Film & TV

Video Verdict (Week of October 17)

Forrest Hartman

Writer-director Kevin Smith’s latest project has probably attracted more attention due to Smith’s pre-release antics than for the movie itself. Leading up to the Sundance film festival, the filmmaker promised to sell “Red State” in an auction at a special festival event. Then, at that event, he announced that he was purchasing the movie for self-distribution. This created controversy in the industry, and the film ultimately received an extremely limited theatrical release before becoming an on-demand option Sept. 1. This week, “Red State” is getting a wider rollout on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. 

Video Verdict (Week of October 10)

Forrest Hartman

Only time will tell if “Tree of Life” becomes an all-time great, but it is certainly one of the most intriguing films released this year. The movie is hard to describe because it is so sweeping in scope. Terrence Malick has always strayed from traditional storytelling and added elements of visual poetry to his films. Here, he takes that predilection to the extreme, adding lengthy sequences of footage that are backed only by music tracks and never completely explained.

Video Verdict (Week of October 3)

Forrest Hartman

The “Fast and the Furious” movies have never been the benchmark for cinematic quality, but expertly staged action sequences and a likable cast have helped them achieve an impressive box office run. Now a decade old, the series is still relevant and, surprisingly, getting better.

Video Verdict (New This Week on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download)

Forrest Hartman

The only major theatrical release making its way to home video this week is a big-budget action film from director Michael Bay.  It’s no secret that Bay is Hollywood’s go-to guy for loud, violent, special effects-laden blockbusters, so it should come as little surprise that his third entry in the “Transformers” franchise is exactly that. 


The Reality of Top Chef

Elisabeth Blais

Unlike the dancing, singing and sewing on other reality shows, we barely get to see, let alone taste, the food from ‘Top Chef,’ so we can’t apply our personal preferences. Sautéed scallops with banana foam sounds unappetizing, so despite head judge Tom Colicchio assuring us that this is the best thing he’s ever tasted, there’s no connection to the end result.

Enough Already: The Rise of Lackluster Sequels

Sam Chapin

This past summer, there were seven film sequels or reboots, including Cars II, Transformers III, Spy Kids IV, Final Destination V, and Harry Potter VIII. This year there will be a total of 27 (according to Box Office Mojo), the largest number for any year in cinematic history. Where have all the new ideas gone? 

What Is Ailing Hispanic-American Cinema?

Kurt Thurber

Where is the Latin-American Tyler Perry? In his career, Perry has earned more than $500 million with his movies alone. This does not include the earnings from stage productions and his television show. Madea, Perry’s alter ego, has made bank by bringing African-American “urban” theater to the silver screen. According to the 2010 United States Census, 12.6% or 38.7  million of the total U.S. population is African-American, and 16 percent or 50.5 million are of Hispanic or Latino descent.

Louie, Breaking Bad, and the Rise of Quality Television

Andrew Cothren

It’s no secret that the summer television season isn’t exactly high quality. It’s typically a time for major networks to dump shows that were, for one reason or another, deemed  sub par for a  slot in their regular season lineup or to air reality shows and competitions that cost very little to produce-- which is why you end up with shows like Combat Hospital, an import from Canada, showing up on ABC’s primetime schedule, or competition shows like So You Think You Can Dance? airing multiple times in a given week.


The Epic Journey Away From the Super Woman

Kurt Thurber

O, gods of the box-office, why have you forsaken the female superhero lead? Superman, Batman, the Incredible Hulk and now Spiderman have been imagined and re-imagined.  This summer, second-tier comic book characters, Captain America, Thor and the Green Lantern, got their own movie with male leads. Yet, Wonder Woman and Batgirl are at home drinking tea with cotton balls between their toes watching Nights in Rodanthe for the 12th time.

Top 10 Films Every Highbrow Should Own

Forrest Hartman

As with “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca” – set in Morocco during the early days of World War II – requires some knowledge of history. The reason it made the list, however, is its infinite quote-ability. The film probably has more famous lines than any in history. They include: “Play it, Sam” (often misquoted as “Play it again, Sam”); “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”; and “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”


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