Cinema

​New to Blu: Classic art film disguised as war film

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 2nd, 2017

Director John Boorman is probably best remembered for his intense and still-disturbing hit adaptation of James Dickey’s forest survival allegory “Deliverance” (1972), his eccentric King Arthur interpretation “Excalibur” (1981), and his first Hollywood film, the offbeat Lee Marvin-Angie Dickinson crime drama “Point Blank” (1967), later remade by Mel Gibson as “Payback” (1999). His bizarre sci-fi film “Zardoz” (1974) also has a cult following.

Boorman’s follow-up to…

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Being served: ‘Beatriz at Dinner’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 2nd, 2017

Filmmaker Miguel Arteta is always worth watching, particularly when armed with a screenplay by Mike White. Their third collaboration, “Beatriz at Dinner,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is now making a modest theatrical run.

Given the outcome of the November 2016 presidential election, the movie’s simple premise, a moral and ethical showdown between a spiritually-inclined healer/massage therapist (Salma Hayek) and a rapacious business mogul (John Lithgow),…

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​Two recent Blu-rays: Japanese takes on World War II

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 26th, 2017

Noted American director Josef von Sternberg flourished in the late 1920s and 1930s, especially remembered for his silent classics “Underworld” (1927), “The Last Command” (1928), and “The Docks of New York” (1928), plus several major films that made Marlene Dietrich an international star in the early sound era including “The Blue Angel” (1930), “Morocco” (1930), “Shanghai Express” (1932), and more. He continued making films until his final feature in 1953, which…

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​Space oddity: Besson brings “Valerian and Laureline” to the big screen

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 26th, 2017

Luc Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” -- touted as the costliest independent motion picture ever made -- simultaneously melts eyeballs with its gorgeous visuals and narcotizes brains with its stiff dialogue and inert plotting.

That frustrating combination places the movie in the company of countless post-“Star Wars” space operas designed for the big screen, a phenomenon accelerated/exacerbated by the evolution of photorealistic CGI that allows for…

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​Bob Hope film classics new to Blu-ray

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 19th, 2017

Fourteen years ago this month, entertainment icon Bob Hope died at age 100. Born in 1903, Hope performed in vaudeville and theatre in the 1920s and 30s, moved into radio and films in the 1930s, and by the 1940s was a major movie personality known just as much for his numerous USO tours to entertain military troops around the world.

He also was noted for frequently hosting the annual Academy Awards ceremonies from 1939 through 1977. From the 1950s through 90s he did more television and…

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​‘Okja’ is some pig

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 19th, 2017

Joon-ho Bong’s Okja, currently on Netflix instant watch, competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where its premiere -- beset by an early aspect-ratio glitch -- met with jeers and cheers.

Critics have been mostly kind to the movie, although Stephanie Zacharek voiced a strong and well-argued negative opinion. Okja is nowhere near as rich and resonant as career highpoint Mother, but fans of Bong’s wild grab-bags TheHost and Snowpiercer aren’t going to…

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​Live music making movies live

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 12th, 2017

Music scores enhance viewer involvement with the stories, but during the so-called “silent era” they often went a step further. Musical accompaniment performed by a live organist or pianist became an interactive experience between the musician and audience as well as musician and the movie and the audience and the movie. This was especially true in the case of comedies where audience response is generally more frequent, bringing the movies to life in a way impossible with a…

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​Coppola Wins Cannes Best Director for “The Beguiled”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 12th, 2017

For her work on “The Beguiled,” Sofia Coppola was awarded the best director honor at the Cannes Film Festival. She is only the second woman in that particular derby to do so in the festival’s seven decades, following Yuliya Solntseva’s 1961 nod for “The Chronicle of Flaming Years.” The title of Solntseva’s film works well as a critique of the gender imbalance at both Cannes and in the film industry in general, so it is no surprise that a great deal of the writing on…

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​The lure of the mummy continues

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 28th, 2017

Ancient Egyptian mummies have held a fascination for filmmakers and moviegoers for more than a century. Amazingly, over two dozen movies with mummy themes were produced between 1903 and 1919, most of which are now lost films.

The 1920s saw a few more mummy pictures, but the most famous mummy movie, Universal’s classic that started the still-ongoing cycle of reboots and remakes, premiered in December 1932. Universal’s first reboot came in 1940, followed by three sequels over the next…

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​‘S Is for Stanley’ shares stories of Kubrick as told by his driver

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 28th, 2017

Now available on Netflix following a lengthy film festival run, Alex Infascelli’s “S Is for Stanley” is required viewing for Kubrick obsessives and cinephiles.

Based on Emilio D’Alessandro’s memoir “Stanley Kubrick and Me,” the documentary presents a chronological account of the relationship between the legendary filmmaker and the unassuming family man and driver who would labor as Kubrick’s courier, chauffeur, gofer, and personal assistant for three decades.…

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