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

New on Blu: JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK, POLTERGEIST II and III, BALLERS: SEASON TWO, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman: Season One

Testing who reads this. Today is my 34th birthday. Email me to say hi if you read this at chasewhale@gmail.com. kthanksbye!

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.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Director: Edward Zwick
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

Christopher McQuarrie (THE WAY OF THE GUN) did a terrific job directing the first JACK REACHER, and I wish he stayed on board the series. The books are great, this movie, is not. The first? A solid beginning to a promising franchise and Tom Cruise does fill the boots Jack Reacher wears well (same age but smaller and svelt versus large and pudgy), but this entry was just, well, boring. We do get Cruise running twice, which is nice, but not enough Cobie Smulders kicking ass, or even Reacher. Lots of jargon talk and a swift fight scene the audience sees coming a mile away. 

The Blu-ray does come with a kickass novella buy Jack Reacher author Lee Child with some groovy artwork. If you're a fan of Cruise running or Child's work, buy it. 

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Collector's Edition)

Director: Brian Gibson
Writer: Mark Victor, Michael Grais
Cast: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O'Rourke, Zelda Rubinstein
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Do you believe some people are doomed? I do. 

That’s my lede for this film’s coverage. 

It’s bone-chilling two of the leads died during horrifically during production of the POLTERGEIST series, films about death, ghosts, and spirits. Just watching them and knowing the history behind them makes the films truly terrifying. 

This is going to be mentioned by every writer reviewing these Blu-ray releases, but it’s important to talk about the elephant in the room. 

Dominique Dunne, who played Dana Freeling in POLTERGEIST, sister to Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke), was strangled to death after the film was completed by her then jealous boyfriend. He's now out of jail and owns a restaurant in L.A., free as a bird and alive. (Please God, make this one burn.) 

She was written out of the second, supposed to have gone to college but the scene was cut. Completely gone and forgotten. That’s Hollywood for ya. Keep the machine moving. 

O'Rourke, the center of all three films (and who the dead are after), was clearly sick during part III. She was misdiagnosed of having Crohn's disease. If you read the heartbreaking report of her illness on Wikipedia, you'll learn her trail of sickness led to a heart attack. She was 12. 

These two films have been restored and re-release today, on January 31st. Heather O'Rourke died on February 1, 1988. A child haunted by death in the movies and plagued by death in real life. What a tragedy. 

Watching the third, seeing her puffy cheeks and knowing she was sick during production is just...depressing.

Much love to Scream Factory for doing a superb job bringing these back with their always fantastic artwork and restoration. The girls may be gone, but at least Scream Factory managed to salvage O’Rourke’s legacy.  

Recommendation: Watch the series in reverse order. That way you get the colorful O'Rourke at her best, and get to see Dunne in her final film performance. 

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Starring Heather O'Rourke, JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Oliver Robins

Poltergeist III (Collector's Edition)

Director: Gary Sherman
Writer: Gary Sherman, Brian Taggert
Cast: Heather O'Rourke, Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen, Lara Flynn Boyle, Zelda Rubinstein
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

See Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Collector's Edition). 

Poltergeist III (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Starring Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen, Heather O'Rourke, Lara Flynn Boyle

Ballers: Season Two

Creator: Stephen Levinson
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, John David Washington, Omar Benson Miller
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I'll watch anything with Dwayne Johnson. I'd watch the hell out of GIGLI 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO if it were, starring The Rock. He's got charisma when he's angry, happy, or sad. Range. He won me (and most of America) over. 

I do have to admit I didn't pay attention to this show until I got season two and went back to watch the first. The story and characters arcs aren't interesting to a guy like me -- one who doesn't pay attention to sports -- but now I'm hooked, as well as learning something about the American sport we call football. (Be proud, dad. Be proud.) 

With football, the show is also about another one of America's favorite pastimes: rich celebrities doing rich shit, getting in trouble, and staying rich. 

This is season two. you know if you're want continue playing Ball or not. I'm in. 

