Cross-posted on GreenCine Daily.
"One of the pioneering wagon-train movies of the inaugural, New York-based independent film movement, predating Jarmusch's Stranger than Paradise, Bette Gordon's Variety (1983) comes off in retrospect as a veritable time capsule of post-punk downtown coolness," writes Michael Atkinson for the IFC. "Just read the credits: screenwriter Kathy Acker (experimental novelist), star/photog Nan Goldin (famed shutterbug and model for the Ally Sheedy role in High Art 15 years later), soundtrack composer John Lurie (of Jarmusch movies and the Lounge Lizards), cinematographer Tom DiCillo (director of Living in Oblivion, etc), producer Renee Shafransky (Spalding Gray's longtime girlfriend), co-star Luiz Guzman, bit players Spalding Gray and Cookie Mueller (veteran of John Waters's universe), production assistant Christine Vachon, and so on. Where is Cindy Sherman? The grungy vibe of Variety is itself a window on the past - only at the nascent launch of a DIY indie wave in the post-60s period could you, or would you, set an interrogatory neofeminist psychodrama like this in a Times Square grindhouse devoted exclusively to cheap Euro-porn."
Dave Kehr in the New York Times on What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?: "Directed by Blake Edwards from a screenplay by William Peter Blatty, this 1966 antiwar farce, made as things were heating up in Vietnam, is one of the most ingeniously constructed American comedies, a brilliantly sustained series of plot reversals, inverted identities and reconfigured values."
Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times: "Most rock biopics are in the business of grandiosity and inflation, but Control - Anton Corbijn's spare, laconic portrait of Ian Curtis, the late singer of Manchester post-punk heroes Joy Division - does quite the opposite: It creates a life-size version of an iconic figure."
"At the first Toronto After Dark Film Festival in October 2006, Twitch's Todd Brown called Funky Forest: The First Contact the strangest film he'd ever seen. Two and a half mind boggling hours later, several hundred attendees had just updated their own lists too." Bob Turnbull recommends the DVD, even for those who've already seen it in a theater.
Mark Asch for Stop Smiling on The Lovers and The Fire Within: "There's a sense, in the early films of Louis Malle, of an expensive education at play - of a connoisseur rifling through people and their ideas, habitats and possessions; through LPs by Miles Davis, Brahms and Erik Satie; through film genres and classical and au courant style, with the ease of one at leisure to acquire and relish his tastes."
For Richard Brody, whose Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard is reviewed by Andrew Hultkrans in Artforum's new film section, the DVD he's recommending this week to New Yorker readers is Human Resources, directed by this year's winner of the Palme d'Or, Laurent Cantet.
The Titanic's been on the Siren's mind; so she revisits A Night to Remember, "fifty years on still the best rendering of the ship's sinking. As she wallowed once more the Siren decided to take a look at some of the differences between this fine version and the other two major movies, the 1997 James Cameron behemoth and the quiet, almost elegiac 1953 Titanic."
Bill Hare, author of Hitchcock and the Methods of Suspense, on the Vertigo, the Noir of the Week: Parts 1 and 2.
"What neither the feminists nor cinephiles seem to appreciate is that Marnie is one of the greatest bondage and discipline (B&D in sadomasochistic parlance) pics of all time," argues Lauren Wissot at the SpoutBlog. "Artfully disguised as a psychosexual thriller, Hitchcock's classic is actually kin to The Story of O with [Tippi] Hedren's O-like Marnie at the sole mercy of Sir Connery's sexy daddy (think Sir Stephen), reduced to being trapped like a wild animal to be broken and trained, owned and cared for, eventually becoming Rutland's wife/slave. This ain't misogyny - it's erotic art!"
Marilyn Ferdinand recommends Richard Fleischer's The Narrow Margin, "a taut, cat-and-mouse game played on the claustrophobic cars of a California-bound train."
And here's a recommendation from James Rocchi: "Three Days of the Condor's a great little thriller; considered against [Sydney] Pollack's other films, it may not have the majestic sweep of Out of Africa, the raw fury of They Shoot Horses, Don't They? or the laughs of Tootsie, but it's great entertainment - a nicely-made, paranoid run-and-hide thriller that not only evokes the Nixonian tenor of its times but also stands up even now through a fairly timeless sense of cynicism and suspicion."
"So how can a filmmaker discuss sexuality frankly and openly in a movie without going too far?" asks Michael Tully at Hammer to Nail. "Onur Tukel (Ding-a-ling-LESS) and Bryan Poyser (Dear Pillow) have come up with a clever solution: do it with language.... It's inexpressibly rewarding to discover two filmmakers who have chosen exceptionally smart dialogue over nudity and graphic sex in order to tackle such provocative material."
"Blue Underground announces first wave of Blu-Ray titles," notes Collin Armstrong at Twitch.
In the Washington Post, Jen Chaney lists "Five Summer-Centric Double Features."
DVD roundups: Sean Axmaker (MSN), Paul Clark (Screengrab), Peter Martin (Cinematical) and Tom Russo (Boston Globe).
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