Recent Reviews

The Hot Spot (Special Edition) (Blu-ray)

"So whatcha gonna do in our town?"
"Whatever there is to do."
"Well...there are only two things to do around here. You got a TV?"
"Well, now you're down to one. Lotsa luck."

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From the instant he stepped foot into the sleepy Texan town of Landers, Harry Madox (Don Johnson) has taken what he wants. He felt like a job at one of the local car lots sounded about right, so Harry sold a sedan to some old-timer, undeterred by the fact that he didn't actually work there. Nevermind whose name is on the sign outside; Harry talks his way into a salesman job and is soon ordering his new boss around with assured authority. If he desires a kiss (or something more) from one of the breathtakingly gorgeous women in town – his boss' seductive, scheming wife (Virginia Madsen) or the seemingly virtuous teenaged clerk (Jennifer Connelly) with a secret – Harry will grab hold and make it happen. And something else quickly catches Harry's eye: the understaffed, poorly secured bank down the road.

That Harry is clever and charismatic enough to take whatever he wants is never in question. The trick is holding onto it – in not regretting getting involved in the first place. Like the man says, this is a real hot spot.

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Among the downsides of being a longtime armchair film critic is that my worst takes remain out there for the world to see for years on end. And when I last watched The Hot Spot the better part of a decade ago, I hammered out a snarky review bemoaning the film's languid pace, anemic characterization, and overly familiar plot points. Perhaps it's because I'm older and ostensibly wiser now – I at least have a far more extensive familiarity with classic noir from which to draw – but...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Hot Spot (Special Edition)]

Justice Society: World War II (Ultra HD Blu-ray)

A kryptonite bullet is blasting towards Superman (Darren Criss) at speeds even The Flash (Matt Bomer) struggles with. Frustratingly just out of reach, the Flash pushes that much harder to intercept it in time, and then...well...

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The movie's opening moments take place as superheroes have only just begun to emerge. Superman is a casual acquaintance rather than a trusted friend and teammate, and the Scarlet Speedster has barely explored the furthest reaches of his abilities. The Speed Force was an entirely unknown concept to the Flash until he finds himself hurtling through it, and time travel was until now just the stuff of pulp novels and box-office blockbusters. And yet here Barry Allen stands, deep in the thick of World War II and surrounded by the legendary members of the Justice Society.

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They, by any measure, ought to be legendary, at least. Yet this is the first that Barry's ever heard of any of them – not even this other speedster calling himself the Flash. But then, the Justice Society are a most carefully guarded secret, toiling mightily against the Nazis but ensuring – via embedded reporter Shakespeare – that their spotlight is instead shone on the soldiers who far more greatly deserve...[read the entire Ultra HD Blu-ray review of Justice Society: World War II]

Shivers (Blu-ray)

They came from within.

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With as audacious and assured as Shivers is, it's in some ways difficult to believe that this was David Cronenberg's first commercial film. And his gifts as a storyteller and embrace of the horrific are apparent from its very first moments.

After swiftly introducing its self-contained, isolated backdrop of Starliner Towers, Shivers cuts between a couple politely inquiring about an apartment and the nightmare unfolding just a few floors above them. A middle-aged professorial type – silently consumed by some unknown drive – violently tears the clothes off a teenaged girl, slices her down the middle nearly from sternum to sacrum, and pours some kind of acid across her exposed innards. Then, with his grisly task complete, he fatally slices his own throat open.

There is no foreshadowing hinting at what has just transpired. We do not meet these characters beforehand, nor, at this point, are we made aware of how they relate to one another. All that is clear is that this is just the beginning – that the unspeakable horrors we'd just witnessed will soon spread virulently throughout this hopelessly remote tower.

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Despite being such an early work of Cronenberg's, so many of the concepts he'd explore throughout his career emerge here fully-formed. The "body horror" label invariably associated with the filmmaker certainly applies to Shivers, with victims' minds dominated by the parasites nesting within their bodies – the creatures' movements visible underneath their hosts' skin all the while. The enclosed ecosystem of Starliner Towers is itself an organism of sorts, located on an island just far enough away from civilization to require everything from its own delicatessen to a medical...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Shivers]

More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 6/14: Django (Limited Edition) (Uhd)
  • 6/13: Cinema Paradiso (Uhd)
  • 6/12: Plan B (Hdtv)
  • 6/11: Josie and the Pussycats (Hdtv)
  • 6/11: Zebraman (Blu-ray)
  • 6/9: Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (Uhd)
  • 6/8: Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Uhd)
  • 6/8: Battle in Outer Space (Japanese Cut) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/7: The H-Man (Japanese Cut) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/5: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Uhd)
  • 6/4: Some Kind of Heaven (Hdtv)
  • 6/4: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Uhd)
  • 6/3: Hail Satan? (Hdtv)
  • 6/3: Santa Sangre (Uhd)
  • 6/1: Starstruck (1983) (Hdtv)
More of my boring video log...
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 6/14: Puzzle (L'uomo Senza Memoria) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/7: Blade (Uhd)
  • 5/24: Topaze (Blu-ray)
  • 5/24: Nothing Sacred (Blu-ray)
  • 5/24: The Music Man (Blu-ray)
  • 5/24: Easy Living (Blu-ray)
  • 5/24: Rick & Morty: Season 4 (Blu-ray)
  • 5/24: Zebraman (Blu-ray)
  • 5/24: Young Justice Outsiders: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
  • 5/24: Cinema Paradiso (Uhd)
  • 5/24: The H-Man/Battle in Outer Space (Blu-ray)
  • 5/24: Ultraman Ace - The Complete Series Steelbook Edition (Blu-ray)
  • 5/21: Jakob's Wife (Blu-ray)
  • 5/18: Sabrina (1954) (Blu-ray)
  • 5/18: My Fair Lady (Uhd)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...

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