Recent Reviews

Adventure Time: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
"This brioche won't stop growing! Ron James, what took you?"
"Yo, my lab got creamed! I had to dummy-rig an alchemical filter out of a dirty bidet and a vaporizer!"

- why I love Adventure Time in thirty words

What time is it? It's time for another season of Adventure Stories! Y'know, that show about an impoverished, one-armed little boy named Finn who gets into all kinds of shenanigans with his totally ordinary dog Jake and his mule Bertram in a world with bunches of human-type people and, no sirree Bob, no magic whatsoever.

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Aargh, sorry. I spilled Mello Yello all over my notes, and now they're all smudgy and sticky and yellow and hard to read. What does this say again? Oh, yeah! Thrill to another season of Adventure Time, Cartoon Network's longrunning computer animated series, wait, that's not right either.

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Sorry, that last screenshot brings up so many wistful memories of Tearaway that I don't even remember where I was going with this. So, um:

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I'm pretty much in awe. By the end of its fifth season, Adventure Time had more than 150 episodes under its belt, not to mention towering stacks of comic books, video games, and basically ventures into every form of media you could possibly rattle off. Not only is the well not running dry, but this is its most phenomenal season yet.

Adventure Time's greatest strengths stem from how...well, adventurous it is. While so many other animated series are desperate to keep the status quo chugging along and to wrap everything up in a neat, tidy bow every episode, Adventure Time is continually looking forward. If the series feels like bringing in some guest animators and opting for an entirely different visual style, go for it! ...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Adventure Time: The Complete Fifth Season]

A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die! (Blu-ray)

Any movie that opens with that much exposition scrolling across the screen has already failed. It's a crushing disappointment because A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die! bears so much promise. The core of its premise is essentially The Dirty Dozen set against the backdrop of the Civil War. The film stars James Coburn, triumphantly returning to Almería shortly after leading Sergio Leone's similarly exclamatory Duck, You Sucker! We're also talking about a Spaghetti western helmed by Tonino Valerii, the enormously talented director behind Day of Anger and My Name Is Nobody.

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Disgraced though he may be in the eyes of the Union, Colonel Pembroke (James Coburn) weasels his way into an opportunity to redeem himself. Yes, he shoulders the blame for letting Fort Holman fall, but he can retake it and further turn the tide of the war. All he needs is a handful of men. Pembroke doesn't exactly have his choice of the best and brightest, though, instead saddled with one indifferent soldier and a gaggle of condemned men. As the film's title suggests, Pembroke offers them the chance to die in valor rather than face the hangman's noose. To keep this motley crew in line when the gallows are far out of view, he also tells them about the half a million dollars in gold buried near the fort. The chances of them living through the siege are slim, sure, but if they survive, they'll walk away with wealth unimagined.

A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die! gets precisely three things right: casting the charismatic and unerringly reliable James Coburn, bringing in Bud Spencer as the true star of the film, and all the hell that's unleashed in its final half hour. Everything else winds up being kind of an indifferent shrug. Much of the appeal of something like The Dirty Dozen...[read the entire Blu-ray review of A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die!]

A Town Called Hell (Blu-ray)
Spaghetti westerns have been making their way to Blu-ray in dribs and drabs, with rarely more than a handful rearing their heads in any given year. This August, however, Kino Lorber Studio Classics is unleashing a torrent of Eurowesterns in high definition, chief among them Face to Face as it makes its long-awaited worldwide premiere on Blu-ray. If there's one outlier in this wave, it's A Town Called Hell (known in less timid markets as A Town Called Bastard). This 1971 film bears many of the hallmarks of a Spaghetti western: its title, obviously, its international cast and crew, its brutally violent premise, and even the fact that it was lensed entirely in Spain. On the other hand, director Robert R. Parrish -- perhaps best known for that other Casino Royale -- is decidedly British, and there's nary an Italian name to be found in its end credits.

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However determined you may be to classify A Town Called Hell one way or the other, its horrific opening sequence would certainly not be out of place in a Spaghetti western, as a band of rebels slaughter soldiers and innocents alike in a small Mexican church. Much has changed in the intervening years, however. One of the men leading that massacre (Robert Shaw) has since assumed the role of priest in this flea-bitten speck of a town. Another (Martin Landau) has sold out his ideals, finding it more profitable to play instead for the winning team. This bastardly town seems to hold a great many answers; not only has Landau's Colonel arrived in search of the shadowy Aguila -- the enigmatic leader of the rebellion -- but a grieving widow (Stella Stevens) finds herself drawn into its web as she posts a bounty for her husband's killer.

A Town Called Hell has a reputation as being incomprehensible. I thought that I wouldn't...[read the entire Blu-ray review of A Town Called Hell]

More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 8/2: Lucy (Blu-ray)
  • 8/2: American Sniper (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/2: Don't Look Now (Blu-ray)
  • 7/26: A Reason to Live, A Reason to Die (Blu-ray)
  • 7/26: A Town Called Hell aka A Town Called Bastard (Blu-ray)
  • 7/26: The Killers (Blu-ray)
  • 7/25: Ex Machina (Blu-ray)
  • 7/25: It Follows (Blu-ray)
  • 7/24: Cinderfella (DVD)
  • 7/23: Justice League: Gods and Monsters (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/21: The Last Survivors (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/20: The Last Survivors (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/20: The Last Survivors (Blu-ray)
  • 7/18: Toolbox Murders 2 (Blu-ray)
  • 7/18: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 7/28: Psycho Beach Party (Blu-ray)
  • 7/22: Lucy (Blu-ray)
  • 7/22: Under the Skin (Blu-ray)
  • 7/21: A Town Called Hell aka A Town Called Bastard (Blu-ray)
  • 7/21: A Reason to Live, A Reason to Die (Blu-ray)
  • 7/18: Cartoon Network: Adventure Time Season Five (Blu-ray) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/18: Justice League: Gods and Monsters (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/18: The Last Survivors (Blu-ray)
  • 7/18: Toolbox Murders 2 (Blu-ray)
  • 7/14: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Blu-ray)
  • 7/14: It Follows (Blu-ray)
  • 7/14: Ex Machina (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: Cowboy Bebop: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: The Killers (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: Sullivan's Travels (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...

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