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by Michael Barrett

16 Mar 2017


Written, produced and directed by Ken Russell, The Boy Friend  isn’t merely one of his most exuberant films, which is already saying plenty, but it’s his happiest and most joyful.

Russell began with a solid structure provided by Sandy Wilson’s hit stage musical of the ‘50s, itself a self-conscious pastiche of ‘20s musicals. The original West End production became one of England’s longest-running shows, while the Broadway version introduced Julie Andrews to America. The year before this film was made, a Broadway revival starred Judy Carne and Sandy Duncan. It was part of a schizophrenic wave of ‘20s nostalgia that was hitting the culture with such items as the 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie (with Andrews) and the 1971 Broadway revival of No No Nanette at the same time that taboo-breaking projects explored contemporary themes.

by Imran Khan

15 Mar 2017


Charles Miller as Kofi

A neatly constructed, though somewhat ineffectual, drama of conflicting love lives, Somewhere in the Middle (2015) marks the second outing of filmmaker and screenwriter Lanre Olabisi. Purely a product of New York filmmaking, Olabisi’s effort feels like a contentious New York minute stretched out and emotionally dissected systematically over its 90-minute running time.

Somewhere in the Middle is a romantic narrative told in ellipses. One storyline circles over another and is played back again to reveal how each character’s story is intertwined with another’s.

by Michael Barrett

8 Mar 2017


Sometimes a serious, impressive, well-made movie slips quietly from the memory while a trivial piece of silliness sticks in the mind. Only time provides the proof, which is offered here on a Blu-ray with eye-popping Deluxe color and shiny glorious Cinemascope of a quintessential ‘60s trifle.

Like the similarly fluffy 1967 item Woman Times Seven, What a Way to Go! exists only as a vehicle to surround Shirley MacLaine with several big-name leading men. As poor little rich heiress Louisa May Foster, she spends the whole movie alternately hugging and sobbing over her co-stars while changing outfits. Her most common expression here is the gasping, eye-welling pout accompanied by a moan of comic grief.

by Michael Barrett

15 Feb 2017


Alain Delon in The Italian Job (1969)

The Sicilian Clan is a late ‘60s heist caper boasting three major stars of the Eurocrime genre. Kino Lorber has performed a service for film buffs by making this “lost” film available at last, not only in Blu-ray but in two distinct versions.

Elder statesman Jean Gabin exudes his distinctive weary, grizzled authority as Vittorio Malanese, the patriarch of a family whose criminal activities are somehow too careful and clean to get them caught. It’s implied that they don’t like to kill anybody, and it’s not entirely clear what they do besides sell legitimate pinball machines. Apparently, they’re not on police radar.

by Michael Barrett

6 Feb 2017


James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich in No Highway in the Sky (1951)

Freshly Blu-rayed is an excellent drama that balances several elements into a suspenseful brew that’s generally considered an early airplane disaster picture.

Shot in England by 20th Century Fox, No Highway in the Sky (1951) showcases excellent performances by James Stewart as an absent-minded boffin convinced the plane he’s riding in is going to crash, Marlene Dietrich as the glamorous movie star who believes him, Glynis Johns as the stewardess who doesn’t know what to think, child actress Janette Scott as a lonely genius of a little girl, and a bevy of British character players as the chorus of officials exasperated by it all.

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