Videophiled Classic: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

9 August, 2014 (11:13) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

WitnessProsecutionThe new Kino Lorber Studio Classics line follows the model that Olive initiated with its releases from the Paramount catalog. Kino’s licensing deal with MGM (the current MGM entity, which is largely made up of United Artists productions; the grand old MGM studio library belongs to Warner) gives them access to the new high-definition masters from a portion of the catalog as well as access to elements to create new HD masters, plus access to select supplements from previous disc releases. Kino has been expanding in the home video market in the last few years, striking releasing deals with Britain’s Redemption and producer Alfred Leone and distribution deals with Raro Video, Palisades Tartan, and Scorpion. This new deal, no surprise, was announced after Frank Tarzi left Olive, where he was the label’s head of acquisitions, and joined Kino. More than 40 releases have been announced through the end of 2014 via their dedicated Facebook page, with eight films rolling out in the first wave. I held my request to five discs and was (for the most part) well pleased with the quality I saw in these.

“Classics” is of course a fungible term, meaning everything from acknowledged masterpiece to practically anything more than 25 or 30 years old. The eight film of the first wave are largely plucked from the fifties and sixties, with a mix of acknowledged classics, award winners, and genre pictures. But for me, the highlights of the debut wave are two by Billy Wilder: Witness for the Prosecution (1957) and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970).

Based on the stage play by Agatha Christie, Witness for the Prosecution (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD) isn’t opened up for the screen so much as it is perked up with witty dialogue and wily characterizations, two strengths of Wilder and writing and producing partner I.A.L. Diamond. Charles Laughton plays the legendary barrister who defies doctor’s order and a heart condition to defend amiable but shiftless American Tyrone Power from a murder charge and Marlene Dietrich plays his German wife, a cool, suspicious character whose testimony seems to doom Power’s chances of acquittal. Of course, it’s a Christie plot so nothing is that simple, especially when incriminating letters are discovered, but the plot and the succession of twists is less interesting than the characters.

Continue reading at Cinephiled

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 8

8 August, 2014 (10:27) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links | By: Bruce Reid

‘Score’

“Those who dismiss Metzger’s films as stylish but low-brow are at best uninformed and at worst snobs. For the bulk of a 25-year career, he staked a claim on a shifting territory and worked it with intelligence and a certain Continental flair that was equal parts inclination and practicality (the dollar went further in Europe than it did at home).” The latest beneficiary of a Lincoln Center revival is softcore maestro Radley Metzger, whose career gets an appreciative overview from Maitland McDonagh. The director himself sits down with Steve MacFarlane for an interview that makes clear how ambitious a filmmaker he was—and how pragmatically adaptable. (“A well-known critic died recently, and someone sent me some of his early reviews of my pictures, and they were astounding in the fact that they never reviewed the film; they reviewed the climate of the times, the amount of nudity, whatever, but the essential structure of the film, or the acting—none of that was referred to. Except trying to make it kind of a silly show. It came with the territory.”)

Or maybe you prefer your erotica less Continental and more Far East? David Hudson passes on news that the anthology The Pink Book: The Japanese Eroducation and Its Contexts—with essays from contributors including Kimata Kimihiko, Andrew Grossman, and Donald Richie—is available as a free download. (Click through for .pdf or ePub).

Rick Paulas—who deserves praise both for kicking off with nicely terse hard-boiled prose and for dropping the conceit before it gets old—relates the gambles, bureaucratic hurdles, and dead ends involved in the restoration game, telling how Noir City’s Eddie Muller went about securing a print of Too Late for Tears. Via Vadim Rizov.

‘Out 1′

In a video and written essay, Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin lay out the avant-garde theatrical influences at play (crucial word) in Rivette’s Out 1.

As Ben Sachs explains, Richard Linklater has never been one to wear his cinephilia on his sleeve, preferring to treat his references “more like personal talismans, tucked into the work for his own satisfaction.” So a backwards tracking shot of a couple walking in Boyhood maybe doesn’t immediately bring Fassbinder to mind, but Sachs is convinced, and convincing, that the allusion is there.

David Mermelstein reminds us that movies set in the past have much more to say about their present, tracing the varied purposes of the World War I film as the events themselves receded into history. Via Criterion.

