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Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Wild Eye Releasing Decks the Halls with Blood and Bodies
Mike McMurran's Retro Slasher "Secret Santa" Comes to DVD
Available Nationwide December 13th
"As a tribute to B-grade slasher movies, the killer and the gore fit perfectly."
-- Toronto Film Scene
New York, NY - Wild Eye Releasing has announced the December 13th DVD and Digital HD release for Mike McMurran's debut feature, Secret Santa. Coming ho-ho-home in time for the holidays, Secret Santa is a bloodsoaked love letter to classic holiday horror and slasher films from the 1970s and 80s.
Secret Santa tells the story of a group of eccentric college kids, struggling to get through the hectic exam period. A liquor-filled Christmas party is planned to ease the stress. They plan to toast the end of the semester with a Secret Santa exchange. Little do they know, a killer is in town and has a special present for all the girls and boys. Will they dare to open their presents?
Secret Santa (Official Trailer)
Order it at Amazon.com
The DVD release of Secret Santa will include a feature-length commentary with writer-director Mike McMurran and a behind the scenes documentary.
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Gift Guide from Olive Films
Streaming platforms may dominate the conversation for most of the year, but is it too impersonal to give a streaming service subscription as a gift? This holiday season, physical media reigns -- DVDs and Blu-rays of old and new favorite films make the perfect gifts. Some of this year's most thoughtful presents are special DVDs and Blu-rays, and Olive Films has put together this ultimate gift guide to help you.
OLIVE SIGNATURE: JOHNNY GUITAR
Widely panned at its 1954 release, this bizarre Nicholas Ray-directed Western starring Joan Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge, and Sterling Hayden has been gaining popularity recently, soon to cement its status as a cinephile cult favorite. In September, Johnny Guitar came to Olive Signature on DVD and Blu-ray, mastered from a new 4K restoration and featuring loads of entertaining and informative bonus materials. The Olive Signature edition of Johnny Guitar is sure to thrill (and likely impress) any cinephile.
Introduction by Martin Scorsese
Audio commentary with historian and critic Geoff Andrew
"Tell Us She Was One of You: The Hollywood Blacklist and Johnny Guitar” - with historian Larry Ceplair and blacklisted screenwriter Walter Bernstein
“Johnny Guitar: A Feminist Western?” - with critics Miriam Bale, Kent Jones, Joe McElhaney and B. Ruby Rich
“Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures” - with archivist Marc Wanamaker
“Johnny Guitar: A Western Like No Other” - with critics Miriam Bale, Kent Jones, Joe McElhaney and B. Ruby Rich
“My Friend, the American Friend” - Nicholas Ray biographical piece with Tom Farrell and Chris Sievernich
"Johnny Guitar: The First Existential Western" - an original essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum
Perhaps best known for his silent works, Abel Gance is remembered as one of the major figures of early cinema. Haunted by the suffering he witnessed during World War I, he created the silent J’accuse (1919) to serve as the ultimate indictment of war. He eventually remade J’accuse in 1938, utilizing the newly available technology of sound. If his original film is a lamentation of World War I, his remake is a plea for peace under the looming threat of World War II. For the film’s final act, Gance, always a technological innovator, used special effects that were ahead of their time to create a climax that walks the line between surrealism and horror. Despite the film's great importance, the DVD and Blu-ray of J'accuse (1938) have only just debuted on November 15th, so this will give the cinephile on any gift list the opportunity to catch up with a long-neglected piece of film history.
OLIVE SIGNATURE: MACBETH
With Macbeth, the prolific Orson Welles would use a potent mix of highly stylized visuals and theatrical performances to create an altogether unique vision for his interpretation of the Shakespeare tragedy. This special Olive Signature edition includes both the original 1948 107-minute cut, replete with affected highland accents, and the 1950 pared-down 85-minute re-release that removed most of the accented dialogue, making it one of the year's ultimate gifts for cinephiles.
New High-Definition digital restoration
Includes 1948 and 1950 versions
Audio Commentary with Welles biographer Joseph McBride
"Welles and Shakespeare" - an interview with Welles expert, Professor Michael Anderegg
"Adapting Shakespeare on Film" - a conversation with directors Carlo Carlei (Romeo & Juliet) and Billy Morrissette (Scotland, PA)
Excerpt from We Work Again, a 1937 WPA documentary containing scenes from Welles' Federal Theatre Project production of Macbeth
"That Was Orson Welles" - an interview with Welles' close friend and co-author, Peter Bogdanovich
"Restoring Macbeth" - an interview with former UCLA Film & Television Archive Preservation Officer Bob Gitt
"Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures"
“The Two Macbeths” - an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum
FOR THE IN-LAWS...
OLIVE SIGNATURE: HIGH NOON
Many people find parents-in-law to be the most difficult family members to shop for. They want to impress with a sleek and elegant gift, but they also want something that strikes an emotional chord. High Noon is considered one of the greatest Westerns of all time, and with a new 4K restoration used for this DVD and Blu-ray, people can give their in-laws the priceless gift of reliving a classic in the best presentation since its theatrical run.
“A Ticking Clock” - Academy Award nominee Mark Goldblatt on the editing of High Noon
"A Stanley Kramer Production" - Michael Schlesinger on the eminent producer of High Noon
“Imitation of Life: The Hollywood Blacklist and High Noon” - with historian Larry Ceplair and blacklisted screenwriter Walter Bernstein
“Oscars and Ulcers: The Production History of High Noon” - a visual essay with rarely seen archival elements, narrated by Anton Yelchin
“Uncitizened Kane" - an original essay by Sight & Sound editor Nick James
STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND
Directed by the great Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart, June Allyson, and Frank Lovejoy, Strategic Air Command is one of the absolute classics of aviation film. Its greatest claim to fame is its stunning aerial photography, which was filmed in breathtaking Vistavision. Also having the distinction of being the only movie to ever highlight the B-36 Peacemaker, this newly debuted DVD and Blu-ray will thrill any fans of Jimmy Stewart, classic film, or aviation.
FOR THE 80's KIDS...
AMERICAN NINJA 1-4
Remember this gem from the days of the video store? 80's kids surely will. Full of cheesy moments and goofs that endeared them to kids everywhere, Cannon Films’ American Ninja series packed enough ninja action to launch a wave of martial arts obsession amongst young people across the US. American Ninja, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt, and American Ninja 4: The Annihilation are each on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films with bonus features that appeal to the 80's kid in all of us. All four films together would make an awesome and thoughtful gift.
