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DVD Talk reviews for Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Old 01-10-19, 03:00 AM
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DVD Talk reviews for Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Highly Recommended
True Stories: Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)
by Randy Miller III

Promotional image courtesy of The Criterion Collection (click to enlarge)

Developed after the success of Jonathan Demme's Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, David Byrne's True Stories (1986) is unequal parts travelogue, musical, comedy, and satire that pays tribute to the fictional town of Virgil, Texas and its upcoming 150th anniversary. Along...Read the entire review »

Waterworld: Limited Edition (Blu-ray)
by Randy Miller III

Typically overshadowed by its bloated budget and troubled production, Kevin Reynolds' Waterworld (1995) was the butt of almost every joke immediately following its theatrical release. Although remembered as a box-office flop (it wasn't, at least taking into account foreign markets and home video profits) and maligned by critics, this post-apocalyptic drama managed to maintain a decent fanbase and, during the last 20+ years, keep its head above water. I hadn't seen it in quite a while but remembered enjoying its sweeping action, ambitious scope, and...uh...that one scene.

Originally envisioned as a low-budget Mad Max rip-off, Read the entire review »


Support the Girls (Blu-ray)
by Tyler Foster

It's time to open Double Whammies, a Hooters-style sports bar featuring young women dressed in Daisy Dukes and crop-top tee-shirts, and there's a would-be heist man stuck in the air vents, the cable TV isn't working -- crucial for the customers who come in to watch sports events, and one of the waitstaff is in legal and financial hot water after running over an abusive boyfriend with her truck. Yet, the unflappable manner in which Lisa (Regina Hall) greets with each emerging crisis suggests that everything will be okay. Lisa's even keel is impressive, especially given that the bar's largely scummy owner Cubby (James LeGros) isn't likely to offer Lisa much more in the way of further promotional opportunities, especially with a competitor called Mancave building one of their corporate chain restaurants nearby. But Lisa isn't driven by the job itself: it's her crew of spirited young women, including sunny...Read the entire review »

Forty Guns (Blu-ray)
by Ian Jane

The Movie:

Written and directed by Samuel Fuller in 1957, Forty Guns (also known under the more salacious title of Woman With A Whip), tells the story of Jessica Drummond (Barbara Stanwyck), a tough woman with a penchant for black attire and who cuts quite a figure when she see her atop her white horse. She leads a gang of forty bandits across the desert plains of Arizona, wreaking havoc along the way and causing plenty of trouble for all they cross. She also essentially controls the town of Tombstone.

This is where former gunslinger turned lawman Griff Bonnell (Barry Sullivan) comes in. He and his brother Wes (Gene Barry), also a lawman, and the much younger Chico (Robert Dix) have a problem when Jessica's brother, Brockie (John Ericson), shoots the local Marshal, John Chisum (Hank Worden), and then goes on a bit of a shooting spree. Griff won't stand for this and h...Read the entire review »

Colette (Blu-ray)
by Olie Coen

Director: Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Keira Knightley, Dominic West
Year: 2018

Keira Knightley simply doesn't age; she's been the period piece It Girl for years now, since Pride & Prejudice perhaps, and that's more than thirteen years ago. Some other actresses have popped up as her replacement (Mia Wasikowska), but since she doesn't seem to get any older, why try to fix what isn't broken? She's now approaching her mid-30s, but can still steal these young debutant roles, and since there's absolutely no one who's quite on her level, I think we could see her continue this game for another thirteen years, why not, she's lasted this young. She's talented, remarkable, beautiful, and has succeeded in whatever has been thrown her way; it's about time we recognize Knightley as the special actress she is and the icon she will som...Read the entire review »

Lizzie (Blu-ray)
by Olie Coen

Director: Craig William Macneill
Starring: Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jamey Sheridan
Year: 2018

If I've said it once I've said it ...probably twice; Kristen Stewart is an incredible actress who is ill-treated partly because of the crappy vehicle she decided to hitch a ride in to jump start her career and party because of the demeanor she exhibits that comes across to us as flippant and/or annoyed. She found a way to become a star, now that she is one she doesn't feel like she owes us anything, and somehow we're mad about that, but that just seems like pure lunacy to me. Stewart is a talented actor, she picks the roles she wants to pick, she talks to the media when she chooses, and nothing else is our business, at least that's the way I look at it. Her role in Lizzie might not even be her best, neither is the film itself, but ...Read the entire review »

MDMA (Blu-ray)
by Tyler Foster

In the year 1984, MDMA (aka "ecstasy") was not yet on the US's list of illegal controlled substances. Any would-be drug dealer, with a bit of science know-how and the tools to do the work, could whip up a manufacturing operation in their own garage. MDMA the movie follows college student Angie Wang (Annie Q), who quickly realizes that her single dad (Ron Yuan) isn't going to make enough to cover her West Coast tuition working at a Chinese restaurant. After sleeping with a charismatic frat boy (Pierson Fode) who offers her a hit, she decides to sign up for the school's science lab and start manufacturing the drug in her free time in order to pay for classes. Although she hits the jackpot, she struggles to juggle her booming business, her friendship with troubled roommate Jeanine (Francesca Eastwood) and earnest classmate Tommy (Scott Keiji Takeda), and the needs of her Little Sister Bree (Aalyr...Read the entire review »

Obsession (Blu-ray)
by Ian Jane

The Movie:

Brian De Palma's 1976 thriller Obsession would seem to be doomed to live forever in the shadow of the director's better-known films but the truth is, this picture, written by Paul Schrader, is every bit as good as any of the other thrillers that he made in the 1970's.

