Bet you thought I forgot about you. I didn’t.
I’ve been catching up. Big Time. After the jump check out reviews from December through this past week. Which mean with the snowstorm hitting the East Coast this weekend, there are plenty of good ideas of things to check out.
Fire up your queues, fill up your shopping cart and settle in…
|Universal / Released 12/15/15|
Newlywed couple Ted and Tami-Lynn want to have a baby, but in order to qualify to be a parent, Ted will have to prove he’s a person in a court of law. Extras include featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary, gag reel, and opening dance number.
Last Word: Sequels have a rough go, especially with comedies. Ted 2 joins the ranks of Anchorman, The Hangover, Dumb and Dumber, Ghostbusters, Airplane!, Horrible Bosses, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Blues Brothers and dozens more as a less funny, bloated and completely unnecessary sequel.
To paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm, “(studios) were so preoccupied with whether they could (make a sequel) that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Ted 2 is funny. But that’s it. Once again, multi-hyphenate MacFarlane and his writers stick to the same formula that has driven the mediocrity of his television work since the beginning; Repeat jokes from other movies and television series and throw in non-related gags often with a celebrity cameo.
In that sense, Ted 2 doesn’t disappoint, with a number of pointless cameos including Liam Neeson, Jay Leno, Tom Brady, Jimmy Kimmel, several SNL cast members, and another visit from Sam J. Jones. Patrick Warburton returns as Wahlberg’s former co-worker, Guy, who’s now in a relationship with a virtually unrecognizable Michael Dorn. When they reappear in the film bullying attendees at NY Comic Con, they’re cosplaying as The Tick and Worf; the same characters they played on tv! Pretty sneaky, Seth! What a gag!
The plot meanders around Ted’s civil rights battle (they watch Roots, which is just like the plight of a pot smoking magical teddy bear. right?), Wahlberg’s romance with Seyfried (playing Ted’s attorney..wait for it. Samantha L. Jackson. Sam L. Jackson! Genius!) and a subplot involving the return of Ribisi’s Donny, just to ensure that creepy pedophiles have someone to relate to. Finally, there’s a strange subplot with Hasbro, who have partnered with Donny to kidnap Ted, find out what makes him magical so they can reproduce it and sell millions of Teds to children everywhere. Which makes you wonder how much Hasbro paid for the license. Ted 2 is lazy, redundant and unmemorable. But, there were several times that I did laugh. It’s your call. If you want to see it, you’re not going to listen to me anyways.
|Lionsgate / Released 1/5/16|
In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent (Emily Blunt) is enlisted by an elite government task force official (Josh Brolin) to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past (Benicio Del Toro), the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive. Extras include featurettes.
Last Word: Denis Villeneuve’s devastatingly good new film about the U.S. war against the Mexican drug cartel is not the “crime thriller” you might expect. Based on the trailers, it appears to feature Emily Blunt as a badass FBI agent who goes to Mexico, takes names and makes a series of big busts. But if you’ve seen any other films by Villenueve, particuarly 2014’s bizarrely mind-bending arthouse flick Enemy, you’ll realize that a straightforward crime drama is the last thing he’s interested in making. And while the always terrific Blunt is ostensibly the star of the film, it belongs as much to Benicio del Toro, who will surely be getting an Oscar push by Lionsgate for his best role since winning the Oscar for Traffic. And one stunningly shot night-time raid will surely get Roger Deakins his 13th Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.
Much of the credit for making key scenes so tense is the bone-chilling score by frequent Villeneuve collaborator, Jóhann Jóhannsson, who relies on the lowest register of cellos and violins. It’s almost a slowed-down, more dread-laden version of Bernard Hermann’s frantic Psycho score, and just as effective at putting audiences on edge.
The film begins with an FBI raid on a cartel-owned house in Arizona. Crack kidnap-response-team leader Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) and her team don’t find the hostages they’re looking for: Instead, they find a house of horrors with body after body hidden in the walls. The camera lingers over each anguished, plastic-bagged face as you realize, like Kate, that this is not what you signed on for. Blunt isn’t the Superwoman here that she was in Edge of Tomorrow. Although she’s damn good at her job, after she’s recruited for a multi-agency task force to target the cartels responsible for the Arizona body count, she quickly realizes she’s little more than a pawn for special agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin).
The film’s tagline, “The border is just another line to cross” is an apt one. Matt and his “consultant” Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) are not only working outside the law, but are nearly as ruthless as the men they’re hunting. But to say that Matt and Alejandro are “outside the law,” is such a clichéd term that it’s almost meaningless to type those words. After Kate tells her boss (Victor Garber) that she won’t be part of a team that’s so far off book, he tells her, “If you’re worried about being out of bounds, don’t be. The boundary has been moved.”
Kate stays with the team, despite her misgivings, since it seems like shaking the tree, CIA-style, is the only way to make any real change. As Alejandro, Del Toro is a man of few words: Kate’s questions about his background and credentials quickly get shut down. Like Kate, we’re not sure whether to trust the mysterious Alejandro, whom she learns has his own very good reasons for wanting to take down the cartel. Their relationship is the heart of the film: Kate could use a mentor in this confusing new landscape, but it’s not clear if Alejandro’s more likely to save her life or kill her if she gets in his way. Del Toro is the best he’s been in years as the shadowy Alejandro. Although he was very good as infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar in this year’s Escobar: Paradise Lost, that film was nowhere near as strong as he was. With Traffic, this is his career-defining drug-trade triptych and he’s right at home with the complex morality each film requires. Sicario is a film that stays with you. The final image suggests nothing ever changes, despite all the killings, all the corruption, and all the best – and worst – intentions. And that’s a chilling thought. ( – Sharon Knolle)
|Warner Bros. / Released 1/19/16|
Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) is a 70-year-old widower who has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Extras include featurettes.
Last Word: There’s something sentimentally sweet about Nancy Meyer’s The Intern, a charming film featuring two strong performances from Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. The chemistry between the two elevates this fairly traditional story into something special; optimistic and sentimental, before being weighed down witha strong helping of melodrama with just a dash of predictability. De Niro is actually better here than he has been in years, and one of Hathaway’s strengths is finding roles that make her likeable. You might not remember much about The Intern a week after watching, but as you think back trying to recall details, you’ll likely do so with a smile on your face. And that’s a pretty good endorsement.
|Lionsgate / Released 11/24/15|
Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart star in this dynamic thrill ride that mixes explosive action with edgy humor. Mike (Eisenberg) shares a small-town life with his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart). But Mike’sy world goes wild after he discovers that he’s actually a CIAer agent with lethal fighting skills – and the target of government hitmen. Mike, the ultimate slacker, transforms into an ultra-attacker as he and Phoebe fight to survive in this exhilarating adventure. Extras include commentary, documentary, featurette and gag reel.
Last Word: Sometimes two different things coming together gives us something greater than the sum of its parts. Take peanut butter and chocolate. Without the foresight to put them together, we wouldn’t have that wonderful treat of peanut butter cups. The same can be said for films. Sometimes two genres combine to make a masterpiece. Take the original Terminator, combining sci-fi and action, or Blues Brothers, mashing musical, comedy, and action. Other times, we get bananas and brussle sprouts. American Ultra fits into this last category, trying to force together a stoner comedy with an all-action flick.
American Ultra tells the story of Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg), a screw-up stoner who happens to be a trained elite CIA operative, only he doesn’t know it. He lives with his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). It’s revealed that the CIA is going to kill him, as he is the last survivor of a “failed” program called the Ultras. The operation is to be led by Adrian Yates (Topher Grace) and carried out by, and I wish I was making this up, his Tough Guy agents. Victoria Lassiter (Connie Britton), who headed up the Ultra program, finds out and heads to Liman, West Virginia to warn Mike and “activate” him. She finds Mike working at a convenience store, and when she talks to him, he looks at her like she’s crazy. She leaves, and while Mike is walking out to his car he is assaulted by some of Yates’s men. Mike’s inner ninja kicks in and he kills both. He then proceeds to have a panic attack because he just killed two men. From there on we meet Rose (John Leguizamo), his drug dealer friend, and Laugher (Walter Goggins), the main Tough Guy hunting Mike. Following, we see “action” scenes, “comedy” scenes, learn Phoebe was originally Mike’s handler for the CIA until she fell for him and stayed by his side, learn Yates took mentally ill people and forced them to become Tough Guys, Yates kidnap Phoebe see both Yates and Lassiter’s superior, Raymond Kruger (Bill Pullman), show up very displeased at the situation, executing Yates in the process.
Where to begin with this mess of a film? From the onset, it has the feeling of a bunch of actors who don’t want to be there and are just phoning it in. Whether because of other commitments, poor casting, or just the astonishingly poor writing is anyone’s guess. Eisenberg is not cut out to be an action hero. His “action” scenes, if one would dare to call them that, are clunky, inaccurate in bodily execution, and half-you-know-what. His movements were those of the most unathletic kid in school. In one of the later scenes fighting Laugher, he throws a punch with all the force of a wet towel, with the accuracy of a drunken frat boy. The gap between his fist and his opponent was as wide as the Grand Canyon. Stewart was her cardboard self, with little more required than stare off into space or scream. In fact, one of the more funny parts was when Mike tells Phoebe to stop her fake crying, which may have been an adlib from Eisenberg, but I’m not too sure. To her credit, she puts more effort into her action scenes than Eisenberg, doing a better impersonation of Jason Bourne. Britton also put in a wooden performance, while Grace was so far over the top he may have been auditioning for a future Looney Toons film, which is the only reason I can conceive why he talked like Daffy Duck at one point. And someone actually thought it should be allowed to be in the film. In fact, I would go so far as to say that his performance in this film would make his work in Spiderman 3 look Oscar-worthy. And the writing for Goggins was so terrible that it reduced a man who worked as one of the best, most nuanced villains for 6 season as Boyd Crowder on Justified, to a one-note caricature for mental illness with a gun.
This film also suffers from not knowing what it wants to be. Is it a serious action film with some stoner humor thrown in? Or is it supposed to be a comedy with Michael Baysplosions and ridiculous gunplay thrown in? I have no idea. There was no flow to the film. It jumps back and forth more than an ADHD toddler unsure of what kind of candy he wants. The worst part was I couldn’t figure out if the action sequences were supposed to be satirical or not. When you go to see the Expendables series, you know you are watching films that are playing up the clichés and tropes of the action genre. With this, I don’t know if they were being serious about using a spoon or dust pan as a killing weapon, or if it was done as a joke. There are times it appears to try really hard to be a “serious action film” and other times it appears to be a joke. The stoner comedy wasn’t very funny either. Just because a character wants to go smoke a joint all the time doesn’t make situation funny. Having fun? Let’s smoke pot because it will show we are funny. Stressed out? Let’s smoke pot because that will be tons of laughs. Except it wasn’t. To be fair, we learn it is probably a self-medicating coping skill, since Lassiter wiped his memory and imprinted several crippling phobias to keep him in his small town, making his drug use more sad than comical.
On top of all of this, let’s add the fact the film is about 30 minutes too long. It tops out at 90 minutes, but the last 30 minutes are useless filler, only present to extend the length of this mess. The final fight is needlessly drawn out so Laugher can have a human moment. We then see Mike propose to Phoebe while getting tased by a SWAT team. Could have ended it there. But no. It cuts to Kruger taking Yates and Lassiter to the woods in a rainstorm, in the middle of the day, where he executes Yates. Which then moves to the Philippines where Mike takes out some Chinese mobsters in an animated end credits scene.
American Ultra was a wreck from the start. It was directionless and unsure of what kind of film it wanted to be. In the end, it tried to be a genre mashing film that utterly bombed. It was a poor stoner comedy wrapped in a poor action film. There were a few funny scenes, such as Mike strapping a bunch of fireworks to a Humvee and shooting them at the Tough Guys as he rescued Phoebe from Yates. But these amusing scenes were so few and far between as to have very little effect on the piece. The stop-start plot, horrible acting, terrible and thoughtless execution, and needless length all add up to a thoroughly unenjoyable film. ( – Nathan Grube)
|Dark Sky Films / Released 11/24/15|
Every Tuesday night, radio talk show host Stevie Bricks invites his listeners to call in and share their stories. And tonight, Ron Welz (writer/director Onur Tukel) is ready to share his. But soon after he confesses on the air, Ron finds a severed foot in his laundry… then a cut off finger in his mail… then worse. His life begins to unravel and his marriage begins to fall apart. Someone is tormenting him. Is it his insolent high school student? Is it his best friend? His wife? In a city like New York, there are eight million suspects and each one could have a bone to pick with someone like Ron. Extras include commentary, blopper reel, deleted scenes and trailer.
Last Word: In Applesauce we meet Ron, who has decided to come clean about the worst thing he’s ever done and ends up telling his wife Nikki and their best friends, Kate and husband Les. Ron explains a series of events which lead him to unintentionally cutting another man’s fingers off when he was in college. This leads to a chain reaction of the others wanting to know the worst thing each other had done which causes some major strain on the relationships and friendships. If that were not all, suddenly Ron starts to receive body parts as anonymous gifts, first in the mail then by other means.
With mounting problems at work, in his home life, and stressed friendships, Ron begins to go a little mad as he can’t figure out who is leaving him body parts. And even more disconcerting is that the others around him either don’t care or make little effort to help figure out who is leaving them. Onur Tukel’s new film Applesauce is certainly an interesting watch and is an entertaining film, but it seems a bit uneven. The majority of the story has a somewhat light and funny tone ,but then the scenes concerning Kate and Les become overly dramatic and serious to the point of slowing the film down. The performances are certainly good overall, even if the tone of the scenes doesn’t necessarily fit together.
The film is shot very well and the New York City street locations look wonderful. You can tell right off the bat that director Onur Tukel is doing his homage to Woody Allen and it works well. From the street locations, the rambling conversations, the overly philosophical characters, and even the jazz interludes, Applesauce plays as a strange quirky thriller by way of Woody Allen. Only not coming off as pretentious. Even though I found the tone of the film uneven and film’s mystery a bit too predictable, I would certainly recommend checking out Applesauce, especially if you enjoyed Tukel’s previous vampire comedy, Summer Of Blood. (– Joshua Gravel)
Blood And Lace
|Shout! Factory / Released 11/17/15|
After her mother’s brutal murder at the hands of a hammer-wielding maniac, teenaged Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson) is suddenly orphaned. She is sent to a home for children run by the enigmatic Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame, a 1952 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award-winner for her role in The Bad and The Beautiful), in spite of the concern that Ellie will be the newest target of her mother’s killer. But as terror strikes again and again, it becomes unclear who might be the bigger threat to Ellie’s life: the mysterious murderer with a hammer… or her sadistic new caretaker.
With borderline insane plot twists, and some unexpected performances by two faces familiar to fans of classic sitcoms – Vic Tayback (“Mel” from Alice) and Len Lesser (“Uncle Leo” from Seinfield – this little-known horror gem is a jolting terror-filled thriller you’ve got to see to believe. Extras include commentary, alternate opening title, and trailer.
A Christmas Horror Story
|Image Entertainment / Released 11/24/15|
It’s the season of joy, peace, and goodwill… unless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came to a grisly end in a school basement. Now, one year later, a new set of horrors has come to town. As three friends explore the site of the massacre, a malevolent spirit is determined to keep them there forever. One of the first cops to the scene of the bloody murders has new complications as his seven-year-old son exhibits terrifying and violent behavior. And when a local family seeks reconciliation with an estranged aunt for the wrong reasons, they suddenly find themselves running in terror from Krampus, the demonic anti-Santa Claus. Not even St. Nick is immune to the terror as he fights back against a horde of zombie elves. This is destined to be a holiday no one will ever forget… Extras include featurette.
Last Word: It is Christmas and strange things are happening everywhere you look. As Danger Dan (William Shatner) pulls his annual double shift as town DJ for the holiday we are treated to four stories about horrific holiday happenings around Bailey Falls.
One story is about a group of high school students who sneak into a closed part of their school to do research about a double murder that took place there a year earlier on Christmas Eve and soon find that they aren’t alone. While another story concerns a family, the husband of which was the first responding officer to the previous years double murder, who venture into the woods looking for their own Christmas tree; only the parents become separated from their son and when they find him he just doesn’t seem the same.
Meanwhile, a bickering family have driven to visit an Aunt they rarely see only to run afoul of Krampus and in our fourth storyline Santa’s own workshop elves have become possessed and are on a zombie-like attack. A Christmas Horror Story is a very slickly produced anthology film whose stories are interconnected and woven throughout the running time in an effective manner. The movie has a cohesive feel and look to most of it with only the Santa sequences breaking into their own visual style, but not in a distracting or negative way. The acting is handled well throughout and the writing is solid as one never feels that characters are making stupid decisions or acting against character type, which is sometimes tough to pull off with multiple writers and three directors. Also the special effects in A Christmas Horror Story are worth noting for their extensive use of practical make up and prosthetics. There are of course some CGI augmentations here and there but they are not distracting and it is wonderful to see a fully realized Krampus when many low budget filmmakers would have opted for a CGI creature.
Truthfully, A Christmas Horror Story takes more from recent Halloween anthologies such as Trick ‘r Treat (2007) and Tales Of Halloween (2015) for its set up and story telling style than from its namesake A Christmas Story (1983), but that is fine by me and may start a new tradition of holiday horror anthologies. Plus, for horror fans you can note that A Christmas Horror Story takes place in Bailey Downs, the same town as the film Ginger Snaps (2000) since many of the writers, producers, and the directors of this movie worked on the Ginger Snaps series. I highly recommend you check out A Christmas Horror Story, as it is effectively creepy while being loads of fun. ( – Joshua Gravel)
|Shout! Factory / Released 11/24/15|
Four of Hollywood’s most disturbing statesman – Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and John Houseman – join against a paranormal nemesis in Ghost Story, based on the terrifying novel by best-selling author Peter Straub.
In a peaceful New England town, the four lifelong friends who make up the Chowder Society come together each week to regale each other with tales of terror. But when one of the elderly gentleman experiences a family tragedy, it becomes apparent that a buried secret from their youth has arisen to remind them of the sins of their past. Soon, they will learn they have never been forgiven… and a supernatural vengeance awaits them all. Craig Wasson, Patricia Neal, and Alice Krige also star in this chilling and atmospheric telling of one of horror’s greatest stories. Extras include commentary, interviews, photo gallery and vintage trailer, tv and radio spots.
A Hard Day
|Kino Lorber / Released 11/24/15|
A pitch-black comedy with style to burn. A Hard Day depicts a day-in-the-life of a cop that goes from bad to worse to cursed.
Driving back from his mother’s funeral, homicide detective Gun-soo runs over a man in a dark rural street. In a moment of desperation, he dumps the body in a coffin alongside his mother. A few days later, Gun-soo flips through a listing of open cases and finds his accident victim. His colleague is on the accident case and is slowly making progress. Making matters worse, a witness steps forward, a detective named Park. For a reason unclear to Gun-soo, Park wants the body. Without another choice to depend on, Gun-soo digs his mother’s grave and retrieves the body, only to find gunshot wounds on it. As Park’s threats become more vicious and hits closer to home, Gun-soo decides to face Park head-on once and for all. Extras include featurette, making of, deleted scenes and trailer.
|Olive Films / Released 11/24/15|
Heartbreakers follows the escapades of Max (Sigourney Weaver) and Page (Jennifer Love Hewitt) Conners, two con artist who use beauty and brains to bilk big bucks from their perspective suitors. Page’s plan for a solo career is threatened when confronted by the IRS (in the form of Anne Bancroft, The Miracle Worker) for back taxes. So, it’s time for one last job. With their sights set on tobacco tycoon William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman, The Birdcage) it looks like their problems are solved.
Enter former con, Dean Cumano (Ray Liotta, Goodfellas) and potentional con (and romantic interest), Jack Withrowe (Jason Lee, Almost Famous) and the stage is set for comic confusion of the highest order.
Heartbreakers, directed by David Mirkin (Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion) from a screenplay by Robert Dunn (Sweet Lies), Paul Guay (Liar Liar) and Stephen Mazur (Liar Liar) co-stars Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty), Sarah Silverman (School of Rock) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover).
The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant
|Kino Lorber / Released 11/24/15|
What do you get when a mad scientist grafts the head of a maniac onto the body of a giant? A true cult classic that the Los Angeles Times calls “lots of fun”! When a brilliant yet obsessive surgeon is cast out of by the medical community, he takes science to a chocking new level – by grafting the head of one man onto the body of another. But his terrifying two-headed creation escapes the lab and goes on a rampage! Cult director Anthony M. Lanza (The Glory Stompers) directed the original 2-headed monster classic featuring a script by James Gordon White (The Hellcats) and James Lawrence (The Loners) and a stellar cast that included Bruce Dern (Coming Home), Pat Priest (TV’s The Munsters) and broadcasting legend Casey Kasem (American Top 40). Extras include interview, audio commentary by the RiffTrax trio and ex Mystery Science Theater 3000 legends, Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett and trailer.
Inside Amy Schumer: Season 3
|Comedy Central / Released 11/24/15|
Amy’s making it a threesome of seasons, that is – as her smash hit series returns for a third round of the kind of taboo-smashing, internet breaking, wildly original comedy that can only be found Inside Amy Schumer. Extras include exclusive unaired sketch, outtakes and unaired “Amy Goes Deep” interviews. Guest stars include Patricia Arquette, Josh Charles, Tina Fey, Jemima Kirke, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Method Man, Amber Rose Amber Tamblyn, John Hawkes, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Giamatti, Dennis Quaid, Vincent Kartheiser, Nick Di Paolo, Kumail Nanjiani, Bill Hader, Michael Ian Black, Jennifer Coolidge, America Ferrera, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, Bill Nye, Jerry Seinfeld, Justin Long, Tim Gunn, Eugene Mirman, Kathy Najimy, Mike Birbiglia, Rachel Dratch, Rob Morrow, Jim Norton, Colin Quinn, Jon Glaser and Natasha Lyonne.
Includes the episodes:
- Last F**kable Day: Amy meets her heroes, tries to get birth control and explains where her poop comes out.
- Cool With It: Amy takes off her makeup, goes to a strip club and dates a rap star.
- 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer: An all-male jury argues over Amy’s fate.
- I’m Sorry: Amy directs a pizza commercial, interviews a gigolo and apologizes for everything.
- Babies & Bustiers: Amy undergoes a butt enhancement procedure, competes in a beauty pageant and drops her rescue dog off at daycare.
- 80s Ladies: Amy rides a mechanical bull, steals a credit card and defends Bill Cosby.
- Fight Like a Girl: Amy gets a mail-order husband, trains men in the art of female emotional combat and strips for dogs.
- Foam: Amy falls in love with her barista, confronts her therapist about her mother and gets decapitated.
- Wingwoman: Amy travels through time, listens to terrible stories and gives an entire town the clap.
- 3 Buttholes: Amy dates a guy with a British accent, meets the ultimate cockblocker and has too many buttholes.
Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow
|A & E / Released 11/24/15|
Filled with whimsical creatures and characters originally imagined by creative mastermind Jim Henson and his longtime writing partner, Jerry Juhl, the story follows a recently divorced dad (Jay Harrington) and his two kids as they travel to celebrate Thanksgiving with their eccentric Aunt Cly (Mary Steenburgen) in the rustic town of Turkey Hollow. Exploring the mysterious surrounding woods leads the kids to discover the secret of the legendary Howling Hoodoo. When a scheming neighbor threatens to take Aunt Cly’s farm, the family enlists surprising new friends to help save the farm – and Thanksgiving! Chris “Ludacris” Bridges appears as an on-screen narrator in the film.
Adventure Time – Finn the Human
|Cartoon Network / Released 11/24/15|
Cartoon Network is completing your Finn look with the release of Adventure Time: Finn the Human DVD, which is packaged with an exclusive Finn backpack! In addition to this totally rad backpack, the DVD set features 16 hilarious episodes of Adventure Time from fan-favorite seasons.
Includes the episodes:
- The New Frontier: Jake has a dream that seems to foretell his death but, to Finn’s dismay, doesn’t take it serious.
- The Lich: Finn has an unclear premonition involving The Lich and sets out to stop the undead creature.
- Finn the Human: Finn’s wish to stop the evil Lich has massive cosmic consequences.
- Jake The Dog: Following the unexpected consequences of Finn’s cosmic wish it’s up to the Jake — and his short attention span — to set things right.
- We Fixed a Truck: Finn and Jake find a broken down pickup truck and enlist the help of BMO and Banana Man to fix it.
- Blade of Grass: Finn gets a new sword.
- The Red Throne: The Fire King and Don John the Flame Lord take over the Fire Kingdom. Now Flame Princess must use Finn’s and Cinnamon Bun’s help to get it back.
- The Great Bird Man: Finn and Jake get lost in the badlands and are saved by Xergiok, ex-Goblin King who now lives in a cave. A look at what Ice King and Marceline were like 996 years ago.
- One Last Job: Jake Jr. gets mixed up with some bad eggs, and Jake reunites with his old gang to save her.
- Little Dude: Finn’s hat comes to life.
- City of Thieves: A mission leads Jake into a city where everyone is a thief and the chance to be corrupted is incredibly strong.
- Conquest of Cuteness: Finn and Jake come under attack in their home from a race of super-evil creatures which are too cute to be taken seriously.
- Who Would Win: While training for an epic battle, Finn and Jake take their frustrations out in a fight against each other.
- Ignition Point: Finn and Jake sneak into the Fire Kingdom to retrieve some of Flame Princess’ things, and stumble onto a plot to kill the Flame King.
- Furniture & Meat: Finn and Jake spend all their money.
- Sad Face: Once a month, while Jake’s asleep, his tail stretches out of the treehouse to go work as a clown in a traveling bug circus.