Here's another offering from Olive Films sure to conjure up some nostalgia. When a lab accident leaves a high school student with telekinetic powers, it’s a comic free-for-all in this raunchy comedy starring Scott Baio, Willie Aames, Heather Thomas, and Felice Schachter. Encouraged by his hormonally minded friend to put his powers to good use, he exacts revenge on school bullies, cheats a little at sports and improves his luck with the girls, culminating in a prom scene reminiscent of Carrie … with laughs.
FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY TO SHARE
OLIVE SIGNATURE: THE QUIET MAN
Countless people across the country grew up watching The Quiet Man with their parents or their grandparents. Now, they can revisit this classic with their own children. The Quiet Man is now available from the newly launched Olive Signature on DVD and Blu-ray. With pristine video quality, bonus features that will enchant the whole family, and sleek packaging, anyone can be proud to give this Olive Signature DVD or Blu-ray to a loved one.
Mastered from 4K scan of original camera negative
Audio commentary with John Ford biographer Joseph McBride
“A Tribute to Maureen O'Hara: with Hayley Mills, Juliet Mills, and Ally Sheedy”
“Don’t You Remember It, Seánín?: John Ford’s The Quiet Man” - a visual essay by historian and John Ford expert Tag Gallagher
"Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures"
"The Old Man: Peter Bogdanovich Remembers John Ford”
“The Making of The Quiet Man” – written and hosted by Leonard Maltin
OLIVE SIGNATURE: THE NIGHT OF THE GRIZZLY
A film can turn any night into a wonderful shared experience between generations, and The Night of the Grizzly exemplifies this. It's a simple but exciting Western about a family, a town, and a killer bear. This is the type of film that simply doesn't get made anymore.
New High-Definition digital restoration
Audio Commentary by film historian Toby Roan
“Blood on the Claw: How Cheyenne Bodie Became a Movie Star” - an essay by C. Courtney Joyner
“The Legend of Big Jim Cole” – interview with Clint Walker
The Night of the Grizzly World Premiere archival footage
“At Home with Clint Walker and His Home Gymnasium” – archival interview
FOR THE SCI-FI LOVERS
THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS
The Monster of Piedras Blancas, only having recently debuted on DVD and Blu-ray, had become a sort of Holy Grail of monster b-movies. Shot over the course of two weeks, the film was produced with a final budget of $29,000. This micro-budget necessitated a resourceful craftsmanship from the filmmakers that resulted in the endearingly campy monster flick that fans know and love. Its shocking (for the time, at least) gore also earned it a place in the hearts of many young horror fans.
COMMANDO CODY: SKY MARSHAL OF THE UNIVERSE
One of the reasons we at Olive Films love classic Sci-Fi so much is because of its zany, innocent fun. If that's what someone is looking for in a gift to a Sci-Fi fan, they should look no further than the complete serial Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. This set contains all twelve pulse-pounding episodes of the beloved tv series-turned-theatrical serial.
I've always had an unreasoning fear of Merchant Ivory movies. I was afraid that if I watched one, I would slowly sink into a murky mire of stiff drawing room drama that would bore me into submission and entomb me in a calcified shell of stilted dialogue and labored social entanglements.
Having just watched my first one, however, I must say that I may have misjudged the genre. For HOWARDS END (1992, Cohen Film Collection), probably the crown jewel in the celebrated oeuvre of distinguished producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory, is not only solidly engaging on a literary basis but also about as impeccably rendered a period piece as one might ever hope to enjoy.
The film does invite repeat viewings in order to peel away its various layers and to pick up on what I find to be a rich vein of visual symbolism akin to the days of silent cinema. (Much of which, admittedly, was pointed out to me while listening to the engaging commentary track.)
The story, which takes place in England shortly after the turn of the 20th century, is all about that country's rigid class system and how people from the different strata of society were expected to interact in relation to one another.
In this case, that includes the wealthy, upperclass Wilcox family, their middleclass acquaintances the Schlegels, and a young lowerclass couple, Leonard Bast and his blowsy, disreputable "wife" Jacky (they're actually living in sin, so to speak), whose inadventent contact with the above will lead to tragedy as well as general interpersonal crises for everyone involved.
It all revolves around a quaint old country house called Howards End which is owned by Mrs. Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave), who holds her old family estate in deeply fond esteem. Stiff, unimaginative husband Henry (Anthony Hopkins) is the opposite of his warm, emotionally open wife, and sees the house only as a bit of real estate. Their children, on the other hand--sons Charles and Paul, and daughter Evie--eye it with jealous envy.
All are shocked when a deep friendship between Mrs. Wilcox and the oldest Schlegel sister, Margaret (Emma Thompson), results in Mrs. Wilcox leaving Howards End to Margaret upon her death. While the Wilcoxes secretly burn the scribbled will, an awkward romance between Henry and Margaret threatens to give her ownership of the house after all.
Meanwhile, Margaret's younger sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter), a free-thinker with a rebellious streak, is enraged when Henry inadvertently causes Leonard to lose his precious job and then stubbornly refuses to admit fault or help the penniless man. This causes a deep divide between the two sisters and exacerbates tensions between the families which will eventually result in heated conflict and, finally, a violent incident.
HOWARDS END is (very) high-end soap opera in a way, with Margaret marrying Henry mainly because the Schlegels--including ne'er-do-well brother Tibby--are about to lose the lease on their own house. This compels her to reluctantly adopt the stuffy ways of the upper class even as Henry's lofty disregard for the Basts enrages Helen to the point where she flees to Germany and refuses to return home.
On a deeper level, the film is a fascinating examination of the implacable and largely inexplicable social mores which existed in England at that time and kept the poor in their place with little hope of advancement while the privileged class enjoyed an infinitely superior lifestyle.
Despite a relatively modest budget, there's nothing even remotely flimsy or cheapjack about this production. The film is gorgeous in every aspect, a dazzling evocation of the period with a wealth of ideal locations that are consistently pleasing to the eye.
James Ivory directs with great taste, subtlety, and skill, with a style that doesn't draw attention to itself. The screenplay by Ivory and co-writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, adapted from the original novel by E. M. Forster, maintains a high literary standard throughout and is filled with choice dialogue including a fair amount of pointed humor.
Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson are first-rate and work beautifully together as the charmingly awkward couple Henry and Margaret. The young Helena Bonham Carter is utterly captivating as Helen--when I see her, I'm reminded of the Old Hollywood saying "They had faces in those days." She would've been a natural for silent films and brings immeasurable presence to a period piece such as this. In her brief role as the first Mrs. Wilcox, the great Vanessa Redgrave is disarmingly warm and as memorable as always.
Other supporting roles are ideally cast, such as Samuel West and Nicola Duffett as the unfortunate Basts. James Wilby does a fine job as Henry's dull older son Charles, whose clumsy efforts to gain his father's approval while trying to wrest Howard's End away from his new stepmother often border on the pathetic.
