Shorts Round Up of the Week (11/9/2018)

Most of the time we get such a backlog of short films and feature length indie films that we work hard to take them all on and review them before the year is up. In what we hope will become a new feature, “Shorts Round Up of the Week” is a column where we’ll be reviewing a round up of short films of varying quality.

If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers.

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Teen Titans Go! to the Movies (2018) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

I’ve come to terms with “Teen Titans Go!” and I’ve especially come to accept it thanks to the shockingly good feature film. If there was ever a time where the superhero movie genre was ripe for parody and satire it’s 2018, and “Teen Titans Go! to the Movies” manages to do it better than anyone else. For everyone that’s come before, attempting to mock the whole appeal of the sub-genre, “Teen Titans Go!” captures the whole appeal and absurdity of the superhero movie and the superhero mythology as a whole. It also manages to cater to the hardcore comic book buffs in the audience, inspiring some great laughs from obscure references.

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A Raisin in the Sun (1961): Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

It’s surprising that “A Raisin in the Sun” is just as socially and politically relevant today as it was in 1961. Deep down while “A Raisin in the Sun” is a family drama, it’s also a film about inequality both in housing and socially. It’s about the poor and have nots looking for their own big break in a world that’s unfairly balanced in another direction entirely. It’s very easy to see where the stage play ends and the film begins, as “A Raisin in the Sun” is primarily a one setting drama about people looking for their own exit from a situation that offers them absolutely no future of wider horizons.

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The Princess Bride (1987): Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

It’s not hard to figure out why “The Princess Bride” is considered one of the all time great cinematic fantasy classics. Even today it manages to stand as a movie that’s way ahead of its time and deconstructs a lot of the fairy tale and hero’s journey tropes way before “Shrek” ever popularized the idea. Rob Reiner injects a meta-mold to “The Princess Bride” helping it stand apart from a lot of the other fantasy epics we would have seen from the decade. His choice to make the story of Princess Buttercup told by a grandfather to his sick grandson is a testament to the incomparable experience of being swept away in a good book.

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Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

The best thing I can say about “Bohemian Rhapsody” is that it aims to become a surefire Oscar contender, and the only aspect deserving of an Oscar is Rami Malek (bad fake teeth and wigs be damned). If you have to absolutely see “Bohemian Rhapsody” see it for Rami Malek, whose portrayal of Freddie Mercury is heartfelt, sublime, and much too fantastic for a movie that’s pretty much a sanitized version of the story of Queen and Freddie Mercury. When you have a biopic of the group that’s been authorized by the surviving members and is PG-13, there’s only so much flexibility allowed, and Malek thankfully rises to the occasion. And then there’s the rest of the movie.

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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

Disney re-visits their staple of public domain tales with another visit with “The Nutcracker,” a ritual that’s annual for most movie studios. No matter what year it is, some studio thinks they can offer an artistic, original, or hip take on “The Nutcracker,” and every year it’s terrible. Even with Disney injecting the classic ballet with the spectacle of Robert Zemeckis, the eccentricity/whimsy of Tim Burton, and a vague cribbing from 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” (bordering on plagiarism), “The Nutcracker and The Four Realms” is a hollow effort to turn the musical composition in to a hit holiday movie. And perhaps a hit holiday movie franchise. You know they’ve focus grouped it and are planning parts two to seven, right now.

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The Jokesters (2015)

AJ Wedding’s found footage movie mostly gets by on its interesting concept that I had a very good time with. Wedding takes the found footage concept and imagines if the “Jackass” crew pulled off one too many pranks on one their crew prompting a psychotic murderous rampage. “The Jokesters” has a ton of potential to be a very original and fun horror comedy, but in the end shockingly feels only half developed. At eighty minutes, it’s surprising how little it realizes the big hook with the descent in to pure gore and horror.

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Murder Party (2007)

Jeremy Saulnier has managed to become one of the most original voices in indie cinema for the last eleven years, and “Murder Party” is an off beat debut that twists conventions left and right. Knowing Jeremy Saulnier as we do now, “Murder Party” is typical Saulnier, as he’s prone to trying to make a statement with every film he makes. Every time you think “Murder Party” is heading one way, Saulnier is a lot more content with delivering the unexpected, and I quite enjoyed what he had to offer here. Like most debuts, “Murder Party” is rough around the edges but it’s offbeat horror fun.

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