Archive for category: by Sean Axmaker

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Blu-ray: ‘Face to Face’ and ‘A Reason to Live’ – The spaghetti western beyond Leone

23 August, 2015 (19:21) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Westerns | By: Sean Axmaker

The spaghetti western was not an inherently political genre but in the 600+ Italo-Westerns that poured out in the decade or so of its brief reign, among the shamelessly derivative pictures cranked out to cash in on the boom started by Sergio Leone’s international hit A Fistful of Dollars are a handful that draw upon […]

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All About Gregory: Two by Gregory Ratoff

23 August, 2015 (09:28) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

Who was Gregory Ratoff and why isn’t he better known? A Hollywood fixture on screen, behind the camera, and in Los Angeles society for more than thirty years during the heyday of the Hollywood culture factory, this stocky, stout Russian émigré made his screen debut in the David O. Selznick production Symphony of Six Million […]

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‘Days of Being Wild’ and Hong Kong’s New Wave

22 August, 2015 (02:57) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Hong Kong was the Hollywood of East Asia through the sixties and seventies, cranking out romances, melodramas, costume pictures, and especially martial arts action films. In the 1980s, the familiar style got an adrenaline boost when Tsui Hark returned from American film school with new ideas on moviemaking, and other young directors eager to make […]

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 21

21 August, 2015 (11:02) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links | By: Bruce Reid

“De Sica was an expert on the subject of being disregarded. His characters are invisible persons made visible to us. The lack of what would be, to others, very small sums of money drives them to desperation; the loss of a bicycle can destroy a whole life. Harried by oppression and poverty, his protagonists fall […]

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More Blu-rays from the Warner Archive – ’42nd Street,’ ‘Ladyhawke,’ and more

20 August, 2015 (16:17) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker | By: Sean Axmaker

Last year I surveyed a number of Blu-ray releases from the Warner Archive, which is predominantly a line of manufacture-on-demand DVD-Rs offering films that otherwise wouldn’t support a traditional DVD release. It also, however, releases a few choice Blu-rays each year. The difference between the formats is that the Blu-ray releases are in fact pressed discs […]

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Hotspots: Europe’s Sexy Seventies Horror

18 August, 2015 (09:29) | by Sean Axmaker, Horror | By: Sean Axmaker

A new subgenre opened up in the shadowy margins between art cinema and sexploitation in the new cinematic permissiveness of the seventies. In the U.S., it was mostly seen in grindhouse films from directors aspiring for something more meaningful (see Joe Sarno’s Sin in the Suburbs, 1964) or drive-in titillations from hungry young filmmakers with room […]

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Blu-ray: The original 1931 ‘The Front Page’ rescued from video neglect

12 August, 2015 (16:41) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

The Front Page (Kino Classics, Blu-ray, DVD) – The original 1931 screen version of the rapid-fire newspaper comedy written for the stage Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur stars Pat O’Brien as the crack reporter Hildy Johnson, ready to leave the beat for marriage and an office job, and Adolph Menjou as the crafty editor who […]

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 7

7 August, 2015 (00:05) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links, Obituary / Remembrance | By: Bruce Reid

“Malick’s three historical epics can be seen as extensions and refinements of the cinematic techniques and philosophical concerns initiated during the laborious filming and editing process for Days of Heaven (1978). Indeed, this was one of film critic Roger Ebert’s chief criticisms of The Thin Red Line; Ebert believed the film was uncertain and derivative. […]

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Blu-ray: ‘Night and the City,’ ‘He Ran All the Way,’ and more film noir debuts

5 August, 2015 (15:14) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Noir, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Just days after the final night in the Turner Classic Movies “Summer of Darkness” series—eight successive Fridays dedicated to film noir—comes the debut of four examples of the distinctly American film genre on Blu-ray, two of them making their first appearance on home video in any form in the U.S. Night and the City (Criterion, […]

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Blu-ray / DVD: ‘Cemetery Without Crosses’

1 August, 2015 (02:46) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Westerns | By: Sean Axmaker

A spaghetti western with French seasonings, Cemetery Without Crosses (1969) is a Franco-Italian co-production shot in Almeria, Spain, the definitive badlands landscape of the Euro-western. The director, screenwriters, two stars, and even composer are French and the supporting cast largely Italian. And while this is not shot in the widescreen dimension of CinemaScope, de rigueur […]

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of July 31

31 July, 2015 (10:52) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links, Obituary / Remembrance | By: Bruce Reid

“‘I die in Iron Man,’ says Sayed Badreya, an Egyptian man with a salt-and-pepper beard. ‘I die in Executive Decision. I get shot at by—what’s his name?—Kurt Russell. I get shot by everyone. George Clooney kills me in Three Kings. Arnold blows me up in True Lies…’ As Sayed and Waleed and the others describe […]

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Blu-ray / DVD: ‘Here Is Your Life’

26 July, 2015 (17:32) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD | By: Sean Axmaker

Here Is Your Life (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD), the 1966 feature debut of Swedish director Jan Troell, is ambitious by any measure: an epic (over two-and-a-half hours long) coming of age drama based on the semi-autobiographical novels by Nobel Prize-winning author Eyvind Johnson set in rural Sweden during the years of World War I. It was […]

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of July 24

24 July, 2015 (10:36) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links, Obituary / Remembrance, Seattle Screens | By: Bruce Reid

“Dickey wrote a long speech for himself to give as the sheriff. And Boorman was such a clever man and brilliant filmmaker he told him, ‘When you start this speech, you have to come to the front of the hood of the car and say that paragraph. Then come over to the window and talk […]

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of July 17

17 July, 2015 (11:17) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links, Obituary / Remembrance | By: Bruce Reid

“It’s important to read the first lines of the 1933 Maurice Walsh story on which the movie was based in light of the preceding two decades of revolutionary violence, and the generational curse of silence, disillusion, and suspicion that violence inspired…. The tone of those first lines muffles the triumphant peal of the story’s last […]

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DVD: ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’

14 July, 2015 (22:50) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Olivier Assayas wrote this drama about a veteran actress facing a transition in her career after Juliette Binoche, arguably France’s greatest and certainly most ambitious actress working today, challenged him to write a film centered on women. It was a friendly challenge—she had already starred in two films he wrote for director André Téchiné and […]

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