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June 14, 2011

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Owain Wilson

What I love about this series, is that you tell me exactly what I want to know in just a couple of sentences. Top of the pops!

bill

Yes, great work, Glenn, and thank you very much for the kind words and link. I obviously was thrilled with PALE FLOWER, I think it's a great discovery. The sequence that, for lack of another non-spoilery phrase, pays off the plot it undeniable.

Also, I liked the commentary track for THE GREAT DICTATOR. Maybe only because when I think of super-dry Criterion commentaries, all I can think of is PEEPING TOM...

James Keepnews

HOLY MOUNTAIN was far from unendurable for me (as opposed to later stretches of EL TOPO and no small amount of SANTA SANGRE) -- it's where I first truly appreciated Don Alejandro's warped genius. A pan-mystical Pilgrim's Progress, art-directed and choreographed into The Best Trip, Ever. Where knowing non-Ouspenskyam acidheads first spied their first enneagram, very possibly.

Nice work, as one comes to expect. Yeah, an HDTV and a Blu-Ray player. I should really get both.

Michael Adams

I've read Lolita several times and twice tried to teach it to completely bewildered undergraduates. Its greatness, of course, is Nabokov's style, which Kubrick cannot replicate, but he gets enough of its essence right, and Mason, Sellers, and Winters are all wonderful. It's not Uncle Vlad's Lolita, but it's pretty good.

Tim K.

Thank goodness I'm not the only one who gets emotional at those same moments you describe in Once Upon a Time in the West. I show this to my film classes every year, and it never fails to move. Now Claudia Cardinale will be in HD -- the teenage boys will not be able to control themselves. Not that I blame them.

Oliver_C

Many films have evoked Ozu in the decades since his death; I regard 'Yi Yi' as one of the handful that isn't merely evocative, but fully his aesthetic, humanistic and thematic equal.

I can't begin to imagine what Edward Yang's next film -- an animated feature with the voice of Jackie Chan -- might have been. 'Fantasia' meets 'Floating Weeds'?

By the way, one of the Japanese performers in 'Topsy Turvy', Kanako Morishita, was the daughter of the manager at a TEFL school where I used to work. 100% true!

lazarus

Agreed with Keepnews on Holy Mountain; I've projected this for friends on a couple occasions and everyone was pretty blown away/impressed by it. One friend said that the first 20-30 minutes just seemed like an expensive student film, but once the satire of the plot kicks in it's irresistible.

And agreed with Glenn on Lolita being Kubrick's weakest--as a big fan of the book I prefer Lyne's adaptation. Which may not be funny enough but at least he doesn't let Frank Langella unnecessarily take the film off the rails like Sellers does.

And you can count me in the club of people who get choked up on that Leone crane shot.

It's solidarity day!

Tom Russell

Two of my favourite movies-- BLOW OUT and OUATITW-- in great Blu-Ray editions? Well, I know what I'm asking for for my birthday.

That Fuzzy Bastard

I'm actually surprised to find so many LOLITA non-fans here! I've always thought it was Kubrick's most underrated---lovely to look at (it's surprisingly unironic in evoking the genuine beauty of the American 'burbs) and much funnier, IMHO, than Strangelove, albeit less outrageous in conception. The book is really all about its narrator; Kubrick sensibly threw out that unadaptable aspect and made a straight-up comedy of manners. Comedy of manners lurks behind a lot of his movies (LYNDON most obviously) but this is the only time he really dove into making a sort of Joe Orton script, and it works wonderfully. Certainly it's the Kubrick movie I most enjoy re-watching; I think having actors who could run away with the material loosened him up a bit, as in the similarly successful and stolen-by-actors THE SHINING; it's something of a relief to be able to pay attention to something other than the directing.

Fwiw, Onechanbara is actually a video-game movie, based on a series of equally crappy-but-amusing Japanese videogames. Though it sounds like the games may have had more satisfying T&A than the movies, shockingly.

Aaaaand much as I love EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, I can't really blame Kael for being morally outraged. They're both such consciously Artaudian films, I think they would only be considered failures if they didn't outrage The New Yorker. And she's not at all wrong about their moral structure; she just takes it as seriously as Jorodowsky does, unlike those of us who can safely enjoy it as a time capsule rather than a call to arms.

michaelgsmith

Great stuff as always. You reminded me I need to pick up Bicycle Thieves. But, as great as the Some Like It Hot picture quality is, I would've docked points for the lack of an original mono soundtrack option!

Gabe Klinger

Is that the *same* Gabe Klinger who threw a hissy fit 'round these part just last week?

Tom Block

After I saw "My Voyage to Italy" I got my own obsessione with finding a copy of "Senso" as bright as the one in the clips--the color I kept keying on was the blue stained glass at the top of the opera house. This was only a few years ago but it was hard to find a decent subtitled copy then, so I kept gathering up and rejecting copies, to the point that I now own so many copies of it that I see I must've been mentally ill at the time--there's no other explanation for it. The whole episode remains a source of secret shame, and it doesn't help anything that the blue glass in "My Voyage" STILL looks brighter the Blu-Ray.

"Clouzot's Inferno" is indeed one-of-a-kind. Just look past the bit with the Slinky if you need to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wkW72K4ifI

Matt Blankman

The Outlaw Josey Wales blu ray really does look great. I find more to love about that film each time out.

jbryant

Glad to see those A ratings for the two I'm most likely to buy next: The Horse Soldiers and The Hustler. Then OUATITW and Smiles of a Summer Night and AI, then... oh, can someone just get me everything B+ or higher, please?

The Some Like It Hot disc definitely flew in under my radar -- had no idea it was out. Definitely goes on my must-have list.

