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THE SACRIFICE Blu-ray Review

Alexander (Erland Josephson) the well to do patriarch of a Sweedish family is celebrating his birthday on a remote island when news of a new World War breaks. The previously relaxed and cheerful mood of the family morphs to terror. They immediately begin to spiral out of control, devastated by the catastrophic news. The film's masterful cinematography by Sven Nykvist (Ingmar Bergman's longtime collaborator) underscores the emotional state of the family through its color palette and movement. The arresting choice of color displays a bleak landscape around the families home. Painfully long shots evoke the sheer dread and anxiety that has engulfed this once carfree tribe. Alexander, philosophical in nature, is deeply worried about man's lack of spirituality. Faced with man kinds inevitable annihilation he is compelled to enter an agreement with God. The director's last film, made as he was dying of cancer, The Sacrifice is Tarkovsky's personal statement, a prof

QUALITY PROBLEMS - review

2018 Directed by: Brooke Purdy and Doug Purdy Starring: Brooke Purdy, Doug Purdy, Maxwell Purdy, and Mo Gaffney "I'm not on the PTA, I'm not even a booster...  I used to be punk rock" In 2008, Brooke Purdy was diagnosed with DCIS, a non-invasive form of breast cancer. She and her husband, Doug, had two small children and fought the disease with the weapons that most of us use in times of personal crisis, friends, family, and (quite possibly) most importantly a shared sense of humor. This life-changing experience was the catalyst that inspired QUALITY PROBLEMS, a semi-autobiographical take on their family’s survival. Brooke, Doug, and their two children, Max and Scout, star in the film, "a final chapter in their healing – and a vehicle for hope for families dealing with a diagnosis." Bailey (Brooke Purdy) and Drew (Doug Purdy) are a 40-something couple piecing together a suburban existence that many of us can relate to. Birthday parties, side j

THE HALF-BREED Blu-ray Review

1916 Directed by: Allan Dawn Starring: Douglas Fairbanks, Alma Rubens, Sam De Grasse, Jewel Carmen THE HALF-BREED starts with a short encapsulation of Lo's early life, his Indian mother discovers that her white lover has crossed her and she commits suicide, abandoning her child with a white townsman who in turn becomes the only father he knows. Unwelcome in the nearby community when his father passes on, Lo picks a redwood tree and sets up house in its trunk. He keeps up his connections with the town, but animosity towards him ratchets up when he becomes romantically involved with Nellie (Jewel Carmen), an evangelist's girl, inspiring envy in the racist Sheriff Dunn (Sam De Grasse), who's been pursuing her. When Teresa (Alma Rubens) assaults her adulterous lover and the sheriff with a blade she flees to the forest and moves in with Lo. Nellie visits the woods to reconnect with Lo, yet comes back to town after deciding she can't settle down with a half-breed.

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE Blu-ray Review

1988 Directed by: Stephen Chiodo Starring: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, and Christopher Titus Runtime: 86 minutes Sold with one sheet of concept art and a title, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE was never destined to be aligned with the slasher films of its era. Instead, it was a strange hybrid of science-fiction, horror, and comedy that was very much of its time but singular in its execution. Armed with popcorn guns, cotton candy cocoons, and... shadow puppets the clowns in this film are deadly alien invaders hell-bent on terrorizing a small college town. Mike and Debbie caution the neighborhood police that something strange is happening in their modest municipality. Specifically, a spaceship that looks like a giant circus tent has touched down and alien clowns are kidnapping the townsfolk. The cops are understandably doubtful. But after a short period of time, reports come rolling in from multiple citizens with similar stories, they have all experienced

Phoenix Film Festival 2018 - DOWNRANGE review

2107 Directed by: Ryuhei Kitamura Starring: Kelly Connaire, Stephanie Pearson, Anthony Kirlew, and Rod Hernandez Kitamura wastes no time in DOWNRANGE . The tension in the film starts almost immediately and never lets up. I felt like I was holding my breath for 89 minutes, this film is utterly relentless. Six college-aged students are taking a cross-country trip when they have a blow out on one of their tires. In the middle of changing that tire, they happen across the shell casing from a long range rifle and realize, it wasn't a blowout. The tire had been shot. Within moments bullets are flying towards the young travelers and they are pinned down. Unable to move out from behind the vehicle, the elusive sniper unloads a barrage of fire. On an empty rural road, in the middle of nowhere, with inconsistent cell service, they are alone with this determined assassin. Their only hope seems to wait him out, to see if another car happens along their path. The marksman is frustrati

