Beauty Shop (2005) [Blu-Ray]

The spin off for the “Barbershop” movie is a good idea on paper. On paper. I mean Queen Latifah is better at acting than Ice Cube, so it seemed like a slam dunk. The attempted launch of a new series within the “Barbershop” franchise is not only one big misfire, but it’s dead on arrival from minute one. “Beauty Shop” isn’t a prequel, or a sequel, but mainly just a movie that’s set in the universe of “Barbershop.” When we see Gina Norris from “Barbershop 2” again, she’s working at an upscale salon in Atlanta and she has a picture of the gang from Calvin’s shop hanging on her mirror. Beyond that there isn’t much at all to “Beauty Shop.”

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Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

The original “Barbershop” from Tim Story and Ice Cube was a very good and entertaining albeit imperfect drama comedy about family, and community. It had a lot more going for it than didn’t, thankfully proving to be anything but a fluke. Kevin Sullivan carries on the down to earth tone with “Barbershop 2.” While it is just as imperfect as the original, it’s also a very good extension of the first film, continuing the storylines of the characters we grew to know and engage with. Thankfully everyone pretty much returns for the second go around, and they’re all about the same people we remember, except older.

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Tag (2018) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

People are often surprised when they learn that “Tag” was one of my most anticipated movies of 2018, mainly because the premise looked so creative. The comedy genre is pretty much a wasteland as it is, but the movie seemed to have a ton of potential. Plus the fact that it was inspired by a true story is also a plus that kept me anticipating its release. “Tag” ends up being a fun comedy about friendship, tradition, and life, and while it doesn’t fully realize the concept, I had a good time with it, and I don’t mind adding it to my collection. “Tag” brings with it a pretty stellar ensemble cast, all of whom manages to bring their A game and also seem to be having a good time.

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Luciferina (2018) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2018]

A trainee nun, Natalia, goes home after an accident kills her mother and leaves her father dying. Once home, she discovers family secrets and goes on a self-discovery trip with friends. There she learns even more and puts her own soul at stake.

Writer/director Gonzalo Calzada takes the concepts of good versus bad, god versus evil, Catholic versus pagan, family, legacy, and destiny and plays with them in a dark realm tinged by demonic forces and curiosity. The story here is done in a way that works for its characters, letting them get exposed and built before throwing in the evil/demonic elements. Most of everything here works and goes towards creating a cohesive story and world. Some of the timeline and exposure may feel a bit off as it foes, but it all makes sense by the end. Calzada has a story here that he knows how to tell and he gets it out here on the screen in a way the viewer can easily watch, connect with, and be entertained by.

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Mara (2018)

As criminal psychologist Kate helps with a murder investigation that the police seems to consider an open and shut case, she discovers that other forces may be at play, putting herself in harm’s way as she investigates.

Based on a story by Jonathan Frank and Clive Tonge, Mara is written by Jonathan Frank and directed by Clive Tonge. Together they create a story that feels familiar with a few fresh elements added to it all interesting. The story does make fairly good use of the unknown factor, but it doesn’t build on the tension and suspense enough, rendering a potentially scary story only entertaining. The titular character is interesting and is given a fully fleshed out background as the film advances but something feels like it’s missing which will lead some to feel like what is missing is a sense of the unknown, leaving the film with very little dread or fear from this unknown or Mara. The story may be scary to casual horror fans, but will most likely not be all that scary to genre fans who have seen a lot of this story’s type.

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The Bootleg Files: Heil Honey I’m Home!

BOOTLEG FILES 653: “Heil Honey I’m Home!” (1990 British sitcom that ran for one episode before being cancelled).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: One of the most notoriously bad productions in British television history.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Nein.

Imagine “I Love Lucy” with Adolf Hitler as Ricky Ricardo, Eva Braun as Lucy and an obnoxious Jewish couple as the Mertzes. Welcome to the production that makes “The Day the Clown Cried” seem like the pinnacle of fine art: the 1990 British sitcom “Heil Honey I’m Home!”
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The Predator (2018)

Somehow in the age of studios reviving remnants of the eighties and destroying them with convoluted mythology and narratives, “Predator” has been somewhat spared. Sure, it was involved with the “Alien” series for a bit, but it’s primarily stayed simplistic and true to the original film–unlike the “Terminator” and “Alien” movie series. “The Predator” is a movie that will likely divide fans of the original film and series as a whole; it’s filled with a ton of plot, an array of characters and is somewhat the antithesis of the original film’s more straight forward machismo based narrative. It also dares to expand on the mythos, should Shane Black be given another shot with a sequel.

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