Lolita is one of my fave Kubrick's as well, possibly due to my seeing a time or two before reading the novel. Even though the novel quickly became one of my all-time favorites, it somehow didn't diminish the film much for me. I liked Lyne's more faithful-seeming version, too, but missed Kubrick's comic tone.

Claire K.

Just to say a quick word for my lovely parents, here, may I clarify that "emotional child-abandonment trauma" does not refer to a personal childhood experience that A.I. would traumatically recall for me, but rather just an un-favorite cinematic THEME of mine?

bill

Oh, it's a good thing you said that Claire. I was about to call Child Protective Services.

Jandy Stone

Great, now I have about a bajillion dollars worth of Blu-rays I want to buy. :)

I may start with Once Upon a Time in the West - I've got the old DVD that I got at Walmart for like $6, but I'm kind of salivating over the Blu-ray.

Wes

Did you get the replacement disc for the Arrow BEYOND disc? The original one they issued had a black and white opening (should have been sepia tinted) and the whole film was way too bright. I heard it also had an abnormally low bit-rate or something. Anyway for those who care, the replacement disc looks spectacular.

Partisan

I'm not a big De Palma fan (only FEMME FATALE really works for me). As for BLOW-OUT, at the risk of spoilers, why is Dennis Farina even filming Nancy Allen and the unlucky presidential candidate? If the point is to blackmail the candidate, wouldn't it be better to photograph him having sex with Allen, or at least going into a bedroom with Allen? And isn't the whole point of Farina's photographs that Allen can't be seen at all?

Ryan H.

I'll cheer anyone who goes to bat for Spielberg's ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.

Kubrick's LOLITA is a fun enough black comedy if taken on its own terms. But Nabokov's own screenplay for LOLITA is so tremendous that I can't help but be disappointed his vision of the film didn't quite make it to the screen.

Kent Jones

Partisan, looking for a logical motivation in a Brian de Palma movie is like looking for a rational argument at a Tea Party convention. The usual explanation is "perversity" or "the logic of a nightmare." Better to move on to worthier topics, like the acrobats in FILM SOCIALISME or Terrence Malick's "precipitous decline" as a filmmaker.

Actually, I'm hard-pressed to think of a good reason for filming Nancy Allen under any circumstances.

Be that as it may, Dennis Farina isn't in BLOW OUT. You're thinking of Dennis Franz, soon to move on to better things.

bill

"Actually, I'm hard-pressed to think of a good reason for filming Nancy Allen under any circumstances."

What an odd thing to say.

Glenn Kenny

I thought she was just dandy in "Out of Sight."

Tom Block

She was (in a small part), and in her interviews she's never taken herself too seriously. That helps a lot with careers like hers.

Tom Russell

Taking my cue from our host's declaration that this isn't the place to get into a debate on the merits of BLOW OUT, I'll not in this thread mount any sort of exhaustive defense of my favorite picture by one of my favorite directors. But I will say a few words in defense of Nancy Allen, who I think is absolutely wonderful in it. Her performance in BLOW OUT delights and surprises me every time I see it: the way she parrots Travolta's lines about loose ends, the goofy charm of her character under sedation, the way in the luncheon scene that she realizes she's been tricked-- it's very entertaining, and her performance is in many ways responsible for any empathy a viewer feels at the end of the film.

(I will say that my missus disagrees strongly with me on the virtues of Ms. Allen's performance, finding her absolutely annoying. And I can certainly understand that point of view, even if I don't share it; a lot of people like Jay Baruchel, who sets my teeth on edge. There's no accounting for taste, and one man's "entertaining, idiosyncratic, and charming" is another's nails-on-chalkboard.)

Some argue that Allen has an extremely limited range; after all, her own husband cast her twice as a hooker, har-har. But compare her performance in BLOW OUT with that in DRESSED TO KILL: you have two very different characters. They sound different, act different, use different body language. I'm not saying that she's exactly Meryl Streep, but she *has* demonstrated range and intelligence over the years.

That's my two cents, anyway.

partisan

Kent: Doh! It's odd how one can confuse people. I remember having trouble distinguishing Max Eastman and Max Schachtman.

Tom Block

I think she's sorta sweet in it, the same way Karen Black and Theresa Russell could be sorta sweet sometimes, but she never conveyed much depth in anything I ever caught her in. More than any acting she ever did I was touched by her calling Travolta's performance "the heart" of "Blow Out", and she seems to have come through it all with a game, unwilted attitude. You won't catch me trashing her for that reason, but compared to what Spacek, Duvall, Lange, Rowlands, Burstyn, Keaton, etc., etc., were doing around that time, saying that Allen "act[ed] different" from role to role is damning her with faint praise.

Kent Jones

Just an opinion, bill - maybe less odd than unfashionable in this context. I find Nancy Allen tough to take as she's used in her ex-husband's movies. But she and BLOW OUT mean a lot to others, like Tom, so it's not worth getting into.

bill

Well, no. I didn't think my comment came off much like I was looking to get into anything. In my experience, people like her, that's all.

Tom Russell

@Tom Block-- Well, I certainly didn't mean to damn her with faint praise. You're right, however, that she's not on the same level as Spacek, etc.

I think you've hit on something in saying that she's "sorta sweet", ala Karen Black [*] and Theresa Russell. I think I have a soft-spot for sorta-sweetness; it's a rare quality. Perhaps not the most fulfilling quality, but an entertaining and a worthy one.

[*-- And, excuse the rant everyone, but speaking of Black and her sorta-sweetness: God Damn It, when is Ivan Passer's BORN TO Fucking WIN going to get the widescreen, carefully-restored, extras-laden DVD/Blu-Ray it damn well deserves? As I understand it, it's in the public domain, so it's not like there's a rights issue to hold it up.]

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