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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy Anniversay Star Trek
It's hard to believe that it's been 40 years (almost to the day) that Star Trek premiered. There's a wonderful interview with Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner posted on CNN that demonstrates the vim and vigor these 70-somethings still have.

Star Trek is an enormously important cultural phenomenon, whether we want to admit it or not, but it was based on the most essential things that make good TV. Like Six Feet Under, the original Star Trek (at least for the first two seasons) had characters you cared about, whose relationships were complex, and who worked together to solve complex problems. Yes, it was sold as "wagon train to the stars", but when my girlfriend and I watched "The Man Trap" again tonight on it's 40th anniversary, we were most impressed by the complexity of the world it presented. Something tells me that if Star Trek were premiering today, it would be on HBO.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 9/09/2006 Comments (307)
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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Glenn Ford Signs Off
Just read on the BBC News that Canadian-born actor Glenn Ford has been found dead at the age of 90.

I don't want this to become an obit column, but it does seem like we're losing an awful lot of great character actors lately. Ford was one of the few survivors of classic Hollywood: great professionals who arrived on a set prepared and cheerful, ready to go through the motions and give the director what they were hired to give. We're losing a whole generation without realizing it... but I guess they're all getting on in years.

Like many young people, I'll always remember Ford for his role as Pa Kent in Richard Donner's original Superman (his photo can be spied on Eva Marie Saint's mantle in this summer's Superman Returns). He only has two scenes, but he made an impression. Particularly the scene in which he imparts his last piece of advice to his son (soon to become Superman), Ford's simple honesty shines. It's the kind of scene that you don't understand at 10, that you fast-forward through at 15, that you forget at 20 and by 30 you're lingering over it.

"You are here for a reason," he says in his easy, wise way, "I don't know whose reason, or what the reason is. Maybe it's.... well, I'll tell you one thing, it isn't to score touchdowns." It's not Polonius, but it's close.

I know that Ford had a long and distinguished career, but you could do a lot worse than being remembered as a good father.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 8/31/2006 Comments (4)
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Farewell Bruno Kirby
Today we lost one of the great character actors of the last 30 years, Bruno Kirby, after a long illness. Kirby's work in The Godfather, Part II, Good Morning Vietnam ("Oh, Lt. Steve!"), City Slickers, and This is Spinal Tap ("This is a fad!") will earn him a special place in the memories of many film fans. Without good character actors, the screen would be filled with stars and wannabe stars, which is why I have such affection for them. They bring colour and life to what could be a screen full of egos. We don't seem to appreciate them until they're gone.

Via don Dios, Bruno.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 8/16/2006 Comments (0)
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Danny Boyle's Sunshine

Danny Boyle's new science fiction film Sunshine sure looks promising, although it appears to tread on some familiar territory. Hopefully it turns out to be more Solaris than Supernova.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8/13/2006 Comments (2)
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Oh, God...
I recently watched the trailer for the upcoming film cleverly titled The Nativity Story and was suddenly overcome with the now-familiar fear that North American culture is drifting towards becoming a medieval theocratic nation/state. Another story about Jesus, told complete with Middle-eastern music and majestic cinematography making claims to be "historically accurate". If things keep going this way, pretty soon that's all we'll be allowed to see. Yes, I'm aware that the Director, Catherine Hardwicke, has a track record that does not necessarily oblige this film to be the next Passion, but come on. Aren't we as a society capable of producing more than gussied-up Sunday school stories? Heck - even Superman Returns had pretty seriously Christian overtones, on a different scale entirely from Donner's original film.