As Charles' flighty and rather flaky wife Dolly, Susie Lindeman adds a touch of comedy to the story, as does Prunella Scales, whom most will remember as Sybil Fawlty in the BBC classic "Fawlty Towers", as the Schlegels' Aunt Juley.
The 2-disc Blu-ray from Cohen Film Collection comes in an attractive slipcase which includes an illustrated 26-page booklet containing film credits and essays by James Ivory, John Pym, and production designer Luciana Arrighi.
Disc 1 contains the 16x9 widescreen feature film (looking fine with a new 4K restoration) with an exhaustive commentary by critics Wade Major and Lael Lowenstein. English subtitles are available. (The subtitles have an annoying PC tendency to replace the word "Miss" with the more modern term "Ms." which was coined several decades after the story takes place. This happens in a lot of subtitles these days and is a pet peeve of mine.)
Disc 2 contains the original and re-release trailers and the following featurettes:
--2016 conversation with James Ivory and Laurence Kardish, former Senior Curator of Film, MoMA
--2016 Cannes Film Festival interview with James Ivory and Vanessa Redgrave
--2016 Film Society of Lincoln Center Q & A with James Ivory
--Building Howards End
--The Design of Howards End
--1992 Behind-the-Scenes short featurette with comments by cast and crew
--James Ivory remembers Ismail Merchant
HOWARDS END is British drawing room drama with all the windows thrown open and the fresh air and sunshine allowed to come in, making it both an edifying intellectual experience and a refreshment for the senses. In trying to describe it, I keep coming back to the word "impeccable", a quality that's in pretty short supply these days.
Buy it at Amazon.com:
Monday, November 28, 2016
PARAMOUNT PICTURES SHARPSWORD FILMS and AI FILM Present In Association with CATCHPLAY IM GLOBAL and VERDI PRODUCTIONS A YLK SIKELIA FÁBRICA DE CINE Production
A Martin Scorsese Picture
Martin Scorsese's SILENCE tells the story of two Christian missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) - at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden.
The celebrated director's 28-year journey to bring Shusaku Endo's 1966 acclaimed novel to life will be in theaters this Christmas.
Watch the Trailer
Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Tadanobu Asano,Ciarán Hinds and Liam Neeson
Jay Cocks & Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese, p.g.a. Emma Tillinger Koskoff, p.g.a. Randall Emmett, p.g.a. Barbara De Fina Gastón Pavlovich Irwin Winkler, p.g.a. Vittorio Cecchi Gori
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The Search For Weng Weng Now Available on DVD
Doc Chronicles the Shortest Adult Actor in a Leading Role
2'9" Filipino Answer to James Bond Dominated in the 1970s
"A Must-See for Any Film Lover" --Unseen Films
New York, NY - Wild Eye Releasing is honored to announce the Collector's Edition DVD, Cable VOD and Digital HD release of The Search for Weng Weng. The documentary charts the sometimes bizarre history of Filipino B-films, as told through filmmaker Andrew Leavold's personal quest to find the truth behind its dwarf James Bond superstar Weng Weng (For Y'ur Height Only, The Impossible Kid). Weng Weng took the movie world by storm in the 1970s, and who has since become a viral internet sensation.
Almost a decade ago, Australian trash cinema aficionado Andrew Leavold set off to the Philippines to uncover the true story behind his cinema obsession: the enigmatic Weng Weng, a 2'9" Filipino James Bond. Over several visits to the Philippines, Leavold manages to piece together Weng Weng's incredible story - packed with pathos, humor and tragedy.
The Search for Weng Weng lifts the lid on one of the most extraordinary and bizarre national cinemas on the planet, an unforgettable expose of all that is great and wrong about the movie business. With a cast fill of eccentric characters, from directors to stuntmen to the outrageous Imelda Marcos, this is a remarkable journey deep into the eye of Asia's B-cinema tiger.
The Search for Weng Weng (Official Trailer)
Order The Search for Weng Weng on Amazon
The Collector's Edition DVD release of The Search for Weng Weng (SRP $14.95) exclusively includes a feature-length commentary with director Andrew Leavold, extended and deleted scenes, an "I Love Weng Weng" music video, trailers and more.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Often I'll like a movie better upon repeat viewing, but rarely have I gone from "disappointed" to "delighted" as drastically as I did during my second look at STAR TREK: BEYOND (2016).
The trouble is, the darn thing is just so dense, so packed full of action, dialogue, special effects, etc. which are all edited together like a Tsui Hark movie but without the light-fingered finesse. To be honest, I missed so much of the story details and subtleties the first time around that much of what I saw seemed like a jumbled mess. (Plus, Zachary Quinto's Spock wig looks pretty bad this time.)
Not so upon second viewing, one free of the need to decipher the plot points that go sprinting past in competition with the constant barrage of sound and fury and motorcycles and demolition derbies with starships instead of jalopies. (The wig still looks bad.)
With this, the third installment in the Abrams-verse reboot (with its all-new altered timeline that keeps us from knowing what will happen next) Chris Pine's Captain James T. Kirk and crew have been out there on that five-year mission for almost three years and this Kirk, who didn't grow up with a father's guidance and is still maturing and feeling his way through life right before our eyes, finds the whole deep space experience repetitive and boring (or as he puts it in meta terms, "episodic.")
But an alien woman's distress cry for help to rescue her stranded crew on a planet deep inside an uncharted nebula sends the Enterprise on a mission that will give Kirk more excitement and danger than even he could bargain for. Not surprisingly, this involves yet another alien bad guy out for revenge, this time against the entire Federation for reasons we'll discover after lots of fighting and shooting and starships going boom.
My favorite new character is the endearingly plucky Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella who will be the title character in the upcoming MUMMY reboot. Here, Sophia looks great as an albino with long white hair and elegant ebony facial markings. As another stranded prisoner of Krall's hostile planet, Jaylah forms a special bond with Simon Pegg's "Scotty" and supplies the Enterprise bridge crew with something vital: a derelict ship (her "house" as she calls it) that might, with Scotty's expert help, be coaxed into flight once again.
Each of the main characters is allowed ample screen time. John Cho's Sulu, of course, gets to be the new "gay" character in the series, even though Sulu has always previously been hetero. (Even George Takei is adamant on this point.) It's not such a big deal, though--we see him greet his little daughter Demora in Yorktown and put an arm around his male partner (director Justin Lin), and that's it.
Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) have their first lovers' spat, with an amicable yet painful breakup. Anton Yelchin, tragically gone from us now, offers his charming interpretation of Ensign Chekov one last time. And upon the main three--Kirk, Spock, and "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban)--the script dotes with disarming fondness.
