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Minor Victory For ‘Battle Of The Sexes’ (Movie Review)

There are times when certain films acquire a different sort of position thanks to an altered context within the present. Hidden Figures felt like a movie that gained a lot of steam last winter thanks to being a positive film about black women in a time when that felt like something much needed in theaters. Battle of the Sexes feels like a movie that was being developed at one point in time but is now arriving in theaters following unexpected turns in history. That makes the crowd-pleasing elements all the more enjoyable, even if the film feels fairly paint-by-numbers, with not enough edge going beyond obvious thoughts of why certain ways of thinking are wrong.

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‘The LEGO Ninjago Movie’ Packs A Punch And Some Laughs (Movie Review)

I’ll say upfront that The LEGO Ninjago Movie is a fun blend of action and comedy. Of the three theatrical films in the LEGO cinematic universe so far, this is the most kid-friendly, as far as the scale of which side a majority of the jokes/visuals lean on. However, it should also be noted that Ninjago is the least of the three films in this moneymaking series. Given the surprising amount of emotional resonance in the prior two films, let alone the excellent balance of humor to please both adults and children, I may have had fun again, but I hope the continuation of this LEGO series finds a way to hold onto what made these films work best.

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The Big Sick (Blu-ray Review)

Every comedian has a story, which is likely why they are comedians, to begin with. Detailing the ways life has set one on a particular path makes a lot of sense when it comes to shaping an act designed to entertain people. Comedy can certainly go with life’s tragedies, as an old saying even involves an equation explaining as much. The Big Sick is an excellent encapsulation of this, as it tells the story of the real relationship between comedian Kumail Nanjiani and writer Emily V. Gordon. There are heartbreaks, sadness, and life-threatening illness, so of course, the two decided to write a screenplay that works as a comedy-drama fit for Judd Apatow to produce. As a result, 2017 featured one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year that features a proper balance of comedy and drama. Now The Big Sick is on Blu-ray for all to enjoy

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Kingsman Royale (Movie Review)

2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service was a sleeper hit that reveled in being a Roger Moore-era Bond flick wrapped in modern sensibilities and kinetic, R-rated violence. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is less successful because it feels more like an attempt to hold onto what emotional strengths worked the first time around. Perhaps if this movie came after a more standalone second entry, the connection could have felt more beneficial. Regardless, there is still a lot of good fun to have in a film that serves as a globetrotting spy movie homage, complete with gadgets, robodogs, and a maniacal villain holding the world hostage.

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PREACHER: SEASON TWO Blesses Blu-ray This November

The genre-bending, critically acclaimed supernatural series PREACHER: SEASON TWO arrives on Blu-ray and DVD November 14 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The extended second season is an absurdly twisted, action-packed thrill-ride following Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper, TV’s “Agent Carter,” Captain America: The First Avenger), a small-town preacher with a criminal past who sets out to find God upon learning He is absent from Heaven. Along for the ride are his ex-girlfriend Tulip (Academy Award® nominee Ruth Negga, Best Actress, Loving, 2016, TV’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and his best mate Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun, This is England, TV’s “Emmerdale”), an Irish vampire. Finding themselves in New Orleans, the gang must dodge local gangsters, dangerous secret agents and the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish, TV’s “Outlander”), an unstoppable murderous cowboy from Hell.

 

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Election & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in December 2017

This December, Alexander Payne’s caustically funny Election, a biting satire of political hubris set at an Omaha high school, will join the Criterion Collection in an edition featuring a new, restored 4K digital transfer and new interviews with Payne and Reese Witherspoon. Politics get even uglier in Barbet Schroeder’s General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait, an unsettling encounter with the murderous, charismatic Ugandan dictator, in a new, restored 2K digital transfer, and on Blu-ray for the first time. Plus, fifty years after the Summer of Love, a new Blu-ray collector’s edition of The Complete Monterey Pop Festival celebrates a watershed moment in music history. In addition to D. A. Pennebaker’s classic concert films Monterey Pop (in a new 4K digital restoration), Jimi Plays Monterey, and Shake! Otis at Monterey, the box set contains new supplements and every available complete performance filmed by Pennebaker and his crew. And as previously announced: 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912-2012, a landmark collector’s set featuring fifty-three films from a century of Olympic Games presented together for the first time, as well as a lavishly illustrated, 216-page book.

