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Article Type: Review

Blogs PUSS IN BOOTS (2011) (**1/2)

Part of what made SHREK 2 work was the addition of Puss in Boots to the franchise. It's not surprising that he would get his own film. Unfortunately some of the sharpness the character brought to that film has been declawed for this one. The irreverent take on fairy tales is gone. In its place — cat jokes.

Blogs ANONYMOUS (2011) (***1/2)

Roland Emmerich is best known for destroying the world in films like INDEPENDENCE DAY, GODZILLA, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and 2012. This period political thriller is the furthest from his other work as any film he has done. It’s also easily his best film. Do I believe in its central premise that Shakespeare didn’t write his plays? Not any more than I believe that Shakespeare based ROMEO AND JULIET one his own love affair with a noble woman who dreamed of acting.

Blogs Blu-ray: WINNIE THE POOH (2011)

Disney proves once again why Blu-ray is so great for animation. This 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer of the new WINNIE THE POOH feature shows off the richness of the hand drawn animation. Line quality is detailed throughout. The watercolor backgrounds are painterly. Colors range from the subtle to the striking primaries used for Pooh's shirt for instance. Blacks are inky and consistent. Digital compression issues are nonexistent. The picture is about as flawless as it can get.

Blogs The Looney Tunes Show Volume 1 DVD review

By Joe Strike | Monday, October 24, 2011 at 5:01am

What to do with these characters has been Warner Bros.’ challenge for years now. The classic theatrical shorts have matured from classic to just plain old. (Masterpieces all, but old just the same.) Attempts to bring them up to date have given us excretions like Loonatics, so-whats like Baby Looney Tunes and faux old-time toons like Carrotblanca. Under exec-producer Sam Register, they’ve finally gotten it right: contemporized their merrie menagerie while keeping their core personalities intact.

Blogs A SERBIAN FILM (2011) (**1/2)

Is this the most disturbing film ever made? Many have said so. A great deal depends on what you bring to it. A fan of extreme cinema might find it less provocative than say someone who sticks to PG inspirational films. It contains graphic depictions of rape, necrophilia and pedophilia. Many of the concepts are some of the vilest ideas I've ever seen in any film. It stands in infamy with the likes of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and SALO. But is it simply exploitation or something more?

Blogs Blu-ray: A SERBIAN FILM (2011)

Invincible Pictures isn't a top distributor, but one wouldn't know that from the picture quality of this release. As ugly as the subject matter of the film is, the AVC encoded 1080p transfer is not ugly at all. The flawless RED camera cinematography is captured with striking clarity. Details pop to the point of giving the picture increased depth. Desaturation of color is intentional to go along with the grim subject matter. So when it gets bloody the crimson reds are striking.

Blogs MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (2011) (***1/2)

Wayward souls are often the prey of sociopaths. They either turn into victims or accomplices or something in the middle. Cult leaders from Charles Manson to Jim Jones have used the veneer of family and community to twist people's minds into believing terrible things. They make it too scary to leave. The outside world becomes foreign. So how can one cope if they do get away?

Blogs Blu-ray: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (2011)

I've been reading a lot of reviews of this Blu-ray release hating the darkness of it, but then saying that it's part of the film. When reviewing the quality of a transfer the only thing to really take into account is the intent of the filmmakers and has that been brought to the home entertainment experience. With Disney's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer of the fourth PIRATES film, they have done this masterfully. Yes, some of the early scenes are dark and mysterious, but that was director Rob Marshall and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski point. Even in the darkness you can relish in the inky blacks and remarkable detail. It has been described as smoky, which is true, but nothing is lost. When the film sails into the day, the details jump from the screen in the clothing and sets. The color palette is muted, but uber natural, which provides some of the visual awe. Digital anomalies are minimal. There is some faint digital fuzziness in the darker scenes and edge enhancement ringing can be found if you're looking for it.

Blogs BATMAN: YEAR ONE (2011) (***)

Despite having the superhero in the title, this animated feature seems less like the Dark Knight’s story and more like that of James Gordon, who at this time is new to the Gotham police department. Based on what is hailed as a seminal comic series from writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli, the transition from the page to the screen is faithful, but also highlights the differences between mediums.

