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BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 03, 2014 0 comments
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After securing victory in the Hunger Games the previous year by sticking the finger to President Snow by threatening suicide, Katniss and Peta must leave their homes and loved ones behind in order to embark on the Victory Tour through the districts. As they travel around the various locales, Katniss begins to sense a rebellion is afoot and believes she’s the unlikely inspiration for the movement. Still, Snow gets the last laugh by announcing a special 75th Hunger Games that will pit previous winners against each other in a winner-take-all showdown in a made-for-TV event that will be a winner in the ratings—take that, Everdeen!
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 30, 2014 0 comments
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Michael Mann’s feature film directing debut, this rough-hewn caper drama fairly throbs with energy, thanks in large part to the inspired use of a Tangerine Dream musical score. Criminal or not, Frank (James Caan) is pretty difficult to like, but he’s a total professional, so naturally the Chicago mob wants to own him. They underestimated Frank, however, and his rage erupts stylishly in this unrated director’s cut.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 29, 2014 0 comments
In 2009, one of the kings of quirky dramedy, Wes Anderson, managed to surprise us again with a star-studded, fully stop-motion-animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s deliciously absurd Fantastic Mr. Fox. This laid-back bad boy has settled down with his wife and pup, but can a fox ever really change his nature?
Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 23, 2014 1 comments
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In 2009’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, ace boy inventor Flint Lockwood had clearly bitten off more than he could chew with his latest invention, a device that produced food from water vapor. Dubbed the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator (or FLDSMDFR—pronounced “fldsmdefer”), it inundated his island home of Swallow Falls with a tsunami of edibles. Now the town has been evacuated, and Flint, his dad, his pals, and the rest of his fellow townsfolk have been moved to San Franjose, California, where Flint takes a job as a fledgling inventor at Live Corp.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 22, 2014 0 comments
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Director Abdellatif Kechiche has crafted an engaging, truthful tale of unexpected and tempestuous romance between two young women. At three hours, it explores these characters and their relationship in extraordinary, almost excessive detail, so be warned. The graphic lovemaking scenes have garnered something of a reputation for Blue Is the Warmest Color, but they are in service to a powerful story of wild emotion. Despite dozens of international awards, including the top prize at Cannes, this one was hard to find in theaters here in the States, so this Blu-ray is especially welcome.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 21, 2014 0 comments
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Fasten your seat belts for the fastest thrill ride of 2013! Ron Howard’s best film since A Beautiful Mind chronicles Formula One during the mid-’70s—the deadliest era for one of the world’s deadliest sports—and dramatizes the true story of champions James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), whose rivalry mirrored Frazier/Ali and Borg/McEnroe. Peter Morgan’s screenplay evenhandedly illuminates the destructive and empowering aspects of their competition. Hemsworth and Brühl channel two genius drivers with divergent personalities: Hunt, the cavalier, reckless playboy versus serious, disciplined Lauda, whose obsession with besting Hunt culminates in a crescendo of flames that nearly kills him.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 15, 2014 0 comments
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Bearing the lofty Jackass mantle, this feature film eschews the basic format of the erstwhile MTV series, which bombarded viewers with a string of standalone stunts and running jokes performed by a brave troupe with a high tolerance for pain. Instead, Bad Grandpa emulates the Borat model, crafting a basic plot and characters as a scripted backdrop for multiple outrageous set pieces that unfold before unsuspecting bystanders.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: May 14, 2014 0 comments
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For dedicated, respected, and talented actors, it’s still and will always be about the work—and taking it wherever you can find it. A Single Shot is a well-made, low-budget indie film that touts a superlative cast featuring Sam Rockwell, Jeffrey Wright, Kelly Reilly, Jason Isaacs, Ted Levine, and William H. Macy. With a pedigree like that, you’d think this film might have received a bigger push at the box office, but it was easily overlooked amidst the whirl of mainstream Hollywood entertainment.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 08, 2014 0 comments
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High on the list of stars needing a good movie under their belt we would find the beleaguered Mr. Schwarzenegger. His box office clout was waning, then he spent many years away from show business to run California. At one point his most promising comeback vehicle seemed to be a bizarre "Governator" cartoon, and then it all came crashing down amid a horrible public scandal. But could he still hold his own on the big screen if he wanted to?
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 07, 2014 0 comments
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There are many reasons to enjoy RoboCop, still beloved (and now remade) after 27 years. If you don’t like the brilliantly executed action, there’s the biting statement about ’80s greed in America. If you don’t appreciate the scathing satire, there’s the poignant struggle of a good man trying to regain his identity.
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Shane Buettner Posted: May 06, 2014 1 comments
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12 Years a Slave is the true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man kidnapped into slavery, the inhuman condition in which he languished for 12 years, enduring unimaginable sorrow and torment but ultimately making it out the other side, regaining his freedom. Director Steve McQueen is a fearless and unflinching filmmaker, and this film of Northup’s book is the most personal I’ve ever seen about slavery.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Apr 29, 2014 0 comments
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The American tradition of the spring break was invented to give hard-working college students a much-needed reprieve from their rigorous course studies and a means to blow off some steam in a reasonably safe environment. At what point then did it become a callow justification to take complete leave of your senses and shamelessly plunge headlong into a sexually hedonistic, drug-induced crime spree? Oh, well. You’re only young once, I guess.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 28, 2014 1 comments
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Gravity doesn’t waste a single second: After a brief text reminds us of how utterly dangerous space is, disaster strikes a shuttle crew in the midst of a Hubble telescope upgrade. With the help of veteran spaceman Matt Kowalski (the ever-affable George Clooney), scientist Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock, ditching her blatant sass in favor of genuine emotion) must find a way to survive her first mission and return home alive somehow. But with one unfortunate twist after another, her ordeal is relentless.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Apr 24, 2014 0 comments
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Slightly campy, with oodles of gratuitous nudity and violence, writer-director Paul Schrader’s remake of the 1942 Val Lawton classic tells of Irena (Nastassja Kinski), a beautiful young woman who goes to New Orleans to stay with her sinister minister brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell). Irena represses her sexuality, fearing that animal lust will loose the beast and transform her—into a panther. When she falls in love, though, her desire makes her gradually embrace her nature.
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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 23, 2014 0 comments
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White House butler Cecil Gaines has a front-row seat to the inner workings of the people’s house as the Civil Rights era begins. Raised in Georgia as the son of a sharecropper, he’s turned into a house servant when his father is murdered and ventures out on his own into the cruel world as a teenager. Though he makes several stops along the way, he eventually ends up in the White House serving a string of presidents starting with Eisenhower and ending with Reagan.

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