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[Savant Links] [Year Five Report]
Write Savant (Glenn Erickson) at

Tuesday April 25, 2017

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Salesman
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

 This Iranian import made news when its director found himself on the wrong side of the recent travel ban. It's worth the bother. Asghar Farhadi's suspense story can't be topped for maturity, insight or honest emotions about social stress: after an assault in a new apartment, the strain affects everything that a wife and husband do -- driving a wedge through their marriage. Is it all built on a shaky foundation, like the crumbling apartment building they had to evacuate? On Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Krimi Collection

  Two eclectic Guest Reviews from Trailers From Hell's Charlie Largent. Francis Ford Coppola goes teen-fiction troubleshooting in Rumblefish, which introduces new acting talent to the 1980s. Then Charlie takes on a favorite subject with a 3-pack of '60s Edgar Wallace thrillers from Germany, The Krimi Collection: The Face of the Frog, The Mysterious Magician and The Hound of Blackwood Castle. We're nothing if not eclectic at DVD Savant. Separate releases, on Blu-ray from Criterion and Tobis.

Donnie Darko
Arrow Video U.S.
Blu-ray + DVD

 Other weird-world genre bending millennial epics have dated badly, but not Richard Kelly's sci-fi / horror / satirical mind-trip epic about a guy given a glimpse of time travel in another dimension. The wit hasn't faded and the menace hasn't cooled, and the cast seems hipper than ever: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary McDonnell, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, Drew Barrymore, Katharine Ross. Two versions, two formats, no waiting. A Dual-Format edition in a fat box with a 90-page hardback book as well, on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Video U.S..


Olive Films

 New Wave director Claude Chabrol goes off in an odd direction with this Francophone adaptation of Hamlet. Convinced that his father was murdered, the heir to an estate behaves like a madman as he sets out to unmask the killers. The 'castle' is a country manse guarded by thugs as a precaution against the signeur's striking union workers. Special added attraction -- the stars to see are Alida Valli and Juliette Mayniel of Eyes without a Face. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.


Gary Teetzel alerts me that, over at the Boxoffice Magazine site, the back issue archive is still accessible. The riches to be had are pretty incredible. The capsule reviews reveal the sometimes-odd value judgments made on movies, and the extreme conservatism against unusual or unconventional movies. Even the Academy Award winner The Lost Weekend is reviewed as a failure, that nobody will want to see. I found a 1942 RKO ad saying that The Magnificent Ambersons is being 'delayed' so that changes can be made. There are also crazy dated ads, especially during the war when exploitation films could say whatever they wanted about the Germans and Japanese. The exhibitors' letters and the opinion articles can be pretty strange as well. I recommend browsing... the ads and attitudes are a real filmic time machine.

Some interesting titles in the review queue at the moment. Twilight Time has Another Woman, How to Steal a Million, You'll Never Get Rich and Billy Wilder's The Fortune Cookie. Olive Films gives us The World's Most Beautiful Swindlers, an omnibus film by Chabrol, Godard, etc., but they had to drop Roman Polanski's episode. Arrow has come up with another Elio Petri thriller, The Assassin. Aero also has a Django movie that looks tempting. I might try Kino's new Jerry Lewis movie Don't Give Up the Ship. I remember seeing it in a theater, but I was so young I didn't really follow the story. I doubt it's as confusing as it seemed back then.

Charlie Largent will be reviewing some Shout! Factory horror pix (I Bury the Living, The Screaming Skull) and also the Universal Dracula and Mummy Legacy Sets. I've covered them all twice, so am looking forward to a fresh viewpoint. Charlie's take on Paul Verhoeven's Elle says volumes about that complicated movie in just a few short paragraphs, and without spoiling the story!

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Saturday April 22, 2017

This picture is in solidarity with a special day.

Savant's new reviews today are:

Caltiki, The Immortal Monster
Arrow Video

 It creeps and leaps and slides and glides along the wall... and then it eats your face, dude. Mario Bava and Riccardo Freda's ultimate monster mastication epic now looks sensationally gory, thanks to a full restoration. Arrow's disc has pretty much everything, including two transfers and two audio commentaries. And Savant has a guilty admission to make -- it was the tripe, the whole tripe, and nothing but the tripe. The impressive restoration is all we want it to be, with commentaries from the two top Mario Bava experts. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Video.

