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

Blu-ray: Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Age of Innocence’

The Age of Innocence (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD)

Criterion Collection

The Age of Innocence (1993) is not the only costume drama or historical picture that Martin Scorsese made but it is his only classical literary adaptation from the filmmaker that, all these years later, we still remember for edgy violence and cinematic energy. But even from the director of The Last Temptation of ChristKundun, and Silence, this film stands out for its grace and nuance in its portrait of social intercourse as formal ritual.

Adapted from Edith Wharton’s novel by Jay Cocks and Scorsese and set in 19th century New York City, it stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, a respected lawyer and respectable member of elite society who is engaged to the beautiful young May (Winona Ryder) but falls in love with her cousin, the worldly Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). The American-born Ellen has spent the best years of her life in the social straightjacket of the European aristocracy and arrives home a stranger under the shadow of scandal, fleeing a bad marriage to a philandering European Count. At first Newland extends his friendship out of duty to May but soon finds Ellen’s honesty and insight refreshing and exciting. As he observes how his own society marks her as outcast he starts to see his own complicity in a social world just as petty and judgmental as the one Ellen has fled. That very complicity puts him at odds with his passions when he’s instructed to talk Ellen out of divorcing her husband and into returning to a loveless marriage to avoid tarnishing the family name. The same contract that he realizes he too will be entering.

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Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, screenings

The Seattle Cinema Scene: Thelma Schoonmaker Presents Michael Powell

Roger Livesey on the front lines of 'Colonel Blimp'

Oscar-winning film editor and longtime Martin Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker, who has been a frequent special guest at Seattle screenings over the past couple of decades, is coming to the Seattle Art Museum to introduce a newly restored 35mm print of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, directed by Michael Powell (her late husband) and Emeric Pressburger, and Peeping Tom, Powell’s 1960 psychodrama of sex, violence, and the cinema.

Blimp plays Tuesday, March 6 and Peeping Tom screens on Wednesday, March 7, both at 7:30 pm. Series tickets still available, and individual tickets may be purchased at the door (if they have not sold out). Details at the SAM website here, or call the SAM box office at 206-654-3121.

Between the films, Ms. Schoonmaker will make a special in-store appearance at Scarecrow Video to talk with customers and sign copies of her films. Wednesday, March 7 at 2pm. Details via Scarecrow here.

NWFF inaugurates its own late night series with a month of Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale, a pre-“Hunger Games” cult movie of teenage nihilism, adult paranoia, and social sadism revolving around a lottery that sends a randomly-picked high school class to a deserted island for a fight to the death. Call it “Rebel Without a Chance”: part Lord of the Flies, part Massacre at Central High, part Peter Watkins social commentary as a Japanese manga turned nihilistic video game. The 2000 film from Japan never received a formal American release—distributors were too anxious about the subject matter in the wake of Columbine—and still hasn’t been officially released on home video in the U.S. (but it’s coming soon). The Film Forum screenings are from a Blu-ray. More at NWFF here.

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