Friday, June 5, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: June 5, 2020

This past week the world has come together in unity to protest racial equality behind the movement of #Blacklivematters.  We have seen people go to the streets and protest for the notion that black lives do in fact matter and that systemic racism is a very real problem in our society.  Due to their efforts, the country and the world are focused on an issue that is often ignored in our current society.  This has happened despite an unprecedented pandemic and economic slowdown.  In order to help raise awareness of systemic racism and the very real problems that our Black brothers and sisters experience on a day to day basis, here are a selection of recommended movies that highlight this inequality.  For those that experience these injustices on a day-to-day basis, these films are a powerful reminder of everything that the current protests are fighting against.  And for those that have not grown up experiencing these racial biases, seeing these injustices--if only for a brief moment--is important to try and understand and educate a perspective of our friends and neighbors, and in some way try to empathize with the anger and frustration that has led to these recent protests.

Queen & Slim (Redbox, Digital Rental / Purchase)
Queen & Slim takes a very real--and unfortunately increasingly common in America today--situation and builds an eye opening, empowering Bonnie and Clyde-esque movie around it.  It gives a window into racial injustice in America, told through stellar performances, strong writing, and a commitment to realism that preaches a powerful message.

Just Mercy (Redbox, Free Digital Rental, or Purchase)
Just Mercy is an inspiring, timely, and sadly appropriate movie for our times.  It has Oscar-worthy acting, amazing cinematography, and tells an important story about injustice and the disparity in the criminal justice system that that doesn't leave a heart untouched or an eye dry at its conclusion.

The Banker (Apple TV+)
The Banker tells an important, timely story about inequalities in the 1950s and 1960s that made it nearly impossible for African Americans to become landowners.  This story has great charisma between its stars and manages to entertain while educating about complex issues.

Blindspotting (HBOMAX)
Blindspotting blends buddy comedy with powerful social commentary to tell another story of race in our country.  It highlights that inequal justice in our country can be based on skin color, and how that system can target one individual and affect their lives.

Fruitvale Station (Tubi)
Fruitvale Station tells the story of Oscar Grant, a young black man who was shot by a police officer at a Bart station on New Years Day in 2009.  This shooting shook the nation, and seeing Oscar's day and his plans to change his life make his death all the more tragic.

The 13th (Netflix)
This thought-provoking documentary has scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom.  It is a wonderfully crafted documentary that balances insights from talking heads with painful archival footage.

If Beale Street Could Talk (Hulu)
If Beale Street Could Talk is another painful look at the justice system and the inequal administration of that justice.  The popular play turned movie has powerful performances and artistic cinematography that only heighten the sense of injustice portrayed in this wonderful film.

Do The Right Thing (Digital Rental / Purchase)
Spike Lee's classic movie about racial tension was controversial when it came out and is sadly still relevant today.  Although it has aged, the nerves it touches are still exposed and painful.

Selma (Free Digital Rental)
The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. Selma draws inspiration and dramatic power from the life and death of King, but doesn't ignore how far we remain from the ideals his work embodied.

Deal: Selma, Brian Banks, Antwone Fisher, and The Secret Life of Bees Free to Rent

Following in the footsteps of Just Mercy being free to rent, several movies highlighting social justice and tolerance are free to rent on various platforms.  Those movies include Selma, Brian Banks, Antwone Fisher, and the Secret Life of Bees.

Free Digital Rentals:

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Review: The Color of Medicine: The Story of Homer G. Phillips Hospital

Release date: May 12, 2020
Running time: 110 minutes

The Color of Medicine is a documentary about the Home G. Phillips Hospital.  The hospital was one of the early black hospitals, and one that aspired to not only be a great black hospital, but a great hospital period.  The film documents the rise and fall of the St. Louis, Missouri hospital that trained the largest number of Black doctors and nurses in the world from 1937 through 1979, before and after desegregation.  


