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December 30, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef
DVD-R

Has this desired early CinemaScope feature been recovered from the void of Public Domain? For sixty years we've either seen pan-scan abominations and even recent widescreen cable broadcasts have been of substandard quality. I'm happy to report good news, transfer-wise, for A.I. Bezzerides' tale of rival sponge fishermen on the Western Florida coast. Robert Wagner's first leading role gives him a chance to flash his bright smile to Terry Moore, while Gilbert Roland, Richard Boone and Peter Graves pull supporting duty. The appeal was and still is the Oscar-nominated cinematography -- although the dynamic, dramatic Bernard Herrman score is what appeals to fans today. A GOOD release of a CinemaScope gem from the 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives.
12/31/13

and

The Whip and the Body
Blu-ray

Mario Bava's intelligent, atmospheric tale of sadomasochism and erotic delirium is one of the best of the early classics of the Italian Horror boom of the early 1960s. Christopher Lee is the domineering, cruel black sheep who returns to torment various relatives; luscious Dahlia Lavi is the dark beauty who both fears and desires Lee's sadistic whippings. The movie is a masterpiece of lighting from Mario Bava, working in his initial lush gothic style. The beautiful film is uncut and formatted for wide screen, but unfortunately for us, Bava's glowingly hallucinatory images are compromised by the HD transfer. In Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
12/31/13




Hello!

Well, 2013 slipped away pretty fast, a topic I already covered in my Best-of 2013 Article. But it ended with a real surprise a couple of days ago, when I finally caught up with 2012's John Carter. I realize that this is not much of an endorsement of Savant as a source that always has the best advice on new movies -- I saw Pacific Rim right away last summer and didn't care for it at all. John Carter should be a key sci-fi title, my specialty, and I let it get away.

But about 18 months ago I remember standing outside Disney's El Capitan Theater in Hollywood during the 2012 TCMfest, saying that I ought to see this in 3D while I can. It was doing no business, yet I hadn't heard or seen anything about it that offended me. I had heard all the reasons why John Carter didn't do well -- no stars, no pre-sold franchise, no "of Mars" in the title -- and walked away. Well, on Blu-ray it's marvelous. Edgar Rice Burroughs' hundred-year-old tale is the blueprint for swashbuckling space opera and the construction of not just a character but an entire alien world. The only reason nobody's made it into a movie until now is that the outlandish character designs were unfilmable before the advent of CGI. Director Andrew Stanton may have muffed the marketing rollout but his movie is every bit as good as Finding Nemo and Wall-E; it makes all the Frank Frazetta- like costuming and space opera court shenanigans fun again, like a smarter, less campy Flash Gordon. The 1880s-era setting works well, as does the fantasy mechanisms that transport Carter to "Barsoom" and plunk him down amid a fun world of four-armed nomads, eight-legged steeds and an agreeably loyal frog-dog that covers ground faster than The Road Runner. Why didn't smarter fans than I clobber me with assurances that "I have to see this one?" Or wasn't I listening?

What Andrew Stanton's movie gets at, is an evocation of an earlier era's ideas of fantastic delight. I haven't seen many filmmakers do this well ... Walt Disney and Karel Zeman come to mind as exceptions. Burroughs' books transported a zillion young readers to a new world, surely inspiring Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, 'franchises' that came along much later. And we easily see Burroughs' Barsoom tales in later-generation "create a world" fantasies like Dune, Gor and Star Wars. It's no wonder that several decades' worth of pulp sci-fi/fantasy fiction emulated Burroughs, especially their lurid covers featuring sword-wielding heroes and curvaceous space princesses. Stanton's film is actually an adaptation of the first John Carter book Princess of Mars --- maybe they should have just made the title "John Carter and the Princess of Mars." With a title like that we'd know that it has to be good.

Stanton said that the original John Carter stories had a weak serialized format in print, and that the really difficult problem was finding a workable 3-act structure for his movie version. For me, the constant flow of entertaining content overcomes my resistance to the story of a cruel warlord forcing a marriage with the feisty princess -- amusing & interesting alien creatures, genuinely witty jokes, refreshingly impressive visuals and novel action scenes. In essence I was charmed, as if watching an eye-dazzling sci-fi fantasy fairy tale. If anything John Carter is too good for today's audience, that seemingly cannot let a story sink in, nor appreciate finesse and real wit in giant action epics. After those Star Wars prequels, this is great stuff: it even has real dialogue.

