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December 29, 2012

Savant's new reviews today are:

Dark Crimes
Film Noir Thrillers

A very welcome trio of top-rank early film noir classics: Robert Siodmak's Phantom Lady and the Alan Ladd-Veronica lake thrillers The Glass Key and The Blue Dahlia. The genuine pulp hardboiled writing talent behind them includes Cornell Woolrich, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Great screenplays, acting, and expressionist lighting -- this is vintage noir gold. From The TCM Vault Collection.
12/29/12

The Qatsi Trilogy
Blu-ray

Godfrey Reggio's riveting visual essay movies find modern civilization to be technologically obsessed, and destructive to undeveloped regions and the physical earth itself. Koyannisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi take slightly different approaches to their thesis statements, but all merge incredible imagery with the mesmerizing music of Philip Glass. With ample interview and documentary extras that allow director Reggio to express his spiritual viewpoint on the state of the world. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
12/29/12

and

Two-Lane Blacktop
Blu-ray

Monte Hellman's ultimate existential road trip movie looks and sounds better than ever. James Taylor and Brian Wilson are a pair of drag racing nomads that cross the country looking to take on challenges to their '55 Chevy. There's nothing quite like it -- the laconic duo communicates in auto shop-speak and exists only as rootless beings on an endless highway. With Warren Oates as a maladjusted faux-hipster, cruising in a yellow muscle car and demanding respect from the hot rodders, and Laurie Bird as the girl that rides with them for part of the journey. Looks great in rougn-and-ready Techniscope, newly remastered in HD on Blu-ray for The Criterion Collection.
12/29/12




Hello!

It's the slight down time between holidays, when the Los Angeles streets are welcomingly free of excess traffic, unless you're heading to or from the airport. People are asking me about the new movies that have come out, so I can talk about the ones I've seen.

The smart, entertaining Promised Land seems to be handling its difficult theme well until an 11th-hour major plot twist does serious harm to its concept and characters. Les Miserables is a good adaptation of the stage musical and has the added kick of its live vocal performances. But it never seems spectacular, as so many of its big scenes are composited with CG backgrounds. The Impossible is an excellent disaster thriller, a gritty, graphic and harrowing experience that doesn't need to exaggerate to disturb. It captures the panic of being overwhelmed by hostile natural forces and separated from the techno-urban safety net.

I had to be dragged to Wreck It Ralph but enjoyed it as well ... the premise is smart and the characters halfway intriguing. It stalls in repetitive action scenes only for a very few minutes. The Hobbit is for fans of the other Tolkien movies and of the original book. This first instalment doesn't have the variety of incident or characterization of the previous films, but it's reasonably true to itself. I really liked the actor playing Bilbo Baggins and look forward to chapter two. Flight is the best thing Robert Zemeckis has done in decades. I loved it right up until the finish, when our flawed hero suddenly turns into Dudley Do-Right. The impression I got was that his change of heart was aimed at the box office alone, like so much of the repellent, bogus Forrest Gump. But up until then, straight A's all across.

Arbitrage is also very good -- after thirty years of effort Richard Gere is now an accomplished actor. I enjoyed watching Hitchcock but it's no more about the real Hitch than Tim Burton's comedy is about the real Ed Wood. The film's perplexing insistence on fabricating just about everything about the real-life characters and the making of the movie Psycho is really frustrating, from the silly love life attributed to Ms. Reville to specifics about the filming and other character relationships. Who says that Hitchcock was a troubled man with dark secrets, that he had some kind of spiritual relationship with the monstrous Ed Gein? Nonsense.

I'm not yet decided about a January 1 column but I might have a review or two up just to keep the doors open here at Savant Central. Thanks for staying in touch -- I've really enjoyed all the friendly emails over the holiday and look forward to more. Thanks for writing! -- Glenn Erickson



December 22, 2012

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Hi-Lo Country

Max Evans' novel becomes a superior story of cowboys trying to make a go of the cattle business, post- WW2. Stephen Frears directs this box office no-show, that is actually one of the better pictures of its year. Billy Crudup, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Arquette, Sam Elliot and a young Penélope Cruz star; western fans won't want to miss it. From Shout Factory.
12/22/12

and

Eclipse Series 37:
When Horror Came to Shochiku

Japanese studios were straining to fill theaters when the Shochiku studio took a wild, four-title foray into fantastic filmmaking. The X from Outer Space is as lame and limp as a Kaiju can be, but The Living Skeleton, Genocide and the absolutely postively 100% wacked out Goke: Bodysnatcher from Hell fill the bill for horror and sci-fi thrills, bizarro style. In brilliant transfers and original Japanese language tracks -- and X comes with its alternate original English dub track. From Eclipse.
12/22/12





Hello!


Just slipping a couple of reviews in before the big holiday. Hope all of you get some work time off to enjoy family & loved ones. For links, I do have a couple of thoughts to pass on about the 48 frames-per-second innovation seen in selected screenings of The Hobbit. Maestro David Cairns weighs in on the grand experiment with some well chosen words over at his page Shadowplay: see David's December 21 Shadowplay post, "Short People".

The ever-astute Savant associate Gary Teetzel made a special point of seeing The Hobbit in full-on 48 fps mode as well. I like his articulate response so much, I'm quoting it here:

"Notes on my reaction: --As some people have noted, the footage at first looks sped up. Why this should be, I have no idea. Are we just so used to the slight strobing of 24 fps that the more fluid 48 appears "fast" to us? Anyway, after 10 minutes or so, I was settled in, and stopped noticing any illusion of "speed up."

--Some have claimed that the clarity made the sets look like sets. I didn't experience that at all; to me, Bag End looked just as solid in 48 as at 24. Many scenes there are in subdued lighting, which probably helps.

--I was concerned about how the digital effects would come across, but was pleasantly surprised to see that the CG characters look great; if anything, they feel even more real and solid in 48 fps.

--Does the movie "look like video"? Well, it's true it doesn't look like traditional film, but do we really have to be wedded to that look for all films for all time? Since digital projection allows us to explore alternative frame rates and other options that celluloid did not or could not (at least not without difficulty), I'm all in favor of exploring new horizons in presentation. 48 fps may not be right for every movie, but I think it's an interesting option for some, and I hope that talented directors will probe the possibilities offered. --Gary"

Gary can always be depended on for a reasoned and professional opinion .... Don't forget DVD Savant's Most Impressive Discs of 2012 from last weekend... Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas! I'll be back sometime later in the week. Glenn Erickson



December 18, 2012

Savant's new reviews today are:

Black Like Me

Perhaps the most hard-hitting movie about racial tensions filmed in the Civil Rights years, when the journalist John Howard Griffin dyed his skin and traveled through the American South passing as a black to see prejudice from the black side of the equation. Star James Whitmore is excellent in this true-life docudrama: the white journalist begins to lose control of his emotions in a matter of days. A second DVD contains a documentary about the journalist Griffin's fascinating and inspirational life -- the "Black Like Me" experiment is just one of several amazing experiences. From VSC (Video Services Corporation).
12/18/12

Cut to the Chase! The Charley Chase Collection

A glorious collection of dozens of hilarious Charley Chase comedy two-reelers from the 'twenties. Charley is a young man trying to impress a girl, or a husband with a suspicious wife. He teamed up with the young director Leo McCarey and the quality of the gags and characters improved dramatically. Never accepted at the Keaton-Chaplin-Lloyd level of silent genius, Chase was nevertheless very successful and his pictures are packed with laughs. His optimistic attitude and dapper good looks, combined with a couple of shorts featuring a talented dog, make me think that Chase is the inspiration for the French 'silent' comedy The Artist. A multi-disc DVD set from The Milestone Cinematheque.
12/18/12

and finally

DVD Savant's
Most Impressive
Discs of
2012

Savant's subjective choice of the 15 titles of 2012 that he feels are really worthwhile, that offer something new or special. A wide range of discs this year (and even a couple of Region 2 interlopers), with a lot of runners-up. An accompanying essay looks at the many changes to the video disc landscape in the last six months.
12/18/12








Hello!

Just one link this Tuesday, but it's good. Don't give up halfway, as it's not as morbid as it looks. It's called Nolan's Cheddar, and it'll perk you right up!

