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BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Josef Krebs Posted: Jul 30, 2014 1 comments
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Touch of Evil is a tale of two cities, or at least two opposite towns sharing the same border. Coming from one side is priggish, by-the-book Mexican drug enforcement official Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston), who finds himself taking on brilliant, highly respected American cop Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles), who plants evidence to bring the guilty to justice.
Her
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Jul 29, 2014 0 comments
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One of our most visionary filmmakers, Spike Jonze delights in showing us the unexpected. In Her, his most daring script to date (he won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar), Jonze imagines a future in which romantic relationships no longer require two humans. Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a writer of other peoples’ love letters, acquires a cutting-edge operating system. Possessed of artificial intelligence, his OS assumes the female persona “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson), with whom Theodore falls in love. Phoenix is brilliant in what amounts to a one-man show, delivering a richly detailed character study of the dark, introverted geek. In many ways, Johansson has the more difficult task, portraying a new and constantly evolving being, who, lacking physical substance, must define herself through words alone.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Jul 22, 2014 0 comments
It’s all in how you play the game

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There may be no crying in baseball, but for the longest time in America, there sure was no shortage of bigotry and intolerance in it. But in 1947, after nearly a century of incompliant segregation in the big leagues, two men changed the game forever when the color barrier was finally broken and baseball legitimately became America’s national pastime. When team owner Branch Rickey hand-picked a promising young player named Jackie Robinson from the Negro Leagues and brought him to play major league baseball with “dem bums,” the Brooklyn Dodgers, it truly was a milestone in American history.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 18, 2014 0 comments
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In the final months of World War II, as Allied armies smashed across Europe and into Germany, an organization called the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (the MFAA) was assigned the task of recovering and preserving countless art treasures plundered by the Nazis. It included hundreds of art experts from 13 countries, working in small cadres.
Mud
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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 16, 2014 0 comments
Beware of men who don't traffic in the truth.

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Two young boys, Ellis and his best friend Neckbone, meet a mysterious drifter named Mud who’s hiding out in an abandoned boat that’s beached on a deserted island in the middle of the Mississippi. Like a good Southern boy, Mud has a way with words and fascinates the boys with a series of stories about his life and why he’s hiding out on the island. He says he’s there to meet the love of his life, Juniper, who’s waiting in town for him, but he can’t go and get her because a group of bounty hunters are after him for killing a man in Texas. Neckbone is very suspicious of the stranger, but Ellis is a sucker when it comes to love and makes an executive decision to help Mud extricate himself from his predicament.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Jul 16, 2014 0 comments
Old wiseguys never die. They just look that way.

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For the first time ever, two of Hollywood’s most respected and iconic tough guys are finally sharing the screen together. Putting Christopher Walken and Al Pacino together in a mobster movie seems like a no brainer and you have to wonder why it took so damn long. You’d think that a pedigree like that alone would be worth the price of admission but the tragic irony is that hardly anyone saw Stand Up Guys when it came out.
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Jul 01, 2014 0 comments
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Perhaps America’s greatest working filmmaker, Martin Scorsese continues to refine his stream-of-consciousness directorial style, a motif that reached its zenith in 1990’s Goodfellas. His latest film, which chronicles the rise and fall of stock shark Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), might lack the depth and poignancy of Scorsese’s gangster classic, but it takes his staccato storytelling techniques to an even higher level of commercial appeal. Starring in his fifth Scorsese film, DiCaprio interprets the larger-than-life Belfort with essential hubris, though his portrayal sometimes strays into heavy-handedness. Not so Jonah Hill, who, as DiCaprio’s lieutenant, delivers the best performance of his meteoric career, not to mention this movie. (Both DiCaprio and Hill were nominated for Oscars.) Matthew McConaughey and Rob Reiner conjure delightful caricatures in their supporting roles, endowing Wolf with the dimensionality that has become a Scorsese trademark.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 26, 2014 0 comments
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Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fable The Snow Queen, Frozen opens by introducing us to two princesses, Anna and Elsa. Elsa has been born with power over cold—a curse she can’t control. To protect Anna and others, Elsa locks herself in her room as the two siblings grow into young adulthood.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 25, 2014 0 comments
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When you think about the serial nature of comic books and the virtually limitless stream of new stories published each month, big-screen sequels in this genre should be a slam-dunk, right? Unfortunately, Kick-Ass 2 loses its way; its themes becoming at once muddled and more clichéd. High-schooler/hero Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is upping his crime-fighting game under the tutelage of 15-year-old Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), who soon faces her own identity crisis. Inspired by the duo’s exploits, an all-new team of masked heroes has assembled, just as the vengeful son of a dead mob boss begins recruiting his own evil army, and a showdown is inevitable.

