New on Blu: TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL

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Once upon a time, the TREMORS franchise was fun to watch. When practical effects and real scares were in, as well as a solid plot, and Michael Gross wasn't hurting for money. (It also didn't hurt that TREMORS (1990) starred Gross, along with Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Reba McEntire, and Victor Wong.)

In the sixth installment of the very tired franchise, TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL stars Michael Gross (the guy from the other TREMORS movies you probably know as Dad from FAMILY TIES) and Jamie Kennedy -- a once-beloved actor who stole the show in a little movie called SCREAM -- as the father-son duo who head to Canada to take on more Graboids and Ass-Blasters. If the latter sounds like a scat porn title, we are on the same page and need to get our heads out of the gutter. 

I really wanted to enjoy TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL, but it's, well, boring. This is never a good sign when it comes to a monster movie about creatures who chew through the earth to make you their lunch. A COLD DAY IN HELL wants to be funny and scary at the same time, but the execution is really, really bad. There's a scene that comes to mind when a smart character is about to be pulled under with a Graboid -- she has the option to survive if she takes off her pants. She refuses because she's "not wearing any underwear." What was director Don Michael Paul intention here? Comedy? Unconventional practicality? I don't want Jamie Kennedy seeing my bits and pieces as much as the next person, but there's no way I'm risking my life for a pair of jeans because I'm not wearing underoos. 

It'll be a cold day in hell before I watch this movie again. Thank God we will always have TREMORS (1990), a satire that brilliantly paid homage to JAWS and didn't take itself too seriously but managed to still scare the hell out of audiences everywhere. 

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Review

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The Avengers are at war, and this time it's not civil. (Sorry, I have been waiting to use that sentence since the announcement of this film. It's quite lame and I'm OK with this.)

This is going to be a capsule review of THE AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR because there's a lot of layers and superheroes (about nine million, if I counted correctly), and so much going on, and well, I don't want to spoil anything for you. 

I don't think I need to dive much into the plot -- the big, bad guy we've been waiting on to come take on the Avengers -- Thanos (voiced by DEADPOOL 2's Josh Brolin) -- is here. He's arrived to get all the infinity stones and wipe out the galaxy. If he gets all of those stones, he's got the chance. 

INFINITY WAR is stuffed like a fat turkey with all your favorite MCU superheroes, and the action is mind-blowing. Moreover, the CGI is better than any superhero film I've ever seen -- there is one character I thought was real but was, in fact, complete CGI. (It's hilarious we are in 2018 and Marvel tricked me with their immaculate CGI, yet DC can't digitally erase a fucking mustache properly.) 

INFINITY WAR's running time is over 2 1/2 hours but it's so nail-biting intense it zooms by and is a rush the entire time. Marvel is unstoppable and DC needs to take notes. (Note: I love MAN OF STEEL and will defend it to the death. Come at me.) 

Co-directors The Russo Bothers did a fantastic job balancing the tone of each character and franchise that joined while keeping the film dark when it needs to be dark, and funny when it needs to be funny.

THE AVENGERS will always be the best in the franchise because Joss made a seemingly impossible job so incredible, but INFINITY WAR will no doubt be the most memorable.

 Being a more of a DC fan (well, OK, just Superman and Batman, and now Wonder Woman), I am very much looking forward to AVENGERS 4. 

Fun trivia: Marvel has a thing for giving Josh Brolin's left hand a key element to his character -- the glove in INFINITY WAR and his metal arm in DEADPOOL 2. Man, I am a dork but I love this stuff. 

Scream Factory Presents: CYBORG Collector's Edition Blu-ray

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My affinity for Jean-Claude Van Damme goes very far back. When I was a feeble kid in elementary (technically I’m still feeble), JCVD movies were my escape. I could kick anyone’s ass while watching his movies. 

BLOODSPORT was the first JCVD movie the universe introduced me to, and then CYBORG (the last theatrical release for the now-defunct once-super awesome distributor, Cannon Films), starring a 29-year-old Van Damme. I still remember first watching CYBORG and turning it off because the opening scene terrified me — the film is ultra-violent (for its time) and that beheading was something else. Worse, JCVD gets crucified — that was jarring for six-year-old Chase. 

Shout’s re-release is the first time I’ve seen it since childhood, and the experience is not much different aside from some goofy dialogue, and I picked up on the traditional trope of 80s/90s post-apocalyptic movies always having barrels of trashcans on fire everywhere, and slow-motion fights, are ubiquitous in CYBORG. Oh and that thing where the villain shows all his sweet character movies before attacking his opponent. Despite the tropes and sometimes silly dialogue, CYBORG is fun as hell to watch.

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The 4K restoration is incredible — looks just like its 1989 birth. CYBORG has a lot going for it — the practical effects are excellent, there’s an incredibly long battle between JCVD’s Slinger  — a term created by the writer-director as a homage to the term gunslinger from his love of westerns. Slinger’s are warriors who get people out of a war-torn city. And the goons chasing after him are perfect villains, costumes and all. The shot of him in the sewer is one for the books, filmed by cinematographer Philip Alan Waters.

As an adult, something that drove me bonkers watching was the movie’ s antagonist Fender Tremolo (in a solid performance by Vincent Klyn) taking off his fucking glasses off every 20 minutes to show his contact lens. I don’t know to this day if this means to show badasses strike fear in foes in a post-apocalyptic world by taking off their glasses. It’s pretty laughable every time. 

The long chase-battle scene is certainly what makes this movie a great Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. It’s raw, dangerous, and filthy. 

