BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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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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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 08, 2014 0 comments
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Now celebrating its 30th year, Vacation recalls a bygone era of station wagons, roof racks, sing-alongs, roadside attractions, whiny kids (they never go out of style) and a whole generation that drove everywhere for their summertime frolics. The late, great John Hughes adapted the memorable script from his earlier story in the pages of National Lampoon magazine, and director Harold Ramis scored a sophomore hit following his debut, Caddyshack. But the movie truly belongs to star Chevy Chase...
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Apr 02, 2014 0 comments
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Victor Hugo’s epic novel Les Misérables has seen numerous film adaptations over the years, but this most recent version is the first fully dramatized film adaptation of the celebrated stage musical that has been the toast of London, Broadway, and the rest of the known universe for decades. In the Tony Award–winning stage musical, the plot’s diverse narrative skillfully weaves its way over many years and multitudinous character evolvement through beautiful orchestrations and powerfully emotional songs. In this new film version, however, the story bounces along frenetically from song to song in one hectic rush to get to the ending coda before audience members start fidgeting or exceed their three hours of complimentary theater parking with validation. Heaven forbid.
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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 02, 2014 0 comments
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Clint Eastwood has been a household name for over 50 years thanks to his impressive Hollywood résumé that includes work in TV as Rowdy Yates on Rawhide and as a movie star playing such iconic characters as Dirty Harry, Josey Wales, and Philo Beddoe, but it’s his work as a director that has had the greatest impression on me. Believe it or not, the iconic actor has directed 35 films since 1971 winning two Oscars in the process for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Mar 27, 2014 0 comments
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The idea of great, aging actors running around, dropping their elegant theatrical gravitas, and letting their hair down to play goofy action heroes was an inspired one that produced plenty of humor and charm in Reds. Though the concept doesn’t work quite as well the second time around, it still offers a lot of fun.
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 25, 2014 0 comments
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Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) have been inseparable from a young age, growing up in a quaint coastal Australian community. When Lil’s husband passes away, the two grow even closer, and their two young boys, Ian and Tom, develop a similar close relationship. Roz’s husband takes a job in Sydney, and with him away, the quartet starts to spend even more time together going to the beach, eating dinner, and drinking heavily with each other. After a night of partying, Ian (Lil’s son) professes his secret love for Roz, she succumbs to his advances, and they wind up sleeping together. Unbeknownst to either of them, Tom spies his mom leaving Ian’s room and decides two can play that game and makes a move on Lil. This opens up Pandora’s box, and the lines between family, friendship, and morality all become blurred.
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Shane Buettner Posted: Mar 21, 2014 0 comments
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Rebel director Robert Altman was buried and resurrected countless times in his long career, beating the system and making vital films right up to his death in 2006. 1975’s Nashville was his high-water mark, a great film and the zenith of his 1970s glory years. A musical, a political drama, a romantic drama, a country music mockumentary, and a tragedy, Nashville defies description as a story.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 19, 2014 1 comments
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Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to his justly acclaimed District 9 is Elysium, another social commentary set in a strangely relatable future. This time he contrasts the lives of the wealthy against those of the downtrodden, with all of Earth having become a decrepit, overcrowded hellhole. A former criminal (Matt Damon) is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, but when he becomes collateral damage of the rich getting richer, his only hope for survival is to infiltrate that utopian space station of the title.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 12, 2014 0 comments
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When we last saw Gru, our slightly dorky but lovable and (in his own mind) super-villain, he had softened up thanks to the trio of meet-cute orphans. Gru is now happily domesticated, has renounced his bad-guy role, and has converted his villain’s lair into a production facility for a range of delicious jams and jellies.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Mar 12, 2014 0 comments
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In the opening scene, Apple Computer Company founder and CEO Steve Jobs enters a room filled with devoted employees like a rock star to thunderous applause. He is the undisputed master of the universe, and everyone knows it. But how did he get here? In the mid 1970s, the notion of a personal home computer was as realistic and practical as flying to the moon on a vacuum cleaner.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 05, 2014 0 comments
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Magnifying the crisis in midlife crisis, arrested adolescent Gary King (Simon Pegg) coaxes his better-adjusted childhood chums to revisit their hometown and reattempt the feat that conquered them 20 years earlier: drinking their way through all 12 pubs of Newton Haven’s Golden Mile. Last stop: The World’s End. The five friends soon realize that most of the citizenry—including two of their own—have been replaced by alien automatons (“blanks”) and that sleepy Newton Haven is the beachhead for world conquest.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 05, 2014 0 comments
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Gary Supernova is an ace coordinator at Mission Control on the planet BAAB. His specialty is keeping his lunkheaded brother Scorch, the planet’s superhero-astronaut, from getting himself killed on dangerous missions. But when the most hazardous mission of all comes up—to the Dark Planet from which no one has ever returned—Gary doesn’t want his brother to risk it. Scorch takes the assignment anyway, and Gary refuses to help. But when Scorch gets captured on the Dark Planet and imprisoned in Area 51 along with other alien life forms, Gary comes to the rescue.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 05, 2014 0 comments
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Whenever you dramatize one of the most beloved characters in all of popular culture, you’re going to elicit a lot of strong opinions. Many folks seem to either love or loathe Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder and producer/co-writer Christopher Nolan’s major reboot of the Superman franchise. The basic story is recognizable to even the most casual fans, yet much has changed, so it doesn’t feel like a rehash of any version we’ve seen before.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 26, 2014 1 comments
An eclectic batch of classics—old and new—is the basis of four very different Ultimate Collector’s Editions from Warner. Festooning eminently rewatchable favorites with a thoughtful array of mementos, the 91-year-old studio is fueling our passions with individually numbered limited-edition sets perfect for the most devout film fanatic in your life—even if it’s you.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Feb 21, 2014 0 comments
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There’s not much gained by the contemporary setting to offset the oddness of having Shakespeare’s characters seem like a bunch of Wall Street stockbrokers speaking strange in the Hamptons as if in a Woody Allen comedy, but otherwise the Bard’s words flow well enough from the pretty mouths of the cast.

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