The Mask 3-D
|Kino-Lorber / Released 11/24/15|
After the shocking death of a disturbed patient, psychiatrist Dr. Allan Barnes (Paul Stevens) comes into possession of the ancient tribal mask that supposedly drove the young man to his doom. When Barnes puts on the mask, he is assailed with nightmarish visions of monsters, occultists, and ritual torture. Believing that the mask has opened a portal to the deepest recesses of his mind, the doctor continues to explore this terrifying new psychic world — even as the mask reveals a latent violence in Barnes’ nature that threatens those closest to him.
Shot in Toronto on a shoestring budget, The Mask (retitled Eyes of Hell for its American release) claims the distinction of being the first feature-length Canadian horror movie. Director Julian Roffman turns the act of wearing the anaglyph 3D glasses into part of the theatrical experience: when Barnes’ voice intones the immortal words “Put the mask on, now!,” the audience puts on their glasses to witness the doctor’s visions, a riot of psychedelic imagery rendered in bright, blazing color. Extras include 3-D replica glasses, commentary, documentary, trailers, tv spots, 3-D sequences in anaglyph and calibration guide, and short films by Slavko Vorkapich.
Nature: Soul of the Elephant
|PBS / Released 11/24/15|
Despite living in the wild in Botswana for 30 years, filming, researching and exploring the world they have come to know so well, award-winning filmmakers and conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert say they are often still surprised by what they come across on their journeys. Such was the case when the couple were exploring the backwaters of the bush one day and stumbled upon the skulls of two large bull elephants with their ivory tusks intact. To the Jouberts, this is always cause for celebration because it means the giants died of natural causes and not, for example, from poaching, snares or bullets.
An elephant’s age can be determined by its molar teeth, and the Jouberts conclude from them that both animals died at around 70, but still had a few years left to live. So what caused these bulls to die in the same place and at the same time? The mystery so intrigues the filmmakers, they decide to spend the next two years traveling through what would have been their home range, reconstructing the lives these elephants would have led, reimagining their birth and childhood, how they would have interacted with each other, their great migrations for water with their families and the inevitable encounters with lions.
To understand the lives of the two old bulls, the Jouberts paddle from one end of a river to the other in the Selinda Reserve, home to over 7,000 elephants in a remote corner of Botswana. Their journey brings them into extremely close contact with herds that, over time, seem to accept their presence as the couple film and photograph them. They capture scenes of a mother teaching her new calf that he can’t have his milk until he stops his temper tantrum, and also manage to document elephants snoring. But there are moments when an elephant suddenly charges toward their canoe. When that happens, the experienced pair know it’s best not to move, but to rather remain quiet and wait. The filmmakers only discover what caused the herd’s agitation after they paddle downstream, and come upon piles of discarded bones and skulls that had been chopped away to remove the ivory.
The Jouberts explain that prior to 2014, hunting male elephants was legal in Botswana, and that it is traumatic for elephants to come across a killing field. The couple follow different herds on foot and place small cameras in strategic positions to capture them stopping to examine carcasses of dead elephants with their trunks, perhaps searching for the cause of death or remembering a friend. The film likens the scene to a family in mourning and suggests that these elephants, whose brains are almost five times the size of ours, are feeling emotions similar to those we might feel, showing evidence of living beings with full lives and even souls. But not all threats are from man as an elephant’s raging testosterone can take its toll when one young bull is pitted against another, and a severe injury can signal death.
To track the herds as they head across the grasslands, the Jouberts take to the skies. They film the elephants following ancient networks of paths in search of their daily requirement of nearly a quarter pound of salt. Aerials also track each herd as it methodically crosses the floodplains, led by a matriarch giving commands with growls, trumpets and even the flapping of her ears. The families close ranks in a crisis. When a mother loses her calf at a crossing and lions begin their attack, a small group of relatives helps her rescue the calf just in time. Botswana is home to over one-third of the elephants living in the wild today, and is one of the few places where these animals can still live out a natural life. The Jouberts take us into that world and bring the story of the two bulls to life. They even arrive at a solution to the mystery of their deaths. Those deaths remain a cause for celebration because when an elephant dies with its ivory intact, perhaps the soul of that elephant is at peace.
|Starz/Anchor Bay / Released 11/24/15|
No Escape centers on an American businessman (Owen Wilson) as he and his family settle into their new home in Southeast Asia. Suddenly finding themselves in the middle of a violent political uprising, they must frantically look for a safe escape as rebels mercilessly attack the city. Also starring Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan. Extras include commentary,gallery and deleted scenes.
Ricki and the Flash
|Sony / Released 11/24/15|
Meryl Streep as you have never seen her before, a hard-rocking singer & guitarist, in Ricki and the Flash, from Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme (Best Director, The Silence of the Lambs, 1991) and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Best Original Screenplay, Juno, 2007). In an original and electrifying film loaded with live musical performances, Streep stars as Ricki Rendazzo, a guitar heroine who made a world of mistakes as she followed her dreams of rock-and-roll stardom. Returning home, Ricki gets a shot at redemption and a chance to make things right as she faces the music with her family. The ensemble cast includes Streep, Sebastian Stan, Rick Springfield, Audra McDonald, and Kevin Kline. Extras include featurettes, gallery and deleted scenes.
Shaun the Sheep Movie
|Lionsgate / Released 11/24/15|
Meet Shaun! He’s a little sheep with big dreams, and lately, life on Mossy Bottom farm has become a bit boring. When Shaun takes the day off for some fun in the Big City, he gets a lot more action than he bargained for. Now Shaun and his flock must use their wits to hatch a baaaa-rilliant plan to get back home in an adventure the whole family will love. Extras include featurettes and parody poster gallery.
Last Word: Writers/Directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak have made a charming family film that will entertain both children and adults alike.
Shaun the Sheep is a refreshing oasis after trudging through a desert of over stimulated, loud, brash children’s animated films. Shaun the Sheep doesn’t rely on fast-editing, bright flashing colors, and an over abundance of toilet humor á la Minions to entertain it’s viewers. It just comes down to good, old-fashion storytelling, and spot-on animation that makes each of the characters engaging. Shaun the Sheep is what I like best about family movies; it is there to entertain the whole family. Kids will laugh at the obvious visual humor and cute animals. Adults will laugh at the more subtle humor written for them.
As an adult, who can’t relate to Shaun’s revolt against the daily grind and dreaming of getting away from it all? Shaun the Sheep never panders to the audience, nor does it treat the audience as if it is too dumb to get a joke. It takes it’s time without dragging. One of my favorite jokes of the whole film doesn’t even deliver the punch line until the credits, but the pay off is perfect.
For me, Shaun the Sheep harkens back to the Muppets when Jim Henson was still alive and at the helm. It works to hit on more than one level. It is sweet without being syrupy. The film isn’t just shiny for the sake of being shiny. There is a real love of craftsmanship that shows in every background, character detail, and story element. The writers can reference pop culture without out it being just a cheap laugh, and instead use the reference to color the make the world they created more relatable to our own. ( – Elizabeth Robbins)
Wake Up and Kill
|Arrow Video / Released 11/24/15|
During the 1960s Luciano Lutring committed more than one hundred armed robberies in Italy and on the French Riviera. To the media he was the machine gun soloist , a name he d earned as he kept his weapon in a violin case. To the public he was a romantic figure, one who only targeted the wealthy, stealing more than 35 billion lire during his criminal career.
Wake Up and Kill was the logical extension of such fame. It became the first feature to commit Lutring s story to celluloid, shooting having begun mere months after his eventual arrest. Capitalizing on the breakthrough success of his performance in French television’s The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Robert Hoffmann is perfect as Lutring, bringing just the right amount of charisma and youthful exuberance to his first major big screen role.
Directed by Carlo Lizzani (Requiescant), scored by Ennio Morricone, penned by the future screenwriter of Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, and featuring that film’s star, Gian Maria Volonté, in a key supporting role, Wake Up and Kill’s true-crime thrills serve as an enthralling dry run for the poliziotteschi movies that would follow a few years later. Includes full length Italian cut and shortened English language cut.
From BAFTA award-winning director Asif Kapadia and the team behind Senna, Amy tells the incredible story of six-time Grammy-winner Amy Winehouse – in her own words. Featuring extensive unseen archive footage and previously unheard tracks, this strikingly modern, moving and vital film shines a light on the world we live in, in a way that very few can.
A once-in-a-generation talent and a pure jazz artist in the most authentic sense, Amy wrote and sung from the heart using her musical gifts to analyse her own problems. The combination of her raw honesty and supreme talent resulted in some of the most original and adored songs of the modern era. Her huge success, however, resulted in relentless and invasive media attention which coupled with Amy’s troubled relationships and precarious lifestyle saw her life tragically begin to unravel. Extras include commentary, interviews, deleted scenes, unseen performances, featurette and trailers.
Last Word: Sometimes it’s hard to Amy Winehouse from her demons; especially after seeing her in Amy. Did fame lead her down the self-destructive path? Does it matter. What is evident in every frame of this documentary is that both her voice and talent are startling. This might be a cautionary tale with an unhappy ending, with much of the blame to be placed on the people closest to her who never gave her the support she needed. Nevertheless, we get a voyeuristic look at the artist, including several happier moments. Amy Winehouse is gone, but thanks to her music, she will never be forgotten.
Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo
|HBO / Released 12/1/15|
As one of the funniest, freshest faces on television and film, Amy Schumer is dominating the world of comedy today with her unique blend of honesty and an unapologetic sense of humor. Schumer’s provocative, hilariously wicked mind will be on full display as she headlines her first HBO stand-up comedy special: Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo. Directed by Chris Rock and taped live before a sold-out crowd at the legendary Apollo Theater in NYC this May, the one-hour special features Schumer talking about her life.
|Well Go USA / Released 12/1/15|
Snipers. Marksmen. Hired Guns. Double Agents. A group of exiled rebels are planning a hit on an Army Commander in Japanese-occupied Korea, but the only killer for the job is in prison. Now, the Resistance must devise a jailbreak, escape a hitman…and discover which of them is a traitor.
The Bold Ones: The Lawyers: The Complete Series
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/1/15|
Academy Award winner Burl Ives (Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) stars with Joseph Campanella (Mannix, The Colbys, Quincy, M.E.) and James Farentino (Dynasty, The Final Countdown) in the compelling, Primetime Emmy Award-winning legal drama The Bold Ones: The Lawyers.
This acclaimed series follows the exploits of the firm of respected attorney Walter Nichols (Ives). Facing an increasingly growing and provocative case load, Nichols hires brothers Brian Darrell (Campanella) and Neil Darrell (Farentino) to assist him. Together, the three take on challenging cases which frequently mirror the issues confronting America’s evolving social landscape, in the name of justice for all. Guest stars included Mel Tormé, Claudine Longet, Craig Stevens, Veronica Cartwright, Bill Quinn, Alan Oppenheimer, Pat Harrington Jr., Susan Clark, Lindsay Wagner, Tim Matheson, A Martinez, Michael Conrad, Pat Hingle, Tim O’Connor and Ellen Burstyn.
Including both full-length pilot movies and all twenty-seven episodes, this complete collection of The Lawyers is undeniable evidence of the consistently sustained quality within the wheel of rotating series as The Bold Ones.
Includes the episodes:
- The Sound of Anger: Two teenagers who have been engaged in pre-marital sex become the prime suspects when the girl’s disapproving father is mysteriously murdered.
- The Whole World Is Watching: After a university police officer is killed during a campus protest, student activist Gil Bennett is arrested for the murder. Milking this turn of events for his cause, Bennett refuses to testify about his innocence. Nichols and the Darrell brothers now must find the young man’s one hope; the only witness to the crime who has his own motive for not coming forward.
- A Game of Chance: A rogue cop who makes a habit of dwelling in the gray area of the law is the target of junior partner Neil Darrell, who’s out to expose the officer’s abuse.
- The People Against Ortega: Brian’s client, who was wrongfully convicted of a capital murder many years ago, accidentally kills the wife of the district attorney during a failed escape attempt shortly before he is cleared of the original crime. Brian chooses to continue to represent his client during the trial for the accidental killing, even though the DA and his wife were good friends of Brian’s.
- The Crowd Pleaser: The lawyers are shocked when their client, a cocky real estate agent accused of murdering a prostitute, gleefully admits to the crime during a private party celebrating his acquittal. When another man is subsequently convicted of the crime and faces the death penalty, Neil makes an agonizing decision that could sacrifice his career.
- The Rockford Riddle: Walter volunteers to represent a mentally ill homeless man who has just admitted to murdering a peer, on the condition that the man divulge the facts of a previous murder for which Walter represented him several years earlier; in that case, the man admitted to murdering his wife’s rival when his wife was on trial for the murder, only to recant his guilt immediately after she was acquitted. The character who had actually committed the earlier murder in a jealous rage is played by Claudine Longet, who, in real life, would shoot and kill her boyfriend, skier Spider Sabich, in 1976.
- Shriek of Silence: The lawyers represent a front-running gubernatorial candidate who is being framed for the murder of a female campaign worker by his former campaign chairman, a man forced to resign because the candidate found out he was a homosexual. His defense becomes a lot more complicated when he is witnessed moving the body out of his apartment and into a park as part of an ill-conceived plan to avoid being linked to the crime.
- Trial of a Mafioso: The lawyers represent an incarcerated former mobster who has provided key testimony against other mob bosses while in prison and is ultimately exonerated after an eventful retrial. Although their client has arranged for a helicopter to take him out of the country upon release, the lawyers are given the dangerous task of transporting him from the courthouse to the remote location where the pickup will take place.
- Point of Honor: Brian gets himself involved in a murder case, and now privileged communication between a lawyer and his client has become a key issue.
- The Shattered Image: Ted Hollister is charged with the murder of the ward of a rich guardian, and Walt Nichols agrees to defend him.
- The Verdict: Despite their differing beliefs on the subject, the lawyers agree to represent an obstetrician who is charged with murder after performing an illegal abortion. Strongly disagreeing with the judge’s jury instructions and citing Oliver Wendell Holmes, Neil decides to use a nonstandard tactic which results in a large fine and contempt of court charge.
- Panther in a Cage: A member of the Black Panthers is accused of pushing a police detective off a second story balcony to his death during the execution of a search warrant at their local headquarters. His father, a successful business executive who has been trying to get his son to abandon his extremist lifestyle, hires The Lawyers to represent him, but their task is complicated by his unwillingness to cooperate or control his emotions in the presence of the jury.
- Trial of a PFC: A Vietnam vet is accused of murdering his best friend.
- The People Against Doctor Chapman: A doctor claims there is a witness that can clear him of the murder of which he is accused, but no one can find this witness.
- The Loneliness Racket: A woman is held for murder when her computer-dating service date turns up dead.
- The Search for Leslie Grey: A business tycoon, Leslie Grey, starts to panic when he finds out that his past is now under investigation.
- The Hyland Confession: A young woman, who has her own live-in Swami and a history of psychiatric problems, quickly signs a confession after awakening from a meditation session and finding her successful recording-artist husband dead in front of her and the murder weapon in her hand. Her defense hinges on the believability of an interrogation conducted by her psychiatrist, in which she was under the influence of sodium pentothal.
- The Price of Justice: A man accused of murder refuses to talk and defend himself against the charges. His heritage holds the key as to why.
- The Invasion of Kevin Ireland: Mistakes on a credit report lead to a ruined life for one man, who chooses to fight back in court against the credit reporting agency that admits to no wrongdoing.
- The Strange Secret of Yermo Hill: The boyfriend of a dead girl holds a bizarre secret that may reveal who actually killed the young lady.
- Hall of Justice: Cases before the court include an assault against a minor, an alleged “mercy” killing, and a narcotics charge.
- In Defense of Ellen McKay: One of the firm’s clients, Ellen McKay, is about to stand trial for killing her husband. In the middle of all this, Brian finds himself falling for her romantically.
- By Reason of Insanity: The lawyers successfully argue an insanity defense for a young man who is apprehended while collecting the large ransom he demanded after kidnapping a middle-aged man whom he had been obsessed with since the age of thirteen. However, Walter has good reason to fear that the verdict isn’t the last chapter of this bizarre saga.
- Justice Is a Sometime Thing: A Hispanic man is mistaken for an assault suspect when he instinctively comes to the aid of the victim, but then panics and runs off upon discovering that the girl he was with has fled because she feared being deported. The lawyers are finally able to locate the girl, but not before the man escapes from jail because he feared his dangerous cellmate and was facing a probable 20-year sentence without the girl’s witness testimony.
- The Letter of the Law: There’s one last thing an attorney who is about to die must do, and that is to see the mistake he made many years before reversed. He must see brought to justice the killer he helped to get away with murder.
- The Long Morning After: Part 1: Officially, the deaths of two women have been termed an accident and a suicide. Neil turns sleuth to prove the deaths were a double murder. To be continued…
- The Long Morning After: Part 2: Neil suspects a powerful industrialist of a double homicide.
- In Sudden Darkness: Lauren Hazelwood killed her father. That much is known. And unless she tells her lawyers and the court why, she has a date set with the California gas chamber.
- Lisa, I Hardly Knew You: Neil keeps flashing back to the tragedy of a romance.
A Bucket of Blood
|The Film Detective / Released 10/20/15|
Directed by undisputed schlockmeister Roger Corman from a screenplay by Charles B. Griffith (The Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race), 1959’s A Bucket of Blood is a darkly comic satire that will delight fans of Corman, horror and classic, cult filmmaking. One of the most prolific and successful film producers ever, Corman’s ability to find and develop talent is virtually incomparable. With an almost unparalleled influence on modern American cinema, Corman received an Honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 2009.
In A Bucket of Blood – which was produced on a $50,000 budget, shot in five days and shares many of the low-budget filmmaking aesthetics for which Corman’s work is known – a dimwitted, impressionable young busboy (Dick Miller, The Little Shop of Horrors, The Terror) at a Bohemian café in southern California is inspired by a beatnik artist’s performance to try his hand at sculpture.
While working, he accidentally kills his landlady’s cat and, in desperation, covers its body in clay to hide the evidence. When the suspiciously life-like figure earns him a reputation as a brilliant sculptor, he is pressured to create similar works … and his muse becomes murder!
|The Film Detective / Released 10/20/15|
In The Bat, mystery writer Cornelia van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead, TV’s Bewitched, Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Citizen Kane) resides in a town terrorized by a mysterious murderer known only as “The Bat,” said to be a man with no face who kills women at night by ripping out their throats with steel claws.
Breaking into Cornelia’s countryside home one night, he releases an actual bat, which bites her maid Lizzy (Lenita Lane, Compliments of the Season, While America Sleeps), sending her into a panic that she has caught “the rabies.” Cornelia calls her doctor, Malcolm Wells (Vincent Price, Edward Scissorhands, House on Haunted Hill, TV’s Batman), who happens to be conducting research on bats.
Little does Cornelia know that the good doctor has an ulterior motive for coming to her assistance—a thief who has stolen $1 million in bank securities has confided in Wells, leading him to believe the stash is hidden within Cornelia’s home. After dispatching with the thief, Wells plots to claim the missing treasure.
When additional break-ins and murders by The Bat continue, local police chief Andy Anderson (Gavin Gordon, Bride of Frankenstein, The Scarlet Empress) comes to the house with suspicions of both Wells and Cornelia’s butler Warner (John Sutton, Jane Eyre, Return of the Fly).
Also featuring Darla Hood (of the Little Rascal’s Our Gang in her final film appearance), The Bat, with its hand-wringing twists and turns, will leave you guessing until the astonishing reveal at the end. A non-stop thriller sure to get your blood pumping!
|Lionsgate / Released 12/1/15|
From the twisted minds of Leigh Whannell (co-creator of Saw and Insidious) and Ian Brennan (co-creator of Glee), Cooties is a horror comedy with unexpected laughs and unapologetic thrills. When a cafeteria food virus turns elementary school children into killer zombies, a group of misfit teachers must band together to escape the playground carnage. The film stars Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, and Alison Pill as teachers who fight to survive the most unruly students ever on the worst Monday of their lives! Extras include commentary, featurettes, extended and deleted scenes, gag reel and alternate ending.
Fear the Walking Dead: Season 1
|Starz/Anchor Bay / Released 12/1/15|
Living in the same universe as The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead is a gritty drama that explores the onset of the undead apocalypse through the lens of a fractured family. Set in a city where people come to escape, shield secrets, and bury their pasts, a mysterious outbreak threatens to disrupt what little stability high school guidance counselor Madison Clark and English teacher Travis Manawa have managed to assemble. The everyday pressure of blending two families while dealing with resentful, escapist, and strung out children takes a back seat when society begins to break down. A evolution, a necessary survival of the fittest takes hold, and our dysfunctional family must either reinvent themselves or embrace their darker histories. Extras include featurettes.
Includes the episodes:
- Pilot: A highly dysfunctional blended family is forced together when they realize a reported virus is actually the onset of the undead apocalypse.
- So Close, Yet So Far: While Madison struggles to keep Nick from crippling withdrawal, Travis ventures out to find his son before the city of Los Angeles falls.
- The Dog: After escaping a violent riot Travis, Liza, and Chris seek refuge with the Salazar family. Meanwhile Madison defends her home.
- Not Fade Away: Madison and Travis witness different sides of the National Guard’s occupation of their neighborhood as our family tries to adapt to the new world.
- Cobalt: The National Guard’s plan for the neighborhood and its residents is revealed, forcing Travis and Madison to make a difficult decision.
- The Good Man: As civil unrest continues to grow and the dead take over, Travis and Madison must explore new ways to protect their families.
|Lionsgate / Released 12/1/15|
It’s days before Christmas and reindeer are found running loose through the streets of London. Meanwhile an astonished 9 year-old Tom (newcomer Kit Connor) discovers Santa (Jim Broadbent) in the garden shed. He has crash-landed while test-driving his new sleigh and enlists Tom and his father Steve (Rafe Spall) to help him get back to Lapland. But what happens when Santa is arrested and thrown into prison? Will Steve and Tom be able to break him out in time for Christmas? Get Santa is a heart-warming and funny family adventure about a father and son reconnecting to discover the magic of Christmas.
|Starz/Anchor Bay / Released 12/1/15|
In the heat of the summer. A lonesome house in the countryside between woods and corn fields. Nine-year-old twin brothers are waiting for their mother. When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before. The children start to doubt that this woman is actually their mother. It emerges an existential struggle for identity and fundamental trust. Extras include a conversation with filmmakers.
The Hunting Ground
|Anchor Bay / Released 12/1/15|
From the makers of The Invisible War comes a startling expose of sexual assault crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups and the devastating toll they take on students and their families. Weaving together verite footage and first person testimonies, the film follows the lives of several undergraduate assault survivors as they attempt to pursue – despite incredible push back, harassment and traumatic aftermath – both their education and justice.
Love at Large
|Kino Lorber / Released 12/1/15|
Love is the only lead worth following! Tom Berenger (Shattered) and Anne Archer (Fatal Attraction) team with an all-star cast, including Elizabeth Perkins (He Said, She Said), Ted Levine (Ali), Ann Magnuson (Panic Room), Kate Capshaw (Love Affair) and songwriter Neil Young, in this “giddy, quirky and wonderful-to-watch movie” (Judith Crist) that delves into more than just the mysteries of love! Harry Dobbs (Berenger) takes his job as a private detective seriously. Hired by a mysterious seductress (Archer) to follow her boyfriend, Harry soon discovers that the man he’s following is not so much the marrying kind…as he is the murdering kind! And it’ll take the help of another sleuth (Perkins) – hired to keep an eye on Harry – to capture this dangerous lothario and steal Harry’s heart in the process!
Welcome To L.A.
|Kino Lorber / Released 12/1/15|
Los Angeles: a land of fascinating neurotics who live on the edge of loneliness and despair – southern California style. The stellar cast includes Keith Carradine (Thieves Like Us) as a rock composer whose success, unbeknownst to him, is due to his father’s money, Sissy Spacek (Prime Cut) as a free-spirited maid who likes to clean house stripped to the waist, Lauren Hutton (Gator) as a photographer in the midst of an affair with an older millionaire, Geraldine Chaplin (Z.P.G.) as the lonely wife of an ambitious man who fancies herself a modern-day Garbo, and Sally Kellerman (Foxes) as the desperate real estate woman with penchant for afternoon affairs with her clients. Produced by the great Robert Altman (The Long Goodbye) and directed by his protégé Alan Rudolph (Love at Large), Welcome to L.A. is a provocative, haunting and totally absorbing look at life in the fast lane of 1970s L.A. The amazing cast also includes Harvey Keitel (The January Man) and Denver Pyle (TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard).
|Lionsgate / Released 12/1/15|
Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is a talented poker player, but his gambling habit is getting the best of him. One day, he meets a charismatic young traveler named Curtis (Ryan Reynolds). Deeming Curtis his lucky charm, Gerry convinces him that they should hit the road together. As they gamble their way down South toward a legendary high-stakes poker game in New Orleans, the trip’s highs and lows unveil the duo’s true character and motivation, and an undeniable bond forms between them. Also starring Sienna Miller. Extras include featurette.
|Cinedigm / Released 12/1/15|
Disgraced WWII Army Captain Jack Wosick (Luke Goss) is given the opportunity for redemption. He is asked to lead a ragtag unit of misfits, known as the War Pigs, on a secret mission. They must go behind enemy lines to uncover and capture a Nazi-developed super weapon, the V3, a massive artillery cannon that would give the Nazis an insurmountable advantage against the Allies. With the help of Captain Han Picault (Dolph Lundgren) a German anti-Nazi serving with the French Foreign Legion, and Colonel A.J. Redding (Mickey Rourke), a battle-hardened WWI veteran, Jack must train, lead and earn the respect of his new squad to become a functioning reconnaissance unit.
|Millennium Ent. / Released 12/1/15|
In a futuristic Japan, territorial street gangs form opposing factions collectively known as the Tokyo Tribes. When one of the gang leaders breaks the fragile peace, it triggers a brutal street war for supremacy. Based on a popular Manga series and told almost entirely in rap verse, Tokyo Tribe is an ingenious mash-up of Yakuza gang violence, martial arts action and hip-hop musical.
