July 6, 2004
FRESH FROM THE THEATERS
Monsieur Ibrahim (2004). Peter Brunette in indieWIRE: "Set in 1960s Paris, the film succeeds marvelously in re-creating the ambience and vitality of a single lower-class street where prostitutes roam and teenagers hungry for life (and for sex from the prostitutes) rush home after school to blast American rock 'n' roll from their radios.... Handsome newcomer [Pierre] Boulanger is terrific, effecting just the right combination of teenage swagger and vulnerability. Look for a big career here. [Omar] Sharif is even better, forbidding and warm all at once; this may be his best role since 1962's Lawrence of Arabia." [Rent]
The Butterfly Effect (2004). "The movie was not really as bad as the critics made it out to be," insists neoinoakleys. "I think the movie was very enjoyable and had a great premise." And in the same discussion, rmarkd agrees: "Definitely worth seeing... I don't know if it'll be a cult classic (probably not), but I came out of that movie thinking it was surprisingly good." [Rent]
Yes, there's new stuff arriving in July, but certainly among the most exciting releases this week will be nine hard-boiled classics from the heyday of film noir. Pour yourself something sassy, review Eddie Muller's Film noir primer and queue 'em up.
This Gun For Hire (1942). Many regard this as Alan Ladd's best thriller, thanks in no small part to director Frank Tuttle. With Veronica Lake, "the girl with the peekaboo bang." [Rent]
Murder, My Sweet (1944). Hands up if your favorite Phillip Marlowe is Dick Powell. Heavens, so many of you! Alright then, a pleasant surprise. You know what to do: [Rent]
Black Angel (1946). The UK's Channel 4: "A small but solid little thriller, whose gamble of placing Dan Duryea in the good guy's shoes for once (he was better-known for nabbing the villain roles) pays dividends." And with Peter Lorre! [Rent]
Out of the Past (1947). "Cinematic perfection," Mick LaSalle has exclaimed in the San Franscisco Chronicle, "a Hollywood classic that's as great and as enjoyable as its reputation has promised... Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, stars who went on to become icons, were rarely as vivid as they are here. Yet this is director Jacques Tourneur's show all the way." [Rent]
The Big Clock (1948). TCM finds a nice bit in Simon Callow's book, Charles Laughton: A Difficult Actor: "'The play of shadows is handled in a masterly way, while the plot with its inversions and convolutions, presents an image of nightmarish reversals.' Callow also speculates that Laughton, as Earl Janoth, the owner of a publishing empire, seemed to be 'drawing attention to the robotic heartlessness of big business.'" That may well be, but let's keep in mind that the film, directed by John Farrow and starring Ray Milland, is also based on the novel by Kenneth Fearing, one of a slew of Hollywood lefties who found their niche, oddly enough, in a genre populated by loners. [Rent]
The Set-Up (1949). Love it: Thomas M Pryor, reviewing the film in the New York Times upon its release, called it "a sizzling melodrama. The men who made it have nothing good to say about the sordid phase of the business under examination and their roving, revealing camera paints an even blacker picture of the type of fight fan who revels in sheer brutality.... a real dilly for those who go for muscular entertainment." A real dilly? You bet, with Robert Wise directing and Robert Ryan in the lead. [Rent]
Gun Crazy (1949). Adrian Martin in Senses of Cinema on "this magnificent, delirious film": "It is a movie of 'eternal moments', instants that flare up and smack you without much prior explanation. A movie of close-ups: dark brooding poems of excited faces caught in paroxysmic expressions, heads cradled together in exhaustion, mouths colliding with an urgent, desperate desire. A movie with bold, explosive accelerations of figural style, those bravura shots and long takes that buffs love to fetishise... A movie whose astonishing short-cuts, condensations, abbreviations and ellipses of plot and staging - born, of course, from extreme economy of means - today look positively Bressonian." [Rent]
Criss Cross (1949). Richard Siodmak isn't the household name his fellow German émigrés would become - Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger - but he was a superb noir director who made two outstanding pictures for Universal: The Killers and this one, both with Burt Lancaster. [Rent]
The Asphalt Jungle (1950). Kirk Hostetter in 24 frames per second on Sterling Hayden's Dix Handley: "Just a simple run of bad luck left him a 'hoodlum' in an unnamed mid-western city mugging and gambling his way back to the farm. Right? Well, we know better. It was also that post- war cesspool of greed, amorality and corruption that has forced many a disillusioned sole to stray down a shadow infested alley. Whether the criminal caused the hell, or the hell the criminal, is of little consequence." John Huston's classic has been long overdue on DVD. [Rent]
The Name of the Rose (1986). It was somewhere around here, in Jean-Jacques Annaud's adaptation of Umberto Eco's runaway bestseller about murders in a monastery, that Sean Connery developed that certain quality of... irrevocability. [Rent]
Take the Money and Run (1969). Vintage Woody Allen. "Possibly the first comic mockumentary, and, although very dated in some places, also often uproariously funny," notes Craig Phillips. "Many memorable set pieces (my favorites include the illegible hold-up note and the cello out the window...)." [Rent]
Never A Dull Moment (1968). Disney certainly assembled a great cast to pull off this caper: Dick Van Dyke, Edward G. Robinson, Henry Silva, Jack Elam and Slim Pickins. [Rent]
No Deposit, No Return (1976). Another Disney caper, another great cast: David Niven, Darren McGavin, Don Knotts, Charles Martin Smith and Vic Tayback. [Rent]
My Voyage to Italy (2001). Martin Scorsese's superb history of post-war Italian cinema. As Stephen Holden wrote after taking in this one and A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, "It's no exaggeration to say that watching both films will forever change and deepen the way you look at cinema." David Hudson wrote a ridiculously sloppy piece about Voyage two years ago, but we'll point to it anyway: Here. Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent].
Uzumaki (2000). Finally, the first domestic release. "This has to be one of the most unique horror films I've ever seen," writes Cinenaut. "Unique and wonderful," agrees Ayato. LCosgrove also offers a bit of advice: "If you're in a town cursed by spirals and everyone is dying spiral-related deaths, fer crissakes get out of that town." [Rent]
Island Monster / Chamber of Fear. Double Feature (1953-1968). Both of these flicks from the latter phase of Boris Karloff's career are possible candidates for the "so bad it's good" category, the kind of movie best served with your favorite relaxants and wise-cracking friends. [Rent]
Click on to see more titles that arrived on July 6: Anime, action, TV and more...
While you're at it, you might want to browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.