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Tuesday May 3, 2016

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Savant's new reviews today are:

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The Warner Archive Collection

 Stand back, watch the fur fly and don't forget to duck -- this is surely the smartest, most wicked and most psychologically toxic adapted play ever to hit film. The legends Liz and Dick don't disappoint, and Mike Nichols conquers the screen in his first job of direction -- the vicious dynamics in Edward Albee's play feel like situations we've encountered in real life, only pushed to an extreme that makes one's skin crawl. The WAC Blu-ray can boast a must-listen commentary with the late Mike Nichols, prompted by director Steven Soderbergh. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.

The Criterion Collection

 What's contemporary Europe got that we ain't got? Powerful, serious filmmaking like this dark melodrama by Deutsche director Christian Petzold, starring the impressive Nina Hoss of Barbara. Their sixth collaboration is a loaded narrative that takes some pretty wild narrative themes -- plastic surgery, hidden identities -- and spins them in a suspenseful new direction. Think Eyes without a Face plus elements of Vertigo and Berlin Year Zero... yet it's not a gimmick film. This was in a lot of top ten lists last year. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.


KL Studio Classics

 The dirty book of the '60s becomes an all-star dirty movie with Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, Ringo Starr, James Coburn, Walter Matthau, John Astin, Charles Aznavour and John Huston all wanting a taste of the Swedish nymphet Ewa Aulin. Camerawork by Rotunno, designs by Dean Tavoularis, effects by Doug Trumbull, music by The Byrds & Steppenwolf -- and the best material is Brando making goofy faces as a sub-Sellers Indian guru. BUT: also included is an excellent interview piece by screenwriter Buck Henry. He can't explain what went wrong, but he sure convinces us that he had fun making the show. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


Correspondent Bill Treadway sends a heads-up to fans of Michael Cimino: a free over-the-air digital channel called This TV, which this month happens to be showing the short version of Heaven's Gate, the version prepared in a panic by Cimino in the wake of the United Artists meltdown. All I know about it is that the opening sequence is now five minutes instead of twenty, and the transfer is a pan-scan job. The curious can now see for themselves what was done to the four-hour-plus movie. My disc review from 2012 is here.

Over at Joe Baltake's The Passionate Moviegoer, Joe compares two movies written by Thomas McGuane, and sees that they have an interesting number of parallel events -- The Missouri Breaks and Rancho Deluxe. Baltake uses the same comparison technique I used when comparing Get Shorty & Be Cool, and Death Watch & Until the End of the World. On my part, this is a definite case of, "Isn't he clever? He thinks just like I do."

And Dick Dinman announces my guesting on one of his DVD Classics Corner broadcasts, Dick Dinman and Glenn Erickson Salute the Noir Chiller Try and Get Me! which is of course recently out on Blu from Olive. Dick discusses other subjects, and then we work our way through Cy Endfield's sublimely traumatic story of sordid crime and disproportionate injustice. My disc review from last month is here.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Saturday April 30, 2016

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Savant's new reviews today are:

In a Lonely Place
The Criterion Collection

 It's a different Bogart -- a character performance in a Nicholas Ray noir about distrust anxiety in romance. Gloria Grahame is the independent woman who must withhold her commitment... until a murder can be sorted out. Which will crack first, the murder case or the relationship? With Frank Lovejoy and Art Smith, this is indeed one of the top noir titles, a unique picture and one of Ray's very best. With an interview featurette by Gloria Grahame's biographer. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Janis: Little Girl Blue

 An amazing talent gone way too soon, Janis Joplin is more than her boozy, brash public image. This bio docu has the personal background and the insights of those her knew, plus the Texas and San Francisco context in the Rock breakout of the late 1960s. Director Amy J. Berg strikes a fine balance between Janis' inner thoughts as recorded in her correspondence, and excellent film footage of her performing life and wild times. On DVD from Filmrise.

Where to Invade Next
Anchor Bay

  Do you know how many hours per week the average Italian works, and what he gets time off for? Do you know what social services the French, the Finns, the Slovenians get for their tax dollars? America's favorite gadfly has made something worth watching -- a European tour of Great Ideas that American would do well to steal outright -- even if many of those ideas originated here. Not that anyone will listen, but Hail the Conquering Hero just the same.. On Blu-ray from Anchor Bay.


Twilight Time

 One of the best-remembered dramas of the '70s gives us controversial actresses, a lavish production and a story by the even more controversial Lillian Hellman. Director Fred Zinnemann makes it into a suspenseful, deeply affecting experience. Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave top a fine cast in a film structured like a short-story reminiscence, with one very good extended suspense sequence on a train into Nazi Germany. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.