Last Word: In an alternate reality dystopic Japan, Tokyo is overrun by street gangs know as the Tokyo Tribes. Every neighborhood has their own gang and all of the gangs fear one gang lead by Mera, the Bukuro Wu Ronz, because the organized crime lord Buppa backs him. We follow Kai and his gang the Musashino Saru through one night in the city that starts with Mera’s gang trying to infiltrate and take over the Musashino Saru because they are considered the weakest gang due to their willingness to stop gang violence. But when larger forces come into play Buppa and Mera see an opportunity to unleash a new gang, the Waru, to help them annihilate all of the other gangs and rule Tokyo. Now Kai must unite the gangs as one Tokyo Tribe against a common enemy.
Tokyo Tribe may sound convoluted, and to some degree it is, but rest assured that this over the top rap musical sucks you in with its inventive and flashy visual style and you are in for one hell of a ride. Once you get to know all of the various gangs and characters Tokyo Tribe gets you hooked with catchy beats and fun characters while the story is well paced and plotted and gives you a few twists you wouldn’t expect. The cinematography and art direction of stand out given its combination of over the top hip hop fashion and style mixed with Shion Sono’s own exaggerated visual sensibility give the viewer a strange flashy dystopia unlike anything seen before.
Plus, the music is super catchy and yes, you read correctly, this movie is a Japanese gang rap musical. The different gangs are identifiable by their own distinct use of different styles of hip-hop and none of the musical sequences slow the action of the story down. If you are a fan of eccentric Japanese cinema, the films of Shion Sono (Suicide Club, Love Exposure), or are interested in the Japanese take on hip-hop culture then be sure to check out Tokyo Tribe. ( – Joshua Gravel)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIV
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/1/15|
This isn’t long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. This is the not too distant future, next Sunday A.D., so these aren’t the episodes you’re looking for. But know this, friend: Mystery Science Theater 3000 is also an epic tale of heroes and villains, two robot sidekicks, alien races and snappy one-liners. Joel and Mike, the unlucky witnesses to the cheesiest movies in any galaxy, may not have the Force with them, but they have an even more powerful weapon — the riff! And they wield their jokes with sublimely funny accuracy at the dark side of cinema. Join our rebel force in the epic battle against four generally grievous movies from that galactic empire once known as American International Pictures. It will be an attack of the clowns you won’t soon forget. And may the riff be with you. Extras include new introductions By Frank Conniff, It Was A Colossal Teenage Movie Machine: The A.I.P. Story, trailers and 4 mini-posters by Steve Vance.
- Viking Women Vs. The Sea Serpent (aka The Saga Of The Viking Women And Their Voyage To The Waters Of The Great Sea Serpent): A group of Viking women have been alone for three years, since their men disappeared on a sea journey. The women set out to locate the men, only to face many perils.
- War Of The Colossal Beast: Glenn Manning, “The Amazing Colosasal Man,” believed dead after falling from the Hoover Dam, reemerges in rural Mexico, brain damaged, disfigured, and very hungry.
- The Undead: A beautiful woman is sent back in time via hypnosis to the Middle Ages where she finds she is suspected of being a witch, and subject to being executed.
- The She-Creature: A mysterious hypnotist reverts his beautiful assistant back into the form of a prehistoric sea monster that she was in a past life.
Nova: Secrets of Noah’s Ark
|PBS / Released 12/1/15|
In 1948, a British pilot serving in Iraq acquired a clay tablet with an intriguing, 3,700 year-old inscription. The ancient writing tells the story of how the god Enki warns a Sumerian king named Atra-Hasis of a future flood that will destroy mankind; Enki gives him instructions for building a boat to save his family and livestock. If that sounds like a familiar tale, it’s because this was one of several ancient flood traditions that, centuries later, would inspire the biblical story of Noah. But the tablet’s inscription describes a boat very different from the traditional image of the Ark—it’s said to be circular and made of reeds. Is this nothing more than a fanciful myth? Or could such a reed boat have carried Atra-Hasis’ family of more than one hundred and his many animals? Join NOVA as a team of historians and expert boat builders investigates this fascinating flood legend and sets out to rebuild a tantalizing, ancient forerunner of the Ark.
Roger Waters The Wall
|Universal / Released 12/1/15|
Gaining global critical acclaim as “a monumental achievement” that is “nothing short of breathtaking,” Roger Waters The Wall is the brand new feature film written and directed by Roger Waters and Sean Evans. The film unfolds on many levels – an immersive and undeniably epic concert experience of the classic Pink Floyd album, a road movie of Waters’ reckoning with the past and an anti-war protest film, highlighting the human cost of conflict.
Roger Waters The Wall was shot during ‘The Wall Live’ sold out 2010-13 world tour. Seen by over 4 million fans at 219 shows over a period of three years, the show was the highest grossing tour by any solo artist in history. The film, shot in 4K and mixed in Dolby Atmos, features never-before-seen concert footage from this breathtaking tour and includes the hits ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part 2’, ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Run Like Hell.’
Beyond the music, the film follows Roger Waters as he embarks on a deeply personal pilgrimage and reflects on the impact of war with his own family. Woven throughout the film, Waters travels to France to the site where his grandfather is buried, and Italy to a memorial for his father – both lost to war. The journey offers a revealing, candid portrait of a man who is passionately and unapologetically anti-war. Extras include featurettes and performances.
Zoo Season One
|Paramount / Released 12/1/2015|
From the mind of bestselling author James Patterson comes the most thrilling television show in years! Animals have been hunted, enslaved, and slaughtered by humans for millennia…now it’s their turn. From Africa to Los Angeles, humans are viciously attacked by animals. When a maverick zoologist (James Wolk), a French intelligence agent (Nora Arnezeder), and an activist blogger (Kristen Connolly) investigating the phenomenon, they discover the attacks are motivated by something far deadlier than animal instinct. Extras include featurettes, gag reel, and deleted/extended scenes.
- First Blood: Jackson Oz, a young renegade American zoologist living in Africa, discovers a link between strange animal attacks on people occurring around the world and his late father’s controversial theories about an impending threat to the human race.
- Fight Or Flight: After Jackson Oz rescues his best friend, Abraham Kenyatta, from a lion attack in Botswana, Abraham’s firsthand account of the attack reveals that the lions are no longer afraid of humans and might be killing for sport.
- The Silence of The Cicadas: Jackson Oz and Abraham Kenyatta fly to Japan to recover the rest of Oz’s father’s research involving animals.
- Pack Mentality: Jackson, Abraham, Mitch, Jamie and Chloe are tasked by a top intelligence agent to find the cause of the strange animal behavior around the world.
- Blame It On Leo: Jackson, Jamie and Agent Shaffer search for a chemist in Alabama who has evidence of Reiden Global’s role in the growing animal problem.
- This Is What It Sounds Like: While searching for a solution to the bat problem in Rio de Janeiro, Mitch and Chloe are kidnapped by the local drug lord and Abraham must come to the rescue.
- Sleuths: The team travels to Paris to search for a group of bears that were being studied for migration habits when their trackers mysteriously went offline.
- The Cheese Stands Alone: The team discovers a terrifying rat infestation when a cargo ship carrying the bloodthirsty rodents washes up off the coast of Massachusetts.
- Murmuration: Jamie contacts a fellow journalist in an attempt to expose the truth about Reiden’s involvement in the global animal problem. After realizing Delavenne works for Reiden, Mitch escapes with both the Mother Cell and his daughter’s medication.
- Emotional Contagion: On the run as fugitives, the team flies to Zambia to gather leopard DNA in order to manufacture a cure for the abnormal behavior that’s affecting animals worldwide. Warren Christie guest stars.
- Eats, Shoots, and Leaves/Wild Things: When Jackson is injured after a run-in with the rebels in Zambia, the team rushes him to a hospital in Zimbabwe and finds it overrun by wild animals.
- That Great Bill Hill of Hope: Jackson and the team make a final attempt to find a cure to the worldwide animal pandemic, but hit an obstacle that may be impenetrable.
The Kindergarten Teacher
|Kino Lorber / Released 12/8/15|
Nadav Lapid’s The Kindergarten Teacher is the story of a teacher who becomes at first enchanted, and then ultimately consumed, by the poetic genius of her five-year-old student. Nira (Sarit Larry) discovers that her young student Yoav (Avi Shnaidman) has an otherworldly talent for language and poetry, and becomes interested in cultivating the boy’s gift. but when fascination morphs into obsession, Nira pushes the boundaries of her relationship with the boy and his family in an attempt to protect the purity of his talent. Following his critically acclaimed debut Policeman, Lapid demonstrates the aesthetic vision of a true auteur, combining a vérité approach with a thrilling cinematic narrative. Extras include interview with director Lapid, short film Why and trailer.
|Kino Lorber / Released 12/8/15|
A global pursuit (with layovers in Japan, Argentina, Brazil, France, Spain, the U.S. and other countries) for the best steak in the world, Steak (R)evolution features exclusive conversations with chefs, farmers, butchers, steakhouse owners, journalists and experts about the many variables that affect the quality of our meat. Director Franck Ribiere explains a variety of farming methods and offers a clear description of how the humane treatment of animals (and the different preparation methods) positively impacts our meals. Moreover, Steak (R)evolution unravels how small-scale operations have impacted and raised the bar of the entire industry, and how meat producers have implemented sustainable farming practices across the board. Both informative and utterly tantalizing, Steak (R)evolution is a must-see for any steak enthusiast.
Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw
|Kino Lorber / Released 12/8/15|
The stunning physical charm of Lynda Carter (TV’s Wonder Woman) was first fully exposed to filmgoers in this rousing adventure of two young lovers whose fantasies leads them to danger. Bobbie Jo (Carter) is a shapely drive-in waitress who imagines herself a country star; Lyle Wheeler (Marjoe Gortner, When You Comin’ Back Red Ryder?) is a quick-draw expert who fancies himself a modern day Billy the Kid. Together, they’re Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw – a pair of modern bandits to ever streak across the west, in this fast paced crime drama directed by cult filmmaker Mark L. Lester (Class of 1984, Commando). The sterling cast includes Jesse Vint (Silent Running), Belinda Balaski (The Howling), Peggy Stewart (Son of Zorro), Gerrit Graham (Used Cars) and James Gammon (Major League). Extras include commentary, interviews and trailer
Last Word: A mash-up of Bonnie & Clyde meets The Dukes of Hazard, Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw is a perfect example of 70’s drive-in cinema. Like most movies of this ilk it includes crime sprees, stolen cars, a beautiful girl, and a determined sheriff. It’s got nonstop action and violence and might best be remembered as the film where Lynda Carter takes her top off. Extras include a theatrical trailer.
It all comes to a predictable ending with everyone going out in a blaze of glory, except for Bobbie Jo who gets handcuffed and carted away. Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw is an entertaining diversion, especially for fans of psychotronic cinema. And Lynda Carter’s boobs.
Delta Force 2
|Kino Lorber / Released 12/8/15|
Chuck Norris (An Eye For An Eye) is in peak form in this explosive action/adventure that brings back one of his most unforgettable characters, Delta Force Colonel Scott McCoy, for a daring mission to destroy a deadly South American drug cartel. When notorious drug lord Ramon Cota (Billy Drago, Hero and the Terror) captures a team of American narcotics agents – as well as a member of McCoy’s elite Delta Force commando unit – and imprisons them in his remote San Carlos compound, The Delta Force charges into action, waging war against Cota’s powerful cocaine empire. Against all odds, McCoy and his squad must fight their way to a blistering final battle to free the hostages and destroy the ruthless criminal mastermind in this lightning-paced and outrageously exciting turbo-charged adventure! Chuck’s brother, Aaron Norris (Platoon Leader) directed the sequel to the smash hit… featuring strong performances by John P. Ryan (Avenging Force), Richard Jaeckel (Grizzly) and Mark Margolis (The Rosary Murders).
|Kino Lorber / Released 12/8/15|
The Deadly Art of Illusion! Bryan Brown (Far East) and Brian Dennehy (Gorky Park) are back as Rollie and Leo in an all-new action-thriller that continues the F/X saga with stylish wit, unrelenting suspense and amazing high-tech action. Five years after his first deadly adventure, Rollie Tyler (Brown) has left the special effects business and now designs sophisticated electronic toys for a living. But when his girlfriend’s ex-husband, a police detective, persuades him to devise an illusion to capture a serial killer, Rollie is once again lured into the lethal world of make-believe. And soon, he finds himself trapped in a murderous maze of deceit and treachery in which he must depend on his ingenious tricks and his friendship with detective Leo McCarthy (Dennehy) to expose a terrifying underworld conspiracy… but only if he can stay alive! Cult filmmaker Richard Franklin (Psycho II, Road Games) directed this top-notch sequel that features a strong cast including Rachel Ticotin (Total Recall), Joanna Gleason (Boogie Nights), Philip Bosco (The Dream Team) and Kevin J. O’Connor (Color of Night).
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/8/15|
Based on the wildly popular and irreverent trading cards, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie stars Mackenzie Astin (Iron Will, Wyatt Earp) as a perfectly nice teenager who discovers the Kids…to his great disgust!
When Dodger (Astin) accidentally releases the Kids from their magical trash can prison, all smell breaks loose. Despite their offensive personal habits – and attitude problems – Dodger soon becomes fond of the Kids. But when Messy Tessie, Foul Phil, Valerie Vomit and the whole misfit crew join his fight against thuggish bullies, their efforts just might land them behind bars at the State Home for the Ugly!
This grossly entertaining cult classic features great makeup effects by John Carl Buechler (Troll, Dolls, Ghoulies) and co-stars Phil Fondacaro (Troll, Ghoulies II), Katie Barberi (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and singer/songwriter Anthony Newley (Doctor Dolittle). Extras include interviews, featurette and trailer.
Hannibal Season 3
|Lionsgate / Released 12/8/15|
Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) is on the run in Europe – accompanied by his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) – sporting a new identity, but servicing the same insatiable appetite. As the lives of Will (Hugh Dancy) and Jack (Laurance Fishburne) converge toward Hannibal again, each with their own motivations to catch him once and for all, their deadly dance turns in startling and unexpected ways. Extras include commentaries, featurettes, webisodes with Scott Thompson, gag reel and deleted scenes.
- Antipasto: Season 3 picks up after the shocking events of last season with Hannibal on the run in Europe, accompanied by his psychiatrist Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. Hannibal has assumed a new identity and life in Florence, Italy working at the Palazzo Capponi Museum. He hasn’t rid himself of his insatiable appetite and opulent tastes which are still on display. Glimpses into the past help enlighten his relationship with Bedelia, a pairing not clearly defined as friend or foe.
- Primavera: It’s been eight months since the fight that almost took his life and with his wounds now healed, Will Graham heads to Europe in search of closure with Hannibal. Will arrives in Palermo, Italy to find a disturbing gift. Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi is suspicious of Will’s arrival. Twenty years earlier Pazzi pursued a Florentine killer known as “Il Mostro” and, after reading Will’s file, is sure that Hannibal Lecter and “Il Mostro” are one and the same. Pazzi tries to enlist Will’s help in catching Hannibal, but Will is unsure of where his own allegiance lies.
- Secondo: Will gains a potential ally in his continuing hunt for Hannibal when he makes his way to Hannibal’s childhood home in Lithuania. Elsewhere, Jack arrives in Italy and hopes to avert tragedy by finding Will, and Bedelia gives Hannibal a warning.
- Aperitivo: Dr. Chilton returns after surviving a disfiguring gunshot and rallies support to capture Hannibal, using Will as bait. Meanwhile, Jack urges Will to abandon the dangerous notion of finding Hannibal.
- Contorno: The hunt for Hannibal heats up, as Crawford and Pazzi seek clues that will lead them to Hannibal’s location. Elsewhere, Will and Chiyoh journey to Florence in a quest to track down Hannibal, and Alana continues to work with Mason Verger.
- Dolce: Will and Jack reunite and renew their alliance, yet Jack questions Will’s true loyalty. Meanwhile, Hannibal and Bedelia sense their time in Florence is reaching its end as Hannibal plots his final stand, and Mason Verger plans Hannibal’s capture.
- Digestivo: Hannibal and Will are delivered to Mason’s Muskrat Farm. Alana plots Will’s rescue. Hannibal reminds Margot not to trust Mason to keep his promises. Jack lets Chiyoh know Hannibal’s location.
- The Great Red Dragon: Hannibal has been imprisoned for three years at the Baltimore State Hospital when a new villain emerges in one Francis Dolarhyde. Jack reaches out to Will to help him track down the brutal serial killer.
- And the Woman Clothed With the Sun…: The search for serial killer Francis Dolarhyde heats up as Will delves into dangerous territory. He envisions himself in Dolarhyde’s psyche and contacts Hannibal Lecter for help in profiling the killer. Meanwhile, a new woman enters Dolarhyde’s life.
- And the Woman Clothed in Sun: Dolarhyde finds a way to approach and communicate directly with Dr. Lecter. The Tooth Fairy believes that only Hannibal can help him gain a better understanding of himself. Will starts to feel uneasy with his frequent consultations with Lecter fearing that the bond will become more powerful and ultimately lead him to his destruction. Will decides to seek the help of Dr. du Maurier believing she is the only person who can make him understand about his current plight. Carvings depicting the Great Red Dragon seen from the crime scenes help the Bureau and Will gain more insight on Francis Dolarhyde’s twisted and disturbing psychology.
- …And the Beast From the Sea: The Red Dragon threatens to strike very close to those who are hunting him. Will and Jack suspect that he’ll soon kill again, yet they lack a solid lead. Meanwhile, Hannibal is offered a chance at redemption, and Dolarhyde grapples with his feelings for his coworker.
- The Number of the Beast is 666…: Will and the FBI devise a risky plan to lure Francis Dolarhyde into an ambush. Meanwhile, Bedelia Du Maurier gives Will a warning as his empathy for Dolarhyde begins impacting his fragile psyche, and Dolarhyde launches a terrifying endgame.
- The Wrath of the Lamb: In the series finale, Will hatches a cunning plot to slay Francis Dolarhyde, using Hannibal Lecter in his ploy. Bedelia voices concern about the perilous plan as Will continues his game with Hannibal, though Will may have to face his darkest fears.
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins
|Kino Lorber / Released 12/8/15|
When street-smart NYPD cop (Fred Ward, Tremors) regains consciousness after a bizarre mugging, he has a new face and a new identity! Now he’s Remo Williams, the #1 recruit of a top-secret organization, and he’s toppling evil at every turn – even atop the Statue of Liberty – in this spectacular and funny adventure film. Trained by a quirky Korean martial arts master (Joel Grey, Cabaret) to dodge bullets, brave terrifying heights and thwart attackers with his bare hands, Remo become the ultimate criminal exterminator. But when he faces off against a corrupt millionaire and his army of henchmen, the real adventure begins! Directed by action great Guy Hamilton, the director of Funeral in Berlin, Force 10 From Navarone and 4 James Bond classics including Goldfinger and Live and Let Die! The stellar cast includes Wilford Brimley (The Thing), J.A. Preston (Body Heat), George Coe (The Entity) and Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathryn Janeway of TV’s Star Trek: Voyager).
|Criterion / Released 12/8/15|
The world-famous artist Takashi Murakami made his directorial debut with Jellyfish Eyes, taking his boundless imagination to the screen in a tale of friendship and loyalty that also addresses humanity’s propensity for destruction. After moving to a country town with his mother following his father’s death, a young boy befriends a charming, flying, jellyfish-like sprite—only to discover that his schoolmates have similar friends, and that neither they nor the town itself are what they seem to be. Pointedly set in a post-Fukushima world, Murakami’s modest-budgeted special effects extravaganza boasts unforgettable creature designs and carries a message of cooperation and hope for all ages. Extras include interview with Murakami, featurette, documentary, trailer for Jellyfish Eyes 2, and an essay by critic Glen Helfand.
Last Word: I can’t say that Murakami’s Jellyfish Eyes is a particularly good film, but it’s definitely unique. Utilizing both CGI and practical effects, the film reminded me of a Sid and Marty Krofft show seen through the eyes of Katy Perry. Unfortunately, it’s not very good. Running over 100 minutes, this might be better serviced as a 22 minute television series, but even in that format it might feel overlong. I can appreciate the vision, but the execution is tepid, redundant and emotionally absent. For fans of the artist, it might be worth your time; for others, it’s tedious, pretentious and forgetable.
|Lionsgate / Released 12/8/15|
When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse. A sexy new thriller from director Eli Roth and written for the screen by Eli Roth & Nicolás López & Guillermo Amoedo and story by Anthony Overman and Michael Ronald, Knock Knock stars Keanu Reeves as the family man who falls into temptation and Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas as the seductresses who wreak havoc upon his life, turning a married man’s dark fantasy into his worst nightmare. Extras include commentary, deleted scenes with optional commentary by Roth, featurette and gallery.
|Universal / Released 12/8/15|
Since the dawn of time, Minions have served (and accidentally eliminated) history’s most despicable villains. After their latest explosive mistake leaves them without an evil leader, the Minions fall into a deep depression. With the tribe on the brink of collapse, three unlikely heroes -Kevin, Stuart, and Bob – embark on a journey to find a new big boss. When their quest leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill (Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock), our three heroes must face their biggest challenge yet: saving all of Minionkind…from annihilation! Extras include 3 mini-movies, interactive map, featurettes and deleted scenes.
Last Word: For every child I know between the ages of 3 and 12 (and some of quite a bit older), the Minions were hands-down the best part of Despicable Me. They stole every scene (as they were written to do) and had viewers laughing all the way to the sequel, Despicable Me 2. After the success of a straight to DVD collection of 3 mini movies, there was only logical step for the Illumination Entertainment, Universal, and the creators to do: Feature film. All Minions. All the time.
Foolproof. Right? You know how sprinkles on an ice cream cone is what makes it extra special instead of just some ice cream you bought at the grocery store? Sprinkles on a cone, awesome! However, a bowl full of sprinkles with no ice cream, no substance, would be kinda gross to anyone over the age of 7 after the first bite; that’s what the new full length Minions feature was like to me. Entertaining at first, but the further along in the movie I got, the more bored I became. However, from start to finish the children in the theater laughed in all the right butt-joke places.
To Illumination’s credit, the animation was good. For an animation studio that isn’t one of the Big Two, it holds it’s own. Unfortunately, writer Brian Lynch did not seem up to the task. The plot was a simple A to B to C with little care taken on the journey there. The Minions purpose in life is to serve. Their journey is to find a villain worth serving. Disappointingly, the most interesting part of their search is revealed in the trailer, which makes up most of the first 10-15 minutes of the movie. Voice of the Kevin, Stuart, Bob and the rest of the minions, Pierre Coffin (also co-director, by the by) did a great job giving each of the little guys their own personality, helping them to retain their watchability. That being said, the Minions were the only characters with any depth.
Sandra Bullock (Gravity) and Jon Hamm (Mad Men) were both underused as main villains Scarlet Overkill and her inventor/husband, Herb, respectively. Scarlet Overkill only having a range of two emotions, nice crazy and crazy-crazy. Most of a clearly talented cast including Oscar winner Michael Keaton (Birdman), and British comedy nobility Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge, Tropic Thunder) and Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) were given paper thin caricatures that only served to give the Minions an environment to interact with. Yes, I get it, it’s a kid’s movie. It is not Shakespeare. Then again, neither was Despicable Me, and both that and it’s sequel managed to have supporting characters that played more than one note.
The film takes place mostly in late 1960’s London. It is rendered in such a way that I felt the design team had done all their research on London and British Culture through Google and Wikipedia, the stereotypes were so bold. Tea joke told once, possibly funny. Tea joke told 8 times, I’m looking at my watch. It’s the equivalent of showing all Californians as surfer dudes or Texans as cowboys. The one saving grace was the very solid British Invasion inspired soundtrack. It’s hard to go wrong with the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and the Who. Will the kids enjoy it? Yes. It’s filled with bright colors, frenetic action, and grade school humor. Will the adults like? One viewing, possibly.
But if you have kids, (or nephews, nieces, best friend’s small human, etc.) you know that they will watch a favorite movie 85 times in 2 days. Repeat viewing may induce head banging on walls, poking one’s eye out, or narcolepsy. Well, okay, nap time isn’t terrible, if you can sleep through all the Beedos. Just turn on and watch Despicable Me 1 and 2 again. You’ll be much happier. ( – Elizabeth Robbins)
One & Two
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/8/15|
Siblings Eva (Kiernan Shipka, Mad Men) and Zac (Timothée Chalamet, Interstellar, Homeland) are cut off from society in a remote farmhouse, their insular world bounded by an enormous wall. But as the pair begins exploring their extraordinary, potentially dangerous supernatural abilities, a mystery arises: is their strict, disciplinarian father trying to keep the world out, or to keep his children in? As their father searches for a divine answer to the circumstances of his crumbling world, Zac and Eva steal moments to explore their burgeoning otherworldly powers… This stunningly original science-fiction mind-bender is a surprising, thought-provoking look at the bonds that tie families together and the secrets that drive them apart. Twilight‘s Elizabeth Reaser co-stars.
|Well Go USA / Released 12/8/15|
On the edge of a crumbling city, 11-year-old Alexander (Jeremy Chabriel) lives in a sequestered commune, alongside other children, their mothers, and charismatic leader, Gregori (Vincent Cassel). Gregori teaches the children how to raise livestock, grow vegetables, work as a community – and how to kill. As Alexander nears his first job as an assassin, he begins to question the ways of the commune, particularly Gregori’s quiet but overpowering influence. Threatened by Alexander’s increasing unwillingness to fall in line, Gregori’s behavior turns erratic and adversarial toward the child he once considered a son. With the two set dangerously at odds and the commune’s way of life disintegrating, the residents fear a violent resolution is at hand in this Sundance award-winning thriller. Extras include interviews.
|20th Century Fox / Released 12/8/15|
Frank Martin (played by newcomer Ed Skrein), a former special-ops mercenary, is now living a less perilous life – or so he thinks – transporting classified packages for questionable people. When Frank’s father (Ray Stevenson) pays him a visit in the south of France, their father-son bonding weekend takes a turn for the worse when Frank is engaged by a cunning femme-fatale, Anna (Loan Chabanol), and her three seductive sidekicks to orchestrate the bank heist of the century. Frank must use his covert expertise and knowledge of fast cars, fast driving and fast women to outrun a sinister Russian kingpin, and worse than that, he is thrust into a dangerous game of chess with a team of gorgeous women out for revenge. Extras include featurettes.
