Archive for category: by Sean Axmaker

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 18

18 April, 2014 (09:35) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links | By: Bruce Reid

“Using light or steam to kill seems slyly self-referential: these are cinematic deaths, almost death by cinematography.” Imogen Sara Smith tracks Anthony Mann’s progress through three genres he embraced successively—the documentary-inflected policiers; the noirs, which sank the straight-arrow posturing of cops-and-robbers under a moral murk; and the wracked emotional landscapes of the ‘50s westerns—showing how […]

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Videophiled Classic: ‘Cry Danger’ Restored and ‘Used Cars’ Revived on Blu-ray

17 April, 2014 (14:57) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Noir, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

You can thank The Film Noir Foundation for the rediscovery of Cry Danger (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD), the independently-produced 1951 film noir developed by star Dick Powell as a follow-up to Pitfall (1948). Like a lot of films made outside of the studio system, it fell through the cracks and was only recently restored by UCLA […]

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Videophiled: Ralph Fiennes is Charles Dickens in ‘The Invisible Woman’

15 April, 2014 (11:56) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

The Invisible Woman (Sony, Blu-ray+DVD Combo, Digital, On Demand) is a refreshingly mature adult drama of love and passion and society in 1880s England from director / star Ralph Fiennes. He plays Charles Dickens and Felicity Jones is the young actress Nelly Ternan, who became his mistress in a long-term love affair played out in […]

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MOD Movies: ‘The Big House,’ ‘5 Fingers,’ ‘Roadblock

13 April, 2014 (11:26) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Noir, Film Reviews, Pre-code Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The Big House: Triple Feature (Warner Archive) is a special edition for the MOD (manufacture-on-demand) line. The 1930 The Big House, directed by George Hill, is the original men-in-prison drama in terms of the way it established the conventions. There’s the pecking order of tough guys behind bars, the culture of loyalty, the sniveling snitches, […]

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 11

11 April, 2014 (10:58) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links | By: Bruce Reid

Joseph McBride provides the best writing yet on Too Much Johnson, showing how the footage looks back to Welles’s love of silent film and forward to the sexual frankness of his later films. He also speculates on how the film went “missing” all those years; which, considering McBride’s the one who rediscovered The Hearts of […]

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Videophiled: ‘The Hobbit’ meets Smaug, Claire Denis’ ‘Bastards’ and ‘A Touch of Sin’

8 April, 2014 (16:30) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (New Line, Blu-ray 3D Combo, Blu-ray Combo, DVD, Digital HD, On Demand) – “What have we done?” asks hardy hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) in the final seconds of the second film in the Hobbit trilogy. If by “we” he means Peter Jackson and company, then “we” have reimagined J.R.R. […]

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DVD: ‘I Am Divine’

7 April, 2014 (15:02) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Divine is, of course, the name of the most famous (or perhaps more accurately infamous) drag queen of the 1970s and 1980s, and the subtitle to Jeffrey Schwarz’s I Am Divine–”The True Story of the Most Beautiful Woman in the World”–comes right out of Divine’s stage show introduction. But the title is also a commentary […]

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Blu-ray: Lon Chaney’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’

6 April, 2014 (07:38) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Lon Chaney was the most unlikely of Hollywood superstar actors. Talented and ambitious, he fearlessly took on roles of tortured victims, twisted villains, and misshapen outcasts, parts that he brought to life with a mix of elaborate make-up, physically demanding incarnations, and emotionally intense performances. In some ways, you could see him as the De […]

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Blu-ray: ‘Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1′

5 April, 2014 (07:44) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

If you’re arriving late to class, here’s the recap: director / producer / modern B-movie legend Lloyd Kaufman directed the original Class of Nuke ‘Em High, a flamboyantly grotesque parody of high school movies and radioactive mutant horror, in 1986. The premise: a high school in Tromaville, the most toxic city in America, is located […]

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 4

4 April, 2014 (11:10) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links | By: Bruce Reid

With so many silent film rediscoveries of late stemming from the antipodal regions of New Zealand and Argentina, it’s almost charmingly old-fashioned to have a treasure pop up in the Netherlands. Amsterdam’s EYE Filmmusem announced last week they’d uncovered a number of comedy and documentary shorts from America, including Mickey Rooney’s first starring role and […]

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Videodrone Classic: ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’

3 April, 2014 (08:38) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Sam Peckinpah | By: Sean Axmaker

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Twilight Time, Blu-Ray), one of Sam Peckinpah’s personal favorites of his films (and the rare Peckinpah film not to get reworked by the studio), opens on an idyllic river scene with a pregnant girl soaking her feet in the lazy current with a beatific smile on her face. […]

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Videophiled Essential: Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Persona’

2 April, 2014 (09:04) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

The greatest leap in home video technology since Criterion released its first DVDs 15 years ago or so is the amazing improvement in mastering technology. With the digital revolution making digital prints the standard for cinema projection, the combination of elevates standards for film-to-digital quality and the HD standard of Blu-ray has brought near-cinema quality […]

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Blu-ray/DVD: ‘Knights of Badassdom’

1 April, 2014 (08:44) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Knights of Badassdom (eOne, Blu-ray, DVD), a modest little horror comedy set in the fantasy gaming LARP (that’s Live Action Role Playing) culture, has a good time sending up its obsessive nerds and cosplay veterans gathered for a weekend championship of stage combat and mock-Shakespearean patter. Then it unleashes a succubus from hell on them. […]

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DVD: ‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’

31 March, 2014 (15:59) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

The title of the The Broken Circle Breakdown, a major hit in its native Belgium and an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film in the U.S., is a riff on the American country spiritual “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” This is the story of a great love and a devastating loss, and it indeed […]

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Blu-ray: ‘Dead Kids’ (aka ‘Strange Behavior’)

31 March, 2014 (06:57) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Horror | By: Sean Axmaker

Originally released in the U.S. under the name Strange Behavior, Dead Kids is the debut screenplay by future director and Oscar-winning screenwriter Bill Condon (he Oscared for Gods and Monsters) and the directorial debut of producer Michael Laughlin (Two-Lane Blacktop), two Americans who got their offbeat horror movie made by filming it as an Australian […]

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