For action fans, STAR TREK: BEYOND kicks plenty of intergalactic ass both on the planet, where Kirk, Spock, Bones, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura must rescue their captured shipmates from Krall and his army, to the Yorktown space-city itself once Krall launches his all-out attack involving thousands of prickly little drone ships that swarm like bees and utterly obliterate whatever they descend upon. All of this goes by fast and furious, so this is where that second viewing comes in handy.
Speaking of which, director Lin of the "Fast & Furious" films does his best to emulate J.J. Abrams while not quite capturing a certain candy-counter, toy-store, Christmas morning kind of essence his predecessor seemed capable of injecting into these films. In my review of the first STAR TREK reboot I described it as a "grandly entertaining cherry-red fire engine of a space flick", something Lin doesn't quite pull off.
Still, he does a capable job and manages to keep the series on a high level. What seems most problematic for many Trek fans, in fact, is that there's so much action effectively dominating the proceedings that no time is left either for meaningful character interaction or contemplation of the deep, intellectual themes Gene Roddenberry was known for in his original vision of the "Star Trek" universe. (At least in hindsight.)
As for the former, I think these films contain a wealth of terrific character interaction, highly meaningful little moments that occur at scattered points throughout each installment in the series, some lighthearted and frivolous (old philosophical adversaries Spock and Bones get several choice exchanges), some deeply moving (such as Kirk's ruminations on his late father and how different are their career paths and goals as Starfleet captains).
The latter, I admit, is pretty accurate--these films aren't always that thematically profound. But neither was every episode of the original series. And this is a brash young version of the Enterprise crew, impatient to go out there into that last frontier and raise some hell. They don't want to stop and take the time to be all that thoughtful and contemplative, nor do they have as much life experience to be all that thoughtful and contemplative about.
There are different kinds of Star Trek and they don't all have to be alike. This is Action "Star Trek." For a change of pace, it suits this long-time Trekker just fine.
The 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo from Paramount Home Media Distribution contains a Blu-ray disc with the movie and special features, a DVD with the movie, and a code for downloading a digital HD copy of the film. The Blu-ray disc contains a gag reel, deleted scenes, and the following featurettes: "Beyond the Darkness: Story Origins"; "Enterprise Takedown: Destroying an Icon"; "Trekking Into the Desert: On Location in Dubai"; "To Live Long and Prosper: 50 Years of Star Trek"; and tributes to the late Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin.
STAR TREK: BEYOND is brand-spanking new and scintillatingly different, yet filled with welcome echoes of the past (there's a particularly poignant Spock moment, and an ending which recalls STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME in a big way). With this latest entry in the rebooted series, what's old is new again, and I love warping off into the final frontier with this young crew that's so bursting with promise for the future.
Buy it at Amazon.com:
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 9:31 PM
Never Open the Door Debuts on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD
Vito Trabucco's Homage to "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"
Available Nationwide December 6th
Los Angeles, CA - Maltauro Entertainment in association with Baumant Entertainment has announced the December 6th Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD release of Never Open the Door.
Writer-director Vito Trabucco (Bloody Bloody Bible Camp) and writer-producer Christopher Maltauro have created a chilling homage to the twisted and otherworldly tales of the original "Twilight Zone", "Outer Limits" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" series. Never Open the Door will be available to rent or own starting December 6th on Amazon Instant Video and Google Play.
Never Open the Door stars Jessica Sonneborn (Dog Eat Dog, House Across The Street), Kristina Page (The Haunting of Alice D), George Troester ("Face Off") and Deborah Venegas (Bloody Bloody Bible Camp).
The dumbfounded group of friends start to panic as one of their own inexplicably disappears. Doubt rises by the minute and mistrust soaks through the cabin. As strange men surround the cabin, escape becomes paramount. Who will open the door?
Never Open the Door (Official Trailer)
The Blu-ray (SRP $24.95) and DVD (SRP $19.95) release of Never Open the Door will exclusively include interviews with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage and more.
Disney’s Timeless Tale Joins the Walt Disney Signature Collection
Debuting on Digital HD Jan. 10 and Arriving on Blu-ray™ Jan. 31
D23 members received the exclusive news and first look at the new “Pinocchio” trailer!
BURBANK, Calif., Nov. 21, 2016 — This weekend at D23’s Destination D: Amazing Adventures event at Walt Disney World Resort, Tyler Slater and Nicole Nalty announced the addition of Disney’s triumphant animated classic “Pinocchio” to the celebrated Walt Disney Signature Collection and gave members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club the first look at the film’s all-new trailer. “Pinocchio,” which inspired the world to wish upon a star, arrives for the first time on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on Jan. 10, and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on Jan. 31 with hours of new and classic bonus features.
“Pinocchio” is considered one of the greatest animated films ever made, with two Academy Awards® -- for best original score and best original song "When You Wish Upon a Star" – and a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, it will delight a whole new generation of dreamers with its masterful animation, unforgettable characters and award-winning music.
The Walt Disney Signature Collection release includes hours of classic bonus material and exclusive features including a reinvented rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” created and performed by music influencers from Disney’s Maker Studios; never-before-seen artwork from the film’s Pleasure Island sequence; archival recordings of Walt himself during “Pinocchio” production; and a recently restored and scored 1927 short featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
“Pinocchio” tells the tale of wood-carver Geppetto's beloved puppet who embarks on a thrilling quest – with faithful friend Jiminy Cricket – that tests his bravery, loyalty and honesty, all virtues he must learn to fulfill his heart’s desire: to become a real boy.
D23 is the official Disney fan club named in honor of the year 1923, when Walt left Kansas City, headed for Hollywood and founded what would become the Disney Studios. D23 celebrates Disney’s stories, characters, songs, and experiences that have captured imaginations the world over, offering members behind-the-scenes exclusives, member events, discounts and special offers.
BLU-RAY, DIGITAL HD* & DISNEY MOVIES ANYWHERE:
⦁ Walt’s Story Meetings: Pleasure Island – The Pleasure Island scene in “Pinocchio” had much more development than what is seen in the film. Join Pixar’s Pete Docter and Disney historian and author J.B. Kaufman as they explore artwork recently discovered in Disney’s animation research library revealing some of the attractions, gags and games, which Disney animators created for this iconic location of the film, that never made it on screen.
⦁ In Walt’s Words – “Pinocchio” – Hear Walt himself discuss the making of “Pinocchio” through archival recordings and interviews.
⦁ The Pinocchio Project: “When You Wish Upon a Star” – Music influencers Alex G, Tanner Patrick and JR Aquino from Disney’s Maker Studios, a global leader in short-form videos, gather in a creative workspace to create their rendition of the film’s signature song, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and produce a fresh new music video.
