March 20, 2019

THE POOP SCOOP: Under-the-Radar Action Films Coming to Blu-ray

DESTROYER on Digital 4/9 and Blu-ray and DVD 4/23
Academy Award Winner Nicole Kidman gives a Golden Globe-nominated performance in this gritty, suspenseful crime drama. In the years since she engaged in an undercover drug ring assignment that ended tragically, L.A.P.D. detective Erin Bell (Kidman) has stumbled along a path of self-destruction. But now that the ring’s boss has resurfaced, Bell is drawn back into action to try to stop a violent new crime wave. Forced to face the demons of her past, she begins an odyssey that’s as deeply personal as it is dangerous.
COLD PURSUIT on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, and On Demand 5/14
Academy Award nominee and mega-action hero Liam Neeson (1993, Best Actor, Schindler’s List; also known for The Commuter, Taken franchise, Widows) stars as a father in search of answers after his son is mysteriously murdered in Cold Pursuit, arriving on Digital May 3 and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital), Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD, and On Demand May 14 from Lionsgate. Based on his 2014 Norwegian film, Kraftidioten (In Order of Disappearance), director Hans Petter Moland delivers thrills and chills in what critics call “an excellent film” (Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post), written for the screen by Frank Baldwin. The edge-of-your-seat thriller also stars Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express), Golden Globe nominee Emmy Rossum (2005, Best Actress, The Phantom of the Opera), and Academy Award nominee Laura Dern (2014, Best Supporting Actress, Wild).

MISS BALA on Digital 4/16 Coming to Blu-ray & DVD 4/30
Golden Globe winner, Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation, “Jane the Virgin”) takes charge in the high-octane action adventure, MISS BALA, debuting on Digital April 16 and coming to Blu-ray and DVD April 30, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Caught in the perilous world of a brutal cross-border cartel, a young woman finds powers she never knew she had as she seeks to rescue her friend. Hollywood’s newest heartthrob, Ismael Cruz-Córdova (Mary Queen of Scots), stars alongside Rodriguez as the cartel kingpin, whose growing attraction to his strong-willed female hostage raises the stakes for both as the CIA, DEA, and rival cartels close in. Rodriguez and Cruz-Córdova are joined by co-stars, Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Infinity War) and Matt Lauria (“Friday Night Lights”) in this female-driven action story directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) from a screenplay by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Contrapelo).

ESCAPE ROOM on Digital 4/9 & Blu-ray/DVD 4/23
Centered on six strangers who must uncover wickedly designed puzzles and overcome life-threatening challenges set in hazardous environments, with plenty of twists and turns, the ESCAPE ROOM Blu-ray, DVD and Digital releases feature a never-before-seen Alternate Ending and Opening, six deleted scenes and four featurettes. Hear from director Adam Robitel and the cast about how the film’s 360-degree architectural spaces prove to be some of the most adversarial characters imaginable in “Games, Set, Match.” Then, learn about how Escape Room was built with practical effects and no green screens as the cast and crew dives deep in “The Lone Survivors.”
REPLICAS on Digital 4/2 and Blu-ray and DVD 4/16
Keanu Reeves stars as William Foster, a neuroscientist on the verge of transferring human consciousness into a computer when his beloved wife (Alice Eve) and children are tragically killed in a car crash. Desperate to resurrect his family, William recruits a fellow scientist (Thomas Middleditch) to help secretly clone their bodies and create replicas. When William learns that he can only replicate three of the four family members, he makes a decision with fateful consequences. Take home Replicas and dive headfirst into the twists and turns of this intense brain-churner with an audio commentary with director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and executive producer James Dodson, a making of featurette, and never-before-seen deleted scenes.

March 19, 2019

ACCIDENT is Aptly Named
Starring Stephanie Schildknecht, Roxanne Hayward, Tyrone Keogh, Keenan Arrison, Karl Thaning. Directed by Dan Tondowski. (2017/92 min). 

