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Thompson on Hollywood

Blu-ray Review: Smoldering Dietrich is Von Sternberg's 'Blue Angel' in Kino Restoration

“The Blue Angel,” a crowning achievement of Weimar cinema and the most famous of the seven collaborations between director Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich, is newly on Blu-ray from Kino. The finely restored transfer, with sharp picture quality and crisp sound highlighting Von Sternberg’s early-talkie innovations, is the original German-language version. (Two versions were shot simultaneously in 1930 -- the lesser known English-language version was long considered a lost film until its discovery in the early 2000s.)
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • December 19, 2012 2:38 PM
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Now and Then: The Rachel Weisz Argument, or the Best Performers of the Year

Last week, the NYFCC awarded Rachel Weisz its Best Actress prize for her sumptuous period turn in "The Deep Blue Sea," and well-deserved it was. But it reminded me of what I'm calling the Rachel Weisz Argument: an actor's entire body of work in a given year is a better measure of "best."
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • December 11, 2012 4:49 PM
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  • 6 Comments

Cinema Guild Acquires DVD and VOD Rights for Terence Nance's Gotham Winner 'An Oversimplification of Her Beauty'

The Cinema Guild has picked up U.S. home video, digital and non-theatrical distribution rights for Terence Nance's recent Gotham Award-winner "An Oversimplification of Her Beauty." The filmmakers will release the film theatrically in 2013, followed by a DVD and VOD release via Cinema Guild.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • December 10, 2012 12:01 PM
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Now and Then: In Harmony, 'Life of Pi' and 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Are the Best Films of the Year

One is a grand, sea-borne spectacle, a master's first glorious foray into 3-D. The other, like its breakout star, is a furious miniature whose impact far outweighs its size. But both "Life of Pi" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" are fervently alive to the world of nature, of spirit — two halves of the same double helix.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • December 4, 2012 4:25 PM
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  • 4 Comments

DVD Review: 'Dark Crimes' from Chandler, Hammett & Woolrich in Tantalizing TCM Noir Box Set

On December 3, the TCM Vault Collection released a tantalizing box set of three film noirs, “The Glass Key,” “Phantom Lady” and “The Blue Dahlia,” all previously unavailable on Region 1 DVD. The connecting thread is crime fiction -- the first two films are based on novels by Dashiell Hammett and Cornell Woolrich, respectively, and the third is from an original screenplay by Raymond Chandler.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • December 4, 2012 12:04 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: 'Heaven's Gate,' Catastrophe or Classic?

Once reviled, Michael Cimino's controversial "Heaven's Gate" (1980) may remain — despite the Criterion Collection's effort to resuscitate it — a cautionary tale of directorial hubris, Hollywood excess, and wayward ambition. The real moral of the film, however, is far simpler: "Heaven's Gate" is an object lesson in the intangibility of greatness.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • November 27, 2012 4:21 PM
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  • 3 Comments

Kubrick's Early Odyssey: 'Fear and Desire' and 'Killer's Kiss'

As the much-anticipated Stanley Kubrick exhibition opened at LACMA on November 1, the museum hosts a parallel film retrospective of the director's 13 feature films, screening in chronological order. This puts Kubrick's two least-seen yet remarkable works, "Fear and Desire" and "Killer's Kiss," as the inaugural double-header for the film series on November 9.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • November 9, 2012 3:13 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: 'Your Sister's Sister,' Lost in the Oscar Shuffle

As much as I enjoy awards chatter, this time of year can be frustrating. Spring, summer, even early fall releases that merit attention melt away before the campaigns of the heavy hitters. Lynn Shelton's lovely character study "Your Sister's Sister" won't factor in the Oscar race, and maybe it doesn't deserve to. But it surely deserves your eyes.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • November 6, 2012 3:52 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Rating 'Psycho,' Behind-the-Scenes 'Hitchcock' and the Universal Hitchcock Fifteen

I got over the awful HBO "The Girl," starring Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren, by watching the entire Dick Cavett Hitchcock interview. I had more fun with Thursday night's AFI FEST world premiere of Sacha Gervasi's light-hearted "Hitchcock," starring a superb ensemble led by Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren as the master auteur and his collaborator and wife Alma Reville, who the director thanked when he won his AFI Achievement Award, but I confess that I'd rather stick with the real thing.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 2, 2012 2:23 PM
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  • 6 Comments

'Arbitrage' Marks New Trend of Releasing Pay-Per-View Earnings

Richard Gere's Bernie Madoff-esque thriller "Arbitrage" reportedly now holds the record for combined sales for a movie released concurrently in theaters and VOD, grossing more than $7.3 million on the big screen and about $11 million on small screens. It also marks a slowly increasing trend of companies (in this case Roadside Attractions and Lions Gate Entertainment) starting to reveal heretofore hidden pay-per-view sales figures, as VOD becomes more relevant to independent film profit and distribution.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • November 2, 2012 12:44 PM
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  • 4 Comments

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