DVD Reviews Archive for September, 2011

Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic, Blu-ray. Strike

     PICK OF THE WEEK: Classic/Blu-ray Strike (Stachka) (Four Stars) U.S.S.R./Russia: Sergei Eisenstein, 1925 (Kino Classics) 1. Eisenstein  In 1925, Sergei Eisenstein, a rich architect’s son who had become a passionate convert to Communism during the Russian Revolution and afterward a brilliant theatrical director with the Proletkult Theatre of Moscow, directed two silent films…

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The DVD Wrapup: Transformers, Angel of Evil, Dumbo, Viva Riva!, Phantom Carriage, The Stool Pigeon, Hung, Kojak …

Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Blu-ray The third installment in the “Transformers” franchise, “Dark of the Moon,” locates the decisive battle for the preservation of mankind in downtown Chicago. The Windy City residents have experienced seen more than their fair share of disasters since Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over the lantern that triggered the Great…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Transformers Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Also Blu-ray) (Three Stars) U.S.: Michael Bay, 2010 Mindless, soulless, heartless, mechanical, and shamelessly mercenary as it might be, director Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon — the latest in the often obnoxious movie series, starring Shia LaBeouf and a lot of Hasbro toys — is still one of…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Carlos

  Carlos (Three and a Half Stars) France: Olivier Assayas, 2010 (Criterion Collection) In his excellent political thriller/biographical drama Carlos, Olivier Assayas makes an epic of 20th century revolution, an incendiary subject, but a film hot at heart yet cool on the surface, out of the ugly, exciting  story of the terrorist “Carlos,” a would-be political idealist who became a killer…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Captain America: The First Avenger, Dziga and His Brothers, The Killer is Loose, The Song of Songs,This is the Night

“Captain America: The First Avenger” (Two Stars) U.S.: Joe Johnston, 2011 I don’t mean to be a grouch, but Captain America — stalwart crime and monster-buster of  the  new Marvel epic Captain America: The First Avenger — struck me as one of the duller superheroes I’ve seen recently. That’s despite one of the more amazing special effects…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Box Set/Blu-ray. Visions of Europe

 (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.; Roy A. Hammond (aerial director/executive producer), Sam Toperoff (producer/editor/writer), 2001-9 (Acorn Media) One of the most visually stunning travelogue series ever, the “Visions” sets from WLIW in New York offer spectacular aerial tours of the great sights of Europe, shot in gorgeous high definition cinematography, accompanied by fairly typical…

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The DVD Wrapup: HitRECord, The Tempest, Bride Flight, Inspector General, The Caller, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Claude Chabrol, Mike Hammer …

HitRECord Recollection, Volume 1 The entertainment industry has been trying to mine gold from the Internet for almost two decades now, desperately searching for ways to distribute movies, music and other formats safely and economically. Some have succeeded, while most others have simply failed or disappeared without a digital footprint left behind. The wiseguys say…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic/Box Set. The Complete Jean Vigo

  (Two Discs) (Four Stars) France: Jean Vigo, 1930-34 (Criterion Collection)   I. Jean Vigo, The Rebel  He died at 29: Jean Vigo, in many ways, the spirit of youth, of art, of cinematic rebellion, of France between the wars. He was the sacred enfant terrible and the laughing rebel and grand martyr of French…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Picks of the Week: New. Bridesmaids, Le Quattro Volte

  Bridesmaids (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Paul Feig, 2011 (Universal) Kristen Wiig is one funny lady, and Bridesmaids — in which she is both star and co-writer — is one funny movie.  That’s hardly news. “Bridesmaids” is one of the best reviewed, best liked Hollywood comedies of the year. By current consensus, it’s…

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Wilmington on Movies and DVD; Straw Dogs (Peckinpah and Lurie)

