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Mon11182019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

14 Nov 2019
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Bill Skarsgård gets perhaps his best showcase yet—outside of his Pennywise makeup, that is—in Villains as Mickey, a small-time crook who robs grocery stores with Jules (Maika Monroe). When his car runs out of gas minutes after a heist, they wind up in the house of George and Gloria (Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick), who seem stuck in the 1950s, judging by their TV set. They also seem to be psychos, thanks to a secret in their basement. Mickey and Jules try to work their way out of the predicament, one that eventually involves Mickey strapped to a bed while Gloria does an erotic dance for him. The film is strange, mostly in a good way; it’s oddly directed and written by the team of Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. Monroe, who is quickly becoming one of the more reliable cult-film actresses in the business, is great as Jules, who…
12 Nov 2019
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The Disney+ streaming service, launching today (Nov. 12), includes a brand-new version of Lady and the Tramp—a sweet little live-action redo of the classic 1955 animated feature. This film works, primarily due to the casting of both the actual dogs and their voices. Justin Theroux, a well-known dog-lover, is perfect for Tramp, a schnauzer mutt living the street life. The dog he provides the voice for is a perfect match—and is the spitting image of his animated counterpart. Tessa Thompson provides vocals for Lady, a cute-as-all-heck cocker spaniel. The live-action animal-talking is well done, and the film is more engaging than the recent remake of The Lion King. The plot remains simple: Rich dog meets stray dog; rich dog becomes stray dog; dogs fall in love. There are some major changes (there’s no Siamese-cats song, for starters), but fans of the original will find a lot to remind them of…
04 Nov 2019
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Partially inspired by real events, and partially inspired by the plays of William Shakespeare, Netflix film The King features Timothée Chalamet as Hal, King Henry V of England—and it’s a barnburner of an acting turn. Chalamet has made a name for himself by playing complicated, quiet characters, but this role gives him a chance to rage on occasion—and he’s more than up to the task. Joel Edgerton (who co-wrote the screenplay) is on hand as Falstaff, Hal’s complicated right-hand man, and Robert Pattinson once again shows that he just might be the finest actor of his generation with a brave and crazy performance as The Dauphin of France. Simply put: Pattinson’s accent is one of the greatest things I’ve witnessed in a movie this year, as is his final stunt in full armor. Director David Michod stages some fine action scenes, and Lily-Rose Depp makes a nice late-film appearance as…
28 Oct 2019
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Netflix’s The Laundromat, from normally reliable director Steven Soderbergh, is a mess of a movie despite being filled with Oscar-caliber talent—because it lacks a focused purpose. The film deals with a real scandal that included insurance fraud in the aftermath of a terrible boating accident in Lake George, N.Y. A cast including Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas is squandered as the movie goes through one discordant tonal shift after another. Soderbergh starts off well—the boating accident is chillingly filmed—but then he makes some odd choices, including Oldman and Banderas playing a couple of lawyers who break the fourth wall and narrate the film. The movie strives to be clever, but ultimately lacks a focus on its subject matter. The result is confusing rather than compelling. Props to Streep, who is excellent as a passenger on the ill-fated boat trying to receive insurance compensation. Streep has more than one…
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…

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