Cinema

Classic epic adventure eerily timely

February 19th, 2015

With all the conflict in Ukraine continuing to make headlines in today’s news, it seems like an appropriate time to revisit a nearly-forgotten classic movie epic from over a half-century ago that came out on Blu-ray last fall.

“Taras Bulba” (1962) is set in the Ukrainian steppes but was filmed in Argentina by British director J. Lee Thompson for an independent American production company and released through United Artists. Coincidentally, United Artists was founded 96 years ago…

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New doc looks at the king of the daredevils

February 14th, 2015

By Greg Carlson

Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Daniel Junge tackles the larger-than-life personality of iconic American motorcycle stunt performer Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel in the entertaining biography “Being Evel.”

As fast-paced and foul-mouthed as its subject during his 1970s heyday, Junge’s movie prominently features plenty of footage interviewing producer Johnny Knoxville, a fellow fan who had simultaneously been developing a Knievel film prior to teaming up with…

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​Off-beat indie films new to Blu-ray

February 11th, 2015

The Fargo Film Festival is just a month away, providing area moviegoers with a week of interesting, off-beat and non-mainstream movies by independent filmmakers.

People with Blu-ray players and HD projectors can have their own private festival experience with some recent and upcoming Blu-ray releases from distributors like Kino and Milestone Video.

Brooklyn filmmaker Tim Sutton’s “Memphis” premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2013, played at Sundance last January, got a limited…

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​Hertzfeldt’s New Trip: ‘World of Tomorrow’

February 7th, 2015

Going into the latest edition of the Sundance Film Festival, Don Hertzfeldt captured the record for most movies screened in competition by a single filmmaker in the festival’s history.

And with his win for Short Film Grand Jury Prize, “World of Tomorrow” makes Hertzfeldt the only artist to have collected that honor twice. The new movie represents the next logical step in the animator’s increasingly momentous career.

Longtime true believers, stunned by the conclusion of Bill’s…

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​Come on down to ‘Harmontown’

January 28th, 2015

Fan studies scholars should salivate over Neil Berkeley’s portrait of writer/performer Dan Harmon, the self-proclaimed mayor of “Harmontown,” the popular podcast he hosts.

Berkeley’s documentary bears the same name as Harmon’s loquacious, therapeutic circus, and hardcore devotees will already be familiar with the details of that freewheeling, improvisational, mental odyssey and the ways in which it thrives on audience participation.

Following Harmon on the podcast’s national…

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​Overlooked classic thriller new to Blu-ray

January 28th, 2015

Just about everyone knows of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “Rear Window,” with James Stewart as a man convinced that a neighbor has murdered his wife but nobody will believe him.

Few remember, however, that earlier that same year a film with a very similar plot came out starring Barbara Stanwyck in a comparable position.

Prolific actress Barbara Stanwyck died 25 years ago on Jan. 20, 1990 after a career that spanned stage chorus girl to acclaimed stage star by 1927, then a major movie…

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Anderson Invites You to His Latest Trip: ‘Inherent Vice’

January 21st, 2015

Paul Thomas Anderson’s future cult film “Inherent Vice” is soft-boiled detective fiction. Bleary-eyed and hair-tousled, the movie is a pungent, shambling, meandering and thoroughly hilarious shaggy dog story with a non-agenda traceable directly to the likes of Howard Hawks’ adaptation of “The Big Sleep” and its famous anecdote in which Raymond Chandler received a telegram from the director demanding to know who committed one of the murders.

Chandler, of course, claimed he…

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​Blu-rays explore race relations in Civil Rights-era entertainment

January 21st, 2015

Fifty-five years ago, just as the Civil Rights Movement was growing in America, two films by major directors came out that addressed racial intolerance with a surprising explicitness for the time, outside of obvious social issue dramas.

Premiering in April and December 1960, respectively, these were disguised as colorful western action genre pictures with advertising campaigns that made little or no reference to their basic plot point: one of them promoting what looked like a sprawling…

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​Penn State Sex Abuse Case of Jerry Sandusky Subject of “Happy Valley”

January 16th, 2015

While there is an abundance of hero worship on display in Amir Bar-Lev’s raw and riveting documentary “Happy Valley,” the most courageous figure to emerge from the wreckage and devastation caused by the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State is Sandusky’s adopted son Matt.

For any number of possible reasons, Matt is the only person victimized by Jerry Sandusky to appear in the movie, and each time he speaks, Bar-Lev refocuses attention on the grim truth: the lives of many children and…

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Best new Blu-rays of 2014

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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