DVD Spotlight: 3/25.

DVDs, 3/25.

(Crossposted on GreenCine Daily.)

The Phantom Empire "For indigenous American surrealism, it's hard to beat the Saturday matinee serials of the 1930s, and I'm not sure that The Phantom Empire, a 1935 release from the Poverty Row studio Mascot, can be beat at all," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. "Very likely the world's first singing-cowboy science-fiction adventure, this 12-episode chapterplay, directed by Otto Brower and Breezy Easton, features Gene Autry in his first starring role - as 'Gene Autry,' the proprietor of Radio Ranch."

Dennis Lim reviews the third volume of Warner Bros' Gangsters Collection, which showcases "the fruitful early careers of James Cagney and Edward G Robinson, the era's thuggish leading men of choice," but: "By far the darkest film of the lot (and the only one with neither Cagney nor Robinson), Black Legion (1937) stars Humphrey Bogart, who was then still a few years shy of mega-stardom.... It's a nightmarishly bleak vision of nationalist fervor stoked by male working-class impotence. And given the xenophobic overtones of today's debates over immigration, it remains as topical as ever." More from Sean Axmaker.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: With Arthur Penn and Warren Beatty, Geoff Boucher looks back on Bonnie and Clyde.

Blast of Silence "Asking a group of cinephiles what films book ended the film noir cycle is akin to throwing raw meat to a pack of wild dogs," writes Mike at Noir of the Week. "You're liable to lose a finger if you're not careful. It's commonly held that Orson Welles's Touch of Evil rounded out the movement but Allen Baron's Blast of Silence should rightfully hold this distinction."

Evan Davis and Madelyn Sutton open a days-long discussion of Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt.

"Douglas Sirk was Hollywood's first master of intentional but nearly imperceptible irony," writes Karina Longworth, who reviews a double feature at the SpoutBlog: All That Heaven Allows and Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.

"Played with that deadpan quality we come to expect from highbrow, stiff upper lip British comedy, if... is told with rigorous control, with unobtrusive camerawork and naturalistic, unpretentious sound design," writes Jeremiah Kipp at the House Next Door.

Back to the Future "Back to the Future only gets better the further we get from the 80s," argues Steven Hyden in a column for the AV Club that's part of a series, "Song and Vision," on songs - in this case, "The Power of Love" - and movies that do wonders for each other. There's a compare/contrast note at the end, too, on the use of another Huey Lewis and the News tune in American Psycho.

Also at the AV Club, Noel Murray talks with Amy Heckerling:

 

Q: I Could Never Be Your Woman has gotten some press because it's being sent straight to video, in spite of a cast of well-known actors and your own marketable résumé. That must be disappointing, but at the same time, the story does give you a hook you can use to bring attention to the film. Is that any compensation?

A: No. Nobody wants to tell that story. Nobody wants to go around going, "Hey, look. My kid is in the hospital." Nobody in the industry thinks, "Oh, isn't that too bad! We feel sorry for you," or, "Gee, the movie went to DVD. It must be really good or have an interesting story behind it." It's just bad. It's just bad, bad, bad. There's really no nice, interesting spin you can put on it from my point of view.

"South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was one of the highlights of 1999, the best movie year in living memory," writes Andy Klein in the LA CityBeat. "Since then, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made only one more feature, the non-SP puppet extravaganza Team America: World Police (2004). Now they've released the DVD South Park: Imaginationland, which is a sort-of feature."

"Spiral is a quiet observation of an outsider fumbling to fit in, a work indebted more to Roman Polanski than Freddy Kruger," writes Flickhead Ray Young,

Saint Joan Glenn Kenny's "Monday Morning Foreign-Region DVD Report": Preminger's Saint Joan.

"At the end of the day, and perhaps even before that, movies like The Kite Runner and Charlie Wilson's War are acceptable to those wishing to justify the present occupation of Afghanistan," argues Harvey Thompson at the WSWS.

Rob Humanick is compelled to revisit The Mist.

DVD roundups: Kevin Crust (Los Angeles Times); DVD Talk; Bryant Frazer; Movie City News; and Slant.

And of course, GreenCine's Guru.

Online viewing tip. A discussion of Spielberg's Duel with Steven Boone, Andrew Grant and Keith Uhlich at Kevin Lee's Shooting Down Pictures.

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