DVD & Blue Ray Archive for December, 2012

The DVD Wrapup

Cosmopolis, Looper, A Man Vanishes, Trouble With Bliss, War of the Dead, Justified, Climate of Doubt … and more.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Jean Gremillon During the Occupation

Jean Gremillon, a forgotten giant of French cinema, a genius as neglected in America as he is idolized in France, gets a long-overdue DVD revival in this superb package from Eclipse, Criterion’s budget-label-for-the-cognoscenti. The three films inside the box—Remorques (1941), Lumiere d’ete (1943) and Le Ciel est a Vous (1944)—may be little known to most of us, but they’re among the genuine French film classics of the Occupation years. And, if Gremillon is among the very best, so were the people with whom he worked.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

I don’t want to come across like an uptight philistine or a bourgeois simpleton, but the one thing this movie didn’t convince me about was the stature of Ai Weiwei’s art—which may be either my fault, or the film’s, or possibly Ai Weiwei‘s.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Words

    THE WORDS (Three Stars) U.S.: Directed & written by Brian Klugman & Lee Sternthal, 2012 (Sony) I have a confession to make. I didn’t write this review. As a youngster, I adored books and the words that made them up, loved the very feel of the pages on my fingers. Some of that…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Arbitrage; Ten Years

  ARBITRAGE (Three Stars) U.S.: Nicholas Jarecki, 2012 (Lions Gate) Arbitrage is a movie about big money and big crime in America, so naturally it’s set on Wall Street, a district and subculture awash in both. It’s also a picture that demonstrates how we tend to accept  people who do bad things s long as…

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Wilmington on DVDs: It’s a Wonderful Life

  PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC It’s a Wonderful Life (Also Blu-ray) (2 Disc Collector‘s Set) Four Stars U.S.; Frank Capra, 1946 (Paramount)  It’s a Wonderful Life is Frank Capra’s Yuletide masterpiece about George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a small-town guy on the edge of self-destruction, who is shown by a  pixilated guardian angel named Clarence (Henry…

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The DVD Wrapup: Gandu, Killer Joe, Wimpy Kid, Liberal Arts, Red Hook … More

If the distance between Mumbai and Calcutta can easily be measured in kilometers – 1,663, to be exact — the gap between Bollywood and the traditional Bengali cinema is every bit as wide. One is obsessed with romantic fantasy, while the other is more invested in real-life scenarios and everyday people. As wildly inventive as it is deliberately transgressive, “Gandu” widens that fissure with a study of urban youth so intense and disturbing that it could have emerged fully blown from the bowels of infamous Black Hole of Calcutta prison.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Trouble With the Curve

Trouble With the Curve is Eastwood’s first onscreen role since the valedictory-seeming tough guy-retiree part of Walt Kowalski in 2008’s Gran Torino. It’s a good role, and, for the most part, a good movie, even though it’s, at times, corny and predictable and full of clichés and a shameless star vehicle and yadda-yadda-yadda. Clichés don’t damage a movie as much as most people think though; what matters is how you play them. But if anyone can liven up a gunfight or a bar-fight or a car-chase or a put-down, it’s Eastwood.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Baron Blood

The director is the legendary Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath), a visual movie-making genius who gives us something fascinating or interesting to look at in almost every shot, including a long homage to the Vincent Price-Andre de Toth 3D horror classic House of Wax, and more twisting staircases, somber towers, shadowy torture chambers, gargoyles, well-used Iron Maidens and impaled victims than you could imagine outside of Transylvania on a dark and windy night.

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DVD Gift Guide Redux: The Story of Film, Qatsi, Ice Age, The Point … More

If there is such a thing as a no-brainer gift this holiday season, it’s The Story of Film: An Odyssey.” I can say this here, without fear of being contradicted, because anyone already drawn to a website dedicated to movies would certainly relish spending all 916 minutes in the company of Mark Cousins as he chronicles the history of the international cinema.

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DVD Geek: Lawrence of Arabia

One of the greatest color films ever produced, David Lean’s 1962 Lawrence of Arabia shows the Earth unadorned by its decorative vegetation or man-made blemishes, with landscapes so vast that humans are no more than tiny specks passing across the surface, hardly larger than the grains of sand beneath the feet of their camels. Set during World War I in the Middle East, the film concerns not only battles, but the political maneuvering which would set the stage for power equilibriums in the region that are continuing to this day.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Pitch Perfect; Total Recall; Tell No One

  PITCH PERFECT (Two Disc Combo Pack: DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy) (Two and a Half  Stars) U.S.: Jason Moore, 2012 (Universal) In the mood for a teen-oriented movie musical comedy about college boys and girls’ A cappella groups? Want to watch (and hear) a bunch of enthusiastic unaccompanied singers slugging it out in the ICCA (International Championship of…

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The DVD Wrapup: 2 Days in New York, 360, Following, Black Like Me … More

It isn’t enough that Julie Delpy is as fine an actress in English as she is in French and, at 43, still one the world’s most beautiful women, but she’s also proven herself to be an exceptional writer, director and singer-songwriter.

