news aggregator

Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - September 26, 2011 - 5:36pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of five): *****

The National Film Preservation Foundation, located in San Francisco, has been quietly releasing extraordinary DVD box sets over the past ten years, entitled the "Treasures" series. There isn't a better word for it. These sets are packed with little gems that had to be dug up and assessed before it could be determined how valuable they were. The first set (Treasures from American Film Archives), from 2000, came with fifty comedies, dramas, experimental films, cartoons, newsreels, documentaries, and tons of other stuff, all historically valuable as well as entertaining. Volume Two, from 2004, had more just like it. Volume Three focused on Social Issues, and Volume Four looked at Avant-Garde Film.

Continued reading Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times)

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - September 20, 2011 - 5:34pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of five): *** 1/2

Michelangelo Frammartino's La Quattro Volte ("The Four Times") is about a goatherd who dies and is reborn as a goat. The goat briefly frolics before it loses its way in a forest and dies of starvation and exposure to the elements. However, the goat’s essence lives on; its being is assimilated into a tree, which is then cut down and converted into charcoal. The end, spoiler alert, etc.

Volte dares you to process it simply, even though it’s composed of eighty minutes of rather simple, wordless, shots. The plot and actors matter very little and are eclipsed by Frammartino’s impressive formal flexing. Volte is more of an installation piece or a moving monograph.

Continued reading Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times)...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Bal (Honey)

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - September 20, 2011 - 5:33pm

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of five): ***

The majestic forests of Turkey -- who knew? Sure, we've heard about minarets and the massacre of Armenians, but I, for one, certainly had never heard about all this lush greenery? I know now, thanks to filmmaker Semih Kaplanoglu and his "Yusuf" Trilogy, of which BAL (Honey) is the final film. And a beautiful, quiet, sad addition to the threesome it is. It is also an immensely educational movie -- from the forest that plays a big part in the riveting opening scene to the schooling of the leading character, who stutters (but without the royal pedigree of our Oscar-wining king and his speech). Bal is also, unfortunately, a rather slow movie.

Continued reading Bal (Honey)...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

True Legend

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - September 12, 2011 - 5:31pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Rating (out of five): ****

Yuen Woo-Ping began his career as an actor in martial arts movies in the 1960s. He rose to prominence when he directed the breakthrough Drunken Master (1978), one of Jackie Chan's greatest early roles. He began a multi-faceted career, involving acting, stunts, fight choreography, and occasional directing. His feats became known in America and he was hired to choreograph the exciting, fluid, fast-paced action sequences for movies like The Matrix series, the Kill Bill movies, and Unleashed as well as international productions like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kung Fu Hustle, and Fearless. In 2001, Quentin Tarantino helped bring Yuen's dazzling Iron Monkey (1993) to American theaters. But despite all this notice, acclaim, and employment, he has not directed another movie in over ten years. Thankfully True Legend comes out on DVD this week, and it's a real stunner.

Continued reading True Legend...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

NEDS

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - September 12, 2011 - 5:30pm

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of five): ***

Peter Mullan is a wonderful actor (The Red Riding Trilogy, Boy A, Children of Men) and a good writer/director (Orphans, The Magdalene Sisters and now, NEDS -- which stands for Non-Educated Delinquents.

Although his latest film -- which deals, and very well, with the smarter, younger son of a dysfunctional family who gets slowly sucked into "gang" life -- was part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival line-up, it did not get much, if any, of a theatrical release. It is, however, certainly worth seeing, which makes its recent DVD debut appreciated, despite a major flaw in the film.

Continued reading NEDS...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Face to Face

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - September 6, 2011 - 5:22pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Rating (out of five): *** 1/2

If movies are the art form that comes closest to replicating our dreams -- sounds and images dancing before our eyes in the dark -- then, ironically, very few filmmakers have come anywhere near to capturing the elusive rhythm of dreams. David Lynch, Orson Welles, and Luis Bunuel have all succeeded from time to time, and especially Ingmar Bergman. A short nightmare sequence in Wild Strawberries (1957) is quite chilling, and the whole of Persona (1966) has the possibility to move in any direction, at any time.

