Cinema

What we talk about when we talk about Birdman

November 19th, 2014

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman” gives Michael Keaton the “Being John Malkovich” treatment in a messy, noisy backstage drama enamored of its own ruminations about art and artifice, celebrity worship, self-respect, narcissism and several dozen additional big ideas. In 2000, “Amores Perros,” the first installment of Inarritu’s “death trilogy,” divided audiences, a trait extending through “21 Grams,” “Babel” and “Biutiful.” Those who share the…

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Expressionist landmark restored for Blu-ray

November 19th, 2014

The movement in avant-garde modern art known as Expressionism began in Germany just over a century ago, shortly before and especially during and right after World War I. It employed harsh contrasts with distorted colors and angles to express an underlying psychological feeling rather than representing its subjects literally. By 1919, forward-looking German filmmakers began applying its anti-realistic ideas to movie production. The first major example and one of the most extreme is the…

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​Press record: “Nightcrawler” is wicked, gruesome fun

November 12th, 2014

One of the best films of 2014, Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler” is thrilling metafiction that simultaneously wallows in and critiques the lurid relationship between violent crime and broadcast/cable/Internet news. The writer-director also thoroughly explores the insatiable hunger of the viewing public to devour stories of death and mayhem, and does so with a jet-black comic touch. Additionally, Gilroy’s movie is clearly made by a film lover for film lovers, deliciously referencing…

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Hollywood parties, actor improv, silent comedy

November 12th, 2014

Best-known for his “Pink Panther” films and other comedies loaded with carefully-timed sight gags, director Blake Edwards now has several of his notable films available on Blu-ray, including “Operation Petticoat” (1959), “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” (1961), “Experiment In Terror” (1962), “The Pink Panther” (1964), and “The Great Race” (1965). The latter film I reviewed back in September when the Warner Archive Blu-ray came out. That same month Kino released a nice…

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​Treated like Hollywood: Marcus Theatres upgrades

November 5th, 2014

Movie theater outings, now more than ever, are becoming more about the entire theatrical experience – not just the picture.

This is especially the case for Marcus Theatres customers in Fargo. West Acres Cinema and Century Cinema, the two largest movie theaters in the area, have been significantly upgraded.

General manager Rick Solarski gave HPR a rundown on what moviegoers need to know about the changes.

Reclining chairs: West Acres’ UltraScreen theater and Century Cinema’s entire…

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​Blown out on the trail: Murray rocks as “St. Vincent”

November 5th, 2014

Like Herman Blume, the wealthy industrialist in Wes Anderson’s awesome “Rushmore,” Bill Murray’s Vincent MacKenna is a prickly, disillusioned Vietnam veteran with a taste for alcohol and cigarettes. MacKenna is poor and Blume is rich, but both men reassess their lives following unexpected and unorthodox friendships with much younger boys. The formula of the weary old grump and the precocious, inexperienced cadet learning lessons from one another works better in Anderson’s…

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​Another film festival in a box

November 5th, 2014

I mentioned in last week’s column that Criterion Collection’s “Eclipse” series of box sets provides expertly-curated combinations of related films on DVD at a modest price: an instant film festival in a box for budget-minded cineastes with eclectic tastes, but without supplements except good program notes. Also the video transfers have not undergone the more careful restoration given to titles that Criterion releases on Blu-ray, but many still look amazingly good for DVDs.

Last…

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​Offline: ‘Men, Women & Children’ in the internet age

October 30th, 2014

Trading the comic complications and satirical stingers of “Thank You for Smoking” and “Juno” for the more nakedly manipulative white whine and/or bathos of “Up in the Air,” “Young Adult,” and the critically ravaged “Labor Day,” filmmaker Jason Reitman adds another entry to his list of underwhelming missteps. The director’s sixth feature, “Men, Women & Children,” is based on the novel by Chad Kultgen, and aspires to examine the dark side of our fascination with…

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​More Halloween movie fun

October 30th, 2014

Halloween weekend is a natural time to revisit or track down horror films, with plenty of public screenings as well as numerous sales on home video editions. The prestigious Criterion Collection has several notable horror films from major directors around the world available on Blu-ray, with 13 selected titles not-so-coincidentally on sale for half-price this week at Amazon through Nov. 1. Several of these I’ve reviewed in past columns, all worth seeing.

This sale includes Lars von…

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“Plastic Galaxy” Looks at history of Star Wars toys

October 22nd, 2014

By fans, for fans, “Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys” covers the profitable marriage of George Lucas’ phenomenal movie and Kenner Products, the Cincinnati-based company that acquired the license to produce action figures, vehicles, and other playthings based on Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader and the many inhabitants of the “Star Wars” universe. Director Brian Stillman alternates between the super collectors who have devoted the majority of their spare…

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