DVD Review: Disney's 'Ichabod and Mr. Toad' and 'Fun and Fancy Free'

...It would have been neat if the Blu-ray gave viewers a choice to either watch the movies as two distinct features in their original forms, or as a series of shorts that could be accessed separately and watched in any order. Yet if you want to go from “Sleepy Hollow” to “Bongo”, you have to stop Ichabod and Mr. Toad, head to the top menu, select Fun and Fancy Free, select play from that menu, and fast-forward through the overlong introductory material with Jiminey Cricket.

Format nitpicking aside—and I realize it is a lot to ask Disney to slice-and-dice its beloved feature films—this Blu-Ray two-movie collection has charm to spare. For the most part, the shorts are some of Disney’s strongest, and taken as a whole they offer a variety of animation styles, characters and tones...

Click through to see the full review at PopMatters.

DVD Review: 'Need for Speed'

'Need for Speed' Is About the Thrill of the Ride, Not the Script

...In other words, this is a car movie, one made for people who love cars, and for people who love other car movies. Enthusiasts get to gawk at Marshall’s Ford Mustang GT500 and other exotic cars, like a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento or a Koenigsegg Agera R.

These cars are treated (and shot) with a lot of love. Director Scott Waugh, in his commentary with Paul, mentions that he favors practical effects over CGI, and you can tell; the cars have heft and weight to them, and the most interesting visuals in the film are done in the service of the driving scenes. The cars are also the subject of most of the Blu-ray’s features, which do everything from break down the biggest stunts to analyze the different rumbles that each car makes.

But besides just lavishing attention on the cars, Waugh loves placing them in the context of other, classic driving movies, from Bullitt to American Graffiti. In the commentary, Waugh and Paul point out many of these references (and, yes, video game Easter eggs, too), down to the tiniest background details. (A stunt coordinator and son of a stunt coordinator, Waugh also likes to give shout-outs to all of the stunt drivers and their previous films.) When Bullitt is playing in the background of a drive-in theater during one of the opening scenes of the film, Waugh mentions that he was afraid the movie would come across as a period film, since he puts in so many references to the ‘60s and ‘70s...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.


Bustle TV Coverage: 7/28/14 to 8/10/14

Recently on Bustle, I

...tried to justify bringing Agent Peggy Carter onto Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just because she's awesome.
http://bsl.io/WKOP1e

...told Batman fans that they're not crazy for not knowing who Fish Mooney is, since she's new for Gotham.
http://bsl.io/1lXxFCR

...marveled -- in slideshow form -- that Manhattan has such a talented cast for a show no one I know watches.
http://bsl.io/1qKWJVs

...was surprised  by how normal Larry Jr. is, despite being the son of Theresa Caputo from Long Island Medium.
http://bsl.io/1nxPaJU

..got to the bottom of what Sugar Bear from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo really does for a living (besides act on a reality show).
http://bsl.io/1mn2QaS








Bustle TV Coverage: 7/21/14 to 7/26/14

This week on Bustle, I...

...discovered how totally adorable The Fosters' Bailee Madison and Maia Mitchell are—and how much they really look like sisters.
http://bsl.io/Wvd2Zo

...realized that SoundClash host Diplo is behind more memes than you would think.
http://bsl.io/1sHJHYs

...got to the bottom of the big feud between Caroline and Caprice on Ladies of London
http://bsl.io/1kJfP6j

...and argued that Julia Ormond's "acting rut" was actually kind of awesome.
http://bsl.io/1oiMTXF


Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup

Bustle TV Coverage: 7/13/14 to 7/20/14

This week on Bustle, I: 

...got "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes stuck in my own head while looking into Make or Break Linda Perry's biggest hits.
http://bsl.io/1tG0jS3

...found out all the crazy stories you've heard about rumspringa are true.
http://bsl.io/UdQ32W

...looked back at the cheesy Lifetime movie that brought LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian together
http://bsl.io/1nyuJw0

...and discovered that the music behind 'Married" is by Ratatat and Broken Bells.
http://bsl.io/1mPOOBZ

Image: Prashant Gupta/FX

DVD Review: 'Under the Skin'


...We follow Laura as she drives around the streets of Glasgow in a van, luring and seducing men into her orbit, often to their detriment. For these scenes, Glazer uses a series of non-actors in largely improvised environments; the van is outfitted with up to 10 hidden-camera setups.