⦁ Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in “Poor Papa” – This recently restored and scored 1927 short features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit who gets multiple visits from the stork and is forced to attempt various methods to help stop the onslaught of baby deliveries.
⦁ Classic Bonus Features – These offerings from prior home entertainment releases include hours of bonus material, such as the making of “Pinocchio,” deleted scenes, sing-alongs, storyboards and theatrical trailers.
*Bonus features may vary by retailer
Product SKUs: Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital HD/SD, Disney Movies Anywhere
Feature Run Time: Approximately 88 minutes
Rating: G in U.S. and Canada
Aspect Ratio: Blu-ray Feature Film = 1080p High Definition / 1.33:1
DVD Feature Film = 1.33:1
Audio: Blu-ray = English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks
DVD = English, Spanish, and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks
Subtitles: English ESL, English SDH, French & Spanish
ABOUT THE WALT DISNEY SIGNATURE COLLECTION:
The Walt Disney Signature Collection includes groundbreaking films created or inspired by the imagination and legacy of Walt Disney, featuring timeless stories and characters that have touched generations. Each release will offer special features for every member of your family.
ABOUT DISNEY MOVIES ANYWHERE (DMA):
Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) is an engaging and family-friendly cloud-based digital movie service that makes it easy to buy Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars movies once and watch them anywhere. Viewers can enjoy their digital movies from the comfort of their living room and across multiple mobile platforms by simply adding the free DMA app or channel to their devices, such as iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android mobile phones and tablets, Android TV, Amazon’s Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Roku, and Xbox 360, and connecting to their DMA account with participating providers including iTunes, Amazon Video, VUDU, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and Fios by Verizon. DMA users can explore Disney’s library of over 450 digital movies, discover hours of new and exclusive short-form content, redeem Digital Movie codes found in eligible Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars product, and earn Disney Movie Rewards points with every digital purchase.
ABOUT THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS:
For over 90 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Feature films are released under the following banners: Disney, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios; Disneynature; Marvel Studios; Lucasfilm; and Touchstone Pictures. The Disney Music Group encompasses the Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records labels, as well as Disney Music Publishing. The Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Disney on Broadway, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!.
Monday, November 21, 2016
JOHN TRAVOLTA AND ETHAN HAWKE STAR IN THE GRITTY ACTION WESTERN
"IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE"
AVAILABLE NOW ON DIGITAL HD
ON BLU-RAY™ AND DVD ON DECEMBER 27, 2016 FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Universal City, California, October 26, 2016 – A mysterious drifter enters a forgotten town in the edgy action film, In a Valley of Violence, available now on Digital HD and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on December 27, 2016 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. From acclaimed director, Ti West (The Sacrament, The Innkeepers), and famed producer Jason Blum (Insidious, The Visit), the film stars Academy Award® nominees; John Travolta (The People v. O.J. Simpson, Criminal Activities) and Ethan Hawke (Sinister 2, Maggie’s Plan). The In a Valley of Violence Blu-ray™ and DVD include bonus content that takes viewers on a wild ride behind the scenes with an exciting inside look at the making of the film.
Ethan Hawke stars as Paul, a lone drifter who wanders into the forgotten town of Denton, Texas – dubbed by locals as the “valley of violence”. There, he picks a fight with the wrong man, Gilly (James Ransone), the troublemaking son of the town’s unforgiving Marshal (John Travolta). As tensions arise between Paul and Gilly, an inevitable act of violence starts a disastrous chain reaction that quickly drags the whole town into the bloody crosshairs of revenge. Only the world-weary Marshal struggles to stop the violent hysteria, but after a gruesome discovery about Paul’s past…there’s no stopping the escalation.
The film will be available on Blu-ray™ and Digital HD with UltraViolet™ and DVD.
--BLU-RAY™ unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6x the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
--DVD offers the flexibility and convenience of playing movies in more places, both at home and away.
--DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet™ lets you watch movies anywhere, on any device. Users can instantly stream or download movies to watch on iPad®, iPhone®, Android™, smart TVs, connected Blu-ray™ players, game consoles and more.
BONUS FEATURES ON BLU-RAYTM, DVD AND DIGITAL HD
--Behind the Scene of In a Valley of Violence: Star Ethan Hawke explains how In a Valley of Violence is not your typical Western movie.
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, Karen Gillan, John Travolta
Casting By: Terri Taylor
Directed By: Ti West
Written By: Ti West
Executive Producers: Alix Taylor, Ti West, David Schiff, Jeanette Volturno-Brill
Co-Executive Producers: Linda Favila, Anson Downes
Produced By: Jason Blum, p.g.a., Jacob Jaffke, p.g.a., Peter Phok , p.g.a.
Line Producer: John N. Ward
Casting By: Terri Taylor, CSA
Director of Photography: Eric Robbins
Production Designer: Jade Healy
Edited By: Ti West
Sound Designer: Graham Reznick
Music By: Jeff Grace
Costume Designer: Malgosia Turzanska
TECHNICAL INFORMATION BLU-RAY™:
Street Date: December 27, 2016
Copyright: 2016 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Selection Number: 62182325 (US)/ 62180115 (CND)
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 2.4:1
Rating: R for Violence and Language
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Spanish
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 2.0
Run Time: 1 hour and 44 minutes
TECHNICAL INFORMATION DVD:
Street Date: December 27, 2016
Copyright: 2016 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Selection Number: 61165804 (US)/ 62180113 (CDN)
Layers: Dual Layer
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Rating: R for Violence and Language
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Brazilian, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Run Time: 1 hour and 44 minutes
About Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE – www.uphe.com ) is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios. Universal Studios is a part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.
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FILM ROMAN AND BOXEL STUDIOS TEAM UP IN FILM ROMAN BAJA, A FULL-SERVICE ANIMATION STUDIO RIGHT ACROSS THE BORDER
The Baja-located studio will service all of Film Roman's productions and will be available for hire on other productions
(Los Angeles, CA November 21, 2016) – Film Roman announced today that it has entered into a joint venture with Boxel Studios, a leading Baja California based animation facility, to create Film Roman Baja J.V. “The venture’s driving purpose is to execute high-quality, cost-effective animated properties across a broad spectrum of platforms; including features, television and new media productions,” said Film Roman CEO Steve Waterman.
Film Roman Baja is strategically located just south of San Diego in Tijuana, Mexico, providing easy daily access from Los Angeles. This next door neighbor location enables top U.S. based creatives to stay involved “on premises” in the day-to-day production, interacting with the Mexico-based creative team. Moreover, Film Roman Baja provides a streamlined facility with exceptionally well-qualified creative and technical staff.
Film Roman Baja is fully operational and is a full service animation and visual effects studio that specializes in both traditional and 3D animation. Major current client productions include Mattel, Inc’s popular animated television show “MAX STEEL.”
