November 4, 2008

DVDs, 11/4.

The Films of Budd Boetticher Let's face it, not too many of us are thinking about movies today. On the other hand, if the excitement's starting to get to you in an unhealthy way, Salon's Andrew O'Hehir is here to help - with a list, naturally: "You need diversion, mon ami. You need some powerful cinematic methadone to get you through the next several hours. We're not talking quality cinema here, at least not necessarily. We're talking some truly suspenseful shit, a movie-drug high strong enough to keep you off the Internet and disassociated from the outside world for a few hours, until the so-called real results come in."

With The Films of Budd Boetticher coming out today, the Parallax View is running a series that includes Sean Axmaker's introduction to the filmmaker, an overview of his career, a composite interview conducted between 1988 and 1992 and Richard T Jameson's appreciation of 7 Men From Now. Update, 11/6: Sean runs his interview with screenwriter Burt Kennedy.

Don DeLillo in the Guardian on Barbara Loden's Wanda: "A volatile man, a suggestible woman. The film itself is complex and strong, with shifting insights into character and with comic moments so well embedded in the frame they nearly elude notice.... This film worked against the grain of its time. The central characters are not rebels against the system or victims of the system. He is a stickup man of the old school, only rendered more deeply and played with more desperation than such characters tend to be. She is a lost soul but not a dead one and the writer-director doesn't attempt to enlarge the character by giving her an attitude toward the world that lies beyond the tight spaces she has wandered into."

Team Picture "Team Picture might be blissfully devoid of melodramatic incident, the kind of empty noise celebrated by the film-going public at large, but it tells a story and works within the established rules of narrative, cinematic and otherwise," writes Brian Pera in Fanzine. "Its true masterstroke is coming at story in a different way, making its audience conscious of narrative and the neediness we have for it."

James van Maanen talks with Andrea Staka about her award-winning Fräulein, which he reviewed back in September.

Gregory Peck's "gift for combining emotional distance and moral compassion is best represented by his most famous role, the transcendently decent small-town lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. "Peck's Oscar-winning performance is naturally the centerpiece of The Gregory Peck Film Collection, a handsomely produced boxed set from Universal Studios Home Entertainment."

No Mercy, No Future Michael Atkinson for IFC on Billy the Kid: "Simply put, as we're forced to immerse ourselves in Billy's daily struggle rather than ignore him like we might if we found ourselves behind him in line at McDonald's, he becomes more than just a kid with a handicap - he becomes an iconic figure, a walking, talking representation of adolescent traumas." Then: "Existentialist parallels bubble up helplessly, too, watching Helma Sanders-Brahms's No Mercy, No Future (1981), the latest film of this internationally renowned German filmmaker's oeuvre to be DVD'd by Facets. The fiery, dogged, despairing feminist voice of the New German Cinema, Sanders-Brahms is an all but unknown figure here, despite having had a few of her films distributed to American theaters. Deep into her career she remains an unrepentant New Waver, montaging and jump-cutting and metafictionalizing all over the place."

"Filmmakers as diverse as Abbas Kiarostami and the Dardenne Brothers may make pointed use of some of the central features of the form, but with [Ramin] Bahrani it never amounts to more than an act of uncritical appropriation," argues Andrew Schenker. "Which is not to suggest that Bahrani's films are unpleasant to watch. If anything, given their grimy milieus, they go down too easy."

Ed Howard on T-Men: "Any other director, saddled with such a self-evidently mediocre script, would simply churn out the kind of moralistic low-budget gangster pieces that thrived on the lower half of double-bills in the 40s. Instead, [Anthony] Mann and ace cinematographer John Alton crafted an often-stunning piece of art from this crude foundation, cramming the film with gorgeous visual effects and even subtly working against the film's propagandistic agenda."

Planet of the Apes "[P]erhaps the question shouldn't be why is Planet of the Apes a great film, but how the heck did they manage to make 4 successful sequels out of such depressing material?" That's Joseph Failla, with whom Glenn Kenny saw the original when both were nine years old.

Cinema16's next collection, World Short Films, will be out in a couple of weeks and the London Times' Wendy Ide has a preview. Via Movie City News.

"It's easy to say 'war is hell,'" writes Chris Barsanti at "But somehow, the men and women whom Ken Burns and co-director Lynn Novick interviewed for his quietly shattering 15-hour World War II documentary series The War convey that sentiment, in all its ugly terror, in a mostly quiet and humble manner that is ultimately more unsettling than all the superlatives and adjectives one could hurl at such a world-engulfing event."

For Flickhead, Original Sin is "something akin to a very long, silly and boring perfume commercial," while The Hoax is "amusing but insubstantial."

Roy Frumkes has decided it's never too late for a Halloween DVD roundup for Films in Review.

Hangover Square is the Noir of the Week.

Online viewing tip #1. Bryant Frazer takes a "look at scenes from John Carpenter's satirical alien-invasion movie They Live, released four days before the 1988 presidential elections and relevant to this day."

Online viewing tip #2. The NYT's AO Scott revisits The Candidate.

DVD roundups: Sean Axmaker, Paul Clark (Screengrab), John DeFore (Austin Movie Blog), DVD Talk, Ambrose Heron, James van Maanen and Peter Martin (Cinematical).

And of course: The Guru.

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Posted by dwhudson at November 4, 2008 7:41 AM