Classics & More on DVD (Mar. 23, 2021)

Here are our latest reviews of films on DVD.

Pre-2018 Film Reviews

Center Stage

Lee Jutton @ Film Inquiry (1991)

  • Excerpt: Warning: this film contains depictions of suicide, which are discussed in this review. Center Stage, director Stanley Kwan‘s unusual but undeniably brilliant depiction of the life of silent film star Ruan Lingyu, begins with a series of stills of the actress from her earliest films when she was only 16. Many of these films are no longer available and deemed lost—a misfortune all too common to early cinema. But when one considers how short and sad Ruan‘s life was, the tragedy of knowing how few of her films we have access to today is greatly compounded. On March 8, 1935, Ruan committed suicide at the age of 24 with an overdose of barbiturates. Her death echoed the fate of one of the final characters she portrayed onscreen—a character whose tragic end was inspired by the recent suicide of another young actress—and sent shock waves through the Chinese film industry. It also highlighted the viciousness of the Chinese tabloids in their treatment of these young stars, tearing apart the imperfections of their private lives as punishment for daring to embody the trials and tribulations inherent in being a modern woman. CENTER STAGE: A Legend Lives On source: Chinese Film Classics Released in 1991, Center Stage combines archival footage of Ruan with scenes of her life and career being given the traditional biopic treatment, interviews with those who worked with her, and behind-the-scenes footage of the cast and crew discussing their attempt to pay tribute to Ruan. The result is a complex, unconventional film befitting the many-layered legacy of its subject.

Little Fugitive: The Collected Films of Morris Engel & Ruth Orkin

Sarah Boslaugh @ The Arts STL (1953)

  • Excerpt: Little Fugitive captures a view of childhood reminiscent of the photos of Helen Levitt—never sentimental, always respectful of the special way children come to inhabit their surroundings.

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot

Ed Travis @ (1992)

Taffin

Ed Travis @ (1988)

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