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Fri06232017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

20 Jun 2017
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One of the better films of the 1990s finally gets a sequel as Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) and the boys swing back into action. After being gone two decades following the heist after which he skipped town with all of the money, screwing over his gang mates, Mark finally returns home—and the circumstances are grim. Best friend Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) remains pissed; Spud (Ewen Bremner) is an absolute suicidal mess; and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is fresh out of prison—after an escape—and looking for some payback. Director Danny Boyle also returns, and he’s put together a film that, while not nearly as good as the original, is a sequel worthy of the original. It’s fun to see these characters again, and interesting to see where the years have taken them. (Basically, not very far.) Heroin addiction, a big part of the original, is more of an afterthought in this one,…
05 Jun 2017
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In The Survivalist, Martin McCann plays a character—simply listed as Survivalist in the credits—who is living on a small piece of land in a post-apocalyptic world where food has grown scarce. It’s a lonely existence, but he has a crop to get by, and it’s all for him. That is, until a mysterious woman (Olwen Fouere) and her daughter (Mia Goth) show up looking to barter for food. He refuses their offer of pumpkin seeds, but the Survivalist accepts the offer of sleeping with the daughter … and then things get a little complicated. Writer-director Stephen Fingleton has made a film that is relentlessly dark, and has almost nothing good to say about human beings. (Hey, the human race needs a good smack-down sometimes … am I right?) McCann is highly memorable as a nervous man who yearns for companionship yet trusts no one. Fouere provides the right amount of…
23 May 2017
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Some 26 years ago, ABC did a very, very bad thing: The network cancelled Twin Peaks after just two seasons, without telling David Lynch the season finale would be a series finale. This resulted in the most unholy of cliffhangers. That cliffhanger that would last 26 years. Thanks to Showtime, Twin Peaks fans finally get some relief with the return of Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), the Black Lodge and Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz). As of this writing, I’ve seen the first four hours of what will be 18, all directed and co-written by Lynch. The first two hours play like the latter-day Lynch films (Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway), and have more in common with the dark, horrific Peaks movie Fire Walk With Me than the comparatively bright original TV show. Episodes 3 and 4 take on a funny, goofier tone at times, reminiscent of the odd humor that propelled the…
16 May 2017
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I had the pleasure of seeing Norm Macdonald’s standup routine live sometime in the 1990s, if I remember right. He played the local college in Reno, Nev., and the crowd wasn’t all that impressed with him. Meanwhile, my brother and I laughed our asses off. He was rambling quite a bit, and seemed to be making everything up on the fly. Bro and I thought it was brilliant, but we were in the minority: He got mildly heckled that night. (I will never forget his line: “Never dance with a girl who has a belly full of chowder!”) For this Netflix special, Norm is all buttoned up in a suit, and his routine is fine-tuned. It’s also hilarious, shocking and nothing short of comedic brilliance. He’s funny as hell in this thing. This special from Macdonald is just the latest in a string of great Netflix comedy offerings, from the…
08 May 2017
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I watch Donnie Darko every few years. It’s one of those great weird movies in which new things hit you each time you see it. It’s also fun to see how young Jake Gyllenhaal was in this 2001 film. He was just a lil’ baby. My discovery with this viewing: I had forgotten Seth Rogen is in this movie. He plays a bully who harasses Gretchen (Jena Malone). Also, I’m not sure I’d watched it since Patrick Swayze passed away. The film is just a little bit darker knowing the former Outsider is gone. This new limited edition includes a director’s cut, as well as the original version. Honestly, I can’t remember whether I’d watched the director’s cut before; the version does not seem all that different, other than it’s about 15 minutes longer. I did see a few scenes that struck me as new. Mary McDonnell plays one of…
02 May 2017
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Some things should never go away. While RiffTrax (headed by Michael J. Nelson) and Cinematic Titanic (headed by Joel Hodgson) kept the Mystery Science Theater 3000 dream alive a little bit over the years, the entertainment world has been severely lacking robots and humans riffing insults during crap movies. Yes, it’s been 18 years since it ended with season 11! Thanks to Netflix and a successful crowd-funding campaign, that has all changed with the return of MST3K. Hodgson, the true father of this enterprise, has stepped back in as creator, writer and a small character named Ardy, and the results are pretty good. New host Jonah Ray is no Joel, but he gives Nelson a run for his money. The bots have new voices, and that’s a bit jarring at first, but they eventually own it. It’s nice to have Patton Oswalt on hand as TV’s Son of TV’s Frank.…
17 Apr 2017
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Adam Sandler’s third movie with Netflix is the very definition of overindulgence. There’s a decent movie in here from director Steven Brill, who worked with Sandler previously on Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds and The Do-Over—but Sandy Wexler is a mess obscured by too many subplots. Sandler stars as the title character, a talent manager trying to find new clients in the 1990s. After working with low-level comedians and daredevils, Sandy finds Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson), an amusement-park performer with a stunning voice. Sandy takes charge of her career, and sends her on a superstar trajectory. Of course, Sandler creates one of his weirdo characterizations, with a goofy voice and strange mannerisms. While some of the 1990s jokes involving Fruitopia, Arsenio Hall and the Atkins Diet are funny, Sandler and Brill take the movie off into a strange, unlikely romance realm that destroys all of the fun. The movie is supremely…
11 Apr 2017
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The Void is a throwback to John Carpenter/Clive Barker horror films that’s completely insane, horribly acted—and a whole lot of fun for anybody who likes their horror served up with a side of cheese. A brash policeman (Aaron Poole) picks up a stranger on the side of the road and takes him to a sparsely populated hospital (shades of Halloween 2). While there, a possessed nurse (shades of Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness) murders a patient, then promptly turns into a messed-up monster (shades of Carpenter’s The Thing) while the hospital is besieged by a zombie-like throng of people dressed in white cloaks (shades of Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13). Shortly thereafter, the head doctor dies, but comes back, promptly skins himself and unleashes a world down below filled with mutants (shades of Barker’s Hellraiser). That’s just some of the homages, and they all come together … to make little or…
03 Apr 2017
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Dave Chappelle returned to the spotlight a few months back when he hosted Saturday Night Live—and reminded us all that he’s one of the greatest comics working today. His monologue was a thing of beauty. With his two new standup specials currently streaming on Netflix, Chappelle proves he is actually one of the best comics to ever pick up a microphone: These are two solid gigs packed with nasty, hard hitting, brilliant humor. The two specials have similar feels, so you are safe watching them back to back and treating them as one. Chappelle shames the likes of Bill Cosby and O.J. Simpson in ways they truly deserve, while his takes on marriage and some of his own wild public moments are side-splittingly hilarious. These shows represent a man at the top of his craft. Chappelle joins the ranks of George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks and Louis C.K. in…
27 Mar 2017
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Writer-director Sean Byrne follows up his very good horror debut, The Loved Ones, with The Devil’s Candy, a piece of heavy-metal nastiness. Jesse (an unrecognizable Ethan Embry), a starving artist, and his wife, Astrid (Shiri Appleby), are moving into a new house, bought for a dirt-cheap price, with daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). However, they soon find out that the couple who lived there before died in some sort of accident. After moving in, a super-creepy guy (Pruitt Taylor Vince), a former inhabitant of the house, shows up on the doorstep looking to move back in. Naturally, Jesse says no—and, of course, creepy guy doesn’t give up. Byrne sets his story to heavy-metal music, with Jesse’s family being devout followers of Metallica; Vance’s creepy guy also needs to play metal at night on his guitar to drown out the voice of the devil. If devil movies give you enjoyable heebie-jeebies (like,…
20 Mar 2017
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Moonlight is the little film that could. It basically came out of nowhere to upset La La Land at this year’s Oscars and take the Best Picture award. Did Moonlight deserve it? Well, no. It’s a very good movie, but La La Land, Manchester by the Sea and even The Witch were better films. That’s not to say it wasn’t deserving of the nominations for Best Picture and in some acting categories. The sophomore feature from director Barry Jenkins is indeed a thing of beauty. A young boy grows into a man in the film’s three parts, and Jenkins cast the roles perfectly. Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes all play the central character at different ages, and they are all spectacular. The movie had one of 2016’s best ensemble casts. It’s also a very good-looking movie, beautifully shot and edited. Mahershala Ali, the Oscar winner for Best…
14 Mar 2017
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If you missed the first season of Love, an excellent romantic comedy series on Netflix, get on it. It’s a true gem. Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust are back for a second season as Mickey and Gus, one of the most realistically clumsy couples ever depicted on film. Mickey is a drug and sex addict, while Gus is a nebbish nerd tutoring movie stars. They look like a strange, impossible couple, and they pretty much are—but they are also sweet together in a dysfunctional way, with Jacobs and Rust setting off constant comedy fireworks. Claudia O’Doherty is consistently hilarious as Mickey’s roomie, Bernie. This has the feel of some of the better movies by Judd Apatow, who is a co-creator of the show—yet it just keeps on going and going. Season 2 is already up on Netflix, available for binge watching, while Season 3 has already been announced. The ballad…

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