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That Time of The Week – DVD & Blu-ray Reviews Galore!

Ahoy, there!  Well, here we are again…

This time, we’ve got tons of the best films of 2015, including the Best Picture.  We’ve also got plenty of tv shows, older films, a Pixar movie and one of the more underrated films of the eighties, Secret Admirer!

Fire up those queues and clear out that shopping cart…it’s That Time of The Week!

Steve Jobs

Universal / Released 2/16/16

Witness the founder of Apple like never before. Steve Jobs paints an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at the epicenter of the digital revolution, backstage in the final minutes before three iconic product launches. Directed by Academy Award winner Danny Byole (Slumdog Millionaire), written by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan and Jeff Daniels. Extras include commentary and making of.

Last Word: When I heard there was another biopic film coming out about Apple’s greatest captain my first reaction was, “Another one?  Why?” Didn’t Hollywood just do one with Ashton Kutcher? Wasn’t there one in the 90’s that followed the rivalry between Jobs and Gates.

I know he was an influential figure in the tech world, but how many movies about Steve Jobs do we really need? Then, I saw Michael Fassbender was playing Jobs.  Okay, that could be interesting.  Oh, Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay. Well, that’s a good sign. Wait, Danny Boyle is directing.  Done. Sign me up. So, how many Steve Jobs movies do we need? Just this one.    

Steve Jobs is brilliant.  The film Steve Jobs essentially works like a 3-act play.  Each act is a snapshot of Job’s life set in juxtaposition with the media launches of his pet projects; The Macintosh in 1984, The Next in 1998, and the iMac in 1998.  Director Danny Boyle and his masterful cast craft a film that takes dialog heavy script that could be inherently boring and turn it into  a riveting, visceral experience.

The cast of this film makes you wish the Academy gave an Oscar for best ensemble.  Michael Fassbender brings Steve Jobs to life, warts and all.  His balance of heart and hubris is astounding.  Fassbender makes the viewer understand how such a colossally, self-involved, megalomanic could charm and command the loyalty of so many brilliant people.  His passion and belief in his vision of the world was contagious.  Fassbender makes it tangible.  Kate Winslet stands toe-to-toe with Fassbender as Joanna Hoffman, Job’s right-hand and friend.  She is the no nonsense Jiminy Cricket that guides Jobs along his path.  Just as her real life counterpart  could hold her own with Jobs, Winslet can balance a scene with Fassbender.  Each of their performances are better for it. Seth Rogan is perfectly cast as Steve Wozniak, Job’s college friend, colleague, and head of the Apple 2E division of Apple.  He is the sweet to Job’s salty that pinpoints Job’s dynamic with people.  Sorkin allumn Jeff Daniels rounds out the stellar cast as Job’s mentor John Sculley.

It would be easy for Boyle and Sorkin to either demonize or deify Steve Jobs.  However,  they solidly come down on the side of Jobs being a human being, complex in his relationships, capable of growth and change, limited in his own ways.  The story of Jobs’ relationship with his daughter shows a man stretching himself outside of what he knows.  It was one of the nuggets in the film that kept me from forming a 2D portrait of the man. For a man who felt that technology should be packaged in excellent design, making it a work of art, Steve Job’s would be happy with this film.  Boyle’s team of cinematographer Alwin H. Küchler and editor Elliott Graham have made a beautiful looking film.  Kuchler’s framing is masterful and Graham’s editing makes the actors performance’s dance.  The combination is hypnotic. 

All these elements together transform a film where a bunch of people stand around and talk about computers and child support into a gripping, multi-tiered story of a man’s life’s work. Steve Jobs, love him or hate him, you can’t deny he has left his mark.  (– Elizabeth Robbins)

The Good Dinosaur

Disney / Released 2/23/16

From the innovative minds of Disney-Pixar comes a hilariously heartwarming adventure about the power of confronting and overcoming your fears and discovering who you are meant to be. The Good Dinosaur asks the question: what if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely, and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In this epic journey into the world of dinosaurs, an apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of. Extras include featurettes, deleted scenes and short film, Sanjay’s Super Team.

Last Word: In a fictional reality the asteroid that possibly destroyed the dinosaurs misses Earth. This causes dinosaurs and humans to coexist. One day a young outcast Apatosaurus gets lost and along his journey back makes an unlikely friend.

The Good Dinosaur was truthfully a sub-par PIXAR film. Sorry to tell the readers out there looking forward to this film, but it fell short of becoming a PIXAR masterpiece. It starts out in typical “Disney” fashion with the birth of a main character and that character already exhibiting problematic traits. Arlo the Apatosaurus is small, fragile, and afraid of everything, but clearly just wants to fit in. As time goes by, Arlo grows up and goes with his father to the nearby river. A storm breaks loose, leading to flash flooding and Arlo’s dad is taken by the storm. Another “Disney” staple is the death of one or both parents resulting in dramatic changes for the main character. It is incredibly similar to other Disney and PIXAR films, which is a bad sign.

The writing left a lot to be desired. The true villain of this film was nature, yet certain things did not make sense. While Arlo’s father may have been taken by flash flooding, Arlo was as well at another point in the film, and even went over a waterfall, but he survived. There were a couple odd plot holes like that one but nothing too major. Truthfully, the whole story was unimpressive. Arlo was taken far from home and had a journey to return and met some odd characters along the way. It’s painfully similar to Finding Nemo with some role reversal, like instead of the Mom dying it was the Dad and instead of the parent trying to find the child it was the child trying to make it back home. PIXAR usually puts so much focus on developing the characters with relatability and growth during the story, but there was not much of that in The Good Dinosaur. The Good Dinosaur is just that…a “good” dinosaur. Arlo is just a good natured young dinosaur who only wants to help out and fit in. While he learns lessons throughout the film like courage, confidence, and trust, he, as a character, does not greatly change. Arlo’s entire journey is rather fruitless and long, so much so that it felt like a chore to get through the whole two hours of it.

There was some good though, and the “good” of this film was truly great. It was breathtaking. The animation is simply incredible; the most stunning that PIXAR has ever created. The landscapes are truly visual candy and look as though they were hand crafted by Mother Nature herself. The mountains have brilliant snow caps and amazing texture, the river beds feel muddy and rocky, the forests felt dense and rich, and the clouds were a force to be reckoned with. PIXAR developed new tech dealing with the clouds as in most, if not all, of their past features they have painted the clouds into the landscape. However, for The Good Dinosaur, they created the clouds in their animation programs and used global illumination for the lighting and then animated them into the scenes. This brought another whole dimension to the realism of this film. It is clear that this film seems set in what would be the Northwestern United States: from as far south as Colorado to as far north as Montana, the landscape has all the same features as that of the Rockies, the Tetons, Yellowstone. PIXAR made an odd decision to give the characters brighter colors and be a little too cartoon-y for the landscapes they were in. The contrast between characters and backgrounds in this film is incredibly obvious and also somewhat distracting as viewers’ eyes are attracted to the bright colors and seemingly out of place objects when all they really want to see are the landscapes.

Another good note is that PIXAR did do some creative things with the animation of the characters. While the humans were simple-minded cave-people and sometimes walked on all fours, the dinosaurs had some differences from how one might think they moved. The Apatosaurus design had these knobby knees that almost seemed more like elbows than knees. Their legs bent more and needed to do more than what was theorized about dinosaurs. This was creative in the sense that the story took place millions of years after when the dinosaurs were supposed to go extinct, so they probably evolved. The T-Rexs were also quite creative as they were cowboys or rather ranchers in this film, so when they ran, their lower halves moved like galloping horses and their top halves moved like cowboys riding horses. This awkward separation in their animation helped create an interesting illusion and further push the idea of the T-Rexs being cowboys. Another fun note is that the velociraptors in the film had feathers, which is interesting because dinosaurs probably had feathers, at least some of them, and on some parts of their bodies.

Again, as with PIXAR tradition, the casting goes a long way. They haven’t really ever failed at that, but have definitely hit some bumps in the road. Since the original director, Bob Peterson, left the project after a while and others stepped up briefly, the film had been re-imagined and probably rewritten. However, since it was two-thirds completed, the voices had already been recorded. Some members of the original voice cast got dropped, their recordings hit the editing room floor, and they were replaced as their characters changed into other characters in the new story line. Of course John Ratzenberger makes a voice appearance, but among the other voices are Steve Zahn, Sam Elliot, Anna Paquin, Jeffrey Wright, and Francis McDormand. Also, while normal PIXAR Easter Eggs seem hard to find in this film, there is one that stares the viewer in the face the whole time.

Arlo is an Apatosaurus and that particular dinosaur has appeared elsewhere in PIXAR films. The gas station in the first Toy Story film is a “Dinoco” gas station with an Apatosaurus logo. Dinoco also appears in the Cars films. Dinoco was a nod to the old Sinclair gas stations with their Brontosaurus logo, another sauropod that is actually bright green. These things aside, the truth of the matter is that The Good Dinosaur would have worked very well as an animated short and not a feature length film. Perhaps too much time was spent on it, perhaps too little, but in either case, it just wasn’t quite right.

Speaking of animated shorts, the one paired with The Good Dinosaur, titled Sanjay’s Super Team, is an extremely fantastic short film that should not be missed. It shows the struggle between a father and son; one needs to do his daily ritual of meditation and prayer and the other wants to watch super hero cartoons. Sanjay’s father wants him to not watch cartoons and instead pray and meditate, but Sanjay has difficulty understanding that. During his meditation, he daydreams the Hindu gods are like super heroes and are a super hero team. The animated battle they have is really cool and so brightly colored and intricately designed. There are strong Indian influences in the design of the characters and it is gorgeous. This daydream helps Sanjay overcome his less favorable obligation and he learns to like it, while his father learns to appreciate him practicing with him so they watch the show and play together. It really was a great short with a great message and truly felt like what PIXAR has always been about. ( – Joel Siegel)

Spotlight 

Universal / Released 2/23/16

Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams lead a critically acclaimed cast in this gripping true story about the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that uncovered a scandal that rocked one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. Delving into allegations of child abuse within the local Catholic Archdiocese, a tenacious team of Boston Globe reporters exposes a decades-long cover-up that reaches the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment. Spotlight is a powerful and riveting drama. Extras include featurettes and roundtable.

Last Word: In today’s society, almost overwhelmingly saturated with click-bait articles and slideshows of celebrity shopping list items, it’s easy to forget that not long ago people used to take the idea of news seriously. Granted, the internet has become the foremost perpetrator to this steep decline in respectable reporting, but if you think back over the past decade, it’s depressing to see how little attention is given to the hard truth-finding people of the printed press these days. On the other hand, it almost seems like every generation gets a film on such a topic that also happens to be a masterpiece, such as the 1970’s All the President’s Men, and Ace in the Hole in the 1950s. It’s the tail end of 2015, so it’s time for our generation’s landmark printed news film to arrive.

Enter Spotlight, by established director Tom McCarthy. Spotlight is a confident work that ignores the fluff so often packed into journalistic prose to instead focus on the meaty subject at hand. In fact, it’s almost surreal to see a film that so reflects what it’s about, something that possesses all the qualities portrayed in itself. Had it been anything different, it could’ve been the butt of many a journalistic joke, but because Spotlight nails its point so remarkably well, it only aids itself in being something truly right for the moment.

The year is 2001, and “Spotlight” is a tiny organization within the Boston Globe, amidst the oncoming of a blistery winter. It is led by Rob, played by Michael Keaton, and made up of Sacha, Matt, and Mike, played by Rachel McAdams, Brian James, and Mark Ruffalo, respectively. It’s not a large group because the Globe doesn’t feel the need to expand them, so they work with what and whom they have to turn the “spotlight” on certain topics often ignored by the bigger outlets. These topics have a range, but the topic in question here is arguably the biggest they’ve had in decades: the topic of child molestation by local priests in the area. When the crew focuses the light on the sickening reality of the situation, they find there to be more scattering cockroaches than they could’ve imagined.

Child molestation, especially by priests, is a sensitive subject for any information medium, as it can pertain to just about anybody and is something so often suppressed by victims and shoved out of the mind of those ignorant to it. This was hugely prevalent in 2001, but, sadly, has only gotten slightly more attention in today’s society. The looming onset of winter in the film could be seen as a metaphor for the impending explosion of information regarding this terrible crime, as more of the exploration into this cold subject reflects the feeling more literally around Boston. While the film is, at times, almost unbearably realistic, the world surrounding Spotlight and its crew seems just as cold as the temperatures, with so many interviewees seemingly hiding something, afraid to let it get out, for the safety of themselves and others. As Rob and his crew dig deeper into the problem, the audience is introduced to more people who seem legitimate on the outside but harbor more corrupt intentions when the spotlight (hard to avoid this term) is shown on them. The way McCarthy handles this is a more realistic approach to filmmaking. No explosions, no fistfights, no crazy camera movements; just a static camera and a dialogue-heavy style of shooting. It’s a necessary approach, keeping the camera close up to the characters, to keep things intimate and controlled. To beat a dead horse, it’s as if McCarthy was holding the camera like an actual spotlight, shining it close to the character’s faces as they’re being interviewed. Like All The President’s Men, it’s like a documentary without the narrator.

This is an ensemble cast, with no real character being a “lead,” despite the different ranks within the Globe. The performances are big, but subdued; the camera doing the work of embellishing them without the actors themselves having to overdo it. When your script and narrative as a whole run primarily on dialogue, it’s easy for the performers to quickly run away with their craft, but because of the way it’s shot, each actor gets their own time to shine without having to delve into Laurence Olivier territory. While the central performers all knock it out of the park, I found myself more absorbed by the performances of the supporting characters. Stanley Tucci is both menacing and manipulative as ferocious attorney Mitchell Garabedian. On the other side of the personality, Marty Baron, a more quiet but opinionated new higher up at the Globe played by Leiv Schreiber. Billy Crudup does a fantastic job as Eric MacLeish, an attorney keeping information from Spotlight, and Neal Huff shows a particularly heartbreaking and great performance as Phil Saviano, a victim of molestation by a priest and an advocate for change and justice for all victims of the same crime. The film is a fantastic showcase of what can happen when you give a tight script to a set of fantastic actors at the height of their power.

There isn’t much more to be said about Spotlight that hasn’t been championed all around any news medium. At just over two hours, this is a film almost playing a façade, a grand epic taking place nowhere but small rooms and Boston homes, an action film using no other weapons than words and arguments. It should absolutely open the eyes of audiences either too ignorant to notice or too weak to examine a subject that, while certainly gaining steam in today’s society, needs the right kind of push to stand at the front of the crowd. Spotlight is that film. ( – Steve Carley)

Black Mass

Warner Bros. / Released 2/16/16

In 1970s South Boston, FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) to collaborate with the FBI in order to eliminate their common enemy: the Italian mob. Black Mass tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Bulger to evade law enforcement while escalating his power to become one of the most notorious gangsters in U.S. history. Extras include featurettes.

Last Word: For those of you who have been living under  rock for the last forty years, Black Mass is the story of one time FBI informant turned FBI Most Wanted Man, James “Whitey” Bulger as he takes his standing as a small time South Boston Irish gangster and turns it into one of the most powerful and feared man in the city, all thanks to a deal cut with the FBI in the mid seventies to bring down the North End Italian Mafia.

For twenty plus years Bulger murdered, extorted, dealt drugs and laundered money hand over fist while the FBI turned a blind eye. This tentative alliance fell apart when a new DA was brought in and began unraveling just how deep and twisted Bulger had his hnds in the pockets of the FBI, namely his old time friend and agent John Connolly and his team.

With no one to protect him he went on the run for over 12 years only to finally be captured and charged with 19 counts of murder, conspiracy, narcotics distribution, extortion and shoplifting. He is serving two consecutive life sentences plus five years.

In Black Mass, Johnny Depp finally brings in a performance that all but obliterates the memory of the past Tim Burton mishaps and staggering Capt. Jack-scapades. Sporting a receding hairline that would give low tide at Wollaston Beach a run for it’s money and Jimmy’s crystal blue peepers, Depp all but becomes Bulger. And is damn scary.

The cast of Black Mass is spectacular and it is one of those films that makes you wish they gave an ensemble award at the Oscar’s. Along with Depp, Edgerton and Cumberbatch, the rest of the cast which features, Dakota Johnson as Bulger’s girlfriend Lindsey Cyr, Kevin Bacon as FBI agent Charles McGuire, Peter Sargaard as Bulger associate Brian Halloran, Jesse Plemons as Winter Hlll Member turned stool pigeon Kevin Weeks, Rory Cochrane as Bulger’s muscle Steve Flemmi, David Harbour as Agent John Morris, Adam Scott as straight shooting FBI Agent Robert Fitzpatrick all shine in their respective roles as does all of the supporting cast as well.

Director, Scott Cooper has brought together this amazing cast and gotten a fine tuned screenplay by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth. Cinematographer, Masanobu Takayanagi photographs Boston with the love as if he was born here.

Somehow, however the film itself falls flat. In some aspects it is as amazing and unbelievable as Bulger’s story itself. In other ways, it is a very pedestrian bio pic that is indistinguishable from a Biography Channel documentary.  With a story like Bulger’s, one that was in the headlines off and on for decades and with a “trial of the century” circus that just ended not too long ago,. this film doesn’t add anything new or innovative to what we saw on the evening news or online. Maybe it was out of some misplaced respect to the victims. Maybe the director wasn’t up to the challenge, but I left the film, acting performances not withstanding, feeling a bit let down.