God help us all.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 8/03/2006 Comments (12)
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Saturday, July 29, 2006

50 Films to See Before You Die - the UK Version
A UK newspaper has published one of those ubiquitous lists of the "50 greatest films" ever made, or at least 50 you must see in this lifetime. Movie lists are funny things for us writers about film. We're always reading them thinking "what's NOT on the list", or criticizing their choices. There are things to criticize on this list for sure (like putting Sexy Beast ABOVE 2001?!) but it's always interesting to see a top 50 list from a non-American (or Canadian) perspective. There certainly are some pretty bold choices, such as Heavenly Creatures, The King of Comedy (Scorsese's only entry!) and Brazil, which the AFI wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

Here's the list.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 7/29/2006 Comments (0)
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Friday, July 28, 2006

Scorsese's Departed Debuts Online
The trailer for Martin Scorsese's latest film The Departed has hit the web, apparently exclusive to Yahoo. From the looks of it, the movie could well be Scorsese's most commerically appealing outing in years but, as the shot above shows, it's still got Scorsese's trademarks all over it.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 7/28/2006 Comments (3)
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Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Favourite Dumb Summer Movies
We may as well admit it: summer blockbusters are here to stay. Since at least Jaws (1975) and probably before, the big, action-packed special effects driven film has been a staple of the industry and why not? They do what Hollywood movies are designed to do: make money. Summer and Christmas, it seems, are the only times the American film industry thinks we go to the movies, and make no mistake, these films are meant to be seen in a theatre eating overpriced popcorn. That's the point, really. They're the cinematic equivalent of a burger and fries. Nothing wrong with that every now and then.

Maybe it's because it's too hot to think, maybe we're in a better mood, who knows, but I for one am a lot more forgiving of Hollywood conventions in the summer. That's where this list comes from. They're my favourite guilty pleasures, my comic books in the closet, my Iron Maiden albums in the attic. Maybe on this list you'll find one of your own.

1. The Rock (1996). Why is it that we give Sean Connery so much rope? The man was already older than God when he made this film, and yet there he is, hustling it around with Nic Cage pretending to be a 66-year-old action star. The plot is pure summer movie foolishness. A rogue Army General (Ed Harris, giving WAY more than necessary to the role) kidnaps tourists on Alcatraz and winds up holding the entire city of San Francisco for ransom using an experimental poison. The biochemist who knows how to diffuse the poison bomb happens to be Nic Cage (for the record, no biochemists drive beige Volvos), and Connery is a former prisoner who knows how to get a special strike force, including Cage, into the island. This is, of course, complete nonsense, concocted only to facilitate action sequences and witty exchanges. That's sort of the point of big summer movies, though there are two things that make The Rock stand out. Nic Cage is especially good at the witty exchanges, and some of his vulgarity is funny in its originality ("How in name of Zeus's butthole!?"). The other is Connery - as I said before, we're so forgiving of the old man that even when he limps through his action sequences, he comes off as being "all man". He's our generation's John Wayne, without so much of the far-right politics. The fact that he said it's okay to hit one's wife just adds to his outdated, priggish charm. I like The Rock because it refuses to apologize for what it is. In the environment of intellectual cowardice that permeates the corporate film world, that's something to really admire.

2. The Goonies (1985). Leave to Spielberg and Richard Donner to make geeky boys feel good about themselves. This film is a great example of how clever filmmakers know that children are far less fearful and need far less protection than those dull adults think. The plot is the very definition of needless complexity - a group of outcast misfit kids goes on a treasure hunt for a lost pirate's loot. They are pursued by a trio of cartoonish villains bent on getting the loot for themselves. Adventure ensues. In lesser hands, this film could have been palpable foolishness, but director Richard Donner (best known for the original Superman (1978) and the Lethal Weapon films) puts the emphasis on the relationship between the kids and honours their perspective of the world. That world, by the way, is best described as "respectfully cartoonish". The pirate lair and ship is a masterwork of set design, as is the loveable deformed henchman and many other touches. Like so many Terry Gilliam films, this one is smart enough for kids but exciting enough for adults. I loved the film as a kid (I was a Goonie in a very real way), but I still admire it as an adult.

