“I stopped trying to figure everything out a long time ago” is the last line of dialogue in Masked and Anonymous. It is said through narration by musician Jack Fate (Bob Dylan, playing a variation of himself or not depending on the scene) while he rides away in a van after being framed for murder, a fate he and folks who witnessed what happened accept rather easily. While that may be sound advice for life, the line is disingenuous as the entire movie, written by Dylan and director Larry Charles (credited as Rene Fontaine and Sergei Petrov) is a collection
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If one enjoys deciphering riddles, as more than a few Dylanogists do, then Masked and Anonymous is worth examining.
Not sure the reasons it's taken so long to get John Sayles in the Criterion Collection, but Matewan is certainly a worthy title from his filmography.
John Sayles' Matewan is a dramatization of the Matewan massacre (1920), a battle that took place in the town of Matewan, West Virginia between coal mine workers and armed agents of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency on behalf of the Stone Mountain Coal Company. As told, it's a compelling story from the workers' point of view. The Stone Mountain Coal Company is the main industry in town and with that monopoly, the company abuses its employees who suffer through brutal working conditions. The miners want to unionize, but the company ships in those even more desperate for work as replacements: African
Before he was Saruman, Christopher Lee starred ten times as Dracula. He narrates this informative feature-length exploration of the infamous count and the history of the vampire.
In Search of Dracula, originally released in 1975, and directed by Calvin Floyd (Terror of Frankenstein, The Sleep of Death), has been remastered in 2K by Kino Lorber. A feature-length exploration of the infamous count and the history of the vampire, the documentary features archival footage, artwork, location photography (principally of Transylvania), as well as film clips from popular vampire films. Narrated by actor Christopher Lee, the film is both informative and entertaining. Before he was Saruman, Christopher Lee starred ten times as Dracula, starting in 1958 with Horror of Dracula (widely considered one of the best Dracula films), and
Definitely a period piece, fans of Lewis Carroll will still enjoy this Alice in Wonderland, and wonder at how Hollywood in the 1930s could manage so much.
The live-action (mostly) version of Alice in Wonderland, released by Kino Lorber, has a lot packed into its 76-minute running time. In fact, after a languid start, with a bored Alice (Charlotte Henry) trying to figure out what to do with herself on a snowy day, the classic heroine has never moved more quickly on either side of the looking glass. Directed by Norman Z. McLeod (Horse Feathers, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Paleface), the black and white fantasy film features the biggest stars on the Paramount lot, circa 1933. The film opens with an extensive page-turning montage
A beautiful, sweet adaptation of the Jane Austen classic.
Bill Nighy is a treasure. I almost said "national treasure" there but since he’s English and I’m American I suppose I cannot. I’d say he is an English treasure, and I am quite sure that he is, but my Americanness probably prevents me from making such judgments. Can one be an Earthly treasure? That sounds like something out of the Bible. Universal treasure? Nah, that’s too much. I’ll just stick with treasure. Bill Nighy is a treasure. He makes every film, every television series that he appears in better. He is a joy to watch. He plays Mr. Woodhouse in
Studio Trigger's debut feature-length anime film is a high energy, colorful sci-fi confection.
There's barely a still moment in Promare, a science fiction anime film about firefighters who not only put out blazes but fight down the human mutants that are causing them. The opening credits introduce the scenario: various people around the planet, in disparate stressful situations, suddenly develop the ability to channel fire, and use it to burn the people, places, and things that annoy them. A worldwide conflagration in imminent. The problem is mostly suppressed, but these people, called the Burnish, are out there, and a special squad of firefighters have to be ready on a moment's notice to combat
I'm so very thrilled that sets like this continue to come out.
Is it just me or has film noir made an incredible and strange comeback? The oft-imitated, but difficult to define genre was highly popular in the 1940s and ‘50s, and had a resurgence in the 1980s and early 1990s (with modern updates and a “neo” attached to the beginning of the monicker). It more or less died out afterward (with few exceptions). It isn’t that we are suddenly seeing new noir being made and shown in the movie theaters (if we were allowed to go to the movies), but that a new generation of film lovers seem to be discovering
Viewers will enjoy digging up the clues along with Inspector Poole to tell the true and complete story of Eva Smith.
In 1912, the wealthy Yorkshire Birlings, Eric and Sybil (Bryan Forbes and Olga Lindo) have a lot to celebrate. Their daughter Sheila (Eileen Moore) has just become engaged to the successful Gerald Croft (Brian Worth). Their son Arthur (Arthur Young) seems happy-go-lucky without a care in the world. The group is enjoying a lavish dinner party when they are interrupted by Police Inspector Poole (Alistair Sim), who arrives seemingly out of nowhere to tell them about the death of a young woman, Eva Smith (Jane Wenham). Sheila Birling: [after hearing a girl committed suicide by drinking disinfectant] Was she pretty?
For fans that grew up with the show, it's nice to have the first season collected.
After the success of The Flintstones, Hanna Barbera returned to the family sitcom two years later with The Jetsons, doing a 180 on the idea of a Stone Age family and setting the show in the 21st century where people drive flying saucers and most things are automated. However, lightning didn't strike twice. The original series only lasted one season in primetime on ABC. The 24 episodes ran from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963. The Jetsons: The Complete Original Series is available on a three-disc Blu-ray set manufactured on demand from the Warner Archive Collection. For those that
Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Intro to Italian Neorealism 101
Criterion presents a crash course on the post-war movement with these classics: Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero.
In reaction to what many were experiencing in Italy under Mussolini and after World War II, the Italian neorealism movement sprung up in which artists told stories of the common people's struggles. The realism of the films was enhanced by the use of non-actors as well as shooting on location. Alongside works by Luchino Visconti (Ossessione and The Earth Trembles) and Vittorio De Sica (Shoeshine and Bicycle Thieves), director Roberto's Rossellini had some of the movement's first and most important releases. Collected and released as Roberto's Rossellini's War Trilogy, the Criterion Collection has given Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany
Indiscretion of an American Wife (Special Edition) Blu-ray Review: Love and Loss at the Train Station
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents two versions of this realistic depiction of lost love and Italian life.
My wife and I were strictly long distance for the first couple of years of our relationship. When we first started seriously talking, she was in Montreal and I was living in East Tennessee. We instant messaged every night, called each other's landlines once a week, and wrote regular letters to each other (and yes, every word of that sentence makes me feel old). After a year or so of that, she moved to Indiana and we began officially dating. I'd drive up every three or four weekends. I'd arrive late Friday night and we'd spend a couple of hours
Kino Lorber presents three lesser-known Stanwyck films.
Double Indemnity is one of my favorite film noirs which makes it one of my favorite movies of all time. Barbara Stanwyck is the classic femme fatale in it. She is perfect. She's great in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers too, another noir. And Sorry Wrong Number with Burt Lancaster though my memory of that film is vague. Letterboxd says I've seen The Lady Eve and I thought that was true, but looking at the synopsis of it brings back no memories what so ever. I love Stanwyck though. There's no denying her greatness. Which is why when Kino
Five British films about WWII, from home invasion to Dunkirk to the African campaign.
The Second World War is a different story, depending where it's told. For Americans, it can be complex (how our country, isolated from much of the world, was finally, inextricably enmeshed in the political troubles of the entire globe) or simplistic (America flew in and rescued everyone, kickin' Nazi ass!) and it can fit anybody's political world view as long as the right facts are emphasized and complexities are smoothed over. For Britain, it was something different. England had been involved in continental wars for all of its history, but those conflicts never made it across the channel. In World
Although I can't recommend the movie, if there are fans, they will be pleased by the high-definition video.
Based on the 1966 Broadway play of the same name written by Woody Allen, Don't Drink the Water is basically a TV sitcom from that era expanded into a feature-length film. The silly story of international intrigue could easily have happened to the Ricardos, the Petries, or any number of sitcom families, which isn't a surprise as the screenwriting team of R. S. Allen and Harvey Bullock wrote for shows such as The Andy Griffith Show; The Flintstones; Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.; and Hogan's Heroes. Newark caterer Walter Hollander (Jackie Gleason), wife Marion (Estelle Parsons), and his adult daughter Susan (Joan
Amanda Plummer amazes in this unjustly neglected Western charmer.