Good luck preparing for the holidays ... I'm way behind. Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



December 14, 2012

Savant's new reviews today are:

Ashanti
Blu-ray

It's a travelogue, a jungle adventure, a desert adventure and a desperate chase to recover a stolen bride from an Arab slave trader! Michael Caine, supermodel Beverly Johnson and Peter Ustinov star in Richard Fleischer's racy action drama, with Rex Harrison, William Holden and Omar Sharif along for the ride. This is the exposé picture that claims that thousands of women and children are stolen in Africa every year, and turned into sex slaves for degenerate millionaires. So that's how the 1% lives. In Blu-ray from Severin.
12/14/12

Confessions of an Opium Eater

What? You want more movies about the slave trade? Twenty-five years before Big Trouble in Little China Vincent Price fought his way through a Tong War -- and a hophead nightmare out of an opium pipe -- in this bizarre Albert Zugsmith film. And it was exhibited in some cities as a Vincent Price horror film for juvenile matinees! With hatchet men, Chinese Dolls in bamboo cages, a Dragon Lady and every Chinese actor that could read the script's weird dialogue. There's nothing like it. From The Warner Archive Collection.
12/14/12

and

Decasia
Blu-ray

Bill Morrison's experimental feature is comprised solely of shots of decayed film, with images almost obliterated or weirdly altered by nitrate decomposition, chemical staining, fungus, what have you. Weirdly hypnotic, especially with the music of Michael Gordon. The programme also includes a shorter Morrison masterpiece of emulsion decay, Light is Calling. In Blu-ray from Icarus Films.
12/14/12




Hello again!

Well, it's time to start making up lists and figuring out my "Savant Best-Of" titles for this year, a task that is becoming increasingly tougher. I think that the right way to do it is to imagine Blue Meanies taking away all of my collected DVDs for the year... if I could only hide fifteen, which would they be? I know that's infantile, but it helps in making decisions. Hopefully I'll have the list up by Christmas or sooner.

Links...

First off, Stefan Andersson alerts us to a Vimeo encoding of the rare Sam Peckinpah TV show Noon Wine, which I recommend you watch right away before somebody takes it down. Made during the director's banishment from features after Major Dundee, the show has a high reputation.

I'd also like to say that I've added reader remarks and responses to two of my recent reviews, as footnotes. Heaven's Gate now has input from Robert Richardson, Kenneth Von Gunden, Drew Fitzpatrick & Gregory Nicoll. The review for Lost Horizon is now appointed with reactions from Richard Kaufman, "B", Gordon A. Thomas, Eddie Holub & Dick Dinman .

Thanks -- and thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



December 11, 2012

Savant's new reviews today are:

Purple Noon
Blu-ray

Director René Clément's identity-theft murder mystery is tops in all departments, a real nail-biter with a storyline that seems all too possible. The movie introduced heartthrob French star Alain Delon, who reveals himself a great actor, not the stoic one-note performer of later crime thrillers. The smart Patricia Highsmith story (The Talented Mr. Ripley) is set among the young and wealthy on the sunny Italian coastline. With Maurice Ronet and Marie Laforet. In brilliant color, in Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
12/11/12

Lost Horizon (1973)
Blu-ray

The remake of Frank Capra's slightly dippy 1937 isolationist fantasy is a terminally maladroit musical that's jaw-droppingly entertaining. Peter Finch, Liv Ullman, Sally Kellerman, Olivia Hussey & James Shigeta sing (or more often, lip-synch) and sort-of-dance to Burt Bacharach & Hal David's music. MGM veteran Bobby Van comes off as brilliant simply by being qualified for the job. It's fascinating! This is why "That's Entertainment" led to a rediscovery of quality American musicals. One of the oddest miscalculations of the 1970s, and a favorite of lovers of cinematic car wrecks. Beautifully transferred, with an Isolated Score Track, in Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
12/11/12

and

Hans Christian Andersen
Blu-ray

Samuel Goldwyn's popular favorite on TV reruns is an odd, gentle musical about the writer of the famous fairytales, a total fabrication yet an interesting 'take' on the interior life of a misfit dreamer. Danny Kaye became ambassador to the world's children with this picture, supported by Farley Granger and Jeanmaire. With great Frank Loesser songs and a fine ballet sequence, "The Little Mermaid". The transfer captures a Technicolor feel in Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
12/11/12







Hello!

TCM's 2012 In Memoriam "TCM Remembers" Montage is up. This one has a limited number of too-brief clips, although I like seeing quick moments from Ride the High Country and The Wild Bunch. The style seems to have run away with things, as too much screen time is taken up by shots of old theaters, etc. But some of the faces that pass by grab us just the same. Very emotional.

A few weeks back I posted a link to Guido Bibra's DVDLog.de review of Jacques Tati's Jour de Féte, so today I'm forwarding another link to his fine piece on Tati's Mon Oncle. I really like Guido's writing style and instinct for interesting facts.