3. Tombstone (1993). Oh, what a delightfully silly mess this film is. An amalgam of every western cliche ever concocted pretending to be a serious re-invention of the medium by Italian director George Cosmatos (of Rambo fame). Based about as loosely as a Mumu on the real-life story of Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell, steely-eyed and somehow perfect), who left a life of law enforcement behind to settle in the town of Tombstone with his brothers Morgan (Bill Paxton) and Virgil (Sam Elliott, effortlessly embodying a 19th century man). Along the way, they meet up with Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), a gambler and crook dying of TB and get mixed up with the local organized crime folks called simply "the Cowboys", led by Powers Boothe, with Michael Biehn effectively lending menace to the film as Johnny Ringo. This all eventually leads to a gunfight at the OK Corral (you may have heard of it) and finally an all-out white hats vs black hats war. The movie is having too good a time to stop for any length of time and seriously examine the verisimilitude of the wild west or dwell on complex character relationships. It's so enjoyable mainly for its consistent series of great moments, like when Earp stands down a local Pharoah dealer (played by Billy Bob Thornton, of all people) or just about every scene featuring Val Kilmer. Without Kilmer's wit and presence, the movie may have been a complete wash, but he gives the whole affair just enough sly, knowing humour to keep you smiling instead of laughing.

4. Crimson Tide (1995). There's a pattern emerging here. Action movies, for me at least, are okay as long as they're written with style, creativity and wit. Crimson Tide is the perfect example of that. On the surface, this is a routine war thriller with lots of Men (not the capital "M") in uniform yelling at each other on a submarine over matters of national defense. Ordinarily, that kind of macho, pro-military posturing would drive me away in about ten seconds, but this film has Gene Hackman chomping his cigar as the Captain of a nuclear submarine and Denzel Washington as his brainy, idealistic, slightly liberal first mate. You had better believe that there is a scene where these two yell at each other nose to nose, and that there is a scene when the sub narrowly escapes a torpedo attack and that the men are marched through the corridors in a manly hurry... in other words, you would think that this movie just writes itself. The difference, given all those cliches, is the intensity of the performances by Hackman and Washington and the unexpected intelligence of the dialogue, reportedly doctored by Quentin Tarantino. When, near the end of the film, the two confront each other with dialogue about racehorses, all is coded and hinted, a perfect example of "show, don't tell". It's an object lesson for aspiring screenwriters. Besides that, every once in a while I fall for the thriller genre, if it's done well enough. It's a thrill, and isn't that what summer movies are all about?

5. Space Cowboys (2000). I remember thinking that the tagline for this movie should have been "I'm too old for this sh*t", since you watch the entire film waiting for either James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland or director (and star) Clint Eastwood to say it. The first surprising thing in the movie is that none of them actually do say that line. The second surprising thing is that it has a third act that makes you forget about that omission. Eastwood's crew, all playing versions of themselves to a greater or lesser extent, are a bunch of old astronauts from the 1950s who were denied the opportunity to go into space when NASA took over the program from the Air Force. The key bureaucratic weasel who gets in the way of Eastwood's efforts to do the right thing (just like in every Dirty Harry movie ever made) is played by James Cromwell in the only other character to make the transition from the fifties to the "present day". When a Russian satellite needs its guidance system fixed, Eastwood's character is the only one for the job (funny, that) and he insists on being sent into space with his three compatriots. While in the real world, NONE OF THIS WOULD EVER HAPPEN, a summer movie can cheerfully go along with this preposterous scenario because, well, it's fun. All the cliched scenes of training, all the old rivalries, the banter, the jokes about their ages, all of this is more or less in line with what you'd expect from this silly little movie. But once Eastwood and the boys get up into space, the film changes gears and turns into a midly intriguing post-cold-war action/thriller, kind of like Eastwood's earlier (and in its way, much more preposterous) film Firefox (1982). The reasons I fell for this movie are easy to identify. It has great humour (if entirely predictable), some great character actors, and frankly I'm kind of a space geek, so it was easy for me to get into the world of NASA and all its shenanigans. It's not The Right Stuff - it's more like Space Camp for grownups.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 7/27/2006 Comments (0)
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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Prestige trailer
In case you haven't seen it yet, the trailer for Christopher Nolan's new film The Prestige, one of my most anticipated movies of the year, is now online. The film stars Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, and none other than a moustached David Bowie, who's brilliantly cast as Nikola Tesla.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 7/15/2006 Comments (0)
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Friday, July 07, 2006

