Here are our latest reviews of films on DVD.
Reviews of Classic Films
All That Jazz
- Excerpt: The elevator pitch for All That Jazz was something like The Death of Bob Fosse: The Musical, but it could just as easily have been The Death of the 1970s. This is where all the excess and the partying and the ugliness caught up with a generation.
Around the World in 80 Days
- Excerpt: How this film won the Academy Award for Best Picture must certainly be one of the great anomalies in the Academy’s illustrious history. Now reflect on the fact that it beat The King and I, The Ten Commandments and Giant and the win seems even more egregious.
- Excerpt: Though overly dramatic with some stumbles here and there in terms of narrative cohesion, John Ford’s 1931 Sinclair Lewis adaptation Arrowsmith is a solid vehicle for star Ronald Colman. The handsome actor stars as a struggling, well-meaning doctor looking to be a “hero of health.”
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
- Excerpt: If you can separate the film from all the cultural baggage that it’s acquired over the past two decades, and approach it with something like fresh eyes, it’s sort of surprising what an odd and risky movie it is. Director Robert Zemeckis pitches the tale as neither comedy nor drama, but as a loose, vignette-heavy mixture of pop history and folk storytelling.
- Excerpt: I still cite Ghostbusters any time I’m asked to list my top movies. I’ll admit my love is influenced by nostalgia, but I find it has lost none of its luster.
- Excerpt: Such is Cassavetes’ jagged storytelling style, however. His narratives are rarely clean, and his expression as ragged as the fashions he outfits his actors in. Hence the choppy nature of Love Streams’ opening scenes, or the disconcerting shifts over time and even reality.
The Mating Season
- Excerpt: The second film version of James M. Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, the film was banned after Mussolini’s son rejected it as not reflecting the reality of the Italian people, and Visconti was forced to turn over all prints and negatives for destruction. We only have this valuable document of wartime Italian filmmaking, as well as Visconti’s pungent directorial debut, because Visconti held back one negative.
Recent Home Video Releases
- Excerpt: Criterion has done one of their trademark reclamations here, making the film look and sound better than it ever has, while piling on the extras
- Excerpt: Sokurov has changed enough of Faust to make the story his own, but the film doesn’t explain the reasons for the alterations it makes; it doesn’t do a clear job justifying itself and explaining why we needed this skewed take on the legend.
- Excerpt: Jodorowsky’s Dune, a documentary by veteran producer and first-time director Frank Pavich, recounts the development of and creative energy behind this unlikely project with an enthusiasm that can’t help but excite viewers.
Spinning Discs: Heroes and Villains
- Excerpt: Reviews of new discs including Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Herzog: The Collection
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!
- Excerpt: Almodóvar’s deranged, provocative romance, which somehow manages to generate a real sense of affection amid the handcuffs, surgical tape, and rope
Other Reviews from 2012 and earlier
Beneath the Blindfold
Dennis Schwartz @ Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews
- Excerpt: Dark Passage’s title works as an unnervingly apt description of the trials and tribulations its protagonist must fight through in the hope of righting the wrongs done to him. Starting from the ground up, his psychological, mental and even physical stamina are equally tested as the police, a fiery and scornful old flame, and a nosy blackmailer keep mounting the pressure on Vincent’s shoulders.
The Decks Ran Red
- Excerpt: Death-haunted work often grips the twilight stages of great artist’s careers, and this one is no exception: Wilder’s penultimate effort disperses the funereal gloom of its opening scenes across its runtime all while disentangling, flashback by flashback, the events leading up to the titular diva’s horrifying suicide.
The Lair of the White Worm
- Excerpt: Laughter may seem to have passed its moment in history by not depicting the ruin that befell stockbrokers like Mortimer Gibson, but it foreshadows the desperation of the Depression while offering an escapist resolution to the love triangle that would become de rigueur in the 1930s, thus making it the prototype for screwball comedy.
The Living Ghost
- Excerpt: Cinema Fearité Presents ‘The Living Ghost’ – A Traditional Pre-Romero Zombie Movie
The Steel Trap
Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare
- Excerpt: …like the work of a Japanese Sid and Marty Krofft filming a Hammer horror script in the style of a samurai flick.