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Nothing Will Prepare You For ‘Mother!’ (Movie Review)

It is amazing that a gonzo film like Mother! exists. That doesn’t take away from the many weird movies that are out there, some heralded as masterpieces, but Mother! is not some indie debut or the product of a decade continually spewing out originality. Here is a film full of A-list talent, produced by a major studio and opening on over 2,000 screens for audiences to experience. I have no doubt the film will serve as an endurance test for many, but that does not take away from the achievement of this movie. Writer/director Darren Aronofsky has made an incredible piece of work that is somehow being pushed as a mainstream horror movie. Audiences may not be ready for what they get, but Mother! is here to mess with everyone’s head.

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‘Brad’s Status’ Update: Fine (Movie Review)

There’s a point in Brad’s Status where Ben Stiller’s character is called out for what he considers to be his stumbling blocks in life. He’s told he falls under white, male privilege, with first-class problems. There’s no doubt Brad is an entitled character who spends the film providing voiceover about how his respectable, decent life is not sufficient. The key to this film’s enjoyment comes from just how writer/director Mike White configures the story to comment on how obviously oblivious Brad is to everything that he has going for him. Plenty of small comedy-dramas seem to find (white, male) directors pouring their hearts out on the screen when it comes to exploring their dissatisfaction. Brad’s Status does just enough to not make it sound like too much whining.

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Settle In For A ‘Good Time’, Arriving on Blu-ray This November

No crime goes unpunished when the hypnotic action-thriller Good Time heads to Blu-ray (plus Digital HD) and DVD November 21 from Lionsgate. Racing against the clock to get his brother out of jail, Connie Nikas finds himself trying to make some quick hustles while evading arrest on the colorful streets of New York. Directed by the visionary Safdie Brothers (Heaven Knows What, Lenny Cooke) and starring Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga franchise, The Rover) and Oscar® nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh (Best Supporting Actress, The Hateful Eight, 2015), the Rotten Tomatoes Certified Fresh™ film, which was an official selection at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and received a 6 minute standing ovation, is “pure cinematic pleasure” (Manohla Dargis, The New York Times). Continue on to learn more about this upcoming release.

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‘American Assassin’ and Other Tired Ideas (Movie Review)

American Assassin is a film so aggressively mediocre that it actually comes off worse as a result. Based off one of the many novels from a series by Vince Flynn, it somehow took four screenwriters to put together this story of a black ops recruit with attitude. Not that the actors involved are not game to play along, but a scene chewing Michael Keaton only goes so far in a film that comes up lacking in the way of action filmmaking and uses phrases like “stolen Russian plutonium” to supposedly generate excitement. This movie is a relic from another era of action films, and the self-seriousness only hurts this initial entry in what could amount to a terrifically bland series of films, given the types of stories being told.

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Experience Caesar’s Epic Journey in War for the Planet of the Apes on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray 10/24

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. Certified Fresh on RottenTomatoes.com and “one of the very best films of the year” (Kristopher Tapley, Variety) arrives on Digital October 10 and on Blu-ray™, 4K Ultra HD™ and DVD October 24. Andy Serkis returns as Caesar in the thrilling and climactic chapter of the PLANET OF THE APES saga as Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson). After suffering unimaginable losses, Caesar resolves to avenge his kind, pitting him against the Colonel for a final showdown that will determine the future of the planet! In addition to the WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES standalone edition, the PLANET OF THE APES TRILOGY will also be available on October 24. Packed with thrilling action and mind-blowing visual effects, this must-own series is hailed as “one of the greatest trilogies in movie history!” (Scott Mantz, Access Hollywood).

