Here are our latest reviews of films on DVD from 2010 and earlier.
The 400 Blows
- Excerpt: The 400 Blows is a film marking many firsts. It’s the start of the series, but it’s also Francois Truffaut’s feature debut. Though the second picture for star Jean-Pierre Léaud–he was in an adventure movie directed by Georges Lampin–it was his first lead role. The young actor was 15 years old at the time, and The 400 Blows would set him off on a grand career–Léaud is still working, and recently had a memorable part in Le Havre–but he will always be best known as Truffaut’s double.
- Excerpt: Like being dropped inside Federico Fellini’s brain and wandering around inside its convoluted folds.
Bad Day At Black Rock
La Belle Equipe
- Excerpt: A French film by Julien Duvivier that typifies Popular Front movies of the 1930s, with five unemployed friends pooling their lottery winnings to build a country inn to be run with liberty, equality, and fraternity for all.
- Excerpt: Apart from Duel in the Sun (1948), The Black Swan is, in its circuitous way, quite the filthiest, mind-bogglingly kinky and campy film I’ve seen from a major Hollywood studio in the 1940s.
- Excerpt: Identity can be a tricky thing. We recognise and categorise one another primarily by our faces. But what happens when a face just doesn’t reflect the person inside and no amount of make-up or accessories can change that?
Body and Soul
- Excerpt: …a powerful morality tale and a bare-knuckle drama of the American dream gone sour.
Boy Meets Girl
- Excerpt: Still today, when we make knee-jerk comparisons of Carax’s early work to Godard and Truffaut, we’re denying ourselves the ability to see the poetic singularity of Boy Meets Girl.
The Bunny Game
The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect 2
- Excerpt: [Provides] a safety net for every person who ever directs a superhero movie for the rest of time: “Well, that completely sucked, but it was no Catwoman”.
Celine and Julie Go Boating
- Excerpt: one of the seminal films of the French New Wave…delightful
- Excerpt: Henry Hathaway draws on the docu-style of his forties films noir The House on 92nd Street and Call Northside 777 and brings a workaday realism into the spy movie, giving it a quality that looks forward to the modern world of political espionage.
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
- Excerpt: A horribly routine star-crossed romance job with none of the spunk or humanity that made its oh-so-better forebear a generational classic.
Fanny by Gaslight
John J. Puccio @ Movie Metropolis
- Excerpt: If you’re looking for a melodramatic Victorian soap opera, this 1945 British film may be just the thing.
Force of Evil
- Excerpt: Force of Evil (1948) is a landmark of film noir naturalism and one of the most powerful Hollywood films of the 1940s.
Frankenstein Created Woman
- Excerpt: In the original Frankenstein, the monster begged his erstwhile master to create a female version of himself sop that he could live as others did and be happy. The baron refused, fearing that they would spawn a race of monsters. In 1935, James Whale finally granted his wish on celluloid, but not with he result he had hoped for. In this 1967 Hammer Horror classic, a fresh incarnation of the baron finally brings monster and mate together – in a quite unexpected way.
- Excerpt: Are you devout? a police officer asks Younes (Tahar Rahim). The young Algerian is unsure quite what that means. As the story develops, the question lingers, becoming increasingly difficult to answer. Who is it our duty to help? People who buy our loyalty? People who share our values? People we approve of? Or all people? And if it’s the latter, how can that be squared with the violent realities of conflict?
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
- Excerpt: An unusually perfect marriage of star, scenario, dialogue, director, and music.
La Grande Illusion
- Excerpt: … an elegant, lovingly detailed drama brought to life through the richness of Renoir’s humanity.
Grosse Pointe Blank
I Really Hate My Job
I Saw What You Did
- Excerpt: Dense with psychological conflicts and political suggestions, including a not-so-veiled allegory for the McCarthy witch-hunts in Hollywood, which both director Nicholas Ray and screenwriter Philip Yordan have acknowledged was their intention, it is a rich, vivid film directed by an artist at the peak of his powers and one of the most expressive color westerns of all time.
The Last of England
- Excerpt: Derek Jarman’s The Last of England is an experimental work, to be sure, but one that shows a clear line of thought and a commitment to an aesthetic idea. Imagine it as an art installation for your television set. Told mostly through images and music, this survey of Jarman’s vision for a post-Thatcher apocalypse is haunting, unnerving, and also beautiful and totally mesmerizing. I’m not going to pretend that I entirely “get it,” or that you will either, but The Last of England is the kind of arthouse endeavor that inspires patience and rewards tenacity. If you can meet Jarman even halfway by bringing one or the other, then you’ll find plenty of value in his creation.
Licence to Kill
- Excerpt: After three viewings, I fail to see why its reputation appears to be so horrid.
The Man with the Golden Gun
- Excerpt: Perhaps the most inconsistent of all James Bond pictures, with some outstanding moments and sequences sitting quite blithely next to absolute rancidity.
Stephen Carty @ Flix Capacitor
Of Time and the City
- Excerpt: Getting my first look at a film that seems to encapsulate so much of America’s military history: For better and for worse.
- Excerpt: A beautiful woman found raped and murdered in her apartment. A secret investigation into police corruption. A prosecuting attorney who finds himself in the dock. Presumed Innocent has all the ingredients of classic noir and plays out as a courtroom drama that hinges on the complexity of its characters.
- Excerpt: To watch the film from a narrative frame of mind, and thus to get hung up on elements of plot and character that are both secondary to Mann’s concern and don’t fit conventional structures, is to do an injustice to the film’s primary mode as a sensory experience. Few films get inside a period and climb within it like Public Enemies does.
- Excerpt: Though, granted, this is not on par with the best collaborations between John Ford and John Wayne, Rio Grande is a smartly put-together cowboy picture and not to be discounted. It’s got action, romance, singing, humor–just a little bit of everything. Fans of The Quiet Man will appreciate more screen time with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, and more general fans of classic Hollywood will simply dig seeing a well-done effort from genuine cinema legends.
Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane
- Excerpt: It’s hard work being a good person. Raising well behaved children, keeping a clean house, making hubby happy, being kind to little birds and animals, and doing your bit for society and the environment. All the harder when, all around you, other people are failing to keep up their end of the social bargain. It’s enough to make a woman lose her temper.
The Smurfs and the Magic Flute
Some Like It Hot
- Excerpt: Re-viewing Some Like It Hot is invariably a rewarding experience, not because it is a great comedy but because it is a great movie.
A Star is Born (1954)
- Excerpt: There is a lighter quality to Stolen Kisses than was evident in either The 400 Blows or Antoine and Colette. It’s more fleet of foot. Truffaut applies the most delicate of comic touches to much of the movie, allowing for brief moments of physical comedy as well as the semi-ridiculous scenarios that the detectives sign up for. Léaud is charming and natural regardless of the situation. He is a clumsy romantic lead, too overcome by passion to ever be suave. His declarations regarding Seyrig’s character are overblown and silly, and his physical advances toward Christine–as they were with Colette–are desperate and pushy. The “stolen” descriptor is literal, that’s how he kisses!
- Excerpt: This is classic Hollywood historical melodrama, with dynamic individuals changing history with a mix of vision and sheer fortitude, and a whirlwind tour of geopolitical history as drawing room drama.
Summer with Monika
A Tale of Archers at Sanjusangen-do
- Excerpt: A story about a samurai era archery competition is not something to be expected from Mikio Naruse. Even if the subject matter seems out of place for a filmmaker better known for his domestic dramas, Naruse’s hand is definitely there visually.
Derek Jarman’s The Tempest
They Made Me A Fugitive
- Excerpt: As told by Homer of Springfield.
Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight
- Excerpt: If Robert Downey Sr. were James Joyce, then “Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight” would be his “Finnegan’s Wake”; the point where he took what had been fertile boundary-pushing experimentation beyond the limits of the audience’s tolerance, and ended up producing something so obscure and esoteric that it was of interest only to the author himself.
Stephen Carty @ Flix Capacitor
Wanda (UCLA Festival of Preservation at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts)
- Excerpt: a landmark of American independent filmmaking.
Way of a Gaucho
- Excerpt: Jacques Tourneur directs on location and makes good use of the landscape, but he can’t compensate for the cliché-ridden script or Calhoun’s lack of screen charisma.
We Won’t Grow Old Together (Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble)
- Excerpt: The apricots, blues and sand of summer gradually incorporate the yellows, rusts and greens of autumn as the relationship slowly dies.