Two things struck me as I watched this. The film focuses more on FBI Agent John Connolly than it does “Whitey” and the Winter Hill Gang and Martin Scorsese did it much better in both Goodfellas and The Departed. It really isn’t fair to compare the three films. Not many people can be Martin Scorsese. Most don’t even try. But when you are running in the same genre as him you either have to bring something new to the race or really be able to pace him. Cooper does neither.  Don’t get me wrong. He made a fine film, but with a subject like Bulger and a source material coming from the book of the same name, fine just doesn’t cut it. I wanted the film to match the performances I saw in Depp and company. I wanted a film worthy of the infamous and reviled, “Whitey”. ( – Benn Robbins)

Love the Coopers

Lionsgate / Released 2/9/16

When four generations of the Cooper (including (Diane Keaton, Alan Arkin, and Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried, and Olivia Wilde) clan gather for a reunion, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside-down – leading the Coopers toward a joyful rediscovery of family bonds and the magic of love as four generations of extended family come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration. As the evening unfolds, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday. Extras include featurettes and music video.

MI-5

Lionsgate / Released 2/9/16

When charismatic terrorist Adam Qasim( Elyes Gabel) escapes from MI5 custody during a routine handover, the legendary Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), Head of Counter-terrorism, is blamed. Disgraced and forced to resign, no-one is surprised when Harry disappears one night off a bridge into the Thames…With MI5 on its knees in the wake of the Qasim debacle and facing controversial reform, former agent Will Holloway (Kit Harrington) is brought back to uncover the truth they feared – Harry’s still alive. He’s gone rogue, and needs Will’s help. As Qasim prepares his devastating attack on the heart of MI5 in London, Will must decide whether to turn Harry in – or risk everything by trusting the damaged, dangerous master spy who has already betrayed him once before… Extras include making of and deleted scenes.

Grandma

Sony / Released 2/9/16

Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin) has just gotten through breaking up with her girlfriend when her granddaughter, Sage, unexpectedly shows up needing $600 before sundown. Temporarily broke, Grandma Elle and Sage spend the day trying to get their hands on the cash as their unannounced visits to old friends and flames end up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets. Extras include featurette, Q & A and commentary.

Last Word: Family dynamics and three generations of women are the focus of Grandma.  Boasted by an amazing ensemble of actors including Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott, John Cho as Chau and Elizabeth Peña.  The characters are complex individuals and the actors truly bring them to live.  Elle (Tomlin) is a flawed, albeit truly unique person and her relationships truly drive the film.  It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s honest and it portrays family disfunction honestly while also dealing with larger issues as feminism, abortion, and homosexuality with a light, but never dismissive touch.

The Leftovers: The Complete Second Season

HBO / Released 2/9/16

More than three years ago, 2% of the world’s population inexplicably vanished – 140 million people, gone in an instant. No country, no state, no city was spared, except for one small town in eastern Texas. Population 9261. Departures: zero. This is the setting for a tale of two families: The Garveys, who have moved to this special place, and whose lives were forever changed by the Departure, and the Murphys, a local family that seems to have been spared from an event that shook the rest of the world. But even in the town of Miracle, you can’t escape your past. This season delivers profound mystery, heart-pounding action, shocking controversy and startling beauty.

Includes the episodes:

  • Axis Mundi: Season 2 opens in a Texas town that was renamed Miracle for having no departures, but longtime resident John Murphy is skeptical of charlatans and carpetbaggers who are trying to profit from this good fortune. Meanwhile, the Murphys welcome new neighbors when Kevin, Nora and Jill relocate from New York, hoping to start a new life.
  • A Matter of Geography: Nora gets an offer on her house from an unlikely buyer with a morbid curiosity, but the money could come in handy when she and Jill are on board with Kevin’s impulsive suggestion to leave Mapleton behind.
  • Off Ramp: Laurie works on a book to expose the evils of the Guilty Remnant, and rents office space to serve as a refuge for individuals fleeing the cult, while Tom goes undercover in the silent sanctuaries to rescue lost souls from its clutches.
  • Orange Sticker: An earthquake rocks Miracle in the middle of the night, but Nora has no idea where Kevin is, and when he finally comes home he can’t remember where he was or what happened to his phone. Meanwhile, Evie’s disappearance has the Murphys reeling; and an old adversary makes her presence felt.
  • No Room at the Inn: Matt and Mary leave Miracle to see if they can learn more about her condition, but their lives are turned upside down when they’re not allowed back into town and must deal with the mob of desperate squatters that lingers just outside the gates.
  • Lens: Scientists arrive in Jarden to question Nora and the families of the missing girls. Matt finds a new congregation in the encampment outside of town.
  • A Most Powerful Adversary: After Nora gives Kevin and Jill some unexpected news, Kevin deals with the fallout by exploring his options – and tackling his Patti problem head-on.
  • International Assassin: In the wake of Kevin’s desperate decision to vanquish Patti, questions and answers emerge as the world adjusts to the repercussions of what comes next.
  • Ten Thirteen: Meg’s path to the Guilty Remnant follows an intense personal loss. Meanwhile, Tom hopes to reunite with Meg after a fallout with his mom.
  • I Live Here Now: John is skeptical of Kevin’s revelation about the night Evie disappeared. Meanwhile, the fourth anniversary of the Departure brings an unexpected threat to Miracle.

Convergence

MPI / Released 2/9/16

After suffering an explosion at the hands of a terrorist bomber he’s been tracking, detective Ben Walls (Clayne Crawford) awakens in a hospital surprisingly uninjured and ready to go back into the field. But at the behest of his Captain (Mykelti Williamson) and the hospital’s few but eerily incongruous patients and staff, Ben is to remain inside the building. As Ben navigates the hospital’s alarmingly empty hallways, he soon finds himself hunted by a self-proclaimed avenging angel (Ethan Embry) who may be the terrorist he’s been looking for, and haunted by apparitions whose deadly motives remain a mystery. As Ben’s sense of reality begins to spiral out of control and the demons that surround him close in, he must find a way to both stop the supernatural that want him dead and catch the bomber before he strikes again.

A modern day myth about redemption that’s equal parts crime thriller, supernatural horror, and action spectacle, Convergence will keep you guessing at every turn of its twisting plot right up until the last shocking frame. Extras include making of, deleted/extended scenes, and trailer.

Freaks of Nature

Sony / Released 2/9/16

In Freaks of Nature, we welcome you to Dillford, where three days ago, everything was peaceful and business as usual: The vampires were at the top of the social order, the zombies were at the bottom and the humans were getting along in the middle. But this delicate balance was ripped apart when the alien apocalypse arrived in Dillford and put an end to all the harmony. Now it’s humans vs. vampires vs. zombies, in all-out, blood-sucking, brain-eating, vamp-stalking mortal combat – and all of them are on the run from the aliens. It is up to three teenagers – one human, one vampire, and one zombie – to team up, figure out how to get rid of the interplanetary visitors and try to restore order to this “normal” little town. Extras include alternate opening, deleted scenes and gag reel.

Last Word: With a cast that incudes Denis Leary, Joan Cusack, Bob Odenkirk, Patton Oswalt, Keegan Michael Key, Pat Healy and Wener Herzog, you have to wonder if at one point Freaks of Nature was actually a funny project.  It’s not a terrible film per se, but rather it feels tired; a bunch of thematically similar vignettes and tropes that never really come together.  It feels like there might have been something at one point, but the hap-hazzard editing results in a fairly uninteresting and worse unengaging mess.

Hangman 

Millennium Ent. / Released 2/9/16

In this chilling found footage style horror film, a masked man breaks into a family’s home and unknowingly takes refuge in their attic. Unaware of the intruders’ presence the sadistic stranger slowly begins to terrorize the suburban family, watching their every move before eventually killing them off with no clear motive, or end, to his madness. Stars Amy Smart, Jeremy Sisto and Kate Ashfield.

99 Homes

Broad Green Pictures / Released 2/9/16

In this timely thriller, when single father Dennis Nash (Golden Globe nominee Andrew Garfield) is evicted from his home, his only chance to win it back is to go to work for Rick Carver (Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon), the charismatic and ruthless businessman who evicted him in the first place. It’s a deal-with-the-devil that provides security for his family; but as Nash falls deeper into Carver’s web, he finds his situation grows more brutal and dangerous than he ever imagined. Extras include commentary and deleted scenes. Blu-ray is Best Buy exclusive.

The Carol Burnett Show: Treasures from the Vault

Time Life / Released 2/9/16

During the late-’60s, CBS was The Carol Burnett Show network, a joking reference based on the program’s widespread popularity and huge ratings. Yet, the first five seasons have never resurfaced — no reruns, streaming video, DVDs or other formats — until now. In late 2015, the award-winning TV archivists at Time Life delivered the first home entertainment release from these early seasons with the Lost Episodes, showcasing the earliest days of one of the most honored and beloved shows in television history, and the birth of a TV legend – unseen by the public in more than 40 years!

The 6-disc Treasures from the Vault Collector’s Edition features 15 complete and uncut episodes from The Carol Burnett Show, as they originally aired on television, and includes such classic sketches “The Old Folks,” “The Ham Actors,” “Carol and Sis,” “Alice Portnoy” and “As the Stomach Turns”; TV and movie parodies including “Valley of the Dollars,” “Bony and Clod,” “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?, ” the epic “Mildred Fierce” and “Salute to Warner Bros. Studios, with Bugs Bunny”

Iconic guest stars including Jonathan Winters, Joan Rivers, Sonny & Cher, Paul Lynde, Art Carney, Betty Grable, Mickey Rooney and many others, along with surprise appearances by Bob Hope and Ronald Reagan. Over four hours of exclusive bonus programming featuring newly-shot interviews with Tony Bennett, Steve Carell, Kristin Chenoweth, Tina Fey, Burt Reynolds and others; hilarious bonus sketches, featurettes including “The Song and Dance: Crooners, Hoofers & Balladeers,” “Expecting the Unexpected,” and “The Making of a Mackie,” as well as never-before-seen outtakes.

Sociopathia

E1 Entertainment/ Released 2/9/16

Introverted and peculiar, Mara (Tammy Jean) spends her days fabricating props for movies. But her reclusive persona conceals an internal wrath. Terrified of being alone, Mara refuses to let her victims leave, sadistically murdering them and keeping their corpses as living dolls. When she’s hired by Kat (Asta Paredes), a fledgling producer, the two instantly hit it off. As their relationship grows more intense, Mara begins to lose her already fragile grip on reality. When her “dolls” begin demanding all of her attention, and Kat threatens to break her heart, Mara spirals into psychosis, leaving her no choice but to kill again.

A Better You

Kino Lorber/ Released 2/9/16

A Better You is an uproarious improvised comedy in the tradition of Best in Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Directed by and co-starring Matt Walsh (co-founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, co-star of Veep), the film delves into the strange life of hypnotherapist Dr. Ron Knight (Brian Huskey, Neighbors). Knight’s “Wake Up! Wake Up!” program is a great success, but it comes with a cost. His wife Margo (Morgan Walsh) forces him to go into marriage counseling, where he butts heads with a real doctor, Dr. Milner (Joe Lo Truglio, Brooklyn Nine-Nine). Thrown into a midlife crisis, Dr. Ron looks to salvation at whoever is closest at hand, crying on the shoul- der of day laborer Hugo (Horatio Sanz, SNL), while still ministering to his growing queue of patients. They include the cigarette-starved Tamara (Natasha Leggero), a confused high school football coach (Rob Huebel, The Descendants) and a stuttering voiceover artist (Nick Kroll, The League). Then there’s his unwanted attraction to Lindsay (Erinn Hayes), who just wants to stop biting her nails. On top of everything else, his snarky neighbor Joel (Andrew Daly, Review) is leading a campaign to ban his patients from the block. Dr. Knight will need more than therapy to stay sane. A Better You is a hilarious satire of the middle class, middle aged, and lower than middle intellect.” Extras include Life Hacks.

Trumbo 

Universal / Released 2/16/16

In 1947, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) was Hollywood’s top screenwriter until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs. Trumbo (directed by Jay Roach) recounts how Dalton used words and wit to win two Academy Awards and expose the absurdity and injustice of the blacklist, which entangled everyone from gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) to John Wayne, Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger. The film also stars Diane Lane, John Goodman, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Extras include featurettes.

Last Word: A tour de force performance by Bryan Cranston is the centerpiece of Jay Roach’s Trumbo, which depicts the enforcement of the Blacklist during the campiagn of fear led by Senator Joe McCarthy.  Despite it’s solid performances from the ensemble, and solid production design, costumes, etc., the film itself is unfortunately little more interesting than any other biopic turned out by a studio.  Trumbo is a complicated man in a very difficult situation, but the movie never really rises to depict anything with much emotional weight.  See it for Cranston, but there isn’t much that will stay with you other than the memory of a good performance.

The 33

Warner Bros. / Released 2/16/16

In 2010, the eyes of the world turned to Chile, where 33 miners had been buried alive by the catastrophic explosion and collapse of a 100-year-old gold and copper mine. Over the next 69 days, an international team worked night and day in a desperate attempt to rescue the trapped men as their families and friends, as well as millions of people globally, waited and watched anxiously for any sign of hope. But 200 stories beneath the surface, in the suffocating heat and with tensions rising, provisions—and time—were quickly running out.

A story of resilience, personal transformation and triumph of the human spirit, the film takes us to the Earth’s darkest depths, revealing the psyches of the men trapped in the mine, and depicting the courage of both the miners and their families who refused to give up.

Based on the gripping true story of survival—and filmed with the cooperation of the miners, their families and their rescuers—The 33 reveals the never-before-seen actual events that unfolded, above and below ground, which became nothing less than a worldwide phenomenon. Extras include featurettes and trailer.

Last Word:  There’s no doubt that the story of The 33 is heroic.  Unfortunately, I can’t really say it’s cinematic.  Instead, it feels like a tepid tv-movie, lacking any real emotion or struggle.  From Juliette Binoche’s “brownfacing” to play a Chilean to the overall ridiculousness of actually embracing every possible cliche, The 33 is a true story that never comes across as particularly believeable on screen.

My Science Project

Mill Creek / Released 2/16/16

Michael Harlan (John Stockwell) has procrastinated on his science project until the last minute, and his teacher (Dennis Hopper) issues him an ultimatum; turn in a science project of flunk. So Mike scavenges a military base’s junk pile for a suitable gizmo to pass off as his project. He finds one… and unwittingly unleashes the awesome power and energy of the unknown. Twisted dimensions and time warps collide to create a whirling vortex that takes the class on a startling adventure back in time and into the future.

Extraction

Lionsgate / Released 2/23/16

When a terrorist group kidnaps retired CIA field operative Leonard Turner (Bruce Willis), his son, Harry Turner (Kellan Lutz) – a government analyst who has been repeatedly turned down for field service – launches his own unsanctioned rescue operation. While evading highly skilled operatives, deadly assassins, and international terrorists, Harry finally puts his combat training to the test in a high- stakes mission to find his father and to stop a terrorist plot. Extras include commentary, featurette deleted/extended scenes, interviews, and trailers.

Creed 

Warner Bros. / Released 3/1/16

Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, attempts to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a boxing legend in his own right. Apollo died in the ring in the 1980s at the hand of Russian pugilist Ivan Drago, forcing Adonis to grow up without his dad in his life. The young man travels to Philadelphia to find his late father’s nemesis-turned-best friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), in order to recruit him as a trainer. Balboa soon takes the young Creed under his wing and helps him get in shape for a shot at the title. Ryan Coogler directs this spin-off of the hugely successful Rocky franchise. Extras include featurettes and deleted scenes.

Last Word: One step at a time, one punch at time, one round at a time.” 

This quote serves as the overall theme of the new Rocky spinoff film, Creed, which director Ryan Coogler launches in a manner that honors the past, collides with the present, and welcomes the future.

At one point in time, many believed that the eventuality and course of action would lead us to seeing old man Rocky train and corner his son to pugilistic stardom. However, a fresh perspective brings the focus of this boxing drama onto a young man named Adonis Johnson who looks to follow in the footsteps of his late father, Apollo Creed.  After some missteps and hard-nosed rejection, Johnson travels to Philadelphia with hopes that the “Italian Stallion” will take him under his wing.

Johnson revealing his familial ties to Balboa’s rival-turned-friend brings about a spiritual awakening of sorts until the ghosts of the past temporarily derail any sort of instruction. Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson/Creed is an example of perfect casting and turned in a great performance which isn’t a surprise since his considerable talent was well-utilized under the direction of Coogler here and before with Fruitvale Station, where many felt Jordan was snubbed for a best actor nomination.

Besides some juvenile delinquency in his early years, it was refreshing to see Johnson as an educated man who seemed to be on the fast track to success in the corporate realm. Pickup fights in Tijuana, coupled with an unbridled passion for the sweet science, unveiled a yearning for something more. While Adonis is in many ways his father’s son, he is anything but a carbon copy of the braggart prize fighter who paraded to the ring dressed as Uncle Sam. The film is careful in respecting the legacy of Apollo, even in the face of infidelity, because without it, Creed doesn’t carry the weight required to resonate with fans or dare say, even exist.

The notion that people don’t want to see their heroes grow old never saw the grace, humility and humor that Sylvester Stallone brings to a grizzled Rocky Balboa. Personally, I didn’t think Stallone has a performance like this in him anymore, however, art imitates life, as both character and actor prove they have some fight left in them.  Rocky will always get the benefit of the doubt in many aspects. The nostalgia here helps but can’t completely take credit for how this performance resonates. Stallone does a lot of that on his own with a charm that conjures up a wide array of emotions from wanting to run up the famed stone steps of the Philadelphia Museum to joining Jordan’s Adonis in telling his mentor “I fight, you fight.”

Tess Thompson as the musically-inclined Bianca is more than the love interest. She is a strong and confident individual who is working towards her own goals amidst her own struggles. Attraction and inspiration hit Adonis which produces great chemistry between the two actors.  Phylicia Rashad rounds out the cast as the Apollo’s widow, Mary Anne Creed. While her casting raised a couple of questions based in curiosity as opposed to being based in criticism, Rashad brought a gravitas to the role that was needed to have an impactful and pronounced presence in Adonis’ life.

