BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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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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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 17, 2014 1 comments
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In 1969, Americans first went to the moon. The challenges were daunting, including finding and training the men who would make those early, dangerous, pioneering probes into near-earth space—men who had, in the words of the Thomas Wolfe book on which this 1983 movie was based, “the right stuff.”

This is the compelling story of those first Mercury astronauts, who paved the way for that “One giant leap for mankind” moment. It’s also the story of uber test pilot Chuck Yeager—never an astronaut but the first man to break the sound barrier.

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Apr 17, 2014 1 comments
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The Best Years of Our Lives is the best film ever made about war veterans. That’s not exactly an alluring endorsement, so let me add that it’s a nearly three-hour film without a moment of mind-drift. It’s funny, moving, wrenching—a total tear-jerker that earns its emotional wallop.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Apr 11, 2014 2 comments
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In a museum of the Old West, a boy experiences an ancient noble savage figure in an exhibit coming to life and telling him about his times with the Lone Ranger. As was the case in Little Big Man, the character is an unreliable witness due to a mixture of his bullshit artistry and mental problems—and the whole incident is probably going on in the imagination of the kid, anyway. So the filmmaker has a lot of leeway for unlikely and implausible events, and he takes this artistic license to the limit.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Apr 10, 2014 0 comments
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Screenwriter-director Woody Allen serves up a delicious modern variation on Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire filled with humor, tragedy, and great performances. Leading the cast is a towering Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, a former New York socialite whose life has fallen to pieces. The story is told by flashing back and forth between her old life of luxury and glamour in her 5th Avenue, Manhattan mansion (and summer house in the Hamptons) and her new humble and humbling existence living with her working-class sister (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco after Jasmine’s successful businessman husband (Alec Baldwin) is sent to prison for fraud and all their funds seized.

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