Reviews

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

Of the 40 or so movies Woody Allen has directed, about a half-dozen of them are masterpieces. A whole bunch more are really, really good, and then there are a few duds. Occasionally, though, he knows how to make a movie that can just make you smile. Radio Days (1987) did that, and so did Everyone Says I Love You (1996). And now Midnight in Paris does it. This new movie proves that Allen has moved past the bitter, angry section of his career and moved into what I call the "peaceful resignation" phase. Yasujiro Ozu made the same discovery: that one can find a certain comfort in the realization that some things never change.

Blog entry 12/27/2011 - 7:38pm

Reviewer: Craig Phillips
Rating (out of five): *** 1/2

First-time writer/director J.C. Chandor wrote the Margin Call script as the real life financial crisis was happening in late 2008, when he himself was in a bit of a career and financial panic, and the final film reflects this feeling. Unlike a lot of films on the subject, even ones that purport to criticize (paging Oliver Stone), Margin Call doesn't romanticize Wall Street, and it also doesn't overtly moralize or even judge.

Blog entry 12/20/2011 - 7:25pm

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

Jean Renoir’s Rules of the Game (also available for rent on Blu-Ray thanks to a reissue from Criterion) is a five-star a classic that anyone who cares about movies should have seen multiple times by now.

Paul Schrader placed Rules at the top of his Film Comment canon, the film has appeared in every Sight and Sound Greatest Films poll since 1952, and has never dropped below #3 on theyshootpictures.com’s cinephile aggregate list.

Renoir’s film has long since cemented its reputation, belonging in the company of such hallowed untouchables as Citizen Kane (also on Blu-Ray), Vertigo, the Godfather films (Blu-Ray), and Sunrise. If you haven’t seen it by now, shame on you. So – pedantic brow-beating aside – what’s the fuss all about?

Blog entry 12/20/2011 - 3:49pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of five): Elephant Boy - ** 1/2
The Drum - *** 1/2
The Jungle Book - ***
SET - ***

Nowadays, it’s feasible that an eleven-year-old elephant keeper could become a global superstar, provided he was aligned with the right reality TV show or viral video. In 1937, however, Sabu (nee Shelar Shaik) found fame via a more traditional route: by starring in several international box office hits. Sabu was an Urdu-speaking mahout (elephant driver) before he was pulled from obscurity by a location scout working for producer Alexander Korda. The Criterion Collection’s latest Eclipse series pays tribute to three of Sabu’s best-known entertainments.

Blog entry 12/14/2011 - 5:49pm

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

With Tabloid, Errol Morris turns his camera on the lurid life story of Joyce McKinney, a fetching young lady from a small town in North Carolina whose love for a Mormon man resulted in several bizarre international incidents. Before the decade-spanning story is over, McKinney finds herself mixed up in alleged kidnapping, aberrant sexual practices, a Christlike canine, ugly undergarments, and even cloning.

Blog entry 12/13/2011 - 4:57pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of five): ** if you’ve not seen the original /*** 1/2 if you have

Giorgio Moroder’s “restoration” of Metropolis probably began with noble enough intentions. Inspired by the music video’s ascendancy, Moroder decided to resurrect Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi masterpiece for a new generation. His rehabilitation included cutting out most of the intertitles (replacing a few with subtitles), retinting and colorizing the images, and – most significantly – juicing the film with a contemporary soundtrack, replacing the crusty old score with far out offerings from Freddy Mercury, Billy Squier, Loverboy, Adam Ant, Pat Benetar, and Bonnie “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Tyler.

Blog entry 11/22/2011 - 6:05pm

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

That anyone could steal the thunder out from under an actress as always-fine as Charlotte Gainsbourg is surprising enough; that it would be a small girl named Morgana Davies with but a single credit behind her (for a film unreleased anywhere but in Australia -- and given but a single star on its IMDB site!) is a further oddity.

Yet Davies, in only her second role, excels. The movie is called The Tree, and it is very much worth viewing. The film's director, Julie Bertuccelli (of the much-heralded Since Otar Left), either cast her film strikingly well (every actor is on-point here, including the expansive arboreal giant in the title role) or else she has been able to bring out a remarkable emotional range coupled to an acute intelligence from Gainsbourg’s young co-star. Probably both.

Blog entry 11/15/2011 - 1:36pm

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

If you're a certain kind of film fan, there's nothing quite like a good clip show. It's so easy to please these fans just by showing scenes from favorite movies. These viewers never fail to "ooh" and "ahh" if you can surprise them with a good clip.

Angela Ismailos' debut documentary Great Directors has plenty of them, and it's a generally happy experience. It's very satisfying to hear favorite directors like David Lynch and Richard Linklater talking about how they dealt with their flops Dune and The Newton Boys. It's lovely to listen to dear, sweet Agnes Varda talking about herself, and it's even interesting to hear what the aggravating Catherine Breillat had to say.

Blog entry 11/08/2011 - 12:59pm

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

Kino's new box set, the Great Italian Directors Collection, is far from comprehensive. There's no Rossellini, for one thing, nor any kind of nod to the great, second-tier genre directors like Mario Bava or Sergio Leone. But it is a nice showcase for three of Kino's new releases, and a very cool set nonetheless.

Blog entry 11/01/2011 - 1:20pm

Reviewer: Craig Phillips
Rating (out of five): ****, Likely ***** if footage wasn’t lost

For a film that had been one of the most sought-after missing-in-action DVDs, Orson Welles' “other masterpiece” -- when it finally arrived -- did so with surprisingly little fanfare. It's certainly at least partially due to the DVD arriving as part of an exclusive special edition set with the more widely available 70th Anniversary Blu-Ray version of Citizen Kane, and not individually or on Blu-ray. Still, its release is cause for celebration, especially for Welles completists and cineastes in general.

Blog entry 10/25/2011 - 2:00pm

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