Boxel co-founder and creative director Uriel Reyes Botello and co-founder and director Andres Reyes Botello are overseeing day-to-day operations with Film Roman CEO Steve Waterman and founder Phil Roman providing senior management and oversight to the Baja studio.
“Having worked with Boxel on the feature El Americano, I saw firsthand the quality and energy of their animation. It is their passion and love of animation that our Baja animators bring to our projects that will help us compete in the world market,” said Mr. Roman.
“Film Roman Baja is part of a renaissance of international companies that are investing in and bringing business to this region and utilizing the experienced talent we have down here. Our animators and technical personnel are some of the best in the entire country and have come here from all over Mexico and other countries in the region as well,” said Botello.
About Film Roman
Film Roman is the legendary animation studio responsible for producing The Simpsons, King of The Hill, Family Guy, Tom & Jerry - The Movie and Ultimate Spider-Man. The company was recently acquired by Waterman Entertainment, Inc., the producing force behind the Stuart Little and Alvin & The Chipmunks franchises along with other memorable children’s motion pictures and family entertainment television. The combined entity is reinvigorating and expanding the venerable Film Roman brand, focused on owning intellectual property and moving the Company into features, emerging markets, media and technologies by building a truly international family media company for the 21st century.
About Boxel Studios
A professional and experienced Mexican animation studio, specializing in high-end solutions for the visual content creation industry. Boxel dates back to the late 90’s and today the team has doubled in size. With that experience, Boxel understand the importance of production values behind every project; therefore, we focus our creative energies on visual and technical quality in each product, with a clear understanding of the industry under highly efficient production process.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Being alone for a long time messes with your mind. So I guess a movie about a guy who's alone for a long time should mess with your mind too, the way this one does.
If there was ever a cinematic one-man band, NESTOR (Candy Factory Films, 2014) is it. The credit crawl is one line long: "Everything by Daniel Robinson." It doesn't really say that, but it might as well, because he literally did the whole thing by himself. Direction, camera, sound, editing, writing, music, catering, and playing the lone character.
We're never really sure what's going on, and neither is Daniel (we might as well call him that) who, for reasons beyond his grasp, wakes up one snowy day on a frozen lake bloodied and clad only in his orange swim trunks. A nearby house is unoccupied, so he finds his way in just to keep from freezing to death.
As we watch Daniel rummage through the house for necessary items (such as ill-fitting clothes) and use his ingenuity to get the utilities running again, the film levels out into a slow, thoughtful, almost palpably introspective tone poem on the nature of being alone. In other words, it wouldn't fit quite that well on a double bill with MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.
It's the visual equivalent of New Age music but with an increasingly puzzling element--there's another Daniel, and he seems to be following the first one around, and he seems to know what's going on. This becomes apparent when Daniel #1 visits the nearby town and finds it empty of people, and Daniel #2 is seen traversing the same locations.
It reminds me of the end part of 2001 when Kier Dullea's astronaut character keeps catching glimpses of himself in various states and times. While the story of Daniel #1 coping with solitude continues to hold our interest, we see scenes of the other guy actually making the movie that we're watching, scenes which are also part of the movie that we're watching. Like I said, it messes with your mind.
And establishing mood is pretty much what NESTOR is all about. The "Twilight Zone" element is there to hold our attention, scintillate us a bit, and get us to thinking deep thoughts long enough to keep us watching a movie in which very little of conventional interest actually happens.
With NESTOR--the name comes from the nearby Canadian town of Nestor Falls--Daniel Robinson the filmmaker-philosopher is of a mind to meditate (some might call it navel-gazing), and he wants to share it with us. The result, in addition to being a lovely film, is fiercely contemplative. It's mega-meta. It's as though Daniel Defoe had written himself into "Robinson Crusoe." (Hmm...Daniel? Robinson? I wonder...)
Buy it at Amazon.com
Street Date: November 22, 2016
Running Time: 62 mins.
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: 5.1 Surround Sound
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 4:46 PM
Saturday, November 19, 2016
After a career spanning over 60 years, French filmmaker Abel Gance is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking silent epic NAPOLEON. But he's also remembered for another silent classic, the anti-war drama "J'Accuse" (1919), which no doubt helped him exorcise some of the emotional pain he still felt after the horrors of World War I.
With global war once again looming as the 1930s drew to a close, Gance decided to remake his film for a new generation who, it must've seemed to him, had forgotten the old horrors and were avidly stoking the flames of war again. The new J'ACCUSE (1938) is Gance with his heart on his sleeve, imploring all who see it to cling to peace over war by any and all means.
The film opens right in the middle of the kind of grueling, gritty battle whose bitter realism and almost palpable detail would later heavily influence such directors as Stanley Kubrick (PATHS OF GLORY) and Steven Spielberg (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN). Gance plunges us right into the mud and the crud and the blood as shells explode continuously all around and bodies flail helplessly along with the debris.
The intensely visual director doesn't shy away from blatant symbolism--a crucifix statue upended in a fountain where a white dove sinks lifelessly beneath the filthy water harkens back to Gance's silent film origins--but there's a sophistication and verisimilitude to these scenes of comrades under fire that makes their naked sentimentality all the more emotionally authentic.
Victor Francen is a stalwart presence as Jean Diaz, a seasoned soldier and the only survivor of a monthly ritual in which twelve men are chosen for a hazardous patrol in an area from which no one ever returns. When the next twelve are chosen, Diaz does all in his power to have the suicide patrol cancelled, and, failing this, takes the place of one of the men who is the father of four children.
Ironically, these men are among the last to die when war's end is declared soon after their departure. Again, Diaz is the only survivor--barely--and upon returning to France, the wounded veteran fulfulls a promise to help the widow and young daughter of one of the dead men. The man, it turns out, was his romantic rival, whose wife Edith (Line Noro) is the love of his life.
The middle section of the film settles into the story of how Jean copes with civilian life by withdrawing into solitude, his mental state in flux due in part to a head wound, and working in secret on a mysterious project that he hopes will end all war.
There's also a subplot in which a former officer in his squad, whom he feels didn't do enough to stop the final patrol, is now a businessman set to profit from the next impending world war by appropriating one of Jean's inventions. Strangely, by this time Jean is now in love with Edith's now-grown daughter Helene (Renée Devillers). But the prospect of the coming war eventually drives all other considerations from his mind.
(CAUTION: The next two paragraphs contain spoilers.)
When war is finally declared, the increasingly mad Jean makes his way out to a military cemetery and exhorts his fallen comrades, from every nation and branch of the service, to rise from the dead and march upon those among the living who would contemplate repeating the horrors of the past.