The film takes us to the New Orleans of 1959 where Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson) plans to celebrate a decade of marriage to his beautiful wife Elizabeth (Genevi ve Bujold) with a fancy party. Things are great at first, but when the party finishes Michael finds a ransom note: Elizabeth and their young daughter have been kidnapped and if he wants to see the again, he needs to come up with a half a million dollars in cash. Michael is lucky enough with his lot in life that he's able to pay the ransom but the police, led by Inspector Brie (Stanley J. Reyes), step in at the last minute and it all go...Read the entire review »

The Plague Of The Zombies (Blu-ray)
by DVD Savant

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

In 1966 Hammer films still had a great deal of appeal, even if we kids looked at the photos in Famous Monsters magazine more than we saw the films, which came and went quickly from local screens. Savant was an ardent Hammer fan as a child. I had actually seen The Mummy new at the age of seven and it was one of the earliest memories of excited kids going nuts in a movie theater. I was also one of a mob of happy kids cheering Horror of Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein when they were reissued in 1964. But I missed most of the '60s Hammer releases because they seemed to play almost exclusively...Read the entire review »

The Black Windmill (Blu-ray)
by Stuart Galbraith IV

Derivative but diverting, The Black Windmill (1974) is an okay, mostly British spy thriller starring Michael Caine, albeit directed by American Don Siegel and produced for Universal by the team of Richard Zanuck and David Brown.

It's slickly made and intelligent, but unmemorable. I'd seen the British DVD, released in 2006, yet remembered absolutely nothing about the movie, except maybe that there was a black windmill in there somewhere. Watching the Blu-ray was like seeing it for the first time all over again. It's basically a mishmash of Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much with a dash of John le Carr with a dash of Caine's Harry Palmer films.

McKee (John Vernon) and Ceil (Delphine Seyrig), identified later as arms smugglers working on behalf of the IRA, kidnap the only son of married British "spook" (spy) Maj. John Tarrant, who is investigating them. McKee, in phone calls to T...Read the entire review »

The Last Command (Blu-ray)
by Stuart Galbraith IV

The circumstances leading up to the production of The Last Command (1955), Republic Pictures' big-scale movie about the Battle of the Alamo, are more interesting than the movie itself. Beginning around 1948, John Wayne began hoping to star, produce and direct a movie about the Alamo, to be made at Republic, Wayne's home studio since the mid-1930s.

By this point Wayne was already a huge star, and had outgrown his association with Republic, a B-picture company best known for their singing cowboys (Gene Autry and, later, Roy Rogers) and slickly-made serials. And John Wayne, who made mostly forgettable movies for Republic and memorable ones elsewhere, whenever the studio loaned out his services. John Ford's Fort Apache and especially Howard Hawks's Red River, released by RKO and United Artists, respectively, had solidified Wayne's A-list status.

Wayne, however, was a loyal to a f...Read the entire review »

by Olie Coen

Director: Travis Knight
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, John Cena
Year: 2018

I'll always be thankful to Travis Knight and Laika for giving us Kubo and the Two Strings; it was one of the better movies of 2016 and another stunning animated film from one of my favorite studios. But that's where the problem with Bumblebee arises as well; Knight is an animator, a hell of a good lead animator, but Kubo was his first attempt at directing, and Bumblebee was his first attempt at directing humans. That's not something you learn over night, and an eye for talent isn't something you necessarily learn at all, I think you might have to be born with it. Knight brings a good eye for action and sequencing to this movie, but he doesn't cast it well other than its star, and that's a major issue whenever the pa...Read the entire review »


Rent It
The Unnamable (Blu-ray)
by Kurt Dahlke

The Unnamable:

Unearthed Classics brings us this H.P. Lovecraft adaptation from 1988 in a nice Blu-ray special edition. Does the movie merit the love? And why are most Lovecraft adaptations sourced from short stories? Could it be, at the heart of it, that Lovecraft is ... unfilmable? Let's have a look-see, shall we?

Drawing inspiration from the success of Reanimator, director Jean-Paul Ouellette uncovers the perilous well of eldritch energy to craft The Unnamable with a touch of humor, a touch of horror, and a whole lot of '80s hairspray. Unlike the source, Lovecraft movies such as this one have tended to rely on over-the-top special effects and gore, rather than the kind of free-floating dread the author specialized in. The setup in this case is a hideous creature locked in an attic for centuries, and the 'Me Era' college students inspired to seek it out, not due to curiosit...Read the entire review »

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