Wow, this seems to be the week for Everybody and their Brother to voice misgivings about Peter Jackson's use of 48 frames-per-second digital cinematography for his new The Hobbit. It's not a crazy idea in any way. After a few minutes to acclimatize myself -- as with any new experience -- the benefit of the frame rate becomes obvious. But I'm reading the same error in reviews and opinion pieces that say that 24 frames per second, the sound standard since the late 1920s, is the rate needed for the movies' persistence of vision effect to work. This isn't accurate. As I understand it, the real persistence of vision threshold is somewhere close to 48fps. Film projectors work with a two or three-bladed shutter, repeating each frame at least twice. The eye is tricked into accepting the sequential film frames as having fluid motion.

With that fat shutter spinning around behind the projection lens, the standard 24fps screen is dark at least half the time. The digital 48fps projector fills in most of the black with new information. The screen is brighter. There's far less blurring on motion, a sharper image, and less eyestrain overall. Even on a large screen, motion doesn't fall apart. As in the old Showscan film process, 48fps shots seem to have more depth even without 3D. And so much more light is hitting the screen that The Hobbit's 3D images don't seem dulled-down.

Showscan ran 70mm film at 60fps (the standard when I projected), which never seemed very practical either in cost or wear and tear on expensive film prints. This was 1976, just when the ranks of qualified projectionists were starting to thin out -- and ShowScan required very precise projectionists capable of tweaking the projectors if the need arose. In digital there's no such problem.

I hope more filmmakers try the 48fps idea, with a sports film or a dance film maybe. A subject in which we really want to soak up body motions might be more satisfying than The Hobbit with all of its special effects, some of which seem more artificial at the high frame rate. Like James Cameron, Peter Jackson has taken the trouble to bring something NEW to the screen. Way back in film school, all we had were relatively dumb gimmicks like Sensurround!


Finally, Joe Dante has circulated a hilarious Salon article on It's a Wonderful Life, Gary Kamiya's All Hail Pottersville!, with the message, "we all live in Pottersville now."

Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



December 08, 2012

Savant's new reviews today are:

Heaven's Gate
Blu-ray

Reviewer runs amuck -- Get the tar and feathers ready! Savant appreciates the fine visual qualities of Michael Cimino's gargantuan contribution to "King Of The World"-style filmmaking, but must be honest about its dubious merit in other categories. And there's also the matter of unwelcome director revisions, that range from 'why did you have to spoil that?' to -- 'that alteration is invalid, but it makes the 3.6-hour movie much more pleasant to watch.' Kris Kristoffersen, Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Walken and Jeff Bridges are adrift on the high prairie with 40 wagonloads of actors wearing really nice costumes; the film's historically based range war is so overstated, you'll feel like siding with the fascist cattlemen against the downtrodden immigrants. Well, not really. Beautifully re-colored for Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection.
12/08/12

The Blue Angel
Blu-ray

The original German version Der Blaue Engel, in a good restoration. Josef von Sternberg's brilliant look at amour fou in the Weimar Republic is conceived as a vehicle for star Emil Jannings, but the hallucinatory erotic magnet Marlene Dietrich runs away with our hearts and souls. This HD transfer from the Murnau Stiftung is a major improvement, much better than any version I've seen. In Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
12/08/12

and

Gypsy
Blu-ray

The Warner Archive Collection takes the step up to Blu-ray. The big time Broadway show comes to film with a new set of stars, great orchestrations for the Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim music, and blah static direction from producer Mervyn LeRoy. To please the censors Natalie Wood acts sexy in a way that isn't sexy; Rosalind Russell devours acres of Technirama scenery in a part that requires just such overstatement. The crisp HD transfer also finally lets us see the show, as so much of it plays out in wide shots. In Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
12/08/12




Hello!

Well, I got invited to a screening of The Hobbit last night on the Warner lot, at 48 frames per second and in 3D. It's quite entertaining, perhaps a little repetitive, but pays off nicely at the end. Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen are great fun. The prequel to LOTR is of course more of the same: lot of the expected running and fighting and plenty of nice character material.

The must-see factor is enhanced by Peter Jackson's technical 'giant step'. We were of course curious to see what the frame rate difference is like -- I was briefly a projectionist for Doug Trumbull's Showscan (70mm/60fps) film experiment back just a little while (cough) ago. The first half hour of Hobbit was difficult getting used to, as the accelerated frame rate made the widescreen picture look like a live TV image. As soon as they got away from sunny exteriors the effect started to sink in and became very comfortable. A bright image without film grain but also without the character of film. With twice as much visual information being imparted action is a bit smoother. The excellent 3D doesn't push stuff in one's face and is often almost subliminal. The added clarity puts a real strain on the special effects -- character CGI is fine but some matte paintings now look altogether too artificial. I'd definitely say try to catch an enhanced screening.