Unauthorized Full House Story
|A+E / Released 12/8/15|
The Unauthorized Full House Story takes viewers behind the scenes of the widely beloved sitcom, “Full House,” and explores the pressures of stardom on the cast members as they struggled with the contrasts between the idyllic TV family life and their real lives. The movie also explores the warm bond that grew between the actors over the eight-year run of the show.
Women’s Prison Massacre
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/8/15|
Master of exploitation Bruno Mattei (Cruel Jaws, Rats: Night of Terror) hauls his unique cinematic stylings to the slammer in Women’s Prison Massacre! Sultry reported Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) in on the verge of breaking a big story about a corrupt politician when she gets framed and sent to a women’s prison. There, incarcerated women face unspeakable cruelty and inhumane conditions – and that’s before a quarter of dangerous men are temporarily transferred to the facility! When the felonious four overpower the guards and take over, it’s up to Emanuelle and her fellow inmates to take control of the prison – and their very lives.
Featuring Mattei’s signature flourishes and a script co-written by Claudio Fragasso (the visionary behind Troll 2 and Beyond Darkness), Women’s Prison Massacre is a brutal and uncompromising entry in one of cinema’s most infamous genres.
You Can’t Take It with You
|Sony / Released 12/8/15|
Acadamy Award-winner James Stewart (1940 Best Actor, The Philadelphia Story), Jean Arthur, Academy Award-winner Lionel Barrymore (1931 Best Actor, A Free Soul) and Edward Arnold star in this classic screwball comedy. Arthur stars as Alive Sycamore, the stable family member of an offbeat clan of free spirits who falls for Tony Kirby (James Stewart), the down-to-earth son of a snooty, wealthy family. Amidst a backdrop of confusion, the two very different families rediscover the simple joys of life. Based on the phenomenally successful Kaufman-Hart play, You Can’t Take It With You was directed by Frank Capra and won two Academy Awards (1938 Best Picture, Best Director). Now fully restored in 4K, this heartwarming and timeless classic is perfect for every family. Extras include featurette, commentary and trailer.
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/15/15|
Fasten your seatbelts for the terrifying thrill ride that has become a cult classic! The peaceful tranquility of a small Western town is disturbed when a murderous car wreaks havoc by viciously mowing down innocent victims. The new sheriff, Wade Parent (James Brolin, The Amityville Horror), may be the only one who can stop this menace in its tracks. But what Wade Parent doesn’t realize is that the driver of this indestructible vehicle is far more dangerous than any man… because it is driven by pure evil. This high-octane thriller has an all-star genre cast including John Marley (Deathdream), Ronny Cox (RoboCop), Kathleen Lloyd (It Lives Again), R.G. Armstrong (Race with the Devil, Evilspeak), Roy Jenson (Soylent Green), Melody Thomas Scott (Piranha, The Fury), Kim Richards (Assault on Precinct 13) and Kyle Richards (Halloween). Extras include interviews, trailer, tv and radio spots, and gallery.
The Dungeonmaster / Eliminators
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/15/15|
A Double Dose Of Science-Fiction Fun!
The Dungeonmaster (aka Ragewar)
Paul, a young computer ace, is forced to pit his physical and mental skills against unimaginable odds when a hulking wizard looking for formidable opponents picks Paul as his next challenger. Paul faces a series of seven spectacular and death-defying challenges and must survive not only to save his life but that of his girlfriend’s too! Jeffrey Byron (Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn) and Richard Moll (Night Court) star in this eye-popping thriller featuring an appearance by W.A.S.P.! Extras include trailer. This version of The Dungeonmaster is Unrated and different from the PG-13 version shown theatrically. It includes an additional scene with some nudity. Parental discretion is advised.
A mandroid – part man and part machine – seeks revenge on the evil scientist who created him. Enlisting the help of a beautiful woman and a mysterious ninja, he pursues the scientist in hopes of stopping him before he can further harm humanity. Andrew Prine (The Town That Dreaded Sundown) and Denise Crosby (Star Trek: The Next Generation) star. Extras include new interview with director Peter Manoogian.
Extant: The Complete Second Season
|Paramount / Released 12/15/15|
Oscar winner Halle Berry questions what it means to be human in this sci-fi thriller from executive producer Steven Spielberg. Devastated by the loss of her husband and humanich robot son, Ethan, astronaut Molly Woods is involuntarily committed to a “rest facility.” Believing her confinement is part of a conspiracy to keep her quiet about the presence of aliens, Molly escapes, but she’s stricken by an unknown illness…one she believes may be related to the mysterious space encounter that left her pregnant. Betrayed by friends and befriended by strangers, including ex-officer JD Richter (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Molly tracks Ethan and her hybrid alien son, who has now produced more of his own kind. Afraid the hybrids will result in mankind’s extinction, the government orders the creation of powerful humanich robot soldiers to fight them – but the robots have their own agenda. It’s time to pick a side as humans face aliens and robots in the electrifying second season of Extant. Extras include featurettes, set tour, gag reel, and deleted scenes.
- Change Scenario: Six months after her life unraveled and dark secrets were revealed, Molly is confined to a psychiatric hospital when she learns of bizarre deaths that sound eerily similar to those she witnessed in space. Jeffrey Dean Morgan joins the cast as JD Richter.
- Morphoses: Molly and JD discover another pregnant woman suffering from inexplicable and fatal symptoms, while Molly begins to question her own mental stability.
- Empathy for the Devil: Molly finally learns the frightening truth about what happened to her son.
- Cracking the Code: As Molly works to create a virus that will eradicate alien hybrids, she discovers that aliens are trying to communicate with humans through a hidden message in their DNA.
- The New Frontier: Molly discovers Ethan is alive and sets out to get her son back.
- You Say You Want An Evolution/The Others: Molly panics when she discovers she is changing physically, the question is into what, and whether she can reverse what’s happening to her.
- Arms and the Humanich: After a Global Security Commission raid on the hybrid compound, Molly desperately tries to save her son Adhu, while JD attempts to rescue his daughter who is being held captive by Shepherd.
- The Other Side: As Molly succumbs to the virus, long forgotten memories surface. Also, Julie is confronted with hard choices and the Hybrids seek revenge.
- Don’t Shoot The Messenger: Following a near-death experience, Molly has a harrowing vision she can’t shake.
- Zugzwang: Molly, JD and Ethan track down John’s mysterious former colleague who may hold the key to stopping the Humanich threat.
- Double Vision/The Greater Good: Molly reveals disturbing new details about Shepherd’s death to the GSC, and Lucy makes a powerful move against the humans and hybrids that could have devastating global repercussions.
Marco Polo: Season One
|Anchor Bay / Released 12/15/15|
This epic adventure follows a young Marco Polo, who finds himself in the court of the great Kublai Khan and must navigate a world of greed, betrayal and sexual intrigue as the Mongol leader wages a bloody campaign to become Emperor of the World.
Re-creating the legendary explorer’s 13th century exploits in the Far East, this historical drama chronicles the intrigues, duplicity and greed running rampant in the court of the Mongolian ruler Khan.
- The Wayfarer: After three years crossing seas, deserts, and the Silk Road, a young Marco Polo finds himself a prisoner of the great Kublai Khan.
- The Wolf and The Deer: As Kublai Khan battles his warmonger brother for rule over Mongolia, Marco learns that justice in Khan’s Imperial City is as swift as it is deadly.
- Feast: Marco begins a dangerous relationship with the beautiful Blue Princess as tensions grow between Kublai and Xiangyang’s cunning chancellor Jia Sidao.
- The Fourth Step: As war looms with the walled city of Xiangyang, Prince Jingim tests his diplomacy skills while Kublai questions Marco’s allegiance.
- Hashshashin: Marco searches for the mastermind behind a murderous plot, while Prince Jingim weighs the risks of retaliation.
- White Moon: On the eve of an auspicious ceremony, Marco searches for the culprit behind the assassination on Kublai Khan – even as a new one takes shape.
- The Scholar’s Pen: Marco and Hundred Eyes take on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the walled city of Xiangyang, while its chancellor struggles to hold on to power.
- Rendering: When Kublai sets his sights — and his army – on the taking of the walled city of Xiangyang, Marco’s allegiance is tested.
- Prisoners: Marco finds his fate in the hands of Kublai yet again, while behind the walls of Xiangyang, Chancellor Sidao sets his sights on regaining power.
- The Heavenly and Primal: Marco’s ingenuity – and loyalty – is put to the ultimate test when Kublai takes a violent and bold step in his quest to become emperor of the world.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
|Paramount / Released 12/15/15|
With the IMF disbanded, and Ethan (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents, the Syndicate. These highly trained operatives are hellbent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Ethan gathers his team (Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet. Extras include commentary and featurettes.
Last Word: The secret of the Mission Impossible films and their staying power is their ability to reinvent the series. Mission Impossible has had incredibly talented directors leading the franchise, including Brian De Palma, JJ Abrams, and Brad Bird. In some cases, the film pushed the director into the limelight, and in this case, it may lead Christopher Mcquarrie to further acclaim. Following up with Cruise on the heels of his modestly successful Jack Reacher adaptation, Mcquarrie writes and directs the film as a more comfortable spy versus spy thriller, in a more comfortable setting, but less ambitious than its predecessor, Ghost Protocol. While it’s not better than some of the previous iterations, it does work quite well as a spy film and an action film.
You can’t discuss Rogue Nation without looking at Jack Reacher and seeing the contrast. Jack Reacher portrayed Mcquarrie’s directorial style as constrictive and gritty. He showed a quick cutting style of editing in action scenes, but a natural progression in closed up and quartered framing to incorporate the audience into the claustrophobia and nausea. He turns away from big set pieces, determined to immerse his audience in real time sequences over the eye from god-type set pieces. All of these traits show up in Rogue Nation, and add a great amount of clarity to the films. It is refreshing for this franchise to see action sequences creating character development and tension, while choosing to use the camera to portray the sequence in an operatic crescendo leading to the money shot, and then resolution. It’s undoubtedly one of the biggest strengths of the film. The film does seem scaled back from the past, in regards to the giant set pieces: Ghost Protocol and Mission Impossible: Three had much bigger set pieces, but weren’t necessarily better.
The acting seems organic as well. One of the most underrated aspects of cinema, and a footnote worthy of a novel, is Tom Cruise’s ability to continue to lead franchises well past what most would say is their expiration date. Tom Cruise is one of the best at playing the straight man, keeping the film focused on the plot and pacing. Being a leading man means engaging the audience. The story needs a point of view character in order to have a deep plot and exposition thrown at the audience, and not have them get bored or tired. You also need to have a good straight man so your other character actors, like Simon Pegg, can bounce off and expand their character’s personality without going off the deep end, where the audience doesn’t buy into the premise. Almost no one is better than Cruise at doing these things, and these characteristics shine in the film. Based on this, the real stars are Rebecca Hall and the aforementioned Pegg, whose characters show a deep amount of conviction and growth, while adding much needed comedy, and tension, to the preceding. These three lead the film and do it admirably well.
The film has some flaws. Notably, the bad guy who runs a shadowy organization listed as the Syndicate. The Syndicate basically rivals Ethan Hunt’s organization, IMF. It’s a good idea for the plot as it immediately gives you a bad guy who doesn’t need an elaborate backstory. Not having to delve into that not only means you can add more tension and mystery, it also allows you to immediately have the audience accept this bad guy as an equal to your protagonist. However, it falls flat, since the character immediately seems to be Hunt’s superior, but falters at the end. The bad guy ends up being just a generic bad guy. While his arc isn’t a mistake, his ending is. By buying into the premise, you need to make that consistent throughout the entire film, but that doesn’t happen here. Rogue Nation also doesn’t benefit from having a good secondary bad guy. While most would consider Alec Baldwin as that, and he does deliver, he’s only coyly labeled as any sort of tour de force or menace. While he is enjoyable, he’s not motivating.
The film also falters somewhat in its script by losing pace and focus. While Rogue Nation is better than most other summer releases, it isn’t better than Mission Impossible or Ghost Protocol. One of the series’ strengths has been the pacing and misdirection, and these are plausible and acceptable, but certainly not exceptional. The reveals at the end don’t shock you, and almost every other film of this franchise has had that.
The score, and the silences, is another huge added bonus to this film. It creates a secondary character that helps add to each scene. Mccquairre does a great job of staging some action scenes without a soundtrack. This is a huge asset as it’s not often done, and in Rogue Nation, they did it very well. It’s a decision that pays off. It takes the fifth entry of this franchise and shows that it has the ability to continually reinvent itself. The costumes also come off well. The style matches the tone of the film, showing underlying character traits that come to pass in the script. The gadgets designed for the film continue to be top notch and strangely inventive. They come to be major parts of the plot, enhancing it, not overshadowing it. The car that can only unlock by DNA touch is a small piece, but a clever one.
This is the strength, led by Cruise, that continues to make it successful more than most other franchises: the ability to take different talents and stories and not be beholden to the past. The first film focused almost solely on the gadgets and the twists. It holds up as an extremely solid spy noire that sets a solid foundation. The next two were much more action packed, and directed by directors on the verge of being A- list. JJ Abrams made it, while John Woo didn’t. The fourth and fifth, headlined by Brad Bird and Mcquarrie showed very different styles and plots for their stories. It’s smart, and something Cruise didn’t have to do, as doing the same story again and again most likely would of lead success overseas. However, the creative sandbox that continually gets raked over shows something good, where often creative do-overs go terribly wrong. It’s a testament to the power Cruise yields when he forces the film to be as good as it is. For all the faults people place on him, and some are valid, it’s unmistakable that he understands his craft and his role not only as an actor, but a creative. The difficulty in separating Tom Cruise the manufactured image (to which many are turned off), and Tom Cruise the acting magnet causes several to write off his projects, and his talents due to him being loopy. This ignores the fact that several other seemingly A-list talents have similar personal issues, and that none of them really reach his aura of success. If Mission Impossible is his thesis statement on doing a franchise, then there are several things to be learned.
One specific point on that is the ending. The ending decides to focus on the characters and have the revelations come to a head. In the final twenty minutes, three different resolutions appear that the script has been building toward. No buildings blow up. No rockets fire. There’s hardly any collateral damage. The shots are all bunched together and placed in a very small area, not utilizing London’s varied locations to create a huge end set piece. It’s everything other action films, or even spy films, refuse to do. The ability of this film to take that risk is why it’s so good. The DNA blueprint for making those calls seep into all other decisions of the film and it ends up being a smart portrayal of a studio film working towards a satisfying end product.
In the end, the decision to see Mission Impossible should not be based on how many previous iterations you’ve seen. The series continues to head in a confident direction with its creative team and it’s certainly a film to sit down and enjoy. It has its flaws, and doesn’t take most of the risks the previous ones have, but lands the beats it needs to and comes up with a way to keep the momentum of the series heading upwards. Cruise is certainly a reason for this, but not the only reason. It’s a solid film in a summer season that has plenty of them and, without a doubt, is worth seeing. The ending leaves great hope for the future, and where they take the characters next. ( – David Postma)
|IFC / Released 12/15/15|
Jeff (Adam Pally, The Mindy Project) and Anne (Sarah Burns, Enlightened, How to Get Away With Murder), two close friends and co-workers who are embarrassingly unlucky at love, hatch a plan to transform themselves over the course of a sex-and-alcohol-fueled summer into the cool, confident people they aspire to be. (“I want to be sex-in-a-bathroom people!” Anne proclaims.) What starts as an exhilarating adventure of self-discovery – via new hairdos, new clothes choices and some raucous behavior – turns into a laugh-out-loud experiment as Jeff and Anne progressively lose their identities, their dignity and quite possibly each other. Directed by Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce (The Art of the Steal, The Atomic States of America) and co-starring Reid Scott of Veep and Saturday Night Live‘s Bobby Moynihan and Cecily Strong, Slow Learners is an alternately raunchy and sweet look at love and the crazy things people will do to find it.
The Strongest Man
|Kino Lorber / Released 12/15/15|
A funny, offbeat portrait of Miami, The Strongest Man follows Beef (Robert Lorie), an anxiety-ridden Cuban construction worker, and his Korean friend Conan (Paul Chamberlain), as their lives get bumped off track the moment they agree to attend a spiritual meditation class. Not fully understanding the teachings, Beef and Conan embark on a journey to find their respective power animals on the streets of Miami, where both wild dogs and chickens run rampant. Conan’s relationship with his family crumbles, as Beef’s relationship with his neighbor, a young woman named Illi (Ashley Burch), begins to flourish, but even with this excitement he can never seem to escape his looming anxiety. Extras include featurette and trailer.
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/15/15|
Virginia Madsen (Candyman, Sideways) and Richard Cox (Cruising) star in this humorous thriller about the bizarre happenings that occur in a prestigious boarding school. It seems to Andrea Miller (Madsen) that the upperclassmen act like robots. They’re the perfect students – dedicated, involved and loyal. Their clothes are perfectly pressed and their hair is perfectly styled. It seems that the teachers have something to do with this ingratiating behavior. And when Andrea, the new kid at school, sees her friends turning into clones, she starts to suspect the worst. The film features a great supporting cast including Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks, Ray Donovan), Scott Coffey (Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway) and Paul Feig (creator of Freaks And Geeks, director of Spy, Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters 2016)
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/22/15|
Medical science leaps light years into the future in this “great, absurd movie” (The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film) that explores the strange world of transplants, cloning and mutant regeneration. Strangely relevant in today’s ethically challenged world, this presents a truly psycho surgery case. When Dr. Bill Cortner loses his sweetheart, Jan, in a car accident, he refuses to give up hope for her life. Scooping up her decapitated head, he brings it back to the lab for resuscitation. But keeping her head alive is one thing – finding her a new body is quite another. So while the mad doctor is out looking for spare parts, she’s stuck at home going out of her mind – literally! And nothing will stop her from getting revenge on the man who is keeping her as a trophy girlfriend! This is a new uncut high definition transfer. Extras include MST3K episode The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (Standard Definition), commentary, alternate scene from International cut, trailer and gallery.
|Sony / Released 12/22/15|
The film centers on a Brooklyn couple, Freddy (Sebastián Silva) and his boyfriend Mo (Tunde Adebimpe), who are trying to have a baby with the help of their best friend, Polly (Kristen Wiig). The film follows the trio as they navigate the idea of creating life while confronted by growing harassment from a menacing local known as ‘The Bishop’ (Reg E. Cathey). As things take a dark turn, their joyous pursuit of parenthood is suddenly clouded.
Last Word: Ugh. A politically correct, yet overly simplified look at modern families that comes across as one of the more amateurish produced films I’ve seen in recent memory. Embracing the hipster gentrification of modern Brooklyn, Nasty Baby seems full of ideas until things take a turn in the third act which although is a twist in tone, I thought it comes across as a desperate attempt to create drama in what appeared to be a lighter film. Much of (if not all of) the fault lies on writer/director/star Sebastián Silva, who’s skill as a writer might not be on the same level as work as filmmaker and actor.
|Shout! Factory / Released 12/22/15|
An anthology of terror! A pack of cigarettes, a video game, a pick-up truck and a stately colonial home all become key elements in four terrifying tales of terror in the anthology film, Nightmares, directed by Joseph Sargent (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, White Lightning). Available in both widescreen and full frame options. Extras include commentary, trailer and radio spots.
Includes the tales:
- Terror in Topanga: a chain-smoking homemaker (Cristina Raines, The Sentinel) insists on going out for cigarettes even when an escaped madman is on the loose.
- The Bishop of Battle: J.J. Cooney (Emilio Estevez, Young Guns), a video game hot-shot, dares to take on a strange challenger – though it may cost him his life.
- The Benediction: A troubled priest (Lance Henriksen, Aliens) seeks to find the faith he has lost on the road, but instead he finds someone (or something) in this desert is trying to drive him out of his mind.
- Night of the Rat: Claire (Veronica Cartwright, Alien) hears rats in the walls. Her husband (Richard Masur, The Thing) believes he can take care of the problem with a few rat traps, but this problem is only going to get much bigger.
|Warner Bros. / Released 12/22/15|
Peter (Levi Miller) is a mischievous 12-year-old boy with an irrepressible rebellious streak, but in the bleak London orphanage where he has lived his whole life those qualities do not exactly fly. Then one incredible night, Peter is whisked away from the orphanage and spirited off to a fantastical world of pirates, warriors and fairies called Neverland. There, he finds amazing adventures and fights life-or-death battles while trying to uncover the secret of his mother, who left him at the orphanage so long ago, and his rightful place in this magical land. Teamed with the warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and a new friend named James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), Peter must defeat the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) to save Neverland and discover his true destiny—to become the hero who will forever be known as Peter Pan. Extras include commentary and featurettes.
Last Word: Peter Pan prequel? Sounds great. Finally, the backstory of a character that has been known and loved for generations, time and time again. This should be exciting, but in truth it was exactly what was expected. There was nothing special about this film, nothing to set it apart from other Peter Pan films, but also nothing that made it bad either.
Orphaned as an infant, Peter grows to early adolescence in an all-boys orphanage and is eventually captured by pirates along with many of the other boys. They are brought to Neverland and put into slavery in a mine. Peter escapes into the wild of the island and finds out that he is the chosen one of which a prophecy spoke. Really?
There is so much more that could be done when writing a Peter Pan prequel, especially with Neverland There could be characters and creatures that were never known before, places on the island that had never been explored in the original telling, and even plot points that lead to explanations of why things are the way they are when finally introduced to the real Peter Pan story.
Although the film was slightly lacking in imagination in the writing department, the acting was still pretty good. Blackbeard (Jackman) was quite a formidable opponent for Peter (Miller. Since Peter is a bit of a bland character in this film, it made Blackbeard all the more colorful and interesting. Hugh Jackman is good in pretty much all of his roles and, while he was menacing in this one, it seemed as if his full potential for the role remained untapped.
Levi Miller made for a good young Peter Pan as he was introduced to the world that would define him. The Peter that viewers are used to, however, is one who is curious, wily, and clever and none of that is prominent in this portrayal. Instead, the character was brave, loyal, and motivated with an unquestioning attitude. This made Peter seem a little less “Peter,” not to mention that Miller does not have the red hair or agile demeanor that is so familiar.
There was questionable casting with Rooney Mara as the Indian character of Tiger Lily. Not to say that Mara is not a tough lady, as she is, but having her there seemed out of place, at least until the rest of the tribe was introduced and it was comprised of people of all shapes colors and sizes. Garret Hedlund is a good up and coming actor with a lot of abilities to harness. However, Hedlund as Hook, who is a miner here, made things really weird. Hedlund gave Hook a strange sense of humor and charm, along with somewhat drawn out and eloquent delivery of lines. In truth, Hook was a likable character in this film, even though he never met his fate.
Besides the iffy writing and the odd casting and personalities of characters, there was a highlight to the film: the visual aspect. Everything in the film was fun to look at and take in and made the viewer want more. The beginning of the film was lacking in color, which helped communicate the boredom of the reality Peter lived in. Then when the pirates appear, everything goes crazy in the eye candy sense. The pirate ships fly and there is a London sky pirate ship to airplane chase scene that takes the viewers on a rollercoaster of a ride for a few minutes. Once the ship makes its escape, the viewer is taken higher in the sky, all the way to space and finally a slow landing in Neverland. In Neverland, the first things shown are the mines and Blackbeard, who has such awkward and ostentatious outfits that he makes the contrast between himself and the mines like night and day.
After the mines come the wild forests of Neverland, where the worst part of the visuals comes to light: the “neverbirds.” These birds are literally giant bird skeletons with colorful feathers and eyeballs and look so horrible that it seems as though no thought was really put into their design. The whole aesthetic of the birds was a haphazard attempt. The fight with the birds had some nice visuals with lines of light shooting through the woods that looked like a cross between Aurora Borealis and a galaxy or nebula just floating out there in the middle of it all.
Next we are out of the woods and bird sequence and into the tribal village where there are so many colors and fabrics and even trampolines too. The studio went so far with the vibrancy of the Indians that when they are killed, they die in a giant cloud of colorful smoke, and yes, the colors are different for different Indians. This ended up leading the characters down to Mermaid Lagoon where there were, of course, mermaids and also a larger than life non-ticking crocodile. The mermaids were bizarre to say the least, as their tales glowed and their human halves were identical.
Closer to the end of the film, a neat doorway is opened and a location of giant crystals floating in space becomes the setting of the final battle. Swirls of lights flit and flicker around the crystals and are introduced as the legendary fairies of Neverland. They are all different colors and sizes and only one is seen somewhat up close. It was Tinkerbell, of course, as she talks to Peter Pan.
Besides really fun visuals like settings, costumes, and effects, there were a couple neat extras. A couple rock songs make appearances in the film and are easily recognizable. Also, Nintendo has said before that Link from the Legend of Zelda series is based on Peter Pan. Well it seems the studio took notice of this fact and threw a little Easter egg into the mix. Pay attention to the symbols tattooed on the chief’s chest as they may look familiar.
