BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 29, 2015 0 comments
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After the apparent suicide of a key player at a major investment firm, up-and-coming financier Jane Porter (Sarah Butler, 2010’s remake of I Spit on Your Grave) is racked by grief but also struck by the strange behavior of her bosses. They seem to be increasingly interested in some recent high-level investments, but also in who might know about them. Were more sinister forces at work? And if so, will she be the next employee to meet a sudden end? Tensions mount with the after-hours arrival of the company crisis manager (D.B. Sweeney, looking like Chris Cooper), whose friendly interrogation grows more insistent. The building is locked down for the night with almost no one else inside; Sarah finds herself on the run for her life but is soon trapped inside the elevator, and a twisty game of cat-and-mouse ensues.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Jan 22, 2015 1 comments
When American radio announcer Herbert Morrison stood watching the Hindenburg disaster unfold before his eyes, he tearfully exclaimed, “Oh, the humanity!” I coincidentally had the exact same thought while watching Ghost in the Shell again for the first time in 20 years—but for a much different reason. I saw this film when it first came out, and I remember having a difficult time identifying with it. I finally figured out why: There’s no humanity in it.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 21, 2015 0 comments
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You’d think that the unique power to control metal, or the weather, or other people’s minds would be awesome, but no. In the world of the X-Men, mutated superhumans with such gifts are feared and hated and—in one possible future—will be hunted to the brink of extinction by an army of killer robots. Even worse, these deadly machines will also begin targeting us ordinary human beings, and the world we know now appears doomed.
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Jan 15, 2015 0 comments
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Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) have a new baby, a new house, and, unfortunately, new neighbors. When a hard-partying fraternity moves in next door, the Radners’ blood pressure skyrockets as their property value plummets and they become locked in a contest of wits and wills with frat president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron). Funny yet forgettable, Neighbors falls short of Nicholas Stoller’s previous directorial efforts (Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), a consequence of the threadbare script and nonexistent chemistry between the male leads.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 15, 2015 0 comments
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Million Dollar Arm thankfully falls into that welcome category of sports movies that don’t demand a love of sports in order to click with audiences. Based on a true story, it introduces us to J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm), partner at a small sports agency in desperate need of a break, lest their doors close forever. He decides to think globally and soon cooks up The Big Idea: to hold a well-publicized contest in India with the intention of converting a cricket bowler into a baseball pitcher, with a seven-figure prize at stake. J.B. will secure some undiscovered talent, bring his winners home, and teach them the good old American pastime. Simple, right?
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jan 15, 2015 0 comments
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La Dolce Vita was Federico Fellini’s breakout hit: a critical and commercial sensation, even in America, where foreign films till then were strictly art house fare. It’s the winding tale of a litterateur-turned-gossip columnist wandering the streets, bars, and parties of newly decadent modern Rome, seeking love, meaning, and value but finally realizing their futility and wallowing in the miasma. The film coined archetypes of the era: a character named Paparazzo, a tabloid photographer who chases after sensational shots, spawned the word paparazzi; another, Steiner, a refined man of culture who commits a gruesome crime, became the prototype of the modern ineffectual intellectual.
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David Vaughn Posted: Dec 31, 2014 1 comments
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After pulling off a blockbuster trade, general manager of the Cleveland Browns, Sonny Weaver, Jr. (Kevin Costner) now controls the number-one pick in the draft. The expectations of the fans are through the roof, and the ambitious owner of the team (Frank Langella) and new head coach (Denis Leary) are putting pressure on him to take the consensus first pick, but his gut is telling him to go in a completely different direction. Should he risk his job by following the instincts that got him to the top in the first place, or should he bow to the immense peer pressure?