So I feel rather ashamed, not having seen and championed John Carter when it was new. I'll be looking for an opportunity to see it in 3D some day. I hereby adopt it as another 'Savant' movie -- the kind of deserving picture unjustly pilloried and dismissed on release, like Joe Versus the Volcano, or Until the End of the World.

Thanks for reading! See you next year! Glenn Erickson



December 27, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

Far from Vietnam
DVD

This legendary French Vietnam War documentary was one of the first eye-openers from 1967, early in the anti-War movement. Co-directed by Chris Marker, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Agnès Varda, Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, it uses U.S. combat film, interviews with protesters and film shot in Hanoi during the massive B-52 bombing raids. Overseen by Chris Marker, the docu communicates with intelligence -- it also looks excellent, in a quality 2012 restoration. Marker and François Reichenbach's excellent half-hour film The Sixth Side of the Pentagon is included as well. In Color from Icarus Films.
12/28/13

Unmanned:
America's Drone Wars

DVD

Robert Greenwald's latest and very worthwhile docu tells the unreported story of the drone strikes on Pakistan tribal regions, emphasizing not military hardware but the terror experienced by an entire population subjugated to robotic attacks from the sky. Refuting the military, the state department and the President's 'official story' on the subject, Greenwald's film presents human rights lawyers to argue the blatant illegality of killing without trial and evidence that targets are haphazardly chosen, or callously indiscriminate. Pakistanis describe and document attacks that show little or no regard for human life. In Color from Disinformation/Brave New Films.
12/28/13

and

Die, Monster, Die!
Blu-ray

Daniel Haller directs Boris Karloff and Nick Adams in a confused but eventful attempt to cram H.P. Lovecraft's science fiction-horror story The Colour Out of Space into the same format as Roger Corman's The House of Usher. A lot of snooping in a creepy mansion uncovers not Vincent Price, but strange meteorite fragments, giant tomatoes and a cage containing scary-looking "Yuggoth-Sluggoth" monsters (sic). Not content with globby mutations from space, the storyline makes additional room for demon worship and a convenient portal to hell. Just the same, the great Karloff makes it all memorable. In Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
12/28/13




Hello, and Happy happy to us all for the Happy New Year that approaches. Next year we have (choke) the Centennial of the beginning of the First World War to (not) look forward to.

A tip from correspondent and sponsor Dennis Doros of Milestone Films takes us to the Association of Moving Image Archivists Main Page Link, where you'll find interesting articles about film discoveries and restoration projects in progress. One link on the page will take one to a clever montage by Joseph O. Holmes called Tribute to the Projection Booth (image above).

Coming up shortly here at DVD Savant will be reviews for Grindhouse's The Big Gundown, Kino's The Whip and the Body and Many Wars Ago / Uomini Contro, Warners' The Killing Fields and Anchor Bay / Weinstein's The Butler.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe! --- Glenn Erickson



December 20, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

DVD Savant Picks
The Most Impressive Discs of 2013

Oh yes oh yes oh yes! I know that American life just isn't complete without this yearly ritual, and I have to say it's still a lot of fun putting it together. Come and marvel at the infinite wisdom of this list -- or alternately, ask yourself once again just where some of these choices could possibly come from. As I explain, this is the armload of 2013 discs I would save if my house were sucked into an interdimensional black hole, and I could only make one trip to the shelves. A Savant institution, now in its 13th year!
12/20/13

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
and
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

Separate Blu-ray Releases

Twilight Time is now selling these hot-ticket limited edition discs one-to-a-customer, in an effort to satisfy fans locked out by mass-purchasing opportunists. Ray Harryhausen's two productions from the 1970s aren't exactly his best movies, but his effects animation is just as amazing as ever. Thrill to the six-armed, dancing & fighting Kali, and the baboon that interacts with human characters. Thrill a bit less to John Philip Law and Patrick Wayne as Sinbads one and two. And for fans younger than I, it seems that Caroline Munro was the dame that set their little adolescent hearts going pit-a-pat. The new HD transfers are really good, and completely rescue Golden Voyage from the greenish murk of most previous versions. Separate Blu-ray releases from Twilight Time.
12/20/13

and

Nashville
Blu-ray

Saying "Let's see a Robert Altman film!" among my friends is a good way to start a fight -- I like Altman's quirky little pictures but associates remember a decade's worth of shapeless, direction-challenged actors' free-for-alls. This 1975 effort is Altman's biggest party picture, with upwards of twenty characters in most group scenes, endless sidebar detours and a marked absence of forward motion. But the film's many fans love its characterizations and fall in with Altman's laid-back, superficial satire that claims to be presenting a snapshot of an America bewildered by politics, greed and obsessive celebrity worship. Accompanied by many excellent interview extras. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
12/20/13




Hello!

