Scholastic and Weston Woods Studios have co-produced hundreds of lightly animated and live-action short features based on popular kids' books during the last few decades, and chances are good that your children have seen one or more at school, home, or online at some point. From well-known classics like Curious George (not the PBS series), Where the Wild Things Are...Read the entire review
Director: Terence Davies Starring: Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan, Kevin Guthrie Year: 2015
Being a movie guy rather than a TV guy, I've always been a little behind the trend when it comes to hit shows. I don't mean the old brand of sitcoms or hospital dramas, I mean the new wave of high-quality, well-acted, adult-themed original series that seem to force audiences into weekend binges. Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Orange Is the New Black; shows that like, and although I accept that they are good, I'm always too busy watching movies to get on board. I was one of the first on the Stranger Things train though, I am all caught up with OITNB, and recently I've been falling in love with Downton Abbey, a series...Read the entire review
Those hoping Jason Voorhees will show up to slice and dice some nubile campers will be sorely disappointed in this dated, campy television series. Although they share a name, Friday the 13th: The Series has little in common with the horror films or their machete-wielding killer. This American-Canadian television show ran from October 1987 to May 1990, and each week offered a new adventure for Michelle "Micki" Foster (Louise Robey) and Ryan Dallion (John D. LeMay), cousins by marriage who inherit an antiques shop from their uncle, Lewis Vendredi (R. G. Armstrong). Uncle Lewis made a deal with the devil for wealth and power, and in return sold cursed antiques in his store. Micki and Ryan join magician Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins) to retrieve each item before its evil p...Read the entire review
(image) The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection:
Clearly these episodes weren't entirely lost, but whether they would in some way end up in syndication is another matter, so we must say thanks and give a big Tarzan yell to Time Life for packing them together in this box set. And packed together they are, 22 discs worth of previously released material, and therefore really not all that lost after all. Whether you are willing to pony up two hundred-fifty dollars for this collection is down to the depth of your pockets and your love of Burnett. (Or someone you love's love of Burnett, as this would obviously make a stunning gift and is quite likely meant as just that.) All things being equal and despite the steep price tag it's hard to call this collection anything less than highly recommended. This is historical TV at its absolute zenith, manna for comedy fans, and what amounts to ...Read the entire review
"1968. I was 12 years old. A lot happened that year. Denny McLain won 31 games, "The Mod Squad" hit the air, and I graduated from Hillcrest Elementary and entered junior high school. But we'll get to that." So begins the present-day narration from Daniel Stern as Kevin Arnold in present-day 1988, looking back on his life 20 years before as played by Fred Savage. "The Wonder Years" was one of the best shows of its time, providing a nostalgic look at the past as well as a funny and sentimental portrayal of growing up which kids of the present time could still relate to. The show's format mainly transported viewers to 20 years ago, but present-day Kevin would always chime in with voiceovers either explaining a few things in context or sometimes trying to give better advice to his...Read the entire review
(image) It should be most satisfying moment of his professional career: Garza (Omar Chapparo) is a police officer who has just captured the ruthless crime lord he's been pursuing, Santos (Erick Elias). Unfortunately, before Garza got the cuffs on Santos, Santos murdered his partner. Three months later, Garza has managed keep it together, having met a beautiful bartender, Maria (Aislinn Derbez), but things take a turn for the worse when Santos arranges for her to be kidnapped, forcing Garza to help him escape prison, then framing him as an accomplice. Garza breaks out of police custody in the hopes of clearing his name, but to do so he'll need the help of a young hacker named Vic (Joey Morgan), who was remotely involved in Santos' books.
It's a little ironic that the appeal of Compadres for American audiences will probably be a desire to see something a bit different or more adventurous than an Amer...Read the entire review
Any fan of not just old school R&B, but of music in general, has to acknowledge the immense influence that Motown Records had on pop music history. Without Motown, it's hard to imagine every type of band and music that changed the world, from The Beatles, all the way to Beyonce. In 1983, the legendary Motown label reached its 25th anniversary, and a two-hour televised show was put together in order to celebrate this milestone while also giving a portion of the proceeds to charity.
