Category Archives: Film

Shawn Piller and Lee Rose’s Haven, Seasons 1-4

I should point out right off the bat that I don’t watch regular TV. Among other reasons, I’m a binge-watcher, and I can’t stand to wait a week for the next episode of anything – somehow, a single thirty- or … Continue reading

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Jonah Markowitz’ Shelter

The problem with being a reviewer is that one automatically begins deconstructing the experience of any art, whether it be in a museum or in a hall of popular culture, which is not always the best way to deal with … Continue reading

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Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain

I remember seeing Brokeback Mountain at its first showing in Chicago. I sat through it, along with a fairly substantial audience, which surprised me a little — it was an 11 a.m. showing on a Friday morning, but the house … Continue reading

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Excalibur

Asher Black penned this review. Here is a tale of human folly — “Whatever the cost, do it”. Of a noble dream – “One land, one king!” Of magic – “Can’t you see all around you the Dragon’s breath?” Of … Continue reading

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Jane Espenson’s  Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and  Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly 

Will Shetterly penned this review. Because Firefly mixes traditional western and science fiction elements to tell an adventure story, the essays collected in Finding Serenity are an examination of the nature of genre storytelling. But the writers appear to have been told to write whatever … Continue reading

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Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are

First things first. The movie version of Where The Wild Things Are, directed by Spike Jonze from a script by Jonze and “staggering genius” Dave Eggers and soundtracked by hipster goddess Karen O, is not an exact, faithful translation of … Continue reading

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Christopher Frayling’s Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone

The term “spaghetti western” was first coined as “a nickname for a broad sub-genre of Western film that emerged in the mid-1960s, so named because most of them were produced by Italian studios.” It was a dismissive term really. The … Continue reading

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Serenity

Will Shetterly penned this review. This is the Serenity review for people who haven’t seen the movie: Go! That’s all you need to know. If this review was posted on a general interest site, I’d have to warn you that Serenity is a … Continue reading

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Robin of Sherwood series

Robin: ‘ You’re no god. ‘ Herne: ‘ We can all of us be gods. All of us!’ — Herne the Hunter to Robin of Loxley on “Robin Hood and the Sorcerer” EP of Robin of Sherwood If the Robin … Continue reading

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Toshifumi Takizawa: Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai 7, The Complete Series

In spite of the title, this is not exactly Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. It is, rather, an anime adaptation of the classic film, set in a dystopian future that contrasts the rural simplicity of the peasantry with a steampunk version of … Continue reading

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Yuhki Kamatani and Kunihisa Sugishima’s Nabari

The anime series Nabari is based on the manga series Nabari no Ou by Yuhki Kamatani. It’s one of those series with a lot of comedy and very serious undertones. In broad outline, the story is rather simple: Rokujo Miharu … Continue reading

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Beowulf

Kimberlee Rettberg penned this review. Almost every high school student is familiar with Beowulf.  It is, after all, the first know written epic in the English language.  And through better and more modern translations appearing every year, the poetry’s timeless beauty is … Continue reading

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Mizuna Kuwabara and Susumu Kodo’s The World of Mirage of Blaze

Mirage of Blaze began as a series of boys’ love novels by Mizuna Kuwabara, later adapted to manga with art by Shoko Hamada, finally becoming an anime television series. Rebels of the River’s Edge, also included in this set, came … Continue reading

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Spray/Visual Arts, You Higuri and Yukina Hiro, Gakuen Heaven: Boy’s Love Hyper

Gakuen Heaven started off as a computer game called Gakuen Heaven Boy’s Love Scramble. The franchise also includes three PlayStation 2 games, drama CDs, a manga series, and this anime. It’s a delightful bit of BL fluff, and everyone I … Continue reading

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Dylan Speaks: the legendary 1965 press conference in San Francisco

In Paul Williams’ authoritative book Bob Dylan: performing artist 1960-1973, the early years Williams describes an event: This one hour press conference, held and filmed in the KQED-TV studios in San Francisco on December 3, 1965, hosted and produced by critic Ralph … Continue reading

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Babylon 5’s ‘Day of the Dead’