On Blu-ray from WELL GO USA

Review by Tiger the Terrible😾

Accident has a great premise and one good scene. That's it. The title could cheekily refer to how clumsily the film was thrown together.

Jess and Caroline are two dumb bimbos hitching a ride to a concert with a couple of even dumber dudes, Fred and Thomas, who "borrowed" a sports car for the weekend. Unfortunately, they have an accident and get trapped in the overturned vehicle at the bottom of a ravine. Making matter worse...those who actually own the car are gangsters who've stashed something extremely valuable inside, and they want it back.

The aforementioned one good scene is the crash itself, filmed from inside the vehicle. It hits another car before rolling end-over-end down a steep wooded hill. In loving slow-motion, we see passengers bouncing around inside among debris and shattered windshield glass.

It comes to rest - upside-down - near the edge of a cliff. However, in what might be the worst continuity error of all time, three of the four passengers are trapped inside, unable to break through the windows that shattered only one scene earlier. Miraculously, Fred was apparently thrown out on the way down. Through what, an air vent? Dumber still, Thomas eventually manages to force a window open and shimmy his way out, yet despite being unrestrained, Jess and Caroline remain helplessly trapped inside the car. It never occurs to either of them to simply follow his lead.

The boys find a ladybug.
Never mind the uniformly terrible performances and aggressively stupid characters. First-time writer/director Dan Tondowski is his own worst enemy, patching together his story with bone-headed logic and little regard to anything resembling plausibility. Consider this:
  • Fred must have the healing powers of Wolverine. He's impaled right through the chest by a tree limb, yet after good buddy Thomas pulls it out, he's right as rain within a few minutes. Later, he's taken down by multiple rounds from a mounted machine gun, only to bounce back yet-again to rescue a girl from drowning.
  • Though I'm no triage expert, I'm pretty certain you can't stop an asthma attack by performing an emergency tracheotomy. But even you could, it's highly doubtful the recipient could do much more than gurgle blood, let alone speak and scream.
  • What is a street light doing in the middle of the forest?
  • Jess and Caroline change clothes in a truck stop restroom, pausing at-length to strut around in their panties, engaging in small talk while Tondowski's camera engages in their asses. Most of us would prefer to avoid truck stop restroom altogether, to say nothing of performing a gratuitous striptease in one.
  • Once he's out of the car, Tony wants to leave the girls behind. Then he wants to burn them alive in the car with a road flare. Fred talks him out of it for the moment, but Tony later decides they should die after all. So he pulls out a gun to shoot them, but again, Fred convinces him not to. Finally, Tony flip-flops one more time and once-again chooses death by fire. But this time, Fred simply sits down next to Tony and watches flames surround the car. Hey, make up your minds, guys.
  • After locating the car, a mob assassin arrives at the scene and kills a highway patrolman after he's radioed for back-up, though he doesn't appear concerned about it. Neither does Tondowski, since the threat of back-up never figures into the story.
I could go on, but you get the idea. It's as though every scene was written on-the-fly without referring to the script's previous pages to make sure it doesn't contradict what's already happened. Accident is almost completely devoid of narrative logic, plausibility, pacing and continuity. Which is a shame because it's technically competent and the basic concept is solid. Instead, what could have been a tense, tight little thriller ends up being a mind-numbing assault on the viewer's intelligence. At best, this is good for a few incredulous chuckles at its own expense.


March 18, 2019

Rest in Peace, John Carl Buechler

March 16, 2019

LIFE IN THE DOGHOUSE: An Ongoing Rescue Mission
Featuring Ron Danta & Danny Robertshaw. Directed by Ron Davis. (2018/84 min).


GUEST REVIEWER: Murphy, the Worried Wheaten (none of our cat staff would touch this one).🐕

At the time this documentary was shot, Ron Danta and Danny Robertshaw are sharing their ranch home with over 75 dogs. And yeah, they explain how exhausting it is keeping the house from smelling like a pet store.

