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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

09 May 2018
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Nearly 30 years after last donning the headband in Karate Kid Part III, Ralph Macchio returns to the role of Daniel LaRusso, and old nemesis Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) is along for the ride. As a 10-part series on YouTube Red, YouTube’s premium service, Cobra Kai gives us a chance to see how things turned out for Daniel—he’s a rich owner of a car dealership. While that’s fun, the real charm of the series is learning more about Johnny, who isn’t doing so well three decades later. Prone to drinking, estranged from his son, Robby (Tanner Buchanan), and constantly beating up on himself, Johnny hasn’t adjusted well after taking that kick to the face in the karate tournament. Yes, it looked like Johnny learned his lesson and tried to be a good sport in the aftermath, but the defeat ate away at him over the years. Now, while pounding beers…
01 May 2018
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After a strong, sweet and funny start, Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix effort, The Week Of, falls apart in its second half. Sandler plays Kenny, a dad whose daughter (Allison Strong) is getting married in a week. He sees it as his last chance to do something for her, so he tries his best to put together an impressive spread for the two families. Chris Rock plays the father of the groom, a wealthy heart surgeon who isn’t impressed with the hotel Kenny has picked. Others on hand include Rachel Dratch (It’s good to see her!) as Kenny’s wife, and Steve Buscemi as a sleazy family member with amazing climbing abilities. Directed by Robert Smigel, the film goes on long enough for the jokes to start dying from old age. A joke involving a legless uncle starts funny, gets funnier, almost gets really funny … then goes stale. As a Howard…
25 Apr 2018
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A dying photographer (Ed Harris) coaxes his estranged son (Jason Sudeikis) into going on a road trip with him and his nurse (Elizabeth Olsen) to get some Kodachrome film developed before the world stops developing the brand in Netflix’s Kodachrome. Yes, it’s yet another road movie, and yes, it has the “somebody’s dying” gimmick to go with it—but don’t write this one off based on the synopsis. The three stars are pretty good here, with Harris especially good as a miserable man trying, in a very strange and peculiar way, to make nice with his son before checking out. Sudeikis is one of the more underrated actors out there, and he does a lot with a fairly stereotypical role. Olsen, one of my favorite actresses, puts the whole thing over the top as a nurse who’s more than just an extra passenger calling shotgun. The movie falls into some of…
10 Apr 2018
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Al Pacino does haunting work in HBO’s Paterno as Joe Paterno, the former Penn State football coach who was a cowardly liar when it came to the case of Jerry Sandusky, one of Paterno’s assistants—and now a convicted pedophile. The film, directed by Barry Levinson, starts with Paterno on top of the world, about to win a record-setting football game. But behind the scenes, a story is brewing—one that will derail Paterno and others who led at a university that chose to cover up Sandusky’s acts in order to protect a legendary football program. That, of course, was disgusting, and Levinson’s film drives that point home in what amounts to a horror show. Jim Johnson, who plays Sandusky in a few chilling scenes, looks a lot like the real guy—so much so that your stomach turns when he’s onscreen. Sorry, Mr. Johnson. Pacino portrays Paterno as he appeared during his…
22 May 2018
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Transgender actress Daniela Vega delivers a great performance in an OK film from Chilean director Sebastian Lelio. In A Fantastic Woman, she plays Marina, a club singer at night and waitress by day who has a boyfriend twice her age in Orlando (Francisco Reyes). After celebrating her birthday, Orlando falls ill and dies, leaving Marina to deal with his family and authorities. Marina is persecuted by Orlando’s family, questioned by detectives about the circumstances of Orlando’s death, and restricted from attending his wake and funeral. The story never really takes hold. The plotting is routine and unimaginative, but some fantasy sequences and a couple of musical numbers give Vega a nice opportunity to shine. She keeps the movie moving forward when the story lags. Lelio has a few stylistic flourishes in the film, and it’s worth seeing in the end. (It won Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.) See…
03 Apr 2018
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After watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi again, I can say that it I liked it even less than I did the first time. To be clear (or, maybe more confusing): I like the movie just fine. I just have major reservations about some choices made by director Rian Johnson. For example, a few months haven’t lessened my annoyance with a frozen Princess Leia flying through space to save her own ass; Kylo Ren with his shirt off; and just about everything Johnson did with Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac). Too much of this feels decidedly non-Star Wars to me. However, the stuff with Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is so good that it saves the movie. Their bickering on that island as Luke basically goes through a bit of a wuss phase is great moviemaking, and feels right at home in the Star Wars…
27 Mar 2018
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Wow! Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet was a show that was just OK in its first season—but not only does it hit its stride in the second; it becomes one of the funniest shows on TV (or streaming, or whatever). Why? Mainly because Timothy Olyphant’s performance as mildly agitated Joe—husband to recently undead cannibal Sheila (Drew Barrymore)—has gone from slightly off to totally on. In the first episode alone, he has a solid 10 moments that are worth a laugh. He not only gets the laughs; he gets them with pitch-perfect timing. Barrymore is no slouch, either, although she’s simply continuing her great work from Season 1. The writing on this show is done by a group of people (including Victor Fresco) who have just said, “Who gives a fuck anymore?” All the proverbial stops have been taken out. There are lines in this show that are as nasty/funny as anything…
21 Mar 2018
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I was surprised as heck when Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, still doing relatively well at the box office, beat the new Star Wars movie to iTunes. Man, the significance of in-theater revenue dips with each passing second. Well, I missed this in theaters, and I feel a relative amount of shame about that. As a critic, I should’ve raced out to see this box-office darling. Sometimes, I’m just a lazy asshole. Anyway, I’m not so lazy that I can’t click “download” and watch and stuff on my iTunes account, so I jumped into the latest from Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart as soon as the damned thing showed up as rentable. I can see why people flocked to it. It’s a lot of fun, and much more enjoyable than the Robin Williams original, a movie I enjoyed, even though it was definitely flawed. In this one, a bunch of…
12 Mar 2018
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The ballad of Mickey and Gus (Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust) comes to a satisfying conclusion in the third and final season of Love on Netflix. Whenever I watched this show, co-produced by Judd Apatow, I wound up binging it over the weekend it came out. In other words … I watched all of the episodes quickly—and happily. Rust and Jacobs have proven to be one of TV’s all-time-great, and most-realistic, couples since the show premiered in 2016, and I’m actually quite sorry to see their saga has ended. I would like to see a season of this every year until I die. Season 3 starts with two episodes directed by Michael Showalter, who hit his big-screen stride with last year’s The Big Sick. Showalter starts the season off with sure footing, and the momentum continues thereafter. Apatow himself directs an episode, all of which are consistently hilarious. On top…
07 Mar 2018
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I was a little worried about The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale, the eponymous host’s return to riffing on bad TV. The Soup, which he hosted for 11 (!) years, was a good time, but it ran its course—and after McHale’s thus-far so-so sitcom and movie career, a return to bad TV riffing sounded a little desperate and wrong. Well, shame on me: McHale still rocks at this shit. Granted, the first episode of this series—released each Sunday on Netflix—compounded my worries, because it was quite bad. The bits fell flat, and the timing of the gags and jokes was awkward. But then a funny thing happened: The show got really, really funny in its second and third episodes. Yes, McHale and friends have hit their stride, and this series turns out to be a happy return for McHale rather than a sad retread. While a long bit with…
26 Feb 2018
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Duncan Jones, director of the classic film Moon and the so-good movie Source Code, has continued his slump that started with Warcraft: The Beginning. Actually, Netflix’s Mute qualifies as a total disaster—a film so bad that Jones might find himself looking for sitcom-TV gigs in the near future. Alexander Skarsgard plays Leo, an Amish bartender in future Germany (you read that right) who lost his ability to speak in a boat-propeller accident as a kid. His girlfriend (Seyneb Saleh) disappears, sending him on a wild search that involves him hitting bad guys with big wooden sticks, like Joe Don Baker in Walking Tall. In what seems like an entirely different movie, Paul Rudd plays Cactus Bill, a crooked doctor trying to get back to the United States with his daughter. Oh, and Cactus Bill hangs around with a pedophile doctor (Justin Theroux, saddled with a goofy wig). While this indeed…
19 Feb 2018
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Based on a bizarre graphic novel by Derf Backderf (a former Independent contributor via his late, lamented syndicated comic strip The City), one of serial-killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s actual classmates, My Friend Dahmer is not what you might be expecting. Director Marc Meyers, who also wrote the screenplay, shows us a young, pre-murders Dahmer (Ross Lynch), an awkward high school student with an unfortunate chemistry obsession. Dahmer’s propensity toward spazzing out for attention gets him a little fan club, and a group of kids befriend him in an odd sort of way. While Dahmer makes it into their small ring of friends, nobody ever gets too close to him. Meyers uses real history (Dahmer’s obsession with a local jogger, his torture of animals) to try to explore some of the messed-up factors that led Dahmer to his horrifying killing spree. The events lead up to the moment when Dahmer picks up…