Bonus Features

  • 4K Scan From The Original Film Elements
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Albert Pyun
  • A Ravaged Future – The Making Of CYBORG – Featuring Interviews With Writer/Director Albert Pyun, Actors Vincent Klyn, Deborah Richter, And Terrie Batson, Director Of Photography Philip Alan Waters, And Editor Rozanne Zingale
  • Shoestring Fantasy – The Effects Of CYBORG – Featuring Interviews With Visual Effects Supervisor Gene Warren Jr., Go-Motion Technician Christopher Warren, And Rotoscope Artist Bret Mixon
  • Extended Interviews From Mark Hartley’s Documentary ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS With Writer/Director Albert Pyun And Sheldon Lettich
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

First Poster for David Gordon Green and Danny McBride's HALLOWEEN

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John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) is perhaps the greatest slasher of all time. What makes the film's antagonist -- Michael Myers, also known as The Shape -- so frightening is the mystery surrounding him. He can't be hurt and we don't know why, and he really wants to kill his sister Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) for reasons I can only guess is for sport. Before all the awful sequels tried to ruin Myers' reasoning (with the standard "supernatural" trope), Carpenter kept it simple with Dr. Loomis' (the late, amazing Donald Pleasance) words: Michael Myers is just pure evil. 

When I was younger, I loved Halloween H20 because it returned Curtis to the franchise, and she ended it in the best way possible -- buy chopping his head off. Michael Myers was finally dead. 

But that's not how it works in Hollywood and the regurgitated more movies (with Lee coming back for one more and getting killed off which I'm still bitter about), and they all sucked. 

This is about to change. King David Gordon Green (GEORGE WASHINGTON, PRINCE AVALANCHE) and Danny McBride (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) teamed up to write a faithful continuation of HALLOWEEN that picks up 40 years later after Carpenter's. 

The first poster has just been released and it's fabulous. Myers has got to be in his late 60s now, and the emaciated mask proves it. One thing I noticed, if you look close, you can see his left eye is missing from when Strode poked him  in it with a hanger in HALLOWEEN. This is a small but colossal detail and proves DGG and McBride really care about the original film and want to do a stellar job with their film. It's also great that Carpenter officially signed on to score the film, which he did for his HALLOWEEN and many of his other great films. 

HALLOWEEN (2018) hits theaters on October 19th. Do not miss it.

Review: YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

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Update: I've watched this a lot since writing this and have come around. I love this film. Maybe I'll write about what changed my mind later. 

We need to talk about YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, writer-director Lynne Ramsay's new hammer starring the immaculate Joaquin Phoenix (INHERENT VICE). Based on Jonathan Ames' (BORED TO DEATH scribe) novella of the same name, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE follows PTSD-stricken Joe's (Phoenix) vigilante quest to take down suits trafficking underage girls and smashing them to death with a hammer. Or is it? 

I don't watch trailers for two reasons: 1) They always give away too much and, 2) they can often be misleading. The latter is the curious case for YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE. Last May when the film premiered at Cannes, we were shown a clip from YOU WHERE NEVER REALLY HERE. It's two incredible tracking shots with an intoxicating score from Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood -- composer for PTA's masterpieces: THERE WILL BE BLOOD and THE MASTER. The first moment, the camera floats down a motel hall and then cuts to a disheveled Phoenix walking out of the building -- fire alarm screaming -- into an alley. His beard is unkempt, his hoodie is up, covering his head, and while walking, he gets a surprise attack by some goon, only the goon is caught off guard when Phoenix headbutts him, knocking him to the ground, vomiting blood. It's the coolest clip I've seen in a long time and I was sold.  

This scene is kickass, for lack of a better term, and I watched it a thousand times. Here it is -- you need to see it

This scene is one of the best moments in a film, and that's all I needed to put this at the very top of my Must See list. In fact, I had made up my mind this was probably going to be my favorite movie of the year. But, to my disappointment, I was wrong. *sad emoji*

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE is not a terrible movie, but it's not the movie I thought it was going to or hoped it would be. It goes in one direction and then gets lost along the way. I don't want to spoil much, but there seems to be an underlying theme in the movie that's hard to pick up on if you're not paying attention (watch closely with his interactions with his mom). That or I don't understand what Ramsay is trying to show with the changes she made from the novella. 

Lots of critics are calling this the contemporary TAXI DRIVER, and I can see that -- a man with apparent mental illness wanting to save an underage girl from scumbags. 

But this doozy is quite different than that, and I'm still not entirely sure I understand the final act. So, what I did was buy the novella the film as based on, and read it before writing this review. Ramsay did a remarkable job capturing specific scenes in the book -- and even making some moments a hell of a lot cooler -- but the novella gives us a much better understanding of the story and why Joe (Phoenix) is the way he is, as well as how good he is at his job. I am a big advocate of separating the book from a film adaptation when it comes to watching and/or discussing, but I can't do that here, the film is too disoriented. (Sort of like INHERENT VICE, but PI novels are meant to be mysterious and confusing -- it keeps a reader on their toes. I don't consider YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE a PI novel but Joe is a hitman, and a good one at that.) 

As Joe, Phoenix makes the movie worth the watch. He is a force to be reckoned with, and he keeps mopping the floor with each film he pumps out. His Joe has PTSD from his time as an FBI agent, and he makes it his life's mission to track down and murder every pedophile he can. He only needs two weapons to get the jobs done: a hammer and his rage.  Judge, jury, executioner. Phoenix's Joe wears a stoic face throughout the film. You don’t know if he’s going to hug you or explode in a fit of rage and beat you to death with a hammer. This is what's makes YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE fascinating -- this unreliable narrator is fascinating to watch. We are not sure if Joe can be trusted.  

The problem with the movie is the story skips important plot points and big scenes come and go quick. It's hard to keep up with exactly what's going on with all the people Joe meet, who they are, and why they are necessary for this story. And that third act, hoo boy -- I wish Ramsay went with the novella's ending, it's much more potent.  

An important character in Joe's life is his mom. He lives with her and shares an endearing moment with her. This scene involves Hitchcock's PSYCHO that's not in the book -- a nice addition from Ramsay -- and this scene may or may not be a critical part of the movie. I am still not sure.  

Phoenix won Best Actor at Cannes, and Ramsay took home Best Screenplay at the festival as well. Look, I want this movie to do well because Phoenix is so good in it and I like Ramsay (sans WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, an incredibly frustrating movie). But I need to be honest; this movie lost me. Once the credits rolled, I'm not sure what YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE is about at its core. There's life to this movie, but it dies rather quickly. 

