BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Jul 31, 2015 0 comments
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Among the most anticipated and admired films of 2014, Selma depicts the epochal series of marches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) in Selma, Alabama, which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Brought to the screen with power and sensitivity by director Ava DuVernay, this Oscar-nominated docudrama features a host of inspired and often intimate acting and noteworthy musical selections, which include the Oscar-winning song “Glory.”
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 24, 2015 0 comments
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If not the first movie to expose the true inner workings of organized crime—in contrast to Coppola’s seminal, romanticized The Godfather—GoodFellas is arguably the most influential, and the most enduring. It is also one of Martin Scorsese’s most popular films, a near-perfect intersection of source material and cinematic execution. Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family recounted bona-fide gangster Henry Hill’s rise from two-bit mob gopher to prolific felon, as well as his ultimate downfall, and the many escapades in between. Adapted with ample violence and profanity, GoodFellas (renamed to avoid confusion with contemporary TV series Wiseguy) is also incredibly funny, often darkly so, for a more deeply entertaining tale.
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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 24, 2015 0 comments
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American Sniper introduces us to Chris Kyle, on his first tour of duty in Iraq as he’s protecting an advancing Marine patrol. Through the scope of his sniper rifle, he spies an Iraqi mother as she hands a grenade to her preteen child with the intention of killing as many Americans as they can. Kyle must choose to take the life of this kid or risk losing his brothers in arms. To Kyle, the choice is clear: He must protect the troops at any cost. And so we can understand why he went on to become the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, with 160 confirmed kills during his four tours.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Jul 16, 2015 0 comments
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Written and directed by silly-but-serious cynical genius Preston Sturges, Sullivan’s Travels starts out with a dark and gloomy film-within-a-film showing two figures battling on a train crossing a bridge, symbolizing labor grappling with management to their mutual destruction. But as soon as we get out of the screening room, things lighten up both visually and in mood, the movie becoming a bright, witty slapstick satire on Hollywood and a pretentious, self-important director, Sullivan (Joel McCrea). This auteur wants to make a sociologically and artistically meritorious picture with messages about grim death, war, and the suffering of the unemployed during The Great Depression but, coming from a privileged background, he knows nothing about trouble. So he decides to go looking for it by dressing as a hobo and drifting across America.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jul 16, 2015 1 comments
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Are you curious? Really? OK then. Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey is a lousy movie, every bit the stinker that you probably expect: dull dialogue, vapid characters, no chemistry either from or between the actors. Here’s what you really want to know: Is the movie hot? Is it at least a little bit funny? And (since you are reading Sound & Vision) how does the Blu-ray Disc look and sound? Here’s the skinny, in that order. The actors who play Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele (the most improbably famous S&M couple on the planet) are very attractive; Dakota Johnson, as Ana, is hot; but their sex is pretty tame soft porn, even by Cinemax standards. (Showtime’s Masters of Sex is way sexier.)
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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 09, 2015 0 comments
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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ended with Katniss being rescued from the Hunger Games arena, leaving Peeta behind. Wracked with survivor’s guilt, she finds herself in the mythical District 13, reuniting with her little sister, mother, and best friend, who somehow escaped District 12 after the Capitol and its nefarious President Snow bombed it into oblivion following Katniss’ escape. District 13 is ready to go on the offensive against Snow and his cronies, but they need Katniss’ rebellious and inspiring message to unite the other districts in the uprising, and it’s up to Plutarch Heavensbee to enhance our heroine’s image for the masses.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 09, 2015 1 comments
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Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a swell, resourceful dad… and pilot… and engineer… and farmer. In short, he’s the perfect candidate for a dangerous mission to other worlds to help save mankind. The future that he and his family inhabit is bleak, cynical, and full of toxins that are rapidly making life on Earth unsustainable. The only glimmer of hope requires Coop to leave behind everyone and everything he knows to lead a crew across time and space in search of a new home. Back on Earth, our brightest minds are struggling to do their part, and these home and away teams will intersect in a most unexpected way.
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Jul 02, 2015 0 comments
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Arguably, no single individual did more to win World War II than Alan Turing. By cracking the Nazi Enigma code, it is estimated that the genius mathematician shortened the war by two years and saved 14 million lives. So, why isn’t he a household name? Father of the computer, Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) worked in Britain’s top-secret Bletchley Park, and his achievements were classified for over 50 years. The Imitation Game tells the story of Turing and his fellow code-breakers fighting the clock—and each other—in a race to win the war. Cumberbatch is transcendent as the antisocial, self-absorbed Turing, while Keira Knightley gives her best performance to date as his collaborator and confidante, Joan Clarke. (Both were nominated for Oscars.)
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 02, 2015 0 comments
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Genius teen Hiro Hamada has already lost his parents, but when tragedy strikes again, he uses his scientific know-how to turn mild-mannered, inflatable nurse-bot Baymax into a karate-kicking, armor-plated crime-fighter. But is Hiro out for justice...or vengeance? Either way, the duo can’t win this fight without help, and so they join forces with a group of friends to form their own high-tech super-squad, finding plenty of excitement along the way, as well as some important lessons about what it means to be a hero. Inspired by a relatively obscure Marvel Comic, the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6 is an epic origin saga full of heart and humor.
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Brandon A. DuHamel Posted: Jun 18, 2015 1 comments
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The incredible true story of Olympian and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini languished in Hollywood for decades. It was initially licensed as a project for Tony Curtis, who later abandoned it to star in Spartacus. Then came Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book, Unbroken, which caught the attention of producer/director Angelina Jolie and others, and Zamperini’s moving story has finally found its moment to shine.
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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 18, 2015 0 comments
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During a routine spacewalk from the Space Shuttle, disaster strikes, leaving the Shuttle destroyed and two astronauts stranded in the darkness with death lurking just over the horizon. With their oxygen running low, the two decide to make a desperate play to reach the International Space Station and secure a ride back to Earth, but the journey won’t be easy or uneventful.
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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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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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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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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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