This week’s best and worst Roku VOD Streaming Channels!

 

This week’s best and worst Roku VOD Streaming Channels!

 

The Best:

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The two pay channels of NETFLIX and AMAZON PRIME, without any surprise I think,  come highly recommended, and were I to guess, they probably make up most of Roku’s streaming traffic.

Netflix for its growing empire of original programming (including DAREDEVIL, HOUSE OF CARDS) and selection of hotter in demand movies is a must-have channel for anyone.

AMAZON PRIME for its wealth of movie content, and a good number of older shows that are not available on NETFLIX, comes in a close second in terms of must have streaming channels.

Those are the only paid streaming channels I have or recommend.

The rest are no-cost, ad-supported, channels. Some of these are worth your time, many of them are not.

The one’s that are hits this week are:

 

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POPCORN FLIX

Why? Well, good selection of older films and eclectic shows, mostly solid quality(screen pixelates occasionally) and ad interruptions kept to a minimum. this week’s recommended movies and shows are PHANTOM PUNCH (a Sonny Liston bio-pic directed by Robert Townsend), THE ASSAULT, IN HELL, TUNNEL RATS, SHUFFLE, BIG BAD WOLF, WYVERN, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, FREE MEN, BADCITY, GODKILLER and  CHILLERS – A short lived horror series  hosted by Anthony Perkins

 

ON

I tend not to watch regular TV, so this is a good channel for keeping abreast of the current pop culture and entertainment news. Some highlights are ESCAPE TO THESE BEAUTIFUL CARIBBEAN BEACHES THIS SUMMER, MODEL STARTS MOVEMENT TO ELIMINATE PLUS SIZE, 5 WAYS TO FINANCE YOUR HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS.

 

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SNAG FILMS

THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT, THE WASP WOMAN, THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS(short film, 15minutes), FUSE, a slew of Buster Keaton comedies, CARNIES,  THE MILLENNIUM BUG, EVEL KNIEVEL, LUCKY DAY (Fun 3 min Animated film), BLACK BOOK (1949),  LETTERS FROM THE BIG MAN, STAN (2009 Laurel and Hardy biopic), SICKO (A 6 minute short film that put a smile on my face. Enjoyable), POOR PRETTY EDDIE,  M.R. JAMES COLLECTION, CRAZY STREETS, ANTE, THE BET, HUNTING BUDDIES, THE GERBER SYNDROME, RIDDLE, BIGFOOT: THE LOST COAST TAPES, THE PURITANS (24 min Short Film), BLOOD MOON (18 min Short Film), LONDON VOODOO, DARK ARC

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TUBITV

THE MILL AND THE CROSS,  DOGTOOTH, THE OTHER SIDE, STREET FIGHTER Series

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CRACKLE

HANCOCK, 21, RETREAT, THE CAVE, BROTHERS IN ARMS,

HISTORY

A couple LOST IN TRANSLATION episodes, about a dozen PAWN STARS episodes, 10 AMERICAN DAREDEVILS episodes, H2 Special Presentations, 3 HUMAN  WEAPON episodes

 

The Channels that are losers this week and will just waste your time (rather than providing you great content) are:

 

 

WATCH FREE FLIX- The sound of the too plentiful commercials is fine, but the sound of the actual content, the shows and movies, is turned down and corrupted. Pathetic and a waste of time. Especially disappointing considering this channel has some interesting content if you could hear it. Fix your sound issue or close your channel.

VANGUARD- Limited movie selections and has not been updated in months. Website appears to no longer exist.

 

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MIDNIGHT PULP – Roku channel no longer being updated. The website shows additional content (not just the PULP ones) not available on the Roku channel. Watch THE SCARLET WORM and ZOMBIE A-HOLE then lose the channel.

ASIAN CRUSH –  not being updated and content that is readily available elsewhere

CRUNCHYROLL – With the exception of ATTACK ON TITAN, I’m not a fan on Anime. And that’s mostly what this channel has.

PARANORMAL REALITY TV – more interesting content can be found elsewhere.

FILM MOVEMENT – Small selection of indie, foreign films (that can be found elsewhere) and never updated

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DORADO FILMS – Small selection of mostly obsure 70s d-grade euro films, however unfortunately has not been updated seemingly since it launched. Which is a shame because the website is quite striking, and gave the promise of a great streaming channel.

