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Aisle Seat 3-31: Quarantine Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 3/30/2020 - 10:00 PM
Anything going on in the world over the last two weeks? With our now 6-year-old being home schooled a few inches away from me — by me — the Aisle Seat has gone into full quarantine mode, all the while my wife is dealing with assorted daily issues at our local hospital. Undaunted, this column will continue — as will our daily discussions on the Aisle Seat Message Board — particularly because home entertainment isn’t taking a break…in fact, it’s the only mode of entertainment left at this point! So, here’s my latest rundown of new & upcoming releases, which should be available to purchase now….especially if you bundle an Amazon order with a coveted box of toilet paper, which as we’re all too aware, is a “hot” commodity at this point in time.
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Aisle Seat 3-17: March Madness Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 3/16/2020 - 10:00 PM
One of those titles – along with “Time Bandits” and “Jaws” – that my parents rented for me on VHS frequently when I was growing up, VICTORY (117 mins., 1981, PG) stars Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, and Pele in a hugely entertaining, if highly improbable, melding of “The Great Escape” with the sports thrills of international soccer. Despite being one of the earliest Warner releases in the DVD format, it’s taken years for the film to finally receive a high-definition remaster, which Warner Archive has at last brought to us in the form of a splendid, impressive new Blu-Ray.
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Aisle Seat 3-3: March Arrival Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 3/2/2020 - 10:00 PM
The sequel to the highest-grossing ‘toon feature of all-time – FROZEN II 4K Ultra HD/Blu-Ray (103 mins., 2019, PG; Disney) – quickly became the, well, highest-grossing ‘toon feature of all-time. Despite some clunky and disposable songs, “Frozen II” is a visual feast and a commendable effort in that the picture doesn’t at all recycle the plot of its predecessor. Here, Arendelle royalty Princess Elsa and Anna head out into the Enchanted Forest on a journey that continues Elsa’s spiritual awakening while answering a mysterious “call” that leads them into uncovering truths about their parents. There, they counter both Arendelle soldiers and native people – plus plenty of magic – as they attempt to save their kingdom and right previous “ancestral wrongs.”
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Aisle Seat 2-18: 4K February Thrills, New Releases
Posted By: Andy Dursin 2/17/2020 - 10:00 PM
Roland Emmerich’s passion project MIDWAY (138 mins., 2019, PG-13; Lionsgate) fared moderately well at the U.S. box-office despite getting mixed reviews, yet (once again) the Rotten Tomatoes critical crew missed the boat. While lavishing praise on the likes of “Birds of Prey” and “The Last Jedi,” they mostly brushed aside this sturdy war film with a commendable attention to the historical record – bringing to the screen more actual history than was contained in Universal’s at-times melodramatic 1976 Sensurround extravaganza chronicling the same battle.
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Aisle Seat 2-11: Kino Lorber, Doctor Sleep, Shout February Wrap
Posted By: Andy Dursin 2/10/2020 - 10:00 PM
The novels of Jules Verne had been adapted into a myriad of memorable cinematic adventures during the 1950s and ‘60s, from the Ray Harryhausen-laced thrills of “Mysterious Island” to the Oscar-winning “Around the World in 80 Days” and Disney’s classic “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” At the end of the cycle, the latter’s star, Kirk Douglas, looked to Verne’s final novelTHE LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD (128 mins., 1971, PG; Kino Lorber), for inspiration, but nothing could prepare viewers – especially the family audience the film was seemingly marketed towards – for the brutal violence this underappreciated – yet purely adult – adventure contains.
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Aisle Seat 1-28: January Chiller Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 1/27/2020 - 10:00 PM
Kino Lorber’s terrific, varied slate of January releases offers high Technicolor adventure from the 1940s, a moody British character piece, a ‘70s revisionist western, Michael Ritchie’s follow-up to “The Bad News Bears” and, for B-movie buffs, a truckin’ adventure from the AIP vaults. These “Studio Classics” Blu-Rays come alongside the exciting news that Kino Lorber has made a new deal with Universal for a reported 200 releases coming this year and beyond, with a few 4K UHD titles hopefully a part of that equation.
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Aisle Seat 1-14: The 2020 Kickoff Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 1/13/2020 - 10:00 PM
There aren’t a lot of opportunities to talk about movies that push storytelling boundaries and employ technology in new and exciting ways, but Sam Mendes’ spectacular 1917 (****) is happily one of those instances. A unique war movie that works as – and was intended to be – an immersive cinematic experience, this is a truly breathtaking piece of filmmaking – a dazzling trip into the battlefields of WWI that’s unquestionably the best film of this year (or the last few, for that matter).
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Aisle Seat 12-31: New Year's Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 12/30/2019 - 10:00 PM
Brought back to salvage the concluding chapter in Disney’s so-called “Skywalker” series, director J.J. Abrams does something interesting with STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (142 mins., PG-13): he and co-writer Chris Terrio basically act as if its tepid, divisive Rian Johnson-helmed predecessor, “The Last Jedi,” never existed. Did that visit to the intergalactic casino ever happen? Where are the “Jedi Kids”? Are characters played by Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro even canon now?
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Aisle Seat 12-24: Christmas Eve at The Aisle Seat
Posted By: Andy Dursin 12/23/2019 - 10:00 PM
Released at Christmas ’84, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE COTTON CLUB (138 mins., R; Lionsgate) was the subject of much controversy: the big-budget mix of character drama and mob thriller, bolstered by song & dance numbers and ample period detail, made more news off the set than on the screen. Feuds between Coppola and producer Robert Evans, budget issues, squabbles over the film’s editing and, finally, mixed critical notices sank the picture even before it hit theaters. When it did, the movie sputtered and quickly exited the multiplex, relegated to just a few home video releases – and very little discussion – since.
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Aisle Seat 11-26: DRACULA! BIG TROUBLE! A Thanksgiving Feast
Posted By: Andy Dursin 11/25/2019 - 10:00 PM
In the late ’70s, the vampire genre had nearly run its course. Decades of fanged Draculas – from from the Bela Lugosi era through Hammer’s seemingly endless succession of Christopher Lee efforts – had turned the undead into a cliché that often bordered on self-parody. With George Hamilton’s box-office success “Love At First Bite” still in theaters, Universal, producer Walter Mirisch and director John Badham attempted to revitalize the classic Dracula mythos with their own adaptation of DRACULA (***½, 109 mins., 1979, R; Shout! Factory).
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Today in Film Score History:
March 31
Alejandro Amenabar born (1972)
Arthur B. Rubinstein born (1938)
Cliff Eidelman begins recording his score for The Meteor Man (1993)
Michael Gore wins his first two Oscars for Fame's score and title song (1981)
Terry Plumeri died (2016)
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