‘The Last Knight’ Bludgeons Audiences With ’Transformers’ Action (Movie Review)

I’ve never been one to shy away from my appreciation for what Michael “Boom Boom” Bay does with the Transformers films. Regardless of how well they may or may not work overall, these wacky blockbusters offer an over-the-top level of spectacle best seen on an IMAX screen. Somehow that all comes to a screeching halt this time around, as Transformers: The Last Knight seems a lot less interested in having as much fun as the previous films. It’s a weird place to be in, as I’m now in the position of arguing in favor of the utter ridiculousness that is Revenge of the Fallen over this film, simply to make a point that some good does come out of these silly films about robots that turn into cars.

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Southern Gothic Horror Meets Empowerment In ‘The Beguiled’ (Movie Review)

Pitting Colin Farrell against a house full of women in a horror film is a something I was not expecting from director Sofia Coppola. Perhaps calling The Beguiled “horror” is a bit of an overstatement, but the Coppola film does a lot to maximize tension. For a movie that is quite straightforward and relatively restrained for the Oscar-winning director, some key moments play well to emphasize what a great production this is and how committed these performances are. All the better that Coppola’s writing is not beyond filtering humor within the rising levels of tension found throughout.

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Big Laughs As ‘The Big Sick’ Tests Love And Family (Movie 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. The results are wonderful, as the film finds a balance of how the awkwardness of life can lead to big laughs as well as many poignant moments.

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Haneke, Hitchcock & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in September 2017

In September, Murray Lerner’s Festival will join the Criterion Collection in time for its fortieth anniversary. The era-defining documentary caught the crest of a musical movement at the Newport Folk Festival from 1963 to 1966 and includes performances by giants like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, and the Staples Singers; the Criterion release’s special features will showcase rare additional footage from the festivals. Austrian maestro Michael Haneke strikes a jagged chord in The Piano Teacher, a twisted psychological study dominated by a steely performance from Isabelle Huppert, whose collaboration with Haneke will be explored in a number of special features on our release. Alfred Hitchcock entered a bold new phase of his legendary career with his first American film, the Oscar-winning gothic melodrama Rebecca, appearing in a stunning new 4K restoration in an edition packed with special features that illuminate the Master of Suspense’s transition to Hollywood. And there’s more: three of contemporary cinema’s greatest actresses share the screen in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, which stars Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, and Kristen Stewart alongside revelatory newcomer Lily Gladstone in a keenly observed triptych of stories set against the lonely backdrop of rural Montana. Plus: David Lynch: The Art Life, fresh from its theatrical release, offers an intimate portrait of the famously elusive director of Eraserhead and Twin Peaks.

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Cage Goes In The Water, Shark’s In The Water, Cage Falls ‘47 Meters Down’ (Movie Review)

The level or ridiculousness involved in killer shark movies in a post-Jaws world must be somewhat close to the level of ridiculousness with regular people who actually put themselves in situations where they are very close to sharks. Accepting the premise of a killer shark movie generally means looking past weak characterization and logic gaps, favoring the tension, thrills and filmmaking on display. 47 Meters Down manages to get close to working thanks to solid scenes of tension that stem from two people stuck at the bottom of the ocean, with a dark void surrounding them. That said, bracing for scares only goes so far when a film is committed to keeping its characters this shallow while in the deep.

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‘Cars 3’ Cruises With Lightning (Movie Review)

I think of Pixar’s Cars franchise as a harmless source of income for the acclaimed studio. Yes, Pixar is matched more frequently now by other animation studios than when Finding Nemo came out, so Cars is put down for so clearly resting on a lower tier than other Pixar efforts. I am no different as far as general regard for the Cars films goes and while you may think this summation is leading to a declaration of how Cars 3 changes everything, it isn’t. Cars 3 does its job. It’s a decent animated effort that is entertaining enough and the best of the series thanks to some additional emotional weight.

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Prepare for ‘Their Finest’, which arrives on Blu-ray this July

Based on the best-selling novel by Lissa Evans, the delightful and heartwarming period piece, Their Finest, arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital HD) and DVD on July 11 from Lionsgate; Digital HD on June 30 and On Demand on July 11 from EuropaCorp. From the producers of Brooklyn and Carol, Their Finest takes place in Britain during World War II and tells the story of a film crew as they create a movie to boost the country’s morale after the Blitz. Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Golden Globe® winner Bill Nighy (2007, Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television, Gideon’s Daughter) lead an all-star cast in what Andrew Barker at Variety considers “a relentlessly charming romantic comedy.” Continue on to learn more about this release.

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Get Your Sights Locked, THE HUNTER’S PRAYER arrives on Blu-ray This August

Based on the novel by Kevin Wignall, the action-packed thriller The Hunter’s Prayer arrives on Blu-ray (plus Digital), DVD, and Digital HD August 8 from Lionsgate. The film is currently available On Demand. Sam Worthington stars as a deadly assassin assigned to kill a young woman named Ella. When his conscience gets the best of him, he defies orders and instead protects Ella. Together they must escape the formidable enemies who are determined to kill them both at all costs. This film is from Jonathan Mostow, the director of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Breakdown. Continue on to learn more about this upcoming release.

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‘It Comes At Night’ And Brings Dread (Movie Review)

The use of space, darkness and an ominous red door are all great assets for It Comes at Night. This is the second film from director Trey Edward Shults, who arrived on the scene with 2015’s Krisha, another film dealing with family-related intensity. With It Comes at Night, that intensity is structured around a thriller with a familiar setup – how does a small group of people last in a cabin in the woods, while evil abounds outside? The intrigue is naturally there, but perhaps not delivered upon in a way that’s friendly to the multiplex audience expecting something along the lines of a simple scare fest.