 

The Story of God with Morgan Freeman: Season One

Creator: Stephen Levinson
Cast: Morgan Freeman
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Morgan has played God in two goof fiction movies, and now, for National Geographic, he narrates with that beautiful voice of his while he explores the world, investigating different religious cultures and visiting prominent religious places. We learn (as he does) why these places are so prominent to God. 

Season one is six one-hour long episodes of his journey. It's proven to be popular, as season two is already underway. Believer or not, this is a fascinating look at faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New on Blu: xXx 15th Anniversary 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.

xXx 15th Anniversary Edition

Director: Rob Cohen
Writer: Rich Wilkes
Cast: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I remember seeing XXX as a teenager. One moment sticks out: when he jumps over a fence on his xXxxxxtreme dirtbike and his face is clearly CGI'd on the stunt double's face. I knew one day we wouldn't even be able to tell when that happens again. (I was right, here we are.)

I like XXX, but does anyone know why Rich Wilkes didn't write xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. He's the word-slinger behind Glory Daze (starring a 1995 goateed Ben Affleck), Beer Money, The Jerky Boys, The Stöned Age, and the actually great Airheads. All movies based on morons going above and beyond to achieve a higher moronic status. 

xXx's director -- Rob Cohen -- delivered some pretty fucking great films: DRAGON, THE BRUCE LEE STORY being the one that would garner a lot of accolades if made today, and THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (now a bazillion dollar-reaping franchise with co-starring Diesel), 

Something important: I completely forgot Danny Trejo is in this. Shouldn't have been a surprise, though, he's in everything. Just look around. You'll find him, somewhere. Where's Trejo? should be a coloring book, with all of his first scenes. If someone made that, it would reap millions. 

And for what it's worth, the whole team behind xXX made it really hard (free pun for you) to google images from the film without seeing something a penis or vagina. Or both playing In the Car Garage together. 

XXX is stupid, but stupid fun. 

XXX 15th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray]
Starring Samuel Jackson, Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas

New on Blu: TRAIN TO BUSAN, Roger Corman's DEATH RACE 2050, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

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.

Train to Busan

Director: Sang-ho Yeon
Writer: Sang-ho Yeon
Cast: Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

If I had to describe TRAIN TO BUSAN in less than five words, I'd call it "a Zombie movie with heart." 

This is probably the moment where you name other zombie movies with heart, but I've seen a lot of brain-eating movies, and this is currently the only one that comes to mind. 

TRAIN TO BUSAN is written and directed by Sang-ho Yeon. Looking at this IMdb, he honed his skills with his previous film, an animated zombie film called SEOUL STATION.

TRAIN TO BUSAN is also pretty fierce with keeping your heart racing, and hoping so-and-so makes it to the end and doesn't get chomped on by a new kind of zombie we haven't seen before. These crazy flesh-eating killers will come at you with determination in whatever shape they're in. Some fall from buildings and get up, contorted and coming at ya. It's awesome watching these zombies go to work and watch the protagonist go the distance to keep his daughter safe. Like I said, big beating heart with zombies.

Train to Busan [Blu-ray]
Starring Gong Yoo, Jeong Yu-mi, Choi Woo-sik

Roger Corman's Death Race 2050

Director:  G.J. Echternkamp
Writer:  G.J. Echternkamp, Matt Yamashita
Cast: Manu Bennett, Malcolm McDowell, Marci Miller
Film Rating: ★
Buy/Rent: Rent (if you're a Corman fan)

It's been 50 years since the first DEATH RACE, and almost the same amount since B-movie legend Roger Corman made the first film (42 years, to be exact). 

Does Corman's style of films that worked in in the 60s - 90s (sometimes cheap do-it-yourself, at times a limited budget that worked in his favor) count today? No. When movies are obviously to capture the magic movies brought in the 70s, it's more irritating than entertaining. Corman can't be faulted since this has been his method of filmmaking madness. However, DEATH RACE 2050 just doesn't work. It tries too damn hard be cheap though terrible dialogue ("Smoking Cigarettes may be bad for you; battling Frankenstein? That's FATAL.") and CGI. 