The result of these conditions—regular people having unscripted conversations in a natural setting without cameras reminding them they’re being filmed—should be naturalistic. However, they don’t entirely feel this way. While these scenes do feel authentic, Glazer heightens the action beyond the typical found-footage-style documentary. His images are more beautiful than something you’d expect from dashboard cameras. He also sets the scenes to a discordantly beautiful score by Mica Levi. You can feel the disconnect between Laura and the rest of humanity; everything feels distant and unsettled.

This is largely to the credit of Johansson. She’s capable of telegraphing both seduction and isolation simultaneously. She connects with the men she meets on the street, but you can tell that there’s an emotional disconnect. While there is dialogue throughout the film, Johansson is essentially giving a silent performance. The words that pass between her and the men are of no consequence to the arc of the film; they’re just to get the men in the van. The emotional core of the story—which comes more and more into focus as the film progresses—is almost entirely advanced through Johansson’s face...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.

Bustle TV Coverage: 6/29/14 to 7/12/14

This week on Bustle, I:

...explained how Welcome to Sweden is basically a lower-key Parks & Recreation
http://bsl.io/1njcLSW

...but lamented how little Amy Poehler will be on it
http://bsl.io/1rVr7fg

...speculated that Olaf will not be appearing on Once Upon a Time
http://bsl.io/U2euR7)

...reminded the world of Rising Star host Josh Groban's greatest accomplishment, his "I'm your Bieber now" tweet
http://bsl.io/1rZKh3s

...noticed what a difference a year or two has made in the life of Extant's Halle Berry
http://bsl.io/1ovtnVc

...and reminded everyone how holidays are always better if you add Muppets
http://bsl.io/1mv26Q3


Image: Getty



The Daily Traveler: Amazing Outdoor Film Screenings

A Hot Tub Cinema? Our Favorite Outdoor Movie Venues

Who needs a drive-in? No cars are required to enjoy these outdoor movie screenings—and, chances are, the view will be as good as the film. Enjoy a sunset screening all summer long in an historic Italian piazza, on the rooftop of a cinema in Athens, in a cemetery in Los Angeles, and yes, in a hot tub.

Bologna, Italy

When the weather warms, Cineteca di Bologna turns the city’s Piazza Maggiore into one of the most historic outdoor movie venues, with Renaissance architecture surrounding the plaza on all sides and the dome of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita rising behind the screen. Cineteca di Bologna holds 51 screenings under the stars throughout the summer, with eight nights dedicated to the “Il Cinema Ritrovato” (Cinema Rediscovered) series of classic movies. It also claims that the Piazza Maggiore's screen is one of the largest in Europe.

Coming Attractions: Jules and Jim, The Spirit of '45, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Click through to see the full slideshow at The Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Lorenzo Burlando






Bustle TV Coverage

So, I picked up a freelance gig covering TV for Bustle! My first week, I... 

...geeked out about how much I loved the flawed women of Tom Perrotta
Meet Tom Perrotta's Leading Ladies

...took any excuse I could to post the "Donna Martin graduates!" video from Beverly Hills, 90210
Tag Team, Back Again

...watched a ton of YouTube videos starring my favorite So You Think You Can Dance contestant, tWitch
Catch Up with the Best 'SYTYCD' Contestant Ever

...got super-jealous of Moran Atias' Instagram account
She's Your Next Girl Crush

...and tried to figure out what the heck CeeLo's reality show is about
CeeLo Green's Reality Show Isn't Very Real

DVD Review: Winter's Tale

The love story should be the heart of Winter’s Tale, but the movie is frequently caught up in the more supernatural elements of the story, and everything is consumed in its spiritual mumbo-jumbo. For example, at least two different characters are pressed into service to explain that Lake’s horse is “actually a dog”—specifically Athansor, the “Dog of the East”—that just sometimes takes the form of a horse. This information never comes to bear in the rest of the entire movie, as Athansor never appears as a dog; it’s just magical nonsense.

It’s not just background nonsense, either; the movie goes out of its way to play up its spiritual angle. Light and its mystical properties, for example, is a major theme of the movie. Instead of just being a recurring visual motif, though, Goldsman makes sure the light is always front-and-center. This results in something onscreen twinkling right before an awe-inspiring event happens. It’s a constant primer that the audience doesn’t actually need.

The magical elements of the story come at the expense of developing real characters. By the time a second set of major characters is introduced in the 2014 timeline, Winter’s Tale doesn’t have enough time left to get invested in them as people. Instead, they become just another set of mystical objects in Lake’s quest for miracles.

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters