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DVDs/Home Viewing

21 Oct 2019
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In Living With Yourself, a brand-new Netflix series, Miles (Paul Rudd), a bored-out-of-his-mind advertising executive, takes a cue from a chirpy co-worker and stops at some sort of rejuvenation clinic. That night when he returns home, he’s much peppier with a sunny outlook. The only problem: The peppy, sunnier Miles is a clone, and the original version of Miles is still running around. Creator Timothy Greenberg and directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris deliver a fun, twisted, eight-show season that feels like a long movie. Rudd gets a chance to show off both his dramatic and comedic chops; the chance to take a character and play two versions of him at the same time is a challenge the actor is more than up to. The results are thoroughly entertaining. Also terrific is Aisling Bea as wife Kate, who has herself a real dilemma on her hands when she finds out…
17 Oct 2019
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Breaking Bad, one of the greatest TV series of all time, ended six years ago. Since then, creator Vince Gilligan has been serving up Better Call Saul, a nice extension of the Breaking Bad universe that will go into its fifth season next year. However, Better Call Saul is a prequel, meaning the Breaking Bad timeline came to a stop six years ago. (Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad, but intend to, you may want to stop reading, as spoilers follow.) So, what happened to Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) after Walter White (Bryan Cranston) liberated him from captivity at that American Nazi compound? When last we saw Jesse, he was speeding off into the night, laugh-crying hysterically. Knowing full well that the fan base is itching for more, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie has made its way to Netflix (and a select few big screens). The film…
14 Oct 2019
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Little Monsters starts off as a very funny movie about a loser musician (Alexander England) in Australia—but it falls apart after a zombie attack tries to turn it into a horror film. England is very funny as Dave, who is having relationship problems and winds up living with his sister, Tess (Kat Stewart), and nephew, Felix (Diesel La Torraca). The rapport between these three characters is really good, but then Felix and Dave go on a field trip that is quickly besieged by zombies. Lupita Nyong’o is on hand as a music teacher chaperoning the kids as they face the zombie apocalypse, and she does all she can to make the proceedings interesting. Josh Gad co-stars as a children’s-show host who is taping an episode on the field trip; his character is an annoying waste of time. Writer-director Abe Forsythe proves adept at filming straight comedy, but he’s completely lost…
07 Oct 2019
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There have been plenty of looks into the making of Ridley Scott’s Alien—most notably the director’s-cut Alien DVDs, followed by the special-feature-saturated Blu-rays. Memory: The Origins of Alien, a new documentary from director Alexandre O. Philippe, is one of the best, although it lacks new interviews with the likes of Sigourney Weaver and Ridley Scott. (The film does include a handful of archived interview moments.) Instead, it talks to folks like Roger Corman, who almost made Dan O’Bannon’s original Alien script on a shoestring budget, and gets the likes of Tom Skerritt to sit down for some original insights on the filming. Veronica Cartwright is also interviewed, once again recounting the great story of witnessing the chest-burster scene live. The movie goes beyond typical behind-the-scenes looks, tracing the origins of Alien back to some old-timey comics depicting Navy sailors accidentally eating alien eggs. For fans of the movie and moviemaking…
30 Sep 2019
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George Romero’s Creepshow, released in 1982, is an all-time-great horror movie—easily the man’s best film outside of the zombie genre he helped create. With a screenplay by Stephen King, the anthology film was based on EC Comics, and it was camp horror at its best. Shudder, the horror/thriller streaming service, is releasing six episodes of a reboot series, with the help of Greg Nicotero as an executive producer and sometime director. Nicotero, the gore maestro behind the makeup effects on The Walking Dead, has an undying love for the comics, the film and the genre. That love is evident in the first episode of the show, which presents two stories. The first, Gray Matter, is directed by Nicotero, and it feels very much like a continuation of Romero’s film. For starters, it’s based on a short story by King. On top of that, it co-stars Adrienne Barbeau, who played a…
23 Sep 2019
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Between Two Ferns: The Movie gives a backstory to the terrific online acerbic talk show hosted by Zach Galifianakis—and while the whole thing is, frankly, unnecessary, the outtakes during the closing credits alone are enough to warrant a watch. When Zach, doing his show in North Carolina, almost kills Matthew McConaughey due to a ceiling leak, Will Ferrell, his boss, sends him on a mission to tape a bunch of shows … or else. So Zach and his crew go on a road trip. Yes, it’s a dumb premise, and not all of the jokes land, but the interviews with the likes of Paul Rudd and Tessa Thompson are a riot, and some non-show-related gags work. (I loved the moment when Zach checked his e mail on his laptop while driving at night.) Ninety minutes of back-to-back Ferns interviews would’ve been better than this, but then we wouldn’t have the…
