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MONKEY MAN: MAYHEM WITH A PURPOSE?

Actor Dev Patel, who won over audiences around the globe in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, is flexing his muscles by co-writing, directing, and starring in Monkey Man. By diving into Indian culture, myths, and traditions he attempts to ground his brutal story in something more substantive than mere escapist entertainment. His title character is a wrestler who wears a monkey mask in the ring but feels alienated from a society that lionizes a corrupt government. He wants to do his part to set things right. What emerges is a relentless series of ultraviolent fight scenes with no redeeming qualities. “Remember who you are,” he is advised at a crucial point in the story. What he remembers is seeing his beloved mother raped and tortured by a vicious police…

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RARE CARTOONS NEW TO BLU-RAY: HOORAY!

One of the many frustrations for fans of vintage cartoons has been their spotty availability on home video. Companies that specialize in public-domain releases have offered bargain vhs cassettes and DVDs for years, but the picture quality is iffy at best. Some major studio collections have remained on the proverbial shelves at Columbia, Paramount and other goliaths. Issues of political correctness have reared their head and prevented many Tom & Jerry and Tex Avery shorts from being released. That’s why it’s cause for celebration that Warner Archive has issued Volume 3 of a series called Looney Tunes: Collector’s Choice. No one would argue that these are the best cartoons in the vault, but aficionados and completists should be very happy. Here are 25 newly mastered shorts, including…

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WHAT’S NEW ON DVD/BLU-RAY/4K IN MARCH

The following article was written by my friend and colleague Alonso Duralde. You can learn more about him HERE. What’s new on DVD/Blu-ray/4K in March: ‘Poor Things’, ‘Aquaman’, ‘Ferrari’ and More! NEW RELEASE WALL Poor Things (Searchlight Studios): My pick for the best film of 2023, this multiple Oscar-winner (including one for Emma Stone’s already-legendary lead performance) brings Alasdair Gray’s novel to very vivid life as a darkly absurd journey of a woman’s creation of herself. (Or, as some of us referred to it during last year’s LA Film Critics Association voting meeting, “arthouse Barbie.”) Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest offers so much to multiple viewers, whether it’s the extraordinary cast (from Mark Ruffalo, allowed for once to be funny, down to the unpredictable pairing of Hanna Schygulla…

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WHAT’S NEW ON DVD/BLU-RAY/4K IN FEBRUARY

The following article was written by my friend and colleague Alonso Duralde. You can learn more about him HERE. What’s new on DVD/Blu-ray/4K in February: ‘Wonka,’ ‘Gay USA,’ Éric Rohmer, and More! NEW RELEASE WALL Wonka (Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment): Timothée Chalamet dons the top hat of the legendary chocolatier in this hit musical, but it’s a film that works better if you think of it not as a prequel to the dark and delightful Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but instead as a third Paddington movie. (It’s from director Paul King, the man who gave us the beloved live-action adventures of the marmalade-loving bear from Peru.) The songs won’t stick to you as much as the Anthony Newley–Leslie Bricusse compositions from the 1971…

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A BIT OF CRUMPET WITH MARK SEARBY

Leonard here. My colleague Mark Searby is going to be sharing columns with us highlighting British cinema past and present. Please enjoy A Bit of Crumpet. “Filmmaking is not a good job” says the enigmatic and eclectic filmmaker Werner Herzog in this documentary about his life. Maybe he’s right. Maybe it is a grind. Yet, Herzog’s work has been part of the fabric of filmmaking since the 1970s, and his films have been boundary-pushing. He doesn’t settle for second-best. Constantly trying to push himself to the edge, and sometimes beyond. Certainly, this documentary shows how in his early years as a filmmaker he was going over that edge in-order to not just get a film made, but also to just get a shot for a…

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ORDINARY ANGELS: CYNICS BEWARE

Ordinary Angels is a true story and a remarkable one at that. Living with our two-year old granddaughter has made me especially vulnerable to dramas about young children in peril, and it didn’t take long for this one to open my tear ducts.  Alan Ritchson (who stars on Reacher) plays a working stiff who lives in the shadow of his wife’s death five years ago. When his youngest daughter’s liver disease worsens he doesn’t know where to turn. He’s lucky to have his mother (Nancy Travis) on hand to help raise his kids, but he’s stone broke and deep in debt. Out of nowhere a good Samaritan (Hilary Swank) pops into his life, having used her hair salon as a fund-raising headquarters, and hands him a check…

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IO CAPITANO: ITALY’S OSCAR CONTENDER

I must admit I haven’t followed Matteo Garrone’s career closely since he burst onto the world stage with Gomorrah. This grueling but captivating film reaffirms his place in the front ranks of filmmakers, as he puts us in lockstep with its two protagonists: teenage cousins in Dakar who have a burning desire to go to Italy and find a better life. They are played by newcomers Seydou Sarr (who was singled out as Best Promising Actor at the Venice Film Festival) and Moustapha Fall. A man in their Senegalese village who arranges such illicit trips tries to discourage them but they cannot be deterred; they have been planning and saving for six months.  Whatever you might imagine about their journey as migrants is nothing compared to the…

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