Enter the films antagonist, “Pretty” Ricky Conlan. The brash Brit and undefeated world champion sees Creed as the perfect opportunity to cement his legacy. Tony Bellew, who plays Conlan, is an accomplished boxer who brought an authenticity to the role that won’t take you out of the film since his name isn’t widely known.  In many ways, Conlan is less villain and more alpha male whose loud persona takes pride in wearing the crown of boxing’s elite.  Boxing star Andre Ward appears in the movie early on and looks to be set up as the main foil. That turned out not to be the case because you want the audience to see the character and not the celebrity in such a role.

What ultimately serves the film very well is the dynamic between Conlan and Creed. When they finally clash, it’s not apparent at all who will emerge as the victor. Adonis carrying the films’ titular namesake makes him the favorite, but Rocky didn’t win his first fight on the silver screen either, so the fight can go in either direction.  Also, his lack of professional fights doesn’t make him a realistic option to beat the greatest boxer in the world under normal circumstances. These aren’t normal circumstances, however, as Conlan’s difficulties outside of the ring coupled with Adonis being a naturally talented fighter himself could be the recipe needed for a Conlan fall.

It was nice to see the fight contested in the light heavyweight ranks (175 lbs.) which reflects the current climate of combat sports where the heavyweight division, where Rocky and Apollo fought, is not nearly the gold standard it once was.  Nostalgia is a big component that sells this film. While it’s used to its advantage such as when Rocky offers a chicken chasing solution to make Adonis faster, Creed doesn’t rest on those laurels in the slightest. After a cascade of new and contemporary music that makes for a great soundtrack, what appears to be Bill Conti’s “Going the Distance” turns out to be composer Ludwig Goransson’s “You’re a Creed.” It takes cues from the iconic theme, but turns into its own melody which draws a parallel to Adonis who strives to stand on his own merit instead of simply being known as the offspring of pugilistic royalty.

When looking at a film that derived from such a cherished franchise, being good simply isn’t good enough. It has to be great beyond the scope of its own narrative so it inspires an audience to indulge in future installments. Creed accomplishes all of this with a spirit that carves its own distinctive path that compliments and is worthy of its cherished predecessor. It’s a familiar story with a new journey based on a simple philosophy.  “One step at a time, one punch at time, one round at a time.” ( – Atlee Greene)

The Danish Girl

Universal / Released 3/1/16

Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander star in this remarkable love story inspired by true events from Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper. When Gerda (Vikander) asks her husband Einar Wegener (Redmayne) to fill in as a portrait model, Einar’s long-repressed feelings surface and she begins living her life as a woman. Embarking on a groundbreaking journey that’s only made possible by the unconditional love of her wife, Einar fights to become the person she’s meant to be, transgender pioneer Lili Elbe. Extras include making of.

Girls: The Complete Fourth Season

HBO / Released 1/12/16

Executive producers Judd Apatow & Jenni Konner and writer/director/actor Lena Dunham return for the fourth season of Girls, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning comedy series that follows the misadventures of a group of 20-something friends in and out of NYC. This season finds the girls tentatively edging towards maturity as they take on a new personas in new worlds. As the season begins, Hannah (Dunham) leaves New York to attend the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the hopes of becoming a more serious writer, while confronting uncertainty in her relationship with Adam (Adam Driver). Meanwhile, back in New York, Marnie (Allison Williams) pursues a music career while balancing her professional and romantic relationship with Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach); Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) graduates and begins interviewing for jobs, while sorting out her relationship with Ray (Alex Karpivky); and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is trying out sobriety through AA, through her ability to stir up drama remains undiminished. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this season offers up some unexpected twists, as the girls of Girls continue to hunt for success – creatively, professionally and romantically – in New York City and beyond. Extras include commentaries, deleted/extended scenes, inside the episodes, featurettes, gag reel and music performances.

Includes the episodes:

  • Iowa: Hannah readies for Iowa; Marnie performs with Desi at a jazz brunch; Shoshanna gets her diploma; Jessa faces off with Beedie’s daughter.
  • Triggering: Hannah settles into her new life and discovers she can get more for her money, rent-wise, in Iowa. Later, she slyly prods Marnie for intel about Adam. At her first seminar, Hannah’s piece triggers some unexpected reactions.
  • Female Author: Ray gives Marnie a wake-up call about Desi’s true intentions. Shoshanna aces, then blows, a job interview. Adam gets drawn into Jessa’s chaotic web. Hannah takes things too far in critiquing her classmates.
  • Cubbies: Hannah is confronted by her classmates after leaving a non-apology apology letter in their cubbies. A frustrated Shoshanna spends a day with Ray. Creative and romantic tensions between Marnie and Desi reach their breaking point.
  • Sit-In: Friends try to help Hannah through a crisis; Hannah and Adam have an honest conversation about the status of their relationship.
  • Close-Up: Hannah has an epiphany; another disastrous interview for Shoshanna ends in a positive; Ray attempts to solve his neighborhood noise issue at a community board meeting; Marnie and Desi disagree on their sound; and Adam is shocked by a revelation.
  • Ask Me My Name: Hannah goes for drinks with Fran, a new coworker, before attending an unusual art show. Later, she spends some time alone with Mimi-Rose, while Adam is unnerved by Mimi-Rose’s friend, Ace. Meanwhile, Shoshanna helps Ray with his community board campaign.
  • Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz: Hannah spends an afternoon with a new young friend; Marnie and Desi fight over money; Jessa gives Shoshanna advice on the art of seduction; Loreen and Tad have a tense dinner party with their friends Avi and Shanaz.
  • Daddy Issues: Hannah’s maturity is called into question after she is confronted with a family dilemma; Jessa, Ace, Mimi-Rose and Adam have an awkward encounter; Marnie makes an announcement at Ray’s campaign party.
  • Home Birth: Hannah, Adam and Jessa each try to convince Caroline and Laird to forgo their planned home birth. Shoshanna faces a crucial decision when presented with a unique job opportunity. Ray lets Desi know what he really thinks of him.

No Way Out

Shout! Factory / Released 2/16/16

Imagine being a hunter leading highly trained bloodhounds in pursuit of a killer… and the trail leads directly to you. In a fit of rage, Secretary of Defense David Brice (Gene Hackman) murders his mistress (Sean Young). To keep a lid on the scandal, Brice’s loyal aide (Will Patton) creates the perfect cover-up: he “invents” a more enticing killer — a Russian spy — and then enlists Naval Commander Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner) to find him. But as a chilling twist of fate would have it, Farrell also has a strong connection to the victim… and now all the clues he’s been hired to uncover are leading straight to him! In a desperate race against time, Farrell’s search for the killer is not only a matter of national security, but also a matter of saving his own hide. Based on the classic noir book/film, The Big Clock, No Way Out is a tense, exciting thriller. Extras include trailer and commentary.

The Challenge

Kino Lorber / Released 2/16/16

He has trained every thought… every muscle… every nerve… for this moment of truth! The Challenge was co-written by John Sayles (Lone Star) and stars Scott Glenn (Man on Fire) as an American boxer thrust into a Japanese family feud involving the ownership of an ancient sword. Screen legend Toshiro Mifune (Yojimbo), plays a master samurai who trains the American in the ways of Japanese martial arts and culture so that he can assist him in foiling his rich industrialist brother (Atsuo Nakamura). Boasting a muscular Jerry Goldsmith (The Satan Bug) action score and handsome visuals, The Challenge entertains and should please fans of pictures like The Yakuza, Big Trouble in Little China and Remo Williams as well as The Seven Samurai, a fairly obvious cinematic forebear. Directed by the great John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate) and beautifully shot by veteran Japanese cinematographer Kôzô Okazaki (Goyokin, The Yakuza).

Secret Admirer

Olive Films / Released 2/16/16

Produced at the height of the teen sex comedy cinema craze in the mid-1980s, Secret Admirer (1985) was the directorial debut of David Greenwalt, who would later move from screwball comedy to horror with the television series The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. C. Thomas Howell stars as Michael Ryan, a high school student who receives an anonymous love note in his locker. Hoping that it’s from Deborah Ann Fimple (Kelly Preston), a gorgeous but air-headed classmate who only dates college boys, Michael hatches a scheme with Toni (Lori Loughlin), who is friendly with both him and Deborah, to write her back. What Michael doesn’t know, however is that the first letter was really from Toni, who has more than friendship in mind. In the meantime, the unsigned missives fall into the wrong hands, leading Michael’s mother, Connie (Dee Wallace-Stone) to believe that her husband George (Cliff De Young) is having an affair with his night school teacher, Elizabeth (Leigh Taylor-Young), who is none other than Deborah’s mother. George had better watch his back, however, as Elizabeth’s husband is Lieutenant Lou Fimple (Fred Ward), a tough cop who’s having a very bad week. As the romantic complications pile up, Toni becomes Michael’s Cyrano de Bergerac, penning his letters but pining for him as he gets closer to winning Deborah over. (– Karl Williams)

Class

Olive Films / Released 2/16/16

When wealthy prep-school senior Skip (Rob Lowe) learns that his shy new roommate Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy) is a total loser at romance, he sends the aspiring young Romeo to the city to learn the ropes before he ruins both their reputations. But when Jonathan is seduced by a sexy older woman named Ellen (Jacqueline Bisset), he begins a zany romantic miseducation that starts with a double major in lust and deception and ends with the uproarious discovery that not only is Ellen the woman of his dreams, she’s also Skip’s mom! Rob Lowe (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), John Cusack (Being John Malkovich) and Andrew McCarthy (St. Elmo’s Fire) make their feature film debuts in this hilarious, sexy comedy. Co-starring Jacqueline Bisset (Dangerous Beauty) and filled with lusty coeds, this mother of all teen comedies is an Eighties classic.

Beat Street

Olive Films / Released 2/16/16

Jon Chardiet plays a Puerto Rican youth who targets subway walls for his graffiti renderings. For a while, it looks as though Chardiet’s problems will carry the plotline, but before long the film’s true raison d’etre comes to the surface. Rap-music deejay Guy Davis, in tandem with such like-minded individuals as music student Rae Dawn Chong, endeavor to stage a huge breakdancing presentation, featuring several musical artistes of the period. Harry Belafonte served as coproducer.

With dreams of breaking out of their South Bronx existence, friends Kenny Kirkland (Guy Davis, Final), an erstwhile disc jockey; Kenny s brother Lee (Robert Taylor, Avenging Force), a breakdancer; and their friend Ramon (Jon Chardiet, Money Talks), a graffiti artist, see a ray of hope when local composer and choreographer Tracy Carlson (Rae Dawn Chong, The Color Purple) takes an interest in their talent. But these friends will find that dreams are hard won in the musical drama Beat Street, directed by Stan Lathan (Amazing Grace) and written by Andy Davis, David Gilbert and Paul Golding based on the story by Steve Hagar. rand Master Melle Mel & the Furious Five, Kool Moe Dee, New York City Breakers and Rock Steady Crew.

Frankenstein – The Mini-Series

Mill Creek / Released 2/16/16

What happens when man violates the laws of God and science? For Captain Walton (Emmy and Golden Globe winner Donald Sutherland, The Italian Job) and the crew of a weather-beaten ship stranded in the icy sea, the answer follows their rescue of a scientist close to death, frozen in fear, and insane with dire warnings. Viktor Frankenstein (Alec Newman, Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune) has a story to tell—a story as chillingly real as the tortured howls emanating from the Arctic fog and as timeless as the need to be loved.

It begins with Frankenstein’s career as a young scientist possessed of a dark and obsessive thirst for knowledge. Against the wishes of his father, he strives to divine the mysteries of life and death. Pledging his love to his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth (Nicole Lewis), he leaves for a university in Ingolstadt, Germany where, under the auspices of Professor Waldman (Oscar winner William Hurt, Kiss of the Spider Woman), Frankenstein vows to unlock nature’s secrets. In his private laboratory, he has the tools he needs: severed limbs and torsos stolen from a morgue. Piece by piece, his experiment begins. Stitched together like a lumbering doll, and jolted to life by a powerful bolt of electricity, his magnificent creation is shocked to life. Even more frightened than his human creator, the fledgling being disappears into the night, helpless, abhorred, and vulnerable…

Yet this new creature (Luke Goss, Blade II) proves even more fallibly human than Frankenstein. He is not only imbued with knowledge and wisdom, but a conscience as well—and a longing to be accepted for something other than the deviant he is. Rejected by his “father” and shunned by society, he vows revenge by stealing all that Frankenstein all holds most dear. Victim by victim, fueled by painful rage, he closes in on his prey— Frankenstein’s beloved Elizabeth. But the wounded creature has another, even more devious plan—to lure Frankenstein into the bitter wilderness in an effort to understand the nature of his father’s hideous deeds and the reason for his own despairing crimes as well. Unable to inspire love, he can now only inspire terror. And he will, as Frankenstein meets his appointment with destiny.

Mary Shelley’s immortal novel truly comes to life for the first time in the most elaborate, tragic, and chillingly faithful version of her classic macabre tale.

Togetherness: The Complete First Season

HBO / Released 2/16/16

The television debut of critically-acclaimed indie directors Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus, The Puffy Chair), Togetherness follows four adults living under one roof struggling to keep their relationships and dreams alive as they approach the age of forty. Brett (Mark Duplass, The League) and Michelle (Melanie Lynskey, Two and a Half Men) are struggling to rekindle the spark in their relationship, which has puttered out from the stresses of marriage and children. When Brett’s friend Alex (Steve Zissis, Baghead) and Michelle’s sister Tina (Amanda Peet, The Way, Way Back) move in with them, the foursome engage in a tragically comedic struggle to follow their personal dreams while still remaining good friends, siblings, and spouses to each other. Extras include inside the episodes with the Duplass brothers, Amanda & Steve interview/featurette and deleted scenes.

Includes the episodes:

  • Family Day: Struggling actor Alex moves in with married couple Brett and Michelle, while Michelle’s visiting sister Tina faces her own crossroads.
  • Handcuffs: Tina tries to shake Alex out of his funk by enlisting him to help her with her business and vowing to help him get the career of his dreams. Brett gets in trouble at work. Tina convinces Michelle to spice things up in the bedroom.
  • Insanity: Brett’s invite to a movie premiere leads to an impromptu night on the town for everyone. Tina and Alex engage in a personal ‘mission,’ Brett looks to mend a work relationship and Michelle meets David, a divorced dad trying to start a new charter school.
  • Houston We Have a Problem: Alex and Tina fly back to Houston to pack up her things. During a night of drinks and dancing, Tina finds herself unexpectedly jealous of Alex. Back in LA, Brett whisks Michelle away for some much-needed intimacy.
  • Kick the Can: After an intense therapy session, Michelle organizes a day of fun with old friends, despite Brett’s lack of enthusiasm. When a group of hipsters looks to sour their plans, Michelle challenges them to a brutal game of ‘Kick the Can.’
  • Ghost in Chains: During a morning hike, Brett meets Linda, a new-age believer who encourages him to get in touch with himself. Tina tries to make up to Alex by getting him an audition; Michelle helps David with the charter school; Brett takes a stand at work.
  • Party Time: Michelle throws a fundraising party for the charter school while Brett enters a new state of mind at Linda’s house. Still at odds with Alex, Tina struggles with her bouncy-castle business; later, a conversation with Larry makes her rethink the future.
  • Not So Together: When Alex gets big career news, he seeks out Tina, who is busy planning her future with Larry. On a trip to Sacramento, Michelle steps up to the plate. After a day at the beach, Brett decides to share his feelings with Michelle.

Criminal Activities

Image Ent. / Released 2/16/16

Four friends stumble into a deal too good to refuse. But when the investment goes bad, they learn that part of their funding came from a notoriously ruthless crime boss… and it’s payback time. Now they must successfully kidnap a family member of a rival kingpin in order to erase the life-threatening debt. In way over their heads, if they can complete the assigned task without screwing up, they just might escape with their lives.

John Travolta (Pulp Fiction), Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire) and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) star in this action-packed thriller about insider trading, the Mob and an unrelenting quest for vengeance. Extras include interview and deleted scenes.

The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series

Paramount / Released 2/16/16


The Brady Kids sees the return of members from the original Brady Bunch cast, to voice their iconic roles in the series which revolved around the adventures of the six Brady children and their animal friends, Mop Top, their dog; Ping and Pong, two pandas who speak a strange, Chinese-based jibberish; and Marlon, a Mynah bird with magic powers. Their main hangout was the family treehouse (the house, Mike and Carol Brady and Alice, never made an appearance in the animated show). Like the Archies, the Bradys were also a musical group and each episode featured at least one group performance. If the animation sequenced seem similar to the Archies, it is because Filmation reused some of the sequences from the Archies and modified them. The lineup; Greg – guitar, Marcia – tambourine, Peter – bass, Jan – organ, Bobby – drums & Cindy – junior guitar. Over the course of the series, they encountered various guest stars, some of whom had their own Filmation series, including Miss Tickle from Mission: Magic, Superman, the Lone Ranger, and in her first animated appearance, Wonder Woman.