Asher Black penned this review. I liked Babylon 5 the best in the first season. Sinclair was my favorite captain, the Russian commander Ivanova was still a strong character — and so at her hottest — and the Minbari, though the most … Continue reading

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Tite Kubo and Noriyuki Abe’s Bleach: Memories of Nobody

Tite Kubo’s Bleach, an action-packed supernatural adventure, has been a phenomenally successful manga series (approaching 40 volumes in English) and anime TV series (275 episodes). (The irony here is that when Kubo first offered it to a publisher, it was … Continue reading

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Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings

Sarah Meador penned this review. Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings makes a startling assumption for an American cartoon feature. While most animated features seem to take it on faith that their audience will be musical-loving children, Lord of the Rings is geared towards … Continue reading

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

I’ve never laughed and cried so much in one movie. The thing is, I’m not a big movie crier. Those of you who read my Seabiscuit review are thinking, “Yeah, right!” It’s true, I swear. But I think I went into this … Continue reading

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 

Yes, I had a press ticket. Yes, I went to the earliest possible showing yesterday, opening day (December 18), and refused to eat any popcorn or drink any soda, lest I be distracted even minutely from the film. Yes, I … Continue reading

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

When a reviewer makes specific comments about plot elements in a book or a movie, it is common internet convention to say, “Spoilers ahead!” I cannot think of a single movie made in recent years for which that warning has … Continue reading

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Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men

There is something to be said for walking into things without foreknowledge. I readily admit that a background in any area will help you to enjoy something more fully, but when it comes to specifics, it’s often better to have … Continue reading

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John Cameron Mitchell: Shortbus

Shortbus is one of those films that comes apart if you try to look at it element by element. There’s not much of a plot, which we should all be used to by now. The characterizations are not startling for … Continue reading

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Peter Jackson: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Inevitably, I found myself catching the first local showing of Peter Jackson’s latest entry into his J. R. R. Tolkien sweepstakes, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It was better than I expected. Thorin Oakinshield (Richard Armitage) is being watched … Continue reading

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Laura Risk’s The Merry Making

Laura Risk plays her fiddle with passion and finesse on her new CD, The Merry Making, leaving the listener sighing for more. Capturing a glimpse of emotions seldom expressed on any instrument, Risk bows the strings with a delicate grace, yet … Continue reading

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Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King

There was once a king. On the eve of his coronation, he spent the night alone in the forest, as was customary, to prove his bravery and his worthiness to rule. A vision came to him of a beautiful golden … Continue reading

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Neil Gaiman’s Day of the Dead: An Annotated Babylon 5 Script

Whenever two Babylon 5 fans meet, whether it’s at a used book store, a sci-fi speakeasy, or somewhere else that’s safe for our species, it doesn’t take long for conversation to turn to the required topics: “Who’s your favorite character?” “What’s your … Continue reading

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DC Showcase’s Jonah Hex

This is a spoiler rich review. If you’re offended by this, go read Something! I think most fans of Jonah Hex as portrayed in the Jonah Hex film will agree that the film did a lousy job of capturing him.  … Continue reading

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Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Once upon a Christmas season, there was a television show called How The Grinch Stole Christmas. A television show that explicitly had a message that Christmas was neither a celebration of the birth of Christ, nor was it something that … Continue reading

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Doctor Who’s The Unicorn and The Wasp episode

If you haven’t seen this episode, go away now. Really. Truly. Everything that follows is spoilers in the extreme. One of my favourite episodes of the newer episodes of this series was a country house mystery featuring a number of … Continue reading

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Wyrd Sisters

Soul Music  is longer. Soul Music  has better extras. Soul Music  has a better cover. Soul Music  has more music, and some of it isn’t bad at all. That being said,  Wyrd Sisters  is a far more successful adaptation of … Continue reading

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Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng Chiang

Doctor Who since being rebooted in 2005 has benefited from advances in digital effects, customing, green screen shooting, makeup, and, oh just about everything else we take for granted in watching a sf television program these days. Back when this … Continue reading

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Hotaru Odagiri and Katsushi Sakurabi: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to learn that Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru is commonly referred to by fans as UraBoku. In spite of some major flaws, it’s one of the most engaging anime series … Continue reading