Although the film failed to fully impress or amaze, it really wasn’t a loss. Elements of it were fun and enjoyable. As said before, the film was nothing more than expected and not really any less either. Just because Pan is a prequel to the famous story and visually reliant showed us one thing: just because it can be made doesn’t mean it should. ( – Joel Siegel)
|Image / Released 12/29/15|
When a group of cannibal savages kidnaps settlers from the small town of Bright Hope, an unlikely team of gunslingers, led by Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), sets out to bring them home. But their enemy is more ruthless than anyone could have imagined, putting their mission – and survival itself – in serious jeopardy. This is a gritty action-packed thriller chronicling a terrifying rescue mission in the Old West. The cast includes Matthew Fox, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, Sid Haig, Michael Pare, David Arquette, and Sean Young. Extras include making of, gallery, deleted scene and Fantastic Fest Q&A with the director and cast.
|Lionsgate / Released 12/29/15|
When their attempt to rob a casino owned by the feared gangster Pope (Robert De Niro) goes awry and a shootout ensues, Vaughn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Cox (Dave Bautista) are to flee on foot and hijack city Bus 657 and take the passengers hostage. Now, in a high speed chase, Vaughn will not only have to outwit the police, led by Officer Bajos (Gina Carano) who are in hot pursuit, but he will have to contend with Pope’s maniacal right hand man, Dog (Morris Chestnut), in order to make it through the day alive. But we quickly learn that things are not what they seem, and Vaughn has more than one card up his sleeve. Extras include commentary, deleted/extended scenes, interviews, featurettes and trailers.
Hitman: Agent 47
|20th Century Fox/ Released 12/29/15|
Rupert Friend stars in this action-packed thriller based on the award-winning video game franchise. A genetically engineered assassin with superior intelligence and superhuman abilities, 47 (Friend), turns the tables on a sinister organization that’s out to create an army of unstoppable killers with his DNA. Teaming up with a mysterious young woman (Hannah Ware), he uncovers secrets about his origins and faces an epic battle with his deadliest foe. Also starring Zachary Quinto. Extras include deleted scenes, featurettes, digital comic and “hit count”.
Ray Donovan: Season 3
|Paramount / Released 12/29/15|
Everyone has a price, and Ray Donovan is about to find out his in all 12 episodes from the exhilarating third season. Without a mentor or a family to lean on, Ray (Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Liev Schreiber) has never been more determined to do his own thing. But when he gets caught in a dangerous struggle between a billionaire (guest star Ian McShane) and his provocative daughter (guest star Katie Holmes), Ray soon discovers that Hollywood families play by their own sets of rules. And with the Donovans branching out into new businesses, there’s never been a better time for Ray to rebuild his empire. Co-starring Golden Globe winner Jon Voight, it’s more of the riveting drama where true power is all about who you know… and who you hire.
Includes the episodes:
- The Kalamazoo: As Ray takes on a contract to free the kidnapped son of a wealthy Hollywood family, Mickey uncovers a new prospect, and Bunchy has a run-in with the Luchadoras.
- Ding: Loyalties are called into play when Paige asks Ray to protect a quarterback from an enraged Navy SEAL, Terry ends up in a prison brawl, and a disgruntled Lena considers moving on.
- Come and Knock On Our Door: It’s time for action when Ray and Mickey put everything on the line to get Terry out of prison, Bunchy invests in a Luchadora show, and Abby reaches her breaking point.
- Breakfast of Champions: Everyone must deal with unexpected changes as Paige tries to buy an NFL team, a troubled Terry returns to his former life, and Abby reconnects with her estranged family.
- Handshake Deal: Ray feels torn between parenting and work duties as he tries to secure incriminating voice mails that could bring down the governor while also helping Bridget with her scholastic and emotional turmoil.
- Swing Vote: It’s election day, and while Ray must take down a rival NFL bidder, Bridget volunteers at the polls to get closer to a teacher, Mickey finds a way to keep Ginger and the other prostitutes working, and Bunchy confides in Father Romero.
- All Must Be Loved: Alternate plans are put into play as Ray refuses to give up his NFL dream, and Bunchy takes up arms with Mickey against the Minassians.
- Tulip: Interesting offers abound as Ray attempts to force a Finney rival into selling his land, a gang officer tempts Mickey with protection in exchange for cooperation, and Finney unexpectedly calls Ray back into his service.
- The Octopus: Getting Bunchy to the altar takes a family effort when Detective Muncie arrests the groom in an attempt to draw Mickey out of hiding, and Ray is the only one who can find him.
- One Night in Yerevan: Mickey knows he’s a dead man if he gives in to Detective Muncie’s demands, so Ray comes up with a two-sided fix to help him — but not without making some demands of his own.
- Poker: The tables are turned as Finney and Cochran team up to frame Ray for murder, and Mickey pushes his luck by throwing himself a goodbye party.
- Exsuscito: Abby and Terry finally tell Ray the truth about what’s going on with Bridget. The Minassians move to punish Mickey for his betrayal, endangering the entire Donovan family.
Shameless: The Complete Fifth Season
|Warner Bros. / Released 12/29/15|
In the swelter of another Chicago summer, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) juggles a crush on her boss (Dermot Mulroney) with a steamy affair and the return of her ex (Justin Chatwin)! Frank (William H. Macy) balances his brand-new liver against his old unhealthy appetite for liquor, drugs and trouble. Lip (Jeremy Allen White) heads home from college and struggles to hang with his old South Side friends. Debbie (Emma Kenney) has her first real boyfriend, Ian(Cameron Monaghan)’s dealing with serious health issues, and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky)’s just dealing. Change is rampant as trendy coffee shops and yoga studios pop up in the hood, and the Gallaghers stumble toward finding out who they really are and how to truly love. Extras include commentary, featurettes and unaired scenes.
Includes the episodes:
- Milk of the Gods: Lip heads back home from college to find that the old neighborhood is changing, while Fiona balances her new job with a crush on her older boss.
- I’m the Liver: Fiona is officially off house arrest, while Lip starts a new job. But manual labor is much harder for Lip than he thought… and the brutal hazing from his co-workers doesn’t help.
- The Two Lisas: Frank enlists Carl to scare off potential investors who are buying up more property in the neighborhood, while also pleading with Sheila not to cave and sell her home.
- A Night to Remem-Wait, What?: When Frank tries to pick up his insurance settlement check, he’s shocked to learn that he’s already collected it. Meanwhile, Lip visits Amanda and her family in Florida.
- Rite of Passage: Fiona & Gus navigate the awkwardness of their quickie wedding – but her plans to announce their marriage at a family dinner become unraveled when her coworker overdoses.
- Crazy Love: Fiona is thrown into chaos by the return of Jimmy/Jack/Steve and Ian’s psychotic break where he leaves on a road trip with Mickey’s baby in tow.
- Tell Me You Fucking Need Me: As Ian regains his senses, he’s upset to find himself in the psych ward. When Frank returns from the hospital, he refuses Sammi’s help – forcing her to take drastic measures.
- Uncle Carl: When Ian’s released from the psych ward, Mickey’s absent. But getting him on a regimen of pills is difficult since he refuses to accept his bipolar diagnosis.
- Carl’s First Sentencing: When Frank’s doctor Bianca is diagnosed with cancer, he agrees to be her tour guide to the seedier side of life because she’s never “truly lived.”
- Southside Rules: Frank is having a ball with new sick friend Bianca, but when she thinks he might be developing feelings for her, she kicks him to the curb. Frank, however, puts up a fight.
- Drugs Actually: After their night at the diner, Fiona and Sean are feeling a charge of new sexual tension, but with Ian in a military pretrial facility, the gang must explain his condition.
- Love Songs (In the Key of Gallagher): Fiona reunites with Gus after his tour but is torn by her feelings for Sean. Meanwhile, Frank has love struggles of his own with a dying Bianca in Costa Rica.
True Detective: The Complete Second Season
|HBO / Released 1/5/16|
The critically-acclaimed hit series returns with a new case and a new cast, starring Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch. A Highway Patrol motorcycle officer stumbles upon the scene of a bizarre murder, in which the victim’s body has been ritually mutilated. The crime triggers an investigation that brings together three law-enment officers from different cities, each with troubled pasts, and a thug-turned-entrepreneur in danger of losing his empire. As the case grows broader and darker – revealing multiple criminal collusions involving billions of dollars – it the participants to face their own inner demons in order to solve the crime, all the while navigating a web of conspiracy and betrayal in the scorched landscapes of California. Extras include interviews and featurettes.
Includes the episodes:
- The Western Book of the Dead: The disappearance of a city manager disrupts a lucrative land scheme and ignites an investigation involving three police officers and a career criminal who is moving into legitimate business.
- Night Finds You: Ray and Ani investigate a victim’s depraved background, as does Frank, while Paul probes the Vinci PD.
- Maybe Tomorrow: Paul works the prostitute angle while Frank receives the first casualty in a secret war, and steps back into a world he’d left behind.
- Down Will Come: The detail works a pawn-shop lead to close in on a suspect in the Caspere case. Frank revisits his past to pay for his present.
- Other Lives: Ray and Frank contemplate new life choices; Ani and Paul follow a lead up the coast.
- Church in Ruins: Desperate to locate a missing woman with intel about Caspere, Frank meets with Mexican drug dealers.
- Black Maps and Motel Rooms: Ray, Ani and Paul take precautionary measures to elude detection and untangle a dark mystery.
- Omega Station: Frank, Ray and Ani weigh their options as Caspere’s killer and the scope of corruption are revealed.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
|Paramount /Released 1/5/16|
Three scouts and lifelong friends join forces with one badass cocktail waitress to become the world’s most unlikely team of heroes. When their peaceful town is ravaged by a zombie invasion, they’ll fight for the badge of a lifetime and put their scouting skills to the test to save mankind from the undead. Extras include featurettes and deleted scenes.
|Sony / Released 1/5/16|
Twelve people have walked on the moon, but only one man – Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – has ever walked in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. Guided by his real-life mentor, Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), and aided by an unlikely band of international recruits, Petit and his gang overcome long odds, betrayals, dissension and countless close calls to conceive and execute their man plan. Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis (Best Director, Forrest Gump, 1994) uses advanced technology in the service of an emotional, character-driven story. The Walk is a love letter to Paris and New York City in the 1970s, but most of all, to the towers of the World Trade Center. Extras include deleted scenes and featurettes.
Last Word: The Walk is based on the true story of Phillippe Petit, an ambitious young Frenchman whose ultimate wish is to walk on a wire between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.Not without it’s pitfalls, The Walk is an upbeat, jovial film about never giving up on your dreams. However, I, for the most part, wanted to give up on this production. This film is not what I expected. From the trailer, my impression was that The Walk would be serious, dramatic, and of course, suspenseful. Jarred by the opening scene of Joseph Gordon-Levitt monologue-ing intensely at the audience, I was immediately uncomfortable. Now, I like Levitt, but his French accent is jarring and unappealing. It reminds of a birthday-party performer, deliberately putting on an exaggerated voice to solely entertain children. And that’s what the first half hour reminded me of – a children’s movie.
But an overwhelming, Baz-Luhrmann-esque twisted carnival ride children’s movie. Levitt’s wig was also distracting. But details, details. The actor just didn’t fit the role in my eyes. He’s too familiar so I couldn’t get past his on-stage-like forced illustration of Phillippe Petit. The first hour of The Walk moves very slowly as we watch Phillippe learn how to fine-tune is wire walking from the cantankerous expert known as “Papa Rudy” (Ben Kingsley), not without payment of course—this is supposed to add comedic value… While training, Phillippe also recruits “accomplices” to help execute his illegal plan—the Twin Towers are not finished and they have a finite amount of time to complete their mission.
I didn’t buy the chemistry between the characters. Everyone seems rather flat. This may be due to Levitt’s overbearing character. But I think the main detachment comes from the distracting voice-over from Phillippe. He talks throughout the entire film from the top of the State of Liberty. It’s corny and distracting. The film doesn’t need the voice over. It’s an interesting story but the way in which it’s presented doesn’t feel natural. That’s the first hour. The second hour speeds up considerably. The team arrives in New York and the plan takes off. Spying, scheduling, practicing. There is movement, the comedic placement is more authentic, and the doofy clown-like presentations are greatly diminished.
Phillippe Petit’s madness in pursuing his dream is wild. But the presentation of this man’s feat is off. The Walk feels as though it’s geared towards children, but it’s not a child-like adventure. It’s dangerous and frightening—imagine being the accomplice, companion, or friend of a man whose ambition could end with a horrible death. The tone needed work, but thankfully, all’s well that ends well…I suppose. The culmination is fun and exciting. If you don’t know the details of Petit’s walk, this part of the film great. I’d say power through the first hour, because the second half makes up for it just enough to be entertaining. It’s definitely not a see-it-twice kind of film though. ( – Caitlyn Thompson)
|MPI / Released 1/5/16|
Metal-thrashing Brodie is an outcast in a sea of jocks and cheerleaders until he meets a kindred spirit in fellow metalhead Zakk. After starting their own band, Brodie and Zakk’s resentment of the suburban wasteland leads them to a mysterious piece of sheet music said to grant Ultimate Power to whoever plays it. But the music also summons an ancient evil antity known as Aeloth The Blind One, who threatens to tear apart existence itself. Their classmates and family become inhabited by demonic, tearing out their own eyes and turning into psychotic murders… and this is only the beginning! It’s up to Brodie, Zakk and their group of friends to stop a of pure evil from devouring all of mankind.
A blood-soaked and hilarious horror comedy, Deathgasm features an amazing original soundtrack of fist-banging metal and practical effects to satisfy metalheads and splatter fans alike. Deathgasm will gush bodily fluids, rain limbs and tickle your funny bone, before tearing it out and giving you a stiff beating with it. Extras include commentary, featurettes, music video, trailer and teaser.
Last Word: When Brodie is sent to suburban New Zealand to live with his overly religious Aunt and Uncle he has a hard time fitting in. But once he develops a crush on his cousin’s girlfriend, Medina. and starts a band with fellow metal head Zakk and Dungeon’s and Dragons enthusiasts Dion and Giles he thinks things are looking up. That is until the band, Deathgasm, start to experiment with sheet music they found in an old book stolen from one of their local metal heroes.
Suddenly their quiet suburb is under siege from the demonically possessed undead, and if that weren’t bad enough there are a group of occultists who do not want this onslaught stopped. The best way to describe Deathgasm is to recall that time in the late eighties when Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi had a physical altercation in a practical effects studio while nothing but great metal played in the background. What do you mean that didn’t happen?… Well, it happened in my mind and I bet it happened in Jason Lei Howden’s mind as well since that is the easiest explanation as to his influences in writing and directing Deathgasm.
So let’s just get this all out of the way now, Deathgasm is fucking amazing, fun, shocking, and hilarious. The characters are all well written and believable even in ridiculous situations while the actors all bring something extra to their roles. But the real extra special notice has to go to everyone who worked on Deathgasm’s special effects set pieces because with the rare exception of some slightly off looking CGI this film had tons of impressive practical effects.
Deathgasm will be just what every gorehound is looking for this Halloween season while it also offers plenty of references and in-jokes for fans of metal along the way as if we were given a hardcore metal and horror fan version of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil. If you like your horror a little goofy, splattered in gore, and having some heart to the story then make sure to check out Deathgasm immediately. ( – Joshua Gravel)
|Kino Lorber / Released 1/5/16|
Based on the phenomenally popular French pulp novellas, Louis Feuillade’s outrageous, ambitious Fantômas series became the gold standard of espionage serials in pre-WWI Europe, and laid the foundation for such immortal works as Feuillade’s own Les Vampires and Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse films.
René Navarre stars as the criminal lord of Paris, the master of disguise, the creeping assassin in black: Fantômas. Over the course of five feature films (which combined to form a 5 1/2-hour epic), Fantômas, along with his accomplices and mistresses, are pursued by the equally resourceful Inspector Juve (Edmund Bréon) and his friend, journalist Jerôme Fandor (Georges Melchior). Extras include commentaries, two rare Feuillade films: The Nativity (1910) and The Dwarf (1912), documentary and gallery.
Includes the films:
- Fantômas in the Shadow of the Guillotine (1913, 54 Min.)
- Juve vs. Fantômas (1913, 62 Min.)
- The Murderous Corpse (1913, 90 Min.)
- Fantômas vs. Fantômas (1914, 60 Min.)
- The False Magistrate (1914, 71 Min.)
Agatha Christie’s Partners In Crime
|Acorn Media / Released 1/5/16|
Agatha Christie’s charming crime-solvers Tommy and Tuppence Beresford are an ordinary married couple living in 1950s Britain at the start of the Cold War. Sometimes bickering but always sweet on each other, they find themselves knee-deep in danger when they stumble into spy craft and end up being rather good at it. In these sparkling new BBC adaptations of two Christie novels, David Walliams (Little Britain) and Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) portray the endearing pair whose quiet lives are upended by a chance encounter on a Paris train. In The Secret Adversary, they search for a missing woman and a recording that could unmask a Soviet hit man. In N or M? they must discover which person at a seaside guesthouse has stolen a nuclear bomb. Each thrilling adventure abounds with humor, international espionage, visual flair, and chic period fashion. Along with James Fleet (Four Weddings and a Funeral) as Tommy’s enigmatic uncle, guest stars include Clarke Peters (The Wire), Alice Krige (Tyrant), Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey), and Roy Marsden (P.D. James mysteries). Extras include featurettes, behind the scenes and gallery.
Includes the episodes:
- The Secret Adversary: Part 1: Tommy and Tuppence have a chance encounter on a train with an agitated young woman who suddenly disappears and never returns to her seat.
- The Secret Adversary: Part 2: Tommy and Tuppence go undercover; he as a member of Brown’s gang and she as a maid to a potential suspect.
- The Secret Adversary: Part 3: The Beresfords’ search for Jane Finn comes to a close as they finally uncover the identity of Mr. Brown.
- N or M?: Part 1: Tommy is sent on a secret mission to discover the identity of Soviet spy staying at a seaside guest-house; Tuppence refuses to be left behind.
- N or M?: Part 2: There is a murder at the local Veterans Ball, as Tommy and Tuppence continue their search for the Soviet spy.
- N or M?: Part 3: Tommy and Tuppence have to come up with their most ambitious and risky plan yet in order to protect the lives of British citizens.
|Anchor Bay / Released 1/5/16|
Nothing is what it seems in this Casablanca-style international thriller set in the ancient Chinese city a week before the attack on Pearl Harbor. U.S. Secret Agent Paul Soames (John Cusack) has just arrived to investigate the murder of his best friend (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), only to become quickly immersed in a web of conspiracy and lies that beset the city. Shadowed by a Japanese intelligence officer Tanaka (Ken Watanabe), Soames’ investigation quickly centers on a charismatic local gangster, Anthony Lanting (Chow Yun-Fat) – and Lanting’s beautiful wife, Anna (Gong Li). Before long, Soames and Anna are involved in an affair that will put everything they have at stake. As national loyalties are traded fast-and-loose for those of the heart, Soames and Anna must race to solve the mystery and make it out of occupied China before the city’s collapse.
Infinitely Polar Bear
|Sony / Released 1/5/16|
Based on a true story, while most fathers spend their days at work, Cam (Mark Ruffalo) is more likely to be working on one of his many half-completed projects. As he recovers from a manic breakdown, his wife, Maggie (Zoe Saldana), enters an out-of-state graduate school program in the hopes of building a better life for her family. Cam agrees to become the primary caregiver for his spirited young daughters and quickly finds himself in over his head. Extras include commentary, deleted scenes, and LA Filmfest Q &A.
Last Word: Infinitely Polar Bear is an outstandingly difficult and touching story presented with humor and sharp poignancy by Maya Forbes. Her directorial debut is an autobiographical story of her experience as a young girl growing up with her sister under the care of their manic-depressive father. In the 1960’s when “everyone was having breakdowns” little was done to adequately treat the disorder thus leaving coping and maintenance up to the individuals.
Mark Ruffalo is Cameron Stuart, the bi-polar star of Infinitely Polar Bear. He’s exquisitely charming as well as heartbreakingly oppositional, and given the responsibility of raising his two daughters solo as his wife, Maggie (Zoe Saldana) completes her MBA in New York – the rest of the family lives in Boston. Really though, the story illustrates how the girls raise their mentally ill father, rather than the reverse. But truly, it’s a tandem effort of patience and understanding.
Ruffalo’s performance was spectacular. He delivers confusion, happiness, and anger with fluid perfection that I’ve never seen him do before. His performance is poignant, subtle, beautiful, and witty; the way he flicks his lighter open, speaks through the ever-burning cigarette resting on his lip, the inflected tones of excitement and childlike buoyancy, or the angry tone, all of which he expresses effortlessly with each changing moment. I think his performance was near flawless and while he delivers so many funny moments, the delivery doesn’t diminish the sadness each character feels.
Forbes creates a unique whimsical sorrow and it’s a wonderful to experience. The chemistry between Ruffalo and his co-stars, namely the daughters, Amelia (Imogene Wolodarsky) and Faith (Ashley Aufderheide), is genuine and fun. The dynamic is both hilarious and sympathetic. Wolodarsky and Aufderheide are incredible as sad, ecstatic, or angrily potty-mouthed youngsters. Witty and independent – they must be to survive and take care of themselves as well as their unstable father.
The characters’ emotions tend to mirror Cameron’s with wide grins or glaring furrowed brows. Yet while their lives are consistently oscillating between productive and downright unhealthy, they express unconditional love through frustration and awe. The young actresses are so mature and I give them the highest of praise for their authenticity in this film. The film feels simultaneously boundless and cozy as the camerawork varies from extreme long shots moving whimsically through fields and woods in soft natural sunlight, or claustrophobic inside the family’s small, cluttered apartment lit with a few little lamps. The place is a disaster or pristinely neat. Forbes does an excellent job using the environment to reflect the ever-changing moods of the characters.
Infinitely Polar Bear is a back and forth story of upset and excitement; learning to cope with a (at the time) misunderstood disability that can’t be helped save for medication which can be all too paralyzing in some respects. The film introduces controversy here about taking medication that essentially snuffs out what makes the manic so wonderful, yet allows the depression to become all the more intense. The movie is a presentation of balance, perseverance. Kudos Maya Forbes. Bring us another. ( – Caitlyn Thompson)
|Magnolia / Released 1/5/16|
Yale University, 1961. Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) designs a psychology experiment that remains relevant to this day, in which people think they’re delivering painful electric shocks to an affable stranger (Jim Gaffigan) strapped into a chair in another room. Disregarding his pleas for mercy, the majority of subjects do not stop the experiment, administering what they think are near-fatal electric shocks, simply because they’ve been told to. Milgram’s exploration of authority and conformity strikes a nerve in popular culture and the scientific community. Celebrated in some circles, he is also accused of being a deceptive, manipulative monster. His wife Sasha (Winona Ryder) anchors him through it all. Extras include featurettes and interview.
The House Where Evil Dwells / Ghost Warrior
|Shout! Factory / Released 1/5/16|
A Double Dose Of Samurai Action!
The House Where Evil Dwells
A century ago, a samurai brutally murdered his adulterous wife and her lover before taking his own life. Now, the Fletcher family has found what they think is their perfect Japanese home – not knowing it’s the same house where the murders occurred. But as strange events escalate and the ghosts of the dead begin to toy with the living, the Fletchers discover they’ve become unwitting players in a horrible reenactment… one which they may not survive! This chilling ghost story stars Edward Albert (Galaxy Of Terror), Susan George (Straw Dogs) and Doug McClure (Humanoids From The Deep) and is directed by Kevin Connor (Motel Hell).
Ghost Warrior (aka Swordkill)
While exploring a cave, two skiers find the body of a 400-year-old samurai warrior entombed in ice. He is brought to the United States in a hush-hush operation and revived through cryosurgery. Unfortunately, he is then forced to battle for his freedom, dignity and life. This Charles Band production stars Janet Julian (King Of New York, Humongous).
|Millennium Ent. / Released 1/5/16|
After rescuing his kidnapped niece from a powerful drug cartel, Colton MacReady (Scott Adkins) begins a relentless fight to save his family. The cartel has descended upon his secluded ranch with a thirst for revenge. In tow are a corrupt local sheriff and his crew of deputies, ensuring that help won’t be coming any time soon. What ensues is a non-stop assault on the ranch, a blow-by-blow survival marathon for Colton to protect his loved ones and save his life.
Over Your Dead Body
|Shout! Factory / Released 1/5/16|
A beautiful actress (Ko Shibasaki of 47 Romin and Battle Royale) plays the protagonist in a new play based on a legendary ghost story. She pulls some strings to get her lover cast in the play, although he’s a relatively unknown actor. With the cast in place, rehearsals for the play, about an abusive relationship and a grudge, begin. But off stage, some begin to develop their own obsessions. Trapped between the play and reality , they are horrified to find that a real grudge can cross the blurred line between reality and fantasy. Will love flourish? Or has it already turned hideously dark?
Memories of the Sword
|Well Go USA / Released 1/5/16|
As the greed and excess of a corrupt Monarchy threatens to destroy the once-glorious Goryeo Dynasty, three legendary warriors lead a revolt to overthrow the empire and save its people. But when deceit and betrayal costs the life of a master swordsman, a pilot for justice and revenge is set into motion, raging for decades between the two survivors.
From the director of Children of Heaven and starring Lee Byung-hun (The Good, The Bad, The Weird, Terminator Genisys), Memories of the Sword is a lavish epic that blends tragic historical drama with thrilling swordplay and martial arts.
Kung Fu Panda
|20th Century Fox / Released 1/5/16|
A clumsy panda bear becomes an unlikely kung fu hero when a treacherous enemy spreads chaos throughout the countryside in this animated martial arts adventure featuring the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, and Jackie Chan. On the surface, Po (voice of Black) may look like just another portly panda bear, but beneath his fur he bears the mark of the chosen one. By day, Po works faithfully in his family’s noodle shop, but by night he dreams of becoming a true master of the martial arts. Now an ancient prophecy has come to pass, and Po realizes that he is the only one who can save his people from certain destruction. With time running short and malevolent snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane ) closing in, Furious Five legends Tigress (Jolie), Crane (David Cross ), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), Monkey (Chan), and their wise sensei, Master Shifu (Hoffman), all draw on their vast knowledge of fighting skills in order to transform a lumbering panda bear into a lethal fighting machine. Now, if the noble Po can master the martial arts and somehow transform his greatest weaknesses into his greatest strengths, he will fulfill his destiny as the hero who saved his people during their darkest hour. Extras include short, music video, film clips and sneak peek of Kung Fu Panda 3.
