BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Josef Krebs Posted: Jun 11, 2015 0 comments
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1963, Cambridge University. Defying medical wisdom which gave him, at age 21, only two years to live after being diagnosed with the Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Stephen Hawking stretches his lifetime out to take on two other great challenges: to write a brief history of time and, with a single eloquent equation, to produce a theory of everything.
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Guido Henkel Posted: Jun 05, 2015 1 comments
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Action films come in various flavors: Some are more story-driven, others less so. John Wick is clearly on the low end of this scale, with no plot to speak of, instead relegating itself to a 100-minute nonstop shoot-out, a movie where taking a breath is as impossible as taking the film seriously. Playing unapologetically to a testosterone-addled, teenaged male demographic, the film is furious and explosive on the one hand, yet flat and characterless on the other. But if pure adrenaline-infused action is what you seek, John Wick may be right up your alley. Just don’t expect it to make any sense.
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Jun 05, 2015 0 comments
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Uber-lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) has it all: a lucrative career defending crooked millionaires, a masterpiece home in suburban Chicago… and a dysfunctional family he hasn’t seen for 20 years. When his mother dies, Hank returns to rural Indiana to attend the funeral and grudgingly console his father (Robert Duvall), a stoic judge who had long ago thrown the book at him, sentencing his son to four years in reformatory. When the judge is involved in a hit-and-run accident, Hank must mount a defense, despite his father’s seeming desire to be found guilty. Along the way, we uncover not only the truths surrounding the accident, but the Palmers’ toxic family history as well. There’s also a rekindled romance between Hank and his childhood sweetheart (Vera Farmiga), the only individual who has flourished in this Hoosier backwater.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 28, 2015 0 comments
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Here’s a truth-pill for all of you single folk out there: Sometimes marriage can really suck. Don’t take my word for it, though; instead, spend some time with the Dunnes, Nick and Amy (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike). After a nigh-fairytale meeting and courtship, their seemingly idyllic life together develops cracks. The deterioration is expedited over the years by family troubles that lead to money troubles, and contempt and infidelity follow. For Amy, marriage is a daily humiliation. For Nick, it’s a trap, one from which he yearns to escape.
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David Vaughn Posted: May 21, 2015 0 comments
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As World War II is nearing an end in Europe, a Sherman tank is dispatched to a crucial crossroads in order to cut off a battalion of German soldiers trying to regroup with their comrades for one last push against the Allies. In command of the American force is a battle-hardened army sergeant nicknamed Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), who has promised his crew he’ll get them home alive, but when the taskforce is attacked on the way to the rally point, he has a difficult decision to make—press on and defend the position or go back for reinforcements?
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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 14, 2015 0 comments
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Don’t Look Now is a weirdly captivating creep-show of a movie: dark, vaguely Gothic, crudely energetic, occasionally ridiculous—in short, it resembles a lot of other films directed by Nicolas Roeg in the ’70s (Performance, Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bad Timing). This one’s about an artistic couple, living (inexplicably) in a huge house on a huge estate, whose daughter drowns in a nearby pond; the couple takes solace in Venice, where he has a job restoring an old church; she meets two old sisters, one of whom—the blind one—sees the spirit of the daughter, and many other hobgoblins, too; meanwhile, it turns out that the husband has a bit of a sixth sense as well; trouble, chaos, and the cruel hand of fate ensue.
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Josef Krebs Posted: May 14, 2015 0 comments
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In films like La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element, and The Messenger, director Luc Besson presents the mysterious transformation of unthinking, undeveloped, unambitious girls into educated, sophisticated, strong females. He also includes large dollops of action, striking visuals, and sound that deliver boffo home theater.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 08, 2015 0 comments
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Preston Sturges, whose rise and fall were as sudden and steep as any in cinema (except for that of Orson Welles), had his peak years from 1940–44, writing and directing seven of the greatest American film comedies ever, and The Palm Beach Story sprung forth in precisely the middle of the run. A head-spinning romp through the joys and foibles of love, marriage, money, and class, it practically defines “screwball comedy,” with its Alpine plot twists, nonstop mayhem, rapid-fire dialogue, razor-sharp wit, and madcap but extremely good-natured characters.
