Thursday, May 14, 2009

New this week:

This week is full of surprises. The only new, popular film DVD we added this week is Passengers starring Anne Hathaway as Claire Summers, a grief counselor working with a group of plane-crash survivors who finds herself at the root of a mystery when her clients begin to disappear. The critics didn’t love it, but maybe you will.

I have been searching for sale DVDs lately to see if I could find some interesting things and I hit the jackpot. Kino International—the best in world cinema ( is one of the great companies for the cinephile. They had a glorious selection of sale DVDs. I unhappily had to limit myself to only a few.

One find was I Have Found It. This is the Bollywood version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. It is an “irresistibly musical, infectiously funny and sweetly romantic widescreen wonderworld that could only be found in a Bollywood film. [It is] an eye-popping riot of brilliant color, show-stopping musical numbers, spectacular global locations and exuberant performances.” ( I loved the Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice so I'm eager to see this one as well.

Next I found a set of Film Noir: Five Classics from the Studio Vaults. Film noir of the 1940s and 50s are some of the best films of the time to come out of Hollywood in my opinion. They “are B movies in the best sense of the term: tight, raw and cannily devoid of gloss.”
This collection includes:
Scarlet Street (1945) Dir. by Fritz Lang. When middle-aged milquetoast Chris Cross rescues street-walking bad girl Kitty from the rain slicked gutters of Greenwich Village, he plunges headlong into a whirlpool of lust, larceny, and revenge.
Strange Impersonation (1946) Dir. by Anthony Mann. A dark story of mistaken identity in which chemical researcher Nora Goodrich attempts to perform an experiment on herself with a new anesthesia she has invented, only to have it literally blow up in her face and scar her for life. Plastic surgery changes her into a different person that even her fiancé can't recognize.
They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) Dir. by Cavalcanti. Quintessential post-war British Noir. Ex-RAF pilot Trevor Howard is double-crossed by his black-marketeer boss. Once he breaks out of Dartmoor Prison, he seeks revenge. No holds barred in terms of brutality.
Contraband (1940) Dir. by Michael Powel. An excellent spy story from the sterling team of Powell and Pressburger. Danish freighter captain Conrad Veidt is detained in wartime Contraband Control, then must trail temptress Valerie Hobson through the demi-monde of a blacked out London.
Hitch-Hiker (1953) Dir. by Ida Lupino. The only true film noir ever directed by a woman, this tour-de-force thriller (considered by many, including Lupino herself, to be her best film) is a classic, tension-packed, three-way dance of death about two middle-class American homebodies who stumble upon a psychopathic hitchhiker.

My next find was Princes et Princesses which is an animated French film: “an art teacher and two students create six ravishing epic tales of love and adventure, each involving a prince or a princess. After coming up with an idea, they feed it to a special machine, and are hence magically transformed into the characters of the story they have devised.” It is described as “a sumptuous and elegant film of silhouette animation that is sure to delight audiences of all ages.” (

And lastly, three classic American films:
The Alamo (1960) Dir. by and starring John Wayne. The legendary true story of a small band of soldiers who sacrificed their lives in hopeless combat against a massive army in order to prevent a tyrant from smashing the new Republic of Texas.

Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) Dir. by John Frankenheimer and starring Burt Lancaster. A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert.

Manchurian Candidate (1962) Dir. by John Frankenheimer and starring Frank Sinatra. A former Korean War POW is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin. But another former prisoner may know how to save him. Pauline Kael wrote, "It may be the most sophisticated political satire ever made in Hollywood.”

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