Great Expectations 11/26/22

ITV (U.K)
Region B Blu-ray

David Lean’s near-perfect Charles Dickens adaptation was the movie that sold us on ‘everything English’ in films. As embodied by John Mills, Pip’s hopeful progress expanded the book as no movie had before, with characterizations that are weird (Francis L. Sullivan, Finlay Currie, Bernard Miles) amusing (Alec Guinness) and entrancing (Jean Simmons). And everything about Miss Havisham and her haunted rooms suggests a horror movie. Charlie Largent looks back at an older UK Blu-ray (probably OOP) of inspirational quality. What-sa-matter Criterion, is this stone classic insufficiently trendy to qualify for Blu-ray?  On Region B Blu-ray from ITV (U.K.).
11/26/22

Reservoir Dogs 4K 11/26/22

Lionsgate
4K Ultra HD + Blu Ray + Digital

Quentin Tarantino’s first feature may not be to all tastes, but it is an admirable feat of commercial filmmaking — what other director has broken into the front rank with such panache?   The fifth time through, the splintered, elliptical structure still impresses, and there’s always something new to see in the performances of Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, and Steve Buscemi. The (rather bargain-priced) 4K disc set has everything — two formats, a digital code and those deleted scenes to ponder. And a Pulp Fiction 4K is due in just a week or so.  On 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital from Lionsgate.
11/26/22

El vampiro negro 11/22/22

Flicker Alley
Blu-ray + DVD

The Black Vampire!  The most impressive Spanish-language noir restoration yet, Román Viñoly Barreto’s superior serial murder thriller hails from 1953 Argentina. It re-interprets Fritz Lang’s “M” from a different, more emotionally engaging perspective: star Olga Zubarry’s nightclub singer hesitates to tell what she knows about a child-killer, because she might lose custody of her own young daughter. The expressionist noir owes little to Hollywood. Some find it more satisfying than Lang’s classic version. The Film Noir Foundation’s extras are excellent. On Blu-ray + DVD from Flicker Alley.
11/22/22

Warning Shot 11/22/22

Viavision [Imprint]
Blu-ray

This mid-60s detective story has the right ingredients — a good mystery and interesting characters. David Jannsen gets to play a ‘Bosch’- style lone wolf investigator given a public thrashing for a ‘mistake’ that he knows was no mistake at all. Can a ‘bad cop’ redeem himself?  The parade of mid-level guest stars — Stefanie Powers, Joan Collins, Lillian Gish, Steve Allen — may resemble a TV movie, but the tense show has a good feel for Los Angeles and the new swingin’ singles lifestyle. It might be Buzz Kulik’s best job of direction, and it has a great music score by Jerry Goldsmith. On Blu-ray from Viavision [Imprint].
11/22/22

French Noir Collection 11/19/22

Gaumont-Kino Lorber
Blu-ray

Hungry for those wet Parisian streets, the city lights, and cadavres en lambeaux in the pale moonight?  Enter three highly atmospheric, star-studded Crime Noirs, one of which is an stealth classic of Gallic Pulp. Stars Jean Gabin, Jeanne Moreau, Lino Ventura, Marcel Bozzuffi, Gérard Oury, Sandra Milo, and Annie Girardot bring the tales of à sang froid malice and mayhem to life. The films featured are Gilles Grangier’s Speaking of Murder (Le rouge est mis) and Édouard Molinaro’s Back to the Wall (Le dos au mur) and Witness in the City(Un Témoin dans la ville). Beware of French husbands when cucklolded — they show no pity.  Bonne chance, victimes! On Blu-ray from Gaumont/Kino Lorber.
11/19/22

Putney Swope 11/19/22

Powerhouse Indicator
Region Free Blu-ray

The New York Underground invaded the mainstream with Robert Downey Sr.’s completely irreverent Madison Avenue satire, in which a token black executive takes over an Ad agency, renames it ‘Truth and Soul’ and goes on a mad reign of creative terror. Arnold Johnson, Stan Gottlieb, Allen Garfield, and Antonio Fargas star in a farce that some critics found intolerably crude — but an independent distributor gave it a national release. 1969 was the year that the Production Code took a tumble — and Downey’s picture proved that freedom of expression was alive and well in the U.S. of A.  On Region-Free  Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
11/19/22

Silent Running 4K 11/15/22

Arrow Video
4K Ultra HD

Newly remastered in 4K! Bruce Dern’s (literally) tree-hugging forest ranger Freeman Lowell commits space piracy to save the trees, dude, and becomes lost in space. But he’s got only Huey, Dewey and Louie for robotic companionship. The only soul back on Earth who seems to care is Joan Baez. Douglas Trumbull’s technically-accomplished first feature film does 2001 on a tiny budget, and creates something original, if a bit mushy — the bittersweet ending depresses more than it uplifts. On 4K Ultra HD from Arrow Video.
11/15/22

The Count Yorga Collection 11/15/22

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

The Macready family — George, Michael & Erica — put together this traditional, energetic vampire romp. The arresting Robert Quarry is the Lugosi substitute, a European spiritualist with a sweet tooth for Type O. It’s the ‘new’ American-International this time out, in search of a PG for a show initially planned as X-rated. A sequel followed immediately, giving us Count Yorga, Vampire, & The Return of Count Yorga. CineSavant’s Charlie Largent takes a peek at the favorite bloodsucker of many a horror fan — is the main emphasis on violence, or sex?  On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
11/15/22

