(Originally posted on GreenCine Daily.)
Paul Schrader's "triumph in Mishima, his most completely satisfying film, lies in creating a seeker who is aware of his own absurdity, and who is willing to embrace the ridiculous on his way to the sublime," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times, where he also reviews Framed, "among the last of the old-school films noirs" and "a poison-pen letter filled with bitterness, paranoia and despair." (More on Mishima from Erin Donovan on GreenCine Guru.)
Wong Kar Wai's My Blueberry Nights "will seem both familiar and disappointing to many of his fans," so, in the Los Angeles Times, Dennis Lim is recommending "Kino's five-film box set, which covers the first decade of his career (minus 1994's martial arts reverie Ashes of Time), from the brooding gangster love story As Tears Go By (1988) to the tempestuous breakup saga Happy Together (1997)." More on Blueberry from Michael Atkinson (IFC).
"Thirty years after its release, Invasion of the Body Snatchers remains not only stylistically but philosophically juicy," writes Annette Insdorf for Moving Image Source. "Like all of Philip Kaufman's adaptations - especially his subsequent masterpieces, The Right Stuff and The Unbearable Lightness of Being - it reveals an alert, smart humanism."
"The range of topics available to non-fiction filmmakers is virtually infinite, and yet to find an audience and a topic worth spending large sums of money and long stretches of time on, filmmakers need to seize on matters of clear public interest, whether because of their storytelling appeal or their importance to civic culture," writes Michael Z Newman. "The triumph of [Gary] Hustwit's film is that, surprisingly, Helvetica rises to this level so effectively and convinces even the design-naïve viewer of the huge significance of typography - a significance that increases as ordinary people become more involved in the production of visual media."
"If Bogart was the king of noir, then surely Stanwyck was the queen," writes Steve-O at Noir of the Week. "Her powerful presence on screen made her the ultimate black widow in noir. Stanwyck's performance in Sorry, Wrong Number is so powerful the audience sympathy - unlike the radio drama - actually shifts to her not-so-bright would-be-killer husband played by the miscast Burt Lancaster."
Charles Bogle at the WSWS on Vol 4 of Warners' Film Noir Classic Collection and the years it spans, 1948 to 1955: "The betrayals of Stalinism, on the one hand, and the results of the postwar communist witch-hunts, spearheaded by the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings, on the other, had ruinous consequences for American moviemaking. These consequences - the suppression of dissent and creativity; internal moral conflicts over one's duty to authority or to principle; the stifling, dispiriting sense of living one's life under surveillance - find various expressions in the collection."
"One common definition of a 'classic' work is that, every time you return to it, something new is visible," writes Bob Westal at Bullz-Eye. "This time, as a fan of Howard Hawks's 1959 'answer film,' Rio Bravo, I came in hyper-aware of Hawks's attack on Will Kane's tactics, even his manliness. But watching High Noon now, the criticism seems more off base than ever."
Francis Cruz on The Machine Girl: "There's no pretense of depth or meaning as each plot detail, each stylized setting and each introduced character are only there to serve one purpose: to turn gory deaths into laughter-inflicting spectacles. Sure, the movie exists primarily to mine into our collective depravity. However, such being it's only raison d'etre, it accomplishes it with enough careless enthusiasm and verve to make the experience of watching this trashy movie into one memorable ride."
"While volumes have been written about the look of Michael Mann's films, his dialogue is less frequently talked about: compact and economical, Mann's writing is perfectly matched to his images," argues Andrew Bemis. "Heat is slick, stylish and loaded with guns and fast cars, to be sure, but what's truly remarkable is its fusion of character and action - it's an 'action movie' in a way that louder, dumber, less skillfully crafted movies only claim to be."
"Few films have ever seemed quite so familiar at first sight," writes Lynsey Hanley, reviewing the BFI's release of Bill Douglas's autobiographical trilogy for the New Statesman. "Douglas conveyed the fundamental loneliness of a sad childhood (the one thing childhood is not meant to be) with the precision and conviction of someone who had never managed to shake off its effects." Earlier: Melanie McFadyean's talk with Douglas for the Guardian.
Glenn Kenny's "Monday Morning Foreign-Region DVD Report: Margin For Error/A Royal Scandal": "This BFI two-disc set is quite the nifty package for the would-be Preminger completist who's not overly troubled by the varied vicissitudes of the current global economic situation."
Online eye candy; shahn finds Lubitsch's One Hour With You "over run with spectacular early 20th century design."
Online viewing tip #1. The trailer for the Oxford American's Best of the South DVD #2.
Online viewing tip #2. "The most notable DVD release of the week has to be the first season of Mad Men, writes Karina Longworth introducing a fan-made video that "specifically highlights Mad Men's Hitchcock allusions: the slate-gray, Madeline Elster-esque suit that Betty wears to therapy; Don's spying, here symbolized by his employment of a home movie camera like something out of a cross between Peeping Tom and Rear Window; and my favorite, Betty's fateful encounter with a flock of birds."
DVD roundups: Sean Axmaker (MSN), Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical), DVD Talk and Movie City News.
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