DVD Review: John Ford Film Collections
reviewed by Donald Melanson

For the past couple of weeks the majority of my movie watching has consisted of the works of John Ford, most of which I was seeing for the first time. And t
hanks to Warner Bros.'s recent release of two Ford DVD box sets, I'm guessing that countless other people have done the same, or will be soon.

The larger of the two sets is The John Wayne/John Ford Film Collection, which collects eight of the films Ford made with Wayne, including what are undoubtedly the pair's two most well-known and highly-regarded films, Stagecoach (1939) and The Searchers (1956). Also in the set is the The Long Voyage Home (1940), They Were Expendable (1945), 3 Godfathers (1948), The Wings of the Eagles (1957), and two parts of Ford's cavalry trilogy, Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). The third film in the trilogy, Rio Grande, isn't owned by Warner Bros. but is available on DVD from Republic Pictures.

The second set, simply called The John Ford Film Collection, packages together three films from early in Ford's career: The Lost Patrol (1934), The Informer (1935), and Mary of Scotland (1936), with two from late in his career: Sergeant Rutledge (1960) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964).

Taken together, the two sets provide a fascinating, if not comprehensive, overview of Ford's career, and should be cause for a fresh reappraisal of his work -- some of his lesser known films in particular.

Continue Reading >>>

:: posted by Donald Melanson, 7/07/2006 Comments (0)
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Sunday, June 25, 2006

DVD Review: Valley and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
reviewed by Matt Hinrichs

Valley of the Dolls and its non-sequel, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, serve as proof that good cheese ages well. One delivered its drama straight-faced and big-haired; the other was a jiggly in-joke blown up to gargantuan proportions. For their deluxe DVD editions, Fox Home Video has done an excellent job of packaging a pair of films that have had little more than a mid-level (but very enthusiastic) cult audience. Both remain unintentionally hilarious camp classics, for sure, but these DVDs also manage to place them within the context of the very different times they were made.

Take 1967's Valley of the Dolls, for instance. Jacqueline Susann's blockbuster dirty book lent itself well towards a deluxe screen adaption, a hoary old "three girls meet different fates" concept brought into the age of pills, booze and permissive sexual mores. What went wrong, then? Perhaps somebody should have told the screenwriters that passages which look good on paper don't necessarily translate well to the screen. Mark Robson's technically proficient but cold direction compounds the problem, resulting in a film that lacks emotional resonance. Issues of drug abuse, mental illness and abortion are dealt with on the same superficial terms as the chi chi fashions, sets and shellacked hairstyles. The resulting mishmash might appear dreadful, but really it's fascinatingly watchable. It might be Valley's biggest legacy that it stands as one of the few films that shows taboo situations while simultaneously being embalmed in a studio-shined veneer of its own outlandish datedness.

Continue Reading >>>
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/25/2006 Comments (0)
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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Classics Schmassics
The A.V. Club staff discusses Classic Movies Its Okay To Hate. Sadly, I've never seen The Shawshank Redemption, but at least this article makes me feel better about skipping it.
:: posted by Matt, 6/24/2006 Comments (0)
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

DVD Review: The Quiet Earth
The Quiet Earth is one of those movies I wasn't sure if I'd ever see on DVD. While it has somewhat of a cult following (especially in its home country of New Zealand), it has been relatively hard to find on VHS and Laserdisc and has gone largely unseen by anyone other than the most devoted science fiction film geeks. Thankfully, Anchor Bay got their hands on it and their new DVD release has exceeded my expectations Hopefully, it will cause people to rediscover the movie.