Kung Fu Panda 2
|20th Century Fox / Released 1/5/16|
In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Po must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins; only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed. Extras include short, music video, film clips and sneak peek of Kung Fu Panda 3.
|Paramount / Released 1/5/16|
A thrilling drama about the spiritual collision of two broken lives. When Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) -on the run as the subject of a city wide manhunt and desperate to make contact with his newborn son – takes recovering meth addict Ashley Smith (Kate Mara) hostage in her own apartment, she turns for guidance to Rick Warren’s best-selling inspirational book, The Purpose Driven Life. While reading aloud, Ashley and her would-be killer each face crossroads where despair and death intersect hope.
Legend – The Complete Series
|Mill Creek / Released 1/5/16|
Richard Dean Anderson (TV’s MacGyver) steps into the irresistible and charming role of Ernest Pratt, a dime-store novelist who is living out the adventures of his fictional character Nicodemus Legend in the Old West. Co-starring John de Lancie (TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Janos Bartok a brilliant scientist, the duo teams up to fight for justice using Legend’s celebrity and Bartok’s outlandish inventions to make a real legend. Created by Michael Piller (TV’s Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager) and set in the late 19th century, Legend combines historic characters, setting, and special effects for a lighthearted, fun, and action-packed series that is part western and part science fiction. Guest stars include Bob Balaban, Tim Thomerson, Stephen Baldwin, G.W. Bailey, Ken Jenkins, William Russ, Robert Englund, James Hong and John Vernon.
Includes the episodes:
- Birth of a Legend: In 1867 Ernest Pratt, an imperfect man with vices, is a struggling writer of a series of books based on his popular and fictional character Nicodemus Legend. After being mistaken as Legend, Pratt is enlisted by a helpless group of town folk to once again help them, against a powerful female land owner and the town’s sheriff in her pocket.
- Mr. Pratt Goes to Sheridan: A well known bank robber name Jimmy Siringo comes to Pratt telling him he’s been falsely accused of murdering a bank guard and stealing one million dollars, and wants his help in clearing his name of said charges.
- Legend on His President’s Secret Service: President Ulysses S. Grant seeks Pratt’s help to uncover a possible plot to kill him and who knows what else.
- Custer’s Next to Last Stand: A mystery man with a golden eye patch is threatening Pratt’s life. At the same time Pratt also has to deal with problems from Custer.
- The Life, Death, and Life of Wild Bill Hickock: Wild Bill Hickock seeks the help of Pratt’s alter ego, Legend, but is turned down. But the bad still think they are working together, and both are now in peril.
- Knee-High Noon: E. C. Allen, the publisher of the Legend book series, orders Pratt to include a new character: Legend junior. And the mother of the young boy makes demands and otherwise causes a nuisance in Pratt’s life.
- The Gospel According to Legend: Pratt recognizes a snakeoil salesman from back west, who has come to town spreading the word of the gospel, claiming to have changed.
- Bone of Contention: Pratt and Bartok investigate the murder of a man who brought Bartok a dinosaur bone.
- Revenge of the Herd: The European publisher branch of the Legend books, comes to town with his son, wanting to go on a great American hunt for buffalo, but his actions cause trouble with the Arapaho people.
- Fall of a Legend: Pratt is wrongfully convicted of murder and he, Bartok and Ramos must help clear his name.
- Clueless in San Francisco: The wife of the chief of the Black Foot Indians seeks Pratt’s help in finding her parents, who she was separated from by accident when she was very young.
- Skeletons in the Closet: The skeleton of a dead Aztec indian leads Ramos on a journey to find out what happened to the stranger, and on a personal journey of his own
Sleeping With Other People
|Paramount / Released 1/5/16|
Twelve years after their one-night stand, Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) cross paths and realize that they’ve both become chronic commitment-phobes. Despite their obvious attraction, the two agree to keep their friendship strictly platonic. But as sexual tensions rise, their deal proves to be more difficult than they thought.Writer/director Leslye Headland’s (Bachelorette) sexy romantic comedy co-stars Amanda Peet, Adam Scott, and Natasha Lyonne.
Off the Menu: Asian America
|PBS / Released 1/5/16|
From award-winning filmmaker Grace Lee (American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs), Off the Menu: Asian America is a road trip into the kitchens, factories, temples, and farms of Asian Pacific America that explores how our relationship to food reflects our evolving community.
What exactly does food reflect about Asian Pacific Americans? This documentary grapples with how family, tradition, faith, and geography shape our relationship to food. Viewers are introduced to the sushi king of Texas, the Sikh Temple of Oak Creek, Wisconsin and their weekly practice of langar, a communal meal open to anyone. The program also follows a French-trained chef who creates modern Chinese American dishes on New York’s Lower East Side and a Hawaiian woman restoring an ancient fishpond on the island of Oahu. Off the Menu is a roadtrip into the kitchens, factories, temples and farms of Asian Pacific America that explores how our relationship to food reflects our evolving community.
Broad City: Season 2
|Comedy Central / Released 1/5/16|
Broad City follows two women (Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer) throughout their daily lives in New York City, making the smallest and mundane events hysterical and disturbing to watch all at the same time. Want nude dance parties? Big celebrity guests? Pervy Kittens? Shrimp in the water supply? Ok, Maybe not the last one – but it’s all there and more in the second. Seriously hot (and humid) season of the acclaimed comedy series.
- In Heat: Ilana hunts for the perfect last-minute gift for Lincoln while Abbi tries to track down an AC to keep cool in the bedroom.
- Mochalatta Chills: New opportunities arise as Abbi is finally able to train somebody at Soulstice and Ilana finds success as a corporate overlord.
- Wisdom Teeth: When Abbi gets her wisdom teeth out, Ilana takes it upon herself to take care of her friend while she recovers.
- Knockoffs: Abbi and Jeremy’s date ends with a surprise, while Ilana and her mom search the city for the perfect handbag.
- Hashtag FOMO: A search for a great party reveals a side of Abbi that confirms Ilana’s greatest fear.
- The Matrix: Feeling sucked into a never-ending web of technology, Abbi and Ilana unplug for a day in the park that’s filled with rollerblading, canine nuptials and an emergency medical situation.
- Citizen Ship: The gang takes a cruise; Lincoln and Jaime fend for themselves amongst a group of corporate lawyers.
- Kirk Steele: Abbi discovers something from Trey’s past; Ilana educates the next generation.
- Coat Check: Abbi is determined to return a lost coat; Ilana explores a new romance that feels oddly familiar.
- St. Mark’s: A runaway teen disrupts the girls’ celebration of Ilana’s 23rd birthday by leading them on a chase.
Secrets of the Dead: Vampire Legend
|PBS / Released 1/6/15|
In 1897, Bram Stoker penned his gothic novel Dracula and popularized the modern vampire myth with the introduction of Count Dracula. But the discovery of manuscripts dating back to medieval England suggest the belief that the dead could rise from the grave originated during a much earlier era. These accounts were written hundreds of years before Stoker created his nocturnal creature, long before the Eastern European legends gained popularity.
Secrets of the Dead: Vampire Legend, brings together scientists, historians, archeologists, a real-life modern day vampire slayer, and the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker to examine if the origin of the vampire lore lies in fact rather than fiction.
John Blair, professor of medieval history at Oxford University, has studied the 12th-century text known as The Life and Miracles of Saint Modwenna, one of several medieval manuscripts recounting stories of the walking dead. In 2005, after attending a lecture in Oxford by archeologist Ian Meadows, Blair made the connection between the similarities of the folktales in these manuscripts describing rituals to dispatch the walking dead and Meadows’ archaeological finds of disturbed Anglo-Saxon graves. Blair contends that the skeleton of a young girl found buried within the churchyard, and whose head was severed, was a “deliberate decisive measure, to keep this person down in the grave so they can never walk around again.”
Archaeologist Dominic Powlesland has excavated more than 10 deviant burials from Anglo-Saxon graveyards that provide more evidence of belief in vampires. Some of the bodies were buried face down in positions that would be unnatural for a normal burial. According to Blair, “…what’s remarkable about this group is that you can virtually see all the ways of keeping a dead person in their grave.” Medieval belief in vampires helps explain the discovery of deviant burials with decapitated skeletons and twisted limbs. But does the terror of the vampire exist today?
To answer that question, Vampire Legend travels to Romania to investigate a story that made headlines in 2004. A 26-year-old woman in a remote village complained of a mysterious illness and claimed her uncle, who had died three months earlier, was visiting her at night and drinking blood from her heart. Believing the woman, six men from the village—including modern-day vampire slayer Mirca Mitrica—dig up the body to perform a vampire-slaying ritual and cure her. For the first time publicly, Mitrica gives his account of the vampire-slaying ritual, one which closely resembles rituals depicted by the medieval texts.
As the documentary suggests, at the heart of vampire stories is the terror of the unknown, disease and illnesses. Dacre Stoker, great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, has studied how Bram shaped his vampire character. In Bram’s notes for Dracula, Dacre found an article about a serious vampire scare in the early 1900s in New England, which turned out to be tuberculosis. Nevertheless, believing the disease was vampirism, state forensic authorities allowed exhumations from the grave for people to perform various ceremonial practices to get rid of the vampires.
Today, science can explain the signs of vampirism described in medieval folklore, as well as the modern Romanian account. Yet there is still a fascination with vampires and, for some, a primeval fear of the bloodsuckers. “Bram’s vampires and all the others today are for entertainment purposes,” says Dacre. “But you’ve got to realize where these came from. The myth of the vampire really terrorized villages.” If one believes the vampire slayer Mitrica, it is not the myth that terrorizes, but the vampire.
Nova: Cyberwar Threat
|PBS / Released 1/5/16|
The global cyberwar is heating up and the stakes are no longer limited to the virtual world of computers. Now, thanks in part to secret documents released by Edward Snowden, the true scale of the National Security Agency’s scope and power is coming to light. Besides spending billions of dollars to ingest and analyze the worlds’ electronic communications, the NSA has set out to dominate a new battlefield—cyberspace. NOVA examines the science and technology behind cyber warfare and asks if we are already in the midst of a deadly new arms race. Already, highly sophisticated, stealthy computer programs such as the notorious Stuxnet worm can take over and even destroy the control systems that regulate everything from food factories to gas pipelines, power plants, and chemical facilities—even our cars. While the destruction of Iranian centrifuges may have delayed Iran’s bomb program and forestalled an Israeli attack, the attack has opened a Pandora’s Box, and now America’s own critical infrastructure is vulnerable to retaliation and attack. With leading defense experts and investigative journalists who have probed the murky realm of criminal and strategic hacking, NOVA examines the chilling new reality of cyberwar in which no nation or individual is safe from attack.
I’ll Have What Phil’s Having
|PBS / Released 9/29/15|
Come along with Emmy Award-winner Phil Rosenthal on these six offbeat and often hilarious culinary adventures around the world. Phil, creator of the TV hit Everybody Loves Raymond, meets the chefs, culinary leaders, and style-setters who keep their communities’ traditions alive and create new ones, in kitchens both on and off the well-worn gastronomic path.
- Hong Kong – A newcomer to this “gateway to Asia,” Phil explores the city sampling classic to unconventional dishes, learning about Chinese medicine, fashion, mixology, tea, and more. Phil dines on the city’s best dim sum, gets a lesson in the art of tai chi, and bravely tries a century old egg.
- Los Angeles – Phil tours his favorite food spots in his adopted hometown, and shares the diversity of Los Angeles through its food with friends including Martin Short, Allison Janney, and Ray Romano.
- Tokyo – On sensory overload at first, Phil realizes that in Tokyo, not only must the food taste delicious but the experience has to be parallel, making it pleasant for all of the senses. Phil steps out of his comfort zone and dives into exotic dishes with Japanese television star and fellow comedian Dave Spector, including barbecue eel and some of the hottest ramen in Japan.
- Spain – Phil explores Barcelona’s rich history through food – from art and architecture to their love of pork and a quest for the best tapas. Plus Phil celebrates the Sant Joan festival, and gets a lesson in the art of slicing jamon, one of Spain’s most prized culinary exports.
- Paris – While some people call Paris “The City of Light,” Phil introduces his favorite destinations in “The City of Sweets,” among other gastronomic delights. In this episode, Phil gets his hot chocolate fix, learns the French lawn game Pétanque, and goes in search of the best roast chicken in the city.
- Italy – From the bustle of Florence to countryside of Umbria, Phil journeys across the land where passion and beauty are infused into every aspect of the culture, but most importantly, into the food, including the country’s best gelato.
|Alchemy / Released 1/12/16|
On a dark and stormy night the last train out of London comes to a sudden halt deep in the middle of a forest. After the driver ventures out to investigate and never returns, the passengers are in a state of panic – particularly after seeing the driver’s mutilated body outside the carriage. Realizing there’s something dangerous lurking in the forest, a ticket-collector, Joe (Ed Speleers), tells the passengers to make barricades to secure themselves in the carriage, but soon the deadly creature is stalking the besieged train and smashing through their defenses, picking them off one-by-one. Joe rallies his ‘pack’ of passengers to fight back. During a vicious battle they manage to kill the creature, revealing it to be a hideous mutated fusion of human and wild animal – a werewolf. However, celebrations are cut short when they hear more howls coming from the forest…Extras include featurettes and trailers.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
|Image Entertainment / Released 1/12/16|
It’s the inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the viewpoint of two of the work’s supporting, but certainly more outrageous, characters. The duo, the Shakespearean equivalents of Laurel and Hardy, debate the theory of probability, the nature of Hamlet‘s madness, and which of them is Rosencrantz and which Guildenstern while Shakespeare’s tragedy plays out in the background in this cleverly inspired version in a dazzling setting where illusion and reality overlap. Based on Tom Stoppard’s play, this erudite comedy has a world class cast featuring Richard Dreyfuss, Tim Roth and Gary Oldman. Extras include 25th Anniversary interview with Tom Stoppard and interviews with Stoppard, Oldman, Roth, and Dreyfuss.
Bolero / Ghosts Can’t Do It
|Shout! Factory / Released 1/12/16|
Two romantic comedies starring legendary sex symbol, Bo Derek (10, Tommy Boy)
Bo Derek stars as a curious American ingénue who is ready to shed the trappings of girlhood and become a woman. Upon graduating from school in Britain, she finds that she hungers for more education – in the art of love! Journeying to Morocco, she meets a handsome sheik who, sadly, falls asleep while seducing her. A hot-blooded matador in Spain does not disappoint, however. Unlocking her deepest desires, her world-class lover gives her a lesson in ecstasy she’ll never forget.
Ghosts Can’t Do It
Bo Derek stars as a young widow determined to bring her husband (Anthony Quinn) back to life in this spirited comedy of love and death. Coached by her husband’s impatient ghost, she travels to the most exotic corners of the earth in her search for the perfect body to receive his reincarnated soul.
The Wonder Years: Season 4
|Time/Life / Released 1/12/16|
Entering his last year at Kennedy Junior High, Kevin should have it all figured out, but things don’t go as smoothly as he had hoped – Winnie is going to school across town, he gets decked by Becky Slater (again!), and is faced by a new challenge in French class the sweet talking, mousse-making Madeline. There s also tension at home as Jack gets a new position that takes him on the road, Norma starts work at Kevin’s school, and Wayne and Kevin battle it out for Karen’s room. Winnie and Kevin struggle to maintain their relationship, suffering heartbreak, denial, and even injury in the tear-jerker episode, The Accident. It s a roller coaster ride, but the gang makes it to graduation and kisses Kennedy Junior High goodbye.
Includes the episodes:
- Growing Up: With the end of the summer approaching, the Arnolds decide to attend Jack’s Labor Day work picnic. When it is learned that Jack was passed over for a promotion that goes to one of his rivals, tensions grow high between him and Kevin, who wants to prove that he is no longer a little kid.
- Ninth Grade Man: On his first day of the ninth grade, Kevin is bullied out of his locker, humiliated by Becky Slater, scheduled for the wrong class, and meets a new girl who diverts his attention away from thinking of Winnie Cooper who is now at a different school.
- The Journey: Hearing that some 10th-Grade girls are having a slumber party, Kevin, Paul and the guys travel across town in the dark of night to try and get in on the action.
- The Cost of Living: With his allowance not going as far as he hopes, Kevin takes a job as a caddy at a local golf course. However, Kevin is dismayed when he finds out that he’s caddying for his Dad’s boss at NORCOM (who just happens to be playing golf against Jack Arnold, Kevin’s Dad).
- It’s a Mad, Mad, Madeline World: Kevin receives an I.D. bracelet from Winnie Cooper as a present. The next day, Kevin is assigned to work on a French assignment with an attractive girl named Madeline. However, after working on their project at her house, Kevin rushes out in a panic, leaving Winnie’s bracelet behind. Now Kevin has to get the bracelet back in time for his date with Winnie the next night. But how?
- Little Debbie: Kevin’s plans to attend a homecoming football game with his friend are thwarted when Paul’s younger sister Debbie, who idolizes him, asks him to escort her to a dance.
- The Ties That Bind: Money is tight around the Arnold household, and things don’t look so good when the kitchen stove finally dies. Jack goes to NORCOM to ask for a raise, and gets it, as well as a promotion. With the new stove in the kitchen, it seems the Arnold’s problems are over, until it becomes clear that Jack won’t be back for Thanksgiving Dinner.
- The Sixth Man: When Paul decides to try out for the basketball team, Kevin is convinced that he is just wasting his time. However, when he ends up making the team and his basketball skills improve, it creates a strain in their friendship.
- A Very Cutlip Christmas: While at the mall, Kevin is surprised to find gym coach Cutlip playing the seasonal job of Santa Claus. When Cutlip realizes that Kevin knows, he gives him preferential treatment in gym class in hopes that Kevin won’t tell his secret.
- The Candidate: With Becky Slater as the only candidate for Student Council President, Paul convinces Kevin to run a campaign against her. With the deadline approaching and way behind, Kevin is tempted to use less-than-honest measures to try and win the election.
- Heartbreak: Both Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper’s schools are having a joint field trip to the local museum. Kevin figures this will be a great chance to spend some time together with Winnie, but things don’t turn out as he planned.
- Denial: After getting dumped by Winnie, Kevin begins to doubt whether it is really over between them. In hopes of getting her back, he convinces Paul to throw a party and invite Winnie. However, things don’t go as planned when Winnie decides to bring her new beau, Roger.
- Who’s Aunt Rose?: Following the death of a very distant relative, Grandpa Arnold comes to visit and convinces the family to attend the funeral and burial. While at the event, Kevin begins to think about the mortality of his dad and grandfather.
- Courage: Following a trip to the dentist, Kevin finds out that he needs to have a cavity filled. He puts off going back in fear that he will look like a coward in front of the lovely dental hygienist, who is always complimenting him on his courage.
- Buster: Buster, the Arnold Family dog, doesn’t seem to be behaving himself lately. When it seems that the only course of action is to have him ‘fixed,’ the family has to make an important decision.
- Road Trip: Kevin is forced to take a one-hour drive with his dad to get fitted for a new suit. Things don’t go as planned when his dad gets them lost and refuses to listen to Kevin, who desperately tries to help.
- When Worlds Collide: When his mom takes a job in the attendance office at his school, Kevin worries that his life is “ruined”. After his mom embarrasses him during a fire drill, Kevin tells her to no longer talk to him while at school.
- Separate Rooms: Kevin and Wayne are at each other’s throats over sharing the same room. When it seems that Karen will no be needing her old room, the two see her moving out as an exciting opportunity. But soon, Wayne and Kevin can’t reach an amicable decision over who gets Karen’s room, and who stays in the old one.
- The Yearbook: Kevin is recruited by the yearbook staff to come up with quotes to describe certain people in school. However, Kevin begins to have second thoughts when it seems that one of his descriptions could hurt one student’s feelings.
- The Accident: After breaking up two months ago, Kevin sees Winnie for the first time. However, it becomes obvious to him that she has changed and is no longer the same girl that he knew growing up. When he sees that she is now hanging around with 11th graders in cars, he worries that he is nothing more than a piece of her past.
- The House That Jack Built: When Karen moves out of the dorms and into an old house that needs fixing up, Jack wants to help with the repairs and drags Kevin along.
- Graduation: On the eve of his graduation from Junior High, Kevin is excited about entering high school next year with Winnie and Paul. However, those feelings change when Paul announces that he will be attending a prep school next year. He begins to fear that his world will change after graduation.
- The Wonder Years: A highlight montage of the past seasons. Examines Kevin Arnold’s relationship with Winnie Cooper in particular and touches on all the main characters and story lines that have been present so far in the season.
|Image Entertainment / Released 1/12/15|
A squad of marines sent on a classified mission deep in the war-torn mountains of Afghanistan finds the mysterious item they were sent for…but it’s not what they were expecting. The next thing they know, Major Cafferty (Tahmoh Penikett, Battlestar Galactica) and the surviving squad members wake-up in a military medical facility with no memory of what happened or even who they are. Using an experimental drug, doctors try to “reboot” the soldiers’ memories, but one by one they fall prey to bizarre hallucinations and homicidal fits of rage. Only through snatches of resurfacing memories does Cafferty begin to question the true motives of the hospital staff and discover the shocking, deadly reality behind the otherworldly artifact they found.
|Kino Lorber / Released 1/12/15|
Uncle John is a dark morality tale that opens on a cold and mysterious murder. What follows is an unexpected, genre-bending journey between two seemingly disparate stories that ultimately converge in this tense and chilling psychological thriller. Dutch (Laurent Soucie), a small town bully turned born again Christian, has gone missing. John (John Ashton), a kind and well-liked pillar of his rural community, is not a suspect, but has everything to do with it. Rumors and theories about Dutch’s fate spread throughout the town, including one from Dutch’s rambunctious younger brother Danny (Ronnie Gene Blevins) who believes John is at the heart of the mystery. Meanwhile, John’s nephew Ben (Alex Moffat) leads a decidedly urban existence as a hip Chicago motion graphics designer. His confused and budding relationship with his coworker Kate (Jenna Lyng) takes them on an impromptu adventure north to see the town he grew up in. They arrive just as Danny’s suspicions begin to mount, forcing John to navigate both worlds in an attempt to keep the disappearance unsolved. Extras include microbudget filmmaking featurette.
The Image Revolution
|Shout! Factory / Released 1/12/15|
In 1992, Marvel Comics was the number-one publisher of comic books in the world, largely due to its dynamic artwork. But as a response to what was believed to be years of mistreatment toward creative talent by the industry’s leading publishers, a small – but influential – group of artists left Marvel Comics at the height of its popularity to form their own company, Image Comics. Led by the outspoken Todd McFarlane (Spawn), this group kicked off a revolution that would change the comics industry forever, instantly granting power to creators and launching Image to “rock star” status. But with great power came great turmoil, as Rob Liefeld (Deadpool), Jim Lee (X-Men), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Whilce Portacio (X-Factor) and Jim Valentino (Guardians Of The Galaxy) almost immediately began to unravel the very bond that united them.
Through rare archival footage and brand-new interviews with all seven founders, as well as industry insiders, comics historians and current Image Comics creators like Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), The Image Revolution brilliantly tells the story of the rise, fall and triumphant return of one of the most successful publishers in comic book history. Extras include extended interviews.
Last Word: Twenty years ago, the comic book industry’s top guns took their pen nibs, pouches, flowy capes and big eyes away from the Big Two and started Image Comics. Creator ownership and the comic book industry fundamentally changed that day when McFarlane, Larsen, Liefeld, Silvestri, Lee, Valentino, and Portacio took control of the business of comic books and the rights to their own characters.
Written and directed by Patrick Meany, The Image Revolution interviews the guys, plus Sean Howe (Marvel Comics: The Untold Story), Image publisher Eric Stephenson, Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Nick Spencer (Morning Glories) and many more to tell the tale of the early ‘rock star’ days of Image Comics and takes us through today. With the success of The Walking Dead and Image Comics dominating the creator owned market and business model, the impossible dream became real.
We get another great inside the bullpen look from Respect! Films here, highly recommended for fans of these superstar creators but mostly for people of my comic book reading generation. The early ‘90s were an amazing time to be reading the books coming out from Marvel. The split happened right before our eyes, and like many things no one was sure if it would work.
Watching Todd McFarlane go from Amazing Spider-Man to his own Adjective-less Spider-Man was formative for me. I thought, “Wow how is this guy going to write and draw the book?” I stayed with ASM of course, with look-a-like artist Erik Larsen telling the tale of The Sinister Six. And of course there was little Rob Liefeld, selling The New Mutants which became X-Force and introduced his ideas in the form of Domino and a less mouthy Deadpool than we know today. Jim Lee, now the co-publisher at DC Comics was cranking out Uncanny X-Men with Claremont, soon to become top selling comic X-Men.
I was a kid and I bought them all. I believe 10 copies of X-Force #1 and at least 6 of X-Men. What I had no idea about was the money involved on the creator’s end. With Marvel making backend on merchandise and repurposing artwork, along with other discrepancies, they weren’t sharing that pie with anyone. And one person wasn’t going to take it, and that was Todd McFarlane. Todd convinced everyone to take a weekend off, head to Marvel and tell the company that they had enough and were moving on. In an equally bold and crazy move, they went ‘across the street’ to DC to tell them the same news. That must have been insane. Todd did most of the talking. A meeting of the founders and groundwork for the creator-driven Image Comics was devised shortly thereafter.
