DVD Spotlight: 4/29.

(Cross posted from GreenCine Daily.) 


Back in 2005, Marilyn Ferdinand issued a call in Bright Lights Film Journal: "Distribute This!" And now, Milestone is doing just that. A restored 35mm print of Kent Mackenzie's The Exiles, presented by Sherman Alexie and Charles Burnett, will begin its tour of the US at New York's IFC Center on July 11 - and a DVD will follow in late 2008 or early 2009.

"The 1960s had birthed the spaghetti Western, but by the early 70s - the 'Decade of Lead,' which brought neofascist bombings and Red Brigade assassinations - it was as dead as Dillinger, and the giallo and poliziotteschi were ascending. The latter genre, defined by rough and bloody crime thrillers, was inspired by such American cop films as Dirty Harry. But unlike American films, there were no good guys or bad guys - everyone was shaded gray." Grady Hendrix in the New York Sun on Pasquale Festa Campanile's Hitch-Hike, Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City and Lucio Fulci's The New York Ripper.

"I get the sense after watching 5 Centimeters Per Second that [Makoto] Shinkai is at something of a crossroads," writes Jason Morehead. "Though barely an hour in length, 5 Centimeters Per Second is such a perfect encapsulation of the themes that Shinkai has been exploring in his work to date that one can't help but wonder what's left there for him to explore, and wonder where he'll go from here."

Land of Promise "A vast new box set from the British Film Institute, Land of Promise, which collects the most notable films of documentary-makers working between 1930 and 1950, is a compendium of what-ifs, in which the idea of a fair and equal Britain, one brought about by war but created in peace, seems so real and near as to feel graspable," writes Lynsey Hanley in the New Statesman. "In these richer but once more unequal times, it is hard to avoid nostalgia."

"There is, simply put, no film before or after Blast of Silence that uses the city as a character better or more knowingly, including the work of Jules Dassin, Sidney Lumet and Martin Scorsese," writes Brian Berger in Stop Smiling. More from Paul Matwychuk.

Stone Wallace, author of George Raft: The Man Who Would Be Bogart, has the Noir of the Week: They Drive By Night.

John Adair on Winter Light: "Bergman's camera and lighting move in unison with the burgeoning atheism of the film's central character to produce a scene that crystallizes the tension of faith present throughout the film."

"As [Miroslav] Tichý is a man with a very interesting past life who is now in his 80s and facing fame as an outsider artist, he of course would be the great subject for a documentary film," notes Mr Whiskets. "Luckily a director as sensitive to her subject as Nataša von Kopp came along first to create a portrait of the man before anyone else." Worldstar is now out on DVD in Germany.

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.

Also, Kevin B Lee on O Lucky Man!: "David Sherwin's screenplay seems to depend heavily on the audience taking its wry depictions of widespread dystopia at face value to attain an aura of verity." In the accompanying video at Shooting Down Pictures, Kevin and Dave McDougall discuss a scene.

With The Guatemalan Handshake, "[Todd] Rohal has whipped his world from the weedy ground up into a fiery, relentless storm of quirk, but he's original enough in his cataract of details to keep us in a constant state of enchanted disorientation. Why was Napoleon Dynamite with its relatively stereotypical uber-misfit, a hit, while this 2006 daydream foundered out of sight?" asks Michael Atkinson for the IFC. Also: "Another revelation, Lois Weber's Hypocrites is a deeply eccentric, troublingly lyrical vision, for its day - 1915! - and ours."

And in the New York Times, Dave Kehr reviews Kino's complete bundle, First Ladies: Early Women Filmmakers. But first, Gregg Araki's The Living End's "pop nihilism still packs a punch, its impact amplified by more recent mainstreamed, Oscar-friendly gay melodramas like Brokeback Mountain."

"[Julian] Schnabel's films - Basquiat, Before Night Falls (2000), and last year's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, out on DVD from Miramax this week - are stories of cruelly curtailed lives," writes Dennis Lim. "Not only is Schnabel respectful of his artist-heroes - and these are all unmistakably heroic films - he seems willing to absorb their aesthetic strategies." Also in the Los Angeles Times, Susan Spano presents a list of films that make Paris look lovely.

With the hype long dried up and blown away, "Cloverfield emerges now not as a hollow shell, but as some kind of brilliant conception, albeit one more than a bit too caught up in its calculated form to effectively indulge in the emotional undercurrents that made The Blair Witch Project one hell of a character study in addition to a representation of the moving image as point-of-view documentarianism," writes Rob Humanick.

True Romance At the Playlist: "True Romance 15 Years Later: A Look Back."

"Day Night Day Night isn't an easy film to watch, and it leaves you with more questions than answers," writes James Rocchi at the Culture Blog! "But as summer arrives at the movies with its fantasies wrung out of comic books and cartoons, and less complicated and more comforting forces of destruction battle for box office, think of Day Night Day Night as a chance to feel a chilling blast of something rich and dark before sinking into the cool, soothing air-conditioned embrace of big Hollywood."

"Does Billy Jack still work?" asks Paul Clark at ScreenGrab. "Nope."

With "The Mod Musicals of Lance Comfort," Kimberly Lindbergs not only does a terrific job of putting Live It Up! and Be My Guest high on your to-see list, she also tells you how to get your hands on the DVDs. Keywords: Joe Meek, David Hemmings and Steve Marriott.

Glenn Kenny's "Monday Morning Foreign-Region DVD Report: Letter From An Unknown Woman."

DVD roundups: The AV Club, Sean Axmaker, Paul Clark (ScreenGrab), DVD Talk, Bryant Frazer, Paul Harrill, the Lumière Reader, Peter Martin (Cinematical), Noel Murray (Los Angeles Times) and Slant.

And as always, watch the Guru.

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