Ripe for rediscovery, Cattle Annie and Little Britches follows the exploits of the real-life titular characters, two teenage girls in love with Ned Buntline’s stories about western outlaws. Having loused up their jobs at a cantina, they soon fall in with the tired Doolin-Dalton gang, and get more than they bargained for. Shot mostly in Durango, Mexico, the movie looks great. Colors pop. The rocky landscapes (and in one striking sequence, a dry lakebed) add texture, but not in a distracting, postcard-pretty way. Designed with care, the sets for the towns hail from Calle Howard and La Jova, Old West
Fans will appreciate the high-definition presentations and the behind-the-scenes extras.
I've been a big fan of movies for most of my 50-odd years on this planet and have enjoyed a wide variety from all over the world. I am so fascinated by the medium that alongside my library of movies is a library of books about their making and their makers. I consider myself well versed in the history of cinema, so I was very surprised to discover Czech film director Karel Zeman, a true visionary whose name and work should be as well known as Georges Méliès and Ray Harryhausen, yet I had neither heard of him nor his
After a decade-long string of big-budget adaptations, writer/director Ritchie returns to his indie crime roots
Guy Ritchie’s latest film is a winning return to the gritty ensemble crime caper format that fueled his rise to fame with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. The characters might be a bit more posh this time around, but it feels more like a signature Ritchie film than anything else he’s made in the last decade, all the more astonishing coming immediately in the wake of his previous project, Disney’s bloated live-action Aladdin remake. The plot centers around a powerful American ex-pat marijuana kingpin named Michael (Matthew McConaughey) as he works to extricate himself from his illegal
The late, great director John Schlesinger crafts a sad but uproarious portrait of a young man's inner and outer life.
The British New Wave was an innovative, but short-lived cinematic movement during the early '60s to the early '70s. It was a category of film that realistically showcased the struggles of everday people of the working class. Directors like Karel Reisz, Jack Clayton, and Lindsay Anderson, to name a few, told their own stories, especially of the 'angry young men', who behaved and lived their own way to try and escape their rather dull surroundings. I think John Schlesinger, the late openly gay filmmaker, did just that with his 1963 classic Billy Liar, but with a comically surreal twist. Film
Three classics of silent Russian cinema exhibit the Soviet approach to editing as storytelling, with disparate tales of Bolshevik revolution.
First and foremost, Pudovkin was a Soviet. His art was propaganda, because he believed in the cause. He's a contrast to that other great early 20th century Russian filmmaker best known in the West, Sergei Eisenstein, who found himself often at odds with the Soviet regime and lived part of his life in semi-exile. When Eisenstein returned to Russia, he was eyed with suspicion: what would have been his final film, Ivan the Terrible III, was eventually seized by authorities and most of it was destroyed. Pudovkin's work was never in doubt to its sympathies, which are amply demonstrated in
Like A Boss has a great cast with a lot of chemistry, but somehow it just never seems to all come together.
Like A Boss has the ingredients of a really good girl power comedy: a great cast with lots of chemistry (led by Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) and a fun premise - two small business women vs. a powerful and glamorous comic villain (Salma Hayek). But somehow it just doesn't all come together. The pacing is sluggish and some dopey physical comedy is simply out of place and falls flat (kudos to Tiffany Haddish for always giving it her all). Mia (Haddish) and Mel (Byrne) have been friends since middle school. They are besties and roomies who bond at karaoke
At a time when our cinemas are filled with gigantic blockbusters it is nice to sit down with a couple of intimate dramas.
In our modern cinematic world of superheroes, Jedis, and super-sized monsters, it sometimes feels like there is no more room for simple, intimate character dramas. Much has been made over the last several years about how the bigger-than-life cinematic universes that fill the cineplexes have all but wiped out the mid-budget movies. It seems the only type of film any movie theatres have room for are the blockbusters and the low-budget, art-house affairs. Certainly, studios like A24 are finding creative ways to make interesting movies that don't involve destroying entire city blocks or end credit scenes to hype the next
Alien meets The Abyss meets The Poseidon Adventure in this underwhelming disaster/monster movie.
Deep inside the Mariana Trench, the world's deepest undersea trench - which at its deepest is some 34,000 feet below the surface, lies a gigantic oil rig. So big it is powered by nuclear reactors and needs several hundred people to support it. Other films would spend some time with these details, they might have one character tell another character - someone new to the job for instance - this background information while they were walking through the rig. In Underwater, the new film from William Eubank, this information is tossed at us via news clippings flashed on the screen
Arrow Video has outdone themselves with this Italian Exorcist knock-off.
