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by Michael Barrett

27 Jul 2015


This unusual suspenser brought together several talents at budget-conscious RKO to become a surprise hit of 1939. It’s now available on demand from Warner Archive.

Five Came Back  might be one of the original “high concept” movies, since the whole idea is spelled out in the title. Twelve diverse people, conceived as quickly sketched types, are in a small airplane that gets blown way off course and crashes in a lush jungle en route from Los Angeles to Panama City. Search planes fail to find them, and they must spend weeks repairing the plane and forming a community.

by Michael Barrett

24 Jul 2015


3-D Rarities promises “22 ultra-rare and stunningly restored 3-D films”, courtesy of the 3-D Film Archive, and it delivers. This is one of the year’s most delightful collections, and it’s accessible to all, for the Blu-ray automatically plays flat versions if you don’t have 3D equipment. That’s a good test, because if a movie’s not worth seeing flat, why bother to add depth? With the Archive’s determination to fix and improve bad parallax work, the results are 3D movies that play better than back in the day.

First come compilations of demo and novelty material from the ‘20s, the earliest surviving examples of a 3D film tradition that goes back to 1915. The first film, with touristy shots of Washington DC and New York, includes footage hearkening back to the gimmicks of the earliest cinema: an approaching train, a pretty dancer, a man pointing a gun at the camera as in The Great Train Robbery (1903).

by Michael Barrett

23 Jul 2015


Dziga Vertov (born David Kaufman in Ukraine) specialized in a hybrid of documentary, fiction, and propaganda that demonstrated his theories of montage by combining footage into forceful, meaningful motions and a sense of life, action, and progress. His work is showcased on a new Blu-ray anchored on an astoundingly clear print of his 1929 masterpiece The Man with a Movie Camera. What the viewer sees is a full-frame silent print (nothing lopped off the sides), struck from the negative, that Vertov himself left in Amsterdam; missing bits have been restored, including chapter numbers and a brief shot of a baby’s birth. The Alloy Orchestra’s score is based on Vertov’s notes. Although these features are excellent, don’t get rid of the 2002 Image DVD if you have it, which has critical commentary, or the 2003 Kino DVD with Michael Nyman’s score.

by Michael Barrett

22 Jul 2015


The paradoxical title of Hard to Be a God matches the paradox of its artistry in that its brilliant success makes it a tough sell for many viewers.

There are plenty for whom the phrase “three-hour black and white Russian film” already makes them reach for their gun, and this specimen immerses audiences in a free-floating fetid stew of medieval mud and bodily fluids populated by gibbering idiots and pustulant drunkards constantly spitting or upchucking. This grim panorama presents itself in the patented Russian manner of vivid historical cinema: a restless handheld camera (of which the gesturing characters are aware) executing complex pans and queasy staggers and focal shifts while looking up everyone’s nostrils. You can almost smell the farts and pop the zits.

by Michael Barrett

20 Jul 2015


Kids, there was a time when your dads (but probably not your moms) wandered the aisles of video stores looking for tapes (remember when we talked about tapes? and video stores?) to sate their quest for offbeat treasures. The sections for horror, sci-fi, and action could yield nuggets if you checked every unfamiliar direct-to-video box.

It was around 1992 that many of us felt a spidey-tingle when we picked up a box with an elegant black design that said the director was Brian Yuzna, the producer of Re-Animator. That had been a cult hit in theatres that grossed everybody out. What was he doing now that we hadn’t heard of? Not only wasn’t it hitting theatres (or not many), it turned out he’d made it in 1989 and it sat of the shelf.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Ubisoft Understands the Art of the Climb

// Moving Pixels

"Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed and Grow Home epitomize the art of the climb.

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