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Peter Jackson: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I saw Peter Jackson’s first installment on his trilogy of The Hobbit twice, and, strangely enough, An Unexpected Journey was better the second time. Fortunately, I haven’t read The Hobbit in years, so I wasn’t having to pull myself back … Continue reading

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The Wicker Man

When Sergeant Howie of the Scottish West Highlands Constabulary receives an anonymous letter reporting the disappearance of a young girl, he travels to a remote Scottish island to investigate the charge. To his horror, the righteous and devoutly Christian Howie … Continue reading

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The Witches

Michelle Erica Green wrote this review. There’s no denying the negative stereotyping in Nicolas Roeg’s The Witches, based on Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name. It’s a guilty pleasure, watching sophisticated women degraded by a little boy whom they’ve turned … Continue reading

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Practical Magic

Based on the Alice Hoffman novel of the same name, Practical Magic stars Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as Sally and Gillian Owens, sisters who also happen to be witches. Sally is sweet, sensible, and longs for a normal life. Gillian is … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 6th of March: A history of ice cream, Northumbrian music from Kathryn Tickell, series set in England, and lots of other good stuff!

She knew this music — knew it down to the very core of her being — but she had never heard it before. Unfamiliar, it had still always been there inside her, waiting to be woken. It grew from the core … Continue reading

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Jack of All Trades — The DVD Set

In the soul of every history geek, there is a hidden volume wherein are listed the names of History Geek Guilty Pleasures. Don’t try to deny it, fellow history geeks; you know it’s true. Mel Brooks’ History of the World … Continue reading

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Yun Kouga and Yuu Kou: Loveless

Yun Kouga’s Loveless has been a very successful manga series and a widely praised anime series, which was developed from the first four volumes of the manga. I’m warning you, whatever preconceptions you have about anime had best be jettisoned … Continue reading

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Kazuya Minekura and Hayato Date: Saiyuki

As seems to be inevitable, Kazuya Minekura’s popular manga series Saiyuki was adapated to an anime TV series. What is perhaps less usual is that the series ran for two seasons and was followed by two more TV series. After … Continue reading

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Milos Forman’s Amadeus

The story of Amadeus is by now fairly well known. From a screenplay by Peter Shaffer based in turn on his original stage play, the film is told in flashback from the viewpoint of Italian composer Antonio Salieri, who lived and worked … Continue reading

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Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules

Once upon a time, after having been pretty much housebound for most of a week, I decided to go to the movies and wound up seeing The Legend of Hercules. No particular desire on my part to see it, but … Continue reading

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James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy

If you’re longing for a superhero/science fiction action-adventure film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Guardians of the Galaxy is it. I’ll readily admit that I’m not terribly enthusiastic about action-adventure films that take themselves without a grain of salt, … Continue reading

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Norberto Barba, et al.: Grimm, Seasons One and Two

The NBC Television series Grimm entered my life quite by chance, when our esteemed publisher e-mailed me asking whether I wanted to review it. Knowing absolutely nothing about it, but having a newly acquired TV and DVD player, of course … Continue reading

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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: The 20th Anniversary Edition

With The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, alas, the malign gods were paying attention and behaving not unlike Terry Pratchett’s Auditors, practically warping time and space to mess with Terry Gilliam. They failed to ruin the film — Munchausen is magnificent, … Continue reading

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Chris Butler and Sam Fell’s ParaNorman

I saw a trailer for ParaNorman, and also read about the “controversy” (in quotes because some people will invent a controversy where there is none), and decided I had to see it. Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a rather exceptional … Continue reading

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Catwoman

James wrote this review. If all you need in a movie is Halle Berry in a tight, revealing leather outfit cracking a whip, stop reading this right now and go see Catwoman. If you care about anything else in a … Continue reading

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Harold Zwart’s Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Along with the recent surge of superhero movies, we seem to have had a spate of films based on fantasy/dystopian future science fiction series oriented toward teenagers. This is not necessarily a bad thing, although the results, as might be … Continue reading

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Guillermo del Toro: Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno)

The films of Guillermo del Toro have often dealt with innocence in a corrupt world; sometimes the innocence is found in surprising places, as in Hellboy, in which a demon becomes a savior. He also plays with the idea of … Continue reading

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