Here, Gance dispenses with conventional drama and pulls out all the stops to assail the viewer with one of the most bizarre, surrealistic sequences ever filmed. Storms roil the skies, crosses disappear into open graves, and crowds of people across Europe flee screaming as though Godzilla, or perhaps a horde of George Romero's zombies, is on their heels. The relentless parade of horrific imagery includes actual disfigured former soldiers among the walking dead, whose faces will haunt you.
The DVD from Olive Films is in 1.37:1 windowbox format with mono sound. Soundtrack is in French with English subtitles. No extras. Picture quality is good, with the kind of lush black-and-white photography that I relish.
As mentioned before, the early WWI scenes seem a direct influence on later war films, particularly Kubrick's PATHS OF GLORY. Gance intercuts these with actual war footage, which is jarring but effective. But nothing prepares us for the last ten minutes of so of J'ACCUSE, which suddenly turn this heartfelt plea for peace on Earth and goodwill to men into a pitch black, deathly morbid nightmare that heralds the real life horrors soon to come. Gance is clearly hoping that such cinematic extremes will change hearts and minds enough to avert further war in the real world; unfortunately, those people with sufficient empathy and compassion to be affected by such things are never the right people.
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FILM MOVEMENT CLASSICS RELEASES GEOFF MURPHY’S THE QUIET EARTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD, FEATURING COMMENTARY BY NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON, ON DECEMBER 6TH
“A thoughtful, suspenseful film…full of impact” – Ed Kaufman, The Hollywood Reporter
November 17, 2016 (New York, NY) – Film Movement, the New York-based distributor of arthouse and independent films, is pleased to announce the home video release of Geoffrey Murphy’s New Zealand sci-fi cult classic THE QUIET EARTH (1985, 91 minutes), which will be available for the first time on Blu-ray, as well as DVD, in the U.S. on December 6th. Film Movement Classics will release this Blu-ray and DVD with a unique bonus feature: a commentary by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Director of the Hayden Planetarium of the Natural History Museum in New York, together with rogerebert.com film critic Odie Henderson. THE QUIET EARTH is one of deGrasse Tyson’s favorite science fiction films.
In THE QUIET EARTH, Bruno Lawrence stars as scientist Zac Hobson and proved an “electrifying screen force,” observed Sheila Benson of The Los Angeles Times at the time of its release. Zac is a mid-level scientist working on a global energy project who wakes up to a nightmare. After his project malfunctions, he discovers that he may be the last man on Earth. As he searches empty cities for other survivors, Zac’s mental state begins to deteriorate - culminating in the film’s iconic and hotly debated ending. Alison Routledge and Peter Smith also star.
TheQuietEarth_coverCalled “the best science fiction film of the ‘80s” by Kirk Honeycutt of the Los Angeles Daily News, THE QUIET EARTH is loosely based on Craig Harrison’s novel of the same name. With this award-winning film, Geoff Murphy, who also directed GOODBYE PORK PIE and UTU, ushered in a renaissance of classic New Zealand films in the 1980s. In his review, Honeycutt goes on to say, “the movie churns up more thought-provoking ideas about life on planet Earth than a month’s worth of STAR WARS-styled films.” THE QUIET EARTH, which was originally screenwriter and producer Sam Pillsbury’s project, was sold to 80 countries, gained a cult following, and won Murphy attention in the United States. During the 1990s Murphy directed a string of Hollywood features, before returning to New Zealand as second-unit director on THE LORD OF THE RINGS film trilogy.
On December 6th, THE QUIET EARTH will be available to own from FilmMovement.com, Amazon.com and other retailers on Blu-ray and DVD under the Film Movement Classics imprint. In addition to the commentary by Neil deGrasse Tyson and film critic Odie Henderson, the release will include a collector’s booklet with stills and credit details, as well as a newly-commissioned essay by Teresa Heffernan, Professor of English at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, whose books include “Post-Apocalyptic Culture: Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Twentieth-Century Novel.”
In addition to THE QUIET EARTH, other Film Movement Classics available for purchase in time for the holiday gift-giving season include “Beat” Takeshi Kitano’s first two films, VIOLENT COP and BOILING POINT, and Wolf Gremm’s KAMIKAZE ’89, starring Rainer Werner Fassbinder. To see and purchase all Film Movement Classics on Blu-ray and DVD, please go to FilmMovement.com.
THE QUIET EARTH (1985, 91 minutes) A film by Geoff Murphy. Starring Bruno Lawrence, Alison Routledge, Peter Smith. New Zealand. Rated R. A Film Movement Classics Release. Trailer, stills, and synopsis available here.
About Film Movement Classics
Launched in 2002, Film Movement is a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City. Film Movement has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide, and this year it had its first Academy Award-nominated film, THEEB. Film Movement’s theatrical distribution strategy has evolved to include promising American independent films, documentaries, and an even stronger slate of foreign art house titles. In 2015, Film Movement launched its reissue label Film Movement Classics, featuring new restorations released theatrically as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, including films by such noted directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris, Takeshi Kitano and Ettore Scola. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com.
Friday, November 18, 2016
I love old movies, and sometimes there's nothing better than a sharp-looking, vintage black-and-white flick with a good cast that's entertaining without requiring me to expend too many precious brain cells. In this regard, the turbulent romantic drama LULU BELLE (1948, Olive Films) fits the bill quite nicely, thanks.
For one thing, it's a great opportunity to see Dorothy Lamour on her own instead of as a foil for Hope and Crosby. The film opens with a big, corny Broadway production number that allows her fans to revel in the leggy lass's exotic presence right off the bat before a mysterious backstage double shooting sets the "whodunnit?" story into motion.
After that, ex-husband George Davis (broad-shouldered George Montgomery, appealing as a well-meaning he-man type) is accused of the deed which has left both Lulu and her aging sugar daddy Harry Randolph (Otto Kruger, DRACULA'S DAUGHTER) comatose.
His flashback recollections told to interrogating detective Addison Richards (THE MUMMY'S CURSE) reveal his fateful meeting with seductive barfly Lulu and their subsequent whirlwind courtship and marriage.
Lulu's expensive tastes quickly deplete George's modest bank account and leave him jobless and near destitute, forcing him to take up boxing for wealthy fight promoter Brady (Albert Dekker, DR. CYCLOPS). Meanwhile, faithless gold digger Lulu works her way from man to man--including burly palooka Butch Cooper (Greg McClure) as well as Brady and Randolph--trading up in money and status each time and eventually landing her own Broadway show while the lovelorn and almost penniless George is left in her diamond dust.
All of this is just lightly melodramatic enough to be entertaining without going off the deep end, with a snappy pace and neat direction by Leslie Fenton (WHISPERING SMITH, STREETS OF LAREDO).
