BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 08, 2014 0 comments
Have You Heard About the Lonesome Loser?

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The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis is a fascinating but bleak amalgam of people, places, and events at the dawn of the folk music scene in 1961 Greenwich Village, viewed through a visual pastiche inspired by the album cover for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and a titular character who channels early folk institution Dave Van Ronk (in look and vocation, not temperament). While outrageously funny at times, with superbly chosen music exuberantly performed, this isn’t a farcical romp through the ’60s; it’s a black comedy about the artist versus the entertainment business that’s thematically reminiscent of the Coens’ polarizing Barton Fink.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 03, 2014 1 comments
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After an onslaught of Real American Heroes and Robots in Disguise, we often meet a new toy-inspired movie with the lament, “It’s just a two-hour commercial!” And so it is with no small measure of shock and awe that I watched The Lego Movie. The immensely talented filmmaking duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller has managed to tell an engaging story with boundless wit, originality, and even audacity, while still embracing what we know and love about these little bricks and the many associated characters.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Aug 28, 2014 0 comments
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The Dark World launches with a history lesson telling of an ancient battle between the Asgardians and the Dark Elves on their home world of Svartalfheim. The Elves, led by Malekith, not only use enhanced warriors called the Kursed, but also the Aether—a terrible force that gives them great power. Although Malekith is vanquished, the Convergence—an alignment of planets allowing travel between them—permits his return. This is all well and good and very Lord of the Rings-y, but thereafter the film’s exposition just keeps on coming; and unlike LOTR, which gave visual presentations, The Dark World relies on the mellifluous voices of Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba intoning endlessly about unlikely mythology, leaving you begging for someone to just get on with the action. Once things get rolling, though, there are plenty of passages of great home theater.
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Aug 27, 2014 0 comments
“Toto… We’re Not in Montana Anymore!”

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We’ve all received “You’ve Won a Million Dollars” junk mail, and some of us have even responded, but naïve old Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) actually drags his son David (Will Forte) on a thousand-mile road trip from Billings, Montana, to Prize Headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska, to claim his cash. By the time they arrive, David has come to understand and appreciate the father he’d only known as a tight-lipped alcoholic. Dern’s filigreed interpretation of Woody—the crowning achievement of a brilliant career—slowly allows the kindness, complexity, and depth of his seemingly two-dimensional character to unfold. In this, he is aided by a meticulously chosen ensemble cast who bring humor and heartache to a screenplay whose dry, deadpan dialogue is relentlessly hilarious.
Corey Gunnestad Posted: Aug 21, 2014 1 comments
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It’s been nearly 200 years since Mary Shelley and her poet friends got together in a mansion in Lake Geneva and challenged each other to write the best ghost story. The fruits of those labors wrought a significantly chilling parable about a mad scientist who foolishly reanimates a deceased man stitched together with spare body parts from other corpses. At a time when science was exploring new territories and pushing boundaries, Frankenstein was conceived as a terrifying morality tale about the dangers of playing God. Rumor has it Shelley dreamt up her classic gothic horror tale in the midst of a whirlwind binge of hedonistic orgies and hallucinogenic substances. Think Jane Austen meets The Wolf of Wall Street.
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Shane Buettner Posted: Aug 20, 2014 0 comments
Well, now that I’m Seeing It, What Is It?

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Writer/Director David Cronenberg translated William S. Burroughs’ “unfilmable” book Naked Lunch in a (ahem) novel way, creating an intensely hallucinogenic, psychosexual trip that’s more about the writer himself than the writer’s cultural lightning rod of a book. Cronenberg incorporates bits of the book, but infuses his film with a profound statement on the artistic process, and especially the inner turmoil that fuels many artists’ best work. Cronenberg’s movie sees Naked Lunch the novel through Burroughs’ shame and torment over being a homosexual and his consuming drug addiction. Other aspects of the author’s life are also interwoven into the film’s narrative with the most notorious being that he was married to a woman, Joan, who Burroughs shot and killed during an intoxicated “William Tell Routine.”
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Aug 13, 2014 0 comments
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Increasingly depressed and agoraphobic since her divorce, Adele (Kate Winslet) relies upon her doting son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith). At the start of the 1987 Labor Day weekend, mother and son are confronted by escaped convict Frank (Josh Brolin), who demands their assistance in eluding the authorities. Over the next few days, Frank’s kindness and innocence are manifest, and the trio has become a family—almost. Confused by conflicting emotions and threatened with the prospect of a competitor for his mother’s love, the awkward adolescent facilitates Frank’s capture. Adele has loved and lost again. Or has she?
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 07, 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.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 05, 2014 0 comments
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Embellished from John Cheever’s most famous short story, The Swimmeris a rather artful drama that is ultimately open to individual interpretation. Determined to swim his way home from pool to pool across the county, middle-aged Ned also spends this unusual day wrestling with the very truth of his life, reality coming at him in increasingly hostile waves as he encounters more of his friends. Clad only in bathing trunks—except for one scene in which he removes them altogether—the legendary Burt Lancaster imbues this misguided soul with his bigger-than-life screen presence, carrying the entire narrative on his broad, buff shoulders.

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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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