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Aisle Seat 1-12: January Chiller Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 1/11/2021 - 10:00 PM
A disarming and unpredictable “coming of age” story set against the backdrop of a monster apocalypse that’s more Ray Harryhausen than “Walking Dead,” LOVE AND MONSTERS (108 mins., 2020, PG-13; Paramount) had all the ingredients to become a serious sleeper hit in any other year. Regrettably, the pandemic put an end to any hopes of this picture finding a theatrical audience, but the fact we’ve been mostly stuck inside for months on end only makes this warm and winning movie from writers Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson and second-time feature director Michael Matthews resonate more strongly than it may have otherwise.
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Aisle Seat 1-5: Wonder Woman 1984
Posted By: Andy Dursin 1/4/2021 - 10:00 PM
The controversy over Warner Bros.’ decision to premiere their entire slate of 2021 theatrical features on the new HBO Max streaming service day-and-date with whatever theaters are actually open in the U.S. missed one central possibility – that even without a pandemic, duds like Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and WONDER WOMAN 1984 could’ve helped to ignite a “multiplex mass-extinction” event entirely on their own.
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Aisle Seat 12-22: Christmas & New Years Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 12/21/2020 - 10:00 PM
The intermittently endearing 1981 rom-com CONTINENTAL DIVIDE Blu-Ray (103 mins., 1981, PG; Kino Lorber) was a first, and sadly a last, happening for several of its participants. For Steven Spielberg, he notched his first Amblin production credit here for shepherding a script by Lawrence Kasdan, who had a hit earlier in ’81 with “Body Heat,” not to mention the screenplay for the director’s own “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It would also be the first time star John Belushi tried his hand at a straight type of leading man role – reportedly clean and sober on set, it would also, unfortunately, be the last time Belushi would get this opportunity, as he passed away from an overdose in 1982.
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Aisle Seat 12-21: Rambo Steelbook Collection
Posted By: Andy Dursin 12/20/2020 - 10:00 PM
The specially-packaged RAMBO: THE COMPLETE STEELBOOK COLLECTION, currently sold exclusively at Best Buy, offers Lionsgate’s 4K UHD/Blu-Ray combo packs of all five of Sylvester Stallone’s action hits – or, really, four, with a dour “Death Wish” knock-off unfortunately sharing space with the rest of the series. It’s an attractive, sturdy set that offers the best presentations of the Rambo series on home video, with ample extras and Digital HD codes to boot.
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Aisle Seat 12-15: Holiday Gift Guide Part II
Posted By: Andy Dursin 12/14/2020 - 10:00 PM
Few movies that I was so excited about in high school disappointed me as much as TOTAL RECALL (113 mins., 1990, R; Lionsgate). This expensive, long-gestating adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel – which bounced around for years in pre-production hell – finally found a home at Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna’s Carolco Pictures in the late ‘80s, who tailored the film as a vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The combination of Arnold, the author of “Blade Runner,” a Jerry Goldsmith score and director Paul Verhoeven coming off “Robocop” had action fans of all ages (at least those with parents willing to bring their teens to the R-rated film) feverishly anticipating the picture – yet the finished product, while entertaining, has never been a heavy favorite of mine.
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Aisle Seat 12-8: Holiday Gift Guide Part 1
Posted By: Andy Dursin 12/7/2020 - 10:00 PM
Kicking off this year’s multi-part Aisle Seat Holiday Gift Guide is one of the more fondly-remembered comedies of the 1980s, presented now in a brand-new Criterion Collection Blu-Ray: MOONSTRUCK (102 mins., 1987, PG), director Norman Jewison’s charming and endlessly repeatable romantic comedy that won Cher a deserved Oscar for her role as an Italian Brooklyn widow who falls for the brother (Nicolas Cage) of her new fiancee (Danny Aiello) while he heads off to tend to his ailing mother in Italy. Vincent Gardenia and Olympia Dukakis are equally superb in this rich, hilarious and winning film that also copped Oscars for Dukakis (Supporting Actress) and John Patrick Shanley (Original Script), with nominations extended to Gardenia, Jewison, and the film itself for Best Picture.
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Aisle Seat 11-24: Kino Lorber Thanksgiving Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 11/23/2020 - 10:00 PM
One of the first major Italian productions to import U.S. stars, ULYSSES (94/103 mins.), offered Kirk Douglas as the titular sailor of Homer’s poem, trying to get home to Ithaca and his beloved wife Penelope, but whose adventures at sea bring him into confrontations with the horrifying Cyclops, dangerous Sirens and alluring Circe. Not as broadly performed as subsequent Hercules fantasies starring the likes of Steve Reeves, this Dino DeLaurentiis/Carlo Ponti production has long been viewed in substandard home video releases in North America, but has at last been restored in a new Kino Lorber Blu-Ray featuring a spectacular 4K Studio Canal remaster.
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Aisle Seat 11-17: Another Gem From Fun City Editions
Posted By: Andy Dursin 11/16/2020 - 10:00 PM
Fun City Editions mined an ’80s gem with the Vincent Spano vehicle “Alphabet City” in September, and now they’re back with a Blu-Ray premiere of an even more offbeat – and also much more satisfying – film in David Greene’s I START COUNTING! (105 mins., 1970). This British production served as a springboard for young actress Jenny Agutter, here playing a teenager in a fractured family who’s infatuated with her older adopted brother (Bryan Marshall) while hanging out with her friends, going to church, and trying to make amends with the dissolution of her childhood, as embodied by her frequent visits to her family’s dilapidated village home, which is on the docket for razing. If that weren’t enough, there’s a serial killer preying upon young women in their town – leading Agutter’s heroine to wonder if her “impure thoughts” are being directed at the killer himself.
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Aisle Seat 11-10: 4K UHD Blockbusters
Posted By: Andy Dursin 11/9/2020 - 10:00 PM
We’ve had 25th and 30th Anniversary Editions on Blu-Ray of BACK TO THE FUTURE, and now Universal debuts the series on 4K UHD for the first time in their ULTIMATE TRILOGY box-set – as well as on remastered Blu-Ray – to commemorate the hit 1985 movie’s 35th Anniversary. This seven-disc box-set boasts brand-new 4K transfers with Dolby Vision enhancement and Dolby Atmos audio mixes, while incorporating all the extras from both previous Blu-Ray releases and even a few new goodies. The package includes, of course, 1985’s highest-grossing film, “Back to the Future,” along with its two sequels, shot back-to-back and released in Thanksgiving 1989 and May 1990, respectively.
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Aisle Seat 10-27: Frightful Halloween Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 10/26/2020 - 10:00 PM
Critics back in the day seemed to be shocked that the 1999 film of THE HAUNTING (112 mins., PG-13; Paramount), director Jan De Bont’s adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel “The Haunting of Hill House” – itself previously adapted in Robert Wise’s celebrated 1963 genre work – represented a conscious lightening of its source material, but what did they expect in a PG-13 rated haunted house movie from Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks studio? It’s bubblegum, ersatz-horror all the way, but at least it was given a classy production mounting thanks to a top-flight technical team. And, after over 20 years, the often maligned film is finally available on Blu-Ray, where its artistic accomplishments can be best appreciated.
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