Phoenix Film Festival 2018 - CHIMERA review

2018 Directed and Written By: Maurice Haeems Cinematographer: David Kruta Starring:  Henry Ian Cusick, Kathleen Quinlan, Jenna Harrison, Karishma Ahluwalia, and Erika Ervin Films are often gateways to curiosity. Entry points for abstract concepts and a way for opaque theories to be presented in a palatable format. Science Fiction lives in the world of our collective imaginations and introduces us to the "what if's" we have yet to conceive. In CHIMERA director, Maurice Haeems has taken years of real-world research from labs and universities around the planet to contemplate the next major breakthrough in medical innovation, stem cell research. This contentious area of work presents one of the most controversial and potentially significant therapies introduced in generations. Quint (Cusick), an equally ingenious and desperate scientist pushes (and crosses) the borders of ethical behavior in an attempt to save his children. The good doctor first experiments with

COLD HELL review

A religious radical prowls the streets of Vienna, removing the skin of Muslim sex workers while they are still alive before compelling them to drink bubbled cooking oil. A young lady drives a taxi, as the night progresses, every iteration of a terrible human being passes through her cab, each one inching her closer and closer to a rage-fueled breakdown. The film explores the parallel stories of these two individuals whose lives will eventually crash into one another. The most recent film from Oscar-winning Austrian movie producer Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters), Cold Hell (Die Holle) is a merciless tale that wallows in savagery. Γ–zge Dogruol (Violetta Schurawlow) is the cabbie, whose history of abuse has turned her into a survivor. She continually pushes ahead regardless of what life gives her. She trains at her ex's Thai boxing gym until she gets kicked out for beating the snot out an opponent who throws a sucker punch. She can handle herself and has a strong sense

IMITATION GIRL review

Science fiction is a speculative form of storytelling that's often concerned with what it means to be human. In that vein IMITATION GIRL is a brilliantly crafted philosophical journey that gives viewers far more questions than answers. Imitation (Lauren Ashley Carter) is an alien who falls from the sky and lands somewhere in the southwestern United States. She finds an image of Julianna (Lauren Ashley Carter) an adult film actress and takes on her form. The film is the parallel stories of two individuals trying to figure out exactly who they are.  Imitation is somewhat devoid of self-awareness and has no idea where she is. Each piece of information she gathers is a revelation as she acclimates to her new body and environment. Saghi, and his sister, Khahar, take in Imitation. They perceive her to be a harmless simpleton. Gesture-based communication and pieces of sustenance are their lone methods of communication. However, Imitation is exceptionally responsive to these intera

BLACK EAGLE - Blu-ray Review

About The Film After an F-11 gets shot down over the Mediterranean Sea, The United States government cannot afford to lose the top-secret laser tracking device that was on board. But unfortunately, the KGB team, lead by the infamous Andrei (Jean-Claude Van Damme, The Expendables 2, Universal Soldier), are beating the CIA in the race to find it. The CIA has no choice but to call in their best man, master martial-artist Ken Tani (Sho Kosugi, Ninja Assassin, Revenge of the Ninja), code name... BLACK EAGLE . In response, the KGB resorts to an all-out war, with powerful Andrei matching Ken blow for blow. From legendary action director Eric Karson (The Octagon), Black Eagle also stars Doran Clark (The Warriors), Bruce French (Jurassic Park III) and William Bassett (House of 1000 Corpses). BLACK EAGLE is one of my favorite JCVD vehicles and this MVD release gives it the kindest treatment the film has ever received. Between the limited throwback, VHS inspired slipcover and the pos

LORDS OF DOGTOWN Blu-ray Review

LORDS OF DOGTOWN tells the unbelievable but true story of three teenagers from California who took skateboarding to heights that hadn't previously been imagined and changed the sports world forever. Stacy Peralta (John Robinson), Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk) and Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild) are the Z-Boys, a bunch of nobodies until they join board designer Skip Engblom (Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight) to create a new style of skateboarding that becomes a worldwide phenomenon. But when their hobby becomes a business, the success shreds their friendship. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Twilight) and featuring an all-star cast including Michael Angarano, Nikki Reed, Rebecca De Mornay, Johnny Knoxville, America Ferrera, and Mitch Hedberg. The stand out performance in the film comes from Heath Ledger. I'm not sure if his turn as Skip can fully be appreciated without seeing the man himself. Once you dig into the special features it becomes clear that Heath Led