The Scar (Hollow Triumph)
KL Studio Classics

 Director Steve Sekely's hardboiled film noir leans heavily on the talents of star-producer Paul Henried and camera ace John Alton -- the three of them whip up the best gimmick-driven noir thriller of the late 'forties. Strained coincidences and unlikely events mean nothing when this much talent is concentrated in one movie. It's also a terrific show for star Joan Bennett, who expresses all the disappointment, despair and angst of a noir femme who knows she's in for more misery. John Alton's chiaroscuro visuals bathe realistic settings with expressionistic lighting. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


The Rounders
The Warner Archive Collection

 The laid-back, plot challenged non-violent western gets a boost in this folksy comedy about two aging cowboys with less sense than the horses they tame. Glenn Ford and Henry Fonda star together for the first time, leaving behind their older images... they're too tender-hearted for their own good. If the sex comedy wasn't quite so dated, Burt Kennedy's picture might be a classic. With Chill Wills, Edgar Buchanan, Kathleen Freeman, Joan Freeman -- and Sue Ane Langdon and Hope Holiday, as a pair of goofy strippers that pick our boys out on the road. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.


Ever wonder what Hollywood pitch meetings are like? Correspondent Phil Gray found this Alliance Francaise de Singapour article by Angela Doland, featuring a funny video in which a French producer pitches several movie ideas to Hollywood executives. They're all the concepts of highly regarded French pictures of the last few years, and of course they are all met with surprise and foolish suggestions for improvement. The problem I have with this can be summed up in a simple reaction, ''DUH.'' The concepts being touted have no place in Hollywood, aren't the kinds of movies we make and aren't the kinds of movies the mass audience here wants to see. Does anybody at all labor under the illusion that movies without action or a major hot-button hook could get green-lit, if not accompanied by a bankable star? I can name five hundred great movies that never made a dime . . . which is what the Hollywood types here are trying to do. They aren't even being crass or abusive. Making them look foolish for being unaware of every French film that comes out seems a misplaced attack.

For Los Angeles filmgoers interested in the truly arcane, the The New Beverly Cinema, on April 23 and April 24, is playing two Robert Culp movies from 1970. One is the excellent neo-noir Culp directed, Hickey and Boggs, a detective shoot 'em up. The other is one of the weirdest, most elusive productions I've ever heard of, A Name for Evil, directed by the equally mysterious Bernard Girard. The whole strange story, written up by film guru extraordinaire Marc Edward Heuck, can be read Here.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Buena Vista Social Club

 Cuba has just been opened up to Americans, but twenty years ago musician Ry Cooder saw to it that a vanishing music tradition was preserved for posterity. Wim Wenders followed up with this rough & ready documentary that became almost as popular as the best selling album of mambos, boleros and cha-chas. Ten old gentlemen from Havana, in their 'seventies and 'eighties, take their music to Amsterdam, and then Carnegie Hall. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Chamber of Horrors & A Game of Death

 Two vintage horror Guest Reviews from Trailers From Hell's Charlie Largent. Edgar Wallace's The Door with Seven Locks finds mystery and madness in an English production imported by Monogram, starring Leslie Banks and a young Lilli Palmer. And Robert Wise remakes the famed The Most Dangerous Game practically shot-for-shot reusing scenes from the older movie! Separate releases, each with an audio commentary, on Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

The Delinquents

 "Here is the screen's most shocking exposé, of the 'Baby-Facers' just taking their first stumbling steps down Sin Street U.S.A.!"  Robert Altman's first feature film is far too good to be described as any but an expert step toward an impressive career. But he had to deal with a young actor who drove him up the wall, Tom Laughlin. The realistic Juvenille Delinquent subgenre was born here, with a wild drinking party, a rumble at a drive-in movie and a vicious robbery that comes together on the spur of the moment. Best actor? Richard Bakalyan, as a great psycho J.D.. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Fahrenheit 451