4K Blu-ray Review: STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII - The Last Jedi Ultimate Collector's Edition

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Bringing writer-director Rian Johnson on to make a Star Wars film was -- regardless of the polarizing contention between critics and fans -- one of the best decisions this franchise could make. His last effort, LOOPER, is one of the best sci-fi mind-benders over the last decade, perhaps longer. Have you seen it? Stop reading and watch it now, if not. 

Taking on such a beloved franchise is a stomach ulcer waiting to burst, but Johnson did the best he could, brought a lot of fresh fun to the franchise, and changed a few things up, for better or worse. 

I'm a fan of Star Wars to an extent -- I grew up on the originals and watched them religiously on VHS. I went to see the "upgraded" ones where Lucas added a bunch of unnecessary CGI look cool, and I even asked Harrison Ford the infamous "Who shot first?" question when I interviewed him. (Note: I asked before it started to drive him batty.) 

All that said, there's a lot I love about THE LAST JEDI, and there's a lot I don't enjoy (to put it kindly), and I have crazy respect for him adding and taking away things from the Star Wars canon. 

The hyperspeed crash Vice Admiral Holdo (Lauren Dern) does is breathtaking and will leave you slack-jawed for a moment. But once that moment is over, it forever changes the way I -- and millions of others -- see this valuable method of escape. What if our hero hits hyperspace and on the way hits an asteroid and his ship blows up? This is a valid argument someone like me is going to let go (but always think about) because this is a movie about humans living in space without spacesuits and live, work, and hang out with Aliens. I can bypass this little itch. 

The big problem with THE LAST JEDI isn't that it's a bad movie -- it's that diehard fans are having trouble letting go of the troupes Johnson got rid of, and I applaud him for that. New beginnings. 

STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII is now on 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and other formats. 

 

Blu-ray Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE

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The most significant flaw in JUSTICE LEAGUE comes from its director (or directors depends on which side of the argument you're on), Zach Snyder, but he can't be faulted for the film's complete failure since his life changed forever during mid-production and he had to hand the keys over to Joss Whedon to finish the film. These two are a dream team and have done miraculous things for the superhero genre (I love MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and will fight you), so one would think the movie we've waited so long time for would be at least good, but JUSTICE LEAGUE is far from even barely tolerable. Uneven pacing, second-hand embarrassing "comedy," -- Whedon's touch --  and yes, you can tell when Snyder drops off and Whedon steps in, but for some reason, I can't help but give the film a pass.

 I very soft spot for Superman and Ezra Miller's The Flash makes the film worth your time -- I cannot wait for his upcoming solo film if it happens. And Jason Momoa looks like he's having the time of his life as Aquaman, which was refreshing, but none of our heroes could save this catastrophe. 

Despite how any feels about MAN OF STEEL and BVS, there's no denying that one can tell Zach Snyder gave both of these movies his all. They have his presence pulsing throughout them, and his passion radiates in every shot. Sure, there are script problems, but there's no denying that Snyder made these movies with his heart, and it's clear he was checked out during JUSTICE LEAGUE. Maybe it was the critical crushing combined with the tragic death of his daughter, but this version of Snyder's JUSTICE LEAGUE is not Snyder's version or even a movie, really. It's a bunch of ideas (and a really shitty CGI villain with an old Canadian-American rock band name) put together. 

Also checked out in the movie is Ben Affleck -- he looks bored and miserable as Batman, a tough character to crack after Christian Bale's incredible performance, and made it his own. He let the critics get to him, and now he's doing all he can to get out of the franchise. It's a bummer, he's a great Bruce Wayne and brooding Batman. 

Kind of like Superman has for the world, each time I watch Justice League I have hope that it’ll be better, and every time I’m reminded that it will not. Sigh. 

Another major flaw for the movie is JUSTICE LEAGUE did wrong what THE AVENGERS did right was took its time with our superheroes in their own movies, which made the highly anticipated wait of them joining forces pay off with remarkable awe.. JUSTICE LEAGUE crams the team into a packed RUNNING TIME, and we only really got to know Superman, Wonder Woman, and a bit Batman prior.  

What JUSTICE LEAGUE doesn't follow is continuity, which brings me to the most frustrating thing about the movie: Superman's resurrection. BVS lead us to believe he would rise on his own and in a slack-jawing way, but nope, the movie needed a silly deuce ex machina to bring Supes back, and it's highly insulting and frustrating. Superman deserved better. 

And what I can't wrap my head around: Superman was (rightfully) feared in MAN OF STEEL, hated in BVS, and the world mourned when Superman died (and didn't say a thing when he came back to life.) 

Poorly CGI'd mustache was the start of lousy VFX for the film. Both MAN OF STEEL AND BVS still have great CGI, and it seems like the team behind JUSTICE LEAGUE were like, "fuck it, this movie sucks anyway, might as well dial it back on the special effects.  

After WONDER WOMAN, we were given hope the franchise is finally moving in a positive direction, but now it feels like it's a step backward. 

We've waiting decades for a JUSTICE LEAGUE film and deserved something close to exceptional. Here's to hoping future DC movies get better by following Wonder Woman's sharp trajectory and be great, again. (One more reminder to bring it home: I love MAN OF STEEL and BVS. and will fight you if you hate them. Just don't be tall or stronger than me, please.) 

It should also be noted that I wanted this film to be great -- I loved Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman prior to seeing this film, and it's a damn shame this movie is a failure in every way possible. (But I will still watch it again and again because I'm a masochistic for bad movies.) 

Black Panther

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BLACK PANTHER is a beast! Big, bold, BEAUTIFUL, and badass. Co-writer and Director Ryan Coogler (FRUITVALE STATION, CREED) is three for three, and I have a gut feeling these numbers will always match — the man can tell a good story, an essential element for a film of this caliber. This is one of the BLACK PANTHER's strengths -- it's a compelling story of loss, suffering, and discovery (and kicking ass). The VFX folks always do a fantastic job at making Marvel movies look slick and uber-cool, but as we learned with superior letdowns like IRON MAN 2, or DC’s JUSTICE LEAGUE, a good story is a vital lifeline in making it a true success. (OK, and a good villain and a perfected Super digitally-absent mustache, too.)