Includes the episodes:

  • Jungle Bungle, Part 1 & 2: The Brady Kids — Marcia, Jan, Cindy, Greg, Peter and Bobby — along with Mop Top, their dog, enter a balloon race at the local carnival. Several of their school friends are on another balloon. But something goes wrong and the balloon takes the group to a strange, far-away island inhabited by the most eccentric characters the kids have ever seen. It is during their adventure on this island that the Bradys will meet a host of colorful new friends who become regulars in The Brady Kids series. Among them are Marlon, a magical mynah bird whose talents include ventriloquism and impersonations; and Ping and Pong, two pandas who speak only Chinese. Also on the island is Father Nature, who, henpecked by his wife, Mother Nature, has taken over her responsibilities, causing earth- shaking chaos.  The Bradys will have more exciting new adventures before facing an overwhelming problem — how do they get back home?
  • Double Trouble: Peter wishes he is movie star Clint Flint. But in effort to grant his wish, Marlon screws up and morphs Bobby’s body into Flint’s and vice versa. The unsettling things that happen to Bobby at school are nothing compared to what happens when Bobby and the other Brady Kids, along with Mop Top, Marlon, and Ping and Pong, descend upon the movie studio where Clint Flint is supposed to be working.
  • Long Gone Silver: Bobby wishes that his pin was made of real silver but when his wish comes true it turns out to be the Lone Ranger’s horse!
  • Cindy’s Super Friend: Cindy meets mild-mannered Clark Kent and the Brady Kids are teamed with him to paint a bank building during the city’s “Paint-Up” week. The Wily Toulouse La Trick and his henchman Igor substitute delayed-action invisible paint so that when the bank becomes invisible they can rob it. Little do they realize that Clark Kent can change into Superman any time he can find a telephone booth.
  • Pop Goes the Mynah: The magical bird Marlon gets sealed in a can at a soda pop plant and the gang have to rescue him.
  • Who Was That Dog…?: The gang enter their animals into a pet show and Marlon accidentally gets involved.
  • It Ain’t Necessarily Snow: Greg and Chuck have a ski race even though Greg can’t ski. Marlon’s interference only makes things worse.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the End Zone: The Brady Kids make friends with some little men from Venus when they accidentally pick up their spaceship.
  • That Was No Worthy Opponent, That Was My Sister: Greg discovers that his enemy and his sister are his rivals in the school election.
  • You Took the Words Right Out of My Tape: The group hear a conversation about a pair of thieves planning to steal the crown jewels and attempt to stop them.
  • Give Me a Home Where the Panda Bears Roam and the Dog and the Mynah Bird Play: The kids go on a cattle drive with their uncle but find out there is only one cow.
  • It’s All Greek to Me: The Brady Kids meet Wonder Woman. Then Wonder Woman and the whole Bunch are transported to ancient Greece where they arrive right in time for the Olympic games. The Kids, eager to participate in the events, compete in order to qualify for the Marathon run. With the help of their pets, the Kids defeat the Greeks athletes and therefore become eligible to participate in the Marathon run. However, Wonder Woman urges them to disqualify themselves because they run the risk of altering history if they win the actual race.
  • The Big Time: A television talent show is coming to town and nearly everyone decides to create an act so they can enter.
  • Marlon’s Birthday Party: Marlon and Merlin switch places as Marlon is transported into history and Merlin comes to the present and has to adjust to life on the future.
  • The Richest Man in the World: The group take pity on a seemingly poor man completely unaware he is in fact the world’s richest man.
  • Wings: The gang enter a road rally and end up at the house of the Wrong brothers who take parts from their car in order to make their aeroplane.
  • Frankincense: The Kids take refuge at the castle of Dr. Frankincense and his attempt to create… robots. Their magical bird Marlon makes the failed robot become a dozen little robots which need jewels to run, so they run off to find them. Meanwhile two jewel thieves find the robots and use them in their latest robbery. The Brady kids try to return the robots and foil the thieves.
  • Teacher’s Pet: Marlon changes a statue of a cat into a hippo and accidentally sends it to Africa. Marlon enlists the owner of the cat statue, a magical teacher named Miss Tinkle, to help the gang go to Africa in search of it.
  • Marcia’s Lib: The Brady boys and their guy friends form a group to go camping that excludes all the girls. Marsha and her sisters decides to make her own group of female forest friends to camp out near the guys. Their rivalry leads to getting lost and they must work together to find their way back to camp.
  • Ceiling Zero: Marlon magically brings in famous artist Michael Angelglow from centuries ago to help paint the Brady Kids tree house. Both he tree house walls and the artist himself are stolen by art thieves who sell the walls to various art galleries as newly discovered art. Meanwhile the artist is painting everything in their hideout, even the thieves fridge. The Bradys have to find the artist so Marlon can return him to his own time.
  • Who Believes in Ghosts?: The home of deceased Colonel Jones is about to be torn down. The Brady kids try to save the old house by raising money to save it using the theme of it being a haunted house for a fund raising party. However, while preparing the house, thieves hiding in the old home fake the home being haunted by ghosts to make the Brady Kids leave. But the real ghost of Colonel Jones has other ideas!

Brian Regan: Live From Radio City Music Hall

Comedy Central / Released 2/16/16

Filmed at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on September 26, Brian Regan reinvigorates comedy with his new live stand-up special, Live From Radio City Music Hall, which features Regan’s high-energy and physical comedy as he looks back on his first jobs, watching women’s curling and his attempts to use a juicer. He describes the ups and downs of being a waiter, demonstrates the awkwardness of going to a new doctor and challenges the common notion that you shouldn’t grocery shop when you’re hungry. During his special, Regan questions the concept of dancing, infinity pools and the illogical restaurant menu phrasings like “leg of lamb.” Anything could happen, so expect lots of Regan’s signature high-energy social commentary.

Saints & Strangers

Sony / Released 2/16/16

Vincent Kartheiser, Anna Camp and Ron Livingston star in the acclaimed miniseries event Saints & Strangers, a story that goes beyond the familiar historical account of Thanksgiving and the founding of Plymouth Plantation, revealing the trials and tribulations of the settlers at Plymouth: 102 men, women and children who sailed on a chartered ship for a place they had never seen. Of this group, half are those we think of as “pilgrims,” religious separatists who abandoned their prior lives for a single cause: religious freedom. The other half, the “merchant adventurers,” had less spiritual and more material, real-world objectives. This clash of values created complex inner struggles for the group as they sought to establish a new colony, compounded by a complicated relationship with the local Native American tribes. The conflicting allegiances among these groups culminated in trials of assimilation, faith, and compromise, that continued to define our nation to this day. Extras include deleted scenes.

The Trials of Jimmy Rose

Acorn Media / Released 2/16/16

After a 12-year prison sentence for armed robbery, Jimmy Rose (International Emmy winner Ray Winstone) returns home to mixed emotions from his family. His daughter and grandson welcome him with open arms, but his wife (Amanda Redman) and son (Tom Cullen) are cold and indifferent, having learned to live life without him. Determined to win back their affections, Jimmy decides to stick to the terms of his parole and avoid everyone from his criminal past.

But when Jimmy finds out that his beloved granddaughter is now a drug user and runaway, he’s determined to do anything he can to bring her home—even if it means getting involved with the very man who landed him in jail.  Ray Winstone delivers an arresting performance as a man who will go to extraordinary lengths for his family.

Includes the episodes:

  • Episode One: Jimmy Rose is released from prison following a 12-year stretch for armed robbery and can’t wait to get home. Despite his grandson Elliot’s excitement and his daughter Julie’s happiness at having her father home after suffering a painful divorce, his homecoming is ruined by his wife Jackie’s distance. His granddaughter Ellie and his estranged son Joe are also notably absent. Jackie ends up admitting to Jimmy that she doesn’t know if she loves him anymore and he is left feeling devastated. He ends up reluctantly accepting a zero hour contract at a DIY store a world away from anything he’s ever known. Jimmy also tracks Ellie down and finds out that she is taking drugs and decides to try and help her. After he confronts her suppliers he is beaten unconscious.
  • Episode Two: Jimmy witnesses a local drug dealer meeting Tony whose violent actions cause to an increase in his sentence. After he finds out that Ellie and Aaron are in trouble because of his actions, Jimmy is forced to think about working with Tony once again. Jackie has a run in with the police and is forced to lie to them, leaving her believing that her husband cannot change his ways.
  • Episode Three: In exchange for the youngsters’ drug debt being written off Jimmy agrees to an assignment for Chivers though he refuses to carry a gun. The family is more cordial towards him after he has saved Roy, who has had a heart attack, but a concerned Jackie persuades Steve to ask Jimmy to be an informant on the drug dealers. Jimmy is not easily convinced but he does speak with Steve. That night he joins Chivers for the crucial deal – robbing a rival gang, which goes according to plan. However Jimmy has to prove whether he will cooperate with Steve and Jackie also has a decision to make regarding her future.

Turbo Kid

Epic Pictures/ Released 2/16/16

Turbo Kid follows “The Kid,” (Munro Chambers) an orphan left to survive on his own through drought-ridden nuclear winter, traversing the Wasteland on his BMX, scavenging for scraps to trade for a scant supply of water in a 1997, ruined post-apocalyptic world. When his perpetually chipper, pink-haired new best friend Apple (Laurence Leboeuf) is kidnapped by a minion of evil overlord Zeus (Michael Ironside), The Kid summons the courage of his comic book hero and prepares to deliver turbocharged justice to Zeus, his buzzsaw-handed sidekick Skeletron, and their vicious masked army. Extras include commentaries, making of, original short, mini docs, still galleries, trailers and festival introductions.

Last Word: Turbo Kid takes place in the apocalyptic wasteland that is 1997 where wars and pollution have wiped out most of mankind and left the remaining few to scavenge the Earth in search of usable supplies and clean water. The Kid is one such scavenger, finding what he can trade for water while also building his collection of Turbo Rider comic books and toys.

One day the Kid meets a strange and enthusiastic girl named Apple who declares him to be her new friend and immediately attaches a tracking device to him. While scavenging one day Apple is kidnapped by the evil overlord Zeus to take part in his blood sports. While fleeing the Kid stumbles across the resting place of the real Turbo Rider and now armed with his suit and weaponry Turbo Kid sets out to save Apple and along with the Cowboy, also known as Frederic the Arm Wrestler, they will set out to take down Zeus and his main henchman Skeletron. This is hands down the most fun I’ve had watching a film in some time and by far the best of the recent wave of eighties throwbacks.

The crew of Turbo Kid really put their research time in and mined numerous genres for a wealth of inspiration and visual cues, this film is so ripe with references to other films that barely a scene goes by without one. The three director team of François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell present a fully formed homage that also operates as it’s own entity in a way that most homage’s fail to do, the story and characters may seem simple on the surface but there is depth and emotion where there needs to be and over the gore and laughs everywhere else.  The visuals are stunning as they found some great locations to approximate a wasteland while the synth score comes off as genuine and natural to the film unlike in some other recent films that just shoved a synth score in for retro points.

And it’s also worth noting that Jean-Philippe Bernier who shot the film also did the score along with Jean-Nicolas Leupi as Le Matos. Along with the look and feel of the film the acting was perfect for what Turbo Kid was meant to represent, a great blend of awkward and well timed over acting sets the perfect tone for the story. Not bad for a film that started as T Is For Turbo, an ABC’s Of Death contest entry. If you can’t tell I am recommending that you check this film out as soon as possible as Turbo Kid is destined to be one of my favorite films of the year! ( – Joshua Gravel)

Victoria

Kino Lorber/ Released 2/16/16

This film is not a movie; it’s not about a bank robbery. It is bank robbery. Victoria was shot in one single take. Two hours and eighteen minutes. No cuts. No CGI. No cheap tricks. No expensive ones, either. Just one shot.

Victoria, a young woman from Madrid, meets four local Berliners outside a nightclub. Sonne and his friends promise to show her a good time and the real side of the city. But these lads have gotten themselves into hot water: they owe someone a dangerous favor that requires repaying that evening. As Victoria’s flirtation with Sonne deepens into something more, he convinces her to come along for the ride. And later, when things become more ominous and possibly lethally dangerous for Sonne, she insists on coming along. As the night takes on an ever more menacing character, what started out as a good time, quickly spirals out of control. As dawn approaches, Victoria and Sonne address the inevitable: it’s all or nothing and they abandon themselves to a heart-stopping race into the depths of hell.

The Beast – The Complete Series

Mill Creek / Released 2/16/16

Veteran FBI agent Charles Barker, who isn’t afraid to break rules to get the job done, trains new rookie partner Ellis Dove in his pushing-the-envelope style of agenting. But if Dove is having trouble learning the ropes, it could be because he’s a little distracted: An FBI Internal Affairs team that suspects Barker may have gone rogue is pressuring Dove to work as a double agent and keep them posted on his mentor.

Includes the episodes:

  • Pilot: The mischievous Barker hazes Dove as they go undercover on their first case to infiltrate a weapons smuggling ring.
  • Two Choices: Barker and Ellis are assigned to take down a major drug trafficking ring.
  • Nadia: Barker and Ellis take on one of the nastiest and sleaziest rackets in the world–human trafficking.
  • Infected: Barker’s old pal, Marcus, a security guard at ritzy jewelry store, gets Barker and Ellis involved in a nerve-wracking case involving millions of dollars and a deadly virus.
  • Bitsy Big-Boy: May Nan Nhung, a top nuclear physicist, has been doing some dangerous research, and now somebody’s trying to kill her.
  • Hothead: There’s nothing more dangerous than an FBI agent who’s gone rogue, and Frank Oland may be one of them.
  • Capone: A fellow agent vanishes, sending Barker undercover to infiltrate a group of Latino drug dealers who may have something to do with the man’s disappearance. Lou Diamond Phillips guest stars.
  • Mercy: Homeless veterans are being murdered, sending Barker undercover as a homeless man to investigate. Ellis, a veteran himself, takes the case very personally.
  • The Walk In: Barker and Ellis investigate a Chinese spy posing as a university professor. Adding difficulty to the probe is a fellow agent who doubts Ellis’ abilities and attempts to sabotage his work.
  • Tilt: Barker and Ellis infiltrate a high-stakes poker game to sniff out the assassin who’s after an informant who’s about to enter the witness protection program. 
  • My Brother’s Keeper: Barker goes after an Irish crime family seeking to expand their business from Chicago to Wall Street. 
  • Counterfeit: Having been set up as a murderer, Barker finds himself on the lam, and the Bureau has a relentless agent hunting him down.
  • No Turning Back: Barker gets a list of six names of people who were involved in the Red Gauntlet operation, and he and Ellis, with help from Todd and Conrad, must track them down before they can get to Barker.

Fargo: Year 2

MGM / Released 2/23/16

The all new “true crime” case in Fargo‘s latest chapter takes you back to 1979 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Luverne, Minnesota. “Lou Solverson” (Patrick Wilson), a young State Police Officer recently back from Vietnam, investigates a case involving a local crime gang, a major mob syndicate and a small town beautician “Peggy Blumquist” (Kirsten Dunst) along with her husband “Ed” (Jesse Plemons), the local butcher’s assistant. Helping Lou piece things together is his father-in-law, “Sheriff Hank Larsson” (Ted Danson). The investigation will lead them to a colorful cast of characters that includes “Karl Weathers” (Nick Offerman), the town lawyer of Luverne, Minnesota. A Korean War vet, Karl is a flowery drunk blessed with the gift of gab and the eloquence of a true con artist.

Three-time Emmy winner Brad Garrett plays “Joe Bulo,” the front man for the northern expansion of a Kansas City crime syndicate. The new face of corporate crime, Joe’s bringing a Walmart mentality to small town America. His number two is “Mike Milligan” (Bokeem Woodbine). Part enforcer, part detective, Mike is always smiling – but the joke is usually on you. Bulo and his crew have their sights set on the Gerhardt crime family in Fargo, currently led by matriarch “Floyd Gerhardt” (Jean Smart). With her husband at death’s door, Floyd takes over the family business, frustrating her eldest son, “Dodd Gerhardt” (Jeffrey Donovan). An impatient hothead with a cruel streak to match his ambitions, Dodd can’t wait for both his parents to die so he can take over and expand their business from kingdom to empire. “Bear Gerhardt” (Angus Sampson) is the middle son, an intimidatingly large man who, although inarticulate, is the most decent of his clan. “Rye Gerhardt” (Kieran Culkin), the youngest of the Gerhardt clan, views himself as a big shot, but in reality he’s just a small dog with a loud bark. Extras include interviews, featurettes, Bruce Campbell commentary, and tv commercial.

Includes the episodes:

  • Waiting for Dutch: In 1979, an unexpected turn of events at a diner disrupts the lives of the citizens in a small Minnesota town.
  • Before the Law: The Gerhardts get a surprising offer, and two unlikely murderers do their best to clean up their mess.
  • The Myth of Sysiphus: The Gerhardts’ search for Rye intensifies, Lou takes a trip to Fargo, and Peggy overhears a new theory about the Waffle Hut shooter.
  • Fear and Trembling: Floyd responds to Kansas City’s proposal, Hanzee takes a road trip, and Lou has a realization.
  • The Gift of the Magi: Floyd takes action, and Charlie tries to prove himself. Peggy and Ed disagree about what to do next, while Lou finds himself sidelined during Ronald Reagan’s campaign tour.
  • Rhinoceros: Lou and Hank try to prevent an altercation, Peggy and Ed defend their choices and the Gerhardt clan attempts to get back one of their own.
  • Did You Do This? No, You Did It!: Lou and Hank investigate in Fargo, The King of Breakfast visits Betsy and Molly, Floyd is summoned away and Bear questions a family member’s loyalty.
  • Loplop: Hanzee searches for Peggy and Ed. Dodd ends up in unfamiliar territory.
  • The Castle: Peggy and Ed agree to follow through with their plan at the Motor Motel, Lou faces jurisdictional politics and Hanzee reports back to the Gerhardts.
  • Palindrome: Peggy and Ed make a run for it.

Secret in Their Eyes

Universal / Released 2/23/16

Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and Academy Award winners Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts star in this intense, haunting thriller that explores the murky boundaries between justice and revenge. A tight-knit team of rising investigators Ray (Ejiofor), Jess (Roberts) and their supervisor (Kidman) – is torn apart when Jess’s teenage daughter is brutally and inexplicably murdered. After obsessively searching for the elusive killer every day for 13 years, Ray finally uncovers a new lead that he’s certain will resolve the case. No one is prepared, however, for the shocking secret that will reveal the enduring, destructive effects of personal vengeance on the human soul. Extras include featurettes and commentary.

