Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Documentary, Film Reviews, Musicals

Film Review: ‘Lambert & Stamp’

Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert

You could be forgiven for assuming that Lambert and Stamp are some forgotten folk-rock duo of the Peter & Gordon variety. Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were part of London’s ’60s rock scene, though not as performers but as managers, promoters, producers, and mentors. They helped transform a mod-favorite club band called The High Numbers into The Who, nurtured the songwriting talents of Pete Townsend, and supported the band until its breakthrough.

They are a colorful pair with an interesting story. Lambert, the posh, Oxford-educated son of a classical-music conductor, and Stamp, a working-class bloke and younger brother of Terence Stamp, were aspiring filmmakers when they met as assistants at Shepperton Studios.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews

Videophiled: ‘Frozen,’ ‘American Hustle’ and more New Releases

AmericanHustleAmerican Hustle (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, VOD, On Demand) was this year’s Oscar bridesmaid with ten nominations and no wins. No shame in that for it is an entertaining, energetic, and very clever take on the real-life Abscam sting operation put in motion by the FBI with the help of a Jersey con artist and his British partner. As the film promises right up front: “Some of this stuff actually happened.”

Leading actors Christian Bale and Amy Adams (playing the con artist couple) and supporting performers Bradley Cooper (as the FBI agent) and Jennifer Lawrence (as Bale’s dizzy young wife) all earned Oscar nominations, as did director David O. Russell and screenwriters Russell and Eric Warren Singer, and the film was one of nine nominees for Best Picture.

Blu-ray and DVD with a featurette and 11 deleted and extended scenes. The Blu-ray also features a bonus DVD and Ultraviolet Digital copy of the film.

More details at Cinephiled

FrozenFrozen (Disney, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, On Demand) comes to home video with two Oscar wins, for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Let it Go”), under its sash. Disney Animation isn’t about to this success go: this is their most successful animated feature in years and their best animated musical since The Lion King. And they did it by giving reworking the tragic fairy tale “The Snow Queen” into a dynamic story of Disney Princess sisters who find their strength not in a savior prince but within themselves, and more importantly in the strength of their bond. Plus there’s a goofy snowman sidekick, a reindeer with the personality of puppy, and a really cool ice palace. Kristin Bell and Idina Menzel voice sisters Anna and Elsa and Josh Gad voices the talking snowman Olaf.

WhoTommyThe Who: Sensation – The Story of Tommy (Eagle Rock, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital) is the latest of the “Classic Albums” series of BBC documentaries to comes to stateside home video in an expanded edition. Like the best of these programs, it offers a snapshot of the band’s career while focusing on a significant turning point, in this case one of the most unique projects in the history in of rock and roll: the first rock opera. It tackles the album song by song, with new interviews with Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey along with various music journalists and historians, and fills in a portrait of a band in transition from a purveyor of hit singles to pioneers of a more sophisticated brand of music, yet were still the die-hard rockers determined to perform their work in front of a live audience. The disc also features complete 35-minute appearance by The Who on the German rock TV show Beat Club in 1969 (brief clips of it can be seen in The Kids Are Alright) as a supplement.

More New Releases at Cinephiled

Posted in: Film Reviews, Musicals

Review: Quadrophenia

[Originally published in Movietone News 64-65, March 1980]

The movie starts out with a pretty good indication of what it’s going to be made of: A young man stares out over the golden ocean towards the sun, then turns and walks toward the camera, his silhouette remaining in the streak of sun on the waves. The camera tilts slightly so the sun is in the middle of the frame, and we cut suddenly to the front headlight of a motor scooter, charging forward at the reeling camera and driven by the same young man. Energy: that’s what Quadrophenia is about and what it is made up of. The characters in the story, British kids in the early-to-mid-Sixties, pour their energies into pills, violence, and sex, and into the collective search for self that found its expression in being part of a group—in this case, either of two extremist music factions: the rockers (getting behind Gene Vincent and traditional rock’n’roll) or the mods (The Who and the Kinks). We focus on one denizen of this world, a boy, Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels), who finds a more important family within the mods than he does at home, and who is happiest when popping blues and starting fights. Director Franc Roddam manages to make Jimmy a sympathetic character as we examine his isolation amid the spurious togetherness of the mods, and his search for identity. Yet unlike the James Dean character in Rebel without a Cause (which this film echoes occasionally), Jimmy doesn’t always seem to be aware of his own pathetic state. If he were a little more detached from his situation, we would at least have the feeling that there was a chance he’d break out of it. A shot of Jimmy sitting on his scooter, as we see his face reflected from four different angles in the rearview mirrors surrounding him, sums up his fragmentation: different sides, no center. His parents, who cannot understand (his father asks him “Who do yer think y’are, anyway?”—and Jimmy honestly does not know); the advertising agency for which he works, which manufactures images of phony-pretty reality; and his group, with their desperate/exultant dance after a riot, chanting “We are the mods!” repeatedly—they are all, as Rebel’s Jim had it, “tearing him apart.”

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