The film is one of the best last-man-on-earth movies (at least for the film's first act, more on that later) and stars Bruno Lawrence as the protaganist who awakes one day to find himself all alone, the result of a catastrophic science experiment that he had a part in (a not too subtle metaphor for nuclear armageddon).

The movie's first act is its strongest. In it, Lawrence begins to approach his dire situation reasonably, trying to determine what happened and broadcasting radio messages hoping to find other surviors. But he soon begins to descend into madness, culminating in perhaps the film's defining sequence, when he delivers a dictatorial speech to a group of cardboard cut-outs before storming in a chuch with a shot gun, promising to "shoot the kid" if God doesn't show himself.

Continue Reading >>>
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/07/2006 Comments (2)
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Friday, June 02, 2006

Marilyn Monroe at 80

On the 80th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's birth, the San Francisco Chronicle offers some speculations on what her life may have been like had she not died young. Pretty funny. Actually, this reminded me of when Premiere magazine made a brilliant fake filmography of what Marilyn's career might have been had she continued working through the '80s. It followed a typical ex-sexpot's course, with Marilyn challenging herself with Joanne Woodward's role in The Stripper and, later on, slumming through Elizabeth Taylor's part in the Agatha Christie all-starrer The Mirror Crack'd.
:: posted by Matt, 6/02/2006 Comments (0)
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July 7, 2006
John Ford on DVD

reviewed by Donald Melanson

Thirteen John Ford films are split across two new DVD box sets from Warner Bros., one highlighting the director's work with John Wayne.

June 25, 2006
Valley of the Dolls & Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

reviewed by Matt Hinrichs

"Valley of the Dolls and its non-sequel, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, serve as proof that good cheese ages well. One delivered its drama straight-faced and big-haired; the other was a jiggly in-joke blown up to gargantuan proportions."

June 7, 2006
The Quiet Earth

reviewed by Donald Melanson

Geoff Murphy's end-of-the-world cult classic gets a long overdue DVD release from Anchor Bay.

April 18, 2006
The Long Good Friday

reviewed by Donald Melanson

One of the greatest gangster films gets the special edition treatment it deserves on this new release from Anchor Bay.

March 31, 2006
The Busby Berkeley Collection

reviewed by Matt Hinrichs

Warner's new box set collects five of the most iconic musicals Berkeley worked on at Warner's -- 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933 and 1935, Footlight Parade, and Dames -- which reflected the naughty, baudy, gaudy, sporty spirit of Depression-era America's consciousness like nothing else done in any media during that time.

March 25, 2006
King Kong

reviewed by Donald Melanson

"Peter Jackson's King Kong is obviously a labour of love for the director, which -- for the rest of us -- is both a good and a bad thing. On the whole, it's an incredible film -- a worthy remake of one of my favourite movies and certainly one of the best films of 2005. But..."

March 14, 2006
Where the Truth Lies

reviewed by Donald Melanson

Canadian director Atom Egoyan's latest arrives on DVD from Sony Pictures, short on extras but the movie itself more than makes up for it

February 27, 2006
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

reviewed by Matt Hinrichs

"Had the spectacular rise and collapse of Enron never occurred, the saga would have made for an excellent dramatic film. I easily could picture the pitch meeting: an epic story of greed, power, and sex in settings that range from plush boardrooms to Third World countries. It could star Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones as the CEO and his wife, with a ruggedly handsome George Clooney type as the crusading head of the Senate investigation.

But it really did happen, of course. And director Alex Gibney's Oscar- nominated documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room serves as a shining example of the old "truth is stranger than fiction" truism." - full review

February 1, 2006
Sam Peckinpah's Legendary Westerns

reviewed by Donald Melanson

Warner Bros. collects Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Ride the High Country and a new two-disc edition of The Wild Bunch in a budget-friendly Peckinpah box set, but they don't cut any corners to keep the price down.