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Willmington on DVDs: Following

A black-and-white British neo-noir shot on the cheap, with unknown actors, by a then-unknown co-writer-director (Christopher Nolan), Following is the often fascinating tale of a thief and a voyeur playing dangerous games. Nolan likes games and tricks, and the Wellesian magicians who play them, and the whole movie is something of a conjuring act. Though obviously the work of gifted youngsters and amateurs or semi-amateurs, done with scant resources and slender means, it’s a show that grabs you and keeps you guessing and rewards your attention and casts its own little spell. It‘s a real underground movie from a moviemaker just about to make his break into the mainstream — with another, more expensive, and even trickier film called Memento.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Ted

    TED  (Also Two Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Two and a Half Stars) U. S.: Seth MacFarlane, 2012 (Universal)   Ted is a vulgar, irreverent, dirty-mouthed comedy about a vulgar, irreverent, dirty mouthed teddy bear named, of course, Ted — a fuzzy horny little stoner who is the best friend of a sweet, somewhat Peter-Pannish…

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Bourne Legacy; Ice Age: Continental Drift

I miss Jason Bourne already — missed him, in fact, even before I saw The Bourne Legacy, fourth in the multi-million-dollar-grossing Bourne spy movies, based on Robert Ludlum’s books. That series, you’ll recall, initially starred Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, super-spy on the run, and now, with Damon gone (after three outings), stars Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, another super-spy on the run. Cross, however, is not in any way related or connected to Jason Bourne, or to any other Bourne, beyond the fact that they were both involved in top secret “skill enhancement” programs that the government has now discontinued, and wants forgotten, along with Jason Bourne and anyone like him.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Step Up Revolution; The Hand That Rocks the Cradle; Dead Ringer

    STEP UP REVOLUTION (Also Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo) (One and a Half Stars) U.S.: Scott Speer, 2012 (Summit Entertainment)   You don’t have to be a nincompoop to want to see something like Step Up Revolution, but it probably helps. The fourth in the “Step Up” series, which gave the world Channing Tatum…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Rio Grande

Among Ford buffs and aficionados, this has walways been the least admired of the three cavalry films—perhaps because it was shot quickly as a favor to Republic Pictures so Ford could go to Ireland and make his longtime pet project, The Quiet Man—but also because the script, by studio vet James Kevin McGuiness (who died in 1950, the year Rio Grande was released), isn’t as good as the ones Frank S. Nugent and Laurence Stallings wrote for the other two. (All three movies are based on stories by James Warner Bellah, who wrote the screenplay for Ford’s masterpiece, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance).

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Wilmington on DVDs: Purple Noon

When the murder comes, it’s so swift, so unexpected, yet so oddly inevitable, that it’s hard to believe we’ve seen what we’ve seen. Whoosh! A knife thrust. A scream. “Marge!“ cries the victim, the knife stuck in his chest. He falls, dies, while his killer looks on, for a moment with seeming horror, as if he were witness to something awful, unimaginable — something that somehow doesn‘t even involve him. Did it really happen? Was it a dream? A fantasy? A lie? A movie? Yes, of course, we’re watching (and talking about) a movie: an exceptionally riveting and beautiful one about desire and cruelty and murder and malice and a game of make-believe by a psychopath/killer who is also an actor and an artist. A classic thriller called Plein Soleil, or Purple Noon, a movie shot in the adult playgrounds and mature pleasure spots of Italy and directed by a French filmmaker-artist, Rene Clement (who knew and understood sailing and the area well), from a classic novel-thriller by Patricia Highsmith, a brilliant American novelist who lived in France, and understood criminals well, if only in her imagination.

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The DVD Wrapup: Beasts of Southern Wild, ParaNorman, Butter … More

Normally, come the first week of December, true aficionados of quality cinema – those who actually care about the Academy Awards, anyway — have entered into the annual ritual of predicting which deserving Best Picture candidates will be snubbed in favor of movies released after Thanksgiving. Last year, the Academy finally acknowledged the build-in frailty of its nominating procedure and doubled the number of finalists.

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DVD & Blue Ray

Roy Atkinson on: DVD Wrapup: Commuter, Oscar, A Taxi Driver, Humor Me, Prince, Doris Day, Shakespeare Wallah, Pomegranates and more

gary j dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Ballad of Lefty Brown, Wonder, Blades, Seijun Suzuki, Fellini, Hellraiser, Paradise and more

Yvan Prime on: The DVD Wrapup: Ballad of Lefty Brown, Wonder, Blades, Seijun Suzuki, Fellini, Hellraiser, Paradise and more

Antoine Ratliff on: The DVD Wrapup: Letter From An Unknown Woman, Despicable Me 3, Crucifixion, Maurizio Cattelan, A New Leaf, Silent Night and more

Fernando on: The DVD Wrapup: King George, Cars 3, Overdrive, Afterimage, Glass Castle, Whisky Galore, The Journey, Into the Night, Sissi, Stay Hungry and more

Woody on: The DVD Wrapup: ET, Vietnam, Big Sick, Glory, Certain Women, The Hero, Hana-Bi, By the Time It Gets Dark, The Prison, The Flesh, Moderns … More

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Richard on: DVD Geek: Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice Ultimate

Ray Pride on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

RAY WEIKEL on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch