BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 19, 2017 1 comments
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McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Robert Altman’s best film by far, has often been called an “anti-Western,” but that’s a bit off. The plot is pure Western: A stranger comes to a frontier town, builds it up; bad guys come to kill him and take it away; he tracks them down on the street and kills them first; and oh, yes, there’s a whore with a heart of gold. The difference here is that the plot is infused with circa-1900 realism: The stranger’s a bit of a dunce; the town is a muddy mess; the bad guys are corporate poachers; our man kills them by shooting them in the back, and afterward he dies in the snow from gunshot wounds while the townsfolk put out a fire in an unused church; and, oh, the whore is also a shrewd merchant with an opium habit.
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David Vaughn Posted: May 19, 2017 0 comments
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April 20, 2010 started out like any other day for oil rig chief of maintenance Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) and superintendent Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell). As its shore leave ends, the crew boards a helicopter for the flight out into the Gulf of Mexico to begin their duty on Deepwater Horizon, an offshore rig. Standard protocol is broken when the old crew leaves and the new one arrives, raising the suspicions of Harrell that something is amiss. The project is overdue and over budget, and BP is doing whatever it can to cut costs—penny wise, pound foolish.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 12, 2017 0 comments
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When a gaggle of gigantic, otherworldly objects parks itself at various points around the Earth, life as we know it is paused while collective humanity figures out our next move. Our finest minds—tempered by the military—seek to determine the mysterious visitors’ even more mysterious purpose, leaving us with the complicated business of learning how to communicate with them. The best hope is brilliant language professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams), who is tasked with deciphering a bizarre form of “speech,” impossible for humans to emulate. But if she doesn’t make meaningful contact, and soon, all hell might break loose, with no guarantee of how such a conflict would end.
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David Vaughn Posted: May 12, 2017 0 comments
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With the FBI hunting them after their last “show,” the Horsemen have been in hiding, honing their skills in preparation for their next Robin Hood–inspired adventure. Their target this time around is an unethical tech mogul, whose new product isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Unfortunately for our heroes, their plan backfires when the FBI crashes the show and they must make a fast getaway. They end up on the other side of the world where they’re blackmailed into performing their most impossible heist yet.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 05, 2017 0 comments
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Jerry Maguire is the middle work in writer-director Cameron Crowe’s trio of deeply pleasurable movies, flanked by Say Anything and Almost Famous (after which…what happened, man?), and it holds up very well. Tom Cruise plays the title character, a callow sports agent, incapable of alone time or failure, who suffers a brief bout of conscience, bats out a moral manifesto, and loses his job, along with all but one of his clients, as a result. As Crowe explains on the commentary track, it was co-producer James Brooks who came up with the idea of starting the movie where most rom-coms end (selfish go-getter has his wee-hours epiphany), then following our anti-hero’s glide to the bottom before carving a new path of success that enshrines intimacy and commitment as well as ambition. It sounds corny, but Crowe and his ensemble cast (at the time all unknowns, except Cruise) pull it off.
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David Vaughn Posted: May 05, 2017 0 comments
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When industrialist Bartholomew Bogue starts to terrorize and take control of the town of Rose Creek, its concerned citizens pool their money in order to hire a group of mercenaries to drive the villain—and his private army—from the town. The widow of one of Bogue’s victims hits the road and meets Sam Chisholm, who accepts the job and goes about recruiting six other men to the task, all with varying skills that complement one another in order to bring justice to Rose Creek.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 28, 2017 0 comments
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Anchored by a disquietingly reserved performance from star Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy), this Portrait is an artful character study of a very bad man. Loosely based upon documented events, Henry explores the unspeakable crimes of an unrepentant murderer, a dark soul whose bleak existence is punctuated by frequent acts of violence. And when he brings his particularly loathsome roommate into the fold, no one in Chicago is safe. The matter-of-fact dramatic style makes the instances of gore hit that much harder, and yet plot developments are sometimes revealed in clever, original ways.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 28, 2017 0 comments
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Max is living a great dog’s life. But one day his owner brings home Duke, a huge, stray shaggy-dog from the pound. Duke makes himself at home, much to Max’s chagrin. But one day, when the apartment house’s loopy dog walker is distracted, both Max and Duke get into a tussle, break free, and end up lost in New York.
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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 21, 2017 0 comments
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What if Superman hadn’t been a good guy? Could the government do anything about it? After the events in Batman v Superman, members of the U.S. government are nervous that aliens and metahumans could wreak havoc upon the Earth at their whim and there would be nothing the human race could do about it. With this in mind, a covert government agent named Amanda Waller hatches a plan to use incarcerated supervillains to form her “Task Force X” in order to combat evil forces in the world. To control them, she has explosive devices implanted in their necks that will detonate if they decide to not follow orders. As circumstances have it, her team is needed shortly after it’s formed to battle an ancient villain named Incubus who has invaded Midway City.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 14, 2017 0 comments
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I spent a big chunk of my life running movies in New York City neighborhood dumps, art houses, and palaces, so I may be a little biased, but Peter Flynn’s The Dying of the Light documentary about projectionists brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Flynn, since projectionists are much more at home on the other side of the lens. They all share a common bond, knowing that if they do the job well, the audience will be unaware they did anything at all. That’s the beauty of it.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Apr 14, 2017 1 comments
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Matt Damon returns to the role that Universal has built a hit franchise upon and resolutely keeps churning out. Once again, Jason Bourne’s mysterious past is catching up with him faster than he can remember it. The titular protagonist is still living off the grid and making ends meet by pit fighting in some dark corner of the globe, apparently standard procedure for all retired super-soldiers living abroad.
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Brandon A. DuHamel Posted: Apr 07, 2017 0 comments
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Thirty-seven years after the horror franchise Phantasm debuted, director Don Coscarelli passes the directorial reins to David Hartman for what is being billed as the final installment in the popular mind-twisting series. Although there isn’t much left here for fans of the original to really cling to, there is a sense of the series getting back to its roots. Actor Reggie Bannister returns as Reggie, and other series regulars A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, and Kathy Lester also return for a tale that brings the story right into the core of the Tall Man’s (Angus Scrimm reprising his role) home world.
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Avi Greengart Posted: Apr 07, 2017 0 comments
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How do you make a two-hour movie about a forced water landing in the Hudson River that lasted 208 seconds, where everyone already knows the happy outcome? You don’t. You keep it to a 90-minute running time and make two mini-movies: one about the exceptional skill and decision-making that saved lives in the air and on the ground, and one about bureaucrats second-guessing that decision-making. Weaving the stories together keeps Sully from being overly dull, but a documentary format might have been more interesting.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 31, 2017 0 comments
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Rachel (Emily Blunt) is a lost soul who eases the lingering pain of her divorce with ample doses of alcohol, particularly on her daily rail trips to and from Manhattan. Her only diversion is an elaborate fantasy about someone she sees from her moving window, Megan (Haley Bennett), and projecting all of her longing onto this stranger. And then one day Rachel spies Megan doing something she ought not to, threatening the idyllic life the voyeur has imagined for her. She even goes so far as to attempt a confrontation with Megan, but it quickly becomes a boozy blur of violence.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Mar 31, 2017 0 comments
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Henry is part of a radical military experiment that merges cybernetic machinery with biological tissue to create the ultimate super soldier. When Henry wakes up in a high-tech laboratory missing two of his limbs, he is unable to speak. He also has no memory of who he was beforehand. A fetching lab technician attaches his new cybernetic limbs, and very shortly thereafter, the door to the lab explodes open and all hell breaks loose… and pretty much stays on the loose for the next 90 minutes.

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