Corman wasn't happy with DEATH RACE (2008), Starring the world's most colossal action star, Jason Statham because it didn't have the political themes and dark humor from the original. That perhaps ate at him, so made this to satisfy his reasons for this sequel. 

DEATH RACE 2050 contains political mockery, and I guess dark humor (but it's difficult to laugh), and it's unquestionably a Corman film. Sometimes that can be bad. 

Roger Corman's Death Race 2050 (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Starring Manu Bennett, Malcolm McDowell, Marci Miller

The Girl on the Train

Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay), Paula Hawkins (novel)
Cast: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

I didn't read the book, so I don't have many punches to throw in this fight, I can only report what I saw on screen. 

I love a good thriller, and the film hits it with that, even though some of the twists can be seen early on. Emily Blunt as the girl on the train, a horrific drunk filled with regrets and repressed memories, makes this film worth the watch. She can pull of charisma and make a sad sack look, well sad. Sometimes she pulls both off both at the same time, pulling our little heart strings. 

If you've read the book, proceed with caution. If you haven't, watch for Emily.

The Girl on the Train (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans

New on Blu: THE ACCOUNTANT, DEEPWATER HORIZON

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.

The Accountant

Director: Gavin O'Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons
Film Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

A few things. I don't watch movie trailers, anymore. They give away way too damn much, sometimes the ending. I was looking forward to THE ACCOUNTANT because of the sypnosis. An accountant whose an assassin, starring Ben Affleck? I'm in. Then the reviews from critics came in on Rotten Tomatoes (which I'm a proud member of). I will almost always give a film chance, especially when a film teters around 40% and higher on the Tomatometer. THE ACCOUNTANT is sitting at 51% at the time this was written, so my expectations weren't that high. 

Here's the exciting part: it blew me out of the water. I love THE ACCOUNTANT. It's one of Ben Affleck's best roles to date, and his most focused and determined. The film sets up really well with some twists -- some you see coming, some, you don't. There's lots of Ben kicking ass (probably around the same time he was training as Batman), and the adrenaline-fueled fighting style used in the film is Silat, which you've seen in THE RAID and THE RAID 2. 

There aren't that any special features -- they seem to be dwindling down these days -- but THE ACCOUNTANT is excellent and deserves your money. Add up the enough money and buy it.

Deepwater Horizon

Director:  Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Douglas M. Griffin
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

Mark Wahlberg enjoys being in films based on a true story: Deepwater Horizon, Patriot's Day, Ted, The Basketball Diaries, The Perfect Storm, Invincible, The Fighter, Lone Survivor, and Pain & Gain. He's the star in all but two. He's got top billing over a lot of stars, so there's a lot of pressure. (Free Deepwater Horizon pun for you.)

He always delivers, puts in an exceptional performance in everything he does, but the entertainment of the movies as a whole he's doing are starting to nosedive into the water. The best character in this movie is Kurt Russell's mustache, so you want to rent it for that. 

DEEPWATER HORIZON, like SUICIDE SQUAD, let's you use that Oculus thing to watch certain scenes, looking around as the action is happening. I wrote about this a long time ago and didn't think this kind of filmmaking would happen for a while, but here we are. 

Deepwater Horizon [DVD]
Starring Kurt Russell, Mark Wahlberg, James DuMont, Douglas M. Griffin, Joe Chrest

New on Blu: GIRLS SEASON FIVE, JACKIE CHAN PRESENTS: AMNESIA

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.

Girls: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray

Creator: Lena Dunham
Cast: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Adam Driver, Zosia Mamet, Alex Karpovsky
Rating: Four ★★★★
Special Features: ★
Buy/Rent: BUY

The girls are back in town. (On Blu-ray, that is.)

