As far this week's releases are concerned, I’m pretty certain that ought to do it.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Brando. Leigh. Hunter. Malden. Kazan. Not sure much more needs to be said about this iconic adaptation of the landmark Tennessee William’s play. This is a movie that has withstood the test of time for very good reason, and it’s a virtual guarantee anyone who sees it will walk away gob-smacked by Marlon Brando’s ferociously masculine performance that shook the rafters of cinema history and made everyone, everywhere sit up and take notice of the man’s fiery talents. A masterpiece, Warner’s DigiBook Blu-ray edition is darn near perfect, and as such any cinephile worth their salt owes it to themselves to add it to their personal library.
The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance here (her third) as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but the movie itself is a mixed bag to say the least. As I wrote in my theatrical review (read it here): “The Iron Lady is a mediocre movie… [Certainly] all of the elements of this one (cinematography, editing, music, makeup, production design, casting) are close to spot-on, but as a fully realized examination of one of the most controversial and important political figures of the last quarter of the twentieth century the film falls exasperatingly short. The movie takes no stand, offers up zero food for thought, and anyone wanting to examine their feelings – or even attempt to discover what said feelings might be – both pro and con about Thatcher won’t find anything substantive to munch on here.”
A Trip to the Moon
For those who watched and adored Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, here’s the Georges Méličs classic A Trip to the Moon in its complete, uncut, color-corrected glory presented for the first time on Blu-ray thanks to the folks over at Flicker Alley. This 1902 classic is essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in cinema history, and here’s hoping new generations choose to give it a look and allow themselves to be inspired by its magic the same way awe-struck audience were back at the turn of the twentieth century when it first made its debut.
Bell, Book, and Candle (Screen Archives Exclusive)
I adore director Richard Quine’s (Paris When It Sizzles) Bell, Book, and Candle. Starring James Stewart and Kim Novak (their first pairing post-Vertigo), the movie is Exhibit A as far as the “they don’t make them like they used to” file is concerned, especially in regards to romantic comedies. A blissful farce that moves in directions you never quite see coming until getting to the hoped for conclusion, the movie is a glorious combination of comedy, fantasy, whimsy, drama and romance that just seems to get better and better as the years go by. The Sony release is being issued under the Twilight Time label which means you’ll have to go over to the Screen Archives site to purchase and only 3,000 copies have been printed, but I couldn’t urge fans to go and do just that more vociferously.
Conversation Piece / Gruppo Di Famiglia In Un Interno
Luchino Visconti reteamed with actor Burt Lancaster for the first time since The Leopard with 1974’s Conversation Piece, and while results weren’t nearly as monumental that doesn’t make the film any less wonderful or easy to recommend. A mood piece filled with quiet emotion, the film take a look at the inside of an Italian apartment building showing the comings and goings of those who fill its hallways. While RaroVideo’s presentation doesn’t come close to nearing say the Criterion Collection’s high standard, audio and video are still solid, and for those looking to learn more about a master cinematic craftsman whose influence on the medium is still being felt today this release is indeed worthy of a look.
The Darkest Hour 3D
The Darkest Hour
They didn’t screen this for press here in Seattle, and after reading a number of scathing reviews I kind of think that was probably a good thing. Will I check it out? Probably. Will I end up regretting the doing so? More than likely.
Into the Abyss
Werner Herzog’s latest highly acclaimed documentary revolves around conversations with Death Row inmate Michael Perry concerning itself with both his crimes as well as whether the State has the right or the moral standing to execute him for them. Sadly, I missed this one when it played theatrically. Looking forward to viewing it now that’s available on Blu-ray.
Kate & Leopold (Read Sara's Theatrical Review)
Two Miramax romantic comedies, one starring Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow directed by Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex), the other starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman directed by James Mangold (Knight & Day, 3:10 to Yuma). Of the two, the latter has held up the best, while the former is better than most gave it credit for being even if it doesn’t quite get to that happy rom-com place I kept hoping for. That said, neither is close to perfect, and while the low price-point on both discs is appealing only diehard fans should even contemplate a purchase.