At his peak, the polarizing Robert Liefeld was dropping characters out of his head and into the pages of X-Force. It wasn’t until the formation of Image that he got to retain the rights and control basically the same types of characters under his own imprint Extreme Studios. Youngblood, Supreme, Glory were all the types of stories and characters that might have ended up being owned by Marvel now Disney. Over at Image the money flowed his way, along with all of the speculative television and movie rights. A cursory history delved into this great documentary, with some great Liefeld / McFarlane moments (they are friends!) brings McFarlane’s Spider-Replacement book, Spawn, to Image. Spawn was a character Todd worked on in high-school. This horror comic wasn’t the angsty Peter Parker behind the mask, but an ex-soldier brought back to life as a tool of the devil. The only remaining property from the Spider-Man look was perhaps the large eyes and the doodled webbing was replaced by chains. Many chains.
Erik Larsen continues on his finned cop Savage Dragon as writer artist to this day with Dragon’s son Malcolm as the hero of the book now, one that takes the passage of time literally, something rarely done in comics. Jim Lee brought an X-Men equivalent book WildC.A.T.S. to Image with writer Brendon Choi. The team even got a cartoon in 1994.
Boasting even more record sales at the new company did cause some problems to be worked out as well. By separating imprints and studios between Top Cow (Silvestri), Todd McFarlane Productions, Wildstorm Productions (Jim Lee), Shadowline (Valentino), Highbrow (Larsen), and Extreme Studios (Liefeld), each studio head was in charge of the books and money in their control. When Liefeld was buying talent and cars, Todd was shipping his book on time. When Wildstorm was affected by the speculation bubble, Lee sold the studio to DC. The miraculous thing about this was the resilience of the original model to being able to sustain itself. Liefeld and McFarlane had a falling out, but were brought back together by current Image partner Robert Kirkman.
This is the story of rock star comic book creators taking control of what they own, revolutionizing payment systems for artists and young guys taking risks and starting a business. While equally as exciting to watch for someone following Savage Dragon from #1 as it is for someone interested in taking risks and starting a new business there is something for everyone. Artists and writers can now take their work to Image – or some of the other publishers in the market -instead of relying on the corporate Big Two.
The proof is in twenty years of adapting to the market, and the current roster of Image titles and creators proves that this is where the top talent goes, not as a workshop for ideas but as a destination for controlling your own destiny. ( – Clay N Ferno)
|IndiePix Films / Released 11/3/15|
Set against the background of spectacular, wild and desolate Ethiopian landscapes, Crumbs introduces audiences to a strange-looking scrap collector, Gagano (played by the charismatic Daniel Tadesse). Alternately gripped by daydreams and constant fears, the diminutive Gagano has had enough of collecting the priceless crumbs of decayed civilization – Teenage Mutant Ninja amulets, toy ray guns and Superman costumes — including the most valuable: merchandise from Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan. Meanwhile, his true love, Birdy (Selam Tesfaye) pines for him in the abandoned bowling alley they’ve colonized. When a spaceship that has been hovering high in the sky for years starts showing signs of activity, Gagano has to overcome his fears – as well as a witch, Santa Claus and second-generation Nazis — to discover things aren’t quite the way he thought. Extras include two film shorts, Night in the Wild Garden and Chigger Ale.
Fear No Fruit
|Kino Lorber / Released 1/12/15|
Frieda Caplan, “The Queen of Kiwi,” was the first woman to own a business on the L.A. Wholesale Produce Market in the 1960s. Over the past 50 plus years, Frieda’s company has introduced more than 200 exotic fruits and vegetables to the U.S., transforming the supermarket produce department. The film chronicles Frieda’s rise against the odds, introducing the Kiwifruit to America in 1962, taking the business to the next level with her two daughters at the helm, and establishing her impact on American cuisine. Set in California, from the farm to the supermarket, Fear No Fruit climaxes in San Luis Obispo at California Polytechnic State University, where a tireless 91-year-old Frieda receives an honorary doctorate, inspiring an audience of 30,000.
Art of The Heist
|Acorn Media / Released 11/17/15|
Featuring interviews from the world’s top art historians, Art of the Heist, a fascinating documentary which investigates the high-profile thefts of some of the world’s greatest pieces of art. From Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer to Edvard Munch’s The Scream and even the Mona Lisa, these and other iconic masterpieces have been coveted by the criminal world. This 14-part series delves into the background behind the audacious burglaries and the authorities’ efforts to apprehend the crooks and restore the masterpieces to public viewing.
They turned crime into an art form. Meet the crooks who plundered artistic treasures, sending shock waves through the art scene and setting off frantic dragnets across the globe. This thrilling documentary unlocks gallery doors to chronicle history’s most notorious art thefts—from nabbing the Mona Lisa out of the Louvre in broad daylight to the still-unsolved blockbuster heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Vivid reenactments show how cunning break-ins, scams, and forgeries netted millions of dollars and became front-page news.
Follow the trail of stolen art as it passes through the hands of unscrupulous dealers and shadowy smugglers, then often into obscurity. In candid interviews, the thieves who stole the art and the investigators who chased them share insights into crimes committed in galleries, tombs, and mansions from Egypt to Sweden. Some of the colorful characters suspected in the thefts include mobster Whitey Bulger, Nazi Hermann Göring, and even painter Pablo Picasso.
Includes the episodes:
- The Big Sting: Prison inmates plan the ingenious heist of two Rembrandts and a Renoir worth $80 million from the National Museum in Stockholm. Authorities assemble an equally brilliant sting operation that leads all the way to Los Angeles.
- The World’s Biggest Heist: Disguised as cops, two thieves remove $500 million in art from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the biggest art theft in history. The hunt for the stolen Vermeer and Rembrandts takes investigators from the shady underworld of Boston mobsters to the dangerous turf of Irish paramilitaries.
- The Forger and the Conman: A songwriter-turned-forger joins a smooth-talking con man to rake in millions selling counterfeit paintings. As Scotland Yard zeroes in on the duo, the cops discover that the scam reaches into the inner sanctums of England’s most famous museums, threatening the legacies of the world’s greatest artists.
- The Search for The Scream: The Scream, painted by Edvard Munch in 1893, plumbs the depths of dread. Its theft from the National Gallery in Oslo leaves authorities equally vexed as they struggle to fathom a motive for the crime. But as the investigation unfolds, the cops discover the thieves’ offenses go far beyond art theft.
- Chasing Cezanne: The robbery of a Cézanne still life from the rustic home of an art collector shocks residents of a sleepy New England town. But as investigators run out of clues, a revelation from an unlikely source puts the investigation into a stunning new perspective.
- Den of Antiquities: War-torn Cypress of the 1970s becomes a playground for treasure hunters eager to raid the country’s early churches. When an ambitious art dealer sets her sights on a mosaic of Christ as a child, she unveils a patchwork of unscrupulous art dealers, con men, and smugglers.
- The Lady in Gold: Gustav Klimt composed more than 200 sketches of Adele Bloch-Bauer before rendering the Austrian socialite on canvas in luminous gold hues. It took the Nazis only one night to confiscate her portrait and set off a battle for possession of the canvas that lasted more than six decades.
- The Pharaoh’s Head: An ex-soldier employs an ingenious method of smuggling ancient Egyptian artifacts through customs for a big payday in England. But the discovery in his house of several artifacts–including the sculpture of Amenhotep’s head–leads to a harsh crackdown from authorities bent on enforcing international law.
- Miami Sting: A thief brazenly nabs two Rubens sketches from a Spanish museum, setting off an investigation that stretches from the galleries of Stockholm to the sun-drenched streets of Miami Beach. To recover the 17th-century treasure, cops enlist an art history professor to risk his life in an undercover operation.
- The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa: When the iconic Mona Lisa painting disappears from the Louvre Museum under the nose of the staff, a cloud of suspicion hovers over a motley collection of Parisians that includes Pablo Picasso. After authorities close in on the culprit, a shocking confession hints at a conspiracy.
- The Russian Conspiracy: After priceless treasures vanish from St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, authorities target a curator and her family as suspects. But as the investigation widens and more people fall victim to brutal Russian justice, evidence suggests the heist was the work of forces seeking to rock the world-famous museum to its foundations.
- On the Trail of Moche Gold: A shimmering gold headdress is looted from an ancient Moche tomb in the Peruvian desert. Later, an art dealer is found bludgeoned to death in his Lima apartment. Was it murder, or an ancient curse? The answer may lie with a slippery art collector whose dealings leave a trail of suspicion.
- The Disappeared: When paintings vanish from a Buenos Aires gallery, suspicion falls on feared members of Argentina’s brutal junta. The chase for the canvases leads to Taiwan and London and a black market involving stolen art and guns for the Argentinian regime.
- The Thieving Don Juan: The disappearance of a priceless Renaissance sculpture from the Museum of Art History in Vienna leaves authorities baffled. Why didn’t guards answer the alarm? Did a Balkan warlord order the heist? The answers may lie with a handsome security guard who has a way with women–and ample skill with alarm systems.
Extras include a 16-page viewer’s guide with articles about the FBI’s top ten list of unsolved art thefts, politically motivated art heists, the discovery of art stolen by the Nazis, the curse of Russia’s long-lost Amber Room, the forger’s tool kit, and the art of museum security, plus stories of bungled art burglaries.
Straight Outta Compton
|Universal / Released 1/19/16|
Straight Outta Compton tells the true story of how five young cultural rebels – armed only with their lyrics, swagger, bravado and raw talent – stood up to the authorities that meant to keep them down and formed the world’s most dangerous group, N.W.A. And as they spoke the truth that no one had before and exposed life in the hood, their voice ignited a social revolution that is still reverberating today. Extras include commentary, delteted scenes, and featurettes.
Last Word: It’s not every day a film comes around that completely changes your perspective about its subjects, the lifestyle and its deep-seeded culture. Rich in history, Straight Outta Compton tells both the glamorous and ugly sides of fame, living in the ghetto, the music industry and historic events that shook America at its core to form the genesis of Gangsta Rap or more accurately “Reality Rap” and the start of a nationwide revolution.
Straight Outta Compton opens with a high intense bang, much like life in Compton, L.A., during the height of the drug epidemic and street gangs in the 1980’s; as a teenager experiences a drug payment gone terribly wrong. This is Eazy-E and just like Jason Mitchell, the actor portraying him, he is a force to be reckoned who will see his future catapulted to new heights. N.W.A or Niggaz Wit’ Attitudes was born from the streets of Compton, California, led by Eazy-E, rapping genius Ice Cube and producer/performer Dr. Dre; along with DJ Yella and MC Ren rounding out the “gang.”
While at the surface this is a bio-pic about the rise, trials and tribulations of N.W.A., if you look deeper it’s so much more, just like the group’s powerful lyrics. Shrouded in poverty, gang violence, exhausting harassment from the police; the N.W.A. was a breath of fresh air to the industry. Unafraid to rap about their reality, unlike their rapping forefathers, they became a social-political voice during the Bush Era and L.A. Riots, making friends and enemies along the way. Either way, people started taking notice, including young upper class Caucasians, the FBI and the White House, thus deeming them “The World’s Most Dangerous Rap Group.”
Led by Jerry Hellar, a questionable veteran manager, the first half of the film focuses on the group harnessing their talents (there’s a hilarious scene where Dr. Dre teaches Eazy-E how to rap Cruisin’ In My 64’), their sudden rise to fame under Eazy-E’s record label, Ruthless Records, and the group’s undoing by jealousy, money-issues, fighting and departures of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, which culminates in epic diss songs from both Ice Cube and Eazy-E. What starts out as an ensemble piece, transforms into a character study of Eazy-E, what happens after N.W.A.’s split, carefully handling Eazy-E’s death due to complications from age AIDS at the age of 31, Dr. Dre continuing his music career as he worked with Snoop Dogg, Tupac and the infamous Suge Knight for Deathrow Records to Ice Cube’s solo career and film stardom. It also manages to touch on the beginnings of the infamous East Coast/West Coast rivalry that produced classic songs and untimely deaths.
Straight Outta Compton is long, but it never bores. There is such rich history on display, and delectable acting, that it grips you from the very beginning. The cast is strong; going beyond looks, they capture their characters mannerisms, swagger and passion. There are these small understated moments between each character that ooze chemistry, but there are also minor characters that shine. R. Marcus Taylor is a massive presence, not only in size but as a looming darkness as Suge Knight. Marcc Rose as Tupac Shakur is literally breathtaking despite having one of the smallest scenes as he raps “California Love.” Rogelio Douglas Jr., as Chuck D, Sheldon A. Smith as Warren G, Mark Sherman as Jimmy Iovine and Marlon Yates Jr., as The D.O.C., also make a appearances.
Every single actor holds their own. Corey Hawkins, a dead ringer for Dr. Dre, is every bit a leader; O’Shea Jackson proves that talent runs in the family as his father is Ice Cube (he needs to continue to follow in his father’s acting footsteps), while Aldis Hodge as MC Ren and Neil Brown, Jr. as DJ Yella are reduced to sidekicks and comic reliefs roles. Then there’s Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, who breathes life into the film, he is in every shape and form a master class in acting. Despite undergoing three hours of makeup, the role never becomes a caricature; he is three-dimensional, sympathetic and raw. Paul Giamatti as Heller rounds out the cast as a charming and sneaky business manager who takes the group under his wing, almost protecting them (the best he can) from the police who, in one scene, humiliate the group for standing outside a recording studio.
In no shape or form is this film perfect. Produced by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, it takes great liberties to make their characters the most honest and sympathetic, leaving out Dre’s history of abusing women (violently beating reporter Dee Barne after an interview), illegal business deals, allegations of homophobia/anti-Semitism/misogyny and other shady doings. However, Suge Knight is portrayed the most straightforward as a modern day mob boss, hotheaded with brutal force who beats his way into getting whatever he wants, even at Eazy-E’s expense.
Even with its flaws, director Gary F. Gray is in his element. Straight Outta Compton is one of the best bio-pics ever; even when the movie becomes broader, Gary never loses focus. Despite the group separating over twenty years ago, their message resonates today. N.W.A.’s well documented long-standing feud with law enforcement is beautifully depicted, timely and relevant due to the Black Lives Matter movement, the events of Ferguson, and numerous police brutality cases in the news. They paved the way for artists today to make statements about law enforcement without heavy repercussions. Unlike today’s generation, in spite of laws protecting Freedom of Speech, during their infamous 1989 concert, the N.W.A. was arrested for performing “Fuck the Police” in Detroit simply because the police didn’t like it. They served an important role as a representative of the middle-class Caucasian community uncomfortable with gangsta rap, despite the fact the group had many young Caucasian fans singing right along with them.
Masterfully filmed by Gray, this scene pays homage to their music video of the same name. N.W.A. went toe-to-toe with the FBI, who considered their lyrics a threat to their safety, they openly made comments condemning the Rodney King verdict. They actively stood for what they believed in, something that’s barely seen by artists today who would rather have Twitter feuds and stand behind their publicists.
Straight Outta Compton is a must-see by all. It is a thrilling, at times hilarious, full-throttle ride that finely balances drama with comedy. Never feeling too heavy-handed, it is a historical trip down memory lane supported by one of the best soundtracks, helping to elevate each scene and emotion. Handled with such care, the music focuses on the group’s R&B influences, top 40 Hip-Hop sounds that dominated the airways (there’s even a nod to Wu-Yang Clan) and a musical montage of artists N.W.A. influenced today, educating those that without N.W.A. there wouldn’t be an Eminem, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Fifty Cent or many other sounds (Beats by Dre) and artists teenagers sing-along with today.Straight Outta Compton is a reminder that what started in the streets landed in boardrooms, shaping America to what it is today, whether you like it or not. ( – Dana Abercrombie)
|Universal / Released 1/19/16|
Inspired by the incredible events surrounding an attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival. Extras include commentary and featurettes.
Last Word: Both IMAX and 3D presentations have driven producers to up the spectacle to the point that even the most talented actors are mearly pawns in the execution of their effects laden production. As films have become less about story and more about an immersive experience, the disaster film genre from the seventies has found new life. In director Balthasar Kormákur’s Everest, an accomplished ensemble including Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright and Keira Knightley are somewhat wasted in this loose adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. The film follows all of the classical storytelling tropes; the call to adventure, man versus nature and the romanticism of conquering the impossible; and as a result, let’s the viewer get swept up in the familiarity of the material, but never creates and real emotional attachment. That’s not to say that Everest isn’t worth a watch; it is. But it’s not much more than a B-movie dressed up and ready for bad weather.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
|Sony / Released 1/19/16|
Set in 1976 San Francisco, Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) is growing up at the crossroads of the fading hippie movement and the dawn of punk rock. Like most teenage girls, Minnie is longing for love, acceptance and a sense of purpose in the world. Minnie begins a complex love affair with her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend, “the handsomest man in the world,” Monroe Rutherford (Alexander Skarsgard). What follows is a sharp, funny and provocative account of one girl’s sexual and artistic awakening, without judgment. Extras include commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes and LA Film Festival Q&A.
Last Word: There’s no doubt that the highlight of The Diary of A Teenage Girl is star Bel Powley as Minnie Goetz, who is quite convincing playing a character a decade younger. That being said, the film which chronicles a fifteen year old’s sexual awakening (with her mother’s boyfriend more than twice her age) is a promising endorsement of statutory rape. Set in 1976, this relationship is presented as normal. I’m not making a judgement call, but personally, I found there the be an overall creepiness and strange apathy from all of the adult characters in the film. The film serve’s to be Minnie’s sexual awakening and acknowledgement of her needs, wants and desires. For me, I needed wanted and desired for the film to end as soon as possible.
Sisters: Season Three
|Shout! Factory / Released 1/19/15|
The four Reed siblings continue their shared journey through the pitfalls and joys of life in the third season of Sisters, the beloved drama from creators Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman. Season Three follows Alex (Swoozie Kurtz), Georgie (Patricia Kalember), Frankie (Julianne Phillips), and Teddy (Sela Ward) – four very unique women joined by the most special bond of all: family. Season Three finds Georgie experiencing a horrible accident and giving birth, and Teddy finding new success as a clothing designer. Frankie contends with new challenges in her marriage to Mitch (Ed Marinaro, Hill Street Blues). And a shocking diagnosis for Alex leads to her finding strength she never knew she had.
Featuring terrific supporting turns from Elizabeth Hoffman and Garrett M. Brown, as well as early acting roles from Ashley Judd and Paul Rudd, Sisters: Season Three builds upon the strong characterizations and storylines that made the series a hit whose themes remain both entertaining and relevant to this day.
|Shout! Factory / Released 1/19/15|
William Friedkin, the Academy Award-winning director of The Exorcist, delivers a new kind of fairy tale for adults. A handsome young couple finds the perfect live-in babysitter to look after their newborn child. It seems like a fairy tale, until ancient, supernatural forces turn the couples dream into a nightmare.
In his first horror film since The Exorcist, Oscar-winning director William Friedkin spins a terrifying tale based on every parent’s worst fear. Jenny Seagrove (Local Hero) portrays the enchanting guardian who enters the home of new parents Dwier Brown (Red Dragon) and Carey Lowell (Licence to Kill) possessing impeccable references and an affinity for children. But as her true intentions are revealed, the battle for the child’s soul begins in this chilling film based on Dan Greenburg’s popular novel, The Nanny. Extras include interviews, featurettes, and gallery.
|Olive Films / Released 1/19/15|
Inspired by the Cyra McFadden novel The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County, Serial is director Bill Persky’s (TV’s Kate & Allie) satirical look at the lifestyles of California’s 1970’s hippie culture.
There are no cliff-hanging moments in Serial, but there’s plenty of laughs in this trenchant comedy comment on 1970s lifestyles. Martin Mull plays Harvey Holroyd, the father of a Marin County family that succumbs to every silly fad coming down the pike. Serial lampoons everything from feminism, free love and sexual politics to cults, motorcycle clubs and the random midlife crisis. Mull tries to distance himself from his family’s idiocies, but it’s always the man who pays the piper. The film is neatly tied up with a Capraesque ending allowing Mull to finally prevail. Some of the best moments involves Mull’s tiltings with his trend-happy neighbor Bill Macy. The cast includes Tuesday Weld, Sally Kellerman, Christopher Lee, Peter Bonerz, Nina Talbot, Tom Smothers, Pamela Bellwood and Stacey Nelkin.
I Am Thor
|MPI / Released 1/19/16|
Jon Mikl Thor was a bodybuilding, steel bending, brick smashing rock star in the 70’s and 80’s whose theatrical band Thor hit the scene alongside Metallica and Kiss, but never achieved the gold record status of its contemporaries.
After a brief but memorable film career saw him starring in the cult classics Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare and Zombie Nightmare, Thor all but disappeared from the entertainment map. But ten years into retirement, and incapable of living like a normal mortal human being, Thor attempts a comeback to achieve the level of success that has eluded him his entire career – a comeback that nearly kills him.
Tracing the rise, fall, and rebirth of a determined performer over the course of a career that has seen more than its fair share of highs and lows, I Am Thor paints a fascinating and sometimes unbelievable portrait of this larger-than-life icon. Extras include trailer.
Last Word: Lost in heavy metal history somewhere between KISS and Quiet Riot lies Jon Mikl Thor. But that’s depending on who you ask. Die-hard metal-heads, and fans of the 1987 horror comedy Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare lovingly know the undisputed god of “muscle rock.” For many, Thor’s 1977 debut “Keep the Dogs Away” is essential listening for anyone who appreciates the more popular discography that Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden or even Ozzy himself put out.
For every one else, get ready to be entertained big-time by the new documentary I Am Thor, a sometimes stranger-than-fiction tale which is grittier than the 2008 Anvil, another Canadian rooted rock report, and in a weird life-imitates-art-imitates-life way, it ventures into the heavy metal equivalent of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. Though the film primarily covers the over ten year long (and continuing) “comeback” of the aging rock star, I Am Thor sets up Jon’s backstory with vintage delight. Through interviews and vintage photos and footage, we get a glimpse of where his drive to entertain audiences came from.
A merge of body-building, rock music, comic book characters and onstage feats of strength (hot water bottles anybody?), gave way to a handful of music acts before ultimately producing Thor. Though the band toured throughout the 70s and 80s, the band never really had what could be called success in the industry. But then, if they had, the full story wouldn’t be so interesting. The documentary follows the ups and downs of fame-seeker Jon Mikl Thor pretty much over the course of five decades. One of those decades he tours, another he drops out of the music scene, yet again to return to it.
“Rock and roll is a painful profession. It’s like a drug. I’m past the point of quitting…” states Jon, next questioning where it all ends. He sacrifices his marriage, his health, his finances, and his pride, in a quest not unlike Birdman’s Riggan Thomson. With each try at immortality, Jon is always lusting for the assurance of an awesome crowd/constantly at battle with his Thunder God alter-ego. Luckily, this isn’t an account of failure. The rocker’s try-and-try-again life story cumulates in three successful, redeeming overseas gigs that boost his confidence. Although, the airline to Sweden does lose his luggage containing his mighty hammer, steel beams, and studded cod-piece, nothing can get in his way of putting on an awesome show.
There are more incidents straight out of This is Spinal Tap. Highlights include an introduction to self-proclaimed Thor fan-club president “Thundergeek,” footage from a heavy-metal wedding (complete with laser show) proceeded by Jon in full costume, and, naturally, great boasting that Stan Lee himself declared Jon more Thor than Thor himself. Like his life, I Am Thor is part rock ‘n’ roll nightmare, part rock ‘n’ roll redemption. Even if you’ve never heard of the guy, you’ll leave wanting him to sign your ass for a bitchin’ tattoo. ( – Todd Sokolove)
Learning to Drive
|Broad Green Pictures / Released 1/19/16|
Wendy (Academy Award Nominee Patricia Clarkson) is a fiery Manhattan author whose husband has just left her for another woman; Darwan (Academy Award Winner Ben Kingsley) is a soft-spoken taxi driver from India on the verge of an arranged marriage. Wendy sets out to reclaim her independence, but as a lifelong New Yorker, she’s never learned to drive – so she hires the calm, restrained Darwan to teach her. As Darwan shows her how to take control of the wheel, Wendy coaches him on how to impress a woman, and their unlikely friendship awakens them to the joy, humor, and love in starting life anew. Extras include gallery.
Little House on the Prairie: Season 8
|Lionsgate / Released 1/19/16|
Experience the Olesons’ adoption of Nancy, and every endearing moment of season eight of this epic series, with restored and remastered picture and sound. Follow Charles and Mr. Edwards as they search for answers after the death of Mr. Edwards’s son; share memories with the Wilders and Ingalls when snowed in at Christmas; witness Almanzo’s stroke and the birth of baby Rose; and behold Charles’s faith as he pleads for his adopted son’s life in this completely uncut and unforgettable 22-episode saga. Extras include Look Back to Yesterday and The Last Farewell movie specials.
- Reincarnation of Nellie Pt. 1: Percival takes over the family business when his father dies, which means that he and Nellie will remain in New York permanently.
- Reincarnation of Nellie Pt. 2: Nels and Harriet’s newly adopted daughter Nancy settles in quickly at her new home. Harriet delights in spoiling her rotten, but the child is a diabolical monster who creates major trouble everywhere she goes.
- Growing Pains: After adopting two more children, Charles and Caroline must adjust to managing five young children. The family tension mounts when James runs away after getting into an argument with Albert.
- Dark Sage: When Doc Baker’s work load becomes too much for one person, arrangements are made for an African-American doctor and his wife to join the community.
- A Wiser Heart: At the invitation of Eliza Jane. Laura attends a writing seminar in Arizona, but the experience is marred by a rude professor who cuts her down at every turn.
- Gambini The Great: Aging circus daredevil Gambini the Great has a hypnotic effect on the children of Walnut Grove, especially Albert and Willie. A tragedy during one of Gambini’s stunts will provide a chilling lesson in hero worship.
- The Legend of the Black Jake: A pair of bumbling crooks kidnaps Nels and holds him for ransom. However, Mrs. Olesen refuses to pay the $100 fee required to free her husband, so Nels decides to work with the crooks to get his revenge. In the process, nearly everyone in Walnut Grove finds themselves on the wrong side of the criminals.