The most striking thing about this documentary is the quality of alumni that have come from Homer G. Phillips.  The hospital certainly achieved its goal of being a premier hospital in its own right.  And this story is told by the best sources: those who trained at and practiced at Homer G. Phillips.  The story is told from the perspective of resident doctors, doctors who were selected to train at the hospital, and from nurses who worked there.  This allows for plenty of stories about the hospital and the environment.  The documentary also gives a little backstory about the namesake of the hospital, and some of the mysterious circumstances surrounding his life.  And the film also highlights some of the most prestigious alumni from the hospital and their amazing achievements.  It is really a treat to see the heights that these alumni attained and it seems like every interview mentions another person who was a leader in their field.  

However, the film's greatest asset is both a blessing and a curse.  The interviews are very interesting to hear, and provide a lot of detail about the hospital and its history.  However, sometimes these interviews seem to be focused on some of the nuances of the hospital that are less interesting than the overall story of it.  Some of the interviews also seem to go on tangents with no clear purposes.  And there will be interview after interview that this happens.  It feels like this documentary is more of a living history of the hospital, and could have benefited from some more structure.  Although I do appreciate the desire to get as much information as possible into the film, and I am sure that there are plenty of people that will really enjoy that aspect, I ultimately wish that that there was some more focus and that the editing had been a little more surgical.  But that being said, you still leave the documentary with the impression that this was a special hospital that trained the best of the best, regardless of their skin color.

The Color of Medicine highlights an amazing hospital and its prestigious, world-renowned alumni through the best sources, those that worked at Homer G. Phillips hospital. 

Rent it.

Deal: June 4, 2020 Movie Deals

Get some classic Spider-Man movies in 4K for $5, or some recent Spider-Man and other hit movies including Queen & Slim or Harriet in 4K for $8. All movies are Movies Anywhere so they will port to your linked accounts.

Digital Movie Deals (Movies Anywhere)
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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Deal: Get $30 of Fandango Credit for $15

Beat the heat this summer and stay in doors!  Right now you can get $30 of Fandango credit for $15 through a summer promotion.  Use the code SUMMER2020 to get a free $15 FandangoNOW promotional code (must be used by 8/31/2020) with any Fandango gift card purchase.  The best deal is to get the $15 gift card, which nets you $30 total credit.  Be warned that the promo code might need to be used all on one transaction, so you don't want to use it for a $3.99 rental.  But it could be good to use if you wanted to rent or buy any of the home on demand movies, or a new digital release! 

Steps to get the deal:

  • Go to this link to purchase a giftcard.
  • Add any Fandango gift card to your cart.  I recommend the $15 to get the most bonus credit.
  • After adding the gift card to your cart, make sure to add promo code: SUMMER2020
  • The $15 bonus credit should appear in your cart as well.  
  • Check out and wait for promo email and gift card.

Review: Spelling the Dream

Release date: June 3, 2020
Running time: 83 minutes

Spelling the Dream follows the phenomenan of Indian-American dominance at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  An Indian-American competitor has won the competition for the past 12 years straight, making the trend one of the longest in sports history.  The documentary follows the ups and downs of four Indian-American students as they compete to realize their dream of winning the tournament.  It also contains great perspectives from prominent Indian Americans, including CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Fareed Zakaria, comedian Hari Kondabolu, ESPN's Kevin Negandhi, 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee winner, Nupur Lala, and others, as the film explores the reasons behind this incredible winning streak and what it means for the community. 


The bulk of the film highlights the four students who are hoping to take home the top spot.  The documentary does a great job selecting four very different students with a common goal.  The kids are not what you would expect as your typical bookworms.  One is a precocious, extroverted sixth grader.  Another is a sports fan who also plays tennis and loves his lucky Nike sweatshirt.  It is a good selection and one that should help with any sort of "tiger mom" style stereotypes about these kids.  They have natural talent at spelling and are driven to succeed, but they also have other interests and pursuits.  But that is not to take away from their dedication to winning the spelling bee.  The film gives you a sense of the dedication that these students go through to get to this level.  The amount that they prepare is astonishing, as is their mastery of spelling and languages in general.  

But although the film is focused on the spelling bee hopefuls, it is so much more than that.  The film looks into the Indian immigrant experience and tries to provide some explanation for why Indian kids have been so dominant in the spelling bee.  For this, the film uses explanations from the student's parents, and the insights from prominent Indian American figures to piece together some reasons for this.  It looks at the immigrant experience and also what drove these talented speller's parents to come to America.  It also touches on issues of racism and of belonging for these kids, highlighted by their journey to, and participation in, this competition.  Some of the interviews with early Indian-American entrants shows how far these kids and the culture have come.  And finally, as with any good competitive documentary, the film has highlights, heartbreak, and the thrill of competition.  You will be rooting just as hard for these competitors as you would at any sporting event, and experience their joy and pain!

Spelling the Dream looks into the Indian-American dominance at the spelling bee and tells a tale of competitors, the immigrant experience, and of belonging along the way. 

Watch it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Deal: Rent Just Mercy for Free or Own for $4

The phenomenal film Just Mercy is available for free to rent today, or for $4 or 5 to own!  Choose where you want to rent it, and if you want to buy it, I would suggest the Microsoft Store.  It is only $3.99 for 4K, and because this movie is Movies Anywhere, it will port to your linked accounts.  It is a powerful drama that details the life of Bryan Stevenson and the fight for justice for one man.  It is an inspiring, timely, and sadly appropriate movie for our times.  It has Oscar-worthy acting, amazing cinematography, and tells an important story that that doesn't leave a heart untouched or an eye dry at its conclusion.  It is also Movies Anywhere compatible, so it will port to your linked accounts.

Free to Rent
Own
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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Review: The S.S. Swenson

Release date: January 28, 2019 (Digital Release: May 11, 2020)
Running time: 89 minutes
Starring:  Jono Robertson, Alex Gainer, Olga Elliot, Cole Selby

The S.S. Swenson follows three degenerates as they battle the demons of grief in a fantasy world they've built around themselves.  After their father dies, the three siblings Swan (Gainer), Ricky (Robertson), and Bonnie (Elliot) come together to grieve but dull the pain in booze and drugs.  Although their antics are mostly harmless, they do resort to petty theft to fuel their habits.  However, when Ricky accidentally tries to break into a house, only to get a job as a nanny, their whole lives (and the lives of the family he is nannying for) change forever. 


The S.S. Swenson is filled with quirky characters. The Swenson kids themselves are a unique group of people; each sibling's very different personality blend together into a chaotic family whole.  Swan has the most gregarious personality, as the captain of the three rag tag bunch, but his character is also one that did not resonate with me.  He does a good job and puts forth an effort, but I just didn't love the fake captain persona.  Bonnie is sweet but does not have enough personality between the three. Ricky is a good character, and one that you root for.  He keeps trying to do the right thing but keeps getting dragged down by his siblings.  And Cookie (Selby), the young boy that Ricky nannies, is fun to watch and relatable if you have ever been a slightly awkward kid.  The rest of the characters are quirky but I didn't like them, including the antagonist character.

The S.S. Swenson has some good, imaginative moments, but a lot of the film seems odd for the sake of being odd.  Characters make some pretty bad decisions, but the destructive moments aren't destructive enough and everything gets resolved too easily.  As I mentioned, the family does a lot of petty crime to make ends meet, but they're all fixed with a jolly laugh and no consequences.  And when there is a big consequential decision, that decision and the consequences after do not have the gravity that it should.  The emotional scenes themselves don't hit as well, and some of the stranger scenes, such as anything with the antagonist, just seem like they're trying too hard.  And finally, the siblings make some pretty terrible decisions but also change a little too quickly.  

In the end, the S.S. Swenson has a cast of quirky characters and a ton of heart, but the voyage suffers from poor navigation and a lack of wind behind its sails.