It may seem contrary to the Altman ethic to single out one performance from the teeming drift of his ensembles; but a great exception has always been Lily Tomlin in Nashville, as Michael Koresky notes, “an emotional anchor in a film full of wayward souls and pompous pills.”

You have to root for it through some strained jocularity (as was ever the case with Reynolds), but there’s a certain wintry nobility in Gaspar González’s story of Burt Reynolds teaching acting in Lake Park, Florida, the erstwhile biggest star in the world, having outlived not only his career but most of his friends, returning in twilight to the scene of his first triumphs. Via Matt Singer.

The back of 125 Christopher St.

“Let’s go down to the garden and find out what’s buried there.” “Why not? I always wanted to meet Mrs. Thorwald.” Lou Lumenick visits 125 Christopher St., inspiration for L. B. Jefferies’s apartment and courtyard in Rear Window, and later, in homage, shooting location for Serpico and Manhattan Murder Mystery.

“I think my actors or my crew do not respect me because I have been athletic before in my life. It’s something much, much deeper. It’s experience in life, it’s how you see the world, and it’s how you can transform everyone on the set into what is the very best in him or her. And I can do that. That’s what I get paid for. Insight. Things that I see. And others do not see.” For someone who has always emphasized the importance, even the necessity, of the visual, Werner Herzog remains the most deliciously quotable of directors, whether talking (with Steve Marsh) about the virtues of traveling on foot, the blessing of being fatherless in post-war Germany, his hatred of drugs or his love of Mel Brooks. He even gets off a great one-liner about how quotable he is.

“But I just don’t think it’s realistic now to think that the kind of film culture that really gave us Scorsese, Coppola, Malick or any of the great foreign directors… Wertmuller, Bergman… is going to be there in years to come, because it’s already gone. It’s already in the rear-view mirror. But I think there are good things about where we are now too, and one thing I’ve been focused on lately is documentaries.” Fifteen years after his prescient essay “Death of Film/Decay of Cinema” Godfrey Cheshire talks to Matt Zoller Seitz about how much he got right, the few things he got wrong, and how TV and social media changed the landscape in ways no one could have predicted.

Main title card for Tarsem’s ‘Immortals’

“After viewing a cut of the film, I thought the titles should be as secretive as the story and the characters. I suggested the thinnest weight of Helvetica in caps and lowercase to represent the anonymous nature of the characters. They had to be very quiet as they entered, small and elegant and almost unnoticed.” Art of the Title has a pair of interesting interviews about credit typographies that couldn’t be farther apart. Dan Perri, quoted above, talks with Ian Albinson about his deliberately almost subliminal credits for All the President’s Men. And Stefan Bucher tells Alexander Ulloa and Lola Landekic about designing titles for the movies of Tarsem that play as beautiful and elegant as the director’s images themselves. (Just so we’re clear, his words not mine.) Related: title designer Karin Fong describes what makes a great credit sequence, and how sometimes even the perfect idea has to go when it introduces too much too early. Via It’s Nice That.

Fiction: “0:37 – 0:39. A schoolroom. An elderly woman speaks to survivors. Hers is the voice of the V/O. She says, ‘Life adapts.’ 0:40 – 0:44 V/O: ‘So does death.’ Zombie alone on the flat roof of a tower. Looks down at humans on the street. Grabs its own solar plexus with both hands and tenses.” China Miéville’s short story “Trailer—“The Crawl”,” which transcribes the events of a trailer advertising a film about a zombie civil war, provides both a knowing skewering of movie hype and a vision so out there it’s equal isn’t likely any time soon even with our current flood of walking dead stories. Via Longform.

Metzger was always fond of roundelay structure, so let’s end where we began, with Adrian Curry’s collection of posters from Audubon Films releases demonstrating the man knows how to sell films nearly as well as make them.

Marilyn Burns

Obituary

Marilyn Burns, the original “final girl” of horror cinema, survived Tobe Hooper’s iconic original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). She also appeared in Hooper’s Eaten Alive (1977) and the TV miniseries Helter Skelter (1976). She passed away this week at the age of 65. More from The Hollywood Reporter.

Seattle Screens

The longest-running film noir series in America is back for it’s 37th year at the Seattle Art Museum this fall, opening on Thursday, September 25 with John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon, and plays on successive Thursday through December. All film are showing on 35mm, just as they showed to darkened theaters back in the day.