Impeccably hosted by the god of comedy Richard Pryor (Any objections to that?), the show contained who's who of great Motown musicians; Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Supremes, Four Tops, etc, performing at the height of their talent. The performances were intercut with brief informational segments about the history of the label. I admire ho...Read the entire review
(image) In 10 Words or Less The rise and fall of Tower Records
Reviewer's Bias* Loves: Documentaries, Tower Records, music Likes: Colin Hanks Dislikes: Tales of failure Hates: Missing the past, standard editions
The Movie For most of my life, there was no Tower Records. Of course, the chain existed, but it didn't exist in my world, where I was shut off from such wonder in the suburbs of the east coast. Eventually, in my young adulthood, I discovered the New York City versions, and we got a few of our own on Long Island, noteable for the long lines waiting outside for Ticketmaster sales. Making up for lost time, I spent several n...Read the entire review
The depiction of intense hostage situations in movies, especially ones from Hollywood, tend to heighten the drama with poetic license, up to a point where there isn't much of a difference in style and tone between a hostage thriller and a run off the mill action flick. Real hostage situations are terrifying and wholly unpredictable, forcing the victims as well as the perpetrators to act in awkward and eccentric ways. Any research into a police event where people are taken hostage will show that there's nothing "cool" or "badass" about it. It's usually not much more than a tense nightmare that everyone's stuck in.
Director Rodrigo Pla's admirably raw thriller A Monster with a Thousand Heads strives to bring a realistic take on a suspenseful hostage situation, staying as far away from the Hollywood pizzazz of this sub-genre as possible. Adapted by Laura Santullo fr...Read the entire review
The 1944 romantic drama In Our Time is an unusual but entertaining slice of wartime propaganda with a clear lefty bent. Ida Lupino and Paul Henreid are lovers from different classes who pair up in Poland, in the weeks leading up to Germany's WW2 invasion of the country.
She is Jennifer, a working class English girl, traveling as the assistant to an amusingly haughty interior decorator (Mary Boland). He is Stefan, a titled Polish count and man about town. His relatives disapprove of her status as a commoner, but her forward-thinking ideas might help save the family from financial ruin. When Germany finally attacks, the characters must decide whether they would rather save their skin or save their country. Our two heroes are patriots t...Read the entire review
As Jesus is probably the most significant figure in the history of Western civilization, whether you believe he was real or not, whether you believe he was the son of God or not, it's no surprise that we can't stop ourselves from becoming fascinated with his life, not only that which was written about in the Bible, but also all we can imagine to fill in the gaps between. Last Days in the Desert is fiction focused on what some believe to be fiction itself, while others believe it to be true, making the story that much more complicated & interesting. It's great movie fodder, is what it is, regardless of religious context, and aids...Read the entire review
(image) Note: The latest of a continuing series, where my wife Nicole steps up to offer her thoughts.
By Nicole Rizzo
In 10 Words or Less When it's so good, you can't stop watching.
Reviewer's Bias* Loves: Criminal dramas, Joe Mantegna, Shemar Moore, Aisha Tyler Likes: Thomas Gibson, Penelope Garcia Dislikes: Hates: The unknown of serial killers
The Story So Far... My heart skips a beat each season when I know Criminal Minds will be back on the air come September. I relish in the fact that I have season upon season to watch during the summer hiatus to prepare myself for what's to come. The journey has been long and winding since the series first began in 2005. T...Read the entire review
(image) It probably sounds like a bad joke, but the only real question that hovers over Jane Wants a Boyfriend, a movie about a young woman with Asperger's (Louisa Krause) who becomes interested in a romantic relationship, is how to parse director William Sullivan or writer Jarret Kerr's emotional sincerity or intent with the project. It's a sweet movie, with the air of sensitivity and understanding when it comes to depicting Jane's social struggles, and yet there's that lingering question of whether or not the movie is actually a sincere attempt to explore her arc, or if it's more for people without Asperger's who may or may not feel good in merely being willing to relate to her struggles.
That said, without being one of those filmmakers, there's no way to answer that question, and I'd hate to think that bringing it up implies that I actually suspect any exploitative reasoning on the part...Read the entire review
(image) In Hard Labor, the first feature-length effort by the filmmaking team of Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, there are three key aspects the filmmakers are attempting to juggle: the movie's two individual stories, about a husband and wife dealing with individual professional struggles, and the film's ability to intertwine their threads into a cohesive point. What's interesting is that they never quite manage to keep at least two of them in the air at any given moment, but the third is compelling enough that it almost makes up for it. At the very least, the movie is an admirably unique horror-drama hybrid.