Every day, they individually feed, exercise and care for each one of them. But these guys aren't hoarders. When not training show horses, Ron and Danny have rescued over 10,000 dogs over the years, mostly from shelters, abusive/neglectful owners and, most heroically, animals abandoned during Hurricane Katrina.

Life in the Doghouse is a charming documentary about what's become their life's work, mostly accomplished at their own expense, not only to save as many dogs as possible, but adopt them out. Those they can't place with new owners simply live at the ranch. Amusingly, these pooches appear to have the run of the place. There's not a single kennel to be seen. 

We meet a lot of the two men's furry friends, new and old, all of which seem to appreciate their new leases on life. While Ron & Danny's relationship with these animals is heartwarming, the film is sometimes appropriately somber when they discuss some of the animal cruelty they've encountered, or provide alarming euthanasia statistics.

Guess which guy has a pocketful o' meat treats.
The film is just as much about Ron and Danny as it is about the dogs. They've been a couple for over 20 years and, as gay men who've endured a lot in their lives, one might come to the conclusion they sort-of rescued each other, as well. Less interesting are the segments involving their "day jobs" as horse trainers. Nothing personal against the ponies, but hey...they don't tug at our heartstrings quite like the plethora of pooches.

Watching the film makes one wish there were more folks like these two guys, selflessly saving as many wayward dogs as possible, no matter how homely or adorable. Their story is engaging, sometimes bittersweet, and a must-watch for animal lovers.


March 15, 2019

Two Helpings of Spaghetti!

Starring Montgomery Wood (Giuliano Gemma), Jasques Sernas, Dan Vadis, Sophie Daumier, Nello Pazzafini. Directed by Calvin J. Padget (Giorgio Ferroni). (1966/100 min).
Starring Robert Woods, John Ireland, Ida Galli, Claude Lange, George Rigaud, Roberto Camardiel. Directed by Paolo Bianchini. (1968/101 min).


Review by Tiger the Terrible😼

When it comes to spaghetti westerns, Sergio Leone is at the top of the ladder, of course. Everyone else is at least a couple of rungs lower and some never even learned to climb. The two films in this single disc collection fall somewhere in the middle. Both are pretty obscure, though some genre fans may recognize them under different titles.

Fort Yuma Gold's actual on-screen title is Per Pochi dollari ancora, or For a Few Extra Dollars. It just goes to show you that The Asylum didn't have the market cornered on derivative titles. Still, we won't hold that against it. Pretty-boy hero Gary Hammond (Giuliano Gemma) is more Tom Brady than Clint Eastwood, but the film itself is entertaining enough. Perhaps even a bit tongue-in-cheek, as demonstrated in a gloriously over-the-top barroom brawl, or the film's voluptuous main female lead, Connie Breastfull (Sophie Daumier), a Bond-girl name if there ever was one.

As seen in Tiger Beat magazine.
The awkwardly-named Damned Hot Day of Fire sounds like a kid learning to use swear words. It's onscreen title, Gatling Gun, is more accurate since it involves disgraced captain Chris Tanner (Robert Woods) on a mission to retrieve both the weapon and its kidnapped inventor. Veteran John Ireland is also on-hand as a sociopathic bad guy. There's plenty of action and Tanner beds-down every woman in the cast, though this one wears out its welcome pretty quickly  because it takes itself a little too seriously. Additionally, portions of the original English-dubbed audio track were apparently lost, so some scenes are in Italian with subtitles.

And be forewarned...the picture and sound for both films is relatively poor for a Blu-ray transfer. It doesn't look like much, if anything, was done to restore either of them. But maybe that's par for the course. If Leone's classic westerns are fine Italian cuisine, then Fort Yuma Gold & Damned Hot Day of Fire are cans of Chef Boyardee: Simply edible, sometimes enjoyable, and extra spices won't significantly improve the taste.


March 13, 2019

PHANTOM LADY and the Super Secretary
Starring Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis, Aurora Miranda, Thomas Gomez, Fay Helm, Elisha Cook Jr. Directed by Robert Siodmak. (1944/87 min).


Review by Mr. Paws😸

Who says you can't find good help these days?