Series tickets are now on sale at Seattle Art Museum and Scarecrow Video.

The schedule:

Sept 25: The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941). Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook, Jr. From the Library of Congress. 100 min.

Oct 2: Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming. From the Library of Congress. 96 min.

Oct 16: He Walked By Night (Alfred Werker, 1949). Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell, Jack Webb. Cinematography was done by that master of film noir lighting, John Alton. 79 min.

Oct 23: Abandoned (Joseph M. Newman, 1949). Dennis O’Keefe, Gale Storm, Jeff Chandler, Raymond Burr. 80 min.

Oct 30: Shakedown (Joe Pevney, 1950). Howard Duff, Brian Donlevy, Peggy Dow, Lawrence Tierney.     80 min.

Nov 6: 711 Ocean Drive (Joseph M. Newman, 1950). Edmond O’Brien, Joanne Dru, Don Porter, Sammy White. 102 min.

Nov 20: The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955). Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy, Jean Wallace, Lee Van Cleef, Earl Holliman. Cinematography by John Alton, music by David Raksin (Laura). Restored by the UCLA Film Archive. 89 min.

Dec 11: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Arnold Laven, 1957). Richard Egan, Jan Sterling, Dan Duryea, Walter Matthau. 103 min.

Dec 18: House of Games (David Mamet, 1987). Lindsay Crouse, Joe Mantegna, Mike Nussbaum, Ricky Jay, Lilia Skala, J.T. Walsh, William H. Macy. Written by David Mamet and filmed in Seattle, often near where we’ll be watching the film. 101 min.

The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker, and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Film Review: ‘Magic in the Moonlight’

8 August, 2014 (07:07) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Emma Stone and Colin Firth

The new Woody Allen movie has the flaws that have become familiar in the latter part of his career: slack pacing, too much exposition, and a big age discrepancy between leading man and lady. I must be worn down by all that, because I truly enjoyed Magic in the Moonlight. The exposition’s still a problem — Allen’s script must explain the premise a dozen times — but here the languid pacing is just the right rhythm for this sunny dream of a film.

The setting is 1920s France, where a famous magician, Stanley (Colin Firth), takes on a challenge. Along with making elephants disappear on stage, he’s known offstage as a great debunker of frauds and charlatans.

Continue reading at The Herald

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Film Review: ‘Into the Storm’

8 August, 2014 (05:53) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

The storm chasers of ‘Into the Storm’

If you ever sat around daydreaming and thought, “I wonder what a tornado looks like on fire?”, the movie you’ve been waiting for is here. No, this is not a Syfy original TV-film, and there are neither sharks nor wicked witches in the waterspout. (Every review of Into the Storm is obligated to mention Sharknado and The Wizard of Oz, so we can now proceed.)

The scene in question takes place at a gas station. A truck spills its unleaded, downed power lines ignite the gas, and the tornado catches on fire. Which looks pretty cool, unless you’re the videographer sucked up into the flaming spout. Into the Storm is full of scenes like this, and they are why people will see the movie. Sadly, the mayhem is periodically interrupted by scenes of people talking, although I use the terms “people” and “talking” loosely.

Continue reading at The Herald

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Videophiled Classic: Brian DePalma’s ‘Phantom of the Paradise’

7 August, 2014 (17:04) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

PhantomParadisePhantom of the Paradise: Collector’s Edition (Shout Factory, Blu-ray) – Brian De Palma’s wild rock and roll remake of Phantom of the Opera by way of Faust, The Picture of Dorian Grey, and The Count of Monte Cristo plays like a decadent glam inversion of Jesus Christ Superstar. Paul Williams (who also wrote the dynamic, Oscar-nominated score and songs) stars as Swan, the evil record tycoon (in the opening scene he parodies Marlon Brando from The Godfather) who steals a rock and roll cantata from a sad sack singer / songwriter (William Finley), who transforms into vengeance-filled, hideously scarred monster in love with ingénue Jessica Harper. This outrageous, over-the-top fantasy, done up in real De Palma style (his love of split screen technique finds a new outlet in the video monitors of Swan’s voyeuristic headquarters), is a spirited satire with wild rock and roll numbers and his most sensitive love story.