Rent it.
For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.
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Friday, May 29, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: May 29, 2020

Home Rental: The High Note
The High Note is a phenomenal feel good musical drama with fantastic characters, a story with plenty of surprises, and a soulful, wonderful soundtrack that will stay in your head long after the credits roll.  For more information, check out our review!

Redbox: The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is a new take on the classic film, with great, minimalist effects, wonderful tension, and an amazing performance by Elisabeth Moss.  For more information, check out our review!

Digital: Raising Buchanan
Raising Buchanan's dry sense of humor, wonderful cast, and quirky premise will steal your heart as you enjoy this presidential crime caper.  For more information, check out our review!

Digital: I Will Make You Mine
I Will Make You Mine is a beautiful blend of art and music with a bold style, great characters, and an authentic realism to its music that must be heard to believe!  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (Netflix): Space Force
Space Force has Steve Carell returning to his comedic roots, along with a fantastic cast and plenty of humor in this high flying, hilarious series.  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (Netflix): Betaal
Betaal is a Hindi zombie series with the production values you expect from Blumhouse, featuring good horror effects, a palatable sense of suspense, and a fantastic cast!  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (Netflix): Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler's fantastic return to serious roles is a diamond in the rough!  Uncut Gems is complex, with enough facets to allow its fantastic characters to sparkle brightly.  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (Amazon): After We Leave
After We Leave is a fresh first effort from writer / director Aleem Hossain, with a minimalist style, fresh perspective, and amazing score that elevates this film.  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (HBO): Happy Death Day 2U
The sequel to the surprisingly good horror / comedy original, Happy Death Day 2U follows the events of the first movie with another killer loop that gets even more ridiculous than the first.  Tree is forced to make some very difficult choices as she tries to stay alive long enough to solve yet another groundhog day death trap.

Streaming (HBO): Ready or Not
Ready or Not tells a twisted tale with plenty of dark humor.  The setting is fantastic, the imagery feels authentic, and the performances give this deadly game a unique charm that will make you want to play again.  For more information, check out our review!


Review: Raising Buchanan

Release date: April 12, 2019 (U.S. Digital May 5, 2020)
Running time: 96 minutes
Starring: Rene Auberjonois, Amanda Melby, Cathy Shim

Ruth (Melby) has fallen on hard times.  Her dad is sick, she is behind in her payments, and she has to do community service that she hates.  However, when the body of a former president falls into her lap, she decides that the way out of her troubles is to steal the corpse of former US president James Buchanan, hoping to net a large ransom.  However, complications with her plan arise when it seems that no one is particularly interested in getting him back.


Raising Buchanan has a quirky style that it uses to full effect.  Melby is fantastic as Ruth, with a dry sense of humor and a charm that is evident throughout the film.  The movie has a strange premise, but it is one that is very entertaining once it gets going.  Ruth and her best friend Meg (Shim), attempt to ransom off the former President's body, but their ineptitude is evident throughout this endeavor.  It is fun to see them make the most basic of mistakes and the level of incompetence on their part forms a part of the humor of this movie.  And one of the fun surprises of this film is that after Ruth steals Buchanan's body, his ghost follows her around and discusses the finer points of his life and her current predicament.  Buchanan (Auberjonois) is very enjoyable, with funny insights into Ruth's actions as well as tidbits of knowledge about the president's life.  The whole premise is ludicrous but it works surprisingly well

Raising Buchanan's story is surprisingly entertaining.  The amount of ire that the world has for Buchanan is a constant point of humor.  In fact, the film itself has a wonderful, dry, light-hearted comedy that will have you laughing out loud at times.  Despite the theoretical gravity of what they are doing (stealing a body and auctioning it off), the film never strays into too serious a territory.  And the story, although ridiculous, has enough twists and turns as the inept criminals attempt to ransom off a corpse that no one wants that it keeps the film entertaining.  And another surprising side effect of this movie is that you will learn a little history along the way!

Raising Buchanan's dry sense of humor, wonderful cast, and quirky premise will steal your heart as you enjoy this presidential crime caper.

