Here are our latest reviews of films on DVD from 2011 and earlier.
The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter
- Excerpt: Its stunts are incredible, its moves are fierce, and its combat packs a wallop that time hasn’t weaked one bit.
The Best Years of Our Lives
- Excerpt: The term ‘courageous’ is wildly overused in film. However, ‘courageous’ is the only term appropriate for Harold Russell’s performance.
Cloak and Dagger
Comfort and Joy
- Excerpt: A film well-versed in the ways of audience members itching to stay one step ahead…
The Devil and Miss Jones
- Excerpt: n efficient, unadorned comedy, The Devil and Miss Jones is a delight from start to finish, inviting viewers to invest in its characters and cheer for their every success. By the climax, I was howling with laughter and reassessing my cynical opinions about my fellow man.
- Excerpt: With at least some forward thinking going on beneath the show tunes and ritzy costumes, it comes off as mildly misguided more than genuinely shallow.
Empire of the Sun
- Excerpt: The best mix in his directorial career between typical Spielbergian flourishes of audience-friendly spectacle and seriousness of intent.
Fast, Cheap and Out of Control
- Excerpt: Morris’ unique, experimental documentary is thought provoking—and although it’s organic and seems unplanned, it’s not nearly as out-of-control as its title implies.
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
- Excerpt: …the movie gives viewers a truly rough-and-tumble thriller that looks every bit as authentic as it sets out to be.
- Excerpt: The Grifters is an esteemed and relatively well-made film that didn’t have as much power and dexterity as I hoped.
- Excerpt: Musicals may be the pinnacle in escapist, suspend-your-disbelief cinema, but there’s having a good time, and then there’s “Gypsy” fiddling while its plot goes up in a blaze.
The Hudsucker Proxy
- Excerpt: The Hudsucker Proxy is one daffy and affectionate film that I had a blast getting to know all over again.
The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
- Excerpt: I like the idea of calling it a trifle because The Importance of Being Earnest is easy to consume, delightful for its duration, and altogether delectable. Not unlike the layered dessert which bears the same name.
Paulo Peralta @ CinEuphoria [Portuguese]
Kay Kyser Double Feature
- Excerpt: The “Kay Kyser Double Feature” is corn to the core, but the two fun flicks it boasts wouldn’t have it differently.
Lightning Over Water
A Message to Garcia
- Excerpt: The Spanish-American War story from 1936 is entertaining enough, with a decent amount of action and a smidgen of romance. The latter is largely sold by an excellent performance from Barbara Stanwyck, who even at this early stage of her career is already showing the star quality that would sustain her as a major Hollywood performer for the next four decades.
The Miniver Story
- Excerpt: But respectfully crafted in the original’s tear-jerking spirit though it may be, this movie’s dramatic punch is noticeably weaker…
Paulo Peralta @ CinEuphoria [Portuguese]
Philo Vance Murder Case Collection
- Excerpt: Though popular in his time, history has rendered Philo Vance a most humble of screen detectives.
- Excerpt: It’s now a cliché to describe Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ as the father of modern action cinema. Undoubtedly its DNA, whilst not entirely original in itself, has since colonised genre cinema on a worldwide scale. But ‘Seven Samurai’ is, of course, far more than a blueprint for recycled multiplex fare.
A Slight Case of Murder (1938)
- Excerpt: …what’s sort of remarkable about “A Slight Case of Murder” is how it doesn’t feel stagebound, how cleverly it sidesteps having the actors recite their lines on a single set and with the bare minimum of camera movement.
The Squid and Whale & Running with Scissors
- Excerpt: In what appears to be the best-case scenario for a Mill Creek Double Feature Blu-ray, this one includes one great movie (The Squid and the Whale) and one merely okay one (Running with Scissors).
- Excerpt: Taxi! The film is fairly typical fare from Warner Bros.: action-packed, urban, socially conscious, a scrappy central love affair between the lead performers, a comic secondary love affair between two character actors. Yet it has some interesting characteristics well worth closer examination: the toolbox acting techniques James Cagney developed from real life, the Irish-Jewish connection so common in the early decades of cinematic history, and scenes that harken back to the days before moving pictures talked.
That Thing You Do!
- Excerpt: A great choice for family movie night. Call it a sanitized version of The Commitments.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
- Excerpt: Who Framed Roger Rabbit is neither a barrel of laughs nor an investable mystery, but it manages to win you over with a compelling universe and a knowing reverence towards the heyday of cartoon shorts.
- Excerpt: Choi may not yet be as familiar a name as several other South Korean filmmakers, but all four of his films have been popular, as well as critical, successes, and for good reason – the guy knows how to make an entertaining film.