Cinema

​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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​Crime, passion, and both together in new Blu-rays

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 21st, 2017

A couple of classic courtroom dramas and a romantic melodrama about theatrical ambition, all adapted from popular novels of their day, are among the recently released Blu-rays by Kino-Lorber. All were made by major filmmakers with famous stars, yet each is relatively obscure today and deserves to be better-known.

“Marjorie Morningstar” (1958) was a best-selling romantic saga by noted author Herman Wouk, probably best-remembered today for “The Caine Mutiny” and “The Winds of…

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​“Thoroughbred”: Cory Finley’s promising Sundance debut

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 21st, 2017

First-time feature filmmaker Cory Finley adapts his own play and comes up with one of the year’s most diabolically pleasurable movies in “Thoroughbred,” a taut exercise in moral darkness.

One of the most sure-footed debuts at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, the movie is certain to attract a devoted audience when distributed by Focus Features.

“Thoroughbred” injects jet-black comedy into the tightly and deliberately constricted premise of carefully plotted parricide, placing…

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​Legendary tough guys on Blu-ray

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 14th, 2017

Kirk Douglas (1917- ), Burt Lancaster (1913-1994), and James Cagney (1899-1986) are iconic movie “tough guys” who had long film careers.

Only nine of Cagney’s numerous films are currently on Blu-ray, the latest being his final starring role (not counting a TV movie made shortly before his death) and one of his rare comedies, released last week by Kino.

Douglas and Lancaster are much better represented on Blu-ray, with over 20 of Douglas’s films and over 30 of Lancaster’s,…

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​Hawks into doves: ‘Wonder Woman’ arrives

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 14th, 2017

Wonder Woman has, since 1941, been so many things to so many people, that the decidedly mixed bag of her long-delayed big screen headliner comes as little surprise.

Directed by Patty Jenkins following a disheartening gap of years since 2003’s Monster, Wonder Woman at least makes good on its promise to expand the long(ish) term prospects of the DC cinematic universe. And no true fan will root against the sorely needed step in the direction of gender-based superhero egalitarianism at…

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