Cinema

​Remembering a movie icon on Blu-ray

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 23rd, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, marks the untimely death at age 31 of movie superstar and international sex symbol Rudolph Valentino. Sicilian-born Valentino had become the celebrity symbol representing the 1920s, the archetypal “latin lover” soon imitated by numerous other actors, within eight years after he emigrated to the United States at age 18.

After work as a dancer and some theatre roles, he played movie bit parts and villains until his casting in “The Four Horsemen of the…

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​Start your engines: Soderbergh is back with “Logan Lucky”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 23rd, 2017

Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky” ends the filmmaker’s short-lived “retirement” from directing theatrically-released features, and his return to cinemas is a welcome one.

Extending his well-documented penchant for pseudonymous tomfoolery, “Logan Lucky” spreads the wealth to cinematographer Peter Andrews and editor Mary Ann Bernard, two of the director’s common disguises. The screenplay is attributed to newcomer Rebecca Blunt, and a recent “Hollywood Reporter”…

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​Lowery’s ‘A Ghost Story’ will haunt you

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 16th, 2017

Reteaming with his “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” leads Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, filmmaker David Lowery has a very compelling tale to tell in “A Ghost Story.”

Somber yet funny, and comfortable with exclamations of profundity and absurdity, the movie is an invitation to reflect on a few great philosophical questions.

Beautifully conveyed in a squarish aspect ratio close to the approximate 1.37:1 dimensions of the classic “Academy” standard, Lowery’s instincts are…

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Emoji movie as ‘meh’ as its protagonist

by John Showalter | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 9th, 2017

When I first caught wind that there was going to be a movie centered around emojis several months ago, I spent plenty of time ragging on it with friends (as did a lot of people I imagine, look at the like/dislike ratio on YouTube).

The trailers were almost physically painful to sit through and I joked that we had finally reached the nadir of American cinema by making a movie about something you put in text messages. That said, I’m going to say that I thought the critics overreacted…

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​A riot going on: Bigelow revisits “Detroit”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 9th, 2017

Kathryn Bigelow, to this day the only woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, makes an admirable if flawed attempt to fictionalize key components of Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot.

Timed in part to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the incendiary actions that resulted in 43 deaths and more than 7000 arrests, Bigelow -- working for the third time with “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” scripter Mark Boal -- concentrates on the so-called Algiers Motel Incident…

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​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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