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I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba)

Director: Mikhail Kalatozov
Cast: Luz María Collazo, José Gallardo, Sergio Corrieri, Mario Gonzalez Broche, Raúl García

(ICAIC; 1964)

Review [9.Dec.2007]
Review [9.Dec.2007]

10


I Am Cuba New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque


The Soviets tried to bury this 1964 neo-realist dream-poem about the Cuban revolution almost immediately after director Mikhail Kalatozov finished, but it was finally rediscovered a few years back. The good people over at Milestone did a great job (as they also did with the Killer of Sheep release) put together this handsome package for a gorgeous piece of work, including a full-length making-of documentary, another feature by Kalatozov for good measure, and all of it housed in an honest-to-God cigar box. But it as a gift for someone else, and keep it for yourself. Chris Barsanti





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Inland Empire

Director: David Lynch
Cast: Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Harry Dean Stanton, Jeremy Irons, Terryn Westbrook, Grace Zabriski, Diane Ladd, Julia Ormand

(518 Media; US theatrical: 6 Dec 2006 (Limited release); 2006)

9


David Lynch’s Inland Empire The Criterion Collection


Inland Empire is a masterpiece. It is also an aggravating avant-garde amalgamation of incomplete ideas. It’s a brilliant distillation of David Lynch’s career defining dream logic. It’s also a three-hour exercise in excess and a brilliant argument for the switchover to digital filmmaking. As with most works by the artist/auteur, this fragmented take on “a woman in trouble” (to quote the film’s tagline) raises many more questions than it ever dares to answer, and squeezes more imagination and invention into three hours than most movie studios manage in a lifetime. The DVD delves even deeper into the narrative, providing deleted material and additional context to show how the ‘film’ was formulated. Bill Gibron





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The Up Series

(US DVD: 18 Sep 2007)

Review [14.Oct.2007]

8


The Up Series First Run Features


Comprising seven of the best documentaries ever crafted for the small (and later, big) screen, The Up Series is a monumental achievement in cinema and DVD. It is hard to describe in plain and simple terms the impact and the power that these films really have. Though it’s hard to imagine how the chronicle of a dozen or more kids from childhood to adulthood could resonate with such colossal themes and universal platitudes, The Up Series is indeed such an exalted exhibition. But it is also much more. It is riveting human theater, the drama of lives fulfilled and dreams dashed, played out over the ambitious possibility of time and space. Bill Gibron





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The Three Stooges Collection Volume 1: 1934 - 1936

(Columbia Pictures)

7


The Three Stooges Collection Volume 1: 1934 - 1936 Columbia/Sony


Fulfilling the wishes of longtime fans, Columbia has finally wised up, dropped the three short per package DVD format, and delivered The Three Stooges in a logistically sound chronological breakdown. Covering the first three years the performers pitched their vaudeville shtick to motion pictures, the 19 mini-masterworks presented all contain the classic line-up that most devotees prefer: mean leader Moe, absent minded minion Larry, and unbelievably brilliant bundle of butter, Curly. There is no Shemp, no Joe Besser, and definitely no Curly Joe DeRita to muck things up. While there is nothing wrong with any of these later stage substitutes, nothing beats the magic of the original Stooges. Looking over the titles offered, there is not a bad apple in the bunch. Bill Gibron





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Ace in the Hole

Director: Billy Wilder
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur, Herbie Cook, Porter Hall, Frank Cady, Richard Benedict

(Paramount Pictures; US theatrical: 29 Jun 1951 (General release); UK theatrical: 15 Jun 1951 (General release); 1951)

Review [20.Aug.2007]

6


Ace in the Hole The Criterion Collection


Criterion has released Billy Wilder’s 1951 masterpiece, one rarely seen both then (it was re-titled The Big Carnival and re-released to drum up more money) and now.  Kirk Douglas is a sneering journalist eking out a living at a New Mexico daily when he stumbles upon a trapped man in a collapsed mine and drums up a front-page story to get himself back into the big time.  Its cynicism borders on the despairing; it’s as though Wilder was peering into the future, when hordes of paparazzi make their salaries off the mental illness of a young woman.  If you don’t care about social commentary, then watch it for the trademark Wilder dialogue, on a par with anything in Double Indemnity or Sunset Boulevard. Peter Swanson





