DVD Spotlight: 9/3.

The AscentLarisa Shepitko, notes Josef Braun, "studied under the greatAlexander Dovzhenko, director ofArsenal (1928) and Earth (30), but being an all-too-apt pupil, and part of what would prove an iconoclastic generation of Soviet filmmakers, she would not uphold or even reconfigure the traditions of her mentor so much as follow his example as an innovator and exacting aesthete, developing an utterly distinctive voice, one that would seek poetic methods of externalizing internal, individual transformations rather than, in accordance with official Soviet ideology, speak for the glory of a people."

 

 

"Privilege was all but dismissed by the critics as 'hysterical' and 'juvenile' and roundly denounced in the press... In [director Peter] Watkins's own words, 'The fact that everything shown or implied in the film has come about in Britain subsequent years - especially during Margaret Thatcher's nationalistic period - has not changed its status as a completely marginalized film in that country.'" Sean Axmaker for TCM.

"[T]he disturbing thing about Salò is not its sexuality and violence, its pornographic register; rather, it is the film's posturing as social critique, its misleading diagram of the mechanics of the ideological state apparatus and the way subjects are produced in consumer societies," argues David Velasco in Artforum. "Consumers don't choke on the shit that they eat (as the ephebes are shown doing in the dining hall), they enjoy it. They're not coerced, they're cajoled. To articulate power in the way that Pasolini does - indeed, to conflate critiques of fascism and critiques of consumerism - is to dissimulate power's workings, to make it more insidious, not more exposed; it works to power's advantage."

More from Michael Atkinson at IFC: "Calling it a 'masterpiece,' as transgression-obsessed critics have done, or an 'abomination,' as many Italians, clergy and stuffed shirts have done over the years, or even a work that could be judged as simply good or bad, thumbs up or thumbs down, is not only unhelpful but ridiculously wrong. In many ways, the movie stands outside of cinema, and art culture - which is, of course, exactly where theMarquis de Sade himself has long stood." Also reviewed: "The sunny reality of fascism, if you will, is visible in all of its banality in Michael Kloft's Television Under the Swastika (1999), a German TV doc that makes use of the exhumed 35mm footage broadcast on Third Reich television beginning in 1935."

Day of WrathJonathan Rosenbaum on Day of Wrath: "If a direct political allegory would have entailed a distortion of the historical truth as well as a serious risk for the filmmakers, there's another conscious or unconscious route that might have been taken by Dreyer and the other creative participants on the film that is worth considering. In most of the more honest depictions of totalitarian societies that have been made, consciously or unconsciously, by people living inside them, one can find a fairly systematic displacement of the theme of political enslavement and persecution to the theme of sexual enslavement and persecution."

"Along with Murnau's Nosferatu - an unofficial adaptation ofStoker's Dracula - Vampyr has long been one of the scariest movies I've ever seen, somehow erasing the separation between spectator and screen," writes Mark Gross, who takes a close look at Criterion's package for Films in Review.

"[W]hile [Bitter Victory] offers a useful critique of the sort of macho notions of courage that often lead to unnecessary destructiveness, [Nicholas] Ray soon expands the incident of cowardice into a wider context in which he can more fully explore the metaphysical implications of warfare," writes Andrew Schenker at Not Coming to a Theater Near You.

"[I]n 1948, film goers saw Van Heflin as the young businessman and Robert Ryan as the man out to kill him.... with the addition of Janet Leigh and Mary Astor the credit list ends up becoming a dream cast (at least for film noir fans)."Steve-O on the Noir of the WeekAct of Violence. Also: Anexcerpt from Chris Fujiwara's The World and Its Double: The Life and Work of Otto Preminger on The Man with the Golden Arm.

MoontideDave Kehr on Archie Mayo'sMoontideElia Kazan'sBoomerang! and Jean Negulesco's Road House: "Worthwhile, each and every one, but all the movies exist on the margins of noir, sharing some of its characteristics but not quite meeting all the requirements." Also in theNew York Times: At long last, the final three seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show will be released on DVD; Mark Harris is celebrating.

"As a fan of British crime dramas, I'm wondering why it took me so long to find Midsomer Murders," writes DK Holm. "Each episode is clever and charming, and instantly addictive."

Online viewing tip. Mike D'Angelo at Shooting Down Pictures onAnthony Mann's El Cid; see also Kevin Lee's extensive notes.

DVD roundups: Sam Adams (Philadelphia City Paper), the AV ClubSean AxmakerMonika Bartyzel (Cinematical), Paul Clark (Screengrab), Noel Murray (Los Angeles Times), Slantand Stop Smiling.

 

 

 

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