by     Posted 2 years, 126 days ago


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.


by     Posted 2 years, 141 days ago


A few reviews back I wrote about how interesting it is to revisit a film I watched once many years ago and haven’t seen since.  It is a far different experience than viewing a new film, an old film one has never seen, or even an older film one has watched repeatedly.  Chariots of Fire was another such movie for me, and it has not aged a day.  Hit the jump for my review of Chariots of Fire on Blu-ray. 

ALBERT NOBBS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 2 years, 179 days ago


A sad film about a sad woman who pays multiple prices—including, eventually, the ultimate price—for daring to pursue her dream…so sums up Rodrigo García’s Albert Nobbs.  And in that description lays the film’s primary disappointment.

Albert Nobbs stars Glenn Close as the titular character, a woman who has spent decades masquerading as a man to work as a waiter in a posh Dublin hotel.  Going into Albert Nobbs, it is not as if one expects an uplifting film.  But depressing movies with pained heroes are one thing. To be fair, the film is well-written, but what is frustrating about Albert Nobbs is seeing an already pained person pay such a high cost for daring to dream and make her life better.  What sort of theme is punishment for attempts at improvement?  Hit the jump for our Blu-ray review of Albert Nobbs.

WINGS Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 2 years, 292 days ago


It is a sad fact of film history that, for much of its existence, the movie studios did not appreciate the value of their creations as archive-worthy artistic endeavors—let alone public interest in props, costumes and other tools of the trade (which only truly came to the forefront during the famous 1970 MGM auction).  As such, many—and, in the case of silent films, the majority—movies have been lost for good.  Every now and then, one such lost work resurfaces, but those that do are fewer than not.  It is almost inconceivable to us now that, of all movies, the very first Oscar winner for Best Picture (then “Best Picture, Production”), William A. Wellman’s Wings, could at one time have been lost, but such was indeed the case.  Fortunately for future cinephile generations, Wings is also among the few lost films that have been found.  Hit the jump for our review of the Blu-ray.

DESIGN FOR LIVING Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 2 years, 346 days ago

When those of us who have grown up watching modern cinema view pre-Production Code movies, it can be easy for us to ask, “What’s the big deal?”  By today’s standards, much of what was considered “morally questionable” enough to spur the introduction of the Code in the 1920s would be considered laughably tame.  Every now and then, however, one has the opportunity to watch a pre-Code film that causes one to understand (with a nod to differing historical norms, of course) how certain movies could indeed generate such uproar.  Ernst Lubitsch’s Design for Living (based on Noel Coward’s play of the same name) is just such a film. Hit the jump for our review of the Criterion Blu-ray for Design for Living.

THE RULES OF THE GAME Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 2 years, 356 days ago


It is hard to believe that a film considered to be among the greatest of all time was not only ridiculed upon its initial release but also at one time lost for nearly twenty years.  But such was the case with Jean Renior’s The Rules of the Game, the negative for which was destroyed in World War II and the film not reconstructed until 1959 at which point it was recognized for the masterpiece that it is.  Hit the jump for my review of the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release.


by     Posted 3 years, 12 days ago

The mark of a truly classic film is that its themes and subject matter are timeless, relatable to each successive generation even if the direct circumstances have passed.  Cinema Paradiso falls perfectly into that mold.  I had often heard that Cinema Paradiso was cinema’s greatest ode to motion pictures, and such could not be more accurate. Hit the jump for our review of Cinema Paradiso on Blu-ray.

RIO Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 103 days ago


I love a good marketing campaign, whether it stems from a truly clever idea or creative cross-promotion.  Too often, however, the film (or other product, if we want to speak generally) does not live up to the work executed to promote it.  So when Rio teamed up with iPhone app uber-hit “Angry Birds”, 20th Century Fox hit marketing gold.  But what about the film itself?  My review after the jump.

JANE EYRE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 104 days ago


Literary adaptations are a mixed bag. A handful of such films (The Shining, for example) actually surpass the books upon which they are based.  Many more are plain awful.  And countless lit flicks—regardless of the films’ merits compared to those of the books—undergo such far-reaching changes, sacrifices and/or additions to make the stories more filmic as to be only loosely connected to their source material. Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, the latest of many filmed versions of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel, scores high marks both for quality and for being an extremely faithful adaptation. Hit the jump for my full Blu-ray review.

PLATOON 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 159 days ago


I always find it interesting to revisit a film that I watched only once as a kid and see how it holds up years later—particularly if I did in fact enjoy the movie. Does the film stand up to the test of time? Or were my expectations clouded by the transitory appreciations of youth? Platoon was one such movie that I had not seen since its original big screen release. 25 years later, it is still as powerful as ever. My review after the jump.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 209 days ago


Some films completely embody a time and place, a particular style or genre uniquely popular in that exact when and where.  Others land on those transition points between eras, exhibiting qualities of both the past and the future, belonging somewhat to both but not fully to either.  The film adaptation of the stage musical Fiddler on the Roof, released in 1971, falls into that latter category.   More after the jump.

SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 3 years, 222 days ago


When looking at the careers of legendary directors, writers and actors in retrospect, it can be interesting to analyze just what path they took before reaching greatness.  Today, Ingmar Bergman is internationally known as one of the great auteurs of all time.  But while he was already an established director for nine years in his native Sweden, it was not until his fifteenth film as director that Bergman achieved international acclaim in 1955.  That film was Smiles of a Summer Night.  Hit the jump for my review.

Federico Fellini’s THE CLOWNS DVD Review

by     Posted 3 years, 243 days ago


Every now and then one watches a film that takes a couple days to absorb. I am not just talking about dissecting and understanding—often the better the movie, the more that is revealed by further thought—but literally the most basic of conclusions, sometimes even so simple as whether one likes it or not. Federico Fellini’s The Clowns was just such a movie for me. The Clowns is Fellini’s filmic exploration of his own—and humanity’s—fascination with clowns and the circus (for those not familiar with Fellini’s work, clowns and the circus play prominently across his oeuvre).  For my DVD review of the film, join me after the break.


by     Posted 4 years, 46 days ago


Few film genres cover such a wide range of perspectives and styles as do those about war.  War movies range from those that glorify combat to those that reveal its deepest, darkest horrors; from those that take place direct on the battlefield to those that revolve around ancillary elements; and from those that are intensely patriotic to those that are pointedly critical of one’s own nation’s actions.  Nagisa Ôshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is a “war” film that explores the intense conflict between different cultural mores when those very mores themselves are being challenged by the brutal realities of a world at war.  My review after the jump:


by     Posted 4 years, 107 days ago

The transition from silent films to the “talkies” was difficult for many in the motion picture industry.  For many (particularly those in front of the camera), it would result in the death of their careers.  Others (particularly directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford and Cecil B. DeMille) would go on to bigger and better things in the sound era (Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford, among them).  Another such director was Josef von Sternberg, whose career began at the very end of the silent era, but whose brilliance was already apparent in the years leading up to the release of The Blue Angel.  Now, thanks to The Criterion Collection’s 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg box set, some of his early silent films are available in restored glory. My review after the jump:

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