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A United Kingdom (Blu-ray Review)

Not that all similar films need to be mentioned together, but 2016 offered two films that dealt with important interracial relationships that helped shape history. One was the Oscar-nominated Loving from director Jeff Nichols, which focused on an American couple. The other is A United Kingdom, from director Amma Asante (Belle). While having received good notices at various film festivals and carrying that goodwill toward strong enough reviews, A United Kingdom was only able to garner a small release in America. Still, the film made back its budget and only added to the resumes of the various talented players involved. Now the film is available on Blu-ray for everyone to check out.


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A Cure For Wellness (Blu-ray Review)

As proven this past February, A Cure for Wellness has few tricks up its sleeves that audiences have not seen before. I believe director Gore Verbinski knew this going in but still wanted to go all in. Fitting in the same league as gorgeously designed, but narratively challenged films such as Shutter Island and Crimson Peak, A Cure for Wellness plays like a film where the destination is perhaps clear, but the journey is still cinematically interesting. Like those other films, it may be overlong and overstuffed, but the fact that a major studio funded such an odd project feels like a triumph for film in general. It doesn’t hurt to note just how disturbing some of the visuals are, which does play well to the genre fans looking for strange jolts. Of course, the film flopped, but now anyone can go and discover it for themselves on Blu-ray.

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Cruise ‘Mummy’ Threatens Dark Universe (Movie Review)

Everyone was where they need to be and all of the objects were in place, and yet, when attempting to conjure up success, The Mummy did not rise. While I was wrapped up in anticipation for a new take on The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, everything seemed to unravel rather quickly as the film shambled along. With all the mummy puns out of my system now, let me just say I can’t help but feel disappointed, as Cruise is one to fully commit and star in quality pictures, but The Mummy didn’t deliver the summer fun I was hoping for.

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Fist Fight (Blu-ray Review)

Fist Fight is a comedy that came and went this past winter and accomplishes what it sets out to do in the weakest way it can. Working as a very loose remake of Three O’Clock High, the novelty comes from seeing the meek Charlie Day go up against a very intimidating Ice Cube, all while Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell and other random cast members add some jokes in the background. The results are a mixed bag of laughs, where most of the humor is reliant on cursing and the results of letting the camera roll. It fits with a realm of other broad, R-rated comedies, but it does not exactly fit in the upper leagues.

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Dheepan – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

While I’ve mainly tackled reviews of Criterion Collection films that reflect the past, it is neat to deal with something more modern. Dheepan is a 2015 French film that won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story of Tamil refugees reconstructing their lives in France. The film comes from writer-director Jacques Audiard, who has made several films, but caught my attention with the prison crime-drama A Prophet and followed that up with also great romance drama Rust and Bone. While Dheepan draws from some other notable films, it still serves as a new step for Audiard, which can be explored further, now that it is available on this involving Criterion Blu-ray.

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‘Captain Underpants’ Is A Mighty Tighty Whitey Delight (Movie Review)

Huzzah or should I say tra la laaa! for another solid superhero movie this month. I have no familiarity with the Captain Underpants children’s book series, but I’m all for a film that can turn juvenile humor into an enjoyable, colorful and clever animated comedy about friendship and being yourself. That’s about as deep as it gets and while this latest DreamWorks Animation film is more expressly for kids than adults (opposed to adult-themed laughs in a kids movie), there is a rich amount of energy that makes Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie fun for all ages.

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Wonder Woman Ends DC Cinematic Crisis (Movie Review)

It would appear that Wonder Woman is the result of studio heads and producers thinking things through a bit more and allowing for more creative freedom. Thanks to some talented filmmakers and actors, this is the film the DCEU needed to get themselves out of the hole that began with an underwhelming Man of Steel and reached the furthest possible low with Suicide Squad. And since Disney is no longer paying us reviewers to speak ill of non-Marvel Studios superhero movies (kidding), I’m happy to talk about just how entertaining Wonder Woman is. It may still have some of the standard problems found in superhero origin films and DC’s cinematic branding as of late, but it also plays to a sense of optimism, earnestness and well…wonder.

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The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Blu-ray Review)

Here’s a nifty little thriller that places emphasis on dread and atmosphere over obvious scares. The Blackcoat’s Daughter has been making its way through film festivals for the better part of two years, with the title of February. This past February, the re-titled film finally hit theaters and VOD with unfortunately little fanfare (though Why So Blu’s Jason Coleman shared some thoughts). That’s a shame, as this directorial debut from director Oz Perkins (son of Psycho’s Anthony Perkins) does the job and left a memorable impression on me, or at least enough for me to keep an eye on Perkins.

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‘Pirates of the Caribbean’: At Franchise’s End (Movie Review)

Keep in mind this review is arriving before we learn what amount of treasure Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales manages to plunder at the box office, but what could be next for this series? Disney has managed to make a multi-billion dollar franchise out of a popular amusement park ride, proving anything is possible, including turning that weirdo Johnny Depp into an international superstar. Now we are five films deep in a sub-genre that has still failed repeatedly with everyone else. There is no telling what Disney plans to do, but at the very least, Dead Men Tell No Tales manages to course correct after the disastrous On Stranger Tides and give way to a fitting finale if this film indeed is that.

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