January 29, 2006
Ran: The Criterion Collection

reviewed by Donald Melanson

Akira Kurosawa's reimaging of King Lear gets an upgrade on DVD in the form of a new two-disc special edition from the Criterion Collection.

January 25, 2006
The Greater Circulation

reviewed by Jesse Walker

"Making a movie out of "Requiem for a Friend," the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke's tribute to the painter Paula Modersohn-Becker, might sound completely mad, like a plan to film a sculpture or a symphony. Yet Antero Alli has done it not once but twice."

December 19, 2005
Sin City: Recut, Extended, Unrated Edition

reviewed by Ian Dawe

"Sin City is a heightened, stylized mythic place, right out of American popular culture, combining elements of film noir and German expressionism with a daring, violent sexuality not seen since A Clockwork Orange."

November 8, 2005
Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology

reviewed by Donald Melanson

The first four Batman movies get two discs apiece in Warner's new box set. And for the more discerning, they're available separately as well.

November 6, 2005
The 70s Dimension

reviewed by Jesse Walker

Commercials, public service announcments, and other television ephemera from the 70s fill this DVD from Other Cinema.

October 31, 2005
Mindjack's Vital Horror

Mindjack presents 20 movies for the strong-stomached and open-minded, from Nosferatu to Shadow of the Vampire.

October 23, 2005
The Fly & The Fly II

reviewed by Donald Melanson

One of the best remakes ever and its lesser sequel are both re-released on DVD in extensive two-disc special editions from Fox Home Entertainment.

October 9, 2005
Kingdom of Heaven

reviewed by Ian Dawe

Ridley Scott's ambitious Crusades saga lands on DVD in a two-disc edition from Fox.

October 7, 2005
Evil Dead 2: Book of the Dead 2

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Sam Raimi's cult classic is re-released on DVD in a new deluxe edition from Anchor Bay with an upgraded transfer and special "fleshy" packaging.

September 20, 2005
Steamboy & Memories

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Katsuhiro Otomo's much anticipated follow-up to Akira arrives on DVD in a couple of different editions, including a double feature with the superior Memories.

September 19, 2005
The Nomi Song

reviewed by Ian Dawe
Director Andrew Horn profiles the life of Klaus Nomi in this award winning documentary, now on DVD from Palm Pictures.

September 7, 2005
Ghostbusters 1&2

reviewed by Donald Melanson
A classic 80s comedy and its less than inspired sequel have been re-issued on DVD in a spiffy new giftset from Sony Pictures -- at a bargain price to boot.

September 5, 2005
Screen Door Jesus

reviewed by Ian Dawe
Against a rich backdrop of quirky characters and southern culture, this film tells a series of interconnected stories set in one small Texas town around the topic of faith and religion.

August 30, 2005
The Brothers Grimm

reviewed by Ian Dawe
Terry Gilliam returns to the fantasy genre, but is The Brothers Grimm all it could have been?

August 29, 2005
Layer Cake

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Matthew Vaughn takes off his producer's hat and tries his hand at directing with this stylish British gangster film now out on DVD from Sony Pictures.

August 18, 2005

reviewed by Ian Dawe
Directors Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith trace the rise and fall of Troy Duffy, director of The Boondock Saints.

July 14, 2005
Gunner Palace

reviewed by Ian Dawe
"The first major film to come out of the Iraq Invasion, this documentary stays away from drawing easy conclusions. It instead follows the lives of a few soldiers over the course of a year in Iraq, putting their sense of team and mission before any overt political statement"

July 11, 2005
In the Realms of the Unreal

reviewed by Matt Hinrichs
Director Jessica Yu explores the life and work of outsider artist Henry Darger in her new documentary now out on DVD from Wellspring Media.

