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Monday Mixer: Kevin Smith returning to his roots with new film

Posted February 20, 2017, 11:02 AM

President's weekend is always an interesting one at the box office. On the one hand, it falls right in prime awards season territory, so you would expect a bit of a bump to those award-contending films. On the other hand, kids are out of school today, so that bodes well for family-friendly fare.

So, how did it play out this year? A little bit of both, actually.

The real story though is that the holiday weekend is looking to come in at about half of last year's number. Of course, 2016 was buoyed by the breakout hit Deadpool, which fits neither the family-friendly or awards-contending storylines. I'm actually surprised that Fox didn't try to mimic Deadpool's path to success with Logan, considering that both films speak to similar audiences and are rated R.

Instead, Fox opted to play it a bit safer with...

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Review: 'The Crooked Man' falls short on many levels

Posted February 14, 2017, 4:02 PM

The use of urban legends and mythology is standard practice when it comes to horror film fodder. Whether it's co-opting an existing urban legend ala the Urban Legend movies, or creating their own for the Nightmare on Elm Street movies ("One, Two, Freddy's coming for you"), the blurring of lines between real horrific tales and tales of horror on the big screen is something that has been around for decades.

Unfortunately, it's also a tired trope that really needs a unique concept or perspective that really knocks your socks off. Things that go bump in the night movies were old hat, but The Blair Witch Project put a new spin on them. The Crooked Man is neither original, nor does it pack enough scares to give even the lightest of horror lightweights any reasons to jump.

I think the main problem lies...

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Monday Mixer: Three films zoom to the top of the box office

Posted February 13, 2017, 11:02 AM

I know that it's a right of passage of being a parent, but nothing really prepares you for your child needing medical attention. Actually, with my genes, I'm surprised that it's taken my son three whole years before he finally hurt himself to the point of needing to see a doctor, but Friday was finally the day.

Two stitches, a black eye and a possible concussion later, my son was back to his old self and milking his injury for all that it's worth. Needless to say, he got cupcakes and treats all weekend long. So, please excuse me if I'm a bit behind and slow this morning.

Ironically, or perhaps not, this weekend also happened to be the best box office week yet for 2017. Three new films each debuted over $30 million and the Oscar contenders all held strong. Given...

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Review: 'Nerdland' finds inspiration through introspection

Posted February 7, 2017, 5:02 PM

Let's face it, with Twitter and the various means of social interactions, we have become a society of fame whores. Heck, we elected a reality TV persona as President of the United States (yes, he's also a very successful businessman).

So, it's within this framework that we meet John and Elliot, just two average Joes in Hollywood looking to make it in the film industry. Naturally, they aren't having much luck, but that doesn't stop then. Instead, they launch a ridiculous plan to become famous and by doing so, achieve everything that they have ever desired.

I'm not going to give away the ending, but the real joys of Nerdland lie in the journey and the interaction between vocal leads Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt. Despite their characters being animated, the bromance between these two is executed to perfection thanks to these...

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Review: 'Burn Country' is the culture clash film we all need right now

Posted February 7, 2017, 5:02 PM

It's safe to say that there is a certain level of xenophobia sweeping our country right now. And no, this review will not get political, I promise.

I only mention it to mark this film's place in the world when it arrived on DVD this week. Burn Country is a film that is buoyed by strong performances from some of the best actors in Hollywood, but it takes on another level of meaning given the current landscape in this country.

Dominic Rains is a real surprise as an Afghan exile journalist who comes to a small Northern California town after covering his fair share of war violence in Afghanistan. Beyond simply being a fish out of water film, Burn Country tries to stay above the political sniping to focus on the fears of a small town and its perceived invasion from outside...

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Review: History shares the 'Real' story behind two classic villains

Posted February 7, 2017, 4:02 PM

I'm beginning to think that I'm either the best father or the worst. My son has a very eclectic taste in TV watching. He loves The Curse of Oak Island and, like me, he still can't understand why they haven't found Hitler.

He's a chip off the old block.

He's also three years old.

So, imagine my surprise (there really wasn't any) when he was excited to see my review copy of Frankenstein: The Real Story / The Real Wolfman. He has a fascination for the classic monsters that is almost certainly not healthy for a toddler, but what can you do?

Naturally, I encourage it.

Frankenstein: The Real Story is a collection of three documentaries (IN SEARCH OF THE REAL FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN and IT'S ALIVE! THE TRUE STORY OF FRANKENSTEIN) that takes a deep dive into both the origins of the character and the...

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Review: 'John Wick' reaches new heights in 4K UHD

Posted February 7, 2017, 4:02 PM

For Blu-ray, the baseline title upon which to compare every other film that was released in this new format was The Fifth Element. This film was included in the first wave of titles released by Sony and with its rich color palette and heavy special effects, the film truly came alive on Blu-ray.

For years, I would throw in that original Blu-ray of The Fifth Element whenever I had friends and family members over to preach to them of the benefits of Blu-ray. When I do that for 4K UHD Blu-ray, my go-to title will forever now be John Wick.

I'll be honest, I was late to the game on John Wick. I did not rush out to watch it in theaters. I ignored the generally positive reviews on the film and did not seek it out when it first came out...

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Undiscovered Picks

Upcoming movies worth watching that you may not have heard of.

  • Sophie & The Rising Sun
  • Trespass Against Us
  • I am Michael
  • Fatal Instinct
  • Cold War 2