Paul Matwychuk has caught up with Speed Racer, "and to my great surprise, I found it every bit as thrilling and delightful as Dennis [Cozzalio] did. I'm quite frankly baffled by the critical drubbing it received, especially from someone like Salon's Stephanie Zacharek, who in the past has been one of the biggest defenders of Brian De Palma, whose ability to convey plot information through complicated visuals instead of dialogue has a lot in common with the Wachowskis' approach to storytelling in Speed Racer."
Talking with Francis Ford Coppola for the London Times, Ed Potton revisits Apocalypse Now. Meanwhile, Glenn Kenny has a fascinating update on how the restoration of The Godfather's been going.
"That's the thing about visceral cries of rage and despair: they don't have to actually make sense. Sometimes it's even better if they don't." In the Auteurs' Notebook, Glenn Kenny offers "Three Ways of Looking at Pasolini's Salò." He then follows up with a viewing of Freddie Francis's The Skull, the title referring to the Marquis de Sade's headbone. The film offers set pieces that "are among the most visually dynamic 60s horror has to offer, rendered very beautifully on a recent DVD release from Legend."
And then there's the "Monday Morning Foreign Region DVD Report," Identification of a Woman: "In this film, which seems in many ways a deliberate step back in scale and scope from the likes of Zabriskie Point and The Passenger, Antonioni's alchemy of alienation produces peculiar, haunting effects he never achieved before, and, after his debilitating 1985 stroke, would never quite be able to ring again."
"Ordet (The Word, 1955) was the first film by Carl Dreyer I ever saw," writes Jonathan Rosenbaum. "Almost half a century later, it's easier for me to see that the film poses an irresolvable challenge to believers and unbelievers alike - and that what drove me nuts as a teenager is far from unconnected to what makes me consider Ordet one of the greatest of all films today."
"Vimukthi Jayasundara's The Forsaken Land (2005) is a Sri Lankan ode to desolation, set in a dune-beset desert range and haunted by the memories and present-moment traces of war," writes Michael Atkinson for IFC. "There is less a story here than an unassuming, aimless ramble of images and incidents, and ample opportunities for the characters to brood at the landscape while thinking about things we haven't seen.... [O]nce the ellipses and silences add up, "The Forsaken Land" comes off as having an undeniable sense of suspended apprehension that seems to be evocatively Sri Lankan, of waiting both for the war to resume and for life, such as it may be, to begin again. What's that worth to you? Less or more than CGI explosions and costumed superheroes?" Also, "as cynical as I'd like to be about the new run of DIY, HD twentysomething shrug-&-hangout features (a world, you could say, where no one owns a bed, just a mattress), I still find myself appreciating the low volume and the 4-D characters and non-stories they offer. Andrew Nenninger's Team Picture (2007) is a new fave."
"Based on a popular radio series, [Chandu the Magician] could almost be the missing link between the great silent European crime serials (Les Vampires, Dr Mabuse, the Gambler) and their more modest American cousins, the Saturday matinee serials of Republic and Columbia," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. The release is part of the Fox Horror Classics Collection, Vol 2, which Jeremy Estes at PopMatters.
The 30th Anniversary Edition of Jaws "contains 13 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes as well as an on-location featurette filmed on Martha's Vineyard for British TV on May 6, 1974," writes Masha Tupitsyn in Fanzine. "In light of these deleted scenes and outtakes, and given Jaws' infamous production history widely documented in a variety of forms, I've decided to revisit Jaws to reflect on the movie it could have been, and despite the now-included cuts, in an abstract way, still is."
If your queue's thinning out, a visit to Billy Stevenson's Film Canon may well fix that.
James Van Maanen's been sorting wheat from chaff.
Sean Axmaker at TCM on A Throw of Dice: "[Franz] Osten is a dynamic director with an eye for spectacular imagery and romantic visions and a gift for visual storytelling and energetic pacing."
Proteus "is a bewitching, cinematically fluent unification of scientific method and creative imagination," writes Jonathan Kiefer.
Ed Howard finds Hitchcock's Rebecca "as potent and haunting as its ghostly title character."
"The Grifters stumbles but, ultimately, the power of [Jim] Thompson's nihilistic vision of society as played out by its bottom feeders makes the film a memorable, repeatable experience," writes Marilyn Ferdinand.
"Brotherhood of the Wolf certainly has its share of fans and enough wacky genre-blending to interest any open-minded geek, but as the film's conspiratorial plot unfolds, it proves to be a surprisingly serious tale that could definitely have benefited from a much lighter directorial touch and some witty dialogue," writes Bob Westal at Bullz-Eye. Also, Reprise is "a witty and moving drama about young male friendships that steers an excellent middle course between traditional guy-movie macho male bonding and icky sentimentality."
"Maurice, a Merchant-Ivory production, is resolutely an example of British heritage cinema," writes Stephen Snart at Not Coming to a Theater Near You. "But while it does reinforce British-ness and its ideal, it also offers one of the more frank and respectful depictions of homosexuality in 1980s cinema."
Nick Schager talks with Lou Adler about Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains for IFC.
"In what is believed to be an industry first, Paramount Pictures is bundling its upcoming home video release of Kung Fu Panda with a direct-to-video companion film and will release the package on a Sunday - November 9 - instead of the traditional Tuesday." Thomas K. Arnold, for the Hollywood Reporter.
Online viewing tip #1. For the NYT, Jeffries Blackerby introduces the trailer for The Quiller Memorandum: "[T]he movie feels relevant now, as much as a record of the making of modern Berlin as a celebration of sharkskin-slick 1960s style.... The drip, drip, drip of Harold Pinter's ingeniously banal screenplay, in which small talk sounds like mortal threats, further heightens the feeling of paranoia and ennui in the scarred and divided capital."
Online viewing tip #2. Also for the NYT, AO Scott revisits The Hudsucker Proxy.
DVD roundups: Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical), Paul Clark (Screengrab), DVD Talk, Noel Murray (Los Angeles Times), PopMatters and Slant.
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