This might be the last Savant posting before Christmas -- or maybe I'll have a short column on the 24th. Whichever way it goes, I'd like to extend warm greetings to my readers and casual snoops, with added thanks for those who have offered corrections to my text this year. I'd mention the most embarrassing factual mistake I made... but I'm not that dumb. Ordering The Sicilian Clan from France was my big Xmas goodie treat for the holiday, and I'm happy that I lucked out -- only after the disc was on its way did I discover that it would indeed have English subtitles, and only when I popped it in a player did I find that it was All-region. I've received several emails from readers encouraged by the review, to buy copies of their own. I think they'll be pleased -- they sounded like bigger fans of French crime pix than I am.

Not all Region B discs work out so well -- a great UK company has sent me two pre-release screeners of very desirable films, but they're aren't final product and don't want to play in my all-Region player. So reviews for those two are out, unfortunately.

One fun link, forwarded by the fount of all great links Gary Teetzel: outspoken author Harlan Ellison agrees with me on the new Saving Mr. Banks movie. He's just a little more expressive in his opinionizing than I am. I only met Mr. Ellison once, back in 1978 at a party/screening of a print I had found of Danger: Diabolik. He was opinionated, funny and very friendly. The link is to a recorded speech by Harlan Ellison.

Friends are winging their way homeward for the holidays, and barring bad weather my family will be converging here in the next few days -- so I'm hoping for some great times (and lots of dishes to wash). Talk to you soon.

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas! --- Glenn Erickson



December 16, 2013

Savant's new reviews today begin with a pair of hot foreign Blu-rays -- but they're encoded all-Region!

Death Rides a Horse
(Von Mann zu Mann; Da uomo a uomo)

All-Region Blu-ray + Region 2 PAL DVD

Galloping this way is the latest Lee Van Cleef semi-classic, this one being the Giulio Petrone Italo oater in which seasoned gunfighter Van Cleef accompanies young punk John Philip Law on a ride for vengeance against four appropriately scummy villains. Great widescreen lensing, supporting actors and music familiar from the Sergio Leone westerns, it's a good bet for owners of all-region players. In All-Region Blu-ray + Region 2 PAL DVD from Explosive Media GmbH.
12/17/13

The Sicilian Clan
All-Region Blu-ray + Region 2 PAL DVD

This French release corrects the no-show status on home video of Henri Verneuil's big-budget multi-lingual crime saga. America got a weak English-dubbed version theatrically, but now we can finally see the much more lively original starring three of France's top male stars -- Jean Gabin, Alain Delon and Lino Ventura. Gabin is the paterfamilias of an immigrant gang of thieves, that plans an audacious but credible super-crime aided by the New York Mafia. Alain Delon is the cop-killing French fugitive who throws in with the Sicilians, and Ventura is the Inspector on the case who wants to quit smoking. The show concludes in a fantastic caper with uncomfortable similarities to recent world-changing events. In All-Region Blu-ray + PAL Region 2 DVD from Fox-Europa.
12/17/13

and

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Blu-ray

Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Philip Dunne's classic is a marvelously moody film blanc about loneliness and loss, and a life lived without love. Young widow Gene Tierney is haunted by a romantic sea captain (Rex Harrison) who inspires her to write a novel of his exploits. With George Sanders as an unmitigated cad (what else?) and featuring one of composer Bernard Herrmann's most romantic music scores. In Blu-ray from Fox Studio Classics.
12/17/13




Hello!

We have a birth to announce, that of writer & colleague Stuart Galbraith IV's new cinema review and comment website World Cinema Paradise. It kicks off today with input articles from ace reviewer Stuart, Anthony Balducci, Dennis Bartok, Dwayne Epstein, Michael Jeck and myself. I'm on record with a review of the new Grindhouse Blu-ray of The Big Gundown, which I compare to the Explosive Media release from a year ago. Expect to see Savant steering readers to World Cinema Paradise soon and often -- please take a look at the initial articles!

An excellent pair of links today ...

Passed on to us by Joe Dante is this link to a merry little item with a yuletide flavor. Even without the politics, it's hilariously perceptive: Fox News's "improved" trailer for It's a Wonderful Life.

And Gary Teetzel graces us with a link to this well-done themed promo for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Thanks for reading! -- Glenn Erickson



December 13, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

Investigation of a
Citizen Above Suspicion

Blu-ray + DVD

Perhaps the best political thriller from Italy's 'committed action' years, Elio Petri's thriller investigates a police chief so arrogant about his special security powers that he commits a murder and leaves plenty of evidence, knowing that his own staff will never think of suspecting one of their own. With a powerful performance by Gian Maria Volonté, with Florinda Bolkan as his victim -- and abetted by the chilling commentary of Ennio Morricone's eccentric music score. The abundant extras feature long documentaries on director Petri and the fiery actor Volonté. In Blu-ray + DVD from The Criterion Collection.
12/14/13

Mary Poppins
50th Anniversary Edition

Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy

A full-on restoration brings Walt Disney's happiest live-action / animation film to Blu-ray in terrific shape. Suffragettes and father issues aside, it's a delight to see Julie Andrews take command, while Dick Van Dyke cavorts in what is easily his best movie performance. The impressive transfer brings out even more mystery and magic, and the audio engineers have improved the tracks over the controversial job done on the 2004 DVD release. In Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy from Disney Home Video.
12/14/13

and

Desk Set
Blu-ray

This vehicle for Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn is an early example of movies about the new corporate climate, where automation is a constant threat and higher-ups keep employees in the dark. A broadcast company's research department is fitted for a new computer called E.M.I.R.A.C, but expert Tracy maintains secrecy about its purpose. Joan Blondell, Gig Young and Dina Merrill provide support in a bright script written by Phoebe and Henry Ephron. In Blu-ray from 20th Fox Home Entertainment.
12/14/13




Hello!

I hate to say it with so much of America under snow, but after a slightly chilly week the sun is out in Los Angeles and temperatures are rising. I have family that will be traveling soon and hope that all those airports back East warm up and dry up for the holiday.

Helpful Gary Teetzel has tipped me off to an online resource at archive.org, where one can read every issue of the old Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, for free. It's all there, every pun, wisecrack and scary photo that in the fourth grade used to keep me fascinated: "surely they'll never dare show a movie like that where kids can see it." I also remember certain FM superfans shouting out bragging rights around the honor of whose name had appeared the earliest in the magazine's pages -- it was a special status to be a correspondent of "Uncle Forry." The issues are listed backwards, so go to page 3 to find the earliest ones from 1958.

And also, Turner Classic Movies' annual Obituary Montage for 2013 is now up on YouTube. It's the expected classy goodbye to (far too many) beloved favorites -- a lot of meaningful movie relationships are there. I didn't know that Mickey Knox had passed away, which is a sad surprise. I worked with him for several days about ten years ago, and our discussions amounted to a crash lecture course on politically-minded Italian directors. The same goes for Otto Sander and Cliff Osmond. Mr. Osmond was taking classes at UCLA when I worked in the Theater Arts Reading room, and was a funny, friendly guy to talk to.

Thanks for reading -- the Savant Best-Of List for 2013 is coming next -- Glenn Erickson



December 09, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

Il Generale Della Rovere
Blu-ray

Roberto Rossellini had a mainstream European hit in this tense drama starring Vittorio De Sica and harking back to the subject matter of his neo-realist days, the Nazi occupation. Caught by a German Major swindling wealthy Italians desperate to recover arrested relatives, a foolish gambler finds himself between a rock and hard place: the Major forces him to impersonate a legendary general of the resistance, to help arrest militant partisans. Once in jail, the gambler begins to realize just how courageous are some of his countrymen, and just how low he has allowed himself to sink. This restored edition gives us the popular theatrical version plus the longer festival cut, and plenty of extras. In Blu-ray from Raro Video.
12/10/13