Aside from being a lot of fun and action-packed, BLACK PANTHER is culturally significant, as in it dips into fascinating Northeastern African culture, specifically the culture of the fictional Wakanda, where T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman -- GET ON UP, 42 ) and his people reside. Most superhero movies take (a majority) of running time on American soil. It's still stunning, but I would rather see a bunch of big fights happen on foreign land with breathtaking waterfalls and locations I’ve never seen before, than at an airport parking lot. BLACK PANTHER is in a world we've never seen before. It's beautiful. Experiencing Wakandan life stimulate the senses with its rich and delicious colors used through fashion, cultivation, and customs. We learn a lot about Wakanda, but are still left with wonder and discovery. 

Michael B. Jordan literally slays it as the film's antagonist, Killmonger. He can strike fear, rage, and hope one moment, and be quite vulnerable the next. Acting! I would love to see a prequel about his voyage to his introduction in BLACK PANTHER. I'm confident it's quite a gripping journey. 

Other standouts: Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) as T'Challa's protector and patriotic soldier, General. I'm trying not to overuse this noun to describe this movie too much, but this my party and I'll cry if I want to: General is a badass. Then there's Shuri (Letitia Wright — Black Mirror), T'Challa's sister takes a cue from James Bond's Q as the creator of all of Black Panther's slack-jawing gadgets. She's funny, she's smart, and she will kick your ass if you mess with her brother. Lupita Nyong'o (12 YEARS A SLAVE) has a cool role of Nakia, someone important and faithful to T'Challa. She's beautiful, smart, and will also kick your ass if you mess with T'Challa. 

You see the trend up there? T'Challas' team is full of women who kick a lot of ass. Coogler didn't do this as a gimmick; he did this because women do kick a lot of ass. If there is a damsel in distress in this movie, it's Black Panther. These three ladies are his saviors. Perhaps this is the Justice League we need. 

The film, yes, is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it's self-contained and, aside from a few specific jokes, you don't need to see any other Marvel film to keep up with the movie. This film is about Black Panther's beginnings and the start of a marvelous franchise. 

Film Review: Christopher Nolan's DUNKIRK

“Survival’s not fair.”  

Cowards survive, heroes die or are captured by the enemy after saving countless lives — is anything fair when it comes to war? Writer-director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy) may have the answer in his latest fireball war epic, Dunkirk.

Nolan wastes no time when it comes to getting to ground zero of the action, where 400,000 Allied soldiers (mostly very young men) are stranded with the Germans attacking by land, water, and air. From frame one to the final moment of the film, we see — and feel, especially if you watch Dunkirk in IMAX — how terrifying war is when you’re outnumbered and a bomb or bullet could end your existence at any moment. 

Nolan breaks new ground with Dunkirk, giving audiences a unique take on a war film. There are no big speeches, voiceovers, or really any dialogue: just war. Moreover, the viewer is put right in the bleeding heart of the chaos — we are with the soldiers every step of the way. We feel claustrophobic, scared, and paranoid, and death is lurking just around the corner. It’s uneasy feelings but the unparalleled filmmaking makes this one hour and 47 minute heart palpitation worth it. I’ve seen a lot of war movies in my time, but nothing like Dunkirk

Getting this out of the way: There’s no character development, and some who frown on this are missing the point — Nolan only wants to show you the turbulence and turmoil in war; a war film under two hours with constant chaos is not much time for character arcs. One could argue character development is in the form of perspective: the air, the ocean, and land. It works. 

The only real issue I had with the movie was understanding the dialogue. It was either from watching it in the ka-booming IMAX audio, or the thick and quick English accents. Or, both. It’s not much of a problem because we understand what’s going on: “We need to get the hell out of here and try not to die while doing it.” 

Before I’m off,  I must talk about Hans Zimmer’s (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar, Inception) powerful score — it’s one of the best of his brilliant career. Using violins and Christopher Nolan’s very own stopwatch, tick tock tick tock tick tock; these sounds pump up the volume of the intensity of the nonstop action exploding on screen. This level of vigor while watching a movie is what critic’s call “edge-of-your-seat” entertainment. I do remember the moment the clock stopped ticking and letting out a deep breath of relief. (And yes, I was on the edge of my seat almost the entirety of the film.)  

I don’t believe Nolan will ever make a bad film. He’s too meticulous with details, and takes his time in his research for the story and telling it with remarkable power, not to mention he builds a dream team to work with for every film. In his ever-growing oeuvre, Dunkirk ranks as one of his best. 

New on Blu: 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

20th Century Women

Writer/Director: Mike Mills
Cast: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/RentBUY

When I saw 20th Century Women, I was certain Annette Bening was going take the Oscar for Best Actress. What I wanted more was at least a Best Supporting nod for Greta Gerwig, who gives the performance of her career in this film. Bening makes this movie as great as it is, but it's Gerwig who completes it. 

20th Century Women [Blu-ray]
Starring Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Director: David Yates
Writer: J.K. Rowling
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/RentBUY

Every Pot(ter)head is going to buy this regardless of what I say, but I'll have you know I really liked this film. Fantastic Beasts is a movie we go to the theaters for -- to escape from the cruel realities of the world, and to get sucked away in fantastic world of fantasy and be wowed by things we'll never see or do in real life. This movie has the all of the pleasures of fun cinema. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell

New on Blu: RED DAWN Collector's Edition, THE LOVE WITCH, FENCES

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Red Dawn Collector's Edition

Director: John Milius
Cast: Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey
Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

WOLVERINESSSSSS! I'm pretty sure it's un-American to not want to watch Patrick Swayze kick ass, first-timer Charlie Sheen be a good little brother, and Jennifer Grey blow shit up with a rocket launcher while hiding out in the woods, taking out Russians in a world where World War III happens. 

