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Eclipse Series 28 - The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara

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.

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

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.

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New and Coming Releases: August 30, 2011.

    

Summer keeps on as strong as Irene this week with another great slew of new releases on DVD. Docs chock full of social commentary, films from the world's greatest auteurs, and much more. 

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In A Better World Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Giveaway!

From Director Susanne Bier (After the Wedding) comes a provocative film that explores the difficult choices between revenge and forgiveness. In a Better World follows two Danish families and the unusual and dangerous friendship that develops between them.

Bullied at school, Elias is defended by Christian, a boy greatly troubled over his mother’s death. So when the two become involved in an act of revenge with potentially tragic consequences, it’s their parents who are left to help them come to terms with the complexity of human emotions, pain and empathy

Variety says of this 2010 Academy Award® and Golden Globe® winner for Best Foreign Film, "there's no denying the sheer dramatic intensity Bier achieves," and the SFGate adds it is "viscerally affecting throughout." And now, thanks to our friends at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, we're giving away a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack for In a Better World!

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Cameraman: The Life And Work Of Jack Cardiff

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.

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Queen to Play

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

A shoo-in to attract foreign film buffs who enjoy arthouse movies of the more mainstream variety, Queen to Play (Joueuse, in the original French) is a smart, small but intensely enjoyable movie -- one that I think would draw the kind of satisfied, word-of-mouth audience that made The Grocer's Son a surprise arthouse hit.

It stars a fine actress -- one who is consistently popular with this particular audience -- Sandrine Bonnaire (Angel of Mine, Intimate Strangers, Vagabond, Her Name is Sabine) and our own Kevin Kline (doing his first full-out French-language role), with help from Jennifer Beals (looking gorgeous in a small but pivotal role) and French hunk Francis Renaud (The Code, Chrysalis), who brings great warmth and humanity to Bonnaire's confused husband. Written and directed by Caroline Bottaro, a newcomer who has previously directed only one 15-minute short, the movie deftly juggles intelligence and emotion, plot and theme, bringing everything home to rest in thoroughly winning fashion without, thankfully, overplaying anything.

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New and Coming Releases: August 23, 2011

     

This week we've got 2 wonderful films of the same Korean director, plus a slew of other delights, especially of the retro flavor: 70's sword and scorcery and made-for-TV horror. Don't miss what's inside! 

Continue Reading New and Coming Releases: August 23, 2011

David Holzman's Diary

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. 

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That's What I Am

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.

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New and Coming Releases: August 16, 2011.

     

It's a great week to revisit old movies, as we've got everything from Kubrick's earliest, a new on DVD Polanski movie, mad science sci-fi from the 60's, and much, much more. 

Continue Reading New and Coming Releases: August 16, 2011.

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