A quick note today ... just to see what's in the review hopper: I just realized that I have Criterion's Phoenix here, so I'm going to get into that immediately. Looking at the Calendar, I have ready to roll A Kiss Before Dying (Kino), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Warner Archive), Mustang (Cohen), the 1946 The Chase and Candy (Kino). Also in way before street date from Kino are Shield for Murder, Hidden Fear, and The Magnetic Monster.

Expected presently are What! and That's Sexploitation (Severin), Woman on the Run and Too Late for Tears (Flicker Alley), Dark Passage (Warner Archive) and an attractive batch of Twilight Time releases: I Could Go On Singing, Eureka, Apassionata and Garden of Evil.

I carried some equipment around downtown last Sunday evening to help a photographer friend on his shoot, so am offering this view of the Los Angeles City Hall ... which this week has been specially illuminated in memory of Prince. The picture has not been retouched.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents
 These are the Eyes that Satirize! Everybody's seen their imagery but few know the story of these anonymous performance artists and their avant-garde music. Their highly creative songs and videos satirize the commercialization of art and music, and they've chosen a real 'you'll never get rich' way to stay clear of the commercial undertow. Don Hardy's feature documentary is accompanied by galleries of uncut videos and samples of unfinished projects. On Blu-ray from Film Movement.

Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
 The irrepressible Samuel Fuller takes on a murder and extortion saga for German TV, and comes up with an eccentric mix: old-fashioned hardboiled scripting, free-form direction and odd bits of visual graffiti from the French New Wave. Christa Lang is the femme fatale and Glenn Corbett is the two-fisted American hero, whose name is NOT Griff. And yes, a pigeon does bite the pavement on Beethoven Street, and I tell you, that's one dead pigeon. With Sieghardt Rupp, Anton Diffring and Stéphane Audran. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

When You're Older, Dear Adam & Berlin Around the Corner
 East German filmmakers literally towed the Party line for 44 years of Communist rule, but there were those that dared to leave the confines of social realism. From 1966 come two productions that were banned and shelved before they could be finished -- and weren't seen until they were patched together 25 years later. One color fantasy is about a boy who finds a flashlight that makes liars float in the air. The second is a terrific drama about a disenchanted 20-something factory initiate who has trouble with his bosses, his union, his to-die-for new girl friend, and the fact that he and his best pal regularly pull off petty crimes. Think that might get your movie banned in East Germany? Separate Purchases on DVD from The DEFA Film Library.

In the French Style
 It's a genuine forgotten gem: American student Jean Seberg's five-year adventure in Paris is a period of romantic frustration and personal discovery. Irwin Shaw and Robert Parrish's look at the problems of a pre-feminist independent woman is remarkably insightful; the chronically miscast and underused Ms. Seberg is luminous, enchanting. With an impressive performance by Stanley Baker, and beautifully filmed in the City of Light. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

Three Brothers
 Italian director Francesco Rosi's warm, thoughtful tale sees a family gathering observe grievous modern problems -- in the midst of so much violence in Italian politics people are still seeking humanistic solutions. The conflict is in the gap between their dreams and daily reality. Philippe Noiret heads a great cast in this mellow reflection on 'the things of life:' Charles Vanel, Michele Placido, Vittorio Mezzogiorno. On Region B Blu-ray and PAL DVD from Arrow Academy U.K..

The Second Civil War
 Is satire obsolete? Appalling present realities have surpassed some of the wildest jokes in director Joe Dante's 'exaggerated, outrageous' 1997 cable movie, which is why I'm reviewing it now. An immigration squabble snowballs until a renegade state governor closes his border and threatens to secede from the Union. The big-scale political disaster comedy stars Beau Bridges, Elizabeth Peña, James Coburn, Phil Hartman, Dan Hedaya, Joanna Cassidy, James Earl Jones, Kevin Dunn, Denis Leary and Ron Perlman. On DVD (2005) from HBO Video.

Father of the Bride
  This is one of Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor's best, written and directed by the classy MGM team of director Vincente Minnelli and writers Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett. It inspired a decade's worth of TV family sitcoms and set the benchmark for weddings for generations. Great fun and solid sentiment without mugging or exaggeration. With Joan Bennett and Don Taylor, plus Leo G. Carrol as a wonderfully officious wedding planner. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.