Continued reading Face to Face...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Eclipse Series 28 - The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - August 30, 2011 - 5:21pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): 

Intimidation: ****
The Warped Ones: ***½
I Hate But Love: ***½
Black Sun: ****½
Thirst for Love: ***½
SET:  ****

Koreyoshi Kurahara is most well-known for the 1983 ”sled dogs overcome cruel nature” piece Antarctica (Nankyoku Monogatari) which was Japan’s number one box office smash for over a decade. Diving into the five early Kurahara features featured in this set, however, it’s hard to imagine him being picked for such a Disneyesque enterprise.

The set begins simply enough with Intimidation (1960), a tamped-down caper that twists and turns right up to the last of its scant 65 minutes. Just as bank manager Mr. Takita (Nobuo Kaneko) is enjoying his ascension to the upper echelon of society, his past sins return to haunt him whilst compelling him to embezzle three million yen from his bank’s vault. Takita enlists his long-suffering “friend,” a pathetic underling named Nakaike (a heartbreaking, soulful Akira Nishimura), as a sort of fall guy. Naturally, nothing goes according to anyone’s plan and it’s only a matter of time before fate sinks its teeth into all involved.

Continued reading Eclipse Series 28 - The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

The Complete Jean Vigo (Taris, À propos de Nice, Zéro de conduite, L'Atalante)

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - August 30, 2011 - 5:19pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Rating (out of five): *****

Imagine a filmmaker dying of Tuberculosis at the age of 29, leaving behind only four films, whose running time totals less than 3 hours. In the age of YouTube, such an event wouldn't rate much more than a single morning's news story, if that. But in the case of Jean Vigo (1905-1934), his legend has endured across a century. There are many tales about him, such as that his anarchist father was murdered in prison, and that Vigo himself directed much of his final film from a stretcher. He has inspired so many filmmakers, everyone from Francois Truffaut to Michel Gondry, and hardly a list of the greatest films goes by without a mention of one of Vigo's extraordinary works.

Continued reading The Complete Jean Vigo (Taris, À propos de Nice, Zéro de conduite, L'Atalante)...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Cameraman: The Life And Work Of Jack Cardiff

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - August 23, 2011 - 5:18pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of five): ****1/2

"How do you get an idea that hits you here," Martin Scorsese asks, jabbing a finger at the center of his forehead, " an image that hits you here, and then translate it through this… this… piece of equipment?"

The piece of equipment Scorsese is referring to, of course, is the movie camera. No one knew better how to translate the thoughts of directors through the unwieldy workings of a camera than Jack Cardiff, the subject of Cameraman.

A fifteen-year labor of love, Craig McCall’s documentary mines the career of Cardiff, the pioneering cinematographer known best for his three collaborations with "The Archers" (Micheal Powell and Emeric Pressburger). Those films – A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes – remain benchmarks of cinematic innovation.

Continued reading Cameraman: The Life And Work Of Jack Cardiff...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

David Holzman's Diary

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - August 16, 2011 - 5:16pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of five): ***1/2

Until I watched Kino’s new DVD special edition of David Holzman's Diary, I was only familiar with its significance as a hatch-mark on a film history timeline. Diary is often cited as one of the earliest mockumentaries, prefiguring (among others) Christopher Guest’s skewering of self-serious musicians, dog show denizens, community theater actors, etc.

In this case, director Jim McBride aims his satirical guns at a particular type of pseudo-intellectual, the eponymous Holzman (L.M. Kit Carson, who co-wrote the film with McBride). Holzman is a recently unemployed cinema obsessive who decides to film himself over the course of a week in July 1967. He cites Godard’s oft-repeated axiom that “film is truth 24 frames per second” as his mantra. As the film unfolds, it becomes abundantly clear that Holzman is a budding sociopath, documenting his own devolution. Holzman makes for insufferable company, both for his (soon to be ex-) girlfriend Penny (Eileen Dietz) and the viewer. 