Shout Factory’s transfer is from a new HD master and released under their Scream Factory imprint, and they do something novel with the Blu-ray+DVD Combo edition. There are so many supplements in this edition, most of them created for this edition by Shout and all of them new to American home video, that they are split between the two discs.

So you get the two exclusive commentary tracks – one with stars Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, and Archie Hahn, Jeffrey Comanor and Peter Elbling (aka the Juicy Fruits), the other with production designer Jack Fisk – on the Blu-ray along with generous new interviews with director Brian DePalma and star / composer Paul Williams and a short piece with make-up artist Tom Burman (focusing on the distinctive mask), plus 26 minutes of alternate takes (presented in split screen to compare to the footage used in the film) and seven minutes of outtakes (showing changes made to cover a post-production change in the name of the record company).

The DVD features the balance of the supplements. The 50-minute documentary “Paradise Regained,” which features interviews with De Palma, producer Edward R. Pressman, and stars Williams, Harper, Graham, and the last William Finley, and the 72-minute interview with Paul Williams conducted by Guillermo Del Toro were both featured on the British Blu-ray released by Arrow earlier this year and licensed for this disc, along with an archival interview with costume designer Rosanna Norton and a little 30-second clip with William Finley and the Phantom action figure. Also new to this release are interviews with producer Edward R. Pressman and drummer Gary Mallaber, a guide through the poster design by the artist’s widow, and Gerrit Graham reading a bio he wrote for the film’s press kit.

More classic and cult releases on Blu-ray and DVD at Cinephiled

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Film Review: ‘Double Play’

7 August, 2014 (06:26) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Richard Linklater and James Benning

Watching two film directors play catch is not a guarantee of interest. Put Brett Ratner and Jean-Luc Godard in a field with a couple of mitts and a baseball, and things could get ugly fast. But when the players are Richard Linklater and James Benning, the back-and-forth tossing becomes contemplative, a spur to ideas, and a salute to the value of getting in a good groove. Plus, both men have baseball in their blood—they both went to college on baseball scholarships, and have made films on the sport—so they actually know what they’re doing.

The simplicity of such a sequence fits the mood of this documentary by film critic Gabe Klinger.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Film Review: ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’

7 August, 2014 (06:21) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Charlotte Le Bon and Helen Mirren

If you were working from a menu of “crowd-pleasing movie conventions,” you could do worse than to mark these boxes: the South of France, food, Indian culture, Helen Mirren. Mix with a generous amount of sugar and a brief nod to social concern, and you’ll have a surefire profit machine that goes by the title The Hundred-Foot Journey.

To be sure, this film doesn’t stumble into its formula by mere calculation. There’s a great deal of expertise involved: Director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules, etc.) knows how to keep things tidy, and screenwriter Steven Knight has the fine Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things to his credit.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Film Review: ‘What If’

7 August, 2014 (06:19) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan

The underlying subject of many romantic comedies is chemistry, the mysterious rapport that draws people together despite whatever circumstances—being already married, having different sexual orientations—might be working against them. It’s a tough thing to simulate in movies because, well, that’s the nature of chemistry. So What If has a sizable gift in the casting of Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, who either have terrific chemistry together or are able to fake it expertly.

In the opening scene, their characters, Wallace and Chantry, bond over refrigerator magnets at a party and he walks her home. She mentions her boyfriend at the usual moment for such things, and that becomes the major impediment to a quick resolution of this mutual-attraction club.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Review: ‘Donkey Skin’

6 August, 2014 (09:15) | by Richard T. Jameson, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Richard T. Jameson

[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975]

Jacques Demy’s best films—Lola, The Young Girls of Rochefort—wave the silk scarf of an absurd romanticism so expertly over the abrasive realities of The World We Live In—unwanted pregnancies, painful, irrational separations, grotesquely violent death—that our appreciation of both textures is deeply enhanced in the delirious cinematic process. Donkey Skin, his 1970 retelling of the Perreault fairy tale, almost entirely lacks this sense of imaginative play and stylistic chance-taking. As such, it makes for a pre-afternoon-nap children’s story more elaborately visualized than most, but serves little other purpose.

