Castor’s Underrated Gems – Life Stinks (1991)

Life Stinks is a member of an elite group. It’s one of Mel Brooks’ final directorial efforts since his quasi-retirement into the sunset of Broadway adaptations. Although it won’t be stratified alongside such milestones as The Producers, Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles, Life Stinks is a daftly funny gasp of madcap warmth before the Semitic impresario would close up shop.

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The Reviewinator: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom (2018)

25 years is nothing to sneeze at for any franchise, particularly ones with the same monsters-on-an-island premise in every entry. Nevertheless, Jurassic World revitalized the franchise with strong, likable characters who make a welcome return in this fifth entry in the Jurassic Park saga. While the momentum from the previous movie does continue here (for the most part), one can’t help but feel that “extinction” is in this franchise’s very near future.

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Runstedler’s DVD Pick of the Month: Hereditary

This year’s Hereditary has been hailed as the scariest movie in recent years, but I don’t feel that it does this film justice. It is terrifying on a psychological level, but the traditional jump scares and scare tactics are minimal. Instead, we are left with a film that examines grief, PTSD, the loss of a loved one, dealing with the consequences, and recognising the responsibilities and role of a parent in times of crisis. I think it’s also about living with the inability to understand or read your own parent and living with the confusion and frustration. It is “scary” in the sense that from the parents’ perspective, getting the call that your child has died or coming to terms with that is scarier than any horror movie imaginable, and that’s what makes Hereditary really so visceral. On top of that, it’s a very subversive film, killing off seemingly major characters and confounding our expectations of plot progression and storyline. For me, I felt that they could have done without the whole cult subplot – it was fun, reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby in some ways, but if the focus of the film had just been mental illness and dealing with what comes after the catalyst, I think the film would have worked just as well.

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The Reviewinator: Solo – A Star Wars Story (2018)

Star Wars movies are anything but solo. With the timelines jumping around like a porg on a hot plate, only the most devoted fans will be able to stay on target while the rest of us try to hold this rapidly expanding franchise together like people who’ve had their arms ripped off by loser Wookiees. But if you want to stay loyal, you must endure the spin-offs, so let’s see what Han Solo was doing before that time he totally shot first.

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The Reviewinator: Deadpool 2 (2018)

Deadpool 2? What the sh**?! Oh right. Deadpool 1 was a financially orgasmic experience for Fox and Marvel. Maybe because it hit all the right G’s in all the right spots. So of course they were gonna pull a number 2 out of their ass. But there’s always a bit of worry with sequels (especially the superhero kind), so let’s see whether or not this number 2 goes right in the sh***er.

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Runstedler’s DVD Pick of the Month: Elvis Presley: The Searcher

HBO’s new documentary Elvis Presley: The Searcher peels back the mythological layers of the rock icon/god to examine him as a man who was hard working, open minded, quite likeable, and who loved music. I love Elvis Presley, especially his Sun Sessions work and his first album, and while I was initially hesitant to watch a feature-length documentary on him (especially after so many Elvis stories have been told), I felt that this two-part series was a refreshing take on him and really makes us reassess what we really knew about him and who he really was. Nowadays, I find that he generally appears as either a caricature or a superhuman being, and indeed when you see him onstage in his early days, incredibly good looking and alive with his guitar and amazing voice, it does seem ethereal and we know that this is a performance of a lifetime.

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The Reviewinator: Ash vs. Evil Dead (Season 3)

The final season. And the end of Evil Dead as we know it. The blow would be less severe if the cancellation hadn’t happened a mere 9 days before the Season 3 finale, prompting worries that the show would end on a cliffhanger that may never get resolved. After all, where can Evil Dead go from here? They were never able to get a fourth movie off the ground, the video game franchise was nothing more than “the next best thing”, and the 2013 remake was kind of one-and-done, so TV was kind of Evil Dead’s last-ditch effort. But fans everywhere knew it had to end sometime. So how does one of the greatest and longest-running horror franchises go out? Not the way you expected, that’s for sure.

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The Reviewinator: The Walking Dead (Season 8)

War. That’s what was promised at the end of Season 7. Although it took its sweet time to get there (no thanks to the narrative side-tracker that is the mid-season finale), it was enough to get people interested in what was to come in the seasons ahead. The Walking Dead has been plodding along in recent years, with its most memorable moments happening during season premieres and finales, with everything in between just acting as filler. So after a painfully predictable but still somewhat enjoyable Season 7, fans deserved something a little more imaginative and a lot more entertaining. Did they get it?

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Review: Roseanne (Season 10, Episode 1)

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Roseanne Barr’s sitcom was always about the blue-collar, working-class woes of the Rust Belt. With the announcement of another revamp, fans of the original series were apprehensive especially after Season 8-9 were such a grandiose failure of esoteric anticlimaxes. Happily though, Season 10 is a riotously funny success that sheds the bitter aftertaste of the Connor’s serendipitous lottery win and Dan’s heart attack.

At the center of this premiere episode is the debate between Roseanne and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) over the presidential election. Many of the jabs are politically pungent (when the family is about to “say grace” before dinner, Roseanne asks Jackie if she would like to take a knee) and from Roseanne’s bumpkin perspective, her support of Trump is aligned with her character since his rhetoric was about job stimuli.

After the initial inside-joke about Dan (John Goodman) being deceased and Goodman visibly scrolling the cue cards, the show kneads out the hiatus pangs for a smoother reintroduction to Roseanne’s rogues gallery. Sara Gilbert and Lecy Goranson effortlessly reprise the arsenic-and-nectar interplay between the dueling sisters. Ex-military DJ (Michael Fishman) is given short shrift but then again, he was always a minor character within the nuclear family.

Sarah Chalke as the surrogate benefactor to Becky is a shrewd way of a breaking-the-fourth-wall clashing between two eras on the show. Several of the punchlines elicit chortles including a droll exchange between Darlene’s effeminate son and Dan (“I like your nail polish.” “That’s not nail polish, son. That’s dry-wall.”).

The show hasn’t lost the zeitgeist pulse of the fly-over Red State mentality(Dan is apoplectic over Becky’s decision for her uterus to be the host of another woman’s child). They might be slower on the progression scale , but the Connors are an all-inclusive, amenable family regardless.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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Review: Barry (Season 1, Episode 1)

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Wandering aimlessly into an amateur acting course was the self-referential setup for Shane Black’s brilliant neo-noir Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. A hitman/gangster exorcising their crime-ridden ennui with therapy or another incongrous outlet was the setup for Analyze This, The Sopranos, Panic and several other properties from the early 2000’s. By my count, Barry is already a decade too late for its concept.

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