WOLVERINESSSSSS! 

Red Dawn [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray]
Starring Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Charlie Sheen, Harry Dean Stanton, Jennifer Grey

The Love Witch

Writer/Director: Anna Biller
Cast: Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, Maria Conchita Alonso
Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

The Love Witch is an acquired taste. If you love 60s pulp cinema like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, or movies that were shot in Technicolor, this film is for you. It's an intoxicating throwback to films like the aforementioned and All That Heaven Allows. What makes The Love Witch so fascinating is the pitch perfect set and costume design, as well as the Technicolor look and feel, and biting tale on girl power. Writer/director Anna Biller's first feature, Viva, is another throwback, so it's clear this filmmaker has a passionate affinity for the 60s and 70s pulp cinema. I can't wait to see what she's up to next. 

Is this entrancing homage to Technicolor and pulpy cinema going to be the next cult classic? We'll know soon. 

The Love Witch [Blu-ray]
Starring Samantha Robinson, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise

Fences

Director: Denzel Washington
Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, 
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Banging out one of this best performance of his career, Denzel Washington also directed Fences, a tough tale of family and the effects of tough love. Fences first started out as a play starring Washington and his co-lead in the film, the super talented Viola Davis, who deservingly won an Academy Award just a few weeks ago for her performance in the film. In hindsight, Fences is an everyday story about regular family issues, but these two performances really bangs you over the head.

Fences [BD/Digital HD Combo] [Blu-ray]
Starring Denzel Washington, Russell Hornsby, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo

Complete List of Film Reviews

LOST A LOT OF MY REVIEWS AND RE-ADDING. THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. STILL NEED TO ADD FILMS FROM ROTTEN TOMATOES AND LINK TO THE REVIEWS. PLEASE BE PATIENT, YOU WILD ANIMAL. 

Headshot
I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore. 
John Wick: Chapter 2
La La Land
A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story
A Most Violent Year
Adult Beginners
Adventures of Power
Afternoon Delight
Alex of Venice
All The Light In The Sky
Amy
Animal Kingdom
Attenberg
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Bad Turn Worse
Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
Bellflower
Big Game
Birdman
Black
Blue Ruin
Blue Valentine
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography
Boyhood
Brick Mansions
Butter
C.O.G.
Ceremony
Charlie Countryman
Child of God
Cop Car
CXL
Dark Places
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Deadfall
Don Jon
Don't Think Twice
Drive
Dumb and Dumber To
Embers
Escape from Tomorrow
Foxcatcher
Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Fubar: Balls to the Wall
Fury
Godzilla
Going the Distance
Gone Girl
Grey Gardens
Gridlocked
Guardians of the Galaxy
Holy Motors
Holy Rollers
Hungry Hearts
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
I Am Chris Farley
Imperial Dreams
In the Blood
Inherent Vice
Inside Out
Iris
Jack Goes Boating
Jackass 3
Jersey Boys
Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work
Joe
Jurassic World
Just Jim
Kaboom
Kill the Irishman
Klovn: The Movie (Klown)
Let Me In
Liberal Arts
Life Itself
Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
Lola Versus
Louder Than a Bomb
Lucy
LUV
Mad Max: Fury Road
Maggie
Man of Steel
Maps to the Stars
Melancholia
Men, Women, & Children
Miami Connection
Middle of Nowhere
My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Nature Calls
Nightcrawler
Nighthawks
Oddsac
One & Two
Only God Forgives
Peep World
Pincus
Pricecheck
Prince Avalanche
Rabbit Hole
Raze
Robot & Frank
Rosewater
Rubber
Rudderless
San Andreas
Save the Date
Scream 4
Sleepwalk With Me
Smashed
Snowpiercer
Somewhere
Southpaw
Spring Breakers
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Submarine
Sun Don't Shine
Take Shelter
Take This Waltz
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Terminator Genisys
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Bastard Sings The Sweetest Song
The Cold Lands
The Comedy
The Equalizer
The Expendables 3
The Fault in Our Stars
The Gambler
The Girl
The Girlfriend Experience
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Hateful Eight
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
The Kids Are All Right
The Kings of Summer
The One I Love
The Raid
The Rambler
The Revenant
The Rover
The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta?)
The Snowtown Murders
The Spectacular Now
The Visitor
The Wailing
The Ward
The Way Way Back
The We and the I
The Wetlands
The Wolverine
Trainwreck
Trash Humpers
TV Junkie
Two Days, One Night
Unbroken
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
Upstream Color
Victoria
Visitor
Waiting for Lightning
What We Do in the Shadows
Where the Wild Things Are
Whiplash
White Bird in a Blizzard
Wild
Win Win
Wish I Was Here
Wolf at the Door
Wrong
Wrong Cops
Young Ones
Your Sister's Sister

 

New on Blu: COLORS Collector's Edition, MAN DOWN, OFFICER DOWNE

Colors Collector's Edition

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Director: Dennis Hopper
Cast: Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, Maria Conchita Alonso
Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Colors...Colors...Colors...Colors -- Sorry, got carried away into the theme song of the film, which is also the music for the DVD menu. If you can't find the remote and accidentally leave it on while on an important phone, this song will never leave you. Ever. 

I remember when I was younger, and this movie terrified me. Anything film with gang violence made my head spin -- Higher Learning, Boyz n da Hood, Menace II Society, and Blood In Blood Out to name a few. As an adult, it's not as intimidating, but with the late, great Dennis Hopper behind the wheel, this should have been more bonkers. 

Colors is still entertaining for its time. Less violent than the aforementioned, but Robert Duvall does a superb job leading the pack of young recruits (Sean Penn and people who are now probably in finance) to justice and, for us, entertainment. 

There's an Easter Egg in Colors. I'm not going to spoil the fun and tell you (free pun for you), but lookout for it. 