Joe Dante is circulating this fun link to a clever robot-oriented TV commercial, which inadvertently suggests that none of us will have jobs soon due to automation, but that "things will be better." This week's new trailers at Trailers from Hell include Jean Renoir's rare The Testament of Dr. Cordelier and Terence Fisher's The Two Faces of Dr. Jeckyll.

Gary Teetzel reminded me that our friend Ed Godziszewski recorded a commentary for the new Godzilla vs. Biollante disc, but that Toho never responded to requests to approve it, so it wasn't included. I truly don't understand Toho's attitude toward their Kaiju movies here in the U.S. If nothing else, they should be remaking their sci-fi and fantasy classics -- the audience recognition factor for them is still rather high.

Finally, I thought I'd post a letter from the Rev. Dr. Paul Zahl, a friendly correspondent who knows just what to say to make me feel good about DVD Savant. On December 16 and 22 TCM Cable will be showing a TV Christmas special that hasn't been broadcast for forty-eight years, Rod Serling's Carol for Another Christmas. It stars Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, Steve Lawrence, Pat Hingle, Robert Shaw, Percy Rodriguez, Eva Marie Saint, Ben Gazzara, Barbara Ann Teer, James Shigeta and Britt Ekland. The music is by Henry Mancini and it was directed by Joseph Mankiewicz.

I had never heard of it. Here's Paul Zahl's note:

"Dear Glenn, I wrote you a few months ago, and sure luv 'DVD Savant'. I especially like your kind spirit, if you don't mind my putting it that way, in your weekly columns, right down to your treatment recently of the neighbor who decided to have a Thanksgiving karaoke party in the garden. What a drag on Thanksgiving Day, and you said it in such a nice way!

Anyway, I wondered whether you might possibly wish to add, in your list of December TCM goodies, the fact that TCM is showing Rod Serling's Carol for Another Christmas on December 16th at 8pm. That is a major rarity! Until now the only place where a person could see that would have been the Paley Museum of Broadcasting in Manhattan. When I've been there, I was so absorbed in watching otherwise un-viewable episodes of Way Out and also that Serling Holocaust drama with Charles Laughton that was controversial, that I never made time for Carol for Another Christmas.

This Serling Christmas script is really something, and hopefully a treat for fans. Incidentally, Serling's Unitarian Christianity -- his family background was Jewish -- comes into Christmas view in Night of the Meek (The Twilight Zone) and also in The Messiah on Mott Street (Night Gallery). I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but not all of Serling's fans get a kick out of his fairly frequent religious references. For the record, when I was instituted as dean of a theological seminary in Pennsylvania, the priest who led the prayers inserted a prayer in thanksgiving to God for the work and life of Rod Serling. That was in an Episcopal cathedral, and the walls did not fall in.

Well, keep up the good work, and I check the 'Savant' every week. Sincerely yours, Paul Z. (The Rev. Dr. Paul Zahl)"

Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



December 04, 2012

Savant's new reviews today are:

Godzilla vs. Biollante
Blu-ray

Toho's first true 'next generation' Godzilla epic may also be the most artistic. Big G's foe is a colossal genetic blend of DNA & spiritual something-ruther from Godzilla, a Rose plant and a scientist's slain daughter. And who needs radar? A psychic girl not only senses the presence of the monsters, but can telepathically tap into their souls. Don't worry, director Kazuki Ohmori clobbers us with some of the most impressive visuals and dynamic combat in the series. Contains a sensational 50-minute making of docu with a LOT of interesting BTS video of the filming. In Blu-ray from Miramax / Echo Bridge.
12/04/12

and

The Wild Geese
Blu-ray

Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Roger Moore and Hardy Kruger topline this English saga of mercenaries pulling off a combat mission in an African country, only to be double-crossed by their posh money man Stewart Granger. Top technical talent and spirited performances (they all stayed sober!) add to the viewing fun for armchair soldiers of fortune. In a fine new transfer, with a score of featurettes interviewing many of the participants. In Blu-ray from Severin.
12/04/12




Hello!

Well, a real editing job came in the door over the weekend, so I'm a review short this Tuesday. But plenty of good reviews are on the way, including Heaven's Gate, The Blue Angel, the new Warner Archive Blu-rays of Gypsy and Deathtrap, and the crazy Eclipse 37: When Horror Came to Shochiku. Although the Shochiku film Goke: Body Snatcher from Hell is not a comedy, I must confess that, as a puffed-up pundit on Science Fiction movies, I personally relate to this particular frame:





A link! Gary Teetzel forwards a link to Several newly restored scenes to Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time In America. They're interesting, of course, finally giving us Louise Fletcher's never-before exhibited scene. Another scene foreshadows Leone's puzzling garbage truck finale. The news from Europe is that correspondent Ulrich Bruckner saw the restoration at a festival, and says the new material is not great from a quality standpoint.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



December 01, 2012

Savant's new reviews today are:

Sometimes A Great Notion
Blu-ray

Paul Newman's excellent direction enhances Ken Kesey's tale of a family of scab lumbermen that keep working during a big-scale strike. Newman also stars, and gets terrific performances from Henry Fonda, Lee Remick, Michael Sarrazin and Richard Jaeckel. Exciting, intelligent and surprisingly even-handed on the union issue. Beautiful Oregon scenery and an up close view of the woodsmen at their hazardous work. In Blu-ray from Shout Factory / Universal.
12/01/12


Baron Blood
Blu-ray

Mario Bava returns to gothic chills as Elke Sommer helps bring the notorious torturer Otto von Kleist (Joseph Cotten) back from the dead. Swirling mists, delirious color design and Bava's good instincts for creepy atmosphere enliven a stock tale of a haunted castle. With Tim Lucas's expert commentary and the original Italian title sequence: Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga. In Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
12/01/12

and

Uptight
Blu-ray

Talk about a leftist backlash! Long-blacklisted director Jules Dassin returned to America to collaborate with Ruby Dee and Civil Rights activist Julian Mayfield on a remake of John Ford's The Informer set within a militant black revolutionary cell in the aftermath of the Martin Luther King slaying. Raymond St. Jacques, Ruby Dee, Frank Silvera, Roscoe Lee Browne, Julian Mayfield, Janet MacLachlan, Max Julien, Juanita Moore, Ji-Tu Cumbuka, John Wesley, and Robert DoQui star. In Blu-ray from Olive Films.
12/01/12





Hello!

Some fun links today, courtesy of a little help from my friends...

Gary Teetzel forwards these two viral plugs for Guillermo del Toro's upcoming Pacific Rim: the
Test of the Kaiju Emergency Alert System
and
Breaking News: Kaiju Attack.
The web squawk is that the promo approach is a bit like Cloverfield, but this is not going to be a "found footage" movie. I think that señor Del Toro has concocted his own pantheon of Kaiju characters, to eclipse the beloved but mismanaged Toho clan. The story apparently also involves a group of pilots that control giant robots to fight the Kaiju gang. I know we adult fans are a little suspect but kids LOVE this neglected genre...

Jeremy Arnold tipped me to this BBC news story about the Lawrence of Arabia Digital Restoration that, uh, needs some serious work. Jeremy: "They show faded clips of Lawrence before it was restored, and talk about it as if that's what it looked like when it was first released! And they have a discussion about the morality of making a film look "better," as if the colors from the initial release have been changed. Which is not what's been done. I think my favorite moment in this clip is when the news anchor says, "hmm, well, I think you can see a difference..." -- as if ANYBODY on the planet wouldn't be able to see the difference between a pre-1989 clip and the 2012 restoration." Well, nobody's perfect. But we think that the BBC could find some better-informed spokespeople.

And Gary Teetzel comes back with a Filmdrunk article about, of all things, a Broadway-style musical stage show called Rocky: Das Musical. It's based on (three guesses) the once-popular Sylvester Stallone movie Rocky. As Gary says, what could possibly be greater than Rocky: The Musical"? Add an umlaut!

And Dick Dinman has two Classics Corner Radio shows up about Paramount's restored Blu-ray of Sunset Blvd.
In Part One Dick interviews Paramount executive Andrea Kalas on the measures taken to restore the Billy Wilder classic. Part Two centers around a lengthy interview with actress Nancy Olson, who speaks about her experiences on this bona fide classic including some surprising insights on writer/director Wilder, costar Gloria Swanson, and her talented four-time costar and friend William Holden.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson


Don't forget to write Savant at dvdsavant@mindspring.com.

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