This season felt a lot different than the rest; more character arcs, downward spirals, upsets. You know, real life. This is the running theme of girls, but it hits much harder in Season Five. This season gave us more about the rest of the girls since we we know Hannah like a close friend, already. My favorite part of the show, and this season, is Adam (Adam Driver). While I do miss him and Hannah as a couple, his wacky romance with Jessa (Jemima Kirke). It's appropriate considering they are both oddballs and he cares for her more than her friends and own family. Watching  Shoshanna's adventures in Tokyo was a nice treat away from Brooklyn, where most of the series we spend. This is the season where true adulthood is on the mind for everyone on the show, whether they work for it or not. 

There's only one season left, and I hope it tops this season, albeit doing it right. It has to. The girls are growing up and into their own skin. Time for them to sent off with a smile. 

There's always a complaint that Dunham and her team of writers are doing something to be racy or controversial. Just let the girls have fun, OK? 

Special Features:
-- Deleted Scenes
-- Extended Scenes
-- Inside the Episodes

Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia

Director: Yinxi Song
Cast: Ken Lo, Xingtong Yao, Rongguang Yu
Film Rating: ★★★
Special Features: ★
Buy/Rent: RENT

When I interviewed Jean-Claude Van Damme a few years back, I asked him what his plans were for doing action films when he's at the age where he's too fragile. (His answer was that he was going to keep going.)

Jackie Chan is still fooling around in front of the camera, but it's already preparing to rake in the money with his name stamped in the title, without him starring. His "Jackie Chan Presents" series is a smart move for that day he just can't deal with the injuries and would watch young action actors shine on screen. 

This brings us to the second release in the will-be-ongoing series: JACKIE CHAN PRESENTS: AMNESIA. I love that he's helping new talent shine on screen. We will one day need a new Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan, and a good start is here. While the movie isn't that great, it's a beginning for the young stars who will one day dominate in the action genre. 

New on Blu: AMERICAN HONEY, SNOWDEN

American Honey

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: Andrea Arnold
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Special Features:
Buy/Rent: BUY

Andrea Arnold is one of the finest working filmmakers in Hollywood. She knows her lead when she sees him/her. She sees the talent and plucks no-names off the street to star in most of her films. She did this for FISH TANK, which garnered then newcomer Katie Jarvis a British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer. 

She did this again seven years later with this gem, AMERICAN HONEY. Fun trivia: She grabbed her non-name star right in my hood, Dallas-Fort Worth. Arnold's eye for talent is fascinating. Jarvis was a natural in FISH TANK, and AMERICAN HONEY's lead Sasha Lane carries that same inherent quality. Looking at her IMDb, it's bloated with big upcoming roles. She's that terrific. 

Another quality of AMERICAN HONEY is the co-star, Shia LaBeouf. Sure, he's been an egghead over the last few years, but there's no arguing he puts in a full tank of gas in his acting. Every role he baptizes himself in. I want his career to last for decades; he surely deserves it. He just needs to calm down on the weird art shit -- which turns average moviegoers away -- and he's golden. (He'll never lose his pleasant weirdness; for this role, he get two 12 tattoos, two are of Missy Elliott on his kneecaps.)

There are not many special features, but this is worth the buy for the film itself. DVD is being phased out, so before 4K completely takes over, Blu-ray is they way to go for Superb films. This is one of them. 

 

Special Feature: 
Sasha Lane & Riley Keough on AMERICAN HONEY
 

 

American Honey [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
Starring Shia LeBeouf, McCaul Lombardi

Snowden

Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Nicolas Cage
Film Rating: ★★★
Special Features: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt as much as the next Josh Gordon-Levitt fan, but I'm scratching my head why this was made so soon after CITIZENFOUR, a bold documentary on whistleblower Edward Snowden. That released in 2014. This could have pulled a lot of punch if Hollywood didn't jump the gun making a fictional film about him so soon. (Same for that horrible movie about 9/11, WORLD TRADE CENTER; a real tragedy Hollywood took advantage of.) Snowden is still hiding out wherever and uncovered a terrifying thing about what the U.S. government were up to. As a viewer, I knew the outcome, but watching Citizenfour as it was unfolding was heart pounding. 

SNOWDEN does journey where CITIZENFOUR didn't: his journey to becoming the whistleblower/turncoat/maniac/true patriot or whatever noun you prefer. Gordon-Levitt spits out an excellent performance, and he's always good in everything he does, so perhaps give this one a rent for him and its director, the great Oliver Stone. 

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Finding the Truth
Snowden Q&A -- An interview with Edward Snowden, Oliver Stone, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Shailene Woodley

Snowden (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson

In Defense of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE had it rough before it even released. Movie bloggers and critics were slamming it before going in and giving it a chance. Many of my colleagues were counting the days before they could crush it with their harsh words. That's not how film criticism should work -- a critic should always go in open-minded. If they can't, don't review -- but with today's online writers, people do as they please; reviewing a movie they are dreading to see is a part of the system. Most of us go on set visits, show off on social media about it, and then bash the film. 

This is before the movie screened for critics. 

There are two significant problems with BvS. One is the critic's fault; one is Synder's. 

1) To understand comic book films, you need to know the comics. This goes with any film that has history of literature before it. I've only reviewed one film based on a book and made sure to disclose that I didn't read the book, so the reader knew that I only reviewed what I saw on screen, but perhaps didn't understand some content because I didn't read the book. 

2) Critics first slammed MAN OF STEEL because of the destruction of Metropolis and Superman snapping Zod's neck. In defense, he hand no choice; Zod told him, "the people of Earth or me." A few more things to ponder: In Richard Lester/Richard Donner's SUPERMAN II, Christopher Reeve's did kill Zod and his two goons, but they played it safe for moviegoers and critics. Superman is, after, a good little alien. But when you think about it, Zod's death in MAN OF STEEL was quick; in SUPERMAN II, Zod is falling into an endless pit until he runs of out breath or his heart gives out. But it's framed in a way where it's not violent. (Yes, I've had a long time to think about this, and I love SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II.) 

But violence and realism is what critics and fans begged for after the IRONMAN and THE DARK KNIGHT. Superman is a character who's hard to be dark, but director Zach Snyder made it happen with MAN OF STEEL. Superman couldn't stick to his code of saving every civilian as the large fucking buildings falling  because he was busy trying to save the world by geting rid of Zod and his team of Kryptonian assassins. Cut Snyder and Supes some slack.

For BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, where Snyder fumbled was in the editing process. The Ultimate Edition explains all of the plot holes and missed opportunities for the theatrical version. "Why didn't Superman know there was a bomb in that wheelchair?" The UE has a ten-second clip explaining Lex Luthor made it out of lead, so he couldn't see what was in it. "Why did that young lady who was "at the location" where Superman saved Lois, lie about Superman killing civilians?" Well, it's explained in one quick clip that Lex Luthor paid her to say it. Even gave her a script. These should have been in the theatrical version.

The bundle of editing missteps fall on Snyder and his team. Lots of bad editing calls that would have made the film more understandable to the ones who just thought it was a stuffed turkey about two dudes set on beating the shit out of each other. 

And people have got to let go of why the two team up after the big fight. The name of their mother's are in the comics, so you can't really blame the filmmaker for sticking with that. Sure, it's a little cheesy, but all superhero movies have cheesy moments. 

In defense of the UE, it's three hours long and the average moviegoer would not sit through that. Hell, it's hard for me to sit through a two and half-hour film. I can't remember seeing a movie in a theater that's running time is under two hours. 

Maybe the UE should have been the one to release in theaters. The leap of faith would have been worth it since it's two of the greatest comic book heros of all time, and people would perhaps tolerate the running time because these two were finally put together in the same film. 

Snyder knows how to paint a picture, but perhaps needs to stay away from the writing process. BvS is a beautiful film, and deserves that recognition. As for the errors, he listens, which is why the destruction of Metropolis is explained in BvS. 

Watch the Ultimate Edition when you can, and see if it changes how you feel about the movie. It sure did me. 

New on Blu: SUICIDE SQUAD, PHANTASM REMASTERED, SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU

Suicide Squad Extended Cut

Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Film Rating: ★★★
Special Features: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Let's cut to the chase: I like the Extended Cut of SUICIDE SQUAD. Is it because I got to watch it without a theater full of critics scoffing at everything, or because the little bit of extra footage made the movie a bit better? I don't have the answer, but I like the Extended Cut of SUICIDE SQUAD. It was more entertaining and fun on the second watch. Here's to keeping the DC Universe continuing at the cinema. 

Special Features: 
- Task Force X: One Team, One Mission – Discover the rich legacy of DC’s most infamous bad guys
- Squad Strength and Skills – How’d they whip themselves into shape?
- Get the inside story Joker and Harley: The ‘It’ Couple of the Underworld – She’s rotten. He’s damaged. They’re a match made in hell
- Chasing the Real – Writer/director David Ayer reveals techniques for creating an authentic surreal world
- Gag Reel
- Character bios
- Download Vudu's app and get the exclusive "Suicide Squad Extras+ Experience
- Thre's also a slick feature where you can view certain scenes in 360 oculus-style

Suicide Squad (Extended Cut Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)
Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis

Phantasm Remastere

Director: Don Coscarelli
Writer: Don Coscarelli
Cast: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm
Film Rating: ★★★★
Special Features: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Well Go USA is changing and doing big things. First starting out as America's leading Asian film distributor, they've branched out to American indie movies, and now, repertory cult cinema. Their first grab? The wildly popular PHANTASM, which has been running on a full tank of gasoline since 1979. We've all been waiting for a Remastered Blu-ray, and now it's here, along with a fifth and final film in the franchise, PHANTASM: RAVAGER, directed by the weird and wonderful filmmaker who made the original, Don Coscarelli. (Never take off those Elvis glasses, Coscarelli, never.)

Two things that made PHANTASM brilliant and became Hollywood tropes to this very day: having a kid figure out the terror and how to kill it instead of grown-ass people, and silently mouthing "What the fuck?" (BLADE is the best one of the bunch.)

PHANTASM REMASTERED is now in HD, but they've kept the quality of giving it that 70s, yellow-esque tone, so don't worry. Well Go USA did as great of a job on this as Scream Factory does on all their films. 

Long live The Thin Man!

Also available, PHANTASM: RAVAGER!

Special Features:
- New 5.1 Surround Sound
- Original Mono Track
- Audio Commentary with Director & Writer Don Coscarelli, Michael Baldwin (Mike), Angus - Scrimm (The Tall Man), and Bill Thornbury (Joan)
- Graveyard Carz Episode
- Interviews from 1979 with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm
- Deleted Scenes
- Trailers

Phantasm: Remaster [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]
Starring Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister

Southside with You

Director: Richard Tanne
Writer: Richard Tanne
Cast: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway
Film Rating: ★★★
Special Features: ★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

Two fiction films have been made about soon-to-be former president Barack Obama: Barry and Southside with You. This will not be said about Trump (unless you count Jeremy Konnor's hilarious satire THE ART OF THE DEAL, where Johnny Depp nails his portrayal of King Bozo, Trump). 

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU gained a bigger audience since it went to theaters (BARRY is Netflix), and it's not a bad story about Obama wooing Michelle on their first date. There's something missing to this story, and I'm not sure what. I just didn't feel complete. 

It is worth your time since it's about one of your coolest presidents -- now is the time to watch it more than any. Barack knows how to treat a lady, something else that will not be said about Trump. 

Special Features:
Audio Commentary: 
Original Artwork and Animations
Theatrical Trailer

Southside With You [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
Starring Tika Sumpter, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Parker Sawyers

New on Blu: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Black and Chrome Edition), THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS, DON'T BREATHE

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 new column from film pundit Chase Whale, 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. 

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Black and Chrome Edition)

Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne (who played the villain "Toecutter" in 1979's Mad Max which starred and boomed Mel Gibson's career)
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Special Features: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is one of the best films of this decade. Filled with batshit crazy stunts and sparse CGI when required, George Miller, 71, is a wunderkind made one of the best movies of 2015. You won't find many 71-year-olds making movies like the high-octane MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, well, ever.

This is why the Black and Chrome edition is so important -- it's what Miller wanted from the get-go. 

On the Blu-ray, Miller introduced the Black and Chrome edition by saying it's the better version of the film. I wholeheartedly disagree because the dusty sepia color palette gives FURY ROAD the feel of a wasteland. However, something monstrous about Black and Chrome version -- you can't see the obvious CGI moments. That's not the intention why they sucked out the colors and hyped up black and chrome -- Miller had this vision for a long time. It's tough to put up an argument with the director who made the film you love, but there's a gray area in there for every voice. (excluding the ones in your head.)

It's a necessary buy just to have the option to watch in either version. Invite your BFFs over for a back-to-back FURY ROAD extravaganza, then debate which is better. It'll drive you all mad. 

The cover of the Black & Chrome edition is slick, symmetrically splitting Immortan Joe's soulless face -- half in color and the other, black & chrome.

Special Features:
Miller's brief introduction to the Black & Chrome version
Featurettes: Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road, Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels, The Road Warrior: Max and Furiosa, The Tools of the Wasteland, The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome, Fury Road: Crash and Smash
Deleted Scenes

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

Directors: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Cast: Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, Hannibal Buress, Dana Carvey, Steve Coogan
Film Rating: ★★★★
Special Features: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

THE SECRET LIFE TO PETS is there is not secret: it's exactly how you imagine it to be -- dogs running amuck around the house, cats knocking over things, both eating everything in sight, and animals acting how we know them. Their decorum emphasizes jokes adults will appreciate, and there are enough gratifying gags that will surely make the kids laugh.   It's a cunning animated film on why pets act they way they do and how they act and feel in certain situations. Say, when a dog and his best friend, as well as caretaker, brings in another dog and they start to get territorial with their owner and things turn topsy-turvy. "They" being a Jack Russell Terrier, Max (Louis C.K.) and a Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a brown breed that's unknown but perhaps the filmmakers thought it would be funny to put Chewbacca on all fours. (It works because it's funny.) For this household, there can be only one. 

While on a routine dog walk from a dog walk (a super popular job in New York), Max and Duke get themselves captured by the pound. To their rescue are animals from all over the city. But not so fast, no all come in peace. A game of cat-and-mouse becomes the central focus when Max and Duke upset a bunny with a 'tude named Snowball (Kevin Hart). (There's no irony that Kevin Hart plays the smallest animal in the film, I'm sure.)
I think my favorite character is the pig, who's all tattooed up. It doesn't say "Pig' on IMDb, but a wild guess would be the character "Tattoo" (played by Michael Beattie).

We know from the beginning where the relationship of Max and Duke is going to go, but their journey to get there is what's gratifying to watch. Sure, a lot of animated movies follow a conventional plot that always works, but it's the second act that's the most important. 


Blu-ray Exclusive Features:
-- How to Make an Animated Film.
-- Anatomy of a Scene.

More Special Features:
-- Mini-Movies:
-- All About The Pets – Kevin Hart and Eric Stonestreet, with the help of animal trainer Molly Mignon O’Neill take you on an educational journey to learn more about your average and not-so average, household pets.
-- Animals Can Talk: Meet The Actors – The comedy superstars who give voice to the film’s menagerie of characters talk about their roles and the process of bringing them to life.
-- Hairstylist To The Dogs – Inspired by “Hairspray Live!,” Eric Stonestreet, with the help of a professional dog groomer Jess Rona, will take you through the basic steps to help your pups look as awesome as possible when they’re hanging out with their pet pals.

Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas
Film Rating: ★★★★
Special Features: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

DON'T BREATHE is full of shocking surprises. It takes the conventional home invasion-gone-wrong trope but throws in a lot of twists and turns you won't see coming. This is the best and most violent in the HOME ALONE series. Kevin McCallister grew up and went off the deepend.  

This Blu-ray release comes with a mountain of special features, but the most important one is the sound. If you have surround sound, it feels like you're put right in the middle of the invasion. You hear all creeks and cracks and sounds that will make you shit your pants where you stand. 

It's mind-bending watching how The Blind Man (Stephen Lang, in a victim-turned-villain hyper-menacing performance) how the blind man takes out his burglars and reveals his own horrifying secret. 

I didn't expect DON'T BREATHE to be as good as it is. This is my favorite kind of movie,  ones that catch me off guard and tell people, "see it." 

Special Features: 
-- Eight deleted scenes with Director's Commentary
-- No Escape
-- Creating the Creepy House
-- Meet the Cast
-- Commentary with Director Fede Alvarez, Co-Writer Rodo Sayagues and Actor Stephen Lang
-- Man In The Dark
-- The Sounds of Horror

Movie Review: LA LA LAND

LA LA LAND La La Lavishes with joy and warmth. This is a movie I want to live in. It's a perfect homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood and pays deep admiration of the musicals during that era. 

After a failed audition, Mia (the super gifted Emma Stone) walks passed a mural of Hollywood legends -- Chaplin, Monroe -- people who don't need to be introduced by their full name, people actors want to be, people she wants to be but can't nail the right audition. As she drifts along the avenue, she hears the soothing sounds of a piano and walks into the bar. The pianist is the dreamy Sebastian (played by the dreamy Ryan Gosling). He lives and breathes jazz, a dying breed of music. 

These two characters keep having chance encounters — one very humorous and very L.A. — and finally end up as a couple, *the* couple with whimsical love so powerful; it’s the kind people dream of having. These two float, and sing and dance their happiness together, despite their ongoing struggles. 

As Sebastian, Gosling carries suave and pizazz of Gene Kelley, and the energetic legs and feet of Fred Astaire, while Emma Stone captures a fierce hustle and bounce delivery of Audrey Hepburn, with a sweet tone of Judy Garland. 

LA LA LAND is a musical and one of the most lively and enjoyable of its genre. It’s not your conventional musical — watch Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” music video for a taste of this magical gem. This movie is beautiful in so many ways. Writer-director Damien Chazelle (WHIPLASH) shows what he knows: celebrating music in an effortless slick style. 

From memory, a few films pulse throughout LA LA LAND, including Woody Allen’s ANNIE HALL, revered musicals from the Golden Age such as George Sydney’s SHOW BOAT, GIGI, A STAR IS BORN, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, Chazelle’s first feature WHIPLASH — about strict determination — and the dance numbers and tunes are as remarkable and catchy as 2011’s THE MUPPETS. You’ll be singing long after leaving the theater.  

Chazelle banged on the scene in 2014 with his hard-hitting debut feature film about being the best and nothing less, WHIPLASH, which won three Oscars: Best Supporting Role (J.K. Simmons, in a powerful and monstrous performance), Film Editing, and Sound Mixing. I saw this at its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. It was the opening night film, nobody heard much of it, and after, I wished the other films screening good luck! because we had all just seen the best of the festival.  

And he kept that rhythm going.

For better or worse, LA LA LAND is going to be Chazelle’s best film. From the song and dance numbers to his tongue-in-cheek mockery and glamorizations of the conventions of living in L.A. 

So what is LA LA LAND really about? Decorating and disfiguring surviving in L.A.? Or, the truth and consequences of following your dream? I’m not too sure, but I do know LA LA LAND is a well-planned, well-executed story of love, the reality of disappointment, and what happens when we stop worrying and learn to accept life and its strange designs. LA LA LAND is the backdrop of movies and why we see them. It’s magical.