Unhappily married engineer Scott Henderson has a fight with his wife and goes to a bar to drown his sorrows, where he meets a mysterious woman. She seems morbidly depressed, too, so he suggests they attend a show he has tickets for. She agrees, so long as they remain anonymous. Afterwards, Scott drops her back off at the bar and goes home, only to find the police there. It turns out his wife was murdered - strangled by one of his own neckties - and he's their number one suspect.

Since his only alibi is a woman whose name he doesn't know and can't locate, Inspector Burgess (Thomas Gomez) has a hard time believing his story, especially since potential witnesses - the bartender, the concert musicians and the cab driver - claim they never saw Scott with a woman that night. He's convicted and sentenced to death, but his dedicated secretary, Carol (Ella Raines), is convinced of his innocence. With 18 days left until he's executed, she goes out on her own to find this mysterious woman and clear his name.

Man, talk about your dedicated employees! Carol spends several evenings browbeating the bartender into submission. When she finally confronts him, he runs into the street and gets pancaked by a car. She later seduces one of the concert musicians into drunkenly admitting he was paid to lie to the cops. A show dancer's custom headwear - apparently identical to the woman's - puts Carol on the search for the hat-maker, who hopefully might provide a name.

Ladies night.
If you ask me, that level of dedication makes Carol a shoo-on for Employee of the Month. Well, she is secretly in love with Scott, which I suppose is good motivation. She eventually gets help from Burgess and, almost too conveniently, Jack Marlow (Franchot Tone), a friend of Scott's who later flies into town upon hearing about his conviction.

A minor and obscure entry in the film noir genre, Phantom Lady doesn't rank among the classics, but is enjoyable on its own terms. The plot doesn't bear a lot of scrutiny and most viewers will have this mystery solved at about the half-way mark. There's some clunky dialogue and a few performances are a bit chuckleworthy (such as Elisha Cook Jr's sweaty, manic turn as an overly enthusiastic drummer). Still, this quick & dirty crime caper moves along at a brisk enough pace that we don't question most of the story implausibilities until it's over. Despite the billing order, Raines is the real star of the film and she's quite engaging. Having just recently revisited Key Largo, I'd also forgotten what a fine character actor Gomez was. His congenial performance in this one was a pleasant surprise.

So while we ain't talking Hitchcock or Huston here, Phantom Lady is a competently assembled piece of minor league film noir. It's no classic, nor does anything about it doesn't resonate much afterwards, but certainly entertaining in the moment...and perhaps a perfect secretarial training film.

"DARK AND DEADLY: 50 YEARS OF FILM NOIR" - A 20 year old documentary featuring clips from old and recent noir films, along with director & historian interviews. Not bad, but not particularly revelatory, either, and Phantom Lady isn't even discussed.

March 12, 2019


Featuring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O'Neill. Directed by Rich Moore & Phil Johnston. (2018/112 min). 


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸

Can a movie have an expiration date?

Wreck-It Ralph was successful and amusing enough that Disney could have coasted on auto-pilot, churned out a sequel that's more of the same and still raked in the cash. So it does my cynical heart good to see that real effort was made to do something different with its two main characters. Ralph Breaks the Internet does for the internet what the original did for the world of video games, which is personify and satirize that world while providing enough cultural references to keep Easter Egg hunters busy through multiple viewings. In that respect, it succeeds magnificently.

The film is a constant wonder to look at, with Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) sort-of serving as guides through an animated internet in search of a replacement steering wheel to save her arcade game from being scrapped. But the plot takes a definite backseat to the film's clever, personified depictions of spam, search engines, websites and online gaming. As individual vignettes, a lot of this is extremely funny. And whether Disney is shamelessly promoting its own properties or simply poking fun at itself, the scenes featuring their classic characters - original or otherwise - are hilarious (the Disney princesses, in particular).

