Legendary director Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) had a knack for creating cinematic creations from some of history's greatest plays, novels, and true stories. Whether it was his iconic examination of Reginald Rose's timeless 12 Angry Men; Al Pacino's Sonny's bizarre bank robbery in Dog Day Afternoon; or a harrowing study of domestic and familial breakdown that surfaces Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, Lumet brought his own stylistic flourishes that continue to be beloved to this today. However, and this is painful for me to do this, but if I had to choose his most divided work, it has to
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Sidney Lumet's 1960 adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play heads a new week of releases.
An almost forgotten 1938 George Cukor classic starts off 2020's first new week of releases.
Talking about the films that Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn made together, you usually go to 1938's Bringing Up Baby, and definitely 1940's The Philadelphia Story. However, George Cukor's somewhat overshadowed romance, Holiday (also 1938), shouldn't be left in the dust, especially because it is actually more grounded and honest than both Baby and Philadelphia Story. There is a type of subversive social commentary that you didn't really expect in the '30s. Adapted from Philip Barry's 1928 play, the film stars Grant as Johnny Case, a free-spirted man from humble beginnings who is engaged to Julia (Doris Nolan), a beautiful
A 1985 cult horror classic headlines a new week of eclectic releases.
As far as Stephen King adaptations go, 1985's Silver Bullet does rank up there with other great '80s adaptations such as The Shining, The Dead Zone, Christine, Cujo, and Stand By Me. As we all know, the story of Marty Colsaw (the late Corey Haim), a young handicapped kid who thinks the local priest (Everett McGill) is a serial killer, especially after a series of bizarre murders that have taken place in the small town he lives in, isn't exactly compelling material, but director Daniel Attias infuses the film with enough campy teen humor with gory thrills that definitely makes
Wim Wenders' 1992 epic headlines a new week of stellar releases.
As we all know, Wim Wenders is a master filmmaker, who has given us an amazing and eclectic career of films such as Alice in the Cities; Paris, Texas; Wings of Desire; Buena Vista Social Club; and Pina. These films are mediations on life, death, music, and humanity, in such a way that arguably very few directors have ever attempted. However, if there is one Wenders film that I'm excited for, it is his 1992 scifi road movie, Until the End of the World, which is honestly one that I've never seen or heard of until Criterion announced it for
A John Carpenter cult classic rounds up a new week of releases.
Director John Carpenter has had a long-standing career of making great movies, especially in the horror genre. Some of them (Halloween, The Thing, The Fog, Escape from New York) are absolutely iconic; while others (1995's Village of the Damned, Vampires, Ghosts of Mars, Escape from LA) are not so much. Fortunately, his 1986 exciting action horror comedy, Big Trouble in Little China, is definitely one of his more accessible films. It's pretty clear that he was influenced by the comic books of the '50s, and it totally shows here. It has a fun and refreshing performance by Kurt Russell, amazing
A legendary 1950 masterpiece about the perils of Hollywood headlines a week of good releases.
What else can one say about Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1950 landmark backstage drama? It's a film that remains arguably the most quotable film ever made, a film that contains Bette Davis' greatest performance, and a film that set a record of nominations in Oscar history. It's also a bitchfest of the highest order that many gay men, besides myself, always look to for inspiration and sharp wit quips. You obviously know the tale, dim protege Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) works her way from naive, guillble waif to ambitious evil in the body of a woman, trying to steal the spotlight,
It is another big week for Blu-ray releases, we've got your scoop.
When I was but a wee lad, my uncle and all of my cousins were gaga over The Three Stooges. I loved those knuckleheads too, but my favorite old comedy legends were Abbott & Costello. I can remember having these long debates with my mother about why they were better than the Stooges. The slapstick comedy of the Stooges was the best, but Abbott & Costello told actual stories. Their movies weren’t just a bunch of gags. As I write that, I realize how much that thought has informed my opinion of comedy even today. I always prefer my laughs
It's a big, beautiful week for new releases.