Continued reading David Holzman's Diary...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

That's What I Am

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - August 16, 2011 - 5:14pm

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of five): ****

Comparing a movie to an after-school special generally means something derogatory. Not in this case. Not at all. For writer/-director Michael Pavone has given us a coming-of-age, junior-high-school story that's rare in lots of ways. It's the first really good film -- one for which no excuses need be made -- from the WWE (yes, the company formerly known as The World Wide Wrestling Federation). It has a cast -- Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Molly Parker plus a group of remarkably gifted unknowns and even a WWE superstar (Randy Orton) who proves quite a good actor -- of which any movie would be proud to boast; and best of all, it handles coming-of-age and all the complexities of the adult and teenage worlds with remarkable depth, understanding, generosity and tact. In short, it's an important film that will undoubtedly -- due to its provenance (particularly, I fear, that WWE connection) -- get lost in the hustle and bustle of the mainstream mix.

Continued reading That's What I Am...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - August 15, 2011 - 5:12pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of five): ****

While director Edgar Wright was working on his fake trailer for Grindhouse (2007), and preparing Hot Fuzz (2007), Quentin Tarantino screened a couple of cop films for him: Stuart Rosenberg's The Laughing Policeman (1973) and Ruggero Deodato's Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976).

Of the second film, Wright said it was "the most amazing title, ever, apart from Half Past Dead. It's probably the most homoerotic cop film I've ever seen. The cops in it share a bedroom. They have bunks, and they're both real lady killers, but the fact that they share a bedroom -- it's like Bert and Ernie from 'Sesame Street.'"

Continued reading Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Léon Morin, Priest

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - August 9, 2011 - 5:10pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Rating (out of five): ****

Thanks to a fan club that includes Quentin Tarantino and John Woo (as well making an appearance in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless), Jean-Pierre Melville is primarily known as a director of cool crime films. In 2006, there was a small revelation with the official U.S. release of Army of Shadows (1969), a cool crime film that took place during WWII and dealt with the French Resistance; it quickly became apparent that this subject was dear to Melville's heart. Now comes Léon Morin, Priest (1961), making its DVD debut via the Criterion Collection. It's a movie without any crime elements at all, and is almost entirely wrapped up in the Occupation and Resistance. And yet it hardly even touches on those things. The story is almost totally boiled down to the interactions between two characters. They talk almost entirely about religion. They barely talk about the war or its effects at all. But in these talks, everything becomes clear.

Continued reading Léon Morin, Priest...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Super

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - August 9, 2011 - 5:09pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Rating (out of five): ****

In last year's Kick-Ass, an ordinary comic book nerd dons a costume and becomes a superhero. Despite his lack of superpowers, he eventually finds himself on a super adventure, with a big, spectacular showdown. James Gunn's Super starts out much the same way, except that this hero (played by Rainn Wilson) doesn't know much about comic books and he's a little less of a role model. In fact, comparisons to Travis Bickle are appropriate.

Frank D'Arbo (Wilson) is the ultimate in schlubby. His clothes and hair are schlubby, he lives in a schlubby town (actually Shreveport, Louisiana), and works as a cook in a schlubby little diner. He has somehow lucked into a beautiful wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler), though she is on the verge of leaving him; she's a recovering addict and is falling off the wagon. When she finally does, it's for a slick, sleazy club owner/drug dealer, Jacques (Kevin Bacon). Frank feels a terrible sense of injustice; he wants to get his wife back, but he also wants to rescue her from that bad influence.

Continued reading Super...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Cracks

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - July 21, 2011 - 10:36pm

Reviewer: James Van Maanen
Rating (out of five): * * *

A coming-of-age (but not coming-out) movie that takes us back to a British all-girls school during the 1930s -- complete with requisite lesbianism, nude scenes, and a backward glance at the young ladies, fashions and automobiles of pre-WWII-- Cracks, the first full-length film from Jordan Scott (daughter of Ridley) is a ripe piece of cinema that is, fortunately, still a short distance from going bad. You can bite into its succulent fruit and enjoy the sweet taste, while realizing that, by tomorrow, it will have passed optimum status. But that's tomorrow. Why carp when we still have today?