"Look, Ralph! Pics of that college party you don't remember!"
However, it gets so caught up in the references that the basic story and generic themes of friendship seem like an afterthought. This is more Ready Player One than Who Framed Roger Rabbit: It's great in-the-moment, when every allusion elicits self-congratulatory laughter, some which only perceptive adults will appreciate (such as a blink-and-you'll-miss-it nod to such online antiquities as Netscape). In fact, for a family film, much of the humor will be lost on kids whose internet activity consists mostly of gaming. And when you think about it, technology is advancing so exponentially that Ralph Breaks the Internet might actually end up being a period piece in less than ten years.

Ralph and Vanellope are once-again charming and likable, though some will definitely miss some of the original's supporting characters, all of whom are regulated to peripheral roles. In their place are some new ones, some of which are just as engaging. J.P. Spamley (Bill Hader) is especially funny as a click-bait huckster. On the other hand, Shank simply appears modeled after the woman who voices her (Gal Gadot); she's likable, but not particularly interesting.

Still, as a product of its time - the here and now - Ralph Breaks the Internet is a clever, funny sequel that's as enjoyable as the first. But where Wreck-It Ralph had a nostalgic appeal to go with its story, particularly for arcade gamers, the timeliness of this one probably has an expiration date. Enjoy it while it's still fresh.

DIGITAL COPY EXCLUSIVE - A featurette of the film's artists going to stunt driving school.
FEATURETTES - "How We Broke the Internet" (multi-chapter making-of); "The Music of Ralph Breaks the Internet"; "Surfing for Easter Eggs" (of, course, there's a bunch).
"BUZZZTUBE CATS" - videos.
2 MUSIC VIDEOS - "Zero," by Imagine Dragons; "In This Place," by Julia Michaels. 


March 11, 2019

THE POOP SCOOP: A "NATURAL" for 4K plus Other Upcoming Releases

THE NATURAL debuts on 4K Ultra HD and in 4K via participating Digital platforms June 4 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Robert Redford stars as man who seemingly comes out of nowhere to become a legendary baseball player with almost divine talent in this classic film that also stars Robert Duvall, Glenn Close in an Academy Award-nominated performance and Kim Basinger. THE NATURAL was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography and Best Original Score, both vibrantly presented as part of this all-new 4K presentation.  The 4K Ultra HD disc includes both versions of the film: the original Theatrical version and the Directors Cut, each fully restored from the original camera negative, supervised and approved by Director of Photography Caleb Deschanel and Director Barry Levinson. Both versions of the film also include newly remixed Dolby Atmos audio, along with the original stereo and 5.1 tracks for the Theatrical version.  THE NATURAL includes hours of archival special features, including a variety of featurettes that go inside the making of this iconic classic and its greater context within baseball history and mythology.

ESCAPE ROOM on Digital 4/9 & Blu-ray/DVD 4/23
Centered on six strangers who must uncover wickedly designed puzzles and overcome life-threatening challenges set in hazardous environments, with plenty of twists and turns, the ESCAPE ROOM Blu-ray, DVD and Digital releases feature a never-before-seen Alternate Ending and Opening, six deleted scenes and four featurettes. Hear from director Adam Robitel and the cast about how the film’s 360-degree architectural spaces prove to be some of the most adversarial characters imaginable in “Games, Set, Match.” Then, learn about how Escape Room was built with practical effects and no green screens as the cast and crew dives deep in “The Lone Survivors.”

CRANK on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (Plus Blu-ray and Digital) 5/21
One of action-superstar Jason Statham’s most iconic roles – as Chev Chelios – will be seen in Ultra High Definition for the first time ever when Crank arrives on 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray™ and Digital) and on Digital in 4K Ultra HD May 21 from Lionsgate. Starring alongside Statham are Amy Smart, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Efren Ramirez, Carlos Sanz, and Dwight Yoakam in a film that “Access Hollywood” calls “an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride!” Written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, and available for the very first time in this absolutely stunning format.

