Reviews

The DVD Wrapup: Avengers, Ninko, Escape, Aim for the Heart, Yellow Birds, Affairs of State, Gregorio Cortez, 200 Motels, Done to Your Daughters?, S.F. Brownrigg, Muppet Babies, BBC Earth … More

And, looking ahead, it’s entirely possible that “Infinity Wars,” “Black Panther” and “Deadpool 2″ – all based on comics by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee – could end up competing for the dubious honor of carrying home the first Oscar as Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film.

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The DVD Wrapup: Bye Bye Germany, John From, Marrowbone, Wildling, Dead Shack, Bitter Money, Big Fish & Begonia, Street Mobster, US Fest, No Offense … More

Because he still considers himself to be an expert in the schmatte game, Bermann arranges for his band of peddlers to access French linens on the black market and sell them to the relatives of German soldiers killed in action, whose names and addresses he found listed in the obituaries and notices on bulletin boards.

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The DVD Wrapup: Final Portrait, Overboard, Dark Crimes, Iron Brothers, Streets of Vengeance, Piranha II, Star Wars Rebels, Myanmar … More

Although known almost exclusively as a sculptor, Final Portrait focuses on the creation of one of Alberto Giacometti’s hauntingly distinctive paintings, “The Portrait of James Lord.” The American journalist/critic first met Giacometti at the Café des Deux Magots in February 1952. As Lord recalled later, he was ‘instantly mesmerized’ by the artist.

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The DVD Wrapup: Night of Virgin, Lovecraft, Carpenter, Moss, Love After Love, Gravity Falls, Keeping Faith, Spiral … More

If I didn’t have a calendar on my computer – and it weren’t 110 degrees outside – I’d think that Halloween was barreling down on us, like a zombie bitch in heat. And, by bitch, I mean of the canine persuasion. This week’s selection of horror on DVD/Blu-ray is nothing short of thrilling. …

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The DVD Wrapup: I Feel Pretty, Never Really Here, In Harmony, Leisure Seeker, Scorpion’s Tail, Hong Sangsoo, Doom Asylum, T2, The Tunnel, The Good Place … More

Everything that made the let-it-all-hang-out comic such a hot commodity, only two years ago, appears to have been drained from a property that suffers from an almost complete lack of bodacious, in-your-face humor and self-deprecating mischief. Seemingly, it would be too easy to blame what must have been a demand for a PG-13 rating, but if you put a muzzle on an attack dog, it loses its bite.

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The DVD Wrapup: Quiet Place, Dietrich/Steinberg, A Ciambra, Maborosi, Chappaquiddick, Josephine Baker, Lean on Pete, Jazz Ambassadors, Blue Desert … More

The twist here involves the curious aftermath of a cataclysmic event that, in 2020, wipes out most of humanity. Its payload of sightless creatures, possessing hypersensitive hearing and seemingly impenetrable exoskeletons, has attacked and devoured anything that makes noise. How the Abbott family has managed to survive is anyone’s guess. The advantage they hold over other Earthlings appears to be that they’re conversant in American Sign Language.

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The DVD Wrapup: Blockers, Finding Your Feet, Ismael’s Ghosts, Don’t Grow Up, Last House on Left, Sartana, Striking Back, Sharks … More

Although the term, “cockblock,” has been traced to 1972, via “DawgSpeak!: The Slanguage Dictionary of the University of Georgia,” it wasn’t until it was used in Superbad (2007) that it took hold among young white scenesters. The original script was titled “Cherries,” which not only would have been too blatantly suggestive for the MPAA, but also more than a tad misleading …

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The DVD Wrapup: Acrimony, Sheikh Jackson, El Sur, Endless, Back to Burgundy, Hamlet, Mimic, M:I 4K, Addiction, Vigil … More

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony: Blu-ray To say that Melinda, Taraji P. Henson and Ajiona Alexus’s character in Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, has rage issues is like comparing the lava pouring from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano to the acid reflux one experiences after eating too much pizza. Both burn, but only one of them destroys everything in its path….

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The DVD Wrapup: Double Lover, Death of Stalin, Flower, Hooked, Alex & Me, Guilty Men, Night of Lepus, Greaser’s Palace, Man in Orange Shirt … More

Double Lover is as different François Ozon’s previous period drama, Franz, as noon is to midnight. The same could be said about most of the movies in Ozon’s credits.

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The DVD Wrapup: Loveless, In Syria, Good Postman, Inflame, Ordinary Man, I Called Him Morgan, Jerry Lewis, Will & Grace … More

In the Oscar-nominated Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev and co-writer Oleg Negin have crafted a different sort of missing-child story, set among atypically middle-class Muscovites, whose concepts of family and status are far from traditional. Their previous collaborations – Elena, The Banishment and Leviathan – have also required that we look to the east through a different prism. None of Zvyagintsev’s films have been particularly easy to watch, from an emotional point of view. If they present life stripped of contrivances and narrative shortcuts, it’s still the human condition that drives the stories and is never far from their surface.

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The DVD Wrapup: Wrinkle in Time, Peter Pan, Hurricane Heist, Oh Lucy!, Freak Show, Great Silence, Smash Palace, Satellite Girl and more

The fact that Ava DuVernay’s highly ambitious, if too frequently inert adaptation went unseen by so many of the book’s admirers speaks volumes.