 François Truffaut's adaptation of Ray Bradbury's dystopian, illiterate future looks better than ever, but the scary part is that some of its oddest sci-fi extrapolations seem to be coming true. Oskar Werner and Julie Christie are trapped in a future dystopia where thought control is perfected by the destruction of books, and the ideas they carry. Nicolas Roeg's cinematography is a highlight, and Bernard Herrmann music score is one of the composer's very best. On Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

 Jacques Demy's international breakthrough musical gives us Catherine Deneuve and wall-to-wall Michel Legrand pop-jazz -- it's a different animal than La La Land but the two shows are being compared anyway. The story of a romance without a happily-ever-after is doggedly naturalistic, despite visuals as bright and buoyant as an old MGM show. The stylized operetta speak-singing places everything on almost a storybook plane -- interrupted by the Algerian war, an unwanted pregnancy and young lovers that can't fulfill their pact of fidelity. The dazzling restoration came out in a pricey disc set three years ago, but is being offered now as a stand-alone, as is Demy's follow-up, The Young Girls of Rochefort. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Sunset in the West

  Here's a case of modest ambitions brought off with a winning polish -- this show could reboot interest in vintage 'series' westerns. Basically a film for little kids, this 1950 Roy Rogers oater is so charming that it deserves reassessment as a nostalgic favorite. It's earnestly played by all concerned, director William Witney's direction sparkles, and the songs by the Sons of the Pioneers are due to come back into vogue. Well, maybe. The added filip that makes the difference is the beautifully restored Trucolor image -- Roy's wonder horse Trigger is indeed magnificent. I listened carefully, but I don't think Roy actually says, "Yippie-ki-yay, M_____f_____." On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

From Hell It Came

 You Axed for it, as Forry would say: the grade Z horror movie that launched a thousand bad puns is also an unbeatable party favorite. Idiotic island natives clash with condescending Anglo scientists, when a death curse initiates the hell-spawning of a horrifying, vengeance-seeking pagan demon-monster. Sounds great -- but what we get is Tabonga, a walking rubber tree stump with knotholes for eyes and a permanent scowl on its teakwood face. The excellent, flawless scan allows us to appreciate the mighty Tabonga for what it is -- absurd, lovable, awful. With a two-hour retrospective documentary hosted by Martin Scorsese, featuring George Lucas and Steven Spielberg playing with Tabonga toys. No, that's a despicable alternate fact. The only extra is a trailer, which can't even get the 'Tabonga' name right. Don't worry, security software has eliminated all traces of the Dutch Elm Disease virus. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.

36 Hours

 Long before movies routinely created 'worlds' with their own twisted fantasy logic, only a few paranoid thrillers, usually odd genre items, tried out twisted stories of deceptive 'hidden realities.' Like an extended Twilight Zone entry, this lively James Garner war pic morphs into a bizarre conspiracy worthy of Philip K. Dick. Eva Marie Saint and Rod Taylor co-star in a show directed and co-written by George Seaton. If only it weren't so "L-A-O" -- Literal And Obvious. Nicely restored in B&W widescreen Panavision; on Blu-ray from The Warner Archives Collection.