Expertly crafted tension and paranoia take full effect in The Hole in the Ground, arriving on DVD April 30 from Lionsgate. After disappearing from his mother, a son returns home seemingly unharmed, but his mother fears the boy who has returned might not be her son at all. From writer-director Lee Cronin (Ghost Train), this ominous, original and Rotten Tomatoes Certified Fresh™  film “delivers skin-crawling scares throughout” (Dan Jackson, Thrillist) and stars Seána Kerslake, James Cosmo, and James Quinn Markey.

March 10, 2019

A Big Batch of BOGEY & BACALL
TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT - Co-starring Walter Brennan, Dolores Moran, Hoagy Carmichael. Directed by Howard Hawks. (1944/100 min).
THE BIG SLEEP - Co-starring Martha Vickers, John Ridgely, Dorothy Malone. Directed by Howard Hawks. (1946/114 min).
DARK PASSAGE - Co-starring Bruce Bennett, Agnes Moorehead, Tom D'Andrea. Directed by Delmer Daves. (1947/106 min).
KEY LARGO - Co-starring Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor, Thomas Gomez. Directed by John Huston. (1948/100 min).


Review by Mr. Paws😸

Funny thing about Humphrey Bogart...he was never a traditional leading man. Bogey always looked like he'd be more at-home teaching high school biology, his distinctive voice eliciting chuckles from the class. But, damn, he was cool. With that kind of charisma, who the hell needed to look like a matinée idol? Kinda gives hope to the rest of us ordinary schmoes.

I highly doubt I could ever muster enough charm to hook up with the likes of the sultry Lauren Bacall, but Bogey's characters always made it look effortless. While their pairing must have looked awful on paper, their chemistry was indisputable (both on and off the screen). The four films they made together are all classics, of course. Bogart himself did better films before and afterwards, but these are arguably the highlights of Bacall's career and you'd be hard-pressed to name another screen duo who played off each other so well.

Upon seeing the check, Marlowe decides they're gonna Dine 'n' Dash.
What that means is every film in Bogart & Bacall - The Complete Collection is a gem. Forced to choose, Key Largo would be my personal favorite because there's the added bonus of the great Edward G. Robinson, chewing up scenery in full gangster mode. Interestingly, this is also the only film bereft of a romantic subplot between the two leads. I'd never seen Dark Passage until reviewing this set and was surprised by the ample use of first-person point-of-view. As prison escapee Vincent Parry, wrong-convicted for killing his wife, we don't even see Bogart for nearly half the film. Still, it's a cleverly plotted story with film noir touches, particularly Bacall's turn as Irene, whose motives for helping him are ambiguously intriguing.

"It's one hotel towel, lady. What's the big deal?"
Speaking of plots, the one in The Big Sleep is so complex and puzzling that I always feel like I'm watching it for the first time, which is part of the fun. As cynical private detective Philip Marlowe, this is Bogey at his coolest, nearly unflappable until he locks horns - and lips - with Vivian Rutledge (Bacall). Of the four films, To Have and Have Not is probably the least essential, mainly because it travels the same road as Casablanca. Still, its two stars make an entertaining pair of morally questionable opportunists whose empathy for the French resistance during World War II grows over time.

Each of these classics have been individually available on Blu-ray for a few years, all with great transfers and the same extras first-included with the original DVD releases. This set from Warner Archive Collection doesn't throw in anything new, but it's attractively packaged and a lot less expensive than purchasing them separately. A must-own for any classic movie lover who's missing a few of them from their collection.

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT - "A Love Story: The Story of To Have and Have Not" (featurette); Lux Radio Broadcast (radio adaptation); "Bacall to Arms" (Looney Tunes short and pretty un-PC by today's standards); Trailer.
THE BIG SLEEP - 1945 pre-release version (longer, with quite a few different scenes); Intro the the 1945 version by Robert Bitt; "1945/1946 Comparison" (also with Robert Gitt); Trailer.
DARK PASSAGE - "Hold Your Breath and Cross Your Fingers" (featurette); "Slick Hare" (Bugs Bunny cartoon...the one where Bogart wants fried rabbit for dinner); Trailer
KEY LARGO - Trailer

March 8, 2019

THE QUAKE (Skjelvet): Hasta La Vista, Oslo!
Starring Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jones Hoff Oftebro, Edith Haagenrud-Sande, Kathrine Thorborg Johansen. Directed by John Andreas Andersen. (2018/106 min).


