Evil Dead

What’s the point in remaking an iconic film if you’re going to eradicate everything that made it iconic? Utterly lacking in character development and humor, Fede Alvarez’ reboot/sequel ramps up the gory grossout EXORCIST / slasher / SAW tropes to 11, the excess ultimately feeling ironically lazy and tiresome.


The Woman in Black

Daniel Radcliffe stars as a widowed lawyer who encounters a vengeful spirit terrorizing a small Edwardian England town by killing its children. Unabashedly playing with classic horror tropes, Hammer Films’ gloriously retro ghost story is beautifully evocative and so damn chilling that it literally gave me shudders.


Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle

PBS’ 3-part documentary trods such well-worn ground that it’s suitable for non-fanboys only. Glossing over or completely overlooking some seismic shakes, ignoring interesting B-listers, peppered with anachronistic visual errors, SUPERHEROES is nice to look at it, but ultimately feels superfluous, a missed opportunity for deeper insight into the genre.

Just Like Being There

Scout Shannon’s ode to gig poster artists spotlights a wide range of talent (from very to not so much) with a tone that’s so reverential and serious, the film feels more precious than inspiring. Ironically, the section on Mondo’s movie poster reinterpretations (appropriating the rock esthetic) is the film’s highlight.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

ABC’s AVENGERS spinoff suffers from a typical tee-vee casting of young, pretty dullards in roles created for the show, rather than actors of varying ages and comeliness playing more diverse characters from the source material (too bad Dum Dum Dugan was wasted in CAPTAIN AMERICA). Thus far, a disappointment.

Room 237

ROOM 237
Rodney Ascher’s documentary about wacky interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING would’ve benefited from putting the theorists on camera. By keeping these obsessives completely offscreen, their stories blur into a maze of conjecture, which may have been the intent, but leaves me longing for more clarity in the crazy.

Chernobyl Diaries

Yet another yawn-inducing horror film that takes way too long to set up (a bunch of young, pretty American tourists run around an abandoned Russian city screaming in terror while being stalked by irradiated mutants), then adds the injurious insult of having almost all of the scares occur offscreen.



Alfonso CuarĂ³n’s “Stranded in Space” epic is indeed visually staggering (see it BIG), but the film is ultimately weighed down by so much ham-fisted metaphorical / metaphysical rumination on “rebirth” that my eyeballs were rolling as much as Sandra Bullock in Zero-G. Worth seeing, but 2001 did it better.


Breaking Bad Season 5 Part 2

BREAKING BAD Season 5 Part 2
Heisenberg’s rise and fall has been one of TV’s most compelling stories, and while the behavior of the Aryans at times felt deus ex machina, this final arc lived up to its promise, delivering just enough redemption that we could regain the empathy to mourn the end of Walter White.

Lifestyle Illustration of the 50s

LIFESTYLE ILLUSTRATION OF THE 50s edited by Rian Hughes (Goodman Fiell)
The quality (and size) of reproduction varies wildly in Hughes’ follow-up to his 1960s book, but this remains an indispensable compilation of gorgeous work by the mostly unsung illustrators of the so-called women’s magazines of the mid-century. Domestic bliss, pensive contemplation, and agonizing heartbreak never looked so good.

Hannibal Season One Blu-ray

HANNIBAL Season One Blu-Ray
If any show ever warranted the crystal clarity of Blu-ray, it’s Bryan Fuller’s gruesomely lush RED DRAGON prequel. Numerous featurettes delineate the fastidious attention to detail that makes HANNIBAL the most visually arresting (as well as brilliantly written, acted, and scored) show on TV. Digital downloads do not suffice.

Tony Bennett / Dave Brubeck, The White House Sessions, Live 1962

Tony Bennett / Dave Brubeck, THE WHITE HOUSE SESSIONS, LIVE 1962 (Columbia / RPM / Legacy Recordings)
While most record labels’ vaults have been long cleared of marketable leftovers, sometimes a true gem is unearthed, as with this short but sweet set recorded in 1962, with the two jazz legends at the heights of their powers, performing both separately and together. Required for fans of both artists.

Batman Black and White #1

This monochromatic anthology’s resurrection is good news for longtime fans of the Dark Knight who aren’t thrilled with the current, convoluted regular comics. Running the gamut from lighthearted retro adventure to sultry detective stories and even a hot rod tale, the book’s only misfire is a bizarre Neal Adams screed.

Dexter Season 8

DEXTER Season 8
My once-favorite show shuffles off this cable coil with another mixed bag of good acting and bad plot developments. Making the final season an ill-fated love story detracts from the core Dexter-Deb dynamic, and even though the (Breaking Bad inspired?) ending felt right, it was still too little, too late.

Low Winter Sun

Has the anti-hero jumped the shark? A bleak yet bland look at crime and corruption in Detroit wastes a solid cast (headed by Mark Strong) by dumping them into a story that fails to grab, despite making every attempt to evoke both THE WIRE and THE SHIELD.