Continued reading Cracks...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

The Music Room (Jalsaghar)

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - July 20, 2011 - 10:32pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of five): * * **

Over the opening credits of Satyajit Ray’s 1958 The Music Room (Jalsaghar), a chandelier drifts out of the darkness, slowly swaying into view like some luminescent deep sea creature. This chandelier, one of several that hang in the titular room, will come to symbolize the flickering (pre-electric) light of a way of life that is quickly disappearing.

The Music Room is a fin de siècle story along the lines of The Leopard or The Magnificent Ambersons, detailing the last member of a feudal dynasty’s slide into obscurity. When we first see Lord Roy (Bengali matinee idol Chhabi Biswas), he is alone on the roof of his decaying palace, lost in thought. A sparse exchange with his servant (Kali Sarkar) reveals that Lord Roy has no idea what month or season it is.

Continued reading The Music Room (Jalsaghar)...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - July 19, 2011 - 10:29pm

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of five): ****

A treasure-trove of fascinating information about media-shy/burned author Harper Lee, her landmark book To Kill a Mockingbird, the fine movie made from it (and much more: even Truman Capote has a major role here), HEY, BOO: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird should have the billion-odd fans of the book lining up to learn more about it -- and the woman who created it. "Landmark" because it enabled white America, north and south, to begin coming to terms with the country's major social problem, racial prejudice, the book remains a force for understanding and change. Further, it is probably one of the few "modern classics" taught in schools that does not always need to be force-fed.

Continued reading Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Max Manus: Man of War

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - July 18, 2011 - 10:39pm

Reviewer: Craig Phillips
Rating (out of five): * * *

Max Manus: Man of War is a WWII epic based on a true story of Norwegian resistance fighter Max Manus. With a DVD release title and cover art that makes it sound like a comic book straight to video, the film from Bandidas directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Roennin looks good and is exciting enough to hold attention, especially for war history buffs, but the script doesn't break any especially new ground.

Max Manus opens with an obligatory and probably unnecessary "how we got here" WWII background montage before starting in a 1940 Finland snow-covered  battlefield then flashing back a few months earlier to when Germany has taken over Finland. Manus, our hero (played by Aksel Hennie), says "I was embarrassed to be from Finland." And thus we get the story of how Manus bravely became part of an unheralded resistance movement in his native country.

Continued reading Max Manus: Man of War...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

My Dog Tulip

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - July 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of five): * * * *

The Queen and her Corgis, Churchill and his bulldog, J.R. Ackerley and Tulip.  If that last one doesn't ring the bell, no matter: a gong may sound in perpetuity once you've seen the new animated film My Dog Tulipthe newest from husband-wife filmmaking team Paul andSandra Fierlinger.  J.R Ackerly, a British literary editor and writer, had his book of the same title (a reminiscence about the relationship between him and his dog) published in 1956 in England and later here in America. Reissued by New York Review Books in its Classic Series, Tulip is currently that series' best-seller.

Continued reading My Dog Tulip...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

GreenCine Guru DVD Reviews - July 12, 2011 - 11:54pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of five): * * * *

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives details the final days in the life of the eponymous character, who is dying of kidney disease. The film also features ape ghosts with glowing red eyes who stalk the forest in anticipation of Boonmee’s departed spirit.

The works of Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul have always straddled the mundane and the psychospiritual, often times within the same scene, but all of Weerasethakul’s preoccupations seem to meet their apex in Boonmee. The film is shaggier than its predecessor, Syndromes and a Century, returning to the swoony, free-form jungle idyll of Blissfully Yours and Tropical Maladay.

Continued reading Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives...

Comments (0)

Comments on this Entry:

* You can comment on articles

* Private messaging to others in the GreenCine community -- and more features coming soon!

* Keep apprised of happenings in the world of films festivals, independent, international, cult, classic, horror movies and more!

* As a free registered member, you can upgrade your account to a rental subscription -- or if you want a rental subscription right away, click here.