Read more »

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Videophiled Classic: ‘The Essential Jacques Demy’

3 August, 2014 (19:36) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

JacquesDemyThe Essential Jacques Demy (Criterion, Blu-Ray+DVD Dual-Format set) collects six features and a few early shorts from the Nouvelle Vague‘s sadder-but-wiser romantic. It’s not my intention to rate him against the movement’s most famous filmmakers – Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol, Rohmer, Rivette, Varda – but just to find his place among them. Like so many of his fellow directors, Rivette loved American movies, especially musicals, but his taste for American musicals and candy-colored romance was balanced with a bittersweet sensibility. For all the energizing music and dreamy love affairs, his romances more often than not don’t really get happy endings.

Criterion’s 13-disc set, one of their last to come out in the Blu-Ray+DVD Dual-Format, picks six of his defining films from his 1961 debut to his 1982 Une Chambre en Ville, which makes its American home video debut in this set, all transferred from restored and remastered HD editions.

Lola (1961) is a bittersweet musical without the music, lovingly shot in Demy’s hometown of Nantes in black and white CinemaScope by Nouvelle Vague master Raoul Coutard, and set to a lovely score by Michel Legrand. Anouk Aimee, whose appearance in lacy tights, boa, and top hat made her an eternal pin-up dream, is a single mother looking for the father of her child in the port towns of Nantes. As in so many of his films, Demy reveals himself as both eager romantic and sadder-but-wiser realist, and for all the dashed dreams of the film it still manages to have its swoony romantic fantasy come true.

Continue reading at Cinephiled

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Who are the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’?

1 August, 2014 (17:28) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

So you know Captain America and Thor and Spider-Man and all those cool mutants from The X-Men. But just who are these Guardians of the Galaxy, as in the stars of the new film opening Friday? Some interstellar Avengers spin-off? Rejects from a Star Wars sequel? Are they even superheroes?

Marvel Comics is taking a big leap outside of its comfort zone of fan-favorite costumed heroes with this fairly obscure group of oddball anti-heroes. If early buzz and initial reviews are any indication, it’s going to pay off. The Guardians of the Galaxy promises to be the liveliest, most playful cosmic blast since the first Star Wars.

You don’t need to know the players to enjoy the ride, but all of the maverick characters had a history in Marvel comics before writer Dan Abnett and artist Andy Lanning plucked them from various corners of the Marvel Universe, tossed them together, shook vigorously, and sent them to the far reaches of the galaxy in 2007. Here’s a quick introduction to the team.

IMAGE: Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt stars as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Marvel Studios

Peter Quill / Star-Lord, aka the human one (Chris Pratt)

Marvel-ous backstory: Introduced in 1976, the original Star-Lord was a NASA astronaut who was transformed into an intergalactic hero by mysterious forces.

Movie origins: Self-proclaimed galactic outlaw Peter Quill was orphaned young and scooped up into space by intergalactic soldiers of fortune. No surprise he grew up reckless, cocky and mercenary.

He got skills: He’s a marksman, a daredevil space jockey, and a con man. And he travels with his own soundtrack of 1970s pop tunes.

Heroic precedent: The charming rogue-for-hire with a souped-up space ship and a soft spot for underdogs is in the Han Solo mold with a dash of Captain Kirk. He does have that thing for green-skinned chicks, after all. Which brings us to…

Continue reading at Today.com

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 1

1 August, 2014 (10:39) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links | By: Bruce Reid

Claude Chabrol and Isabelle Huppert on the set of ‘Comedy of ‘Power

There are filmmakers so effortless, with careers unruffled by the type of obstacles and struggles that make for compelling narratives in their own right, that their reputations must be constantly shored up against those willing to airily dismiss them. Consider Claude Chabrol, in whose late, little-discussed films, a string from The Color of Lies to Inspector Bellamy, Jonathan Kirshner finds so much to admire and marvel at, well, why not call them masterpieces?

“If we are to understand Legrand’s canonization of Hajji Baba, we must understand it as championing an intoxicant, imagist cinema over a sober, responsible cinema. Because films like I Love Melvin and Hajji Baba have no redeeming social value beyond their cinematic brio, they are ideal rallying points for anyone championing “movies for movies’ sake,” as Hoberman and Rosenbaum identify the MacMahonist creed in Midnight Movies.” And then there are reputations that were ever burnished only by a cult, and have faded to obscurity. Nick Pinkerton can’t call himself a full convert to the cinema of Don Weis—he admits there’s so much to go through, especially if you count the TV work—but a screening of the director’s two iconic oddities has him understanding the fascination he held for a small band of ‘50s film critics.

