BLU-RAY Movie of the Day : Antoine Fuqua’s EQUALIZER

“Progress. Not perfection.”

The Equalizer Movie Poster

I know in this day of streaming it’s all the rage to herald the death of physical media.

Allow me to be the voice of dissent.

Streaming is fine for sampling things, and trying things, but for things you love, and intend to watch again, revisit again, give me that feature rich DVD or BLU-RAY any-day, and twice on Sunday.

I love film. And I love cast and Director’s commentary. For films I love, after I consume the film, I like to go back and hear about the process, the experience of making the film.

For a beloved film, it just adds to the enjoyment.

And for cinephiles or hopefuls one day looking to work in some capacity crafting these once celluloid marvels, a commentary by Michael Mann or Ridley Scott or the late great Tony Scott is like being part of the best film school in the world.  It’s enjoyable AND informative.

My favorite movies I might get introduced to on streaming, but providing they have that commentary and special features, I will always buy in Blu-ray/DVD format.

The Equalizer Movie Poster

Antoine Fuqua’s THE EQUALIZER is one of those movies. First the Blu-Ray picture and sound quality is stellar. No buffering issues, or making sure you haven’t gone over broadband quota issues, or weather related or ‘time of day’ issues that can all affect your enjoyment with streaming. No the Blu-Ray, as long as you have your player and power, will be there for you, in the same spectacular quality.

Now moving on to the film itself, while I liked the TV show well enough, I too was incredulous when i heard about a remake. Add to that the odd choice of Denzel Washington to helm a big screen version of a mid-tier show, best known for the Britishness of its protagonist.

But I’m happy to say AntoinE Fuqua and the writers and Denzel Washington do the impossible in making this 80s small screen show, into galvanizing big screen entertainment. From the first frame the story is told, of a man of regimented routine, of  necessary order. Peace, found in the adherence to the space between seconds. A dragon allowed to sleep. Until one day something shatters that routine, that peace, and the dragon must wake.

Fuqua is a director, whose first couple of efforts left me cold, but I have to say he has grown into a great Director. There is such a beautiful patience in this film, that it makes the action scenes when they come, so much more devastating. And a large part of that is Denzel Washington, he brings a laconic, measured weight to the doors he steps through, a gravitas, that really sells the moments he must… wake.

Coming out the same time frame as JOHN WICK, both films share a common theme of men of extreme skillsets being forced back into using those skills. It’s lovely how the same theme of vengeance can be handled so differently, and so well in those differences.

JOHN WICK is a balls to the wall, action extravaganza,  EQUALIZER offers a bit more measured approach, but somehow manages to make every person’s fall more personal for that measured response. Fuqua’s EQUALIZER takes the time to watch the light go out of a man’s eyes. And there is something sobering and frightening about that. I love JOHN WICK, and looking forward to JOHN WICK II, but I love EQUALIZER just as much. The only misstep to EQUALIZER is the poor choice of a rap song for the closing credits, but other than that a home-run of a film.

It is a phenomenal film. Made even more so by the VENGEANCE MODE that the Blu-Ray offers. All in all a grade ‘A’ film, well deserving of owning in Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy at the link below:

The Equalizer [Blu-ray]

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Movie of the Day: WOLVES (2014) by David Hayter

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David Hayter-‘s WOLVES- I really didn’t love the trailer for WOLVES, but being a werewolf movie, my favorite genre of horror movie, I thought i’d give it a try. Initially I thought this was going in TEEN WOLF and TWILIGHT territory, but thankfully it strayed pretty quickly from that path, becoming a far better and more satisfying film than the trailers hinted at.

Combining great performances, a compelling story, outstanding direction cinematography and editing, and a stellar soundtrack, and some of the best Werewolf makeup and transformations and you have just a home-run of a film. Jason Momoa is such a galvanizing physical presence and is perfect here in his role of crazed Alpha dog.

This one I saw for free courtesy of HULU, it is an easy MUST OWN. Grade: A-.

WOLVES (2014) aka: Les Loups-Garous, CANADIAN-IMPORT, UNRATED EDITION (+ Theatrical Version) REGION A BLU-RAY

Wolves


Netflix Movie of the Day: BEYOND THE LIGHTS

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What we watch in cinema, if you ask a thousand people, you may get a thousand answers. But what we want from cinema? I think that answer is simpler.

We want cinema even at its most fantastic to tell us something true. To tell us something about ourself, and how we can aspire to be better than ourself. And that is what the best cinema does, for the fleeting time we share our attention with it, whether in a darkened theater or a light lit living room, we want to aspire to more than we are, to be better than we are.