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Guido Henkel Posted: Apr 29, 2015 0 comments
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By their very nature, biopics are a mixed bag. On the one hand, they tell the story of a person in the limelight with achievements viewers are familiar with, while on the other, they explore sides of the person that have typically escaped the public eye. Striking the right balance between the two is the key. Get on Up takes a look at the life of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, a man whose musical legacy can be heard and felt in almost every bit of popular music today. The film jumps liberally between different periods of Brown’s life in anecdotal form, covering his childhood, his meteoric rise to stardom, the fall, the comeback, and everything in between. While it feels a bit disjointed at times, the film nonetheless manages to draw a portrait of Brown and what drove him to become one of the most recognizable names in music.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Apr 24, 2015 0 comments
Like a big, wet, dumb, dopey dog jumping all over you, The Equalizer hits with home theater power that thumps you in the chest if not the heart. An ex-CIA operative has taken on a new identity, living in obscurity, working in a Home Depot, helping people with their self-esteem issues whenever he can, whether they need to lose weight, get an education, or stop being a corrupt cop. However, when faced with a teenager’s plight of enslavement by brutal sex traffickers, he’s forced back into using his main skillset—terminating roomfuls of bad guys with extreme swiftness and minimal prejudice.
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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 17, 2015 4 comments
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Thomas is disjointed and confused as he wakes up on a rising elevator not knowing who or where he is. When he finally regains his focus, he’s surrounded by a group of teenage boys and realizes he’s not in Kansas anymore. He’s in the Glade, an enclave surrounded by giant walls that hide a maze, a mostly off-limits area that’s protected by the Grievers—cybernetic organisms that come out at night and will kill anyone who has ventured into the maze and hasn’t exited when the sun goes down.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 08, 2015 0 comments
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Exploring the adventures of a lesser-known team from the Marvel Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy was something of a surprise hit. The plot is well worn, almost clichéd, as a group of disparate beings learn to work together, and we can spot the few twists light-years away. Perhaps the filmmakers are acknowledging all that has come before but have chosen to enliven this tale by infusing a vast quantity of smart-ass humor. And that decision pays off remarkably well, yielding one of the most entertaining space operas since Star Wars.
Corey Gunnestad Posted: Mar 24, 2015 1 comments
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Way back in the mid to late 1980s, I was an avid comic book collector, and one of my favorite discoveries around that time was a brand-new and independently produced comic called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It lacked the polish and grandeur of the Marvel and DC titles, but it was raw, edgy, and totally original. There was no shortage of blood on the katana, if you get my drift. Not long after that, however, mainstream pop culture bastardized it into a puke-inducing kiddie cartoon and toy franchise. The once-hardcore vigilante turtles suddenly became pizza-eating wisecrackers who over-frequently used words like dude and cowabunga. It also spawned three diaper-filling live-action films, and I abandoned all hope after that.
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 18, 2015 0 comments
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Wallace has not been lucky in love. He dumped his last girlfriend when he caught her cheating on him and was so dejected he ended up dropping out of medical school and moving in with his sister and her young son. Shut away from the world for almost a year, he decides to attend his ex-college roommate’s party where he meets the perfect girl and gets her phone number right before she drops the bombshell that her boyfriend is waiting for her at home—some guys can’t catch a break. After Wallace’s previous relationship, he doesn’t want to be “that kind of guy” and discards her number. As luck would have it, he runs into her a few weeks later at the movies and the pair decide to just be friends—but what if something more develops?
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Josef Krebs Posted: Mar 18, 2015 0 comments
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A modernist masterpiece as revolutionary as Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon made in a time when film was important, L’Avventura tells the story—or anti-story—of a wealthy young woman on a boating trip who disappears off an island. After a search of the barren rock, her fiancé and best friend set off to find her, investigating sites where she’s supposedly been seen. Over the course of their travels, they become involved and gradually forget about what they’re searching for. L’Avventura is a whodunit without a who, a mystery without a solution, a dislocation of the already dislocated. In the process, director Michelangelo Antonioni peels away the skin of society as characters play at love without enthusiasm, sincerity, or context in ennui of unaware existential numbness. As in Blow Up and other Antonionis, L’Avventura is about absence—feelings are forgotten, meaning and purpose are misplaced, and “words are more and more pointless.”

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