"All [Jack] Smith ever wanted was to create a new world for himself, separate from the mundane, ugly and unjust world he saw around him, and if we know his name today, it's because he largely succeeded," writes Michael Atkinson. "Mary Jordan's documentary Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis (2007) is, for a new generation with heretofore unprecedented access (on DVD) to the entire legacy of experimental film, a smashing introduction into the world of mid-century, iconic DIY rooftop moviemaking, where penniless idiosyncrats could become world famous with a borrowed camera, some thrift-store accoutrements and the will to transgress."
Also reviewed is It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, "one of the great masterpieces of American television, a waist-high autumnal idyll like no other, and as evocative of a preteen universe - a place where Halloween has epochal significances, if it's always difficult to figure out exactly what they are - as any film made in English."
And also at IFC: "Produced by [Jamie] Kennedy and directed by Michael Addis, Heckler is a deeply personal and often funny doc about the relationship between performers and their critics, right down to heated confrontations between Kennedy and his online eviscerators. The film features a surprising gamut of talking heads: comedians like Patton Oswalt and Kathy Griffin make sense, as do directors like George Lucas and Uwe Boll, but who would've suspected to hear from Christopher Hitchens, Larry Flynt and Jewel in the same film?" Aaron Hillis talks with Kennedy about hecklers and other critics.
"It it weren't shot entirely in a studio, and instead strayed onto some actual sunlit locations, Road House would probably qualify as a film soleil, i.e., a 'noir' with brighter settings and a modern moral complexity," writes DK Holm for the Vancouver Voice. "Like Leave Her to Heaven, it has a woodsy bucolic setting, this film set in an unnamed state not far from the Canadian border.... [D]espite being a melodrama, Fox still made sure that the film looked great (it's shot by Joseph LaShelle who did a lot of Preminger and Wilder films) and art directed by Maurice Ransford and Lyle Wheeler, who create an expansive restaurant - dance hall - bar - bowling alley complex unlike anything you've ever seen, and which partakes of the lushness of post war expansionism. Bowling alleys have a surprisingly robust history in film noir. Modern times, however, are surprisingly more noirish, as we mostly bowl alone."
"The best reason for buying a Blu-ray player right now is Warner Home Video's high-definition version of How the West Was Won, a film made 46 years ago in the highest-definition moving picture medium the world had seen: Cinerama." Dave Kehr sketches a history of the process and its challenges in the New York Times. "The images are so crisp as to feel almost unreal; the depth of field seems dreamlike, infinite, with the blades of grass in the foreground as sharply in focus as the snow-capped mountains in the distant background."
"Andy Warhol once said, 'Sometimes I like to be bored, and sometimes I don't. It depends what kind of mood I'm in.' My mood could be called Sunday night, and Joy House bored me in exactly the right way." Vince Keenan.
"Along with Truffaut's 400 Blows and Godard's Breathless (both released a year later, in 1959), [Louis Malle's] The Lovers is the most extraordinary of early New Wave films, and the first to set out the basic style," writes Mark Gross in Films in Review.
Glenn Kenny's "Monday Morning Foreign Region DVD Report" in the Auteurs' Notebook: "In anticipation of the Film Forum retro, I dipped back into a splendid Region 2 box set from British outfit itv, the 9-disc The David Lean Collection."
"Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet's Klassenverhältnisse (Class Relations) adapts a posthumously published but unfinished Franz Kafka novel known as Amerika - a title given to it by Max Brod after Kafka's death," notes Dave McDougall in the Auteurs' Notebook. "The Filmmuseum DVD edition makes good on its billing as a study edition."
"As a home movie, even the butchered Don Quixote has transcendent moments," writes Gary Giddins in the New York Sun.
Primary, Crisis and Faces of November: Kimbeley Lindbergs watches "history unfold in a way that is often more thought-provoking and honest than many modern documentaries."
"Watching Tarsem Singh's The Fall made me hate Guillermo Del Toro all the more for consistently locking me within plot-driven, petty geek-boxes of marketable fantasy," declares Will Lasky. "In contradistinction, Tarsem documents a visual universe that seems flung together and bereft of the structural, tonal gravitas and authorial control that Oscar loves." It's "a careful artwork that doesn't advertise its own gravitas. Perhaps that's the definition of a cult classic."
Also at the House Next Door: "Gosh, though, I really do admire the art of Bruce Nauman, and I really do hate the movie about his artwork." Jeremiah Kipp on Bruce Nauman: Make Me Think.
"Dark City wasn't officially based on a Philip K Dick story, but it's closer in spirit to Dick (in books like Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Time Out of Joint and A Maze of Death) than any of the official adaptations." The LA CityBeat's Andy Klein reviews the new director's cut, both the plain vanilla DVD and Blu-ray editions.
"Black Narcissus stands as a powerful exploration of what it means to live a life of distinctively Christian faith." John Adair.
"Given the fascinating, often troubled history behind the production, I had hoped the DVD extras would dish a little dirt, or at least provide new insight, into how Bright Lights, Big City got made," writes Jen Chaney in the Washington Post. "Other than a commentary by cinematographer Gordon Willis, who at least acknowledges that the original director, Joyce Chopra, was fired and eventually replaced by Jim Bridges, there is only brief mention of the problems that plagued the project. And no one even bothers to note that filmmaker Joel Schumacher and Tom Cruise were attached to Bright Lights for quite a while before both moved on to other things."
DVD roundups: Sean Axmaker, Charlie at Cinema Strikes Back, DVD Talk and Slant.
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