Last Word: What would you do if the love of your life, the reason you exist, was suddenly ripped from your arms? Would you slowly start to rebuild your life while mourning their death or would you stop at nothing to find their killer and bring them to justice?

This is what Billy Ray’s Secret in Their Eyes asks. Based on a 2005 novel originally titled La pregunta de sus ojos (The Question in Their Eyes) by author Eduardo Sacheri, Julia Roberts plays Jess, an FBI agent who has her world turned upside down when her daughter is found brutally murdered and thrown in the dump behind a mosque. From there, the team of investigators: Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Jess, and the District Attorney supervisor, Claire (Nicole Kidman), deal with the legalities of making a case against a suspect and the complications of dealing with a government informant and sabotage.

Overcome with grief and seeking vengeance, Jess becomes a tormented shell of her former self while Ray is determined to find the killer. The plot thickens when the timeline goes back-and-forth between the present and thirteen years forward when Ray discovers a clue that can solve this case for good. However, there’s a more crippling secret that could forever change the lives of everyone involved.

Secret in Their Eyes is an uneven, multi-layered drama that rests heavily on the shoulders of Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor, with everyone else playing forgettable characters. This unnecessary remake of the 2009 film is tedious at its core and struggles at best with trying to insert an ounce of suspense. Instead of focusing on the psychology and thrill of a cat-and-mouse game, it becomes a day in the life of mundane police work filled with bored cops, yawn-filled crimes, and criminals. However, there are small moments (few and far between) when life is breathed into these elements, making the film watchable. The pure suffocation of depression that hangs in the air and touches every facet of the film somehow draws the audience in.

Knowing its strengths, the film relies heavily on the consequences of Jess who is trying to cope with her daughter’s death. When the audience isn’t suffering from the stale nature of police work, or the sloppy editing of certain scenes, they will feel the overcoming nature of grief, guilt, and quiet anger. Roberts shines as a mother mourning in silence. Her once bright smile and rosy cheeks are replaced with an ashen, gaunt blank stare. While she’s present, she’s never fully there as her mind drifts away to thoughts of her daughter. Whether or not this is a ploy to force emotions on the audience it’s better than the alternative: the audience falling asleep.

Ejiofor, as a man on a mission, also shines. There’s a secret he, too, is hiding and his unspoken guilt is eating away at his soul. However, instead of letting it consume him, it fuels his quest. He brings a shining light to Roberts’ black hole. Everyone else never had a chance as they drown in the staleness. Kidman, as the current District Attorney, has an unspoken attraction to Ray driven by stares and deep silence. However, the lack of chemistry is screaming louder than Kidman’s Botox. Their unrequited love story is bashed to death through a series of repetitive storylines, where the characters seem unable to escape this endless loop of suffering.

Secret in Their Eyes is a shell of both the novel and the film it’s based on. The twist at the end of the previous versions felt like justice smiling upon the audience. Here, it’s more of “it’s over now, please go home.” There’s not much that drives the film. Besides Ejiofor and Roberts, there’s nothing that makes you want to continue watching.

The film is simply force-feeding sloppy emotions driven by words on the page. It doesn’t allow anyone to breathe as it tries to balance too may themes at once. It drags way too long instead of capitalizing on terrorism, murder, policing, obsession, guilt, and regret. Instead, it’s replaced with punishing the audience for simply being fooled by its tantalizing title. (– Dana Abercrombie)

Jesus Of Nazareth: The Complete Miniseries

Shout! Factory/ Released 2/23/16

The life of Jesus is majestically and movingly portrayed in one of the most magnificent miniseries ever created.

Acclaimed director Franco Zeffirelli and an all-star cast come together to deliver a powerful adaptation of the Gospels in 1977’s Jesus Of Nazareth. From the Nativity to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, the life of Jesus (played by Robert Powell) is presented with stunning depth, gravity, and emotion. Acclaimed by critics and viewers alike, Jesus Of Nazareth remains one of the finest depictions of the story of Christ nearly forty years after its release.

Olivia Hussey, Anne Bancroft, Ernest Borgnine, Valentina Cortese, James Earl Jones, James Mason, Ian McShane, Christopher Plummer, Donald Pleasance, and Sir Laurence Olivier co-star in this rewarding, uplifting and faith-affirming portrayal.

The Serpent and the Rainbow

Shout! Factory/ Released 2/23/16

Wes Craven (A Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream) directs this terrifying story of one man’s nightmarish journey into the blood-curdling, deadly world of voodoo.

Somewhat based on the true-life experiences of ethnobotanist Wade Davis, this provocative horror outing is set in Haiti and offers a fascinating look into the voodoo cult and the making of zombies. Davis’ book was a serious examination of the zombie phenomenon, but the film adds plenty of horror elements to sensationalize it. He was sent to Haiti by a drug company to see if there was a pharmacological explanation for the walking dead, but once there, he finds that the practitioners and the locals will do anything to keep him from learning their secrets.

A Harvard anthropologist (Bill Pullman, Lake Placid, Independence Day) is sent to Haiti to retrieve a strange powder that is said to have the power to bring human beings back from the dead. In his quest to find the miracle drug, the cynical scientist enters the rarely seen netherworld of walking zombies, blood rites and ancient curses.

Based on the true-to-life experiences of Wade Davis, starring Cathy Tyson (Mona Lisa), Zakes Mokae (Dust Devil, Waterworld), Paul Winfield (The Terminator, Damnation Alley) and Michael Gough (Horror of Dracula, Batman), and filmed on location in Haiti, it’s a frightening excursion into black magic and the supernatural! Extras include commentary, making of, gallery, tv spot and trailer.

Woman in the Moon

Kino Lorber / Released 2/23/16

Two years after revolutionizing the science fiction film with his epic Metropolis, director Fritz Lang revisited the genre with an ambitious spectacle that dramatizes the first lunar expedition. Rather than a flight of pure fantasy, Lang, screenwriter Thea von Harbou and a group of technical consultants conceived a modernized “Trip to the Moon” grounded in state-of-the-art astrophysics. Spiced with romance and espionage (including a network of diabolical super-spies straight out of Lang’s Mabuse films), Woman in the Moon was one of the most influential science fiction films of its era. Extras include documentary.

Spies

Kino Lorber / Released 2/23/16

Having defined the espionage genre with Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, Fritz Lang returned to the genre with this surprisingly fast-paced and remarkably grim thriller. Rudolf Kleine-Rogge stars as Haghi, the head of an elaborate criminal empire, and Willy Fritsch is the undercover agent assigned to topple the diabolical king from his throne. Filled with the sexual intrigue and high-tech gadgetry that continue to define the genre, Spies remains remarkably contemporary, more than 85 years after its original release. Extras include feature length documentary.

The Curse / Curse II: The Bite

Shout! Factory / Released 2/23/16

The Curse
Life on the family dairy farm is difficult for young Zach Hayes (Wil Wheaton, Stand by Me): hard work, long hours and the normal family squabbles. But after an ice-blue meteor plunges through the midnight sky and lands on their property, it gets worse. Zach and the local doctor discover that something inside the meteor is infecting every living thing on the farm. Fruits, which look perfect on the outside are teeming with worms… and Zach’s family is beginning to change… hideously! This shocker is directed by actor David Keith (Firestarter, White of the Eye) and co-stars Claude Akins (Tentacles), Malcolm Danare (Christine), Cooper Huckabee (The Funhouse) and John Schneider (Smallville).

Curse II: The Bite
Two young lovers, Clark (J. Eddie Peck, Kyle XY) and Lisa (Jill Schoelen, The Stepfather), traveling through the desert unwittingly pass through an abandoned nuclear test site which has become a breeding ground for deadly mutant killer snakes. When Clark is bitten, he undergoes a grotesque transformation into a hideous snake monster! This chiller filled with slithering horror also stars Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H), Shiri Appleby (Roswell) and Bo Svenson (Walking Tall Part II).

Millennium / R.O.T.O.R.

Shout! Factory / Released 2/23/16

Millennium
Leap into thrilling, time-traveling mayhem with Millennium. When safety investigator Bill Smith (Kris Kristofferson, Blade) looks into a disastrous airplane crash, he soon makes a shocking discovery – one that will impact the future of humanity itself. The beautiful but mysterious Louise (Cheryl Ladd, Charlie’s Angels) may prove to be the key to it all – but can Smith figure out the truth in time? Daniel J. Travanti (Hill Street Blues) also stars in this centuries-spanning tale from the director of Logan’s Run.

R.O.T.O.R.
Gear up for a cult classic you’ve got to see to believe: R.O.T.O.R! When corrupt Police Commander Earl Buglar (Michael Hunter) orders the development and construction of the ultimate weapon in the war on crime, robotics expert Barrett Coldyron (Richard Gesswin) warns against the dangers of such a project – and loses his job in the process. But when the prototype R.O.T.O.R (Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research) is accidentally activated, the city is suddenly faced with a rampaging mechanical maniac acting as judge, jury, and executioner – and only Coldyron can stop him!

Moonwalkers

Millennium Ent. / Released 2/23/16

After failing to locate the legendary Stanley Kubrick, an unstable CIA agent (Ron Perlman) must instead team up with a seedy rock band manager (Rupert Grint) to develop the biggest con of all time – staging the moon landing. Extras include deleted scenes, making of and interviews.

Last Word:  Did Stanley Kubrick fake the 1969 moon landing? That’s what one of the overly obsessed fans in Room 237 movie believed The Shining was really about and he’s not the only one who clings to that far-out theory. Moonwalkers takes that “what if” premise and has some fun with it: What if NASA was trying to cover its bases in case the mission tanked?

What if they turned to a highly unstable CIA agent (Perlman) to recruit the famous director to film a back-up, just in case?  And what if ne’er-do-well band manager Jonny (Grint) somehow takes the meeting instead of his agent cousin and passes off his druggie friend Leon (Sheehan) as Kubrick?

Add in a suitcase full of cash, a debt owed to some brutal gangsters, a hippie art commune happy to help make a movie about the moon and a lead singer who thinks the whole show is all about him and you’ve got a fairly entertaining (if wildly far-fetched) lark. Is it plausible that Perlman (who’s dangerously unhinged by his experiences in Vietnam) trusts a group of hippies to pull off this crucial mission?

Not remotely, nor is the fact that the film the commune makes is actually quite close to the real thing.  But it’s amusing to see Perlman forced to don a flowery hippie shirt, take an accidental drug trip and still outgun what seems like every gangster in England. Grint, as always, makes a likeable (if not quite on-the-ball) protagonist and Robert Sheehan is funny as the always high Leon. ( – Joshua Gravel)

Racing Extinction 

Lionsgate Films / Released 2/23/16

Academy Award-winning director Louie Psihoyos (Best Documentary, The Cove, 2009), producer Fisher Stevens (TV’s “The Blacklist”), and the Oceanic Preservation Society go undercover once again to expose the hidden, illegal world of the animal trade and other human activities that are leading us toward a rapid mass extinction in Racing Extinction. The revealing documentary features conservationist Jane Goodall, Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk and professional race car driver Leilani Münter discussing what they are doing to save the planet.

Director Louie Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society go on the most high-tech, covert operation ever for an inside look at the hidden world of endangered species and a detailed analysis of the astronomical industrial growth that is changing the chemistry of the entire planet. Using hidden cameras and numerous high-tech tactics to infiltrate the world’s most dangerous black markets to document the link between carbon emissions and species extinction, the documentary reveals stunning, never-before-seen images that truly change the way we see the world. Extras include virtual field trip.

Frankenstein

Millennium Ent. / Released 2/23/16

Set in present day Los Angeles, Frankenstein is told entirely from the perspective of the Monster. After he is artificially created, then left for dead by a husband-and-wife team of eccentric scientists, Adam is confronted with nothing but aggression and violence from the world around him. This perfect creation-turned disfigured monster must come to grips with the horrific nature of humanity. Frankenstein stars Carrie-Anne Moss, Xavier Samuel, Danny Huston, and Tony Todd.

Entertainment

Magnolia / Released 2/23/16

Based on Gregg Turkington’s stand-up character Neil Hamburger, an aging comedian tours the California desert, lost in a cycle of third-rate venues, novelty tourist attractions, and vain attempts to reach his estranged daughter. By day, he slogs through the barren landscape, inadvertently alienating every acquaintance. At night, he seeks solace in the animation of his onstage persona. Fueled by the promise of a lucrative Hollywood engagement and the possibility of rekindling a relationship with his daughter, he trudges through a series of increasingly surreal and volatile encounters. Extras include deleted and extended scenes.

Carole King: Natural Woman

Virgil Films / Released 2/23/16


Carole King: Natural Woman is a celebration of the legendary singer-songwriter’s life and career, from 1960s New York to the music mecca of ’70s Los Angeles to the present. King joins collaborators and family in new interviews, while rare home movies, performances and photos complete the tapestry.

King rose to prominence as a young composer who, with lyricist and husband Gerry Goffin, created dozens of hits (recorded by various artists) that became part of the soundtrack to the early 1960s, including “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Chains,” “The Loco-Motion,” “Go Away Little Girl” and “One Fine Day.”

King and Goffin wrote the classics “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” for Aretha Franklin and “Pleasant Valley Sunday” for the Monkees before King became a solo artist in 1970 and a year later released the landmark album Tapestry. Led by the singles “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move,” the album held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s chart for months, remained on the charts for six years and has sold 25 million copies.

Carole King’s remarkable story is told in the current Broadway and touring smash hit Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. King has won four Grammy Awards, is a member of Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She received the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (the first woman so honored) and was a 2015 Kennedy Center Honoree. Carole King: Natural Woman tells the whole story, interlaced with the music that has thrilled and moved generations. Extras include four bonus songs: “Tapestry,” “So Far Away,” “I Feel the Earth Move” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

My All American

Universal / Released 2/23/16

From Angelo Pizzo, the writer of Hoosiers and Rudy, My All American tells the true story of Freddie Steinmark. Although deemed too small as an athlete, Freddie (Finn Wittrock) dreams of playing football and brings a fight to the game that is noticed by legendary coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart), leading to a scholarship to play college football. With dedication and grueling practices, a victorious season is within reach, but Freddie then receives a shocking diagnosis and discovers what it truly means to have the heart of a champion. Extras include featurettes.

My Boyfriend’s Back

Mill Creek / Released 3/1/16

Teenager Johnny Dingle will do anything to keep his date with the hottest girl in school – even come back from the grave! You see, Johnny had the perfect scheme to win the heart of Missy McCloud, the town beauty. Unfortunately, Johnny’s scam goes sour and he winds up dead! Even so, Johnny’s determined to keep his date – unaware of the hilarity waiting for him upon his return! See for yourself why everyone’s dying to see this outlandishly funny comedy.  Directed by Bob Balaban, My Boyfriend’s Back features a strong ensemble including  Edward Herrmann, Mary Beth Hurt, Jay O. Sanders, Paul Dooley, Austi Pendleton, and Cloris Leachman and early performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Fox, and Matthew McConaughey.

Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! Season One Part One

Warner Bros. / Released 2/23/16

The Scooby gang is back with a modern comedic twist on the beloved classic (and a redesign that looks like it came out of Seth MacFarlane’s creatively defunct hand) . After finishing up their senior year of high school, the Scooby-Doo-gang decide to travel in the Mystery Machine, seeking fun and adventure during what could possibly be their last summer together. However, monsters prevent them from completing their journey.

Includes the episodes:

  • Mystery-101: In the series premiere episode, Velma’s got an interview at the prestigious Kingston University, the most selective school in the country. The only catch? The dean wants her and the rest of the Scooby gang to figure out why the ghost of Elias Kingston, the school’s founder, is haunting Kingston’s book-filled halls!
  • Game of Chicken: Fred gets a call for help from Chuck, his daredevil of a best friend, leading the gang on a rescue mission deep into caverns of an ancient civilization that worships chickens.
  • All Paws on Deck: The gang climbs aboard the cruise ship run by Fred’s cousin despite Velma’s strong dislike of water.
  • Poodle Justice: The gang visits the set of Scooby’s favorite TV show and he meets a dog actress who plays a detective on the show.
  • Grand Scam: Shaggy takes the gang to the Minor League Baseball stadium of his youth only to learn it’s about to be shut down because a ghostly baseball player is scaring away all the fans.
  • Trading Chases: Fred and the Gang go to the history of mysteries museum. When the God Sobek trashes the Egypt Exhibit the tour guide offer challenges Fred’s leadership and leads the Gang.
  • Be Quiet Scooby-Doo!: To solve the mystery of a creepy Crystal Crawler – a bat-like cave monster – the Gang must venture into the Crystal Canopy – a labyrinth of intricate crystal formations. To make things worse, they can’t speak a word while in the Canopy, because even the slightest sound will bring the crystals crashing down around them!
  • Party Like It’s 1899: Daphne brings the gang to a Victorian murder mystery party, so they can dress up and solve a fake mystery for once. But when an actual Headless Count starts kidnapping people for real, the gang must stay in character as they tackle the real caper!
  • Screama Donna: To solve the mystery of a ghostly performer haunting her former venue, the Gang has to pretend to be a rock band themselves! But can they solve the case before Velma has to actually get on stage and sing?
  • Kitchen Frightmare: Shaggy and Scooby’s favorite chef is finally opening his own restaurant but a monstrous Yeti threatens the opening night. The gang has to solve the mystery before dessert is served, while Shaggy and Scooby have to resist eating all the food that’s meant for the customers!
  • Me, Myself and Al: The gang visits a technology company to solve the mystery of an evil robot who has been wreaking havoc.
  • Area 51 Adjacent: Daphne had always dreamed of meeting extraterrestrial life, but that dream becomes a nightmare when the gang gets caught up in the mystery of a scary alien monster and brought to Area 53 – a government facility so secret, it’s two numbers higher than Area 51!
  • When There’s a Will, There’s a Wraith: It’s a classic haunted house caper when a rich man, whose life Scooby once saved, writes Scooby into his will! Now, to collect his share of the fortune the gang must spend a night in a creepy mansion along with the rich man’s kooky relatives and a spooky phantom!
  • If You Can’t Scooby-Doo the Time, Don’t Scooby-Doo the Crime: Fred takes the gang to visit The Vault, an old prison that is haunted by the ghost of Stealin’ Stan, who died trying to escape from the prison.