  Film: Straw Dogs (Two Stars) U. S.: Rod Lurie, 2011 DVD: Straw Dogs (Blu-ray) (Three and a half Stars) U.S.: Sam Peckinpah, 1971 (MGM) I. Bloody Sam Straw Dogs, Rod Lurie‘s remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 classic — with Dustin Hoffman as a Vietnam era intellectual forced to face the beast in himself and…

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The DVD Wrapup: Thor, Citizen Kane, Just Peck, Meek’s Cutoff, Leading Ladies, Bill Cunningham New York, Spartacus …

Thor: Blu-ray 3D Marvel Knights: Thor & Loki Blood Brothers You know things are bad on Earth, when superheroes from other universes are stripped of their powers and sent here as punishment, instead of refuge and a “chance for life,” as was Superman. Albania, maybe, but not the good ol’ U.S. of A. That’s exactly…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: X-Men The First Class, Thor, The Colossus of New York, Monkey Business

  X-Men: The First Class (Also Blu) (Two Discs) (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Matthew Vaughn, 2011 Maybe I’m getting tired of super-heroes and super-heroines. Or maybe X-Men: First Class just has too many of them. In any case, the latest Marvel movie, by my reckoning, puts a first-rate cast into a third-rate story,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: New. Meek’s Cutoff, Secret Sunshine

  Meek’s Cutoff (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Kelly Reichardt, 2011 Meek’s Cutoff, like the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, is an art film Western for a contemporary audience, and an unusually good one — made by a director and writer (Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond), who show a real feeling for what it must have been…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

  CO-PICK OF THE WEEK: BLU-RAY   O Brother,  Where Art Thou?  (Four Stars) U.S.: Joel and Ethan Coen, 2000 (Touchstone/Disney)      O Brother, Where Art Thou? — for whose title alone Joel and Ethan Coen deserve a medal — is an outrageously entertaining and inventive movie that still hasn’t gotten its due. The Coen…

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Digital Nation: ‘Rescue Me’ From Uninformed Punditry About Hollywood and 9/11 …

In the lead-up to 9/11/11, two unrelated events prompted me to add my thoughts to the national conversation about one of the most disturbing and unconscionable attacks on non-combatants in history. Like most Americans, I’ve been given no deeply personal cause to obsess over the attacks. Neither do I need repeated visual reminders of the…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Box Set. Genius of Britain, The Scientists Who Changed the World/Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything

Sir Isaac Newton   Genius of Britain (Three Discs) (Three and a Half Stars) U.K.: Christopher Sykes, Michael Waterhouse & Jonathan Rudd (Series director)/Gary Johnstone, 2010/2007 (Athena/Acorn Media) Science was my weakest subject in high school. And since I didn’t much like what didn’t come easily to me, and really didn’t like passionless, styleless writing, and since most…

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The DVD Wrapup: X-Men: First Class, Hanna, The Arbor, Henry’s Crime, Scarface, Straw Dogs, Madea, Police Story …

X-Men: First Class: Blu-ray Let’s assume that the producers of “X-Men: First Class” had a very good reason for not naming the latest chapter in the franchise “X-Men Origins: First Class.” Like “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” it provides some of today’s most popular superheroes coherent back-stories and new cast members an opportunity to carve niches for…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classics. The Sacrifice/Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

  Four Stars Sweden: Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986 (Kino/Kino Lorber) In the mid-1980s, Andrei Tarkovsky, the greatest Russian cinema artist of the post-war era, traveled to Sweden to make what proved to be his last film, The Sacrifice. He was only in his 50s when he went to Sweden, but Tarkovsky, son of the famous Russian…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Hanna

(Also Blu-ray) (Three and a Half Stars) U.K.-U.S.: Joe Wright, 2011 (Universal) Hanna, an action film for people who love action movies and also for some who don’t, is Kick-Ass and The Bourne Identity filtered through Pride and Prejudice. And I don’t mean that as a knock. Director Joe Wright, who made the 2005 Keira Knightley…

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DVD Reviews

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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas