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by Michael Barrett

8 Jun 2016


A middle-aged actress (Juliette Binoche) rehearses for a play with her young assistant (Kristen Stewart) at a gorgeous Swiss mountain retreat known for its gathering clouds in Clouds of Sils Maria (2015), one of last year’s most acclaimed films. As aesthetically beautiful in composition and movement as it is intelligent in dialogue and its layered conception of “acting”, the movie explores the women’s issues and relationships with depth and lightness, and nods to high art and popular art: all anchored in the mundane and suffused by the mysterious.

Most reviewers loved this movie. PopMatters previously reviewed the DVD release, and I’ve previously raved about it here. Yet some of you still haven’t seen it, right? Not to worry, it’s freshly out on Blu-ray from Criterion. We know it’s a great film, so all that’s left is to call attention to the extras on the disc.

by Danilo Castro

7 Jun 2016


Trumbo

Summer is officially here. As busy schedules make way for warm weather and lounging by the pool, it’s the perfect time to catch up on the extensive catalogues of your favorite streaming services. Because it can be a little daunting choosing where to begin, we’ve selected ten quality films coming this month to some of the most popular streaming platforms. From Golden Age Hollywood to epic blockbusters, the diverse picks on this list are the perfect way to get summer movie watching underway.

by Michael Barrett

26 May 2016


Suspicion (1941)

Warner Archive has recently upgraded three Alfred Hitchcock films to Blu-ray, retaining the extras from their previous DVD releases. One film was a hit while two weren’t. In his book-length interview with Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock tended to define his “good” and “successful” films in box-office terms, dismissing the others as failures and mistakes because they didn’t do well. It’s a modest and hardly “artistic” stance, while Truffaut tended to be one of those critics, to paraphrase Raymond Durgnat’s own Hitchcock book, who divide the master’s work into the major and minor masterpieces.

The hit was 1941’s Suspicion, which feels calculated to remind audiences of the director’s Oscar-winning Rebecca (1940). The same actress, Joan Fontaine (winning her own Oscar this time), plays a woman who makes a hasty marriage when she falls for a charming stranger and spends the rest of the movie in an agony of second-guessing as she fears he really hates her.

by Michael Barrett

25 May 2016


The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is one of the great thrillers of the ‘70s, yet it wasn’t always recognized as such. Its earliest listings in Leonard Maltin’s TV Movies and Steven H. Scheuer’s Movies on TV dismissed it as sick trash. As the years passed, their judgments skyrocketed. Maltin settled on calling it complex, unique, engrossing, and one of a kind.

Why did this low-budget Canadian-French co-production take so long to achieve respect? Perhaps critics were confused by an ad campaign that sold it as the latest in the “evil child” trend after The Exorcist  and The Omen, but even then, you’d think people should have no trouble seeing the multi-leveled chiller right in front of them. At least the folks at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films did, for they named it Best Horror (against dreadful competition, admittedly) and gave an award to Foster.

by Michael Barrett

24 May 2016


Before Michael Curtiz came to Warner Brothers in the ‘20s and became one of Hollywood’s most reliable directors of prestigious productions like Casablanca (1942), he cut his teeth on dozens of Hungarian and Austrian silent features as Mihály Kertész. Miraculously, an English print of his long-lost A Tolonc (1915), listed on Wikipedia as The Exile and on this Blu-ray as The Undesirable (the title on the print), was discovered in the basement of New York’s Hungarian House cultural center. Digital restoration reveals an astoundingly sharp image, perfect in textures and background details like dishware patterns and signs, now beautifully tinted and with a lush new score by Attila Pacsay.

The heroine of this “woman’s film” is a formerly abused wife (Mari Jászai, identified in the titles as a “famous tragical actress of the Hungarian National Theatre”) who has spent 15 years in prison for killing her husband: a premise that still feels relevant. The story of her release is cross-cut with the narrative of her grown daughter (Lily Berky, giving the film’s most natural performance), who gets a job as a servant, puts up with the checker-suited husband’s advances, and falls in love with the strapping Magyar-garbed son (Várkonyi Mihály, who came to Hollywood as Victor Varconi).

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