Crisp, eye-pleasing black-and-white photography and attractive production values augment a nostalgic turn-of-the-(20th)-century ambience, which looks studio-bound but in a good way, giving it the feel of an upscale pulp fairytale.
The supporting cast is dotted with great stars. In addition to Dekker and Kruger, the wonderful Glenda Farrell (MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM) adds greatly to the film's appeal as Lulu's wisecracking confidante, Molly. (I'll have to go back and look for the ubiquitous Bess Flowers; she's in the cast list on IMDb but I missed her.) Dialogue is fast and snappy, with some fun exchanges such as this:
GEORGE: "Honey, we don't need money that badly."
LULU: "There's only one way to need money...that's to NEED it!"
The DVD from Olive Films is in 1.37:1 (windowboxed) with mono sound and optional English subtitles. No extras. Picture quality is superb.
The potentially lurid subject (for 1948) of a wanton woman man-hopping her way to success is handled quite tastefully here, with Lulu's character ultimately redeemed by the fact that she never stops carrying a torch for George. Dorothy Lamour really seems to relish delving into the part of a scheming vixen with a veneer of tarnished glamour. In LULU BELLE, she plays this seductive but emotionally conflicted gold digger to the hilt, riding her star vehicle for all it's worth.
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From Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures and Tencent Pictures, "Kong: Skull Island" reimagines the origin of the mythic Kong in a compelling, original adventure from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
In the film, a diverse team is brought together to explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, which is as beautiful as it is treacherous. But as they venture deeper into the unknown, they are unaware that they're crossing into the domain of the mythic Kong.
"Kong: Skull Island" stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, with Terry Notary
and John C. Reilly.
The screenplay is by Dan Gilroy and Max Borenstein, story by John Gatins and Dan Gilroy. "Kong: Skull Island" is produced by Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni and Alex Garcia, with Eric McLeod and Edward Cheng, serving as executive producers.
Warner Bros. Pictures/Legendary Pictures and Tencent Pictures Present a Legendary Pictures Production, a Jordan Vogt-Roberts Film, "Kong: Skull Island." The film will be released worldwide in 2D, 3D in select theatres, and IMAX beginning March 10, 2017, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros.
Thursday, November 17, 2016
One of the last purveyors of the "traditional" western in the 60s and 70s was Burt Kennedy. Not a particularly flashy or stylish director, he did a workmanlike job with such entertaining but generally "meat and potatoes" westerns as THE TRAIN ROBBERS, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF!, DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE, and THE WAR WAGON.
In 1971, British film company Tigon decided to deviate from their usual Hammeresque horror movies and make a western, hiring Kennedy to handle the director's chores. Kennedy, whether by his own design or Tigon's, took this as an opportunity to embellish his usual old school western style with elements he obviously admired from the more offbeat work of such innovators as Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah.
This resulted in the odd but keenly interesting hybrid HANNIE CAULDER (1970), starring then-current sex goddess Raquel Welch as a frontier woman who, having been widowed and raped by three scurvy outlaws known as the Clemmons brothers, seeks to learn the ways of the gunfighter from a passing bounty hunter so that she can embark on a quest for revenge.
The Italian influence is obvious in the locations--Kennedy filmed in Spain in settings familiar to spaghetti western fans, including actual town sets used earlier in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. His nods to Peckinpah include bloodier violence (especially in the use of squibs), stronger profanity, and one scene which utilizes extreme slow motion to draw out a particularly key moment to its fullest.
Hints of both Leone and Peckinpah's pessimism and lack of sentimentality also emerge--or at least they try to, since Kennedy doesn't really have the heart not to let things get either warm and fuzzy or downright lighthearted at times. Hannie may be out for blood and her bounty hunter friend Thomas Luthor Price (Robert Culp) may assume a steely air most of the time, but their relationship eventually tends toward the mushy side.
Even the outlaw rapists are allowed to be funny, since they're such a pathetic bunch of filthy morons that we enjoy laughing derisively at their antics (they're constantly squabbling and screaming at each other) even as we look forward to their inevitable demise.
While the rape-revenge motif makes HANNIE CAULDER a precursor to much more exploitative fare such as I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, the actual outrage is done with relative restraint and manages to convey the trauma of the act without wallowing in it or, worse, trying for any kind of titillation (despite having sex-symbol Raquel playing the victim).
A few brief-but-disturbing shots (mostly from Hannie's point of view so that we identify only with her) and it's over, setting up what the film is really about, which is her evolution from housewife to gunfighter and her eventual showdowns with each dirty outlaw in turn.
These come after a long sequence in which Price trains Hannie in the ways of the shootist while they wait for his gunsmith friend Bailey (Christopher Lee) to fashion her a personalized pistol. Bailey has an oceanfront adobe house in Mexico (that is, Spain), allowing Kennedy to indulge his artistic side for awhile as Hannie and Price's relationship progresses to slow hand-in-hand walks on the beach at sunset. It's also the setting for an exciting gun battle when a group of bandits show up looking for trouble and Hannie must learn whether or not she really has the ability to kill.
In the title role, the beautiful Raquel is interesting to watch by default, especially when dressed up as a female version of Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name", while her performance is, as usual, entirely adequate. Culp, one of my favorite TV actors from his many appearances including his own classic series "I Spy", is at his lanky, laconic best as reluctant gunfighting tutor Price, who gets to indulge in a cool shootout or two himself while going about his profession.
Lee seems to enjoy his non-vampiric role--he was sick and tired of being Dracula by that time--and Elam, Borgnine, and Martin, of course, have a collective field day as the scum-of-the-earth Clemmons brothers. Also appearing to good effect are aging British sex bomb Diana Dors as a saloon madam and Stephen Boyd (Raquel's co-star in FANTASTIC VOYAGE) as a mysterious gunman in black.
The DVD from Olive Signature Films is a new high-def digital restoration in 2.35:1 widescreen with mono sound and optional English subtitles. In addition to an informative commentary by director and author Alex Cox (REPO MAN), extras include the featurettes "Exploitation or Redemption?" with film scholar Ben Sher, "Win or Lose: Tigon Pictures and the Making of 'Hannie Caulder'" with Sir Christopher Frayling, and the text essay "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" by film critic Kim Morgan, which is also featured in the attractively illustrated booklet included with the disc.
As the Clemmons boys open the film by staging a bloody bank robbery and later have to face the vengeful Hannie in variations of the classic western showdown, Kennedy succeeds in giving Leone and Peckinpah fans the satisfying bursts of realistic violence they've come to expect by 1971. Yet his traditional style persistently bleeds through, so to speak, making HANNIE CAULDER--a British production filmed in Spain by an American director--one of the era's more interesting westerns simply by being such a tantalizing hodgepodge.
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