A Trip to the Moon (Restored Limited Edition)

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Ratings (out of five): ****

Thanks to the happy success of Martin Scorsese's Hugo, the French silent era filmmaker Georges Méliès is now far better known to the general public. Flicker Alley, which distributed a massive box set of surviving Méliès films, has now released a special new two-disc "steelbook" set. It features a brand-new, restored version of Méliès' most famous film, the 14-minute A Trip to the Moon, with the original hand-tinted color back in place, and a new score by Air.

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Paul Goodman Changed My Life

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Ratings (out of five): ****

Paul Goodman didn't change my life. Unfortunately. But I wish he had. Born 30 years before me (in 1911), he published his famous work, Growing Up Absurd, around the time I was attending a Christian Science school (Principia College), a place at which a fellow like Goodman -- proudly bisexual and "out" (before the use of that word had even come into being!) -- would not have found favor. Once I abandoned that foolish religion and began to grow up (absurd or not), I did learn something of Goodman and read an occasional essay of his.

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The Conversation Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno)

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Ratings (out of five): ****

In 1974, Luchino Visconti was nearly seventy and had worked as a filmmaker for thirty years. He was in ill health and his most glorious films were behind him. When it came time to make Conversation Piece, which would become his second-to-last film, he needed something fairly simple to shoot, like something that took place in one building.

Having hit upon an idea, he called up some of his favorite actors, including Burt Lancaster, who had starred in Visconti's opulent masterpiece The Leopard (1963). The presence of Lancaster in a much smaller-scale Visconti production can only draw unfavorable comparisons. And, no, Conversation Piece is not nearly as impressive, ambitious, or powerful as The Leopard. But that doesn't make it a bad film.

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New and Coming Releases: April 10, 2012.

   

We've got more than a few "Iron Ladys" featured on this week's new releases: Madames, politicians, models, and more. Let them peer into your soul - after the jump. 

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Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Ratings (out of five): *** 1/2

Constance Marks' documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey tells the story of a shy black kid, growing up poor in Baltimore. Kevin Clash has a dream, but it has nothing to do with sports or hip-hop music. Rather, he wants to be a puppeteer on "Sesame Street."

This is a great twist for a movie, but Being Elmo does not dwell on it. In fact, it hardly brings up Clash's skin color at all, and it only brings up his former poverty in terms of the obstacles he overcame. For example, in order to meet puppet designer Kermit Love, he had to wait for a school trip to New York; his family couldn't afford train fare otherwise. (What the movie does not explain is why there was a camera present and footage of this first meeting.)

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Anatomy of a Murder (Criterion)

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): **** 1/2

From its opening onward, Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of Murder simmers like a slow-cooked stew. After Saul Bass’s sultry opening credits, the film opens as Paul Biegler (Jimmy Stewart) returns home from a fishing trip. Biegler methodically, wordlessly cleans his fish, places them in the icebox, and tidies up his office/living space. It’s a wonderfully inauspicious beginning; no flashy opening hook or clumsy exposition. While the film is by no means slow, this nice moment of domestic activity establishes Preminger’s pace – as its title implies, the film is a dissection of little, seemingly insignificant, moments and tossed-off words that add up to momentous events.

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New and Coming Releases: April 3, 2012.

   

This week's DVDs feature a mix of heart warmers and love and danger on the run. Get your tingles and thrills inside for the whole list! 

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New and Coming Releases: March 27, 2012.

     

It's a modest week for DVDs but there are still some treasures on this week's slate, including 2 new David Lean films released to DVD in a new box set from Criterion. More inside!

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The Swell Season

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Ratings (out of five): ** 1/2

Among its other accomplishments, the new documentary The Swell Season manages very clearly to differentiate fan bases: that of the fans of the 2006 movie Once (which starred the subjects of this new film: Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová), or the fans of the performers themselves. Fans of the former -- such as myself, who found Once a tiny, no-budget marvel with a lovely story, some wonderful songs and a bittersweet ending about as close to perfection as movies get -- can only feel supremely indebted to John Carney, the writer/director of Once, who, probably more than anyone, brought this film to fruition with his sense of pacing, subtlety and story-telling skills.

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World on a Wire (Criterion)

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): *****

I really don’t want to say a thing about  World on a Wire. I wish you could just take the above five-star rating to heart and watch it, untainted by any sort of preconceived notion other than how awesome it is.

That said, I’ll try my best to describe its awesomeness while tiptoeing around the finer points of the plot.

World on a Wire is a made-for-German-television science fiction film directed by enfant terrible Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The film is set during an approximation of the present in a Euro-metropolis. A technological thinktank – the IKZ – is developing a synthetic reality, known as Simulacron-B. The project’s purpose is to create an algorithm that can predict future occurrences so that trends in business, defense, and government can be anticipated and planned for. Simulacron-B is a resounding success and a few trouble-shooting sessions away from a full launch.

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