The Barefoot Contessa (Blu-ray)

“In Hollywood, it is not easy to become a star.”

Wild Beasts (Blu-ray)

There’s no escape.

The Tree of Wooden Clogs (Blu-ray)

Intimate in scale, but epic in scope.

The Black Society Trilogy (Blu-ray)

Among the prolific director’s finest works!

Bridget Jones’s Baby (Blu-ray)

Punching! Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain) returns to the character that made her a icon in the Realm of Everlasting Chick Flicks. In this third installment in the Bridget Jones franchise, Bridget encounters that most reliable of romcom conceits: the ticking biological clock. When we first meet Bridget, she’s 43, single and as klutzy and frumpy as always. Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) is married to another woman and that “other guy” is presumed dead. With all of BJ’s friends and family applying baby pressure, Bridget throws up her hands, decides to bang some random billionaire (Patrick Dempsey), then bangs Mark when he confesses an upcoming divorce and before you know it: baby bump. What ensues is the standard-issue comedy of errors that we’ve come to expect from these movies, as well as the old stand-by–a couple of good-looking, presumably smart men fighting like eight-year-olds over Bridget Jones. But what do I know? I enjoyed the first film a good deal and passed on the second, so maybe I’m not the intended audience. As such, I decided to bring in our resident Bridget Jones expert: my wife, Carey. So, what did you think of Bridget Jones’s Baby? It was entertaining enough, though relatively predictable. It doesn’t relate to the third book in any way. Of course the third book wasn’t that great anyway.  Now, it did follow the standard elements of the first one, which is what people like. Jokes about her exercising, her diet, being single. Renee Zellweger was fine. She’s obviously used to the role and it showed. I guess, it just felt like a regular old romcom. Since so many have been so bad in the last ten years, this rises to the top because the rest of the field was so horrible. But, really, that’s not saying much. That being said, it was definitely better than the second film. How was Patrick Dempsey? He was good. Not as good as Hugh Grant. But he was fine. How about Colin Firth? Standard Darcy work from him. He was still uptight, but heartfelt and when he chooses to let his guard down. How would you rank the Bridget Jones movies? 1-3-2.  The second once was terrible. It sort of followed the second book, but the ending was completely different. I don’t even remember loving the second book that much, but the film was was rough. One is the best by far. Is this the end of the Bridget Jones saga for you? I ‘d read another book if it came out and watch another movie if it came out, but the first movie and book were so funny, they all just can’t match up. . THE VERDICT Not Guilty–but just another romcom.

Eliminators (Blu-ray)

Punching! Scott Adkins, I am convinced, is one of our more underrated action stars. That is, I’m not sure if he registers at all on anyone’s “household name radar” and that’s a shame. The guy is one-man special effect and what he might lack in raw acting chops he more than makes up for with an ability to jump high into the air and extend his legs out in such a way as to cause moderate to severe damage to someone’s face. So anytime a new Adkins movie comes down the pike, I take notice. The latest is Eliminators, a WWE Film that pits pro wrestler Wade Barrett against Adkins in a film that promises…well, massive beatings. And that’s pretty much what we get. Adkins plays Thomas, a one-time special agent in witness protection. Due to a tragic misunderstanding with some young local toughs, his cover is blown and the gangster looking for his head springs into action. He dispatches his most fearsome assassin, Bishop (Wade Barrett) to rub Thomas out. With Thomas’s only daughter held in the balance and the ever-present threat of Bishop, Thomas races to keep his family alive, find safety and, ultimately, make it to the end credits in once piece. That’s your movie and as far as direct-to-video productions, Eliminators isn’t bad. Adkins brings the requisite amount of pummeling to the festivities and Wade Barrett proves to be a worthy, physically imposing counterweight to his polished movie fight skills. If you’ve seen the Adkins brand of fighting before you know he adds a decent amount of flash to his hijinks. In Eliminators the choreography is more grounded. No wire work, no CGI-enhanced stuff, and only a handful of the Adkins trademark flip-kicks. Still–it works. If you’re not looking for all-out flash, there is a decent amount to enjoy here. The simple conceit of a dad wanting to protect his daughter proves enough of a motive driver for our hero and the stakes are robust enough to keep things a few degrees north of superficial. And the final bad guy showdown is worth your while. THE VERDICT Not Guilty. Enjoy this steady Adkins diet of pummeling.

Comes A Horseman (Blu-ray)

“Flushin’ cows out of this timber is like tryin’ to teach an elephant to use a typewriter.”

Fox and His Friends (Blu-ray)

A fool and his money are soon parted.

In a Valley of Violence (Blu-ray)

Keep your finger on the trigger.

His Girl Friday (Blu-ray) Criterion

“Walter, you’re wonderful, in a loathsome sort of way.”

Black Girl (Blu-ray) Criterion

“A harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement.”

The Exterminating Angel (Blu-ray)

”I believe the common people, the lower class people, are less sensitive to pain. Haven’t you ever seen a wounded bull? Not a trace of pain.”

Stryker (Blu-ray)

Their odds are a million to one…and Styker’s the one!

Snowden (Blu-ray)

The only safe place is on the run.

Something Wild (Blu-ray) Criterion

“What’s happened has happened, mother.”

Ouija: Origin of Evil (Blu-ray)

No telling what you’ll see.

Creepshow 2 (Blu-ray)

3 blood curdling tales of horror!

The Last King (Blu-ray)

Scandinavian slaloming, Dark Ages style. The Middle Ages had a lot of wild and woolly stuff going on, usually on a daily basis. Kings rose and fell. Cities were sacked. Civilizations were wiped out. And strep throat went untreated, subjecting millions of people to everlasting gullet discomfort. This era of humanity, while sucky for all who lived it no doubt, remains one of my favorites.  Human history pivoted in inexorable directions this stretch and entire cultures thrived (Saxons!) or fell short of world dominance (Danes!). But, mainly, I liked the Middle Ages because of the movies. The sword-swinging, gut-stabbing, britches-muddying tomfoolery that tends to characterize  these endeavors. So you can understand why I was eager to take The Last King for a spin. Here’s the story: the throne of Norway is up for grabs. There’s an heir, but he’s currently vulnerable to usurpation due to the fact that he happens to be a baby. Some nasty Church bishops have their eyes on the crown so they dispatch all manner of sword-thug to slay the kiddo and secure the throne for their own devious purposes. The only thing standing between the future king and a tiny coffin are two warriors. Together they tote the baby across the snow-swept terrain of Norway, dodging arrows and sword swipes and shield bashes, but mainly they ski. Oh how they ski! Downhill! Uphill! Cross-country! They ski and ski and ski and slaughter and ski! Good movie here. I’m always down for a swashbuckler that happens to feature some historical context from an era I have no clue about. And seeing I’m not as up on my Norwegian royalty succession background, The Last King ladled on some welcome knowledge along with its raw pugilism. Most of you will notice Kristofer Hivju, a.k.a. Jon Snow’s ginger BFF from Game of Thrones. He’s a bit looser here than in the HBO series, but still operates at peak bad-ass. And regardless if you couldn’t pick anyone else out of lineup The Last King stands on its own wind-chapped two legs. The pacing is swift, the action is fun and visceral, the cinematography is gorgeous and the history is cool and interesting. If any of this resides anywhere near your wheelhouse, consider this a recommendation; The Last King offers more than a sleigh-ful of spills and thrills. On Blu-ray, the Norway topography looks dynamite in 108op and the brouhahas ring out in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (in the original Norwegian). THE VERDICT Ikke skyldig.  

Pretty Poison (Blu-ray)

What brought a nice kid like Sue Ann to a shocking moment like this?

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