DVD Spotlight: Week of 11/11.

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Christmas on Mars James Van Maanen talks with Rick Gershon of Warner Bros Records about The Flaming Lips' Christmas on Mars: "They do many unusual things: They produced their own coffee table history book last year, about the first 20 years of their career. They did this independently and then we put it out thru WBR. We were just helpers on it. With this movie, it's a similar scenario. The Lips did most of the financing and everything else. They did this completely and entirely on their own." 

And for PopMatters, Drew Fortune interviews Wayne Coyne.

 "With their loose, loopy rhythms and start-and-stop pacing, the early-to-middle-period Our Gang films seem to resist the conventional constraints of storytelling," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. "They shake off narrative in favor of a documentary-like texture - here are the real streets and storefronts, brand-new bungalows and refuse-strewn empty lots, of a still semi-rural Culver City - combined with strange, surrealist gags and bursts of anarchic, slapstick violence." Also reviewed is the 1943 hit This Is the Army: "Directed by Michael Curtiz, the film was based on a touring stage production, featuring actual soldiers (some 350 appear in the movie), that was conceived by [Irving] Berlin as a money-raiser for the Army Emergency Fund. After you've seen Kate Smith belt out 'God Bless America' and heard the tiny Berlin warble his way through 'Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,' you'll be ready to write a check yourself." More on that one from the New York Post's Lou Lumenick.

"Seven Men from Now (1956), The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), Buchanan Rides Alone (1958), Westbound (1959), Ride Lonesome (1959) and Comanche Station (1960) are all still shockingly unique, realistic, weathered, fatalistic and never less than adult," writes Michael Atkinson for IFC. "Looking at them anew, they remain quietly revolutionary, but, insofar as it matters, the achievement seems to be not only [Budd] Boetticher's, but a fortunate meeting of minds between the director, his aging star Randolph Scott, their producer Harry Joe Brown and screenwriters Burt Kennedy and Charles Lang. The films are not notable for directorial flourishes, but for a subtle, cohesive vision of humanity and community."

And Sean Axmaker wants to see more Budd Boetticher on DVD: a wishlist at the Parallax View.

The recently released edition of How the West Was Won is "worth revisiting," argues Keith Phipps at Slate, "as a cinematic curio but also as a clue to what the future might hold for IMAX."

Missing Missing tells a "story that is, of course, about an American, one of just a handful of foreign victims, something you can't help but weigh against the thousands of Chilean nationals, so many still among the disappeared," writes Josef Braun. "But somehow this is what makes Missing (82), the American debut of writer/director Costa-Gavras, made for Universal, showered with Oscar nods, work in its very particular way."

In the New Yorker, Richard Brody notes that, for John Cassavetes, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie "was an artistic breakthrough that set the stage for his daringly personal later works."

The subject of Glenn Kenny's "Tuesday Morning Foreign Region DVD Report" this week is Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro (

"Sukiyaki Western Django is another one of those films where [Takashi] Miike is working from a well-worn template, juicing things up and stacking reference upon reference without creating a new vision," writes Bryant Frazer. "Tarantino's presence on screen is a too-clumsy reminder that the Kill Bill movies covered much of this same ground with more ingenuity and heart."

"I first saw Queen of Outer Space (1958) as an 11-year-old sci-fi crazed tyke, but even then found it tedious," writes Flickhead. "Alas, I was too young to savor the hootchie mama decadence."

The Boys in the Band Glenn Kenny on The Boys in the Band: "That [Leonard] Frey didn't do more, and better, work on the big screen is staggering to me; he was clearly a character actor of the first stripe."

"I wanted to look at the new Blu-ray Disc release of Story of O (out this week from the Canadian company Somerville House) for two reasons," begins Bryant Frazer. "First, I'm interested in what happens to obscure and cult films as they make their way to the new high-definition formats, and this French sexploitation drama from the mid-1970s certainly qualifies. Second, I know that while Story of O has some kind of literary pedigree (a sort of de Sade pastiche written under the pen name Pauline Réage, the novel broke significant ground for erotic fiction as well as bondage fetishists), the film version in particular has long been a pervy grail of softcore cinema - knowledgable viewers of a certain sexual inclination find this mix of epic skin flick, softcore potboiler, and S&M psychodrama to be in a class of its own."

Bill Hare has the Noir of the Week: Anthony Mann's Border Incident.

"Youth Without Youth is a fascinating folly," writes Matt Riviera. "Is it really that bad? Yes and no."

"One of the funniest movies I've seen in a while." Vince Keenan, briefly but notably, on OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies.

"Vanishing Point remains a powerful, explosive film," writes Ed Howard.

Online browsing tip. Kimberly Lindbergs's David and Lisa Flickr gallery: "The film is beautifully shot by director Frank Perry and features some truly impressive black and white cinematography from Leonard Hirschfield. There's a wonderfully surreal aspect to the film's eye-catching dream sequences and the melancholy mood of the institution is underscored by the use of stark shadows and startling bursts of light."

Online viewing tip. The NYT's AO Scott's Veterans Day pick: Patton.

DVD roundups: Sean Axmaker, Paul Clark (Screengrab), DVD Talk, Ambrose Heron, Harry Knowles, PopMatters and Slant.

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