Blogs Blu-ray: BATMAN: YEAR ONE (2011)

Visually this is one of the better looking DC Direct animated titles. The 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer contains a muted color palette that sets the somber mood. Neon signs pop, while not creating digital interference. Banding issues that have been on all of the DC Direct titles are reduced and are only visible if you're really looking for them. The 2D animation is cleanly presented, but the integration of cel-painted CG does stick out because of the sharpest (and movement). Other digital problems are minor and like I said of the banding, you really have to be looking for it.

Blogs Blu-ray: THE TREE OF LIFE (2011)

Certainly one of the very best films of the year, now is one of the very best Blu-ray releases of 2011. Fox's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer captures every nuance of Emmanuel Lubezki's poetic cinematography. Shot in both 35 and 65mm, the picture has the filmic grain expected for a film that was made with natural light. The noise, however, is light and never dampens details. Colors are are a heightened natural feel, almost painterly. Blacks are deep and rich. The big bang sequence shines with an even richer color palette. The lava explosions glow with rich reds. The CG dinosaurs blend perfectly into the soulful imagery. Digital issues are non-existent.

Blogs Paradigm Shifting at the VES Production Summit

By Dan Sarto | Friday, October 7, 2011 at 4:24pm

Last Saturday the VES hosted its third annual Production Summit, this time at the quaint Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Despite all about VES 2.0 and the Bill of Rights to help facilitate quality of life improvements for artists and VFX companies, the purpose was to address the paradigm shift going on and to discuss better biz practices.

Blogs THE IDES OF MARCH (2011) (***1/2)

It’s not surprising that George Clooney would make a political film. What might be surprising is how cynical the film is about our political process. For sure Clooney works in liberal ideas, but it’s not the point. His character just happens to be a Democrat. The political policies his character talks about easily be switched to the other side and it wouldn’t change the central theme, which is that politics is completely compromised with flawed humans looking out for themselves.

Blogs THE LION KING (1994) (****)

From the moment the sun rises over the savanna and we hear the African chant, THE LION KING grips the audience's attention. Combining fable with Greek tragedy, this film has a serious undertone that many Disney animated features do not have. The studio dealt with the death of a parent before, but not like this. This is a world with real consequences, which is the basis to all classic children's tales and what makes this film not just for the kids.

Blogs Blu-ray: THE LION KING (1994)

This 1080p/AVC-encoded Blu-ray is about as good as it gets. On it's picture and audio alone, it's one of the must-own Blu-rays of the year. From the first moment when the sun rises over the savanna, the richness of color is impressive. Black levels are solid as well. Details really make the artistry of the animation stand out. During the wildebeest stampede, nothing gets lost in the chaos as dust swirls around the air. The fires at the end with their striking reds, yellows and oranges make a powerful impact. The presentation is clean from both dust and digital anomalies.

Blogs Blu-ray: DUMBO (1941)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 5:09pm

This restoration of the Disney classic is brought to Blu-ray in a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer exquisitely. Unlike some restorations, this one doesn't turn the hand drawn feature into something that looks like TV animation. The subtleties remain, especially in the watercolor backgrounds, where the artists' touch really pops in hi-def. Color is a huge element in this film and the range is kept under control in that nothing seems unnaturally bright. Black levels are inky. Digital anomalies are absent from the release as far as I saw, but others have pointed out some ringing.

Blogs 50/50 (2011) (***1/2)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 1:10am

A 27-year-old man is out jogging early in the morning. He stops for a traffic light. There are no cars in sight. Another runner races past him and crosses the intersection against the hand. The young man waits. He doesn’t drive or smoke or drink. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would get a rare form of spine cancer.

Blogs TAKE SHELTER (2011) (***1/2)

By Rick DeMott | Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 12:43am

What if you couldn’t trust your own thoughts? Curtis begins to believe this might be the case. He is starting to have dreams so vivid that he doesn’t know what is real and what was just in his head. Mental illness runs in his family. He seeks help, but is it enough to make him aware of the line between reality and his delusions?

Blogs Ottawa 2011 – And So It Begins…Again

By Dan Sarto | Friday, September 23, 2011 at 7:26am

I know it must be Ottawa Animation Festival time because it’s been roughly a year since my last verbal manhandling by an airport customs agent. Happy Anniversary! I seem to be a magnet for every disaffected flak vested agent looking to brush up on their 12-step time mismanagement drill.

Blogs MONEYBALL (2011) (****)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 5:29pm

How can you not be romantic about baseball? That's what Brad Pitt's Billy Beane says in this great baseball movie, which is more about the business of baseball than the game. And that said the film still does stir the desire to grab some peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jack and head out to the ole ball game.

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