Colors (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Starring Robert Duvall, Sean Penn, Maria Conchita Alonso, Damon Wayans, Don Cheadle

Man Down

Director: Dito Montiel
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney, Gary Oldman, Kate Mara, Clifton Collins Jr.
Rating: ★★
Buy/Rent: RENT FOR SHIA

Man Down is not a good movie, but the reward is watching Shia. Since he went a bit nuts, he stepped up his acting game and always delivers a super performance. Always.

Aside from just being a bad movie, one of Man Down's biggest missteps -- or smartest marketing moves depending on which side of the fence you're on -- is the trailer: it's misleading. If you haven't seen the movie, the trailer leads you to believe Shia's character witnesses something in war and is talking to a superior about it, played by Gary Oldman. Yeah, that happens in the movie, but it's a very tiny part of the ambitious and ugly plots. 

If you like Shia, rent this and just watch him. If you don't, we can't be friends and don't listen to a word I just wrote in the first sentence of this paragraph. 

Man Down [Blu-ray]
Starring Kate Mara, Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney, Gary Oldman, Clifton Collins Jr.

Officer Down

Director: Shawn Crahan
Cast: Kim Coates, Tyler Ross, Meadow Williams, Alison Lohman, Glenn Howerton
Rating: ★★
Buy/RentRent (If you get high regularly)

If you take a lot  LCD or PCP, or smoke crack, Officer Downe is the perfect movie for you. Based on the graphic novel, it's directed by one of the guys in Slipknot, it's ultra-violent, the villains wear animal masks (perhaps a nod to the director's band trademark), lead Kim Coates gets Robocop'd, kills a lot of people, and performs cunnilingus on a woman (twice!), and there's an orgasm counter, and the majestic Glenn Howerton from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia randomly pops up with a British accent. 

This, my friends, is Officer Downe in a nutshell. If you hit up you local Redbox and rent this, have your bong handy and loaded. You'll need it. 

Officer Downe [Blu-ray]
Starring Kim Coates, Tyler Ross

New on Blu: MOONLIGHT, DOCTOR STRANGE

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Moonlight

Writer/Director: Barry Jenkins
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Naomie Harris, Duan Sanderson, Janelle Monáe, Jaden Piner, Ashton Sanders
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Moonlight is the best film of 2016, and I will fight anyone who disagrees. (Must be under five feet and weigh less than one hundred pounds.)

If you watched last night's Academy Awards, or any notable award ceremony this year, you'll know one film stood out: Moonlight

People at my day job ask me, "What is this film about? (I'm a copywriter by day, and moonlight as a film critic. I also thought all day how I would fit that sentence into this coverage of the film.) I don't want to spoil anything for them, but I've learned that no matter what you describe about Moonlight, it's still will not do this film justice. This is a film you need to buy. It's a film you need to show your children when they hit high school, and it's a film that doesn't need loud noises or CGI to move you. 

That's what I'm going to leave you with. If there's any film you buy this year, make it Moonlight

 

Moonlight [Blu-ray]
Starring Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes, Janelle Monae, Mahershala Ali

Doctor Strange

Writer/Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Doctor Strange is visually everything Inception should have been. (Except that one scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt is nothing short of breathtaking.) It's a shame Strange didn't win the Academy Award for its special effects two days ago, because it was surely warranted, especially of The Jungle Book (which is a cute little movie, but its amount of incredible effects do not beat Doctor Strange).  

I call Doctor Strange a foot-in-mouth movie. I had zero interested in it, and in fact expressed how dull it seemed, but when I finally saw it, I was lucky my jaw is attached to my skull because it would have dropped to the floor. Doctor Strange is staggering spectacular; a cerebral film to bask at and is now my favorite Marvel film and one of the best superhero films ever made. The story is great, perfect cast, and those special effects are, excuse me, but this film deserves this pun, something to marvel at.

I'm a practical effects kind of fella, but Doctor Strange are a powerful reminder that, when done right, CGI isn't our enemy.

Doctor Strange [Blu-ray]
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen

New on Blu: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, BAD SANTA 2

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Manchester by the Sea

Writer/Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is one of the best movies of the year, as one of the most gut-wrenching films of the year. As an individual who always steps in shit, I can relate to Casey Affleck's Lee Chandler, a man who just keeps fucking up, one relationship and emotional security at a time. There's a reason why Affleck is nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, and will most likely win at the award's ceremony on the 26th of this month. 

There's so much tragedy in MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, but impossible to not recommend because of the realness to these tragedies. It's a powerful reminder that bad things happen all the time, they can keep happening, and sometimes there's no redemption to bad choices. 

Manchester By The Sea [Blu-ray]
Starring Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Liam McNeill

Bad Santa 2

Director: Mark Waters
Writers: Johnny Rosenthal, Shauna Cross
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox, Christina Hendricks, Ryan Hansen, Octavia Spencer
Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

Ok, shut up, of course BAD SANTA 2 doesn't live up to the original, which was an unexpected hit, but I don't think they were trying to. The point of BAD SANTA 2 is just to be over-the-top filthy, and more crass the BAD SANTA while repeating the film's plot. Both were achieved. I didn't think you could top Bill Bob Thornton's asshole, no-shit giving nature, but in BAD SANTA 2, Kathy Bates going toe-to-toe with him and it's glorious. Without her, this movie would not be as fun to watch. Sure, she played a terrifying psychopath (redundant?) in Rob Reiner's MISERY, but since then, I've seen her as a pure sweetheart. To see her switch gears in her older years, taking on such a vile role, is nothing short of awesome. 

Bad Santa 2 [Blu-ray]
Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox

New on Blu: Quarry: Season One, Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection (DVD), ARRIVAL, THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like, and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Quarry: Season One

Creators: Michael D. Fuller, Graham Gordy
Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Jodi Balfour, Damon Herriman
Film Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I love Quarry. The series is based on Max Allan Collins' popular pulp books with the titular character on the front line facing mental and physical pain after leaving Vietnam, and still at war (often with himself). He's now a hired assassin to help make ends meet, trying to keep his wife happy, and not get killed. Sounds awesome, right? If you say no, get out of my website and don't come back. (Just being kidding, stay please.)