Watch it.

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.
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Review: Space Force

Release date: May 29, 2020 
Running time: 30 minute episodes (10 episodes)
Starring:  Steve Carell, Diana Silvers, Tawny Newsome

By the duo who brought you The Office, Greg Daniels and Steve Carell are back with Space Force. Space Force follows a four-star general Mark Naird (Carell), one of the most decorated pilots of his time, whose dream is to command the Air Force. But his clear career trajectory has to take evasive maneuvers when he is surprised to be given the "promotion" to head of the newly formed sixth branch of the Armed Services, the Space Force.  And even with tons of skepticism he remains dedicated to the country and moves his family to a remote base in Colorado.  Working alongside a very charismatic team of scientists and "Spacemen," Naird works tirelessly to fulfill POTUS's tweet and have "boots on the moon" by 2024 to achieve total space dominance. 


Lets be honest, as soon as you heard the announcement of this original series you knew it was going to be silly.  And thankfully, you are not wrong.  The creative duo of Greg Daniels and Steve Carell bring you a certain confidence in comedic expectations based on their history of work. And besides with Space Force being a real thing, I think there is a visual curiosity of exactly what it is going to be and what they will do. But I am here to say that this was as foolish as you thought it would be.

I had a good time with this series for a number of factors. Steve Carell is a star and his return to his comedy roots after a few more serious roles is a positive thing.  His mannerisms and dialogue alone will have you cracking up.  Carell brings a high level of intensity and energy that just brightens every scene he is in.  Creator Greg Daniels tends to stick with his usual cast of actors and Space Force is no different.  You will see a ton of characters that you are familiar with.  Tawny Newsome who plays Angela Ali, a "Spaceman" helicopter pilot is easily one of my favorite characters in this series with a very different dynamic than other characters. This provides hilarious interactions due to this imbalance. Also a highlight is growing star Diana Silvers who plays Erin Naird the daughter of Mark Naird.  As she has progressed she is taking more diverse roles and Space Force shows that she is becoming her own star.

None of us truly knows what Space Force is and will be but if its anything like this series, well we're in for some wild times.  But all jokes aside, this series was very funny with tons of great scene and unforgettable moments.  Even with the added special effects to make some scenes come together, they do a good job to keep the constant tone of fun and lack of seriousness so at no point do you think you are watching a serious military show.  But there is plenty of comedy for those who know the military or have experience there.  If shows like Parks and Recreation & The Office are your comedy niche, this will be right up your alley. And if its not and you're just curious as to whats this is all about, you will certainly have fun with this series.  

Space Force has Steve Carell returning to his comedic roots, along with a fantastic cast and plenty of humor in this high flying, hilarious series.  

Watch it.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review: Betaal Season 1

Release date: May 24, 2019
Running time: 45 minutes (4 episodes)
Starring: Viineet Kumar, Aahana Kumra, Suchitra Pillai

Betaal is a new collaboration with Blumhouse Television for Netflix.  It is a four episode series that follows a team of soldiers that stumble upon an ancient evil.  In a remote village, an undead East India Company officer and his battalion of zombie redcoats awaken and attack this squad of soldiers.  They must cooperate with the local villagers and learn what is going on if they have any hope to survive.  


I was pleasantly surprised to see a Hindi collaboration with Blumhouse, and Betaal has a lot of what you have come to expect from that studio.  I have a soft spot for Bollywood film and so this collaboration definitely put a smile on my face.  The horror elements are well done, with a good amount of make up on the zombies and wounds.  The make up is a highlight, with realistic otherworldly wounds and blood being used to great effect.  The series is often dark, which helps to keep the suspense high.  And suspense is what this series has in spades.  Much of the first few episodes have a similar feel to Alien, where the soldiers are trying to decide what is going on while being hunted by elusive zombies.  This suspense is palatable at times and it is great to see a high quality horror series in a bingeable format.  The characters are mostly well done, and the main character is particularly enjoyable.  He is not your typical Bollywood star who is larger than life; he is simply a good soldier with an open mind who is trying to do what is right.  And the main villagers are likewise well played, with a certain amount of superior knowledge that makes them interesting and scary at the same time.

