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

by     Posted 6 hours 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 Yesterday

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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.

ALL THAT JAZZ Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 5 days ago

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All That Jazz is a masterpiece.  The film transcends genre, as it’s a perfect blend of musical, dark comedy, biopic and fantasy.  It’s a self-portrait, really, of co-writer and director Bob Fosse, and it’s made all the more impressive by the fact that it marked the second to last feature film from the man who had already helmed films like Cabaret, Sweet Charity, and Damn Yankees—talk about going out with a bang.  It’s a seminal piece of cinema that is both wildly entertaining and introspective, ruminating on life and death in unique fashion, and the film has now been given the grand Criterion Collection treatment.  It’s an absolute must-own for any serious film fan.  Read my full All That Jazz Criterion Blu-ray review after the jump. 

WINTER’S TALE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 17 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 22 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 23 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.

SCANNERS Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 36 days ago

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David Cronenberg made six movies before Scanners, and it felt like all of them were a precursor to a great coming out.  Critics were shocked with what he put onscreen.  Nobody knew what to make of it.  They only knew that they were seeing something strange and disturbing, something that resembled nothing else in movie history.  They were disgusted by the groundbreaking visual effects, and disturbed by the paranoid fantasy lying beneath them.  But the film became a big hit and with it, the career of one of cinema’s most distinctive auteurs had well and truly begun.  The new Criterion Blu-ray edition is everything any fan could possibly hope for.  Hit the jump for my full Scanners Criterion Collection Blu-ray review.

ERNEST & CELESTINE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 39 days ago

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Hollywood, sadly, has turned its back on traditionally-styled, 2D animation for the big screen.  With the rare exception of The Princess and the Frog, animated films from the major studios have all recently been of the computer-generated variety, barely separated from big visual effects movies by the look of the characters.  To find films that celebrate the traditional style, one has to turn to those created in other countries, such as the works of Miyasaki or, in this case, the French film Ernest & Celestine.  Read my Ernest & Celestine Blu-ray review after the jump.

BAD WORDS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 40 days ago

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Movies like Bad Words tend to fiercely divide critics, with one half accusing them of empty shock tactics and the other half praising their edginess and daring. I fall into the latter camp with this one, though I can certainly understand the former. Not everyone wants to watch Jason Bateman’s misanthropic protagonist laying into small children with a viciousness that would make Terrell Owens blanch. The question becomes why his character would do such a thing, and in its journey towards the answer, Bad Words actually goes to some very interesting places. Hit the jump for my Bad Words Bluray review.

THE RAID 2 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 42 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 44 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. 

THE LEGO MOVIE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 48 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.

DOM HEMINGWAY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 49 days 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 51 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 62 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.

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