NOVEMBER Review

Werewolves? Check. The plague? Sure. Pagans selling their souls? Absolutely. NOVEMBER is set in an Estonian village where the batshit crazy supernatural leanings of director Rainer Sarnet are allowed to run free. The film is essentially a twisted fairy tale about unrequited love or what a Lars Von Trier romantic comedy might look like. In NOVEMBER , the villagers' fundamental issue is how to survive the frosty, dull winter. Nothing in this bizarre universe is unthinkable. Individuals take from each other without regard, from their German house rulers, from spirits, from Satan, and Christ himself. The only moral compass is self-interest. A youthful farmgirl Liina (Rea Lest) is miserably infatuated with Hans (JΓΆrgen Liik), a close-by farmhand, whose heart she loses to the little girl of the German estate master. Keeping in mind the end goal to recover his affection, Liina is willing to do whatever it takes, regardless of whether that implies taking advantage of the dark enchant

THE STAR Blu-ray Review

THE STAR arrives on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital today February 20 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The simple but effective animated comedy tells the story of a donkey named Bo (Steven Yeun, “The Walking Dead”), who sees himself as destined for greater things. The daily grind at the village mill leaves him feeling incomplete and longing. His ill at ease nature eventually pushes to the point where he decides to break free and follow his heart. In the same way Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is a retelling of Hamlet through the eyes of ancillary characters, THE STAR is a retelling of the nativity through the eyes of the animals that were there that night. The human characters take a backseat to a donkey and his barnyard buddies. Along his way, Bo teams up with Ruth (Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live”), a sheep who has lost her flock and Dave (Keegan-Michael Key, “Key and Peele”), a dove with lofty aspirations, along with three camels voiced by Tracy Morgan (“30 Rock

The Kids In The Hall Complete Collection DVD

1988-2010 Starring: DAVE FOLEY, BRUCE McCULLOCH, KEVIN McDONALD, MARK McKINNEY, and SCOTT THOMPSON Mill Creek Entertainment will release the complete collection of The Kids In The Hall content on DVD February 6, 2018. This complete collection will include all 100+ episodes from the show’s five-season run in addition to the reunion series Death Comes to Town with a host of bonus features including interviews, commentaries, archival footage and more! This disarming comedy show will be offered in a 12-DVD set and will be available for a list price of $69.98. The Canadian-bred comic geniuses stretched sketch comedy to its ultimate limits with hilariously off-the-wall results achieving critical and fan acclaim.  From the infamous Chicken Lady and Cabbage Head to Buddy Cole and the Headcrusher, the pioneering, edgy and ever-charming comedians created the most unhinged, unprecedented and unpredictable acclaimed cult series. The series debuted as a one-hour pilot special which a

Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Pierre Gorin: Five Films, 1968-1971 Blu-ray Review

After finishing his film Weekend in 1967, Jean-Luc Godard shifted gears to embark on engaging more directly with the radical political movements of the era, and thus create a new kind of film, or, as he eventually put it: "new ideas distributed in a new way." This new method in part involved collaborating with the precocious young critic and journalist, Jean-Pierre Gorin. Both as a two-person unit, and as part of the loose collective known as the Groupe Dziga Vertov (named after the early 20th-century Russian filmmaker and theoretician), Godard and Gorin would realize "some political possibilities for the practice of cinema" and craft new frameworks for investigating the relationships between image and sound, spectator and subject, cinema and society. Included here are five films, all originally shot in 16mm celluloid, that serve as examples of Godard and Gorin's revolutionary project. Un film comme les autres [A Film Like Any Other] Discussions betwee

Orchestra Rehearsal - Blu ray Review

1978 Directed by - Federico Fellini A documentary television crew interviews musicians preparing for a rehearsal in a rundown church that doubles as a makeshift auditorium. Durning the interviews the musicians interrupt one another and show outright contempt. Each musician believes their instrument is the most vital to the success of the performance and calls the other performers talent and integrity into question. The conductor barks orders with an affected German accent to drive home his authoritarian role in the orchestra. He has conflicts with both the musicians and the labor reps who are overseeing the proceedings. The tension is immediate and eventual spirals into chaos and revolution. Orchestra Rehearsal is overtly political and satirical in its execution. Connections to our current political climate are in fact easy to make. This is one of Fellini's funniest and most thoroughly entertaining efforts. Rich imagery and expressive style fill every frame of Orchestra