09 Sep 2019
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Harvey Weinstein is, and always was, a disgusting pig of a human being. Untouchable is a documentary about his despicable ways, specifically his abuse of power and women—and filmmakers don’t need to work hard to illustrate that the guy is a menace. Victims of his abuse, including actresses such as Rosanna Arquette, offer first-hand accounts of Weinstein’s crimes, including actual recordings of Weinstein trying to coerce people into sex. The fact that he got away with what he did for so long isn’t something that this movie really delves into, but it does give some people a deserved chance to tell their story—and the film helps expose this guy for the monster he truly is. The film, appropriately, closes with the rise of the Me Too movement, which has coincided with the end of this fuckhead’s career. He’s managed to tie up his cases in court and pay a lot…
03 Sep 2019
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Every now and then, Francis Ford Coppola goes back to his 1979 masterpiece, Apocalypse Now, and gives it another go. In 2001, he did the Redux version, which featured the clumsy French plantation scene, and an additional scene with the Playboy playmates that should have remained on the cutting-room floor. There was also a scene in which Martin Sheen’s Willard steals the surfboard owned by Kilgore (Robert Duvall) … and subsequent scenes of Willard and his crew hiding from an angry Kilgore as he tried to find his board. The additional footage added up to 53 minutes, making the movie nearly 200 minutes long. The new Final Cut keeps the surfboard stuff, but loses the playmates scene. Unfortunately, most of the plantation scene remains. (The dinner conversation is tedious, although the opium den is kind of cool.) The Final Cut clocks in at 181 minutes, keeping some of the interesting…
27 Aug 2019
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The first season of Netflix’s Mindhunter—released back in October 2017—failed to grab me. But the just-released second season, with its first three episodes directed by executive producer David Fincher, kept me watching. The show plays as sort of a “greatest hits” for serial killers, as an FBI division investigates the motivations of some of history’s most notorious real-life killers in the late 1970s. The main investigative plot has the team searching for the Atlanta child murderer(s), which occurred between 1979 and 1981, but it also involves the BTK serial killer. The team interviews David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) and Charles Manson. Of note: Manson is played by Damon Herriman, who also played Manson in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, albeit it only for a few seconds. The show stumbles a bit when it comes to Agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) dealing with family drama. It’s one subplot…
19 Aug 2019
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Lot of Gunns work on Brightburn, featuring a dark twist on a Superman-like mythos. James Gunn (director of the Guardians of the Galaxy films) produces a script by brothers Brian and Mark Gunn. Young actor Jackson A. Dunn stars as the central character, a young alien boy who is starting to figure out he wasn’t actually adopted by his parents (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman). Like Superman, he has superpowers, including heat vision and super strength—but unlike Superman, he apparently doesn’t intend to put those powers to good use, because he starts ruthlessly killing people, including immediate family. While the movie does have a superhero-gone-bad, sci-fi element, it’s mostly just a ruthless horror film with nasty gore. I really don’t have a problem with this, and I found Brightburn somewhat entertaining, but it’s nothing all that original. I do give the filmmakers props for going to the dark side and…
12 Aug 2019
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Casey Affleck writes, directs and stars in Light of My Life, a cross between The Road, Leave No Trace and The Stand. While the film feels a little too familiar, it rises above the unoriginality in its third act thanks to performances by Affleck and his young co-star, Anna Pniowsky. A father (Affleck) and daughter (Pniowsky) are living off the land after a plague has wiped out most of the planet’s female population. To protect his daughter, nicknamed Rag, Dad has her dress as a boy and tries to keep her out of the public eye. Much of the movie involves the two telling stories to each other in what feels like improv; those scenes are actually kind of fun. When the two wind up in the home of a friendly preacher (Tom Bower), the film reaches a new level. The last act of the movie is its best, where…
06 Aug 2019
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White supremacist Bryon Widner (Jamie Bell), after being raised on a doctrine of hate in a skinhead camp, has a change of heart when he finds love with a single mother (Danielle Macdonald). Of course, putting a skinhead past behind you—especially when you’ve opted to tattoo your face with hate images—is not an easy thing. Writer-director Guy Nattiv, basing his film on Widner’s true story, does a nice job of showing that redemption sometimes comes at a high price. Bell is great here as Widner, as is Macdonald as the woman who manages to love him even though he’s a complete asshole. The film feels like a distant cousin of the Edward Norton-starring American History X, although it doesn’t have the artistry of that movie. Still, the movie is a solid story, well-acted—and proof that Bell is a bigger talent than his resume shows. The supporting cast includes Bill Camp…

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