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FILM RISE– This was going to make it on the recommended list for one movie, the brilliant SUDOESTE (SOUTHWEST), it is one of the few channels to have this beautiful film available. Unfortunately attempting to stream from this channel was a study in dissatisfaction. Spent more time buffering than playing the movie initially. And when it did play it was interrupted by an ad every 8 minutes, as opposed to the respectable 28 minutes an ad-supported streaming channel should allow you, before hitting you with another ad.  On top of that, with the exception of SOUTHWEST its content could be found on multiple other channels. FILMRISE failed to rise to the occasion.

THE MOVIE TRAILER CHANNEL – Do not make an ad the first thing I see, before even browsing content. Absolutely worthless.

INDIE CRUSH – A severe absence of content. Only about 30+ titles, and just about all of them are available at other, better stocked streaming channels. Not worth the time to add

Well I hope the above helps you find new channels to try and avoid the channels that can’t be bothered to provide updated, quality programming. Hopefully some channels that stumbled this week will improve next week.

You can add and remove channels here.

 

 

AVENGERS : AGE OF ULTRON RealD 3D Review!

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Three years in the making, since the box office shattering and acclaimed first AVENGERS film, Joss Whedon’s hungrily awaited follow-up AVENGERS:AGE OF ULTRON has arrived.

So being a fan of the first film, I was happy to make it down to one of the better and newest theaters to see this film in RealD 3D. I’m not typically an advocate for 3D films, but 3D post processing on the Marvel Studio films has been very good.

So I plunked down the requisite coin and entered the theatrical showing of the AGE OF ULTRON, and quick thoughts? I quite enjoyed it. It wasn’t the masterwork that the first film was, but that was lightning in a bottle and very hard to recapture. This is a solid follow-up, with characters you’ve come to like, played ably by actors that have become household names, and a solid and inventive and witty script that hits all the requisite points.

World ending threats? Check. Cool Villains? Check. Astounding set pieces and fight scenes? Check. Witty repartee and good natured bickering? Check. Budding romance and Scarlett Johanson in skin-tight and fetching uniforms? Check and Check! :) And moments of pathos and heroism? Check. And fun immersive 3D? Check.

All together Joss Whedon weaves together a 2+ hour blockbuster, a spectacle that is worthy of the big-screen, theatrical experience. That said it is not perfect. It lacks the immediate watchability and crowd pleasing nature of the first, oh it has its moments to be sure, but you’re not going to leave this AVENGERS movie immediately ready to see it again like its predecessor.

This film after one viewing you’re more than content to wait for it to hit Blu-Ray before watching it again. And I think on Blu-Ray it is a perfect format for really appreciating the immense work that goes into the battle scenes.

So all in all a worthy film to get you in the theaters. Grade: B+.

DAREDEVIL – The Final Review of NetFlix’s game changing 13 episode series!

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DAREDEVIL – Finally finishing this 13 part series, that everyone (quite rightly I think) is raving about, and it is a sea change of a series. Phenomenally good and had me captivated to the end, as those of you who have followed my previous posts can attest. It is and should be, justifiably lauded. That said, having finished the series, it is not perfect.

I think sticking the landing is the hardest thing for any series to do, and after 12 fantastic episodes, I don’t think this series quite stuck the landing with the 13th episode. [Spoilers Follow]I think the series had such smart writing throughout but the ending felt a bit disappointing and by the numbers and a bit stereotypical.

I found the character of Karen Page, while stunning, the weakest and most annoying and unlikeable character, part of this is in the writing, and part in the portrayal. And she gets progressively more annoying till the final episode. And the fact that great characters (both in terms of writing and acting) get killed (directly and indirectly) because of her, leaves an extremely bad taste.

The loss of Vondie Curtis-Hall’s character of Ben Urich feels particularly egregious and formulaic and a bit stereotypical. “Oh a strong Black male character in a genre series, of course he needs to die in the noble savage role, sacrificing himself for the non-colored” :). Like I said for a series that was so bold and smart throughout, it felt like dumbed down, lowest common denominator choices toward the end, which made the Karen Page character all the more unlikeable.

The only person nearly as unlikeable as Karen’s character is the character of Matt Murdock. But that works because there are enough other facets to Charlie Cox’s great performance, and enough time spent away from him with more interesting characters, to assuage the more psychopathic parts to the character’s nature.

But it does leave you with a final episode where it is not with Matt Murdock your sympathies lie, but with Vincent D’Onofrio’s brilliant Kingpin. It doesn’t help that the final Daredevil suit is pretty solidly a disappointment, and has one wishing for the return of the man in black.

