BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Jul 18, 2013 1 comments
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In early November 1979, a mob of hostile Iranian extremists stormed the U.S. embassy and took 52 American hostages and held them captive for 444 days. Seconds before the Iranians seized control of the embassy, six American officials managed to escape and find refuge at the residence of a Canadian ambassador. When the absence of the six Americans is discovered, an intense search for them ensues. Once found, they will almost certainly be executed publicly as spies.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 10, 2013 4 comments
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Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s “unfilmable” book is a hypnotic rumination on the nature of religion as a source of strength and inspiration but also exploring faith’s common tendency toward allegory as the means to an end. We meet a very spiritual college professor named Pi whose past comes alive in a series of flashbacks as he tells his story to a novelist eager to write his next book. Pi was once shipwrecked and lost at sea for 227 days, already a sufficiently fascinating tale, but to make the ordeal even more extraordinary, he had to share his predicament with a fully grown Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Their surprising relationship is masterfully dramatized in a series of indelible images, their odyssey recounted with an unending sense of wonder and a contagious love for the beauty of nature.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 10, 2013 0 comments
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Kai, a young falcon, yearns to spread his wings and explore the world, more specifically an avian community called Zambezia. There he hopes to join the Hurricanes, the skilled and brave flying corps that defends the city. But his father is unalterably opposed to his leaving their safe but boring life for reasons Kai does not at first understand. Kai leaves the nest on his own anyway, joining a flock of geese headed to the fabled bird city. Once there, he finds the city in danger from a terrifying enemy.
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Shane Buettner Posted: Jul 01, 2013 0 comments
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Few films are worthy of a movie about the movie, but director Terry Gilliam’s 1985 dystopian fantasy Brazil is among the legendary few. A flawed but inspired masterpiece, the film remains a Hollywood cautionary tale for the standoff between Gilliam and Universal’s then-chief Sid Sheinberg, who refused to release the film and even ordered a sappy, discordant re-edit that excised some 40 minutes from Gilliam’s original cut. In retrospect, the heavy-handed efforts of Universal’s “black tower” to wrest artistic control from Gilliam only underscored Brazil’s anti-totalitarian satire and unwittingly aided its underground success.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 01, 2013 0 comments
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Written by novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie and produced as a London stage play in 1904, Peter Pan has become a timeless classic, finding its way onto stage, screen, and television. But it’s this 1953 Disney film that defines the story for most modern audiences.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 24, 2013 0 comments
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Hannah and Her Sisters is Woody Allen’s most novelistic film: a tale of crisscrossing plotlines, strewn by multiple narrators, each a fully drawn character locked in or out of love with one of the others, and seeking answers to human needs and darker mysteries. It’s also Allen’s most redemptive film. In the end, the strands are resolved, the needs met, the mysteries not solved but set aside for the sake of enjoying life’s pleasures. In this sense, it’s reminiscent of Fanny and Alexander, the similarly titled (and also atypically euphoric) film made four years earlier by Allen’s morose hero Ingmar Bergman. Both films begin and end with lavish holiday dinners, and both chart voyages of infidelity, doubt, and despair, before settling into a celebration of the good life: family, friends, and haute elegance.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Jun 24, 2013 0 comments
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A tenacious woman is in the forefront of the greatest manhunt in history. Jessica Chastain is Maya, a lead member of a CIA think tank assigned with the task of tracking down and killing Osama bin Laden. Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal both won Academy Awards for their work on The Hurt Locker. Now they’ve taken another stab at the turmoil in the Middle East with Zero Dark Thirty. The title refers to the military designation of half an hour past midnight, when it’s dark enough that no one can see you coming.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 19, 2013 0 comments
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The Kid With a Bike is a heartbreaking, gripping, ultimately unsettling, but very satisfying film—an odd jumble of adjectives, I know, but the Dardenne brothers of Belgium routinely provoke these dissonances in the works they jointly write and direct. Their earlier films (The Child, The Son, La Promesse, among others) are notoriously hard to warm to: The characters are obstinate, the pace slides and rambles. The Kid With a Bike, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes, is sunnier, more kinetic, but it, too, disrupts assumptions, snaps you in unexpected directions: just like life.
David Vaughn Posted: Jun 19, 2013 0 comments
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Coerced into playing baseball by his father, Victor connects with the hit of his life and sails one over the fence. His beloved dog, Sparky, thinks it’s a game of fetch, races after the ball, is hit by an oncoming car, and dies. Terribly depressed and lonely, Victor is inspired by his science teacher to bring his dog back to life. Successful in his task, his home-sewn creature draws the attention of an evil classmate when he escapes, and Victor is forced to reveal his secret on how to raise the dead. All hell breaks loose when the town is suddenly overrun by reanimated pets, and it’s up to Victor and Sparky to save the day.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Jun 19, 2013 1 comments
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Director Robert Zemeckis makes his dramatic return to live-action feature films with Flight after a decade-long foray into performance-capture animated films like The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol. His last live-action film before this was Cast Away with Tom Hanks in 2000, which either coincidentally or ironically also featured a crashing jetliner.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 11, 2013 1 comments
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Half a century after the release of Dr. No, director Sam Mendes and a gifted team of screenwriters have managed to give audiences a James Bond film unlike any other. Skyfall is Daniel Craig’s third outing as 007, and yet the star is unafraid to show his advancing age, as we are reminded that the job of international secret agent apparently takes a heavy toll on all who dare to sign up for it.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 11, 2013 0 comments
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All of you know the taxicab scene from On the Waterfront in which Marlon Brando tells Rod Steiger, “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let’s face it.” But I’d bet not many have recently seen the whole movie—and never have you seen it looking as breathtaking as it does on this Blu-ray Disc, a wondrous collaboration between Sony’s 4K digital-restoration lab and the Criterion Collection’s special-features team.
David Vaughn Posted: Jun 10, 2013 4 comments
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When Toy Story launched the digital animation genre in 1995, you just knew that every Hollywood studio would eventually set up its own department to cash in on the latest movie trend. Throw in vampires with the Twilight phenomenon and 3D with Avatar, and it was just a matter of time before all three concepts would be mixed together into one picture, hence we get this entertaining animated tale from Sony Pictures.
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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 10, 2013 0 comments
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From the outside looking in, Robert Miller is living the American dream. He’s a Wall Street billionaire who lives a life of luxury, has a loving wife and family, and is financially set for life. Unfortunately for Miller, he’s living a lie, and the house of cards he’s built is about to come crashing down.
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Shane Buettner Posted: Jun 05, 2013 0 comments
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Master director Steven Spielberg has made enduring classics in horror, sci-fi, adventure, and historical drama. 2002’s Catch Me if You Can is just his second screwball comedy (the first being the box-office disaster and cult classic 1941), and even if it’s not a classic, it’s his hippest and most outrageously fun film to date. Strap yourself in for the unbelievable true story of one Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio).

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