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Blade Runner: Five-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition

(Warner Brothers)

5


Blade Runner - Five-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition Warner Brothers


Talk about your long dormant Holy Grails. Ever since DVD became the format of choice, devotees of director Ridley Scott’s speculative noir have been waiting for a definitive digital version. But with missed released dates and cryptic messages from the director himself, it seemed like it would never happen. Then it arrived—a multidisc offering encased in a slick silver briefcase—and it’s amazing. It contains a staggering FOUR different cuts of the film (a new director’s, the original theatrical, an international configuration, and Scott’s 1992 revamp) as well as a workprint, dozens of documentaries, and lots of insightful featurettes. The old cliché would have some arguing that such an aesthetic overview would be worth the wait—and they’d be right. Bill Gibron





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2001: A Space Odyssey

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

(Warner Bros.; US theatrical: 2 Nov 2001; 1968/2001)

4


2001: A Space Odyssey - Two Disc Special Edition Warner Brothers


Even if Kubrick was alive, it’s likely that this comparatively bare-bones DVD release of his 1968 spiritual sci-fi headtrip would be much different. Gnomic to the extreme when alive, the great director wasn’t one to spout on and on about his own work (other contemporary masters like the Coen Brothers and Scorsese follow this example, declining to contribute self-laudatory commentary tracks and the like to the DVD transfers of their films). Although they couldn’t resist tossing in a few substandard making-of docs on the second disc, Warner Bros. for the most part stuck to the basics here, presenting a pristine version of one of the 20th century’s greatest cinematic achievements. No more, no less. Chris Barsanti





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Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition

(CBS; US DVD: 30 Oct 2007)

Review [28.Nov.2007]

3


Twin Peaks: The Definite Gold Box Edition Paramount Home Video


David Lynch has kept fans of his quirky TV drama in limbo, promising to finalize the series’ short on air life with a DVD set including the original pilot and improved audio and video. Then years passed. Rumors circulated—Paramount won’t pitch in, the director’s new obsession with digital was distracting him—but in the end, it was merely a matter of time. Time to remaster the individual episodes. Time to create as much meaningful added content as possible. The results speak for themselves. This is an amazing box set, a true testament to the show’s legacy and the artistry attempted (and frequently found) by Lynch and his creative crew. Bill Gibron





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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete TV Series

(TimeLife)

2


The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series Time Life DVD


The ‘60s were spy crazy, a combination of post-Cuban Missile Crisis cold warring and a newfound jones for James Bond. Among the many examples of this espionage fixation (Matt Helm, Get Smart), this was the best - a smart, slick production fortified with acting heft and pop art pizzazz. Featuring input from none other than Ian Fleming himself (Bond’s creator) and scripts from brilliant scribes like Robert Towne and Harlan Ellison, the series balanced action with intricate plotting, and turned Robert Vaughn and David McCallum into icons. Topping most distributors who treat old TV with disrespect, Warner Brothers’ astonishing 41-disc presentation, overflowing with added features and bonuses, belies how well loved this seminal show remains. Bill Gibron





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Killer of Sheep

The Charles Burnett Collection
Director: Charles Burnett
Cast: Henry G. Sanders, Kaycee Moore, Charles Bracy, Angela Burnett, Eugene Cherry, and Jack Drummond

(Milestone; 1977)

Review [29.Nov.2007]

1


Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque


Unlike directors who see indie productions as passports to mainstream fame and fortune, Charles Burnett never strays for long from the subject that interests him most: life as it’s really lived in everyday families, neighborhoods, and workplaces. This was his first feature, and although he finished it in 1977, hassles over the music rights kept it off the screen until 2007, when it had a very belated premiere. Less a dramatic story than a string of gritty vignettes, it paints a richly sympathetic portrait of an African-American father who ekes out a living in a Los Angeles slaughterhouse. Rarely does a film evoke a time, a place, and a set of circumstances with such poignant, poetic sensitivity. David Sterritt



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