I’m still looking forward to more Daredevil, but I do think the lack of Vondie Curtis-Hall, the ludicrous costume, the too brutal Daredevil, and the grating, and annoying character of Karen Page has me less interested than I should be for a second season.

Still and all kudos to fight coordinator Philip J Silvera, who makes this series one of the most adrenalin fueled of all time. All the more impressive since this appears to be his first long term Fight Coordinator gig. And of course kudos to Show Runners Drew Goddard and Steven S. Knight who spearheaded the birth of this first season. And of course to the writers and directors and actors.

A second season has been green-lit but without Steven S. Knight of SPARTACUS fame, instead it will have show-runners Douglas Petrie (He wrote one of the best episodes of Season 1, STICK)and Marco Ramirez (who also wrote 2 solid episodes of season 1, RABBIT IN A SNOWSTORM and CONDEMNED)so they have the chops to make the 2nd season their own. Here’s hoping they do.

If you like the fight scenes in DAREDEVIL another series to try for some solid fisticuffs is season 1 of HUMAN TARGET. While not as brutal it is quite well done. Get the series here:

Human Target: Season 1 [Blu-ray]

Now Watching : ENDANGERED SPECIES and TUSK on NetFlix VOD and Amazon Prime!

ENDANGERED SPECIES- Slow Netflix Night, and despite the atrocious poster, the name Eric Roberts and the premise of a scifi/horror flick intrigues me enough to give this a try. The first thing that strikes you is how incredibly dated the film seems.

Indeed despite the film having a production date of 2003, it looks far more like a film from 1983, with dated special effects, and an anemic budget to match, and borrows from more well known scifi films of the 80s and 90s. But those negatives aside, it moves at a quick clip, and there is some originality here, an unexpected environmental twist that makes the movie keep till the end.
Grade: C-. Horrible and misleading poster, but worth a look.

TUSK- I remember when Kevin Smith did the on-air little joke on his pod-cast that would become this film. The joke on the pod-cast was hilarious, and having seen the film, it should have just remained that pod-cast joke. It’s hilarious as something Kevin Smith is describing on a pod-cast, but the film is ultimately just exceedingly distasteful as a finished product, and backs itself into a miserable and ugly corner. Grade: D-.

Now Watching : Netflix’s DAREDEVIL and WRONG TURN AT TAHOE!

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The Entire 1st season of Netflix’s first Marvel Studios series DAREDEVIL has  dropped, and one episode in and it feels like… it feels like faith rewarded. From the first frame to the last, the show is pitch perfect.

From the direction, to the writing, to the performances, to the action. Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, the Man without Fear is revelatory.  Charlie Cox in that first scene, with the speech in the confessional about his father, and letting the Devil loose, he defines the damaged nature of the protagonists, and this world. The initial costume is perfectly fine, a work in progress. I really hope Netflix will offer this up on Blu-Ray with commentary and features. It clearly deserves it.

Episode 2 here I come.

 

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Cuba Gooding Jr, has made his share of questionable movies. That said, in the largely direct to video world that has become the domain of most actors, in the last decade or so he has made some gems. WRONG TURN AT TAHOE is one of those gems, and following my first episode of DAREDEVIL, I find the film a nice counterpoint to the Netflix series. Cube giving a wonderfully poised and understated performance… yet full of menace. A great film from beginning to end.

Strongly recommended. Grade: B+

THE SHOUT (1978) – Expressionist 70s Horror at its Best!

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THE SHOUT (1978) – THE SHOUT is a type of horror film that the 70s managed to produce arguably better than any other decade (save perhaps our current streaming generation, the share bulk of content at our fingertips allows for a diverse range of content and experimentation). The eerie existential tale of foreboding; tales of protagonists beset from seemingly all sides by nameless and unnameable dreads that live disturbingly close to the fragile facade of our normal lives.

A culmination of sorts of the filmic movements before it (namely Expressionism, often called German Expressionism, and Film Noir) and the new dynamism of the conflicted post war, post age of Aquarius 70s; 70s Expressionist horror grafting the fatalism of Film Noir to Expressionism’s use of exaggeration and distortion to illicit an emotional response, to create a horror that was more about broader questions of what lives beyond the borders of the accepted, and the illusions… of control.