Certain incidents on the set of Passion of the Christ—including dangerous lightning strikes—were taken by the more devout members of cast and crew as literal Satanic efforts to prevent the film from being made. If there’s any truth to that, the saga of Passion screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald’s attempt to make a prequel on the life of Mary, which as Luke Dittrich relates includes lawsuits, extortion, and prison terms, has to be chalked up a clear victory for Mr. Scratch. Via Matt Singer.

Read more »

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Film Review: ‘Get On Up’

1 August, 2014 (08:10) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert Horton

Chadwick Boseman is James Brown

No screenwriter or director could possibly tie together the unlikely, turbulent life of James Brown — Soul Brother No. 1, the Godfather of Soul, the hardest-working man in show business. But maybe an actor could.

As though to acknowledge Brown’s brilliant and bizarre life, the makers of Get on Up present their story in a fragmented, time-jumping fashion. The man is depicted as an enigma whose erratic adult behavior connects directly to his rough upbringing. This approach has its ups and downs, but at least it isn’t just the same old showbiz rise-and-fall musical biopic. By skipping back and forth in time, we get the idea that Brown never escaped the harshness of his Georgia youth.

Whatever the riddle at Brown’s core, Chadwick Boseman has his pulse. The actor played Jackie Robinson in last year’s 42, and he gives another committed physical performance here.

Continue reading at The Herald

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Videophiled Classic: ‘Herzog: The Collection’

31 July, 2014 (19:02) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Werner Herzog | By: Sean Axmaker

Herzog CollectionHerzog: The Collection (Shout Factory, Blu-ray) is the biggest Blu-ray box set to get released this year. The collection presents 16 films on 13 discs spanning three decades, from his second feature Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) to his documentary tribute / remembrance My Best Fiend (1999), which profiles his long, turbulent personal and professional relationship with Klaus Kinski. Apart from Nosferatu the Vampyre, the films all make their respective Blu-ray debuts in the U.S., mastered from new digital transfers produced by Herzog and supervised by Herzog’s longtime producer Lucki Stipetic. Some of the discs look better than others and

It’s not even close to Herzog’s complete output and it leaves out many of Herzog’s most interesting and offbeat non-fiction films (perhaps a second volume will follow if sales are good enough?) but it includes the major films Herzog created in the period, including both the German and English language versions of Nosferatu, which Herzog shot concurrently.

The films in the set were produced and financed by Herzog and he remains ownership of them all. Let’s take a tour through them. Not necessarily in chronological order.

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) is the earliest film on the disc and Herzog’s second feature, and Fata Morgana (1971), is his third fiction feature, a dreamy non-narrative meditation on the beauty of the Saharan Desert and the garbage brought to it by humanity. Both of these films, by the way, have commentary by Herzog in conversation with Crispin Glover, which is a highlight all in itself.

Werner Herzog’s breakthrough film Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) is an astounding vision of imperialism run amuck in the primitive, savage Eden of 15th century Peru and the film still entranced four decades thanks to the vivid, visceral filmmaking. It’s also Herzog’s first collaboration with madman and meglomaniac star Klaus Kinski, who delivered the most expressive performances that visionary director Werner Herzog ever put to film. Herzog in return gave Kinski his boldest roles. This collection features all five collaborations between the director and the actor, plus Herzog’s documentary tribute to the actor.

Continue reading at Cinephiled

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email

Film Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

31 July, 2014 (06:58) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Science Fiction | By: Sean Axmaker

Chris Pratt is Star-Lord.

The giant apparatus required to create a 21st-century comic-book/sci-fi/action movie is expensive and unwieldy. Little wonder so many of these behemoths eventually collapse under their own weight, content to destroy a city while laboriously setting up the next installment in the franchise. Even the good stuff—Robert Downey Jr.’s antic presence in the first Iron Man, or the cheeky political thrust of Captain America: The Winter Soldier—must make way for grim destruction.

Therefore, give thanks to the Marvel gods for Guardians of the Galaxy. If you’ve ever had to suppress a giggle at the sight of Thor’s mighty hammer, this movie will provide a refreshing palate-cleanser

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email