Review by Tiger the Terrible😸

The Quake is a sequel to the 2015 Norwegian film, The Wave, which I loved. Big-budget disaster movies are kinda rare these days - at least in Hollywood - so I especially appreciated its relatively serious approach to the genre. In that one, a massive avalanche causes a tsunami that destroys a quaint tourist town. In true disaster tradition, one geologist tries to warn the locals of impending doom, but is ignored until it's too late.

That geologist, Kristian (Kristoffer Joner), is back. It's three years later and he's now living alone, estranged from his family and still unable to get over the disaster that killed hundreds. When an underground tunnel in Oslo collapses and kills a former colleague, Kristian feels compelled to investigate the cause. After studying the man's research, he becomes convinced Oslo is about to be hit by a massive earthquake worse than one that destroyed the city in 1904. Naturally, his dire concerns fall on deaf ears, including his ex-wife, Idun (Ane Dahl Torp), who has since moved to Oslo with their two kids, Sondre and Julia. But of course, Kristian eventually turns out to be right.

A very bad day at the office.
While the law of diminishing returns certainly applies,The Quake has the distinction of being the only disaster sequel I've ever seen that doesn't suck. Similar in structure to The Wave, the film takes the time to establish its characters (or re-establish them, in this case), featuring grounded performances and science that at-least sounds authentic. Scenes leading up to the disaster are occasionally meandering, but when the quake finally hits, the film is truly gripping, bolstered by some pretty spectacular - and convincing - special effects. In the aftermath, Kristian tries to rescue Julia from the top floor of a slowly crumbling skyscraper, a monumentally suspenseful sequence that's so masterfully executed one can forgive the contrived circumstances leading up to it.

While The Quake succumbs to a few genre tropes that The Wave mostly managed to avoid, it's an entertaining film that gives patient disaster fans their money's worth and is definitely worth seeking out. Since a few recurring characters are its only connecting thread, it works as both a sequel and a stand-alone story.


Rest in Peace, Jan-Michael Vincent

March 6, 2019

THE POOP SCOOP: Quakes, Critters, Kids and Cannibals!
THE QUAKE on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital 3/19
THE WAVE was only the beginning. The ground beneath the residents of Oslo, Norway can’t be trusted. For Norwegian geologists like Kristian Eikjord (Kristoffer Joner, The Wave), studying the daily quakes proves that it's no longer a matter of if, but when the next catastrophic event will strike. Will it surpass the 5.4 magnitude earthquake that devastated the city in 1904? Can anyone survive it? The Quake follows Kristian as he makes a perilous attempt to help his wife, daughter and others escape a crumbling skyscraper when nature takes its course.
Including a new transfer of the extended television version with over 35 minutes of added footage! Charlton Heston leads an all-star cast in an epic film about ordinary citizens who must come together in the face of an unstoppable natural disaster! When the most catastrophic earthquake of all time rips through Southern California, it levels Los Angeles and sends shockwaves through the lives of all who live there. Now strangers must become saviors as the city struggles to get to its feet before the next terrifying aftershock hits! Also starring Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, Victoria Principal, Geneviève Bujold and Richard Roundtree, Earthquake combines outstanding performances with Academy Award-winning sound and groundbreaking special effects.

Television legend William Shatner (TV's Star Trek, T.J. Hooker and Boston Legal) stars as vet "Rack" Hansen in this cult classic about an Arizona town infested with a horde of arachnids that turn on the humans. After livestock belonging to Rack's friend Walter Colby (Woody Strode, The Italian Connection. The Ravagers, The Professionals) Fall victim to a spider attack, entomologist Diane Ashley (Tiffany Bolling, Wild Party) arrives and tries to help Rack deal with the crisis. But with the big county fast approaching, Mayor Connors (Roy Engel, The Man from Planet X) refuses to let them quarantine the Colby's ranch. Soon the remaining residents of the town must barricade themselves to stave off the eight-legged invaders in the ultimate man vs. arachnid showdown!