I Smile Back

Broad Green Pictures / Released 2/23/16

Laney (Sarah Silverman) is an attractive, intelligent suburban wife and devoted mother of two adorable children. She has the perfect husband (Josh Charles) who plays basketball with the kids in the driveway, a pristine house, and a shiny SUV for carting the children to their next activity. However, just beneath the façade lie depression and disillusionment that send her careening into a secret world of reckless compulsion. Only very real danger will force her to face the painful root of her destructiveness and its crumbling effect on those she loves. Extras include conversation with Sarah Silverman.

Youth

20th Century Fox / Released 3/1/16

Academy Award Winner Michael Caine joins Oscar Nominee Harvey Keitel in this beautiful, engaging film from Paolo Sorrentino. When two longtime friends -renowned conductor Fred Ballinger (Caine) and acclaimed filmmaker Mick Boyle (Keitel) – vacation at a serene Swiss Alps resort, their serenity is cut short by family crises and sudden demands. Ultimately the men realize that sometimes our most important experiences come later in this lush film about life, love, death and art, also starring Oscar Winners Rachel Weisz and Jane Fonda. Extras include featurettes and trailer.

Last Word: Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth opens with a singer belting out a tune on a sort of lazy susan, rotating in an opulent and colorful terrace before a grand hotel in a remote part of the Swiss Alps. The camera sits static, observing the singer up close as the terrace and resort spin around her as she sings. At first, we wonder why this creative decision was made, but as the camera sits, lingering on her face, a strange thing happens: we begin to wonder about her, what her story is and how she came to be singing on this platform in a beautiful terrace in front of a prestigious Swiss resort. The longer Sorrentino plants the camera on this singer’s face, the more I personally grew attached to her, like two patrons at a bar locking eyes for just a little too long. I wanted to explore this character’s life and find out what exactly led her to where she is in life in that moment. That feeling doesn’t fade away, as it becomes somewhat of a theme for the rest of the movie.

Youth’s theme and central idea isn’t exactly tough to pick out based on the name alone. It’s the focus of not only the movie itself but of the characters. Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel play Fred Ballinger and Mick Boyle, respectively. Ballinger is an older retired concert director and composer and all-around music aficionado while Boyle is an older film director working on his next script with a small gang of co-writers. Both men have escaped life for a break at this prestigious resort deep in the Swiss Alps, although Fred’s escape was mostly forced by his daughter and assistant, Lena, played by Rachel Weisz. Fred just wants to retire gracefully, but is frequently approached by the Queen of England’s emissary in the hopes that he’d return to the conductor’s spot for a go at one of his most iconic works, a work that he himself is almost solely remembered for. Each time this happens, Fred tells him to essentially buzz off, and when he’s not doing that, he oftentimes converses with fellow hotel guest Jimmy Tree, a young, famous movie star also only known for one major role, played by Paul Dano.

That is essentially where the plot ends, as Youth is more focused on exploration than hard storytelling itself. One of the biggest characters in the movie is the resort itself, and the camera elegantly takes its time floating about it, observing the other guests (mostly old) as they live their luxurious escape like cattle straight out of Metropolis. Guests line up, donned in soft white robes, to be led to their daily massages, swim sessions, and sauna trips. A mute couple frequently eats meals alone while sitting at the same table. A younger masseuse practices dance moves in her room off the clock. A monk sits outside on the lawn trying to levitate. It’s like a hazy dream coming to life as the camera explores all of it. It’s not crazy to attribute this to a striking influence from the late and great Federico Fellini, which Sorrentino has frequently stated is the case. Life in Youth does not begin and end with the lead characters, but the entire world breathes with activity and an individual sense of self. But the story is also about “youth,” of course, and these lounging and relaxing conversations these characters have primarily focus on the topic, be it the good and the bad.

At one point Keitel’s Mick points one of his disciples to a set of tourists’ binoculars and explains that the close-up view from the normal front is the future, for them, while the farther away view from the reverse side is the past. For him, however, it’s the opposite, with the far away representing the past while the close-up view is what’s coming. It’s a remarkable way to show that, for an aging individual, youth seems so far behind them as the time they have left is so close ahead of them. It’s a sobering concept, but with a special kind of beauty to it that only Sorrentino (with the help of Fellini) can capture. No director these days makes movies quite like Sorrentino, with his unique eye for rich composition and an editing style that includes that lingering and observing camera acting almost as a break from the action. Cinematographer Luca Bigazzi has no problem capturing the elegant beauty of the resort with his stylistic composition that watches the random guests go about their mundane routines, from the bedrooms to the bathhouses, to the dinner halls. Not one shot in Youth can be considered boring, and proves that Bigazzi works remarkably well with Sorrentino, as is evident by their work together in both Youth and Sorrentino’s two previous works The Great Beauty in 2013 and This Must Be The Place in 2011.

Almost every actor gives a remarkable performance in Youth, with Michael Caine giving one of his best. Paul Dano further proves to excel in range, from quietly subdued emotions to outbursts of rage. Harvey Keitel, like Caine, is always great, but I found his performance here to be lacking in authenticity quite a bit. In some scenes, this performance hole isn’t present but in others it’s very distracting. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what causes it, if perhaps it’s a character trait or fault in the acting itself, but if it is a character trait, it knocks down my appreciation for the character substantially. This can most easily be seen in the aforementioned binocular scene with the disciples. One particular standout is Jane Fonda, who enters late in the game as a famous actress frequently working with Mick, and only for a small bit of time, but leaves a substantial footprint by the time she exits.

What does it mean to age, and is it possible to hold onto that youth we had at the beginning? What does youth look like, and does it have a face? The latter question is more or less answered in a poster scene in which Fred and Mick are alone in a pool while the stunning Miss Universe joins them in the nude, and the astonished looks on the two men’s faces have all the answers you’d need to the question of youth’s physical form. The whole movie drips with references to the idea of age, the act of aging, and the idea of nostalgia or looking back at your life. Lena once names off the massages, doctor checkups, and other amenities she has set up for her father to “get back in shape” but Fred says in response “at my age getting back in shape is nearly a waste of time.” But Fred often visits -both mentally and physically- ways to stretch his musically creative mind on the property, so his priorities regarding what should and should not be “in shape” may take their own form. It’s not exactly a bad or depressing thing to be in this resort, but looking around may make you notice a pattern amongst the aged intellectual lodgers.

Like The Grand Beauty, Sorrentio again crafts a film that I highly suggest will be very divisive. The editing composition and choice of forms of narrative escape will certainly not be for everybody (they weren’t at all for me with The Great Beauty), and oftentimes these choices left me wondering just what the hell the point of making them were. Some people also prefer a much more centered and focused plot, while others like the idea of “exploring,” a term I’ve exhaustively overused here. The plot is there, but mostly seen through words rather than actions. All things considered, what the writer/director has done here is create a sort of hypnotic dreamscape among a palace in the clouds (or mountains, more literally) which takes its time exploring literally while letting you form questions in your own mind, and while it may leave it up to you to find the answers, this resort gives you all the amenities needed to leave you with a lasting impression. (– Steve Carley)

Strike Back Season 4

Cinemax / Released 3/1/16

Breakneck action and heart-pounding suspense is back in the fourth and final season of Cinemax’s first scripted primetime drama series, Strike Back. A high-octane, globe-spanning thriller, Strike Back focuses on two members of Section 20, a secret British anti-terrorist organization: Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), a consummate British soldier still struggling to overcome tragedy in his life, and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a disgraced U.S. Delta operative who has found redemption with S20. In these final episodes, Stonebridge, Scott and the rest of their team set out to crack a missing-persons case in Bangkok, where they quickly realize that what seems to be a simple kidnapping is actually the first step in a massive terrorist plot with global implications. They soon find themselves crisscrossing Asia and Europe as they battle Japanese Yakuza, Russian Mafia, cyberterrorists, elite mercenaries and other deadly. Extras include featurettes.

Includes the episodes:

  • Episode 31: Stonebridge, Scott and the S20 team get more than they bargained for when the daughter of the British Ambassador to Thailand is kidnapped.
  • Episode 32: Scott and Stonebridge are tasked to track down a gangster in Bangkok with intel on a global terrorist plot.
  • Episode 33: Framed in the death of a crime-syndicate boss, Section 20 hunts for a second North Korean spy in Bangkok and beyond.
  • Episode 34: With Scott rushing frantically to the scene, Section 20 close in on Shiro and Mei in Southern Thailand.
  • Episode 35: Scott and Stonebridge cross the North Korean border in hopes of spoiling a nuclear-weapons celebration.
  • Episode 36: In North Korea, Mei–now embracing her real name, Li-Na–is tasked by her mentor, Moon Young-Su, to pry a confession out of Scott and Stonebridge, using Finn as leverage. Meanwhile, Locke and Martinez recruit a familiar face in Russia.
  • Episode 37: In Vienna, Scott and Stonebridge tangle with North Korean renegades, the Russian mafia, and the world’s most dangerous bomb maker.
  • Episode 38: With an assist from Nina, Scott and Stonebridge track down Matthias, an eccentric young encryption analyst hired by Kwon and Li-Na to access vital nuclear-material codes. Later, Locke comes face-to-face with his nemesis.
  • Episode 39: On the trail of Li-Na and Kwan, Locke, Stonebridge and Scott play a hunch and head to Geneva, where a nuclear disarmament conference is taking place. A faceoff between Section 20 and the North Korean renegades ends in a flurry of gunfire–and betrayal.
  • Episode 40: Series finale. Gone to ground after a daring escape, Scott and Stonebridge try to elude a team of mercenaries in the Swiss Alps in order to bring a traitor to justice. With their ammunition nearly spent, the boys get help from an unexpected source.

Miss You Already

Lionsgate /Released 3/1/16

An honest and powerful story following two best friends, Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore), as they navigate life’s highs and lows. Inseparable since they were young girls, they can’t remember a time they didn’t share everything -secrets, clothes, even boyfriends — but nothing prepares them for the day Milly is hit with life-altering news. Miss You Already celebrates the bond of true friendship that ultimately can never be broken, even in life’s toughest moments. Extras include commentary, featurettes, music video and deleted scenes.

The Fall Series 1

Acorn Media / Released 3/1/16

A race against time between two hunters on opposite sides of the law.

Gillian Anderson (Great Expectations, The X-Files) is DSI Gibson, who arrives in Belfast on secondment from the Met to conduct a review into a high profile murder case where the police are getting nowhere. She quickly realizes that the case is linked to others and that there is a deadly serial killer at large. Jamie Dornan (Once Upon a Time, Shadows in the Sun) is the serial killer, Paul Spector who stalks his victims at random in and around Belfast.

Also starring Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), John Lynch (Labyrinth) and Laura Donnelly (Insatiable) and Written by Allan Cubitt (Prime Suspect 2, The Hanging Gale, The Boys Are Back), The Fall is a gripping psychological thriller that follows the police investigation uncovering the intricate story of the lives entangled by a series of murders – both the killer’s and the victims’ families. The clock is ticking…

Episodes include:

  • Dark Descent: When the investigation into a Belfast architect’s murder goes cold, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson arrives from London to lend her expertise. At the same time, Paul Spector outwardly a grief counselor and family man, secretly a depraved killer plans his next attack, on young lawyer Sarah Kay.
  • Darkness Visible: When Kay is found dead in her home, Gibson convinces the local police to put her in charge of the investigation, certain the crime betrays the work of a serial killer. Having taken a few keepsakes from his victim, Spector grows enraged when he suspects that his flirtatious babysitter has snooped in his office.
  • Insolence & Wine: Gibson’s relationship with detective James Olson comes under scrutiny in the wake of his assassination. Meanwhile, she holds a press conference alerting the city of Belfast that the three murders may be linked. On a visit to his in-laws’ house, Spector finds an empty shack and feverishly fantasizes about the victim he’s picked to take there.
  • My Adventurous Song: As the sordid details and big names attached to Olson’s death come out, the investigation takes a tragic toll. Gibson, however, catches a break: the killer contacts one of his victim’s families. But will she be able to act before another woman falls prey to Spector’s madness?
  • The Vast Abyss: The grisly aftermath of the latest attack reveals a foil to the killer’s plan. Frantic and infuriated, Spector flees the crime scene and hastily disposes of evidence, all while trying to keep his home life from falling apart. Gibson inches nearer to uncovering the perpetrator’s identity, but an unexpected turn brings them closer than ever.

The Fall Series 2

Acorn Media / Released 3/1/16

It’s been 10 days since serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey) fled Belfast, and Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Golden Globe winner Gillian Anderson, The X-Files) is running out of time to catch him. Then Spector commits a brazen crime to silence someone from his past, and Gibson finds crucial evidence that puts her hot on his trail once more. Anderson mesmerizes as the strong, self-possessed detective, while Dornan proves disturbingly charismatic as Spector, a man who is both a sadistic killer and a loving father. With vivid characterizations and heart-pounding storytelling, The Fall is an unforgettable psychological thriller. Extras include deleted scenes, behind the scenes and gallery.

Episodes include:

  • These Troublesome Disguises: Ten days after serial killer Paul Spector absconded to Scotland, the investigation into his crimes has stalled. Surviving victim Annie Brawley struggles to recall details about her ordeal, and Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson is running out of time and money to continue the search for Spector.
  • Night Darkens the Street: Paul abducts Rose Stagg, the woman he assaulted in college, in retaliation for her cooperating with the police. When Rose misses her appointment at the station, Gibson worries that she has endangered Rose. Meanwhile, Paul meets with Annie Brawley in his capacity as a grief counselor.
  • Beauty Hath Strange Power: Having identified Spector as the prime suspect, Gibson and her team set about tracing his tracks and trying to connect him to the murders. Spector finds an unlikely ally and undertakes some highly risky reconnaissance.
  • The Mind Is Its Own Place: Still reeling from the invasion of her hotel room, Gibson catches a break when she discovers that Spector is Annie Brawley’s grief counselor. She finally locates Spector and puts him under surveillance, but the discovery of a dead woman’s body could deal a heavy blow.
  • The Perilous Edge of Battle: As the police investigation closes in on him, Spector decides to destroy evidence and flee the country. When an old enemy disrupts his plans, Gibson and her team make their move.
  • What Is in Me Dark Illumine: The police interrogate Spector in custody, but he refuses to cooperate. In the end, Gibson must confront Spector herself if she has any hope of finding Rose Stagg before it’s too late.

Cop

Kino Lorber / Released 3/1/16

A killer on the loose! A cop on the edge! James Woods (The Onion Field) stars as a brilliant maverick police detective in this exciting, violent thriller with a hint of film noir. Police detective Lloyd Hopkins (Woods) doesn’t like to be told what to do, or what not to do. Stripped of his badge and gun, he pursues a killer no one thinks exists. By uncovering a secret hidden in a high-school yearbook, he will piece together seemingly unrelated clues to expose crimes dating back two decades. Based on the James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential) Best Seller, Blood on the Moon with a screenplay by producer and director James B. Harris (Fast-Walking). The strong supporting cast includes Lesley Ann Warren (Life Stinks), Charles Durning (The Rosary Murders), Charles Haid (TV’s Hill Street Blues) and Raymond J. Barry (Year of the Dragon). Extras include commentary and trailers.

The Boy

Shout! Factory / Released 3/1/16

From Elijah Wood’s SpectreVision and Chiller Films comes a disturbing new film exploring the birth of evil.  In the summer of 1989, nine-year-old Ted Henley (Jared Breeze, Cooties) and his father John (David Morse, True Detective, World War Z) are the proprietors of the Mt. Vista Motel, a crumbling resort buried in the mountains of the American West. Since Ted’s mother left, John has drifted into despondency – leaving Ted to fend for himself. In this isolation, unchecked by the bounds of parenting, Ted’s darker impulses begin to manifest. The arrival of a mysterious drifter, William Colby (Rainn Wilson, Cooties, The Office), captivates young Ted and the two form a unique friendship – setting the stage for Ted’s final, unnerving metamorphosis. Extras include behind the scenes footage.

Don Verdean

Lionsgate / Released 3/1/16

Don Verdean is a man of faith who has devoted his life to biblical archaeology, scouring the globe in search of artifacts that back up the teachings of Jesus Christ. Now, traveling from town to town, he and his devoted assistant, Carol, spread the gospel by peddling books and DVDs out of his shabby RV while his Holy Land contacts, Boaz and Shem, do the digging from afar. When evangelical preacher Tony Lazarus offers to bankroll Don’s modest roadside operation, the escalating pressure to find increasingly significant relics leads Don and his team down a less-than-righteous path. With more than just the word of God on the line, Don finds himself in the midst of a spiteful feud between two opposing congregations, leaving him to question what is truly important in life.  Don Verdean stars Sam Rockwell, Amy Ryan, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Bibb, with Will Forte, and Danny McBride. Extras include featurettes and commentary.

Taxi

Kino Lorber / Released 3/1/16

Internationally acclaimed director Jafar Panahi (This is Not a Film) drives a yellow cab through the vibrant streets of Tehran, picking up a diverse (and yet representative) group of passengers in a single day. Each man, woman, and child candidly expresses his or her own view of the world, while being interviewed by the curious and gracious driver/director. His camera, placed on the dashboard of his mobile film studio, captures a spirited slice of Iranian society while also brilliantly redefining the borders of comedy, drama and cinema. Extras include essay and trailer.

