Cinema

Best new Blu-rays of 2014

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 16th, 2015

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The shrinking selection of Blu-rays at area retail stores concentrates as expected on recent hits that were playing in theatres just months ago, but Blu-ray is still thriving among cineastes with more varied tastes. Even though many people seem to be switching to online streaming options for watching movies and others remain satisfied with DVD quality, the year 2014 has seen an impressive array of classic, foreign, independent and cult films released to Blu-ray in superior…

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​In a word, in a look: Kent scares up “The Babadook”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 24th, 2014

Earning accolades for its stylish design on a modest budget, its reliance on character and storytelling instead of CGI, and its reverence for several legendary genre hallmarks, Jennifer Kent’s “The Babadook,” like its namesake ghoulie, can be tough to banish from your head. Tracing the downward spiral of a struggling widow who loses her husband in a car wreck on the way to the hospital to deliver their son, Kent grounds her breakthrough film in the horror of the everyday before…

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​Vintage widescreen classics new to Blu-ray

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 23rd, 2014

With HD video projector prices now lower than many large-screen TVs, any movie fan with a room that can be darkened should jump at the chance to watch widescreen movies filling an entire wall instead of shrunken down to fit a TV monitor with a “letterboxed” image. Favorites can spring to life on a big screen, but benefiting even more are movies that might otherwise seem routine time-killers on a regular TV set.

Here are some recent Blu-ray releases of films designed for the wide…

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The cycle of revenge in Saulnier’s “Blue Ruin”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 20th, 2014

Jeremy Saulnier contributes a worthwhile addition to the family revenge thriller with “Blue Ruin,” a sharp live wire that transcends both its modest budget and the familiar expectations of the genre through the filmmaker’s keen intellectual investments. The umpteenth story to track the efforts of a driven protagonist en route to a climactic bloodbath, “Blue Ruin” unfolds with many of the hallmarks of tales in which the dire consequences of payback offer little in the way of…

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​How to turn cans into camels ... and most anything else

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 18th, 2014

By Jessica Steinke

On a sunny summer day in Wahpeton, N.D., 4-year-old Olivia runs along the fence of the camels' habitat at the Chahinkapa Zoo. Her blonde curls bounce with excitement as she examines her favorite animals. Olivia is a frequent patron of the Chahinkapa Zoo, where she enjoys seeing her beloved pair of Bactrian camels. As she's poised along the fence, the brown camels stand on their lumpy knees, gnawing their daily rations of grain. Their two humps, heavy eyelashes and…

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​New Blu-rays complete collection of Cinerama classics

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 18th, 2014

“Seven Wonders of the World” and “Search for Paradise,” the remaining two of the five 1950s travelogues filmed in the revolutionary Cinerama process have recently been restored and released on Blu-ray last month from Flicker Alley. Of course, viewing the two films at home, even on a large HDTV, can never quite compare to seeing them in a genuine Cinerama theatre, but projecting the “Smilebox” Blu-ray onto a large home screen with a good surround sound system gives an…

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​Places in the World: Reichardt Makes “Night Moves”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 12th, 2014


Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt continues to build her reputation as a storyteller of remarkable skill with “Night Moves,” a pressure cooker of a movie that observes the actions of a trio of radical environmental activists who plot to blow up a dam in the Pacific Northwest. Like her recent work, including “Meek’s Cutoff,” “Wendy and Lucy” and “Old Joy,” “Night Moves” operates with visual precision and thoughtful staging. Rather than depend on dialogue-driven exposition…

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​Quintessential Italian masterwork finally on Blu-ray

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 10th, 2014

Last week I reviewed still-active Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci’s breakthrough film “The Conformist,” but that’s not the only Italian classic new to Blu-ray. The legendary Federico Fellini (1920-1993) is probably the best-known director of Italian cinema around the world, by name at least, even among people who have seen few, if any, of his films. He has influenced not only numerous other directors but popular culture itself, with his own name turned into the adjective…

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​Innocence and experience: “Ida”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 5th, 2014

Warsaw-born, UK-based Pawel Pawlikowski delivers one of the year’s most rewarding cinematic experiences in “Ida,” a stark, monochromatic treasure set in Poland in 1962. Quiet, introspective and deliberate on the outside, the movie’s interior life is by contrast filled with the most tumultuous emotional upheaval imaginable. Raised by nuns and now on the verge of becoming one herself, Anna is instructed by her mother superior to seek out the aunt she never knew she had. Reluctant…

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​Visual masterpiece ‘Conformist’ finally on Blu-ray

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 4th, 2014

Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci has been making movies professionally for half a century, from 1962 through 2012. Arguably his best film, the groundbreaking “The Conformist” (1970) came out on DVD eight years ago and the Blu-ray upgrade released last week by Raro Video has been long overdue.

“The Conformist” is one of the most beautifully photographed movies ever made. Every shot is a work of art, with the style of lighting and composition changing as the film goes on,…

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