Helena (Helena Albergaria) is less than 24 hours away from the first step of her dream to open and manage a small local grocery store when she gets the bad news: her husband, Otavio (Marat Descartes) has just been fired from his stable white-collar job despite ten years of loyal service. Althoug...Read the entire review
Released in 1982, Five Days One Summer is the final film from legendary director Fred Zinnemann (A Man for All Seasons, High Noon). It was a passion project that took Zinnemann decades to get produced, and knowing that bit of trivia makes the film's overall blandness all the more puzzling.
Set in the Swiss Alps, where graying doctor Douglas Meredith (Sean Connery) has taken his young bride Kate (Betsy Brantley, Schizopolis) to go rock climbing,...Read the entire review
(image) If there's any one lesson all first-time or low-budget filmmakers would benefit from learning, it's to be aware of and work within their own limitations. Those limitations could be anything: a limited budget, a limited amount of technique, subjects or styles a writer knows they're better at than others, etc. That's not to say one can't be ambitious, but the most effective way to realize ambition is to know what the parameters are -- aiming for a specific target that might be beyond one's grasp is better than shooting blindly into the distance. It's a shame, then, that Laura Lee Bahr, writer/director of Boned, actually seems to have a pretty decent grasp on her own limitations, yet still can't quite make her movie hold together.
Things start innocuously, in a parking lot where Samantha (Angelia Landis) and Edward (Josh Randall) meet when she accidentally dings his SUV. She gives him the busin...Read the entire review
Rarely is my take on a movie so distant from the ratings of both audiences & critics, though with a film like My Golden Days, one can assume that the few who have rated it on social sites are critical moviegoers, not your average audience members. But the fact remains; I felt about this film the reverse of what advertised opinions seem to be, and in trying to understand that I've come to the conclusion that it has to happen every so often. This film is an artistic French romance, a slow-moving portrait of a life, of life, rather than a poignant love story. On the surface, I assume I would like these aspects, but ...Read the entire review
(image) As every one of us experiences the evolution of culture and society in real time, it's easy to forget how much things change in ten months, much less ten years. In 2005, when "The Office" premiered, the iPhone didn't even exist, Beyonce was still touring with Destiny's Child, and facebook membership wasn't open to the public. The pilot episode, a direct remake of the first episode of the original UK series, was criticized as a poor imitation of its source material, and the first season received mixed reviews. Very few could've guessed that the reputation of "The Office", even with its highs and lows, would go on to arguably dwarf that of the series that spawned it, that the show would help birth a movie star (Steve Carell) and a second successful TV show ("Parks and Recreation", initially referred to as a spin-off), and most importantly, alongside "30 Rock" and "Parks", launch an entirely new era and s...Read the entire review
(image) In 10 Words or Less Meet Peelander-Z...and say goodbye
Reviewer's Bias* Loves: The Aquabats, documentaries Likes: Punk pop, concert films Dislikes: The realities of the music industry Hates: Watching dreams die
The Movie For the uninitiated, Peelander-Z is like an East Coast punk-pop version of the Aquabats--a group of Japanese guys (and a girl) who dress up in sentai-style costumes, battle a kaiju-style villain and play aggressive, yet goofy music to a small, but loyal audience. Their shows are interactive spectacles with little barrier between performer and audience, and a general sense of manic happiness. Unfortunatel...Read the entire review
So long as there's a new virus scare making the rounds on the news, there will be an opening for the zombie apocalypse and medical disaster genres to exploit those fears, even though the creative vein continues to dry up for both. As of late, filmmakers have gravitated toward horror-drama hybrids to break from the status quo, combining the peripheral scope of a global or countrywide threat with contained, more subtly harrowing character examinations, focused on individuals feeling the personal impact of their respective pandemics. For one of these to succeed nowadays, it's got to stick out with the statement made or the thrills provided alongside the drama. One of the latest of these direct-to-video infect...Read the entire review
