Monday, March 18, 2019

What I write when I’m not writing here (part 1 of two)

Jean Seberg in Godard's segment of
The World's Greatest Swindlers
Every nook and cranny on the Internet exists for one thing. No, not porn – relentless self-promotion! Thus, I herewith offer a number of the reviews I’ve done for the Disc Dish site. The reviews are in-depth, filled with information gleaned in the watching and reading of supplemental materials, and (I hope) entertaining.

I haven’t done an entry on my work for DD since 2015, so this piece will be broken into two parts. Screw streaming – support the little silver disc industry! 

The anthology film The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers has been very hard to see over the last few decades. It includes two good episodes from Japanese and Italian directors, but is most notable for having a characteristically amoral entry from Claude Chabrol and Godard’s only reunion with Jean Seberg – a short in which she plays a journalist in Marrakesh.

The Criterion re-release of Ghost World includes old and new supplements. It also reminds us how good a film based on a comic book can be. 

The Kino release of Josef von Sternberg’s final film, Anatahan, contains the director’s re-edit of the film (including nudity) and supplements that discuss both Sternberg’s career and the difference between the two versions of the film.

I am a major fan of Francis Ford Coppola’s low-key character studies, and Rumble Fish is one of his most brilliantly stylized features.

Leos Carax’s sublime Lovers on the Bridge finally was issued in a deluxe edition on disc. 

Multiple Maniacs, John Waters’ second feature, received the Criterion treatment, with the no-budget 16mm film being restored into a pristine shape it never had in the first place.

Fassbinder’s Fox and His Friends remains one of the filmmaker’s most important statements about the exploitation of a minority by people in that minority.

The seminal caper film, The Asphalt Jungle, joins the ranks of Criterion’s releases.

One of the best modern Westerns, Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller, reappears in a deluxe edition.

The documentary Eat That Question is comprised entirely of interview footage with Frank Zappa (with a tiny bit of his music).

Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is that thing of rare radiance – a spoof of an era made while that era is still going on.

The film that made Luis Bunuel want to be a filmmaker, Fritz Lang’s Destiny, finally gets a prestige release on disc.

Terrence Malick’s The New World appeared on disc in a director’s cut that “balances” the segments of the film in a better way.

Malick's New World
Alain Resnais’ Muriel reveals his genius for shuffling time and memory.

One of the finest black comedies of all time, Dr. Strangelove, comes ready with new supplements and a host of the older ones.

Olivier Assayas has been showcasing the talents of Kristen Stewart in the last few years. In Clouds of Sils Maria, she joins Juliette Binoche for a character study concerning friendship between women of different ages. 

Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy groups together three of his best early films, including the epic-length but still small in scope classic Kings of the Road.

Bogart gave arguably his best performance in Nick Ray’s hard-hitting noir In a Lonely Place. 

Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street, Sam Fuller’s delirious crime picture, finally gets a prestige release.

Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s The Forbidden Room offers stories within stories (and a sterling cast led by Charlotte Rampling and Udo Kier). 

Out 1 is one of the late Jacques Rivette’s masterworks, a 13-hour film that reflects the post-’68 mindset in France and offers one of the filmmaker’s best paranoid fantasies.

An underrated comic portrait of an era, Serial skewers self-help and new-age philosophies and movements.

Wim Wenders’ The American Friend is a masterful character study, allegory, and crime picture with two great lead performances by Bruno Ganz and Dennis Hopper.

Bruno Ganz in The American Friend
Burroughs: the Movie comes back into distribution, replete with outtakes.

The Mr. Warmth box set offers several Don Rickles specials and every episode of his sitcom CPO Sharkey.

Alain Resnais’ long-“missing”sci-fi love story Je t’aime, je t’aime finally receives a restoration and a U.S. release.

The superb box set comprised of episodes from the visionary PBS series The Great American Dream Machine reminds us how good and far-ranging PBS programming was in the Seventies.

Standup comedian and Lefty troublemaker Barry Crimmins is profiled in Bobcat Goldthwait’s funny and poignant Call Me Lucky.

A never-before-seen Frank Zappa concert film, Roxy: The Movie, finally saw a release nearly 40 years after it was shot. 

The American Dreamer is a portrait of Dennis Hopper in the period after Easy Rider, when he was one of the most sought-after filmmakers in America (and one of the craziest).