Here are our latest reviews of films on DVD.
Reviews of Classic Films
- Excerpt: Throwing non-stop jokes, gags, and snarky movie references at the wall proved a surefire method for getting humor to stick, slip, and split wide-open.
- Excerpt: Terrence Malick’s self-penned feature debut is a haunting road movie pitched in ‘50s Americana. The film’s razor-sharp tone of poetic irony is unique. Its inquisitive mood and regard for natural imagery suggest a childish quest for a utopia that already exists but somehow goes unrecognized.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
- Excerpt: It plays like a pulp noir thriller by way of a road movie of the damned, marinated in mescal and left to rot in the desert sun.
The Emperoro’s Naked Army Marches On
The Expedition (1962)
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
- Excerpt: Even seen this far on, when its faces have become familiar, its catchphrases iconic, its cynicism marketable, and its synthed-up music time-capsule comical, Heathers still pulses with the visceral thrill of getting away with something — both on- and off-screen.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
- Excerpt: Lon Chaney created a lot of twisted wretches, vengeful villains, and criminal masterminds, but Quasimodo remains his most sympathetic screen character. He gives a big, broad performance befitting the film and the character, a simple creature with the look and strength of a beast and the innocence and loyalty of a child.
- Excerpt: Nearly a decade before audiences chatted about the “surprise” ending of “The Sixth Sense” as though it were a big deal, Adrian Lyne’s psychological thriller left its audience too depleted to speak. “Jacob’s Ladder” is a terrifying film, a devastating experience people try to forget, rather than bring up at parties.
The Long Day Closes
- Excerpt: There’s no traditional story to speak of here, no dramatic conflict to send the characters off on a goal or motivating action to set a series of events in motion. Rather, Davies offers cinematic snapshots capturing privileged moments of Bud’s life with pop songs and clips of movie soundtracks connecting the slivers of scenes.
Meet Him and Die
Night of the Demons (1988)
- Excerpt: Director Kevin Tenney infuses “Demons” with enough style points and over-the-top set pieces that the movie becomes a nearly perfect execution of its executing-teens formula.
Once Upon a Time in America
- Excerpt: Once Upon a Time in America is a film where the audience is faced with mirroring ironies that fold time and tale back in on itself. Leone designed his narrative carefully to refuse exact explanations or interpretations, as the circular structure suggests, as so many of the film’s devices, scenes, and settings have recapitulated, that everything finally ends up back where it started.
- Excerpt: The intimacy and the intensity of the camera’s focus and the increasingly naked confessions and accusations in the dialogue create one of the most intense character pieces put on film. It’s one of Ingmar Bergman’s masterpieces and a landmark film of the 1960s.
The Shawshank Redemption
- Excerpt: Based on the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, the tale recounts a 20 year friendship between the two men. It is a story that is undeniably powerful as a moving portrait of camaraderie.
Sleep, My Love
- Excerpt: Douglas Sirk’s 1948 melodrama, melds noir aesthetics with what would become the famed filmmaker’s signature storytelling to create a crime-addled women’s picture. Claudette Colbert is an inviting screen presence, and perhaps smartly, the director leans heavier on her charms and the romance built between her and Robert Cummings rather than the more suspenseful parts of the story.
Strange Behavior (aka Dead Kids)
- Excerpt: The title Dead Kids makes it sound like a slasher picture or a zombie film, and while there are some elements of both of those genres echoing through the film, it’s really a mix of mad scientist thriller and revenge movie dropped into a somewhat surreal recreation of small-town Midwest America.
- Excerpt: So much of American popular culture, and modern Cinema’s urban aesthetic, owes a debt to Martin Scorsese’s groundbreaking fourth feature film that it is impossible to imagine a world without “Taxi Driver.” From Bernard Herrmann’s haunting score to Robert DeNiro’s unpredictable anti-hero character, everything about “Taxi Driver” was innovative.
- Excerpt: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/movie-news.html?id=968301&name=Young-America-on-DVD
Young at Heart
- Excerpt: Released in 1954 and directed by Gordon Douglas, Young at Heart is a vehicle intended for the unlikely pairing of America’s sweetheart and its heartbreaking lothario, Doris Day and Frank Sinatra. It largely comes off because, as it turns out, they are a pretty good match.
Recent Home Video Releases
- Excerpt: A handsome movie in many ways, but it feels like an unpolished first draft, one that can’t quite decide how fantastical it wants to be.
The Great Beauty
- Excerpt: There is much in The Great Beauty that speaks to these alternating impulses, between honest expression and indulgent mollycoddling (and given Sorrentino’s extravagant style, he risks being labelled as the latter himself).
Other Reviews from 2012 and earlier
2016: Obama’s America
- Excerpt: In terms of production value, 2016 disproves my long-held belief that conservatives cannot make documentaries.
Atlas Shrugged: Part II
- Excerpt: Atlas Shrugged in the end is not a great film but not a terrible film.
Being Jewish in France
- Excerpt: Jeuland’s film does a thorough job of laying out the arcs of Jewish experience in France, and the ongoing struggle between the good and the dark angels of the French population in its attitudes toward its Jewish countrymen.
- Excerpt: The movie isn’t exactly insightful, what is contained in this film (and what stays in your memory) are the moments of sex, drugs and rock and roll. The band and nearly every member of their entourage do drugs freely. Keith and Mick do drugs only in fleeting glances.
- Excerpt: Missingness, missing children, and missing out.
The Invisible War
- Excerpt: What really infuriates about The Invisible War is that despite the obvious evidence of the problem of sexual violence within the ranks , the military doesn’t appear to take this seriously.
- Excerpt: Respectful, respectable, reverential.
Mistaken for Strangers
Passing Notes on the Master
- Excerpt: For our second Passing Notes feature, Carson and I wanted to find a way to pay tribute to the late, great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died last month, on Feb. 2, at the much-too-young age of 46 from a massive drug overdose. Since I chose Mean Streets in our inaugural conversation, I allowed Carson to pick the film this time, and thus our follow-up exchange is on Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
- Excerpt: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a young adult novel that is adored by many if not all of its readers. Would that it have been able to cast that spell over me.
- Excerpt: The Raven is a highly fictionalized film involving Edgar Allan Poe: part mystery, part horror story, all mess.
Searching for Sugar Man
- Excerpt: …the film is a wonderful portrait of a man who was found just in time to, if not reap the financial fruits of his labor, learn just how important his work was to so many.