Here are our latest reviews of films on DVD from 2011 and earlier.
An American in Paris
- Excerpt: …while it’s a great showcase for Gene Kelly and the Gershwin Brothers’ music, An American in Paris never found a way to bring all the varying elements (songs and whatever passed for the story) together.
Below the Sea
Cleopatra (50th Anniversary)
The Clown Murders
- Excerpt: Except for some flashes in the last 30 minutes where the inherent creepiness of clowns and whispery voices buys the film some atmosphere, it’s got boredom to spare.
- Excerpt: If nothing else, you have to give CONTAMINATED MAN credit for laying all its cards on the table: as you might have guessed from the title, it is indeed about a contaminated man.
Dirty Mary Crazy Larry & Race with the Devil
- Excerpt: What was it about driving movies that made them so popular in the 1970s?
- Excerpt: The film packs a lot of conflict and bad behavior (not to mention a stock market crash and a suicide) in 75 minutes.
Marcio Sallem @ Em Cartaz [Portuguese]
Ivan the Terrible, Part 1
- Excerpt: …it’s helpful if one is in the mood to make ideological and thematic connections to, say, the Communist-approved historical epics that Zhang Yimou embarked on, starting with “Hero.”
- Excerpt: If you have a friend who is intimidated by slow-paced, three-plus hour philosophical epics like “Stalker” or “Solaris,” or if you yourself just want to start in the kiddie end of the Tarkovsky pool, “Ivan” is the go-to movie.
King of the Lost World
Life Is Sweet
- Excerpt: Mike Leigh doesn’t do plots, instead giving us the chance to spend time in the personal lives of fairly unremarkable British people. They are fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters with layers, backstories, faults, and dreams.
- Excerpt: Lord Jim, a blend of heroic myth-making and interior tale dismantling its own myth, was one of Joseph Conrad’s best-regarded works. But, director Richard Brooks’ Lord Jim is one of the great undervalued adventure films
The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short
McCabe and Mrs. Miller
- Excerpt: A sort of feminist Deadwood
Paul McCartney & Wings: Rockshow
- Excerpt: McCartney is ever the showman — so much so that the concert suffers when bandmates Denny Laine or Jimmy McCulloch take over the vocals. Ironically for such a big production, the highlight is a stripped-down acoustic rendition of “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”
Rasputin and the Empress
- Excerpt: Rasputin and the Empress is more than just bad history. It’s bad filmmaking, and that might be the bigger sin.
Shoot First, Die Later
- Excerpt: This is another of di Leo’s gritty, violent dives into the underworld … but this time the conflicts are more personal.
- Excerpt: The pre-code era was famed for its films that pushed the envelope of sex with racy suggestiveness and Skyscraper Souls just oozes with lust and overflows with affairs, but the mercenary business dealings are just as forbidden here.
The Spy Who Loved Me
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
- Excerpt: The absolute nadir of the series, a movie so bad in so many ways that the second-worst has to squint and use binoculars to see that far down.
Star Trek: First Contact
- Excerpt: If the film itself is a little bit generic, more of a popcorn sci-fi action film than a faithful adaptation of the characters from the series, that’s probably all to the good.
Star Trek: Generations
- Excerpt: Star Trek at its geekiest, and cursory filmmaking at its blandest.
Still Walking (2008)
- Excerpt: While Superman II is not a terrible film, it did soon start veering towards more comedy than perhaps it should have.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
- Excerpt: My recommendation would be to skip Superman II altogether and instead watch Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut after watching Superman.
- Excerpt: Superman III should have been retitled Richard Pryor Meets Superman.
The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
- Excerpt: Propelled by the actor’s acrobatic stunts and groundbreaking special effects, “Thief of Bagdad” is pure pleasure.
- Excerpt: Carpenter’s film doesn’t so much catch its viewer off guard with such relentless aesthetic decisions as drip slowly and inexorably towards an apocalyptic finale in which neither human logic nor divine hope will save these men from disappearing entirely from existence in an icy no man’s land.
The Wet Parade
- Excerpt: … plays the evils of drink hard and heavy and the luridness of the melodramatic portrait will be picked up and pushed into more extremes in the drug exploitation films of the thirties.