Every now and again, my wife will load up the daughter with her in the car and take off to visit her parents or some other such thing, leaving me alone in the house for a few days. I always take this opportunity to go to the movie theater and see things we normally wouldn't see on the big screen. The wife doesn't consult the movie listings before she goes to ensure there is something I really want to watch, so it is always a bit of hit and miss as to what is available to watch. This last summer
Come and see all the cool new releases coming out this week.
Davey is still missing in action so I’m keeping the reigns this week. I love me some Neil Gaiman. I love me some David Tennant. I’m quire fond of Michael Sheen. Put those three together for an Amazon Prime series and I’m all in. Good Omens is based upon the novel by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It follows Tennant and Sheen as two angels playing for opposite sides of the moral spectrum. They are supposed to be preparing the world for Armageddon - the ultimate war between Satan and God, but they both rather enjoy Earth a little too much.
It's a big week for horror films and a terrific week for Criterion fans.
Davy is off this week so I’m picking up my old reins and talking new Blu-ray releases. It is Halloween week! One of my favorite weeks of the year. I’m a huge horror fan and boy, does this week have plenty of horror releases. But first, we have to talk about the Criterion Collection. Since the mid-1980s (yep, you read that right, they started making Laserdiscs in 1985), Criterion has been releasing superior editions of independent, art-house, and foreign films on home video. For serious cinephiles, Criterion is the place to begin one's collection. Their DVD and Blu-ray releases come
A landmark documentary headlines a week of very low-brow releases.
I'm not really a sports guy, and I'm obviously not athletic. However, I will watch documentaries about sports. There have been some phenomenal ones such as Hoop Dreams, The Endless Summer, Tokyo Olympiad, Pumping Iron, and 1996's When We Were Kings, which not only tells the story of the legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" boxing match of champion George Forman and then electrifying challenger Muhammad Ali, but also showcases the often harrowing relationship between African Americans and the country of Africa, especially during the Black Power movement. It's an often moving document of racial politics, music, and Ali's magnetism that
A 1976 horror classic, it's so-so sequels and a mostly unnecessary remake make up a new box set that tops a new week of terrific releases.
Obviously with franchises, especially with horror, there always the first films that are classics, the sequels are from good to decent to bad, and then there are the remakes, which are mostly forgettable. This is definitely the case with the Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, Friday the 13th (yes, I said it), and A Nightmare On Elm Street franchises. However, if there is one that often gets overlooked, it is The Omen Collection, for better or worse, a worthwhile series that is going to be released as a new deluxe edition this week from the good folks at Shout/Scream
Von Sternberg's classic silent trilogy rounds out a slow week of new releases.
Although he was well known for his legendary collaborations with the great Marlene Dietrich, famous Vienna born, New York-raised director Josef von Sternberg had already established himself with dark, grim visions of ordinary people caught up in dangerous, and highly emotional circumstances that still influence filmmakers to this very day. In Underworld (1927), George Bancroft plays criminal Bull Weed, whose attraction to his mistress gets him into some really nasty situations with his rival, and eventually the police. To further his descent into madness, the mistress falls hard for an alcoholic ex-lawyer. In The Last Command (1928), Emil Jannings won
Kubrick's 1980 polarizing horror masterpiece headlines a rather slow week of new releases.
What else can you say about The Shining, director Stanley Kubrick's controversial 1980 horror masterwork?! On one side, it's considered one of the most disturbing films ever made; on the other, it's reviled by many (including Stephen King himself) as a totally unfaithful adaptation of the arguably the scariest novel ever written. Is it a ghost story? A haunted house thriller? A film about the aftermath of alcoholism? A film about the unraveling of a really broken family? A film about one man's descent into complete and utter madness? No matter how you view, the film is here to stay.
A 1928 Charlie Chaplin gem headlines a new week of great releases.
When it comes to humor and heart, there was probably no one better to deliver that wonderful mixture than the great Charlie Chaplin. His characters represented outsiders who are just trying to belong in a world that continues to shut them out. Although his 1928 effort, The Circus, wasn't as impactful nor profound as City Lights, Modern Times, or even The Great Dictator, it still has enough pathos and reality to win over the most jaded of movie lovers. Chaplin plays a falsly accused thief running away from the police, who ends up in a traveling circus. He interupts a
John Waters's 1981 biting domestic classic tops a week of solid releases.
John Waters is one of our greatest filmmakers. He is a singular director of outrageous bad state, but he dares to show a side of society that usually doesn't get depicted too often in film. He also found the perfect alter ego in his greatest actor: the legendary Divine. They had made many movies together (Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Multiple Maniacs, among others), but in 1981, I think they both hit their stride with Waters's first studio feature, Polyester. In a twisted reversal of Douglas Sirk, Divine brilliantly plays Francine Fishpaw, a long-suffering Baltimore housewife grappling with her keen sense
An odd 1954 Hitchcock thriller caps off a week of low-key releases.
There is a reason why the term "Hitchcockian" exists. Film history just wouldn't be what it is without good ol' Hitchcock. His film set the template for suspense, romance, danger, and old-fashioned leaps around censorship. He also knew how to pick his leading ladies, and the late, but super lovely Grace Kelly was one of his finest "Hitchcock blondes." She represented for him elegance, sophistication, and a little touch of mischief. Dial M for Murder, his 1954 effort, isn't the best film to highlight Kelly's legendary oomph, but it's still an interesting and twisty thriller. She plays the adulterous wife
A darkly funny 1965 slap in the face to family values headlines a week of releases.
Director Marco Bellocchio's 1965 savage masterpiece, Fists in the Pocket, remains argubly the most definitive portrait of brutal family dysfunction in the history of cinema. It was like a swan dive into a pit of needles and razor wire, as it dealt with subject matter that most of us could actually relate to. Many people (myself included) wish that they could escape the families they were born into. Unfortunately, the impulse of doing away with the folks can sometimes lead to murder and mayhem. This theme occurs as Alessandro (a brilliant Lou Castel), a young epileptic man who tries to
The late master Kiarostami's influential trilogy rounds out a week of stellar new releases.
When master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami passed away in 2016, that really shook the film world, because his extraordinary body of work really elevated the endless possibilites of how bold and innovative Cinema can be. His blending of reality and fiction became a touchstone for the depiction of the human condition. From his short films of the early '70s to his final masterpiece, 24 Frames (2017), Kiarostami really changed the face of contemporary Iranian film forever. He never made a bad film, and it's no wonder why critics and film buffs (besides myself) still sing his praises today, and discuss how
A 1954 Douglas Sirk weepfest rounds out a new week of releases.
When it comes to classic melodrama, director Douglas Sirk can't be beat. In his films, which usually include themes of class, social status, wealth, and human frailty, these stories play out in rich, elegant Technicolor that you can overlook the sometimes overwrought weepiness. His 1954 effort, Magnificent Obsession, is often his most unconvincing film, but with the talents of Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman on display, you just go with it. The plot of a reckless, loaded playboy running over a distraught widow seems saccharin today, but back then it was an actual story. Again, you just have to go
A rather unknown 1991 travelogue with one of film culture's greatest scholars headlines a week of new releases.
As much I adore legendary film critic Donald Ritchie, I never knew he made a personal travelogue of his trip to Japan. Reading the premise, I actually found The Inland Sea promising, meaning that an individual allows the viewer to take a journey with them to faraway places. You're able to get a life-changing, or at least a spiritual experience that you wouldn't obviously get otherwise. I wish I had more to say, but I have never really heard of this small film until Criterion announced it for this month. It isn't packed with supplements, but the ones on this
A highly overlooked 1976 slasher headlines a week of interesting releases.
When discussing the slasher genre, the obvious classics: Halloween (1978), A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), Scream (1996), and most notably the granddaddy of them all: Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), always comes to mind. However, Alice, Sweet Alice, director Alfred Sole's 1976 chiller, is not usually on most horror fans' lips. It should be, because it is an unusual blend of terror and religious iconography that will creep you out. It's certainly not for everyone, but that's beside the point. It's also a slow burn filled with eerie uncertainty that brings to mind Don't Look Now (1973), which I think Sole
A 1989 masterpiece tops a new week of interesting releases.
