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DVD Spotlight: 4/29.

New DVDs, and old, from around the globe, are reported on in this week's installment of DVD Spotlight. Including this bit:

Silent Ozu

 

"Ozu made a lot of films in the 30s, many of which are silent, some of which are lost, and these early films are seldom screened, so the new Eclipse series release, Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies, is valuable in that it lets us see the genesis of his refined late style," writes Dan Callahan at the House Next Door.

 

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Yung Chang Goes "Up the Yangtze"

Yung Chang By James Van Maanen

"Imagine the Grand Canyon turned into a lake," writes Stephen Holden in the New York Times. "That image is summoned by Yung Chang, the Chinese-Canadian director and occasional narrator of Up the Yangtze, an astonishing documentary of culture clash and the erasure of history amid China's economic miracle."

"With delicacy devoid of preachy grandstanding, Chang documents a landscape mutating not only literally but socially and economically as well, as flooding of countless cities and towns along the Yangtze's banks leads to displacement and, in turn, to an encounter between old and new worlders," writes Nick Schager in Slant.

James Van Maanen talks with the young director about the surprise hit in Canada that now opens in the US.

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Etgar Keret: "Reality is Overrated"

Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen By David D'Arcy

"Predicated on the spectacle of functionally depressed types stuck in mildly ridiculous situations not entirely of their own making, the Israeli ensemble comedy Jellyfish - which won the Camé d'Or last May at Cannes and was among the highlights of this year's New Directors / New Films - has an emotional resonance beyond its controlled slapstick and deadpan sight gags," writes J. Hoberman in the Village Voice.

Jellyfish was written by Shira Geffen and co-directed with her husband, the popular writer, Etgar Keret - with whom David D'Arcy talks as the film opens in more US cities this weekend.

Continue Reading Etgar Keret: "Reality is Overrated"

The Orphanage: Juan Antonio Bayona and Sergio Sánchez

El Orfanato By Michael Guillé/h4>

"The Orphanage is a film that often makes something out of nothing - something being scaring the bejesus out of you. Director Juan Antonio Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G Sáhez ratchet up the tension to such excruciating heights that, while you're watching the film, your impulse is to scream out loud just to feel some sense of release," writes Mark Olsen in the LA Weekly.

Michael Guillé/a> talks with Bayona about his debut feature and with Sáhez about the screenplay everyone'd told him was "wrong, wrong," and with both about their producer, Guillermo del Toro, and their touchstones, ranging from Henry James to Steven Spielberg.

The Orphanage is now out on DVD.

Continue Reading The Orphanage: Juan Antonio Bayona and Sergio Sánchez

Criterion's Blast of Silence.

Blast of Silence David Pratt-Robson in the Auteurs' Notebook: "By the time of Blast of Silence, Walter Benjamin, if not Edgar Allan Poe himself, had long ago laid the connection between detective fiction and flâurs, and a new type of consciousness (emblematized specially by the modern phenomenon of movie-going), in which the crux of identity lies in nothing innate and little lasting, but in the act of perceiving, and, perceiving, in particular, the city: detective's work. Yet neorealism would seem to be a necessary condition for flâur movies, which, despite Night and the City's influence, may be why relatively few major noirs followed in Benjamin's tradition, devoted entirely to cutting through swaths of city spaces and social milieus, to exploring parties and restaurants and businesses around town in an ostensible search for clues, and to depicting a man as he finds or loses himself - perhaps the same thing - in urban phantasmagoria.... But, if long post-Poe, Allen Baron's Blast of Silence still did it all years ago."

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DVD Spotlight: 4/15.

The Rabbit Is Me At Movie Morlocks, Jeff reviews First Run's DEFA Collection. Related: James Van Maanen at the Guru on The Rabbit Is Me and Robert Horton's "East German Cinema Guide." Somewhat related browsing: Iron Curtain Call.

"Grand Guignol does not get much grander than in Inside, one of the latest in a new wave of extremely violent horror films coming from France," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. More from Steve Erickson in the City Paper: "Directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo may have made it as a réméadder - their next project is a remake of Clive Barker's Hellraiser - but they don't lack ambition or talent."

"Forget what anyone else says, Night and the City (1950) is Jules Dassin's finest film," insists Anthony Frewin. "It's a noir masterpiece, no ifs or buts."

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Continue Reading DVD Spotlight: 4/15.

Gina Kim: "A Dilemma Every Woman Feels"

Gina Kim By Cathleen Rountree

"A compelling cross-cultural love story that sneakily blends elements of Lifetime-style domestic melodrama and ambiguous art-house cinema, Gina Kim's Never Forever is one of the spring season's unlikeliest and most delectable surprises," writes Salon's Andrew O'Hehir.

Cathleen Rountree sat down with the vivacious and sophisticated Gina Kim to talk about the history of recent Korean Cinema, her stint at Harvard, where she finds herself in her characters and her upcoming documentary. Never Forever is opening in New York and San Francisco before rolling out in May.

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DVDs, 4/8.

Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory Volume 3 From GreenCine Daily...

"Warner's new nine-film box set Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory Volume 3 features four Eleanor Powell films, and they are a reminder of just what audiences attended musicals for," writes Sean Axmaker.

Wishing King Kong a happy 75th: Robert Cashill and Ted Pigeon.

Continue Reading DVDs, 4/8.

Pedro Costa: "I Have to Risk Each Shot"

By Michael Guillen Pedro Costa

"Let's not make this pretentious; but in some ways my films are dangerous because I work within limited financial means," Pedro Costa tells Michael Guillen. "They're dangerous in the sense that I have to risk each shot of my film. There's a French writer, Celine, who I like a lot. He wrote Journey to the End of the Night, a classic novel. He used to frequently say that the writer should 'put his skin on the table'; that was his expression. I feel the same way."

The interview touches on several of the films that have traveled the country as a retrospective that is currently screening at the Pacific Film Archive as Still Lives: The Films of Pedro Costa (through April 12). Fortunately for us, neither Michael nor the Portuguese director are in any rush to move on from one topic to the next.

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DVD Spotlight: 4/1. (Updated)

"Platform is one of those great small epics," writes Darren Hughes. "It's ambitious and wildly catholic in its range of socio-political concerns, but it's also a very human and personal film. Jia [Zhangke] has the sensibilities of a novelist, I think. That's the easy part, though. What about the form of the film?"

"Watching Animal Crackers we not only are in the presence of the Marx Brothers we know and love, we are even perhaps in a slightly edgier Marxian universe that belonged more to their Broadway personas than to their later film personalities," writes Raymond De Felitta. "Indeed Animal Crackers is a transition film - bridging the gap between the 'toast of Broadway' Marxes and the newly film-savvy Beverly Hills bound Brothers."

Continue Reading DVD Spotlight: 4/1. (Updated)

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