April 2017
  (The Saga of) Anatahan  Blu-ray  Eyes without a Face UK import  Blu-ray + PAL DVD  Electric Boogaloo  Blu-ray  Property Is No Longer a Theft  Blu-ray + DVD  Lifeboat  Blu-ray  Story of Sin  Blu-ray + DVD  Being There & After the Fox by Charlie Largent Blu-ray  Ride The High Country  Blu-ray  The Russians are Coming and  Career  DVD  The Vampire Bat  Blu-ray  The Skull  Blu-ray  'How to Succeed' -- Take 2  Savant Article
March 2017
 Invisible Ghost  Blu-ray  Blow-Up  Blu-ray &  Elle  Blu-ray by Charlie Largent  Julieta  Blu-ray  Peyton Place  Blu-ray  How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying  Blu-ray  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  3-D Blu-ray  23 Paces to Baker Street  Blu-ray  Tower  Blu-ray  Multiple Maniacs by Charlie Largent  Blu-ray  Fences  Blu-ray  Phaedra  Blu-ray  Our Man in Havana  Blu-ray  Film / Notfilm separate releases  Blu-ray  Summer Storm  DVD  World Without End  Blu-ray  September Storm  3-D Blu-ray  Cinema Paradiso  Blu-ray  Compulsion  Blu-ray  We Are the Flesh & Lovers on the Bridge by Charlie Largent  Blu-ray  RoboCop 2 Collector's Edition Blu-ray  45 Years  Blu-ray  The Valley of Gwangi  Blu-ray  The Man Who Could Cheat Death  Blu-ray  Finian's Rainbow  Blu-ray  Chilly Scenes of Winter  Blu-ray  A*P*E  3-D Blu-ray
February 2017
 The Before Trilogy: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight  Blu-ray  Framed  Blu-ray  Kiss of Death  Blu-ray  Edge of Eternity  Blu-ray  The Tree of Wooden Clogs  Blu-ray  Panther Girl of the Kongo  Blu-ray  Deluge  Blu-ray  3 Classic Films by Claude Chabrol  Blu-ray  By Sidney Lumet  DVD  The Boy Friend  Blu-ray  The Gate  Blu-ray  Breakout / Der Mann Ohne Nerven  Blu-ray  Arrival  Blu-ray + DVD  A Walk in the Sun  DVD  Loving  Blu-ray + DVD  The Edge of Seventeen  Blu-ray + DVD  Manchester by the Sea  Blu-ray + DVD  Hacksaw Ridge  Blu-ray + DVD  Valkoinen Peura The White Reindeer  Region B Blu-ray  One Million Years B.C.  Blu-ray  When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth  Blu-ray  Inferno  3-D Blu-ray  Gabriel Over the White House (revisited)  DVD
January 2017
 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown  Blu-ray  Love in the Afternoon  Blu-ray  What a Way to Go!  Blu-ray  Mildred Pierce  Blu-ray  The Lair of the White Worm  Blu-ray  Dr. Orloff's Monster  Blu-ray  The Yakuza  Blu-ray  Wagon Tracks  Blu-ray  The Sicilian Clan  Blu-ray  No Highway in the Sky  Blu-ray  Seddok, l'erede di Satana  Region 2 PAL DVD  Stanley and Iris  Blu-ray  Who?  Blu-ray  Two for the Road  Blu-ray  Gas-s-s-s –Or– It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It  Blu-ray  The Mad Magician  3-D Blu-ray  Revenge of the Blood Beast  Blu-ray  David and Bathsheba  Blu-ray  Something Wild  Blu-ray  The Accountant  Blu-ray + DVD  The Keys of the Kingdom  Blu-ray  The Barefoot Contessa  Blu-ray  The Internecine Project  Blu-ray  Battleground  Blu-ray  The People vs. Fritz Bauer  Blu-ray  His Girl Friday &  The Front Page  Blu-ray  The Driller Killer  Blu-ray
December 2016
 Wait Until Dark  Blu-ray  'Pimpernel' Smith  Blu-ray  Loophole (1981)  Blu-ray  Deepwater Horizon  Blu-ray + DVD  50 Years with Peter Paul and Mary  DVD  Bad Day at Black Rock  Blu-ray  Sully  Blu-ray  The 3 Worlds of Gulliver  Blu-ray  Dreamscape  Blu-ray  Savant Picks the Most Impressive Discs of 2016  Fellini's Roma  Blu-ray  I Want to Live!  Blu-ray  100 Rifles  Blu-ray  Brazil  Blu-ray  The House on 92nd Street  Blu-ray  Short Cuts  Blu-ray  The Exterminating Angel  Blu-ray  Bad Girl  Blu-ray  Pretty Poison  Blu-ray  Sudden Fear  Blu-ray  Cry of the City  Blu-ray  Pete's Dragon  Blu-ray + DVD

  Reaching further back in time?  Chronological 2015 and 2016 can't be uploaded yet, but you can search back in the archives, immediately below. Available now is
A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014
... and for 2013 ... 2012 ... and 2011
Use the search function at the top of the page for individual titles -- it's new and improved and works well.

Hundreds more Savant reviews at the Other End of this Link!


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