It is a universal truth that whenever anything is successful someone else will come along and copy that thing. Usually, that thing will be cheaper and less interesting than the original, but will still find some success riding on coattails. When I was a kid, I could rarely afford to get Transformers but I had a reasonable collection of Gobots, their much cheaper and more pathetic knock-offs. We see this in all facets of life, and certainly, the movies are no strangers to the phenomenon. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Italians were quite good at this. Anytime an American
A frustrating dive into gay hell, starring a deer-in-the-headlights Al Pacino.
Nightmarishly vivid, director William Friedkin’s Cruising, a divisive film about an undercover New York cop (Al Pacino, miscast) who cruises gay S&M bars in search of a killer, is a time capsule without a center. For decades, critics of the film complained that it painted this segment of the gay community in a less than flattering light; but Friedkin’s sweaty, neorealist you-are-there approach (using actors and locals, shooting on location) reserves judgment. I’m not sure what the fuss was. I’ve frequented places like The Anvil, The Hellfire Club (where he shot certain sequences), and the Mineshaft. They are as the
A comedic fantasy about the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and the demon Crowley (David Tennant) working together to save humanity from the war between Heaven and Hell.
Based on the 1990 novel by the late Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman, the latter of whom oversaw the television series as creator, co-executive producer, and sole writer, Good Omens tells a comedic story about the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and the demon Crowley (David Tennant) working together to stop Armageddon in order to save humanity from the war between Heaven and Hell. Narrated by God (Frances McDormand), Aziraphale and Crowley first meet in the Garden of Eden. Crowley, who went by “Crawly” then because he took the form of a snake, tempts Eve into eating the apple from the
The film is a fun romp, but the viewer can't help but discern that the charming David Niven would have been much more convincing than Gary Cooper in the Bluebeard role.
Kino Lorber has just released Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, starring Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper. Made in 1938, the screwball romantic comedy was directed and produced by Ernst Lubitsch (Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner, To Be or Not to Be). Starring Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper, the film also features the first screenplay collaboration of Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett (Some Like it Hot, The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard), who worked together from 1936 to 1950. In Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, millionaire Michael (Gary Cooper) pursues Nicole (Claudette Colbert) all over the French Riviera. Nicole is also adored by Albert (David
That's it! Payback! Revenge! Snoop is mad!
Bones bores. Director Ernest Dickerson, Spike Lee's former DP, pulls off a few nifty visual tricks. Chief among them are a black dog that projectile-vomits maggots, and a bulging wall of flesh that embodies a nightmarish depiction of hell. But we spend the first hour waiting for something to happen, for someone to root for. An enterprising, multi-racial group of young adults renovates a gothic brownstone in the hood. Their plan is to turn it into a nightclub. Little do they know the building once belonged to Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg), a murdered pimp who refused to sell crack to
Elijah Wood stars in this story of a man reconnecting with his father, and learning terrible secrets about them both.
Come to Daddy is a twisty movie. A lot of its narrative power comes from its plot surprises, so as a reviewer it is difficult to decide how much to reveal, and how much to hold back to let its potential audience know whether or not the movie is worth their while. The story begins as indie drama: a not-so-young man has been sent a letter by his father, estranged for 30 years, saying that he wants to finally see his son and reconnect. Norval, the son, is having a rough few years and decides to take his dead up
It is worth investigating for the film's story and the Blu-ray's high-def presentation.
Produced and directed together by Victor Saville, credited as Phil Victor, and George White, My Gun Is Quick is the third film featuring Mickey Spillane's character Mike Hammer, played by a third actor, Robert Bray, and is adapted from the second Hammer novel of the same. It's a hard-boiled detective story, which might not stand out from the genre, but it traffics in the tropes well enough. One night in a Los Angeles diner, Mike interferes in what appears to be a pimp roughing up a prostitute named Red (Jan Chaney), who is recently out from Nebraska. Mike gives the
A good cast and beautiful visual style can't save a bad script.
A man, dressed in a suit and tie but bruised and battered, comes running through the woods. He stumbles and falls, landing unconscious in the middle of a country road. He’s picked up by a delivery driver who takes him to a secluded old house where a young woman swears she’ll take care of him. The man is Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser) and he’s just narrowly escaped being killed by local townspeople who were no longer willing to abide with the cult Darkly has been a part of. He’s a peculiar young man who obviously has had little interaction with