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The Guilty

With its single setting and real-time story, The Guilty is a brilliant genre exercise, a cinematic study in tension, sound design, and how to make…

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Halloween

Do you know the biggest sin of the new Halloween? It’s just not scary. And that’s one thing you could never say about the original.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Home Entertainment Consumer Guide: August 2, 2018

10 NEW TO NETFLIX

"Amy"
"An Education"
"The End of the Tour"
"Ex Machina"
"Mississippi Grind"
"A Most Violent Year"
"Obvious Child"
"Room"
"The Rover"
"Slow West"

4 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD

"Counterpart: Season One"

Starz's "Counterpart" was one of the most unexpected TV surprises of the 2017-18 season, and I was frustrated when the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences failed to nominate star J.K. Simmons for his daring dual role (but Starz always gets snubbed.) "Counterpart" has a concept that Rod Serling would love. A few decades ago, an experiment resulted in an alternate universe, exactly the same as our own. And then it diverged. Imagine different medical and technological developments in a mirror Earth. And only the most special ops members of the governments of the world know about it. And then a shy gentleman happens to meet his double and gets sucked into a world of inter-universe espionage. It's a great bit of entertainment, anchored by the Academy Award winner. Check it out now that it's on Blu-ray. Maybe Simmons won't get snubbed next year.

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Special Features
Season Outlook" Featurette
"Inside the World of 'Counterpart'" Featurette

"In the Mouth of Madness"

Shout Factory actually released three John Carpenter films on Blu-ray last week, including "Someone's Watching Me," "Memoirs of an Invisibie Man," and this Lovecraft-inspired flick starring Sam Neill that could arguably be called the Last Good Carpenter Movie (ignoring his excellent episode of "Masters of Horror"). Watching it again after nearly a quarter-century, it hasn't aged that well. As much as I love prime era Carpenter (he was one of the best in the '70s and '80s), he had already lost a step here. There's something off in the editing and particularly in Julie Carmen's flat performance. It's still worth seeing for some of the ideas about mass hysteria and the power of telling evil stories, something Carpenter knew a thing or two about. And acolytes of Carpenter's who love ALL his work should be happy about all three releases. 

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Special Features
NEW Audio Commentary with director John Carpenter and producer Sandy King Carpenter
NEW Horror's Hallowed Grounds – a look at the film's locations today
NEW The Whisperer of the Dark – an interview with actress Julie Carman
NEW Greg Nicotero's Things in the Basement – a new interview with special effects artist Greg Nicotero including behind-the-scenes footage
NEW Home Movies from Hobb's End – Behind the Scenes footage from Greg Nicotero
Audio Commentary with director John Carpenter and cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe
Vintage Featurette – The Making of In the Mouth of Madness
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spots

"Ready Player One"

Steven Spielberg's high-budget adaptation of Ernest Cline's hit book became one of the most divisive films of the year so far. I know some people who HATE this movie, and I can't really argue with their assertions that it's too hyperactive and cheap in the way it weaponizes nostalgia (don't get me started on what it does to The Iron Giant). It's also a movie that REALLY doesn't hold up well on repeat viewing. Having said that, I'm comfortable with the idea that I'm not the target audience any more for "Ready Player One." My son is, and he thinks this movie is "amazing." And there's something neat about watching a young man whose interest in blockbusters has literally grown upon seeing "Ready Player One." Spielberg is still turning kids into lifelong movie lovers.

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Special Features
Game Changer: Cracking the Code
Effects for a Brave New World
Level Up: Sound for the Future
High Score: Endgame
Ernie & Tye's Excellent Adventure
The '80's: You're The Inspiration

"Tully"

Jason Reitman's best film since "Young Adult" reunites the director with the writer and star of that film, Diablo Cody and Charlize Theron, respectively. Theron does phenomenal work as a woman dealing with exhaustion and post-partum depression after the birth of her third child, as does Mackenzie Davis as the night nanny who comes to her rescue. Without spoiling anything, "Tully" features a third act twist that I'm not sure really works and I think might be a bit exploitative, turning post-partum and mental illness into a "Gotcha Device." I think there's actually a stronger version of the film that doesn't go there and simply tells the story of a woman reminded of her younger self in the nanny who comes to her rescue. Regardless, Theron and Davis are so good here that the narrative cheapness of the final act doesn't make it that much less worth seeing. Rent it. 

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Special Features
The Relationships of Tully

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