June 26, 2005
Space Daze

reviewed by Ian Dawe
"Space Daze is a ridiculously micro-budget exercise in fun. There's no other way to describe the film, because it's certainly lacking in everything else you'd expect from a movie (strong acting, high production value, artistry, originality, compelling characters, etc.). Given all that, it's still fun, and perhaps that's the point."

June 12, 2005

reviewed by Matt Hinrichs
"For all the moral complexities surrounding it, Kinsey amounts to a simple story about the boundaries between science and human emotion."

May 30, 2005
Fox Studio Classics

reviewed by Matt Hinrichs
The Razor's Edge, Anna and the King of Siam, and The Best of Everything arrive on DVD as part of Fox's Studio Classics collection.

The Aviator

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Martin Scorsese's sprawling Howard Hughes biopic shows on up DVD in a spiffy two-disc special edition from Warner Bros.

March 25, 2005
Fox Film Noir

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Three anticipated noirs on DVD for the first time: Laura, Call Northside 777, and Panic in the Streets.

February 1, 2005
Code 46

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Michael Winterbottom's independent science fiction film was largerly overlooked in theatres, but deserves a second chance on DVD.

January 21, 2005
The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Warner Bros. packs a bundle of Hitchcock films in one box, including Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest, The Wrong Man, Dial M for Murder and five more.

November 5, 2004
Film Noir on DVD

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Two new DVD sets collect a bundle of film noir classics for a bargain price.

October 25, 2004
THX 1138: The George Lucas Director's Cut

reviewed by Donald Melanson
George Lucas' visionary first film finally makes it to DVD, sprinkled with new special effects and a slew of bonus features.

September 17, 2004

reviewed by Donald Melanson
"I wasn't thinking of David Cronenberg when I thought of the name Mindjack, but it sounds like something he might come up with. Like this magazine, many of Cronenberg's films are concerned with the blending of technology and society, the organic with the synthetic — only he deals with these issues in a much more visual and visceral manner. This is seen most vividly in his 1983 film Videodrome."

August 27, 2004

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Tod Browning's masterpiece took a long time to make it to DVD, but Warner Bros. new special edition was worth the wait.

August 16, 2004
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism

reviewed by Jesse Walker
Outfoxed hasn't had a significant theatrical release and doesn't have a major studio behind it, but it's been on the Amazon bestseller list since its release last month. An impressive achievement, but is the film as good as its distribution model?

July 12, 2004
Throne of Blood

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Akira Kurosawa's highly-regarded adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth gets the Criterion treatment on DVD.

June 14, 2004
The Prisoner and Thunderbirds

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Two cult television shows on opposite ends of the 60s science fiction spectrum out on DVD from A&E Home Video.

April 19, 2004
Kill Bill Vol. 2

reviewed by Jesse Walker
The much-anticipated conclusion to Quentin Tarantino's genre-blending epic.

April 12, 2004
DVD Roundup: Breathless, Russian Ark, Z

reviewed by Donald Melanson
Jean-Luc Godard's New Wave classic, Alexander Sokurov's bold new filmmaking experiment, and Costa-Gavras's powerful political polemic reviewed on DVD.

March 11, 2004
Hysteria (DVD)

reviewed by Jesse Walker
"For over a decade, Antero Alli has been writing and directing deeply personal movies on a shoestring and screening them up and down the West Coast. He's usually unwilling to release his efforts on video or DVD, on the grounds that his art is best realized on a big screen and in a theater, among "a group of virtual strangers gathering in a dark and cavernous space to witness visions through a big window into another time, another place." ... Hysteria is an exception."

January 13, 2004
Melies The Magician

reviewed by Jesse Walker
"Georges Melies gets a bad rap. The pioneering filmmaker, who lived from 1861 to 1938, is remembered as one of the founding icons of the movies; in the traditional formulation, he's seen as the godfather of film fantasy while his contemporaries the Lumiere brothers are hailed as the creators of documentary realism."


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