Sunshine Superman

Magnolia / Released 3/1/16

A heart-racing documentary portrait of Carl Boenish, the father of the CASE jumping movement, whose early passion for skydiving led him to ever more spectacular – and dangerous – feats. Experience his jaw-dropping journey in life and love, to the pinnacle of his achievements when he and wife Jean broke the BASE jumping Guinness World Record in 1984 on the Norwegian “Troll Wall” mountain range. Incredibly, within days, triumph was followed by disaster. Told through a stunning mix of Carl’s 16mm archive footage, well-crafter reenactments and state-of-the-art aerial photography, Sunshine Superman will leave you breathless and inspired. Extras include making of, film poems and trailer.

Lost in Hong Kong

Well Go USA / Released 3/1/16

Xu Lai had Dreams. He just wanted to be an Artist with a Hot Girlfriend. Now he designs bras, humors his baby-crazy wife, and caters to his loopy in-laws.

But he’s got a Secret Plan to find his Old Flame, and dodging his DVD-pirating, aspiring-documentarian brother-in-law may be the least of his problems. There’s been a murder, and his new Hot Pursuit… might just be from the cops.

Written, directed, produced and starring veteran actor Xu Zheng (Lost in Thailand, Breakup Buddies), Lost In Hong Kong is the hotly-anticipated sequel to the highest-grossing film in China’s history. Extras include making of, blooper reel and trailer.

In Defense of Food

PBS / Released 3/1/16

Join New York Times best-selling author Michael Pollan on a fascinating journey to answer the question: What should I eat to be healthy? Busting myths and misconceptions, In Defense of Food reveals how common sense and old-fashioned wisdom can help us rediscover the pleasures of eating and at the same time reduce our risks of falling victim to diet-related diseases.

Pollan’s journey of discovery takes him from the plains of Tanzania, where one of the world’s last remaining tribes of hunter-gatherers still eats the way our ancestors did, to Loma Linda, California, where vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists enjoy remarkable longevity, and eventually to Paris, where the French diet, rooted in culture and tradition, proves surprisingly healthy. Along the way, he shows how a combination of faulty nutrition science and deceptive marketing practices have encouraged us to replace real food with scientifically engineered “food-like substances.” And he explains why the solution to our dietary woes is in fact remarkably simple: Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.

Almost every day there’s a new headline about food. Eat more fiber. Drink less milk. Eggs are bad. Eggs are good. No wonder people are confused. In Defense of Food begins with an exploration of the kind of food most Americans eat today — known as the Western diet. It includes lots of meat, white flour, sugar and vegetable oils. It’s cheap, convenient and has been processed to taste really good. But the effects of the Western diet on health are not so tasty, including alarming increases in obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

So if the Western diet makes us sick, what kind of diet will make us healthy? Pollan’s search for the answer leads him to explore the kinds of food that come from nature.

And what nature provides is remarkably diverse. In the Andes, the Quechua people harvest potatoes and grains and eat only a small amount of meat. In East Africa, the Masai thrive on a diet consisting mostly of cattle blood milk, and meat. In the Arctic, the Inuit have long eaten tremendous amounts of fat from whales, seals and fish. And in Tanzania, members of the Hadza tribe are some of the last people on earth who still get their food the way our ancestors did: by hunting and gathering. Scientists who study the Hadza have found that they very rarely develop the diseases found in those who eat the Western diet, like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

What Pollan means by telling us to “eat food” is to eat what people ate for the thousands of years before we became dependent on processed foods. He believes that many of our troubles today stem from thinking about foods solely in terms of the nutrients that are in them — a tendency fueled by the food industry’s practice of making health claims on products based on the nutrients they’ve added (vitamins, fiber or Omega 3s) or taken away (most famously fat). But science shows that a wide variety of diets can be healthy, provided they consist of the kind of whole foods our species has evolved to eat, which include all of the nutrients we need.

The film examines everything from rising concerns about Omega 3s and 6s to what we’re learning about the biochemical roots of our craving for sugar — and how too much sugar can overwhelm our ability to process it. It looks at why nutritional guidelines that advised reducing fat in our diet had the unintended consequence of increasing obesity — as well as what the latest studies show about the benefits of a plant-based diet, and the role of the trillions of intestinal bacteria that inhabit all of us — an emerging new field of nutrition science that is changing the way scientists think about food and health. And it reveals how hidden environmental cues influence not only how much we eat but also what we eat.

Drawing conclusions from these findings, In Defense of Food offers viewers simple, practical advice on healthier eating. It’s indispensable viewing for anyone interested in the relationship between food and health.

“There are many aspects of our lives where we feel like we have very little power. But when it comes to food, we do have power,” says Pollan. “The rise of farmers markets, the rise of organic agriculture, the rise of the food movement — none of this was the result of government action. All of this was the result of consumers voting with their forks, signaling to farmers and the food industry they wanted something different. And this has created a multi-billion dollar alternative food economy. So we may be at a turning point.”

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants, is what our species has done for hundreds of thousands of years,” he adds. “So that advice is about as universal as any advice you could offer. It’s very rare in our lives where the answer to a complicated question is so simple, but when it comes to eating, it is.”

Weaponized

Released 3/1/16

After a blatant terrorist attack on the Pentagon, and the resulting new war on terror, private military contractor Kyle Norris (Tom Sizemore) facilitates the development of a bio-mechanical weapons program by Professor Clarence Peterson (Mickey Rourke). The next-gen program allows soldiers to swap consciousness with a target, giving them temporary, yet complete, control. While the program was intended to combat terrorists and safe guard American soldiers, abuse has been rampant. Enter down-and-out Detective Walker (Johnny Messner), who unwittingly stumbles upon the failing bio-weapons program, and he’s forced to fight to both shut it down and protect his young family from those who’ll stop at nothing to keep things moving forward. Extras include deleted scenes and trailer.

The Americans Season 3

20th Century Fox / Released 3/1/16

In the nail-biting third season of The Americans, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings’ (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) personal and professional worlds collide like never before. Exposure of their real identities as Russian spies looms as their friendship with FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) grows. Meanwhile, Stan’s past involvement with a double agent shakes up the bureau. And as the Jennings’ assignments grow riskier and more ethically questionable, they face mounting pressure to induct Paige into the KGB. Extras include deleted scenes and featurette.

Includes the episodes:

  • EST Men: Tensions simmer between Philip and Elizabeth as they disagree over handling orders from the Centre. When Elizabeth loses key intel, Philip enlists Annelise on a mission with an unexpected outcome.
  • Baggage: Elizabeth and Philip come together to deal with a mission gone wrong, but struggle to reconcile their increasingly opposing ideologies. Stan welcomes a Soviet defector, Zinaida, to America. Nina acclimates to her new living arrangements.
  • Open House: Danger mounts for Elizabeth and Philip as they get closer to the inner circle of the C.I.A. Afghan Group.
  • Dimebag: Philip faces a moral dilemma while developing an asset. Philip and Elizabeth’s friction escalates. Stan develops a theory with serious repercussions for national security. Paige makes a surprising birthday wish.
  • Salang Pass: Philip juggles the many women in his life while Elizabeth takes drastic measures to complete a mission. Stan asserts a plan to save Nina with an unlikely ally.
  • Born Again: Gabriel has surprising information. Elizabeth begins to take family matters into her own hands. Stan receives upsetting news from his past and turns to Sandra for support.
  • Walter Taffet: Philip and Elizabeth feel the weight of a new family secret while following up on the KGB’s interests in South Africa. Stan faces struggles both at work and at home. Martha confronts a shocking development.
  • Divestment: Martha and Clark’s marriage meets its most challenging test yet. As pressures on Philip intensify, Elizabeth turns to Gabriel with a difficult request. Nina receives a new assignment that reconnects her with her past.
  • Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?: Philip and Elizabeth struggle with the gravity of unexpected collateral damage. Stan and Oleg hatch a risky plan to help save Nina.
  • Stingers: Philip and Elizabeth deploy a plan for the C.I.A.’s Mujahideen visitors. Tensions at the Jennings’ home escalate.
  • One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov: Philip and Elizabeth’s home and work lives collide in new and dangerous ways. Nina struggles to figure out her next steps. Arkady assigns Oleg and Tatiana to an operation with uncertain potential.
  • I Am Abassin Zadran: Martha hosts an unexpected guest. Philip and Elizabeth must work a formidable Mujahideen commander. Paige acts out.
  • March 8, 1983: Elizabeth and Paige take a trip that lands them in treacherous territory. After an emotionally charged mission, Philip turns to an unlikely source for solace. Stan’s plan to save Nina culminates in unforeseen ways

LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales

Disney / Released 3/1/16

The fun begins following the victory celebration in the Ewok village on Endor, at the end of Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi. R2-D2 and C-3PO have gathered to regale Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca and the other Rebels with the tales of their adventures that led to the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. An accidental kidnapping occurs while the droids are reminiscing, and suddenly you’re taken on a new journey that leads to the retelling of the entire Star Wars saga, as told by R2-D2 and C-3PO! It’s hilarious and playful, packed with all your favorite interlocking characters. LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales is intergalactic thrills for the whole family!

Includes the episodes:

  • Exit from Endor: A mysterious figure steals a ship with R2-D2 in it.
  • Crisis on Coruscant: C-3PO and Ackbar pursue the Mysterious Figure.
  • Mission to Mos Eisley: C-3PO spots R2-D2 and his mystery kidnapper.
  • Flight of the Falcon: C-3PO picks up a faint signal from R2!
  • Gambit on Geonosis: Who is imprisoned in the Geonosis Battledroid factory?

Intruders

E1 Entertainment / Released 3/1/16

Anna suffers from agoraphobia so crippling that when a trio of criminals break into her house, she cannot bring herself to flee. But what the intruders don’t realize is that agoraphobia is not her only psychosis. Extras include featurette and commentary.

Last Word: Anna lives with and takes care of her terminally ill brother, Conrad, but also suffers from severe agoraphobia and has not left their home in over ten years.  Upon her brother’s death she is left the house and a sizeable amount of money, and when it is assumed that Anna will be at Conrad’s funeral, three men break into her house to rob her.  Once the three men realize that Anna is still in the house a tense game of “cat and mouse” plays out in the rather large maze like house, which is hiding more secrets than just Anna.

Intruders starts off as a seemingly run of the mill home invasion flick, but builds upon that now common premise to deliver a taut thriller with some well thought out twists. I made the mistake of watching the trailer for Intruders prior to watching the actual movie, which does the film a disservice, by giving away several key elements.  With these plot points revealed completely out of context, the story looks both implausible and hokey when in reality, writers T.J. Cimfel and David White did a pretty good job of providing characters with enough back story to justify their actions. First time feature director Adam Schindler delivers a tight story with a strong cast led by Beth Riegraf as Anna and a striking dramatic turn by comedic actor Martin Starr as one of the titular intruders. Overall, I was impressed with Intruders and look forward to future projects from those involved. ( – Joshua Gravel)

The Bold Ones: The New Doctors: The Complete Series

Shout! Factory / Released 3/1/16

Follow those who stand at the forefront of medicine in The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, the classic drama starring E.G. Marshall, John Saxon, and David Hartman. The series chronicled the inner workings of the prestigious David Craig Institute of New Medicine, where Dr. David Craig (Marshall) and his assistants Dr. Paul Hunter (Hartman) and Dr. Ted Stuart (Saxon) tackled the most challenging of cases. In stories which often reflected the societal concerns of the day as well as exploring the cutting edge of medical techniques, The New Doctors delivered on both an intellectual and emotional level throughout its entire run.

Co-created by television legend Stephen Bochco, The New Doctors was the only installment of The Bold Ones‘ rotating wheel of series to last the franchise’s entire run from 1969 to 1973. Top-quality direction by such names as Richard Donner (Superman: The Movie, Lethal Weapon), John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, WarGames) and Jerry Lewis (The Nutty Professor) as well as thoughtful and topical writing elevated the series over many of its contemporaries, and cemented The Bold Ones‘ reputation as one of the strongest examples of dramatic television of its time. Guest stars include Pat Hinge, Michael Lerner, JoAnna Cameron, Jane Wyman, Clu Gulager, Julie Adams, Leslie Nielsen, Raymond Burr, James Broderick, Jack Krugman, Kim Hunter, Karen Valentine, Lloyd Bother, Susan Clark, Ross Martin, Donna MIlls, Stefanie Powers, Carl Reiner, John Vernon, Ida Lupino, William Shatner, Lorraine Gary, Louis Gossett Jr., Richard Anderson, Mike Farrell, L.Q. Jones, Richard Dreyfuss, DeForest Kelley, McLean Stevenson, Dabney Coleman, Mariette Hartley, Della Reese, Kiel Martin, Shelley Morrison, Pernell Roberts, Loretta Swit, Milton Berle, Ron Howard, Vic Morrow, Vic Tayback, James Sikking, Ed Flanders, Katey Sagal, Brock Peters, Geri Reischl, Dick Shawn, Joan Van Ark, and Don Johnson. Extras include Ironside crossover episode.

Drunk History: Season 3

Comedy Central / Released 3/1/16

Everything looks better through beer goggles. Even history. Did you know that Roald Dahl was spy during World War II? Or that pinball was once illegal? Join Derek Waters, plus a host of comedians and A-list actors, as they time travel through history to reenact stories from American’s past. From the precolonial Southwest to the Civil War to the Cold War, storytellers will teach you things you never knew you didn’t know about our nation’s history.

In these 13 episodes, the show hits the road to visit New Jersey, Miami, New Orleans, Cleveland, Oklahoma, Los Angeles, New Mexico, Las Vegas, and even outer space. The narrators may also interrupt their stories to stroke Water’s face or throw him into their pool. Learning is more fun when the teacher is wasted. Extras include extended scenes, deleted scenes, unblurred episodes and more.

Guest stars include Greg Kinnear, Stephen Merchant, Justin Long, Jason Ritter, Tony Hale, Josh Hartnett, Maya Rudolph, David Koechner, Christopher Meloni, Jack McBrayer, Thomas Middleditch, Jason Momoa, Johnny Knoxville, Octavia Spencer, Alia Shawkat, Will Ferrell, Kat Dennings, Colin Hanks, Samm Levine, George Wallace, Ron Funches, Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Ryan Phillippe, Topher Grace, Taran Killam, Jake Johnson, Jaleel White, Michael Cera, Ellie Kemper, Natasha Leggero, Jason Alexander, Giancarlo Esposito, Jason Mantzoukas, Rob Huebel, Tom Lennon, Patton Oswalt, Parker Posey, Chris Parnell, Jason Ritter, Martin Starr, Michael McKean, Sam Rockwell, Donald Faison, Henry Winkler, Dennis Quaid Chelsea Peretti, Paul Scheer, Adam Devine, Blake Anderson and Nathan Fillion.

Includes the episodes:

  • New Jersey: Paleontologists Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope become rivals, and Penzias & Wilson discover the echo of the Big Bang. CC TV-14 September 1, Miami: Actor Clark Gable joins the Air Force during World War II, Ponce de Leon quarrels with Diego Columbus, and Griselda Blanco takes over the cocaine trade in Miami. 
  • New Orleans: Pirate John Lafitte helps Andrew Jackson defeat the British during the War of 1812, Sam Zemurray becomes a banana kingpin, and Louis Armstrong becomes a jazz legend.
  • Spies: Harriet Tubman provides military intel to the Union Army, Virginia Hall spies in France during World War II and becomes the first woman in the CIA, and Roald Dahl serves as a debonair British spy.
  • Cleveland: Wayne Wheeler becomes the face of Prohibition, Dorothy Fuldheim breaks barriers in news broadcasting, and Muhammad Ali refuses to fight in the Vietnam War.
  • Games: Milton Bradley popularizes board games, Roger Sharpe helps overturn a pinball ban, and chess master Bobby Fischer defeats Russian rival Boris Spassky during the Cold War.
  • Oklahoma: Kentucky Daisy stakes a claim to land, Gordon Cooper overcomes mechanical issues on a one-man space mission, and African-American Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves is the inspiration for the Lone Ranger.
  • Journalism: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland try to travel around the world in under 80 days, and Thomas Nast’s political cartoons lead to the downfall of Tammany Hall leader “Boss” Tweed.
  • Los Angeles: Vigilantes led by Andres Pico enact street justice, Rin Tin Tin becomes the world’s biggest movie star, and the construction of the L.A. aqueduct brings riches to city officials.
  • New Mexico: Popé leads the Pueblo Indians in a revolt, Boy Scouts founder Ernest Thompson Seton tracks a wolf, and the truth behind the Roswell UFO conspiracy is revealed.
  • Inventors: Alexander Graham Bell steals the original design for the telephone from Elisha Gray, and Thomas Edison tries to create a movie-making monopoly.
  • Las Vegas: J.T. McWilliams forms a community but is muscled out by William Clark, Bugsy Siegel bets his life on the Flamingo Casino, and the Moulin Rouge is the first casino to break the color barrier.
  • Space: Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan fall in love, Wernher von Braun becomes the father of American rocket science, and Russian cosmonauts perform the first spacewalk.

Future Cop – The Complete Series

Mill Creek / Released 3/1/16

The Cop of the Future is Here… Programmed for Fun and Action! All episodes including the original TV Pilot Movie.  Ernest Borgnine (TV’s McHale’s Navy) stars with John Amos (Die Hard 2, TV’s Good Times) as two street-smart cops who have been assigned a new rookie partner, Haven. But Officer Haven (Michael Shannon, TV’s We’ll Meet Again) has a secret. He looks human, talks and acts human. But he’s not. He’s an android with superior intellect and super strength. He’s the perfect cop, the cop of the future!

