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HOME VIDEO HERALD: IN DARKNESS (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 29, 2012 (San Diego) – A harrowing sequence of events transpire during the first thirty minutes of In Darkness, atrocities that I could describe but I won’t. That’s because as shocking as they are, there is only one shot, seen later, that remains entrenched in my mind.

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE RAID: REDEMPTION (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 29, 2012 (San Diego) -- Watching The Raid: Redemption is like watching someone assemble a house of cards: one mishap and the structure crumbles. I'll start with the tone, a major balancing act for first-time director Gareth Evans. He militantly adheres to a serious tone. A few times the film comes dangerously close to slipping into the Realm of the Not So Serious, but through sheer will, Evans maintains the desired disposition. The same extends to the action scenes, the backbone of The Raid, and among the best executed I've seen since I became a film critic: not a single shred, inch, or drop of laziness. Otherwise, it would be close to worthless, no better than the offensively manufactured video game drivel that Hollywood is so content to pump out to American audiences.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 5, 2012 (San Diego) – The Adventures of Tintin is Steven Spielberg at his purest…and fluffiest. It’s a throwback to the early half of his career, when his forte was adventure tales filmed with the verve of a young boy with quite an imagination, particularly the first three Indiana Jones films. This also extends to films like The Goonies that Spielberg didn’t direct, but his involvement was so pronounced they might has well have.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

January 23, 2012 (San Diego) – The last few years have been rough on a lot of people. People have lost their jobs, they don’t know how to support themselves and their families, and I’m sure there are those who, like George Bailey, wish they had never been born.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: ANOTHER EARTH (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

January 11, 2012 (San Diego) – Another Earth was the first of two films released in 2011 about the discovery of another planet; the other one was Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. Both films delve deep into the lives of their troubled characters and contain some of 2011’s best performances. I liked Another Earth just slightly better because it uses the other planet to show how the discovery of Earth 2, and its possible parallels to this Earth, affects the lives of its characters.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: ATTACK THE BLOCK (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

November 8, 2011 (San Diego) – Attack the Block is made in the same spirit as the early 1980s work of Steven Spielberg. Like E.T., it centers on a group of young boys who have a life-changing encounter with the uncanny. Like The Goonies (which was directed by Richard Donner, but everybody knows it was really Spielberg’s film) the boys in Attack the Block band together on a daring adventure to save their homes.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE GREEN LANTERN (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

November 7, 2011 (San Diego) – The comic book superhero genre won’t be going away anytime soon and that’s all right with me. Thanks to Warner Bros., The Dark Knight and Watchmen rank among my most favorite theater experiences. There have been many other comic book movies that left me excited for the next installment, eager to discuss them with friends.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: DRESSED TO KILL (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

November 7, 2011 (San Diego) – Dressed to Kill, now out on Blu-Ray, is Brian De Palma at the apex of his career’s “Hitchcock Stage.” It began with Sisters in 1973. It continued with Obsession in 1976, which was a remake of Vertigo that actually bettered Hitchcock’s alleged masterpiece (Vertigo is, to me, perhaps the most overrated film of all-time). In 1980 he wrote and directed Dressed to Kill, a mystery thriller that borrows a lot from Psycho (De Palma, in a featurette, defends himself against plagiarism accusations, arguing that Hitchcock created a specific film grammar that he merely utilized).

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: TOP GUN (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

October 19, 2011 (San Diego) – I remember in elementary and middle school when the end of the month couldn’t come soon enough. The teacher would usually let us watch a movie, provided it was rated either G or PG. The first requested title was always Top Gun. It was (and still is) PG but the teacher invariably and immediately vetoed it. After having seen it years later, I’m amazed that the MPAA hasn’t upped it to PG-13.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: GOOD WILL HUNTING (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

September 17, 2011 (San Diego) – In the 1950s critics writing for the French film magazine Cahiers du Cinema came up with the Auteur Theory. Later propagated by American film critic Andrew Sarris, it stated that the director is the author of the film. It further goes on to assert that an author can leave a mark in each of his films to the point where someone can say, “That’s an Alfred Hitchcock film” or “That’s a John Ford film.”

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: RIO

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 24, 2011 (San Diego) – The story is formulaic. The voice acting is rarely expressive. The musical numbers are largely forgettable except for one that will play on a loop in your head for a few days after you watch it. But nevermind. I sat in amazement while watching the Blu-Ray of Rio, not wanting to blink lest I miss a single frame of the animation.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: SUCKER PUNCH

By Brian Lafferty

 

July 15, 2011 (San Diego) – Sucker Punch is what happens when you give Zack Snyder carte blanche to do whatever he wants. 300 was my first exposure to Snyder. It wasn’t a masterpiece, or even a great movie, but if you were looking for a good sword and sandal epic with lots of slicing, dicing, and blood, then you couldn’t miss.

 

THIS WEEK ON DISC: "I AM NUMBER FOUR" AND "GNOMEO & JULIET"

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 1, 2011, (San Diego) – For over a year and a half I’ve been reviewing theatrical releases. Last month I introduced the Netflix Streaming Pick of the Week, a column that spotlights worthy cinema available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

 

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