Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blu-Ray Review Round-Up (08/10/2014)

Here's a few months worth of Blu-Ray reviews from Slant and Movie Mezzanine.

Movie Mezzanine

Sleepaway Camp (Scream Factory)
Rollerball (1975) (Twilight Time)
Lewis Black: Old Yeller (Image Entertainment) [DVD]
Cheap Thrills (Drafthouse Films)
Hell Divers (Warner Archive) [DVD]
Ravenous (Scream Factory)
The Unknown Known (Anchor Bay)
Deadly Eyes (Scream Factory)

Slant Magazine

A Hard Day's Night (Criterion)
Under the Skin (A24)
Pickpocket (Criterion)

The Dance of Reality (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 2014)


By the same token, it’s also a fitting summary of everything that hinders the film’s aspirations to a singular vision. The highly chromatic, ill-fitting series of tableaux admirably abandon the illusion of objectivity (or even a rationally viewed subjectivity) to celebrate the role imagination plays on memory. Yet for a film intended to reflect both its maker’s personal experience and unorthodox aesthetic, so much of The Dance of Reality feels old-hat, begging the question whether something can be surreal if you feel like you’ve seen it before.

Read my full review at Spectrum Culture.

Music Reviews

I'm trying my hand at more music reviews this year, mostly for the site Spectrum Culture. Here's links to my music-related pieces:

Nas, Illmatic
Miles Davis, Miles at the Fillmore—Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3
Lily Allen, Sheezus
Marc Ribot Trio, Live at the Village Vanguard
The Human League, Dare
Fucked Up, Glass Boys
Various Artists, C86
Led Zeppelin, I, II and III
Hole, Live Through This

Finding Fela (Alex Gibney)

A greater sin still is how the film saps Fela’s music of its energy. It’s not entirely Gibney’s fault: no documentary about an artist has ever captured the thrill of personal discovery of that artist’s work. Being flatly informed of the military raid on Fela’s Kalakuta Republic compound after hearing a snippet of “Zombie” pales in comparison to hearing all of “Zombie” first, being galvanized by it universal anti-military lyrics, then gradually filling in the context around that composition. When it is served to a viewer already wrapped in significance, the whole progression of immersion is thrown out, teaching detached admiration instead of passionate discovery.

Read my full review at Spectrum Culture.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie is too scattershot and content to be the satire some claim it is, but I nonetheless find its 40-jokes-per-minute mania pleasing, and liked it as much a second time as I did the first. Kids movies tend to come with loaded Blu-Rays, albeit dully so with features that even a child has no use for. So I was happy to see, then, that Warner's put together a great package, starting with a hilarious group commentary and filled with interesting production featurettes that delve into how the movie was made. Read my full review at Slant.

Blu-Ray Review: The Man from Laramie

The Man from Laramie is the last Anthony Mann-James Stewart collaboration, and if it's not the best of their work (I'd narrowly give the edge to The Naked Spur, and possibly Bend of the River), it is nonetheless their most impressively ambitious, an acid-western take on King Lear that may be one of the most violent films to obscure most of its violence from explicit display. Twilight Time releases are always fairly modest, but the 4K restoration given the film results in their best looking release to date, and I'm pleased that this dirty B-movie now looks as good as its A-list counterparts. Read my full review at Slant.

Blu-Ray Review: L'Eclisse

The more I watch and return to Michelangelo Antonioni, the less concerned I am with "solving" his elliptical form and the more I'm content simply to bask in it. L'Eclisse rates with Red Desert and The Passenger as one of the directors most beautiful, enrapturing works, along with one of the most unsettling. Criterion give their old DVD a solid upgrade to Blu-Ray, though I do hope they append a few more of the directors early and late shorts to some future release, maybe their inevitable upgrade of L'Avventura. Regardless, this is a fine release, and you can read my full thoughts on the film and its Blu-Ray at Slant.