However, despite the series having great makeup, the CG is less than stellar at times.  There are some noticeable CG moments during the gunfights that are acceptable, but do distract from the suspension of disbelief.  Additionally, the sound is generally very good, with creature sounds, suspenseful noises, and suspenseful music being used to great effect.  However, the gunfire sounds are muffled and don't have the same high level that I would expect from this series.  For some reason, the gunfire is just disappointing, with noticeable CG and less than stellar volume, a real let down in a series about a zombie conflict.  And the creatures, though generally well done, do have silly-looking CG in their eyes.  Finally, although there are some scenes that try to pile on the emotion by going in slow motion, this can have mixed effects as sometimes it just caused me to impatiently wait for the next bit of action to occur.  The story starts off slowly, which I appreciated, and ramps up in the last two episodes.  And the conclusion is a satisfying one.

Betaal is a Hindi zombie series with the production values you expect from Blumhouse, featuring good horror effects, a palatable sense of suspense, and a fantastic cast!

Watch it.

Review: The Vast of Night

Release date: May 29, 2020
Running time: 89 minutes
Starring: Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer

The Vast of Night chronicles the story of one fateful night in 1950s New Mexico. The film follows a young, curious, and intelligent switchboard operator Fay (McCormick) who tags along on an investigation by radio DJ Everett (Horowitz) as they discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever.  


Set at the dawn of the space-race the Vast of Night has a fantastic dedication to recreating this time.  The 1950s are completely recreated in this film with a commitment to that era's fashion, cars, mannerisms, and period details.  The film story is told through narrative stitched together from dropped phone calls, AM radio signals, secret reels of tape forgotten in a library, switchboards, crossed patch lines and an anonymous phone call.  The film is like a visual radio program; much of the plot is developed through dialogue and through character interactions.  This is accentuated by solid performances from both Horowitz and McCormick.  Horowitz fully embraces Everett, and although he is annoying at the start, he grows on you as the film progresses.  McCormick is likewise fully invested in Fay, and she is likable and enthusiastic.

The film has a lot of touches to call back to the old twilight zone episodes.  Like those shows, the film doesn't explain a lot and lets the viewers learn about the situation through experiences and snippets.  There are callbacks to the twilight zone opening sequence, and the old school TVs that are prominently featured during that show.  However, the lack of explanation and slow exposition might be a turn off for those expecting something more exciting.  Likewise, the movie has beautiful long shots and long scenes that appear to be done in one take.  These are impressive, but tend to slow the film down even more as the camera pans for 45 to 50 seconds or a conversation stays on a character for the entire time without breaking.  It is an impressive feat, but one that might be a turn off for some viewers.  And although the film picks up in the final third, the first third of the movie is very slow.

The Vast of Night has an impressive commitment to the period in this character-driven homage to the twilight zone and other period mysteries.  If you have the patience for it, it will reward you with a unique cinematic experience.

Rent it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

News: Check Out The New Trailer for Tenet!

The mind-bending new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s TENET is now available!
 
TENET
In theaters July 17 (hopefully!)
https://www.tenetfilm.com/
#TENET

 John David Washington is the new Protagonist in Christopher Nolan’s original sci-fi action spectacle “Tenet.” Armed with only one word—Tenet—and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.

Not time travel. Inversion.

The international cast of “Tenet” also includes Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clémence Poésy, with Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh. Nolan wrote and directed the film, utilizing a mixture of IMAX® and 70mm film to bring the story to the screen.

News: Weathering With You Coming To Digital August 4 and Blu-Ray / DVD September 15!

GKids announced yesterday on twitter the release plans for the digital and physical releases of Weathering With You, the fantastic anime from the studio that brought you Your Name.  Weathering With You is one of my favorite movies of the year, and one I saw in theaters MANY times before they shut down.  Now, starting on August 4, you can watch it as many times as you want from the comfort of your home.

The tweet stated:

☀️ WEATHERING WITH YOU from Makoto Shinkai (#YourName) is coming to Digital on AUG 4 and Blu-ray, DVD & Steelbook on SEPT 15!

Bonus features include director interviews, featurettes, trailers and more!

✨ #WeatheringWithYou Collector's Edition details coming soon.

Review: Intuition

Release date: May 28, 2020
Running time: 116 minutes
Starring: Luisana Lopilato, Joaquín Furriel, Rafael Ferro

Intuition tells the story of Manuela "Pipa" Pelari (Lopilato), who begins her career as a police detective.  Working alongside with her mentor, the controversial detective Francisco Juánez (Furriel), together they must solve the violent murder of a 19 year old girl when all the clues point to the fact that she was murdered by her best friend. At the same time, Pipa will have another difficult mission, to secretly investigate the murder of a young boy where her boss Juanez seems to be guilty. 


This movie has fun, but by the book police procedural characters.  Lopilato is a rookie with a lot of talent and a hunger to succeed.  Furriel is a brilliant detective who just happens to always be one step ahead of both the criminals, and his own department.  His persona is a nice balance of intense focus and disconnect with what is going on, as he only cares about the case and solving the crime.  Together they form an enjoyable team.  The story is entertaining, if a little unmemorable.  It has enough threads that are happening simultaneously that it never gets boring, but does seem a little convenient at times.  And the characters outside of the main two don't play very big roles in the overall story.  They come in and out when needed but the main thrust of the film are the two named leads. 

Intuition is like watching a movie length episode of CSI.  The police instantly analyze data and make observations that lead to the next clue.  If they don't have the answers, they will use their crack investigation skills and a little luck to get to the next part of the story.  It is entertaining, but not very realistic.  They seem to have the right answer right when it is needed, and get the clue that solves the case when they just happen to hit a dead end.  There isn't much action in the film, it focuses more on solving the mystery.  The movie also starts off odd, with a weird, traumatizing incident that is not referenced again or explained.  That being said, this film is an enjoyable police procedural, with plenty of twists that will keep you entertained.  

Intuition is an enjoyable police procedural with enjoyable main characters, plenty of plot threads, and an interesting but convenient story. 

Rent it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

News: Jon Stewart's 'Irresistible' to Premiere at Home On Demand - June 26th!

Starting on June 26th, Jon Stewart's "Irresistible" will be available on demand for a 48-hour rental period for $19.99.

From writer/director Jon Stewart comes the comedy of a Democrat political consultant (Carell) who helps a retired Marine colonel (Cooper) run for mayor in a small Wisconsin town.

The film is written and directed by Jon Stewart. It is produced by Stewart, Lila Yacoub and Plan B Entertainment’s Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner.

Genre: Comedy
Cast: Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha
Lyonne
Director/Writer: Jon Stewart
Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Lila Yacoub, Jon Stewart

Go to WatchIrresistible.com for more info on where and how to watch it.

Review: Isolina

Release date: September 24, 2017 (U.S. Digital May 27, 2020)
Running time: 107 minutes
Starring: Kate McLaughlin, Catriona Evans, Jim Sweeney

After witnessing a murder, a young single mother is forced to act as a witness.  However, this soon draws the ire of many underworld individuals who attempt to stop or change her testimony.  Threatened on all sides, she must do whatever it takes to protect her son.  And she must try to outwit both the good and the bad guys that are using her youth and inexperience against her.


Isolani is a slow, but compelling story.  There is not a lot of action; most the movie develops through dialog and suspense.  And for a movie like this to succeed, there must be good acting and a great script.  Thankfully, Isolani has that in spades.  The story is a complicated one with many players involved.  Isla (McLaughlin) is fantastic as the young single mother.  She has to play both a scared kid and a strong, resourceful woman due to the fact that she is a young single mother.  She does a great job straddling this line and it is really fun to see her as a strong female lead against all of the outside, underworld interests.  Bonnie (Evans) is also great as the cop who is trying to coerce her testimony.  She also has to balance many interests to keep Isla feeling secure while also trying to force the testimony out of her.  