The year 1989 was pretty great for film, although not for the Oscars. The overall winner was Driving Miss Daisy, which was a rather safe choice by the Academy. However, there were two other films that were more accurate, less syrupy representations of racial tension and prejudice: Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing, and director Edward Zwick's Glory, which remains an emotionally charged and important picture about not only the bloodiest event in American history, but also the bonds between those not defined by the color of one's skin, but the moral code in which they live by. This is
Spike Lee's 1989 masterpiece tops a week of great releases.
When taking about some of the greatest films ever made, you have to include iconic director Spike Lee's equally iconic 1989 masterwork, Do The Right Thing, which still reverberates even after thirty years. It was a funny, evocative, and dangerous look at a never-ending, hot-button topic that refuses to lay down and die: racism. Honestly, some of us may think that the film seems shaky and a little dated, but that's besides the point. It's a slow burn, sweaty fever-dream that boils to a puzzling, controversial conclusion that reminds us that some things may have changed, but others still stay
A gritty '70s masterwork leads a week of interesting releases.
The 1970s was a hugely groundbreaking decade for film. During this decade, Cinema reflected on the aftermath of Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, women's rights, and the uncertainty of more political unrest. Director Alan J. Pakula reflected this with his unofficial 'paranoid trilogy', which included 1974's The Parallax View and 1976's All The President's Men. However, his 1971 neo-noir thriller, Klute, started it all. It's a film about menace, uncertainty, but also a woman's place in the world. That woman is Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), a self-liberated call girl who's given one trick too many, and finds herself on the wrong
Fassbinder's classic trilogy stands out during a week of notable releases.
Legendary director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was one of the most uncompromising observers of human nature that cinema had ever known. He was also a rebel with a devil-may-care attitude, but not unsympathetically towards his characters; characters who were outsiders rejected by society and forced to live their lives the only way they knew how. The three films available in the new Blu-ray upgrade for his famous BRD Trilogy: The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Veronkia Voss (1982), and Lola (1981), showcase strong women who sacrifice their beauty for the things they want in postwar Germany, but not for the most
Legendary director Jean-Pierre Melville's 1961 non-gangster classic leads a rather slow week of releases.
When talking about the great Jean-Pierre Melville, you're automatically drawn to his gangster oeurve, which he definitely excelled in. This is apparent because of iconic films such as Le Samourai, Le Cercle Rouge, and Le Deuxieme Souffle, among others. However, he was a filmmaker of many talents, reveling in dramas as well, such as Army Of Shadows, Le Silence De La Mer, and his spirtual 1961 effort Leon Morin, Priest, which is my Pick of the Week. It stars film legend Jean-Paul Belmondo as Leon Morin, a man of the cloth who becomes the object of desire of all the
John Cameron Mitchell's 2001 cult classic rounds out a pretty great week of new releases.
Being that this is still Pride month, I think John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) makes sense as my Pick of the Week. Although I have only seen the first half of the film, I know that it definitely compares to Rocky Horror as the new Midnight Movie, but with more emotional and oddly realistic poignancy. It also captures the spirit of rock and roll and how it connects within the soul of people who really desire their own voice. In terms of today's unholy and misguided transphobia, I think the film stomps the usual stereotypes to
Jordan Peele's creepy second work headlines a new, interesting release week.
Director Jordan Peele brings us a new cinematic nightmare with his inventive, sophomore effort, Us, which can be described as a home-invasion thriller like no other. However, Peele has some definite tricks up his sleeve. Although he only has two films under his belt (so far), this and his 2017 smash hit, Get Out, he already has garnered the reputation as a new master of horror. His brand of scaring viewers is the level of social horror, where the shocks are metaphors for the real problems that exist the world we live in. With Us, he tackles the hidden terrors
An Astaire and Rogers classic headlines a somewhat pivotal week of new releases.
When it comes to classic cinema, I think that the Astaire and Rogers films have to be mentioned somewhere. While they're short on plot, which means that Astaire and Rogers typically play their usual boy-meets-girl, girl-detests-boy, boy-and-girl eventually fall in love schtick. But when it comes to the dancing and musical numbers, they arugbly cannot be beat as perhaps the greatest duo in Hollywood history. And when you have them directed by one of the most celebrated American directors of all-time, Mr. George Stevens, you have a recipe for movie magic. Hence the point, with the new release of 1936's