ERNEST & CELESTINE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 50 days ago

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Hollywood, sadly, has turned its back on traditionally-styled, 2D animation for the big screen.  With the rare exception of The Princess and the Frog, animated films from the major studios have all recently been of the computer-generated variety, barely separated from big visual effects movies by the look of the characters.  To find films that celebrate the traditional style, one has to turn to those created in other countries, such as the works of Miyasaki or, in this case, the French film Ernest & Celestine.  Read my Ernest & Celestine Blu-ray review after the jump.

SAVING MR. BANKS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 157 days ago

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Sometimes a movie that screams Academy Award-pedigree just doesn’t score the nominations–let alone the rewards.  Such was the case in 2013 for Saving Mr. Banks, which landed numerous critics’ award nominations but tallied only one Oscar nom (for Best Original Score).  Perhaps that says more about the strength of the then seemingly wide-open Oscar field than the film itself, since Saving Mr. Banks is a thoroughly delightful film.  Hit the jump for my Saving Mr. Banks Blu-ray review.

JULES AND JIM Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 164 days ago

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Love triangles in cinema are as old as cinema itself, but most play out along a few generally similar lines.  Few take a path so unique as the course taken in François Truffaut’s Jules and Jim, a landmark of the French New Wave, a film that on one hand may seem like a light-hearted romance but on the other hand hits notes of great sadness and ugliness in the realism emblematic of the movement.  My Jules and Jim Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

THE JUNGLE BOOK Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 212 days ago

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I did not grow up watching Disney animated movies like most kids (ironically, I am now conversant in them almost to the level of a true Disnoid).  Indeed, I only remember having seen three in my young years: Lady and the Tramp, The Black Calderon and The Jungle Book.  My memories of The Jungle Book being particularly thin, it was with great and somewhat nostalgic anticipation that I approached Disney’s new Blu-ray release of the film.  Hit the jump for my The Jungle Book Blu-ray review.

JOBS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 237 days ago

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Biopics are tricky beasts.  At their best, they can provide deeper insight into their protagonists–even when certain details are combined, eliminated or otherwise fictionalized.  On the other end of the spectrum lie a plethora of problems, such as blasé regurgitation of known facts, focusing on either too much or too little of someone’s life, and/or reducing the subject’s life to a highlight reel show with no real substance.  One would hope that a movie such as Jobs, about one of the great creative visionaries of our time, would be inspired by the same creative spark.  Alas, that hope is sadly not realized.

Hit the jump for my review of Jobs on Blu-ray.

NASHVILLE Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 241 days ago

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Perhaps there is no greater mark for a director than his or her name being associated not just with a genre but with a signature style uniquely his own.  Speak the name “Robert Altman” and immediately his singular imprint leaps to mind.  Nowhere is that style more fully realized than in Nashville.  Hit the jump for my review of the Criterion Collection Blu-ray/DVD release of the film.

GREY GARDENS Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 264 days ago

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Documentaries can be odd beasts.  At their most pure, they are exactly what the word implies, a document of life, no judgement or coloring, just capturing their subjects.  Many, if not most, go well beyond that, structured and designed to further a cause or deliver a point.  The other extreme occurs when the “goal” supersedes the concept of being a documentary altogether, thus venturing into the realm of propaganda.  David and Albert MayslesGrey Gardens is a documentary of the purest form.  Hit the jump for my review of the Criterion Collection Blu-ray of Grey Gardens.

SLACKER Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 325 days ago

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Eschewing traditional plot in a non-documentary feature film is a challenging proposition, one that more often than not results in failure.  Plot is such a primary and, for the audience, enveloping element of most movies that to succeed without it requires an extremely well-defined and executed concept.  If any modern director can be considered the master of such non-traditional form, it would have to be Richard Linklater, and Slacker one of his master works.  Hit the jump for my review of the Blu-ray, released as part of the Criterion Collection.

42 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 33 days ago

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I love baseball movies.  To be honest, I love sports movies as a whole, but baseball movies in particular (it is perhaps needless to say that I love the games).  Alas, sports movies are a mixed bag in terms of quality.  One area in which baseball movies often find success is in tapping into the historic and/or mythic elements of the game itself.  42 does exactly that, delving into Jackie Robinson’s breaking of baseball’s color barrier in 1947.

THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 170 days ago

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Reading the description of a film–and I’m not just talking the marketing spin, but even an honest informative blurb–oftentimes results in false preconceptions about a movie.  That Obscure Object of Desire is just such a film.  “Consumed by his obsessive desire to possess her, his feelings progressively change from overflowing passion to a self-destructive hatred,” inspires visions in tone (if not in content) along the lines of Fatal Attraction.  Not so.

That having been said, such preconceptions did not destroy my enjoyment of the film at all.

ANNA KARENINA Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 193 days ago

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Tackling a seminal work of fiction always presents a filmmaker with a unique set of challenges, even more so than book adaptations in general.  For director Joe Wright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard on Anna Karenina, those included not only condensing a mammoth book into a slightly over two-hour movie but doing so in a manner that stood out from the numerous previous adaptations.  The result is a mixed bag with many parts to love individually but a whole that simply falls short. 

TO ROME WITH LOVE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 206 days ago

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Woody Allen seems to elicit strong responses from a large majority of cinephiles, either rapid fandom or extreme distaste. The middle ground, of which I am a member, is relatively small.  I have always taken each Allen film on its individual merits.  Having absolutely loved Midnight in Paris, I eagerly anticipated To Rome With Love, hoping it would continue in that vein. Alas.

Hit the jump my review of To Rome with Love on Blu-ray.

A CAT IN PARIS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 304 days ago

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Traditional animation has sadly been all but lost amidst the explosion of computer-generated “big Hollywood” cartoons over the last 15 years.  Even films such as The Princess and the Frog were CG made to look like it was old-school 2D.  Those hand-drawn films that have crept into the US theatrical distribution pipeline recently have largely been imports.  Oscar-nominated (Best Animated Feature Film, 2012) A Cat in Paris (Une vie de chat) is just such a movie ensuring that art form is not lost. Hit the jump for my review of A Cat in Paris on Blu-ray. 

TERMINATOR ANTHOLOGY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 343 days ago

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Movie series take many forms. Some, such as James Bond, are almost like non-episodic television, with very little connection between the individual films save for the primary character. On the other end of the spectrum is The Lord of the Rings series, serialized from start to finish, shot together and released on a schedule to maximize such. Somewhere in between lies the Terminator series, available now in the 5-disc Blu-ray box set Terminator Anthology.

What is interesting about the Terminator series as a collection of films is that they at once have that interconnectedness of story, due to their epic scope spanning the series, and episodic individuality, due not only to the vast periods of time that pass in between each story and the movies’ releases.  Hit the jump for my review of the box set.

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 2 years, 47 days ago

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I have yet to embrace fully the mumblecore genre. I want to love it, having come of age as a filmmaker working on the indies of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, but perhaps that is my problem: I see mumblecore as the natural progression of so many films on which I crewed that never saw the light of day. Like any other genre, simply creating a movie and actually executing a good movie are two different things, and too often mumblecore-type pics feel like a means to an end rather than well-crafted films. Which does not mean the best of the bunch are not good, entertaining films, exactly how I felt about Jeff, Who Lives At Home (and I was not a fan of the Duplass brothers’ break-out picture, The Puffy Chair).  Hit the jump for my review of the Blu-ray.

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