Here are our latest reviews of films on DVD.
Reviews of Classic Films
Battle of the Japan Sea
- Excerpt: Sweeping in scope but essayed essentially as a series of interlocked vignettes held together by Toshiro Mifune’s star presence, Battle of the Japan Sea is an awkward but intermittently strong film that seeks to sustain a simultaneously grand, but also nuanced approach to the subject matter: for a film about a great national victory, this is a surprisingly thoughtful, restrained work.
- Excerpt: If the filmmaker lurches into sentimentality during brief voice-over philosophizing about God and where the wind comes from, it’s a forgivable affectation that honors a personal belief-system authentic to the surf culture of the era.
The Long Goodbye
- Excerpt: Robert Altman’s odd, modern and much misunderstood The Long Goodbye has been getting a lot of attention lately, presumably because of a re-release on DVD and Blu-ray, which got me wondering, “Is it not only the best adaptation of a Raymond Chandler novel, but one of the greatest films ever made?”
- Excerpt: By an odd coincidence, I watched Braveheart on the same day as Michael Collins, which offered, by way of contrast, a useful insight into why Neil Jordan’s influential biopic of one of the heroes of Ireland’s fight for independence just doesn’t work.
The Night of Generals
- Excerpt: Peter O’Toole is ferocious in The Night of the Generals, a fascinating and very neglected film, one of the most singular by-products of the era’s tumultuous screen culture. Produced on a lavish scale by Sam Spiegel, who had fostered O’Toole’s stardom in producing Lawrence, it’s a big-budget war movie with scarcely any combat. Rather, it’s essentially military noir, combining an early variation on the serial killer hunt motif with a typically ’60s fascination for antiheroic and antiauthoritarian narratives.
- Excerpt: Salvatore Giuliano influenced directors like Gillo Pontecorvo, Glauber Rocha, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese. It is truly a seminal film whose innovative cinematic inventions breed insight into a complicated cultural reality splintered into many contentious factions.
- Excerpt: The Seven-Ups isn’t quite a classic, but it stands on its own two feet as a gritty drama of the period, and after an awkward first half-hour begins to hum.
- Excerpt: Young Steven Spielberg’s direction of this early telemovie chiller, as in immediate predecessor Duel, certainly looks and feels cinematic, not particularly hampered by a more visually and conceptually limited format and quietly ebullient in technique.
Recent Home Video Releases
20 Feet from Stardom
- Excerpt: This must-see documentary for any fan of modern pop music introduces us to the extraordinary women you didn’t know were behind some of the songs you know by heart.
British Transport Films Collection Vol. 12: The Driving Force
Classe Tous Risques
Memory of the Dead
- Excerpt: The blu-ray’s features suggest that Lee made a better film than what was released theatrically
Other Reviews from 2011 and earlier
Breathless (Combo Pack)
Lion of the Desert
Reality Bites: 20 year anniversary
Joseph Proimakis @ Popaganda.gr [Greek]