Archive for category: Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘Transcendence’

18 April, 2014 (08:43) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Inside Transcendence is a 1950s B-movie, desperately trying to get out. A tale of a scientist poisoned by radiation, his brilliant mind passed on to survive after his death? That could easily be the plot of an atomic-era cheapie. This movie, however, is distinctly of the 21st century. And expensive. The scientist is Will Caster […]

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Film review: ‘Joe’

18 April, 2014 (08:40) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Nicolas Cage has been garnering a lot of approving notices for his title performance in Joe, and it’s easy to see why. He’s backed away from some of the tics that dominate his wilder turns, and at age 50 he’s seasoned, with a face that looks lived-in. But let’s not say he’s mellowed. Never that. […]

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Videophiled Classic: ‘Cry Danger’ Restored and ‘Used Cars’ Revived on Blu-ray

17 April, 2014 (14:57) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Noir, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

You can thank The Film Noir Foundation for the rediscovery of Cry Danger (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD), the independently-produced 1951 film noir developed by star Dick Powell as a follow-up to Pitfall (1948). Like a lot of films made outside of the studio system, it fell through the cracks and was only recently restored by UCLA […]

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Film Review: ‘Alan Partridge’

16 April, 2014 (13:16) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Between the showbiz parodies of SCTV and the anchorman toolishness of Ron Burgundy, there is a missing link of media satire—missing for Americans who don’t frequent British TV, that is. This step on the evolutionary scale goes by the name Alan Partridge, a broadcast personality with a remarkably unctuous, maladroit style. As embodied in Steve […]

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Videophiled: Ralph Fiennes is Charles Dickens in ‘The Invisible Woman’

15 April, 2014 (11:56) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

The Invisible Woman (Sony, Blu-ray+DVD Combo, Digital, On Demand) is a refreshingly mature adult drama of love and passion and society in 1880s England from director / star Ralph Fiennes. He plays Charles Dickens and Felicity Jones is the young actress Nelly Ternan, who became his mistress in a long-term love affair played out in […]

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MOD Movies: ‘The Big House,’ ‘5 Fingers,’ ‘Roadblock

13 April, 2014 (11:26) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Noir, Film Reviews, Pre-code Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The Big House: Triple Feature (Warner Archive) is a special edition for the MOD (manufacture-on-demand) line. The 1930 The Big House, directed by George Hill, is the original men-in-prison drama in terms of the way it established the conventions. There’s the pecking order of tough guys behind bars, the culture of loyalty, the sniveling snitches, […]

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Film Review: ‘Draft Day’

12 April, 2014 (08:16) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Now that March Madness is over, that annual ritual in which everybody goes nuts about filling out a bracket with teams they don’t actually know very much about, we need another obsessive- compulsive sports-related activity to occupy our minds. That’s where the NFL draft comes in. Who can resist guessing which players we don’t actually […]

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Film Review: ‘The Unknown Known’

10 April, 2014 (07:49) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

The conceptual appeal is unmissable: Having won an Oscar for his 2003 The Fog of War, a study of Vietnam War architect Robert McNamara, documentary giant Errol Morris would naturally turn to another controversial U.S. Secretary of Defense for a bookend project. The subject here is Donald Rumsfeld, who held the job during the commencement […]

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Film Review: ‘The Raid 2′

10 April, 2014 (07:45) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

When The Raid 2 bowed at Sundance earlier this year, it triggered an instant-analysis debate along a narrow spectrum. Was it the greatest action movie ever made, or merely the most violent? Considering the film’s target audience, that’s a win/win argument. Gareth Evans’ sequel to his culty 2011 The Raid: Redemption, which was set primarily […]

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Film Review: ‘Exhibition’

10 April, 2014 (07:42) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Form follows function in this modernist house on a quiet street in London. Stacked in clean, streamlined boxes, its floors are wrapped in glass. It is home to two artists, who work in different sections of the house and communicate through an intercom. We don’t have to watch long to intuit that the house is […]

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Videophiled: ‘The Hobbit’ meets Smaug, Claire Denis’ ‘Bastards’ and ‘A Touch of Sin’

8 April, 2014 (16:30) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (New Line, Blu-ray 3D Combo, Blu-ray Combo, DVD, Digital HD, On Demand) – “What have we done?” asks hardy hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) in the final seconds of the second film in the Hobbit trilogy. If by “we” he means Peter Jackson and company, then “we” have reimagined J.R.R. […]

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DVD: ‘I Am Divine’

7 April, 2014 (15:02) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Divine is, of course, the name of the most famous (or perhaps more accurately infamous) drag queen of the 1970s and 1980s, and the subtitle to Jeffrey Schwarz’s I Am Divine–”The True Story of the Most Beautiful Woman in the World”–comes right out of Divine’s stage show introduction. But the title is also a commentary […]

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Blu-ray: Lon Chaney’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’

6 April, 2014 (07:38) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Lon Chaney was the most unlikely of Hollywood superstar actors. Talented and ambitious, he fearlessly took on roles of tortured victims, twisted villains, and misshapen outcasts, parts that he brought to life with a mix of elaborate make-up, physically demanding incarnations, and emotionally intense performances. In some ways, you could see him as the De […]

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Blu-ray: ‘Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1′

5 April, 2014 (07:44) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

If you’re arriving late to class, here’s the recap: director / producer / modern B-movie legend Lloyd Kaufman directed the original Class of Nuke ‘Em High, a flamboyantly grotesque parody of high school movies and radioactive mutant horror, in 1986. The premise: a high school in Tromaville, the most toxic city in America, is located […]

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Film Review: ‘Anita: Speaking Truth to Power’

4 April, 2014 (08:42) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

In October 1991 the Oklahoma law-school professor Anita Hill went before a Senate hearing (and TV cameras) to give testimony in the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. Oh, you remember this? The drama of the moment is difficult to forget. Hill was alleging that while working as an assistant to Thomas […]

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