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Josef Krebs Posted: Jun 19, 2014 0 comments
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Set in 1978, this entertaining film tells the “some of this actually happened” story of a brilliant grifter (Christian Bale) and his co-conspirator lover (Amy Adams), who, on getting busted in a scam sting, are forced to work for an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) in bringing down four fellow crooks. But the crazily ambitious fed ups the ante to entrapping corrupt politicians willing to accept kickbacks to grease the wheels of the sheik’s scheme to rebuild Atlantic City casinos. But this, of course, will mean mafia involvement and taking down a decent New Jersey mayor (Jeremy Renner) who just wants to help his community. And out of all these fast-talking con artists, who’s really zooming whom?
Corey Gunnestad Posted: Jun 18, 2014 0 comments
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The legend of the 47 ronin is a long-cherished Japanese story about a group of dishonored samurai who set out on a dangerous quest to avenge the death of their village lord. Technically, their lord was deceived and tricked into killing himself, but as far as they’re concerned, it still counts as murder. And in the Japanese feudal code of samurai conduct, there’s no greater shame than failing to protect and serve your lord and master. Masterless samurai are called ronin, and it sucks to be one. The story is simple enough: The dishonored and banished ronin stage an impossible attack on their enemy’s stronghold to avenge their fallen master and perform ritual suicide when their task is done to regain their honor. The End. It sounds like a great idea for a movie, and it probably would have been in the hands of someone like Kurosawa or Kubrick, but tragically, both were unavailable.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 13, 2014 0 comments
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Thorin, heir to the dwarf throne, is on a quest to reclaim his homeland and unite his people. But to do so, he’ll need to survive an onslaught of murderous Orcs, steal a vital stone back from an insanely powerful talking dragon, and overcome all manner of treachery along the way. Fortunately, he makes new allies in his travels, but while there’s certainly no shortage of characters in this middle chapter of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth epic, it dawned on me that none of them are especially compelling. With their numbers growing, we don’t really have the chance to get to know any of them.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 12, 2014 0 comments
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After watching The Great Beauty in a theater, I wanted to watch it again, not to catch details I’d missed (there weren’t many) but to relive the experience. I can’t remember a film that so raptly captures the flow of life, the “fleeting and sporadic flashes of beauty” beneath the “blah-blah-blah” of existence, as our protagonist, Jep Gambardella, reflects in his epiphany. Jep (played by the marvelous Toni Servillo) is the king of Rome’s high society, the author of a celebrated novel who hasn’t written one since because he can’t find “the great beauty.” But, at the end, he realizes that life is full of great beauty when mediated through art, and so begins his new novel, which, we realize, is the film we’ve just seen.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 06, 2014 0 comments
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Patently rejecting the notion that brevity is the soul of wit, IaMMMMW is Hollywood’s first (and last?) “epic comedy,” clocking in at two hours and 24 minutes in its popular version. Just about every A-list comedy actor of the era is involved in this sprawling tale of some everyday folk who drop everything for an unplanned dash to find a deceased criminal’s buried loot.
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Jun 04, 2014 1 comments
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When six-year-old Anna Dover and her neighbor disappear, father Keller (Hugh Jackman) tramples the law to find her. While Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) methodically investigates, the impatient Keller kidnaps his daughter’s alleged kidnapper and attempts to extract a confession through torture. Prisoners is a perfectly paced psycho-drama that engrosses and rewards its audience.

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