Blu-ray Movie Reviews

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Josef Krebs  |  Jul 16, 2021  |  0 comments
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As a kid in England in the late 1970s, I loathed director Mike Leigh's BBC TV dramas about what seemed like the drab lives of dull, ordinary people because they lacked the glamour and drive of Hollywood classics. Years later, I became enthralled with the pathos of universal pain and struggle shown in Leigh's Secrets & Lies, a microcosm of real relationships and feelings that is as moving and massively encompassing as any film I've seen.
Roger Kanno  |  Jun 25, 2021  |  0 comments
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Gattaca tells the story of a future where genetically engineered humans are provided all the benefits of an advanced civilization while those that are genetically inferior are relegated to more menial jobs and not afforded the same opportunities as society's elite. Ethan Hawke plays Vincent, an "in-valid" who takes on the identity of one of the genetically elite, Jerome (Jude Law), to realize his dream of becoming a navigator at Gattaca, a prestigious space exploration corporation. The film moves slowly, but with stylish cinematography and excellent performances, it holds up well nearly 25 years after its initial release.
Al Griffin  |  Jun 18, 2021  |  0 comments
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As the first film to launch the MonsterVerse, a "cinematic universe" featuring enduring monster movie icons, this 2014 reboot of the Godzilla franchise set the template for several movies to come, including Kong: Skull Island and the late-pandemic sensation, Godzilla vs. Kong. Here's the deal: After escaping a nuclear weapons assault (cloaked by authorities as a "nuclear test") in the 1950s, Godzilla went deep underground.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jun 11, 2021  |  2 comments
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Legend has it that director Zack Snyder was streaming his Dawn of Justice one day and was unhappy with the color, specifically red, a shade relevant to much more than a certain Last Son of Krypton. And so, the studio took the unusual step of remastering the movie from the existing 4K video transfer and rereleasing it, with the new version addressing Snyder's crimson concerns as well as showcasing the de rigueur IMAX scenes in their full and correct 1.43:1 aspect ratio.
Chris Chiarella  |  May 28, 2021  |  1 comments
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It can be taken for granted that if Tom Hanks is starring in a movie, we will become acquainted with a compelling lead character. Also, if Paul Greengrass is directing, it will be an exciting ride. Following the South's loss in the Civil War, Texas circa 1870 was a complicated place and time in the United States. World-weary Captain Kidd (not Phillips) ekes out a humble existence traveling from town to town, reading the news of the day to small groups of dime-paying customers who might otherwise remain oblivious.
Chris Chiarella  |  May 14, 2021  |  1 comments
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Pixar O.G. and now Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter touched our hearts with Up, then plumbed the intricacies of the human mind in Inside Out. It would follow, then, that his next movie would be Soul.

Together, these are arguably the most grown-up entries in the Pixar canon, not for any sort of overly mature content, but rather for their sophisticated themes and storytelling. And Soul might be the most adult-skewing: It's the longest of the three, exploring The Great Hereafter and even "The Great Before," namely where souls originate prior to their arrival on Earth. This concept requires quite a bit of exposition, and it's executed masterfully by Docter, co-writer/co-director Kemp Powers, and co-writer Mike Jones, through bold visuals and pithy gags.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 16, 2021  |  0 comments
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(Cue deep, sonorous narration.) In a world infested with giant, hungry bugs, what's left of mankind has hunkered down in underground colonies where they're safe (mostly) from being eaten alive. How this post-apocalyptic nightmare began is explained in the brief opening sequence of Love and Monsters, but in short it was mankind (as usual) that messed things up.
Josef Krebs  |  Apr 09, 2021  |  0 comments
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Closing an almost 50-year career that began with Un Chien Andalou, writer-director Luis Buñuel—aided by screenwriting partner Jean-Claude Carrière—created a trio of subversive amusements that savagely poke fun at pillars of French society, including church, military, and figures of the establishment. The master surrealist did so by playing with and disrupting conventional narrative structures, questioning the validity of his protagonists' rationality, and reducing their self-serving behavior and values to nonsense while upsetting cinematic expectations of viewers.
Chris Chiarella  |  Apr 02, 2021  |  0 comments
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This is how director Christopher Nolan does time travel. Actually, to hear him tell it, this is how he does a spy thriller, inspired by the Bonds of his youth and enhanced with all of the mind-bending trappings we've come to expect from one of filmdom's brainiest auteurs. The central conceit of Tenet—one that commands audiences to pay full attention lest they be left behind—is the recent discovery of a temporal anomaly, possibly man-made, that can send certain objects backwards in time, rather than in the usual direction.
Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 26, 2021  |  0 comments
The Paramount Presents line kicked off last April, reintroducing viewers to some of the most enduring titles in the studio's vast library in reverent new Blu-ray editions. Thomas J. Norton recently reviewed the 13th release, The Court Jester, and three more are now available, spanning quite different eras of filmmaking.
Josef Krebs  |  Feb 12, 2021  |  0 comments
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A professional assassin who lives by the ancient code of the samurai finds himself targeted by his Mafia bosses. Ghost Dog, a rare venture into genre films for Jim Jarmusch, allows the writer-director to frequently quote, reference, and build upon many classics in his own quirkily deadpan, deceptively honest way. Dog's unglamorous community of gangsters is reminiscent of John Cassavetes' hoods and lowlifes in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, but—this being Jarmusch—an understated absurdist wit frequently underlies the drama.
Roger Kanno  |  Feb 05, 2021  |  0 comments
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Total Recall is a near-perfect mix of sci-fi action, plot twists, and the kind of warped tongue-in-cheek humor we expect from director Paul Verhoeven, delivered here with gusto by Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Douglas Quaid, a construction worker. More correctly, Schwarzenegger is Carl Hauser, a secret operative for the "Agency" who believes he is Quaid due to a memory implant. After being attacked by agents from the "Agency," Quaid escapes to Mars to aid the rebel independence movement and discover his true identity.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 29, 2021  |  0 comments
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The Lord of the Rings was a box office phenomenon, which of course meant demand for more movies. And lo, a prequel book had already been written, so after some wrangling Peter Jackson returned to make another trilogy set within J.R.R. Tolkien's fantastical universe. Taking place 60 years before the start of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gives us Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), content to go about his safe, humdrum existence, until fate and a tall, pushy friend sweep him up in an incredible adventure.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 22, 2021  |  1 comments
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What a journey. Originally conceived as a simple sequel to his popular children's book, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings grew to become the epitome of epic fantasy. Set in the far-off, long-ago realm of Middle-earth, it introduces the good-hearted, vertically-challenged Frodo Baggins (wide-eyed Elijah Wood), tasked with destroying a cursed ring in order to stop a great evil from conquering the world.
Josef Krebs  |  Jan 08, 2021  |  0 comments
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Director David Lynch's film tells of Joseph Merrick, whose terrible deformities to head, limbs, and skin led to him being called the Elephant Man. It begins with Merrick's nightmare of his mother being attacked by elephants—supposedly the cause of Merrick's condition—in smeary, scary, surreal images as disturbing as those from Lynch's earlier fatherhood paranoia party film, Eraserhead.

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