Storm Center 11/12/22

Viavision [Imprint]
Blu-ray

The first movie to directly confront McCarthyism!  Or so said the editorials touting this ‘Long-Awaited Screen Event’ in which ‘Bette Davis Hits the Screen in a Cyclone of Dramatic Fury!’  The storm of the title was based on a real activist in Oklahoma who lost her job for promoting equal rights. Bette’s polite librarian is victimized by small-minded civic types; a subplot depicts the traumatic reaction of one of her patrons, a child expected to despise her as a traitor to the country. Daniel Taradash’s movie is an excellent starting point to discuss the thorny dramatic subgenre of liberal social issue movies. On Blu-ray from Viavision [Imprint].
11/12/22

Going Places 11/12/22

The Cohen Film Collection / Kino Lorber
Blu-ray

Bertrand Blier’s edgy romp about a pair of ne’er-do-well petty-crooks will go too far for many viewers — they’re antisocially chauvinistic in some really outrageous ways. Are they jolly adventurers or just terminally obnoxious?  The twisted social comedy really needs its talented cast: Gérard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere, Miou-Miou, Jeanne Moreau, Brigitte Fossey, and a very young Isabelle Huppert. The new presentation includes a commentary by Richard Peña. On Blu-ray from The Cohen Film Collection / Kino Lorber.
11/12/22

Blue Hawaii 4K 11/08/22

Paramount Presents
4K Ultra HD + Blu Ray

Elvis Presley’s handlers found the formula that would keep his stardom solvent through the 1960s in this well-confected, calculatedly vacant vehicle that EVERYBODY liked and enjoyed in 1961. The coolest celeb in America ended up in some of the squarest, least-hip films of the era. Why do we like it so?  Cutting through the fog of nostalgia reveals the appeal. The Hawaiian scenery is a knockout, plus there’s good support from Joan Blackman and especially Angela Lansbury, who humbles herself to play an idiot mother caricature for Mister ‘Rock-a-Hula.’ On 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray from Paramount Presents.
11/08/22

WALL•E 4K 11/08/22

The Criterion Collection
4K Ultra HD + Blu Ray

Pixar’s save-the-world eco-epic actually begins with the world destroyed, before a pair of cute robots help put it back together again. Andrew Stanton’s animated comedy finds hope and cheer in a post-apocalyptic scenario, a tall order for any speculative science fiction tale. Meet WALL•E, the nuts ‘n’ bolts super-janitor, and EVE, the sleek next-generation seeker of terrestrial plant re-birth. Good satire and social criticism comes in the brightest package possible in this endearing charmer. On 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
11/08/22

Le Soldatesse 11/05/22

Rarovideo / Kino Lorber
Blu-ray

Rarovideo is back, with an excellent Italo war drama that finds humanist values in an appalling situation: a young Italian lieutenant is tasked with distributing 12 Athenian prostitutes to garrisons on the road back to Italy, to ‘service’ the troops. It’s a mixed group — a couple of the women have signed up to avoid starvation. The trek takes them directly into partisan conflict. Sympathetic director Valerio Zurlini assembles a terrific international cast: Mario Adorf, Anna Karina, Tomas Milian, Marie Laforêt, Lea Massari, Valeria Moriconi and Milena Dravic. On Blu-ray from Rarovideo / Kino Lorber.
11/05/22

Universal Noir #1 Collection 11/05/22

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Powerhouse Indicator’s first foray into the Universal library yields six noir thrillers, all crime-related and all different: the list introduces us to scheming businessmen, venal confidence crooks, black-market racketeers, a femme fatale, a gangster deportee and baby stealers. The B&W features are enriched with some of the best actors of the postwar years, and the titles themselves are a litany of vice and sin: The Web, Larceny, Kiss the Blood Off My Hands, Abandoned, Deported and Naked Alibi. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
11/05/22

Arsenic and Old Lace 11/01/22

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Charlie Largent wades into Frank Capra’s atypical comedy farce about the mass murder spree perpetrated by Cary Grant’s cute little old aunts, with Peter Lorre and Raymond Massey along as baleful creeps worthy of a Halloween show. It’s packed with the director’s favorite character actors, led by cute poisoners Josephine Hull and Jean Adair. And don’t forget Teddy Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill. We’re told that Capra filmed it at Warners in the Fall of 1941, but it sat for three years due to a contractual hold — the play continued to run on Broadway. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
11/01/22

The Diamond Wizard 3-D 11/01/22

KL Studio Classics
3-D Blu-ray + 2-D Blu-ray + anaglyphic 3-D Blu-ray

Yet another 3-D Blu-ray treat — the 3-D Film Archive restores a rare English production, an international crime tale in 3-D. Dennis O’Keefe’s T-Man helps Scotland Yard track down a gang of smugglers that kidnaps and murders to force an Atom scientist to perfect his manufacturing formula for synthetic diamonds. You know, just like the silicon chip business. The widescreen 3-D is excellent, especially in two action set pieces. Margaret Sheridan co-stars. It’s almost a premiere, as the movie was never publicly exhibited in 3-D. Kino also provides an anaglyphic encoding with a pair of red-cyan glasses as an alternate 3-D option. Plus good extras about the 3-D process. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
11/01/22