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Get Over ‘It’ (Movie Review)

There’s a lot of anticipation out there for It, the best-selling horror novel by Stephen King that doubles as a pronoun-based nightmare for writers explaining the story. It’s understandable, as so much iconography has come out of this novel, let alone various forms of media devoted to tales of children dealing with trauma in different forms. Now, 2017’s It doubles as the first cinematic attempt to bring this story to the big screen, as well as a kind of nostalgia for King fans and those who have been primed over the years with movies and TV shows from Donnie Darko to Stranger Things. The problem is, this film can only go so far since it chooses to do little more than crank up the volume when it’s time to be scary.

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La Poison – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Discovery continues to be a large part of why I enjoy sitting down and watching films released by The Criterion Collection. La Poison comes from writer/director Sacha Guitry, someone I was unfamiliar with, but thanks to the collection of extras on this Blu-ray release, along with the film, I have a new understanding of him and the history he was a part of. That in mind, there is also a great, darkly hilarious film here. It takes on the idea of a marriage gone sour, before devolving into an interesting look at French ethics circa 1950. Intelligent and made with a good level of tension to go with the witty humor, La Poison was an interesting film to catch up with, and it’s now available from Criterion.

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Aaron’s Top Ten Films of Summer 2017 & More

Looking back through 2017’s Summer movie season, it is hard not to see it as a success. There’s plenty of talk of how box office totals were down, but absent a major August release that took over the charts (think Guardians of the Galaxy or Suicide Squad) and a couple of whiffs from franchises people are fairly tired of (think Transformers), the decline is easy to comprehend. The real thing to note is the quality of films both large and small. As opposed to last summer, where the number of successes was overwhelmed by the number of disappointments, this season featured plenty of well-liked movies. Thoughts on general movie goers and critics aside, people from all sides mostly enjoyed the movies they were able to see. Here’s my list of films I most favored this summer, along with some other notes on the season. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments as well!

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Remastered ‘Close Encounters’ Continues To Deliver The Ultimate In Spielberg Wonder

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is important. It means something. The real wonder of this 1977 sci-fi classic persists to this day, capturing the imagination of many over the last 40 years. Now the film has been restored and remastered in 4K with a one-week re-release that will hopefully bring many back to the theater to see Close Encounters again, let alone inspire newcomers to take in a film so special to many.

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Gotham: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)

The first season of Gotham was a disappointment. The second season was a large improvement. That came from the series feeling better about embracing its comic book roots and having more fun with the storylines and characters. It wasn’t perfect, but it was entertaining enough for a Batman show that doesn’t feature Batman. The third season is largely the same, although good work has been done put further emphasis on main story arcs that divided up the season. There’s also significant character work done on the show’s ensemble cast, which plays down the role of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) in favor of the more colorful players seen here. Now viewers can take in what this third season has to offer in this complete Blu-ray set.

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‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ 4K Re-Release & The Top 5 UFO Arrival Scenes

This week, Steven Spielberg’s science fiction adventure classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, returns to theaters for a 1-week engagement in celebration of the film’s 40th anniversary. The director’s cut has been restored and remastered in 4K, which will be shown on screens, before the arrival of the upcoming 4K UHD release. In anticipation of this release, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of some of the most memorable alien UFO arrival scenes in cinema. While there are a lot of fun options and I went with ones that stuck out the most to me, feel free to add further thoughts in the comments. Continue reading ‘‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ 4K Re-Release & The Top 5 UFO Arrival Scenes’

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On The QT: L.A. Confidential 20th Anniversary Edition Arrives On Blu-ray This September

Well here’s a fun surprise, one of the 90s best films and one of the best police stories, in general, is getting a new Blu-ray release on September 26. Enjoy this news about L.A. Confidential. Director Curtis Hanson and a terrific cast serve up a “thrilling tale of police corruption and Hollywood glamour” (Marshall Fine, Gannett Newspapers) in this film based on James Ellroy’s novel. Three cops (Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce), a call girl (Kim Basinger), a mysterious millionaire (David Strathairn), a tabloid journalist (Danny DeVito) and the chief of detectives (James Cromwell) fuel a plot rife with mystery, ambition, romance and humor. The film captured ACADEMY AWARDS® in 1997 for Best Supporting Actress (Basinger) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Brian Helgeland & Curtis Hanson). Learn more about this 20th anniversary release in the rest of this post.

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