Posts in Video on Demand
REWIND REVIEW: Toy Story 4

I should rename this section from “Late Homework Excuse” to “Inciting a School Riot” for my participation with the June release of Toy Story 4. I saw the film early for press, covered a fun family event at Navy Pier, and was very unimpressed by the final product. My review was one of the initial wave of four that broke the Rotten Tomatoes perfect 100% Tomatometer score for the movie. The trolling comments and death threats followed and I wrote about that experience. I didn’t want to be that guy, but I just couldn’t call this sequel worthwhile trying to follow the near-perfection of Toy Story 3.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Auggie

There is a fine line when using the verb “titillate.” Broadly, the word can simply mean “excite” or “thrill.” Taken more seriously, the word sharpens closer to “arouse” or “stimulate.” Context, ahem, is key. Auggie, the feature directorial debut of actor Matt Kane, walks that fine line of titillation and deftly blurs where to place its context on that line. This shrewd and stellar work creates a viewing effect in Auggie that tantalizingly bounces your comfort level between intimacy and voyeurism. This moral rattler deserves attention and praise as indie gem.

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EDITORIAL: 7 Great Movies for Students

School life is bittersweet. You get to make a lot of friends and create many good memories. It can also exert so much pressure on you considering the heavy academic work involved. You may lose motivation when you feel overwhelmed or when your performance is not as good as you want it to be. It is not always easy to stay motivated at school. However, considering the examples of others who have managed to overcome obstacles and be successful can help you. Watching inspiration movies is one way to do this. Here are the top students movies to help you stay motivated.

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REWIND REVIEW: Aladdin

All the desired diversity in the world paled to who could possibly follow the late Robin Williams? The Genie is the ticket to more than just wishes when it comes to this reboot’s success. That laborious task was given to Will Smith. Folks, he is a hot, baking sun of swagger! Will has not been this loose and free since Men in Black 3 seven years ago. Aladdin reminds us how much of a consummate showman the 50-year-old is and always has been. Will has a style, energy, and stage presence all his own, and he saves this entire movie from sandy ruin.

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EDITORIAL: The Best Films to Ever Show on TV

Watching movies has always been an experience that’s best shared with others. You can watch it with your family or friends, and even while you’re watching alone, you’re sharing this experience with the characters you see on screen. These days, you don’t have to travel all the way to a movie house or rent out tapes as many TV channels show reruns of some of the best films that you can watch with your loved ones in the comfort of your own home.

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REWIND REVIEW: Avengers: Endgame

Arriving on home media this week from Disney and Marvel Studios is their colossal blockbuster coda Avengers: Endgame starring everyone who’s everyone from the collective Marvel Cinematic Universe that has been built with tidy and patient blueprints since 2008. Time travel tropes aside, you couldn’t have asked for a better swan song of satisfaction than this big finish. Watch for it arriving in physical media form on store shelves Tuesday, August 13th after an extremely successful theatrical run. This is a pretty customary disc release, and one has to think Disney has something more complete, expansive, and expensive planned someday.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Red Sea Diving Resort

Ari likes define the risky propositions in this movie as having one of these two outcome feelings. Sadly, the movie itself wobbles between the same. Entertainment comes easy in this Netflix-backed programmer and yet with consequently little attention paid to the predominantly off-screen annihilation of an ethnic group. Reality like that makes the glee hard to take. We live in an era where we can do better than solely bravura. Good filmmakers and creative powers can aim for challenging movies that address vital history and still entertain.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Surviving Confession

Now imagine you’re the priest in this exchange. You have to both witness and share this wrenching process and ordeal repeatedly, with every visitor on every occasion, and remain unflappable and restrained in doing so. Who has it harder now? Breaking the fourth wall and spilling waterfalls of internal monologue, Surviving Confession pokes and prods the person who is supposed to be the pillar of strength. The film debuted July 30th on VOD platforms.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Into the Ashes

Restraint is not a common artistic or narrative characteristic in revenge films nowadays. We live in an explicit world where the louder and more outlandish outpourings of violence are what grab attention and audiences. The stern and sullen are taken as dull and tedious. Like its title, Into the Ashes resides in the crackling smolder instead of the bright flames. There is plenty of heat to burn and brand from that calmer temperature of cinematic coals. The movie debuts on July 19th in limited theatrical release and VOD outlets.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: A Bad Feeling

Star Wars fans will quickly have their sensors triggered when they note the title of this short film from Charlotte Barrett and Sean Fallon. It is a nod to a running gag that is said as often in Star Wars films as the classic line “May the Force be with you.” The phrase alludes to a character’s audible dread and the heebie-jeebies warning of something awful, visible or invisible, on their horizon. The characters in those movie moments say it and mean it. In A Bad Feeling, the husband and wife central figures know their trouble, entirely feel it, but don’t announce their fears when they should.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Extra Innings

The expression “heart in the right place” is normally used as a smallish complement to counteract some obvious flaw or as a baseline pleasantry when something does not achieve its goal fully. Albert Dabah’s intensely personal independent film Extra Innings carries that expression with neither of those dismissive caveats. Its heart is indeed in the right place, with that position being right next to its soul. That soul is wearing cleats, a ball cap, a weathered glove, and a stirrup-ed uniform patrolling the grasses of center field on a baseball diamond on a sunny summer day.

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: Feature films of the first ever Rom Com Fest

Founded by entrepreneur and romantic comedy connoisseur Miraya Berke, the goal is celebrating the joy to be had and the art on display in this undervalued film genre. I think this is a smashing idea for a festival and I jumped at the chance to offer some remote coverage for its five-film competition slate. Compiled below are my capsule reviews for the movies I viewed in order from highest to lowest recommendation:

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MOVIE REVIEW: Starfish

The opening credits of Starfish may drop the “based on a true story” prompt, but every moment of this twisty science fiction slow boiler feels like the filmed account of a racing mind. Rather than dwelling on footholds to societal norms, isolation reigns here, with all of the flutters, visions, shifts, daydreams, and nightmares possible. Dangling the mysteries of the fallout from an off-screen cataclysmic event, the mental maelstrom of Starfish is eerie, imaginative, and highly impactful.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: How Does It Start

In the provocative short film How Does it Start, a young teen girl in 1983 named Rain, played by Lola Wayne Villa, has been introduced to topic of sex without such positive elder counsel. The wheels have turned. The curiosities have sparked. The peers have stoked the fire. The triggers have all gone off and this girl wants the mystery of what has been made out to be so taboo and important to growing up as a real woman.

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REWIND REVIEW: Captain Marvel

Arriving on home media this week from Disney is their glowing smash hit Captain Marvel starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.  The film itself is a forthright winner for introducing this powerful and important new character and the disc release gives us a little peek as to how it all came to be.  Keep an eye out on store shelves Tuesday, June 11th to pick up your copy in 4K, Blu-ray, or both. Here’s a quick advance look at what the home edition has to offer, just as long as you can wait through a quick period-accurate Windows 95 loading screening (nice touch).

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MOVIE REVIEW: Clara

Citing genuine and actionable science, Clara builds heady inquiry for the voluminous and important research of its depicted discipline. Its sense of intelligence intertwines with the unpredictability found in the amorous reverberations of the human heart. This combination creates an intimate and daring film experience that enraptures as easily and as powerfully as it fascinates.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mary Magdalene

This film’s slightness is meant to simplify proceedings to their truest essence. Mary Magdalene contains the bare minimum of theatrics. The result may be painstakingly slow at times, but its grounded firmness is precisely its beauty. There is a calmly effective empathetic power to that method and approach. The specifying or sermonizing is scant and still stoic. The poignancy is pitched and still powerful. The grace is consoling and still genuine. All of that is mightily impressive.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Storm Boy

Ten life lessons than pet ownership can teach children include responsibility, trust, bereavement, respect, self-esteem, physical activity, loyalty, patience, and social skills. Now, for most of us stateside, our preferred companions are often dogs and cats. The canines and felines get movies for days from Old Yeller to The Secret Life of Pets. In South Australia’s coastlands, the prevailing animal neighbors are birds. So, how well do you know a pelican? Come to Storm Boy and find yourself newly enamored.

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