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Films like DON’T LOOK NOW, IMAGES, THE ABOMINABLE DOCTOR PHIBES, AND SOON THE DARKNESS, THE DUNWICH HORROR, LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, MAGIC, OBSESSION, PHANTASM, DEEP RED, THE SENTINEL, SUSPIRIA, ERASERHEAD, SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS, GANJA & HESS, NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND are marked by extreme directorial flourishes, bordering on surrealism, creating worlds of emotive rather than accepted reality.

THE SHOUT, features a stellar cast of burgeoning British Stars, among them Alan Bates, Susannah York, John Hurt and Tim Curry, all brilliantly directed by the legendary filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski. His only film in the horror genre, THE SHOUT much like IMAGES (directed by another great, serious filmmaker Robert Altman), manages to be not just a great genre film, but one of the best films of Skolimowski’s lauded career.

Not the typical Horror movie, the best horror of the 70s resists and transcends easy classifications, and trite genre labels. Indeed THE SHOUT would be as justified in the drama or fantasy or art film designation as any other, but somehow horror seems to sum up best the creeping unease that these types of 70s films in general, and THE SHOUT in particular, provide.

This is horror not of the slasher or torture porn fodder that unfortunately passes too-often for horror in the 21st century, but something more… imaginative. While the 70s had its own knife wielding maniacs, that was often played as a facet of the horror, rather than the horror in total. The horror that the 70s dealt in was rather a call back to the existential roots of cinema, horror, and arguably humanity, the MR James and Wakefield definitions of horror… the horror, with questions that endure.

Jerzy Skolimowski’s THE SHOUT is a film that rewards repeat viewings. See it for yourself courtesy of Amazon Prime, or get the DVD here: The Shout [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import – United Kingdom ] or Blu-Ray here: The Shout (1978) [ NON-USA FORMAT, Blu-Ray, Reg.B Import – United Kingdom ]

Grade: B+.


Deal of the Day! ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher or American Water Distiller vs Aquasana vs Pur vs Zero Water Filters!?


A while back I had done a post on the difficulty of finding a reliable, affordable Water filter. I had first tried an American Water Distiller, however after some weeks of use, quality control issues regarding the materials used, namely rusting and taste, made me question what it was adding to the water as opposed to removing.

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Ultimately a distiller is a big expense and is only as safe as the parts used and the storage system used to catch and hold the water, and I found this particular model of American Water Filter… lacking.

I then after some reading tried Aquasana Counter-top Water Filter, which I used quite a while.

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I loved the glass storage containers this company provided and the reviews and documentation initially appeared solid. But the price for filters were way too expensive, the plastic of the filter housings tended to stain, there was no real reliable method for telling when to change the filter, outside of guessing and when you noticed issues with the water, and the certifications claimed in Aquasana’s ads weren’t backed up with any current certifications, and the company’s lack of response when questioned regarding their NSF certification I found less than satisfactory. So all these reasons made me decide to discontinue using Aquasana.

I then went to Pur Faucet Filter, largely for its claim of weeding out Mercury, recent certifications, availability and ease of purchase and low initial cost. I really appreciated the system offered a handy LED reminder regarding when it was time to replace the filter.

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One thing that never sat well with me is the loose way the Pur Filter fit into the housing. There was nothing to stop water from flowing around, rather than through, the filter. But it seemed better than nothing.

And that for quite a while is what I was using, until the Zero Water Pitcher. The design of this pitcher answers a lot of issues I had with the Pur faucet design.

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And the included TDS water tester (Total Dissolved Solids) that came with the filter really made a believer out of me after testing my untreated water, which read something like 140ppm, than the Pur filtered water… which to my surprise read more than my tap water, was something like a 150ppm. I realized the Pur water filter was reading higher because of the very design I always found questionable, in essence the filter housing seemingly allowed water to sit there and levels to actually build up.

So then I tested the water coming out of the Zero pitcher, and sure enough it came out Zero. And you could actually see the difference between the tap water, the pur water, and the zero water. There was a lot of particles in the former two, and the zero pitcher came out noticeably clear.

That is what I call impressive. Down the road I intend to run other tests and testers on the Zero Pitcher to confirm what it removes from the water beyond turbidity, but for right now, and for the relatively affordable price compared to the alternatives, it is my current water filter solution of choice.

If you are looking for a better water filter option, Zero Pitcher with their included TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) Tester is a well thought out, and seemingly effective, and definitely affordable option to give a try to. Get your copy here: ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher
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