The Show With DC and Warner Brothers' big plans to make a cinematic universe to rival Marvel's, one of the properties they've been looking to bring to the big screen is Neil Gaiman's Sandman, a sprawling, literary story that defies categorization and simple summarization. It's been in development for decades, and many fans dread what it could turn out to be. In some people's view, it would make mor...Read the entire review
When something uses a title like "The Unauthorized Story," you can expect it to give you plenty of sensational dirt on whatever it's about. Lionsgate brings us this collection of four such unauthorized stories behind TV shows (originally made for Lifetime, the cable channel that started out with medical shows) that I never thought the public was clamoring for "dirt" on, and I'm not sure if they're even historically important enough to receive this sort of treatment, but let's take a look at what we have here:
(image) Y'know the thrilling sensation when a shark's dorsal fin emerges from the water in a horror film, that flicker of dread knowing that they're closing in on whatever main characters are left alive? Something like that doesn't really happen in In the Deep: there's a scene involving a dorsal fin coming out of the water, but the onlookers view the sight as something positive, smiling and cheering at its appearance above the water since it means their day of marine adventure will have their desired excitement. Instead, the film's title correctly describes where all the suspense takes place, concentrating entirely on how a pair of tourists handle being trapped way underwater while surrounded by those kind of massive, hostile carnivores of the...Read the entire review
(image) In 10 Words or Less Patrick Stewart leads a team of broken people
(image) Reviewer's Bias* Loves: Patrick Stewart, Mary Holland, journalism Likes: Seth MacFarlane, Karan Soni Dislikes: Damaged personalities Hates: Dull plots
The Show On paper, Blunt Talk looks like a slam-dunk. Seth MacFarlane producing. Patrick Stewart in the lead. Community's Tristram Shapeero on-board as producer and frequent director. Bored to Death creator Jonathan Ames as creator and showrunner. Scene-stealers like Mary Holland (Comedy Bang! Bang!) and Karan Soni (Deadpool and Ghostbusters in the regular cast. But put it all...Read the entire review
(image) In 10 Words or Less A madcap chase with an abrupt end
(image) Reviewer's Bias* Loves: Goofy, not dumb comedies Likes: David Paymer Kim Coates Dislikes: Trying-too-hard Tom Arnold Hates: Over-the-top mugging
The Movie "Let's go! It's a school day, not a carnival day!"
And with that nonsensical statement that no one has ever heard anyone without a major head injury say, Carpool is off and running. Dan (David Paymer) has a busy day at work ahead of him, including a major presentation, but it's off to a bad start when he wakes up late and finds he has to take his sick wife's spot driving the carpool for his kids. So with his honey dope...Read the entire review
(image) The Nasty Terrible T-Kid 170: Julius Cavero A small section of the viewing world will likely eat up this graffiti documentary like candy. At 49 minutes in length, it's easy on the brain, but it packs in more information than you'd expect. Said information will be all-new to the remaining majority of the viewing world, those who aren't New York graffiti artists or devotees. As a cultural artifact, T-Kid-170 is educational and truly entertaining, and if you aspire to go up on a wall or train somewhere for all to see, you'll find this DVD recommended. If you're just looking to take your infatuation with Wild Style a few clicks further down the road, you could do lots worse than to Rent It.
Telling something of the life story of Julius Cavero, T-Kid-170 works much more heartily as a treatise on the meaning and function of graffiti as an art form (albeit a mostly ille...Read the entire review
Since the US is a melting pot, it's possible for every member of a nationality or ethnicity to find American heroes who shaped this country in one way or another. Us Turks don't have many famous examples (The less we say about Doctor Oz, the better), but we seem to have cornered the market on music producers who have put a tremendous mark on the popular music of the 20th Century. If you love Led Zeppelin or Ray Charles, you have Turkish wunderproducer Ahmet Ertegun to thank. In fact, Ertegun's importance on Zeppelin was so massive, that the band reunited for a single performance in 2007 in his honor.