The World of Suzie Wong

Somehow I expected this well-known picture to be a dated mess, but Richard Quine's beautifully directed drama has a good grip on its subject matter. A Yankee artist falls in love with a Hong Kong prostitute, and their romance seems to please nobody. William Holden is impressive as a man without preconceived notions, and newcomer Nancy Kwan establishes herself as a major talent right from the start. The film has great direction, fine music and tolerant, non-racist attitudes not often seen in films from 1960. A reissue of a Paramount DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.
12/10/13

and

The Final Programme

UK Correspondent Lee Broughton analyzes Robert Fuest's sci-fi adaptation of Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius adventure, released in edited form here in America as The Last Days of Man on Earth. Jon Finch stars as the Mod physicist-adventurer, supported by a great cast of eccentrics: Jenny Runacre, Graham Crowden, George Coulouris, Patrick Magee, Sterling Hayden, Hugh Griffith, Ronald Lacey and Julie Ege. The maker of the Dr. Phibes films gives himself a 'directed and designed by' credit. A UK Region 2 PAL DVD from Network Distributing.
12/10/13




Hello!

Don't worry, DVD Savant is back, and with new website security in place it now requires three separate checkpoints for me to get into my page and fix a misspelling. But the DVDtalk tech people were very helpful and understanding, and I am grateful only to miss a single update.


That leaves a lot of catch-up work to be done, and there are still obligations to a couple other sites to work into the day --- and this is also the week that the OFSC votes, so I have a couple more screeners to watch. Thanks for all the helpful notes and corrections. And especially Shaun K. Chang for helping me this week with an upcoming review of Nashville.


It was rather nice seeing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on Sunday when DVD Savant was down -- since I couldn't be writing anyway, I didn't feel guilty. Actually, nobody has complained, which is nice. If they did I could always send Sven (pictured, left) over with the message, "How do you like them apples?"

Thanks for reading -- Glenn Erickson



December 02, 2013

A quick Sunday note here -- I just returned from a Guild screening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (3D, 24fps) at the Real D theater in Beverly Hills, and am happy to report that it's a big success. The first film is little more than a prologue compared to this installment, where we get pretty much everything we want -- more variety in action and characters, a little romance, several impressive set pieces and many more emotional highlights. A jaded audience of editors laughed and clapped a couple of times at the humor, and it was fun to see the character Legolas make a reappearance.

When the dreaded Smaug makes his entrance, he's a real killer -- linked to the Evil forces at work and gifted with a suave voice like George Sanders' tiger in The Jungle Book. Smaug is Vermithrax Pejorative amplified several times -- he even has a scene were he takes on one of the qualities of Ghidorah, Toho's 3-Headed monster. If you at all liked the first Hobbit movie, I'm pretty sure you'll like this one much more.

Hope we get Savant running tomorrow with new reviews! Glenn Erickson


Saturday December 7, 2013

Well, hello! A new security setup at DVDtalk has knocked out my ability to upload reviews, and I've spent so much of the last two days working on the problem that the reviews aren't fully written anyway! So Savant is stalled right before the holidays just when the site should be peaking. The DVDtalk tech people are actually very helpful. I think being outside their system slows things down somewhat.

This inconvenience reminds me, I'm quick to add, that tech problems between DVD Savant and DVDtalk have been minimal for the past four years -- when they upgrade their security systems it's only logical that the odd exception to the rule -- me -- gets hung up for a few days.

I am ready to post reviews for the Warner Archive Collection's The World of Suzie Wong (surprisingly good) and a Blu-ray of Criterion's Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (excellent). I'm working on Icarus Films' French documentary Far From Vietnam, Kino Lorber's new American docu More Than Honey and Blu-rays of Fox's Desk Set, Disney's Mary Poppins, Warners' All the President's Men and Explosive Media's German Region B release Death Rides a Horse. UK contact Lee Broughton will be reviewing the accompanying Deutsch Region B release of Sabata. Although they're promised to other sites first, Criterion's Blu-rays of Nashville, Grey Gardens and Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project will follow with RaroVideo's restored Blu of Il Generale della Rovere.

Promised but not yet received are the Arrow Video UK Region B Blu-ray of The Long Goodbye and Kino Classic's hotly awaited The Whip and the Body.

The Savant's Most Impressive Discs of 2013 list will be out soon; I'm (cough) working on that as well. Expect the usual gallery of highly recommended but utterly Savant-centric choices. Shout Factory's attractive Vincent Price Collection would surely have earned a high roost had I been able to review it, but those are the breaks. I've got a few reviews to go, but by adding up the numbers I see that I've covered almost 300 discs this year. Years past topped that, but I was crazier then. The first 'best of list' was offered in 2001, so this is my 12th year. While grumbling at the lack of new reviews tonight, you can peruse what was hot in '01 at this link. You'll find links to all the intervening years, actually, so you can cruise the entire millennial decade for the odd and the OOP.