Cutter's Way
 "Sorry, I just slashed my wrists." "Well, tape 'em!"   This is the aftermath of the '60s protest movement. Ivan Passer's riveting murder mystery of flakes and losers in sun-drenched, guilty Santa Barbara expresses the rage of radicals faced with the growing class divide, and the arrogance of the wealthy. Plus great roles for Jeff Bridges, John Heard and Lisa Eichhorn. It's an incredible character study and one of the few pure expressions of radical alienation in early '70s California. Glowing cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth and truly strange, brilliant music by Jack Nitzche -- listenable on an Isolated Music Track. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

April 2016
 Dillinger  Blu-ray  Try and Get Me!  Blu-ray   The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates  Blu-ray  The Gallant Hours  Blu-ray  Exodus  Blu-ray  The City of the Dead  Blu-ray  Suspicion  Blu-ray  Blue Denim  DVD  Panic in Year Zero!  Blu-ray  The Stuff  Blu-ray  Alexander the Great  Blu-ray  Journey to the Seventh Planet  Blu-ray  "Manos" The Hands of Fate  Blu-ray
March 2016
 The Purple Plain  Blu-ray  Anastasia  Blu-ray  Brooklyn  Blu-ray  Susan Slept Here  Blu-ray  Dreams Rewired  DVD  The Hateful Eight  Blu-ray + DVD  A Brighter Summer Day  Blu-ray  Kill Me Again  Blu-ray  Vessel  DVD  The Manchurian Candidate  Blu-ray  Losing Ground  Blu-ray  Spies (Spione)  Blu-ray  Michael Collins  Blu-ray  Paris Belongs to Us  Blu-ray  Her Majesty, Love  DVD  I Knew Her Well  Blu-ray  The Trip  Blu-ray  Psych-Out  Blu-ray  Spring Takes Time  DVD  The Strangler  DVD  When Eight Bells Toll  Blu-ray  Murders in the Rue Morgue &  The Dunwich Horror  Blu-ray  The Big Heat  Blu-ray  Bad Boy  DVD  The Decline of Western Civilization + Part II The Metal Years  Blu-ray  Contagion  Blu-ray  Donovan's Brain  Blu-ray  The Hawaiians  Blu-ray  Revolt of the Slaves  DVD
February 2016
 The Vincent Price Collection III :
Master of the World, Tower of London, Diary of a Madman, Cry of the Banshee  Blu-ray  Cowboy  Blu-ray  The Graduate  Blu-ray  Key Largo  Blu-ray  Childhood's End  Blu-ray  The Black Sleep  Blu-ray  5 Dolls for an August Moon  Region B Blu-ray + DVD  Oh! What a Lovely War  DVD  L'Inhumaine  Blu-ray  Spotlight   Blu-ray + DVD  Where the Sidewalk Ends  Blu-ray  Millennium + R.O.T.O.R  Blu-ray  The Vikings  Blu-ray  Inside Llewyn Davis  Blu-ray  All Things Must Pass, The Rise and Fall of Tower Records  DVD  The Big Sleep  Blu-ray  The Emigrants & The New Land  Blu-ray  The Happy Ending  Blu-ray  GOG 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Woman in the Moon  Blu-ray  Deep Red  Blu-ray  Station West  DVD  Harlock: Space Pirate 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Crimson Peak   Blu-ray + DVD  Bridge of Spies   Blu-ray + DVD  Death By Hanging  Blu-ray
January 2016
 Gilda  Blu-ray  The Last Detail  Blu-ray  The Wrong Man  Blu-ray  Hawaii  Blu-ray  Beyond the Valley of the Dolls  Region B Blu-ray  The Southerner  Blu-ray  Curse of the Faceless Man  Blu-ray  I Confess  Blu-ray  The Undesirable  Blu-ray  Ex Machina  Blu-ray  Let There Be Light: John Huston's Wartime Documentaries  Blu-ray  Wind Across the Everglades  DVD  From the Terrace  Blu-ray  Figures in a Landscape  Blu-ray  Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things  Blu-ray  Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)  Blu-ray  The American Friend  Blu-ray  Bitter Rice  Blu-ray  Hitler's Children  DVD  Everest 3-D  3-D Blu-ray + Digital HD  The Look of Silence  Blu-ray  The Complete Lady Snowblood  Blu-ray  Four Men and a Prayer  DVD  The Captive City  Blu-ray  The Beginning or The End  DVD  Mysterious Island Encore Edition  Blu-ray  Nightmares  Blu-ray  Born Free  Blu-ray  Faust (1926)  Blu-ray  The Girl Most Likely  DVD

  Reaching further back in time?  2015 can't be uploaded yet, but you can see a
A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014
... and for 2013 ... 2012 ... and 2011
Use the search function at the top of the page for individual titles -- it's new and improved and works well.

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