And if you enjoy the music of Bette Midler, The Bee Gees, Norah Jones (To be honest, the list is way too long for this review), then Arif Mardin is your guy. A prot g e of Ahmet Ertegun during th...Read the entire review
(image) In 10 Words or Less Imagine if you actually wanted to visit Walmart
(image) Reviewer's Bias* Loves: Sitcoms, Mark McKinney Likes: America Ferrera, Target Dislikes: Walmart, laughing at sad people Hates: Short seasons
The Show NBC hasn't had the greatest luck of late when it comes to launching sitcoms. Not since the mid-to-late aughts, when they dominated TV comedy (at least from a critical perspective) with shows like 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Community. But that all ended when they handled Chelsea Handler and Whitney Cummings their own shows. Since then, it's been rough seas for comedy on NBC, and this pas...Read the entire review
From the fifties through the seventies, TV viewers in certain parts of the country would be lucky enough to enjoy broadcasts showcasing what was, at the time, the brightest and best in country music. Time Life has collected a second boxed set comprised of material shot live onstage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee better known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry. Additional material included in this eight disc collection was also shot at the Grand Ole Opry House and at WSM-TV in Nashville.
How does this material hold up? Remarkably well. It goes to show you almost immediately just how much modern country music, or at least modern country music of the mainstream variety, has changed over the years. This doesn't sound like the adult contemporary or pop music influenced country' that plagues the radio, but rather, it's got that old fashioned, rootsy, instantly ...Read the entire review
In the language of the street, they call it junk or H. Stuff. Snow. Mooch. Happy dust. Kokomo. Horse. There are other names for it, names that aren't so refined. But it all adds up to the same thing: heroin. And two pounds had been swallowed by infinity.
With its gruffly stylized cop voice-over and black-and-white morality, the 1958 Roger Corman production Stakeout on Dope Street plays sort of like a movie spin-off of Dragnet mixed with an anti-drugs afterschool special. First-time feature director Irvin Kershner, who will be remembered in perpetuity as the guy who helmed your favorite Star Wars movie...Read the entire review
The Russian Woodpecker starts off as an interesting character study of part time kooky performance artist/part time conspiracy theorist Fedor Alexdrovich, who's convinced that the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear tragedy was an inside job by a high ranking Soviet official in order to cover up the failure of an insanely expensive military communications system, then gradually turns into an intricate examination of Fedor's theories, some of which so chillingly makes sense that by the end of the doc, we end up inside the asylum looking out, instead of the other way around.
Director Chad Gracia does an admirable job balancing a chillingly straightforward documentation of Fedor's various eccentricities, which range from thankfully short sections of his performance art where he walks around with a makeshift nuclear suit from hell, to him walking around Chernobyl, where there's still te...Read the entire review
Nickelodeon's ongoing animated reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012- ) has been quite the success. Now well into its fourth season with a fifth in the pipeline, it's maintained a remarkably consistent level of quality during the past four years. I've reviewed Read the entire review
(image) In 10 Words or Less Watch people not enjoy their favorite things
Reviewer's Bias* Loves: The concept of criticism Likes: Simple, tasty food Dislikes: Elitists, High-end restaurants Hates: Self-important critics
The Movie If you're going out to eat tonight, you'll probably either check out Yelp or maybe ask some friends if they've been anywhere good lately. You're probably not going to hit up The Skinny Bib or Luxeat or any of a number of fine-dining blogs that offer their opinions on high-end eating. It's a world most have no knowledge of, or even interest in taking part of, but there's something about it's rarity and exclusivity tha...Read the entire review
Director: Richard Eyre Starring: Ian McKellen, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Watson Year: 2015
As the storied careers of both Ian McKellen & Anthony Hopkins approach their inevitable ends, The Dresser acts as the perfect showcase for two of the best actors of the 20th century. Both knighted as Commanders of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, McKellen is 77, Hopkins is 78, and each has a filmography to stun the senses, ignoring their various other efforts on stage and in their respective communities. McKellen is best known, in recent times anyway, as Gandalf the Grey, but his roles in other films over the years are equally impressive: Gods and Monsters, Apt Pupil, X-Men, Read the entire review
The subjectivity and integrity of different forms of art has become a unique talking point in indie dramas as of late, from the nature of counterfeit works and performance role-reversals to the struggle to overcome physical ailments in creating one's artistic pursuits. In his second directorial feature, Jason Bateman utilizes the bizarre, slightly twisted nature of rebellious performance art as the cornerstone for family drama, one with dark undertones about raising children amid such an adventurous lifestyle and how it impacts the trustworthiness and bonds formed between them. The Family Fang presents nuanced, unique performances from director Bateman and Nicole Kidman as their characters discover wh...Read the entire review