Whether inspired to, if only in our dreams, be nicer, or more caring, or more concerned, or more heroic, or more… humane. That’s a rare gift, in a dire age, for cinema for a fleeting moment to have us believe in being better.

That is what BEYOND THE LIGHTS does. With a stellar cast of new faces and seasoned pros, Gina Prince-Bythewood of LOVE AND BASKETBALL and THE SECRET LIVES OF BEES here with her third feature film, creates inarguably her best film, and one that will become a perennial classic in households everywhere. But particularly households of color, in an America that increasingly is more ethnically diverse, our cinema and media is, doggedly and obstinately it would seem, ever more dismissive and marginalizing and denigrating, to characters of color or stories of color, that do not fit into narrow, nonthreatening, and tired stereotypes.

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That’s why Gina Prince-Bythewood as writer and director is so important, and BEYOND THE LIGHTS should be so heralded. In an America where Urban Love is often defined for young people in terms of players and hos, or in terms of its absence, it is so rewarding and refreshing to see a movie with intelligent Black Characters (ie more than one or two token characters) and healthy Black relationships, between Black Men and Black women, that does not fall into tired rhetoric, or bashing, or talk show idiocy.

 

Korean media and cinema is filled with such loving positive interplay, as is Japanese, or Thai, or Russian, or Dutch, or Indian, or Spanish. But somehow when it comes to the broad and diverse ethnic group called Black (African-American being a marginalizing appellation, misapplied and removed from the inclusive, unifying bridge it was meant, but failed to be. Defining an ethnic group, using a nationalistic descriptor being the height of stupidity), positive loving images are in drastic shortage.

As Black Men are increasingly invisible or the sexless , funny sidekick or cross dressing Enuchs in mass media, and Black women increasingly the hor, or the pining 2nd choice for the White Knight of American mass media. Or they are self-hating thugs, raised and bedded on ignorance.

With such a table, and such rotten food to feed young and old alike on, when someone brings to the table a fine steak or beautiful trout, you realize just how empty you had been, and for how long.

BEYOND THE LIGHTS is a great film, that makes you feel better for having seen it. Makes you feel better. What a concept.

Hopefully we can look forward to more such filmmakers and more such films. Highly Recommended!

Try it for free on Netflix, but only long enough to realize you really want to own this film in Blu-Ray. Get your copy here:

beyondthelights

Beyond the Lights [Blu-ray]

The Last Word on the Best, Most Underrated, and you might have missed Films of 2014!!!

Yes I know it is nearly the middle of 2015, but hey I’ve been busy.

And I wanted to do a comprehensive study of other peoples best and worst lists of 2014 to make sure this one wouldn’t repeat the obvious, and offer instead a unique summation.

Think you’ve seen everything of note 2014 had? Well think again. When doing research for this article I determined there was a ton of films in 2014 deserving of a watch; far more than 2015 is offering.

And thanks to streaming you can try before you buy a lot of these titles.

So without further ado:

 

THE MOST OVERRATED MOVIES of 2014

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  • BABADOOK
  • SNOWPIERCER
  • GODZILLA
  • FORCE MAJEURE
  • A FIELD IN ENGLAND

 

THE WORST FILMS of 2014

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  • ENEMY
  • NYMPHOMANIAC
  • THE HUNGER GAMES MOCKINGJAY PART !
  • ABCs OF DEATH 2 – Has a couple of good segments, but largely forgettable
  • VHS VIRAL
  • GODZILLA
  • A FIELD IN ENGLAND
  • ANNABELLE

OK TO VERY GOOD FILMS of 2014

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  • ROVER
  • VENUS IN FURS
  • LOCKE
  • RAID 2
  • SABOTAGE
  • 13 SINS
  • BORGMAN
  • HOUSE BOUND
  • I, FRANKENSTEIN
  • THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014) – This one due to phenomenal direction really borders on great, it’s just a weak conclusion that bogs it down
  • WITCHING & BITCHING

THE BEST FILMS of 2014 –These are the films worth owning in DVD or Blu-Ray

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  • UNDER THE SKIN
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA : THE WINTER SOLDIER
  • GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
  • EDGE OF TOMORROW
  • 3 DAYS TO KILL
  • A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT
  • METRO MANILA
  • BLUE RUIN

ENJOYABLE THEATRICAL EXPERIENCES of 2014

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  • X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURES PAST
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA : THE WINTER SOLDIER
  • GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
  • EDGE OF TOMORROW