The Terror Experiment
Ugh. This was terrible. Why I watched it all the way through I still can’t figure out. I’m guessing because it was short (82-minutes). And because I’m glutton for punishment as far as Z-grade horror movies are concerned. I’m in need of help.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
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· The Boy in Blue
· Charlotte Rampling: The Look
· Death Stop Holocaust
· Don Juan DeMarco
· Female Convict Scorpion
· The Terrorists
· Thou Shall Not Kill…Except
· The Truth About Cats & Dogs
· The Witches of Oz
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
King of Devil’s Island
From my original theatrical review (read it here): “King of Devil’s Island isn’t new, doesn’t offer up a lot in the way of surprise, but thanks to [actor Benjamin] Helstad, and in no small part due to [director Marius] Holst’s confident hand, the movie transcends the familiar and transported me into a fiery winter wonderland of despair and resolve I almost didn’t want to depart from. It’s a grand achievement, this Norwegian import an auspicious effort worthy of being discovered by mature audiences everywhere.”
One Tree Hill – The Complete Ninth Season
The last 13 episodes of the shockingly enduring CW series, creator Mark Schwahn brings the story of Tree Hill to a close with suitably heartfelt melodrama milking fan’s emotions for all their worth. That said, these last visits aren’t entirely satisfying, an elongated subplot revolving around one key cat member’s kidnapping going on far too long. Additionally, Chad Michael Murray returns for only one seriously creaky episode that goes no place fast, while none of the other former regulars you want to return (i.e. Hilarie Burton) do return, making this elongated finale more than a bit bittersweet. Still, the last three episodes are fairly terrific, each building in a naturalistic way that should keep longtime viewers more than satisfied. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but, Tree Hill, North Carolina, you’re definitely going to be missed.
Sleeping Beauty (2011)
From my original theatrical review (read it here): “In many ways Sleeping Beauty is a tough nut to crack. Not to be confused with the actual fairy tale (or the animated Disney masterpiece born from it), writer and director Julia Leigh’s debut is hauntingly photographed, beautifully designed, intimately scored and sensationally acted by lead Emily Browning. It is also, sadly, frustratingly, disappointingly and, most importantly, relentlessly boring. It is a movie where everything that is being said is supposed to be read between the lines, a movie where the unpronounced syllable is more important than the uttered ones. Problem is, neither of them prove to be all that interesting, and in final examination there’s so little of import or interest to talk about part of me is wondering why I’m even wasting the time to write this review.”
A foreboding building, the 'Divine Sanctuary of Hope' formerly used as a secretive experimental addiction treatment center, stood abandoned for years, hiding its sinister secrets. Now that the scientist who created this treatment center is dead, the building caretaker, Haley Gable, writes to Brian Karter, son of the center's malevolent previous owner, to invite him for a visit to the center informing him that the building he thought destroyed is still standing and is now his. Brian and a small team of friend and contractors meet with Haley. At the very beginning of the visit, they make a series of unsettling discoveries and they unearth a hidden machine: a revolutionary treatment contraption which cured people of their addictions, but, as a side effect, materialized those addictions in the form of subtly mutated babies, hungry for human life. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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· Logan’s Run – The Complete Series
· Starman – The Complete Series
NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS
· Playback (May 8, 2012)
· D.O.A. (1988) (May 15, 2012)
· New York Stories (May 15, 2012)
· White Squall (May 15, 2012)
· Act of Valor (June 5, 2012)
· Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance (June 12, 2012)
· Louie – Season 2 (June 19, 2012)
· The Artist (June 26, 2012)
· Barbarella (July 3, 2012)
· Remains (July 10, 2012)
· Hard to Kill (July 17, 2012)
· Next of Kin (July 17, 2012)