What I dig about Quarry is that it captures the aura of the 70s. I can almost smell the teak wood and feel the warmth of the lava lamp. Far out, man. 

Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection

Creator: Mike Judge
Cast: Beavis, Butt-head
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I don't like lying, so I have to tell you the truth when I first open the package containing the Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection. I don't know if this was a natural instinct or subconscious excitement, but when I took a look at it when pulling out of the package, I inadvertently laughed just like Butt-Head's unforgettable, infamous  "Uh huh, huh huh" cackle. It's been over 24 years since I've seen the show (!!!) and that laugh is still on the mind. 

Imperative you knew this. 

Mike Judge is always one step ahead of this world and always on to something. He made Idiocracy, about the world turning to shit because of a president not fit to be a president ('sup, Donald Trump!), and Beavis and Butt-Head, two idiots who can get by in this world being shitty and awful (and headbanging. Lots of headbanging.).

This collection comes with a butt-load of special features: Collector's Edition of Beavis and Butthead Do America, "Taint of Greatness: The Journey of Beavis and Butt-Head," and pretty much every appearance they've made and every skit separate from the regular show. There's enough content loaded in this release to spend precious time with these two degenerates for days. 
 

Arrival

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

The Arrival is a hard pill to swallow, and I'm still not sure of a lot that goes on in the film. This is odd because I love it. Perhaps it's Amy Adams' magnetic performance, never failing to take our breath away, or the mystery of the aliens and how they tie in with Adams' Louise Banks. Or, it could be the fact that Denis Villeneuve is my favorite director currently working in Hollywood. Everyone movie he's made has not failed to impress, and his seventh film, Sicario, is in my top ten films of all time. It's so damn thrilling. 

There are some cool bonus features that come with Arrival, but you're still going to be stuck, scratching your head like me once the end credits roll. What's fascinating about this ending is the endless theories. This isn't a movie that ends the way it does to piss you off; it wants you to think. Who knows, the answer could be right under your nose. 

Arrival [BD/Digital HD Combo ] [Blu-ray]
Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg

The Edge of Seventeen

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Haley Lu Richardson, Kyra Sedgwick
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

The Edge of Seventeen is a must-see for anyone who's slogged through the purgatories of high school. So...everyone? 

Hailee Steinfeld plays the outcast teen who hates life like she's the most miserable person on earth with without effort. She's funny and delivers her Nadine's pariah, teen angst attitude we can all relate to. She holds her own against scene-stealer Woody Harrelson, who makes the movie his in the very first scene. Harrelson needs to do more dry comedy because he's a natural at it.

The Edge of Seventeen marks the directorial debut for Kelly Fremon Craig, and I hope she continues to make films and no studio gets involved -- she knows what she's doing. Like the cover says, this is one of the best films of 2016. I was late to the bus seeing this, but I'm glad I had caught it before the year was over because it made my Favorite Films of the Year list.

It doesn't matter if you're a teen or adult, this movie is for you.

The Edge of Seventeen (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Haley Lu Richardson

From the Warner Archive Vault: WAIT UNTIL DARK, SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, UNDER THE RAINBOW

Wait Until Dark

Director: Terence Young
Writer: Frederick Knott (play), Robert Carrington, Jane-Howard Hammerstein (screenplay)
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Three conmen get burned by their own game by a blind woman played by Audrey Hepburn (which garnered her an Oscar nomination for her staggering performance). One of the goons is played by Alan Arkin, who looks like he just stepped out of THE MATRIX RELOADED (compliment). This is a side of Arkin I've never seen: chilling and ruthless. 

One of the most compelling aspects of the movie is that it takes place almost entirely in a crowded small apartment, giving a feeling of claustrophobia, especially since we're watching Susy Hendrix (Hepburn) navigate herself around when she's new to being blind, and hasn't really learned to use her other senses and memory to get around.

I loved this movie -- it's a riot watching it unfold as the clueless Susy winds up beating out the hoods with instinct and wit. Also, as we've learned in movies, you can't ever go into business with other goons -- it never ends well for them.  

Wait Until Dark (1967) [Blu-ray]
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Jr. Efrem Zimbalist

Showdown in Little Tokyo

Director: Mark L. Lester
Writers: Stephen Glantz, Caliope Brattlestreet
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee
Film Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY BUY BUY

Brandon Lee -- Bruce Lee's talented son -- died way too damn young and only left us with three films: the cult hit THE CROW (where he was accidentally killed during production), RAPID FIRE, and SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO. A shame, a real damn shame, but we're lucky to have a few films to remember him by and what could have been. (Which can be the same about Bruce.)

I digress. 

SHOWDOWN is accurate for its release: lots of nudity, drugs, violence, and the hero showing his perfectly sculpted butt.

It's been a long time since I've seen this and is much different than how I remember. Like Bruce showcased in THE WAY OF THE DRAGON, Brandon shows off his comedy chops as the wise-cracking police officer, Johnny Murata. He gives this character a fun presence while kicking people to sleep left and right, and molds the camaraderie with Dolph's Sgt. Chris Kenner, like they've been good ole pals for a good while. Their chemistry works, and it's fun, as well as charming watching their characters try to one-up each other in their martial arts talents while giving Little Tokyo a beat down. (Brandon's got the kicks, Dolph has the get-out-of-my-way sonic boom punches.) 

Costarring is Tia Carrera, Shredder's right-hand man from the old, good NINJA TURTLES movies, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who's played a villain more times than anyone in cinema. (Note: This has not been verified, but I'm going with my gut, which is always right.)

SHOWDOWN has everything a movie-loving karate fan wants: Dolph Lundgren karate kicking over a car, Dolph Lundgren beating up bad guys with a cup of coffee in his hand, Brandon fucking Lee.