In fact, this movie is filled with people playing multiple angles.  This really is part crime thriller, part character drama.  And that is what makes this film such an intense watch.  Much of the meat of this film is seeing the characters try to play various sides and angles to get what they want.  It is done in such a realistic, gritty way that you will often be holding your breath waiting for something to happen.  There is so much suspense here as you try to figure out who is playing who, who will double cross who, and where the story is going.  The sense of dread is palatable at times, especially for this young mother and her son who literally have nothing and are against everything.  And although the film is a slow burn, it has a satisfying ending after this long ordeal.  

Isolani is a suspenseful tour de force with a strong cast of characters playing multiple angles in this character-driven crime thriller. 

Watch it.

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.
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Deal: May 26, 2020 Movie Deals

Everyone is staying home more now, so movies at home are the new normal.  Get some 4K Blu Rays from Best Buy for $10 to $15.  Many people prefer the physical media for the higher quality you get from a 4K disc and the ability to sell it later.  Additionally, there are several digital movie deals going on right now so you can entertain while you quarantine.  The best of those is a 4 movie family action / adventure pack on iTunes for $10!  Additionally, there is a great deal to get two Clint Eastwood movies for $10.  Some real classics in that pack!

4K Blu Ray Deals
Digital Movie Deals
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Monday, May 25, 2020

Review: The High Note

Release date: May 29, 2020
Running time: 111 minutes
Starring:  Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ice Cube

The High Note is a story about Maggie (Johnson), an assistant to superstar Grace Davis (Ross).  Grace has not released a new album in 10 years, and is living off the fame and success of her record setting career.  Maggie runs Grace's life, but she has recently discovered that she wants to do so much more, while still being close to the superstar she grew up idolizing.  However, this desire to strike out on her own and produce music leads to conflicts with Grace's manager (Ice Cube) and Maggie's potential clients (Harrison Jr.).  


The High Note is a feel good musical drama with a lot of heart and soul.  Maggie has a real love for classic music and a simpler style where the artist, not the accompaniment, shines through.  And Johnson does a really good job as Maggie, bringing a convincing amount of musical knowledge and perfectly balancing the conflicted character who loves her job but wants much more.  Ross is fantastic as Grace Davis, who is both a loving friend and fearsome boss at the same time.  Grace Davis goes through so many mood swings and Ross is perfectly believable in all of them.  Harrison Jr. and Ice Cube are both phenomenally cast as well, but the real stars of this picture are the leading ladies.  They put on powerful, fun, and heartfelt performances that really make you invested in the characters.  

And a movie about music should definitely have a fantastic soundtrack, and the High Note does not disappoint.  It has a nice blend of new tracks and classic songs.  The Grace Davis songs are so entertaining that I listened through the credits (twice) just because I loved hearing them.  And as you would expect for a movie set in the entertainment industry, the story itself is entertaining.  The film has enough ups and downs to keep you guessing what happens next.  The story has enough complexity and surprises that it will keep you engaged; this film is far from a cookie cutter romantic drama.  The writing is fun and entertaining, and pours on the heart when needed.  And the film, despite being set in modern times, has plenty of classic callbacks to reflect Grace Davis's career.  There are nice touches like MTV VMA awards, classic shows that Grace appeared on, and other little references that evoke the music history depicted in the film.  The High Note is just an all around feel good movie at a time when we desperately need things like this.  But it also highlights someone who pushes for their dreams despite the consequences, another needed lesson.

The High Note is a phenomenal feel good musical drama with fantastic characters, a story with plenty of surprises, and a soulful, wonderful soundtrack that will stay in your head long after the credits roll.

Watch it.
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