AND WRAPPING THIS INSTALLMENT UP, MOVIES STILL ON MY LIST TO SEE

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  • MOOD INDIGO – started watching this, what craziness I saw… so far I like
  • GONE GIRL – Ben Affleck is a filmmaker I have yet to try. Nor am I in a particular rush to, but I’ll eventually get to this film as well as his THE TOWN.
  • INHERENT VICE
  • GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
  • NIGHTCRAWLER
  • BIRDMAN
  • THE LEGO MOVIE
  • THE IMITATION GAME
  • ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
  • LOVE IS STRANGE OUT
  • A WALK AMONG TOMBSTONES
  • NOAH
  • TOP FIVE
  • THE HOMESMAN
  • INTERSTELLAR
  • DEVIL’S DUE
  • AMERICAN HUSTLE
  • CAPITAL
  • OMAR
  • MISS VIOLENCE
  • STILL LIFE
  • GRIGRIS
  • NORTE THE END OF HISTORY
  • CHILD’S POSE
  • GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE 3D
  • WHIPLASH
  • NIGHT MOVES
  • BOYHOOD
  • FOXCATCHER
  • IDA
  • LUCY
  • THE MONUMENTS MEN
  • BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
  • A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
  • TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT
  • STRANGER ON THE LAKE
  • JORDOROWSKY’S DUNE
  • JOY OF MAN’S DESIRING (Que ta joie demure)
  • THE IMMIGRANT
  • DEAR WHITE PEOPLE
  • DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
  • SELMA
  • GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE
  • NO GOOD DEED
  • MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN
  • WINTER SLEEP
  • STRANGE LITTLE CAT
  • COLD IN JULY
  • THE GUEST
  • IT FOLLOWS
  • JOHN WICK
  • THE IMMIGRANT
  • DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART
  • LUCY
  • NON-STOP
  • NEED FOR SPEED
  • COHERENCE
  • BIRD PEOPLE
  • PROXY
  • JOE
  • HERCULES
  • THE SIGNAL
  • THE BETTER ANGELS
  • OPEN WINDOWS
  • EXPENDABLES 3
  • CALVARY
  • HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

 

Thanks To the following sites for bringing some of the above films to my attention. Hope you have found this list helpful, and feel free to shoot me an email or comment with any you think I may have missed. Enjoy! :

http://mountainx.com/movies/2014-at-the-movies-the-best-and-the-worst/
https://2020film.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/the-top-five-most-overrated-movies-of-2014/
http://filmint.nu/?p=14188

http://www.metacritic.com/feature/best-and-worst-films-of-2014?page=2

Way Too Indie’s Most Overrated And Underrated Films Of 2014

http://www.avclub.com/article/best-film-2014-ballots-212969

Movie Review : A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

 

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A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHTThis is a drenchingly romantic and exquisite film with a soundtrack to die for. One of the most sumptuously beautiful “horror” films of all time, and to call it a horror film is to undersell it. This is more. This is a parable that defies simple genre. A sublime bit of movie making, fueled by masterful sound design and cinematography, and patient, stylized and phenomenal direction, with echoes both Lynchian and Murnauistic.

Writer, directed Ana Lily Amirpour with one film has catapulted herself into the ranks of “Must See” Filmmakers.

Most films don’t live up to their poster or their hype (I’m looking at you BIG BAD WOLVES and BABADOOK), I’m happy to say A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT absolutely does.

I just saw it for free courtesy of Netflix, and this is one I HAVE to own in the highest quality Blu-Ray available. Ideally with commentary and special features. It is that impressive of a debut.

 

Grade: A+.  Highest Recommendation.

 

And run, do not walk, to get the Blu-Ray at the link below:
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Special Collector’s Edition Blu-ray)

Movie Original vs Remake : THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN

THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976) VS THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)

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I recently watched the original THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN FROM 1976 and to my surprise rather than a simple exploitation film, I found a compelling, harrowing, and somehow (despite it’s matter of fact “pseudo documentary” style) eminently watchable film. An unexpected examination into the American heart of darkness that manages to linger and haunt long after the credits role.

I really had no interest in the 2014 ‘remake’, largely because I saw it incapable of transcending that original film’s “of its time” power. Thankfully the filmmakers had the same respect for the original and rather than attempting to remake it, they created an unexpected sequel to it that manages to speak to a 21st century audience, while invoking the unyielding ghost of that 20th century nightmare.

However, the true saving grace and the the true validation of this sequel lies in its director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who creates one of the most stylish and inventively directed thrillers of recent years.

And even though the film falters a bit at the end (you get the feeling the scriptwriters didn’t really know how to end the film, as the reveal and conclusion stumble a bit, in a way the original film didn’t), still the momentum that Alfonso delivers is enough to leave you impressed and satisfied.

