BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Fred Kaplan  |  May 20, 2016  |  0 comments
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The Graduate is one of the great American films. It captured a spirit of the 1960s at its cusp, marked the screen debut of Dustin Hoffman (clearing the way for a new, more inclusive type of movie star), altered the nature and function of a movie-music soundtrack—and it’s just damn fine filmmaking. It’s the shrewd mixing of dissonant elements that made the movie so head-spinning in its day and so appealing still—a fairly conventional formula, sly angles on modern themes (empty materialism, alienated youth, sexual license), and raucous comedy done up in a stark, surreal mise-en-scène: Antonioni channeled through Second City, but deeply funny, not just satirical, and oddly moving, too.
Fred Kaplan  |  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.
David Vaughn  |  Jul 01, 2009  |  0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/greatest.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Filled with drama and gripping rounds of golf, <i>The Greatest Game Ever Played</i> showcases a fabulous AVC encode and an immersive surround-sound experience. The video includes fantastic attention to detail in flesh tones, textures in clothing, and the many different green hues found on the Massachusetts golf course. The audio is just as impressive, especially with the crystal-clear dialog and superior ambience.

David Vaughn  |  Jun 17, 2009  |  0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/greatest.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Amateur golfer Francis Ouimet (Shia La Beouf) has a dream&#151;he wants to compete against the world's greatest player and his hero, Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane). With his poor background, this doesn't seem likely until a member of the prestigious country club where he caddies notices his talent and gives him the opportunity to play. When he qualifies for the 1913 US Open, his dream comes true as he battles his hero in one of the most defining moments in US golf history.

Anthony Chiarella  |  Oct 29, 2015  |  0 comments
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After assassinating Congo’s Minister of Mining in 2006, Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) must flee the country, leaving the woman he loves (Jasmine Trinca) to his friend Felix (Javier Bardem). Eight years later, Terrier returns, only to discover that he has become a target. Searching for answers as he struggles to stay alive, Terrier manages to either murder or precipitate the death of everyone he meets, including his closest friends. In the end, with the help of a clever Interpol agent (Idris Elba), Terrier learns that his former employer is trying to eradicate all evidence of the crime—including him.
David Vaughn  |  Dec 17, 2009  |  0 comments
Two days before his wedding, Doug (Justin Bartha) drives to Las Vegas with his best buddies for a blow-out bachelor party they vow they'll never forget—only they did. When the three groomsmen wake up the next morning, their hotel suite is trashed, a couple of live animals have taken up residence, and the groom is lost. With little time to spare, they try to piece together the previous night and discover what happened to Doug and attempt get him back to L.A. in time for his wedding.
Josef Krebs  |  Aug 05, 2016  |  1 comments
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Two bounty hunters, a sheriff, and a prisoner walk into a haberdashery store… Such is the rambling setup of this old-dark-house-in-a-storm whodunit shaggy-dog story that writer-director Quentin Tarantino has turned into his meta-Western, The Hateful Eight. The colorful, gabby characters have been thrown together on a stagecoach heading for Red Rock, Wyoming, but are forced to take refuge from a raging blizzard in a log-cabin abode, stuck waiting it out with a rogue’s gallery of grizzled ragamuffins trustworthy as far as you can spit.
David Vaughn  |  Dec 21, 2011  |  0 comments

Dramas typically aren't demo-worthy showpieces, but this fabulous film features some stunning scenes with vivid color saturation and exceptional detail. The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is no slouch, either, with spot-on dialog reproduction, but it certainly won't make your subwoofer break a sweat. The movie is set in the early 1960s at the height of the civil-rights movement in the South, and the costume and set design captures the era perfectly. Dreamworks/Touchstone delivers another demo-quality presentation.
Shane Buettner  |  Mar 03, 2007  |  0 comments

Got your blanket with you? I have barely a passing familiarity with Douglas Adams' <I>Hitchhiker's</I> series of books. So passing that I actually thought it was a single book, and only found out that it was first a radio creation and then a series of books, TV shows, and other media creations when I read the Wikipdia entry before writing this.

Chris Chiarella  |  Sep 05, 2013  |  1 comments
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Peter Jackson gave the world a beloved, wildly successful film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, culminating in a record-breaking Oscar sweep, so of course, he was the obvious choice to helm the Hobbit prequels. But whereas the Rings trilogy made a newbie like me love it with its epic thrills and fascinating characters, An Unexpected Journey seems to be in love with its own familiar world and everyone in it. We meet a younger Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit happily minding his own business when the wizard Gandalf drafts him for a dangerous quest.
Chris Chiarella  |  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.
Corey Gunnestad  |  Dec 04, 2013  |  0 comments
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In the not-too-distant future, life on planet earth is perfect. World peace has finally been achieved. There is no more war, hunger, disease, or environmental disaster, and humans live in contented harmony with each other. Sounds pretty cool, no? So what’s the problem?
David Vaughn  |  Sep 26, 2011  |  2 comments
Set behind the scenes of the BBC newsroom as an investigative news program is launched, the drama plots the personal lives, professional interplay, and jealous ambition between aspiring journalist Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw), ambitious young producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai), and Hector Madden (Dominic West), the face and lead anchorman of this rising television news team. A love triangle ensues and the intense ambitions between the rising news team plays out against the backdrop of a mysterious murder and Freddie's controversial and dangerous investigation.

The BBC has been churning out some pretty entertaining programs lately with Sherlock and now The Hour. This six episode set starts off very slow and it almost lost me, but I was hooked once I got to know the characters and Freddie began to unravel the mystery behind the murder.

David Vaughn  |  Jun 03, 2014  |  0 comments
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After securing victory in the Hunger Games the previous year by sticking the finger to President Snow by threatening suicide, Katniss and Peta must leave their homes and loved ones behind in order to embark on the Victory Tour through the districts. As they travel around the various locales, Katniss begins to sense a rebellion is afoot and believes she’s the unlikely inspiration for the movement. Still, Snow gets the last laugh by announcing a special 75th Hunger Games that will pit previous winners against each other in a winner-take-all showdown in a made-for-TV event that will be a winner in the ratings—take that, Everdeen!
Avi Greengart  |  Jul 29, 2016  |  0 comments
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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2 is actually the fourth installment in the Hunger Games trilogy. Splitting the last book of a series into two movies can allow for complexity (i.e., Harry Potter), but here it should have been avoided. Part 1 is mostly filler, and even Part 2 has some pacing issues. If you’re new to The Hunger Games, start at the beginning. Of all the teenage dystopian movie series, this one is the best conceived: Underlying the action and drama, it’s a believable look at PTSD and the personal cost of brutal dictatorships. It also has, by far, the best acting.

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