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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Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas