Latest Home Video Reviews
Let There Be Light: John Huston's Wartime Documentaries (1946)
Clearly, the breadth of Huston's Army Signal Corps films show a Blakian passage from innocence to experience, unquestioning jingoism to a recognition of war horrors.
The Undesirable (1914)
The cheap-looking production lacks visual flair and lines up undistinguished performances on the way to a clumsy, half-hearted resolution...And yet, to film historians and Curtiz fanatics,
is a gift horse not to look in the mouth.
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Steven Spielberg goes into Stanley Kramer mode for
Bridge of Spies
, a socially conscious tale of touch-and-go diplomacy at home, at the office, and on the global stage.
Though the [film]...cannot pretend to be free of its own leanings, Vanderbilt allows a reading of Mapes’ tragic errors amidst its melancholy diagnosing of TV-news’ slow, painful death march from the public trust into modern corporate product.
Of Mice and Men (1992)
Classic-literature-adaptation demureness...but it's impeccably cast and mostly quite faithful.
The New Girlfriend (2015)
A strong thematic undercurrent pits bourgeois social conventions against authentic self-definition and ultimate freedom to live without shame or undue social limitations.
When Lee cooks up a stew this heady, one best recognize...the right film at the right time, Lee’s most creatively fertile and socially immediate narrative feature in years.
The Assassin (2015)
A Hou film and, therefore an aesthete's delight...
breathes more than it talks, patiently taking in its landscapes and its silk-curtained interiors.
In Cold Blood (1967)
One of the most creditable true-crime films ever made.
Mr. Holmes (2015)
spins a tale about the falsely drawn lines between stories and our perceptions of real life, between celebrity image and genuine persona, and between upper and lower classes.
Inside Out (2015)
Like a cross between
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
dazzles while taking care to send positive messages about the roles of feelings and the value of recognizing and embracing them...
The End of the Tour (2015)
Its prismatic philosophical and cultural observation...offers plenty of angles on the true value of the subjective fictions and supposedly objective non-fictions some create and others consume.
That '70s Show: The Complete Series (1998)
Depicts the teenage slacker ethic of avoiding responsibility whenever possible and clinging to youthful good times while they last. The show did the same, taking eight years (and 200 episodes) to depict [three].
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Begin by imagining that a single story is being told in multiple ways throughout the film: a story of naive hopes, heartbreak, jealousy...Erotic, fear-ridden, and beautiful, Lynch's primal imagery has the abhorrent and alluring pull of death itself.
My Fair Lady (1964)
The well-nigh-irresistible 1964 film version of
My Fair Lady
...comedically softens Shaw's ending but nevertheless nearly single-handedly transcends the material's sexist leaning through the sheer humanism of Hepburn's deeply felt performance.
Resembles its own remarks about predictable patterns in the circuitry of arcade games: here is a series of crass caricatures, obvious setups and payoffs (not to mention a woman problem...), further suffocated by overweening commercialism...
The film's conspicuously irreverent style suggests that, blithe offenses aside, writer-directors Ron Clements and John Musker...have their heart in the right place: firmly situated in the anarchic comic tradition of Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes.
A lavish, classy affair...But while long on beauty, Branagh's film falls short on whimsy...[and] the film's most affecting emotional moments...stand apart from the story's central conflict.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
’s heartfelt search and rescue of a feel-good result provides a perfect, even musical counterpoint to its regimented summer camp.
Love & Mercy (2015)
Honorable...deeply moving...takes a considered approach to Wilson, sound in dramatic and editorial construction and insightful in its psychological subtexts.
Two Days, One Night (2014)
Cotillard's heartbreakingly raw work carries the day, as she fleshes out both Sandra's suffering and emotional endurance on a journey of discovery that the latter, not the former, defines her.
Gotham: The Complete First Season (2014)
At times suffers from dull, dunderheaded, or dead-end plotlines [but]...There's enough here to keep hope alive that
could grow into more of a weekly treat than a fanboy obligation.
The Blacklist: The Complete Second Season (2013)
A week-in, weak-out study in same-y procedural storytelling and mythology stalling that's powered by the usual salacious crime exploitation and the unusual lead performance of James Spader.
A film every single American and, indeed, every world citizen should see and contemplate.
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
Pure mid-period Allen, a muscle-stretching ensemble comedy with dramatic undertones and playful philosophical musings...Allen's characters ponder the permeable divide between lust and love, and the meanings of sexual intercourse...
Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015)
Another solid entry in the DCU line,
Justice League: Gods and Monsters
works best as an entrée into what should be a fascinating and highly entertaining series of its own.
True Story (2015)
Does a lot of its work with its tongue-in-cheek title, a meta commentary on the not-so-broad spectrum of liar, actor, fiction writer, filmmaker and journalist.
House of Cards: Volume Three (2013)
'Do what you have to do.'...Netflix's flagship series addresses this dictum to many characters grappling with tough choices, but the core subject of [Season Three]...is the marriage of Frank and Claire Underwood.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
Shows little strain in maintaining its cute factor, thanks to the drily winning personalities of the likes of Smith, Dench, Nighy, and the comic ebullience of Patel.
The Bridge (Die Brücke) (1959)
That it is Hitler doing the exploiting has little relevance to the overriding theme of tragic history humanity remains doomed to repeat: sending naive young men—and, at some times and places, boys—to their ends.
André Gregory & Wallace Shawn: 3 Films (2015)
In Criterion's Blu-ray and DVD boxsets titled
André Gregory & Wallace Shawn: 3 Films
, we can ponder the full cinematic depth (and much of the theatrical depth) of the collaboration between two complementary creative souls.
I fervently hoped that some particularly annoyed soul would create a 'Slapheads Yell "Chappie"!' supercut...to refine the movie to its purest form of annoyance. As of this writing, internet, you disappoint me.
Wild Tales (2015)
Like Tarantino's films,
will rub some the wrong way by taking glee in the violence that comes from our worst selves, but the catharses have a positive social function...there's no doubt Szifron intends cautionary
Welcome to Me (2015)
Wiig plays her role with total commitment, fearlessness, and lack of vanity...the movie we deserve in the age of social media and cable television, a satiric child of Paddy Chayevsky's
in its autopsy of "vox populi" viral video...
Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (2014)
Workman has done a service in making a broadly accessible history of Welles that stands a chance of drawing younger generations of film buffs, like moths, to 'the master''s flame.
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2015)
Our American addiction...bloodsucking from humanity in order to maintain the lifestyle to which we are accustomed. By the time Hess wearily muses, "I'm tired of this existence," it's more or less clear he means a spiritually empty capitalist existence...
Zvyagintsev literally and allegorically depicts modern Russia's runaway corruption but also captures universal fears about the shaky ground on which we construct our lives.
Masters of Sex: Season Two (2013)
Showrunner Michelle Ashford has played slow and loose with the facts, but in ways that achieve thematic resonance in a speculative, provocative dialogue with history.
Mr. Turner (2014)
Revives an era in astonishing, delicate detail, then moves through the space with a documentarian's eye. Leigh takes Turner out of art history and puts him back in the world.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2015)
Has a smattering of effective moments and a creepy cinematographic look to it, but the sequel's redundancy to its predecessor and pulseless feints at tapping into human emotion leech the suspense out of the picture.
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