows after the jump. 

THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU and RED RIVER Criterion Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 47 days ago

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The Criterion Collection has issued both The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Red River recently, and though the two would seemingly have little in common, it turns out there are a number of parallels.  Both films begin with the main character losing someone close to them in a way that drives the narrative, both follow a driven and arrogant man who needs to see the error of his ways, both deal with great adventure, both deal with a father/son relationship, and both conclude with the main character coming face to face with their supposed enemy, only to realize violence may not be the answer.  Bill Murray and Owen Wilson star in the Aquatic for Wes Anderson, while John Wayne and Montgomery Clift star in Red River for Howard Hawks.  My review of both The Life Aquatic on Blu-ray and Red River follows after the jump. 

HER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 49 days ago

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Prior to the release of Spike Jonze’s love story Her last year, the film was essentially the butt of a joke.  A guy falls in love with his phone?  Ridiculous.  How would that even work?  Well the key, apparently, is Spike Jonze.  The filmmaker turned a very simple and potentially laughable premise into one of the most engaging, affecting, and emotional love stories in recent memory.  Her isn’t just about how a guy falls in love with his phone, it’s about how we, humanity, love one another in the modern age.  It’s one of the things that makes us uniquely human, and Jonze explores issues relating to relationships—both romantic and platonic—against a gorgeous and fascinating sci-fi backdrop to phenomenal results, anchored by an incredible, delicate lead performance from Joaquin Phoenix.  Read my full Her Blu-ray review after the jump.

DOUBLE INDEMNITY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 51 days ago

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Movie or Blu-ray? Movie or Blu-ray? That’s a tricky question when reviewing the new version of Double Indemnity, unquestionably one of Hollywood’s great masterpieces and an absolute must-have for any serious film fans’ collection. You can’t do any better… despite the fact that the new Blu-ray is about as lazy and uninspired a product as one could hope for. Universal put together a terrific DVD package for the film a few years ago, then apparently decided that that was enough. Hit the jump for my Double Indemnity Blu-ray review.

AMISTAD Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 51 days ago

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A measure of a successful movie need not be limited to its box office take or its number of wins at the end of awards’ season, but should also take into account how well the story, cast, and visuals hold up upon subsequent viewings decades later.  For Steven Spielberg’s 1997 historical drama, Amistad, the four Oscar nominations took some of the sting out of a poor box office performance, but this 175-year-old tale of a struggle for freedom is, sadly, still very relevant to contemporary times.  Additionally, the film’s excellent cast is a treasure trove of both veteran actors and young up-and-comers who would go on to make a big name for themselves in later years.  Now that Amistad is available on Blu-ray, you can revisit the film for yourself.  Hit the jump for my Amistad Blu-ray review.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 57 days ago

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In the late 1990s, ensemble, Altman-esque narratives (what Roger Ebert called Hyperlink Films) gained new popularity with the likes of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Traffic, and Syriana.  This style was soon adapted into romantic comedies like Love, Actually which lead to Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve.  After running out of apostrophized holiday titles to up the pre-awareness factor, the studios moved on to adapting non-narrative books like He’s Just Not That Into You, taking the subject matter of various chapters as the basis of character arcs.  From that movie’s success came Think Like a Man.  In spite of being based on a book full of terrible, misogynistic advice, the movie was pretty damn good.  Now – in addition to a sequel to Man - the commercial demands of pre-awareness, mixed with the popularity of the ‘Hyperlink’ genre have birthed a remake of About Last Night… starring several of the cast members from the aforementioned Steve Harvey adaptation including newly-minted A-lister Kevin Hart.

Hit the jump for my full About Last Night Blu-ray review.

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