Final Grade: Both films are available for streaming [The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)] and both are worthy of owning, but the one that I am personally excited about adding to my Blu-Ray collection (when it hopefully quickly becomes available) is the Alfonso Gomez-Rejon version, simply because of some of the superlative direction and cinematography involved. It is the calling card of a filmmaker to watch.

Scratch that. Having seen the specs on the Shout! Factory Blu-ray version of the original THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, and its load of special features, I now proudly proclaim it as a must own Blu-Ray. For all the dazzle that the newer film offers, there are moments of pure horror in the first film that it does not come close to touching. One attack in particular, in the original film, will stick with you, about a woman and a cornfield and its unbelievable outcome, that is simply jaw dropping in its true life power, and makes pale in comparison some of the cinematic histrionics of the newer film. Decide for yourself here: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (BluRay/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray]

Quick (kinda) 2015’s The Best Of Podcasts Primer!!


Starting off 2015 let’s do a lightning quick primer on what podcasts are, how you listen to them, and quick recommendations on some good podcasts to start subscribing to. Cool? Let’s begin!

What are podcasts?

Simplest definition they are the radio programs of the 21st century.

But not quite.

Almost 100 years ago radio (the medium, the invention) was the mass media wunderkind and juggernaut and technological cutting edge of the world. It united the world and united disparate geographically separated people in a way that was largely inconceivable just generations before. It redefined communication, but more it redefined entertainment.

No longer did you have to go to New York or LA or London to see the greatest and most exciting acts of the day, the comedies, the dramas, the concerts, the debates, but now with radio the greatest acts in the world, this sea of entertainment, and news, and interests… with a flip of a switch, comes to you.

Radio of a hundred years ago was a watershed evolution in the way people communicated, it expanded the width of our collective conversation, even if lessening to some degree the depth of the impact of the individual and the local community on that conversation.

TV tends to get the hype, but is nothing more than an extrapolation of that model that radio defined, radio being the true 1st evolutionary leap of the 20th century. The next real evolutionary dialog changer of the 20th century would come at the end of that century, with the mass adoption of the WWW, the Internet. The Internet into the 21st century has been the evolutionary next leap in communication from the medium Radio.

That brings us to podcasts and VOD. In a world where traditional terrestrial radio and television just doesn’t meet the needs of a 21st century audience, the on demand nature of podcasts and VOD platforms such as Amazon Prime or Netflix, perfectly fits the needs of an internet age that wants to “watch what it wants whenever it wants”.

And podcasts (recorded audio files on a near infinite range of topics, available for streaming or download or subscription through select syndication hosts) particularly are dear to me, as someone who grew up on the idea of radio drama, the theater of the mind, and loving shows like THE SHADOW, ESCAPE, SUSPENSE, and recognizing the intimate power of the audio format to move you in a way that television rarely does, I’m thrilled to see the flourishing of audio drama and audio commentary in the 21st century.

So that in a horribly non-brief way is what podcasts are and why they rock. But now how do you get them?

There are a bunch of ways to do it, depending if you are doing it on your smart phone, or tablet, or media player, or computer. I use an android tablet, so that’s the process I’m going to cover here. And we’ll wrap this puppy up with some quick shows to get you started with in 2015:

1- Get a tablet. My personal preference is Android 10″. Android OS because I don’t want to put up with the gatekeeping of Apple or Microsoft, and I like the bang for the buck I get. Your preference may be different and that’s perfectly fine, just telling you what works for me. As far as 10″ , I like reading books, magazines, and comics on the tablet, so that form factor works great for me. All this to say you do your homework, you can end up with a great tablet for around Ebook prices.

2- Find an app to use to subscribe to podcasts: Being tech savvy, I have tried MANY, MANY apps looking for the most useful, least obtrusive podcast app (also known as a podcatcher) and most of them are ultimately disappointing. The exception, and my current podcatcher of choice is PODKICKER. You can easily stream shows or you can download shows you want to keep for posterity, the “WTF Robin Williams” episode comes immediately to mind. Have been using PODKICKER for most of 2014, and still using it in 2015. Highly Recommended!

3- And now last but not least… choose podcasts to start your 2015 off right. Just type the following into your podcatcher search engine to subscribe to them, and job done.

WTF WITH MARC MARON
SIDEBAR SIDEBARNATION
11OCLOCK COMICS
HORROR ETC
B MOVIE CAST
GILBERT GODFREY

Start with those few, guys and gals, as they were all shows I consumed voraciously in 2014, and will remain in rotation in 2015 as new shows are discovered.

Hope this primer has been helpful!