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December 22, 2011


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You know me and liberalism, but I've always been a big fan of 12 ANGRY MEN. It's a formative film for me, and it's a great movie about great actors talking. Granted, it's also a load of bullshit, and I think had anyone thought of it, you might have seen Henry Fonda's Juror 8 consider the possibility that maybe it WAS space aliens who killed the kid's father (with a similar knife). The original TV version is interesting in that Robert Cummings plays Juror 8 as altogether less certain. Which isn't to say that the point being made isn't the same, but that it's being made less aggressively. Other than that, the TV version is inferior in every conceivable way.

"it’s hard to fathom how they couldn’t grok that the blown out, nearly solarized images of the b&w prologue to Drifter aren’t entirely deliberate."

I wondered about this, since I'd never seen TOKYO DRIFTER before this re-release. I actually was wavering between assuming it was intentional and thinking something was wrong with my TV. But certain effect were achieved that didn't seem coincidental to me.


"The aggregate is that the effects at the end, while still not very convincing, are nevertheless very convincing."

Yes. This is a dying art, or skill, or...something. All I know is, I never see it anymore, certainly not with CGI.

And I loved TERRI, and I'm glad to know you did, too. Hugely satisfying film with some of the year's best acting, which everyone promptly ignored.

Paul Duane

According to this http://forum.blu-ray.com/france/158841-taking-off-milos-forman.html Taking Off is also on blu from France, region free. An essential purchase by the sounds of it (but I bought Destroy All Monsters first).


What are some good, lesser-known train movies? I love them too, there is something pleasing in the particular way they compress drama and action, and they often seem to bring out the big gun formal chops from their directors, I'm thinking of stuff like Mann's THE TALL TARGET. Really liked UNSTOPPABLE recently as well.

warren oates

How about Frankenheimer's THE TRAIN and the original b&w NARROW MARGIN? Of course, my favorite train-centric film is probably the hobo masterpiece EMPEROR OF THE NORTH (POLE).


Re: Going Places

"Then there’s the noticeably poor rear-projection in some of the night-driving scenes."

Y'know, those are SUPPOSED to look fake. Just like the noticeably poor rear-projection in the night-driving scene Quentin employed in Pulp Fiction with Bruce Willis in the cab is supposed to look fake...

(Some of my favorite directors tend to love noticeably fake rear-projection. Beyond Tarantino and Blier, Von Trier has effectively employed the tactic in a few movies.)

The thing that really makes Going Places work for me is just how bizarrely ethical and innocent the two mayhem-inducing devils really are. As Richard Brody quotes Budd Schulberg in a different context in a post today: "there was a nice sense of sin that’s only found in worlds of true innocence."


Re: Taking Off

"This Blu-ray appears to have been transferred from a recent restoration. Given Universal’s general disposition toward its catalog, the fact that this restoration happened at all is a miracle on the loaves-and-fishes scale."

They've been playing this flick on premium cable in HD with good quality for a few years now, so I'd guess the restoration happened quite a while back.


That's Roland Young, not Leo G. Carroll, as Dr. Watson.

Well, at least you didn't write "Jack Warden."

Glenn Kenny

@D: Damn it, I always get my Toppers mixed up.


Re 12 ANGRY MEN: I have some problems with the film (like Henry Fonda being able to bring a knife into the jury room), but if nothing else, the Criterion edition shows just how crafty a director Lumet was. The highlights, for me, were the Lumet-directed teleplay "Tragedy in a Temporary Town", where you can already see Lumet's ability, and an interview with cinematographer John Bailey about 12 ANGRY MEN'S DP Boris Kaufman, where he discusses that film and THE FUGITIVE KIND.

Re BRANDED TO KILL: This film is absolutely nuts, and I loved it (TOKYO DRIFTER less so, though in fairness, I saw the earlier Criterion edition, not the recent one), and I didn't know how much GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI had borrowed from it.


Re: Going Places

"As a cinephile who enjoys grappling with the twisty, oft-disagreeable Blier, I’m delighted with this and hope it bodes well for the future Blu-ray release of perverse French obscurities."

I'm less optimistic. They restored and re-released Going Places in France in 1999, mainly because it's NOT an obscure film in Gaul. It was originally one of the top-grossers of its year at home. So the more obscure ones probably don't have a previously done restoration to piggy-back off of.

(I'd settle for Blu-Ray releases of Blier's filmography.)

Pete Apruzzese

As always, a great roundup of recent releases, Glenn.

I agree with your assessments of these (need to check out some of the others, but not the Fulci): The Lady Vanishes (wowzers, is this one sharp & clear!), Horror Express (a little bit-starved compression rears its head, but still so much better looking than any other version of this fun picture), Pulp Fiction (remains a great movie - I only intended to watch a little bit of it one night and soon realized it was 2am when it was over; picture and sound are first-rate), Tree of Life (nothing to add - it's a staggering film and is wonderfully treated on Blu) and Tora Tora Tora (I love its deadpan quality - you know that no one is coming to the rescue. Still the single most suspenseful intermission break in any movie, as far as I'm concerned). (Display - Epson 8350 LCD projector - 106" picture, Panasonic Blu-ray player, Denon processor/amp, Gemme & Paradigm speakers)


Glad to see some love for the Way Down East blu, one of my favorites of the year. Kino is almost single-handedly keeping interest in silent movies alive in the post-DVD era.


"Post-*peak*-DVD era," surely.

Scott Nye

The recent Criterion editions are responsible for my discovery of HARAKIRI and BRANDED TO KILL, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. I suppose you could say the former is overcooked, but few films have grabbed me as thoroughly from frame one as that. And BRANDED TO KILL is just a master class in a whole different kind of directing, albeit one that would make for a lot more interesting films.


I am thrilled Frankenhooker is on Blu-Ray.

Has anyone seen the Two-Lane Blacktop Blu-Ray yet?

Mr. Peel

Got to see TAKING OFF for the first time at the Aero in Santa Monica early last year, complete with Buck Henry speaking after the film, and was absolutely floored by it. There was an audible gasp from the crowd when Kathy Bates made her appearance. Jessica Harper can also briefly be spotted in the crowd during the audition sequences and her name is even audibly called at one point. Not really a surprise, but apparently music rights have been an issue for video releases so I guess we can hope for Criterion to come to the rescue. I wish I could gather together everyone I know and show them this film.


I've always been a fan of TORA! TORA! TORA! The tone is in retrospect odd: we see the deaths of dozens of people but nobody swears. It's sort of like the blockbuster Hollywood would have made 25 years earlier if they had 1970 technology and were remotely interested in what the Japanese thought. On the other hand the attack is extremely good, and as a historian I find the detail and progression fascinating.

Glenn Kenny

Mr. Peel, seeing these releases of "Taking Off" on foreign Blu-ray is kind of bittersweet for me. I remember my pal Andrew Grant, the once and future Filmbrain, being DYING to put out the film on his DVD label Benten, and how I made a point of introducing Andrew to Buck Henry at the NYFF opening night party the year they opened with "Darjeeling Limited," and how he and Henry did some digging at the time to no immediate avail. Everybody at Universal Home Video with whom I brought up the film at the time immediately asked "What?" Andrew was never able to get anywhere and we were both kind of flummoxed when this restoration emerged with almost no fanfare. Now Andrew's in Berlin, producing and programming, and who knows when the next Benten DVD will come out. Wish "Taking Off" could have been one of them.

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