DVD Spotlight: Week of 5/13.

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(As first seen on GreenCine Daily.) 

The Big Trail "Had it been even marginally successful, Raoul Walsh's 1930 epic western, The Big Trail might have changed the course of film history." Dave Kehr explains in the New York Times. Fascinating stuff. Also: reviews of two films by Mitchell Leisen, "[t]he very model of the crack studio director": "the 1937 Easy Living, with Jean Arthur and Ray Milland in a romantic comedy written by Preston Sturges, and the 1939 Midnight, a Parisian farce with Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche and John Barrymore, from a screenplay by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett."

"Like Luis Buñuel, and in particular, like Buñuel's main heir, Manoel de Oliveira, Resnais's career trajectory seems to have been to quickly abandon evocations of a subjective consciousness in favor of a blatantly theatrical, questionably objective style that dryly notes the precise behavior of delusional people acting only on the logic of their own emotions, which isn't very logical at all," writes David Pratt-Robson in the Auteurs's Notebook, reviewing Mélo. "But only for Resnais has the move been frequently disastrous, with his hypocrites way too systematically hypocritical, and with his occasional attempts to sympathize with these idiots via cute camera tricks and sound effects coming off as feeble nods to avant-garde roots by a man who is himself mired in outdated Vaudeville gimmickry."

WR: Mysteries of the Organism "Did you know that fucking is the best way to resist totalitarianism?" asks Chris Gisonny at the House Next Door. "Me neither but I like the sound of it. In his schizophrenic and hilarious WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971), Dusan Makavejev gleefully presents sex as the greatest of all revolutionary acts. The film wears its 60s radicalism with pride, so expect to hear a lot about, you know, revolution, communism, sexual liberation, censorship, and youth. Dated? Preachy? To an extent. But its message is presented in such an entertaining manner that the film remains one of the more worthwhile artifacts of the counterculture."

Abel Gance's La Roue "is a massive, tragic melodrama, but it's also a high-gear modernist landmark, and its restoration and DVD release is an event," writes Michael Atkinson at the IFC, where he also reviews I'm Not There: "[Todd] Haynes is right in not making a safe or orthodox film about Dylan, even if it's at a cost."

Guy Savage has the Noir of the Week: Red Lights.

Paul Matwychuk revisits Charlie Varrick and The Long Good Friday.

Youth Without Youth "It would be easy to say that Youth Without Youth is many things at once, but bolder and truer to say that it is about everything and nothing, at all times," writes Rob Humanick. "I can't begin to expound on the rolling layers of profundity the film relishes in, from infinite sorrow to redemption and back again. It is the soul itself, born witness to."

"If [its] discourse on faith and flexibility reflects specific concerns within the schism-beset Church of the 16th century, as well as more general concerns about the nature of Christian identity, [Masahiro Shinoda's] Silence is equally preoccupied by the uneasy trafficking of goods and ideas between East and West - the same theme that in fact dominated Shinoda's first period film Assassination (Ansatsu, 1964), set against the background of a 19th-century Japan riven by US attempts to reopen trade routes," writes Anton Bitel in Film International. "It is, of course, a theme of great currency in Shinoda's own post-war Japan, occupied by the Allied forces until 1952 and still undergoing a rapid process of Westernisation."

"The first three Indiana Jones movies, which Paramount is reissuing in a new boxed set this week in anticipation of the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, are rife with multiple nostalgias," writes Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times.

The Living End Dennis Harvey at SF360 on the remixed and remastered Living End: "Billed as 'An Irresponsible Movie by Gregg Araki,' this was maybe the first US narrative feature that responded to the AIDS crisis with ACT UP-style radical rage rather than lamentation or case-pleading. It's also (still) intensely sexy, funny, and romantic."

"10 Films Not Good Enough For DVD" (Jeff & Patrick, College Humor) and "10 Films Too Good To Be On DVD" (Alex Ross Perry, Tisch Film Review).

"[E]ven amid today's DVD culture, indicators abound of just how quickly our collective viewing habits are changing, and how Hollywood players are positioning themselves for a DVD-less future." S James Snyder reports for the New York Sun.

DVD roundups: AV Club; Sean Axmaker (MSN); Monika Bartyzel and Peter Martin (Cinematical); Paul Clark (Screengrab); DVD Talk; and Slant.

And of course, ongoing, the Guru.

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