It’ll be action-packed adventure as they hit the streets of L.A. to protect and serve. But with a cop killer on the loose and a billion dollar robot for a partner, retirement is just a bullet away. Guest stars include Stan Shaw, Joan Collins, and Gerrit Graham.

Includes the episodes:

  • Pilot: A veteran street cop is assigned a new partner. The partner is not exactly what he seems to be, though–he is an experimental android who has been programmed by the police lab.
  • Fighting O’Haven: Haven attempts to infiltrate a crooked boxing ring by posing as a talented Irish boxer.
  • The Mad Mad Bomber: A psychopath threatens to bomb a number of Los Angeles buildings unless the police release a revolutionary currently held in prison.
  • Girl on the Ledge: A woman perched on the ledge of a ten-story building threatens to jump unless police can convince her estranged father to talk to her.
  • Carlisle Girl: A seemingly reputable businessman uses his company as a front to sell drugs.
  • The Kansas City Kid: Haven becomes a cardshark in order to win back the pension funds an investment broker gambled away.

Finding Noah

Alchemy / Released 3/1/16

For thousands of years, mankind has been fascinated by the story of a global flood and one family’s dramatic escape in a homemade vessel. Versions of the story appear in almost every culture, but the most well known is the biblical account of Noah found in Genesis. Historical reports, scientific evidence and the Bible point to Mount Ararat, now located in Eastern Turkey, as the Ark’s final resting place.  Finding Noah examines this evidence in detail, while chronicling the harrowing journey of a team of men in their search for the Ark. Known as Agri Dagh or “Painful Mountain,” Mount Ararat is located in one of the most volatile geopolitical regions in the world. The Finding Noah expedition had to brave dangerous environmental challenges, deadly rock and ice falls, hidden crevasses, hypoxia and even terrorism in their quest to find the Ark.  Finding Noah is not only a chronicle of a scientific mission, but a picture of how far the human spirit will go to achieve a goal.

The Sheik

MPI / Released 3/1/16

Khosrow Ali Vaziri was born in Iran in 1942, establishing a name for himself as an amateur wrestler, a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran, and an athlete representing his home country in the 1968 Summer Olympics. In the early 1970s, following the unexpected and controversial death of his good friend and Olympic Gold Medal Winner Gholemreza Takhti, Vaziri left Iran to pursue the American Dream. His journey to the United States began one of the most spectacular professional wrestling careers in modern history.

Assuming the persona of the villainous “The Iron Sheik,” Vaziri became one of the most celebrated and hated men in sports entertainment, helping launch Hulkamania in the 1980s and weathering a career that saw him turn the wrestling world upside down throughout the 80s and 90s. A fall from sobriety after the murder of one of his daughters brought The Sheik to the lowest and most challenging point in his life. At age 72, The Sheik has embraced an unlikely new persona as an outlandish social media sensation, known for hilarious outbursts and massively popular antics. Featuring candid interviews with Vaziri’s family, historians, and over 25 wrestling superstars, The Sheik is a pop culture documentary that chronicles Khosrow Vaziri’s electrifying career from his upbringing in Iran, his journey to the US, to his unprecedented experiences as America’s most hated villain. Extras include trailer.

The Midnight Man

Cinedgim / Released 3/1/16

A Hitman with a Gift. A Hitman with a Mission. A Hitman with a Problem. 

When Grady (Will Kemp), an assassin with a genetic disorder that renders him unable to feel pain, is sent on a high-stakes assignment, his world is turned upside-down after an attack when he awakens to discover that he can feel pain for the first time in his life. With the clock ticking and his greatest asset gone, Grady will go head-to-head with his worst fears and unspeakable enemies, while experiencing a tactile world he never could have imagined. Cast includes Doug Jones, William Forsythe, Brent Spiner, and Vinnie Jones.

Transformations

Kino Lorber / Released 3/1/16

An act of passion unleashes a deadly force! In the furthest reaches of the galaxy, a lone transport pilot, Wolfgang ‘Wolf’ Shadduck (Rex Smith, The Pirates of Penzance), locks in his destination, switches onto automatic pilot and retires for the night. Little does he know that events will soon steer him onto a collision course with gruesome horrors of Transformations – where a horrifying evil lurks behind seductive facades. When Wolf awakens from a nightmarish slumber, he finds himself in the hospital ward of a prison colony; his ship has crashed with its cargo intact. Soon, he finds himself gripped with a grotesque and mysterious disease that transforms him into a horrendous beast and only the purity of the beautiful Miranda (Lisa Langlois, Class of 1984) stands between the deadly disease and the rest of mankind. Also starring Patrick Macnee (John Steed of TV’s The Avengers) as Father Christopher. Extras include commentary and interviews.

The Vikings

Kino Lorber / Released 3/8/16

A Spectacular and Brawling Adventure! Hollywood legends Kirk Douglas (The Devil’s Disciple), Tony Curtis (Taras Bulba), Ernest Borgnine (Marty) and Janet Leigh (Psycho) dazzle in this epic chronicle of brutal rivalry and bloodthirsty ambition. Roaring through the 9th century with powerful performances and brilliant visuals, The Vikings is a riveting spectacle. Bitter hatred divides two brothers. Prince Einar (Douglas) is the son and heir of a savage Viking chieftain. Prince Eric (Curtis) is his unknowing half-brother, the bastard offspring of Einar’s father and an English queen. When the Vikings kidnap a princess Morgana (Leigh), her beauty inflames the desires of both men, forcing a bloody duel that decides their fate… and the future of the English throne. Beautifully shot by the great Jack Cardiff (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes) and wonderfully directed by legendary filmmaker Richard Fleischer (Mr. Majestyk, The Spikes Gang). The stellar cast also includes James Donald (The Great Escape) and Alexander Knox (Wilson) – Narrated by Orson Welles (Touch of Evil). Extras include featurette.

Gog 3-D

Kino Lorber / Released 3/8/16

In a remote, underground research laboratory two scientists, engaged in space travel research, are frozen to death in a cold chamber when their instruments comes under the control of an unknown power. A security agent, Dr. David Sheppard (Richard Egan, The 300 Spartans) arrives at the secret space research base, home of two experimental robots to investigate the possible sabotage. Early in his investigation, Sheppard finds that the underground laboratory under the control of the Supercomputer NOVAC and experimental robots GOG and MAGOG. Herbert L. Strock (The Crawling Hand) directed this Sci-Fi/Horror classic with a stellar cast that includes Constance Dowling (Black Angel), Herbert Marshall (The Letter) and William Schallert (TV’s The Patty Duke Show). Extras include commentary, restoration demo, interviews and 3D trailer gallery.

The Peanuts Movie

20th Century Fox / Released 3/8/16

Dream big and laugh along with good ol’ Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved Peanuts gang as you’ve never seen them before – in a brand-new feature film from the imagination of Charles M. Schulz and the creators of Ice Age. Join everyone’s favorite eternal optimist, Charlie Brown, as he embarks on a heroic quest, while his beagle pal Snoopy takes to the skies to pursue his archnemesis, the Red Baron. It’s a hilarious and heartwarming adventure that proves every underdog has his day. Extras include featurettes and music videos.

Last Word: When I first heard they were doing a 3D animated Peanuts movie, I was both excited and upset. Were they going to “modernize” it? Make it “fancy”? Try and “fix” something that will never be broken? Well, I now have my answer.

No, No and No.

What they did was believed in the source material and created a wonderful and loving tribute and “jumping on” point for an entirely new generation of children.  They didn’t really tinker with the characters, or the stories, or the pure love and heart of creator, Charles M. Schulz. What they did do is present Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy, Schroeder and the gang in a way that a new generation of, soon to be, new fans can find accessible and fun. They didn’t have to “update” the stories because the originals are so dang good.

There is a reason people still look forward to watching, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Come Home! and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back!) decades after they were originally released. It is the same reason that a 9 year old Korean boy used to ride his bike to the center of town to the book store every week and bought an old beat up Peanuts paperback from an old used bookstore in 1982 and to this day reads them as an adult: the stories persevere through time, because in the end they are the story about being a good person no matter what life throws at you.

It is hard to improve on perfection and thankfully the filmmakers didn’t try. In this age of remakes and reboots and “different takes” on familiar stories, it is nice to see just a nice homage to something the world loves and holds dear. The Peanuts Movie is nothing new to longtime fans and older people. It is something familiar and beloved. It is the warm, loving hug of a friend that you never get tired of. It is the comfy blanket you watch movies under in the winter. It is the road trip with friends in the warm summer breeze. I don’t have to tell you the plot because you already know the plot.

As for the younger audience seeing the film, I know that they will love it. I know this because I love it. We all love it. Charles Schulz created something special in Charlie Brown. He is the every man… well, boy.  We all have a little Charlie Brown in us all.  And I am not talking about the lovable loser who lacks self-confidence.  I mean the other part. The part of “Chuck” that never gives up and remains optimistic even in the face of great failures and pessimism.  “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.” And don’t you forget it.  Do yourself a solid. If you are a fan of The Peanuts gang, go see this movie. It will make you feel like a kid again. ( – Benn Robbins)

In The Heart of The Sea

Warner Bros. / Released 3/8/16

In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth proportions with an almost human sense of vengeance. This real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, but Melville’s book only told half the story. Experience the harrowing aftermath as the pummeled crew battles storms, starvation, and despair, and the men are to do the unthinkable in order to survive. Ron Howard directs this astonishing true story based on the best-selling book by Nathaniel Philbrick. Chris Hemsworth stars as the vessel’s veteran first mate and Benjamin Walker is the ship’s less-than-experienced captain. Extras include featurettes and deleted and extended scenes.

Last Word: The sea and its many creatures can be an angry and unforgiving beast. As we have seen many a time before, so can the world of film criticism. Unfortunately for those behind the making of In The Heart Of The Sea, they fell victim to both of these monsters. The film explores a number of different themes that beg us to take a look within ourselves to fully grasp the measure of their meaning. There is the tale of man versus beast, where the men of the Essex take on the powerful sea mammals in search of great fortune and success. There is the question of morality in the hunt itself. The people of this time begin to ask themselves if the mindless slaughter of these majestic creatures is actually worth its weight in gold. Also lying inside is a survivor story. The challenge to cling to life no matter what costs, and the crippling reality of the lengths a man can be pushed to in order to make it back home. It would be easy to thrust this film aside saying that its attempt to juggle all of these stories is too difficult. That the intensity and depth of the story and the characters is lost in the attempt to spread the story too thin. The reality is that to do so is as harsh as the whirling ocean herself. While there are certainly hiccups in this film, there is also a true beauty to it that deserves to be celebrated.

Our story begins with a young Herman Melville interviewing the last survivor of the Essex shipwreck. He is on a mission to uncover the real story of what happened all those years ago in 1820, and to find out if the rumors of the great white whale are actually true. This is the film’s first mistake. While Ben Whishaw, who portrays Melville, and Brendan Gleeson, playing Tom Nickerson, give strong and capturing performances, the vessel of story telling was not needed. When often the break in linear story telling can add suspense and sheer emotion to a story, this attempt tended to take the audience out of the action. Every break of the meeting of the two men stalled the rhythm of the film and left questions of why it was happening.

Like so much of Ron Howard’s work, you leave this film as if you have a Masters Degree on the ins and outs of the whaling industry, and yet at no point does the film feel preachy, nor does it drag. The world of 1800s Nantucket is brought to life magnificently, from the lifestyle on dry land, to the amazing contrasts of sea life. Howard creates a world that is both fascinating and easy to understand. Despite how barbaric whale hunting is, we are still left with an exhilarating feeling upon the crew’s first catch. Anyone who has grown up by the sea is sure to get a shot of adrenaline as the film shocks your imagination with wonders of what life was like so many years ago.

Our cast of characters is strong in just about every facet. We are thrown into the complexities of the hierarchy of a ship with our first look, which brings out the power in each of the actors. The crew of the Essex is forced to deal with the issue of respect. Do you listen to and trust the man with the title, or the man with the experience and true stomach for the sea? Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker) and first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) have hatred and bitterness for each other that are both more deeply rooted than they realize. Both men have rightful claim to captaincy, yet neither can respect the other’s reasoning. Pollard comes from one of the oldest families in New England and one that helped found the whaling industry. Chase believes that the right to captain a ship should be earned on merit and the number of successful voyages. Hemsworth and Walker have a commanding rapport that achieves the difficult task of deriving understanding and compassion for both men. The only glaring stumble between them is Hemsworth’s accent. His native Australian tongue struggled at times with an 1800s New England intonation, however,. never enough to really create a cause for alarm. Cillian Murphy stays true to form by adding another resilient performance in the second mate, Matthew Joy. Murphy’s newly sober, battled tested whaler perfectly balances out the combat between Walker and Hemsworth, and brings another revealing look into humanity brought to its very edge.

Where In The Heart Of The Sea loses it’s momentum, surprisingly, is the when we meet the whale. The architect of the Essex’s destruction deserved a build up of empowering and terrifying proportions. Unfortunately, the presentation felt rushed and lacked a great deal of suspense. It was as if all of the sudden the great whale was simply there. None of the crew provided the moment of shock and awe to allow us to grasp the magnitude of this beast. Hemsworth, Walker, and Murphy are introduced to the legend of this whale by a one armed Spanish captain. He speaks of the white whale like it is a ghost that was hell bent on terrorizing his crew. When this exact thing happens to the men of the Essex, the film fails to convey the magnitude of the crew’s reality, or show the fear that must be brewing inside all of them. Once the crew has been ship wrecked and they are sailing what’s left of their smaller lifeboats, Hemsworth is given one last stand off with the massive whale that has hunted he and his men towards certain death. In this moment, Owen Chase gazes deep into the wandering eye of the whale as he has his harpoon cocked over his shoulder, and instead of taking his shot he drops the spear at his side. The act conveys a new understanding or respect that has overcome Chase, as if he is forced to respect and feel for the majestic creature staring back at him. It is hard to accept, however, that this man could achieve that epiphany in these times. Whaling has been this man’s entire life. It is how he makes a living, and this particular whale is the prime source of the death of his friends and crewmates. It is safe to assume that the only thing Owen Chase would feel for this creature is searing hate. While the film’s attempt at sudden nobility is admirable, it feels out of character and confusing.

The beauty of the film making of In The Heart Of The Sea and a collection of outstanding performances exceed the occasional lapses over the course of this picture. Ron Howard has a gift for story telling, and, despite what the majority says, he does not falter in his latest work here. The moments that take us beneath the surface of the ocean into the sea with the whales are breathtaking. The new-found understanding of this (at its time) booming and revolutionary industry washes over the audience in an unexpected and entertaining wave. Films that explore this world can easily feel claustrophobic and bottled. The change in setting and array of characters keeps the story fresh and relatively gripping throughout. It is impressive to tell a story that inspired the legend of Moby Dick, and achieve a whole new tale of its own. This film is more than worth seeing for the visual marvels alone, and there is certainly more entertainment in it. (– Dan Powers)

Macbeth

Star/Anchor Bay / Released 3/8/16

From the producers of The King’s Speech comes the timeless story of Macbeth (Academy Award Nominee Michael Fassbender), the fearless Scottish General whose ambitious wife (Academy Award Winner Marion Cotillard) urges him to use wicked means to gain power of the throne. A thrilling interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous and compelling characters, Macbeth is a dramatic reimagining of the realities of war-torn times and a tale of all-consuming passion and ambition. Extras include featurette and Q & A.

Last Word:  I don’t think you can get anymore pop culture than Shakespeare. Echoes of his writing appear in everything from books to movies to television commercials. Even as I review this new release of Macbeth, another major feature film version of it is already in production. Hollywood and the international film community continues to mine the Bard’s works because although the language is outdated, the stories are not.

Macbeth is filled with as much sex, violence, and betrayal as anything Game of Thrones can dish out, and this latest film version of Macbeth does it with a polished, art-house swagger. If you stayed awake in high school English class, you know that basics of the story.  In ancient Scotland, Macbeth, loyal general of the King of Scotland, is told of a prophecy by three witches that he will become King. Manipulated by his ambitious wife, Macbeth murders his sovereign and becomes King. Driven mad by his deeds, he becomes a murderous tyrant in an attempt to keep the throne.

For the most part, director Justin Kurzel and his writing team stay true to the original play, but some bits have been streamlined for time and modern audiences. Key scenes and soliloquies have been changed. For someone who loves Shakespeare’s language, the omissions leave a hole in the fabric of the film that is distracting. Michael Fassbender’s turn as the title character is less blowhard them some interpretations, and yet his 0-60 mph, sane to crazypants Macbeth is riveting. Whether it is because of modern adaptation or the actresses choice, Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard is a more sympathetic Lady Macbeth. Her manipulations of her husband are more subtle and seem to be drive more by personal tragedy than ambition. With the exception of Sean Harris as a fiery Macduff, the Thane whom seeks to restore the rightful heir to the throne, the rest of the stellar cast seems to be under orders to not go too theatrical, keeping their performances more grounded, almost somber.

And that was my overall impression of the film, somber and grey. The landscapes were grey, the costumes were grey, even the opening battle scene was misty and grey. Everything until last great battle were shades of heavy, grey, and oppressive. This Macbeth feels like it suffers from the same issue as a number of superhero films do. In an effort to make it feel modern and realistic, all the color has been quite literally taken out, and we are left a dull screen that transports us nowhere.

Not that the story of Macbeth is cheery story, but when a film is mostly all one note, it’s hard to carry an audience through the two hour journey.  Shakespeare is often taken too seriously, filmmakers and stage producers forget that its roots are in telling a story to entertain the masses. Shakespeare didn’t write to appeal to the highbrow elite, he wrote to entertain the general public.  This film misses that mark as well. Although beautifully constructed and acted, it will probably be largely inaccessible to a traditional American audience. (– Elizabeth Robbins)

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