Showdown in Little Tokyo [Blu-ray]
Starring Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tia Carrere, Vernée Watson-Johnson

Under the Rainbow

Director: Steve Rash
Writers: Fred Bauer, Pat Bradley (story); Pat McCormick, Harry Hurwitz, Martin Smith, Pat Bradley, Fred Bauer (screenplay)
Cast: Carrie Fisher, Chevy Chase
Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

UNDER THE RAINBOW is fucking bonkers. I got this after reading the first memoir from the late, irreplaceable, super awesome Carrie Fisher. She hated this movie with a passion and said Chevy Chase was less than pleasing to work with. As a woman who holds absolutely nothing back, I just had to see this, naturally. 

I'm going to try to explain UNDER THE RAINBOW. It's in the midst of filming THE WIZARD OF OZ, all 150 dwarfs, script supervisor (Fisher), a CIA agent (Chevy Chase), and a bunch of wackos are staying in the hotel called Hotel Rainbow (and anyone who enters it is now under it, you see). There's a shitload of subplots: a Nazi spy trying to steal a map, a Japanese spy trying to steal a map, and an assassin trying to kill someone but keeps botching it Mr. Bean slapstick style.

There's also a running joke where Chase keeps replacing Toto because the (current) Toto he has in his possession keeps accidentally dying.

This irreverent screwball comedy cranks the subgenre up to eleven. The finale involves the set of GONE WITH THE WIND, a western I couldn't pinpoint, and half the dwarfs in Oompa Loompa uniform chasing the Nazi dwarf. By the end of the movie, they are literally no longer in Kansas, anymore. UNDER THE RAINBOW is so ridiculous; you have to see it to believe it.  

Fisher looks great in the film, shiny and beautiful as always, and I bet she got super drunk and high along with the rest of the actors to make this film. This is one of the most batshit crazy movies of all the batshit crazy movies I've ever seen. And I mean that as a compliment. 

Under The Rainbow (1981)
Starring Chevy Chase, Carrie Fisher, Eve Arden, Joseph Maher, Robert Donner

TROLLS: PARTY EDITION

Director: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I've probably seen TROLLS about 37 times. I'm not being hyperbolic. My darling niece loves this movie so much, she built a bear, dressed it as a troll and gave it their fabulous Christopher 'Kid' Harris-esque wavy hair, and named him Poppy. Her favorite part of the movie is the credits, which is the time when she dances like crazy to one of the film's hit songs, "September," and headbangs because it's "how the trolls shake their hair." 

This party edition is awesome and your kids will love it. Look at these interactive ways to watch the film. Lots of hugs, lots of love. 

Don't let me sell you on this film when my niece does a much better job. Here two videos explaining why your kids need the movie, and what to do during the end credits. Enjoy. 

Trolls
20th Century Fox

New on Blu: DIRTY DANCING: 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, TROLLS: PARTY EDITION, THE TAKE, LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition

Director: Emile Ardolino
Writer: Eleanor Bergstein
Cast: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

DIRTY DANCING brings me back to my childhood. I'm sure it brings a lot of people my age back to their adolescence, too, but this film and BABY BOOM were staples of my growing up. I was raised by my mother, and these are her two favorite films still. (I'm pretty sure it's un-American not to have the time of your life watching this movie.)

Back then, VHS was all the rage, and my mom had a recorded version of DIRTY DANCING she got off HBO. (Buying movies were a hell of a lot more expensive back in that time, so taping two - three movies on one VHS was what you did.) We'd always watch the full movie, but then she'd rewind the ending scene, the famous dance scene, the one where the dreamy Patrick Swayze walks into the room and asks for Jennifer Grey's hand, and they do their infamous dance number that will give you chills every time you watch it it's so energetic and exciting. DIRTY DANCING showed us how to fly in the arms of an angel. Everyone -- in the movie and us -- falls in love with this moment, every time. When that bass kicks in from "Time of My Life," and the duo start getting into their routine, it's like an action movie but with crazy hypnotic dancing. 

This film spoke to every generation. It taught us how to dance, and it taught us how to fall in love through dancing. And now it's back to celebrate its 30-year anniversary. It still seems like yesterday I was watching it with my mom in our living room, and now this beloved film is 30. Time flies when you're busy dancing your heart out. 

It's a damn shame Swayze is no longer with us: he taught us how to dance, rip a man's throat out, and keep love alive when you're a ghost. He'll always be immortalized as one of cinema's rebels with a cause. 

Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
Starring Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, Jack Weston

TROLLS: Party Edition

Director: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I've probably seen TROLLS about 37 times. I'm not being hyperbolic. My darling niece loves this movie so much, she built a bear, dressed it as a troll and gave it their fabulous Christopher 'Kid' Harris-esque wavy hair, and named him Poppy. Her favorite part of the movie is the credits, which is the time when she dances like crazy to one of the film's hit songs, "September," and headbangs because it's "how the trolls shake their hair." 

Don't let me sell you on this film when my niece does a much better job. Here two videos explaining why your kids need the movie, and what to do during the end credits. Enjoy. 

Trolls
20th Century Fox

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

Director: Lian Lunson
Cast: Leonard Cohen, Bono, Rufus Wainwright
Film Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY (If you're a fan)

There have been a few documentaries made on icon Leonard Cohen (I found one, so just one), but none as good as LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN. 

Packed with acts you love performing some of Leonard Cohen hits songs, I'M YOUR MAN is a hit documentary on the life of the artist. It's the conventional type of celebrity documentary you've seen before: artists talking about how the subject influenced them and why he/she is so prolific, his/her upbringing through to how they got to juggernaut status, but it's how it's told -- narrated by Cohen, spoken in mostly poetry -- and shown, with U2, Nick Cave (who has an excellent documentary about himself called 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH), Rufus Wainright, and many other musicians coming together for a night to play his hit songs (one of them being the opener for NATURAL BORN KILLERS, "Waiting For The Miracle.").

LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN first released in 2006 after a successful festival run at Sundance, TIFF, and Berlin, and is now resurrected for a first-time Blu-ray release.  

Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man [Blu-ray]
Starring Leonard Cohen, Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Nick Cave, Kate McGarrigle