BETWEEN NIGHT AND DAWN - Blu-ray Review

George Romero's name may be synonymous with the living dead subgenre, but his filmography is far richer and more varied than his reputation as "the zombie guy" would suggest. Following the breakout success of his debut feature Night of the Living Dead, the director would embark upon a series of projects which demonstrate a master filmmaker with more than mere gut-munching on his mind. In There's Always Vanilla, young drifter Chris and beautiful model Lynn embark upon a tumultuous relationship which seems doomed from the outset. Season of the Witch (released theatrically as Hungry Wives) follows the exploits of Joan Mitchell - a housewife who seeks to escape the confines of her humdrum suburban existence through a flirtation with witchcraft. Lastly, The Crazies sees Romero returning to firmer horror territory as a small rural town finds itself in the grip of an infection which send its hosts into a violent, homicidal frenzy. Taken together, these three films, m

NITE NITE short film review

2017 Directed by: Chad Meisenheimer Starring: Tommie Vegas, Sarah Rhoades, and Brady Bond Setting NITE NITE in 1985 is clearly an homage to the babysitter slasher films of that era. Iconic films like HALLOWEEN and WHEN A STRANGER CALLS have influenced most horror films of the last 40 years, and Chad Meisenheimer's film   is no exception. This 3.5 minute short follows a 7-year-old boy (Bond) who tries to convince his babysitter (Vegas) there is a monster is in his room.  While the plot (and electronic score) might sound like John Carpenter the execution is something more akin to Tom Holland's 1985 horror/comedy masterpiece FRIGHT NIGHT . Meisenheimer injects a playfulness into his film that is never overt or distracting. He allows Bond to play with his character in a way that's difficult to read and gives the film its greatest strength. Ambiguity. Is our young boy scared or malevolent?  Short films can be forgiven all sorts of crimes due to their length

SO B. IT review

2017 Directed by: Stephen Gyllenhaal Starring: Talitha Bateman, Alfre Woodard, John Heard, Jessica Collins, Jacinda Barrett, Dash Mihok, and Cloris Leachman When we don't talk about our past we can't expect to understand our present. There is always a story on how we got here and the people who brought us. Our medical histories, sense of identity, cultural heritage, and family gossip deeply affect and shape who we are. The most important journeys we take are the ones where we start by looking in. Based on the bestselling YA novel by the same name, SO B. IT follows Heidi (Bateman), a precocious young girl who embarks on a journey across the country to uncover the story of her mother’s past and discovers herself along the way. Hedi is raised by her mentally disabled mother (Collins) who only uses 22 words and her agoraphobic neighbor (Woodard) who tries to protect her from inside their joined apartments. SO B. IT is structured as something of a mystery, with the stor

BLOOD FEAST Blu-ray Review

1963 Directed by: Herschell Gordon Lewis Starring: William Kerwin, Mal Arnold, and Connie Mason A film like BLOOD FEAST should be considered within the time it was made. While not brilliantly executed it’s still an important window into what the US (or at the very least, its film) was like in the early 1960’s. Considered the first splatter film, BLOOD FEAST is a surprisingly gory tale woven together with groundbreaking makeup effects and amateur acting. The effects are in no way as slick as the ones we see today, but the way Lewis lingers on them will make the most hardened horror fan squeamish. You’ve probably heard of the tongue gag in the film, and yes it’s as stomach turning as you might expect. Dorothy Freemont is a socialite looking to throw a party that people will remember. She decides to hire Fuad Ramses to cater the soiree after he pitches her the idea of an “Egyptian” feast. What she expects is an authentic “ethnic” experience the invitees will talk about for

ABUNDANT ACREAGE AVAILABLE review

2017 Directed by: Angus MacLachlan Starring: Amy Ryan, Terry Kinney, Francis Guinan, Max Gail, and Steve Coulter A week after Tracy (Amy Ryan) and Jesse (Terry Kinney) bury their father on the family tobacco farm, three strangers show up to make a claim on the land. MacLachlan’s deeply personal follow-up to 2014’s GOODBYE TO ALL THAT is an intimate meditation on grief and legacy. Tracy and Jesse see the visitors in a different light. To Tracy, the visitors are interlopers who have no right to her family’s farm. Nothing more than a nuisance, who she asks to leave in subtle and overt ways. Jesse, a man of faith, views this as a chance at redemption. A way to right a wrong in their families past. People react to death in all kinds of ways, and the death of a parent can be especially volatile. It isn’t uncommon for one person to feel a range of emotions in a single day while another remains in shock and disbelief . MacLachlan beautifully captures this dichotomy in the