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Review: HANDS OF STONE, Fleet of Foot, Light on Insight

For more than three decades after Raging Bull was released in 1980, Robert De Niro wisely stayed away from the boxing world on screen. After all, once you've appeared in one of the most spellbinding and spiritually troubling cinematic experiences...

Now on Blu-ray: ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Scratches the Evil Dead Itch

When it was first announced that Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series was rising from the dead as a TV series last year, I jumped for joy. The Evil Dead films, and especially Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, were...

Review: KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Makes Thrilling Music

In ancient Japan, strange things are afoot. Magic, both good and bad, is coming to a head as a particularly animated supernatural dysfunctional family prepares for their grand showdown. Of course, “good” and “bad” are in the eye of the...

Blu-ray Review: On Criterion, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE Hits Too Close To Home

Earlier this year, the Criterion Collection released an edition of John Frankenheimer's classic political suspense thriller, The Manchurian Candidate (1962). Of course I'd seen the film many times prior to this. So many times, in fact, that when I got...

Review: BEN-HUR Races Against Expectations

Vividly re-imagined, the new Ben-Hur is a lot of fun to watch, in part because it follows the outline of William Wyler's famed film while injecting fresh new elements. It's not a classic, by any means, but it certainly exceeds...

Review: PETE'S DRAGON Doesn't Drag On

Does anyone remember Pete’s Dragon? I’m talking about the original version, an old-school blending of live action and cell animation delivering the titular human kid and cartoon dragon. By all appearances, it was the exact kind of thing that Disney...

Review: Scream Factory's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS Blu-ray

In 1978, Philip Kaufman's remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers hit theaters. The all-star ensemble cast included Art Hindle, Brooke Adams, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, and Veronica Cartwright. Whatever side of the ongoing remake debate you're on,...

Review: SUICIDE SQUAD, Not So Painless

Warner Brothers has aggressively set out to course-correct its still-fledgling DC Comics Cinematic Universe with Suicide Squad - a villain-fueled movie that wants you to believe it's off the hook, man! It's no lie that director David Ayer's (Fury, the...

Criterion Roundup: PHOENIX, FANTASTIC PLANET and THE IN-LAWS

Suspense, belly-laughs and a jaw-dropping bit of adult oriented animation round this series of Criterion Collection reviews. I highly recommend them all.   In April the label released an edition of Phoenix (2014) a film which was nominated for, and...

Blu-ray Review: Criterion's THE NEW WORLD Worthy of Discovery

“Come, spirit, help us sing the story of our land. You are our mother. We, your field of corn. We rise from out of the soul of you.” The wind blows. The crickets gently chirp. The grass crunches ever subtly...

Review: PREACHER, No More Waiting for God

Superhero comics are no longer the only material from the realm of sequential art suitable for big or small screen adaption. Terry Zwigoff shared that opinion back in the early aughts. In the latest fad, the small screen is becoming...

Review: LIGHTS OUT, When Darkness Rules

Modesty is an underappreciated virtue, especially in horror movies. Lights Out revolves around a frightening idea: turn out the lights and something sinister appears. Turn on the lights and the something disappears. A few years ago, filmmaker David F. Sandberg...

Review: ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE, A Franchise Ready To Go Extinct

The formula of the Ice Age franchise is easy to identify: a group of prehistoric animals suffer Earth’s constant drastic changes, while they also face personal conflicts. In every entry the protagonists must travel from one place to another, to...

Review: GHOSTBUSTERS Ain't Afraid of No Estrogen!

The new Ghostbusters uses the same iconic logo of the original 1984 film, with a few minor differences: the new one is beveled, and shiny. Such is the essential difference between this new remake and the beloved classic of our...

Review: CAFE SOCIETY, Woody Allen's Entertaining, If Familiar, Comedy

You ever see the Woody Allen film about the older man who’s in love with a younger woman, only to have her torn between her affection for another nebbishy guy? Sure, it’s fair to say that Allen’s treading on familiar...

Review: THE INFILTRATOR, A Decent Hero in a Decent Movie

Robert Mazur seems so normal. As played by Bryan Cranston, Mazur is an all-American good guy, an exceedingly decent man who is also a top-notch U.S. Customs official, an honest and dedicated employee, a loyal and loving husband and father....

Review: THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS Has No Bite

Ever since the second or third Pixar feature film, I've rested assured in my assessment that the secret of the animation studio's success is in their wondrous telling of “the secret life of [fill in the blank].” A Bug's Life...

Review: MARAUDERS, No Better or Worse Than Your Average Crime Thriller

On the surface, Steven C. Miller's Marauders is yet another movie about a gang of crooks and the determined lawmen tracking them down. It really wants you to think otherwise, though; its loftier aim is to be the next Heat....

Review: THE BFG, Steven Spielberg's Infectious Sense of Play Returns to the Fore

Once upon a time Steven Spielberg was the fabulist of our time. Looking at Close Encounters of the Third Kind or E.T or even Jurassic Park and A.I., you could see a sense of wonder and playfulness in his filmmaking,...

Review: THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR Sharpens Its Claws

Filled with vim and vigor, The Purge: Election Year works hard to steady its focus as an anti-something thriller. The first film in the series, The Purge, played on white suburban fears by taking seriously the ridiculous concept that the...