- Chicago: Charles travels to Chicago to comfort a deeply grieving Mr. Edwards, whose son John Jr. had died in a tragic accident. But that grief soon gives way to rage when it becomes apparent John Jr.’s death was no accident.
- For The Love of Nancy: A young, overweight boy named Elmer Miles is mercilessly teased at school. However, Nancy – of all people – goes easy on him because she actually seems to like him. Of course, she has plenty of ulterior motives up her sleeve once she gains Elmer’s trust.
- Wave of the Future: Mrs. Oleson decides that reopening Nellie’s Restaurant and Hotel as a franchised restaurant will result in big business for the fledgling business.
- A Christmas They Never Forgot: An unrelenting blizzard on Christmas eve leaves friends and family snowbound at the Ingalls homestead. Caroline, Laura and Hester Sue share memories of Christmases past.
- No Beast So Fierce: A timid young boy named Gideon with a stuttering problem arrives at Walnut Grove’s school and is ridiculed by the other children. James reaches out and befriends him, but their budding friendship stands to be destroyed when James makes a foolish mistake right in front of Gideon.
- Stone Soup: A pregnant Laura has a tough time caring for the Wilder farm when Almanzo and Charles are away on a delivery trip to Arizona. Laura has a heart-to-heart talk with Willie about responsibility and being a role model.
- The Legacy: A present-day couple buy an antique, table with a large “I” branded on it and are curious to learn about its origins. The story focuses on Charles’ efforts to patent the table and have it mass-produced.
- Uncle Jed: Charles and Caroline are about to adopt James and Cassandra, but their Uncle Jed comes forward demanding custody of the Cooper children.
- Second Chance: Hester Sue’s ex-husband, Sam, arrives in Walnut Grove, stating that he is reformed from his days of drinking, gambling and wild living. Sam appears to be reformed and Hester Sue believes him enough to agree to re-marry him.
- Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow Pt. 1: The marriage between Almanzo and Laura faces its first stern test when he falls seriously ill with diphtheria and later suffers a crippling stroke. Eliza Jane arrives to help care for her brother, but makes matters worse by babying him.
- Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow Pt. 2: The arrival of her first child should be a beautiful time for Laura, but it is tainted by Almanzo’s increasingly bitter attitude, as well as the possibility that Laura and Almanzo might lose their home. Frustration meets with anger as Laura feels that her marriage is slipping away.
- A Promise to Keep: Mr. Edwards arrives back to Walnut Grove harboring some disturbing secrets, namely that his marriage was ruined because of his alcoholism. His inability to stay off the bottle nearly destroys his cherished friendship with Charles when he causes an accident that nearly kills Albert.
- A Faraway Cry: A longtime friend of Caroline writes to her and asks for help. Her friend is pregnant and lives at a gold prospector’s camp where there is an outbreak of influenza.
- He Was Only Twelve Pt. 1: Tragedy strikes when James, who is traveling with Charles, Albert and Mr. Edwards to Sleepy Eye–is shot during a brutal bank robbery. When James slips into a coma, Charles goes with Mr. Edwards and Albert to track down the criminals and bring them to justice.
- He Was Only Twelve Pt. 2: As James lies in a coma at the Ingalls house, Charles increases the distress of his family by denying the child’s impending death. Angry that nobody – not even Doc Baker – offers any hope for James’ recovery, Charles takes his son away to the mountains, where he builds a temple and prays fiercely for a miracle.
|Kino Lorber / Released 1/5/16|
Seventeen-year-old Ayoub (Ayoub Elasri) has a lot on his plate: his father (Chaib Massaoudi) is a junkie, his mother (Elsie de Brauw) is a lonely divorcé, and his sister (Olivia Lonsdale) is falling in with the wrong crowd. Haunted by his father’s terrible reputation, Ayoub can’t get the attention of Laura (Sigrid ten Napel), the most beautiful girl in the neighborhood. He does, however, gain the attention of Kalpa (Freddy Tratlehner), an eccentric, purple Lamborghini-driving, psychotically violent local criminal. Falling in with Kalpa, Ayoub tries to enlarge his status (and wallet) enough to win Laura over, but soon finds that his new life is far more than he bargained for. Extras include featurette.
Forever: The Complete Series
|Warner Archive / Released 1/19/16|
What would you do if you had all the time in the world? Forever follows Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd), a star New York City medical examiner, on his journey to answer that looming question. Henry has a vested interest in studying the dead: He is immortal, and only his best friend and confidant, Abe (Judd Hirsch), full of life at age 75, knows Henry’s secret. Henry hasn’t aged at all since the clock stopped 200 years ago, but he’s managed to be discreet without anyone finding out his affliction. That task becomes increasingly difficult when he meets NYPD detective Jo Martinez (Alana De La Garza), who is fascinated by Henry after learning he was the sole survivor of a horrific train crash — and his knowledge proves extremely helpful to her in solving crimes. Guest stars include Cuba Gooding Jr., Frankie Faison, Jane Alexander, Jane Seymour, John Noble, Emily Kinney, Roger Rees, Blair Brown, David Krumholtz, James McCaffrey, Lee Tergesen, Don McManus, William Baldwin, Mackenzie Mauzy, Hilarie Burton, Shamika Cotton and Burn Gorman.
Includes the episodes:
- Pilot: Medical examiner Dr. Henry Morgan searches to solve the perplexing mystery of his immortality.
- Look Before You Leap: Henry and Jo scrutinize the conflicting evidence in a bridge jumper’s death to solve the crime. Plus, Henry’s mysterious caller provides a tantalizing clue to his identity.
- The Fountain of Youth: Henry and Jo investigate a pricey scam supposed to provide the much-desired fountain of youth. Instead, Henry and Jo are confronted with multiple deaths from the costly potion.
- The Art of Murder: The death of the seemingly ruthless matriarch of one of New York’s wealthiest and oldest families catapults Henry back to a happier time.
- The Pugilist Break: A tricky investigation involves dirty deals between a real estate developer and a community organizer with millions of dollars at stake. Abe cooks dinner for Henry, Jo and himself.
- The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths: A copycat killer is loose in New York and two famous homicides serve as a blueprint for the investigation. Henry flashes back to his involvement with the original cases.
- New York Kids: When a doctor is found dead after receiving a humanitarian award, Henry and Jo search his privileged past for clues. Abe shares a deeply held secret with Henry.
- The Ecstasy of Agony: The murder of a respected businessman takes a sexy twist with his “therapist” eying Henry as her next “client.”
- 6 A.M.: The murder of an unsung jazz saxophonist’s son turns into a musical maze of clues, as Henry and Jo chase down treasured recordings to find their perp.
- The Man in the Killer Suit: Dueling identities of a murdered British aristocrat lead Henry and Jo to investigate both New York’s wealthy class and working class to find the killer.
- Skinny Dipper: Henry attempts to track down Adam without revealing his own secret to Jo. Explosive circumstances lead to Henry discovering who his anonymous caller really is.
- The Wolves of Deep Brooklyn: Henry and Jo investigate the murder of a young investment star who also happens to be the son of one of Abe’s wartime Army buddies.
- Diamonds Are Forever: A murder investigation reveals a connection with Jo’s late husband. Henry flashes back to 1816 when he was in prison cell mates with a priest.
- Hitler on the Half-Shell: Treasured art stolen by the Nazis in World War II is the focal point of Henry and Jo’s murder investigation. Meanwhile, Adam pays an unsuspecting Abe a furtive visit.
- The King of Columbus Circle: The dead body of an old man turns out to belong to a man of royal lineage and an unusual connection to Henry. In flashback, Henry and Abigail discuss having kids.
- Memories of Murder: A murder prompts Henry and Jo to explore 1970s-era New York. The investigation leads Henry and Jo back to college professor Molly Dawes, aka dominatrix Iona Payne.
- Social Engineering: Henry and Jo explore the intricacies of cyber-hacking to find a killer, but Henry ends up as a target. Abe remembers back to his activist days and offers Henry an important clue.
- Dead Men Tell Long Tales: Henry discovers the ship where he was originally killed, while Jo explores the possibilities of romance with a handsome, wealthy entrepreneur.
- Punk is Dead: The team gets their first cold case, causing Henry flash back to 1984 and his agonizing memories of Abigail’s disappearance.
- Best Foot Forward: The competitive world of ballet is the backdrop for Henry and Jo’s next murder investigation. Abe engages Lucas’s help in tracking down Abigail.
- The Night in Question: Henry tackles the most important case of his career: the disappearance of the love of his life, Abigail. Henry and Abe finally discover the gut-wrenching truth.
- The Last Death of Henry Morgan: In the series finale, Henry and Adam tangle in a tumultuous game-changing confrontation. Will Jo finally learn about Henry’s secret?
Onstage in America: Honky
|PBS / Released 11/19/16|
Honky, written by playwright Greg Kalleres, was taped entirely onstage at San Diego Repertory Theatre under the direction of Don Roy King, winner of five Emmy Awards and director of NBC’s Saturday Night Live for the last nine seasons. A talented young cast tailor their performances for the TV cameras, turning this rollicking stage event into an extraordinary experience for television audiences.
When a young African American is shot to death for his pair of trendy Skymax basketball shoes, sales of the shoe suddenly triple among rich white teens. The new white CEO of Skymax, a shoe company catering to African American kids, sees only dollar signs. The shoe’s black designer is, however, enraged and blames the murder on the company’s ghetto-themed ad campaign. That campaign was the work of a white copywriter who is now so tormented by guilt that he seeks help from a therapist who, to his dismay, turns out to be black.
Careers are ruined, wedding plans up-ended and hypocrisy unmasked in this inventive, free-wheeling send-up of race relations in contemporary America. With the vexed question of racism dominating American headlines, Honky throws political correctness out the window and dares to reveal the dark underside of commercialism and privilege. The results are both sobering and hilarious.
The Green Inferno
|Universal / Released 1/5/16|
New York college student Justine (Lorenza Izzo) meets student activist Alejandro (Ariel Levy) when he goes on a hunger strike on behalf of underpaid janitors. Smitten, she agrees to help Alejandro undertake his next project: rescuing an Amazon village from destruction by a greedy multinational corporation. But Justine soon comes to regret her decision when their plane crashes in the Peruvian jungle and the students realize they are not alone. No good deed goes unpunished as the well-meaning students are captured by the cannibalistic tribe they came to save. Extras include commentary.
Last Word: Having never been a huge fan of Eli Roth’s, I did have a curiosity about The Green Inferno, his passion project that didn’t disappoint; it’s terrible. Paying homage to the Umberto Lenzi films of the seventies, The Green Inferno makes his his other mean spirited Hostel series seem like a Dean Jones-era Disney film. There’s nothing to like in this film; because even if there is, you know that Roth will destory it. It’s unappealing, morbid and despite my hesitancy to use the word “torture porn”, it’s just an ugly, ugly film. I know that Roth has a fanbase, but he seems to have little to say, rather, rechurning the splatter films of his youth to new audiences eager to embrace mean spirited violence and cynicsm.
|Universal / Released 1/5/16|
A family visit takes a terrifying turn when two siblings learn who Grandma and Grandpa really are in The Visit, a found documentary-style suspense thriller from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan and producer Jason Blum. When Becca and Tyler are sent to their grandparents’ secluded Pennsylvania farmhouse for a weeklong stay, they quickly discover something is not right with the elderly couple. Faced with strange rules and increasingly frightening behavior, the children soon realize it will take all their wits to make it home alive. Extras include deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurette, and a suspenseful alternate ending.
Last Word: M. Night Shyamalan returns to form with this entertaining little horror/thriller. Wisely not utilizing any box office stars, The Visit is a small movie. Utilizing found footage, a well crafted plot and his well executed “twist”, The Visit often seems like Shyamalan is crafting an homage to Hansel & Gretel (his film Lady in the Water also had some strong fairy tale influences). The filmmaker has had more misfires than success in recent years, but The Visit is a reminder that Shyamalan still knows how to frighten an audience. Recommended.
|Universal / Released 1/12/16|
The sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit horror movie. In the aftermath of the shocking events in Sinister, a protective mother (Shannyn Sossamon) and her 9-year-old twin sons find themselves marked for death in a rural house as the evil spirit of Bughuul continues to spread with frightening intensity. Extras include deleted scenes, commentary, featurettes.
Last Word: Bughuul is back in the disappointing sequel to 2012’s Sinister, that written, but not directed, by the first film’s writers. While the first film was genuinely terrifying – up to a point – the sequel gets by on a few jump scares and upping the gore on the killings the demon inspires his child followers to commit. And we see far too much of Bughuul for him to remain a figure of terror.
This time, Deputy So & So (James Ransone) is an ex-deputy: He was, naturally, a prime suspect in the slaying of crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) and family since he was the only one seen coming and going before they were all horribly butchered. Now he goes from murder house to murder house, burning them down before the evil cycle of killings can begin again. His plan is foiled when he finds a family living in one of the supposedly abandoned houses.
Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her twin boys Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) are hiding out from her abusive husband and staying on the site of one of the most gruesome killings yet. When she asks the Deputy how the family died, he tells her, “You don’t want to know.” (He’s right: While the previous slayings we see have become excessively dumb rather than disturbing – Crocodiles? Really? – death by rats is truly disturbing.) In the meantime, Bughuul’s murderous acolytes are trying to recruit Dylan to off his family by showing him their own home movies, but – guess what – Zach can see them too.
My biggest issue with the first film was a frequent misstep in horror movies: That we saw the ghosts when the main character doesn’t. With their posturing around Hawke as he sensed something was amiss, they became ridiculous, rather than scary. Having this batch of ghost kids play an active part in recruiting the next murderer feels like another misstep as we see too much of them. We also discover that Bughuul’s been up to his tricks since at least the ’70s, thanks to a professor who’s going through Professor Jonas (Vincent D’Onofrio)’s things. (Jonas is “missing,” a convenient way to excuse D’Onofrio’s bowing out of what was already a very undemanding, uncredited role.)
Ransone, the comic relief in the first film, is still funny here and he’s immensely likable. You start to wish he and Sossamon were in a different, better film, one that wasn’t bound to the increasingly silly Bughuul legend. The opening scene, in which clueless non-Catholic Ransone consults a priest, is well-written, with a knowing nod that they’re all in a horror film. And having the family in danger already be one that’s highly volatile helps ratchet up the suspense in some clever ways, but that doesn’t offset the fact that this boogie man has lost his power to scare. ( – Sharon Knolle)
|20th Century Fox / Released 1/12/16|
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, The Martian features a star studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover. Extras include featurettes, gag reel and gallery.
Last Word: Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut left behind on Mars (unfortunately presumed dead) after a giant storm forces his crew to emergency evacuate the planet. Not knowing what to expect from this movie, I prepared myself for some really depresseing thematic elements based on other lone survivor films, such as Cast Away. But The Martian is entirely different.
Instead of focusing on the dreary nature of being alone, it centers on the brilliance of human innovation accompanied with unbreakable humor—an, “I can do it!” attitude. The Martian is not a sad, defeatist film – it is continuously funny and exciting, and not because of any spectacular action or explosive tension—like say, Gravity—but because it’s so optimistic and engaging, giddy even. Matt Damon has impeccable delivery (as usual) and invites the audience into his jovial world through video journals and his body-suit cameras. Always checking in to make sure someone gets his latest joke or pun. This element of the film stimulates the audience, drawing us in organically, so to speak.
While Watney has a great sense of humor and confidence about his ability to survive, he still has to figure out a way to eat for four more years, until the next crew arrives on Mars. Not to worry, Mark Watney is the, self-proclaimed, “best botanist on the planet.” Quickly getting to work, he manages to gather materials and machinery from various stations, and farm potatoes. His methodology is admirable and frustrations genuine, yet brief. He doesn’t dwell. The Martian gives a great message here—that wallowing doesn’t help, but working hard and problem solving can bring rewards, physically and emotionally.
Don’t weep, sow. (See what I did there?) So as Mark has luck on his side, of course folks from NASA note movement on Mars via satellite images. Yes! Chiwetel Ejiofor enters the scene accompanied with a great team of scientists, and together, with the reluctant help from the NASA director (Jeff Daniels) they formulate a way to communicate using images and text. NASA expedites the assembly of various vessels (too much vocabulary for me) with the hope of decreasing Mark’s waiting time by almost three years.
Let the excitement continue! The scientists and various participants in Watney’s rescue mission (a great ensemble including Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, Sean Bean, to name a few) are given impossible deadlines but all deliver their stress with appropriate comedic sighs and aspiration Side note: I don’t know anything about astrophysics/dynamics or many other scientific subjects covered in The Martian, but the information and strategies seem authentic. And from what I’ve heard, it’s pretty spot-on. Which makes the entire thing even cooler. I don’t want to leave out the initial crew (which featured Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, and Michael Peña) that left their fellow astronaut behind (accidentally), because while their roles were the smallest of the film, they weren’t irrelevant, or filler. Everyone did a good job in this film.
The Martian is long, but it goes by quickly. Again, the power of good writing! And when Damon is hard at work, we get to see the beautiful landscape of Mars that Ripley Scott has presented. The largely 70’s soundtrack (which Watney makes fun of relentlessly) makes the unlivable planet fun and beautiful. Vast landscapes and aerial shots are just awesome. The Martian is solid filmmaking.
Adventure Time – Stakes!
|Cartoon Network / Released 1/19/16|
Marceline wishes to be an undead, red-sucker no more, but can Princess Bubblegum concoct a cure? At the same time, five of Marceline’s most fearsome foes return from her past. What might her most powerful nemesis, the Vampire King, have in store? Finn, Jake, Princess Bubblegum and their friends join the Vampire Queen’s fight against her immortal enemies. But for Marceline, the stakes have never been higher throughout these eight special episodes of Adventure Time! Voice work includes Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Olivia Olson, Hynden Walch, Kyle Kinane, Steve Little, Maria Bamford, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kenny, Ron Funches, Paul Williams, Rebecca Romijn, Billy Brown Andrew Daly, and series creator, Pendleton Ward.
Includes the episodes:
- Marceline The Vampire Queen: Finn & Jake hunt for a shadowy predator and Marceline asks Princess Bubblegum for a huge favor.
- Everything Stays: As the sun rises on her last day, Marceline recalls her long extraordinary life.
- Vamps About: Five foes from Marceline’s past come back to cause trouble for the Land of Ooo.
- Empress Eyes: When one of her oldest adversaries targets the Ice Kingdom, Marceline rushes to Simon’s rescue.
- May I Come In?: Finn, Jake, Marceline, and PB set out to hunt down the Vamps. But who is hunting them?
- Take Her Back: While Princess Bubblegum searches for a cure for Marceline, Finn & Jake take on one of the Vamps themselves.
- Checkmate: On the eve of battle, Marceline’s archenemy comes to her with a strange proposal.
- The Dark Cloud: Following the release of the Vampire King’s Vampuric essence, Finn, Jake, and Princess Bubblegum are forced into a fight against the seemingly unstoppable force without the aid of a depressed Marceline.
Family Guy: Season 13
|20th Century Fox / Released 12/8/15|
Pack your bags for a shipload of Family Guy fun! Peter goes overboard writing a children’s book, Chris travels to the past for a titanic-sized history lesson, Stewie impregnates himself with Brian’s DNA (don’t ask)…and the Griffins meet The Simpsons in the d’oh-nuttiest crossover event of all time. It’s an outrageous and uncensored complete season, featuring guest voices Hank Azaria, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith, H. Jon Benjamin, Julie Bowen, Glenn Howerton, Maya Rudolph,Connie Britton, Carl Lumbly, Emily Osment, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jennifer Tilly, Jeff Garlin, Ana Gasteyer, Tony Sirico, Gary Cole, Chris Diamantopoulos, Bruce McGill, Christina Milian, Allison Janney, Nat Faxon, Adam West, Lea Thompson, Chris Hardwick, Phil LaMarr, Cristin Milioti, T.J. Miller, Liam Neeson, Fred Tatasciore, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Mae Whitman. Extras include featurette, deleted scenes, commentaries, and featurettes.
Includes the episodes:
- The Simpsons Guy: After fleeing Quahog due to Peter’s misogynistic comic strip, the Griffins get their car stolen and end up getting stuck in Springfield.
- The Book of Joe: Peter is hired to read Joe’s new book to children, and Brian takes up running to impress a girl.
- Baking Bad: Peter and Lois open a bakery, but things get out of hand when Peter comes up with a way to attract customers.
- Brian the Closer: After getting a cosmetic surgery, Brian becomes a real estate agent, only to get in trouble with Quagmire.
- Turkey Guys: On the night before Thanksgiving, Peter and Brian get drunk and eat the whole turkey, so they have to get a new one on Thanksgiving Day. With Peter gone, Chris tries to take over as the man of the house.
- The 2,000-Year-Old Virgin: Peter and the guys set out to throw Jesus the best birthday party in order to help him lose his virginity.
- Stewie, Chris & Brian’s Excellent Adventure: Stewie and Brian take Chris back through time to help him with history class, only to end up stuck in the past.
- Our Idiot Brian: Brian begins to think he’s not so smart when he takes the SAT’S for Meg and gets a low score, so Peter decides to show him the joys of being an idiot.
- This Little Piggy: Meg becomes a foot-fetish model, while Brian accompanies Stewie on an adventure outside of preschool.
- Quagmire’s Mom: Quagmire faces charges of statutory rape. During the trial, his mom makes a surprise appearance, which helps explain why he is the way that he is.
- Encyclopedia Griffin: Peter and the guys start a detective agency and discover that Chris is a thief. In the meantime, Lois is worried about Chris when gets involved in a delusional relationship.
- Stewie Is Enceinte: Stewie impregnates himself with Brian’s DNA to save their friendship, while Peter and the guys try to make a viral video.
- Dr. C and the Women: Cleveland becomes an unlicensed therapist and gives Lois marriage advice that Peter does not like, and Quagmire gets Meg a job working in airport security.
- JOLO: Joe decides to embrace life by quitting his job with the police and taking the guys on a road trip to Niagra Falls, where he makes an unexpected decision.
- Once Bitten: Brian becomes more submissive as a result of attending obedience school and Chris discovers his new friend is using him to get close to Meg.
- Roasted Guy: When Peter’s insulted by old friends at a roasting of him, he joins a group of mean girls.
- Fighting Irish: Peter prepares for a fight with Liam Neeson, while Lois becomes a class mom and pays more attention to the other children over Stewie.
- Take My Wife: Lois books a couple’s vacation, but it turns out to be a marriage counseling program. Carter is frustrated because the kids are so into their electronics.
Nova: Inside Einstein’s Mind
|PBS / Released 1/5/16|
On November 15, 1915, Einstein published his greatest work: General Relativity. This theory transformed our understanding of nature’s laws and the entire history of the cosmos, reaching back from the present moment to the origin of time itself.
Now, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s achievement, NOVA tells the inside story of Einstein’s masterpiece. The story begins with the intuitive and easily grasped thought experiments that set Einstein off on his quest, and traces the revolution in cosmology that is still playing out in today’s labs and observatories. Through each step of this odyssey, NOVA reveals the simple but powerful ideas at the heart of relativity, illuminating the theory-and Einstein’s brilliance-as never before. From the first spark of an idea to the discovery of the expanding universe, the Big Bang, black holes, and dark energy, NOVA uncovers the inspired insights and brilliant breakthroughs of “the perfect theory,” perhaps the greatest science story of all time.
He Named Me Malala
|Fox Searchlight / Released 12/15/15|
He Named Me Malala is an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The then 15-year-old was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education, and the attack on her sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund.
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) shows us how Malala, her father Zia and her family are committed to fighting for education for all girls worldwide. The film gives us an inside glimpse into this extraordinary young girl’s life – from her close relationship with her father who inspired her love for education, to her impassioned speeches at the UN, to her everyday life with her parents and brothers. Extras include featurettes and gallery.
I Believe in Unicorns
|IndiePix Films / Released 1/19/16|
Davina (Natalia Dyer) is an imaginative and strong-willed teenage girl who often escapes into a beautifully twisted fantasy life. Having grown up quickly as the sole caretaker of her disabled mother (The filmmaker’s mother Toni Meyerhoff), she looks for salvation in a new relationship with an older boy (Peter Vack). Davina is swept into a whirlwind of romance and adventure, but the enchantment of her new relationship quickly fades when Sterling’s volatile side begins to emerge. I Believe in Unicorns takes us on a road trip through the stunning and complex landscape of troubled young love.
|IFC / Released 12/29/16|
Jenny Farrell (Katherine Heigl) has led an openly gay life with everyone except her closely knit, middle-class family. And white hiding the truth hasn’t stopped Jenny from loving her parents (Tom Wilkinson and Linda Emond) or siblings, it hasn’t allowed them to really know one another either. So when she announces that she’s going to marry the woman her family thought was just her roommate, the news suddenly lands on them like a depth charge. Now long-suppressed lies, misunderstandings, and rivalries are all brought to the surface as Jenny and her family are to face the parts of themselves and each other that they tried to ignore for so long. Moving, heartfelt, and brilliantly acted, Jenny’s Wedding proves that sometimes the love of a family is truly worth fighting for. Extras include featurette and trailer.
Queen of Earth
Catherine (Elisabeth Moss) has entered a particularly dark period in her life: Her father, a famous artist, has recently died, and on the heels of his death she has been dumped by her boyfriend, James. Looking to recuperate, Catherine heads out to her best friend Virginia’s (Katherine Waterston) lake house for some much-needed relaxation. Tranquility eludes her, however, as she is instantly overcome with memories of time spent at the same house with James the year before. Moreover, she finds no solace from Virginia, who is spending increasing amounts of time with a local love interest, Rich (Patrick Fugit). Before long, fissures in the relationship between the two women begin to form, sending Catherine into a downward spiral of delusion and madness. A bracing, eerie look at the sometimes dangerously deep bonds of friendship, the critically acclaimed Queen of Earth, from writer-director Alex Perry Ross (Listen Up Philip), is a thrilling examination of a troublingly complex relationship. Extras include commentary, featurette and trailer.