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Thompson on Hollywood

Michael Mann's Essential Debut 'Thief,' New from Criterion, and Other Must-Own Holiday Blu-Rays (TRAILER)

Among the new year's bonbons being unwrapped from Criterion is a long-awaited gem, one guaranteed to please that movie freak whose holiday gift-buying you've been putting off till the last possible moment: "Thief," Michael Mann's thriller that inaugurated several careers and a flair for visual style that would become the hallmark of an era.
  • By John Anderson
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  • December 31, 2013 12:34 PM
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25 Years After Playing Young Tom Hanks in 'Big,' David Moscow Looks Back on Child Stardom, Penny Marshall's Direction, and The Making of a Classic

The second audition of David Moscow's career involved Penny Marshall, Robert De Niro, and a script about a 12-year-old Jersey boy who wishes "to be big."
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • December 19, 2013 12:58 PM
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Robert Altman's 'Nashville': The First Modern TV Musical (VIDEO)

"Treme" embarked on its final season Sunday. "Smash" is gone. "Glee" and "Nashville" soldier on, but the bloom of pop-cultural significance is off their respective roses. With this age of the hour-long musical television series fast coming to a close, I set out searching for its origins, and I found it at the movies. Robert Altman's "Nashville" (1975) may be the finest American film of the 1970s -- and the first modern TV musical, too.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • December 4, 2013 1:17 PM
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Antonioni's Stark Portrait of Haute-Bourgeois Boredom and Betrayal 'La Notte' Lives Again on Criterion Blu-Ray

Could a film like "La Notte" ever exist today? What would it look like? Released in 1961, Michelangelo Antonioni's visually sleek modernist masterpiece features two international stars of considerable pedigree -- Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau -- who talk, and also don't talk, about the undetectable meanings of life and love.
  • By Ryan Lattanzio
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  • October 31, 2013 2:56 PM
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Must-See: German Oscar Entry 'Barbara,' Starring Nina Hoss, One of 2012's Best, Hits DVD and Blu-Ray

"Barbara," Germany's haunting 2012 Oscar entry, is Christian Petzold's fifth collaboration with luminous actress Nina Hoss. She plays an intrepid East Berlin doctor in 1980 who has been sent to the boonies as punishment for wanting to leave the country. I put the film on my ten best list; so did both NY Times film critics, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott. The film had its US premiere at the New York Film Festival in 2012, followed by a theatrical release by Adopt Films, which is releasing "Barbara" via Kino Lorber on Blu-ray and DVD on November 12th.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 14, 2013 1:12 PM
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In Criterion's New Boxed Set, Bergman and Rossellini Make Love Among the Ruins

In 1947, Ingrid Bergman dashed off an admiring letter to Italian director Roberto Rossellini. Inspired by his neorealist classics "Rome, Open City" and "Paisan," she suggested he might use her multilingual talents. "I am ready to come and make a film with you," she wrote, as though it were destined all along. To watch the fruit of their collaboration is to believe it was.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • September 25, 2013 12:51 PM
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Ophuls' 'The Earrings of Madame de...' on Blu-ray from Criterion: Before the New Wave, a New Woman (VIDEO)

More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones, Saint Teresa of Avila reputedly opined, but she never met Louise, Madame de... (Danielle Darrieux). For the vain, tragic heroine of Max Ophuls' "The Earrings of Madame de..." (1953), the price of a direct line to the heavens comes in a foreign currency. (Watch Paul Thomas Anderson's introduction to the Criterion Blu-ray, below.)
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • August 7, 2013 11:33 AM
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Hollywood Whipping Boy Von Stroheim's Decadent 'Foolish Wives' Was First Million Dollar Movie

Orson Welles is often held up as the most abused child in the history of Hollywood, but Erich von Stroheim was easily his equal as whipping boy: Beginning with “Foolish Wives” -- Hollywood’s first “million-dollar movie,” for which von Stroheim recreated Monte Carlo on the back lot of Universal – the former assistant to D.W. Griffith lost one duel after another to the hedge-clippers of Hollywood. On “Greed” alone, he was probably relieved of more footage than Welles ever shot in his life. The loss to cinema history has been mourned since the ‘20s.
  • By John Anderson
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  • July 27, 2013 3:04 PM
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Now and Then: Mizoguchi's Bitter Masterpiece 'The Life of Oharu' Now on Criterion

Director Kenji Mizoguchi's "The Life of Oharu" (1952), newly available in a high-def digital restoration from the Criterion Collection, teems with contradictions. It's epic yet delicate, set in feudal Japan but animated by modern anxieties, at once a traditional picaresque and a bold feminist classic.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • July 10, 2013 1:44 PM
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Johnny Depp Loves Buster Keaton: Check Out the Great Silent Comedian (MANY CLIPS)

Great Silent director-star Buster Keaton is revered by the likes of Jackie Chan and Johnny Depp, who channels him in "The Lone Ranger" and even borrows some of his train stunts from his classic "The General." Orson Welles once stated that "The General" is "the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 2, 2013 2:46 PM
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  • 1 Comment

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