Since I can't upload reviews per se, I'll instead finish off this column with more hot recommendations for glitzy gift boxes. Warners' James Dean Ultimate Blu-ray Collector's Edition has been joined by a handsome gift set Blu-ray for JFK 50 Year Commemorative Ultimate Collector's Edition. Criterion has samurai fans watering at the mouth for their enormous Blu-ray / DVD gift set of the entire Zatoichi, the Blind Swordsman Series. The box is easily this year's winning coffee-table ornament. Do people still have coffee tables? Contributing to the extras is samurai cinema authority Chris D, whose command of Japanese genre cinema is extraordinary.

Thanks for reading and see you in a couple of days! Glenn Erickson


Tuesday December 3, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

Russian Ark
Blu-ray

It's a movie with hundreds, maybe thousands of extras. Complicated camera moves glide through 33 grand halls of the Hermitage Museum ending in a bravura dance sequence, and it's all composed in one unbroken shot of maybe 94 minutes' duration. Aleksandr Sokurov's 2002 epic takes us on a journey through 300 years of Russian history, all laid out in a breathtaking, seamless pageant right where it happened, in the former Winter Palace. In Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.
12/03/13

and

Into the Arms of Strangers:
Stories of the Kindertransport

An absorbing, emotional story of refugees saved from Hitler by a program that spared the lives of ten thousand German children. Separated from their parents and shipped off to England, the 'kindertransport' children grew up in English-speaking foster homes, while few of their parents and relatives survived. Told by the children themselves (now senior citizens) with excellent film clips, photos and documentation, Mark Jonathan Harris' docu finds a few happy endings within the greater tragedy. An excellent and inspirational offering, augmented with reference-quality extras. From The Warner Archive Collection.
12/03/13




Hello!

Some nice treats are coming up this week at Trailers from Hell ... director Brian Trenchard-Smith lends his impressive commentary skills to trailers for three movies by Sergio Leone. Up now is The Colossus of Rhodes in glorious CinemaScope; later in the week we'll see and hear Trenchard-Smith's appreciations for Leone's The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah (Sergio was an assistant director) and Duck You Sucker. I predict heavy visitation for Trailers from Hell this week, as Sergio Leone never fails to draw a large audience.

I've been dipping into the new movies for Academy consideration and have a couple of notes in passing... raving opinions, actually. 12 Years a Slave is a quality production yet didn't teach me much new about its subject. If one's children can handle one painfully gory scene, it's not a bad introduction to the historical truth of slavery. Dallas Buyer's Club is accomplished, original and clever. It has an odd message that says a renegade self-healer's judgment is better medicine than what doctors can provide, and it slams the government's regulations in a way that seems designed to undermine the Affordable Care Act (if only by association). Would YOU take a prescription drug cocktail from that guy? I guess if I were dying and nobody was helping, maybe I would too.

I had high hopes for Saving Mr. Banks but ended up loving Tom Hanks' interpretation of Walt Disney and little else. Emma Thompson's character isn't particularly pleasant or even likeable, and her character arc is so obvious from the get-go that the story has zero surprises. The original Mary Poppins is a great picture but not so great that all the fuss is warranted. And for me the back story in Australia played as sappy-sober as Little House on the Prairie in the Outback. The overall message seems to be that good old Walt has the right to buy up every good property on Earth that could become a family film, and anybody who said no to him must have been a warped curmudgeon with emotional problems. I don't think we'll see a movie about how the author of Dumbo fared when Disney snapped up the rights.

Mr. Banks put me in the wrong mood to watch Frozen, which to me came off as another well-polished brick in the wall for the modern Disney's 'princess' mega-franchise. There seemed to be not one new image or idea in the whole thing, right down to the rule that all the men, even the hero, must stand aside while the 'empowered princesses' take charge. 'Girls rule' entertainment continues to sell the same damaging fantasy of 'specialness', glamour and grace. I guess they're just trying to balance out all the violent & brutal role-model entertainment for boys.

Am looking forward to seeing All Is Lost and The Wind Rises.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson


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

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