Essential Killing

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

Jerzy Skolimowski's Essential Killing placed on Cahiers du Cinema's ten best list for 2011, a not-too-shabby achievement. It says a great deal for the Polish-born director Skolimowski, who has been a favorite of that magazine for generations. But it also says something about the critics, who were given two big themes to think about: the primal theme of man-versus-nature, and the more newsworthy theme of Middle Eastern terrorists.

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New and Coming Releases: Feb 7, 2012.

   

We've got a wonderful mix of fantasy and reality this week, covering everything from explosion Asian action, riveting documentaries, love triangles, and more. 

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The Mill and the Cross

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

Sometimes movies are called "painterly," but it's not often that a movie is based on an actual painting. The Quince Tree Sun (1993) and Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) come to mind. Also Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark (2002), which is about a museum rather than a specific painting, but uses a "painterly" quality of its own.

Now we can add Lech Majewski's The Mill and the Cross to that short list. Based on Pieter Bruegel's painting "The Way to Calvary," from 1564, the movie patiently and delicately outlines many of the themes in the painting, even though the film itself can be somewhat drifting and opaque. It's quite unlike the anchored, physical quality of a painting; it's something rather different.

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Eclipse Series 31 - Three Popular Films by Jean-Pierre Gorin

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): SET **** 1/2 
Poto and Cabengo  ***** 
Routine Pleasures   **** 1/2 
My Crasy Life   **** 1/2

Jean-Pierre Gorin is probably best been known for partnering with Jean-Luc Godard in the late ‘60s to form the Dziga Vertov Group. Their aim was to take cinema in an authorless, overtly political direction and produced (among others) the Jane Fonda-starring Tout Va Bien. Thanks to Criterion’s latest Eclipse release, Gorin’s work is finally making its American DVD debut and will hopefully increase his stature to beyond just a footnote in Godard’s career.

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New and Coming Releases: January 31, 2012.

   

2012 hums along with another stellar week for DVDs. Feast your eyes on the Oscar-snubbed (or was it? Vote in our poll for the other snubs!) Drive, Asian action, period pieces, and more, inside. 

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Paganini

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

Anyone familiar with Werner Herzog’s 1999 docuhomage My Best Fiend knows that Klaus Kinski – whatever his merits as a performer – was a prone to deranged lunacy. Herzog’s film posited Kinski as a demon-possessed megalomaniac nearly incapable of taking direction. His (allegedly fabricated) autobiography is full of abuses hurled at the “idiot” directors who Kinski felt mismanaged their films and, above all, his performances.

Kinski’s single directorial effort – 1989’s Paganini – was his chance for him to vindicate himself from all the meddling hacks he’d endured throughout his career. Kinski finally had control of everything – from pre- to post-production – and could deliver the Klaus Kinski performance that he’d longed for audiences to see.

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The Moment of Truth (Criterion)

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

Francesco Rosi’s The Moment of Truth is a blood-soaked poem observing (if not totally celebrating) the gory pageantry of the bullfighting circuit.

The film begins with an extended, dialogue-less trek through a religious festival in a Spanish city. Onlookers line the street while Catholic acolytes in Klan-like capirotes lumber through clouds of incense, holding grotesque statues of Jesus and the Virgin. The eerie, slow-paced ritual is suddenly interrupted by a group of manic bulls pushing and bucking their way through the crowd. The solemnity is shattered; people are trampled and tossed and one of the bulls is vanquished for the camera. This is the first of many unsimulated animal deaths in the film. The squeamish are hereby advised.

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New and Coming Releases: January 24, 2011.

   

Oscar noms are out today, and this week you can rent the first ever winner for Best Picture (1927's Wings), plus many other hits, new on DVD! 

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New and Coming Releases: January 17, 2011.

   

It's another banner week for DVDs, with some classic reissues, experimental documentaries, and mainstream hits. We'll be adding many more upcoming releases this week, so stay tuned!

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Body Puzzle

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

Lamberto Bava is the son of the legendary Italian horror director Mario Bava. Lamberto entered the business young and assisted his father on many films, and recently even helped to assemble the amazing "lost" film Rabid Dogs (1974). When Mario died in 1980, Lamberto embarked upon his own filmmaking career. Two high points were Demons (1986) and Demons 2 (1987), both of which were co-scripted by Dario Argento, another Italian horror legend, and were both playfully post-modern chillers well before Scream came along.

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