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The DVD Wrapup: Annihilation, Kaurismäki, Borzage, Sweet Sweetback, Two of Us, Cold Turkey, Weinstein, Jackass and more

Alex Garland is a terrific writer-director who challenges the imagination and rewards viewers, for whom patience a virtue. Garland received sole screenwriter credit on 28 Days Later … (2002), Sunshine (2007), Never Let Me Go (2010) and Dredd (2012), while sharing the writing credit with Tameem Antoniades on the video games and “DmC: Devil May Cry” and “Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.” He also wrote the novels from which The Beach (2000) and The Tesseract (2003), were adapted. None of them enjoyed an easy stroll to the big screen. Those difficulties were a walk in the park compared to the difficulties the London-born author and filmmaker faced getting Ex Machina (2014) and Annihilation into theaters. Together, they represent two of the finest examples of Earth-bound science fiction — or, if you prefer, speculative fiction or cutting-edge fiction – to be produced sequentially, in memory.

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DVD Wrapup: Vazante, Early Man, Elis, Swung, Death Smiles, Of Unknown Origin, Swamp Thing 2, Little Women, MST3K Singles and more

Because historical fidelity was vital to her vision, Thomas employed a team of historians and tribal experts to reproduce the lifestyles and clothing of the era. This included a group of non-actors who are descendants of the region’s former slaves. Thomas’ commitment to a slow-burn narrative wouldn’t have worked if it weren’t for Inti Briones’s gorgeous monochromatic cinematography, whose every frame demands to be savored. The explosive final scene anticipates Brazil’s pluralistic society to come, even as it demonstrates how difficult it might be to achieve.

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The DVD Wrapup: Black Panther, Forgiven, Monkey King, Sweet Escape, Black Venus, It’s Alive and more

What were Stan Lee and Jack Kirby smoking when they named their new superhero after the militant organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton? Or… what were Seale and Newton smoking when they named the BPP after a comic-book superhero?

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The DVD Wrapup: La Belle Noiseuse, 50 Shades Freed, 4K Titles, Paradox, Manifesto, Dear White People, Butterflies and more

“Take My Word for It” might be a better title for this column, especially as it applies to movies that went to straight-to-video or streaming or are made by filmmakers yet to establish reputations. Jacques Rivette’s 1991 masterpiece, La Belle Noiseuse, doesn’t fit those categories, but, with its four-hour length and ready availability of an inferior 125-minute cut, La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento, Cohen Media’s upgraded Blu-ray may benefit from any endorsement. La Belle Noiseuse (The Beautiful Troublemaker) won the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes and was nominated for a Palme d’Or. Roger Ebert called it “the best film I have ever seen about the physical creation of art, and about the painful bond between an artist and his muse.” The great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa named it one of his two favorite movies of the 1990s — with Takeshi Kitano’s Fireworks – calling it the best filmed display of a struggle of an artist doing his craft, as well as a movie he would have liked to have directed.

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The DVD Wrapup: In the Fade, Insult, In Between, Please Stand By, Kaleidoscope, Schlock, The Unwilling, Tremors, Capitalism and more

In Fatih Akin’s award-winning drama, In the Fade, we’re asked to share the grief of a woman whose husband and son are murdered in a racially motivated bombing so intense that police say they were burned beyond recognition. German-born Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger) is married to a Turk – once convicted for selling hashish, not that it matters – whose business is in a part of Hamburg where the immigration community has been vulnerable to attacks by nationalist and anti-immigration groups. Just after she drops her son off at his dad’s office, Katja cautions a young woman against leaving her bicycle unlocked on the street. By the time she returns to pick them up, the bomb has already been detonated and the damage done.

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The DVD Wrapup: Hostiles, Moon Child, Violent Life, Backstabbing, Strings, Grease at 40, Joe, Ringo and more

It’s difficult to argue that Hostiles was snubbed by the Academy, but outstanding performances by Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike deserved more consideration than they got, as did cinematographer Masanobu “Masa” Takayanagi

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

As high-concept pitches go, “Liam Neeson on a train” is right up there with “snakes on a plane” and “MTV cops.” What else would any screenwriter need to know to fill the blanks?

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The DVD Wrapup: Mohawk, Insidious IV, Proud Mary, Are We Not Cats, Fencer, Man From Earth, Mary Stark, Child in Time and more

I’d like to promote a gritty action adventure picture so small it didn’t even register a blip at Box Office Mojo. If Mohawk had been produced and released in the same general vicinity as Little Big Man, Soldier Blue, Black Robe or The Last of the Mohicans, writer-director Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) might have found a niche among fine revisionist Westerns. As it is, he can be proud of almost universal raves in Metacritic.com and kudos for showing a different side to Uncle Sam’s decades-long campaign to eradicate native Americans from their homes. Make no mistake: Mohawk is a genre film from start to finish. No one holds the high ground for very long.

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The DVD Wrapup: Last Jedi, Behind the Mask, Executioners, King of Jazz, Sacha Guitry, 1:54, Nicholas, Peyton Place and more

Whew. I’m exhausted just trying to summarize the first 20 minutes.

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Reviews

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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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

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