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TRAIN TO BUSAN Review

Before checking out Train to Busan, I thought that I wasn’t going to see another zombie movie that I cared for for at least a half a dozen years or so, due to the ridiculous zombie saturation we’ve had over the last several years. Maybe it’s that I actually watched this while traveling (on a plane to Iceland, not a train to Busan), which interestingly did add to the experience, but either way this one is worth your attention.

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CHOPPING MALL Blu-ray Review

I saw Jim Wynorski’s Chopping Mall for the first time just over three years ago and instantly fell in love with it, so I was tickled pink to find out that this was one of the first releases on the Vestron Collector’s Series. Rewatching it now for this review, I can attest that the movie is still awesome, and I still love it.

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BLOOD DINER Blu-ray Review

Of all the ’80s genre distribution companies that were born out of the home video market, Vestron Video is one of my personal favorites, so I was ecstatic when I found out that Lionsgate decided to reboot the brand and begin releasing new Blu-ray versions of some of Vestron’s classics. The first two releases to hit store shelves are 1986’s Chopping Mall and 1987’s Blood Diner, both of which I’m familiar, having covered the first on our Grindhouse Weekly feature and the second for my personal #52filmsbywomen challenge.

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BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS Criterion Blu-ray Review

Back in 2014 I wrote about the Russ Meyer-directed, Roger Ebert-written film Beyond The Valley of the Dolls for our Grindhouse Weekly feature. Now, the Criterion Collection has released a new, high-definition edition of the film on Blu-ray and packed it with features that together create the ultimate version of this bizarre musical/comedy/horror/sex romp.

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VALLEY OF THE DOLLS Criterion Blu-ray Review

Based on the hit book by Jacqueline Susann and directed by Mark Robson for 20th Century Fox, 1967’s Valley of the Dolls proved to be a success at the box office despite being panned by critics and seemingly shunned by the studio that produced it. Over the years, a cult following began to form, and the film became recognized as a camp classic but also as a strangely prophetic look at the lives of actors involved in the picture. Now the Criterion Collection has released a new 2K digital restoration of the film, along with its sort-of-but-not-really sequel, Beyond The Valley of the Dolls.

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MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN Review

Here is a movie that feels like it is gasping for breath, telling its story in fits and starts. It runs up behind you and throws in another element, building up the plot at a frustratingly inconsistent speed. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is seemingly rather confused – it actively imagines and explores its canon, but it fails to sufficiently explain and utilize each aspect.

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DEEPWATER HORIZON Review

A real life disaster gets a pretty good disaster movie in Deepwater Horizon, an in-the-moment, thrilling recreation of the catastrophic 2010 drilling rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana. There’s corporate greed and blue collar heroism aplenty, but director Peter Berg, with material that’s a fine match for his handheld visual style, keeps the preaching to a minimum. The explosions, on the other hand, are huge, though not cartoonish, and don’t take away from the maddening and sobering facts of the story.

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MISS STEVENS Review

The introverted Billy (Timothée Chalamet) is explaining this peculiar band name to the prim and proper Margot (Lili Reinhart) as the song “Sister Golden Hair” plays on the car radio. They’re both high school students and, along with the flamboyantly gay Sam (Anthony Quintal), are headed to a weekend drama competition. Their school no longer formally funds such pursuits, so it’s been turned into an extracurricular field trip, and the kids are chaperoned and driven both ways by Rachel Stevens (Lily Rabe), a young English teacher.

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THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT Review

Many of us outsiders are absolutely captivated by North Korea and its regime of dictators – myself included. We hear one bizarre story after another, and things only seem to be getting weirder and more horrific as the years pass.

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OPERATION AVALANCHE Review

When I first saw Matt Johnson’s feature debut, The Dirties, at the Sarasota Film Festival way back in 2013, I realized that he had restored what little faith I had left in an already dying found-footage genre. By blending a strong technical presence, an unending and ever-entertaining comedic wit, and a gut-punch ending, The Dirties became one of my favorite films of the year and left me eagerly anticipating Johnson’s follow-up.

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A FAMILY AFFAIR Review

I went into A Family Affair cold, not knowing what to expect other than what was in the trailer. This movie, as it turns out, is essentially a portrait of a 95-year-old woman told by her 30-year-old grandson. But what differentiates this from any old home video is most certainly the filmmaker Tom Fassaert’s cinematography and at least one major secret that his grandmother is hiding.

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SNOWDEN Review

Edward Snowden is a very intelligent man, he had a very interesting government job, and he did something historic by releasing thousands of classified documents to the press. We know that going into Snowden, and that’s pretty much all we know coming out of it, too.

While it’s somewhat refreshing that noted cinematic rabble-rouser Oliver Stone focuses mostly on the man and not his famous act, there’s a disconnect between the portrait painted and the motivations for informing the American public that their government is spying on them. Contextualization is elusive as the director and co-writer (with Kieran Fitzgerald) takes us through a series of events in a perfunctory manner. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a steady performance – and his voice isn’t nearly as distracting as the trailers suggest, but we never get a sense of what really makes this guy tick.

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BLAIR WITCH Review

The words “found” and “footage” appear in the opening text of The Blair Witch Project and the film that follows ushered in a subgenre that’s been omnipresent ever since. Sure it wasn’t the first, but the 1999 flick brought the technique to the mainstream and most found footage movies since have faltered with justifying the style and/or using it effectively. For every [REC] and Cloverfield there are seemingly dozens of indistinguishable queasy-cam snoozers. Blair Witch, the sequel to the granddaddy of modern pseudo-documentary horror, belongs with the indistinguishables.

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OTHER PEOPLE Review

If you’ve been around long enough, you have inevitably been in a stressful, overwhelming situation. And at some point you realize that your prior belief in regards to such stressful, overwhelming situations – that this kind of scenario, whatever it may be, only happens to “other people” – is undeniably false. Bad things happen to everyone, and you and your loved ones are no exception. It’s a hard truth, but it’s one everybody picks up on sooner or later.

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SULLY Review

A nonstop flight from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina, will take about two hours. It’s a very common route, flown multiple times every day by multiple airlines. US Airways Flight 1549 was one of just a number of aircraft to make the voyage on January 15, 2009. Yet it’s a flight that has gained specific notability, of course, because of what happened after only a small fraction of those two hours had elapsed.