Cinema

​Quintessential Italian masterwork finally on Blu-ray

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”

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

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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​Visual masterpiece ‘Conformist’ finally on Blu-ray

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,…

Read more...


​The limits of control: “Whiplash”

November 26th, 2014

Late in writer-director Damien Chazelle’s sophomore feature “Whiplash,” monstrous music teacher Terence Fletcher states, “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.” By this point, the viewer will have formed a few troubled thoughts about Fletcher, who berates and belittles his students in much the same way R. Lee Ermey’s Parris Island drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman shouts down his U.S. Marine Corps recruits in “Full Metal…

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​Classic 3-D on 3-D Blu-ray

November 25th, 2014

Three-dimensional movies may be regarded by many as the latest in 21st century technology, requiring modern digital cameras and projectors. The concept of 3-D photography actually goes back to the mid-19th century, and various attempts at 3-D movies have been around since the early 1900s. In an attempt to compete against television, Hollywood had a short but intense period of 3-D film production from 1952-54, followed by sporadic specialty films in 3-D and a brief revival during the…

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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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