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING on 4K Ultra-HD, Blu-ray and DVD 4/16
Old school magic meets the modern world in the epic family-friendly adventure, The Kid Who Would Be King. Alex thinks he’s just another nobody, getting bullied at school and told what to do by his teachers, until he stumbles upon the mythical Sword in the Stone, Excalibur. Now, with the help of the legendary wizard Merlin, he must unite his friends and school yard enemies into an allied band of knights to defeat the wicked enchantress Morgana. With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be and save the world. 
HANNIBAL on 4K Ultra HD 4/30
Brand new 4K restoration and tons of bonus features. Audio Commentary by Director Ridley Scott | Breaking the Silence: Five Unique Making-of Hannibal including rare footage and interviews (75 minutes) | Anatomy of a Shoot-Out: A Five-Angle Breakdown of the "Fish Market" Action Scene | Ridleygrams: A Featurette on the Art of Storyboarding | An Exploration of the Film's Opening Title Design | Over 35 Minutes of Deleted and Alternate Scenes with Optional Director Commentary | Alternate Ending with Optional Director Commentary | Teaser Trailer | Theatrical Trailer | 19 TV Spots

March 3, 2019

Starring Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo. Directed by Lee Chang-dong. (2018/148 min).


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😺

In addition to one of its plot developments, the film's title could also refer to the deliberate pace at which it in slow burning. Sometimes there's nothing better than a moody thriller that methodically builds tension by taking its sweet time. But for a film where we're pretty sure how everything will unfold with over an hour left to go, Burning might be too much of a good thing.

Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in) is an introverted college graduate who aspires to write a novel, but mostly struggles to find a job. He bumps into childhood neighbor Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), and after a brief sexual encounter, he agrees to feed her cat while she's on vacation. Jong-su becomes creepily infatuated with her, as his frequent visits to her apartment demonstrate. Hae-mi later returns with new friend Ben (Steven Yeun), who's charismatic, carefree and wealthy...everything Jong-su isn't. But he's also quite mysterious; neither Jong-su or Hae-mi know much about him or what he does for a living.

Despite Jong-su's apparent misgivings, the three spend an increasing amount of time together, the most crucial moment being a pot-fueled evening at Jong-su's childhood home, an old farmhouse he's charged with caretaking after his father goes to jail. This is where Jong-su - and the audience - learn that neither Hae-mi or Ben are quite what they seem. When Hae-mi disappears afterwards, Jong-su becomes obsessed with finding her and suspects Ben knows more than he's leading on.

"Oh, hey, Glenn...I mean Ben."
The film made a lot of best-of lists last year and I can see why. Burning is impeccably acted by its three leads, whose characters are almost the entire focus of the film. Through numerous scenes of almost mundane conversation, we learn a lot about them, though Ben's ambiguous background makes him the most intriguing character. Additionally, director Lee Chang-dong establishes a tone that borders on surreal and suggests - just beneath the surface - there's something not-quite-right with these people.

However, the film is sometimes maddeningly meandering. At nearly two-and-a-half hours, Burning is way too long. Unless your film is some kind of character study - which, admittedly, could be part of Chang-dong's agenda - 90 minutes shouldn't go by before anything resembling an actual plot begins to present itself. Some narrative developments are obviously created to bait or mislead the viewer, which is initially understandable. But since we're pretty certain of the film's ultimate outcome by now, the main purpose they serve is to keep the viewer expecting a revelatory twist ending.

I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does render the inevitability of the climax rather underwhelming. Still, Burning is mostly worthwhile. The film is sometimes quite fascinating, mostly due to the performances and subtle tension created in key scenes. I just wish it would have gotten to the point a little sooner than it actually does.

FEATURETTE - "About the Characters"