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 22, 2014 0 comments
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Yes, it’s been 30 years since the original Ghostbusters, the first movie to strike upon that irresistible balance of big laughs and big scares. The story is built around the ridiculously fun idea of professional trackers/capturers of wayward spirits, brought to life by the undeniable comedic talents of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis. The Oscar-nominated special effects also helped Ghostbusters become the biggest box-office hit in a year full of blockbusters. Although young Mr. Murray’s effusive wiseassery dates the movie somewhat (much like the remarkable amount of smoking on display), watching it anew reminds us of his consummate ability to find often subtle ways to make every moment his own—and so many of his lines worth quoting.
David Vaughn Posted: Dec 22, 2014 1 comments
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In the 1940s and ’50s, the South Pacific was the testing ground for nuclear weapons as the Cold War was beginning to heat up. But were there actually tests, or was there another reason? Could the super powers actually have been waging battle with some creature of unknown origin? What would Nature’s reaction be to all of the nuclear fallout in the region?
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Dec 18, 2014 0 comments
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Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) doesn’t understand social media. So, when he attacks L.A.’s most powerful restaurant critic (Oliver Platt) on Twitter, their war goes viral and sinks Casper’s career. Hoping to repair the crestfallen chef’s relationship with son Percy, his loving ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) drags him to Miami. There, he buys a food truck and embarks upon a cross-country foodie road trip, which becomes a journey of self-discovery. In addition to his starring role, Favreau wrote, directed, and co-produced Chef, which probably explains why so many top stars agreed to work for scale on this indie film. The result is an intimate, endearing movie, which, with Twitter and food trucks prominently featured, is also quite timely.
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Brandon A. DuHamel Posted: Dec 16, 2014 0 comments
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Helmed again by James Bobin, Muppets Most Wanted lets us know from the beginning that it won’t be quite as good as the last Muppets film. Of course, they do it Muppet-style, with a big musical number announcing, “We’re doing a sequel—and everybody knows that the sequel’s never quite as good.” Sure, Muppets Most Wanted is their eighth theatrical film, but who’s counting?
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Josef Krebs Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments
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This powerful and moving story (screenplay by Larry Kramer, based on his own play), starts in 1981 with shy screenwriter Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo) only able to watch the summer bacchanal at Fire Island, New York—gay-male heaven—too unconfident to join in the revelries. It ends with a gay prom at Yale in 1984 where he’s found his confidence but is now too sad to dance. In between, what starts with the first warning cough from a buff-bodied, seemingly healthy man announcing the arrival of AIDS in the community leads to the spreading of a plague that fills the newly liberated gay men with fear. The mysterious disease is a complete unknown, with no one able to say how it spreads, how to treat it, or how to protect yourself beyond completely abstaining from sex.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 01, 2014 0 comments
I don’t always watch my favorite movies and television series. But when I do, I prefer to watch them on Blu-ray. Thankfully, the studios have provided home theater enthusiasts—people who shop for them—with a bounty of exciting new sets, likely to elicit that elusive “Ooo…” as the ribbons and bows tumble to the floor. From film canons to entire classic TV series to the sort of inspired little tchotchkes that can be proudly displayed, these selections go beyond the ordinary, as gifts that will be enjoyed well beyond the holidays.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 25, 2014 0 comments
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Peter Parker’s a recent high school graduate with an awesome girlfriend and—thanks to a bite from an experimental spider—has become the super-powered guardian angel of New York City, and quite the folk hero. But Pete’s good fortune seldom lasts, and the return of his boyhood chum Harry Osborn quickly takes a dark turn—or is that just the new villain Electro sucking all the juice out of the Big Apple?
Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 19, 2014 0 comments
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I guess people really like to watch robots breaking stuff. Transformers: Age of Extinction was another worldwide hit for the franchise, repeating more of the same paranoid nonsense (and lame dialogue and unfunny jokes) as its three predecessors. This time, a couple of suits decide they can build and control their own Transformers, using technology stolen from the evil Decepticons. How do you think that works out? The human ally this time is an underdog inventor (Mark Wahlberg) with a cutie-patootie daughter, in a mildly disturbing riff on Beauty and the Beast.

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